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HEIRS OF JOSE OLVIGA, NAMELY: PLACIDA S.


OLVIGA, VIRGILIO OLVIGA, LOLITA OLVIGA,
CARMENCITA O. ALPUERTO and JEANETTE
OLILA,petitioners, vs. THE HON. COURT OF APPEALS,
ANGELITA R. GLOR, SERILINA G. JAMON, EMELITA
G. MADELA, EMAN G. MANALO, MYRNA GLOR,
FELIPE GLOR, GAUNDENCIO GLOR and CORNELIO
GLOR, respondents.
SYLLABUS
1. CIVIL LAW; PRESCRIPTION OF ACTION; RULE IN
CASE OF AN ACTION FOR RECONVEYANCE OF A
PARCEL OF LAND BASED ON IMPLIED OR
CONSTRUCTIVE TRUST; EXCEPTION. With regard to the
issue of prescription, this Court has ruled a number of times
before that an action for reconveyance of a parcel of land based
on implied or constructive trust prescribes in ten years, the point
of reference being the date of registration of the deed or the date
of the issuance of the certificate of title over the property (Vda. de
Portugal vs. IAC, 159 SCRA 178). But this rule applies
only when the plaintiff is not in possession of the property, since
if a person claiming to be the owner thereof is in actual
possession of the property, the right to seek reconveyance, which
in effect seeks to quiet title to the property, doe not prescribe.
2. ID.; ID.; RULE FOR ACTIONS TO QUIET TITLE OVER A
PROPERTY; SAPTO vs. FABIANA, (103 PHIL. 683) CITED.
In Sapto vs. Fabiana, 103 Phil. 683, 686-687, appellants'
predecessors sold to appellees in 1931 a parcel of land. The sale
was approved by the Provincial Governor of Davao but was never
registered. Possession of the land was, however, transferred to
Fabiana and the latter has been in possession thereof from 1931
up to the present. The widow and children of Samuel Sapto filed
an action to recover the land. This Court in affirming the validity
of the sale in favor of appellee (Fabiana) held: "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 appellee's
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 vs.
Rea, 39 L.R.A. 930; Inland Empire Land Co. vs. Grant County,
138 Wash. 439, 245 Pac. 14)."
3. ID.; POSSESSION; ACTUAL POSSESSOR OF A PIECE OF
LAND CLAIMING TO BE OWNER THEREOF MAY WAIT
UNTIL HIS POSSESSION IS DISTURBED OR HIS TITLE IS
ATTACKED; REASON THEREFOR. In Faja vs. Court of
Appeals, 75 SCRA 441, 446, this Court likewise reiterated the
ruling that: ". . . There is settled jurisprudence that one who is in
actual possession of a piece of land claiming to be owner thereof
may wait until his possession is disturbed or his title is attacked
before taking steps to vindicate his right, the reason for the rule
being, that his undisturbed possession gives him a continuing
right to seek the aid of a court of equity to ascertain and
determine the nature of the adverse claim of a third party and its
effect on his own title, which right can be claimed only by one
who is in possession. No better situation can be conceived at the
moment for Us to apply this rule on equity than that of herein
petitioners whose mother, Felipa Faja, was in possession of the
litigated property for no less than 30 years and was suddenly
confronted with a claim that the land she had been occupying and
cultivating all these years, was titled in the name of a third
person. We hold that in such a situation the right to quiet title to
the property, to seek its reconveyance and annul any certificate of
title covering it, accrued only from the time the one in possession
was made aware of a claim adverse to his own, and it is only then
that the statutory period of prescription commences to run against
such possessor." In the case at bar, private respondents and their
predecessors-in-interest were in actual possession of the property
since 1950. Their undisturbed possession gave them the
continuing right to seek the aid of a court of equity to determine
the nature of the adverse claim of petitioners, who in 1988
disturbed their possession.
4. REMEDIAL LAW; EVIDENCE; FACTUAL FINDINGS OF
THE LOWER COURTS; RULE AND EXCEPTION. The
Court of Appeals and the trial court correctly based their findings
of fact on the testimonies of the parties and their witnesses. It can
be said therefore that those conclusions are based on substantial
evidence. No cogent reason exists to disturb them. As reiterated
in a long line of decisions, it is beyond the province of this Court
to make its own findings of facts different from those of the trial
court as affirmed by the Court of Appeals (Vda. de
Cailles vs. Mayuga, 170 SCRA 347; New Owners/Management
of TML Garments, Inc. vs. Zaragosa, 170 SCRA 563). In
petitions for review of decisions of the Court of Appeals, the
jurisdiction of this Court is confined to a review of questions of
law, except when the findings of fact are not supported by the
records or are so glaringly erroneous as to constitute a serious
abuse of discretion (Lim vs. Court of Appeals, 158 SCRA 307;
Samson vs. CA, 141 SCRA 194; Republic vs. IAC, 144 SCRA
705). The case at bar does not fall under the exceptions.


This is a petition to review the decision of the Court of Appeals in
CA-G.R. CV No. 30542, affirming in toto the decision of the
Regional Trial Court of Calauag, Quezon ordering the defendants,
heirs of Jose Olviga (petitioners herein), to reconvey the land in
dispute to the plaintiffs, heirs of Cornelia Glor (now private
respondents), and to pay attorney's fees and the costs of
suit. LexLib
This case started as an action (Civil Case No. C-883) filed in the
Regional Trial Court of Calauag, Quezon by Angelita Glor and
her children against the heirs of Jose Olviga for reconveyance of a
parcel of land, measuring 54,406 square meters (5.44 has), more
or less, known as Lot 13, Pls-84 of the Guinayangan Public Land
Subdivision. LLphil
The court, after due trial, rendered judgment in favor of the
private respondents, the dispositive portion of which reads:
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"WHEREFORE, and considering the
foregoing judgment is hereby rendered in
favor of the PLAINTIFFS and against the
defendants as heirs of Jose Olviga to
reconvey the land in dispute to the plaintiffs
as heirs of Cornelio Glor Sr.; condemning
the defendants jointly and severally to pay
the plaintiffs attorneys fees of P5,000.00
plus the costs of the suit. The counterclaim
interposed by the defendants is dismissed."
(p. 12, Rollo.)
The judgment was appealed to the Court of Appeals by the
defendants who raised several factual issues regarding possession
and fraud, as well as legal issues involving prescription and
purchaser in good faith, but the appellate court dismissed the
appeal and affirmed in toto the decision of the trial court. LexLib
It was established by the evidence on record that the land in
question was, in 1950, still forest land when Eutiquio Pureza, then
only twelve years old, and his father cleared and cultivated it. In
1954, they introduced improvements such as, coconut trees,
jackfruit, mangoes, avocado and bananas. When the area was
released for disposition, the Bureau of Lands surveyed the same
in 1956 in the name of Eutiquio Pureza. Since then, the land has
been known as Lot 13, Pls-84 of the Guinayangan Public Land
Subdivision. Godofredo Olviga, a son of Jose Olviga then living
with the latter, protested the survey but only with respect to a one-
half-hectare portion "sa dakong panulukan ng Amihanan-
Silanganan." This protest or "tutol" (Exh. B) of Godofredo
Olviga, brother of petitioners Virgilio Olviga and Lolita Olviga
Olila, is of public record in the Bureau of Lands (Exh. B). In said
document, Godofredo Olviga expressly admitted that the lot
belonged to Eutiquio Pureza, except the 1/2 hectare portion
claimed by him (Godofredo) which was included in the survey of
Pureza's Lot 13.
In 1960, Eutiquio Pureza filed a homestead application over Lot
13. Without his application having been acted upon, he
transferred his rights in said lot to Cornelio Glor in 1961. Neither
the homestead application of Eutiquio nor the proposed transfer
of his rights to Cornelio Glor was acted upon by the Director of
Lands for reasons that the records of the Bureau of Lands do not
disclose. LLpr
In 1967, Jose Olviga obtained a registered title for said lot in a
cadastral proceeding, in fraud of the rights of Pureza and his
transferee, Cornelio Glor and his family, who were the real and
actual occupants of the land.
What must have happened, as found by the Court of Appeals, is
that since Cornelio Glor, Sr. was sickly, and his wife (now
widowed) Angelita Glor, was unschooled, they failed to follow up
Pureza's homestead application over Lot 13 in the cadastral
proceedings in the Municipal Court of Guinayangan Public Land
Subdivision, Pls-84, Case 1 (Philcusa-Foa). In fact, they were not
aware of the proceedings. Angelita Glor testified that no notice
was ever posted on Lot 13 about the proceedings nor did anyone,
not even the barangay captain, tell her about them. Neither did
she receive any notice from the court sheriff or any court
employee. This non-posting of the notice of the cadastral hearing
on the land, or in the barangay hall, was confirmed by petitioner
Virgilio Olviga himself who testified that he did not notice any
papers posted on the property in question (tsn., October 18, 1990,
pp. 83-84). On the other hand, petitioners' father, Jose Olviga,
claimed both Lots 12 and 13, which are adjoining lots, in the
same cadastral proceedings. He falsely omitted in his answer
mention of the fact that other persons were in possession of, and
claiming adverse interest in, Lot 13 and that the land had been
surveyed for Eutiquio Pureza, the former occupant who sold his
interests to private respondents' parent, Cornelio Glor, in 1961.
Glor was Olvigas' neighbor. As a result, both Lots 12 and 13 were
declared as uncontested in the name of Jose Olviga (Exh. 7), and
were registered in his name in 1967 in Original Certificate of
Title, No. 0-12713 (Exh. 5). In 1971, Olviga requested that OCT
No. 0-12713 be split into two (2) TCT's, one each for the two (2)
lots. TCT Nos. T-103823 and T-103824 were issued for lots 12
and 13, respectively. Jose Olviga later transferred Lot 13 to his
son-in-law, Jaime Olila and daughter, Lolita Olviga resulting in
the cancellation of TCT No. T-03824 and the issuance of TCT
No. T-241314 in the names of the spouses (Exh. 3).

It was also established that the spouses Jaime Olila and Lolita
Olviga Olila, were not innocent purchasers for value of the land
from their father, and have never been in possession. The Glors
and their predecessors-in-interest (Cornelio Glor Sr., and Eutiquio
Pureza) were the ones found to be in possession of the property.
From said findings and conclusions, the appellate court in its
decision dated January 13, 1992, resolved the issues presented,
thus:
". . . whether or not plaintiffs' action is really one for
quieting of title that does not prescribe; or assuming that
their demand for the reconveyance of the lot in question
prescribes in ten years, being based on an implied trust,
whether their cause of action should be counted from
the date of the issuance of the late Jose Olviga's title
over said lot in 1967 and has, therefore, already
prescribed, or whether the prescriptive period should be
counted from the date plaintiffs acquired knowledge of
said title sometime in 1988.
"The first question should be answered in the
affirmative . . .
"xxx xxx xxx
"But even assuming that plaintiffs' action for
reconveyance, being based on an implied or constructive
trust, prescribes in ten years, the lower court again
correctly ruled that their cause of action should be
considered to have accrued not from the date of
registration of the title of Jose Olviga, defendants'
predecessor-in-interest, over the lot in question in 1967,
but only from the time plaintiffs learned of such title in
1988 . . .
"xxx xxx xxx
"All in all, therefore, the court a quo did not err in
holding that plaintiffs' action against defendants-
appellants for the reconveyance of the lot in question
filed on April 10, 1989, or in less than a year after they
learned of the issuance of a title over said lot to Jose
Olviga, predecessor-in-interest of defendants, has not
yet prescribed.
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"WHEREFORE, the decision appealed from herein is
AFFIRMED in toto, with costs against defendants-
appellants." (pp. 48-51, Rollo.)
Petitioners now seek a review of the above decision. They allege
that: (1) the present action has already prescribed; (2) the Court of
Appeals erred when it ruled that the private respondents' cause of
action accrued not in 1967 but in 1988; (3) that the Court of
Appeals erred when it failed to consider that private respondents
as mere homestead transferees cannot maintain an action for
reconveyance; (4) that the Faja and Caragay-Layno cases have no
bearing and direct application to the case at bar; and (5) that
private respondents have not proven by preponderance of
evidence their ownership and possession of the disputed land.
With regard to the issue of prescription, this Court has ruled a
number of times before that an action for reconveyance of a
parcel of land based on implied or constructive trust prescribes in
ten years, the point of reference being the date of registration of
the deed or the date of the issuance of the certificate of title over
the property (Vda. de Portugal vs. IAC, 159 SCRA 178). But this
rule applies only when the plaintiff is not in possession of the
property, since if a person claiming to be the owner thereof is in
actual possession of the property, the right to seek reconveyance,
which in effect seeks to quiet title to the property, does not
prescribe.
In Sapto vs. Fabiana, 103 Phil. 683, 686-687, appellants'
predecessors sold to appellees in 1931 a parcel of land. The sale
was approved by the Provincial Governor of Davao but was never
registered. Possession of the land was, however, transferred to
Fabiana and the latter has been in possession thereof from 1931
up to the present. The widow and children of Samuel Sapto filed
an action to recover the land. This Court in affirming the validity
of the sale in favor of appellee (Fabiana) held: cdphil
"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 appellee's 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 vs. Rhea, 39
L.R.A. 930; Inland Empire Land Co. vs. Grant County,
138 Wash. 439, 245 Pac. 14)."
In Faja vs. Court of Appeals, 75 SCRA 441, 446, this Court
likewise reiterated the ruling that:
". . . There is settled jurisprudence that one who is in
actual possession of a piece of land claiming to be
owner thereof may wait until his possession is disturbed
or his title is attacked before taking steps to vindicate his
right, the reason for the rule being that his undisturbed
possession gives him a continuing right to seek the aid
of a court of equity to ascertain and determine the nature
of the adverse claim of a third party and its effect on his
own title, which right can be claimed only by one who is
in possession. No better situation can be conceived at
the moment for Us to apply this rule on equity than that
of herein petitioners whose mother, Felipa Faja, was in
possession of the litigated property for no less than 30
years and was suddenly confronted with a claim that the
land she had been occupying and cultivating all these
years, was titled in the name of a third person. We hold
that in such a situation the right to quiet title to the
property, to seek its reconveyance and annul any
certificate of title covering it, accrued only from the
time the one in possession was made aware of a claim
adverse to his own, and it is only then that the statutory
period of prescription commences to run against such
possessor." Cdpr
In the case at bar, private respondents and their predecessors-in-
interest were in actual possession of the property since 1950.
Their undisturbed possession gave them the continuing right to
seek the aid of a court of equity to determine the nature of the
adverse claim of petitioners, who in 1988 disturbed their
possession.
The other issues raised in the petition are factual.
The Court of Appeals and the trial court correctly based their
findings of fact on the testimonies of the parties and their
witnesses. It can be said therefore that those conclusions are
based on substantial evidence. No cogent reason exists to disturb
them. As reiterated in a long line of decisions, it is beyond the
province of this Court to make its own findings of facts different
from those of the trial court as affirmed by the Court of Appeals
(Vda. de Cailles vs. Mayuga 170 SCRA 347; New
Owners/Management of TML Garments, Inc. vs. Zaragosa, 170
SCRA 563). In petitions for review of decisions of the Court of
Appeals, the jurisdiction of this Court is confined to a review of
questions of law, except when the findings of fact are not
supported by the records or are so glaringly erroneous as to
constitute a serious abuse of discretion (Lim vs. Court of Appeals,
158 SCRA 307; Samson vs. Ca, 141 SCRA 194; Republic vs.
IAC, 144 SCRA 705). The case at bar does not fall under the
exceptions.
WHEREFORE, findings no reversible error in the decision of the
Court of Appeals, the petition for review is DENIED, with costs
against the petitioners. LibLex
SO ORDERED.
||| (Heirs of Olviga v. Court of Appeals, G.R. No. 104813, October
21, 1993)

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[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.
DAVIDE, JR., J p:
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 (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 therein 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 the 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 installments 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 Donasco 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]
5

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) the 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 lot 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 10reversing
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 on 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 (1/2) 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
6

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 PRESCRIBED." 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
of 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 is apropos:
"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,
7

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 of 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.
||| (Spouses Pingol v. Court of Appeals, G.R. No. 102909,
September 06, 1993)

8

[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]

9

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 on certiorari.
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
10

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.

11

Spouses RICARDO and FERMA
PORTIC, petitioners, vs. ANASTACIA
CRISTOBAL, respondent.
An agreement in which ownership is reserved in the vendor and is
not to pass to the vendee until full payment of the purchase price
is known as a contract to sell. The absence of full payment
suspends the vendors' obligation to convey title. This principle
holds true between the parties, even if the sale has already been
registered. Registration does not vest, but merely serves as
evidence of, title to a particular property. Our land registration
laws do not give title holders any better ownership than what they
actually had prior to registration.
The Case
Before us is a Petition for Review 1 under Rule 45 of the Rules of
Court, challenging the January 29, 2002 Decision 2 and the
November 18, 2002 Resolution 3 of the Court of Appeals (CA) in
CA-GR CV No. 66393. The assailed Decision disposed as
follows:
"WHEREFORE, foregoing considered, the
appealed decision is hereby REVERSED
and SET ASIDE. A new one is hereby
entered ORDERING defendant-appellant to
pay the unpaid balance of P55,000.00 plus
legal interest of 6% per annum counted from
the filing of this case. The ownership of
defendant-appellant over the subject
property is hereby confirmed.
"No pronouncement as to costs." 4
In the challenged Resolution, 5 the CA denied petitioners' Motion
for Partial Reconsideration.
The Facts
The facts were summarized by the appellate court as follows:
"Spouses Clodualdo Alcantara and Candelaria
Edrosalam were the original registered owners of a
parcel of land with three-door apartment, located at No.
9, 1st Street BBB, Marulas, Valenzuela City. Transfer
Certificate of Title No. T-71316 was issued in the names
of spouses Clodualdo Alcantara and Candelaria
Edrosalam.
"On October 2, 1968, spouses Clodualdo Alcantara and
Candelaria Edrosalam sold the subject property in favor
of [petitioners] with the condition that the latter shall
assume the mortgage executed over the subject property
by spouses Clodualdo Alcantara and Candelaria
Edrosalam in favor of the Social Security System.
"[Petitioners] defaulted in the payment of the monthly
amortizations due on the mortgage. The Social Security
System foreclosed the mortgage and sold the subject
property at public auction with the Social Security
System as the highest bidder. ACSaHc
"On May 22, 1984, before the expiration of the
redemption period, [petitioners] sold the subject
property in favor of [respondent] in consideration of
P200,025.89. Among others, the parties agreed that
[respondent] shall pay the sum of P45,025.89 as down
payment and the balance of P155,000.00 shall be paid
on or before May 22, 1985. The parties further agreed
that in case [respondent] should fail to comply with the
conditions, the sale shall be considered void and
[petitioners] shall reimburse [respondent] of whatever
amount already paid.
"On the same date, [petitioners] and [respondent]
executed a 'Deed of Sale with Assumption of Mortgage'
whereby [petitioners] sold the subject property in favor
of [respondent] in consideration of P80,000.00,
P45,000.00 thereof shall be paid to the Social Security
System.
"On July 30, 1984, spouses Clodualdo Alcantara and
Candelaria Edrosalam, the original owners of the subject
property, sold the subject property in favor of
[respondent] for P50,000.00.
"On the same date, [respondent] executed a 'Deed of
Mortgage' whereby [respondent] constituted a mortgage
over the subject property to secure a P150,000.00
indebtedness in favor of [petitioners].
"[Respondent] paid the indebtedness due over the
subject property to the Social Security System.
"On August 6, 1984, Transfer Certificate of Title No. T-
71316 in the names of spouses Clodualdo Alcantara and
Candelaria Edrosalam was cancelled and in lieu thereof
Transfer Certificate of Title No. T-113299 was issued in
the name of [respondent].
"On May 20, 1996, [petitioners] demanded from
[respondent] the alleged unpaid balance of P55,000.00.
[Respondent] refused to pay.
"On June 6, 1996, [petitioners] filed this instant civil
case against [respondent] to remove the cloud created by
the issuance of TCT No. T-113299 in favor of
[respondent]. [Petitioners] claimed that they sold the
subject property to [respondent] on the condition that
[respondent] shall pay the balance on or before May 22,
1985; that in case of failure to pay, the sale shall be
considered void and [petitioners] shall reimburse
[respondent] of the amounts already paid; that
[respondent] failed to fully pay the purchase price
within the period; that on account of this failure, the sale
of the subject property by [petitioners] to [respondent] is
void; that in spite of this failure, [respondent] required
[petitioners] to sign a lease contract over the apartment
which [petitioners] occupy; that [respondent] should be
required to reconvey back the title to the subject
property to [petitioners].
"[Respondent] on her part claimed that her title over the
subject property is already indefeasible; that the true
agreement of the parties is that embodied in the Deed of
Absolute Sale with Assumption of Mortgage; that
[respondent] had fully paid the purchase price; that
[respondent] is the true owner of the subject property;
that [petitioners'] claim is already barred by laches." 6
After trial, the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Valenzuela City
rendered this judgment in favor of petitioners:
12

"WHEREFORE, premises considered, this
Court hereby adjudicates on this case as
follows:
1.) The Court hereby orders the quieting of title or
removal of cloud over the [petitioners'] parcel of land
and three (3) door apartment now covered by Transfer
Certificate of Title No. T-113299 of the Registry of
Deeds for Caloocan City and Tax Declaration Nos. C-
018-00235 & C-031-012077 respectively, of Valenzuela
City;
2.) The Court hereby orders the [respondent] to
reconvey in favor of the [petitioners] the parcel of land
and three (3) door apartment now covered by Transfer
Certificate of Title No. T-113299 of the Registry of
Deeds of Caloocan City after reimbursement by the
[petitioners] of the amount actually paid by the
[respondent] in the total amount of P145,025.89;
3.) The Court hereby DENIES damages as claimed by
both parties." 7
Ruling of the Court of Appeals
The Court of Appeals opined that the first Memorandum of
Agreement (MOA) embodied the real agreement between the
parties, and that the subsequent Deeds were executed merely to
secure their respective rights over the property. 8 The MOA
stated that Cristobal had not fully paid the purchase price.
Although this statement might have given rise to a cause of action
to annul the Deed of Sale, prescription already set in because the
case had been filed beyond the ten-year reglementary period, 9 as
observed by the CA. Nonetheless, in conformity with the
principle of unjust enrichment, the appellate court ordered
respondent to pay petitioners the remaining balance of the
purchase price. 10
In their Motion for Partial Reconsideration, petitioners contended
that their action was not one for the enforcement of a written
contract, but one for the quieting of title an action that was
imprescriptible as long as they remained in possession of the
premises. 11 The CA held, however, that the agreement between
the parties was valid, and that respondent's title to the property
was amply supported by the evidence. 12 Therefore, their action
for the quieting of title would not prosper, because they failed to
show the invalidity of the cloud on their title. ACaDTH
Hence, this Petition. 13
The Issue
In its Memorandum, petitioners raise the following issues for our
consideration:
"(1) Whether or not the [petitioners'] cause of action is
for quieting of title.
"(2) Whether or not the [petitioners'] cause of action has
prescribed." 14
The main issue revolves around the characterization of the parties'
agreement and the viability of petitioners' cause of action.
This Court's Ruling
The Petition has merit.
Main Issue:
Nature of the Action: Quieting of Title or
Enforcement of a Written Contract
Petitioners argue that the action they filed in the RTC was for the
quieting of title. Respondent's demand that they desist from
entering into new lease agreements with the tenants of the
property allegedly attests to the fact of their possession of the
subject premises. 15 Further, they point to the existence of Civil
Case No. 7446, an action for unlawful detainer that respondent
filed against them, 16 as further proof of that fact. Being in
continuous possession of the property, they argue that their action
for the quieting of title has not prescribed. 17
On the other hand, respondent joins the appellate court in
characterizing the action petitioners filed in the RTC as one for
the enforcement of the MOA. Being based on a written
instrument, such action has already prescribed, respondent
claims. 18 She adds that petitioners could not have been in
continuous possession of the subject property because, under a
duly notarized lease agreement, they have been paying her a
monthly rental fee of P500, which was later increased to P800.
Two questions need to be answered to resolve the present case;
namely, (1) whether Cristobal's title to the property is valid; and
(2) whether the Portics are in possession of the premises, a fact
that would render the action for quieting of title imprescriptible.
Validity of Title
The CA held that the action for the quieting of title could not
prosper, because Cristobal's title to the property was amply
supported by evidence.
Article 476 of the Civil Code provides as follows:
"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."
Suits to quiet title are characterized as proceedings quasi in
rem. 19 Technically, they are neither in rem nor in personam. In
an action quasi in rem, an individual is named as
defendant. 20 However, unlike suits in rem, a quasi in
rem judgment is conclusive only between the parties. 21
Generally, the registered owner of a property is the proper party
to bring an action to quiet title. However, it has been held that this
remedy may also be availed of by a person other than the
registered owner because, in the Article reproduced above, "title"
does not necessarily refer to the original or transfer certificate of
title. 22 Thus, lack of an actual certificate of title to a property
does not necessarily bar an action to quiet title. As will be shown
later, petitioners have not turned over and have thus retained their
title to the property.
On the other hand, the claim of respondent cannot be sustained.
The transfer of ownership of the premises in her favor was subject
13

to the suspensive condition stipulated by the parties in paragraph
3 of the MOA, which states as follows:
"3. That while the balance of P155,000.00 has not yet
been fully paid the FIRST PARTY OWNERS shall
retain the ownership of the above described parcel of
land together with its improvements but the SECOND
PARTY BUYER shall have the right to collect the
monthly rentals due on the first door (13-A) of the said
apartment;"23
The above-cited provision characterizes the agreement between
the parties as a contract to sell, not a contract of sale. Ownership
is retained by the vendors, the Portics; it will not be passed to the
vendee, the Cristobals, until the full payment of the purchase
price. Such payment is a positive suspensive condition, and
failure to comply with it is not a breach of obligation; it is merely
an event that prevents the effectivity of the obligation of the
vendor to convey the title. 24 In short, until the full price is paid,
the vendor retains ownership. TICDSc
The mere issuance of the Certificate of Title in favor of Cristobal
did not vest ownership in her. Neither did it validate the alleged
absolute purchase of the lot. Time and time again, this Court has
stressed that registration does not vest, but merely serves as
evidence of, title. Our land registration laws do not give the
holders any better title than that which they actually have prior to
registration. 25
Under Article 1544 of the Civil Code, mere registration is not
enough to acquire a new title. Good faith must concur. 26 Clearly,
respondent has not yet fully paid the purchase price. Hence, as
long as it remains unpaid, she cannot feign good faith. She is also
precluded from asserting ownership against petitioners. The
appellate court's finding that she had a valid title to the property
must, therefore, be set aside.
Continuous Possession
The issue of whether the Portics have been in actual, continuous
possession of the premises is necessarily a question of fact. Well-
entrenched is the rule that findings of fact of the Court of
Appeals, when supported by substantial evidence, are final and
conclusive and may not be reviewed on appeal. 27 This Court
finds no cogent reason to disturb the CA's findings sustaining
those of the trial court, which held that petitioners had been in
continuous possession of the premises. For this reason, the action
to quiet title has not prescribed.
WHEREFORE, the Petition is GRANTED. The challenged
Decision and Resolution of the Court of Appeals are REVERSED
and SET ASIDE. The Decision of the RTC of Valenzuela City in
Civil Case No. 4935-V-96, dated September 23, 1999, is hereby
REINSTATED. No pronouncement as to costs.
SO ORDERED.
||| (Spouses Portic v. Cristobal, G.R. No. 156171, April 22, 2005)