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Republic of the Philippines

SUPREME COURT
Manila
G.R. No. L-48268 October 30, 1978
HEIRS OF SEGUNDO UBERAS, namely: Nieves Uberas, Florencia Uberas, Manuel Uberas,
Rolando Uberas, Ester Uberas, Jose Uberas, Jr., Zenaida Uberas, Yolanda Uberas, Cecilia
Uberas, Henry Uberas, Paulita Uberas, Josephine Uberas, William Uberas, Ramon Uberas,
Virgie Palomar, Alicia Palomar, Corazon Palomar Antonio Palomar, and Roque Palomar,
HEIRS OF ALBINO UBERAS, namely: Delfin Uberas, Vivencio Uberas, Juan Uberas, Milagros
Uberas, Jardenico Uberas, Lilia Uberas, Hergondeo Uberas, Anecito Uberas, Antonio Uberas,
Rodolfo Uberas, Reymundo Uberas, Adrimedes Uberas and Nathaniel Uberas, petitioners,
vs.
COURT OF FIRST INSTANCE OF NEGROS OCCIDENTAL, BRANCH II, presided by THE HON.
OSCAR R. VICTORIANO, and ALEJANDRA UBERAS, SOLEDAD RAPIZ U ERAS, MILAGROS
UBERAS, ROLANDO UBERAS, WILFREDO UBERAS, SELMA UBERAS, and PEDRO UBERAS,
JR., all of the City of Bacolod, Negros Occidental, respondents.
Rodriguez O. Abligacion for petitioners. (i)
Alex A. Abastillas for respondents the Uberas.
Jorge A. Dolorfino for private respondents.

TEEHANKEE, J .:
The Court sets aside respondent court's order dismissing the complaint below on the ground of
prescription and remands the case for trial and determination on the merits, in the light of factual
averments in the complaint which if duly established at the trial would clearly rule out the defense of
prescription and of other material averments that have to be inquired into and resolved on the basis
of evidence adduced by the parties which in turn will determine the legal precepts that should be
applied in law and equity.
Petitioners as plaintiffs below had filed on November 3, 1977 a verified complaint against
respondents as defendants in the Negros Occidental Court of First Instance for "quieting of title,
recovery of possession and ownership, partition, (and) reconveyance with damages" of the property
subject-matter of the suit. Their complaint was summarized by respondent court in the appealed
order of February 15, 1978 dismissing the complaint on the ground of prescription, as follows:
Defendants seek to dismiss the present complaint on the ground that the action is
barred by prescription.
Plaintiffs maintain that the action is imprescriptible because it is one for partition and
to quiet title to the property in question, declaring the declaration of heirship and
deed of sale executed by defendants to be null and void ab initio.
On the basis of the allegations of the complaint, it is averred that upon the death of
the spouses Juan Uberas and Dominga Mendoza in 1929 and 1930, respectively,
they were survived by five (5) legitimate children, namely, Segundo, Albino,
Francisca, Pedro and Alejandra, all surnamed Uberas, the first four (4) already
deceased but in turn survived or succeeded by their children and grandchildren,
leaving a parcel of land with an area of 922 square meters situated in Bacolod City,
covered by Transfer Certificate of Title No. RT-1976 (156) issued on March 16, 1917
in the name of aforesaid Juan Uberas, married to Dominga Mendoza.
The plaintiffs are the children and successors in interest of Segundo
Uberas and Albino Uberas, while the defendants are the surviving spouse, Soledad
Rapiz, and the children of Pedro Uberas, as well as Alejandra Uberas who is
impleaded as an unwilling co-plaintiff. Plaintiffs claim that they and the defendants as
well as their predecessors in interest are co-owners of the property in question which
they acquired by right of inheritance upon the death of the spouses Juan Uberas and
Dominga Mendoza; that sometime in 1964 Pedro Uberas,when still alive, together
with his wife, defendant Soledad Rapiz, add their children, by means of fraud and
deceit, persuaded his sister, Alejandra Uberas, to join them in signing a declaration
of heirship, stating falsely that Pedro Uberas and Alejandra Uberas were the only
heirs of the deceased spouses Juan Uberas and Dominga Mendoza and adjudicating
unto themselves the whole property in question to the prejudice and exclusion of
their two (2) brothers, Segundo Uberas and Albino Uberas as well as their sister
Francisca Uberas, the latter having died without issue (paragraph 9, complaint); that
as a result of the execution of this declaration of heirship Transfer Certificate of Title
No. RT-1976 (156) in the name of Juan Uberas, married to Dominga Mendoza, was
cancelled and Transfer Certificate of Title No. T-31151 issued on December 2, 1966
was issued in the names of the deceased defendant. Pedro Uberas and the
defendant Alejandra Uberas, one-half () share for each; that as part of their
continuing malicious and illegal scheme, Pedro uberas and Soledad Rapiz, as well
as their children caused Alejandra Uberas to sign a deed of absolute sale of her
undivided one-half () portion of the lot in question in favor of Pedro Uberas, married
to Soledad Rapiz, dated November 29, 1966 for Five Thousand Pesos (P5,000.00),
and as a consequence Transfer Certificate of Title No. T-31151 was cancelled and
Transfer Certificate of Title No. 31315 was issued solely in the name of pedro
Uberas, married to Soledad Rapiz, on January 7, 1967; that thereafter pedro uberas
and Soledad Rapiz maliciously induced their sister Alejandra Uberas to sign a
general power of attorney in favor of their son, Wilfredo Uberas, with authority to sell
or encumber the property dated December 6, 1973; that aforesaid Alejandra Uberas
signed the declaration of heirship, the deed of sale and the general power of attorney
by reason of fraud, deceit, misrepresentation and undue influence exerted upon her
by Pedro Uberas and Soledad Rapiz, and that by reason of aforesaid fraudulent acts
and malicious scheme the complusory heirs of Juan Uberas and Dominga Mendoza
were therefore deprived of their legitimate shares in the property, namely; and one-
fourth () share for the heirs of Albino Uberas, claiming that Transfer Certificate of
Title No. 31151, the deed of sale and the general power of attorney are null and void
ab initio and asking that defendant be ordered to reconvey the share corresponding
to the heirs of Segundo Uberas and Albino uberas (paragraphs 11, 12, 13, 14, 15,
17, 18, and 19, complaint). Finally, it is claimed that plaintiffs learned for the first time
of the malicions and illegal acts of the defendants only in the year 1977 after Soledad
Rapiz and her children had claimed sole ownership and possession of the entire
property, and upon verification from the office of the Register of Deeds that the
declaration of heirship was annotated on the certificate of title.
At the back of Transfer Certificate of Title No. RT-1976 (156), which is Annex "A" of
the complaint, the execution of the declaration of heirship appears annotated as
Entry No. 34845 by Pedro Uberas and Alejandra Uberas to the effect that both
declared themselves as the only heirs of the deceased spouses Juan Uberas and
Dominga Mendoza, who both died leaving no debts and oblihgations, adjudicating
unto themselves the property in question. the declaration of heirship is dated April 7,
1964 and registered on December 2, 1966.
As already indicated, respondent court in its questioned order, dismissed the complaint on the
ground that it was barred by prescription "as more than ten (10) years had elapsed counted from the
registration of the extrajudicial declaratio of heirship on December 2, 1966 and the issuance of
Transfer Certificate of Title No. T-31151 solely in the names of Pedro Uberas and Alejandra Uberas
issued on the same date, the present complaint having been filed only on November 3, 1977."
Respondent court reasoned out the dismissal, as follows:
While it is true the complaint is entitled as one for 'Quieting of Title, Recovery of
Ownership, Partition and Reconveyance with Damages', there is no doubt that
essentially the cause of action is one for reconveyance based upon a contructive or
implied trust resulting from fraud. It cannot be considered as an action for partition
among co-heirs which does not prescribe. A true action for partition indeed does not
prescribe as long as none of the co-heirs repudiate the co-ownership and claim the
entire property under an adverse title. (cordova vs. cordova, L-9936; Jan. 14, 1948).
In the instant case, plaintiffs aver that Pedro Uberas and Alejandra Uberas executed
the declaration of heirship with malice and bad faith, by means of fraud and deceit to
deprive the compulsory heirs, thereby excluding the plaintiffs from the estate of the
deceased and setting up title adverse to them. Hence, the present action is primarily
to annul the declaration of heirship and the deed of sale on the ground of fraud. For
this same reason, the doctrine that an aciton of partition among-co-heirs does not
prescribe finds no application. Nor can the present action be considered really as
one to quiet title as there is nothing in the allegations of the complaint to show that
the titles of the predecessros in interest of the plaintiffs were ever under a cloud.
Even granting that the aciton is one to remove a cloud over the title, the same is not
imprescriptible because to clear up the cloud and recover the title to the property
which is the ultimate objective of the plaintiffs, it is essential that 'they must need first
travel the road of relief on the ground of fraud.' (See Mauricio vs. villanueva, et al.,
G.r. No. L-11072, Sept. 24 1956). The extrajudicial declaration as well as the deed of
sale and the Certificate of Title No.
T-31315 arenot void ab initio, for they do not fall under any of the void and inexistent
contracts enumerated under Article 1409, Civil Coide, Unquestionably, those
documents are invalid insofar as they affect the legitimate shares pertaining to the
heirs of Segundo Uberas and albino Uberas in the property in question. That they are
fraudulent there can be no question Hence, it is necessary to maintain an action to
set them aside on the ground of fraud.
But the action is barred by prescription. For when land passes by succession to any
person and he causes the legal title to be put in the name of another, a trust is
established by implication of law for the benefit of the true owner. (Art. 1451, New
Civil Code). Also if properties are acquired thru mistake or fraud, the person
obtaining it is, by force of law, considered a trustee of an implied trust for the benefit
of the person from whom the property comes. (Art. 1456, New Civil Code). The acts
attributed to the deceased Pedro Uberas and defendant Alejandro Uberas in having
executed the extrajudicial declaration of heirship, falsely representing therein that
they were the sole heirs of the deceased Juan Uberas and Dominga Mendoza and
adjudicating unto themselves the entire property for which a separate certificate of
title was issued in their names, which cancelled the transfer certificate of title
originally issued in the name of Juan Uberas, thereby excluding plaintiffs from their
share in the property, constituted a breach of an implied trust resulting from fraud.
The subsequent execution of the deed of absolute sale by Alejandra Uberas in favor
of Pedro Uberas conveying her one-half () portion over the property with
consequent issuance of Transfer Certificate of Title No. 31315 solely in the name of
Pedro Uberas, and the general power of attorney extended by Alejandra Uberas in
favor of Wilfredo Uberas, son of Pedro Uberas and Soledad Rapiz, with authority to
sell or encumber the entire property, are parts of a continuing breach of trust
allegedly committed by defendants for they merely confirmed the fraudulent
execution of the declaration of heirship and the cancellation of Transfer Certificate of
Title No. RT 1975 (156) in the name of Juan Uberas. Therefore, plaintiffs' cause of
action for reconveyance based on breach of trust resulting from fraud must be
deemed to have accrued when the declaration of heirship dated April 7, 1964 was
annotated on Transfer Certificate of Title No. RT-1976 (156) on December 2, 1966
because the discovery of the fraud is deemed to have taken place when the
instrument is filed with the Register of Deeds and a new title issued in the name of
the trustee as where a ceed of extrajudicial settlement executed in fraud of some
heirs is duly registered which then serves as constructive notice to the whole world.
(Diaz vs. Gorricho L-11229, March 29, 1958; J. M. Tuason & Co., Inc. vs.
Magdangal, L-15539, Jan. 30, 1962).
Reconsideration of the dismissal order having been denied by respondent court, petitioners filed the
present petition for review, and upon receipt of respondents' comment, the Court resolved to declare
the case submitted for decision in view of the clear issues raised which require the remand of the
case for trial and determination on the merits.
Respondent court manifestly failed to take into account the averments of petitioners' complaint that
they "and defendants are co-owners and possessors of the property" and that "the malicious and
illegal acts committed by defendants were known to the plaintiffs only during this year 1977,
after Soledad Rapiz and her children were already claiming full ownership and possession of the
whole of the property," as set forth specifically in paragraph 20 of their complaint
below.
1
Respondent court could not peremptorily disregard this averment without trial and receiving the
parties' proofs. It is obvious that if such averment be duly established at the trial by petitioners-plaintiffs,
the period for prescription, even under respondent court's theory of the case in its order, would only have
commenced in 1977 and prescription could not lie.
The teaching of Faja vs. Court of Appeals
2
that an action to quiet title to property in the possession of
plaintiff is imprescriptible and that where there are material facts to be inquired into and resolved on the
basis of evidence adduced by the parties which will determine the legal precepts to be applied, as in this
case, the complaining party should be given full opportunity to prove his case is fully applicable
here, mutatis mutandis although in Faja the court peremptorily dismissed the complaint by summary
judgment, while respondent court herein likewise summarily dismissed the complaint on the alleged
ground of prescription notwithstanding contrary factual averments in the complaint which would clearly
rule out prescription.
As stressed therein by the Court "(T)he demands of a fair, impartial, and wise administration of
justice call for a faithful adherence to legal precepts on procedure which ensure to litigants the
opportunity to present their evidence and secure a ruling on all the issues presented in the
respective pleadings. 'Shortcuts' in judicial processes are to be avoided where they impede rather
than promote a judicious dispensation of justice."
3

Respondent court issued its dismissal order based on prescription on the basis of its theory that
"essentially the cause of action is one for reconveyance based upon a constructive or implied trust
resulting from fraud." Without any evidence in the record, the Court cannot put its imprimatur on
such a peremptory dismissal in the light of the pleas of the petitioners-plaintiffs to justly share in the
inheritance and partition of their common predecessor's estate and respondent court's observation in
its questioned order that "Unquestionably, those documents [the extrajudicial declaration whereby
the two brothers succeeded by petitioners were deprived by their own brother and sister (succeeded
by respondents) of one-half of their just inheritance] are invalid insofar as they affect the legitimate
shares pertaining to the heirs of Segundo Uberas and Albino Uberas in the property in question.
That they are fraudulent, there can be no question." Considering that petitioners have sought
redress from the courts also in equity, it is but fair and just that without any prejudgment of the
issues, the parties be allowed to prove their respective contentions in a full blown trial and the
manner and extent of the fraud allegedly inflicted upon petitioners be allowed to be fully proven
therein, since equity does not permit that manifest wrong and injustice be inflicted upon innocent
parties.
4

ACCORDINGLY, respondent court's order of dismissal is hereby set aside and the case is
remanded to respondent court for trial and determination on the merits. With costs against private
respondents jointly and severally.
Makasiar, Muoz Palma, Fernandez and Guerrero, JJ., concur.



VICENTE SAPTO VS. FABIANA
Actions to quiet title to property in the possession of the plaintiff are imprescriptible.
FACTS:
The subject property was originally owned by Sapto (this Sapto was a Moro, so only one name) and
located in Alambre, Toril, Davao City. He died, leaving three sons Samuel, Constancio, and Ramon. The
latter predeceased his brothers, leaving no heirs. Samuel and Constancio executed a deed of sale for a
portion of said property in favour of Fabiana in consideration of P240.00. The sale was approved by the
governor of Davao but was never registered. The property was transferred to Fabiana and from then on
he enjoyed possession from 1931 until the case was filed.

Constancio died with no issue, leaving Samuel as sole administrator of the property. Upon the latters
death, his widow and two children filed the present action for recovery of the parcel of land sold by their
predecessors to defendant. The CFI held that although the sale between the Sapto brothers and Fabiana
was never registered, it was binding valid and binding upon the parties and the vendors heirs. The CFI
also ordered the petitioners to execute the necessary deed of conveyance in favour of the defendant.

Hence this appeal.

ISSUE:
Whether or not the CFIs order of conveyance in favour of Fabiana was valid.

HELD:
The SC first affirmed the validity of the sale between the Sapto brothers and Fabiana, ruling, that even
though it was never registered the sale was valid, binding, and effective upon the heirs of the vendor.
According to the court, actual notice of the sale served as registration. Futher, that the transfer and
possession of the property was a clear indication of the validity of the sale.

Regarding the issue on the validity of the order of conveyance, the SC ruled that it was valid. In assailing
the order, the Sapto heirs claimed that the CFI cannot order the conveyance because the defendants
cause of action had already prescribed.

The SC ruled however, that the action for conveyance was actually one to quiet title. In ruling so, the SC
cited American jurisprudence and Art. 480 of the New Civil Code, which states, that actions to quiet title to
property in the possession of the plaintiff are imprescriptible.
The judgement is affirmed, cost against appellants.



EN BANC

[G.R. No. L-11285. May 16, 1958.]

VICENTE SAPTO, LAUREANA SAPTO and DORA (BAGONA), Plaintiffs-Appellants, v. APOLONIA
FABIANA, Defendant-Appellee.

Rodolfo A. Ta-Asan for Appellants.

Napoleon B. Nidea for Appellee.


SYLLABUS


1. SALE; AS BETWEEN THE PARTIES, SALE IS VALID AND BINDING EVEN WITHOUT REGISTRATION;
PURPOSES OF REGISTRATION. As between the parties to a sale, registration is not necessary to make it
valid and effective, for actual notice is equivalent to registration. "The purpose of registration is merely to
notify the interests of strangers to a given transaction, who may be ignorant thereof, and the non-
registration of the deed evidencing said transaction does not relieve the parties thereto of their obligation
thereunder." (Casica v. Villaseca, L-9590, April 30, 1957). In the sale in question, no right of innocent third
persons having been involved, the conveyance between the appellee and his vendors, although not
registered, is valid and binding upon the latter as well as upon his heirs.

2. ID.; ID.; DELIVERY OF POSSESSION CONSUMMATES THE SALE; WHEN ACTION FOR CONVEYANCE
EQUIVALENT TO QUITE TITLE. In the case at bar, no enforcement of the contract is needed, since the
delivery of possession of the land sold consummated the sale and transferred title to the purchaser,
registration of the contract not being indispensable as between the parties. Actually the action for
conveyance was one to quiet title, i.e., to remove the cloud cast upon appellees ownership by the refusal of
the appellants to recognize the sale made by their predecessors. This action accrued only when appellants
initiated their suit to recover the land.

3. ID.; ID.; ACTION TO QUITE TITLE, WHEN NOT PRESCRIPTIBLE. Furthermore, it is an established rule
of American jurisprudence (made applicable in this jurisdiction by Art. 480 of the new Civil Code) that
actions to quiet title to property in the possession of the plaintiff are imprescriptible (44 Am. Jur. p. 47;
Cooper v. Rhea, 39 L.R.A. 930; Inland Empire Land Co. v. Grant County, 138 Wash. 439, 245 Pac. 14).


D E C I S I O N


REYES, J. B. L., J.:


Sapto (Moro), now deceased, was the registered owner of a parcel of land located in Alambre, Toril, Davao
City, under Transfer Certificate of Title No. T-5701 (0-28) of the Register of Deeds of Davao City. When
Sapto died, he left his children Samuel, Constancio, and Ramon as heirs of the property in question. Ramon
pre-deceased his two brothers, leaving no other heirs. On June 6, 1931, Samuel and Constancio Sapto
executed a deed of sale of a portion of four hectares of the land aforementioned in favor of defendant
Apolonio Fabiana, in consideration of the amount of P245.00. The sale was duly approved by the Provincial
Governor of Davao, but was never registered. Possession of the land conveyed was, however, transferred to
Fabiana and the latter has been in the possession thereof from 1931 up to the present.

Thereafter, Constancio Sapto died without any issue, Samuel Sapto married one Dora (Bagoba) and upon
his death was survived by his widow and two children, Laureana and Vicente Sapto. On October 19, 1954,
the widow and children of Samuel Sapto filed this action in the Court of First Instance of Davao for the
recovery of the parcel of land sold by their predecessors to defendant Apolonio Fabiana in 1931. After trial,
the lower court held that although the sale between Samuel and Constancio Sapto and defendant in 1931
was never registered, it was valid and binding upon the parties and the vendors heirs, and ordered the
plaintiffs to execute the necessary deed of conveyance in defendants favor and its annotation in the
certificate of title. From this judgment, plaintiffs appealed to this Court.

The issue is whether the deed of sale executed by appellants predecessors in favor of the appellee over the
land in question, although never registered, is valid and binding on appellants and operated to convey title
and ownership to the appellee.

The question is not new. In a long line of cases already decided by this Court, we have consistently
interpreted sec. 50 of the Land Registration Act providing that "no deed . . . shall take effect as a
conveyance or bind the land, but shall operate only as a contract between the parties and as evidence of
authority to the clerk or register of deeds to make registration" in the sense that as between the parties to a
sale registration is not necessary to make it valid and effective, for actual notice is equivalent to registration
(Obras Pias v. Devera Ignacio, 17 Phil., 45; Gustilo v. Maravilla, 48 Phil., 442; Quimson v. Suarez, 45 Phil.,
901; Winkleman v. Veluz, 43 Phil., 609; Galasinao v. Austria, 51 Off. Gaz. No. 6, 2874; Carillo v. Salak, 91
Phil., 265). "The peculiar force of a title under Act No. 492", we said in Medina v. Imaz and Warner Barnes &
Co., 27 Phil., 314 (syllabus), "is exhibited only when the purchaser has sold to innocent third parties the
land described in the conveyance. Generally speaking, as between vendor and vendee, the sane rights and
remedies exist in relation to land not so registered." In Galanza v. Nuesa, 95 Phil., 713, we held that
"registration is intended to protect the buyer against claims of third persons arising from subsequent
alienations by the vendor, and is certainly not necessary to give effect as between the parties to their deed
of sale." And in the recent case of Casica v. Villaseca, G. R. No. L-9590, April 30, 1957, we reiterated that
"the purpose of registration is mere]y to notify and protect the interests of strangers to a given transaction,
who may be ignorant thereof, and the non-registration of the deed evidencing said transaction does not
relieve the parties thereto of their obligations thereunder."

No right of innocent third persons or subsequent transferees of the property in question is involved herein.
The property has remained and still is in the possession of the vendee of appellants predecessors, herein
appellee. It is, therefore, clear that the conveyance between appellee and his vendors is valid and binding
upon the latter, and is equally binding and effective against the heirs of the vendors, herein appellants. To
hold otherwise would make of the Torrens system a shield for the commission of fraud by the vendors or his
heirs (Gustilo v. Maravilla, 48 Phil., 442), who would then be able to reconvey the same property to other
persons.

Appellants cite several cases wherein we have held that under the Torrens system, registration is the
operative act that gives validity to the transfer or creates a lien upon the land. The authorities cited refer,
however, to cases involving conflicting rights over registered property and those of innocent transferees who
relied on the clean titles of the properties in question. These cases have, therefore, no bearing on the
instant case, where the appellee has always remained in the possession of the land in question and no
subsequent transfer thereof to other persons has been made either by appellants or their predecessors-in-
interest.

The appellants aver that it was error to require them to execute a deed of conveyance in favor of the
plaintiff-appellee, and argue that the latters action to obtain it had long prescribed, twenty years having
elapsed since the original sale. This contention must be overruled, being predicated on the assumption that
the reconveyance is sought by way of performance of the contract of sale entered into in 1931. No
enforcement of the contract is in fact needed, since the delivery of possession of the land sold had
consummated the sale and transferred title to the purchaser, registration of the contract not being
indispensable as between the parties. Actually the action for conveyance was one to quiet title, i.e., to
remove the cloud cast upon appellees ownership by the refusal of the appellants to recognize the sale made
by their predecessors. This action accrued only when appellants initiated their suit to recover the land in
1954. Furthermore, it is an established rule of American jurisprudence (made applicable in this jurisdiction
by Art. 480 of the New Civil Code) that actions to quiet title to property in the possession of the plaintiff are
imprescriptible (44 Am. Jur. p. 47; Cooper v. Rhea, 39 L. R. A. 930; Inland Empire Land Co. v. Grant
County, 138 Wash. 439, 245 Pac. 14).

"The prevailing rule is that the right of a plaintiff to have his title to land quieted, as against one who is
asserting some adverse claim or lien thereon, is not barred while the plaintiff or his grantors remain in
actual possession of the land, claiming to be owners thereof, the reason for this rule being that while the
owner in fee continues liable to an action, proceeding, or suit upon the adverse claim, he has a continuing
right to the aid of a court of equity to ascertain and determine the nature of such claim and its effect on his
title, or to assert any superior equity in his favor. He may wait until his possession is disturbed or his title is
attacked before taking steps to vindicate his right. But the rule that the statute of limitations is not available
as a defense to an action to remove a cloud from title can only be invoked by a complaint when he is in
possession. One who claims property which is in the possession of another must, it seems, invoke his
remedy within the statutory period." (44 Am. Jur., p. 47)

Wherefore, the judgment appealed from is affirmed. Costs against appellants. So ordered.


BENITO vs. SAQUITAN-RUIZ
If a person claiming to be the owner of a wrongfully registered parcel of land is in actual possession, then
his right to seek reconveyance does not prescribe.

FACTS:
Petitioners Horacio and Felisa Benito, originally, bought the land from Francisco Morales and instituted
ejectment proceedings against all of the other squatters in the land. Respondent, Agapita Saquitan-Ruiz
bought a portion of the land from petitioner on a promise to contribute Php 6000 for the ejectment
proceedings which will serve as the consideration for the sale. On 17 April 1979, a Deed of Absolute Sale
was issued in favor of respondent, however, he failed to pay his obligation of Php 6000. Thus, the
petitioner never caused the issuance of the certificate of title despite demands of the respondent for such
issuance. Instead, petitioner subdivided the lot where respondents land was located into five while the
latter continued to possess such land. Petitioners, then borrowed Php75,000 from a certain Basilia Dela
Cruz, who later sued them for collection. For failure to pay the borrowed money, a writ of execution was
issued by the RTC and the disputed petitioners land was sold to Dela Cruz at a public auction, in which
the latter was the highest bidder. On 25 March 1996, the assailed Certificate of Title was issued to Dela
Cruz but it was only on 27 May 1999 that the Certificate of Final Deed of Sale was issued. On 1 April
1999, respondent filed the case for specific performance with declaration of nullity of titles and damages.

ISSUE:
Whether or not petitioners action to quiet title had already prescribed?

RULING: No.
The respondent is in possession of the disputed property. If a person claiming to be the owner of a
wrongfully registered parcel of land is in actual possession, the right to seek reconveyance does not
prescribe. A petition for the quieting of title, although essentially an action for reconveyance, should not
be dismissed on the ground of prescription, if it is alleged that the plaintiff is in possession of the property.
Furthermor
e, the action was seasonably filed since Dela Cruzs right to its conveyance and possession was subject
to the 12-month redemption perion provided under section 33 of rule 39 of the Rules of court. In this case,
only a month had passed.




SPOUSES BENITO V. SAQUITAN-RUIZ
394 SCRA 250
FACTS:
The spouses sold to Ruiz a parcel of land but upon repeated demands, they failed to deliver the land. It
was known that they had the land subdivided into portions to the prejudice of Ruiz. This prompted Ruiz to
file a complaint for specific performance and declaration of nullity with damages.

HELD:
If a person claiming to be the owner of a wrongfully registered parcel of land is in actual possession, the
right to seek reconveyance doesn't prescribe. A petition for quieting of title although essentially an action
for reconveyance, should not be dismissed on the ground of prescription, if it is alleged that the plaintiff is
in possession of the property.

THIRD DIVISION
[G.R. No. 149906. December 26, 2002]
Spouses HORACIO and FELISA BENITO, petitioners, vs. AGAPITA
SAQUITAN-RUIZ, respondent.
D E C I S I O N
PANGANIBAN, J .:
Basic is the rule that the cause of action is determined from the allegations
of a complaint, not from its caption. Since the allegations in the herein
Complaint constitute a suit for reconveyance, not an action to invalidate
certificates of title grounded on fraud, the prescriptive period is ten years, not
one year from the entry of the decree of registration.
The

Case
Before us is a Petition for Review on Certiorari of the June 6, 2001
Decision
[1]
and the September 17, 2001 Resolution of the Court of Appeals
(CA) in CA-GR CV No. 65148. The assailed Decision disposed as follows:
WHEREFORE, foregoing considered, the present appealed Order is hereby
REVERSED and SET ASIDE. Plaintiff-appellants (1) [C]omplaint dated April 8,
1999 is REINSTATED; (2) Motion for Leave to Admit Amended Complaint is hereby
GRANTED; and (3) Amended Complaint dated July 21, 1999 is hereby
ADMITTED. The case is hereby ordered REMANDED x x x to the trial court for
further proceedings.
[2]

Reconsideration of the assailed Decision was denied in the assailed
Resolution.
[3]

The Facts
The facts of the case are undisputed.
On April 1, 1999, Respondent Agapita Saquitan-Ruiz filed against
Petitioner-Spouses Horacio and Felisa Benito a civil suit for specific
performance with declaration of nullity of titles and damages. The Complaint
alleged that the couple had sold in her favor Lot 1-B-2 of Subdivision Plan
(LRC) Psf-28352 located in Pasig City. Despite repeated demands, they
failed to deliver or cause the issuance of a new certificate of title in her
name. Specifically, the Complaint stated, inter alia, as follows:
3. On April 17, 1979 defendant Horacio Benito, with his wife defendant Felisa
Benitos marital consent, sold to plaintiff, her heirs and successors-in-interest for and
in consideration of the amount of Six Thousand (P6,000.00) Pesos with the receipt of
said amount duly acknowledged by defendant Horacio Benito to his entire and
complete satisfaction, and further warranting the latters quiet and clean title, that
parcel of land consisting of 60 square meters, more or less, located at Capasigan,
Pasig City, Lot 1-B-2 of the subdivision plan (LRC) Psf-286352 under Transfer
Certificate of Title No. 17136-T-86-D-II of the Registry of Deeds of Pasig City x x x.
4. Defendants are legally obliged to cause the issuance of and/or deliver a new title
under plaintiffs name by virtue of the parties deed of absolute sale but they failed to
do so;
5. Despite repeated demands, both verbally and in writing, and the long period of
time that has lapsed, defendants failed and refused and up to the present still fail and
refuse to cause the issuance and/or delivery of the corresponding certificate of title in
favor of the plaintiff to the latters great damage and prejudice x x x.
6. It turned out that instead of issuing and/or delivering to the [respondent] her
certificate of title over the above-described parcel of land, [petitioners], in gross bad
faith and with fraudulent intent, re-subdivided the whole parcel of land covered by
Transfer Certificate of Title No. 17136/T-86-D-II from the original THREE (3) lots;
Lot I-B-1 consisting of 80 square meters, Lot I-B-3 consisting of 60 square meters,
and [petitioners] Lot I-B-2 consisting of 60 square meters into FIVE (5) lots;
x x x x x x x x x
8. [Petitioners] bad faith and fraudulent intent in causing the issuance under
[Petitioner] Horacio Benitos name of Transfer Certificate of Title Nos. PT-101743,
PT-101744, PT-101745, PT-101746, and PT-101747 thereby also including therein in
undetermined portion that part of the property consisting of 60 square meters they had
previously sold in favor of the [respondent] has rendered said five (5) titles null and
void thereby warranting their immediate cancellation[.]
[4]
(Citations omitted)
On June 28, 1999, the Regional Trial Court (RTC) dismissed respondents
Complaint on grounds of prescription and/or laches.
[5]
It held that from the
moment the contract was perfected, the parties could reciprocally demand
performance of their obligations. There was a breach of obligation when,
despite repeated demands, petitioners failed to deliver to respondent the
corresponding certificate of title to the lot. She, however, failed to file any
action to compel performance until April 16, 1999, or 20 years from the time of
the execution of the Deed of Absolute Sale on April 17, 1979. Moreover, the
assailed Certificates of Title had been issued March 25, 1996, or more than
one year before the Complaint was filed. An action to invalidate title
certificates on the ground of fraud prescribes upon the expiration of one year
from the entry of the decree of registration.
On July 22, 1999, respondent filed a Motion for Reconsideration and for
Leave to Amend Complaint and/or Admit Amended Complaint,
[6]
which was
denied on August 20, 1999. The RTC ruled that the amendment of the
Complaint would change the theory of the case and subject petitioners to an
entirely new liability.
Ruling of the Court of Appeals
Reversing the RTC, the CA held that respondents second cause of action
was for reconveyance, not for the invalidation of certificates of title. As long
as the property was still in the name of the person who had caused the
wrongful registration, and as long as it had not yet passed to an innocent
purchaser for value, an action for reconveyance was still available. Such
cause of action prescribes in ten (10) years, counted from the date of the
issuance of the assailed certificate of title. Since the Complaint alleged that
the questioned titles had been issued on March 25, 1996, the cause of action
for reconveyance has not prescribed.
Hence, this Petition.
[7]

Issue
In their Memorandum, petitioners raise this lone issue:
Whether or not the Court of Appeals has decided a question of substance in a way
probably not in accord with law or with the applicable Decisions of the Honorable
Supreme Court when it reinstated private respondents Complaint dated April 18,
1999, granted the amendment of the Complaint, admitting the same, and remanded x x
x the case to the trial court for further proceeding?
[8]

This Courts Ruling
The Petition has no merit.
Main Issue:
Reconveyance of Realty
Petitioners argue that the reinstatement of the action for reconveyance
and its remand to the trial court are improper for the following reasons: (1) the
disputed property was already transferred to a third person, (2) respondent did
not pay the consideration for the contract, and (3) she allowed laches to set in
by her inaction for more than 10 years.
In their Memorandum, petitioners add: (1) the parties used to be squatters
on the land owned by a certain Francisco Valmores; (2) who had offered to
sell the land to them, but only petitioners agreed to buy it; (3) after purchasing
the land, they instituted ejectment proceedings against the other squatters; (4)
respondent bought on installment the portion of the land where her property
stood, a transaction for which petitioners issued a Deed of Absolute Sale; (5)
however, she reneged on her promise to contribute P6,000 for the ejectment
expenses, which was the consideration of the sale; (6) petitioners borrowed
money from a certain Basilia dela Cruz, who sued them for collection; (7) they
were ordered to pay dela Cruz P75,000; (8) a writ of execution was issued by
the RTC and (9) the disputed portion of petitioners land was sold to Dela Cruz
at a public auction, in which she was the highest bidder.
[9]

Sale of the Realty to a Third Party
Petitioners contend that the action for reconveyance has been rendered
moot and academic, because the disputed lot was already sold to Basilia dela
Cruz at a public auction. They maintain that although the action for
reconveyance may not have expired, the exercise of the right is no longer
feasible, because the property was already transferred in good faith and for
value to a third party.
We disagree. While a review of the decree of registration can no longer
be done after the expiration of one year from the entry of the decree, those
wrongfully deprived of their property may still initiate an action for its
reconveyance.
[10]
In this suit, the purpose is the transfer of property, which has
been wrongfully or erroneously registered in another persons name, to its
rightful and legal owner or to one who has a better right.
[11]
Though the decree
of registration is respected as incontrovertible, the reconveyance suit may still
be pursued so that a wrongfully registered property may be placed under the
name of its rightful owner or of one with a better right thereto.
[12]

Furthermore, we note that the Complaint was seasonably filed on April 16,
1999, when the ownership of Dela Cruz had not yet been confirmed. As the
third party purchaser, she allegedly acquired it through a judicial execution
sale. This means that her right to its conveyance and possession was subject
to the 12-month redemption period provided under Section 33,
[13]
Rule 39 of the
Rules of Court. The Certificate of Sale
[14]
was issued on May 26, 1998; the
Certificate of Final Deed of Sale,
[15]
only on May 27, 1999.
Section 16
[16]
of the same Rule also provides that nothing shall prevent the
vindication of any third persons claim to a property subjected to execution in a
separate action.
Finally, we note that respondent is in possession of the disputed
property.
[17]
If a person claiming to be the owner of a wrongfully registered
parcel of land is in actual possession, the right to seek reconveyance does not
prescribe.
[18]
A petition for the quieting of title, although essentially an action for
reconveyance, should not be dismissed on the ground of prescription, if it is
alleged that the plaintiff is in possession of the property.
[19]

Consideration and Laches
Petitioners likewise argue that respondent did not pay any consideration
for the sale. According to them, this fact explains why, for twenty years, she
did not bother to demand to be given the certificate of title. According to
petitioners, a partys long inaction or passivity in asserting rights over a
disputed property, precludes any recovery.
We are not persuaded. When the obligor fails to comply with a reciprocal
obligation, the remedies of the injured party are (1) specific performance or (2)
judicial rescission.
[20]
A seller cannot unilaterally and extrajudicially rescind
a contract of sale where there is no express stipulation authorizing
it.
[21]
Unilateral rescission will not be judicially favored or allowed if the breach is
not substantial and fundamental to the fulfillment of the obligation, as in the
present case.
[22]

Laches, on the other hand, is the failure or neglect for an unreasonable
and unexplained length of time to do that which, by the exercise of due
diligence, could or should have been done earlier.
[23]
Using this guide, we ask:
how can respondent be held guilty of laches when there is no showing that
petitioners ever demanded the alleged unpaid consideration for the sale of the
subject land?
Moreover, in the Motion to Dismiss that petitioners filed with the trial court,
there was no hint of any form of nonpayment, breach of contract or
extinguishment of the obligation. Hence, it would be a denial of due process
not to require petitioners to back up their allegations with evidence and not to
afford respondent any opportunity to dispute and refute these allegations. As
a general rule, a complaint cannot be dismissed based on a ground not relied
upon in a motion to dismiss and, therefore, not offering the plaintiff any
chance to argue the point.
[24]

Section 2
[25]
of Rule 16 of the Rules of Court requires that during the
hearing of a motion to dismiss, the parties shall submit to the court their
arguments on questions of law and their evidence on questions of fact, except
those not available at that time. Without a doubt, the evidence for the alleged
nonpayment of the consideration already existed at the time petitioners filed
the Motion to Dismiss.
The external facts petitioners have brought forth herein are merely
unsubstantiated allegations possessing neither persuasive nor evidentiary
value. Elementary is the principle that this Court is not a trier of facts. For this
reason, the continuation of the trial should be permitted, so that the parties
can fully ventilate their claims and defenses.
The CA, therefore, correctly held that respondents Complaint is in reality
an action for reconveyance based on implied or constructive trust. This suit
prescribes ten years from the issuance of the title over the property.
[26]

WHEREFORE, the Petition is hereby DENIED and the assailed
Decision AFFIRMED. Costs against petitioners.
SO ORDERED.
Puno, (Chairman), Sandoval-Gutierrez, Corona, and Carpio-Morales,
JJ., concur

METROPOLITAN BANK & TRUST CO. V ALEJO

A cloud on a title is defined as a semblance of title which appears in some legal form but which is in fact
unfounded. Where a title was previously held null and void already, an action to quiet title is not the
proper remedy because the TCT (as basis of the right) is not, on its face or otherwise, valid in the first
place.

FACTS:
Spouses Raul and Cristina Acampado obtained loans from Metropolitan Bank and Trust Company in the
amounts of 5k and 2k. As security for the payment, Spouses Acampados executed in favor of the bank a
Real Estate Mortgage over a parcel of land registered in their names. Subsequently a Complaint for
Declaration of Nullity of the TCT of the spouses was filed by Sy Tan Se in the RTC of Valenzuela.
Despite being the mortgagee of the real property, the bank was not made a party to the said civil
case(complaint for declaration of nullity of TCT.) They werent notified as well.

The spouses defaulted in the payment of their loan and extrajudicial foreclosure proceedings were
initiated. The bank submitted the highest and winning bid. A certificate of sale was issued in their favor.
When they were about to get their TCT from the Register of Deeds, petitioner was informed of the
existence of the decision in the aforementioned civil case (complaint for declaration of nullity of TCT)
declaring the Spouses Acampadoss TCT null and void.

The bank filed with the CA a petition for the annulment of the RTC Decision. The CA dismissed their
petition and ruled that the bank should have filed a petition for relief from judgment or an action for
quieting of title.

ISSUES:
1. Whether or not a petition for annulment of judgment is the proper remedy available to the bank
2. Whether or not the judgment of the trial court (declaring the Spouses Acampados TCT null and void)
should be declared null and void

HELD Both Yes
1. Petition for annulment of judgment was the proper remedy available to the bank. It precisely alleged
that Sy Tan Se purposely concealed the case by excluding petitioner as a defendant to the civil case
even if he was an indispensable party. This deprived the bank of its duly registered property right without
due process of the law. The allegation of extrinsic fraud may be the basis for annulling a judgment.

Petition for relief (what the CA recommended) was not available to the bank since it was never a party to
the civil case.

An action for quieting of the title was also not available to the bank. An action for quieting of title is filed
only when there is a cloud on title to real property or any interest therein. A cloud on a title is defined as a
semblance of title which appears in some legal form but which is in fact unfounded. The subject judgment
cannot be considered as a cloud on petitioners title or interest over the real property covered by TCT,
which does not even have a semblance of being a title.

It would not be proper to consider the subject judgment as a cloud that would warrant the filing of an
action to quiet title because to do so would require the court hearing the action to modife or interfere with
the judgment of another co-equal court. Well-entrenched in our jurisdiction is the doctrine that our court
has no power to do so, as that action may lead to confusion and seriously hinder the administration of
justice. Clearly, an action for quieting of title is not an appropriate remedy in this case.

Bank cant also intervene to a case that he has no knowledge of.

2. The judgment of the trial court should also be declared null and void because the bank, which is an
indispensable party, was not impleaded in the civil case.

The absence of an indispensable party renders all subsequent actuations of the court null and void, for
want of authority to act, not only as to the absent parties but even as to those present.



THIRD DIVISION
[G.R. No. 141970. September 10, 2001]
METROPOLITAN BANK, & TRUST COMPANY, petitioner, vs. Hon.
FLORO T. ALEJO, in His Capacity as Presiding Judge of Branch 172
of the Regional Trial Court of Valenzuela; and SY TAN SE, represented
by his Attorney-in-Fact, SIAN SUAT NGO, respondents.
D E C I S I O N
PANGANIBAN, J .:
In a suit to nullify an existing Torrens Certificate of Title (TCT) in which a real estate
mortgage is annotated, the mortgagee is an indispensable party. In such suit, a decision
canceling the TCT and the mortgage annotation is subject to a petition for annulment of
judgment, because the non-joinder of the mortgagee deprived the court of jurisdiction to pass
upon the controversy.
The Case
Before this Court is a Petition for Review on Certiorari
[1]
under Rule 45 of the Rules of
Court, assailing the March 25, 1999 Resolution of the Court of Appeals (CA) in CA-GR SP No.
50638, which states in full:
This resolves the petition for annulment of judgment based on external (sic) fraud
filed by petitioner Metropolitan Bank and Trust Company seeking to annul the
Decision dated August 12, 1998 rendered by respondent judge, Honorable Floro T.
Alejo, Presiding Judge of the Regional Trial Court, Branch 172, Valenzuela, Metro
Manila, in Civil Case No. 4930-V-96 entitled Sy Tan Se, represented by his attorney-
in-fact Sian Suat Ngo v. Raul Acampado, et al.
This Court has observed that petitioner knew of the questioned Decision sometime
[i]n October 1998 (Petition, Rollo, p. 3). This being the case, petitioner should have
first sought recourse by way of petition for relief from judgment under Rule 38 of the
1997 Rules of Civil Procedure. Accordingly, the petition for annulment of judgment
is DENIED DUE COURSE and DISMISSED outright for being insufficient in form
and substance (Section 2, Rule 47, 1997 Rules of Civil Procedure).
Also challenged is the January 27, 2000 CA Resolution
[2]
denying petitioners Motion for
Reconsideration.
The Facts
On November 21, 1995
[3]
and January 30, 1996,
[4]
Spouses Raul and Cristina Acampado
obtained loans from petitioner in the amounts of P5,000,000 and P2,000,000, respectively. As
security for the payment of these credit accommodations, the Acampados executed in favor of
petitioner a Real Estate Mortgage
[5]
and an Amendment of Real Estate Mortgage
[6]
over a parcel of
land registered in their names. The land was covered by TCT No. V-41319 in the Registry of
Deeds of Valenzuela City, where the contracts were also registered on November 20, 1995 and
January 23, 1996, respectively.
[7]

On June 3, 1996, a Complaint for Declaration of Nullity of TCT No. V-41319 was filed by
Respondent Sy Tan Se against Spouses Acampado. In the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of
Valenzuela, Branch 172, it was docketed as Civil Case No. 4930-V-96,
[8]
the progenitor of the
present controversy.
Despite being the registered mortgagee of the real property covered by the title sought to be
annulled, petitioner was not made a party to Civil Case No. 4930-V-96,
[9]
nor was she notified of
its existence.
Because the spouses defaulted in the payment of their loan, extrajudicial foreclosure
proceedings over the mortgaged property were initiated on April 19, 1997.
On June 17, 1997, the sheriff of Valenzuela conducted an auction sale of the property,
during which petitioner submitted the highest and winning bid.
[10]
On July 15, 1997, a Certificate
of Sale was issued in its favor.
[11]
This sale was entered in the Registry of Deeds of Valenzuela on
July 28, 1997.
When the redemption period lapsed exactly a year after, on July 28, 1998, petitioner
executed an Affidavit of Consolidation of Ownership to enable the Registry of Deeds of
Valenzuela to issue a new TCT in its name.
Upon presentation to the Register of Deeds of the Affidavit of Consolidation of Ownership,
petitioner was informed of the existence of the August 12, 1998 RTC Decision in Civil Case No.
4930-V-96, annulling TCT No. V-41319. The dispositive portion of the Decision
[12]
stated:
WHEREFORE, judgment is hereby rendered declaring as null and void Transfer
Certificate of Title No.V-41319 in the name of defendant Raul Acampado for having
proceeded from an illegitimate source. With costs against the defendant.
SO ORDERED.
On January 27, 1999, petitioner filed with the Court of Appeals a Petition for Annulment of
the RTC Decision.
Ruling of the Court of Appeals
For being insufficient in form and substance, the Petition for Annulment was outrightly
dismissed by the CA. It ruled that petitioner ought to have filed, instead, a petition for relief
from judgment or an action for quieting of title.
Hence, this Petition.
[13]

Issues
In its Memorandum, petitioner presents the following issues:
I
x x x [W]hether or not a petition for annulment of judgment under Rule 47 of the
1997 Rules of Civil Procedure is the proper remedy available to petitioner under the
circumstances.
II
x x x [W]hether or not the judgment of the trial court in Civil Case No. 4930-V-96
should be annulled.
[14]

The Courts Ruling
The Petition is meritorious.
First Issue: Proper Remedy
Respondents aver that a petition for annulment is not proper, because there were three
different remedies available but they were not resorted to by petitioner.
We are not persuaded. First, a petition for relief, the remedy pointed to by the Court of
Appeals, was not available to petitioner. Section 1, Rule 38 of the Rules of Court, states:
Petition for relief from judgment, order, or other proceedings.-When a judgment or
final order is entered, or any other proceeding is thereafter taken against a party in
any court through fraud, accident, mistake, or excusable negligence, he may file a
petition in such court and in the same case praying that the judgment, order or
proceeding be set aside. (Italics supplied)
It must be emphasized that petitioner was never a party to Civil Case No. 4930-V-
96. In Lagula et al. v. Casimiro et al.,
[15]
the Court held that -- relative to a motion for relief on
the ground of fraud, accident, mistake, or excusable negligence -- Rule 38 of the Rules of Court
only applies when the one deprived of his right is a party to the case. Since petitioner was
never a party to the case or even summoned to appear therein, then the remedy of relief from
judgment under Rule 38 of the Rules of Court was not proper. This is plainly provided in the
italicized words of the present provision just quoted.
Second, in denying petitioners Motion for Reconsideration of the Decision dismissing the
Petition for Annulment of Judgment, the Court of Appeals reasoned that another remedy, an
action for quieting of title, was also available to petitioner.
We do not agree. It should be stressed that this case was instituted to ask for relief from the
peremptory declaration of nullity of TCT No. V-41319, which had been issued without first
giving petitioner an opportunity to be heard. Petitioner focused on the judgment in Civil Case
No. 4930-V-96 which adversely affected it, and which it therefore sought to annul. Filing an
action for quieting of title will not remedy what it perceived as a disregard of due process; it is
therefore not an appropriate remedy.
Equally important, an action for quieting of title is filed only when there is a cloud on title to
real property or any interest therein. As defined, a cloud on title is a semblance of title which
appears in some legal form but which is in fact unfounded.
[16]
In this case, the subject judgment
cannot be considered as a cloud on petitioners title or interest over the real property covered by
TCT No. V-41319, which does not even have a semblance of being a title.
It would not be proper to consider the subject judgment as a cloud that would warrant the
filing of an action for quieting of title, because to do so would require the court hearing the
action to modify or interfere with the judgment or order of another co-equal court. Well-
entrenched in our jurisdiction is the doctrine that a court has no power to do so, as that action
may lead to confusion and seriously hinder the administration of justice.
[17]
Clearly, an action for
quieting of title is not an appropriate remedy in this case.
Third, private respondent cites a last remedy: the intervention by petitioner in Civil Case No.
4930-V-96. The availability of this remedy hinges on petitioners knowledge of the pendency of
that case, which would have otherwise been alerted to the need to intervene therein. Though
presumed by private respondent, any such knowledge prior to October 1998 is, however,
emphatically denied by petitioner.
The Petition for Annulment before the Court of Appeals precisely alleged that private
respondent purposely concealed the case by excluding petitioner as a defendant in Civil Case No.
4930-V-96, even if the latter was an indispensable party. Without due process of law, the former
intended to deprive petitioner of the latters duly registered property right. Indeed, the execution
of the Decision in Civil Case No. 4930-V-96 necessarily entailed its enforcement against
petitioner, even though it was not a party to that case. Hence, the latter concludes that annulment
of judgment was the only effective remedy open to it.
The allegation of extrinsic fraud, if fully substantiated by a preponderance of evidence, may
be the basis for annulling a judgment.
[18]
The resort to annulment becomes proper because of such
allegation, coupled with the unavailability of the other remedies pointed to by respondents.
Second Issue: Lack of J urisdiction
It is undisputed that the property covered by TCT No. V-41319 was mortgaged to petitioner,
and that the mortgage was annotated on TCT No. V-41319 before the institution of Civil Case
No. 4930-V-96. It is also undisputed that all subsequent proceedings pertaining to the foreclosure
of the mortgage were entered in the Registry of Deeds. The nullification and cancellation of
TCT No. V-41319 carried with it the nullification and cancellation of the mortgage annotation.
Although a mortgage affects the land itself and not merely the TCT covering it, the
cancellation of the TCT and the mortgage annotation exposed petitioner to real prejudice,
because its rights over the mortgaged property would no longer be known and respected by third
parties. Necessarily, therefore, the nullification of TCT No. V-41319 adversely affected its
property rights, considering that a real mortgage is a real right and a real property by itself.
[19]

Evidently, petitioner is encompassed within the definition of an indispensable party; thus, it
should have been impleaded as a defendant in Civil Case No. 4930-V-96.
An indispensable party is a party who has such an interest in the controversy or
subject matter that a final adjudication cannot be made, in his absence, without
injuring or affecting that interest[;] a party who has not only an interest in the subject
matter of the controversy, but also has an interest of such nature that a final decree
cannot be made without affecting his interest or leaving the controversy in such a
condition that its final determination may be wholly inconsistent with equity and good
conscience. It has also been considered that an indispensable party is a person in
whose absence there cannot be a determination between the parties already before the
court which is effective, complete, or equitable. Further, an indispensable party is one
who must be included in an action before it may properly go forward.
A person is not an indispensable party, however, if his interest in the controversy or
subject matter is separable from the interest of the other parties, so that it will not
necessarily be directly or injuriously affected by a decree which does complete justice
between them.
[20]

The joinder of indispensable parties to an action is mandated by Section 7, Rule 3 of the
Revised Rules of Civil Procedures, which we quote:
SEC 7. Compulsory joinder of indispensable parties. Parties in interest without
whom no final determination can be had of an action shall be joined either as
plaintiffs or defendants.
Aside from the above provision, jurisprudence requires such joinder, as the following
excerpts indicate:
Indispensable parties must always be joined either as plaintiffs or defendants, for the
court cannot proceed without them. x x x. Indispensable parties are those with such an
interest in the controversy that a final decree would necessarily affect their rights, so
that the courts cannot proceed without their presence.
[21]

"x x x. Without the precence of indispensable parties to a suit or proceeding, a
judgment of a Court cannot attain real finality."
[22]

Whenever it appears to the court in the course of a proceeding that an indispensable
party has not been joined, it is the duty of the court to stop the trial and to order the
inclusion of such party. (The Revised Rules of Court, Annotated & Commented by
Senator Vicente J. Francisco, Vol. I, p. 271, 1973 ed., See also Cortez vs. Avila, 101
Phil. 705.) Such an order is unavoidable, for the general rule with reference to the
making of parties in a civil action requires the joinder of all necessary parties
wherever possible, and the joinder of all indispensable parties under any and all
conditions, the presence of those latter parties being a sine qua non of the exercise of
judicial power. (Borlasa vs. Polistico, 47 Phil. 345, at p. 347.) It is precisely when
an indispensable party is not before the court (that) the action should be
dismissed. (People vs. Rodriguez, 106 Phil. 325. at p. 327.) The absence of an
indispensable party renders all subsequent actuations of the court null and void, for
want of authority to act, not only as to the absent parties but even as to those
present.
[23]
(emphasis supplied)
The evident aim and intent of the Rules regarding the joinder of indispensable and
necessary parties is a complete determination of all possible issues, not only between
the parties themselves but also as regards to other persons who may be affected by the
judgment. A valid judgment cannot even be rendered where there is want of
indispensable parties.
[24]

From the above, it is clear that the presence of indispensable parties is necessary to vest the
court with jurisdiction, which is the authority to hear and determine a cause, the right to act in a
case.
[25]
We stress that the absence of indispensable parties renders all subsequent actuations of
the court null and void, because of that courts want of authority to act, not only as to the absent
parties but even as to those present.
It is argued that petitioner cannot possibly be an indispensable party, since the mortgage
may not even be valid because of the possible absence of compliance with the requirement
[26]
that
the mortgagor be the absolute owner of the thing mortgaged. It should be emphasized, however,
that at the time the mortgage was constituted, there was an existing TCT (No. V-41319), which
named the mortgagors, the Acampado spouses, as the registered owners of the property. In Seno
v. Mangubat
[27]
this Court held as follows:
The well-known rule in this jurisdiction is that a person dealing with a registered
land has a right to rely upon the face of the Torrens Certificate of Title and to dispense
with the need of inquiring further, except when the party concerned has actual
knowledge of facts and circumstances that would impel a reasonably cautious man to
make such inquiry.
x x x x x x x x x
Thus, where innocent third persons relying on the correctness of the certificate of
title issued, acquire rights over the property, the court cannot disregard such rights and
order the total cancellation of the certificate for that would impair public confidence
in the certificate of title; otherwise everyone dealing with property registered under
the Torrens system would have to inquire in every instance as to whether the title
ha[s] been regularly or irregularly issued by the court. Indeed this is contrary to the
evident purpose of the law.
The peremptory disregard of the annotations registered and entered in TCT No. V-41319
constituted a deprivation of private property without due process of law and was therefore
unquestionably unjust and iniquitous. This, we cannot countenance.
Clearly, it was the trial courts duty to order petitioners inclusion as a party to Civil Case
No. 4930-V-96. This was not done. Neither the court nor private respondents bothered to
implead petitioner as a party to the case. In the absence of petitioner, an indispensable party, the
trial court had no authority to act on the case. Its judgment therein was null and void due to lack
of jurisdiction over an indispensable party.
In Leonor v. Court of Appeals
[28]
and Arcelona v. Court of Appeals,
[29]
we held thus:
A void judgment for want of jurisdiction is no judgment at all. It cannot be the
source of any right nor the creator of any obligation. All acts performed pursuant to it
and all claims emanating from it have no legal effect. Hence, it can never become
final and any writ of execution based on it is void:x x x it may be said to be a lawless
thing which can be treated as an outlaw and slain at sight, or ignored wherever and
whenever it exhibits its head.
WHEREFORE, the Petition is GRANTED and the assailed Resolutions of the Court of
Appeals are REVERSED. The Decision of the Regional Trial Court in Civil Case No. 4930-V-
41319 is herebyNULLIFIED and SET ASIDE. No costs.
SO ORDERED.
Melo, (Chairman), Vitug, Gonzaga-Reyes, and Sandoval-Gutierrez, JJ., concur.






inShare
ROBLES v. CA- Action for quieting of title | Free
patent

FACTS
Petitioners (all surnamed Robles) trace their ownership of a parcel of land (9,985 sq m.) to Leon and
Silvino, their grandfather and father, respectively. Upon Silvinos death in 1942, said petitioners inherited
the property and started cultivation thereof. Hilario Robles, private respondent and half-brother of the
petitioners, was entrusted with the payment of land taxes due on the property. In 1962, Hilario caused
both the cancellation of the tax declaration covering the property and its transfer to Ballane (his father-in-
law). Ballane mortgaged the property and, for some reason, the tax declaration thereon was subsequently
named to Hilario. The latter then mortgaged the property to private respondent Rural Bank of Cardona.
The mortgage was foreclosed and said bank acquired by public bidding the property which was then sold
by it to the spouses Santos. Petitioners learned of the mortgage only in 1987. Subsequently, the action
was filed, impleading also as parties-defendant the Director of Lands and the District Land Officer sue to
an issuance of a free patent in favour of spouses Santos. Trial court ruled in favour of petitioners,
declaring null the patent, declaring the heirs of Silvino absolute owners of the subject land. CA reversed
on the ground that petitioners no longer had title to the property.

ISSUES
(1) whether petitioners have the appropriate title essential to an action for quieting of title (relevant issue)
and whether title claimed by respondents is valid
(2) whether REM between Hilario and RBC is valid
(3) whether issuance of free patent is valid
HELD
(1) Petitioners have valid title by virtue of their continued and open occupation and possession as owners
of the subject property.
In this case, the cloud on petitioners title emanate from the apparent validity of the free patent issued and
the tax declarations and other evidence in favour of respondents ultimately leading to the transfer of the
property to spouses Santos. WRT title of the spouses Santos, such is deemed invalid/inoperative insofar
as it is rooted in the title and appropriation of Hilario. Hilario could not have prejudiced the rights of his co-
heirs as co-owners of the real estate. He must have first repudiated the ownership clearly and evidently.
CA failed to consider the irregularities in the transactions involving the property. No instrument/deed of
conveyance was presented to show any transaction between petitioners and Ballane or even Hilario.

(2) Mortgage was only valid insofar as Hilarios undivided interest is concerned there being co-ownership
between the heirs. Court also delved into gross negligence which amounted to bad faith on part of bank
by not exercising due diligence in verifying the ownership of the land considering such was unregistered.
Free patent was also not valid, the land in question having been converted ipso jure to private land by
virtue of the adverse possession in the concept of owners since.

(3) 1916 by the petitioners. Issuance of patents covering private lands is out of the jurisdiction of the
Director of Lands or Bureau of Lands.

Hence, the sale of the property in favour of the spouses Santos WRT the share of Hiario was valid but the
patent issued was null.

Robles vs. CA
Posted on August 13, 2013
328 SCRA 97
GR no. 123509
March 14, 2000
Topic: Property; Quieting of title
Facts
Leon Robles primitively owned a land in Morong Rizal. When Leon died, his son Silvino Robles
inherited the land. Both of them declared the property under their name for taxation purposes. Upon
the death of Silvino, his widow Maria dela Cruz and his children inherited the property. They took
adverse possession of it and paid the taxes thereon. The task of cultivating the land was assigned to
one of Silvinos son, Lucio Roles while the payment of the taxes was entrusted to their half brother,
Hilario Robles.
In 1962, for unknown reasons, the tax declaration of the parcel of land in the name of Silvino Robles
was canceled and transferred to one Exequiel Ballena, father of Andrea Robles who is the wife of
defendant Hilario Robles. Thereafter, Exequiel Ballena secured a loan from the Antipolo Rural Bank,
using the tax declaration as security. Somehow, the tax declaration was transferred to the name of
Antipolo Rural Bank and later on, was transferred to the name of defendant Hilario Robles and his
wife. In 1996, Andrea Robles secured a loan from the Cadona Rural Bank, Inc., using the tax
declaration as security. For failure to pay the mortgage debt, foreclosure proceedings were had and
defendant Rural Bank emerged as the highest bidder during the auction sale in October 1968.
The spouses Hilario Robles failed to redeem the property and so the tax declaration was transferred
in the name of defendant Rural Bank. On September 25, 1987, defendant Rural Bank sold the same
to the Spouses Vergel Santos and Ruth Santos who took possession of the property and was able to
secure Free Patent No. IV-1-010021 in their names.
Issue:
Whether or not the petitioners have the appropriate title that is essential for them to avail themselves
of the remedy of quieting of title.
Held:
Yes. The land had previously been occupied by Leon and later by Silvino Robles, petitioners
predecessor-in-interest, as evidenced by the different tax declarations issued in their names. Also, the
petitioners continued occupying and possessing the land from the death of Silvino in 1942 until they
were allegedly ousted therefrom in 1988.
The title of the petitioners over the land in dispute is superior to the title of the registered owner
which is a total nullity. The long and continued possession of petitioners under a valid claim of title
cannot be defeated by the claim of a registered owner whose title is defective from the beginning
since Hilario mortgaged the disputed property to the Rural Bank of Cardona in his capacity as a mere
co-owner thereof. Clearly, the said transaction did not divest them of title to the property at the time
of the institution of the Complaint for quieting of title.






THIRD DIVISION
[G.R. No. 123509. March 14, 2000]
LUCIO ROBLES, EMETERIA ROBLES, ALUDIA ROBLES and EMILIO
ROBLES, petitioners, vs. COURT OF APPEALS, Spouses VIRGILIO
SANTOS and BABY RUTH CRUZ, RURAL BANK OF CARDONA, Inc.,
HILARIO ROBLES, ALBERTO PALAD JR. in his capacity as Director of
Lands, and JOSE MAULEON in his capacity as District Land Officer of
the Bureau Of Lands, respondents.
D E C I S I O N
PANGANIBAN, J .:
To be entitled to the remedy of quieting of title, petitioners must show that they have title
to the real property at issue, and that some deed or proceeding beclouds its validity or
efficacy. Buyers of unregistered real property, especially banks, must exert due
diligence in ascertaining the titles of mortgagors and sellers, lest some innocent parties
be prejudiced. Failure to observe such diligence may amount to bad faith and may
result in the nullity of the mortgage, as well as of the subsequent foreclosure and/or
auction sale. Unless the co-ownership is clearly repudiated, a co-owner cannot, by
prescription, acquire title to the shares of the other co-owners. Mesm
The Case
Before us is a Petition for Review under Rule 45, assailing the June 15, 1995 Decision
and the January 15, 1996 Resolution of the Court of Appeals
[1]
(CA) in CA-GR CV No.
34213.
[2]
In its Decision, the CA ruled:
[3]

"WHEREFORE, the trial courts June 17, 1991 decision is REVERSED
and SET ASIDE, and in lieu thereof a new one is hereby entered ordering
the dismissal of the plaintiffs-appellees['] second amended complaint."
Earlier, the trial court had disposed as follows: Spped jo
"WHEREFORE, premises considered, judgment is hereby rendered as
follows:
1. Declaring free patent Title No. IV-1-010021 issued by the Bureau
of Lands as null and void;
2. Ordering the defendant spouses Vergel Santos and Ruth Santos
to deliver the property subject of this case to the plaintiff; and
3. Declaring the heirs of Silvino Robles as the absolute owner of
the land in controversy."
The January 15, 1996 CA Resolution denied petitioners' Motion for Reconsideration.
The Facts
The present Petition is rooted in a case for quieting of title before the Regional Trial
Court of Morong, Rizal, filed on March 14, 1988,
[4]
by Petitioners Lucio Robles, Emeteria
Robles, Aludia Robles and Emilio Robles. The facts were narrated by the trial court in
this wise:
"There seems to be no dispute that Leon Robles primitively owned the
land situated in Kay Taga, Lagundi, Morong, Rizal with an area of 9,985
square meters. He occupied the same openly and adversely. He also
declared the same in his name for taxation purposes as early as 1916
covered by Tax Declaration No. 17865 (Exh. "I") and paid the
corresponding taxes thereon (Exh. "B"). When Leon Robles died, his son
Silvino Robles inherited the land, who took possession of the land,
declared it in his name for taxation purposes and paid the taxes
thereon. Rtc-spped
"Upon the death of Silvino Robles in 1942, his widow Maria de la Cruz and
his children inherited the property. They took adverse possession of said
property and paid taxes thereon. The task of cultivat[ing] the land was
assigned to plaintiff Lucio Robles who planted trees and other crops. He
also built a nipa hut on the land. The plaintiffs entrusted the payment of
the land taxes to their co-heir and half-brother, Hilario Robles.
"In 1962, for unknown reasons, the tax declaration of the parcel of land in
the name of Silvino Robles was canceled and transferred to one Exequiel
Ballena (Exh. "19"), father of Andrea Robles who is the wife of defendant
Hilario Robles. Thereafter, Exequiel Ballena secured a loan from the
Antipolo Rural Bank, using the tax declaration as security. Somehow, the
tax declaration was transferred [to] the name of Antipolo Rural Bank (Exh.
"17") and later on, was transferred [to] the name of defendant Hilario
Robles and his wife (Exh. "16"). Calrky
"In 1996, Andrea Robles secured a loan from the Cardona Rural Bank,
Inc., using the tax declaration as security. Andrea Robles testified without
contradiction that somebody else, not her husband Hilario Robles, signed
the loan papers because Hilario Robles was working in Marinduque at that
time as a carpenter.
"For failure to pay the mortgage debt, foreclosure proceedings were had
and defendant Rural Bank emerged as the highest bidder during the
auction sale in October 1968.
"The spouses Hilario Robles failed to redeem the property and so the tax
declaration was transferred in the name of defendant Rural Bank. On
September 25, 1987, defendant Rural Bank sold the same to the Spouses
Vergel Santos and Ruth Santos. Jo spped
"In September 1987, plaintiff discovered the mortgage and attempted to
redeem the property, but was unsuccessful. On May 10,1988, defendant
spouses Santos took possession of the property in question and was able
to secure Free Patent No. IV-1-010021 in their names."
[5]

On the other hand, the Court of Appeals summarized the facts of the case as follows:
"The instant action for quieting of title concerns the parcel of land bounded
and more particularly described as follows: Sd-aad-sc
"A parcel of land located at Kay Taga, Lagundi, Morong, Rizal.
Bounded [i]n the north by the property of Venancio Ablay y Simeon
Ablay; [i]n the east by the property of Veronica Tulak y Dionisio
Ablay; [i]n the south by the property of Simeon Ablay y Dionisio
Ablay; and [i]n the west by the property of Dionisio Ablay y Simeon
Ablay, with an area of 9,985 square meters, more or less, assessed
in the year 1935 at P60.00 under Tax Declaration No. 23219.
"As the heirs of Silvino Robles who, likewise inherited the above-described
parcel from Leon Robles, the siblings Lucio, Emeteria, Aludia and Emilio,
all surnamed Robles, commenced the instant suit with the filing of their
March 14, 1988 complaint against Spouses Virgilio and Ruth Santos, as
well as the Rural Bank of Cardona, Inc. Contending that they had been in
possession of the land since 1942, the plaintiff alleged, among other
matters, that it was only in September of 1987 that they came to know of
the foreclosure of the real estate mortgage constituted thereon by the half-
brother, Hilario Robles, in favor of defendant Rural Bank; and that they
likewise learned upon further inquiry, that the latter had already sold the
self-same parcel in favor of the Santos spouses (pp. 1-3, orig. rec.). Twice
amended to implead Hilario Robles (pp. 76-80, orig. rec) and, upon
subsequent discovery of the issuance of Free Patent No. IV-I-010021 in
favor of the defendant spouses, the Director of Lands and the District
Land Officer of the Bureau of Lands as parties-defendants (pp. 117-121,
orig. rec). The plaintiffs complaint sought the following reliefs on the
theory that the encumbrance of their half-brother, constituted on the land,
as well as all proceedings taken subsequent thereto, were null and void, to
wit:
"Wherefore, it is respectfully prayed that (a) a preliminary
mandatory injunction be issued forthwith restoring plaintiffs to their
possession of said parcel of land; (b) an order be issued annulling
said Free Patent No. IV-I-010021 in the name of defendants
spouses Vergel Santos and Ruth C. Santos, the deed of sale
aforementioned and any tax declaration which have been issued in
the name of defendants; and (c) ordering defendants jointly and
severally, to pay plaintiffs the sum of P10,000.00 as attorneys fees.
"Plaintiffs pray for other relief as [may be] just and equitable under
the premises." (pp. 120-121, orig. rec.)
x x x x x x x x x
"With the termination of the pre-trial stage upon the parties-litigants
agreement (p. 203, orig. rec.) the trial court proceeded to try the case on
the merits. It thereafter rendered the challenged June 17, 1991 decision
upon the following findings and conclusions:
"The real estate mortgage allegedly executed by Hilario Robles is
not valid because his signature in the mortgage deed was forged.
This fact, which remains unrebutted, was admitted by Andrea
Robles.
"Inasmuch as the real estate mortgage executed allegedly by
Hilario Robles in favor of the defendant Cardona Rural Bank, Inc.
was not valid, it stands to reason that the foreclosure proceedings
therein were likewise not valid. Therefore, the defendant bank did
not acquire any right arising out of the foreclosure proceedings.
Consequently, defendant bank could not have transferred any right
to the spouses Santos.
"The fact that the land was covered by a free patent will not help
the defendant Santos any.
"There can be no question that the subject [property was held] in
the concept of owner by Leon Robles since 1916. Likewise, his
successor-in-interest, Silvino Robles, his wife Maria de la Cruz and
the plaintiffs occupied the property openly, continuously and
exclusively until they were ousted from their possession in 1988 by
the spouses Vergel and Ruth Santos.
"Under the circumstances, therefore, and considering that "open,
exclusive and undisputed possession of alienable public lands for
the period prescribed by law (30 years), creates the legal fiction
whereby the land, upon completion of the requisite period, ipso jure
and without the need of judicial or other action, ceases to be public
land and becomes private property. Possession of public land x x x
which is [of] the character and duration prescribed by the statute is
the equivalent of an express grant from the State, considering the
dictum of the statute itself[:]; "The possessor x x x shall be
conclusively presumed to have performed all the conditions
essential to a government grant and shall be entitled to a certificate
of title x x x." No proof is admissible to overcome a conclusive
presumption[,] and confirmation proceedings would be a little more
than a formality, at the most limited to ascertaining whether the
possession claimed is of the required character and length of time.
Registration thereunder would not confer title, but simply recognize
a title already vested. (Cruz v. IAC, G.R. No. 75042, November 29,
1988) The land in question has become private land.
"Consequently, the issuance of [a] free patent title to the Spouses
Vergel Santos and Ruth C. Santos is not valid because at the time
the property subject of this case was already private land, the
Bureau of Lands having no jurisdiction to dispose of the same." (pp.
257-259, orig. rec.)"
"Dissatisfied with the foregoing decision, the Santos spouses and the
defendant Rural Bank jointly filed their July 6, 1991 Notice of Appeal
(p.260, orig. rec.) x x x."
[6]

Ruling of the Court of Appeals
In reversing the trial court, the Court of Appeals held that petitioners no longer had any
title to the subject property at the time they instituted the Complaint for quieting of title.
The CA ratiocinated as follows: Mis spped
"As correctly urged by the appellants, the plaintiff-appellees no longer had
any title to the property at the time of the institution of the instant
complaint. (pp. 25-27, rec.) The latters claim of continuous possession
notwithstanding (pp. 3-5, TSN, July 5, 1990; p. 12, TSN, July 12, 1990),
the aforesaid loss of title is amply evidenced by the subsequent
declaration of the subject realty for taxation purposes not only in the name
of Exequiel Ballena (Exhibits "1" and "2", pp. 23-24, orig. rec.) but also in
the name of the Rural Bank of Antipolo (Exhibit 17, vol. II, orig. rec.). On
the theory that tax declarations can be evincive of the transfer of a parcel
of land or a portion thereof (Gacos v. Court of Appeals, 212 SCRA 214),
the court a quo clearly erred in simply brushing aside the apparent
transfers [which] the land in litigation had undergone. Whether legal or
equitable, it cannot, under the circumstances, be gainsaid that the plaintiff-
appellees no longer had any title to speak of when Exequiel Ballena
executed the November 7, 1966 Deed of Absolute Sale transferring the
land in favor of the spouses Hilario and Andrea Robles (Exhibit "3", p. 25,
orig. rec.)
"Even on the theory that the plaintiffs-appellees and their half-brother,
Hilario Robles, are co-owners of the land left behind by their common
father, Silvino Robles, such title would still be effectively discounted by
what could well serve as the latters acts of repudiation of the co-
ownership, i.e., his possession (p. 22, TSN, November 15, 1990) and
declaration thereof for taxation purposes in his own name (Exhibit "4", p.
26, orig. rec.). In view of the plaintiffs-appellees inaction for more than
twenty (20) years from the time the subject realty was transferred in favor
of Hilario Robles, the appellants correctly maintain that prescription had
already set in. While it may be readily conceded that an action to quiet title
to property in the possession of the plaintiff is imprescriptible (Almanza vs.
Arguelles, 156 SCRA 718; Coronel vs. Intermediate Appellate Court, 155
SCRA 270; Caragay-Layno vs. Court of Appeals, 133 SCRA 718; Charon
Enterprises vs. Court of Appeals, 124 SCRA 784; Faja vs. Court of
Appeals, 75 SCRA 441; Burton vs. Gabar, 55 SCRA 4999), it equally
bears emphasis that a co-owner or, for that matter, the said co-owner[']s
successors-in-interest who occupy the community property other than as
co-owner[s] can claim prescription as against the other co-owners (De
Guzman vs. Austria, 148 SCRA 75; Ramos vs. Ramos, 45 Phil. 362;
Africa vs. Africa, 42 Phil. 902; Bargayo vs. Camumot, 40 Phil. 857; De
Castro vs. Echarri, 20 Phil. 23). If only in this latter sense, the appellants
correctly argue that the plaintiffs-appellees have lost their cause of action
by prescription.
"Over and above the foregoing considerations, the court a quo gravely
erred in invalidating the real estate mortgage constituted on the land solely
on the basis of Andrea Robles testimony that her husbands signature
thereon was forged (p. 257, orig. rec.),
xxx xxx xxx
"In according to the foregoing testimony x x x credibility which, while
admittedly unrebutted, was altogether uncorroborated, the trial court lost
sight of the fact that the assailed deed of real estate mortgage (Exhibit "5",
Vol. II, orig. rec.) is a public document, the acknowledgment of which is
a prima facie evidence of its due execution (Chua vs. Court of Appeals,
206 SCRA 339). As such, it retains the presumption of validity in the
absence of a full, clear and convincing evidence to overcome such
presumption (Agdeppa vs. Ibe, 220 SCRA 584). Maniks
"The foregoing principles take even more greater [sic] when it is,
moreover, borne in mind that Hilario Robles made the following
admissions in his March 8, 1989 answer, viz:
"3. The complaint filed against herein answering defendant has no
legal basis considering that as the lawful owner of the subject real
property, defendant Hilario Robles has the right to mortgage the
said real property and could dispose the same in whatever manner
he wishe[s] to do." (p. 96, orig. rec.)
"Appropriately underscored by the appellants, the foregoing admission is
binding against Hilario [Robles]. Judicial admissions, verbal or written,
made by the parties in the pleadings or in the course of the trial or other
proceedings in the same case are conclusive, no evidence being required
to prove the same. They cannot be contradicted unless shown to have
been made through [a] palpable mistake or [unless] no such admission
was actually made (Philippine American General Insurance, Inc. vs. Sweet
Lines, Inc., 212 SCRA 194).
"It does not help the plaintiffs-appellees cause any that, aside from
complying with the requirements for the foreclosure of the subject real
estate mortgage (Exhibits "6", "7", "8" and "10", Volume II[)], the appellant
Rural Bank had not only relented to the mortgagors request to postpone
the (Exhibit "g", Vol. II, orig. rec.) but had likewise granted the latters
request for an extension of the redemption period therefor (Exhibits "11"
and "12", pp. 35-36, orig. rec.). Without going into minute detail in
discussing the Santos spouses rights as purchasers for value and in good
faith (Exhibit "21", Vol. II, orig. rec.), the mortgagor and the plaintiffs-
appellees cannot now be heard to challenge the validity of the sale of the
land after admittedly failing to redeem the same within the extension the
appellant Rural Bank granted (pp. 10-11, TSN, November 15, 1990).
"Being dependent on the supposed invalidity of the constitution and
foreclosure of the subject real estate mortgage, the plaintiffs-appellees
attack upon x x x Free Patent No. IV-I must necessarily fail. The trial court,
therefore, misread, and ignored the evidence o[n] record, to come up with
erroneous conclusion." Manikx
Contending that such ruling was contrary to law and jurisprudence, Petitioners Lucio,
Emeteria, Aludia and Emilio -- all surnamed Robles -- filed this Petition for Review.
[7]

The Assigned Error
Petitioners ascribe the following error to the respondent court:
"Respondent Court of Appeals grievously erred in ruling that with the
transfers of the tax declaration over the parcel of land in question from
Silvino Robles to Exequiel Ballena, then to the Rural Bank of Antipolo,
then to Respondent Hilario Robles, then to Respondent Rural Bank of
Cardona Inc., and then finally to Respondent Spouses Santos, petitioners,
who by themselves and their predecessors in interest have been in open,
actual and adverse possession of said parcel of land since 1916 up to
their forced removal therefrom in 1988, have lost their title to said property
by prescription to their half-brother, Respondent Hilario Robles, and then
finally, to Respondent Spouses Santos."
[8]

For a better understanding of the case, the above issue will be broken down into three
points: first, the nature of the remedy of quieting of title; second, the validity of the real
estate mortgage; and third, the efficacy of the free patent granted to the Santos
spouses. Spped
First Issue: Quieting of Title
Article 476 of the Civil Code provides:
"Whenever there is cloud on title to real property or any interest therein, by
reason of any instrument, record, claim, encumbrance or proceeding
which is apparently valid or effective but is in truth and in fact invalid,
ineffective, voidable or unenforceable, and may be prejudicial to said title,
an action may be brought to remove such cloud or to quiet title.
"An action may also be brought to prevent a cloud from being cast upon
title to real property or any interest therein."
Based on the above definition, an action to quiet title is a common-law remedy for the
removal of any cloud or doubt or uncertainty on the title to real property.
[9]
It is essential
for the plaintiff or complainant to have a legal or an equitable title to or interest in the
real property which is the subject matter of the action.
[10]
Also, the deed, claim,
encumbrance or proceeding that is being alleged as a cloud on plaintiffs title must be
shown to be in fact invalid or inoperative despite its prima facie appearance of validity or
legal efficacy.
[11]

That there is an instrument or a document which, on its face, is valid and efficacious is
clear in the present case. Petitioners allege that their title as owners and possessors of
the disputed property is clouded by the tax declaration and, subsequently, the free
patent thereto granted to Spouses Vergel and Ruth Santos. The more important
question to be resolved, however, is whether the petitioners have the appropriate title
that will entitle them to avail themselves of the remedy of quieting of title. Nexold
Petitioners anchor their claim to the disputed property on their continued and open
occupation and possession as owners thereof. They allege that they inherited it from
their father, Silvino, who in turn had inherited it from his father, Leon. They maintain that
after their fathers death, they agreed among themselves that Petitioner Lucio Robles
would be tending and cultivating it for everyone, and that their half-brother Hilario would
be paying the land taxes.
Petitioners insist that they were not aware that from 1962 until 1987, the subject
property had been declared in the names of Exequiel Ballena, the Rural Bank of
Antipolo, Hilario Robles, the Rural Bank of Cardona, Inc., and finally, Spouses Vergel
and Ruth Santos. Maintaining that as co-owners of the subject property, they did not
agree to the real estate mortgage constituted on it, petitioners insist that their shares
therein should not have been prejudiced by Hilarios actions. Miso
On the other hand, Private Respondents Vergel and Ruth Santos trace their claim to the
subject property to Exequiel Ballena, who had purportedly sold it to Hilario and Andrea
Robles. According to private respondents, the Robles spouses then mortgaged it to the
Rural Bank of Cardona, Inc. -- not as co-owners but as absolute owners -- in order to
secure an agricultural loan worth P2,000. Upon their failure to pay their indebtedness,
the mortgage was foreclosed and the property sold to the bank as the highest bidder.
Thereafter, private respondents purchased the property from the bank. Sppedjo
Undisputed is the fact that the land had previously been occupied by Leon and later by
Silvino Robles, petitioners predecessors-in-interest, as evidenced by the different tax
declarations issued in their names. Also undisputed is the fact that the petitioners
continued occupying and possessing the land from the death of Silvino in 1942 until
they were allegedly ousted therefrom in 1988. In 1962, the subject property was
declared in the name of Exequiel for taxation purposes. On September 30, 1965, it was
again declared in the same name; on October 28, 1965, in the name of the Rural Bank
of Antipolo; on November 7, 1966, in the name of Hilario and Andrea; and thereafter, in
the name of the Rural Bank of Cardona and, finally, in the name of the Santos spouses.
Ostensibly, the Court of Appeals failed to consider irregularities in the transactions
involving the disputed property. First, while it was declared in the name of Exequiel in
1962, there was no instrument or deed of conveyance evidencing its transfer from the
heirs of Silvino to him. This fact is important, considering that the petitioners are alleging
continued possession of the property. Second, Exequiel was the father-in-law of Hilario,
to whom petitioners had entrusted the payment of the land taxes. Third, considering that
the subject property had been mortgaged by Exequiel to the Rural Bank of Antipolo, and
that it was foreclosed and in fact declared in the banks name in 1965, why was he able
to sell it to Spouses Hilario and Andrea in 1966? Lastly, inasmuch as it was
an unregistered parcel of land, the Rural Bank of Cardona, Inc., did not observe due
diligence in determining Hilarios title thereto. Jospped
The failure to show the indubitable title of Exequiel to the property in question is vital to
the resolution of the present Petition. It was from him that Hilario had allegedly derived
his title thereto as owner, an allegation which thereby enabled him to mortgage it to the
Rural Bank of Cardona. The occupation and the possession thereof by the petitioners
and their predecessors-in-interest until 1962 was not disputed, and Exequiels
acquisition of the said property by prescription was not alleged. Thus, the deed of
conveyance purportedly evidencing the transfer of ownership and possession from the
heirs of Silvino to Exequiel should have been presented as the best proof of that
transfer. No such document was presented, however. Scmis
Therefore, there is merit to the contention of the petitioners that Hilario mortgaged the
disputed property to the Rural Bank of Cardona in his capacity as a mere co-owner
thereof. Clearly, the said transaction did not divest them of title to the property at the
time of the institution of the Complaint for quieting of title.
Contrary to the disquisition of the Court of Appeals, Hilario effected no clear and evident
repudiation of the co-ownership. It is a fundamental principle that a co-owner cannot
acquire by prescription the share of the other co-owners, absent any clear repudiation of
the co-ownership. In order that the title may prescribe in favor of a co-owner, the
following requisites must concur: (1) the co-owner has performed unequivocal acts of
repudiation amounting to an ouster of the other co-owners; (2) such positive acts of
repudiation have been made known to the other co-owners; and (3) the evidence
thereof is clear and convincing.
[12]

In the present case, Hilario did not have possession of the subject property; neither did
he exclude the petitioners from the use and the enjoyment thereof, as they had
indisputably shared in its fruits.
[13]
Likewise, his act of entering into a mortgage contract
with the bank cannot be construed to be a repudiation of the co-ownership. As absolute
owner of his undivided interest in the land, he had the right to alienate his share, as he
in fact did.
[14]
Neither should his payment of land taxes in his name, as agreed upon by
the co-owners, be construed as a repudiation of the co-ownership. The assertion that
the declaration of ownership was tantamount to repudiation was belied by the continued
occupation and possession of the disputed property by the petitioners as owners. Mis
sc
Second Issue: Validity of the Real Estate Mortgage
In a real estate mortgage contract, it is essential that the mortgagor be the absolute
owner of the property to be mortgaged; otherwise, the mortgage is void.
[15]
In the present
case, it is apparent that Hilario Robles was not the absolute owner of the entire subject
property; and that the Rural Bank of Cardona, Inc., in not fully ascertaining his title
thereto, failed to observe due diligence and, as such, was a mortgagee in bad faith.
First, the bank was utterly remiss in its duty to establish who the true owners and
possessors of the subject property were. It acted with precipitate haste in approving the
Robles spouses loan application, as well as the real estate mortgage covering the
disputed parcel of land.
[16]
Had it been more circumspect and assiduous, it would have
discovered that the said property was in fact being occupied by the petitioners, who
were tending and cultivating it.
Second, the bank should not have relied solely on the Deed of Sale purportedly
showing that the ownership of the disputed property had been transferred from Exequiel
Ballena to the Robles spouses, or that it had subsequently been declared in the name
of Hilario. Because it was dealing with unregistered land, and the circumstances
surrounding the transaction between Hilario and his father-in-law Exequiel were
suspicious, the bank should have exerted more effort to fully determine the title of the
Robleses. Rural Bank of Compostela v. Court of Appeals
[17]
invalidated a real estate
mortgage after a finding that the bank had not been in good faith. The Court explained:
"The rule that persons dealing with registered lands can rely solely on the certificate of
title does not apply to banks." In Tomas v. Tomas, the Court held: Sc-slx
"x x x. Banks, indeed, should exercise more care and prudence in dealing
even with registered lands, than private individuals, for their business is
one affected with public interest, keeping in trust money belonging to their
depositors, which they should guard against loss by not committing any
act of negligence which amounts to lack of good faith by which they would
be denied the protective mantle of land registration statute, Act 496,
extended only to purchasers for value and in good faith, as well as to
mortgagees of the same character and description. x x x."
[18]

Lastly, the Court likewise finds it unusual that, notwithstanding the banks insistence that
it had become the owner of the subject property and had paid the land taxes thereon,
the petitioners continued occupying it and harvesting the fruits therefrom.
[19]

Considering that Hilario can be deemed to have mortgaged the disputed property not
as absolute owner but only as a co-owner, he can be adjudged to have disposed to the
Rural Bank of Cardona, Inc., only his undivided share therein. The said bank, being the
immediate predecessor of the Santos spouses, was a mortgagee in bad faith. Thus,
justice and equity mandate the entitlement of the Santos spouses, who merely stepped
into the shoes of the bank, only to what legally pertains to the latter -- Hilarios share in
the disputed property. Missc
Third Issue: Efficacy of Free Patent Grant
Petitioners repeatedly insist that the disputed property belongs to them by private
ownership and, as such, it could not have been awarded to the Santos spouses by free
patent. They allege that they possessed it in the concept of owners -- openly,
peacefully, publicly and continuously as early as 1916 until they were forcibly ousted
therefrom in 1988. They likewise contend that they cultivated it and harvested its fruits.
Lucio Robles testified:
"xxx xxx xxx
Q By the way, why do you know this parcel of land?
A Because before my father died, he showed me all the documents.
Q Before the death of your father, who was the owner of this parcel of
land?
A My father, sir. Spped
Q How did your father acquire this parcel of land?
A My father knew that it [was] by inheritance, sir.
Q From whom?
A From his father, Leon Robles, sir.
Q And do you know also [from] whom Leon Robles acquired this land?
A It was inherited from his father, sir.
Q What is the nature of this parcel of land?
A Its an agricultural land, sir,
Q Now, at the time of the death of your father, this land was planted with
what crops?
A Mango trees, santol trees, and I was the one who planted those trees,
sir.
Q When did you plant those trees?
A Before the death of my father, sir. M-issdaa
Q Now, after the death of your father, who cultivated this parcel of land?
A I took charge of the land after the death of my father, sir.
Q Up to when?
A Up to the present, sir, after this case was already filed."
[20]

The preceding claim is an assertion that the subject property is private land. The
petitioners do not concede, and the records do not show, that it was ever an alienable
land of the public domain. They allege private ownership thereof, as evidenced by their
testimonies and the tax declarations issued in the names of their predecessors-in-
interest. It must be noted that while their claim was not corroborated by other witnesses,
it was not controverted by the other parties, either. Kycalr
Carlos Dolores insisted that the Rural Bank of Cardona, Inc., of which he was the
manager, had acquired and possessed the subject property. He did not, however, give
any reason why the petitioners had continued occupying it, even as he admitted on the
stand that he had visited it twice.
[21]

In the light of their open, continuous, exclusive and notorious possession and
occupation of the land, petitioners are "deemed to have acquired, by operation of law, a
right to a grant, a government grant, without the necessity of a certificate of title being
issued."
[22]
The land was "segregated from the public domain." Accordingly, the director
of lands had no authority to issue a free patent thereto in favor of another person. Verily,
jurisprudence holds that a free patent covering private land is null and void.
[23]

Worth quoting is the disquisition of the Court in Agne v. Director of Lands,
[24]
in which it
held that a riparian owner presently in possession had a better right over an abandoned
river bed than had a registered owner by virtue of a free patent.
"Under the provisions of Act 2874 pursuant to which the title of private
respondents predecessor-in-interest was issued, the President of the
Philippines, or his alter ego, the Director of Lands, has no authority to
grant a free patent for land that has ceased to be a public land and has
passed to private ownership and a title so issued is null and void. The
nullity arises, not from fraud or deceit, but from the fact that the land is not
under the jurisdiction of the Bureau of Lands. The jurisdiction of the
Director of Lands is limited only to public lands and does not cover lands
publicly owned. The purpose of the Legislature in adopting the former
Public Land Act, Act No. 2874, was and is to limit its application to lands of
the public domain, and lands held in private ownership are not included
therein and are not affected in any manner whatsoever thereby. Land held
in freehold or fee title, or of private ownership, constitutes no part of the
public domain, and cannot possibly come within the purview of said act
2874, inasmuch as the subject of such freehold or private land is not
embraced in any manner in the title of the Act and the same is excluded
from the provisions of the text thereof. Kyle
"We reiterate that private ownership of land is not affected by the issuance
of the free patent over the same land because the Public Land Act applies
only to lands of the public domain. Only public land may be disposed of by
the Director of Lands. Since as early as 1920, the land in dispute was
already under the private ownership of herein petitioners and no longer a
part of the lands of the public domain, the same could not have been the
subject matter of a free patent. The patentee and his successors-in-
interest acquired no right or title to said land. Necessarily, Free Patent No.
23263 issued to Herminigildo Agpoon is null and void and the subsequent
titles issued pursuant thereto cannot become final and indefeasible.
Hence we ruled in Director of Lands v. Sicsican, et al. that if at the time
the free patents were issued in 1953 the land covered therein were
already private property of another and, therefore, not part of the
disposable land of the public domain, then applicants patentees acquired
no right or title to the land.
"Now, a certificate of title fraudulently secured is null and void ab initio if
the fraud consisted in misrepresenting that the land is part of the public
domain, although it is not. As earlier stated, the nullity arises, not from the
fraud or deceit, but from the fact that the land is not under the jurisdiction
of the Bureau of Lands. Being null and void, the free patent granted and
the subsequent titles produce no legal effect whatsoever. Quod nullum
est, nullum producit effectum.
"A free patent which purports to convey land to which the government did
not have any title at the time of its issuance does not vest any title in the
patentee as against the true owner. The Court has previously held that the
Land Registration Act and the Cadastral Act do not give anybody who
resorts to the provisions thereof a better title than what he really and
lawfully has. Exsm
xxx xxx xxx
"We have, therefore, to arrive at the unavoidable conclusion that the title
of herein petitioners over the land in dispute is superior to the title of the
registered owner which is a total nullity. The long and continued
possession of petitioners under a valid claim of title cannot be defeated by
the claim of a registered owner whose title is defective from the
beginning."
The Santos spouses argue that petitioners do not have the requisite personality to
question the free patent granted them, inasmuch as "it is a well-settled rule that actions
to nullify free patents should be filed by the Office of the Solicitor General at the behest
of the Director of Lands."
[25]

Private respondents reliance on this doctrine is misplaced. Indeed, the Court held in
Peltan Development, Inc. v. Court of Appeals
[26]
that only the solicitor general could file
an action for the cancellation of a free patent. Ruling that the private respondents, who
were applicants for a free patent, were not the proper parties in an action to cancel the
transfer certificates covering the parcel of land that was the subject of their application,
the Court ratiocinated thus: Sl-xm-is
"The Court also holds that private respondents are not the proper parties
to initiate the present suit. The complaint, praying as it did for the
cancellation of the transfer certificates of title of petitioners on the ground
that they were derived from a "spurious" OCT No. 4216, assailed in effect
the validity of said title. While private respondents did not pray for the
reversion of the land to the government, we agree with the petitioners that
the prayer in the complaint will have the same result of reverting the land
to the government under the Regalian Doctrine. Gabila v. Barinaga
[27]
ruled
that only the government is entitled to this relief. x x x."
Because the cancellation of the free patent as prayed for by the private respondents
in Peltan would revert the property in question to the public domain, the ultimate
beneficiary would be the government, which can be represented by the solicitor general
only. Therefore, the real party-in-interest is the government, not the private
respondents.
This ruling does not, however, apply to the present case. While the private respondents
in Peltan recognized that the disputed property was part of the public domain when they
applied for free patent,
[28]
herein petitioners asserted and proved private ownership over
the disputed parcel of land by virtue of their open, continued and exclusive possession
thereof since 1916. Msesm
Neither does the present case call for the reversion of the disputed property to the
State. By asking for the nullification of the free patent granted to the Santos spouses,
the petitioners are claiming the property which, they contend, rightfully belongs to them.
Indeed, the same issue was resolved by this Court in Heirs of Marciano Nagano v.
Court of Appeals.
[29]
In that case, the trial court dismissed a Complaint seeking the
declaration of nullity of an Original Certificate of Title issued pursuant to a free patent,
reasoning that the action should have been instituted by the solicitor general. In
reversing the trial court, the Supreme Court held: Sl-xsc
"It is settled that a Free Patent issued over private land is null and void,
and produces no legal effect whatsoever. Quod nullum est, nullum
producit effectum. Moreover, private respondents claim of open, peaceful,
continuous and adverse possession of the 2,250 square meter portion
since 1920, and its illegal inclusion in the Free Patent of petitioners and in
their original certificate of title, gave private respondents a cause of action
for quieting of title which is imprescriptible." Scmis
In any event, the Office of the Solicitor General was afforded an opportunity to express
its position in these proceedings. But it manifested that it would not file a memorandum,
because "this case involves purely private interests."
[30]

The foregoing considered, we sustain the contention of petitioners that the free patent
granted to the Santos spouses is void. It is apparent that they are claiming ownership of
the disputed property on the basis of their possession thereof in the concept of owners -
- openly, peacefully, publicly, continuously and adversely since 1916. Because they and
their predecessors-in-interest have occupied, possessed and cultivated it as owners for
more than thirty years,
[31]
only one conclusion can be drawn -- it has become private land
and is therefore beyond the authority of the director of lands. Misspped
Epilogue
We recognize that both the petitioners and the Santos spouses fell victim to the dubious
transaction between Spouses Hilario and Andrea Robles and the Rural Bank of
Cardona, Inc. However, justice and equity mandate that we declare Petitioners Lucio,
Emerita, Aludia and Emilio Robles to have the requisite title essential to their suit for
quieting of title. Considering the circumstances peculiar to this complicated problem, the
Court finds this conclusion the logical and just solution. Sc
The claim that petitioners were guilty of laches in not asserting their rights as owners of
the property should be viewed in the light of the fact that they thought their brother was
paying the requisite taxes for them, and more important, the fact that
they continued cultivating it and harvesting and gaining from its fruits.
From another viewpoint, it can even be said that it was the Rural Bank of Cardona, Inc.,
which was guilty of laches because, granting that it had acquired the subject property
legally, it failed to enforce its rights as owner. It was oblivious to the petitioners
continued occupation, cultivation and possession thereof. Considering that they had
possessed the property ingood faith for more than ten years, it can even be argued that
they thus regained it by acquisitive prescription. In any case, laches is a remedy in
equity, and considering the circumstances in this case, the petitioners cannot be held
guilty of it. Jurismis
In sum, the real estate mortgage contract covering the disputed property a contract
executed between Spouses Hilario and Andrea on the one hand and the Rural Bank of
Cardona, Inc., on the other -- is hereby declared null and void insofar as it prejudiced
the shares of Petitioners Lucio, Emerita, Aludia and Emilio Robles; it is valid as to
Hilario Robles share therein. Consequently, the sale of the subject property to the
Santos spouses is valid insofar as it pertained to his share only. Likewise declared null
and void is Free Patent No. IV-1-010021 issued by the Bureau of Lands covering the
subject property. Jjjuris
WHEREFORE, the Petition is hereby GRANTED. The assailed Decision
is REVERSED and SET ASIDE. Except as modified by the last paragraph of this
Decision, the trial courts Decision is REINSTATED. No costs.
SO ORDERED.
Melo, (Chairman), Vitug, Purisima, and Gonzaga-Reyes, JJ., concur.



GAPACAN V. OMIPET, 387 SCRA 383
Issues of property rights can be determined in an action to quiet title.

FACTS:
Paicat Gapacan is the primitive possessor of an unregistered land in Mt. Province, divided into 3 parcels
of riceland and another planted to camote and declared by him for taxation purposes. He had two children
Maria and Antonio. Antonio left for a long while to try his luck in the mines Benguet. Maria remained, took
care of their father and eventually took over the cultivation of the land.

Antonio Gapacan returned to and executed an Affidavit of Transfer of Real Property showing that the
property had been transferred to him by his sister Maria Gapacan-Omipet (Omipet) making him in effect
the legal owner of the property in question. Since then, Antonio Gapacans family (Gapacans) had been
occupying and cultivating the property.

Sometime in 1992, Omipet hired laborers to clear and cultivate portions of the disputed property.
Gapacans prohibited them Gapacans and ordered the defendants to vacate the land and restore
possession to plaintiffs.

Omipet then filed an action to quiet title in RTC and that she be declared the lawful owner. RTC adjudged
that Gapacans have right of possession over the land. On appeal CA, declared that the land is common
property of both Omipet and Gapacans and ordered its partition.
Both parties appealed. Gapacans alleged that CA cannot declare that the land is common property since
it deviates from the cause of action in the trial court. Omipets appeal is mostly factual.

ISSUE: Whether or not property rights can be decided in an action to
quiet title?

HELD: Yes.
Art. 476 of the Civil Code provides that an action to quiet title may be brought when there exists a cloud
on the title to a real property or any interest therein. In the case of Bautista v. Exconde, we held that the
property owner whose property rights were being disturbed may ask a competent court for a proper
determination of the respective rights of the party-claimants, not only to place things in their proper place,
that is, to require the one who has no right to refrain from acts injurious to the peaceful enjoyment of the
property not only of the rightful owner but also for the benefit of both with the view of dissipating any cloud
of doubt over the property. It goes without saying therefore that the appellate court in resolving the
present controversy is well within its authority to adjudicate on the respective rights of the parties, that is,
to pass upon the ownership of the property; hence to declare the same as common property.

As to Omipets appeal, SC merely affirmed the findings of the trial court that she did not present sufficient
evidence to overcome Gapacans better right to possession. SC ultimately ruled that CA was correct in its
determination that the land in dispute is common property and should be partitioned.



SECOND DIVISION
[G.R. No. 148943. August 15, 2002]
AGNES GAPACAN, EUGENIA GAPACAN-KIAKI and MARILYN
GAPACAN, petitioners, vs. MARIA GAPACAN
OMIPET, respondent.
D E C I S I O N
BELLOSILLO, J .:
Man is bound to his land and will remain so; it is source of his strength, the
fountainhead of his life. Yet ownership of this natural resource does not always insure
harmony, security and well-being, for many a time it causes divisiveness and dissension
within the community, even among the closest of kin. This case depicts the situation
contemplated herein.
Paicat Gapacan, a native Igorot of the Kankanai tribe, was the primitive possessor
of an unregistered land with an area of 1.0111 hectares situated in Abatan, Bauko, Mt.
Province, divided into three (3) parcels of rice land and another parcel planted to
camote, and declared by him for taxation purposes for the first time on 27 March
1931.
[1]
Paicat had two (2) children, Maria and Antonio both surnamed Gapacan.
In his adulthood, Antonio left Abatan to try his luck in the mine fields of Mankayan,
Benguet Province. Consequently, his sister Maria who remained in Abatan took care of
their aging father until his death during the Second World War and eventually took over
the cultivation of their father's land.
It came to pass that Antonio married Agnes Gapacan and begot two (2) daughters,
Eugenia Gapacan and Marilyn Gapacan, with her. After he retired from the mines,
Antonio and his family returned to Abatan. On 15 June 1954, Antonio executed
an Affidavit of Transfer of Real Property showing that the property described under Tax
Declarations Nos. 0808 and 37642 had been transferred to him by his sister Maria
Gapacan, making him in effect the legal owner of the property in question. The Affidavit
of Transfer of Real Property was allegedly thumbmarked by Maria's husband, Pedro
Omipet, in her behalf.
[2]
Thus, by virtue of the Affidavit of Transfer of Real Property,
Antonio had the property in question declared in his name for taxation purposes in
1954.
[3]
Since then, Agnes Gapacan and her daughters Eugenia and Marilyn had been
occupying and cultivating the three (3) parcels of rice land and a parcel devoted to
camote subject matter of the present controversy.
Sometime in the second week of April 1992 Maria hired the services of Orlando
Boleyley and Gaston Gapacan to clear and cultivate some portions of the contested
land but they were stopped by petitioners. Petitioners even went to the extent of filing a
case for Forcible Entry against Maria's granddaughter Gertrude Beguil and three (3)
others before the Municipal Circuit Trial Court of Bauko-Sabangan, Mt. Province.
Petitioners alleged ownership of the disputed agricultural field which they claimed
was covered by a tax declaration in the name of the late Antonio Gapacan. Because of
the failure of the defendants to file their respective answers to the complaint within the
reglementary period, the Municipal Circuit Trial Court rendered a decision on 16
September 1992 ordering defendants to vacate the land in dispute and restore
possession thereof to the plaintiffs.
[4]

On 9 December 1992 respondent Maria Gapacan Omipet filed a complaint
for Quieting of Title before the proper Regional Trial Court praying that she be declared
the lawful owner of the property and that herein petitioners be ordered to refrain from
making further encroachments thereon.
At the time of the filing of the complaint for Quieting of Title, Maria who could neither
read nor write was already a very old woman.
[5]
She alleged in her complaint that the
disputed land was part of her inheritance from her deceased parents which she in fact
had declared in her name for taxation purposes in 1948 although the area was only
1,188 square meters for which Tax Declaration No. A-0808 was issued in her
name.
[6]
She further contended that she merely lent the parcels of rice land to petitioners
when Antonio Gapacan returned to Abatan after his retirement.
On 6 May 1994 the trial court dismissed the complaint and adjudged defendants,
herein petitioners, to have the right of possession over the parcel of land delineated as
Lot 1. It likewise enjoined private respondent Maria Gapacan Omipet from performing
acts injurious or prejudicial to the possession of the premises by petitioners, explaining
that -
x x x the bare assertions of Maria Omipet that she directly inherited the contested area
from her parents is insufficient to sustain her position. Coming from the plaintiff
herself, her testimony on the matter is self-serving and hence unreliable as the better
part of judicial prudence dictates. The declarations of the plaintiff to the end that she
has been the actual possessor of the land subject hereof for the last three decades and
that she merely lent the parcels of rice paddies in question to the defendants, albeit
confirmed in the sense by her witnesses, are not very convincing x x x x Aside from
the observation that being a party to the case Maria Omipet is pre-disposed to report
matters as they are wished for, rather than as they really are; the confirmatory
statements of witnesses Baguil, Locaney, Tambol, Dilem and Astudillo on the point
are much too superficial, transparently mechanical, and palpably biased to be
judiciously persuasive. Baguil has the most to gain or lose pending the outcome of
this proceeding. Locaney and Timbol on account of close blood ties or gratitude to
the plaintiff are discernibly partisans of the latter. While Dilem and Astudillo merely
mouthed their lines without emotional authenticity. By and large, the testimonies of
the plaintiff and all her witnesses in this suit, although under oath, are simply difficult
to swallow, hook, line and sinker.
[7]

Maria Gapacan Omipet appealed to the Court of Appeals alleging that the trial court
(a) "unreasonably erred in brushing aside the coherent testimony of plaintiff-appellant x
x x and her credible and unbiased witnesses, and in failing to give credence to her
possession and ownership of the land in question, as substantiated by her actual and
existing improvements found on the land in question;" and (b) failed to declare the
documentary evidence of the heirs of Antonio Gapacan as null and void.
[8]

On 12 March 2001 the Court of Appeals rendered the assailed Decision declaring
the property described as Lot 1 in the Sketch Plan
[9]
to be the common property of both
plaintiff-appellant Maria Gapacan Omipet and defendant-appellees Agnes Gapacan,
Eugenia Gapacan-Kiaki and Marilyn Gapacan. It also ordered the equitable partition of
the disputed property between the two (2) contending parties.
[10]

The appellate court made the following preliminary declarations: (a) nullifying Tax
Declaration No. A-0808 in the name of Maria Gapacan Omipet which covered only
1,188 square meters or 12% of the total area of the land in question (Exh. "A") as it was
unlawfully secured by her to the exclusion of her brother Antonio Gapacan; (b) nullifying
Tax Declaration No. A-9844 (Exh. "2") in the name of Antonio Gapacan and the tax
declarations as these were based among others on an Affidavit of Transfer of Real
Property which was void as the purported transfer was not signed by Maria Gapacan
Omipet; (c) nullifying Tax Declaration No. 36555 (Exh. "5") in the name of Antonio
Gapacan and all tax declarations that revised it because these were based upon a false
information that the property was being declared for the first time and was intended to
lay the legal basis for the illegal claim by Antonio Gapacan that he was the sole owner
of the disputed property; and finally, (d) denying probative value to the Agreement (Exh.
"10") because it was based upon void tax declarations and false claims of dominion and
right of possession over the land in question.
On the right of possession, the appellate court opined that although Antonio
Gapacan during his lifetime and his heirs upon his death had been in actual possession
of the rice lands in question except the "camote" land since 1971 their possession was
tainted with bad faith since -
Antonio knew that the property was his fathers. His father did not give it to either of
his children, the latters claims to the contrary notwithstanding. Antonio, of course,
knew that Maria was legally entitled to a share in said property so that when he
fraudulently caused the execution of the Affidavit of Transfer of Real Property and
the issuance in his name of T.D. No. H-9844 (Exhibit 2) he acted in gross bad faith
(Art. 256, Civil Code).
By virtue of the evident bad faith of both parties, the Court of Appeals ruled that the
fruits of the land in question, which they appropriated for themselves, compensated
each other which rendered the need for an accounting irrelevant.
In view thereof, the appellate court declared Lot 1 in the Sketch Plan as common
property of plaintiff-appellant Maria Gapacan Omipet on one hand, and defendant-
appellees Agnes Gapacan, Eugenia Gapacan-Kiaki and Marilyn Gapacan on the
other; and ordered the fair and equitable partition of Lot 1 with one-half for plaintiff-
appellant and the other for defendant-appellees.
Their Motion for Reconsideration having been denied on 4 July 2001, petitioners
now interpose the present petition for review seeking the reversal of the Decision of the
Court of Appeals of 12 March 2001 which declared an unregistered parcel of land
identified in the Sketch Plan as Lot 1 the common property of both petitioners Agnes
Gapacan, Eugenia Gapacan-Kiaki and Marilyn Gapacan on one hand, and private
respondent Maria Gapacan Omipet on the other, and its subsequent Resolution of 4
July 2001 denying petitioners'Motion for Reconsideration.
The following facts appear undisputed: that the subject parcels of land were
originally owned by Paicat Gapacan who upon his death was survived by his two (2)
children, private respondent Maria Gapacan, and Antonio Gapacan; that the subject
realty consisted of three (3) parcels of rice land and another parcel planted to camote
with a total approximate area of 1.0111 hectares known as Lot 1 in the Sketch
Plan;
[11]
that the land was part of the ten (10) parcels allegedly given to private
respondent by her parents, seven (7) of which had already been distributed by her
among her children and other relatives; that in 1948, a portion of 1,188 square meters of
the total land area was tax-declared by private respondent under Tax Declaration No. A-
0808; that sometime in 1954 Antonio Gapacan caused the cancellation of the tax
declaration in the name of Maria Omipet and transferred the subject property in his
name by virtue of an Affidavit of Transfer of Real Property; and, that on the basis of
the Affidavit of Transfer of Real Property, Antonio also caused the land to be declared in
his name for taxation purposes as reflected in Tax Declaration No. A-9844.
Petitioners, as heirs and successors-in-interest of the late Antonio Gapacan, argue
that this case stemmed from a complaint for Quieting of Title filed by private respondent,
and on the basis of Art. 477 of the Civil Code which requires the plaintiff to show legal or
equitable title to, or interest in the subject real property, the trial court was correct in
ruling that private respondent had not sufficiently shown that she had the legal, i.e.,
registered, title over the disputed property. Thus, according to them, the ruling of the
Court of Appeals declaring the subject land as the common property of the party-
litigants and ordering its partition is a complete deviation from the cause
of action of the case and the findings of fact of the trial court. They now pray for
the reinstatement of the decision of the trial court insofar as it ruled that they had the
right of possession over the disputed land.
The argument is bereft of merit. Article 476 of the Civil Code provides that an action
to quiet title may be brought when there exists a cloud on the title to real property or any
interest therein. In the early case of Bautista v. Exconde,
[12]
we held that a property
owner whose property rights were being disturbed may ask a competent court for a
proper determination of the respective rights of the party-claimants, not only to place
things in their proper place, that is, to require the one who has no right to refrain from
acts injurious to the peaceful enjoyment of the property not only of the rightful owner but
also for the benefit of both with the view of dissipating any cloud of doubt over the
property. It goes without saying therefore that the appellate court in resolving the
present controversy is well within its authority to adjudicate on the respective rights of
the parties, that is, to pass upon the
ownership of the subject property; hence to declare the same as common property
of the party-litigants. Besides, private respondent Maria Gapacan Omipet instituted the
present action for the purpose of asking the court to pass judgment upon the issue
of ownership of the disputed property with the hope that she would be declared its
rightful owner.
Private respondent anchors her claim of absolute dominion over the subject
property on the ground that she inherited the same from her parents, further noting that
the family of Antonio Gapacan possessed the property by reason alone of her
tolerance. In view of this claim, it was incumbent upon private respondent to prove by
satisfactory evidence that she was legally designated the sole owner of the property in
litigation. Unfortunately, there was paucity of proof that that in fact was the case. The
tax declarations private respondent presented in evidence were clearly founded on
fraudulent claims of ownership which did not merit any probative value. Evidently, those
tax declarations not only covered a mere fraction of the total area disputed but were
based on a false and capricious assertion of ownership over the entire subject
property. The tax declarations therefore were secured for the exclusive purpose of
excluding Antonio, the other legal heir. To be sure, tax declarations in themselves do
not vest absolute ownership of the property upon the declarant, nor do declarations of
ownership for taxation purposes constitute adequate evidence of ownership or of the
right to possess realty. Further, the testimonies given by private respondent's witnesses
buttressing her claim of dominion were adjudged, and rightly so, as inconclusive and of
dubious reliability by both the trial court and the Court of Appeals.
On the question of the right of possession, as correctly pointed out by the appellate
court, the evidence preponderates in favor of Antonio Gapacan and subsequently his
heirs upon his death. It has been clearly established that Antonio and his family had
been in possession of the subject realty since 1971. However, Antonio could not
honestly claim the rights of a possessor in good faith since his tax declarations, and
more so, his Affidavit of Transfer of Real Property, were either spurious or founded on
false and unlawful claims. The parcels of land in question, as part of the hereditaments
of Paicat, a common ancestor of Maria and Antonio, were given to neither of them in
particular. It is difficult to believe that Maria and Antonio were blissfully ignorant of their
respective legal rights over the disputed realty. As the two (2) surviving heirs of the
Paicat Gapacan, neither Maria nor Antonio can claim absolute ownership over the entire
property to the prejudice of the other, for each, in legal contemplation, is entitled to only
one-half (1/2) pro-indiviso share of his or her father's estate. Prior to partition, Maria
and Antonio, and upon the latter's death, the petitioners, hold the disputed property in
their capacity as co-owners.
In Consignado v. Court of Appeals
[13]
it was explained that "the juridical concept of
co-ownership is unity of the object or property and plurality of subjects x x x x Each co-
owner, jointly with the other co-owners, is the owner of the whole property, but at the
same time of the undivided aliquot part x x x x Each co-owner has the right to sell,
assign or dispose of his share, unless personal rights are involved x x x and therefore,
he may lose such rights to others, as by prescription thereof by a co-owner x x x x" The
Court, after a thorough review of the records, finds no plausible reason to disturb the
findings and conclusions of the Court of Appeals in its assailed Decision.
WHEREFORE, the petition is DENIED for lack of merit. The Decision of the Court
of Appeals dated 12 March 2001, which declared Lot 1 in the Sketch
Plan
[14]
as the common property of both petitioners Agnes Gapacan, Eugenia Gapacan-
Kiaki and Marilyn Gapacan on one hand, and private respondent Maria Gapacan
Omipet on the other, and ordered its equitable partition between the contending parties,
as well as the Resolution dated 4 July 2001 denying reconsideration,
is AFFIRMED. No costs.
SO ORDERED.
Mendoza, Quisumbing, and Corona, JJ., concur.



OBLEA V. CA|ESTEBAN, 244 SCRA 101

FACTS:
The lot in issue was originally registered in the names of Manuel Melencio, Pura Melencio, Wilfredo Wico
and Mariabelle Wico. But was subsequently re-registered in the name of Ramon Melencio (son of
deceased Manuel Melencio), Pura Melencio and the Wicos via a deed of sale.

On 6 June 1958 subject lot was bought by private respondent Juan S. Esteban from Mauricio Ramos who
claimed to have acquired the property from Ursula Melencio, the alleged administratrix of the estate of
Manuel and Pura Melencio.

Meanwhile, petitioner Romeo V. Oblea leased a building located on the subject lot from a certain Marius
Esteban, an alleged son of private respondent Juan S. Esteban. Oblea eventually bought from Marius the
lot on which the building stood. As a consequence, on 4 July 1991 Juan Esteban filed an ejectment suit
against petitioner Oblea.

MTC decided for Juan Esteban and ordered Oblea to vacate and pay arrears. On appeal, RTC affirmed
MTC.

On 3 June 1993, the registered owners (Ramon Melencio, Pura Melencio and Wilfredo Wico and
Mariabelle Wico) sold the disputed lot to petitioner Oblea. Afterwards, Oblea together with the registered
owners filed before the RTC an action for quieting of title against Juan Esteban. They contended that the
deeds of sale executed by Mauricio Ramos in favor of Juan Esteban and by Ursula Melencio in favor of
Mauricio Ramos were a nullity.

Meanwhile, the ejectment case was appealed thrice to the CA but all were denied.

In the appeal to the SC, Oblea asserts that the subsequent sale to him by the registered owners is a
supervening event that gave him a better right of possession and ownership. Hence the judgment of
eviction can no longer be enforced.

ISSUE:
Whether or not a subsequent action to quiet title in the RTC divests the MTC of its jurisdiction over an
ejectment case?

HELD:
No.The sole issue in an action for unlawful detainer is physical or material possession, i.e., possession de
facto and not possession de jure. The pendency of an action for quieting of title before the RTC does not
divest the MTC of its jurisdiction to proceed with the ejectment case over the same property. The
subsequent acquisition of ownership by petitioners is not a supervening event that will bar the execution
of the judgment in said unlawful detainer case, the fact remaining that when judgment was rendered by
the MTC in the ejectment case, petitioner Oblea was a mere possessor of the subject lot.
Similarly, the fact that petitioners instituted a separate action for quieting of title is not a valid reason for
defeating the execution of the summary remedy of ejectment. On the contrary., it bolsters the conclusion
that the eviction case did not deal with the issue of ownership which was precisely the subject matter of
the action for quieting of title before the RTC. With the finality of the decision in the ejectment case,
execution in favor of the prevailing party has become a matter of right; its implementation mandatory. It
cannot be avoided.


Republic of the Philippines
SUPREME COURT
Manila
FIRST DIVISION

G.R. No. 117389 May 11, 1995
ROMEO V. OBLEA and RAMON S. MELENCIO, petitioners,
vs.
COURT OF APPEALS and JUAN S, ESTEBAN, respondents.

BELLOSILLO, J .:
This is a petition for review on certiorari of the decision of the Court of Appeals dismissing the
petition for certiorari and prohibition and denying the prayer for a writ of preliminary injunction
against the order of 6 April 1994 of the Regional Trial Court of Cabanatuan City, Br. 27, which lifted
and cancelled the temporary restraining order issued by Judge Lydia B. Hipolito of the Municipal
Trial Court of Cabanatuan City, Br. 9.
1

The controverted lot, designated as Lot 1, Block 2, was formerly a part of a mother lot covered by
TCT No. 26604 of the Register of Deeds of Cabanatuan City, containing an area of 83,325 square
meters and registered in the names of Manuel Melencio (1/3), Pura Melencio (1/3) and Wilfredo
Wico and Mariabelle M. Wico (1/3). Subsequently, TCT No. 26604 was cancelled and in lieu thereof
TCT No. 65031 was issued in the name of petitioner Ramon S. Melencio who became a co-owner
with Pura Melencio and the Wicos by virtue of a deed of sale executed in his favor by his now
deceased father Manuel Melencio.
On 6 June 1958 subject lot was bought by private respondent Juan S. Esteban from Mauricio
Ramos who claimed to have acquired the property from Ursula Melencio, the alleged administratrix
of the estate of Manuel and Pura Melencio.
2

Meanwhile, petitioner Romeo V. Oblea leased a building located on the subject lot from a certain
Marius Esteban, an alleged son of private respondent Juan S. Esteban. Oblea eventually bought
from Marius the lot on which the building stood.
3
As a consequence, on 4 July 1991 Esteban filed an
ejectment suit against petitioner Oblea in the Municipal Trial Court of Cabanatuan City docketed as Civil
Case No. 10588. On 3 April 1992, the case was decided by Judge Romeo G. Mauricio in favor of Esteban
and against petitioner Oblea who was ordered to vacate the premises and pay rental arrears from
January 1983, as well as litigation expenses and attorney's fees in the total sum of P8,000.00.
On appeal, the Regional Trial Court of Cabanatuan City rendered judgment on 26 March 1993
modifying the MTC decision by ordering Oblea to pay rentals only from 2 March 1988, but sustaining
the MTC in other respects.
On 3 June 1993, the registered owners
4
sold the disputed lot to petitioner Oblea. Afterwards, Oblea
together with Ramon Melencio, Pura Melencio and Wilfredo Wico and Mariabelle Wico filed before the
Regional Trial Court an action for quieting of title against Esteban, docketed as Civil Case No. 1536. They
contended that the deeds of sale executed by Mauricio Ramos in favor of Juan Esteban and by Ursula
Melencio in favor of Mauricio Ramos were a nullity.
The ejectment case, Civil Case No. 10588, was in the meantime appealed to the Court of Appeals
by way of petition for review, which petition was dismissed by the appellate court on 2 July 1993.
Upon remand of the records to the court of origin, and on motion of Esteban, the prevailing party,
MTC Judge Hipolito directed execution and issued the corresponding writ to enforce the final and
executory judgment in the ejectment suit.
The execution was however thwarted when petitioners Romeo Oblea and Ramon Melencio filed
another petition before the Regional Trial Court of Cabanatuan City for certiorari and prohibition with
application for a temporary restraining order and preliminary injunction, docketed as Civil Case No.
1676-AF. On 22 November 1993 the Executive Judge thereof issued a temporary restraining order
to stop the enforcement of the writ of execution issued by Judge Hipolito. On 6 April 1994 however
Judge Adriano I. Tuason, Acting Presiding Judge of Br. 27, lifted and canceled the restraining order
earlier issued, thus paving the way for the execution of the judgment in the ejectment case.
Undeterred by the reversal, petitioners elevated their case to the appellate court which on 27
September 1994 dismissed their appeal, the reason being that the eviction case had long become
final and executory and that the various actions taken by petitioners were merely designed to delay
execution.
We agree with respondent Court of Appeals.
The main argument of petitioners is that in view of the subsequent sale of the controversial lot to
them on 3 June 1993, and under the mistaken notion of "doctrine of supervening event," they have
acquired a better right of possession and ownership. Hence, they argue that with this "supervening
event," the judgment evicting them can no longer be enforced.
The argument is untenable. It must be stressed that the sole issue in an action for unlawful detainer
is physical or material possession, i.e., possession de facto and not possession de jure. This is
settled doctrine. Resultantly, the pendency of an action for quieting of title before the Regional Trial
Court does not divest the city or municipal trial court of its jurisdiction to proceed with the ejectment
case over the same property. The subsequent acquisition of ownership by petitioners is not a
supervening event that will bar the execution of the judgment in said unlawful detainer case, the fact
remaining that when judgment was rendered by the MTC in the ejectment case, petitioner Oblea
was a mere possessor of the subject lot.
Similarly, the fact that petitioners instituted a separate action for quieting of title is not a valid reason
for defeating the execution of the summary remedy of ejectment. On the contrary., it bolsters the
conclusion that the eviction case did not deal with the issue of ownership which was precisely the
subject matter of the action for quieting of title before the Regional Trial Court of Cabanatuan
City.
5
With the finality of the decision in the ejectment case, execution in favor of the prevailing party has
become a matter of right; its implementation mandatory. It cannot be avoided.
6

In fine, the Court of Appeals did not commit reversible error in upholding the order of 6 April 1994
which lifted the temporary restraining order enjoining the implementation of the writ of execution in
favor of private respondent Esteban. Simply put, the petition is a desperate attempt on the part of
petitioners to unduly prolong the litigation of an issue which has been settled and should have been
long laid to rest.
WHEREFORE, the petition is DENIED. Costs against petitioner.
SO ORDERED.
Padilla, Davide, Jr. and Quiason, JJ., concur.
Kapunan, J., is on leave.




inShare1
VDA. DE AVILES v. CA

An action to quiet title or to remove cloud may not be brought for the purpose of settling a boundary
dispute.

FACTS:
Eduardo Aviles, the predecessor of the petitioners is the bother of defendant Camilo. They inherited their
lands from their parents and have agreed to subdivide the same amongst themselves. The area alloted
(sic) to Eduardo Aviles is 16,111 square meters more or less, to Anastacio Aviles is 16,214 square meters
more or less, while the area alloted to defendant Camilo Aviles is 14,470 square meters more or less.

Defendants land composed of the riceland portion of his land is 13,290 square meters, the fishpond
portion is 500 square meters and the residential portion is 680 square meters, or a total of 14,470 square
meters.

The Petitioners claim that they are the owners of the fish pond which they claim is within their area.
Defendant Camilo Aviles asserted a color of title over the northern portion of the property with an area of
approximately 1,200 square meters by constructing a bamboo fence (thereon) and moving the earthen
dikes, thereby molesting and disturbing the peaceful possession of the plaintiffs over said portion.

Petitioners say that the fences were created to unduly encroach to their property but the defendant said
that he merely reconstructed the same.

Petitioners brought an action to quiet title but were denied thus this case.

ISSUE: Whether or not Petitioners filed the right action

RULING:
No, Petitioners filed the wrong action. This is obviously a boundary dispute and as such the action must
fail.

Art. 476. Whenever there is a cloud on title to real property or any interest therein, by reason of any
instrument, record, claim, encumbrance or proceeding which is apparently valid or effective but is, in truth
and in fact, invalid, ineffective, voidable, or unenforceable, and may be prejudicial to said title, an action
may be brought to remove such cloud or to quiet the title.
An action may also be brought to prevent a cloud from being cast upon a title to real property or any
interest therein.

Petitioners fail to point out any any instrument, record, claim, encumbrance or proceeding that could been
a cloud to their title. In fact, both plaintiffs and defendant admitted the existence of the agreement of
partition dated June 8, 1957 and in accordance therewith, a fixed area was allotted to them and that the
only controversy is whether these lands were properly measured.

A special civil action for quieting of title is not the proper remedy for settling a boundary dispute, and that
petitioners should have instituted an ejectment suit instead. An action for forcible entry, whenever
warranted by the period prescribed in Rule 70, or for recovery of possession de facto, also within the
prescribed period, may be availed of by the petitioners, in which proceeding the boundary dispute may be
fully threshed out.



VDA DE AVILES v CA
November 21, 1996


FACTS
:Petitioners: Anastacia Vda. De Aviles et. al.Respondents:
Court of Appeals and Camilo Aviles

Eduardo Aviles family has been in actual possession of a parcel
of landdescribed as a fishpond, cogonal, unirrigated rice and
residential land,situated in Malawa, Lingayen, Pangasinan since
1957.

This property is his share in the estate of his deceased parents.
Therespective areas allotted to them had been agreed upon and
were measuredbefore the execution of the agreement. Because
he had several children tosupport, Eduardo asked for a bigger
share and Camilo agreed to have asmaller area.

Eduardo mortgaged the property with the Rural Bank and Phil.
National Bankbranch in Lingayen. When the property was
inspected by a bankrepresentative, Eduardo, in the presence
of the boundary owners (defendantCamilo Aviles, Anastacio
Aviles and Juana and Apolonio Joaquin) pointed tothe inspector
the existing earthen dikes as the boundary limits of theproperty
and nobody objected.

The real estate mortgage was foreclosed and the property
was sold at publicauction, but it was redeemed by plaintiffs
mother and the land wassubsequently transferred and declared in
her name.

In 1983, defendant Camilo Aviles moved the earthen dikes and
constructed abamboo fence on the northern portion of Eduardos
property, therebymolesting and disturbing the peaceful
possession of the plaintiffs over saidportion.

Petitioners filed this special civil action for quieting of title

TC: dismissed the complaint

CA: affirmed TC decision, reasoning that a special civil action
for quieting of title is not the proper remedy for settling a boundary
dispute, and thatpetitioners should have instituted an
ejectment suit instead.


ISSUE/HELD:
WON a complaint for quieting of title is not the proper remedy
butrather it should be a case for ejectment

YES

The facts presented unmistakably constitute a clear case of
boundarydispute, which is not cognizable in a special civil
action to quiet title.

To avail of the remedy of quieting of title, a plaintiff must show
that there isan instrument, record, claim, encumbrance or
proceeding which constitutesor casts a cloud, doubt, question
or shadow upon the owners title to orinterest in real property. In
this case, the only controversy is whether theselands were
properly measured. There is no adverse claim by the defendant



THIRD DIVISION
[G.R. No. 95748. November 21, 1996]
ANASTACIA VDA. DE AVILES, ET AL., petitioners, vs. COURT OF
APPEALS and CAMILO AVILES, respondents.
D E C I S I O N
PANGANIBAN, J .:
Is the special civil action of Quieting of Title under Rule 64 the proper remedy for
settling a boundary dispute? Did the respondent Court
[1]
commit a reversible error when
it did not declare the respective rights of the parties over the disputed property in said
action?
These are the key issues raised in this petition to review on certiorari the
Decision
[2]
of the respondent Court promulgated on September 28, 1990 in CA-G.R. CV
No. 18155, which affirmed the decision dated December 29, 1987 of the Regional Trial
Court, Branch 38,
[3]
Lingayen, Pangasinan, dismissing a complaint for quieting of title.
The Facts
In an action for quieting of title commenced before the aforementioned trial court,
the following facts, stripped of unnecessary verbiage, were established by the
respondent Court:
[4]

PLAINTIFFS aver that they are the actual possessors of a parcel of land situated in
Malawa, Lingayen, Pangasinan, more particularly described as fishpond, cogonal,
unirrigated rice and residential land, bounded on the N by Camilo Aviles; on the E by
Malawa River, on the S by Anastacio Aviles and on the W by Juana and Apolonio
Joaquin, with an area of 18,900 square meters and declared under Tax Declaration No.
31446. This property is the share of their father, Eduardo Aviles and brother of the
defendant, in the estate of their deceased parents, Ireneo Aviles and Anastacia Salazar.
SINCE 1957, Eduardo Aviles was in actual possession of the afore-described
property. In fact, the latter mortgaged the same with the Rural Bank and Philippine
National Bank branch in Lingayen. When the property was inspected by a bank
representative, Eduardo Aviles, in the presence of the boundary owners, namely,
defendant Camilo Aviles, Anastacio Aviles and Juana and Apolonio Joaquin(,)
pointed to the inspector the existing earthen dikes as the boundary limits of the
property and nobody objected. When the real estate mortgage was foreclosed, the
property was sold at public auction but this was redeemed by plaintiffs mother and
the land was subsequently transferred and declared in her name.
ON March 23,1983, defendant Camilo Aviles asserted a color of title over the
northern portion of the property with an area of approximately 1,200 square meters by
constructing a bamboo fence (thereon) and moving the earthen dikes, thereby
molesting and disturbing the peaceful possession of the plaintiffs over said portion.
UPON the other hand, defendant Camilo Aviles admitted the agreement of partition
(Exh. 1) executed by him and his brothers, Anastacio and Eduardo. In accordance
therewith, the total area of the property of their parents which they divided is 46,795
square meters and the area alloted (sic) to Eduardo Aviles is 16,111 square meters
more or less, to Anastacio Aviles is 16,214 square meters more or less, while the area
alloted to defendant Camilo Aviles is 14,470 square meters more or less. The
respective area(s) alloted to them was agreed and measured before the execution of
the agreement but he was not present when the measurement was made. Defendant
agreed to have a smaller area because his brother Eduardo asked him that he wanted a
bigger share because he has several children to support. The portion in litigation
however is part of the share given to him in the agreement of partition. At present, he
is only occupying an area of 12,686 square meters which is smaller than his actual
share of 14,470 square meters. Tax Declarations Nos. 23575, 481 and 379 covering
his property from 1958 (Exhs. 7, 8 and 9) show that the area of his property is
14,470 square meters. The riceland portion of his land is 13,290 square meters, the
fishpond portion is 500 square meters and the residential portion is 680 square meters,
or a total of 14,470 square meters. That the topography of his land is not the same,
hence, the height of his pilapils are likewise not the same.
In its decision dated December 29, 1987, the trial court disposed of the case thus:
[5]

WHEREFORE, premises considered, judgment is hereby rendered as follows:
1. Ordering the parties to employ the services of a Land Surveyor of the Bureau of
Lands, Region I, San Fernando, La Union, to relocate and determine the extent and
the boundary limit of the land of the defendant on its southern side in order that the
fourteen thousand four hundred seventy (14,470) square meters which is the actual
area given to the defendant be determined;
2. Ordering the complaint dismissed for lack of basis and merits;
3. Ordering the plaintiffs to pay the defendant the sum of two thousand (P2,000.00)
pesos as attorneys fees and to further pay the costs of the proceedings;
4. All other claims are denied for lack of basis.
Dissatisfied with the trial courts decision, petitioners appealed to the respondent
appellate Court. In its now-assailed Decision, the Court of Appeals affirmed in part the
decision of the trial court, reasoning that a special civil action for quieting of title is not
the proper remedy for settling a boundary dispute, and that petitioners should have
instituted an ejectment suit instead. The dispositive portion of the impugned Decision
reads as follows:
WHEREFORE, in view of the foregoing, the decision dated December 29,
1987 dismissing the complaint is hereby AFFIRMED but without necessarily agreeing
with the ration detre (sic) proferred by the Court a quo. The portion thereof ordering
the parties to employ the service of a land surveyor to relocate and determine the
extent and boundary limit of the land of the defendant on its southern portion in order
that the fourteen thousand four hundred seventy (14,470) square meters which is the
actual area given to the defendant be determined is hereby REVERSED and SET
ASIDE. Costs against plaintiffs-appellants.
The Issues
Disagreeing with the respondent Court, petitioners now raise the following issues:
[6]

a. Whether or not the Hon. Court of Appeals is correct when it opined that the xxx
complaint for quieting of title instituted by the petitioners against private respondent
before the court a quo is not the proper remedy but rather, it should be a case for
ejectment (sic).
b. Whether or not the Hon. Court of Appeals is correct in rendering a decision, now
subject of the instant petition, without fully determining the respective rights of the
herein parties.
Petitioners deem to be without basis the respondent Courts holding that quieting
of title is not the proper remedy in the case a quo. They assert that private respondent is
occupying the disputed lot because he claimed it to be part of his share in the
partitioned property of his parents, whereas petitioners are claiming the said lot as part
and parcel of the land allotted to Eduardo Aviles, petitioners predecessor-in-interest.
They contend that they have been occupying the aforesaid land as heirs of Eduardo
Aviles in open, actual, continuous, peaceful, public and adversed (sic) (possession)
against the whole world. Further, they argue that, if indeed the disputed lot belonged to
private respondent, why then did it take him almost 26 long years from June 27, 1957
or until March 27, 1983 to assert his ownership; why did he not assert his ownership
over the property when Eduardo Aviles was still alive; and why did he not take any
action when the mortgage over the disputed property was foreclosed?
[7]

Private respondent corrects the petitioners claim in regard to the date when he had
the bamboo fence constructed. He alleges that the petitioners maliciously concocted the
story that private respondent had purportedly encroached some 1,200 meters on their
property when, in fact, he was merely repairing the old bamboo fence existing where it
had always been since 1957.
[8]

The Courts Ruling
First Issue: Quieting of Title Not Proper Remedy For Settling Boundary Dispute
We agree with respondent Court. The facts presented unmistakably constitute a
clear case of boundary dispute, which is not cognizable in a special civil action to quiet
title.
Quieting of title is a common law remedy for the removal of any cloud upon or doubt
or uncertainty with respect to title to real property.
[9]

The Civil Code authorizes the said remedy in the following language:
Art. 476. Whenever there is a cloud on title to real property or any interest therein,
by reason of any instrument, record, claim, encumbrance or proceeding which is
apparently valid or effective but is, in truth and in fact, invalid, ineffective, voidable,
or unenforceable, and may be prejudicial to said title, an action may be brought to
remove such cloud or to quiet the title.
An action may also be brought to prevent a cloud from being cast upon a title to real
property of any interest therein."
In fine, to avail the remedy of quieting of title, a plaintiff must show that there is an
instrument, record, claim, encumbrance or proceeding which constitutes or casts a
cloud, doubt, question or shadow upon the owners title to or interest in real property.
Thus, petitioners have wholly misapprehended the import of the foregoing rule by
claiming that respondent Court erred in holding that there was no xxx evidence of
any muniment of title, proceeding, written contract, xxx, and that there were, as a
matter of fact, two such contracts, viz., (i) the Agreement of Partition executed by
private respondent and his brothers (including the petitioners father and predecessor-
in-interest), in which their respective shares in the inherited property were agreed upon,
and (ii) the Deed of Sale evidencing the redemption by petitioner Anastacia Vda. de
Aviles of the subject property in a foreclosure sale. However, these documents in no
way constitute a cloud or cast a doubt upon the title of petitioners. Rather, the
uncertainty arises from the parties failure to situate and fix the boundary between their
respective properties.
As correctly held by the respondent Court, (i)n fact, both plaintiffs and defendant
admitted the existence of the agreement of partition dated June 8, 1957 and in
accordance therewith, a fixed area was alloted (sic) to them and that the only
controversy is whether these lands were properly measured. There is no adverse claim
by the defendant which is apparently valid, but is, in truth and in fact, invalid,
ineffective, voidable, or unenforceable and which constitutes a cloud thereon.
Corollarily, and equally as clear, the construction of the bamboo fence enclosing the
disputed property and the moving of earthen dikes are not the clouds or doubts
which can be removed in an action for quieting of title.
An action to quiet title or to remove cloud may not be brought for the purpose of
settling a boundary dispute. The precedent on this matter cited by the respondent Court
in its Decision is herewith reproduced in full:
[10]

In Ashurst v. McKenzie (1890) 92 Ala. 484, 9 So. 262, where the complainants
predecessor in title and the defendant had, during their occupancy, destroyed and
obliterated the boundary line between their adjoining tracts of land, and there was now
a dispute as to its location, it was held that a bill did not lie to remove a cloud on the
complainants title. The court said: There is no allegation or evidence of any
muniment of title, proceeding, written contract, or paper showing any color of title in
the defendant, which could cast a shadow on the title of complainants to any part of
the land; there is no overlapping of description in the muniments held by either. The
land of complainants and defendant join. The line which separates them is in dispute
and is to be determined by evidence aliunde. Each admits that the other has title up to
his line wherever it may be, and the title papers of neither fix its precise location. So
that there is no paper the existence of which clouds the title of either party, and
nothing could be delivered up and cancelled under the decree of the court undertaking
to remove a cloud.
Another similarly instructive precedent reported in the same reference is also quoted
below:
In Kilgannon v. Jenkinson (1883) 51 Mich. 240, 16 N.W. 390, the court, dismissing a
bill to quiet title, said: The fundamental dispute is about the correct position of the
line between lots 3 and 7. The case is not one where a complainant in possession of a
specific piece of land, and a defendant out of possession, but claiming some right or
title, are contending as to which one has the better right to that sameparcel; but it is a
case where the titles are not opposed, and the basis and existence of all right and claim
depend simply upon where the original line runs. When that is once settled, there can
remain no semblance of claim or cloud to be passed on, and the issue on that
particular question is one regularly triable at law. . .
[11]

Second Issue: Should Parties Rights Have Been Declared?
Petitioners also chide the respondent Court (and the trial court) for not declaring the
respective rights of the parties with respect to the land in question, arguing that when
one is disturbed in any form in his rights of property over an immovable by the
unfounded claims of others, he has the right to ask from the competent courts: xxx that
their respective rights be determined xxx. As support for their thesis, petitioners cite the
ancient case of Bautista vs. Exconde.
[12]

Rule 64 of the Rules of Court, dealing with actions for declaratory relief, specifies in
Section 1 thereof the grounds, conditions precedent or requisites for bringing such
petitions.
[13]
This Court has previously held that --
Under this rule, only a person who is interested under a deed, will, contract or other
written instrument, and whose rights are affected by a statute or ordinance, may bring
an action to determine any question of construction or validity arising under the
instrument or statute and for a declaration of his rights or duties thereunder. This
means that the subject matter must refer to a deed, will, contract or other written
instrument, or to a statute or ordinance, to warrant declaratory relief. Any other matter
not mentioned therein is deemed excluded. This is under the principle of expressio
unius est exclussio alterius.
[14]

Inasmuch as the enumeration of the causes, grounds or conditions precedent in the
first paragraph of said Sec. 1 is exclusive, by parity of reasoning, it follows that similar
remedies provided for in the second paragraph of the same section would also be
marked with the same exclusivity as to bar any other cause possibly clouding ones title
as a ground for such petitions. Thus, even assuming arguendo that the action to quiet
title had been brought under Rule 64, the same would still not have prospered, the
subject matter thereof not referring to a deed, will, contract or other written instrument,
or to a statute or ordinance, but to a boundary dispute, and therefore not warranting the
grant of declaratory relief.
From another perspective, we hold that the trial court (and likewise the respondent
Court) cannot, in an action for quieting of title, order the determination of the boundaries
of the claimed property, as that would be tantamount to awarding to one or some of the
parties the disputed property in an action where the sole issue is limited to whether the
instrument, record, claim, encumbrance or proceeding involved constitutes a cloud upon
the petitioners interest or title in and to said property. Such determination of boundaries
is appropriate in adversarial proceedings where possession or ownership may properly
be considered and where evidence aliunde, other than the instrument, record, claim,
encumbrance or proceeding itself, may be introduced. An action for forcible entry,
whenever warranted by the period prescribed in Rule 70, or for recovery of
possession de facto, also within the prescribed period, may be availed of by the
petitioners, in which proceeding the boundary dispute may be fully threshed out.
WHEREFORE, in view of the foregoing considerations, the instant petition is
hereby DENIED and the Decision appealed from is AFFIRMED. Costs against petitioners.
SO ORDERED.
Narvasa, C.J., (Chairman), Davide, Jr., Melo, and Francisco, JJ., concur.



GALLAR v. HUSAIN

If the action is brought by the one who is in possession of the land, the action is imprescriptible;
otherwise, it could prescribe.

FACTS:
Husains in this case are the heirs of Teodoro Husain. Teodoro Husain sold the land under dispute for 30
pesos to Serapio Chichirita with the right to repurchase within 6 years. Teodoro transferred his right to his
sister, Graciana Husain. Graciana paid the redemption price and later sold the land to Elias Gallar for a
cattle. Possession of the land, together with the owner's duplicate of the certificate of title of Teodoro
Husain, was delivered on the same occasion to Gallar, who since then has been in possession of the
land. A couple of years after, Gallar filed this suit in the Court of Instance of Iloilo on October 10, 1960 to
compel Hermenegilda and Bonifacio Husain, as heirs of Teodoro Husain, to execute a deed of
conveyance in his favor so that he could get a transfer certificate of title. He also asked for damages. The
Husains countered by saying that Graciana already paid the redemption price thus their father had
already reacquired ownership over the same. They also claim that the action of Elias has already
PRESCRIBED.

ISSUE:
1) Whether or not ownership was transferred to Gallar?
2) Whether or not the action has already prescribed?

RULING:
1) YES, ownership has been transferred to Gallar. The right of repurchase may be exercised only by the
vendor in whom the right is recognized by contract or by any person to whom the right may have been
transferred. Graciana Husain must, therefore, be deemed to have acquired the land in her own right,
subject only to Teodoro Husain's right of redemption. As the new owner she had a perfect right to dispose
of the land as she in fact did when she exchanged it for a cattle with Gallar.

2) NO, the action is imprescriptible. This action is not for specific performance; all it seeks is to quiet title,
to remove the cloud cast on appellee's ownership as a result of appellant's refusal to recognize the sale
made by their predecessor. And, as plaintiff-appellee is in possession of the land, the action is
imprescriptible. Appellant's argument that the action has prescribed would be correct if they were in
possession as the action to quiet title would then be an action for recovery of real property which must be
brought within the statutory period of limitation governing such actions.


Republic of the Philippines
SUPREME COURT
Manila
EN BANC
G.R. No. L-20954 May 24, 1967
ELIAS GALLAR, plaintiff-appellee,
vs.
HERMENEGILDA HUSAIN, ET AL., defendants.
BONIFACIO HUSAIN, defendant-appellant.
D. E. Esmeralda for defendant-appellant.
E. B. Treas for plaintiff-appellee.
REGALA, J .:
This is an appeal directly from the Court of First Instance.
A hectare of rice land in Cabatuan, Iloilo, is the subject of this controversy. On January 9, 1919,
Teodoro Husain, the owner, sold this land to Serapio Chichirita for P30, reserving for himself the
right to repurchase it within six years. The deed of sale, written in Ilongo dialect, is contained in a
private instrument, the English translation of which reads:
I, Teodoro Husain, single, of legal age, native and resident of the Municipality of Cabatuan,
Province of Iloilo, Philippine islands, because of the amount of Thirty Pesos (P30.00),
Philippine currency, that was paid to me by Serapio Chichirita, married to Florentina Muyuela
of legal age, native and resident of this Municipality of Cabatuan, Province of Iloilo, Philippine
Islands, hereby declare that I am selling to the aforementioned vendee Serapio Chichirita,
his heirs, and the heirs of the latter, my one parcel of rice land at Barrio Salacay of this
Municipality of Cabatuan, and its descriptions are as follows:
One parcel of rice land that has a seedling of one cavan of palay, legal measure,
bounded on the North, land of Juan Alcayaga, on the East, land of Agapito Suero, on
the South, land of Elias Gallar and on the West, land of Juan Mina. The said land
was inherited by me from my father who is now dead, Clemente Husain.
I also declare that we have agreed that if the vendor shall have repaid to the vendee the
aforementioned amount of P30.00 within six years from this date, the vendee or his heirs shall
execute a document of repurchase in my favor, but if after the said term that he cannot return the
aforementioned amount, this document shall be considered absolute and irrevocably consummated
and in the meantime the vendee shall be the one to make use of the aforementioned land in
accordance with the Ley Hipotecaria.
In truth whereof, I have signed this document at Cabatuan, 9th of January, 1919.
(Sgd.) TEODORO HUSAIN
Signed in the presence of:
(sgd.) TOMAS JILOCA (sgd.) EUSEBIO JOCANO
Teodoro Husain did not redeem the land, although shortly after the execution of the deed of sale,
that is, on January 28, 1919, the vendee a retro, Chichirita, transferred his right to Graciana Husain,
sister of the vendor aretro, in what purports to be a resale of the land. The following annotation
appears on the reverse side of the deed of pacto de retro sale:
NOTA: The amount stated above, was received by me from Graciana Husain and on my own
voluntary will as redemption (gawad) of the same land, and because of this, I am transferring
my rights as stated above to Graciana Husain in the presence of her husband Manuel
Catalan, and in truth whereof I have signed at Cabatuan, 28 January 1919.
Thumb marked
Serapio Chichirita
(English translation)
Graciana Husain subsequently transferred her rights to the land to appellee Elias Gallar in exchange
for one cow. The transaction is recorded in a second note added on the reverse side of the deed of
sale. The note reads.
OTRA NOTA:
The undersigned Graciana Husain, with the consent and knowledge of her husband Manuel
Catalan, has agreed with Elias Gallar that all the rights that belongs to her, or she, Graciana
Husain, is transferring to the said Elias Gallar in accordance with that stated in the original
with the difference that this transfer is definite because it is their agreement in exchange of
one head of cow described in the Certificate of Large Cattle existing in the Office of the
Municipal treasurer of this town. And in truth whereof, Graciana Husain signed hereunder
together with her husband Manuel Catalan.
Cabatuan, April 2, 1919.
(sgd.) MANUEL CATALAN (sgd.) GRACIANA HUSAIN
(English translation)
Possession of the land, together with the owner's duplicate of the certificate of title of Teodoro
Husain, was delivered on the same occasion to appellee who since then has been in possession of
the land.
In an affidavit dated March 6, 1928, Chichirita confirmed the "redemption" of the land by Graciana
Husain. In another affidavit of the same date, Graciana Husain for her part confirmed having
subsequently sold the land to the appellee.1wph 1. t
In 1960, appellee asked the Cadastral Court for the issuance to him of a transfer certificate of title
but the court dismissed his petition for lack of jurisdiction. (The court, however, granted appellee's
request for the amendment of the certificate of title by changing the surname of "Osaen" to
"Husain.") He, therefore, filed this suit in the Court of Instance of Iloilo on October 10, 1960 to
compel Hermenegilda and Bonifacio Husain, as heirs of Teodoro Husain, to execute a deed of
conveyance in his favor so that he could get a transfer certificate of title. He also asked for damages.
In their answer, Hermenegilda and Bonifacio Husain denied the sale and contended that the
agreement between their father and Serapio Chichirita was that of a mortgage to secure a loan of
P30. They claimed that the mortgage had been discharged on January 28, 1919 when Graciana
Husain paid Teodoro Husain's debt to Chichirita. Hermenegilda and Bonifacio Husain likewise
invoked prescription to bar appellee's action and asked for damages for the value of palay which
they claimed they failed to receive on account of appellee's refusal to return possession of the land
to them.
The trial court found that after acquiring the land from Teodoro Husain, Serapio Chichirita sold it to
Graciana Husain who in turn sold it to the appellee. Accordingly, it ordered the appellants to execute
a deed of conveyance of the land in favor of the appellee on the authority of our ruling in Sapto v.
Fabiana, G.R. No. L-11285, May 16, 1958.
From this judgment, Bonifacio Husain brought this appeal to this Court. He contends that the land in
question, which is identified as Lot No. 766 of the Cadastral Survey of Cabatuan, Iloilo and covered
by Original Certificate of Title No. 4521 of the Register of Deeds of Iloilo, is not the same land which
Teodoro Husain sold to Serapio Chichirita on January 9,1919. According to appellant he raised this
question at the trial but the lower court passed it up in its decision. The records on appeal do not
disclose that appellant made such a claim. About the only hint that he was questioning the identity of
the land sold by means of the deed of sale of January 9, 1919 was an objection to a question during
the direct examination of the appellee. Thus the following appears on pages 20-21 of the transcript
of notes taken on July 5, 1961;
Q According to this Exhibit C, you bought the lot to in Exhibit A which is Lot 766 in
question, was bought, by you for one cow. Do you know how much the worth of your cow
during that time?
ATTY. ESMERALDA [for defendants]
Objection, Your Honor. The question is premised on Lot 766 but the document does not
mention Lot 766.
x x x x x x x x x
COURT
So your objection is that it lacks basis.
ATTY. ESMERALDA
It lacks basis, your Honor.
Otherwise, the records do not show any allegation made much less evidence presented, by
appellant of the supposed difference in the identity of the land sold in the deed of pacto de retro sale
and the land now in question. Indeed, the only defense put up by appellant was that the pacto de
retro sale was in reality a mortgage and that, at any rate, appellee's action was barred by the statute
of limitations. In so doing, appellant joined issues with the appellee and he will not now be permitted
to bring up new matters on appeal as this would constitute changing of theory so utterly unfair to
the adverse party
1
that the lower court deliberately, perhaps, ignored the point. It may be added that
an admission that the land described in the deed of sale and Lot No. 766 are one and the same is
implicit in appellant's defense that the deed of sale did not express the true intention of the parties.
Still it is argued that no action can be brought on the basis of the deed of sale with a right of
repurchase because the land in question was redeemed a few days after it had been sold. While it is
indeed true that the first note written on the reverse side of the deed of sale speaks of the
"redemption" of the land, there is no evidence to show that the vendee, Graciana Husain, was acting
in behalf of her brother Teodoro Husain, in the exercise the latter's right of redemption. Now, unlike a
debt which a third party may satisfy even against the debtor's will
2
the right of repurchase may be
exercised only by the vendor in whom the right is recognized by contract
3
or by any person to whom
the right may have been transferred.
4
Graciana Husain must, therefore, be deemed to have acquired
the land in her own right, subject only to Teodoro Husain's right of redemption. As the new owner
she had a perfect right to dispose of the land as she in fact did when she exchanged it for a cattle
with the appellee.
Now, when Teodoro Husain failed to redeem the land within the stipulated period, i.e., January 9,
1925, its ownership became consolidated in the appellee. True the successive sales are in a private
instrument, but they are valid just the same.
5
By the delivery of possession of the land on April 2,
1919 the sale was consummated and title was transferred to the appellee. Indeed, this action is not
for specific performance; all it seeks is to quiet title,
6
to remove the cloud cast on appellee's
ownership as a result of appellant's refusal to recognize the sale made by their predecessor. And, as
plaintiff-appellee is in possession of the land, the action is imprescriptible.
7
Appellant's argument that
the action has prescribed would be correct if they were in possession as the action to quiet title
would then be an action for recovery of real property which must be brought within the statutory
period of limitation governing such actions.
8

Wherefore, the decision appealed from is affirmed, with costs against appellant.
Concepcion, C.J., Reyes, J.B.L., Dizon, Makalintal, Bengzon, J.P., Zaldivar, Sanchez and Castro,
JJ., concur.
PINGOL V. COURT OF APPEALS
A vendee in an oral contract to convey land who had made part payment thereof, entered upon the land
and had made valuable improvements thereon is entitled to bring suit to clear his title against the vendor
who had refused to transfer the title to him. It is not necessary that the vendee should have an absolute
title, an equitable title being sufficient to clothe him with personality to bring an action to quiet title.

FACTS:
In 1969, Pingol, the owner of a lot (Lot No. 3223) in Caloocan City, executed a DEED OF ABSOLUTE
SALE OF ONE-HALF OF AN UNDIVIDED PORTION OF [his] PARCEL OF LAND in favor of Donasco
(private respondent), payable in 6 years.

In 1984, Donasco died and was only able to pay P8,369 plus P2,000 downpayment, leaving a balance of
P10,161. The heirs of Donasco remained in possession of such lot and offered to settle the balance with
Pingol. However, Pingol refused to accept the offer and demanded a larger amount. Thus, the heirs of
Donasco filed an action for specific performance (with Prayer for Writ of Prelim. Injunction, because
Pingol were encroaching upon Donascos lot). Pingol averred that the sale and transfer of title was
conditional upon the full payment of Donasco (contract to sell, not contract of sale). With Donascos
breach of the contract in 1976 and death in 1984, the sale was deemed cancelled, and the heirs
continuous occupancy was only being tolerated by Pingol.

ISSUES:
(1) Whether or not Pingol can refuse to transfer title to Donasco
(2) Whether or not Donasco has the right to quiet title

RULING:
(1) No. The contract between Pingol and Donasco is a contract of sale and not a contract to sell. The acts
of the parties, contemporaneous and subsequent to the contract, clearly show that the parties intended
an absolute deed of sale; the ownership of the lot was transferred to the Donasco upon its actual (upon
Donascos possession and construction of the house) and constructive delivery (upon execution of the
contract). The delivery of the lot divested Pingol of his ownership and he cannot recover the title unless
the contract is resolved or rescinded under Art. 1592 of NCC. It states that the vendee may pay even
after the expiration of the period stipulated as long as no demand for rescission has been made upon him
either judicially or by notarial act. Pingol neither did so. Hence, Donasco has equitable title over the
property.

(2) Although the complaint filed by the Donascos was an action for specific performance, it was actually
an action to quiet title. A cloud has been cast on the title, since despite the fact that the title had been
transferred to them by the execution of the deed of sale and the delivery of the object of the contract,
Pingol adamantly refused to accept the payment by Donascos and insisted that they no longer had the
obligation to transfer the title.

Donasco, who had made partial payments and improvements upon the property, is entitled to bring suit to
clear his title against Pingol who refused to transfer title to him. It is not necessary that Donasco should
have an absolute title, an equitable title being sufficient to clothe him with personality to bring an action to
quiet title.

Prescription cannot also be invoked against the Donascos because an action to quiet title to property in
ONEs POSSESSION is imprescriptible.


Republic of the Philippines
SUPREME COURT
Manila
FIRST DIVISION

G.R. No. 102909 September 6, 1993
SPOUSES VICENTE and LOURDES PINGOL, petitioners,
vs.
HON. COURT OF APPEALS and HEIRS OF FRANCISCO N. DONASCO, namely: MELINDA D.
PELAYO, MARIETTA D. SINGSON, MYRNA D. CUEVAS, NATIVIDAD D. PELAYO, YOLANDA D.
CACERES and MARY DONASCO, respondents.
Bernardo S. Chan for petitioners.
Orlando A. Galope for respondents.

DAVIDE, JR., J .:
An action denominated as one for specific performance and damages was brought by the private
respondents against the petitioners before the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Caloocan City which,
after due trial, rendered a decision in favor of the petitioners. On appeal, the respondent Court
reversed the trial court's decision.
It is from this judgment that the petitioners have appealed to this Court by way of a petition for review
on certiorari.
The material facts of this case are simple and undisputed.
Petitioner Vicente Pingol is the owner of Lot No. 3223 of the Cadastral Survey of Caloocan, with an
area of 549 square meters, located at Bagong Barrio, Caloocan City and more particularly described
in Transfer Certificate of Title (TCT) No. 7435 of the Registry of Deeds of Caloocan City. On 17
February 1969, he executed a "DEED OF ABSOLUTE SALE OF ONE-HALF OF (1/2) [OF] AN
UNDIVIDED PORTION OF A PARCEL OF LAND" in favor of Francisco N. Donasco which was
acknowledged before a notary public. The parcel of land referred to herein is Lot No. 3223 and the
pertinent portions of the document read as follows:
That for and in consideration of the sum of TWENTY THOUSAND AND FIVE
HUNDRED THIRTY (P20,530.00) PESOS, Philippine Currency, the VENDOR
hereby these presents SELL, CONVEY AND CONVEY by way of Absolute Sale the
one-half (1/2) portion, equivalent to Two Hundred Seventy Four and point Fifty
(274.50) square meters, to VENDEE, the above-mentioned property, his heirs,
assigns and successors-in- interest;
That the VENDOR hereby confesses and acknowledges the receipt of TWO
THOUSAND (P2,000.00) PESOS from VENDEE as advanced (sic) and partial
payment to the above-cited consideration of the Sale herein mentioned, leaving
therefor a balance of Eighteen Thousand and Five Hundred Thirty (P18,530) Pesos
to be paid in several equal installments within a period of six (6) years, beginning
January, 1970;
That after computing the above-mentioned equal installments, the VENDEE agrees
and undertakes to pay unto the VENDOR a monthly amount equivalent to Two
Hundred Fifty Seven (sic) and Thirty Six Centavos (P257.36) within a period of
Seventy One (71) months and on the Seven Two [sic] (72) month, the amount of
(P257.44) as the last and final installment thereof;
That the VENDEE agrees that in case of default in the payment of the installment
due the same shall earn a legal rate of interest, and to which the VENDOR likewise
agrees;
That the VENDEE undertakes to pay unto the VENDOR the herein monthly
installment within the first five (5) days of each month and the same shall be made
available and to be paid at the residence of the VENDOR, payment to be made
either directly to the VENDOR, his wife or his authorized representative or factor;
That in case of partition of the above-described property between herein VENDOR
and VENDEE the same shall be divided into two (2) equal parts, the VENDOR gets
the corner facing J. De Jesus and Malolos Avenue and the VENDEE shall get the
portion with fifteen 15 meters frontage facing J. De Jesus Street only.
1

Pursuant to the contract, Donasco paid P2,000.00 to Pingol. The one-half portion, designated as Lot
No. 3223-A, was then segregated from the mother lot, and the parties prepared a subdivision plan
(Exhibit "C") which was approved by the Land Registration Commission.
2

Francisco immediately took possession of the subject lot and constructed a house thereon. In
January 1970, he started paying the monthly installments but was able to pay only up to 1972.
On 13 July 1984, Francisco Donasco died. At the time of his demise, he had paid P8,369.00, plus
the P2,000.00 advance payment, leaving a balance of P10,161.00 on the contract price.
3
Lot No.
3223-A remained in the possession of Donasco's heirs.
On 19 October 1988, the heirs of Francisco Donasco filed an action for "Specific Performance and
Damages, with Prayer for Writ of Preliminary Injunction" against the spouses Vicente and Lourdes
Pingol (petitioners herein) before the RTC of Caloocan City. The action was docketed as Civil Case
No. 13572 and raffled off to Branch 125 of the said court.
In their complaint,
4
the plaintiffs (private respondents herein) averred that after the death of their father,
they offered to pay the balance of P10,161.00 plus the stipulated legal rate of interest thereon to Vicente
Pingol but the latter rebuffed their offer and has "been demanding for a bigger and unreasonable amount,
in complete variance to what is lawfully due and payable." They stated that they had "exerted earnest
efforts to forge or reach an amicable and peaceful settlement with the defendants" for the payment of the
property in question but to no avail. They further alleged that the defendants were committing "acts of
forcible entry and encroachment" upon their land and asked that a writ of preliminary injunction be issued
to restrain the defendants from the acts complained of.
Plaintiffs then prayed that the defendants be ordered, inter alia:
a. . . . to accept the amount of P10,161.00, more or less, plus the stipulated legal rate
of interest due thereon, as full and complete payment of the balance for the agreed
price/consideration on the one- half (1/2) portion of the parcel of land . . .; [and]
b. . . . to execute the final deed of sale on the one-half (1/2) portion of the lot . . . in
accordance with the partition reflected in the survey and subdivision plan, . . . .
5

In their answer with counterclaim,
6
defendants admitted the execution of the aforementioned deed of
sale, the segregation of the portion sold and the preparation and approval of the subdivision plan, but set
up the following special and affirmative defenses: (1) plaintiffs' cause of action had already prescribed; (2)
the deed of sale embodied a conditional contract of sale "as the consideration is to be paid on installment
basis within a period of six years beginning January, 1970"; (3) the subdivision plan was prepared on the
assumption that Francisco Donasco would be able to comply with his obligation; (4) when Francisco died,
he had not fully paid the total consideration agreed upon; and (5) considering the breach by Francisco of
his contractual obligation way back in 1976, the sale was deemed to have been cancelled and the
continuous occupancy of Francisco after 1976 and by his heirs thereafter was by mere tolerance of
Vicente Pingol. They then asked that the plaintiffs be ordered to vacate the premises and to pay them
attorney's fees and a reasonable compensation for the use of the land.
In their Reply and Answer to Counterclaim,
7
the plaintiffs pointed out that there is no provision in the
deed of sale for its cancellation in case of default in the payment of the monthly installments and invoked
Article 1592 of the New Civil Code. They specifically denied the allegations in the counterclaim.
The issues having been joined, the case was then tried on the merits.
On 22 January 1990, the trial court rendered a decision
8
dismissing the complaint and ordering the
plaintiffs to pay the defendants P350.00 as reasonable monthly rental for the use of the premises from the
filing of the complaint, P10,000.00 by way of attorney's fees, and the costs of the suit. It held that: (1) the
deed of absolute sale in question, marked and offered in evidence as Exhibit "A," is a contract to sell, not
a contract of sale, since Vicente Pingol had no intention to part with the ownership of the loan unless the
full amount of the agreed price had been paid; (2) the contract was deemed to have been cancelled from
the moment the late father of the plaintiffs defaulted in the payment of the monthly installments; (3) title
and ownership over the lot did not pass to Francisco Donasco and his heirs since the contract to sell was
never consummated; and (5) assuming, arguendo, that the plaintiffs have a cause of action for specific
performance, such action had already prescribed since the complaint was filed only on 19 October 1988
or more than ten years from the time that they could have lawfully demanded performance.
9

Plaintiffs elevated the case to the Court of Appeals where the appeal was docketed as CA-G.R. CV
No. 25967. On 12 November 1991, the said court rendered a decision
10
reversing the appealed
decision and decreeing as follows:
WHEREFORE, the decision appealed from is hereby REVERSED and SET ASIDE
and another one is rendered:
(1) Ordering appellee-vendor Vicente Pingol to accept the sum of P10,161.00, plus
the legal interest due thereon from the date of institution of this action on October 19,
1988;
(2) Upholding the validity of the "DEED OF ABSOLUTE SALE OF ONE- HALF (1/2)
(of) AN UNDIVIDED PORTION OF A PARCEL OF LAND" (Exh. A), and by virtue
and on the strength of which declaring the "Heirs of the Deceased Francisco N.
Domingo" as the owners of the 274.50 sq. m. land, denominated as Lot 3223-A,
(LRC) Psd-146255 under the technical description (exh. D) and reflected in the Plan
of Subdivision Survey which was approved By Commissioner of Land Registration on
August 13, 1971 (exh. C), representing one-half portion [of] lot 3223, situated at the
corner of Malolos Avenue and G. de Jesus St., Bagong Barrio, Caloocan City, and
covered by TCT No. 7435 of the Registry of Deeds of Caloocan City (exh. B); and
(3) Ordering the defendants-appellees to pay the costs.
SO ORDERED.
11

The Court of Appeals ruled that the deed of sale in question reveals the clear intention of Vicente
Pingol to part with the ownership of the one-half portion of the land by way of an absolute sale; that
the failure to fully pay the agreed price was not a ground for the cancellation of the sale; and that the
plaintiffs' action is imprescriptible since it is akin to an action to quiet title to property in one's
possession.
12

Dissatisfied with the decision of the Court of Appeals, the defendants, hereinafter referred to as the
petitioners, filed this petition for certiorari on 9 January 1992. Plaintiffs, hereinafter referred to as the
private respondents, filed their comment thereto on 10 September 1992 to which the petitioners filed
a reply 11 November 1992. We gave due course to the petition and required the parties to submit
their respective memoranda,
13
which they subsequently complied with.
Petitioners contend that the Court of Appeals erred:
I
IN HOLDING THAT THE DOCUMENT (EXHIBIT "A") DENOMINATED AS
"ABSOLUTE DEED OF SALE OF ONE-HALF () OF AN UNDIVIDED PORTION OF
A PARCEL OF LAND" IS AN ABSOLUTE DEED OF SALE SUFFICIENT TO
CONFER OWNERSHIP ON THE VENDEE AND HIS SUCCESSORS-IN-INTEREST,
DESPITE THE FACT THAT BY ITS TERMS AND CONDITIONS, LIKE THE PRICE
BEING PAYABLE ON INSTALLMENTS WITHIN A FIXED PERIOD, THE SAME IS A
CONDITIONAL DEED OF SALE.
II
IN HOLDING THAT NOTWITHSTANDING THE FACT THAT THE VENDEE FAILED
TO COMPLY WITH THE TERMS OF THE CONTRACT (EXHIBIT "A")
SPECIFICALLY TO COMPLETE THE PAYMENT OF THE CONSIDERATION ON
THE DATE STIPULATED IN THE CONTRACT WHICH WAS SUPPOSED TO BE
IN JANUARY 1976, COMPLETE PAYMENT THEREOF CAN STILL BE ENFORCED
IN AN ACTION INSTITUTED BY THE HEIRS OF THE VENDEE FILED
ON OCTOBER 19, 1988 OR A PERIOD OF MORE THAN TWELVE (12) YEARS
FROM THE TIME COMPLETE PAYMENT SHOULD HAVE BEEN MADE;
III
IN HOLDING THAT THE PRIVATE RESPONDENTS' ACTION IS ONE WHICH IS
AN OFFER TO COMPLETE THE PAYMENT LEFT UNPAID BY PRIVATE
RESPONDENTS' FATHER WHICH DOES NOT PRESCRIBE;
IV
IN HOLDING THAT PRIVATE RESPONDENTS' CAUSE OF ACTION HAS NOT
PRESCRIBE.
14

The decisive issue in this case is whether Exhibit "A" embodies a contract of sale or a contract to
sell. The distinction between the two is important for in a contract of sale, the title passes to the
vendee upon the delivery of the thing sold, whereas in a contract to sell, by agreement, ownership is
reserved in the vendor and is not to pass until the full payment of the price. In a contract of sale, the
vendor has lost and cannot recover ownership until and unless the contract is resolved or rescinded,
whereas in a contract to sell, title is retained by the vendor until the full payment of the price, such
payment being a positive suspensive condition, failure of which is not a breach but an event that
prevented the obligation of the vendor to convey title from becoming
effective.
15

A perusal of Exhibit "A" leads to no other conclusion than that it embodies a contract of sale. The
plain and clear tenor of the "DEED OF ABSOLUTE SALE OF ONE-HALF (1/2) [OF] AN UNDIVIDED
PORTION OF A PARCEL OF LAND" is that "the VENDOR hereby . . . SELL, CONVEY AND
CONVEY by way Absolute Sale the one-half (1/2) portion . . . to the VENDEE . . . his heirs, assigns
and successors-in-interest." That the vendor, petitioner Vicente Pingol, had that clear intention was
further evidenced by his failure to reserve his title thereto until the full payment of the price.
In Dignos vs. Court of Appeals,
16
we held that a deed of sale is absolute in nature although
denominated as a "Deed of Conditional Sale" where there is no stipulation in the deed that title to the
property sold is reserved in the seller until the full payment of the price, nor is there a stipulation giving the
vendor the right to unilaterally resolve the contract the moment the buyer fails to pay within a fixed period.
Exhibit "A" contains neither stipulation. What is merely stated therein is that "the VENDEE agrees that in
case of default in the payment of the installments due the same shall earn a legal rate of interest, and to
which the VENDOR likewise agrees."
Furthermore, as found by the Court of Appeals, the acts of the parties, contemporaneous and
subsequent to the contract, clearly show that an absolute deed of sale was intended, by the parties
and not a contract to sell:
[P]ursuant to the deed, the vendor delivered actual and constructive possession of
the property to the vendee, who occupied and took such possession, constructed a
building thereon, had the property surveyed and subdivided and a plan of the
property was prepared and submitted to the Land Registration Commission
which approved it preparatory to segregating the same and obtaining the
corresponding TCT in his name. Since the sale, appellee continuously possessed
and occupied the property as owner up to his death on July 13, 1984 and his heirs,
after his death, continued the occupancy and possession of the property up to the
present. Those contemporaneous and subsequent events are demonstrative acts
that the vendor since the sale recognized the vendee as the absolute owner of the
property sold. All those attributes of ownership are admitted by defendants in their
answer, specifically in paragraphs 7 and 9 of their special and affirmative defenses.
17

The contract here being one of absolute sale, the ownership of the subject lot was transferred to the
buyer upon the actual and constructive delivery thereof. The constructive delivery of the subject lot
was made upon the execution of the deed of sale
18
while the actual delivery was effected when the
private respondents took possession of and constructed a house on Lot No. 3223-A.
The delivery of the object of the contract divested the vendor of the ownership over the same and he
cannot recover the title unless the contract is resolved or rescinded pursuant to Article 1592 of the
New Civil Code which provides that:
In the sale of immovable property, even though it may have been stipulated that
upon failure to pay the price at the time agreed upon the rescission of the contract
shall of right take place, the vendee may pay, even after the expiration of the period,
as long as no demand for rescission of the contract has been made upon him either
judicially or by a notarial act. After the demand, the court may not grant him a new
term.
Both the trial court and the Court of Appeals did not find that a notarial or judicial rescission of the
contract had been made. Although Vicente Pingol asserts that he had declared to Francisco
Donasco that he was cancelling the contract, he did not prove that his demand for rescission was
made either judicially or by a notarial act.
Petitioners fault the respondent Court for holding that the action of the petitioners is not barred by
the statute of limitations. They argue that the private respondents' action, being based upon a written
contract, has prescribed since it was brought only in 1988 or more than ten years from the time
when the latter could have lawfully demanded performance.
19

We disagree.
Although the private respondents' complaint before the trial court was denominated as one for
specific performance, it is in effect an action to quiet title. In this regard, the following excerpt
from Bucton vs. Gabar
20
isapropos:
The real and ultimate basis of petitioners' action is their ownership of one- half of the
lot coupled with their possession thereof, which entitles them to a conveyance of the
property. In Sapto, et al. v. Fabiana [103 Phil. 683, 686-87 (1958)], this Court,
speaking thru Mr. Justice J.B.L. Reyes, explained that under the circumstances no
enforcement of the contract is needed, since the delivery of possession of the land
sold had consummated the sale and transferred title to the purchaser, and that,
actually, the action for conveyance is one to quiet title, i.e., to remove the cloud upon
the appellee's ownership by the refusal of the appellants to recognize the sale made
by their predecessors.
That a cloud has been cast on the title of the private respondents is indubitable. Despite the fact that
the title had been transferred to them by the execution of the deed of sale and the delivery of the
object of the contract, the petitioners adamantly refused to accept the tender of payment by the
private respondents and steadfastly insisted that their obligation to transfer title had been rendered
ineffective.
A vendee in an oral contract to convey land who had made part payment thereof, entered upon the
land and had made valuable improvements thereon, is entitled to bring suit to clear his title against
the vendor who had refused to transfer the title to him. It is not necessary that the vendee has an
absolute title, an equitable title being sufficient to clothe him with personality to bring an action to
quiet title.
21

Prescription thus cannot be invoked against the private respondents for it is aphoristic that an action
to quiet title to property in one's possession is
imprescriptible.
22
The rationale for this rule has been aptly stated thus:
The owner of real property who is in possession thereof may wait until his
possession is invaded or his title is attacked before taking steps to vindicate his right.
A person claiming title to real property, but not in possession thereof, must act
affirmatively and within the time provided by the statute. Possession is a continuing
right as is the right to defend such possession. So it has been determined that an
owner of real property in possession has a continuing right to invoke a court of equity
to remove a cloud that is a continuing menace to his title. Such a menace is
compared to a continuing nuisance or trespass which is treated as successive
nuisances or trespasses, not barred by statute until continued without interruption for
a length of time sufficient to affect a change of title as a matter of law.
23

Private respondents shall, however, be liable to pay the legal rate of interest on the unpaid balance
of the purchase price from the date default or on 6 January 1976, when the entire balance should
have been paid, pursuant to the provision in the deed of sale.
WHEREFORE, except as above modified, the Decision appealed from is hereby AFFIRMED. As
modified, the interest on the unpaid balance of P10,161.00, at the legal rate, shall be computed from
6 January 1976. Upon the payment by the private respondents to the petitioners of the said amount
and the interest thereon, the latter are ordered to deliver Transfer Certificate of Title No. 7435 to the
Register of Deeds of Caloocan City who shall cancel the same and issue two new transfer
certificates of title in lieu thereof, one of which shall be in the name of the herein private respondents
covering Lot No. 3223-A and the other in the name of the petitioners covering the remainder of the
lot.
SO ORDERED.
Cruz, Grio-Aquino, Bellosillo and Quiason, JJ., concur.



TITONG v. CA
For one to file an action to quiet title to a parcel of land, the requisites in Art 476 of the NCC must be
complied with meaning there should be an instrument, record, claim, encumbrance setting forth the cloud
or doubt over the title. Otherwise, the action to be filed can either be ejectment, forcible entry, unlawful
detainer, accion reivindicatoria or accion publiciana.

FACTS:
A 20,592 square meter parcel of land located at Barrio Titiong, Masbate is the subject property being
disputed in this case. The property is being claimed by 2 contestants, however legal title over the property
can only be given to one of them.

The case originated from an action for quieting of title filed by petitioner Mario Titong. The RTC of
Masbate decided in favor of private respondents, Vicente Laurio and Angeles Laurio as the true and
lawful owners of the disputed land. The CA affirmed the decision of the RTC.

Titong asserts that he is the owner of an unregistered parcel of land with an area of 3.2800 hectares and
declared for taxation purposes. He claims that on three separate occasions, private resps, with their hired
laborers, forcibly entered a portion of the land containing an approximate area of 2 hectares and began
plowing the same under pretext of ownership. On the other hand, private resps denied the claim and said
that the subject land formed part of the 5.5 hectare agricultural land which they had purchased from their
predecessor-in-interest, Pablo Espinosa.

Titong identified Espinosa as the his adjoining owner asserting that no controversy had sprouted between
them for 20 years until the latter sold lot 3749 to V. Laurio. The boundary between the land sold to
Espinosa and what remained of Titongs property was the old Bugsayon river. When Titong employed
Lerit as his tenant, he instructed the latter to change the course of the old river and direct the flow of
water to the lowland at the southern portion of Titongs property, thus converting the old river into a
Riceland.

Private resps, on the other hand, denied claim of Titongs, saying that the area and boundaries of
disputed land remained unaltered during the series of conveyances prior to its coming into his hands.
Accdg to him, Titong first declared land for taxation purposes which showed that the land had an area of
5.5 hectares and was bounded on the north by the B. River; on the east by property under ownership by
Zaragoza, and on the west by property owned by De la Cruz. He also alleges that Titong sold property to
Verano. The latter reacquired the property pursuant to mutual agreement to repurchase the same.
However, the property remained in Titongs hands only for 4 days because he sold it to Espinosa. It then
became a part of the estate of Espinosas wife, late Segundina Espinosa. Later on, her heirs executed an
Extrajudicial Settlement of Estate with Simultaneous Sale whereby the 5.5 hectares was sold to Laurio
for 5,000 pesos. In all these conveyances, the area and boundaries of the property remained exactly the
same as those appearing in the name of Titongs.

The court found out that 2 surveys were made of the property. First survey was made by Titong, while the
second was the relocation survey ordered by the lower court. Because of which, certain discrepancies
surfaced. Contrary to Titongs allegation, he was actually claiming 5.9789 hectares, the total areas of lot
nos 3918, 3918-A and 3606. The lot 3479 pertaining to Espinosas was left with only an area of 4.1841
hectares instead of the 5.5 hectares sold by Titong to him.

Apprised of the discrepancy, private resps filed a protest before Bureau of Lands against 1st survey, and
filing a case for alteration of boundaries before the MTC, proceedings of which were suspended because
of instant case.

Private resps. Avers that Titong is one of the four heirs of his mother, Leonida Zaragoza. In the
Extrajudicial Settlement with Sale of Estate of late Zaragoza, the heirs adjudicated unto themselves the
3.6 hectares property of the deceased. The property was bounded by the north by Verano, on the east by
Bernardo Titong, on the south by the Bugsayon River and on the west by Benigno Titong.
Instead of reflecting only .9000 hectares as his rightful share in the extrajud settlement, Titongs share
bloated to 2.4 hectares. It then appeared to Laurio that Titong encroached upon his property and declared
it as part of his inheritance.

The boundaries were likewise altered so that it was bounded on the north by Verano, on the east by B.
Titong, on the south by Espinosa and on the west by Adolfo Titong. Laurio also denied that Titong
diverted course of the B. river after he had repurchased the land from Verano because land was
immediately sold to Espinosa thereafter.

ISSUE:
Whether or not Titong is the rightful owner of the subject property
RULING: NO
The remedy for quieting of title may be availed of under the circumstances mentioned in Art 476 of the
NCC wherein it says that action to quiet title may be made as a remedial or preventive measure. Under
476, a claimant must show that there is an instrument, record, claim, encumbrance or proceeding which
casts a cloud, doubt, question or shadow upon owners title to or interest in real property. The ground for
filing a complaint for quieting title must be instrument, record, claim, encumbrance or proceeding.
In the case at bar, Titong failed to allege that there was an instrument, claim etc be clouded over his
property. Through his allegations, what Titong imagined as clouds cast on his title were Laurios alleged
acts of physical intrusion into his purported property. The grounds mentioned are for action for forcible
entry and not quieting title.

In addition, the case was considered to be a boundary dispute. The RTC and CA correctly held that when
Titong sold the 5.5 hectare land to Espinosa, his rights and possession ceased and were transferred to
Laurio upon its sale to the latter.

Thus, it is now a contract of sale wherein it is a contract transferring dominion and other real rights in the
thing sold. Titong also cannot rely on the claim of prescription as ordinary acquisitive prescription requires
possession in good faith and with just title for the time fixed by law.
THIRD DIVISION
[G.R. No. 111141. March 6, 1998]
MARIO Z. TITONG, petitioner, vs. THE HONORABLE COURT OF
APPEALS (4th Division), VICTORICO LAURIO and ANGELES
LAURIO,respondents.
D E C I S I O N
ROMERO, J .:
Like a priceless treasure coveted by many, but capable of ownership by only one,
this 20,592 square-meter parcel of land located at Barrio Titong, Masbate, Masbate is
claimed by two contestants in this petition for review on certiorari. Unfortunately, legal
title over the property can be vested in only one of them.
The case originated from an action for quieting of title filed by petitioner Mario
Titong. The Regional Trial Court of Masbate, Masbate, Branch 44
[1]
ruled in favor of
private respondents, Victorico Laurio and Angeles Laurio, adjudging them as the true
and lawful owners of the disputed land. Affirmed on appeal to the Court of Appeals,
petitioner comes to us for a favorable reversal.
Petitioner alleges that he is the owner of an unregistered parcel of land with an area
of 3.2800 hectares, more or less, surveyed as Lot No. 3918, and declared for taxation
purposes in his name. He claims that on three separate occasions in September 1983,
private respondents, with their hired laborers, forcibly entered a portion of the land
containing an area of approximately two (2) hectares, and began plowing the same
under pretext of ownership. Private respondents denied this allegation, and averred
that the disputed property formed part of the 5.5-hectare agricultural land which they
had purchased from their predecessor-in-interest,
[2]
Pablo Espinosa on August 10, 1981.
In his testimony, petitioner identified Espinosa as his adjoining owner
[3]
, asserting
that no controversy had sprouted between them for twenty years until the latter sold Lot
No. 3479 to private respondent Victorico Laurio.
[4]
This was corroborated by Ignacio
Villamor, who had worked on the land even before its sale to Espinosa in 1962. The
boundary between the land sold to Espinosa and what remained of petitioners property
was the old Bugsayon river. When petitioner employed Bienvenido Lerit as his tenant in
1962, he instructed Lerit to change the course of the old river and direct the flow of
water to the lowland at the southern portion of petitioners property, thus converting the
old river into a riceland.
[5]

For his part, private respondent anchors his defense on the following facts:
He denied petitioners claim of ownership, recounting that the area and boundaries of
the disputed land remained unaltered during the series of conveyances prior to its
coming into his hands. According to him, petitioner first declared the land for taxation
purposes under Tax Declaration No. 2916,
[6]
which showed that the land had an area of
5.5 hectares and was bounded on the North by the Bugsayon River; on the East by
property under the ownership of Lucio Lerit; on the South by property owner by
Potenciano Zaragoza; and on the West by property owned by Agapito de la
Cruz.
[7]
Private Respondent then alleges that, on December 21, 1960, petitioner sold
this property to Concepcion Verano vda. de Cabug, after which Tax Declaration No.
5339
[8]
was issued in her favor. In compliance with their mutual agreement to
repurchase the same, petitioner reacquired the property by way of sale
[9]
on August 24,
1962 and then declared it for taxation purposes in his name under Tax Declaration No.
5720.
[10]
However, the property remained in petitioners hands for only four (4) days
because, on August 28, 1962, he sold it to Espinosa
[11]
who then declared it in his name
under Tax Declaration No. 12311.
[12]
Consequently, the property became a part of the
estate of Pablo Espinosas wife, the late Segundina Liao Espinosa. On August 10,
1981, her heirs executed an instrument denominated as Extrajudicial Settlement of
Estate with Simultaneous Sale whereby the 5.5-hectare property under Tax Declaration
No. 12311 was sold to private respondent
[13]
in consideration of the amount
of P5,000.00. Thereafter, Tax Declaration No. 12738 was issued in the name of private
respondent. In all these conveyances, the area and boundaries of the property
remained exactly the same as those appearing in Tax Declaration No. 2916 under
petitioners name.
It was proved at the proceedings in the court a quo that two (2) surveys were made
of the disputed property. The first survey
[14]
was made for petitioner, while the second
was the relocation survey ordered by the lower court. As anticipated, certain
discrepancies between the two surveys surfaced. Thus, contrary to petitioners
allegation in his complaint that he is the owner of only 3.2800 hectares, he was actually
claiming 5.9789 hectares, the total areas of Lot Nos. 3918, 3918-A and 3606. On the
other hand, Lot No. 3479 pertaining to Espinosa, was left with only an area of 4.1841
hectares instead of the 5.5 hectares sold by petitioner to him. Apprised of the
discrepancy, private respondent filed a protest
[15]
before the Bureau of Lands against the
first survey, likewise filing a case for alteration of boundaries before the municipal trial
court, the proceedings of which, however, were suspended because of the instant
case.
[16]

Private respondent testified that petitioner is one of the four heirs of his mother,
Leonida Zaragoza. In the Extrajudicial Settlement with Sale of Estate of the
deceased Leonida Zaragoza,
[17]
the heirs adjudicated unto themselves the 3.6-
hectare property of the deceased. The property involved is described in the instrument
as having been declared under Tax Declaration No. 3301
[18]
and as bounded on the
North by Victor Verano, on the East by Benigno Titong, on the South by the Bugsayon
River and on the West by Benigno Titong. On September 9, 1969, Tax Declaration No.
8723 was issued to petitioner for his corresponding share in the estate.
However, instead of reflecting only .9000 hectare as his rightful share in the
extrajudicial settlement
[19]
petitioners share was bloated to 2.4 hectares. It therefore
appeared to private respondent that petitioner encroached upon his (Laurios) property
and declared it a part of his inheritance.
[20]
The boundaries were likewise altered so that
it was bounded on the North by Victor Verano, on the East by Benigno Titong, on the
South by property owner Espinosa, and on the West by property owner Adolfo
Titong.
[21]
Private respondent accordingly denied that petitioner had diverted the course
of the Bugsayon River after he had repurchased the land from Concepcion Verano vda.
de Cabug
[22]
because the land was immediately sold to Espinosa shortly thereafter.
[23]

The lower court rendered a decision in favor of private respondents, declaring him
as the true and absolute owner of the litigated property and ordering petitioner to
respect private respondents title and ownership over the property and to pay attorneys
fees, litigation expenses, costs and moral damages.
Petitioner appealed to the Court of Appeals, which affirmed the decision. On motion
for reconsideration, the same was denied for lack of merit. Hence, this petition for
review oncertiorari.
At the outset, we hold that the instant petition must be denied for the reason that the
lower court should have outrightly dismissed the complaint for quieting of title. The
remedy of quieting of title may be availed of under the circumstances enumerated in the
Civil Code:
ART. 476. Whenever there is a cloud on title to real property or any interest
therein, by reason of any instrument, record, claim, encumbrance or
proceeding which is apparently valid or effective but is in truth and in fact
invalid, ineffective, voidable, or unenforceable, and may be prejudicial to said
title, an action may be brought to remove such cloud or to quiet the title.
An action may also be brought to prevent a cloud from being cast upon title to
real property or any interest therein.
Under this provision, a claimant must show that there is an instrument, record,
claim, encumbrance or proceeding which constitutes or casts a cloud, doubt, question
or shadow upon the owners title to or interest in real property.
[24]
The ground or reason
for filing a complaint for quieting of title must therefore be an instrument, record, claim,
encumbrance or proceeding. Under the maxim expresio unius est exclusio alterius,
these grounds are exclusive so that other reasons outside of the purview of these
reasons may not be considered valid for the same action.
[25]

Had the lower court thoroughly considered the complaint filed, it would have had no
other course of action under the law but to dismiss it. The complaint failed to allege that
an instrument, record, claim, encumbrance or proceeding beclouded the plaintiffs title
over the property involved. Petitioner merely alleged that the defendants (respondents
herein), together with their hired laborers and without legal justification, forcibly entered
the southern portion of the land of the plaintiff and plowed the same:
He then proceeded to claim damages and attorneys fees. He prayed that, aside
from issuing a writ or preliminary injunction enjoining private respondents and their hired
laborers from intruding into the land, the court should declare him the true and absolute
owner thereof. Hence, through his allegations, what petitioner imagined as clouds cast
on his title to the property were private respondents alleged acts of physical
intrusion into his purported property. Clearly, the acts alleged may be considered
grounds for an action for forcible entry but definitely not one for quieting of title.
When the issues were joined by the filing of the answer to the complaint, it would
have become apparent to the court that the case was a boundary dispute. The answer
alleged, among other matters, that petitioner, in bad faith, surreptitiously, maliciously
and fraudulently had the land in question included in the survey of his land which
extends to the south only as far as the Bugsayon River which is the visible and natural
and common boundary between the properties.
[26]
Moreover, during the hearing of the
case, petitioner proved that it was actually a boundary dispute by evidence showing
what he considered as the boundary of his property which private respondents
perceived as actually encroaching on their property. In this regard, the following
pronouncements of the Court are apropos:
x x x (T)he trial court (and likewise the respondent Court) cannot, in an action for
quieting of title, order the determination of the boundaries of the claimed property, as
that would be tantamount to awarding to one or some of the parties the disputed
property in an action where the sole issue is limited to whether the instrument, record,
claim, encumbrance or proceeding involved constitutes a cloud upon the petitioners
interest or title in and to said property. Such determination of boundaries is appropriate
in adversarial proceedings where possession or ownership may properly be considered
and where evidence aliunde, other than the `instrument, record, claim, encumbrance or
proceeding itself, may be introduced. An action for forcible entry, whenever warranted
by the period prescribed in Rule 70, or for recovery of possession de facto, also within
the prescribed period, may be availed of by the petitioners, in which proceeding the
boundary dispute may be fully threshed out.
[27]

Nonetheless, even if the complaint below were to be considered as a valid one for
quieting of title, still, the instant petition for review on certiorari must fail.
As a general rule, findings of fact of the Court of Appeals are binding and conclusive
upon this Court. Such factual findings shall not be disturbed normally unless the same
are palpably unsupported by the evidence on record or the judgment itself is based on a
misapprehension of facts.
[28]
Upon an examination of the records, the Court finds no
evident reason to depart from the general rule.
The courts below correctly held that when petitioner sold, ceded, transferred and
conveyed the 5.5-hectare land in favor of Pablo Espinosa, his rights of ownership and
possession pertaining thereto ceased and these were transferred to the latter. In the
same manner, Espinosas rights of ownership over the land ceased and were
transferred to private respondent upon its sale to the latter. This finds justification in the
Civil Code, as follows:
ART. 1458. By the contract of sale one of the contracting parties obligates
himself to transfer the ownership of and to deliver a determinate thing, and the
other to pay therefor a price certain in money or its equivalent.
A contract of sale may be absolute or conditional.
In other words, a sale is a contract transferring dominion and other real rights in the
thing sold.
[29]
In the case at bar, petitioners claim of ownership must of necessity fail
because he has long abdicated his rights over the land when he sold it to private
respondents predecessor-in-interest.
Petitioners claim that he acquired ownership over the disputed land through
possession for more than twenty (20) years is likewise unmeritorious. While Art. 1134 of
the Civil Code provides that (o)wnership and other real rights over immovable property
are acquired by ordinary prescription through possession of ten years, this provision of
law must be read in conjunction with Art. 1117 of the same Code. This article states
that x x x (o)rdinary acquisitive prescription of things requires possession in good faith
and with just title for the time fixed by law. Hence, a prescriptive title to real estate is
not acquired by mere possession thereof under claim of ownership for a period of ten
years unless such possession was acquired con justo titulo y buena fe (with color of title
and good faith).
[30]
The good faith of the possessor consists in the reasonable belief that
the person from whom he received the thing was the owner thereof, and could transmit
his ownership.
[31]
For purposes of prescription, there is just title when the adverse
claimant came into possession of the property through one of the modes recognized by
law for the acquisition of ownership or other real rights but the grantor was not the
owner or could not transmit any right.
[32]

Petitioners have not satisfactorily met the requirements of good faith and just title.
As aptly observed by the trial court, the plaintiffs admitted acts of converting the
boundary line (Bugsayon River) into a ricefield and thereafter claiming ownership
thereof were acts constituting deprivation of the rights of others and therefore
tantamount to bad faith.
[33]
To allow petitioner to benefit from his own wrong would run
counter to the maxim ex dolo malo non oritur actio (no man can be allowed to found a
claim upon his own wrongdoing). Extraordinary acquisitive prescription cannot similarly
vest ownership over the property upon petitioner. Art. 1137 of the Civil Code states that
(o)wnership and other real rights over immovables prescribe through uninterrupted
adverse possession thereof for thirty years, without need of title or of good
faith. Petitioners alleged possession in 1962 up to September 1983 when private
respondents entered the property in question spanned twenty-one (21) years. This
period of time is short of the thirty-year requirement mandated by Art. 1137.
Petitioner basically anchors his claim over the property on the survey plan prepared
upon his request,
[34]
the tax declaration in his name,
[35]
the commissioners report on the
relocation survey,
[36]
and the survey plan.
[37]
Respondent court correctly held that these
documents do not conclusively demonstrate petitioner's title over Lot Nos. 3918-A and
3606.
A survey is the act by which the quantity of a parcel of land is ascertained and also
a paper containing a statement of courses, distances, and quantity of land.
[38]
A survey
under a proprietary title is not a conveyance. It is an instrument sui generis in the
nature of a partition; a customary mode in which a proprietor has set off to himself in
severalty a part of the common estate.
[39]
Therefore, a survey, not being a conveyance,
is not a mode of acquiring ownership. A fortiori, petitioner cannot found his claim on the
survey plan reflecting a subdivision of land because it is not conclusive as to ownership
as it may refer only to a delineation of possession.
[40]

Furthermore, the plan was not verified and approved by the Bureau of Lands in
accordance with Sec. 28, paragraph 5 of Act No. 2259, the Cadastral Act, as amended
by Sec. 1862 of Act No. 2711. Said law ordains that private surveyors send their
original field notes, computations, reports, surveys, maps and plots regarding a piece of
property to the Bureau of Lands for verification and approval.
[41]
A survey plan not
verified and approved by said Bureau is nothing more than a private writing, the due
execution and authenticity of which must be proven in accordance with Sec. 20 of Rule
132 of the Rules of Court. The circumstance that the plan was admitted in evidence
without any objection as to its due execution and authenticity does not signify that the
courts shall give probative value therefor. To admit evidence and not to believe it
subsequently are not contradictory to each other. This Court cannot alter the
conclusions of the Court of Appeals on the credibility accorded to evidence presented
by the parties.
[42]

Similarly, petitioners tax declaration issued under his name is not even persuasive
evidence of his claimed ownership over the land in dispute. A tax declaration, by itself,
is not considered conclusive evidence of ownership.
[43]
It is merely an indicium of a claim
of ownership.
[44]
Because it does not by itself give title, it is of little value in proving ones
ownership.
[45]
Moreover, the incompatibility in petitioners tax declaration and the
commissioners report as regards the area of his claimed property is much too glaring to
be ignored. Tax Declaration No. 8717 states that petitioners property has an area of
3.2800 hectares while the totality of his claim according to the commissioned geodetic
engineers survey amounts to 4.1385 hectares. There is therefore a notable
discrepancy of 8,585 square meters. On the other hand, private respondents claimed
property, as borne out by Tax Declaration No. 12738, totals 5.5 hectares, a more
proximate equivalent of the 5.2433-hectare property as shown by the commissioners
report.
There is also nothing in the commissioners report that substantiates petitioners
claim that the disputed land was inside his property. Petitioner capitalizes on the lower
courts statement in its decision
[46]
that as reflected in the commissioners report dated
May 23, 1984 (Exhibit 3-3-A), the area claimed is inside lot 3918 of
the defendants (Exhibit 2)
[47]
or the private respondents. A careful reading of the
decision would show that this statement is found in the summary of defendants (herein
private respondents) evidence. Reference to Lot No. 3918 may, therefore, be attributed
to mere oversight as the lower court even continues to state the defendants assertion
that the 2-hectare land is part of their 5.5-hectare property. Hence, it is not amiss to
conclude that either petitioner misapprehended the lower courts decision or he is trying
to contumaciously mislead or worse, deceive this Court.
With respect to the awards of moral damages of P10,000.00 and attorneys fees
of P2,000.00, the Court finds no cogent reason to delete the same. Jurisprudence is
replete with rulings to the effect that where fraud and bad faith have been established,
the award of moral damages is in order.
[48]
This pronouncement finds support in Art.
2219 (10) of the Civil Code allowing the recovery of moral damages for acts
enumerated in Art. 21 of the same Code. This article states that (a)ny person who
wilfully causes loss or injury to another in a manner that is contrary to morals, good
customs or public policy shall compensate the latter for the damage. The moral
damages are hereby increased to P30,000.00. We agree with the respondent court in
holding that the award of attorneys fees is justified because petitioner filed a clearly
unfounded civil action.
[49]

WHEREFORE, the instant petition for review on certiorari is hereby DENIED and
the questioned Decision of the Court of Appeals AFFIRMED. This Decision is
immediately executory. Costs against petitioner.
SO ORDERED.
Narvasa, CJ. (Chairman), Kapunan and Purisima, JJ., concur.


Republic of the Philippines
SUPREME COURT
Manila
THIRD DIVISION

G.R. No. 96644 June 17, 1994
HEIRS OF JUAN OCLARIT, namely: FRANCISCA VDA. DE OCLARIT, SOFRONIO OCLARIT,
BELACIO OCLARIT, RUFINO OCLARIT, JUANA OCLARIT DE MACALOS, assisted by her
husband HILARIO MACALOS, FELISA OCLARIT DE LACRE, assisted by her husband,
COSME LACRE; HEIRS OF PAULA OCLARIT DE OCANG, namely: PETRA OCANG and
ALFREDO OCANG, ANGELA OCLARIT DE OCANG, assisted by her husband, CARLOS
OCANG, EPIFANIA OCLARIT DE ALMODOBAL, assisted by her husband, URBANO
ALMODOBAL, CRESENCIA OCLARIT DE IVARRETA, assisted by her husband, LUCRESIO
IVARRETA, NARCISA OCLARIT DE CAGAS, assisted by her husband, JUAN CAGAS, and
JUSTO OCLARIT, petitioners,
vs.
COURT OF APPEALS and ZACARIAS BALASABAS, respondents.
Lord M. Marapao for petitioners.
Urbano Lagumay for private respondent.

BIDIN, J .:
Petitioners seek the review on certiorari of the decision of the Court of Appeals promulgated on
September 28, 1990, affirming with modification the decision of the Regional Trial Court of Bohol,
Branch 2, Tagbilaran City, dismissing their complaint for quieting of title with damages and declaring
the defendant (private respondent herein) the owner of the parcels of land subjects of controversy.
In 1953, the late Juan Oclarit, petitioners predecessor-in-interest, allegedly purchased from Martin
Macalos a parcel of unregistered land located in Antipolo, Garcia-Hernandez, Bohol, with no
permanent landmarks or boundaries in consideration of the sum of one hundred (P100.00) pesos.
The deed of sale simply described the property as bounded on the north and east by the property of
Herminigildo Baja, on the south by Mariano Gales and on the west by a brook.
In 1956, Oclarit bought five more parcels of land located in Antipolo and Ulbujan, also in Garcia-
Hernandez, Bohol, from Dalmacio Gales in consideration of the sum of six hundred (P600.00)
pesos. Parcel IV thereof is described as follows:
A parcel of an irrigated rice and coconut lands, bounded on the NORTH, by the land
of Leon Macalos; EAST, by the land of Mariano Gales; SOUTH, by the land of Pablo
Gales, and on the WEST, by the land of Saturnino Gales; containing an area of 9
ares and 28 centares, more or less, without visible landmarks of the boundaries of
the same, covered by Tax Declaration No. R-19915 now transferred and declared
under the name of the herein VENDEE, JUAN OCLARIT, with the total assessed
value of P30.00.
In 1975, the heirs of Oclarit filed an action for the quieting of title and damages against respondent
Balasabas before the then Court of First Instance of Bohol, docketed as Civil Case No. 3103. The
complaint alleged that in January 1969, private respondent entered the properties subject of the
action. Failing to work on the area planted to palay, private respondent climbed the coconut trees,
replaced the "J.O." markings on the trees with "F.G.", representing Felipa Gales, his mother, and
caused to be recorded in the cadastral survey of the land the name of Felipa Gales as claimant
against Juan Oclarit. The heirs of Oclarit considered the acts of private respondent as having cast a
cloud of doubt over their title to the property and therefore deprived them of the enjoyment of the
fruits of the coconut trees. Petitioners further alleged that the late Juan Oclarit, from the time of the
acquisition of said properties, had exercised dominion and ownership thereon openly, peacefully,
adversely and uninterruptedly. It was also claimed that the deceased planted coconut trees and
other crops on the property, enjoyed their produce and paid the realty taxes on the land which was
continued by his heirs after his death.
In his answer, respondent Balasabas claims to have actually and lawfully possessed the disputed
parcels of land "since time immemorial". According to respondent, the first parcel of land was owned
by his mother, Felipa Gales, by virtue of inheritance, and declared in her name under Tax
Declaration No. D-1120; while the second parcel of land was acquired by him from his own mother
as evidenced by a deed of absolute sale executed on March 20, 1963 and which he declared in his
name under Tax Declaration No. D-1006. In addition, respondent likewise alleged possession of the
parcels of land openly, peacefully, adversely and continuously without disturbance from any party
until he was molested by the heirs of Oclarit. It was contended that Oclarit himself surreptitiously
declared these lands for taxation purposes in his own name.
In the course of the proceedings, the trial court appointed Teotimo Borja, Deputy Provincial Assessor
of Bohol, as commissioner for the purpose of determining whether the lands described in the
complaint and covered by Tax Declarations Nos. D-13935 and D-13926 overlapped with any of the
lands described in the defendants affirmative and special defenses and covered by Tax
Declarations Nos. D-1120 and D-1006. In 1978, the court-appointed commissioner conducted a
relocation survey and an ocular inspection of the properties in controversy in the presence of the
heirs of Oclarit, their counsel, respondent Balasabas, a policeman, and adjoining owners Procopio
Oclarit, Galicana J. Pagaran, Maxima Macula, Felipe Macula and some disinterested persons. In his
report dated May 25, 1979, the commissioner made the following findings and observations:
When plaintiffs were asked the extent of their land under the tax declaration No. D-
13935, they pointed to the undersigned that figure in Annex A which is embraced
from corners 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14 back to 1 by a red ball pen
broken lines. The area of this is approximately 3,639 square meters (.3639 ha.). The
area of the tax declaration No. D-13935 is .0928 ha. This Annex A, which is made
an integral part of this report has been traced from the file of the Bureau of Lands
Office in Jagna, Bohol. The personnel in that office informed the undersigned that no
Lot numbers have as yet been assigned and that the traverse is not yet computed
because it will be done by IBM. This land is partly cocal (on the northeastern portion)
and partly riceland. There are thirty (30) coconut trees mostly of which are 40 to 50
years old;
Defendant Zacarias Balasabas pointed the extent of his claim under the tax
declaration No. D-1120 as that area in the cadastral survey. In other words he
refer(red) to his claims as that figure in Annex A embraced by corners 1, a, 2, 3, 4,
b, c, d, e, 11, 12, f, 13, 14 to 1 and shaded by pencil diagonal lines and which is titled
HRS. OF JUAN OCLARIT VS. FELIPA GALES in the cadastral survey. This
contains an area of 1,420 square meters (.1420 ha.), more or less. The tax
declaration No. D-1120 has an area of .44010 ha.;
Plaintiffs and defendants both claimed the same parcel of land on the western
portion of Annex A and which is titled FRANCISCA MACALOS VS. ZACARIAS
BALASABAS in the cadastral survey as that which is represented by their tax
declaration Nos. D-13926 and D-1006, respectively. This parcel which is embraced
by corners A, B, C, D, E, F, G, H, I, J, K to A contains an area of 3,098 square
meters (.3098 ha.), more or less. The tax declaration No. D-13926 in the name of
Juan Oclarit contains an area of .0204 ha. and the tax declaration No. D-1006 of
defendant has an area of .8147 ha. There are approximately 200 coconut trees many
of which are still non-bearing. The contour of this lot is generally hilly. (Rollo, p. 39)
In its decision, the lower court made the following findings: the heirs of Oclarit and Balasabas are
laying claim over the same parcels of land; Dalmacio Gales, who sold to Oclarit the parcel of land
covered by Tax Declaration No. 13935, was an uncle of Balasabas mother, Felipa Gales; Martin
Macalos, the vendor of the land covered by Tax Declaration No. 13926, was the cousin of
Balasabas grandmother, Guillerma Gales; the area being claimed by the heirs of Oclarit is, per
commissioners report, approximately 3,639 square meters (.3639 ha.) while Tax Declaration No.
13935 shows that it is only 928 square meters (.0928 ha.) and the area of the second parcel per
commissioners report is approximately 3,098 square meters (.3098 ha.) while that reflected in Tax
Declaration No. 13926 is only 204 square meters (.0204 ha.).
From these findings, the lower court expressed its surprise as to the size of the area being claimed
by the heirs of Oclarit according to the commissioners report in comparison with the areas shown in
Tax Declarations Nos. 13935 and 13926. While recognizing that areas stated in tax declarations are
not "approximately exact," the lower court nonetheless considered the discrepancies between the
actual areas being claimed and those shown in the tax declarations as "too obvious to be taken with
excuse." Moreover, it doubted the credibility of petitioners for their failure to explain why the
adjoining owners named in their claim are different from the adjoining owners found by the
commissioner. Furthermore, if petitioners were indeed the real owners of the two parcels of land,
they would have taken steps for the correction of the smaller areas stated in the tax declarations.
Concluding that petitioners were claiming much bigger parcels than what their evidence can support
under justifiable circumstances, the trial court thus disposed of the case as follows:
WHEREFORE, finding a preponderance of evidence in favor of the defendant,
judgment is hereby rendered:
1 Dismissing the complaint;
2 Declaring the defendant as the owner of the lots covered by Tax Declarations Nos.
D-1120 and D-1006 with area of .4010 hectare and .8147 hectare, respectively and
ordering the plaintiffs to recognize such ownership by the defendant; and
3 Ordering the plaintiffs to pay the defendant attorneys fee of P500.00 and litigation
expenses of P400.00 and to pay the costs of the proceedings.
SO ORDERED.
On appeal, respondent court ruled that petitioners failed to prove either legal or equitable title to the
two parcels of land which are necessary in an action for quieting of title. Petitioners claim of
ownership was based principally on tax declarations which, however, are not conclusive evidence of
ownership.
However, the Court of Appeals disagreed with the trial courts declaration that private respondent is
the owner of the two parcels of land and such ownership should be recognized by petitioners. It
considered such conclusion of the lower court as "bereft of any convincing evidence" because tax
receipts, tax declarations and survey plans are not conclusive and indisputable bases of ownership.
Accordingly, it disposed of the appeal in the following tenor:
WHEREFORE, in view of the foregoing, the decision of the Court a quo dismissing
the plaintiffs complaint is hereby AFFIRMED. The portions thereof declaring the
defendant as the owner of the lots covered by Tax Declarations Nos. D-1120 and D-
1006, respectively, and ordering the plaintiffs to pay the defendant attorneys fee of
P=500.00, litigation expenses of P=400.00 and costs of the proceedings are hereby
REVERSED and SET ASIDE. Without pronouncement as to cost.
SO ORDERED. (Rollo, p. 40)
Their motion for reconsideration of said decision having been denied, the heirs of Oclarit instituted
the instant petition. Private respondent did not appeal the above disposition.
The petition is moored primarily on the following contentions: (a) the filing of Civil Case No. 3103
was the only legal remedy available to petitioners against the "malicious and unwarranted
actuations" of private respondent; (b) Oclarits undisturbed claim of ownership of the two parcels of
land which he acquired in 1953 and 1956, had spanned more than ten years until private respondent
disturbed it in 1969; (c) the two parcels of land mentioned by private respondent in his answer are
"foreign and alien" to the two parcels which Oclarit bought from Dalmacio Gales and Martin Macalos
and because these vendors had been in possession of the property "from time immemorial", the
"waters of prescription have set in"; (d) the Court of Appeals failed to appreciate the real worth of
Exhibits "N" to "P" otherwise it would have noted that petitioners "clear ownership over said two (2)
parcels of land in litigation as the description found therein jibed materially" with the averments in the
complaint, and (e) the lower court, in a decision in another case, cited (Ramos v. Court of
Appeals 112 SCRA 543) holding that tax receipts are strong evidence of possession as no one in his
right mind would pay realty taxes year after year for property not in his actual possession.
From the above submissions, it is at once apparent that petitioners assail the factual findings of both
courts below. However, there is no basis for considering this case as an exception to the general
rule that the factual findings of the Court of Appeals are binding on and are not reviewable by this
Court (Oporto v. Court of Appeals, 208 SCRA 878 [1992]). A careful review of the decisions below
do not show that both courts overlooked essential facts which, if considered, would have changed
the outcome of the case. Moreover, the matter of giving credence to evidence presented is best
addressed by the trial judge who is in a better position than the appellate court to appreciate the
weight and evidentiary value of the testimonies of witnesses who have appeared before him (Sapu-
an v. Court of Appeals, 214 SCRA 701 [1992]). In civil cases, the lower court must lean towards a
party who successfully presents preponderance of evidence in his favor.
It is thus too late in the day for petitioners to claim that the parcels of land which Oclarit had bought
are "alien" or different from the parcels which private respondent had allegedly acquired from his
mother both by inheritance and by purchase. This is clearly a factual issue which is beyond the
ambit of this Courts jurisdiction.
It was precisely for the purpose of pointing out with particularity the parcels of land involved that the
lower court appointed a commissioner whose findings may be adopted in toto by the trial court (See:
Apurillo v. Garciano, 28 SCRA 1054). Had the petitioners been in possession of solid evidence that
the parcels of land they are claiming are "alien" or "foreign" to those declared by private respondent
as his, they should have questioned the commissioners report which was based on the relocation
survey and ocular inspection which were conducted in their presence. Moreover, petitioners claim
that their property is different from those of private respondents is indeed antithetical to their filing of
the complaint for quieting of title there would not have been any basis for claiming that private
respondent cast a cloud of doubt to their title over their two parcels of land.
More, the deed of sale wherein Martin Macalos conveyed to Oclarit a parcel of land did not even
indicate with particularity the area of the land covered thereby. This explains why they
indiscriminately pointed at boundaries which are even beyond what could have been bought by
Oclarit. Although it is true that what defines a piece of land is not the area mentioned in its
description but the boundaries therein laid down (Vda. de Tan v. Intermediate Appellate Court, 213
SCRA 95 [1992]), in controversial cases as in this case where there appears to be an overlapping of
boundaries, the actual size of the property gains importance. Thus, the lower court correctly stressed
that it would have done petitioners some good had they correctly specified even in their tax
declarations the areas of the land they were claiming. It is well settled that anyone who claims that
he has a better right to the property, must prove both ownership and identity of the said property
(Beo v. Court of Appeals, 200 SCRA 574 [1991], citing Flores v. Intermediate Appellate Court, 178
SCRA 717 [1989]). An area delimited by boundaries properly identifies a parcel of land.
With regard to tax declarations as bases for claim of ownership, petitioners capitalize on what was
obviously anobiter in (Ramos v. Court of Appeals) (supra) that no one in his right mind would be
continuously paying taxes for property that is not in his actual possession. On the contrary, any
person who claims ownership by virtue of tax declarations must also prove he is in actual
possession of the property. Thus, proof that the property involved had been declared for taxation
purposes from 1908 to 1945, did not constitute proof of possession, nor is it proof of ownership in
the absence of the claimants actual possession of said property (De Luna v. Court of Appeals, 212
SCRA 276 [1992]).
In the same vein, tax receipts and declarations of ownership for taxation purposes become strong
evidence of ownership acquired by prescription when accompanied by proof of actual possession of
the property (Tabuena v. Court of Appeals, 196 SCRA 650 [1991]; Director of Lands v. Intermediate
Appellate Court, 209 SCRA 214 [1992]).
As earlier stated, private respondent did not appeal from the adverse decision of the appellate court.
Yet, respondent ventures to implore this Court to nullify and reverse the decretal portion of the
decision subject of this petition and to declare him the owner of the lots covered by his Tax
Declarations Nos. D-1120 and D-1006. This cannot be legally done.
Settled is the rule that a party is barred from assailing the correctness of a judgment not appealed
from by him. An appellee may only make counter statement of errors to sustain the judgment on
other grounds but not to adduce arguments which would otherwise modify or reverse the same, for
in such case, an appeal must have been seasonably filed (Itogon-Suyoc Mines v. NLRC, 117 SCRA
523 [1982] and cases cited therein). There being no appeal taken by private respondent from the
adverse judgment of respondent court, the decision has become final as against him and can no
longer be reviewed, much less reversed, by this Court. That respondent may have been in
possession of the disputed properties since 1965 is of no moment. This Court is not a cadastral
court before which respondent can seek confirmation of title.
WHEREFORE, the petition is hereby DENIED for lack of merit.
SO ORDERED.
HEIRS OF JUAN OCLARIT v. CA

FACTS:
Juan Oclarit purchased an unregistered land in Bohol for P100 from Macalos. This particular land did not
have specified boundaries, as it was only indicated that the borders were a brook, lands of Gales, and
another of Baja. He subsequently purchased 5 more unregistered parcels of land from Gales, one of
which was an irrigated rice and coconut lands, which is now the subject of the action.

Balasabas apparently entered the land about 15 years later and replaces the J.O. labels on top of the
trees with F.G. (Felipa Gales, his mother). The heirs of Oclarit then filed an action for the quieting of
the title and damages against Balasabas, averring that Oclarit exercised dominion and ownership openly,
peacefully, adversely and uninterrupted. The deceased even planted coconut trees and other crops on
the land, enjoyed their fruits and even paid realty tax on the land.

RTC initially found for Balasabas after having a Commissioner survey the lands and discovered the
discrepancy between the boundaries indicated in the Deed of Sales and the one written on the tax
declarations. The CA, however, reversed the decision, and ruled that Oclarit is the rightful owner of the
land.
ISSUE:
Whether or not the lands claimed by Balasabas are actually foreign and alien to the lands claimed by
Oclarit, making these lands actually his property?
HELD:
While it is true that tax declarations are not strong proof to claim ones property as his, it will stand in court
should these tax declarations be coupled with ones exercise of ownership, such as those proven by
Oclarits heirs.

Furthermore, although what defines a piece of land is not the area mentioned in its descriptions, but the
boundaries laid down, in cases such as this one, where the boundaries are unclear, the actual size of the
land gains importance.