G.R. No. 146548 : December 18, 2009 - HEIRS OF DOMINGO HERNANDEZ, SR., namely: SERGIA V. HERNANDEZ (Surviving Spouse), DOMINGO V. HERNANDEZ, JR., and MARIA LEONORA WILMA HERNANDEZ, Petitioners, v. PLARIDEL MINGOA, SR., DOLORES CAMISURA, MELANIE MINGOA AND QUEZON CITY REGISTER OF DEEDS, Respondents.
[G.R. NO. 146548 : December 18, 2009]
HEIRS OF DOMINGO HERNANDEZ, SR., namely: SERGIA V. HERNANDEZ (Surviving Spouse), DOMINGO V. HERNANDEZ, JR., and MARIA LEONORA WILMA HERNANDEZ, Petitioners, v. PLARIDEL MINGOA, SR., DOLORES CAMISURA, MELANIE MINGOA AND QUEZON CITY REGISTER OF DEEDS,1 Respondents.
D E C I S I O N
LEONARDO-DE CASTRO, J.:
This is a Petition for Review on Certiorari of the Decision2 dated September 7, 2000 and Resolution3 dated December 29, 2000, both of the Court of Appeals (CA), in CA-G.R. CV No. 54896. The CA Decision reversed and set aside the decision of the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Quezon City (Branch 92), which ruled in favor of herein petitioners in the action for reconveyance filed by the latter in said court against the respondents. The CA Resolution denied the petitioners' motion for reconsideration.
The subject matter of the action is a parcel of land with an area of 520.50 square meters situated in Diliman, Quezon City, described as Lot 15, Block 89 of the subdivision plan Psd-68807, covered by Transfer Certificate of Title (TCT) No. 1075344 issued on May 23, 1966 and registered in the name of Domingo B. Hernandez, Sr. married to Sergia V. Hernandez. Later on, said TCT No. 107534 was cancelled and in lieu thereof, TCT No. 2901215 was issued in favor of Melanie Mingoa.
These are the factual antecedents of this case:
On February 11, 1994, a complaint6 was filed with the RTC of Quezon City by herein petitioners, heirs of Domingo Hernandez, Sr., namely, spouse Sergia Hernandez and their surviving children Domingo, Jr. and Maria Leonora Wilma, against the respondents herein, Dolores Camisura, Melanie Mingoa, Atty. Plaridel Mingoa, Sr. and all persons claiming rights under the latter, and the Quezon City Register of Deeds. The case was docketed as Civil Case No. 094-19276.
In their complaint, the petitioners asked for (a) the annulment and/or declaration of nullity of TCT No. 290121 including all its derivative titles, the Irrevocable Special Power of Attorney (SPA) dated February 14, 1963 in favor of Dolores Camisura,7 the SPA dated May 9, 1964 in favor of Plaridel Mingoa, Sr.,8 and the Deed of Absolute Sale of Real Estate9 dated July 9, 1978 executed by Plaridel Mingoa, Sr. in favor of Melanie Mingoa for being products of forgery and falsification; and (b) the reconveyance and/or issuance to them (petitioners) by the Quezon City Register of Deeds of the certificate of title covering the subject property.
Respondents filed a Motion to Dismiss10 the complaint interposing the following grounds: the claim or demand has been paid, waived, abandoned or otherwise extinguished; lack of cause of action; lack of jurisdiction over the person of the defendants or over the subject or nature of the suit; and prescription. The following were attached to said motion: a Deed of Transfer of Rights11 dated February 14, 1963 from Domingo Hernandez, Sr. to Camisura, the Irrevocable SPA12 executed by the former in the latter's favor, and a Deed of Sale of Right in a Residential Land and Improvements Therein13 dated May 9, 1964 executed by Camisura in favor of Plaridel Mingoa, Sr.
In its Order14 dated September 1, 1994, the trial court denied respondents' motion to dismiss.
Respondents filed a petition for certiorari and prohibition with the CA assailing the aforementioned Order of denial by the RTC. Their initial petition was dismissed for being insufficient in form. Respondents then re-filed their petition, which was docketed as CA-G.R. SP No. 36868. In a decision15 dated May 26, 1995, respondents' re-filed petition was denied due course by the CA. Having been filed beyond the reglementary period, respondents' subsequent motion for reconsideration was simply noted by the CA in its Resolution of July 7, 1995. On the basis of a technicality, this Court, in a Resolution dated September 27, 1995, dismissed respondents' appeal which was docketed as G.R. No. 121020. Per Entry of Judgment,16 said Resolution became final and executory on January 2, 1996.
Meanwhile, respondents filed their Answer17 in the main case therein denying the allegations of the complaint and averring as defenses the same grounds upon which they anchored their earlier motion to dismiss.
The parties having failed to amicably settle during the scheduled pre-trial conference, the case proceeded to trial.
The evidence respectively presented by the parties is summarized as follows:18
x x x [It] appears that in the early part of 1958, Domingo Hernandez, Sr. (who was then a Central Bank employee) and his spouse Sergia V. Hernandez were awarded a piece of real property by the Philippine Homesite and Housing Corporation (PHHC) by way of salary deduction. On October 18, 1963, the [petitioners] then having paid in full the entire amount of P6,888.96, a Deed of Absolute Sale of the property was executed by the PHHC in their favor. TCT No. 107534, covering the property was issued to the [petitioners] on May 23, 1966. It bears an annotation of the retention period of the property by the awardee (i.e., restriction of any unauthorized sale to third persons within a certain period). Tax payments due on the property were religiously paid (until 1955) by the [petitioners] as evidenced by receipts under the [petitioners'] name.
Hernandez, Sr. died intestate in April 1983 and it was only after his burial that his heirs found out that TCT No. 107534 was already cancelled a year before (in 1982), and in lieu thereof, TCT No. 290121 was issued to the [respondents]. Upon diligent inquiry, [petitioners] came to know that the cancellation of TCT (No. 107534) in favor of the [respondents'] xxx TCT (No. 290121) was based upon three sets of documents, namely, (1) Irrevocable Power of Attorney; (2) Irrevocable Special Power of Attorney; and (3) Deed of Absolute Sale.
[Petitioners] also allege that because of financial difficulties, they were only able to file a complaint on February 11, 1995 after consulting with several lawyers.
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