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128 G.R. No.

L-26699 March 16, 1976


BENITA SALAO, assisted by her husband, GREGORIO MARCELO; ALMARIO ALCURIZA, ARTURO ALCURIZA, OSCAR
ALCURIZA and ANITA ALCURIZA, the latter two being minors are represented by guardian ad litem, ARTURO
ALCURIZA, plaintiffs-appellants,
vs.
JUAN S. SALAO, later substituted by PABLO P. SALAO, Administrator of the Intestate of JUAN S. SALAO; now MERCEDES
P. VDA. DE SALAO, ROBERTO P. SALAO, MARIA SALAO VDA. DE SANTOS, LUCIANA P. SALAO, ISABEL SALAO DE
SANTOS, and PABLO P. SALAO, as successors-in-interest of the late JUAN S. SALAO, together with PABLO P. SALAO,
Administrator, defendants-appellants.
Eusebio V. Navarro for plaintiffs-appellants.
Nicolas Belmonte & Benjamin T. de Peralta for defendants-appellants.
AQUINO, J.:

FACTS:

The spouses Manuel Salao and Valentina Ignacio of Barrio Dampalit, Malabon, Rizal begot four children: Patricio, Alejandra,
Juan (Banli) and Ambrosia.
Manuel Salao died in 1885. No documentary evidence as to what properties formed part of his estate.
Patricio (eldest son) died in 1886 & survived by Valentin Salao (his only child).

Valentina died in 1914, her estate was administered by her daughter Ambrosia.

It was extrajudicially partitioned in a deed (December 29, 1918) but notarized on May 22, 1919 -> signed by her four legal
heirs: her 3 remaining children & Valentin (grandson; succeeded Patricio).

To each of the legal heirs was a distributive share of Php 8,135.25.

Valentin was given an aggregate appraised value of Php 13,501 (exceeded distributive share, composed of biggest fishpond
50T+ sqm, smaller fishpond area 6T+ sqm & Riceland 9T+ sqm) -> in the deed, he was directed to pay his co-hrs Php 5T+
(to avoid fragmentation of land; beneficial to Valentin)

The documentary evidence proves that in 1911/prior to the death of Valentina Ignacio -> her 2 children (Juan Y. Salao, Sr. &
Ambrosia Salao) secured a Torrens title (OCT No. 185) in their names at ROD Pampanga.

The property in question is the 47-ha. fishpond located at Sitio Calunuran, Lubao, Pampanga, wherein Benita Salao-Marcelo
(daughter of Valentin Salao) claimed 1/3 interest on the said fishpond.

Plaintiffs theory (no documentary evidence):


o
o
o
o

Juan Y. Salao, Sr and Ambrosia Salao had engaged in the fishpond business -> where they obtained the capital was
not shown in any documentary evidence
Valentin Salao and Alejandra Salao were included in that joint venture
the funds used were the earnings of the properties supposedly inherited from Manuel Salao,
those earnings were used in the acquisition of the Calunuran fishpond.

Defendants contention: the Calunuran fishpond consisted of lands purchased by Juan Salao, Jr & Ambrosia Salao from
1905 1908 (w/ exhibits) -> disputed by plaintiffs.

Undisputed that after securing title (1911), Juan & Ambrosia exercised dominical rights over it -> exclusion of Valentin
(nephew).

Ambrosia sold the Calunuran fishpond under pacto de retro to Vicente Villongco -> confirmed in the deed of sale: they were
duenos proindivisos of the said pisqueria

Villongco conveyed the same fishpond -> Ambrosia by lease for an anual canon of Php 128

The same fishpond was redeemed by Ambrosia & Juan and then sold it again (pacto de retro) to Eligio Naval but was later
redeemed and reconveyed to the vendors

1930 survey -> computation sheets of BOL:


o
o

Calunuran fishpond 479,205 sqm claimed by Juan & Ambrosia


Pinanganacan fishpond 975,952 sqm acquired by Juan & Ambrosia

Undisputed: Ambrosia bought for 4T from the heirs of Engracio Santiago a parcel of swampland planted to bacawan & nipa> area: 96+ has at Lewa, Pinanganacan, Lubao, Pampanga -> OCT was issued in the name of Juan Salao & Ambrosia Salao
This Pinanganacan/Lewa fishpond became Cad. Lot #544 of Hermosa Cad -> adjoining Calunuran fishpond
Juan Salao Sr died (80yo) in 1931 -> Valentin (nephew; 60yo) died in 1933
Intestate estate of Valentin (2 fishponds inherited in 1918 from grandmother Valentina Ignacio) was partitioned
extrajudicially 1934 -> b/n 2 daughters: Benita & Victorina
o
No mention of Valentins 1/3 interest in the Calunuran & Lewa fishponds (registered in the names of his aunt &
uncle Ambrosia & Juan Sr in 1911 & 1917 respectively)
In 1940, Ambrosia donated to Benita (grandniece) 3 lots at Dampalit & the latter signed the Deed of Donation w/o asking
for reconveyance of the alleged share of his father Valentin in the Calunuran fishpond alleged held in trust by Ambrosia
because of the alleged joint venture.
Benita made no demand until Ambrosia died -> Benita filed an ACTION FOR RECONVEYANCE OF THE CALUNURAN
FISHPOND -> allegedly held in trust & become sole property of Juan Salao y Santiago (Juani)

In 1944 (during Japanese occupation) & 1 yr BEFORE Ambrosias death due to senility -> she donated her
proindiviso share in the 2 fishponds in question to Juan Salao Jr (Juani; nephew) who owned the other half because
of his fathers share (Juan Sr (Banli))
o
Donation includes other real properties of Ambrosia; she reserved for herself the usufruct over the said properties
during her lifetime
o
Deed of Donation registered only in 1950
In 1951, lawyer of Benita Salao & children of Victorina Salao in a letter informed Juan S. Salao, Jr. that his clients had a 1/3
share in the 2 fishponds and that when Juan took possession thereof in 1945, in which he refused to give Benita and
Victorinas children their 1/3 share of the net fruits which allegedly amounted to P200,000. However, no mention on the
deeds as to the share of Valentin and Alejandra.
o

Juan S. Salao, Jr. in his answer categorically stated that Valentin Salao did not have any interest in the two fishponds and
that the sole owners thereof his father Banli and his aunt Ambrosia, as shown in the Torrens titles issued in 1911 and 1917,
and that he was the donee of Ambrosias 1/2 share.

Benita Salao & her nephews and niece asked for the ANNULMENT OF THE DONATION to Juan S. Salao, Jr. and for the
RECONVEYANCE to them of the Calunuran fishpond as Valentin Salaos supposed 1/3 share in the 145 hectares of fishpond
registered in the names of Juan Y. Salao, Sr. & Ambrosia Salao.

Juan Jr invoked indefeasibility of the Torrens title (Ambrosia & Juan Sr), Statute of Frauds, prescription and laches and
damages.

Juan Jr (71yo) died in 1958 and succeeded by Mercedes Pascual & 6 children and administrator of his estate.

In the intestate proceedings of the estate of Juan Jr, the 2 fishponds were adjudicated in equal shares to his 7 legal heirs.

RTC:
o
o
o

o
o
o
o
o

o
o

Dismissed the amended complaint & counter-claim


Found no community of property among Juan Sr, Ambrosia & Valentin when Calunuran & Lewa fishponds were
acquired
A co-ownership over real properties of Valentina Ignacio existed among her heir after her death in 1914 & it was
administered by Ambrosia & this subsisted up to 1918 -> her estate was partitioned among her 3 children &
grandson Valentin
Surmised that the co-ownership (1914 to 1918) misled the plaintiffs & their witnesses & caused them to believe
erroneously that there was a co-ownership in 1905/thereabouts
Speculated that if Valentin had a hand in the conversion into fishponds of Calunuran & Lewa lands, he must have
done so on a salary/profit-sharing basis
Conjured that Valentins children & grandchildren were given by Ambrosia a portion of the earnings of the fishponds
as a reward for his services/because of Ambrosias affection for her grandnieces
Rationalized that Valentins omission during his lifetime to assail the Torrens titles of Juan & Ambrosia signified that
he was not a co-owner of the fishponds
Did not give credence to the testimonies of plaintiffs witnesses bec. their memories could not be trusted & bec. no
strong documentary evidence supported the declarations -> the parties involved in the alleged trust were already
dead
Donation was validly executed -> if void =>Juan Jr would be the sole legal heir of the Ambrosia & would inherit the
properties donated
Both parties appealed

Plaintiffs -> their action for reconveyance was dismissed

Defendants -> appealed bec. their counterclaim for damages was dismissed

CA elevated the case to SC bec. the amounts involved exceed Php200T

ISSUES:
1.
Whether or not the Calunuran fishpond was held in trust for Valentin Salao by Juan Y. Salao, Sr. and Ambrosia Salao.
2.
Whether or not plaintiffs action for reconveyance had already prescribed.
HELD:
1. There was no resulting trust in this case because there never was any intention on the part of Juan Y. Salao, Sr.,
Ambrosia Salao and Valentin Salao to create any trust. There was no constructive trust because the registration of the
two fishponds in the names of Juan and Ambrosia was not vitiated by fraud or mistake. This is not a case where to
satisfy the demands of justice it is necessary to consider the Calunuran fishpond being held in trust by the heirs of
Juan Y. Salao, Sr. for the heirs of Valentin Salao.
Ratio:
The plaintiffs utterly failed to prove by clear, satisfactory and convincing evidence. It cannot rest on vague and uncertain evidence or
on loose, equivocal or indefinite declarations.
Trust and trustee; establishment of trust by parol evidence; certainty of proof. Where a trust is to be established by oral
proof, the testimony supporting it must be sufficiently strong to prove the right of the alleged beneficiary with as much certainty as if
a document proving the trust were shown. A trust cannot be established, contrary to the recitals of a Torrens title, upon vague and
inconclusive proof.
Trusts; evidence needed to establish trust on parol testimony. In order to establish a trust in real property by parol
evidence, the proof should be as fully convincing as if the act giving rise to the trust obligation were proven by an authentic
document. Such a trust cannot be established upon testimony consisting in large part of insecure surmises based on ancient hearsay.
(Syllabus, Santa Juana vs. Del Rosario 50 Phil. 110).
The foregoing rulings are good under article 1457 of the Civil Code which, as already noted, allows an implied trust to be proven by
oral evidence. Trustworthy oral evidence is required to prove an implied trust because, oral evidence can be easily fabricated.

On the other hand, a Torrens title is generally a conclusive evidence of the ownership of the land referred to therein (Sec. 47, Act
496). A strong presumption exists that Torrens titles were regularly issued and that they are valid. In order to maintain an action for
reconveyance, proof as to the fiduciary relation of the parties must be clear and convincing.
The real purpose of the Torrens system is, to quiet title to land. Once a title is registered, the owner may rest secure, without the
necessity of waiting in the portals of the court, or sitting in the mirador de su casa, to avoid the possibility of losing his land.
2.

Reconveyance had already prescribed. Plaintiffs action is clearly barred by prescription or laches.

Ratio:
Under Act No. 190, whose statute of limitation would apply if there were an implied trust in this case, the longest period of extinctive
prescription was only ten year.
The Calunuran fishpond was registered in 1911. The written extrajudicial demand for its reconveyance was made by the plaintiffs in
1951. Their action was filed in 1952 or after the lapse of more than forty years from the date of registration. The plaintiffs and their
predecessor-in-interest, Valentin Salao, slept on their rights if they had any rights at all. Vigilanti prospiciunt jura or the law protects
him who is watchful of his rights (92 C.J.S. 1011, citing Esguerra vs. Tecson, 21 Phil. 518, 521).
Undue delay in the enforcement of a right is strongly persuasive of a lack of merit in the claim, since it is human nature for a person
to assert his rights most strongly when they are threatened or invaded. Laches or unreasonable delay on the part of a plaintiff in
seeking to enforce a right is not only persuasive of a want of merit but may, according to the circumstances, be destructive of the
right itself.
Having reached the conclusion that the plaintiffs are not entitled to the reconveyance of the Calunuran fishpond, it is no longer
needed to pass upon the validity of the donation made by Ambrosia Salao to Juan S. Salao, Jr. of her one-half share in the two
fishponds The plaintiffs have no right and personality to assil that donation.
Even if the donation were declared void, the plaintiffs would not have any successional rights to Ambrosias share. The sole legal heir
of Ambrosia was her nephew, Juan, Jr., her nearest relative within the third degree. Valentin Salao, if living in 1945 when Ambrosia
died, would have been also her legal heir, together with his first cousin, Juan, Jr. (Juani). Benita Salao, the daughter of Valentin,
could not represent him in the succession to the estate of Ambrosia since in the collateral line, representation takes place only in
favor of the children of brothers or sisters whether they be of the full or half blood is (Art 972, Civil Code). The nephew excludes a
grandniece like Benita Salao or great-gandnephews like the plaintiffs Alcuriza (Pavia vs. Iturralde 5 Phil. 176).