May 2004 - Philippine Supreme Court Decisions/Resolutions
Aznar Brothers Realty Company v. Heirs of Augusto : 140417 : May 28, 2004 : J. Corona : Third Division : Decision
[G.R. NO. 140417 : May 28, 2004]
AZNAR BROTHERS REALTY COMPANY, Petitioner, v. HEIRS OF ANICETO AUGUSTO & PETRONA CALIPAN, namely: TEODORICA ANDALES GERONIMO AUGUSTO (deceased) represented by: NICOMEDES AUGUSTO JOVENCIO AUGUSTO TELESPORO AUGUSTO LOLITA IGOT ROSARIO NEMBRILLO ALFREDO AUGUSTO URBANO AUGUSTO FELIPE AUGUSTO TOMAS AUGUSTO ZACARIAS AUGUSTO (deceased) represented by: FELIPE AUGUSTO EUGENIO AUGUSTO MANALO AUGUSTO FELIS AUGUSTO CERAPINO AUGUSTO CLARITA AYING MAURA AUGUSTO CONCHITA AUGUSTO ARSENIA OMPAD (deceased) represented by: SARAH AMIT ANDRES OMPAD ALBERTO OMPAD LILY DAGATAN all represented by ALFREDO AUGUSTO, Respondents.
D E C I S I O N
This is a petition to review the decision1 of the Court of Appeals in CA-GR CV No. 51279 reversing the decision2 of Branch 27 of the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Lapu-Lapu City. The CA ruled that the claim of herein respondent Heirs of Aniceto Augusto (Heirs) had not yet prescribed. The dispositive portion3 read:chanroblesvirtua1awlibrary
WHEREFORE, the appealed Order is hereby REVERSED and SET ASIDE. The complaint is reinstated to the docket of Branch 27 of the Regional Trial Court of Lapu-Lapu City to which the records of the case is (sic) ORDERED REMANDED for appropriate action in line with the disposition of this case.crvll
The facts of the case follow.
The subject matter of this controversy is Lot No. 4397, Opon Cadastre, covered by Decree No. 531070 and situated in Dapdap, Mactan, Lapu-Lapu City, Cebu. It was owned by Aniceto Augusto who was married to Petrona Calipan. When Aniceto died on December 3, 1934, he left behind five children: Geronimo, Zacarias, Teoderica, Arsenia and Irenea. Apparently, the property remained undivided as evidenced by Tax Declaration No. 026794 issued to Petrona Calipan in 1945.
Sometime in 1962, Tax Declaration No. 02679 in the name of Calipan was cancelled pursuant to an Extrajudicial Partition5 executed before Notary Public Vicente Fanilag. In lieu thereof, tax declaration certificates covering Lot No. 4397 were issued to the following: Filomeno Augusto, Ciriaco Icoy, Felipe Aying, Zacarias Augusto, Abdon Augusto, Teoderica Augusto, Pedro Tampus and Anacleto Augusto.
On February 13, 1962, these persons sold the property to petitioner Aznar Brothers Realty Company (Aznar Realty) through a Deed of Sale of Unregistered Land which was registered on the same date with the Register of Deeds of Lapu-Lapu City.
On September 6, 1962, Carlos Augusto, claiming to be an heir of his father Aniceto (when in fact he was the son of Zacarias and as such was in reality a grandson of Aniceto), filed a Petition for the Reconstitution of Title. He alleged that the original copy and duplicate owners copy of the title of the property sold to respondent Aznar were lost during the war.
On February 28, 1963, an Affidavit of Declaration of Heirs of Aniceto Augusto was executed wherein Zacarias, Teoderica, Arsenia and Irenea (Geronimo having died in December 1961) declared that, at the time of their fathers death, he had five legitimate children and that he left behind 15 parcels of land covered by various tax declarations. The affidavit was signed by Zacarias and thumbmarked by Teoderica, Arsenia and Irenea, with Carlos Augusto and Filomeno Augusto as witnesses.
On April 15, 1963, TCT No. 0070 covering the property was issued to petitioner Aznar Realty, which then secured Tax Declaration No. 01937.
On July 28, 1992, respondent Heirs filed Civil Case No. 2666-L against petitioner Aznar Realty, and Carlos and Filomeno Augusto in the RTC of Lapu-Lapu City, Branch 27, for (1) recovery of Lot No. 4397; (2) the declaration of the Deed of Sale dated February 13, 1962 as null and void; (3) the recognition of the Heirs; (4) the cancellation of the TCT issued to petitioner Aznar Realty and (5) the issuance of a restraining order and/or writ of preliminary injunction.
Only petitioner Aznar Realty filed an answer interposing the defense of lack of cause of action and prescription. It asked for a preliminary hearing on the affirmative defenses as if a motion to dismiss had been filed. This was granted by the trial court.
After the hearing on the affirmative defenses, the trial court ruled that the claim of respondent Heirs was already barred by prescription:chanroblesvirtua1awlibrary
On the basis of the foregoing facts and circumstances established by evidence, this Court believes that the action of the plaintiffs is undisputably barred by prescription. Principally, plaintiffs action is for recovery of a parcel of land. This type of action prescribes after ten (10) years from the date of registration or from discovery of the fraud. As held in the case of Caete v. Benedicto, 158 SCRA 575, an action for recovery of title or possession of real property or an interest therein can only be brought within 10 years after the cause of action accrues which is deemed to have taken place from the registration of the document with the Register of Deeds for registration constitutes a constructive notice to the whole world (Gerona v. de Guzman, 11 SCRA 153). In the case of Gicano v. Gegato, 157 SCRA 140, the Supreme Court ruled that action to recover property which was filed only 23 years from the issuance of the title to the property on the supposedly fraudulent sale, has been extinguished by prescription. Moreover, in Casipit v. Court of Appeals, 204 SCRA 648, the Supreme Court held that the prescriptive period for the reconveyance of fraudulently registered real property is ten (10) years reckoned from the date of issuance of the certificate of title.
The Deed of Sale of Unregistered Land dated February 13, 1962 was registered on the same date at the Register of Deeds of Lapu-Lapu City as appearing at the back page thereof. Since that time up to the filing of this case on July 28, 1992, thirty (30) years had elapsed. And since the issuance of Transfer Certificate of Title No. 0070 in the name of Aznar Brothers Realty Co. on April 15, 1963 up to the institution of this action, twenty-nine (29) years had elapsed. The Court therefore believes there is no more way by which plaintiffs action can rise from its extinct state.