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YOLANDA ROSELLO-BENTIR, SAMUEL PORMIDA and exchange for half of the portion of Eugenias undivided

CHARITO PORMIDA, petitioners, vs. HONORABLE MATEO conjugal property (a lot located in QC). No Deed of Absolute
M. LEANDA, in his capacity as Presiding Judge of RTC, Sale was executed. There was physical delivery of the land
Tacloban City, Branch 8, and LEYTE GULF TRADERS, through Concepcions other daughter (Natividad) acting as
INC., respondents. atty-in-fact. Concepcion thereafter allowed Natividad and her
husband occupy the purchased portion of the land. In 1994,
[G.R. No. 128991. April 12, 2000] Antonio caused the division of the lot into three (two were
occupied by the spouses), necessarily displacing Natividad. He
Facts: also had each subdivision titled. Antonio requested Natividad
to vacate the premises. Antonio averred that his wife only
Leyte Gulf Traders, Inc. (herein referred to as respondent admitted of selling 1/3 of the property to Concepcion for which
corporation) filed a complaint for reformation of instrument, a receipt was issued signed by Concepcion. The RTC ruled in
specific performance, annulment of conditional sale and favor of Concepcion. The CA reversed the RTC ruling. CA
damages with prayer for writ of injunction against petitioners. explained that the property is conjugal hence the sale should
Respondent corporation alleged that it entered into a contract have been with Antonios consent.
of lease of a parcel of land with petitioner Bentir for a period of
twenty (20) years starting May 5, 1968. According to Issue:
respondent corporation, the lease was extended for another
four (4) years or until May 31, 1992. On May 5, 1989, petitioner Whether or not the contract of sale between Ainza and
Bentir sold the leased premises to petitioner spouses. Eugenia is valid.
Respondent corporation questioned the sale alleging that it
had a right of first refusal. Held:

TC: through Judge Pedro S. Espina issued an order dismissing Yes it is valid until annulled (voidable). There was a perfected
the complaint premised on its finding that the action for contract of sale between Eugenia and Concepcion. The
reformation had already prescribed. records show that Eugenia offered to sell a portion of the
The defendant Bentir denies that she bound herself to give the property to Concepcion, who accepted the offer and agreed to
plaintiff the right of first refusal in case she sells the property. pay P100,000.00 as consideration. The contract of sale was
But assuming for the sake of argument that such right of first consummated when both parties fully complied with their
refusal was made, it is now contended that plaintiffs cause of respective obligations. Eugenia delivered the property to
action to reform the contract to reflect such right of first refusal, Concepcion, who in turn, paid Eugenia the price of
has already prescribed after 10 years, counted from May 5, P100,000.00, as evidenced by the receipt. Since the land was
1988 when the contract of lease incepted. undivided when it was sold, Concepcion is entitled to have half
of it. Antonio cannot, however, attack the validity of the sale b/n
his wife and his mom-in-law, either under the Family Code or
CA: Presided by herein respondent judge Mateo M. the Old Civil Code due to prescription. The sale came to his
Leanda.respondent judge issued an order reversing the order knowledge in 1987. He only filed the case in 1999. His right
of dismissal on the grounds that the action for reformation had prescribed in 1993 (under the FC [5 years]) and 1997 (under
not yet prescribed and the dismissal was "premature and OCC [10 years])
precipitate", denying respondent corporation of its right to
procedural due process.
BALOS and SALAZAR, petitioners, vs. HEIRS OF VICENTE
To the mind of this Court, the dismissal order adverted to TORIO, respondents.
above, was obviously premature and precipitate, thus resulting
denial upon the right of plaintiff that procedural due process. [G.R. No. 175444. December 14, 2011, 662 SCRA 540]
The other remaining four (4) causes of action of the complaint
must have been deliberated upon before that court acted Facts:
hastily in dismissing this case.
On July 24, 1996, herein respondents filed a Complaint for
Issue: Recovery of Possession and Damages. Respondents
contended that: they are the children and heirs of one Vicente
The issue in this case is whether or not the complaint for Torio (Vicente) who died intestate on September 11, 1973; at
reformation filed by respondent Leyte Gulf Traders, Inc. has the time of the death of Vicente, he left behind a parcel of land.
prescribed and in the negative, whether or not it is entitled to During the lifetime of Vicente and through his tolerance, Jaime
the remedy of reformation sought. and the Spouses Salazar were allowed to stay build their
respective houses on the subject parcel of land; even after the
Held: death of Vicente, herein respondents allowed Jaime and the
Spouses Salazar to remain on the disputed lot; however, in
Yes. The prescriptive period for actions based upon a written 1985, respondents asked Jaime and the Spouses Salazar to
contract and for reformation of an instrument is ten (10) years vacate the subject lot, but they refused to heed the demand of
under Article 1144 of the Civil Code. Prescription is intended to respondents forcing respondents to file the complaint.
suppress stale and fraudulent claims arising from transactions MTC: Court adjudged the case in favor of the plaintiffs (Heirs of
like the one at bar which facts had become so obscure from Vicente Torio) and against the defendants and defendants-
the lapse of time or defective memory. In the case at bar, intervenors (Abalos and Salazar) are ordered to turn over the
respondent corporation had ten (10) years from 1968, the time land in question to the plaintiffs.
when the contract of lease was executed, to file an action for
reformation. Sadly, it did so only on May 15, 1992 or twenty- RTC: ruled in favor of Jaime and the Spouses Salazar, holding
four (24) years after the cause of action accrued, hence, its that they have acquired the subject property through
cause of action has become stale, hence, time-barred. prescription.

CONCEPCION R. AINZA, substituted by her legal heirs, CA: Reinstated the Decision of the MTC
DR. NATIVIDAD A. TULIAO, CORAZON A. JALECO and
LILIA A. OLAYON, petitioners, vs. SPOUSES ANTONIO Issue:
PADUA and EUGENIA PADUA, respondents.
WON the CA erred in not appreciating that the petitioners
[G.R. No. 165420. June 30, 2005] herein are now the absolute and exclusive owners of the land
in question by virtue of acquisitive prescription.
Facts:
Held:
Meeting of the Minds in a Contract of Sale This is a case
involving family members. In April 1987, Ainza and her No. Petitioners failed to present competent evidence to prove
daughter Eugenia orally agreed that Ainza pay P100k in their alleged good faith in neither possessing the subject lot nor
their adverse claim thereon. Petitioners claim that they have
acquired ownership over the disputed lot through ordinary Issue:
acquisitive prescription.
Acquisitive prescription of dominion and other real rights may WON petitioners action to recover the subject portion is barred
be ordinary or extraordinary. Ordinary acquisitive prescription by prescription.
requires possession in good faith and with just title for ten (10)
years. Without good faith and just title, acquisitive prescription Held:
can only be extraordinary in character which requires
uninterrupted adverse possession for thirty (30) years. Yes. Affirm the CA ruling dismissing petitioners complaint on
the ground of prescription.
Shown by the Tax Declaration in the name of Jaime for the Prescription, as a mode of acquiring ownership and other real
year 1984 wherein it contains a statement admitting that rights over immovable property, is concerned with lapse of time
Jaime's house was built on the land of Vicente, respondents' in the manner and under conditions laid down by law, namely,
immediate predecessor-in-interest. Petitioners never disputed that the possession should be in the concept of an owner,
such an acknowledgment. Possession, to constitute the public, peaceful, uninterrupted, and adverse. Acquisitive
foundation of a prescriptive right, must be en concepto de prescription of real rights may be ordinary or
dueo, or, to use the common law equivalent of the term, that extraordinary. Ordinary acquisitive prescription requires
possession should be adverse, if not, such possessory acts, no possession in good faith and with just title for 10 years. In
matter how long, do not start the running of the period of extraordinary prescription, ownership and other real rights over
prescription. immovable property are acquired through uninterrupted
adverse possession for 30 years without need of title or of
Moreover, the CA correctly held that even if the good faith.
character of petitioners' possession of the subject Respondents uninterrupted adverse possession for 55 years of
property had become adverse, as evidenced by their 109 sq. m. of Lot No. 552 was established. Macarios
declaration of the same for tax purposes under the possession of Dionisias share was public and adverse since
names of their predecessors-in-interest, their his other co-owners, his three other sisters, also occupied
portions of Lot No. 552. In 1985, Roger also exercised an act
possession still falls short of the required period of of ownership when he sold 114 sq. m. to Caridad Atienza. It
thirty (30) years in cases of extraordinary acquisitive was only in the year 2000, upon receipt of the summons to
prescription. Records show that the earliest Tax answer petitioners complaint, that respondents peaceful
possession of the remaining portion (109 sq. m.) was
Declaration in the name of petitioners was in 1974. interrupted. By then, however, extraordinary acquisitive
Reckoned from such date, the thirty-year period was prescription has already set in in favor of respondents.
completed in 2004. However, herein respondents'
SIMEON B. MIGUEL, ET AL., plaintiffs-appellants,
complaint was filed in 1996, effectively interrupting vs. FLORENDO CATALINO, defendant-appellee.
petitioners' possession upon service of summons on G.R. No. L23072, November 29, 1968
them.
FACTS:

On January 22, 1962, appellants Simeon, Emilia and


Mercado, petitioners, vs. Espinocilla, respondents. Marcelina Miguel, and appellant Grace Ventura brought
suitagainst FlorendoCatalino for the recovery of possession of
[G.R. No. 184109. February 1, 2012, 664 SCRA 724] a parcel of land, situated in the Mountain Province and
contains an area of 39,446 square meters, originally registered
under the name of their father, Bacaquio, a long-deceased
Facts: illiterate resident of Mountain Province. Bacaquio, who died in
1943, sold the parcel of land to the father of defendant in 1928.
Doroteo Espinocilla owned a parcel of land, Lot No. 552, with No formal deed of sale was executed, but since the sale in
an area of 570 sq. m. After he died, his five children, Salvacion, 1928, or for more than 30 years, defendant FlorendoCatalino
Aspren, Isabel, Macario, and Dionisia divided Lot No. 552 and his father, had been in possession of the land, in the
equally among themselves. Later, Dionisia died without issue concept of owner, paying the taxes thereon and introducing
ahead of her four siblings, and Macario took possession of improvements.
Dionisias share. In an affidavit of transfer of real property dated Plaintiffs claimed to be the children and heirs
November 1, 1948, Macario claimed that Dionisia had donated ofBacaquio, the original registered owner, and averred that
her share to him in May 1945. defendant, without their knowledge or consent, had unlawfully
taken possession of the land, gathered its produce and
unlawfully excluded plaintiffs therefrom. Defendant answered
Thereafter, on August 9, 1977, Macario sold 225 sq. m. to his
pleading ownership and adverse possession for 30 years. After
son Roger Espinocilla, husband of respondent Belen
trial, the court dismissed the complaint, declared defendant to
Espinocilla and father of respondent Ferdinand Espinocilla. On
be the rightful owner, and ordered the Register of Deeds to
March 8, 1985, Roger Espinocilla sold 114 sq. m. to Caridad
issue a transfer certificate in lieu of the original. Plaintiffs
Atienza. Respondents claim that they rightfully possess the
appealed directly to the Supreme Court, assailing the trial
land they occupy by virtue of acquisitive prescription.
court's findings of fact and law.
RTC: ruled in favor of petitioner, The RTC found that petitioner
ISSUE:
inherited 142.5 sq. m. from his mother Salvacion and bought
Whether or not the trial court was right in declaring
28.5 sq. m. from his aunt Aspren. The RTC computed that
defendant Catalino as the true and rightful owner of the
Salvacion, Aspren, Isabel and Macario each inherited 142.5 sq.
contested parcel of land.
m. of Lot No. 552. Each inherited 114 sq. m. from Doroteo and
28.5 sq. m. from Dionisia. The RTC further ruled that Macario
was not entitled to 228 sq. m. Thus, respondents must return HELD:
39 sq. m. to petitioner who occupies only 132 sq. m. There
being no public document to prove Dionisias donation, the Yes. Supreme Court sustained the decision of the trial
RTC also held that Macarios 1948 affidavit is void and is an court. For despite the invalidity of Bacaquios sale to the
invalid repudiation of the shares. vendee father of defendant-appellee Catalino, the vendor
Bacaquio suffered the vendee to enter, possess and enjoy
CA: reversed the RTC decision and dismissed petitioners theland in question without protest, from 1928 to 1943, when
complaint on the ground that extraordinary acquisitive the seller died. The appellants, in turn, while succeeding the
prescription has already set in in favor of respondents. since deceased, also remained inactive, without taking any step to
petitioners complaint was filed only on July 13, 2000, the CA repossess the lot from 1944 to 1962, when the present suit
concluded that prescription has set in. was commenced in court.Their passivity and inaction for more
than 34 years justifies Catalinoin setting up the equitable
defense of laches in his own behalf. As a result, the action of possession of Lot 140 for at least 30 years. By the time the
plaintiffs must be considered barred and the trial court correctly DENR issued its order of execution in 1989, Alegarbes had Lot
so held. Courts cannot look with favor at parties who, by their 140 in his possession for more than 30 years. Even more so
silence, delay and inaction, knowingly induce another to spend
when Virtucio filed the complaint before the RTC in 1997,
time, effort and expense in cultivating the land, paying taxes
and making improvements thereon for 30 long years, only to Alegarbes was already in possession of the subject property
spring from ambush and claim title when the possessor's for forty-eight (48) years. Thus, Alegarbes became ipso jure
efforts and the rise of land values offer an opportunity to make owner of Lot 140 entitling him to retain possession of it by
easy profit at his expense. virtue of acquisitive prescription.

JESUS VIRTUCIO vs. JOSE ALEGARBES REPUBLIC OF THE PHILIPPINES vs. DOMINGO ESPINOSA
G.R. No. 187451, August 29, 2012
G.R. No. 171514, July 18, 2012
Peralta, J.
REYES, J.
FACTS:
FACTS:
Respondent Jose Alegarbes was granted a 24-hectare
Homestead Patent in 1952. However, as a consequence of a March 3, 1999, Domingo Espinosa filed an application for land
public land subdivision, the land was subdivided into three (3) registration covering a parcel of land (5,525sqm) in
lots Lot Nos. 138,139 and 140. Lot 139 was allocated to
Ulpiano Custodio, and Lot 140 was allocated to petitioner Consolacion, Cebu alleging that:(a) property is alienable
Jesus Virtucio based on their respective approved Homestead and disposable; (b) he purchased the property from
Application. Alegarbes filed a protest opposing the approved his mother, Isabel Espinosa, on July 4, 1970; and (c) he and
homesteads of Custodio and Virtucio, claiming that his his predecessor-in-interest had been in possession of the
approved application covered the whole area, including Lot property in the concept of an owner for more than thirty (30)
Nos. 139 and 140, but was denied by the Director of Lands. years. As evidence, he submitted the blueprint of Advanced
Thereafter, he appealed to the Secretary of Agriculture and
Survey Plan, 2 tax declarations for the years 1965 and 1974 in
Natural Resources and later to the Office of the President
which dismissed his appeal and denied his motion for Isabels name, Certification issued by the Office of the
reconsideration. He was then ordered to vacate subject lot but Treasurer of Consolacion, Cebu and 3 tax declarations for the
he refused. In 1997, Virtucio then filed a complaint for years 1978, 1980 and 1985. Petitioner opposed Espinosas
"Recovery of Possession and Ownership with Preliminary application, claiming that: (a) Section 48(b) of Commonwealth
Injunction" before the RTC. Alegarbes, claimed that his Act No. 141 otherwise known as the "Public Land Act" (PLA)
possession of Lot Nos. 138, 139 and 140 had been open, had not been complied with as Espinosas predecessor-in-
continuous, peaceful and uninterrupted in the concept of an
interest possessed the property only after June 12, 1945; and
owner for more than 30 years and had acquired such lots by
acquisitive prescription. The RTC, in 2001, ruled in favor of (b) the tax declarations do not prove that his possession and
Virtucio and ordered Alegarbes to vacate Lot No. 140. that of his predecessor-in-interest are in the character and for
Alegarbes appealed to the CA which reverse and set aside the the length of time required by law. MTC and CA granted
decision of the RTC and ruled that Alegarbes became ipso jure Espinosas petition since he was able to establish ownership
owner of Lot 140 and, therefore, entitled to retain possession and possession over the subject lot which is within the area
of it. Aggrieved, Virtucio filed a petition to the SC. considered by DENR as alienable and disposable and that
ISSUE: he and his predecessor-in-interest have been in continuous,
adverse, public and undisturbed possession of said land in the
Whether or not Alegarbes acquired ownership over the subject concept of an owner for more than 30 years before the filing of
property by virtue of acquisitive prescription. the application. Petitioner moved for reconsideration but this
was denied by the CA. Petitioner entreats this Court to reverse
HELD: and set aside the CAs assailed decision
Yes. Article 1106 of the New Civil Code, in relation to its Article
712, provides that prescription is a mode of acquiring ISSUE:
ownership through the lapse of time in the manner and under
the conditions laid down by law. Under the same law, it states Whether or not Espinosa has acquired an imperfect title over
that acquisitive prescription may either be ordinary or the subject property that is worthy of confirmation and
extraordinary. Ordinary acquisitive prescription requires registration.
possession of things in good faith and with just title for a
period of ten years, while extraordinary acquisitive
prescription requires uninterrupted adverse possession of Held:
thirty years, without need of title or of good faith. In this case,
Virtucio claims that the protest filed by Alegarbes against his NO. The lower courts failed to apprise themselves of the
homestead application interrupted the thirty (30)-year period of changes that Section 48(b) of the PLA underwent over the
acquisitive prescription. The law, as well as jurisprudence, years. On June 22, 1957, RA 1942 amended Sec
however, dictates that only a judicial summons can effectively 48(b) of the PLA by providing a 30-year prescriptive
toll the said period. Only in cases filed before the courts may
period for Judicial Confirmation of imperfect title. On Jan 25,
judicial summons be issued and, thus, interrupt posession. In
the same vein, protest filed before an administrative agency 1977, PD 1073 was issued, changing the requirement for
and even the decision resulting from it cannot effectively toll possession and occupation for a period of 30 years to
the running of the period of acquisitive prescription. In such an possessiona and occupation since June 12, 1945 or earlier.
instance, no civil interruption can take place. In the case of Thereafter, PD 1073, in effect, repealed RA 1942 such that
Heirs of Gamos v. Heirs of Frando, the Court ruled that the applications under Sec 48(b) of PLA filed after the
mere application for a patent, coupled with the fact of
promulgation of PD 1073 should alleged and prove possession
exclusive, open, continuous and notorious possession for the
required period, is sufficient to vest in the applicant the grant and occupation that dated back to June 12, 1945 or earlier. For
applied for. It likewise cited the cases of Susi v. Razon and one to invoke Sec 48(b), it must be demonstrated that such
Pineda v. CA, where the Court ruled that the possession of a possession and occupation commenced on Jan 24, 1947 and
parcel of agricultural land of the public domain for the 30-year period was completed prior to the effectivity of PD
prescribed period of 30 years ipso jure converts the lot into 1073. There is nothing on record showing that as of Jan 25,
private property. 1977 or prior to the effectivity of PD 1073, he or
Isabel had already acquired title by means of
Alegarbes had applied for homestead patent as early as 1949.
possession and occupation of the property for 30 years. It
He had been in exclusive, open, continuous and notorious
is Sec 14(2) of PD 1529 that categorically provides, only subject properties are alienable and disposable. A copy of the
private properties may be acquired thru prescription and original classification approved by the DENR Secretary and
under Articles420 and 421 of the Civil Code, only those certified as true copy by the legal custodian of the official
records should be presented. Anent the second and third
properties, which are not for public use, public service or
requirements, although Cerquena testified that the respondent
intended for the development of national wealth, are and its predecessors-in-interest cultivated the subject
considered private. properties, by planting different crops thereon, his testimony is
bereft of any specificity as to the nature of such cultivation as
Espinosa cannot avail the benefits of either Section 14(1) of to warrant the conclusion that they have been indeed in
P.D. No. 1529 in relation to Section 48(b) of the PLA or Section possession and occupation of the subject properties in the
14(2) of P.O. No. 1529 of the PLA, albeit improper, Espinosa manner required by law. Having failed to prove that the subject
properties form part of the alienable and disposable lands of
failed to prove that: (a) Isabel's possession of the property
the public domain and that it and its predecessors-in-interest
dated back to June 12, 1945 or earlier; and (b) the property is have been in open, continuous, exclusive, and notorious
alienable and disposable. On the other hand, applying Section possession and occupation of the same since June 12, 1945,
14(2) of P.D. No. 1529, Espinosa failed to prove that the or earlier, the respondent's application for registration should
property is patrimonial. As to whether Espinosa was able to be denied.
prove that his possession and occupation and that of Isabel
were of the character prescribed by law, the resolution of this Heirs of Policronio Ureta vs. Heirs of Liberato Ureta
issue has been rendered unnecessary by the foregoing
[G.R. No. 165748, 657 SCRA 555, September 14, 2011]
considerations.
Facts:

REPUBLIC OF THE PHILIPPINES vs. REMMAN In his lifetime, Alfonso Ureta (Alfonso) begot 14 children
ENTERPRISES, INC. including Policronio and Liberato. Alfonso was financially well-
G.R. No. 199310, February 19, 2014 off during his lifetime. Sometime in October 1969, Alfonso
Reyes, J. executed four (4) Deeds of Sale covering several parcels of
land in favor of Policronio, Liberato, Prudencia, and his
common-law wife. The Deed of Sale executed on October 25,
FACTS: 1969, in favor of Policronio, covered six parcels of land, which
are the properties in dispute in this case.
Remman Enterprises (respondent), Inc. filed an application
with the RTC for judicial confirmation of title over two parcels of When Alfonso died on October 11, 1972, Liberato acted as the
land. The RTC issued the Order finding the respondents administrator of his fathers estate, later succeeded by his
sister Prudencia, and then by her daughter. Except for a
application for registration sufficient in form and substance
portion of parcel 5, the rest of the parcels transferred to
and setting it for initial hearing. LLDA filed its opposition to the Policronio were tenanted by the Fernandez Family. These
respondents application for registration, asserting that such tenants never turned over the produce of the lands to
lots are not part of the alienable and disposable lands of the Policronio or any of his heirs, but to Alfonso and, later, to the
public domain. On the other hand, the Republic of the administrators of his estate. Policronio died on November 22,
Philippines (petitioner), likewise filed its opposition, alleging 1974. Except for the said portion of parcel 5, neither Policronio
that the respondent failed to prove that it and its predecessors- nor his heirs ever took possession of the subject lands.
in-interest have been in open, continuous, exclusive, and
On April 19, 1989, Alfonsos heirs executed a Deed of Extra-
notorious possession of the subject parcels of land since June Judicial Partition, which included all the lands that were
12, 1945 or earlier. Trial on the merits of the respondents covered by the four (4) deeds of sale that were previously
application ensued thereafter. The RTC granted the executed by Alfonso for taxation purposes. Conrado,
respondents application for registration of title to the subject Policronios eldest son, representing the Heirs of Policronio,
properties based on its findings that respondent was able to signed the Deed of Extra-Judicial Partition in behalf of his co-
prove that the subject properties form part of the alienable and heirs.
disposable lands of the public domain and that the elevations
Believing that the six parcels of land belonged to their late
of the subject properties are very much higher than the father, and as such, excluded from the Deed of Extra-Judicial
reglementary elevation of 12.50 m and, thus, not part of the Partition, the Heirs of Policronio sought to amicably settle the
bed of Laguna Lake. The CA affirmed the RTCs decision. matter with the Heirs of Alfonso. Earnest efforts proving futile,
Hence, the instant petition. the Heirs of Policronio filed a Complaint for Declaration of
Ownership, Recovery of Possession, Annulment of
Documents, Partition, and Damages against the Heirs of
ISSUE:
Alfonso.

Whether or not the lower courts erred in granting the Issue: Whether or not the action for declaring the Deed of Sale
respondents application for registration since the subject null and void has already prescribe.
properties do not form part of the alienable and disposable
lands of the public domain. Held:

No. From the position that the Deed of Sale is valid and not
HELD:
void, the Heirs of Policronio argued that any question regarding
its validity should have been initiated through judicial process
Yes. Section 14(1) of P.D. No. 1529 refers to the judicial within 10 years from its notarization in accordance with Article
confirmation of imperfect or incomplete titles to public land 1144 of the Civil Code. Since 21 years had already elapsed
acquired under Section 48(b) of Commonwealth Act (C.A.) No. when the Heirs of Alfonso assailed the validity of the Deed of
141, or the Public Land Act, as amended by P.D. No. 1073. Sale in 1996, prescription had set in. Furthermore, since the
Under Section 14(1) of P.D. No. 1529, applicants for Heirs of Alfonso did not seek to nullify the tax declarations of
registration of title must sufficiently establish: first, that the Policronio, they had impliedly acquiesced and given due
subject land forms part of the disposable and alienable lands of recognition to the Heirs of Policronio as the rightful inheritors
the public domain; second, that the applicant and his and should, thus, be barred from laying claim on the land. The
predecessors-in-interest have been in open, continuous, Heirs of Policronio are mistaken. Article 1410 of the Civil Code
exclusive, and notorious possession and occupation of the provides: Art. 1410. The action for the declaration of the
same; and third, that it is under a bona fide claim of ownership inexistence of a contract does not prescribe. This is one of the
since June 12, 1945, or earlier. The first requirement was not most fundamental characteristics of void or inexistent
satisfied in this case. The two certifications from DENR contracts.
presented by the respondent are insufficient to prove that the
As the Deed of Sale is a void contract, the action for the
declaration of its nullity, even if filed 21 years after its
execution, cannot be barred by prescription for it is
imprescriptible. Furthermore, the right to set up the defense of
inexistence or absolute nullity cannot be waived or renounced.
Therefore, the Heirs of Alfonso cannot be precluded from
setting up the defense of its inexistence.
Brito vs. Dianala

[GR. no. 17171, December 15, 2010]

Facts:

Subject of the present petition is a parcel of land located at


Barrio Sicaba, Cadiz City, Negros Occidental. The said tract of
land is a portion of Lot No. 1536-B, formerly known as Lot No.
591-B, originally owned by a certain Esteban Dichimo and his
wife, Eufemia Dianala, both of whom are already deceased.

On September 27, 1976, Margarita Dichimo, assisted by her


husband, Ramon Brito, Sr., together with others filed a
Complaint for Recovery of Possession and Damages against a
certain Jose Maria Golez.

Petitioner's wife, Margarita, together with Bienvenido and


Francisco, alleged that they are the heirs of a certain Vicente
Dichimo, while Edito, Maria, Herminia, Leonora, Felicito and
Merlinda claimed to be the heirs of one Eusebio Dichimo; that
Vicente and Eusebio are the only heirs of Esteban and
Eufemia; that Esteban and Eufemia died intestate and upon
their death Vicente and Eusebio, as compulsory heirs,
inherited Lot No. 1536-B; that, in turn, Vicente and Eusebio,
and their respective spouses, also died intestate leaving their
pro indiviso shares of Lot No. 1536-B as part of the inheritance
of the complainants in Civil Case No. 12887.

Issue: Whether or not the action for the recovery of


possession of the said property has already prescribe.

Held:

No. Respondents' act of filing their action for reconveyance


within the ten-year prescriptive period does not constitute an
unreasonable delay in asserting their right. The Court has ruled
that, unless reasons of inequitable proportions are adduced, a
delay within the prescriptive period is sanctioned by law and is
not considered to be a delay that would bar relief. Laches is
recourse in equity. Equity, however, is applied only in the
absence, never in contravention, of statutory law.

Moreover, the prescriptive period applies only if there is an


actual need to reconvey the property as when the plaintiff is
not in possession thereof. Otherwise, if the plaintiff is in
possession of the property, prescription does not commence to
run against him. Thus, when an action for reconveyance is
nonetheless filed, it would be in the nature of a suit for quieting
of title, an action that is imprescriptible. The reason for this is
that one who is in actual possession of a piece of land claiming
to be the owner thereof may wait until his possession is
disturbed or his title is attacked before taking steps to vindicate
his right, the rationale for the rule being, that his undisturbed
possession provides him a continuing right to seek the aid of a
court of equity to ascertain and determine the nature of the
adverse claim of a third party and its effect on his own title,
which right can be claimed only by the one who is in
possession.

In the present case, there is no dispute that respondents are in


possession of the subject property as evidenced by the fact
that petitioner and his co-heirs filed a separate action against
respondents for recovery of possession thereof. Thus, owing to
respondents' possession of the disputed property, it follows
that their complaint for reconveyance is, in fact, imprescriptible.
As such, with more reason should respondents not be held
guilty of laches as the said doctrine, which is one in equity,
cannot be set up to resist the enforcement of an imprescriptible
legal right.