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an equal installments of P25,461.

00 beginning June 17, 1983 until the full


SECOND DIVISION amount is paid.

the Transferee Mrs. Amelita L. Sola, agrees to assume, all the obligations, duties
[G.R. No. 138953. June 6, 2002] and conditions imposed upon the Awardee in relation to the MSA Application No.
V-81066 entered in their records as Sales Entry No. 20476.

[I] hereby declare that I accept this Deed of Self-Adjudication and Transfer of
CASTORIO ALVARICO, petitioner, vs. AMELITA L. SOLA, respondent. Rights and further agree to all conditions provided therein.[5]

DECISION Amelita assumed payment of the lot to the Bureau of Lands. She paid a total
amount of P282,900.[6]
QUISUMBING, J.:
On April 7, 1989, the Bureau of Lands issued an order approving the transfer
of rights and granting the amendment of the application from Fermina to
This is a petition for review on certiorari of the decision dated March 23, 1999
Amelita.[7] On May 2, 1989, Original Certificate of Title (OCT) No. 3439 was issued
of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. CV No. 54624, reversing the decision of the
in favor of Amelita.[8]
Regional Trial Court of Cebu City, Branch 10, for reconveyance. Also sought to be
reversed is the CA resolution dated June 8, 1999 denying petitioners motion for On June 24, 1993,[9] herein petitioner filed Civil Case No. CEB-14191[10] for
reconsideration. reconveyance against Amelita. He claimed that on January 4, 1984, Fermina
donated the land to him[11] and immediately thereafter, he took possession of the
The facts of this case are as follows:
same. He averred that the donation to him had the effect of withdrawing the earlier
Petitioner Castorio Alvarico is the natural father of respondent Amelita Sola transfer to Amelita.[12]
while Fermina Lopez is petitioners aunt, and also Amelitas adoptive mother.
For her part, Amelita maintained that the donation to petitioner is void because
On June 17, 1982, the Bureau of Lands approved and granted the Fermina was no longer the owner of the property when it was allegedly donated to
Miscellaneous Sales Application (MSA) of Fermina over Lot 5, SGS-3451, with an petitioner, the property having been transferred earlier to her.[13] She added that
area of 152 sq. m. at the Waterfront, Cebu City.[1] the donation was void because of lack of approval from the Bureau of Lands, and
that she had validly acquired the land as Ferminas rightful heir. She also denied
On May 28, 1983,[2] Fermina executed a Deed of Self-Adjudication and that she is a trustee of the land for petitioner.[14]
Transfer of Rights[3] over Lot 5 in favor of Amelita, who agree
d to assume all the obligations, duties, and conditions imposed upon Fermina under After trial, the RTC rendered a decision in favor of petitioner, the decretal
MSA Application No. V-81066. The document of transfer was filed with the Bureau portion of which reads:
of Lands.[4] The pertinent portions of the deed provide:
WHEREFORE, premises considered, judgment is hereby rendered in favor of
xxx plaintiff and against the defendant. Lot 5, Sgs-3451, is hereby declared as
lawfully owned by plaintiff and defendant is directed to reconvey the same to the
That I, FERMINA A. LOPEZ, of legal age, Filipino, widow of Pedro C. Lopez and a former.
resident of Port San Pedro, Cebu City, Philippines, am the AWARDEE of Lots Nos.
4, 5, 3-B, 3-C and 6-B, Sgs-3451 And being the winning bidder at the auction No pronouncement as to damages and attorneys fees, plaintiff having opted to
sale of these parcels by the Bureau of Lands held on May 12, 1982, at the price forego such claims.
of P150.00 per square meter taking a purchase price of P282,900.00 for the
tract; That I have made as my partial payment the sum of P28,290.00 evidenced SO ORDERED.[15]
by Official Receipt No. 1357764-B representing ten (10%) per cent of my bid,
leaving a balance of P254,610.00 that shall be in not more than ten (10) years at
On appeal, the Court of Appeals in its decision dated March 23, 1999 reversed IV.
the RTC. Thus:
THE HONORABLE COURT OF APPEALS COMMITTED SERIOUS ERROR IN
WHEREFORE, foregoing considered, the appealed decision is hereby REVERSED ENUNCIATING THAT POSSESSION MENTIONED IN ARTICLE 1544 OF THE NEW
and SET ASIDE. The complaint filed by plaintiff-appellee against defendant- CIVIL CODE INCLUDE SYMBOLIC POSSESSION, UPON WHICH THE APPELLATE
appellant is hereby DISMISSED. COURT BASED ITS CONCLUSION THAT RESPONDENT WAS FIRST IN
POSSESSION BECAUSE THE DEED OF SELF-ADJUDICATION AND TRANSFER OF
Costs against plaintiff-appellee. RIGHTS IN FAVOR OF RESPONDENT DATED MAY 28, 1983 WAS EXECUTED MUCH
EARLIER THAN THE DEED OF DONATION IN FAVOR OF PETITIONER DATED
SO ORDERED.[16] JANUARY 4, 1984 (Pages 7-8, Decision, Annex A).[18]

Petitioner sought reconsideration, but it was denied by the CA.[17] The crucial issue to be resolved in an action for reconveyance is: Who between
petitioner and respondent has a better claim to the land?
Hence, the instant petition for certiorari seasonably filed on the following
grounds: To prove she has a better claim, respondent Amelita Sola submitted a copy of
OCT No. 3439 in her name and her husbands,[19] a Deed of Self-Adjudication and
I. Transfer of Rights[20] over the property dated 1983 executed by Fermina in her
favor, and a certification from the municipal treasurer that she had been declaring
THE HONORABLE COURT OF APPEALS COMMITTED SERIOUS ERROR, the land as her and her husbands property for tax purposes since 1993. [21]
REFLECTIVE OF UNMINDFUL RECKLESSNESS WHICH IS THE VERY OPPOSITE OF
For his part, petitioner Castorio Alvarico presented a Deed of
JUDICIAL CIRCUMSPECTION, IN DECLARING THAT THE DEED OF DONATION
Donation[22] dated January 4, 1984, showing that the lot was given to him by
DATED JANUARY 4, 1984 (ANNEX C) IN FAVOR OF PETITIONER WAS EMBODIED
Fermina and according to him, he immediately took possession in 1985 and
ONLY IN A PRIVATE DOCUMENT (Page 6, Decision, Annex A), ALTHOUGH, BY A
continues in possession up to the present.[23]
MERE CASUAL LOOK AT THE DOCUMENT, IT CAN BE READILY DISCERNED THAT
IT IS NOTARIZED; Petitioner further contests the CA ruling that declared as a private document
said Deed of Donation dated January 4, 1984, despite the fact that a certified true
II. and correct copy of the same was obtained from the Notarial Records Office,
Regional Trial Court, Cebu City on June 11, 1993 and acknowledged before Atty.
THE HONORABLE COURT OF APPEALS COMMITTED SERIOUS ERROR IN Numeriano Capangpangan, then Notary Public for Cebu.[24]
APPLYING ON THE CASE AT BAR THE PRINCIPLE IN LAW THAT IT IS
Given the circumstances in this case and the contentions of the parties, we
REGISTRATION OF THE SALES PATENT THAT CONSTITUTE THE OPERATIVE ACT
find that no reversible error was committed by the appellate court in holding that
THAT WOULD CONVEY OWNERSHIP OF THE LAND TO THE APPLICANT (Pp. 3-6,
herein petitioners complaint against respondent should be dismissed. The evidence
Decision, Annex A) BECAUSE THE LEGAL CONTROVERSY BETWEEN PETITIONER
on record and the applicable law indubitably favor respondent.
AND RESPONDENT DOES NOT INVOLVE CONFLICTING CLAIMS ON SALES PATENT
APPLICATIONS; Petitioner principally relies on Articles 744 and 1544 of the New Civil Code,
which provide:
III.
Art. 744. Donations of the same thing to two or more different donees shall be
THE HONORABLE COURT OF APPEALS GRAVELY ABUSED ITS DISCRETION AND governed by the provisions concerning the sale of the same thing to two or more
COMMITTED SERIOUS ERROR IN MAKING A FINDING THAT RESPONDENT different persons.
ACQUIRED THE LAND IN QUESTION, IN GOOD FAITH (Page 7, Decision, Annex
A), ALTHOUGH THERE IS NO BASIS NOR NEED TO MAKE SUCH A FINDING; and
Art. 1544. If the same thing should have been sold to different vendees, the Anent petitioners contention that it was the intention of Fermina for Amelita to
ownership shall be transferred to the person who may have first taken possession hold the property in trust for him, we held that if this was really the intention of
thereof in good faith, if it should be movable property. Fermina, then this should have been clearly stated in the Deed of Self-Adjudication
executed in 1983, in the Deed of Donation executed in 1984, or in a subsequent
Should it be immovable property, the ownership shall belong to the instrument. Absent any persuasive proof of that intention in any written
person acquiring it who in good faith first recorded it in the Registry of Property. instrument, we are not prepared to accept petitioners bare allegation concerning
the donors state of mind.
Should there be no inscription, the ownership shall pertain to the person who in WHEREFORE, the appealed decision of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. CV
good faith was first in the possession; and, in the absence thereof, to the person No. 54624 is hereby AFFIRMED. The complaint filed by herein petitioner against
who presents the oldest title, provided there is good faith. (Emphasis supplied.) respondent in Civil Case No. CEB-14191 is declared properly DISMISSED. Costs
against petitioner.
Petitioner claims that respondent was in bad faith when she registered the land
in her name and, based on the abovementioned rules, he has a better right over SO ORDERED.
the property because he was first in material possession in good faith. However, Bellosillo, (Chairman), Mendoza, De Leon, Jr., and Corona, JJ., concur.
this allegation of bad faith on the part of Amelita Sola in acquiring the title is devoid
of evidentiary support. For one, the execution of public documents, as in the case
of Affidavits of Adjudication, is entitled to the presumption of regularity, hence
convincing evidence is required to assail and controvert them. [25] Second, it is
undisputed that OCT No. 3439 was issued in 1989 in the name of Amelita. It
requires more than petitioners bare allegation to defeat the Original Certificate of
Title which on its face enjoys the legal presumption of regularity of issuance.[26] A
Torrens title, once registered, serves as notice to the whole world. All persons must
take notice and no one can plead ignorance of its registration.[27]
Even assuming that respondent Amelita Sola acquired title to the disputed
property in bad faith, only the State can institute reversion proceedings under Sec.
101 of the Public Land Act.[28] Thus:

Sec. 101.All actions for reversion to the Government of lands of the public
domain or improvements thereon shall be instituted by the Solicitor General or
the officer acting in his stead, in the proper courts, in the name of the Republic of
the Philippines.

In other words, a private individual may not bring an action for reversion or
any action which would have the effect of canceling a free patent and the
corresponding certificate of title issued on the basis thereof, such that the land
covered thereby will again form part of the public domain. Only the Solicitor
General or the officer acting in his stead may do so.[29] Since Amelita Solas title
originated from a grant by the government, its cancellation is a matter between
the grantor and the grantee.[30] Clearly then, petitioner has no standing at all to
question the validity of Amelitas title. It follows that he cannot recover the property
because, to begin with, he has not shown that he is the rightful owner thereof.
Eusebio Borromeo died on January 16, 1991. His heirs claimed that prior to his
death, he allegedly told his wife, Norberta Borromeo,3 and his children to nullify
the sale made to Eliseo Maltos and have the Transfer Certificate of Title No. T-
5477 cancelled because the sale was within the five-year prohibitory period.4

On June 23, 1993, Norberta Borromeo and her children (heirs of Borromeo) filed
a Complaint for Nullity of Title and Reconveyance of Title against Eliseo Maltos,
Rosita Maltos, and the Register of Deeds of Agusan del Sur.5 The case was
docketed as Civil Case No. 946.6
G.R. No. 172720, September 14, 2015 - ELISEO MALTOS AND ROSITA P.
MALTOS, Petitioners, v. HEIRS OF EUSEBIO BORROMEO, Respondents. Eliseo Maltos and Rosita Maltos (Maltos Spouses) filed their Answer, arguing that
the sale was made in good faith and that in purchasing the property, they relied
on Eusebio Borromeo's title. Further, the parties were in pari delicto. Since the
sale was made during the five-year prohibitory period, the land would revert to
the public domain and the proper party to institute reversion proceedings was the
Office of the Solicitor General.7

The Register of Deeds of Agusan del Sur also filed an Answer, arguing that the
deed of sale was presented for Registration after the five-year prohibitory period,
SECOND DIVISION thus, it was ministerial on its part to register the deed. 8

The heirs of Borromeo countered that good faith was not a valid defense because
G.R. No. 172720, September 14, 2015
the prohibitory period appeared on the face of the title of the property. 9

ELISEO MALTOS AND ROSITA P. MALTOS, Petitioners, v. HEIRS OF The Regional Trial Court10 of Prosperidad, Agusan del Sur narrowed down the
EUSEBIO BORROMEO, Respondents. issues to the following:

DECISION 1. Whether or not the herein plaintiffs are the legal heirs of the late Eusebio
Borromeo.
LEONEN, J.:
2. Whether or not the sale of the disputed property within the prohibitory period
The sale of a parcel of agricultural land covered by a free patent during the five- is valid or binding.11
year prohibitory period under the Public Land Act is void. Reversion of the parcel
of land is proper. However, reversion under Section 101 of the Public Land Act is The trial court dismissed the Complaint on the ground of failure to state a cause
not automatic. The Office of the Solicitor General must first file an action for of action.12 Also, the heirs of Borromeo did not have a right of action because
reversion. they were unable to establish their status as heirs of the late Eusebio
Borromeo.13 They may have declared themselves the legal heirs of Eusebio
On February 13, 1979, Eusebio Borromeo was issued Free Patent No. 586681 Borromeo, but they did not present evidence to prove their allegation.14 Further,
over a piece of agricultural land located in San Francisco, Agusan del Sur, the determination of their rights to succession must be established in special
covered by Original Certificate of Title No. P-9053.1 proceedings.15

On June 15, 1983, well within the five-year prohibitory period, Eusebio Borromeo The trial court also ruled that "[t]he sale was null and void because it was within
sold the land to Eliseo Maltos.2 the five (5) year prohibitionary [sic] period"16 under the Public Land Act.17 The
defense of indefeasibility of title was unavailing because the title to the property
stated that it was "subject to the provisions of Sections 118, 119, 121, 122 and latter to Appellee ELISEO MALTOS the sum of P36,863.00, all expenses for the
124"18 of the Public Land Act.19 Since the property was sold within the five-year reconveyance to be borne by the buyer, ELISEO MALTOS, herein Appellee and (2)
prohibitory period, such transfer "result[ed] in the cancellation of the grant and ordering the Register of Deeds of Prosperidad, Agusan del Sur to cancel TCT No.
the reversion of the land to the public domain."20 T-5477 and revive OCT No. P-9053.

As to the defense of in pari delicto, the trial court ruled against its Let a copy of this Decision be furnished! the Office of the Solicitor General (OSG)
applicability,21 citing Egao v. Court of Appeals (Ninth Division).22 for its information and appropriate action and to inform this court within a period
of thirty (30) days from receipt hereof of the action done under the premises.
The rule of pari delicto non oritur action (where two persons are equally at fault
neither party may be entitled to relief under the law), admits of exceptions and SO ORDERED.32 (Emphasis supplied)
does not apply to an inexistent contract, such as, a sale void ab initio under the
Public Land Act, when its enforcement or application runs counter to the public
The Maltos Spouses filed a Motion for Reconsideration, arguing that since the
policy of preserving the grantee's right to the land under the homestead
prohibition on transfers of property is provided by law, only the heirs of Borromeo
law.23 (Citation omitted)ChanRoblesVirtualawlibrary
should be punished.33 Punishment, in this case, would come in the form of
preventing the heirs of Borromeo from re-acquiring the land.34 Instead, the land
The trial court further held that since the sale was null and void, no title passed should revert back to the state.35 The Maltos Spouses also prayed that they be
from Eusebio Borromeo to Eliseo Maltos.24 The dispositive portion of the trial reimbursed for the improvements they introduced on the land.36 Assuming that
court's Decision states: they would be found to be also at fault, the principle of in pari delicto should
apply.37
WHEREFORE, for lack of merit, the� complaint under consideration is hereby
ordered DISMISSED. No pronouncement as to costs. The Court of Appeals38 denied the Motion for Reconsideration,39 reasoning that it
could not rule on the issue of who between the parties had the better right to the
SO ORDERED.25 property.40 Also, it was the government who should decide whether the heirs of
Borromeo "should retain ownership of the land."41 With regard to the applicability
On appeal, the heirs of Borromeo argued that they were able to prove their of the in pari delicto doctrine, the Court of Appeals held that in pari delicto does
status as heirs through the testimony of their mother, Norberta Borromeo.26 not apply in cases where its application will violate the policy of the state.42

The heirs of Borromeo also argued that the trial court should have ordered the On May 10, 2006, the Maltos Spouses |filed a Petition43 for Review before this
"revival of [Original Certificate of Title] No. P-9053 in the name of the Heirs of court, questioning the Decision and Resolution of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R.
EUSEBIO BORROMEO."27 CV No. 77142.44

The Court of Appeals28 reversed the Decision of the trial court and held that since This court, in a Resolution45 dated July 5, 2006, required the heirs of Borromeo to
Eusebio Borromeo sold his property within the five-year prohibitory period, the file their Comment.
property should revert to the state.29 However, the government has to file an
action for reversion because "reversion is not automatic." 30 While there is yet no The heirs of Borromeo filed their Comment,46 which was noted by this court in a
action for reversion instituted by the Office of the Solicitor General, the property Resolution47 dated September 25, 2006. In the same Resolution, this court
should be returned to the heirs of Borromeo.31 The dispositive portion of the required the Maltos Spouses to file their Reply.48
Court of Appeals' Decision states:
In a Resolution dated March 28, 2007, this court required Attys. Ma. Cherell L. De
WHEREFORE, premises considered, the instant Appeal is GRANTED. The Castro and Gener C. Sansaet, counsels for the Maltos Spouses, to show cause
Decision of the court a quo in Civil Case No. 946 is hereby SET ASIDE and why they should not be disciplinarily dealt with for their failure to file a Reply.
another one is entered (1) ordering Appellee ELISEO MALTOS to reconvey the They were also required to comply with the Resolution dated September 25,
property subject matter of this litigation to Appellants upon the refund by the 2006.50
Counsels for the Maltos Spouses filed a] Compliance, 51 together with the the land at a much higher price, they can even sell the improvements and profit
Reply.52 In a Resolution53 dated August 15, 2007, this court noted and accepted from them. It would be the height of injustice if all the petitioners would receive
the Compliance, and also noted the Reply. in turning over the subject property to the respondents is the purchase price that
was previously paid EUSEBIO under the deed of
I sale.65ChanRoblesVirtualawlibrary

The Maltos Spouses argue that the heirs of Borromeo did not present evidence to
On the other hand, the heirs of Borromeo argue that the testimonies of Norberta
prove that they are indeed the heirs of Eusebio Borromeo. The heirs of Borromeo
Borromeo and Susan Borromeo Morales on their relationship to Eusebio Borromeo
did not present the death certificate of Eusebio Borromeo, the marriage
were not refuted by the Malios Spouses. Thus, they were able to prove their
certificate of Eusebio Borromeo and Norberta Borromeo, or any of the birth
status as heirs.66
certificates of the children of Eusebio.54 While Norberta Borromeo and two of her
children testified,55 their testimonies should be considered as self-serving.56 The
The heirs of Borromeo also argue that the in pari delicto rule is not applicable
Maltos Spouses cite Article 17257 of the Family Code, which enumerates how
because in Santos v. Roman Catholic Church of Midsayap, et al.,67 this court
filiation may be established.58
stated that the in pari delicto rule does not apply if its application will have the
effect of violating public policy.68
The Maltos Spouses also contest the Court of Appeals' ruling stating that they did
not rebut the testimonies of the heirs of Borromeo because they continuously
With regard to the claim for reimbursements, the heirs of Borromeo argue that
argued that the heirs of Borromeo were unable to prove their status as heirs.59
the Maltos Spouses did not raise their claim for reimbursement in their Answer to
the Complaint. They are now barred from claiming reimbursement since this was
The Maltos Spouses further argue that it was error for the Court of Appeals not to
not raised at the first instance.69
apply the in pari delicto rule, considering that the sale violated Section 118 60 of
the Public Land Act.61 Since both parties are at fault, it follows that Article
Based on the arguments of the parties, the issues for resolution are:
141262 of the Civil Code applies.63
First, whether the Court of Appeals erred in reversing the Decision of the trial
In addition, the Maltos Spouses pray for the reimbursement of the value of the
court and ordering the reconveyance of the property from petitioners Spouses
improvements on the property to prevent unjust enrichment on the part of the
Eliseo Maltos and Rosita Maltos to respondents heirs of Eusebio
heirs of Borromeo.64 The Maltos Spouses enumerate the following circumstances
Borromeo;cralawlawlibrary
to show why they should be reimbursed:
Second, whether the Court of Appeals erred in not applying the doctrine of in pari
a. EUSEBIO has already long received and enjoyed the amount of the purchase
delicto; and
price of the subject land from petitioners.
Finally, whether the Court of Appeals erred in ruling that petitioners Spouses
b. The value of the purchase price of PHP36,863.00 paid in 1983 have since then
Eliseo Maltos and Rosita Maltos are not entitled to reimbursement for the
greatly depreciated. If petitioners had deposited that money in bank or loaned it
improvements they introduced on the land.
to another person instead of purchasing EUSEBIO's property, it would have at
least earned some interest. However, the Court of Appeals incorrectly assumed
II
that the return of the purchase price would be sufficient compensation to the
petitioners.
The five-year period prohibiting the sale of land obtained under homestead or
free patent is provided under Section 118 of the Public Land Act, which states:
c. The value of the improvements introduced by petitioners on the subject
property is much greater than the purchase price that they initially paid on the SECTION 118. Except in favor of the Government or any of its branches, units, or
land. Petitioners estimate the value of the improvements, including hundreds of institutions, or legally constituted banking corporations, lands acquired under free
various fruit-bearing trees and four residential houses, to be at least
patent or homestead provisions shall not be subject to encumbrance or alienation
PHP900,000.00. Because of these improvements, not only can respondents sell
from the date of the approval of the application and for a term of five years from
and after the date of issuance1 of the patent or grant, nor shall they become "lease" and "mortgage" were encumbrances on the parcel of land.85 This court
liable to the satisfaction of any debt contracted prior to the expiration of said also discussed the policy behind the five-year prohibitory period:
period; but the improvements or crops on the land may be mortgaged] or
pledged to qualified persons, associations, or corporations. It is well-known that the homestead laws were designed to distribute disposable
agricultural lots of the State to land-destitute citizens for their home and
cultivation. Pursuant to such benevolent intention the State prohibits the sale or
The reason for prohibiting the alienation or encumbrance of properties covered by
encumbrance of the homestead (Section 116) within five years after the grant of
patent or grant was explained in Metropolitan Bank and Trust Company v.
the patent. After that five-year period the law impliedly permits alienation of the
Viray.70
homestead; but in line with the primordial purpose to favor the homesteader and
his family the statute provides that such alienation or conveyance (Section 117)
In Metropolitan Bank, Edgardo D. Viray and his wife contracted several loans with
shall be subject to the right of repurchase by the homesteader, his widow or heirs
Metrobank which they failed to pay.71 Metrobank filed a Complaint for sum of
within five years. This section 117 is undoubtedly a complement of Section 116.
money before the Regional Trial Court in Manila.72In 1982, during the pendency
It aims to preserve and keep in the family of the homesteader that portion of
of the case, free patents over three parcels of land were issued in favor of
public land which the State had gratuitously given to him. It would, therefore, be
Viray.73 The Complaint for sum of money was decided in 1983 in favor of
in keeping with this fundamental idea to hold, as we hold, that the right to
Metrobank.74 In 1984, the trial court issued a writ of execution over the parcels of
repurchase exists not only when the original homesteader makes the
land.75 An auction sale was held, and Metrobank emerged as the winning
conveyance, but also when it is made by his widow or heirs. This construction is
bidder.76 Viray filed an action for annulment of sale.77 This court ruled that the
clearly deducible from the terms of the statute.ChanRoblesVirtualawlibrary
auction sale was made within the five-year prohibitory period78 and explained
that:
The effect of violating the five-year prohibitory period is provided under Section
[T]he main purpose in the grant of a freq patent of homestead is to preserve and 124 of the Public Land Act, which provides:
keep in the family of the homesteader that portion of public land which the State
has given to him so he may have a place to live with his family and become a SECTION 124. Any acquisition, conveyance, alienation, transfer, or other contract
happy citizen and a useful member of the society. In Jocson v. Soriano, we held made or executed in violation of any of the provisions of sections one hundred
that the conservation of a family home is the purpose of homestead laws. The and eighteen, one hundred and twenty, one hundred and twenty-one, one
policy of the state is to foster, families as the foundation of society, and thus hundred and twenty-two, and one hundred and twenty-three of this. Act shall be
promote general welfare. . . . unlawful and null and void from its execution and shall produce the effect of
annulling and cancelling the grant, title, patent, or permit originally issued,
Section 118 of CA 141, therefore, is predicated on public policy. Its violation recognized or confirmed, actually or presumptively, and cause the reversion of
gives rise to the cancellation of the grant and the reversion of the land and its the property and its improvements to the State.
improvements to the government at the instance of the latter. The provision that
"nor shall they become liable to the satisfaction of any debt contracted prior to In this case, Section 10187 of the Public Land Act is applicable since title already
that expiration of the five-year period" is mandatory and any sale made in vested in Eusebio Borromeo's name. Both the trial court and the Court of Appeals
violation of such provision is void and produces no effect whatsoever, just like found that the sale was made within the five-year prohibitory period. Thus, there
what transpired in this case. Clearly, it is not within the competence of any is sufficient cause to revert the property in favor of the state. However, this court
citizen to barter away what public policy by law seeks to preserve.79 (Citations cannot declare reversion of the property in favor of the state in view of the
omitted)
limitation imposed by Section 101 that an action for reversion must first be filed
by the Office of the Solicitor General.
In Republic v. Court of Appeals,80 Josefina L. Morato applied for free patent over
a parcel which was granted.81 Morato mortgaged and leased a portion of the land III
within the five-year prohibitory period.82Later on, it would also be discovered that
Morato's land formed part of Calauag Bay.83 The Republic filed a Complaint for The doctrine of in pari delicto non oritur actio is inapplicable when public policy
cancellation of title and reversion of the parcel of land.84 This court held that will be violated.
United States is not absolute in its application. It recognizes certain exceptions
constitute criminal offenses. one of them being when its enforcement or application runs counter to an
avowed fundamental policy or to public interest. As stated by us in the Rellosa
The in pari delicto rule is provided under Articles 1411 and 1412 of the Civil case, "This doctrine is subject to one important limitation, namely, [']whenever
Code. Article 1411 pertains to acts that constitute criminal offenses, while Article public policy is considered advanced by allowing either party to sue for relief
1412 pertains to acts that do not These provisions state: against the transaction[']"

ART. 1411. When the nullity proceeds from the illegality of the cause or object of The case under consideration comes within the exception above adverted to.
the contract,� and the act constitutes a criminal offense, both parties being in Here appellee desires to nullify a transaction which was done in violation of the
pari delicto, they shall have no action against each other, and both shall be law. Ordinarily the principle of pari delicto would apply to her because her
prosecuted. Moreover, the provisions of the Penal Code relative to the disposal of predecessor-in-interest has carried out the sale with the presumed knowledge of
effects or instruments of a crime shall be applicable to the things or the price of its illegality, but because the subject of the transaction is a piece of public land,
the contract. public policy requires that she, as heir, be not prevented from re-acquiring it
because it was given by law to her family for her home and cultivation. This is the
This rule shall be applicable when only one of the parties is guilty; but the policy on which our homestead law is predicated. This right cannot be waived. "It
innocent one may claim what he has given, and shall not be bound to comply is not within the competence of any citizen to barter away what public policy by
with his promise. law seeks to preserve." We are, therefore, constrained to hold that appellee can
maintain the present action it being in furtherance of this fundamental aim of our
ART. 1412. If the act in which the unlawful or forbidden cause consists does not homestead law.91 (Emphasis supplied, citations omitted)
constitute a criminal offense, the following rules shall be observed:
The non-application of the in pari delicto rule where public policy would be
(1) When the fault is on the part of both contracting parties, neither may recover
violated has also been applied in other cases.
what he has given by virtue of the contract, or demand the performance of the
other's undertaking;cralawlawlibrary
In Pajuyo v. Court of Appeals,92 this court held that in pari delicto "is not
[applicable to [e]jectment [c]ases"93 and cited Drilon v. Gaurana,94 which
(2) When only one of the contracting parties is at fault, he cannot recover what
discussed the policy behind ejectment cases:
he has given by reason of the contract, or ask for the fulfilment of what has been
promised him. The other, who is not at fault, may demand the return of what he
It must be stated that the purpose of an action of forcible entry and detainer is
has given without any obligation to comply with his promise.
that, regardless of the actual condition of the title to the property, the party in
peaceable quiet possession shall not be turned out by strong hand, violence or
Santos involved the sale of a parcel of land within the five-year prohibitory terror. In affording this remedy of restitution the object of the statute is to
period.88 The Roman Catholic Church raised the defense of in pari delicto.89 It was prevent breaches of the peace and criminal disorder which would ensue from the
also argued by the Rornan Catholic Church that the effect of the sale would be withdrawal of the remedy, and the reasonable hope such withdrawal would create
the reversion of the] property to the state.90 This court held that: that some advantage must accrue to those persons who, believing themselves
entitled to the� possession of property, resort to force to gain possession rather
Section 124 of the Public Land Act indeed provides that any acquisition, than to� some appropriate action in the courts to assert their
conveyance or transfer executed in violation of any of its provisions shall be null claims.95ChanRoblesVirtualawlibrary
and void and shall produce the effect of annulling and cancelling the grant or
patent and cause the reversion of the property to the State, and the principle
This court elucidated that:
of pari delicto has been applied by this Court in a number of cases wherein the
parties to a transaction have proven to be guilty of effected the transaction with
Clearly, the application of the principle of pari delicto to a case of ejectment
knowledge of the cause of its invalidity. But we doubt if these principles can now
between squatters is fraught with danger. To shut out relief to squatters on the
be invoked considering the philosophy and the policy behind the approval of the ground of pari delicto would openly invite mayhem and lawlessness. A squatter
Public Land Act. The principle underlying pari delicto as known here and in the
would oust another squatter from possession of the lot that the latter had illegally
occupied, emboldened by the knowledge that the courts would leave them where As the in pari delicto rule is not applicable, the question now arises as to who
they are. Nothing would then stand in the way of the ousted squatter from re- between the parties have a better right to possess the subject parcel of land. This
claiming his prior possession at all cost. issue was addressed in Santos:

Petty warfare over possession of properties is precisely what ejectment cases or What is important to consider now is who of the parties is the better entitled to
actions for recovery of possession seek to prevent. Even the owner who has title the possession of the land while the government does not take steps to assert its
over the disputed property cannot take the law into his own hands to regain title to the homestead. Upon annulment of the sale, the purchaser's claim is
possession of his property. The owner must go to court.96 (Citation omitted) reduced to the purchase price and its interest. As against the vendor or his heirs,
the purchaser is no more entitled to keep the land than any intruder. Such is the
situation of the appellants. Their right to remain in possession of the land is no
In Loria v. Mu�oz, Jr.,97 Carlos Loria asked Ludolfo Mu�oz, Jr. "to advance
better than that of appellee and, therefore, they should not be allowed to remain
[P]2,000,000.00 for a subcontract of a [P]50,000,000.00 river-dredging project
in it to the prejudice of appellee during and until the government takes steps
in Guinobatan."98 Loria informed Mu�oz that the project would be awarded to
toward its reversion to the State.108 (Emphasis supplied, citation omitted)
Sunwest Construction and Development Corporation, and Sunwest would
subcontract to Mu�oz.99 Mu�oz agreed to Loria's proposal.100 When the river-
dredging project was finished, Loria did not return the P2,000,000.00 despite In Binayug v. Ugaddan,109 which involved the sale of two properties covered by a
Mu�oz's demand.101 Complaint for sum of money.102 Loria raised the argument homestead patent,110this court cited jurisprudence showing that in cases
that Mu�oz "should not be allowed to recover the money"103 since they were in involving the sale of a property covered by the five-year prohibitory period, the
pari delicto.104 This court held that under the principle of unjust enrichment, the property should be returned to the grantee.111
sum of money should be returned.105 In so ruling, this court cited Gonzalo v.
Tarnate, Jr.106 where it was explained that: Applying the ruling in Santos and Binayug, this court makes it clear that
petitioners have no better right to remain in possession of the property against
. . . the application of the doctrine of in pari delicto is not always rigid. An respondents.
accepted exception arises when its application contravenes well-established
public policy. In this jurisdiction, public policy has been defined as "that principle Hence, the Court of Appeals did not err in ruling that while there is yet no action
of the law which holds that no subject or citizen can lawfully do that which has a for reversion filed by the Office of the Solicitor General, the property should be
tendency to hi injurious to the public or against the public conveyed by petitioners to respondents.
good."ChanRoblesVirtualawlibrary
III
Unjust enrichment exists, according to Hulst v. PR Builders, Inc., "when a person
unjustly retains a benefit at the loss of another, or when a person retains money
Petitioners' argument that respondents failed to establish their status as heirs is
or property of another against the fundamental principles of justice, equity and
belied by their admissions during trial and in their pleadings. Petitioners t know
good conscience." The prevention of unjust enrichment is a recognized public
the identity of Eusebio Borromeo's wife. As quoted in the trial court's Decision,
policy of the State, for Article 22 of the Civil Code explicitly provides that "[e]very
petitioners alleged in their Answer that:
person who through an act of performance by another, or any other meins,
acquires or comes into possession of something at the expense of the latter
[I]t was the late Eusebio Borromeo and his wife who came along in Bayugan 2,
without just or legal ground, shall return the same to him." It is wel I to note that
San Francisco, Agusan del Sur, requesting the said defendants to purchase their
Article 22 "is part of the chapter of the Civil Code on Human Relations, the
land because they badly need money and notwithstanding the fact that they have
provisions of which were formulated as basic principles to be observed for the
a little amount and out of pity bought the said land.112ChanRoblesVirtualawlibrary
rightful relationship between human beings and for the stability of the social
order; designed to indicate certain norms that spring from the fountain of good
conscience; guides for human conduct that should run as golden threads through In the Reply, respondents alleged:
society to the end that law may approach its supreme ideal which is the sway and
dominance of justice."107ChanRoblesVirtualawlibrary
The allegation that the late Eusebio Borrjomeo and his wife went to Bayugan II, The question that now poses is whether the return of the value of the products
San Francisco, Agusan del Sur in order to sell the land to the defendant Eliseo gathered from the land by the defendants and the expenses incurred in the
Maltos has no factual basis, the truth of the matter is that the late Eusebio construction of the dike�all useful and necessary expenses�should be ordered to
Borromeo, together with defendant Eliseo Maltos went to Esperanza, Sultan be returned by the defendants to the plaintiffs. While we believe that the rule of
Kudarat to secure the signature of the wife.113 in pari delicto should not apply to the sale of the homestead, because such sale is
contrary to the public policy enunciated in the homestead law, the loss of the
In addition, when petitioner Eliseo Maltos was presented in court, he identified products realized by the defendants and the value of the necessary
improvements� made by them on the land should not be excepted from the
the signatures of the witnesses on the deed of sale as the signatures of Eusebio
application of the said rule because no cause or reason can be cited to justify an
Borromeo's children, namely, Susan, Ana, and Nicolas Borromeo.114
exception. It has been held that the rule of in pari delicto is inapplicable only
Respondents' allegation that they are the heirs of Borromeo is admitted by where the same violates a well-established public policy.
petitioners. Thus, the Court of Appeals did not err in ruling that "the fact that
....
Appellants [referring to respondents] are the spouse and children of the late
EUSEBIO remains unrebutted."115
We are constrained to hold that the heirs of the homesteader should� be
IV declared to have lost and forfeited the value� of the products gathered from the
land, and so should the defendants lose the value of the necessary improvements
With regard to the claim for reimbursement, respondents argue that it was not that they have made thereon.121ChanRoblesVirtualawlibrary
raised as a counterclaim in the Answer to the Complaint.
In Arsenal, the property covered by a homestead patent had been sold to Suralta
During trial, petitioner Eliseo Maltos testified that when he entered the land, in 1957,122 while the Complaint was filed before the trial court in 1974.123 The
there were around 100 trees, including coconut trees and a few banana trees. He case was decided by this court in 1986.124Thus, Suralta had been in possession of
then planted additional coconut trees which, at the time of the trial, were already the property for approximately 17 years before a Complaint was filed. This court
bearing fruit.116 Petitioner Eliseo Maltos' testimony was not rebutted by held that:
respondents.
The value of any improvements made on the land and the interests on the
The general rule is that "[a] compulsory counterclaim . . . not set up shall be purchase price are compensated by the fruits the respondent Suralta and his
barred."117 Further, the computation of the value of the improvements on the heirs received from their long possession of the
land entails findings of fact. homestead.125ChanRoblesVirtualawlibrary

In any case, the Court of Appeals did not err when it stated in its Resolution Angeles and Arsenal both involved the sale of a parcel of land covered by a
dated April 7, 2006 that:
homestead patent within the five-year prohibitory period. These cases also
involved the introduction of improvements on the parcel of land by the buyer.
With respect to Appellees' claim for the reimbursement of the improvements on
the land in question, they are hereby declared to have lost and forfeited the value
Restating the rulings in Angeles and Arsenal, this court finds that while the rule
of the necessary improvements that they made thereon in the same manner that
on in pari delicto does not apply policy, if its effect is to violate public policy it is
Appellants should lose the value of the products gathered by the Appellees from
applicable with regard to value of the improvements� introduced by petitioner
the said land.118
Eliseo Maltos. Petitioners had been in possession of the land for 20 years before
the heirs of Borromeo filed a Complaint. The expenses incurred by petitioners in
The Court of Appeals cited Angeles, et at v. Court of Appeals, et introducing improvements on the land for which they seek reimbursement should
al.119 and Arsenal v. Intermediate Appellate Court.120 In Angeles, this court already be compensated by the fruits they received from the improvements.
discussed that:
V
reversion proceedings under Sec[tion] 101 of the Public Land Act."142 This court
Reversion is a remedy provided under Section 101 of the Public Land Act: restated Section 101 of the Public Land Act:

SECTION 101. All actions for the reversion to the Government of lands of the [A] private individual may not bring an action for reversion or any action which
public domain or improvements thereon shall be instituted by the Solicitor- would have the effect of canceling a free patent and the corresponding certificate
General or the officer acting in his stead, in the proper courts, in the name of of title issued on the basis thereof, such that the land covered thereby will again
Commonwealth of the Philippines. form part of the public domain. Only the Solicitor General or the officer acting in
his stead may do so. Since [the] title originated from a grant by the government,
its cancellation is a matter between the grantor and the grantee.143 (Citations
The purpose of reversion is "to restore public land fraudulently awarded and
omitted)ChanRoblesVirtualawlibrary
disposed of to private individuals or corporations to the mass of public
domain."126
The rule in Alvarico was cited in Cawis, et al. v. Hon. Cerilles, et al.144 In Cawis,
The general rule is that reversion of lands to the state is not automatic, and the the validity of a sales patent and original certificate of title over a parcel of land
Office of the Solicitor General is the proper party to file an action for reversion. in Baguio was questioned.145 This court denied the Petition146 and ruled that the
Complaint was actually a reversion suit, which can be filed only by the Office of
In Villacorta v. Ulanday,127 defendant-appellee Vicente Ulanday admitted that his the Solicitor General or a person acting in its stead.147
purchase of a parcel of land covered by a homestead patent was made within the
five-year prohibitory period, but argued that since the sale was in violation of It was also discussed in Cawis that:
law,128 the property should automatically revert to the state.129 This court held
that reversion was not automatic, and government must file an appropriate The objective of an action for reversion of public land is the cancellation of the
action so that the land may be reverted to the state. 130 certificate of title an|l the resulting reversion of the land covered by the title to
the State| This is why an action for reversion is oftentimes designated asj an
Ortega v. Tan131 involved the sale and mortgage of a parcel of land covered by a annulment suit or a cancellation suit.148
free patent.132 The series of transactions for the sale and mortgage of the
property had been initiated within the five-year prohibitory period but was We clarify that the remedy of reversion is not the same as the remedy of
finalized after the prohibitory period.133 This court held that the sale and declaration of nullity of free patents and certificate of title. In reversion, the
mortgage violated Section 118 of the Public Land Act and that reversion was "allegations in the complaint would admit State ownership of the disputed
proper.134 This court also clarified that: land[,]"149 while in an action for the declaration of nullity of free patent and
certificate of title, the allegations would include "plaintiffs ownership of the
[Reversion] is not automatic. The government has to take action to cancel the
contested lot prior to the issuance of [the] free patent and certificate of title[.]" 150
patent and the certificate of title in order that the land involved may be reverted
to it. Correspondingly, any new transaction would be subject to whatever steps Since an action for reversion presupposes that the property in dispute is owned
the government may take for the reversion to it.135 (Citation
by the state, it is proper that the action be filed by the Office of the Solicitor
omitted)ChanRoblesVirtualawlibrary
General, being the real party-in-interest.

Alvarico v. Solau136 involved a miscellaneous sales application over a parcel of There is, however, an exception to the rule that reversion is not automatic.
land by Fermina Lopez.137Subsequently, Lopez executed a deed of self- Section 29 of the Public Land Act provides:
adjudication and transfer of rights in favor of Amelita Sola.138 The Bureau of
Lands approved the transfer of rights, and title was issued in Sola's SECTION 29. After the cultivation of the land has begun, the purchaser, with the
name.139Castorio Alvarico then filed an action for reconveyance, claiming that the approval of the Secretary of Agriculture and Commerce, may convey or encumber
parcel of land was donated to him.140 He also alleged that Sola acquired the his rights to any person, corporation, or association legally qualified under this
property in bad faith.141 This court held that Alvarico's allegation of bad faith was Act to purchase agricultural public lands, provided such conveyance or
not supported by evidence and that in any case, "only the State can institute encumbrance does not affect any right or interest of the Government in the land:
And provided, further, That the transferee is not delinquent in the payment of be considered "disposed of by the Government," since the aforestated right of the
any installment due and payable. Any sale and encumbrance made without the applicant has the effect of withdrawing the land from the public domain that is
previous approval of the Secretary of Agriculture and Commerce shall be null and "disposable" by the Director of Lands under the provisions of the Public Land Act.
void and shall produce the effect of annulling the acquisition and reverting the . . . However, the disposition is merely provisional because the applicant has still
property and all rights to the State, and all payments on the purchase price to comply with the requirements prescribed by law before . . . . any patent is
theretofore made to the Government shall be forfeited. After the sale has been issued. After the requisites of the law are complied with by the applicant to the
approved, the vendor shall not lose his right to acquire agricultural public lands satisfaction of the Director [of] Lands, the patent is issued.� It is then that the
under the provisions of this Act, provided he has the necessary qualifications. land covered by the application may be considered "permanently disposed of by
(Emphasis supplied) the Government."157 (Citations omitted)

In Francisco v. Rodriguez, et al,151 this court differentiated reversion under In this case, a free patent over the subject parcel of land was issued to Eusebio
Sections 29 and 101 of the Public Land Act.152 This court explained that reversion Borromeo. This shows that he already had title to the property when he sold it to
under Section 29 is self-operative, unlike Section 101 which requires the Office of petitioner Eliseo Maltos. Thus, Section 101 of the Public Land Act applies.
the Solicitor General to institute reversion proceedings.153 Also, Section 101
applies in cases where "title has already vested in the individual[.]"154 The WHEREFORE, the Petition is denied, and the Decision and Resolution of the
Director of Lands sought to execute the Decision in Francisco v. Rodriguez which Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. CV No. 77142 are AFFIRMED, without prejudice to
petitioner Ursula Francisco opposed, arguing that only 29 hectares were reverted the appropriate institution of a case for reversion.
to the state since she was in possession of the remaining four hectares.155 This
court held that the entire property reverted to the state.156 This court also Let a copy of this Decision be furnished the Office of the Solicitor General for its
explained why Francisco v. Rodriguez was covered by Section 29 and not Section appropriate action with respect to the reversion of the land in question.
101 of the Public Land Act:
SO ORDERED.chanroblesvirtuallawlibrary
By transgressing the law, i.e., allowing herself to be a dummy in the acquisition
of the land and selling the same without the previous approval of the Secretary of Carpio, (Chairperson), Brion, Del Castillo, and Mendoza, JJ. , concur.
Agriculture and Natural Resources, plaintiff-appellant herself [referring to
Ursula� Francisco] has eliminated the very source (Sales Application) of her
claim to Lot No. 595, as a consequence of which, she cannot later assert any
right or interest thereon. This is the imperative import of the pronouncements in THIRD DIVISION
G.R. No. L-8263 and in G.R. No. L-15605 that the invalidity of the conveyance by
plaintiff-appellant "produced as a consequence the reversion of the property with
all rights thereto to the State." As a matter of fact, Section 29 of the Public Land
[G. R. No. 147148. January 13, 2003]
Law (Commonwealth Act No. 141) expressly ordains that any sale and
encumbrance made without the previous approval of the Secretary of Agriculture
and Natural Resources "shall be null and void and shall produce the effect of
annulling the acquisition and reverting property and all rights thereto to the
PILAR Y. GOYENA, petitioner, vs. AMPARO LEDESMA-
State, and all payments on the purchase price theretofore made to the
GUSTILO, respondent.
Government shall be forfeited." . . . .

In fact, even if a sales application were already given due course by the Director DECISION
of Lands, the applicant is not thereby conferred any right over the land covered CARPIO-MORALES, J.:
by the application. It is the award made by the Director to the applicant (if he is
the highest bidder) that confers upon him a certain right over the land, namely,
From the Court of Appeals June 19, 2000 Decision which affirmed that of the
"to take possession of the land so that he could comply with the requirements
Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Makati, Branch 149 in Special Proceeding No. N-4375
prescribed by law." It is at this stage, when the award is made, that the land can
appointing herein respondent Amparo Ledesma Gustilo as guardian over the person and this is clearly evident from her letters to the petitioner. Copies of her recent
and property of her sister Julieta Ledesma, Pilar Y. Goyena, Julietas close friend letters are herewith attached as Annexes A to E.
and companion of more than 60 years, comes to this Court on petition for review
on certiorari. xxx
On July 8, 1996, respondent filed at the RTC of Makati a PETITION FOR
LETTERS OF GUARDIANSHIP[1] over the person and properties of her sister Julieta, 2.05 Petitioner is not fit to be appointed as the guardian of Julieta Ledesma since
the pertinent allegations of which read: their interests are antagonistic (Sudler v. Sudler, 121 Md. 46. 49 L.R.A. 800, as
cited in vol. V-B Francisco Revised Rules of Court, Rule 93, Section 4, p. 414).
2. That for the most part during the year 1995 and 1996, Julieta Ledesma has
been a patient in the Makati Medical Center where she is under medical attention xxx
for old age, general debility, and a mini-stroke which she suffered in the United
States in early 1995; 3.01 The above captioned petition should be dismissed for utter lack of legal
and/or factual basis.
3. That Julieta Ledesma is confined to her bed and can not get up from bed
without outside assistance, and she has to be moved by wheel chair; 3.02 In the remote event that this Honorable Court should find that Julieta
Ledesma is incompetent and resolve that there is need to appoint a guardian
4. That Julieta Ledesma owns real estate and personal properties in Metro Manila over her person and property, this Honorable Court should appoint as such
and in Western Visayas, with an aggregate estimated assessed and par value of guardian:
P1 Million Pesos[;]
1. Oppositor Goyena;
5. That Julieta Ledesma is not in a position to care for herself, and that she needs
the assistance of a guardian to manage her interests in on-going corporate and 2. Bart Lacson;
agricultural enterprises;
3. Fely Montelibano;
6. That the nearest of kin of Julieta Ledesma are her sisters of the full blood,
namely, petitioner Amparo Ledesma Gustilo, Teresa Ledesma (aka. Sister Cristina 4. Jose T. Revilla; or
of the Religious of the Assumption, and Loreto Ledesma Mapa, all of whom have
given their consent to the filing of this petition as shown by their signatures at 5. a qualified and reputable person as may be determined fit by this
the bottom of this petition[;] Honorable Court.

7. That petitioner has extensive experience in business management of By Decision[2] of October 4, 1996, the trial court found Julieta incompetent and
commercial, agricultural and corporate enterprises, many of which are in the incapable of taking care of herself and her property and appointed respondent as
same entities where Julieta Ledesma holds an interest, and that she is in a guardian of her person and properties, ratiocinating as follows:
position to monitor and supervise the delivery of vitally needed medical services
to Julieta Ledesma whether in the Metro Manila area, or elsewhere. A perusal of the records shows that petitioner (Amparo) is 72 years of age, the
youngest sister of Julieta. Admittedly, the Oppositor Pilar Goyena, 90 years of
Petitioner filed an Opposition to the petition for letters of guardianship. She age has been the close friend and companion of Julieta for 61 years. Julieta was
later filed an Amended Opposition on August 15, 1996 reading in part: with Oppositor when she suffered her first stroke in Makati in 1991 which was the
reason why Julieta had to give up the management of their hacienda in Bacolod.
2.03 The petition lacked factual and legal basis in that Julieta Ledesma is It is also not disputed that Julieta was with Pilar when she had her second stroke
competent and sane and there is absolutely no need to appoint a guardian to in the U.S. In short, the special bond of friendship existing between Julieta and
take charge of her person/property. She is very able to take charge of her affairs, the Oppositor cannot be denied. Now that Julieta is unable to manage her
personal life and business concerns due to senility and vascular dementia, the not objected to by any of her nearest kin, in contrast to the hostile interest of
oppositor wants to be appointed her guardian or else Bart Lacson, Fely oppositor, the same is hereby DENIED.
Montelibano and Jose T. Revilla.
SO ORDERED.
It is interesting to note that the oppositor has interposed her objection to the
appointment of Amparo as guardian because she thinks that the latter dislikes On appeal of petitioner, the Court of Appeals affirmed the trial courts decision
her. She further added that there were a number of letters allegedly written by on the following ratiocination:[4]
Julieta to Amparo which showed Julietas sentiments regarding certain matters.
Nevertheless, not one of the nearest of kin of Julieta opposed the petition. As a Indeed, oppositor-appellant (Pilar) has not shown the authenticity and due
matter of fact, her sisters signified their conformity thereto. Thus, Ms. Goyenas execution of the letters which purport to show the existence of a rift between
mere conjecture that Amparo dislikes her is no sufficient reason why the petition Julieta and her family and dissatisfaction as to how the businesses were
should be denied. Neither does it make Amparo unsuitable and unfit to perform managed. At any rate, while it is correct to say that no person should be
the duties of a guardian. On the contrary, it is Ms. Goyena who could be appointed guardian if his interest conflict with those of the ward (Guerrero vs.
considered as to have an adverse interest to that of Julieta if it is true that 50% Teran, 13 Phil. 212), there are really no antagonistic interests to speak of
of Julietas holdings at the Makati Medical Center has been transferred to her as between petitioner [Amparo] and Julieta, they being co-owners of certain
alleged in Exhibit 1 and Exhibit A. properties. There is also no showing that petitioners business decisions in the
past had resulted in the prejudice of Julieta.
By and large, the qualification of Amparo to act as guardian over the person and
properties of Julieta has been duly established. As a sister, she can best take care While the oppositor may have been very close to Julieta, there is no sufficient
of Julietas concerns and well being. Now that Julieta is in the twilight of her life, showing that petitioner is hostile to the best interests of the latter. On the
her family should be given the opportunity to show their love and affection for contrary, it was the petitioner who, realizing the need for the appointment of a
her without however denying Pilar Goyena access to her considering the special person to guard her sisters interests, initiated the petition for guardianship. We
bond of friendship between the two. Needless to say, the oppositor at 90 years of see no indication that petitioner is animated by a desire to prejudice
age could not be said to be physically fit to attend to all the needs of Julieta. Julietas health as well as financial interests. In point of fact, it was
oppositor-appellant who had initially concealed the deteriorating state of
WHEREFORE, petitioner Amparo Gustilo, is hereby appointed guardian over the mind of Julieta from the court. Oppositors advanced age of 90 years also
person and property of Julieta Ledesma, an incompetent with all the powers and militate against her assuming the guardianship of the incompetent. The
duties specified under the law. oppositor has declared that she is not interested to be appointed legal
guardian (p.21[,] Appellants Brief, Rollo, p. 59). But the persons that she
Accordingly, let letters of guardianship issue to petitioner upon her filing of a points to as being better choices as Julietas guardian over the appellee have not
bond in the amount of P200,000.00 to guarantee the performance of the acted, nor even indicated, their desire to act as such. In any case, We see no
obligations prescribed for general guardians. cogent reason why We should reverse the well-reasoned disquisition of the trial
court.
SO ORDERED. (Emphasis supplied)
WHEREFORE, finding no error in the appealed decision, the same is
Petitioners Motion for Reconsideration of the trial courts decision was, by Order hereby AFFIRMED.
of November 4, 1996[3], denied in this wise:
SO ORDERED. (Emphasis supplied)
Acting on the Motion for Reconsideration filed by the Oppositor thru counsel, and
finding no merits on the ground stated therein, considering that petitioner Petitioners Motion for Reconsideration of the Court of Appeals decision having
appears to be most qualified and suitable to act as Julieta Ledesmas guardian been denied, she filed the present petition which proffers that:
after taking into consideration the qualifications of the oppositor and her other
recomendees [sic], aside from the fact that petitioners appointment as such was
THE COURT OF APPEALS HAS DECIDED A QUESTION OF SUBSTANCE IN A WAY (1) When the conclusion is a finding grounded entirely on speculation, surmises
NOT IN ACCORD WITH LAW AND APPLICABLE DECISIONS OF THIS HONORABLE and conjectures; (2) When the inference made is manifestly mistaken, absurd or
COURT. impossible; (3) When there is grave abuse of discretion; (4) When the judgment
is based on a misapprehension of facts; (5) When the findings of facts are
THE COURT OF APPEALS HAS DEPARTED FROM THE ACCEPTED AND USUAL conflicting; (6) When the Court of Appeals, in making its findings, went beyond
COURSE OF JUDICIAL PROCEEDINGS IN AFFIRMING THE TRIAL COURTS the issues of the case and the same is contrary to the admissions of both
DECISION DATED OCTOBER 4, 1996 AND IN ISSUING THE RESOLUTIONS DATED appellants and appellee; (7) When the findings of the Court of Appeals are
JUNE 29, 2000 AND FEBRUARY 9, 2001. contrary to those of the trial court; (8) When the findings of facts are conclusions
without citation of specific evidence on which they are based; (9) When the facts
The petition fails. set forth in the petition as well as in the petitioners main and reply briefs are not
disputed by the respondents; and (10) When the findings of fact of the Court of
It is well-entrenched doctrine that questions of fact are not proper subjects of Appeals is premised on the supposed absence of evidence and is contradicted by
appeal by certiorari under Rule 45 of the Rules of Court as this mode of appeal is the evidence on record (Emphasis supplied); (Rollo, 350-351)
confined to questions of law.[5] The test of whether the question is one of law or of
fact is whether the appellate court can determine the issue raised without Petitioner claims that there is no doubt that the instant petition falls within the
reviewing or evaluating the evidence, in which case it is a question of law; above-stated exceptions because the findings of the Court of Appeals are clearly
otherwise, it is question of fact.[6] belied by the evidence on record.[12]
In the case at bar, the only issue before this Court is whether or not the In the selection of a guardian, a large discretion must be allowed the judge
appellate court and the trial court erred in finding that respondent is not unsuitable who deals directly with the parties.[13] As this Court said:
for appointment as guardian of the person and properties of Julieta. In support of
an affirmative answer, petitioner posits as follows: As a rule, when it appears that the judge has exercised care and diligence in
1. The Court of Appeals basis for its decision that there are no antagonistic selecting the guardian, and has given due consideration to the reasons for and
interests between [her] and [respondent] is contrary to the evidence against his action which are urged by the interested parties, his action should
on record,[7] not be disturbed unless it is made very clear that he has fallen into
grievous error.[14]
2. The Court of Appeals erred in holding that there is no showing that
[respondent] is hostile to the best interest of Julieta,[8] and In the case at bar, petitioner has not shown that the lower courts committed
3. Julieta Ledesmas appointed representatives are most suitable to be any error.
appointed as her guardian.[9] Petitioner cannot rely on Garchitorena v. Sotelo[15] with respect to the
Clearly, the issues raised and arguments in support of petitioners position existence of antagonistic interests between respondent and Julieta. In that case,
require a review of the evidence, hence, not proper for consideration in the petition the interest of Perfecto Gabriel as creditor and mortgagee of the minor-wards
at bar. This Court cannot thus be tasked to go over the proofs presented by the properties (a house and lot) is antagonistic to the interest of the wards as
parties and analyze, assess, and weigh them to ascertain if the trial court and mortgagors, hence, Gabriels appointment as guardian was erroneous. For while he
appellate court were correct in according them superior credit.[10] sought to foreclose the wards properties as creditor and mortgagee on one hand,
he had to, on the other hand, endeavor to retain them for the wards as their
That the issues raised are factual is in fact admitted by petitioner in her Reply guardian. Added to that was Gabriels appointment as guardian without him
dated August 30, 2001:[11] informing the guardianship court that he held a mortgage on the
properties. Furthermore, he deliberately misinformed the said court that the first
Although the general rule is that this Honorable Court is not a trier of facts, its mortgagee was the Santa Clara Monastery when it was him. None of the said
jurisdiction being limited to reviewing and revising only errors of law, it is circumstances obtain in the present case.
nonetheless subject to the following exceptions which have been laid down in a
number of decisions of this Honorable Court:
Petitioner can neither rely on certain letters of Julieta to establish her claim (Ledesma) supporting her. No inference as to the existence of antagonistic
that there existed[16] a rift between the two which amounts to antagonistic interests between respondent and Julieta can thus be made.
interests. The first letter[17] sent by Julieta to respondent which reads:
The third letter[19] which reads:
x x x So if you (appellee) do not agree with me (Julieta) my decision is right to
x x x Carlos went to the house before I left and asked from me twenty thousand
let us divide as soon as possible, so we will have capital each of us to work, and
keep the Hda, for [sic] generation to generation. (20,000) shares of San Carlos Milling which you gave because I wanted to sell
all.xxx If he does not sell or cannot sell, just arrange to send them back to
me. Amparing since I came here to America and Vancouver my requests have
xxx
been ignored. Everyone is suspecting that Pilar is the one ordering or
commanding me that is not true. What I asked from Julio is just to report to me
For the last time I will repeat even if I have to kneel before you and Carlos I have or send me reports so I can follow up from here. But up to now he has ignored
no interest anymore in any future investment due to my age and being single and my requests x x x. (Letter to appellee Exhibit 4)
alone in life. I would like to be able to enjoy whatever monies that correspond to
me. I would like to have enough money as a reserve for any future need that I
has no relevance to the issue of whether or not the lower courts erred in finding
might have like hospitalization, travel, buying whatever I like, etc. etc. (Letter to
that respondent is not unsuitable for appointment as guardian. The letter in fact
appellee; Exhibit 2)
discloses, that it was Julietas nephew Julio Ledesma, and not respondent, who
ignored the request.
merely shows Julietas lack of interest in future investments, not necessarily a
business disagreement, and certainly not per se amounting to antagonistic As for the fourth letter[20] which reads:
interests between her and respondent to render the latter unsuitable for
appointment as guardian. I want all of you to know that whatever decision now and in the future I want to
do nobody can stop me especially regarding my properties, money, etc. I will be
The second letter[18] which reads:
the only one to dispose of it because it is mine. You said to Raul you are going to
court, you are most welcome x x x. (Letter to Connie, Exhibit 5)
My mind is still clear to tell you about Fortuna when I had my stroke I was
confined in MMC for one month. If I am not mistaken you did not visit
it has also no relevance to the issue in the case at bar. The letter is not even
me. One day Carlos came to visit me and asked me this question. Do you think
addressed to respondent but to a certain Connie (a sister-in-law of Julieta).
you will be able to continue managing the Hda? I answered him I dont know it all
depends on my sickness. Carlos said who do you want to take your place? I said I Petitioners assertion that respondents intent in instituting the guardianship
want Cheling Zabaljauregui. Then Carlos said O.K. He asked Pilar can you contact proceedings is to take control of Julietas properties and use them for her own
Cheling? Tell him to call me or see me. The nephew of Cheling was a resident in benefit[21] is purely speculative and finds no support form the records.
MMC through him Pilar was able to contact Cheling and gave him Carlos
message. So I thought all the time it was agreeable. I left for USA for The claim that respondent is hostile to the best interests of Julieta also lacks
treatment. To my surprise when I came back from USA it was not Cheling, merit. That respondent removed Julieta from the Makati Medical Center where she
but you (appellee) took over the management as you requested. Carlos was confined after she suffered a stroke does not necessarily show her hostility
did not tell me but decided in your favor. x x x (Letter to appellee; Exhibit 3; towards Julieta, given the observation by the trial court, cited in the present
emphasis supplied) petition, that Julieta was still placed under the care of doctors[22] after she checked
out and was returned to the hospital when she suffered another stroke.
shows that: 1) respondent did not visit Julieta when she was confined at the Finally, this Court notes two undisputed facts in the case at bar, to wit: 1)
Makati Medical Center on account of her stroke, 2) there was disagreement as to Petitioner opposed the petition for the appointment of respondent as guardian
who should run the hacienda, with Julieta favoring a certain Cheling Zabaljaurigue, before the trial court because, among other reasons, she felt she was disliked by
and 3) respondent took over management of the hacienda with their brother Carlos respondent,[23] a ground which does not render respondent unsuitable for
appointment as guardian, and 2) Petitioner concealed the deteriorating state of The amended Complaint[5] pertinently alleged that plaintiff Caiza was the
mind of Julieta before the trial court,[24] which is reflective of a lack of good faith. absolute owner of the property in question, covered by TCT No. 27147; that out of
kindness, she had allowed the Estrada Spouses, their children, grandchildren and
Discussion of the third argument is unnecessary, the suitability of Amparo for sons-in-law to temporarily reside in her house, rent-free; that Caiza already had
appointment as guardian not having been successfully contested. urgent need of the house on account of her advanced age and failing health, "so
ACCORDINGLY, for lack of merit, the petition is hereby DISMISSED. funds could be raised to meet her expenses for support, maintenance and medical
treatment;" that through her guardian, Caiza had asked the Estradas verbally and
SO ORDERED. in writing to vacate the house but they had refused to do so; and that "by the
Puno, (Chairman), Panganiban, Sandoval-Gutierrez and Corona, JJ., concur. defendants' act of unlawfully depriving plaintiff of the possession of the house in
question, they ** (were) enriching themselves at the expense of the incompetent,
because, while they ** (were) saving money by not paying any rent for the house,
the incompetent ** (was) losing much money as her house could not be rented by
THIRD DIVISION others." Also alleged was that the complaint was "filed within one (1) year from
the date of first letter of demand dated February 3, 1990."
In their Answer with Counterclaim, the defendants declared that they had been
[G.R. No. 110427. February 24, 1997] living in Caiza's house since the 1960's; that in consideration of their faithful service
they had been considered by Caiza as her own family, and the latter had in fact
executed a holographic will on September 4, 1988 by which she "bequeathed" to
the Estradas the house and lot in question.
The Incompetent, CARMEN CAIZA, represented by her legal guardian, Judgment was rendered by the MetroTC on April 13, 1992 in Caiza's
AMPARO EVANGELISTA, petitioner, vs. COURT OF APPEALS favor,[6] the Estradas being ordered to vacate the premises and pay
(SPECIAL FIRST DIVISION), PEDRO ESTRADA and his wife, Caiza P5,000.00 by way of attorney's fees.
LEONORA ESTRADA, respondents.
But on appeal,[7] the decision was reversed by the Quezon City Regional Trial
DECISION Court, Branch 96.[8] By judgment rendered on October 21, 1992,[9] the RTC held
that the "action by which the issue of defendants' possession should be resolved
NARVASA, C.J.: is accion publiciana, the obtaining factual and legal situation ** demanding
adjudication by such plenary action for recovery of possession cognizable in the
On November 20, 1989, being then ninety-four (94) years of age, Carmen first instance by the Regional Trial Court."
Caiza, a spinster, a retired pharmacist, and former professor of the College of
Caiza sought to have the Court of Appeals reverse the decision of October 21,
Chemistry and Pharmacy of the University of the Philippines, was declared
1992, but failed in that attempt. In a decision [10] promulgated on June 2, 1993, the
incompetent by judgment[1] of the Regional Trial Court of Quezon City, Branch
Appellate Court[11] affirmed the RTC's judgment in toto. It ruled that (a) the proper
107,[2] in a guardianship proceeding instituted by her niece, Amparo A.
remedy for Caiza was indeed an accion publiciana in the RTC, not an accion
Evangelista.[3] She was so adjudged because of her advanced age and physical
interdictal in the MetroTC, since the "defendants have not been in the subject
infirmities which included cataracts in both eyes and senile dementia. Amparo A.
premises as mere tenants or occupants by tolerance, they have been there as a
Evangelista was appointed legal guardian of her person and estate.
sort of adopted family of Carmen Caiza," as evidenced by what purports to be the
Caiza was the owner of a house and lot at No. 61 Tobias St., Quezon City. On holographic will of the plaintiff; and (b) while "said will, unless and until it has
September 17, 1990, her guardian Amparo Evangelista commenced a suit in the passed probate by the proper court, could not be the basis of defendants' claim to
Metropolitan Trial Court (MetroTC) of Quezon City (Branch 35) to eject the spouses the property, ** it is indicative of intent and desire on the part of Carmen Caiza
Pedro and Leonora Estrada from said premises.[4] The complaint was later amended that defendants are to remain and are to continue in their occupancy and
to identify the incompetent Caiza as plaintiff, suing through her legal guardian, possession, so much so that Caiza's supervening incompetency can not be said to
Amparo Evangelista. have vested in her guardian the right or authority to drive the defendants out."[12]
Through her guardian, Caiza came to this Court praying for reversal of the 9. That the defendants, their children, grandchildren and sons-in-law, were
Appellate Court's judgment. She contends in the main that the latter erred in (a) allowed to live temporarily in the house of plaintiff, Carmen Caiza, for free, out of
holding that she should have pursued an accion publiciana, and not an accion her kindness;
interdictal; and in (b) giving much weight to "a xerox copy of an alleged holographic
will, which is irrelevant to this case."[13] 10. That the plaintiff, through her legal guardian, has duly notified the
defendants, for them to vacate the said house, but the two (2) letters of demand
In the responsive pleading filed by them on this Court's requirement, the
[14]
were ignored and the defendants refused to vacate the same. **
Estradas insist that the case against them was really not one of unlawful detainer;
they argue that since possession of the house had not been obtained by them by
any "contract, express or implied," as contemplated by Section 1, Rule 70 of the 11. That the plaintiff, represented by her legal guardian, Amparo Evangelista,
Rules of Court, their occupancy of the premises could not be deemed one made another demand on the defendants for them to vacate the premises, before
"terminable upon mere demand (and hence never became unlawful) within the Barangay Captain Angelina A. Diaz of Barangay Laging Handa, Quezon City, but
context of the law." Neither could the suit against them be deemed one of forcible after two (2) conferences, the result was negative and no settlement was
entry, they add, because they had been occupying the property with the prior reached. A photocopy of the Certification to File Action dated July 4, 1990; issued
consent of the "real owner," Carmen Caiza, which "occupancy can even ripen into by said Barangay Captain is attached, marked Annex "D" and made an integral
full ownership once the holographic will of petitioner Carmen Caiza is admitted to part hereof;
probate." They conclude, on those postulates, that it is beyond the power of Caiza's
legal guardian to oust them from the disputed premises. 12. That the plaintiff has given the defendants more than thirty (30) days to
vacate the house, but they still refused to vacate the premises, and they are up
Carmen Caiza died on March 19, 1994,[15] and her heirs -- the aforementioned to this time residing in the said place;
guardian, Amparo Evangelista, and Ramon C. Nevado, her niece and nephew,
respectively -- were by this Court's leave, substituted for her.[16]
13. That this complaint is filed within one (1) year from the date of first letter of
Three issues have to be resolved: (a) whether or not an ejectment action is demand dated February 3, 1990 (Annex "B") sent by the plaintiff to the
the appropriate judicial remedy for recovery of possession of the property in defendants, by her legal guardian -- Amparo Evangelista;
dispute; (b) assuming desahucio to be proper, whether or not Evangelista, as
Caiza's legal guardian had authority to bring said action; and (c) assuming an 14. By the defendants' act of unlawfully depriving the plaintiff of the possession
affirmative answer to both questions, whether or not Evangelista may continue to of the house in question, they are enriching themselves at the expense of the
represent Caiza after the latter's death. incompetent plaintiff, because, while they are saving money by not paying any
rent for the house, the plaintiff is losing much money as her house could not be
I rented by others;
It is axiomatic that what determines the nature of an action as well as which
court has jurisdiction over it, are the allegations of the complaint and the character 15. That the plaintiff's health is failing and she needs the house urgently, so that
of the relief sought.[17] An inquiry into the averments of the amended complaint in funds could be raised to meet her expenses for her support, maintenance and
the Court of origin is thus in order.[18] medical treatment;

The amended Complaint alleges:[19]


16. That because of defendants' refusal to vacate the house at No. 61 Scout
Tobias, Quezon City, the plaintiff, through her legal guardian, was compelled to
"6. That the plaintiff, Carmen Caiza, is the sole and absolute owner of a house go to court for justice, and she has to spend P10,000.00 as attorney's fees."
and lot at No. 61 Scout Tobias, Quezon City, which property is now the subject of
this complaint;
Its prayer[20] is quoted below:
** ** **
"WHEREFORE, in the interest of justice and the rule of law, plaintiff, Carmen
Caiza, represented by her legal guardian. Amparo Evangelista, respectfully prays
to this Honorable Court, to render judgment in favor of plaintiff and against the temporarily ** (therein) for free, out of ** (Caiza's) kindness" -- in no sense could
defendants as follows: there be an "expiration or termination of ** (their) right to hold possession, by
virtue of any contract, express or implied." Nor would an action for forcible entry
1. To order the defendants, their children, grandchildren, sons-in-law and other lie against them, since there is no claim that they had "deprived (Caiza) of the
persons claiming under them, to vacate the house and premises at No. 61 Scout possession of ** (her property) by force, intimidation, threat, strategy, or stealth."
Tobias, Quezon City, so that its possession can be restored to the plaintiff,
The argument is arrant sophistry. Caiza's act of allowing the Estradas to occupy
Carmen Caiza: and
her house, rent-free, did not create a permanent and indefeasible right of
possession in the latter's favor. Common sense, and the most rudimentary sense
2. To pay attorney's fees in the amount of P10,000.00; of fairness clearly require that act of liberality be implicitly, but no less certainly,
accompanied by the necessary burden on the Estradas of returning the house to
3. To pay the costs of the suit." Caiza upon her demand. More than once has this Court adjudged that a person
who occupies the land of another at the latter's tolerance or permission without
In essence, the amended complaint states: any contract between them is necessarily bound by an implied promise that he will
vacate upon demand, failing which a summary action for ejectment is the proper
1) that the Estradas were occupying Caiza's house by tolerance -- having been remedy against him.[23] The situation is not much different from that of a tenant
"allowed to live temporarily ** (therein) for free, out of ** (Caiza's) kindness;" whose lease expires but who continues in occupancy by tolerance of the owner, in
which case there is deemed to be an unlawful deprivation or withholding of
2) that Caiza needed the house "urgently" because her "health ** (was) failing possession as of the date of the demand to vacate. [24] In other words, one whose
and she ** (needed) funds ** to meet her expenses for her support, stay is merely tolerated becomes a deforciant illegally occupying the land or
maintenance and medical treatment;" property the moment he is required to leave.[25] Thus, in Asset Privatization Trust
vs. Court of Appeals,[26] where a company, having lawfully obtained possession of
a plant upon its undertaking to buy the same, refused to return it after failing to
3) that through her general guardian, Caiza requested the Estradas several
fulfill its promise of payment despite demands, this Court held that "(a)fter demand
times, orally and in writing, to give back possession of the house;
and its repudiation, ** (its) continuing possession ** became illegal and the
complaint for unlawful detainer filed by the ** (plant's owner) was its proper
4) that the Estradas refused and continue to refuse to give back the house to remedy."
Caiza, to her continuing prejudice; and
It may not be amiss to point out in this connection that where there had been
5) that the action was filed within one (1) year from the last demand to vacate. more than one demand to vacate, the one-year period for filing the complaint for
unlawful detainer must be reckoned from the date of the last demand, [27] the
Undoubtedly, a cause of action for desahucio has been adequately set out. It reason being that the lessor has the option to waive his right of action based on
is settled that in an action for unlawful detainer, it suffices to allege that the previous demands and let the lessee remain meanwhile in the premises. [28] Now,
defendant is unlawfully withholding possession from the plaintiff is deemed the complaint filed by Caiza's guardian alleges that the same was "filed within one
sufficient,[21] and a complaint for unlawful detainer is sufficient if it alleges that the (1) year from the date of the first letter of demand dated February 3, 1990."
withholding of possession or the refusal to vacate is unlawful without necessarily Although this averment is not in accord with law because there is in fact a second
employing the terminology of the law.[22] letter of demand to vacate, dated February 27, 1990, the mistake is
inconsequential, since the complaint was actually filed on September 17, 1990,
The Estradas' first proffered defense derives from a literal construction of well within one year from the second (last) written demand to vacate.
Section 1, Rule 70 of the Rules of Court which inter alia authorizes the institution
of an unlawful detainer suit when "the possession of any land or building is The Estradas' possession of the house stemmed from the owner's express
unlawfully withheld after the expiration or termination of the right to hold permission. That permission was subsequently withdrawn by the owner, as was
possession, by virtue of any contract, express or implied." They contend that since her right; and it is immaterial that the withdrawal was made through her judicial
they did not acquire possession of the property in question "by virtue of any guardian, the latter being indisputably clothed with authority to do so. Nor is it of
contract, express or implied" -- they having been, to repeat, "allowed to live any consequence that Carmen Caiza had executed a will bequeathing the disputed
property to the Estradas; that circumstance did not give them the right to stay in Evangelista's duty to care for her aunt's person, to attend to her physical and
the premises after demand to vacate on the theory that they might in future spiritual needs, to assure her well-being, with right to custody of her person in
become owners thereof, that right of ownership being at best inchoate, no transfer preference to relatives and friends.[33] It also became her right and duty to get
of ownership being possible unless and until the will is duly probated. possession of, and exercise control over, Caiza's property, both real and personal,
it being recognized principle that the ward has no right to possession or control of
Thus, at the time of the institution of the action of desahucio, the Estradas had his property during her incompetency.[34] That right to manage the ward's estate
no legal right to the property, whether as possessors by tolerance or sufferance,
carries with it the right to take possession thereof and recover it from anyone who
or as owners. They could not claim the right of possession by sufferance, that had retains it,[35] and bring and defend such actions as may be needful for this
been legally ended. They could not assert any right of possession flowing from their purpose. [36]
ownership of the house; their status as owners is dependent on the probate of the
holographic will by which the property had allegedly been bequeathed to them -- Actually, in bringing the action of desahucio, Evangelista was merely
an event which still has to take place; in other words; prior to the probate of the discharging the duty to attend to "the comfortable and suitable maintenance of the
will, any assertion of possession by them would be premature and inefficacious. ward" explicitly imposed on her by Section 4, Rule 96 of the Rules of Court, viz.:
In any case, the only issue that could legitimately be raised under the
"SEC. 4. Estate to be managed frugally, and proceeds applied to maintenance of
circumstances was that involving the Estradas' possession by tolerance, i.e.,
ward. A guardian must manage the estate of his ward frugally and without waste,
possession de facto, not de jure. It is therefore incorrect to postulate that the
and apply the income and profits thereof, so far as maybe necessary, to the
proper remedy for Caiza is not ejectment but accion publiciana, a plenary action in
comfortable and suitable maintenance of the ward and his family, if there be any;
the RTC or an action that is one for recovery of the right to possession de jure.
and if such income and profits be insufficient for that purpose, the guardian may
II sell or encumber the real estate, upon being authorized by order to do so, and
apply to such of the proceeds as may be necessary to such maintenance."
The Estradas insist that the devise of the house to them by Caiza clearly
denotes her intention that they remain in possession thereof, and legally
Finally, it may be pointed out in relation to the Estradas's defenses in the
incapacitated her judicial guardian, Amparo Evangelista, from evicting them
ejectment action, that as the law now stands, even when, in forcible entry and
therefrom, since their ouster would be inconsistent with the ward's will.
unlawful detainer cases, the defendant raises the question of ownership in his
A will is essentially ambulatory; at any time prior to the testator's death, it pleadings and the question of possession cannot be resolved without deciding the
may be changed or revoked;[29] and until admitted to probate, it has no effect issue of ownership, the Metropolitan Trial Courts, Municipal Trial Courts, and
whatever and no right can be claimed thereunder, the law being quite explicit: "No Municipal Circuit Trial Courts nevertheless have the undoubted competence to
will shall pass either real or personal property unless it is proved and allowed in resolve. "the issue of ownership ** only to determine the issue of possession." [37]
accordance with the Rules of Court" (ART. 838, id.). [30] An owner's intention to
III
confer title in the future to persons possessing property by his tolerance, is not
inconsistent with the former's taking back possession in the meantime for any As already stated, Carmen Caiza passed away during the pendency of this
reason deemed sufficient. And that in this case there was sufficient cause for the appeal. The Estradas thereupon moved to dismiss the petition, arguing that Caiza's
owner's resumption of possession is apparent: she needed to generate income from death automatically terminated the guardianship, Amaparo Evangelista lost all
the house on account of the physical infirmities afflicting her, arising from her authority as her judicial guardian, and ceased to have legal personality to represent
extreme age. her in the present appeal. The motion is without merit.
Amparo Evangelista was appointed by a competent court the general guardian While it is indeed well-established rule that the relationship of guardian and
of both the person and the estate of her aunt, Carmen Caiza. Her Letters of ward is necessarily terminated by the death of either the guardian or the
Guardianship[31] dated December 19, 1989 clearly installed her as the "guardian ward,[38] the rule affords no advantage to the Estradas. Amparo Evangelista, as
over the person and properties of the incompetent CARMEN CAIZA with full niece of Carmen Caiza, is one of the latter's only two (2) surviving heirs, the other
authority to take possession of the property of said incompetent in any province or being Caiza's nephew, Ramon C. Nevado. On their motion and by Resolution of this
provinces in which it may be situated and to perform all other acts necessary for Court[39] of June 20, 1994, they were in fact substituted as parties in the appeal at
the management of her properties ** "[32] By that appointment, it became
bar in place of the deceased, in accordance with Section 17, Rule 3 of the Rules of
Court, viz.:[40] NILO OROPESA, G.R. No. 184528
Petitioner,
"SEC. 18. Death of a party. After a party dies and the claim is not thereby Present:
extinguished, the court shall order, upon proper notice, the legal representative
of the deceased to appear and be substituted for the deceased within a period of CORONA, C.J.,
thirty (30) days, or within such time as may be granted. If the legal Chairperson,
representative fails to appear within said time, the court may order the opposing LEONARDO-DE CASTRO,
party to procure the appointment of a legal representative of the deceased within - versus - BERSAMIN,
a time to be specified by the court, and the representative shall immediately DEL CASTILLO, and
appear for and on behalf of the interest of the deceased. The court charges VILLARAMA, JR., JJ.
involved in procuring such appointment, if defrayed by the opposing party, may
be recovered as costs. The heirs of the deceased may be allowed to be Promulgated:
substituted for the deceased, without requiring the appointment of an executor or
administrator and the court may appoint guardian ad litem for the minor heirs. CIRILO OROPESA,
Respondent. April 25, 2012
To be sure, an ejectment case survives the death of a party. Caiza's demise x- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
did not extinguish the desahucio suit instituted by her through her x
guardian.[41] That action, not being a purely personal one, survived her death; her
heirs have taken her place and now represent her interests in the appeal at bar.
DECISION
WHEREFORE, the petition is GRANTED. The Decision of the Court of Appeals
promulgated on June 2, 1993 -- affirming the Regional Trial Court's judgment and
dismissing petitioner's petition for certiorari -- is REVERSED and SET ASIDE, and LEONARDO-DE CASTRO, J.:
the Decision dated April 13, 1992 of the Metropolitan Trial Court of Quezon City,
Branch 35, in Civil Case No. 3410 is REINSTATED and AFFIRMED. Costs against
private respondents. This is a petition for review on certiorari under Rule 45 of the 1997 Rules of Civil
SO ORDERED. Procedure of the Decision[1] dated February 29, 2008, as well as the
Davide, Jr., Melo, Francisco, and Panganiban, JJ., concur. Resolution [2]
dated September 16, 2008, both rendered by the Court of Appeals in
CA-G.R. CV No. 88449, entitled NILO OROPESA vs. CIRILO OROPESA. The Court
of Appeals issuances affirmed the Order[3] dated September 27, 2006 and the
Order[4] dated November 14, 2006 issued by the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of
Paraaque City, Branch 260 in SP. Proc. Case No. 04-0016, which dismissed
petitioner Nilo Oropesas petition for guardianship over the properties of his father,
respondent Cirilo Oropesa (a widower), and denied petitioners motion for
Republic of the Philippines reconsideration thereof, respectively.

Supreme Court
Baguio City The facts of this case, as summed in the assailed Decision, follow:

FIRST DIVISION On January 23, 2004, the (petitioner) filed with the Regional Trial
Court of Paraaque City, a petition for him and a certain Ms. Louie
Ginez to be appointed as guardians over the property of his father,
the (respondent) Cirilo Oropesa. The case was docketed as SP Proc. In an Order dated July 14, 2006, the court a quo granted the
No. 04-0016 and raffled off to Branch 260. (respondents) Omnibus Motion. Thereafter, the (respondent) then
filed his Demurrer to Evidence dated July 23, 2006.[5] (Citations
In the said petition, it is alleged among others that the (respondent) omitted.)
has been afflicted with several maladies and has been sickly for over
ten (10) years already having suffered a stroke on April 1, 2003 and
June 1, 2003, that his judgment and memory [were] impaired and The trial court granted respondents demurrer to evidence in an Order dated
such has been evident after his hospitalization; that even before his
September 27, 2006. The dispositive portion of which reads:
stroke, the (respondent) was observed to have had lapses in
memory and judgment, showing signs of failure to manage his
property properly; that due to his age and medical condition, he WHEREFORE, considering that the petitioner has failed to provide
cannot, without outside aid, manage his property wisely, and has sufficient evidence to establish that Gen. Cirilo O. Oropesa is
become an easy prey for deceit and exploitation by people around incompetent to run his personal affairs and to administer his
him, particularly Ms. Ma. Luisa Agamata, his girlfriend. properties, Oppositors Demurrer to Evidence is GRANTED, and the
case is DISMISSED.[6]
In an Order dated January 29, 2004, the presiding judge of the
court a quo set the case for hearing, and directed the court social
worker to conduct a social case study and submit a report thereon. Petitioner moved for reconsideration but this was denied by the trial court
in an Order dated November 14, 2006, the dispositive portion of which states:
Pursuant to the abovementioned order, the Court Social Worker
conducted her social case study, interviewing the (petitioner) and WHEREFORE, considering that the Court record shows that
his witnesses. The Court Social Worker subsequently submitted her petitioner-movant has failed to provide sufficient documentary and
report but without any finding on the (respondent) who refused to testimonial evidence to establish that Gen. Cirilo Oropesa is
see and talk to the social worker. incompetent to run his personal affairs and to administer his
properties, the Court hereby affirms its earlier Order dated 27
On July 6, 2004, the (respondent) filed his Opposition to the petition September 2006.
for guardianship. On August 3, 2004, the (respondent) filed his
Supplemental Opposition. Accordingly, petitioners Motion for Reconsideration is DENIED
for lack of merit.[7]
Thereafter, the (petitioner) presented his evidence which consists of
his testimony, and that of his sister Gianina Oropesa Bennett, and
the (respondents) former nurse, Ms. Alma Altaya.
Unperturbed, petitioner elevated the case to the Court of Appeals but his
After presenting evidence, the (petitioner) filed a manifestation appeal was dismissed through the now assailed Decision dated February 29, 2008,
dated May 29, 2006 resting his case. The (petitioner) failed to file the dispositive portion of which reads:
his written formal offer of evidence.
WHEREFORE, premises considered the instant appeal is
Thus, the (respondent) filed his Omnibus Motion (1) to Declare the DISMISSED. The assailed orders of the court a quo dated September
petitioner to have waived the presentation of his Offer of Exhibits 27, 2006 and November 14, 2006 are AFFIRMED.[8]
and the presentation of his Evidence Closed since they were not
formally offered; (2) To Expunge the Documents of the Petitioner
from the Record; and (3) To Grant leave to the Oppositor to File
Demurrer to Evidence.
A motion for reconsideration was filed by petitioner but this was denied by without outside aid are considered as incompetents who may properly be placed
the Court of Appeals in the similarly assailed Resolution dated September 16, under guardianship. The full text of the said provision reads:
2008. Hence, the instant petition was filed.
Sec. 2. Meaning of the word incompetent. Under this rule, the
word incompetent includes persons suffering the penalty of civil
Petitioner submits the following question for consideration by this Court:
interdiction or who are hospitalized lepers, prodigals, deaf and dumb
who are unable to read and write, those who are of unsound mind,
WHETHER RESPONDENT IS CONSIDERED AN INCOMPETENT even though they have lucid intervals, and persons not being of
PERSON AS DEFINED UNDER SECTION 2, RULE 92 OF THE RULES unsound mind, but by reason of age, disease, weak mind, and other
OF COURT WHO SHOULD BE PLACED UNDER GUARDIANSHIP[9] similar causes, cannot, without outside aid, take care of themselves
and manage their property, becoming thereby an easy prey for
deceit and exploitation.
After considering the evidence and pleadings on record, we find the petition
to be without merit.
We have held in the past that a finding that a person is incompetent should
Petitioner comes before the Court arguing that the assailed rulings of the be anchored on clear, positive and definite evidence.[12] We consider that
Court of Appeals should be set aside as it allegedly committed grave and reversible evidentiary standard unchanged and, thus, must be applied in the case at bar.
error when it affirmed the erroneous decision of the trial court which purportedly
disregarded the overwhelming evidence presented by him showing respondents In support of his contention that respondent is incompetent and, therefore,
incompetence. should be placed in guardianship, petitioner raises in his Memorandum [13] the
In Francisco v. Court of Appeals,[10] we laid out the nature and purpose of following factual matters:
guardianship in the following wise:
a. Respondent has been afflicted with several maladies and has
A guardianship is a trust relation of the most sacred been sickly for over ten (10) years already;
character, in which one person, called a guardian acts for another
called the ward whom the law regards as incapable of managing his b. During the time that respondent was hospitalized at the St.
own affairs. A guardianship is designed to further the wards well- Lukes Medical Center after his stroke, he purportedly requested
being, not that of the guardian. It is intended to preserve the wards one of his former colleagues who was visiting him to file a loan
property, as well as to render any assistance that the ward may application with the Armed Forces of the Philippines Savings and
personally require. It has been stated that while custody involves Loan Association, Inc. (AFPSLAI) for payment of his hospital bills,
immediate care and control, guardianship indicates not only those when, as far as his children knew, he had substantial amounts of
responsibilities, but those of one in loco parentis as well.[11] money in various banks sufficient to cover his medical expenses;

c. Respondents residence allegedly has been left dilapidated due


to lack of care and management;
In a guardianship proceeding, a court may appoint a qualified guardian if
the prospective ward is proven to be a minor or an incompetent. d. The realty taxes for respondents various properties remain
unpaid and therefore petitioner and his sister were supposedly
A reading of Section 2, Rule 92 of the Rules of Court tells us that persons compelled to pay the necessary taxes;
who, though of sound mind but by reason of age, disease, weak mind or other
similar causes, are incapable of taking care of themselves and their property
e. Respondent allegedly instructed petitioner to sell his Nissan to copy geometrical designs using tiles. Likewise, he was able to
Exalta car for the reason that the former would be purchasing render and read the correct time on the Clock Drawing Test. x x x.
another vehicle, but when the car had been sold, respondent did
not procure another vehicle and refused to account for the money xxxx
earned from the sale of the old car; x x x Reasoning abilities were generally intact as he was able
to suggest effective solutions to problem situations. x x x.[17]
f. Respondent withdrew at least $75,000.00 from a joint account
under his name and his daughters without the latters knowledge
or consent; With the failure of petitioner to formally offer his documentary evidence, his
proof of his fathers incompetence consisted purely of testimonies given by himself
g. There was purportedly one occasion where respondent took a
kitchen knife to stab himself upon the orders of his girlfriend and his sister (who were claiming interest in their fathers real and personal
during one of their fights; properties) and their fathers former caregiver (who admitted to be acting under
their direction). These testimonies, which did not include any expert medical
h. Respondent continuously allows his girlfriend to ransack his testimony, were insufficient to convince the trial court of petitioners cause of action
house of groceries and furniture, despite protests from his
children.[14] and instead lead it to grant the demurrer to evidence that was filed by respondent.

Even if we were to overlook petitioners procedural lapse in failing to make


Respondent denied the allegations made by petitioner and cited petitioners a formal offer of evidence, his documentary proof were comprised mainly of
lack of material evidence to support his claims. According to respondent, petitioner certificates of title over real properties registered in his, his fathers and his sisters
did not present any relevant documentary or testimonial evidence that would attest names as co-owners, tax declarations, and receipts showing payment of real estate
to the veracity of his assertion that respondent is incompetent largely due to his taxes on their co-owned properties, which do not in any way relate to his fathers
alleged deteriorating medical and mental condition. In fact, respondent points out alleged incapacity to make decisions for himself. The only medical document on
that the only medical document presented by petitioner proves that he is indeed record is the aforementioned Report of Neuropsychological Screening which was
competent to run his personal affairs and administer his properties. Portions of the attached to the petition for guardianship but was never identified by any witness
said document, entitled Report of Neuropsychological Screening, [15]
were quoted nor offered as evidence. In any event, the said report, as mentioned earlier, was
by respondent in his Memorandum[16] to illustrate that said report in fact favored ambivalent at best, for although the report had negative findings regarding
respondents claim of competence, to wit: memory lapses on the part of respondent, it also contained findings that supported
the view that respondent on the average was indeed competent.
General Oropesa spoke fluently in English and Filipino, he
enjoyed and participated meaningfully in conversations and could be
In an analogous guardianship case wherein the soundness of mind of the
quite elaborate in his responses on many of the test items. He spoke
in a clear voice and his articulation was generally comprehensible. x proposed ward was at issue, we had the occasion to rule that where the sanity of
x x. a person is at issue, expert opinion is not necessary [and that] the observations of
the trial judge coupled with evidence establishing the persons state of mental
xxxx
sanity will suffice.[18]
General Oropesa performed in the average range on most of
the domains that were tested. He was able to correctly perform
mental calculations and keep track of number sequences on a task Thus, it is significant that in its Order dated November 14, 2006 which
of attention. He did BEST in visuo-constructional tasks where he had denied petitioners motion for reconsideration on the trial courts unfavorable
September 27, 2006 ruling, the trial court highlighted the fatal role that petitioners on appeal the order of dismissal is reversed he shall be deemed to
have waived the right to present evidence.
own documentary evidence played in disproving its case and, likewise, the trial
court made known its own observation of respondents physical and mental state,
to wit: A demurrer to evidence is defined as an objection by one of the parties in
an action, to the effect that the evidence which his adversary produced is
The Court noted the absence of any testimony of a medical
insufficient in point of law, whether true or not, to make out a case or sustain the
expert which states that Gen. Cirilo O. Oropesa does not have the
mental, emotional, and physical capacity to manage his own affairs. issue.[23] We have also held that a demurrer to evidence authorizes a judgment on
On the contrary, Oppositors evidence includes a Neuropsychological the merits of the case without the defendant having to submit evidence on his part,
Screening Report which states that Gen. Oropesa, (1) performs on as he would ordinarily have to do, if plaintiffs evidence shows that he is not entitled
the average range in most of the domains that were tested; (2) is
to the relief sought.[24]
capable of mental calculations; and (3) can provide solutions to
problem situations. The Report concludes that Gen. Oropesa
possesses intact cognitive functioning, except for mildly impaired There was no error on the part of the trial court when it dismissed the
abilities in memory, reasoning and orientation. It is the petition for guardianship without first requiring respondent to present his evidence
observation of the Court that oppositor is still sharp, alert and precisely because the effect of granting a demurrer to evidence other than
able.[19] (Citation omitted; emphasis supplied.)
dismissing a cause of action is, evidently, to preclude a defendant from presenting
his evidence since, upon the facts and the law, the plaintiff has shown no right to
It is axiomatic that, as a general rule, only questions of law may be raised relief.
in a petition for review on certiorari because the Court is not a trier of facts. [20]
We
only take cognizance of questions of fact in certain exceptional WHEREFORE, premises considered, the petition is hereby DENIED. The
circumstances; [21]
however, we find them to be absent in the instant case. It is also assailed Decision dated February 29, 2008 as well as the Resolution dated
long settled that factual findings of the trial court, when affirmed by the Court of September 16, 2008 of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. CV No. 88449
Appeals, will not be disturbed by this Court. As a rule, such findings by the lower are AFFIRMED.
courts are entitled to great weight and respect, and are deemed final and
SO ORDERED.
conclusive on this Court when supported by the evidence on record. [22] We
therefore adopt the factual findings of the lower court and the Court of Appeals and
rule that the grant of respondents demurrer to evidence was proper under the
circumstances obtaining in the case at bar.

TERESITA J. LEONARDO-DE CASTRO


Section 1, Rule 33 of the Rules of Court provides: Associate Justice

Section 1. Demurrer to evidence. After the plaintiff has


completed the presentation of his evidence, the defendant may
move for dismissal on the ground that upon the facts and the law
the plaintiff has shown no right to relief. If his motion is denied, he WE CONCUR:
shall have the right to present evidence. If the motion is granted but
Supreme Court
Baguio City
RENATO C. CORONA
Chief Justice FIRST DIVISION
Chairperson

NILO OROPESA, G.R. No. 184528


Petitioner,
Present:

CORONA, C.J.,
LUCAS P. BERSAMIN MARIANO C. DEL CASTILLO Chairperson,
Associate Justice Associate Justice LEONARDO-DE CASTRO,
- versus - BERSAMIN,
DEL CASTILLO, and
VILLARAMA, JR., JJ.

Promulgated:
MARTIN S. VILLARAMA, JR. CIRILO OROPESA,
Associate Justice Respondent. April 25, 2012
x- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
x

CERTIFICATION DECISION
Pursuant to Section 13, Article VIII of the Constitution, I certify that the
conclusions in the above Decision had been reached in consultation before the case LEONARDO-DE CASTRO, J.:
was assigned to the writer of the opinion of the Courts Division.

This is a petition for review on certiorari under Rule 45 of the 1997 Rules of Civil
RENATO C. CORONA Procedure of the Decision[1] dated February 29, 2008, as well as the
Chief Justice Resolution [2]
dated September 16, 2008, both rendered by the Court of Appeals in
CA-G.R. CV No. 88449, entitled NILO OROPESA vs. CIRILO OROPESA. The Court
of Appeals issuances affirmed the Order[3] dated September 27, 2006 and the
Order[4] dated November 14, 2006 issued by the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of
Paraaque City, Branch 260 in SP. Proc. Case No. 04-0016, which dismissed
petitioner Nilo Oropesas petition for guardianship over the properties of his father,
respondent Cirilo Oropesa (a widower), and denied petitioners motion for
Republic of the Philippines reconsideration thereof, respectively.
Thus, the (respondent) filed his Omnibus Motion (1) to Declare the
petitioner to have waived the presentation of his Offer of Exhibits
The facts of this case, as summed in the assailed Decision, follow:
and the presentation of his Evidence Closed since they were not
formally offered; (2) To Expunge the Documents of the Petitioner
On January 23, 2004, the (petitioner) filed with the Regional Trial from the Record; and (3) To Grant leave to the Oppositor to File
Court of Paraaque City, a petition for him and a certain Ms. Louie Demurrer to Evidence.
Ginez to be appointed as guardians over the property of his father,
the (respondent) Cirilo Oropesa. The case was docketed as SP Proc. In an Order dated July 14, 2006, the court a quo granted the
No. 04-0016 and raffled off to Branch 260. (respondents) Omnibus Motion. Thereafter, the (respondent) then
filed his Demurrer to Evidence dated July 23, 2006.[5] (Citations
In the said petition, it is alleged among others that the (respondent) omitted.)
has been afflicted with several maladies and has been sickly for over
ten (10) years already having suffered a stroke on April 1, 2003 and
June 1, 2003, that his judgment and memory [were] impaired and
The trial court granted respondents demurrer to evidence in an Order dated
such has been evident after his hospitalization; that even before his
stroke, the (respondent) was observed to have had lapses in September 27, 2006. The dispositive portion of which reads:
memory and judgment, showing signs of failure to manage his
property properly; that due to his age and medical condition, he WHEREFORE, considering that the petitioner has failed to provide
cannot, without outside aid, manage his property wisely, and has sufficient evidence to establish that Gen. Cirilo O. Oropesa is
become an easy prey for deceit and exploitation by people around incompetent to run his personal affairs and to administer his
him, particularly Ms. Ma. Luisa Agamata, his girlfriend. properties, Oppositors Demurrer to Evidence is GRANTED, and the
case is DISMISSED.[6]
In an Order dated January 29, 2004, the presiding judge of the
court a quo set the case for hearing, and directed the court social
worker to conduct a social case study and submit a report thereon. Petitioner moved for reconsideration but this was denied by the trial court
in an Order dated November 14, 2006, the dispositive portion of which states:
Pursuant to the abovementioned order, the Court Social Worker
conducted her social case study, interviewing the (petitioner) and
his witnesses. The Court Social Worker subsequently submitted her WHEREFORE, considering that the Court record shows that
report but without any finding on the (respondent) who refused to petitioner-movant has failed to provide sufficient documentary and
see and talk to the social worker. testimonial evidence to establish that Gen. Cirilo Oropesa is
incompetent to run his personal affairs and to administer his
On July 6, 2004, the (respondent) filed his Opposition to the petition properties, the Court hereby affirms its earlier Order dated 27
for guardianship. On August 3, 2004, the (respondent) filed his September 2006.
Supplemental Opposition.
Accordingly, petitioners Motion for Reconsideration is DENIED
Thereafter, the (petitioner) presented his evidence which consists of for lack of merit.[7]
his testimony, and that of his sister Gianina Oropesa Bennett, and
the (respondents) former nurse, Ms. Alma Altaya.
Unperturbed, petitioner elevated the case to the Court of Appeals but his
After presenting evidence, the (petitioner) filed a manifestation appeal was dismissed through the now assailed Decision dated February 29, 2008,
dated May 29, 2006 resting his case. The (petitioner) failed to file
the dispositive portion of which reads:
his written formal offer of evidence.
WHEREFORE, premises considered the instant appeal is In a guardianship proceeding, a court may appoint a qualified guardian if
DISMISSED. The assailed orders of the court a quo dated September
the prospective ward is proven to be a minor or an incompetent.
27, 2006 and November 14, 2006 are AFFIRMED.[8]

A reading of Section 2, Rule 92 of the Rules of Court tells us that persons


A motion for reconsideration was filed by petitioner but this was denied by who, though of sound mind but by reason of age, disease, weak mind or other
the Court of Appeals in the similarly assailed Resolution dated September 16, similar causes, are incapable of taking care of themselves and their property
2008. Hence, the instant petition was filed. without outside aid are considered as incompetents who may properly be placed
under guardianship. The full text of the said provision reads:
Petitioner submits the following question for consideration by this Court:
Sec. 2. Meaning of the word incompetent. Under this rule, the
WHETHER RESPONDENT IS CONSIDERED AN INCOMPETENT word incompetent includes persons suffering the penalty of civil
PERSON AS DEFINED UNDER SECTION 2, RULE 92 OF THE RULES interdiction or who are hospitalized lepers, prodigals, deaf and dumb
OF COURT WHO SHOULD BE PLACED UNDER GUARDIANSHIP[9] who are unable to read and write, those who are of unsound mind,
even though they have lucid intervals, and persons not being of
unsound mind, but by reason of age, disease, weak mind, and other
similar causes, cannot, without outside aid, take care of themselves
After considering the evidence and pleadings on record, we find the petition
and manage their property, becoming thereby an easy prey for
to be without merit. deceit and exploitation.

Petitioner comes before the Court arguing that the assailed rulings of the
Court of Appeals should be set aside as it allegedly committed grave and reversible We have held in the past that a finding that a person is incompetent should
error when it affirmed the erroneous decision of the trial court which purportedly be anchored on clear, positive and definite evidence. [12] We consider that
disregarded the overwhelming evidence presented by him showing respondents evidentiary standard unchanged and, thus, must be applied in the case at bar.
incompetence.
In Francisco v. Court of Appeals,[10] we laid out the nature and purpose of In support of his contention that respondent is incompetent and, therefore,
guardianship in the following wise: should be placed in guardianship, petitioner raises in his Memorandum [13] the
following factual matters:
A guardianship is a trust relation of the most sacred
character, in which one person, called a guardian acts for another a. Respondent has been afflicted with several maladies and has
called the ward whom the law regards as incapable of managing his been sickly for over ten (10) years already;
own affairs. A guardianship is designed to further the wards well-
being, not that of the guardian. It is intended to preserve the wards b. During the time that respondent was hospitalized at the St.
property, as well as to render any assistance that the ward may Lukes Medical Center after his stroke, he purportedly requested
personally require. It has been stated that while custody involves one of his former colleagues who was visiting him to file a loan
immediate care and control, guardianship indicates not only those application with the Armed Forces of the Philippines Savings and
responsibilities, but those of one in loco parentis as well.[11] Loan Association, Inc. (AFPSLAI) for payment of his hospital bills,
when, as far as his children knew, he had substantial amounts of
money in various banks sufficient to cover his medical expenses;
c. Respondents residence allegedly has been left dilapidated due in a clear voice and his articulation was generally comprehensible. x
to lack of care and management; x x.

d. The realty taxes for respondents various properties remain xxxx


unpaid and therefore petitioner and his sister were supposedly General Oropesa performed in the average range on most of
compelled to pay the necessary taxes; the domains that were tested. He was able to correctly perform
mental calculations and keep track of number sequences on a task
e. Respondent allegedly instructed petitioner to sell his Nissan of attention. He did BEST in visuo-constructional tasks where he had
Exalta car for the reason that the former would be purchasing to copy geometrical designs using tiles. Likewise, he was able to
another vehicle, but when the car had been sold, respondent did render and read the correct time on the Clock Drawing Test. x x x.
not procure another vehicle and refused to account for the money
earned from the sale of the old car; xxxx
x x x Reasoning abilities were generally intact as he was able
f. Respondent withdrew at least $75,000.00 from a joint account to suggest effective solutions to problem situations. x x x.[17]
under his name and his daughters without the latters knowledge
or consent;
With the failure of petitioner to formally offer his documentary evidence, his
g. There was purportedly one occasion where respondent took a
proof of his fathers incompetence consisted purely of testimonies given by himself
kitchen knife to stab himself upon the orders of his girlfriend
during one of their fights; and his sister (who were claiming interest in their fathers real and personal
properties) and their fathers former caregiver (who admitted to be acting under
h. Respondent continuously allows his girlfriend to ransack his their direction). These testimonies, which did not include any expert medical
house of groceries and furniture, despite protests from his testimony, were insufficient to convince the trial court of petitioners cause of action
children.[14]
and instead lead it to grant the demurrer to evidence that was filed by respondent.

Respondent denied the allegations made by petitioner and cited petitioners Even if we were to overlook petitioners procedural lapse in failing to make
lack of material evidence to support his claims. According to respondent, petitioner a formal offer of evidence, his documentary proof were comprised mainly of
did not present any relevant documentary or testimonial evidence that would attest certificates of title over real properties registered in his, his fathers and his sisters
to the veracity of his assertion that respondent is incompetent largely due to his names as co-owners, tax declarations, and receipts showing payment of real estate
alleged deteriorating medical and mental condition. In fact, respondent points out taxes on their co-owned properties, which do not in any way relate to his fathers
that the only medical document presented by petitioner proves that he is indeed alleged incapacity to make decisions for himself. The only medical document on
competent to run his personal affairs and administer his properties. Portions of the record is the aforementioned Report of Neuropsychological Screening which was
said document, entitled Report of Neuropsychological Screening, [15]
were quoted attached to the petition for guardianship but was never identified by any witness
by respondent in his Memorandum [16]
to illustrate that said report in fact favored nor offered as evidence. In any event, the said report, as mentioned earlier, was
respondents claim of competence, to wit: ambivalent at best, for although the report had negative findings regarding
memory lapses on the part of respondent, it also contained findings that supported
General Oropesa spoke fluently in English and Filipino, he the view that respondent on the average was indeed competent.
enjoyed and participated meaningfully in conversations and could be
quite elaborate in his responses on many of the test items. He spoke
In an analogous guardianship case wherein the soundness of mind of the
proposed ward was at issue, we had the occasion to rule that where the sanity of
a person is at issue, expert opinion is not necessary [and that] the observations of
the trial judge coupled with evidence establishing the persons state of mental Section 1. Demurrer to evidence. After the plaintiff has
completed the presentation of his evidence, the defendant may
sanity will suffice. [18]
move for dismissal on the ground that upon the facts and the law
the plaintiff has shown no right to relief. If his motion is denied, he
Thus, it is significant that in its Order dated November 14, 2006 which shall have the right to present evidence. If the motion is granted but
denied petitioners motion for reconsideration on the trial courts unfavorable on appeal the order of dismissal is reversed he shall be deemed to
September 27, 2006 ruling, the trial court highlighted the fatal role that petitioners have waived the right to present evidence.
own documentary evidence played in disproving its case and, likewise, the trial
court made known its own observation of respondents physical and mental state, A demurrer to evidence is defined as an objection by one of the parties in
to wit: an action, to the effect that the evidence which his adversary produced is
insufficient in point of law, whether true or not, to make out a case or sustain the
The Court noted the absence of any testimony of a medical
expert which states that Gen. Cirilo O. Oropesa does not have the issue.[23] We have also held that a demurrer to evidence authorizes a judgment on
mental, emotional, and physical capacity to manage his own affairs. the merits of the case without the defendant having to submit evidence on his part,
On the contrary, Oppositors evidence includes a Neuropsychological as he would ordinarily have to do, if plaintiffs evidence shows that he is not entitled
Screening Report which states that Gen. Oropesa, (1) performs on to the relief sought.[24]
the average range in most of the domains that were tested; (2) is
capable of mental calculations; and (3) can provide solutions to
problem situations. The Report concludes that Gen. Oropesa There was no error on the part of the trial court when it dismissed the
possesses intact cognitive functioning, except for mildly impaired petition for guardianship without first requiring respondent to present his evidence
abilities in memory, reasoning and orientation. It is the precisely because the effect of granting a demurrer to evidence other than
observation of the Court that oppositor is still sharp, alert and
dismissing a cause of action is, evidently, to preclude a defendant from presenting
able.[19] (Citation omitted; emphasis supplied.)
his evidence since, upon the facts and the law, the plaintiff has shown no right to
relief.
It is axiomatic that, as a general rule, only questions of law may be raised
in a petition for review on certiorari because the Court is not a trier of facts.[20] We WHEREFORE, premises considered, the petition is hereby DENIED. The
only take cognizance of questions of fact in certain exceptional assailed Decision dated February 29, 2008 as well as the Resolution dated
circumstances; [21]
however, we find them to be absent in the instant case. It is also September 16, 2008 of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. CV No. 88449
long settled that factual findings of the trial court, when affirmed by the Court of are AFFIRMED.
Appeals, will not be disturbed by this Court. As a rule, such findings by the lower
SO ORDERED.
courts are entitled to great weight and respect, and are deemed final and
conclusive on this Court when supported by the evidence on record.[22] We
therefore adopt the factual findings of the lower court and the Court of Appeals and
rule that the grant of respondents demurrer to evidence was proper under the
circumstances obtaining in the case at bar.
TERESITA J. LEONARDO-DE CASTRO
Associate Justice
Section 1, Rule 33 of the Rules of Court provides:
Republic of the Philippines
WE CONCUR: SUPREME COURT
Manila

FIRST DIVISION

RENATO C. CORONA G.R. No. 191993 December 5, 2012


Chief Justice
Chairperson EDUARDO T. ABAD, Petitioner,
vs.
LEONARDO BIASON and GABRIEL A. MAGNO, Respondents.

RESOLUTION

REYES, J.:
LUCAS P. BERSAMIN MARIANO C. DEL CASTILLO
Associate Justice Associate Justice
Before this Court is a Petition for Review on Certiorari under Rule 45 of the Rules of Court
seeking to annul and set aside the Decision 1 dated August 28, 2009 and Resolution2 dated
April 19, 2010 of the Court of Appeals (CA) in CA-G.R. CV No; 90145.

The facts show that on March 19, 2007, petitioner Eduardo Abad (Abad) filed a petition for
guardianship over the person and properties of Maura B. Abad (Maura) with the Regional
Trial Court (RTC), Dagupan City, Branch 42, which was docketed as Sp. Proc. No. 2007-
MARTIN S. VILLARAMA, JR. 0050-D. In support thereof, Abad alleged that he maintains residence at No. 14 B St. Paul
Associate Justice Street, Horseshoe Village, Quezon City and that he is Maura’s nephew. He averred that
Maura, who is single, more than ninety (90) years old and a resident of Rizal Street,
Poblacion, Mangaldan, Pangasinan, is in dire need of a guardian who will look after her and
her business affairs. Due to her advanced age, Maura is already sickly and can no longer
manage to take care of herself and her properties unassisted thus becoming an easy prey of
CERTIFICATION deceit and exploitation.3

Pursuant to Section 13, Article VIII of the Constitution, I certify that the Finding the petition sufficient in form and substance, the RTC gave due course to the same
conclusions in the above Decision had been reached in consultation before the case and scheduled it for hearing. When the petition was called for hearing on April 27, 2007,
was assigned to the writer of the opinion of the Courts Division. nobody entered an opposition and Abad was allowed to present evidence ex parte. After
Abad formally offered his evidence and the case was submitted for decision, Atty. Gabriel
Magno filed a Motion for Leave to Intervene, together with an Oppositionin- Intervention.
Subsequently, on June 14, 2007, Leonardo Biason (Biason) filed a Motion for Leave to File
RENATO C. CORONA Opposition to the Petition and attached therewith his Opposition to the Appointment of
Chief Justice Eduardo Abad as Guardian of the Person and Properties of Maura B. Abad. Specifically,
Biason alleged that he is also a nephew of Maura and that he was not notified of the
pendency of the petition for the appointment of the latter’s guardian. He vehemently opposed
the appointment of Abad as Maura’s guardian as he cannot possibly perform his duties as
such since he resides in Quezon City while Maura maintains her abode in Mangaldan, aunt even if he is residing in Metro Manila. Moreover, he was expressly chosen by Maura to
Pangasinan. Biason prayed that he be appointed as Maura’s guardian since he was be her guardian.7
previously granted by the latter with a power of attorney to manage her properties. 4
Abad further averred that no hearing was conducted to determine the qualifications of Biason
On September 26, 2007, the RTC rendered a Decision,5 denying Abad’s petition and prior to his appointment as guardian. He claimed that the RTC also overlooked Maura’s
appointing Biason as Maura’s guardian. The RTC disposed thus: express objection to Biason’s appointment.8

WHEREFORE, the petition is hereby denied. Petitioner Eduardo T. Abad is found to be On August 28, 2009, the CA issued a Decision,9 affirming the decision of the RTC, the
disqualified to act as guardian of incompetent Maura B. Abad. Oppositor Leonardo A. Biason pertinent portions of which read:
is established by this Court to be in a better position to be the guardian of said incompetent
Maura B. Abad. The petitioner-appellant may have been correct in arguing that there is no legal requirement
that the guardian must be residing in the same dwelling place or municipality as that of the
The Court hereby fixes the guardianship bond at [P]500,000.00 and the letters of ward or incompetent, and that the Vancil vs. Belmes case cited by the court a quo which held
guardianship shall be issued only upon the submission of the bond, conditioned on the that "courts should not appoint as guardians persons who are not within the jurisdiction of our
following provisions of the Rule 94[,] Section 1, of the 1997 Rules of Civil Procedure: courts" pertains to persons who are not residents of the country.

a. To make and return to the Court within three (3) months true and complete However, we do not find that the court a quo, by deciding to appoint the oppositor-appellee as
inventory of all the estate, real and personal, of his ward which shall come to his guardian, has fallen into grievous error.
possession or knowledge or to the possession or knowledge of any other person for
him; For one, the oppositor-appellee, like petitioner-appellant, is also a relative, a nephew of the
incompetent. There are no vices of character which have been established as to disqualify
b. To faithfully execute the duties of his trust, to manage and dispose of the estate him from being appointed as a guardian.
according to these rules for the best interests of the ward, and to provide for the
proper care, custody x x x of the ward; xxxx

c. To render a true and just account of all the estate of the ward in his hands, and of Anent the claim of the petitioner-appellant that he has been expressly chosen by her aunt to
all proceeds or interest derived therefrom, and of the management and disposition of be her guardian as evidenced by her testimony, although it could be given weight, the same
the same, at the time designated by these rules and such other times as the court could not be heavily relied upon, especially considering the alleged mental state of the
directs, and at the expiration of his trust to settle his accounts with the court and incompetent due to her advanced age.
deliver and pay over all the estate, effects, and moneys remaining in his hands, or
due from him on such settlement, to the person lawfully entitled thereto; xxxx

d. To perform all orders of the court by him to be performed. WHEREFORE, premises considered, the instant petition is DISMISSED for lack of merit. The
assailed decision of the Regional Trial Court of Dagupan City, Branch 42 is AFFIRMED IN
SO ORDERED.6 TOTO.

Unyielding, Abad filed a motion for reconsideration of the foregoing decision but the RTC SO ORDERED.[10
denied the same in an Order dated December 11, 2007.
Dissatisfied, Abad filed a motion for reconsideration but the CA denied the same in a
Abad filed an appeal to the CA. He argued that the RTC erred in disqualifying him from being Resolution11 dated April 19, 2010, the dispositive portion of which reads:
appointed as Maura’s guardian despite the fact that he has all the qualifications stated under
the Rules. That he was not a resident of Mangaldan, Pangasinan should not be a ground for
WHEREFORE, premises considered, the Motion for Reconsideration is DENIED for lack of
his disqualification as he had actively and efficiently managed the affairs and properties of his
merit.
SO ORDERED.12 On June 20, 2012, this Court issued a Resolution,20 requiring Abad to comment on the
manifestation filed by Maura. Pursuant to the Resolution, Abad filed his Comment 21 on August
On June 7, 2010, Abad filed a Petition for Review on Certiorari with this Court. Subsequently, 9, 2012 and expressed his acquiescence to Maura’s motion to dismiss the petition. He
Maura filed a Motion for Leave to Intervene,13 together with a Petition-in-Intervention.14 asseverated that the issues raised in the petition pertain to the irregularity in the appointment
of Biason as guardian which he believed had been rendered moot and academic by the
latter’s death. He also supported Maura’s prayer for the termination of the guardianship by
The instant petition raises the following assignment of errors:
asseverating that her act of filing of a petition-in-intervention is indicative of the fact that she is
of sound mind and that she can competently manage her business affairs.
I
We find Maura’s motion meritorious.
THE HONORABLE COURT OF APPEALS GRAVELY ERRED WHEN IT DENIED
THE PETITIONER’S APPEAL AND AFFIRMED THE TRIAL COURT’S DECISION
DESPITE VERY CLEAR VIOLATIONS OF DUE PROCESS, DISREGARD OF THE An issue or a case becomes moot and academic when it ceases to present a justiciable
RULES, AND IRREGULARITIES IN THE APPOINTMENT OF RESPONDENT controversy, so that a determination of the issue would be without practical use and value. In
such cases, there is no actual substantial relief to which the petitioner would be entitled and
BIASON AS GUARDIAN;
which would be negated by the dismissal of the petition.22
II
In his petition, Abad prayed for the nullification of the CA Decision dated August 28, 2009 and
Resolution dated April 19, 2010, which dismissed his appeal from the Decision dated
THE HONORABLE COURT OF APPEALS GRAVELY ERRED WHEN IT DENIED September 26, 2007 of the RTC and denied his motion for reconsideration, respectively.
THE PETITIONER’S APPEAL AND ERRONEOUSLY UPHELD RESPONDENT Basically, he was challenging Biason’s qualifications and the procedure by which the RTC
BIASON’S APPOINTMENT AS GUARDIAN BASED ON SOLE GROUND OF appointed him as guardian for Maura. However, with Biason’s demise, it has become
RESIDENCE, AND FAILED TO CONSIDER THE REQUIREMENTS AND impractical and futile to proceed with resolving the merits of the petition. It is a well-
QUALIFICATIONS PRESCRIBED BY THE SUPREME COURT FOR THE established rule that the relationship of guardian and ward is necessarily terminated by the
APPOINTMENT OF GUARDIAN.15 death of either the guardian or the ward.23 The supervening event of death rendered it
pointless to delve into the propriety of Biason’s appointment since the juridical tie between
Abad contends that that CA erred in affirming the RTC’s decision despite the fact that it did him and Maura has already been dissolved. The petition, regardless of its disposition, will not
not hold any hearing to determine whether Biason possessed all the qualifications for a afford Abad, or anyone else for that matter, any substantial relief.1âwphi1
guardian as provided by law. Further, he was not given the opportunity to submit evidence to
controvert Biason’s appointment.16 Moreover, Abad, in his Comment, shared Maura’s belief that the petition has lost its purpose
and even consented to Maura’s prayer for the dismissal of the petition.
Abad also bewails his disqualification as guardian on the sole basis of his residence. He
emphasizes that it is not a requirement for a guardian to be a resident of the same locality as WHEREFORE, in consideration of the foregoing disquisitions, the petition is
the ward, or to be living with the latter under the same roof in order to qualify for the hereby DISMISSED.
appointment. The more significant considerations are that the person to be appointed must
be of good moral character and must have the capability and sound judgment in order that he
SO ORDERED.
may be able to take care of the ward and prudently manage his assets. 17

BIENVENIDO L. REYES
Unfortunately, pending the resolution of the instant petition, Biason died. On May 11, 2012,
Associate Justice
Maura filed a Manifestation and Motion,18 informing this Court that Biason passed away on
April 3, 2012 at SDS Medical Center, Marikina City due to multiple organ failure, septic shock,
community acquired pneumonia high risk, prostate CA with metastasis, and attached a copy WE CONCUR:
of his Death Certificate.19 Maura averred that Biason’s death rendered moot and academic
the issues raised in the petition. She thus prayed that the petition be dismissed and the TERESITA J. LEONARDO-DE CASTRO
guardianship be terminated. Associate Justice
Acting Chairperson
LUCAS P. BERSAMIN MARTIN S. VILLARAMA, JR.
Associate Justice Associate Justice

JOSE PORTUGAL PEREZ*


Associate Justice

ATTESTATION

I attest that the conclusions in the above Resolution had been reached in consultation before
the case was assigned to the writer of the opinion of the Court's Division.

TERESITA J. LEONARDO-DE CASTRO


Acting Chairperson

CERTIFICATION

Pursuant to Section 13, Article VIII of the Constitution and the Division Chairperson's
Attestation, I certify that the conclusions in the above Resolution had been reached ih
consultation before the case was assigned to the writer of the opinion of the Court's Division.

ANTONIO T. CARPIO
Acting Chief Justice