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SECONDDIVISION

[G.R.No.168220.August31,2005]

SPS. RUDY PARAGAS and CORAZON B. PARAGAS, petitioners, vs. HRS. OF DOMINADOR BALACANO,
namely: DOMINIC, RODOLFO, NANETTE and CYRIC, all surnamed BALACANO, represented by
NANETTEBALACANOandALFREDOBALACANO,respondents.
RESOLUTION
CHICONAZARIO,J.:

[1]
ThispetitionforreviewseekstoannultheDecision dated15February2005oftheCourtofAppealsinCAG.R.CVNo.64048,
[2]
affirmingwithmodificationthe8March1999Decision oftheRegionalTrialCourt(RTC),Branch21,ofSantiagoCity,Isabela,inCivil
[3]
Case No. 212313. The petition likewise seeks to annul the Resolution dated 17 May 2005 denying petitioners motion for
reconsideration.
ThefactualantecedentsweresynthesizedbytheCourtofAppealsinitsdecision.
GregorioBalacano,marriedtoLorenzaSumigcay,wastheregisteredownerofLot1175EandLot1175FoftheSubd.PlanPsd38042[locatedat
Baluarte,SantiagoCity,Isabela]coveredbyTCTNo.T103297andTCTNo.T103298oftheRegistryofDeedsoftheProvinceofIsabela.
GregorioandLorenzahadthreechildren,namely:Domingo,CatalinoandAlfredo,allsurnamedBalacano.LorenzadiedonDecember11,1991.
Gregorio,ontheotherhand,diedonJuly28,1996.
Priortohisdeath,GregoriowasadmittedattheVeteransGeneralHospitalinBayombong,NuevaVizcayaonJune28,1996andstayedthereuntilJuly
19,1996.HewastransferredintheafternoonofJuly19,1996totheVeteransMemorialHospitalinQuezonCitywherehewasconfineduntilhis
death.
GregoriopurportedlysoldonJuly22,1996,orbarelyaweekpriortohisdeath,aportionofLot1175E(specificallyconsistingof15,925square
metersfromitstotalareaof22,341squaremeters)andthewholeLot1175FtotheSpousesRudy(Rudy)andCorazonParagas(collectively,the
SpousesParagas)forthetotalconsiderationofP500,000.00.ThissaleappearedinadeedofabsolutesalenotarizedbyAtty.AlexanderV.deGuzman,
NotaryPublicforSantiagoCity,onthesamedateJuly22,1996andwitnessedbyAntonioAgcaoili(Antonio)andJuliaGarabiles(Julia).Gregorios
certificatesoftitleoverLots1175Eand1175FwereconsequentlycancelledandnewcertificatesoftitlewereissuedinfavoroftheSpousesParagas.
TheSpousesParagasthensoldonOctober17,1996aportionofLot1175Econsistingof6,416squaremeterstoCatalinoforthetotalconsideration
ofP60,000.00.
Domingoschildren(Dominic,Rodolfo,NanetteandCyric,allsurnamedBalacano)filedonOctober22,1996acomplaintforannulmentofsaleand
partitionagainstCatalinoandtheSpousesParagas.Theyessentiallyallegedinaskingforthenullificationofthedeedofsalethat:(1)theirgrandfather
GregoriocouldnothaveappearedbeforethenotarypubliconJuly22,1996atSantiagoCitybecausehewasthenconfinedattheVeteransMemorial
HospitalinQuezonCity(2)atthetimeoftheallegedexecutionofthedeedofsale,Gregoriowasseriouslyill,infactdyingatthattime,which
vitiatedhisconsenttothedisposalofthepropertyand(3)CatalinomanipulatedtheexecutionofthedeedandprevaileduponthedyingGregorioto
signhisnameonapaperthecontentsofwhichheneverunderstoodbecauseofhisseriouscondition.Alternatively,theyallegedthatassuming
Gregoriowasofsoundanddisposingmind,hecouldonlytransferahalfportionofLots1175Eand1175Fastheotherhalfbelongstotheir
grandmotherLorenzawhopredeceasedGregoriotheyclaimedthatLots1175Eand1175Fformpartoftheconjugalpartnershippropertiesof
GregorioandLorenza.Finally,theyallegedthatthesaletotheSpousesParagascoversonlya5hectareportionofLots1175Eand1175Fleavinga
portionof6,416squaremetersthatCatalinoisthreateningtodispose.TheyaskedforthenullificationofthedeedofsaleexecutedbyGregorioandthe
partitionofLots1175Eand1175F.Theylikewiseaskedfordamages.
InsteadoffilingtheirAnswer,thedefendantsCatalinoandtheSpousesParagasmovedtodismissthecomplaintonthefollowinggrounds:(1)the
plaintiffshavenolegalcapacitytheDomingoschildrencannotfilethecasebecauseDomingoisstillalive,althoughhehasbeenabsentforalong
time(2)anindispensablepartyisnotimpleadedthatGregoriosotherson,Alfredowasnotmadeapartytothesuitand(3)thecomplaintstatesno
causeofactionthatDomingoschildrenfailedtoallegeagroundfortheannulmentofthedeedofsaletheydidnotciteanymistake,violence,
intimidation,undueinfluenceorfraud,butmerelyallegedthatGregoriowasseriouslyill.Domingoschildrenopposedthismotion.
Thelowercourtdeniedthemotiontodismiss,butdirectedtheplaintiffsappelleestoamendthecomplainttoincludeAlfredoasaparty.Alfredowas
subsequentlydeclaredasindefaultforhisfailuretofilehisAnswertotheComplaint.
ThedefendantsappelleesfiledtheirAnswerwithCounterclaimonMay7,1997,denyingthematerialallegationsofthecomplaint.Additionally,they
claimedthat:(1)thedeedofsalewasactuallyexecutedbyGregorioonJuly19(or18),1996andnotJuly22,1996(2)theNotaryPublicpersonally
wenttotheHospitalinBayombong,NuevaVizcayaonJuly18,1996tonotarizethedeedofsalealreadysubjectofapreviouslyconcludedcovenant
betweenGregorioandtheSpousesParagas(3)atthetimeGregoriosignedthedeed,hewasstrongandofsoundanddisposingmind(4)Lots1175E
and1175FwereGregoriosseparatecapitalandtheinscriptionofLorenzasnameinthetitleswasjustadescriptionofGregoriosmaritalstatus(5)the
entireareaofLots1175Eand1175FweresoldtotheSpousesParagas.Theyinterposedacounterclaimfordamages.
Atthetrial,thepartiesproceededtoprovetheirrespectivecontentions.
PlaintiffappellantNanetteBalacanotestifiedtoprovethematerialallegationsoftheircomplaint.OnGregoriosmedicalcondition,shedeclaredthat:
(1)Gregorio,whowasthen81yearsold,weakandsick,wasbroughttothehospitalinBayombong,NuevaVizcayaonJune28,1996andstayedthere
untiltheafternoononJuly19,1996(2)thereafter,Gregorio,whobythenwasweakandcouldnolongertalkandwhoseconditionhadworsened,was
transferredintheafternoonofJuly19,1996totheVeteransMemorialHospitalinQuezonCitywhereGregoriodied.SheclaimedthatGregoriocould
nothavesignedadeedofsaleonJuly19,1996becauseshestayedatthehospitalthewholeofthatdayandsawnovisitors.Shelikewisetestifiedon
theiragreementforattorneysfeeswiththeircounselandthelitigationexpensestheyincurred.
Additionally,theplaintiffsappelleespresentedinevidenceGregoriosmedicalrecordsandhisdeathcertificate.
Defendantsappellees,ontheotherhand,presentedaswitnessesNotaryPublicdeGuzmanandinstrumentalwitnessAntoniotoproveGregorios
executionofthesaleandthecircumstancesunderthedeedwasexecuted.Theyuniformlydeclaredthat:(1)onJuly18,1996,theywenttothehospital
inBayombong,NuevaVizcayawhereGregoriowasconfinedwithRudy(2)Atty.DeGuzmanreadandexplainedthecontentsofthedeedto
Gregorio(3)GregoriosignedthedeedafterreceivingthemoneyfromRudy(4)JuliaandAntoniosignedthedeedaswitnesses.Additionally,Atty.

DeGuzmanexplainedthattheexecutionofthedeedwasmerelyaconfirmationofapreviousagreementbetweentheSpousesParagasandGregorio
thatwasconcludedatleastamonthpriortoGregoriosdeaththat,infact,GregoriohadpreviouslyaskedhimtoprepareadeedthatGregorio
eventuallysignedonJuly18,1996.Healsoexplainedthatthedeed,whichappearedtohavebeenexecutedonJuly22,1996,wasactuallyexecutedon
July18,1996henotarizedthedeedandentereditinhisregisteronlyonJuly22,1996.Heclaimedthathedidnotfinditnecessarytostatetheprecise
dateandplaceofexecution(Bayombong,NuevaVizcaya,insteadofSantiagoCity)ofthedeedofsalebecausethedeedismerelyaconfirmationofa
previouslyagreedcontractbetweenGregorioandtheSpousesParagas.HelikewisestatedthatofthestatedP500,000.00considerationinthedeed,
RudypaidGregorioP450,000.00inthehospitalbecauseRudyhadpreviouslypaidGregorioP50,000.00.Forhispart,Antonioaddedthathewas
askedbyRudytotakepicturesofGregoriosigningthedeed.Healsoclaimedthattherewasnoentryonthedatewhenhesignednordidheremember
readingSantiagoCityastheplaceofexecutionofthedeed.HedescribedGregorioasstillstrongbutsickly,whogotupfromthebedwithJuliashelp.
WitnessfordefendantsappellantsLuisaAgsaldatestifiedtoprovethatLot1175EwasGregoriosseparateproperty.SheclaimedthatGregoriosfather
(Leon)purchasedatwohectarelotfromthemin1972whiletheotherlotwaspurchasedfromherneighbor.ShealsodeclaredthatGregorioinherited
theselandsfromhisfatherLeonshedoesnotknow,however,Gregoriosbrothersshareintheinheritance.DefendantappellantCatalinoalsotestified
tocorroboratethetestimonyofwitnessLuisaAgsaldahesaidthatGregoriotoldhimthathe(Gregorio)inheritedLots1175Eand1175Ffromhis
fatherLeon.HealsostatedthataportionofLot1175Econsistingof6,416squaremeterswassoldtohimbytheSpousesParagasandthathewillpay
theSpousesParagasP50,000.00,notasconsiderationforthereturnofthelandbutforthetransferofthetitletohisname.
[4]

Additionally,thedefendantsappellantspresentedinevidencethepicturestakenbyAntoniowhenGregorioallegedlysignedthedeed.

The lower court, after trial, rendered the decision declaring null and void the deed of sale purportedly executed by Gregorio
BalacanoinfavorofthespousesRudyParagasandCorazonParagas.InnullifyingthedeedofsaleexecutedbyGregorio,thelower
courtinitiallynotedthatatthetimeGregorioexecutedthedeed,Gregoriowasill.Thelowercourtsreasoningindeclaringthedeedof
salenullandvoidandthisreasoningspremisesmaybesummarizedasfollows:(1)thedeedofsalewasimproperlynotarizedthusit
cannotbeconsideredapublicdocumentthatisusuallyaccordedthepresumptionofregularity(2)asaprivatedocument,thedeedof
salesdueexecutionmustbeprovedinaccordancewithSection20,Rule132oftheRevisedRulesonEvidenceeither:(a)byanyone
whosawthedocumentexecutedorwrittenor(b)byevidenceofthegenuinenessofthesignatureorhandwritingofthemakerand(3)it
wasincumbentupontheSpousesParagastoprovethedeedofsalesdueexecutionbutfailedtodosothelowercourtsaidthatwitness
[5]
AntonioAgcaoiliisnotcrediblewhileAtty.AlexanderDeGuzmanisnotreliable.
The lower court found the explanations of Atty. De Guzman regarding the erroneous entries on the actual place and date of
executionofthedeedofsaleasjustificationsforalie.Thelowercourtsaid
TheCourtcannotimagineanattorneytoundertaketotraveltoanotherprovincetonotarizeadocumentwhenhemustcertainlyknow,beingalawyer
andbyallmeans,notstupid,thathehasnoauthoritytonotarizeadocumentinthatprovince.TheonlylogicalthingthathappenedwasthatRudy
ParagasbroughtthedeedofsaletohimonJuly22,1996alreadysignedandrequestedhimtonotarizethesamewhichhedid,notknowingthatatthat
timethevendorwasalreadyinahospitaland[sic]QuezonCity.Ofcoursehadheknown,Atty.DeGuzmanwouldnothavenotarizedthedocument.
ButhetrustedRudyParagasandmoreover,GregorioBalacanoalreadyinformedhimpreviouslyinJunethathewillsellhislandstoParagas.In
addition[sic,(,)wasomitted]RudyParagasalsotoldhimthatBalacanoreceivedanadvanceofP50,000.00.
Theintentiontosellisnotactualselling.FromthefirstweekofJunewhen,accordingtoAtty.DeGuzman,GregorioBalacanoinformedhimthathe
willsellhislandtoRudyParagas,enoughtimeelapsedtothetimehewasbroughttothehospitalonJune28,1996.Hadtherebeenameetingofthe
mindsbetweenGregorioBalacanoandRudyParagasregardingthesale,surelyGregorioBalacanowouldhaveimmediatelyreturnedtotheofficeof
Atty.DeGuzmantoexecutethedeedofsale.Hedidnotuntilhewasbroughttothehospitalanddiagnosedtohavelivercirrhosis.Becauseofthe
seriousnessofhisillness,itisnotexpectedthatGregorioBalacanowouldbenegotiatingacontractofsale.Thus,RudyParagasnegotiatedwith
[6]

CatalinoBalacano,thesonofGregorioBalacanowithwhomthelatterwasstaying.

The lower court also did not consider Antonio Agcaoili, petitioner Rudy Paragass driver, a convincing witness, concluding that he
wastellingarehearsedstory.Thelowercourtsaid
Theonlyportionofhistestimonythatistrueisthathesignedthedocument.HowcouldtheCourtbelievethathebroughtacamerawithhimjustto
takepicturesofthesigning?Ifthepurposewastorecordtheproceedingforposterity,whydidhenottakethepictureofAtty.DeGuzmanwhenthe
latterwasreadingandexplainingthedocumenttoGregorioBalacano?WhydidhenottakethepictureofbothGregorioBalacanoandAtty.de
GuzmanwhiletheoldmanwassigningthedocumentinsteadoftakingapictureofGregorioBalacanoaloneholdingaballpenwithoutevenshowing
thedocumentbeingsigned?Verilythereisapictureofadocumentbutonlyahandwithaballpenisshownwithit.Why?ClearlythedriverAntonio
AgcaoilimusthaveonlybeenaskedbyRudyParagastotellaconcoctedstorywhichhehimselfwouldnotdaretellinCourtunderoath.

[7]

ThelowercourtlikewisenotedthatpetitionerRudyParagasdidnottestifyaboutthesigningofthedeedofsale.Tothelowercourt,
Rudys refusal or failure to testify raises a lot of questions, such as: (1) was he (Rudy) afraid to divulge the circumstances of how he
obtained the signature of Gregorio Balacano, and (2) was he (Rudy) afraid to admit that he did not actually pay the P500,000.00
[8]
indicatedinthedeedofsaleasthepriceoftheland?
ThelowercourtalsoruledthatLots1175Eand1175FwereGregoriosandLorenzasconjugalpartnershipproperties.Thelower
courtfoundthattheselotswereacquiredduringthemarriagebecausethecertificatesoftitleoftheselotsclearlystatedthatthelotsare
registered in the name Gregorio, married to Lorenza Sumigcay. Thus, the lower court concluded that the presumption of law (under
Article 160 of the Civil Code of the Philippines) that property acquired during the marriage is presumed to belong to the conjugal
[9]
partnershipfullyappliestoLots1175Eand1175F.
[10]
Thus, on 8 March 1999, the RTC, Branch 21, of Santiago City, Isabela, rendered a Decision
in Civil Case No. 212313, the
dispositiveportionofwhichreadsasfollows:
WHEREFOREinthelightoftheforegoingconsiderationsjudgmentisherebyrendered:
1.DECLARINGasNULLandVOIDthedeedofsalepurportedlyexecutedbyGregorioBalacanoinfavorofthespousesRudyParagas
andCorazonParagasoverlots1175Eand1175FcoveredbyTCTNos.T103297andT103298,respectively
2.ORDERINGthecancellationofTCTNos.T258042andT258041issuedinthenameofthespousesRudyandCorazonParagasby
virtueofthedeedofsaleand
[11]

DECLARINGtheparceloflands,lots1175Eand1175FaspartoftheestateofthedeceasedspousesGregorioBalacanoandLorenzaBalacano.

IntheassailedDecisiondated15February2005,theCourtofAppealsaffirmedtheDecisionofthetrialcourt,withthemodification
thatLots1175Eand1175FwereadjudgedasbelongingtotheestateofGregorioBalacano.Theappellatecourtdisposedasfollows:

WHEREFORE,premisesconsidered,theappealisherebyDISMISSED.WeAFFIRMtheappealedDecisionforthereasonsdiscussedabove,withthe
MODIFICATIONthatLots1175Eand1175FbelongtotheestateofGregorioBalacano.
[12]

LetacopyofthisDecisionbefurnishedtheOfficeoftheBarConfidantforwhateveractionherOfficemaytakeagainstAtty.DeGuzman.
(Emphasisintheoriginal.)

HereinpetitionersmotionforreconsiderationwasmetwithsimilarlackofsuccesswhenitwasdeniedforlackofmeritbytheCourt
[13]
ofAppealsinitsResolution
dated17May2005.
Hence,thisappealviaapetitionforreviewwherepetitionersassignthefollowingerrorstotheCourtofAppeals,viz:
A.THEHONORABLECOURTOFAPPEALS,WITHGRAVEABUSEOFDISCRETION,SERIOUSLYERREDINFINDINGTHATTHERE
WAS NO PERFECTED AND PARTIALLY EXECUTED CONTRACT OF SALE OVER LOTS 1175E AND 1175F PRIOR TO THE
SIGNINGOFTHEDEEDOFSALE.
B. THE HONORABLE COURT OF APPEALS, WITH GRAVE ABUSE OF DISCRETION, SERIOUSLY FAILED TO APPRECIATE THE
SIGNIFICANCEOFTHEJUDICIALADMISSIONONTHEAUTHENTICITYANDDUEEXECUTIONOFTHEDEEDOFSALEMADEBY
THERESPONDENTSDURINGTHEPRETRIALCONFERENCE.
C.THEHONORABLECOURTOFAPPEALS,WITHGRAVEABUSEOFDISCRETION,BASEDITSCONCLUSIONTHATGREGORIOS
CONSENTTOTHESALEOFTHELOTSWASABSENTMERELYONSPECULATIONSANDSURMISES.
D.THEHONORABLECOURTOFAPPEALS,WITHGRAVEABUSEOFDISCRETION,SERIOUSLYERREDINNOTRULINGONTHE
ISSUEOFRESPONDENTSLACKOFLEGALCAPACITYTOSUEFORNOTBEINGTHEPROPERPARTIESININTEREST.
E. THE HONORABLE COURT OF APPEALS, WITH GRAVE ABUSE OF DISCRETION, SERIOUSLY ERRED IN DISMISSING ATTY.
[14]
ALEXANDERDEGUZMANANDANTONIOAGCAOILIASNOTCREDIBLEWITNESSES.

AtbottomistheissueofwhetherornottheCourtofAppealscommittedreversibleerrorinupholdingthefindingsandconclusionsof
thetrialcourtonthenullityoftheDeedofSalepurportedlyexecutedbetweenpetitionersandthelateGregorioBalacano.
[15]
Tostart,weheldinBlancov.Quasha
thatthisCourtisnotatrieroffacts.Assuch,itisnotitsfunctiontoexamineanddetermine
theweightoftheevidencesupportingtheassaileddecision.FactualfindingsoftheCourtofAppeals,whicharesupportedbysubstantial
[16]
evidence,arebinding,finalandconclusiveupontheSupremeCourt,
andcarryevenmoreweightwhenthesaidcourtaffirmsthe
factualfindingsofthetrialcourt.Moreover,wellentrenchedistheprevailingjurisprudencethatonlyerrorsoflawandnotoffactsare
reviewablebythisCourtinapetitionforreviewoncertiorariunderRule45oftheRevisedRulesofCourt.
Theforegoingtenetsinthecaseatbarapplywithgreaterforcetothepetitionunderconsiderationbecausethefactualfindingsby
theCourtofAppealsareinfullagreementwiththatofthetrialcourt.
Specifically, the Court of Appeals, in affirming the trial court, found that there was no prior and perfected contract of sale that
remainedtobefullyconsummated.Theappellatecourtexplained
Insupportoftheirposition,thedefendantsappellantsarguethatatleastamonthpriortoGregoriossigningofthedeed,GregorioandtheSpouses
ParagasalreadyagreedonthesaleofLots1175Eand1175Fandthat,infact,thisagreementwaspartiallyexecutedbyRudyspaymenttoGregorio
ofP50,000.00beforeGregoriosignedthedeedatthehospital.Inlinewiththisposition,defendantsappellantspositthatGregoriosconsenttothesale
shouldbedetermined,notatthetimeGregoriosignedthedeedofsaleonJuly18,1996,butatthetimewhenheagreedtosellthepropertyinJune
1996oramonthpriortothedeedssigningandinJune1996,Gregoriowasofsoundanddisposingmindandhisconsenttothesalewasinnowise
vitiatedatthattime.Thedefendantsappellantsfurtherarguethattheexecutionorsigningofthedeedofsale,however,irregularitmighthavebeen,
doesnotaffectthevalidityofthepreviouslyagreedsaleofthelots,astheexecutionorsigningofthedeedismerelyaformalizationofapreviously
agreedoralcontract.
...
Intheabsenceofanynote,memorandumoranyotherwritteninstrumentevidencingtheallegedperfectedcontractofsale,wehavetorelyonoral
testimonies,whichinthiscaseisthatofAtty.deGuzmanwhosetestimonyontheallegedoralagreementmaybesummarizedasfollows:(1)that
sometimeinthefirstweekofJune1996,Gregoriorequestedhim(Atty.deGuzman)toprepareadeedofsaleoftwolots(2)Gregoriocametohis
firmsofficeinthemorningwithacertainDomingBalacano,thenreturnedintheafternoonwithRudy(3)he(Atty.deGuzman)askedGregorio
whetherhereallyintendstosellthelotsGregorioconfirmedhisintention(4)GregorioandRudyleftthelawofficeat5:00p.m.,leavingthe
certificatesoftitle(5)hepreparedthedeedadayafterRudyandGregoriocame.Withregardtotheallegedpartialexecutionofthisagreement,Atty.
deGuzmansaidthathewastoldbyRudythattherewasalreadyapartialpaymentofP50,000.00.
WedonotconsiderAtty.deGuzmanstestimonysufficientevidencetoestablishthefactthattherewasaprioragreementbetweenGregorioandthe
SpousesParagasonthesaleofLots1175Eand1175F.ThistestimonydoesnotconclusivelyestablishthemeetingofthemindsbetweenGregorio
andtheSpousesParagasonthepriceorconsiderationforthesaleofLots1175Eand1175FAtty.deGuzmanmerelydeclaredthathewasaskedby
Gregoriotoprepareadeedhedidnotclearlynarratethedetailsofthisagreement.WecannotassumethatGregorioandtheSpousesParagasagreedto
aP500,000.00considerationbasedonAtty.deGuzmansbareassertionthatGregorioaskedhimtoprepareadeed,asAtty.deGuzmanwasnot
personallyawareoftheagreedconsiderationinthesaleofthelots,notbeingprivytothepartiesagreement.Tous,Rudycouldhavebeenacompetent
witnesstotestifyontheperfectionofthispriorcontractunfortunately,thedefendantsappellantsdidnotpresentRudyastheirwitness.
WeseriouslydoubttoothecredibilityofAtty.deGuzmanasawitness.Wecannotrelyonhistestimonybecauseofhistendencytocommitfalsity.He
admittedinopencourtthatwhileGregoriosignedthedeedonJuly18,1996atBayombong,NuevaVizcaya,heneverthelessdidnotreflectthese
matterswhenhenotarizedthedeedinsteadheenteredSantiagoCityandJuly22,1996,asplaceanddateofexecution,respectively.Tous,Atty.de
Guzmanspropensitytodistortfactsintheperformanceofhispublicfunctionsasanotarypublic,inutterdisregardofthesignificanceoftheactof
notarization,seriouslyaffectshiscredibilityasawitnessinthepresentcase.Infact,Atty.deGuzmansactinfalsifyingtheentriesinhis
acknowledgmentofthedeedofsalecouldbethesubjectofadministrativeanddisciplinaryaction,amatterthatwehoweverdonotheredecide.
Similarly,thereisnoconclusiveproofofthepartialexecutionofthecontractbecausetheonlyevidencetheplaintiffsappellantspresentedtoprove
thisclaimwasAtty.deGuzmanstestimony,whichishearsayandthus,hasnoprobativevalue.Atty.deGuzmanmerelystatedthatRudytoldhimthat
RudyalreadygaveP50,000.00toGregorioaspartialpaymentofthepurchasepriceAtty.deGuzmandidnotpersonallyseethepaymentbeingmade.
[17]

But,didGregoriogiveanintelligentconsenttothesaleofLots1175Eand1175Fwhenhesignedthedeedofsale?Thetrialcourt
aswellastheappellatecourtfoundinthenegative.IntheCourtofAppealsrationale
ItisnotdisputedthatwhenGregoriosignedthedeedofsale,Gregoriowasseriouslyill,asheinfactdiedaweekafterthedeedssigning.Gregorio
diedofcomplicationscausedbycirrhosisoftheliver.Gregoriosdeathwasneithersuddennorimmediatehefoughtatleastamonthlongbattle
againstthediseaseuntilhesuccumbedtodeathonJuly22,1996.GiventhatGregoriopurportedlyexecutedadeedduringthelaststagesofhisbattle
againsthisdisease,weseriouslydoubtwhetherGregoriocouldhaveread,orfullyunderstood,thecontentsofthedocumentshesignedorofthe

consequencesofhisact.WenoteinthisregardthatGregoriowasbroughttotheVeteransHospitalatQuezonCitybecausehisconditionhadworsened
onoraboutthetimethedeedwasallegedlysigned.ThistransferandfactofdeathnotlongafterspeakvolumesaboutGregoriosconditionatthattime.
WelikewiseseenoconclusiveevidencethatthecontentsofthedeedweresufficientlyexplainedtoGregoriobeforeheaffixedhissignature.The
evidencethedefendantsappellantsofferedtoproveGregoriosconsenttothesaleconsistsofthetestimoniesofAtty.deGuzmanandAntonio.As
discussedabove,wedonotfindAtty.deGuzmanacrediblewitness.Thus,wefullyconcurwiththeheretoforequotedlowercourtsevaluationofthe
testimoniesgivenbyAtty.deGuzmanandAntoniobecausethisisanevaluationthatthelowercourtwasinabetterpositiontomake.
Additionally,theirregularandinvalidnotarizationofthedeedisafalsitythatraisesdoubtsontheregularityofthetransactionitself.Whilethedeed
wasindeedsignedonJuly18,1996atBayombong,NuevaVizcaya,thedeedstatesotherwise,asitshowsthatthedeedwasexecutedonJuly22,1996
atSantiagoCity.Whysuchfalsitywascommitted,andthecircumstancesunderwhichthisfalsitywascommitted,speaksvolumeabouttheregularity
andthevalidityofthesale.Wecannotbutconsiderthecommissionofthisfalsity,withtheindispensableaidofAtty.deGuzman,anorchestrated
attempttolegitimizeatransactionthatGregoriodidnotintendtobebindinguponhimnoronhisbounty.
Article24oftheCivilCodetellsusthatinallcontractual,propertyorotherrelations,whenoneofthepartiesisatadisadvantageonaccountofhis
[18]

moraldependence,ignorance,indigence,mentalweakness,tenderageorotherhandicap,thecourtsmustbevigilantforhisprotection.

Based on the foregoing, the Court of Appeals concluded that Gregorios consent to the sale of the lots was absent, making the
contract null and void. Consequently, the spouses Paragas could not have made a subsequent transfer of the property to Catalino
[19]
Balacano.Indeed,nemodatquodnonhabet.Nobodycandisposeofthatwhichdoesnotbelongtohim.
We likewise find to be in accord with the evidence on record the ruling of the Court of Appeals declaring the properties in
controversyasparaphernalpropertiesofGregoriointheabsenceofcompetentevidenceontheexactdateofGregoriosacquisitionof
ownershipoftheselots.
Onthecredibilityofwitnesses,itisinrhymewithreasontobelievethetestimoniesofthewitnessesforthecomplainantsvisvis
thoseofthedefendants.Intheassessmentofthecredibilityofwitnesses,weareguidedbythefollowingwellentrenchedrules:(1)that
evidencetobebelievedmustnotonlyspringfromthemouthofacrediblewitnessbutmustitselfbecredible,and(2)findingsoffacts
andassessmentofcredibilityofwitnessaremattersbestlefttothetrialcourtwhohadthefrontlineopportunitytopersonallyevaluate
[20]
thewitnessesdemeanor,conduct,andbehaviorwhiletestifying.
Inthecaseatbar,weagreeinthetrialcourtsconclusionthatpetitionersstarwitness,Atty.DeGuzmanisfarfrombeingacredible
witness.UnlikethisCourt,thetrialcourthadtheuniqueopportunityofobservingthedemeanorofsaidwitness.Thus,weaffirmthetrial
courtandtheCourtofAppealsuniformdecisionbasedonthewholeevidenceinrecordholdingtheDeedofSaleinquestiontobenull
andvoid.
[21]
InDomingov.CourtofAppeals,
theCourtdeclaredasnullandvoidthedeedofsalethereininasmuchastheseller,atthetime
oftheexecutionoftheallegedcontract,wasalreadyofadvancedageandsenile.Weheld
...ShediedanoctogenarianonMarch20,1966,barelyoverayearwhenthedeedwasallegedlyexecutedonJanuary28,1965,butbeforecopiesof
thedeedwereenteredintheregistryallegedlyonMay16andJune10,1966.Thegeneralruleisthatapersonisnotincompetenttocontractmerely
becauseofadvancedyearsorbyreasonofphysicalinfirmities.However,whensuchageorinfirmitieshaveimpairedthementalfacultiessoasto
preventthepersonfromproperly,intelligently,andfirmlyprotectingherpropertyrightsthensheisundeniablyincapacitated.Theunrebutted
testimonyofZosimaDomingoshowsthatatthetimeoftheallegedexecutionofthedeed,Paulinawasalreadyincapacitatedphysicallyandmentally.
ShenarratedthatPaulinaplayedwithherwasteandurinatedinbed.Giventhesecircumstances,thereisinourviewsufficientreasontoseriously
doubtthatsheconsentedtothesaleofandthepriceforherparcelsofland.Moreover,thereisnoreceipttoshowthatsaidpricewaspaidtoand
receivedbyher.Thus,weareinagreementwiththetrialcourtsfindingandconclusiononthematter:...
In the case at bar, the Deed of Sale was allegedly signed by Gregorio on his death bed in the hospital. Gregorio was an
octogenarian at the time of the alleged execution of the contract and suffering from liver cirrhosis at that circumstances which raise
grave doubts on his physical and mental capacity to freely consent to the contract. Adding to the dubiety of the purported sale and
furtherbolsteringrespondentsclaimthattheiruncleCatalino,oneofthechildrenofthedecedent,hadahandintheexecutionofthe
deed is the fact that on 17 October 1996, petitioners sold a portion of Lot 1175E consisting of 6,416 square meters to Catalino for
[22]
P60,000.00.
One need not stretch his imagination to surmise that Catalino was in cahoots with petitioners in maneuvering the
allegedsale.
Onthewhole,wefindnoreversibleerroronthepartoftheappellatecourtinCAG.R.CVNo.64048thatwouldwarrantthereversal
thereof.
[23]
[24]
WHEREFORE, the present petition is hereby DENIED.Accordingly, the Decision
and the Resolution,
dated 15 February
2005and17May2005,respectively,oftheCourtofAppealsinCAG.R.CVNo.64048areherebyAFFIRMED.Nocosts.
SOORDERED.
Puno,(Chairman),AustriaMartinez,Callejo,Sr.,andTinga,JJ.,concur.
[1]
PennedbyAssociateJusticeArturoD.BrionwithAssociateJusticesEugenioS.LabitoriaandEliezerR.DeLosSantosconcurringRollo,pp.3153.
[2]
PennedbyJudgeFeAlbanoMadridRollo,pp.111126.
[3]
Rollo,pp.5659.
[4]
Rollo,pp.3239.
[5]
Rollo,p.40.
[6]
Rollo,p.41.
[7]
Rollo,pp.4142.
[8]
Rollo,p.42.
[9]
Rollo,p.42.
[10]
PennedbyJudgeFeAlbanoMadridRollo,pp.111126.
[11]
Rollo,p.126.

[12]
Rollo,p.53.
[13]
Rollo,p.56.
[14]
Rollo,pp.1718.
[15]
G.R.No.133148,17November1999,318SCRA373.
[16]
PhilippineAirlines,Inc.v.CourtofAppeals,G.R.No.120262,17July1997,275SCRA621.
[17]
Rollo,pp.4650.
[18]
Rollo,pp.5152.
[19]
Egaov.CourtofAppeals,G.R.No.79787,29June1989,174SCRA484.
[20]
Peoplev.Astudillo,G.R.No.141518,29April2003,401SCRA723.
[21]
G.R.No.127540,17October2001,367SCRA368,380.
[22]
Rollo,p.34.
[23]
PennedbyAssociateJusticeArturoD.BrionwithAssociateJusticesEugenioS.LabitoriaandEliezerR.DeLosSantosconcurringRollo,pp.3153.
[24]
Rollo,pp.5659.