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05/06/2015

Republic of the Philippines


Supreme Court
Manila

THIRD DIVISION

ADELAIDA MENESES
(deceased), substituted
by her heir MARILYN M.
CARBONEL-GARCIA,
Petitioner,

- versus -

ROSARIO G.
VENTUROZO,

G.R. No. 172196


Present:
VELASCO, JR., J.,
Chairperson,
PERALTA,
ABAD,
MENDOZA, and
PERLAS-BERNABE, JJ.
Promulgated:
October 19, 2011

Respondent.
x-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------x

DECISION

PERALTA, J.:
This is a petition for review on certiorari1[1] of the Court of Appeals
Decision dated October 27, 2005 in CA-G.R. CV No. 78217 and its Resolution
dated April 5, 2006, denying petitioners motion for reconsideration.
The Court of Appeals Decision reversed and set aside the Decision of
the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Dagupan City, Branch 40 in Civil Case No.
D-9040, as the appellate court declared respondent Rosario G. Venturozo the
owner of the land in dispute, and ordered petitioner Adelaida Meneses to
vacate and surrender her possession thereof to respondent.
The facts are as follows:

1[1] Under Rule 45 of the Rules of Court.

On June 8, 1988, plaintiff Rosario G. Venturozo, respondent


herein, filed a Complaint2[2] for ownership, possession x x x and damages
in the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Dagupan City against defendant Adelaida
Meneses, petitioner herein, alleging that she (plaintiff) is the absolute owner
of an untitled coconut land, containing an area of 2,109 square meters,
situated at Embarcadero, Mangaldan, Pangasinan, and declared under Tax
Declaration No. 239. Plaintiff alleged that she purchased the property from
the spouses Basilio de Guzman and Crescencia Abad on January 31, 1973 as
evidenced by a Deed of Absolute Sale,3[3] and that the vendors, in turn,
purchased the property from defendant as evidenced by a Deed of Absolute
Sale4[4] dated June 20, 1966. Plaintiff alleged that she has been in
possession of the land until May 1983 when defendant with some armed
men grabbed possession of the land and refused to vacate despite repeated
demands prompting her to engage the services of counsel. Plaintiff prayed
that after preliminary hearing, a writ of preliminary mandatory injunction be
issued; and that after hearing, a decision be rendered declaring her as the
owner of the property in dispute, ordering defendant to vacate the property
in question and to pay her P5,000.00 as attorneys fees; P1,000.00 as
litigation expenses; P10,000.00 as damages and to pay the costs of suit.
In her Answer,5[5] defendant Adelaida Meneses stated that plaintiff is
the daughter of Basilio de Guzman, the vendee in the Deed of Absolute Sale
dated June 20, 1966 that was purportedly executed by her (defendant)
covering the subject property. Defendant alleged that she never signed any
Deed of Absolute Sale dated June 20, 1966, and that the said deed is a
forgery. Defendant also alleged that she never appeared before any notary
public, and she did not obtain a residence certificate; hence, her alleged sale
of the subject property to Basilio de Guzman is null and void ab initio.
Consequently, the Deed of Absolute Sale dated January 31, 1973, executed
by Basilio de Guzman in favor of plaintiff, covering the subject property, is
likewise null and void. Defendant stated that she acquired the subject
property from her deceased father and she has been in possession of the
land for more than 30 years in the concept of owner. Plaintiffs allegation
that she (defendant) forcibly took possession of the land is a falsehood.
Defendant stated that this is the fourth case the plaintiff filed against her
concerning the land in question.

2[2] Docketed as Civil Case No. D-9040, records, p. 1.


3[3] Exhibit B, folder of exhibits, p. 2.
4[4] Exhibit A, id. at 1.
5[5] Records, p. 12.

In her Counterclaim, defendant stated that in view of the nullity of the


falsified Deed of Absolute Sale of the subject property, and the fact that
plaintiff and her father Basilio de Guzman had never been in actual
possession of the property, plaintiff is under legal obligation to execute a
deed of reconveyance over the said property in her favor.
The issue before the trial court was whether the sale made by
defendant Adelaida Meneses in favor of plaintiffs father, Basilio de Guzman,
was valid.6[6]

6[6] Pre-Trial Order, id. at 18.

On July 18, 1991, the RTC of Dagupan City, Branch 40 (trial court)
rendered a Decision in favor of defendant Adelaida Meneses. The dispositive
portion of the Decision reads:
WHEREFORE, judgment is hereby rendered:
1)
Declaring the Deed of Absolute and Definite Sale dated June 20,
1966 (Exhibit B) and the Deed of Absolute and Definite Sale dated January
31, 1973 (Exhibit A) null and void ab initio;
2)
Declaring the defendant Adelaida Meneses as the owner of the
property in question;
3)
Ordering the plaintiff Rosario G. Venturozo to execute a Deed of
Reconveyance in favor of the defendant Adelaida Meneses over the property
in question described in paragraph 2 of the complaint;
4)
Ordering the plaintiff to pay to the defendant P10,000.00 as
damages; and P1,000.00, as litigation expenses.
SO ORDERED.7[7]

The trial court found that defendant Adelaida Meneses inherited the
land in dispute from her father, Domingo Meneses; that she did not sell her
property to Basilio de Guzman in 1966; and that the signature of Adelaida
Meneses on the Deed of Absolute Sale dated June 20, 1966 is a forgery. The
trial court stated that the signature of Adelaida Meneses, as appearing on
the Deed of Absolute Sale dated June 20, 1966, is very much different from
her specimen signatures and those appearing in the records of Civil Case No.
1096 in the Municipal Trial Court of Mangaldan. It held that since there was
no valid transfer of the property by Adelaida Meneses to Basilio de Guzman,
the conveyance of the same property in 1973 by Basilio de Guzman to his
daughter, plaintiff Rosario G. Venturozo, was also invalid. The trial court
stated that the claim of plaintiff Rosario G. Venturozo, that her parents,
Spouses Basilio and Crescencia de Guzman, purchased from defendant
Adelaida Meneses the subject property in 1966, is negated by defendants
continued possession of the land and she gathered the products therefrom.
Plaintiff appealed the decision of the trial court to the Court of Appeals.
7[7] Rollo, pp. 60-61.

On October 27, 2005, the Court of Appeals rendered a Decision


reversing the decision of the trial court. The dispositive portion of the
appellate courts decision reads:
WHEREFORE, the appealed decision of the Regional Trial Court of
Dagupan City (Branch 40) is REVERSED and SET ASIDE and a new one
rendered declaring plaintiff-appellant the owner of the subject land and
ordering defendant-appellee to vacate and surrender possession thereof to
the former.8[8]

The Court of Appeals stated that appellee Adelaida Meneses failed to


prove by clear and convincing evidence that her signature on the Deed of
Absolute Sale dated June 20, 1966 was a forgery. Instead, she admitted on
direct examination that her signature on the Deed of Absolute Sale was
genuine, thus:
Q. I am showing to you Exhibit 6 and Exhibit A for the plaintiff a
Deed of Absolute Sale o[f] Real Property of one (1) Adelaida Meneses in
favor of Basilio de Guzman. Will you examine this if you know this Deed of
Absolute Sale?
A. I do not know this document, sir.
Q. There is a signature over the name of the vendor Adelaida Meneses
which was previously marked as Exhibit 6-a and Exhibit A-1 for the
plaintiff, will you examine this signature, if do you (sic) know this signature?
A. This is my signature, sir.9[9]

According to the Court of Appeals, such admission is binding on her,


there being no showing that it was made through palpable mistake or that
no such admission was made.10[10]
The Court of Appeals also stated that mere variance of signatures
cannot be considered as conclusive proof that the same were forged, as
forgery cannot be presumed.11[11] Appellee Adelaida Meneses should have

8[8] Id. at 83.


9[9] TSN, October 23, 1989, p. 14. (Emphasis supplied.)
10[10] Rules of Court, Rule 129, Sec. 4.
11[11] Citing Veloso v. Court of Appeals, 329 Phil. 398, 406 (1996).

produced specimen signatures appearing on documents executed in or about


the year 1966 for a better comparison and analysis.12[12]
The Court of Appeals held that a notarized document, like the
questioned Deed of Absolute Sale dated June 20, 1966, has in its favor the
presumption of regularity, and to overcome the same, there must be
evidence that is clear, convincing and more than merely preponderant;
otherwise, the document should be upheld.13[13] Moreover, Atty. Abelardo
G. Biala the notary public before whom the questioned Deed of Sale was
acknowledged testified and confirmed its genuineness and due execution,
particularly the signature in question. The appellate court stated that as
against appellee Adelaida Meneses version, Atty. Bialas testimony, that
appellee appeared before him and acknowledged that the questioned deed
was her free and voluntary act, is more credible. The testimony of a notary
public enjoys greater credence than that of an ordinary witness. 14[14]
The Court of Appeals held that appellee Adelaida Meneses failed to
present clear and convincing evidence to overcome the evidentiary force of
the questioned Deed of Absolute Sale dated June 1966, which appears on its
face to have been executed with all the formalities required by law.
Adelaida Meneses motion for reconsideration was denied for lack of
merit by the Court of Appeals in a Resolution15[15] dated April 5, 2006.
Hence, Adelaida Meneses, substituted by her heir, filed this petition
raising this lone issue:
I
WHETHER THE DECISION OF THE COURT OF APPEALS, WHICH
REVERSED THE DECISION OF THE REGIONAL TRIAL COURT, IS IN KEEPING
WITH BOTH LAW AND JURISPRUDENCE.16[16]

Petitioner contends that her statement, made during the course of her
testimony in the trial court, was taken out of context by respondent to be
used merely as an argumentative point. The examining lawyer used the
words, Do you know this signature? viz.:
12[12] Citing Causapin v. Court of Appeals, G.R. No. 107432, July 4, 1994, 233 SCRA 615,
624.
13[13] Citing Bernardo v. Court of Appeals, 387 Phil. 736, 746 (2000)..
14[14] Citing Sales v. Court of Appeals, G.R. No. L-40145, July 29, 1992, 211 SCRA 858, 865.
15[15] Rollo, p. 89.
16[16] Id. at 17.

Q. I am showing to you Exhibit 6 and Exhibit A for the plaintiff a


Deed of Absolute Sale o[f] Real Property of one (1) Adelaida Meneses in
favor of Basilio de Guzman. Will you examine this if you know this Deed of
Absolute Sale?
A. I do not know this document, sir.
Q. There is a signature over the name of the vendor Adelaida Meneses
which was previously marked as Exhibit 6-a and Exhibit A-1 for the
plaintiff, will you examine this signature, if do you (sic) know this
signature?
A. This is my signature, sir.17[17]

Petitioner contends that in the above-quoted transcript of stenographic


notes, she was merely asked if she was cognizant of such a signature as
hers or whether the signature appearing on the questioned document was
similar to that of her signature, and not if she was the one who indeed
affixed such signature on the said deed of sale.
She avers that the general rule that a judicial admission is conclusive
upon the party invoking it and does not require proof admits of two
exceptions: (1) when it is shown that the admission was made through
palpable mistake; and (2) when it is shown that no such admission was in
fact made. The latter exception allows one to contradict an admission by
denying that he made such an admission. For instance, if a party invokes an
admission by an adverse party, but cites the admission out of context,
then the one making the admission may show that he made no such
admission, or that his admission was taken out of context. 18[18] This may
be interpreted as to mean not in the sense in which the admission is made
to appear.19[19]
Petitioner also contends that a comparison of the signature on the
Deed of Absolute Sale dated June 20, 1966 and her specimen signatures, as
well as her genuine signature on pleadings, were made by the trial court,
and it ruled that her signature on the Deed of Absolute Sale dated June 20,
1966 was a forgery. She submits that the trial courts evaluation of the
credibility of witnesses and their testimonies is entitled to great respect, 20
[20] and the appellate court should have given weight to the trial courts
findings that her signature on the said Deed of Absolute Sale was a forgery.
17[17] TSN, October 23, 1989, p. 14. (Emphasis supplied.)
18[18] Citing Atilo III v. Court of Appeals, 334 Phil. 546, 552 (1997).
19[19] Id.
20[20] Citing People v. Binad Sy Chua, 444 Phil. 757, 766 (2003).

The petition is meritorious.


The rule is that the jurisdiction of the Court over appealed cases from
the Court of Appeals is limited to the review and revision of errors of law
allegedly committed by the appellate court, as its findings of fact are
deemed conclusive.21[21] Thus, this Court is not duty-bound to analyze and
weigh all over again the evidence already considered in the proceedings
below.22[22] However, this rule admits exceptions,23[23] such as when the
findings of fact of the Court of Appeals are contrary to the findings and
conclusions of the trial court24[24] like in this case.

21[21] Fuentes v. Court of Appeals, 335 Phil. 1163, 1167-1168 (1997).


22[22] Id. at 1168.
23[23] Id.
24[24] Bernales v. Heirs of Julian Sambaan, G.R. No. 163271, January 15, 2010, 610 SCRA 90.

The necessity of a public document for contracts which transmit or


extinguish real rights over immovable property, as mandated by Article 1358
of the Civil Code,25[25] is only for convenience; it is not essential for validity
or enforceability.26[26] As notarized documents, Deeds of Absolute Sale carry
evidentiary weight conferred upon them with respect to their due
execution27[27] and enjoy the presumption of regularity which may only be
rebutted by evidence so clear, strong and convincing as to exclude all
controversy as to falsity.28[28] The presumptions that attach to notarized
documents can be affirmed only so long as it is beyond dispute that the
notarization was regular.29[29] A defective notarization will strip the
document of its public character and reduce it to a private instrument. 30[30]
Consequently, when there is a defect in the notarization of a document, the
clear and convincing evidentiary standard normally attached to a dulynotarized document is dispensed with, and the measure to test the validity
of such document is preponderance of evidence.31[31]

25[25] Civil Code, Art. 1358. The following must appear in a public document:
(1)
Acts and contracts which have for their object the creation, transmission, modification
or extinguishment of real rights over immovable property; sales of real property or of an interest
therein are governed by Articles 1403, No. 2 and 1405.
26[26] Pan Pacific Industrial Sales Co., Inc. v. Court of Appeals, G.R. No. 125283, February
10, 2006, 482 SCRA 164, 180.
27[27] Rules of Court, Rule 132.SEC. 19. Classes of documents.For purposes of their
presentation in evidence, documents are either public or private.
Public documents are:
xxxx
(b) Documents acknowledged before a notary public except last wills and testaments; x x
xx
xxxx
SEC. 23. Public documents as evidence. Documents consisting of entries in public
records made in the performance of a duty by a public officer are prima facie evidence of the
facts therein stated. All other public documents are evidence, even against a third person, of the
fact which gave rise to their execution and of the date of the latter.
xxxx
SEC. 30. Proof of notarial documents. Every instrument duly acknowledged or proved
and certified as provided by law, may be presented in evidence without further proof, the
certificate of acknowledgement being prima facie evidence of the execution of the instrument of
document involved.
28[28] Dizon v. Tuazon, G.R. No. 172167, July 9, 2008, 557 SCRA 487, 494.
29[29] Dela Rama v. Papa, G.R. No. 142309, January 30, 2009, 577 SCRA 233, 244.
30[30] Fuentes v. Roca, G.R. No. 178902, April 21, 2010, 618 SCRA 702, 709.
31[31] Dela Rama v. Papa, supra note 29, at 244-245.

In this case, it should be pointed out that contrary to the finding of the
Court of Appeals, the Deed of Sale dated June 20, 1966 did not comply with
the formalities required by law, specifically Act No. 496,32[32] otherwise
known as The Land Registration Act, which took effect on January 1, 1903,
as Section 127 of the Act provides:
FORMS
Section 127. Deeds, conveyances, mortgages, leases, releases,
and discharges affecting lands, whether registered under this Act or
unregistered, shall be sufficient in law when made substantially in
accordance with the following forms, and shall be as effective to
convey, encumber, lease, release, discharge, or bind the lands as though
made in accordance with the more prolix form heretofore in use: Provided,
That every such instrument shall be signed by the person or persons
executing the same, in the presence of two witnesses, who shall sign
the instrument as witnesses to the execution thereof, and shall be
acknowledged to be his or their free act and deed by the person or persons
executing the same, before the judge of a court of record or clerk of a
court of record, or a notary public, or a justice of the peace, who
shall certify to such acknowledgment x x x.33[33]

In the Deed of Absolute Sale dated June 20, 1966, the Notary Public
signed his name as one of the two witnesses to the execution of the said
deed; hence, there was actually only one witness thereto. Moreover, the
residence certificate of petitioner was issued to petitioner and then it was
given to the Notary Public the day after the execution of the deed of sale and
notarization; hence, the number of petitioners residence certificate and the
date of issuance (June 21, 1966) thereof was written on the Deed of
Absolute Sale by the Notary Public on June 21, 1966, after the execution and
notarization of the said deed on June 20, 1966. 34[34] Considering the defect
in the notarization, the Deed of Absolute Sale dated June 20, 1966 cannot
be considered a public document, but only a private document, 35[35] and the
evidentiary standard of its validity shall be based on preponderance of
evidence.

32[32] Entitled AN ACT TO PROVIDE FOR THE ADJUDICATION AND REGISTRATION OF


TITLES TO LANDS IN THE PHILIPPINE ISLANDS.
33[33] Emphasis supplied.
34[34] TSN, July 18, 1989, pp. 10-12.
35[35] Fuentes v. Roca, supra note 30, at 709.

Section 20, Rule 132 of the Rules of Court provides that before any
private document offered as authentic is received in evidence, its due
execution and authenticity must be proved either: (a) by anyone who saw
the document executed or written; or (b) by evidence of the genuineness of
the signature or handwriting of the maker.
In regard to the genuineness of petitioners signature appearing on the
Deed of Absolute Sale dated June 20, 1966,36[36] the Court agrees with the
trial court that her signature therein is very much different from her
specimen signatures37[37] and those appearing in the pleadings38[38] of
other cases filed against her, even considering the difference of 17 years
when the specimen signatures were made. Hence, the Court rules that
petitioners signature on the Deed of Absolute Sale dated June 20, 1966 is a
forgery.
The Court agrees with petitioner that her admission was taken out of
context, considering that in her Answer39[39] to the Complaint, she stated
that the alleged Deed of Sale purportedly executed by her in favor of Basilio
de Guzman is a forgery; that she never signed the said Deed of Sale; that
she did not appear personally before the Notary Public; and that she did not
secure the residence certificate mentioned in the said Deed of Sale. She also
testified that she never sold her land to Basilio de Guzman; 40[40] that she
never met the Notary Public, Attorney Abelardo Biala,41[41] and that she did
not meet Basilio de Guzman on June 20, 1966.42[42] The trial court found
petitioner and her testimony to be credible, and declared the Deed of Sale
dated June 20, 1966 null and void ab initio. These circumstances negate the
said admission.

36[36] Exhibit B, folder of exhibits, p. 2.


37[37] Exhibit 8, id.
38[38] Exhibits 3, 3-F-1, 7, 7-F-1, id.
39[39] Records, p. 12.
40[40] TSN, October 23, 1989, pp. 14-16, 21-23.
41[41] Id. at 13, 15.
42[42] Id. at 15.

The Court finds the Notary Publics testimony self-serving and


unreliable, because although he testified that petitioner was the one who
submitted her residence certificate to him on June 21, 1966, 43[43] the next
day after the Deed of Absolute Sale was executed on June 20, 1966,
Crescencia de Guzman, respondents mother, testified that she and her
husband got the residence certificate from petitioner and gave it to the
Notary Public on June 21, 1966.44[44] Thus, it is doubtful whether the
Notary Public really knew the identity of the vendor who signed the Deed of
Absolute Sale45[45] dated June 20, 1966.
The Court notes that the trial court found petitioner and her testimony
to be credible. It is a well-settled doctrine that findings of trial courts on the
credibility of witnesses deserve a high degree of respect. 46[46] Having
observed the deportment of witnesses during the trial, the trial judge is in a
better position to determine the issue of credibility.47[47]
In fine, the preponderance of evidence is with petitioner.
WHEREFORE, the petition is GRANTED. The Court of Appeals
Decision dated October 27, 2005 and its Resolution dated April 5, 2006 in
CA-G.R. CV No. 78217 are REVERSED and SET ASIDE, and the Decision
of the Regional Trial Court of Dagupan City, Branch 40 in Civil Case No. D9040 is hereby REINSTATED.
No costs.
SO ORDERED.

DIOSDADO M. PERALTA
Associate Justice
WE CONCUR:

43[43] TSN, July 18, 1989, pp. 8-9.


44[44] TSN, December 19, 1988, pp. 15-18.
45[45] Exhibit A, folder of exhibits, p. 1.
46[46] Espano v. Court of Appeals, G.R. No. 120431, April 1, 1998, 288 SCRA 558, 563.
47[47] Id.

PRESBITERO J. VELASCO, JR.


Associate Justice
Chairperson

ROBERTO A. ABAD
Associate Justice

JOSE CATRAL MENDOZA


Associate

Justice

ESTELA M. PERLAS-BERNABE
Associate Justice

ATTESTATION
I attest that the conclusions in the above Decision had been
reached in consultation before the case was assigned to the writer of the
opinion of the Courts Division.

PRESBITERO J. VELASCO, JR.


Associate Justice
Third Division, Chairperson

CERTIFICATION

Pursuant to Section 13, Article VIII of the Constitution and the


Division Chairpersons Attestation, I certify that the conclusions in the above
Decision had been reached in consultation before the case was assigned to
the writer of the opinion of the Courts Division.

RENATO C. CORONA
Chief Justice

Contracts; public documents; forms. The necessity of a public


document for contracts which transmit or extinguish real rights over
immovable property, as mandated by Article 1358 of the Civil Code, is only
for convenience; it is not essential for validity or enforceability. As notarized
documents, Deeds of Absolute Sale carry evidentiary weight conferred upon
them with respect to their due execution and enjoy the presumption of
regularity which may only be rebutted by evidence so clear, strong and
convincing as to exclude all controversy as to falsity. The presumptions that
attach to notarized documents can be affirmed only so long as it is beyond
dispute that the notarization was regular. A defective notarization will strip
the document of its public character and reduce it to a private instrument.
Consequently, when there is a defect in the notarization of a document, the
clear and convincing evidentiary standard normally attached to a dulynotarized document is dispensed with, and the measure to test the validity
of such document is preponderance of evidence. Adelaida Meneses
(deceased), substituted by her heir Marilyn M. Carbonel-Garcia vs. Rosario
G. Venturozo; G.R. No. 172196. October 19, 2011.
ZENAIDA B. TIGNO, IMELDA B. TIGNO and ARMI B. TIGNO,
vs. SPOUSES ESTAFINO AQUINO and FLORENTINA AQUINO and the
HONORABLE COURT OF APPEALS.
G.R. No. 129416. November 25, 2004 (444 SCRA 61)
FACTS:

On 11 January 1980, respondent spouses Estafino and Florentina


Aquino (the Aquinos) filed a complaint for enforcement of contract and
damages against Isidro Bustria (Bustria). The complaint sought to enforce
an alleged sale by Bustria to the Aquinos of a fishpond located in Dasci,
Pangasinan. Such conveyance was covered by a Deed of Sale dated 2
September 1978. Bustria and the Aquinos entered into a compromise
agreement, whereby Bustria agreed to recognize the validity of the sale, and
grant the right to repurchase the same property after the lapse of seven (7)
years.
Bustria was then substituted by petitioner Zenaida B. Tigno, the
daughter after his death. She attempted to repurchase the property however
the Aquinos filed an opposition and alleged that Bustria had sold his right to
repurchase the property to them in a deed of sale dated 17 October 1985.
Among the witnesses presented by the Aquinos during trial were Jesus De
Francia (De Francia), the instrumental witness to the deed of sale, and
former Judge Franklin Cario (Judge Cario), who notarized the same. These
two witnesses testified as to the occasion of the execution and signing of the
deed of sale by Bustria. However, the admission of the Deed of Sale was
objected to by Tigno on the ground that it was a false and fraudulent
document which had not been acknowledged by Bustria as his own; and that
its existence was suspicious, considering that it had been previously
unknown.
Decision was rendered by the RTC in favor of Tigno. The RTC
therein expressed doubts as to the authenticity of the Deed of Sale,
characterizing the testimonies of De Francia and Cario as conflicting. The
RTC likewise observed that nowhere in the alleged deed of sale was there
any statement that it was acknowledged by Bustria; that it was suspicious
that Bustria was not assisted or represented by his counsel in connection
with the preparation and execution of the deed of sale.
An appeal was interposed by the Aquinos to the Court of Appeals
which then reversed and set aside the RTC Decision. The appellate court
ratiocinated that there were no material or substantial inconsistencies
between the testimonies of Cario and De Francia that would taint the
document with doubtful authenticity; that the absence of the
acknowledgment and substitution instead of a jurat did not render the
instrument invalid; and that the non-assistance or representation of Bustria
by counsel did not render the document null and ineffective. Accordingly, the
Court of Appeals held that the RTC erred in refusing to admit the Deed of
Sale. Thus, this petition.
Petitioner raises a substantial argument regarding the capacity of the
notary public, Judge Cario, to notarize the document.
ISSUES:

Whether or not a deed of sale subscribed by way of jurat, not by


acknowledgement is admissible as evidence.
Whether or not the Court of Appeals clearly erred in not appreciating
the Deed of Sale as a private document and in applying the presumption of
regularity that attaches only to duly notarized documents, as distinguished
from private documents.
Whether or not Judge Cario is authorized to notarize a deed of sale.
RULING:
The assailed ruling of the Court of Appeals, which overturned the
findings of fact of the Regional Trial Court, relied primarily on the
presumption of regularity attaching to notarized documents with respect to
its due execution. The Court now concludes instead that the document has
not been duly notarized and accordingly reverse the decision of Court of
Appeals.
There are palpable errors in this certification. The document is certified
by way of a jurat instead of an acknowledgment. A jurat is a distinct
creature from an acknowledgment. An acknowledgment is the act of one
who has executed a deed in going before some competent officer or court
and declaring it to be his act or deed; while a jurat is that part of an affidavit
where the officer certifies that the same was sworn before him. Under
Section 127 of the Land Registration Act, which has been replicated in
Section 112 of Presidential Decree No. 1529, the Deed of Sale should have
been acknowledged before a notary public.
Moreover, Franklin Cario at the time of the notarization of the Deed of
Sale, was a sitting judge of the Metropolitan Trial Court of Alaminos.
Citing Tabao v. Asis, the municipal judges may not undertake the preparation
and acknowledgment of private documents, contracts, and other acts of
conveyance which bear no relation to the performance of their functions as
judges. The Deed of Sale was not connected with any official duties of Judge
Cario, and there was no reason for him to notarize it. The validity of a
notarial certification necessarily derives from the authority of the notarial
officer. If the notary public does not have the capacity to notarize a
document, but does so anyway, then the document should be treated as
unnotarized. Notarization of a private document converts such document
into a public one, and renders it admissible in court without further proof of
its authenticity.

However, the absence of notarization of the Deed of Sale would not


necessarily invalidate the transaction evidenced therein. Article 1358 of the
Civil Code requires that the form of a contract that transmits or extinguishes
real rights over immovable property should be in a public document, yet it is
also an accepted rule that the failure to observe the proper form does not
render the transaction invalid. The sale of real property though not
consigned in a public instrument or formal writing, is nevertheless valid and
binding among the parties, for the time-honored rule is that even a verbal
contract of sale or real estate produces legal effects between the parties.
Clearly, the presumption of regularity relied upon by the Court of
Appeals no longer holds true since the Deed of Sale is not a notarized
document.
The Deed of Sale, invalidly notarized as it was, does not fall under the
enumeration of public documents; hence, it must be considered a private
document. The nullity of the alleged or attempted notarization performed by
Judge Cario is sufficient to exclude the document in question from the class
of public documents. Even assuming that the Deed of Sale was validly
notarized, it would still be classified as a private document, since it was not
properly acknowledged, but merely subscribed and sworn to by way of jurat.
Being a private document, the Deed of Sale is now subject to the
requirement of proof under Section 20, Rule 132, which states:
Section 20. Proof of private document.Before any private document
offered as authentic is received in evidence, its due execution and
authenticity must be proved either:
(a) By anyone who saw the document executed or written; or
(b) By evidence of the genuineness of the signature or handwriting
of the maker.
Since the the Deed of Sale was offered in evidence as authentic by the
Aquinos, the burden falls upon the Aquinos to prove its authenticity.
However, as established, the Deed of Sale is a private document. Thus, not
only the due execution of the document must be proven but also its
authenticity which was not duly considered by the Court of Appeals. The
testimonies of Judge Cario and De Francia now become material not only to
establish due execution, but also the authenticity of the Deed of Sale.
Nevertheless, the inconsistencies in the testimonies of Judge Cario and De
Francia are irreconcilable. De Francia testified that Judge Cario himself
prepared and typed the Deed of Sale in his office, where the document was
signed,while Judge Cario testified that he did not type the Deed of
Sale since it was already prepared when the parties arrived at his office for
the signing.

The totality of the picture leads the Court to agree with the trial court
that the Deed of Sale is ineluctably dubious in origin and in execution. The
Court deems as correct the refusal of the RTC to admit the Deed of Sale,
since its due execution and authenticity have not been proven.
WHEREFORE, the Petition is GRANTED. The assailed Decision dated 23
December 1996 and Resolution dated 9 June 1997 of the Court of Appeals in
CA-G.R. CV No. 49879 is REVERSED, and the Decision dated 18 August 1994
of the Regional Trial Court of Alaminos, Pangasinan, Branch 55, in Civil Case
No. A-1918 is REINSTATED. Costs against respondents.

SECOND DIVISION
[G.R. No. 129416. November 25, 2004]
ZENAIDA B. TIGNO, IMELDA B. TIGNO and ARMI B. TIGNO,
petitioners, vs. SPOUSES ESTAFINO AQUINO and FLORENTINA AQUINO and
the HONORABLE COURT OF APPEALS, respondents.
DECISION
TINGA, J.:

The controversy in the present petition hinges on the admissibility of a


single document, a deed of sale involving interest over real property,
notarized by a person of questionable capacity. The assailed ruling of the
Court of Appeals, which overturned the findings of fact of the Regional Trial
Court, relied primarily on the presumption of regularity attaching to
notarized documents with respect to its due execution. We conclude instead
that the document has not been duly notarized and accordingly reverse the
Court of Appeals.
The facts are as follow:
On 11 January 1980, respondent spouses Estafino and Florentina
Aquino (the Aquinos) filed a complaint for enforcement of contract and
damages against Isidro Bustria (Bustria).[1] The complaint sought to enforce
an alleged sale by Bustria to the Aquinos of a one hundred twenty thousand
(120,000) square meter fishpond located in Dasci, Pangasinan. The property
was not registered either under the Land Registration Act or under the
Spanish Mortgage Law, though registrable under Act No. 3344.[2] The
conveyance was covered by a Deed of Sale dated 2 September 1978.
Eventually, Bustria and the Aquinos entered into a compromise
agreement, whereby Bustria agreed to recognize the validity of the sale, and
the Aquinos in turn agreed to grant to Bustria the right to repurchase the
same property after the lapse of seven (7) years.
Upon submission, the Court of First Instance of Pangasinan, Branch
VII, approved and incorporated the compromise agreement in a Decision
which it rendered on 7 September 1981.
Bustria died in October of 1986.[3] On 1 December 1989, petitioner
Zenaida B. Tigno (Tigno), in substitution of her deceased father Isidro
Bustria,[4] attempted to repurchase the property by filing a Motion for
Consignation. She deposited the amount of Two Hundred Thirty Thousand
Pesos (P200,000.00) with the trial court, now Regional Trial Court (RTC),
Branch 55 at Alaminos, Pangasinan. On 18 December 1989, the Aquinos
filed an opposition, arguing that the right to repurchase was not yet
demandable and that Tigno had failed to make a tender of payment. In an
Order dated 10 October 1999, the RTC denied the Motion for Consignation.
[5]
In June of 1991, Tigno filed a Motion for a Writ of Execution, which
was likewise opposed by the Aquinos, and denied by the RTC. Then, on 6
September 1991, Tigno filed an action for Revival of Judgment,[6] seeking
the revival of the decision in Civil Case No. A-1257, so that it could be
executed accordingly.[7] The Aquinos filed an answer, wherein they alleged
that Bustria had sold his right to repurchase the property to them in a deed
of sale dated 17 October 1985.[8]

Among the witnesses presented by the Aquinos during trial were Jesus
De Francia (De Francia), the instrumental witness to the deed of sale, and
former Judge Franklin Cario (Judge Cario), who notarized the same. These
two witnesses testified as to the occasion of the execution and signing of the
deed of sale by Bustria. Thereafter, in their Formal Offer of Documentary
Evidence, the Aquinos offered for admission as their Exhibit No. 8, the
deed of sale (Deed of Sale)[9] purportedly executed by Bustria. The
admission of the Deed of Sale was objected to by Tigno on the ground that it
was a false and fraudulent document which had not been acknowledged by
Bustria as his own; and that its existence was suspicious, considering that it
had been previously unknown, and not even presented by the Aquinos when
they opposed Tignos previous Motion for Consignation.[10]
In an Order dated 6 April 1994, the RTC refused to admit the Deed of
Sale in evidence.[11] A Motion for Reconsideration praying for the admission
of said exhibit was denied in an Order dated 27 April 1994.[12]
Then, on 18 August 1994, a Decision was rendered by the RTC in favor
of Tigno. The RTC therein expressed doubts as to the authenticity of the
Deed of Sale, characterizing the testimonies of De Francia and Cario as
conflicting.[13] The RTC likewise observed that nowhere in the alleged deed
of sale was there any statement that it was acknowledged by Bustria;[14]
that it was suspicious that Bustria was not assisted or represented by his
counsel in connection with the preparation and execution of the deed of
sale[15] or that Aquino had raised the matter of the deed of sale in his
previous Opposition to the Motion for Consignation.[16] The RTC then
stressed that the previous Motion for Execution lodged by Tigno had to be
denied since more than five (5) years had elapsed from the date the
judgment in Civil Case No. A-1257 had become final and executory; but the
judgment could be revived by action such as the instant complaint.
Accordingly, the RTC ordered the revival of the judgment dated 7 September
1981 in Civil Case No. A-1257.[17]

The Aquinos interposed an appeal to the Court of Appeals.[18] In the


meantime, the RTC allowed the execution pending appeal of its Decision.[19]
On 23 December 1996, the Court of Appeals Tenth Division promulgated a
Decision[20] reversing and setting aside the RTC Decision. The appellate
court ratiocinated that there were no material or substantial inconsistencies
between the testimonies of Cario and De Francia that would taint the
document with doubtful authenticity; that the absence of the
acknowledgment and substitution instead of a jurat did not render the
instrument invalid; and that the non-assistance or representation of Bustria
by counsel did not render the document null and ineffective.[21] It was
noted that a notarized document carried in its favor the presumption of
regularity with respect to its due execution, and that there must be clear,
convincing and more than merely preponderant evidence to contradict the
same. Accordingly, the Court of Appeals held that the RTC erred in refusing
to admit the Deed of Sale, and that the document extinguished the right of
Bustrias heirs to repurchase the property.
After the Court of Appeals denied Tignos Motion for Reconsideration,
[22] the present petition was filed before this Court. Tigno imputes grave
abuse of discretion and misappreciation of facts to the Court of Appeals
when it admitted the Deed of Sale. He also argues that the appellate court
should have declared the Deed of Sale as a false, fraudulent and unreliable
document not supported by any consideration at all.
The general thrusts of the arguments posed by Tigno are factually
based. As such, they could normally lead to the dismissal of this Petition for
Review. However, while this Court is not ordinarily a trier of facts,[23]
factual review may be warranted in instances when the findings of the trial
court and the intermediate appellate court are contrary to each other.[24]
Moreover, petitioner raises a substantial argument regarding the capacity of
the notary public, Judge Cario, to notarize the document. The Court of
Appeals was unfortunately silent on that matter, but this Court will take it up
with definitiveness.
The notarial certification of the Deed of Sale reads as follows:
ACKNOWLEDGMENT
REPUBLIC OF THE PHILIPPINES)
PROVINCE OF PANGASINAN ) S.S.
MUNICIPALITY OF ALAMINOS )
SUBSCRIBED AND SWORN TO before me this 17th day of October 1985
at Alaminos, Pangasinan both parties known to me to be the same parties
who executed the foregoing instrument.
FRANKLIN CARIO
Ex-Officio Notary Public
Judge, M.T.C.
Alaminos, Pangasinan

There are palpable errors in this certification. Most glaringly, the


document is certified by way of a jurat instead of an acknowledgment. A
jurat is a distinct creature from an acknowledgment. An acknowledgment is
the act of one who has executed a deed in going before some competent
officer or court and declaring it to be his act or deed; while a jurat is that
part of an affidavit where the officer certifies that the same was sworn
before him.[25] Under Section 127 of the Land Registration Act,[26] which
has been replicated in Section 112 of Presidential Decree No. 1529,[27] the
Deed of Sale should have been acknowledged before a notary public.[28]
But there is an even more substantial defect in the notarization, one
which is determinative of this petition. This pertains to the authority of Judge
Franklin Cario to notarize the Deed of Sale.
It is undisputed that Franklin Cario at the time of the notarization of
the Deed of Sale, was a sitting judge of the Metropolitan Trial Court of
Alaminos.[29] Petitioners point out, citing Tabao v. Asis,[30] that municipal
judges may not undertake the preparation and acknowledgment of private
documents, contracts, and other acts of conveyance which bear no relation
to the performance of their functions as judges.[31] In response,
respondents claim that the prohibition imposed on municipal court judges
from notarizing documents took effect only in December of 1989, or four
years after the Deed of Sale was notarized by Cario.[32]
Respondents contention is erroneous. Municipal Trial Court (MTC) and
Municipal Circuit Trial Court (MCTC) judges are empowered to perform the
functions of notaries public ex officio under Section 76 of Republic Act No.
296, as amended (otherwise known as the Judiciary Act of 1948) and
Section 242 of the Revised Administrative Code.[33] However, as far back as
1980 in Borre v. Moya,[34] the Court explicitly declared that municipal court
judges such as Cario may notarize only documents connected with the
exercise of their official duties.[35] The Deed of Sale was not connected with
any official duties of Judge Cario, and there was no reason for him to
notarize it. Our observations as to the errant judge in Borre are pertinent in
this case, considering that Judge Cario identified himself in the Deed of
Sale as Ex-Officio Notary Public, Judge, MTC:
[A notary ex officio] should not compete with private law practitioners
or regular notaries in transacting legal conveyancing business.
In the instant case, it was not proper that a city judge should notarize
documents involving private transactions and sign the document in this wise:
"GUMERSINDO ARCILLA, Notary Public Ex-Officio, City Judge" (p. 16, Rollo,
Annex D of Complaint). In doing so, he obliterated the distinction
between a regular notary and a notary ex officio.[36]

There are possible grounds for leniency in connection with this matter,
as Supreme Court Circular No. I-90 permits notaries public ex officio to
perform any act within the competency of a regular notary public provided
that certification be made in the notarized documents attesting to the lack of
any lawyer or notary public in such municipality or circuit. Indeed, it is only
when there are no lawyers or notaries public that the exception applies.[37]
The facts of this case do not warrant a relaxed attitude towards Judge
Carios improper notarial activity. There was no such certification in the
Deed of Sale. Even if one was produced, we would be hard put to accept the
veracity of its contents, considering that Alaminos, Pangasinan, now a city,
[38] was even then not an isolated backwater town and had its fair share of
practicing lawyers.
There may be sufficient ground to call to task Judge Cario, who
ceased being a judge in 1986, for his improper notarial activity. Perhaps
though, formal sanction may no longer be appropriate considering Judge
Carios advanced age, assuming he is still alive.[39] However, this Decision
should again serve as an affirmation of the rule prohibiting municipal judges
from notarizing documents not connected with the exercise of their official
duties, subject to the exceptions laid down in Circular No. 1-90.
Most crucially for this case, we should deem the Deed of Sale as not
having been notarized at all. The validity of a notarial certification
necessarily derives from the authority of the notarial officer. If the notary
public does not have the capacity to notarize a document, but does so
anyway, then the document should be treated as unnotarized. The rule may
strike as rather harsh, and perhaps may prove to be prejudicial to parties in
good faith relying on the proferred authority of the notary public or the
person pretending to be one. Still, to admit otherwise would render merely
officious the elaborate process devised by this Court in order that a lawyer
may receive a notarial commission. Without such a rule, the notarization of a
document by a duly appointed notary public will have the same legal effect
as one accomplished by a non-lawyer engaged in pretense.
The notarization of a document carries considerable legal effect.
Notarization of a private document converts such document into a public
one, and renders it admissible in court without further proof of its
authenticity.[40] Thus, notarization is not an empty routine; to the contrary,
it engages public interest in a substantial degree and the protection of that
interest requires preventing those who are not qualified or authorized to act
as notaries public from imposing upon the public and the courts and
administrative offices generally.[41]

On the other hand, what then is the effect on the Deed of Sale if it was
not notarized? True enough, from a civil law perspective, the absence of
notarization of the Deed of Sale would not necessarily invalidate the
transaction evidenced therein. Article 1358 of the Civil Code requires that
the form of a contract that transmits or extinguishes real rights over
immovable property should be in a public document, yet it is also an
accepted rule that the failure to observe the proper form does not render
the transaction invalid. Thus, it has been uniformly held that the form
required in Article 1358 is not essential to the validity or enforceability of the
transaction, but required merely for convenience.[42] We have even
affirmed that a sale of real property though not consigned in a public
instrument or formal writing, is nevertheless valid and binding among the
parties, for the time-honored rule is that even a verbal contract of sale or
real estate produces legal effects between the parties.[43]
Still, the Court has to reckon with the implications of the lack of valid
notarization of the Deed of Sale from the perspective of the law on evidence.
After all, the case rests on the admissibility of the Deed of Sale.
Clearly, the presumption of regularity relied upon by the Court of
Appeals no longer holds true since the Deed of Sale is not a notarized
document. Its proper probative value is governed by the Rules of Court.
Section 19, Rule 132 states:
Section 19. Classes of documents.For the purpose of their
presentation in evidence, documents are either public or private.
Public documents are:
(a) The written official acts, or records of the official acts of the
sovereign authority, official bodies and tribunals, and public officers, whether
of the Philippines, or of a foreign country;
(b) Documents acknowledged before a notary public except
last wills and testaments; and
(c) Public records, kept in the Philippines, of private documents
required by law to be entered therein.
All other writings are private. (Emphasis supplied.)
The Deed of Sale, invalidly notarized as it was, does not fall under the
enumeration of public documents; hence, it must be considered a private
document. The nullity of the alleged or attempted notarization performed by
Judge Cario is sufficient to exclude the document in question from the class
of public documents. Even assuming that the Deed of Sale was validly
notarized, it would still be classified as a private document, since it was not
properly acknowledged, but merely subscribed and sworn to by way of jurat.
Being a private document, the Deed of Sale is now subject to the
requirement of proof under Section 20, Rule 132, which states:

Section 20. Proof of private document.Before any private document


offered as authentic is received in evidence, its due execution and
authenticity must be proved either:
(a) By anyone who saw the document executed or written; or
(b) By evidence of the genuineness of the signature or handwriting
of the maker.
Any other private document need only be identified as that which is
claimed to be.
The Deed of Sale was offered in evidence as authentic by the Aquinos,
who likewise insist that its enforceability militates against Tignos claim.
Correspondingly, the burden falls upon the Aquinos to prove its authenticity
and due execution. The Court of Appeals clearly erred in not appreciating
the Deed of Sale as a private document and in applying the presumption of
regularity that attaches only to duly notarized documents, as distinguished
from private documents.
Did the RTC err then in refusing to admit the Deed of Sale? We hold
that it did not. Section 20, Rule 132 provides ample discretion on the trier of
fact before it may choose to receive the private document in evidence. The
RTC wisely refused to admit the Deed of Sale, taking great lengths as it did
to explain its doubts as to its veracity. The RTC was not convinced of the
proffered proof by the Aquinos, and the exercise of its sound discretion as
the primary trier of fact warrants due respect.
The most telling observation of the RTC relates to the fact that for the
very first time respondents alleged the existence of the Deed of Sale when
they filed their answer to petitioners current action to revive judgment.[44]
Prior to the initiation of the present action, Tigno had tried to operationalize
and implement the Compromise Agreement through two judicial means:
consignation and execution of judgment. The Aquinos duly opposed these
prior attempts of the petitioner to exercise the right to repurchase, but they
did not raise then the claim that such right to repurchase was already
extinguished by the Deed of Sale. Tigno attempted to exercise the right to
repurchase only a few years after the execution of the Deed of Sale to which
respondents themselves were signatories. Thus, it is incredulous that the
Aquinos did not invoke the Deed of Sale when they opposed in court
petitioners successive attempts at consignation and execution of judgment.
The Deed of Sale, if in existence and valid, would have already precluded
Tignos causes of action for either consignation or execution of judgment.
The only believable conclusion, as drawn by the RTC, was that the Deed of
Sale had yet to be created when petitioner moved in 1990 for consignation
and execution of judgmentan existential anomaly if we were to agree with
the respondents that such document had been signed and notarized back in
1985.

The dubiousness in origin of the Deed of Sale is not alleviated by the


other observations of the RTC. It also pointed to certain incredible aspects in
the Aquinos tale of events. It noted that no receipts were ever presented
by the respondents to evidence actual payment of consideration by them to
Bustria, despite the allegation of the respondents that the amount was
covered by seven (7) receipts.[45] The Aquinos claimed that Bustria kept all
the receipts, an assertion which the RTC found as unbelievable, citing
ordinary human nature to ask for receipts for significant amounts given and
to keep the same.[46] In itself, the absence of receipts, or any proof of
consideration, would not be conclusive since consideration is always
presumed. However, given the totality of the circumstances surrounding this
case, the absence of such proof further militates against the claims of the
Aquinos.
We can appreciate in a similar vein the observation of the Court of
Appeals that Bustria did not bother to seek his lawyers assistance as
regards the execution of the Deed of Sale, considering that the subject
property had previously been fiercely litigated. Although the Court of
Appeals was correct in ruling that the document would not be rendered null
or ineffective due to the lack of assistance of counsel, the implausibility of
the scenario strikes as odd and therefore reinforces the version found by the
RTC as credible.
The Court likewise has its own observations on the record that affirm
the doubts raised by the Court of Appeals. Isidro Bustria, who would die in
1986, was already ninety-three (93) years old when he allegedly signed the
Deed of Sale in 1985. Still, the Aquinos asserted before the RTC that Bustria
traveled unaccompanied from his home in Dasol, Pangasinan, passing
through two towns to Alaminos, to execute the Deed of Sale. Without
discrediting the accomplishments of nonagenarians capable of great physical
feats, it should be acknowledged as a matter of general assumption that
persons of Bustrias age are typically sedentary and rarely so foolhardy as to
insist on traveling significant distances alone.
Also of note is the fact that there are glaring differences as to the
alleged signature of Bustria on the Deed of Sale and as it otherwise appears
on the judicial record. Bustrias signature in the 1981 Compromise
Agreement is noticeably shaky which is not surprising, considering that it
was subscribed when Bustria was eighty-nine (89) years old. However,
Bustrias signature on the Deed of Sale, which if genuine was affixed when
he was already ninety-three (93) years old, is remarkably steady in its
strokes. There are also other evident differences between Bustrias signature
on the Deed of Sale and on other documents on the record.

Admittedly, these doubts cast above arise in chief from an appreciation


of circumstantial evidence. These have to be weighed against the findings of
the Court of Appeals that the fact that Bustria signed the Deed of Sale was
established by the respective testimonies of witnesses De Francia and Judge
Cario. In its own appreciation of these testimonies, the RTC alluded to
notable inconsistencies in their testimonies. As a final measure of analysis,
the Court shall now examine whether the appellate court was in error in
reversing the conclusion of the RTC on these testimonies.
The inconsistencies cited by the RTC were that De Francia testified that
Judge Cario himself prepared and typed the Deed of Sale in his office,
where the document was signed,[47] while Judge Cario testified that he did
not type the Deed of Sale since it was already prepared when the parties
arrived at his office for the signing.[48] On this point, the Court of Appeals
stated with utter nonchalance that a perusal of the record revealed no
material or substantial inconsistencies between the testimonies of Judge
Cario and De Francia.
Strangely, the appellate court made no comment as to the
inconsistency pointed out by the RTC as to who prepared the Deed of Sale. If
the only point of consideration was the due execution of the Deed of Sale,
then the Court of Appeals should have properly come out with its finding.
Other variances aside, there are no contradictions in the testimonies of
Judge Cario and De Francia on the question of whether or not Bustria
signed the Deed of Sale.
However, as earlier established, the Deed of Sale is a private
document. Thus, not only the due execution of the document must be
proven but also its authenticity. This factor was not duly considered by the
Court of Appeals. The testimonies of Judge Cario and De Francia now
become material not only to establish due execution, but also the
authenticity of the Deed of Sale. And on this point, the inconsistencies
pointed out by the RTC become crucial.
The matter of authenticity of the Deed of Sale being disputed, the
identity of the progenitor of this all-important document is a material
evidentiary point. It is disconcerting that the very two witnesses of the
respondent offered to prove the Deed of Sale, flatly contradict each other on
the basis of their own personal and sensory knowledge. Worse, the
purported author of the Deed of Sale disavowed having drafted the
document, notwithstanding the contrary testimony grounded on personal
knowledge by the documentary witness.

Establishing the identity of the person who wrote the Deed of Sale
would not ordinarily be necessary to establish the validity of the transaction
it covers. However, since it is the authenticity of the document itself that is
disputed, then the opposing testimonies on that point by the material
witnesses properly raises questions about the due execution of the document
itself. The inconsistencies in the testimonies of Judge Cario and De Francia
are irreconcilable. It is not possible to affirm the testimony of either without
denigrating the competence and credibility of the other as a witness. If
Judge Cario was truthful in testifying that he did not write the Deed of Sale,
then doubt can be cast as to the reliability of the notarial witness De Francia.
It takes a leap of imagination, a high level of gumption, and perverse
deliberation for one to erroneously assert, under oath and with
particularities, that a person drafted a particular document in his presence.
However, if we were to instead believe De Francia, then the integrity of
the notary public, Judge Cario, would be obviously compromised.
Assuming that Judge Cario had indeed authored the Deed of Sale, it would
indeed be odd that he would not remember having written the document
himself yet sufficiently recall notarizing the same. If his testimony as to
authorship of the document is deemed as dubious, then there is all the
reason to make a similar assumption as to his testimony on the notarization
of the Deed of Sale.
These inconsistencies are not of consequence because there is need to
indubitably establish the author of the Deed of Sale. They are important
because they cast doubt on the credibility of those witnesses of the Aquinos,
presented as they were to attest to the due execution and authenticity of the
Deed of Sale. The Court of Appeals was clearly in error in peremptorily
disregarding this observation of the RTC.
As a result, we are less willing than the Court of Appeals to impute
conclusive value to the testimonies of de Francia and Judge Cario. The
totality of the picture leads us to agree with the trial court that the Deed of
Sale is ineluctably dubious in origin and in execution. The Court deems as
correct the refusal of the RTC to admit the Deed of Sale, since its due
execution and authenticity have not been proven. The evidence pointing to
the non-existence of such a transaction is so clear and convincing that it is
sufficient even to rebut the typical presumption of regularity arising from the
due execution of notarial documents. However, for the reasons stated
earlier, the Deed of Sale is ineluctably an unnotarized document. And the
lower court had more than sufficient basis to conclude that it is a spurious
document.
Since the validity of the Deed of Sale has been successfully assailed,
Tignos right to repurchase was not extinguished at the time of the filing of
the Petition for revival of judgment, as correctly concluded by the RTC. The
Court of Appeals being in error when it concluded otherwise, the
reinstatement of the RTC Decision is warranted.

WHEREFORE, the Petition is GRANTED. The assailed Decision dated


23 December 1996 and Resolution dated 9 June 1997 of the Court of
Appeals in CA-G.R. CV No. 49879 is REVERSED, and the Decision dated 18
August 1994 of the Regional Trial Court of Alaminos, Pangasinan, Branch 55,
in Civil Case No. A-1918 is REINSTATED. Costs against respondents.
SO ORDERED.
Puno, (Chairman), Austria-Martinez, Callejo, Sr., and Chico-Nazario,
JJ., concur.

[1] Docketed as Civil Case No. A-1257.


[2] CA Rollo, p. 31.
[3] Rollo, p. 17.
[4] Petitioner Zenaida B. Tigno herself died on 28 September 1993,
and is now substituted in this action by her children Imelda B. Tigno and
Armi B. Tigno. Her husband, Camilo D. Tigno, had also died on 21 March
1997. Id. at 8.
[5] Tigno appealed such denial to the Court of Appeals, but
subsequently withdrew her appeal in March of 1991. Id. at 11.
[6] Docketed as Civil Case No. A-1918.
[7] Id. at 27.
[8] Id. at 29.
[9] Captioned Sale/Renunciation of Right to Repurchase. Id. at 12.
[10] Id. at 12.
[11] Id. at 32. Order penned by Judge V. Bantugan.
[12] Id. at 32-33.
[13] Id. at 49.
[14] Ibid.
[15] Id. at 49-50.
[16] Id. at 50.
[17] Id. at 53.
[18] Docketed as CA-G.R. CV No. 49879.
[19] Rollo, pp. 12-13.
[20] Penned by Justice M. Gonzaga-Reyes, concurred in by Justices R.
Mabutas, Jr. and P. Alio-Hormachuelos.
[21] Rollo, p. 80.
[22] Id. at 91-92.
[23] See e.g., Republic v. Alagad, G.R. No. 66807, 26 January 1989,
169 SCRA 455.
[24] See e.g., Lee Eng Hong v. Court of Appeals, 311 Phil. 423 (1995).

[25] S. Guevarra, Legal Forms Annotated 40 (8th rev. ed., 1966);


citing Bouvier. For an extended disquisition on the differences between a
jurat and an acknowledgment, see Gamido v. New Bilibid Prisons (NBP)
Officials, 312 Phil. 100, 104.
[26] Act No. 496 (1902).
[27] Amending and Codifying the Laws Relative to Registration of
Property and for Other Purposes.
[28] The provision reads:
Deeds, conveyances, mortgages, leases, releases and
discharges affecting lands, whether registered under this act or
unregistered shall be sufficient in law when made substantially in
accordance with the following forms, and shall be as effective to convey,
encumber, lease, release, discharge or bind the lands as though made in
accordance with the more prolix forms heretofore in use: Provided, That
every such instrument shall be signed by the person or persons executing
the same, in the presence of two witnesses, who shall sign the instrument as
witnesses to the execution thereof, and shall be acknowledged to be his
or their free act and deed by the person or persons executing the
same, before the judge of a court of record, or clerk of a court of record, or
a notary public, or a justice of the peace, who shall certify to such
acknowledgment substantially in the form next hereinafter stated. (Emphasis
supplied.)
[29] Rollo, p. 17. See also TSN dated 25 May 1993, p. 3.
[30] 322 Phil. 630 (1996).
[31] Rollo, p. 17.
[32] Id. at 123.
[33] See Ellert v. Hon. Galapon Jr., 391 Phil. 456 (2000).
[34] A.M. No. 1765-CFI, 17 October 1980, 100 SCRA 314.
[35] Id. at 321.
[36] Id. at 321.
[37] Balayon v. Ocampo, A.M. No. MTJ-91-619, 29 January 1993, 218
SCRA 13.
[38] Per Republic Act No. 9025 (2001).
[39] Hon. Cario was sixty-six (66) years old when he testified before
the RTC on 25 May 1993, thus he would be at least seventy-seven (77)
years old as of this writing. See TSN dated 25 May 1993, p. 2.
[40] Joson v. Baltazar, A.C. No. 575, 14 February 1991, 194 SCRA
114, 119, citing Aspacio v. Inciong, 161 SCRA 181(1988); Bermejo v.
Barrios, 31 SCRA 764 (1970). See also BA Finance Corporation v. IAC, G.R.
No. 76497, 20 January 1993, 217 SCRA 261, 274; Cabanilla v. CristalTenerio, A.C. No. 6139, 11 November 2003, 415 SCRA 353, 361.
[41] Id.

[42] See Republic v. Sandiganbayan, G.R. Nos. 108292, 108368,


108548-49, 108550, 10 September 1993, 226 SCRA 314, 322-323, citing 4
Tolentino, Commentaries and Jurisprudence on the Civil Code of the
Philippines, 546 Phil. (191). See also Agasen v. Court of Appeals, 382 Phil.
391 (2000), Tapec v. Court of Appeals, G.R. No. 111952, 26 October 1994.
The codal provisions do not require accomplishment of acts or contracts in a
public instrument in order to validate the act or contract but only to insure
its efficacy so that after the existence of the act or contract has been
admitted, the party bound may be compelled to execute the document.
Hawaiian Philippine Co. v. Hernaez, 45 Phil. 746 (1924).
[43] See Bucton v. Gabar, 154 Phil. 447 (1974); citing Couto v. Cortes,
8 Phil., 459, 460 (1907); Guerrero v. Miguel, 10 Phil., 52, 53 (1908). See
also Art. 1405, New Civil Code.
[44] Rollo, p. 50.
[45] Id. at 51.
[46] Ibid.
[47] Id. at 48-49.
[48] Id. at 49.