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FUENTES vs.

ROCA
G.R. No. 178902 April 21, 2010

FACTS:
In 1982, Tarciano Roca bought a 358-square meter lot from his
mother. In 1988, he sold the lot to the petitioners Fuentes spouses
through the help of Atty. Plagata who would prepare the documents and
requirements to complete the sale. In the agreement between Tarciano
and Fuentes spouses there will be a Php 60,000 down payment and Php
140,000 will be paid upon the removal of Tarciano of certain structures
on the land and after the consent of the estranged wife of Tarciano,
Rosario, would be attained. Atty. Plagata thus went about to complete
such tasks and claimed that he went to Manila to get the signature of
Rosario but notarized the document at Zamboanga . The deed of sale
was executed January 11, 1989. As time passed, Tarciano and his wife,
Rosario died while the Fuentes spouses and possession and control over
the lot. Eight years later in 1997, the children of Tarciano and Rosario
filed a case to annul the sale and reconvey the property on the ground
that the sale was void since the consent of Rosario was not attained and
that Rosarios signature was a mere forgery. The Fuentes spouses claim
that the action has prescribed since an action to annul a sale on the
ground of fraud is 4 years from discovery.

The RTC ruled in favor of the Fuentes spouses ruling that there was no
forgery, that the testimony of Atty. Plagata who witnessed the signing of
Rosario must be given weight, and that the action has already
prescribed.

On the other hand, the CA reversed the ruling of the CA stating that the
action has not prescribed since the applicable law is the 1950 Civil Code
which provided that the sale of Conjugal Property without the consent of
the other spouse is voidable and the action must be brought within 10
years. Given that the transaction was in 1989 and the action was
brought in 1997 hence it was well within the prescriptive period.

ISSUES: 1. Whether or not Rosarios signature on the document of


consent to her husband Tarcianos sale of their conjugal land to the
Fuentes spouses was forged;

2. Whether or not the Rocas action for the declaration of nullity of that
sale to the spouses already prescribed; and

3. Whether or not only Rosario, the wife whose consent was not had,
could bring the action to annul that sale.

RULING: 1. The SC ruled that there was forgery due to the difference in
the signatures of Rosario in the document giving consent and another
document executed at the same time period. The SC noted that the CA
was correct in ruling that the heavy handwriting in the document which
stated consent was completely different from the sample signature.
There was no evidence provided to explain why there was such
difference in the handwriting.

2. Although Tarciano and Rosario was married during the 1950 civil code,
the sale was done in 1989, after the effectivity of the Family Code. The
Family Code applies to Conjugal Partnerships already established at the
enactment of the Family Code. The sale of conjugal property done by
Tarciano without the consent of Rosario is completely void under Art 124
of the family code. With that, it is a given fact that assailing a void
contract never prescribes. On the argument that the action has already
prescribed based on the discovery of the fraud, that prescriptive period
applied to the Fuentes spouses since it was them who should have
assailed such contract due to the fraud but they failed to do so. On the
other hand, the action to assail a sale based on no consent given by the
other spouse does not prescribe since it is a void contract.

3. It is argued by the Spouses Fuentes that it is only the spouse,


Rosario, who can file such a case to assail the validity of the sale but
given that Rosario was already dead no one could bring the action
anymore. The SC ruled that such position is wrong since as stated above,
that sale was void from the beginning. Consequently, the land remained
the property of Tarciano and Rosario despite that sale. When the two
died, they passed on the ownership of the property to their heirs,
namely, the Rocas. As lawful owners, the Rocas had the right, under
Article 429 of the Civil Code, to exclude any person from its enjoyment
and disposal.