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(11)

Amada Cotoner-Zacaria, petitioner

vs.

Spouses Alfredo Revilla and the heirs of Paz Revilla, respondent

GR. No. 190901 November 12, 2014

Facts:

Alfredo Revilla and Paz Castillo-Revilla (Revilla spouses) are the owners in fee simple of

an unregistered parcel of land. In 1983, Paz Castillo-Revilla borrowed money from Amada

Cotoner-Zacarias to finance Alfredo Revillas travel to Saudi Arabia. By way of security, the parties

verbally agreed that until full payment of the loan, Amada would take physical possession of the

property, cultivate it, then use the earnings from the cultivation to pay the loan and realty taxes.

Unknown to the Revilla spouses, Amada presented a fictitious document dated March 19, 1979,

entitled Kasulatan ng Bilihan ng Lupa before the Provincial Assessor of Cavite, with the Revilla

spouses as sellers and Amada as buyer of the property. Consequently, the tax declaration in the

name of the Revilla spouses was cancelled, and a new tax declaration was issued in the name of

Amada.

In 1984, Amada sold the property to the spouses Adolfo and Elvira Casorla (Casorla

spouses). In turn, the Casorla spouses sold the property to spouses Rodolfo and Yolanda Sun (Sun

spouses). Upon Alfredo Revillas return from Saudi Arabia, he discovered that the propertys tax

declaration was already in the name of the Sun spouses. Subsequently, the Revilla spouses were

served a copy of the answer in the land registration case filed by the Sun spouses, with a copy of
the Kasulatan ng Bilihan ng Lupa attached to it. The Revilla spouses then filed a complaint for

the annulment of sales and transfers of title and reconveyance of the property with damages

against Amada, the Casorla spouses, the Sun spouses, and the Provincial Assessor of Cavite. The

Regional Trial Court (RTC) ruled in favor of the Revilla spouses. Amada appealed but it was denied,

as well as her motion for reconsideration.

Issues:

- whether respondents Revilla spouses cause of action is barred by prescription or laches.

- whether the Court of Appeals erred in upholding the reinstatement and reconveyance of the

property in favor of respondents Revilla spouses.

Ruling:

There was no delay by respondents Revilla spouses in asserting their rights over the

property. The lower courts found that respondents Revilla spouses first learned of the existence

of the Kasulatan ng Bilihan ng Lupa in February 1995 when they were served a copy of the

pleading in the land registration case instituted by the Sun spouses.49 They filed their complaint

within the same year, specifically, on November 17, 1995. The lapse of only nine (9) months from

the time they learned of the questionable transfers on the property cannot be considered as

sleeping on their rights.

The reinstatement of the property in favor of respondents Revilla spouses was anchored

on the lower courts finding that their signatures as sellers in the Kasulatan ng Bilihan ng Lupa

were forged. Amada contends that the lower courts never declared as falsified the signature of

Alfredos wife, Paz Castillo-Revilla. Since the property is conjugal in nature, the sale as to the one-

half share of Paz Castillo Revilla should not be declared as void.


The transaction took place before the effectivity of the Family Code in2004. Generally,

civil laws have no retroactive effect. Article 256 of the Family Code provides that [it] shall have

retroactive effect insofar as it does not prejudice or impair vested or acquired rights in

accordance with the Civil Code or other laws. Article 165 of the Civil Code states that the

husband is the administrator of the conjugal partnership. Article 172 of the Civil Code provides

that [t]he wife cannot bind the conjugal partnership without the husbands consent, except in

cases provided by law. In any case, the second paragraph of Article 96 of the Family Code also

provides that "In the event that one spouse is incapacitated or otherwise unable to participate

in the administration of the common properties, the other spouse may assume sole powers of

administration. These powers do not include disposition or encumbrance without authority of

the court or the written consent of the other spouse. In the absence of such authority or consent,

the disposition or encumbrance shall be void. Thus, as correctly found by the Court of Appeals,

assuming arguendo that the signature of plaintiff-appellee Paz on the Kasulatan ng Bilihan ng

Lupa was not forged, her signature alone would still not bind the subject property, it being

already established that the said transaction was made without the consent of her husband

plaintiff-appellee Alfredo.

The petition was denied for lack of merit. The decision of the Court of Appeals dated

August 13, 2009 was affirmed.


(12)

DAVID A. NOVERAS, petitioner

vs

LETICIA T. NOVERAS, respondent

G.R NO. 188289 AUGUST 20, 2014

FACTS:

Petitioner, David Noveras and respondent, Leticia Noveras are US citizens who

ownproperties in the US and in the Philippines during their marriage. One of the properties,

situated at Sampaloc Manila, was mortagaged from a bank. When said property was about to ne

foreclosed, the couple paid for the redemption of the same.

According to the respondent, the petitioner abandoned the family sometime in

September 2003 and lived with his mistress. Further, respondent claimed that they executed a

joint affidavit wherein petitioner renounced all his rights and interests in the conjugal and real

properties situated in the Philippines.

After learning that petitioner had an extra-marital affair, respondent obtained a decree

of divorce from the Superior Court of California wherein the court awarded all the properties in

the US to Leticia. With respect to their properties in the Philippines, Leticia filed a petition for

Judicial Separation of Conjugal Property before the RTC.

The RTC awarded the properties in the Philippines to David, with the properties in the US

remaining in the sole ownership of Leticia. The trial court ruled that in accordance with the

doctrine of processual presumption, Philippine law should apply because the court cannot take

judicial notice of the US law since the parties did not submit any proof of their national law.
On appeal, the CA directed the equal division of the Philippine properties between the

spouses. David insists that the CA should have recognized the California Judgment which awarded

the Philippine properties to him. Hence, this petition.

ISSUE/S:

A. Whether or not petitioner committed acts of abandonment and shall serve as a ground

for the judicial separation of property.

B. Whether or not the Joint affidavit executed by the petitioner and respondent will

amount to a waiver or forfeiture of the formers rights over their conjugal properties.

HELD:

A. While actual abandonment had not been proved, it is undisputed fact that the spouses

had been living separately since 2003 when petitioner decided to go back to the Philippines to

set up his own business. Second, the respondent heard form one of her friends that petitioner

has been cohabiting with Estrellita Martines, who represented herself as Estrellita Noveras.

Editha Apolonio, who worked in the hospital where David was once confined, testified that she

saw the name of Estrellita listed as the wife of David in the Consent for Operation form. Third

and more significantly, they filed for divorce and it was granted by the California court in June

2005.

B. As a general rule, any modification in the marriage settlements must be made before

the celebration of marriage. An exception to this rule is allowed provided that the modification

is judicially approved and refers only to the instances provided in Articles 66, 67, 158, 135 and

136 of the Family Code.


The respondent and petitioner shall likewise have an equal share in the proceeds of the

Sampaloc property. While Both claimed to have contributed to the redemption of the Noveras

property, absent a clear showing where their contributions came from, the same is presumed to

have come from, the same is reimbursement of half of the redemption money.

(13)

SOLEDAD L. LAVADIA, Petitioner,

vs.

HEIRS OF JUAN LUCES LUNA, represented by GREGORIO Z. LUNA and EUGENIA

ZABALLERO-LUNA, Respondents

G.R. NO. 171914 July 23, 2014

Facts:

Atty. JUAN LUCES LUNA was married to Eugenia Zaballero-Luna in a civil ceremony

conducted by the Justice of the Peace of Paranaque, Rizal on September 10, 1947 and

they begot seven (7) children, namely: Regina Maria L. Nadal, Juan Luis Luna, Araceli

Victoria L. Arellano, Ana Maria L. Tabunda, Gregorio Macario Luna Carolina Linda L.

Tapia, and Cesar Antonio Luna. On January 12, 1976, ATTY. LUNA obtained a divorce

decree of his marriage with EUGENIA from the Civil and Commercial Chamber of the

First Circumscription of the Court of First Instance of Sto. Domingo, Dominican Republic.

Also in Sto.Domingo, Dominican Republic, on the same date, ATTY. LUNA contracted

another marriage, this time with SOLEDAD. Thereafter, ATTY. LUNA and SOLEDAD

returned to the Philippines and lived together as husband and wife until 1987. ATTY.
LUNA died on July 12,1997

Issue:

Whether the divorce between atty. Luna and Eugenia is valid to dissolve their marriage?

Ruling:

No, Divorce between Filipino spouses is void and ineffectual under the nationality rule

adopted by Philippine law. Philippine laws relating to family rights, duties, or status,

condition or legal capacity of persons are binding upon citizens of the Philippines,

although living in abroad,.

Hence, any settlement of property between the parties of the first marriage involving

Filipinos submitted as an incident of a divorce obtained in a foreign country lacks

competent judicial approval, and cannot be enforceable against the assets of the husband

who contracts a subsequent marriage


(14)

CELERINA J. SANTOS, Petitioner,

vs.

RICARDO T. SANTOS, Respondent.

G.R. No. 187061, October 08, 2014

Facts:

On July 27, 2007, the Regional Trial Court of Tarlac City declared petitioner Celerina

presumptively dead after her husband, respondent Ricardo had filed a petition for declaration of

absence or presumptive death for the purpose of remarriage. Ricardo remarried on 2008.

In his petition, Ricardo alleged that: (a) a year after they had gotten married on 1980 they

moved to Tarlac City where they were engaged in the buy and sell business; (b) their business did

not prosper and because of Celerina's insistence, he allowed her to work as a domestic helper in

Hong Kong; (c) she left Tarlac and was never heard from again; (d) he exerted efforts to locate

Celerina; (e) that it was almost 12 years from the date of his Regional Trial Court petition since

Celerina left. He believed that she had passed away.

On the other hand, Celerina claimed that she learned about Ricardo's petition only

sometime in 2008 when she could no longer avail the remedies of new trial, appeal, petition for

relief, or other appropriate remedies.

On November 17, 2008, she filed a petition for annulment of judgment before the Court

of Appeals on the grounds of extrinsic fraud and lack of jurisdiction. Celerina claimed that she

never resided in Tarlac. She also never left and worked as a domestic helper abroad. It was not
true that she had been absent for 12 years. Ricardo was aware that she never left their conjugal

dwelling in Quezon City. It was he who left the conjugal dwelling in May 2008 to cohabit with

another woman. She was deprived of any notice of and opportunity to oppose the petition

declaring her presumptively dead.

November 28, 2008, Court of Appeals dismissed Celerina's petition for annulment of

judgment for being a wrong mode of remedy. The proper remedy was to file a sworn statement

before the civil registry, declaring her reappearance in accordance with Article 42 of the Family

Code.

Issue:

Whether or not the declaration of reappearance of a presumptively dead spouse in

accordance with Article 42 of the Family Code is the proper remedy for a fraudulently obtained

judgment declaring presumptive death?

Held:

Celerina argued that filing an affidavit of reappearance under Article 42 of the Family

Code is appropriate only when the spouse is actually absent and the spouse seeking the

declaration of presumptive death actually has a well-founded belief of the spouse's death. It

would be inappropriate to file an affidavit of reappearance if she did not disappear in the first

place. It would also not be a sufficient remedy because it would not nullify the legal effects of the

judgment declaring her presumptive death. She insisted that an action for annulment of

judgment is proper when the declaration of presumptive death is obtained fraudulently.


The petition is meritorious.

Annulment of judgment is the remedy when the Regional Trial Courts judgment, order,

or resolution has become final, and the remedies of new trial, appeal, petition for relief (or other

appropriate remedies) are no longer available through no fault of the petitioner.

The Family Code provides that the second marriage is in danger of being terminated by

the presumptively dead spouse when he or she reappears. Thus:

Article 42. The subsequent marriage referred to in the preceding Article shall be

automatically terminated by the recording of the affidavit of reappearance of the

absent spouse, unless there is a judgment annulling the previous marriage or

declaring it void ab initio.

A sworn statement of the fact and circumstances of reappearance shall be

recorded in the civil registry of the residence of the parties to the subsequent

marriage at the instance of any interested person, with due notice to the spouses

of the subsequent marriage and without prejudice to the fact of reappearance

being judicially determined in case such fact is disputed.

In other words, the Family Code provides the presumptively dead spouse with the remedy

of terminating the subsequent marriage by mere reappearance.


Yet, the filing of an affidavit of reappearance is an admission on the part of the first spouse

that his or her marriage to the present spouse was terminated when he or she was declared

absent or presumptively dead.

Also, a subsequent marriage contracted in bad faith, even if it was contracted after a court

declaration of presumptive death, lacks the requirement of a well-founded belief that the spouse

is already dead. The first marriage will not be considered as validly terminated.

Therefore, for the purpose of not only terminating the subsequent marriage but also of

nullifying the effects of the declaration of presumptive death and the subsequent marriage, it is

not the mere filing of an affidavit of reappearance but an action for annulment of judgment is

the proper remedy.

Case no. 15

A claim of status as heir of a decedent must always be substantially supported by evidence

as required under ourlaw. The resolution of a case, in this instance, an action for annulment of

title and reconveyance of real property, cannot be further stalled and waylaid by a mere assertion

of a party of an ostensible conflicting claims of heirship of the common decedent. Not all rights

to property and incidents thereof, such as titling, ought to be preceded by a declaration of

heirship, albeit supposedly traced to a single decedent and original titleholder.

(15)
HEIRS OF VALENTIN BASBAS et. al., petitioner

vs.

RICARDO BASBAS as represented by EUGENIO BASBAS, Respondents

G.R. No. 188773 September 10, 2014

Facts

A petition for review on certiorari under Rule 45 of the Rules of Court assailing the

Decision ofthe Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. SP No. 998531 which reversed and set aside the

rulings, after trial and then on appeal, of the Municipal Trial Court (MTC) and Regional Trial Court

(RTC), Sta. Rosa, Laguna in Civil Case No. 1913 and Civil Case No. B-6334, respectively. The trial

courts annulled TCT No. 294295 issued in the name of Crispiniano Talampas Basbas (Crispiniano)

and herein respondent Ricardo Talampas Basbas (Ricardo), covering Lot No. 39 of the Santa Rosa

Detached Estate, the subject property, and originally titled to the decedent, Severo Basbas

(Severo) under Certificate of Title No. RT-1684 (N.A.). Crispiniano and Ricardo and all their

successors-in-interest were ordered to reconvey the subject property to petitioners.

Both parties, petitioners, Heirs of Valentin Basbas (Valentin), and respondent Ricardo

trace their claim ofownership over herein subject property to Severo.

Petitioners filed an Action for Annulment of Title, Reconveyance with Damages against

Crispiniano and respondent Ricardo seeking to: (1) annul Transfer Certificate of Title No. T-

294295 issued in the names of Crispiniano and Ricardo covering the contested lot, and (2) recover

possession of the subject property beforethe Municipal Trial Court, Santa Rosa, Laguna, docketed

as Civil Case No. 1913.


Countering petitioners allegations, Crispiniano and Ricardo denied petitioners

ownership over Lot No. 39 and contended that upon Severos death, he was survived by two

heirs,Valentin (grandfather of petitioners) and Nicolas Basbas (Nicolas) (paternal grandfather of

Crispiniano and Ricardo) who evenly divided Severos estate, comprising of two lots, herein

subject property, Lot No. 39 of the Santa Rosa Detached Estate, and Lot No. 40, adjacent thereto,

among them. Lot No. 40 was inherited by Valentin, while Lot No. 39 went to Nicolas.

Issue

Whether or not Crispiniano and herein respondent Ricardo Basbas are legitimate heirs of

the decedent Severo Basbas.

Whether or not the court of appeals seriously erred in failing to render judgment based

on the evidence presented relative to the issues raised and ruled upon by the municipal trial

court of santa rosa, laguna and the regional trial court of bian, laguna.

Ruling

The trial courts found that petitioners fully established their filiation with the decedent

Severo, the original titleholder of Lot No. 39 and from whom all parties trace their claim of

ownership over the subject property. Oppositely, the trial courts found wanting, lacking

documentary evidence, the different claims of heirship of Crispiniano and herein respondent

Ricardo, through Severos purported other son or nephew, Nicolas. The MTC, affirmed in toto by

the RTC.

We add that Valentins rights to the succession vested from the moment of death of the

decedent Severo. In turn, petitioners, as Heirs of Valentin, who is an uncontested heir of

decedent Severo, rights to the succession vested from the moment of Valentins death. As such,
they own Lot No. 39, undisputedly titled in Severos name and forming part of Severos estate,

and are entitled to the titling thereof in their names.

In this regard, we note that the Court of Appeals did not reverse the trials courts factual

finding on Cripinianos and Ricardos fraudulent titling of Lot No. 39 in their names. The evidence

presented by Crispiniano and Ricardo highlight the fraudulence of their claim:

1. Title to Lot No. 39 is not in their names, neither is it titled in the name of their

predecessors-in-interest, Nicolas and Felomino Basbas;

2. Crispiniano and Ricardo are not the only heirs of Severo, if they are even heirs to begin

with.

One final note. Severo, as well as Valentin, have been long dead. It is well-nigh that title

to the subject property, Lot No. 39 of the Santa Rosa Detached Estate, appear in the names of

the petitioners, Heirs of Valentin, herein declared heirs of Severo, or their successors-in-interest,

to finally settle title thereto and prevent occurrences of fraudulent titling thereof. Hence,

petitioners, Heirs of Valentin and their successors-in-interest, are directed to take the

appropriate action for titling of the subject property.

WHEREFORE, the petition is GRANTED. The Decision of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. SP

No. 99853 is REVERSED. The Decision of the Regional Trial Court and the Municipal Trial Court

are AFFIRMED. Petitioners, Heirs of Valentin Basbas and their successors-in-interest, are likewise

DIRECTED to take the appropriate action for titling of Lot No. 39 of Santa Rosa Detached Estate

with dispatch, and NOTIFY this Court within ten (10) days of such action.