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Philippine Supreme Court Jurisprudence > Year 2005 > January 2005 Decisions > G.R. No. 146586 - DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION CULTURE AND SPORTS v. JULIA DEL ROSARIO, ET AL.:




G.R. No. 146586 - DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION CULTURE AND SPORTS v. JULIA DEL ROSARIO, ET AL.

PHILIPPINE SUPREME COURT DECISIONS

FIRST DIVISION

[G.R. NO. 146586 : January 26, 2005]

DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION CULTURE and SPORTS, Petitioner, v. JULIA DEL ROSARIO, MARIA DEL ROSARIO, PACENCIA DEL ROSARIO, and HEIRS OF SANTOS DEL ROSARIO, Respondents.

D E C I S I O N

CARPIO, J.:

The Case

This is a Petition for Review 1 to set aside the Decision2 dated 25 September 2000 and the Resolution dated 29 December 2000 of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. CV No. 43929. The Court of Appeals reversed the Decision3 dated 7 July 1993 of the Regional Trial Court of Bulacan, Branch 8, Malolos ("trial court") in Civil Case No. 70-M-92.

The Facts

On 14 February 1992, respondents Julia Del Rosario, Maria Del Rosario, Pacencia Del Rosario and the Heirs of Santos Del Rosario ("respondents") filed before the trial court a complaint for Recovery of Possession against petitioner Department of Education, Culture and Sports ("DECS"). Respondents alleged that they own a parcel of land with an area of 1,181 square meters ("Property") situated in Kaypombo,4 Sta. Maria, Bulacan. The Property was registered in 1976 in the name of respondents under Transfer Certificate of Title No. T-222432 of the Bulacan Register of Deeds. Respondents alleged that the Kaypombo Primary School Annex ("KPPS") under DECS was occupying a portion of the Property through respondents' tolerance and that of their predecessors-in-interest. Respondents further alleged that KPPS refused to vacate the premises despite their valid demands to do so.

In its Answer, DECS countered that KPPS's occupation of a portion of the Property was with the express consent and approval of respondents' father, the late Isaias Del Rosario ("Isaias"). DECS claimed that some time in 1959 Isaias donated a portion ("Donated Site") of the Property to the Municipality of Sta. Maria ("Municipality") for school site purposes. Atty. Ely Natividad, now a regional trial court judge ("Judge Natividad"), prepared the deed of donation and the acceptance. KPPS started occupying the Donated Site in 1962. At present, KPPS caters to the primary educational needs of approximately 60 children between the ages of 6 and 8. Because of the donation, DECS now claims ownership of the 650 square meter Donated Site. In fact, DECS renamed the school the Isaias Del Rosario Primary School.

During the pre-trial conference held on 3 September 1992, DECS admitted the existence and execution of TCT No. T-222432 (Exhibit "A"), Tax Declaration No. 6310 (Exhibit "B"), and the tax receipts in respondents' names for the years 1991 and 1992 (Exhibits "B-1" and "B-2"). On the other hand, respondents admitted the existence of Judge Natividad's affidavit that he prepared the deed of donation (Exhibit "1") and the tax declaration for 1985 in the Municipality's name (Exhibit "2"). Since there was no dispute that the Property was registered in respondents' names, the parties agreed to a reverse trial with DECS presenting its evidence first to prove that there was a valid donation to the Municipality.

DECS presented three witnesses: Ricardo Nicolas, Vidal De Jesus and Judge Natividad, all residents of Kaypombo, Sta. Maria, Bulacan. The trial court summarized the witnesses' testimonies, thus:

Defendant, represented by the Office of the Solicitor General, proceeded to present as its first witness, Ricardo Nicolas, 78 years old, widower, housekeeper and residing at [K]aypombo, Sta. Maria, Bulacan, since 1953 up to the present. He testified that during the duration of his residency in [K]aypombo, he came across a public elementary school (KPPS); that as far as he knows, the land occupied by the primary school was formerly owned by Isaias del Rosario who donated said land to the people of Sta. Maria, Bulacan in 1959; that the act of donating said land was made during a political meeting in his residence by Isaias del Rosario and in the presence of the then incumbent mayor; he actually saw Isaias del Rosario and Mayor Ramos sign a document which is a deed of donation in favor of the Municipality of Sta. Maria; that the signing was made in the presence of Judge Natividad who was then a municipal councilor; that Isaias del Rosario is now dead but his death occurred long after the construction of the KPPS and that Isaias del Rosario even witnessed the construction of the primary school.

Vidal de Jesus, the second witness for the defense, 65 years old, married, a barangay councilman of Kaypombo, Sta. Maria, Bulacan, and presently residing at No. 437 Kaypombo, Sta. Maria, Bulacan, testified that as barangay councilman, he was aware of the land problem of KPPS; that in 1991, the barangay council and the children of Isaias del Rosario had a meeting in the presence of Judge Natividad, during which, the latter told the children of Isaias del Rosario that the land had been donated by their father. The children agreed but requested that the school be renamed after their father's name; that the barangay council tried to secure a copy of the deed of donation from the Municipality of Sta. Maria, but according to the people at the municipal hall, when they transferred to the new municipal building, the deed got lost, only they were able to get a copy of the tax declaration in the name of the municipality of Sta. Maria, Bulacan (Exh. "2"), a certification to that effect was issued by the municipal mayor (Exh. "3"). They went to the DECS office in Malolos, but could not likewise find a copy of the deed.

The last witness for the defense was Judge Eli Natividad, 63 years old, widower, resident of Kaypombo, Sta. Maria, Bulacan. He testified that KPPS is very near his house; that the land occupied by said school is formerly owned by Isaias del Rosario, a close relative; that as far as he knows, the municipality of Sta. Maria is now the owner of the land; that when he was still one of the incumbent municipal councilors of Sta. Maria in 1961, his relative Isaias del Rosario went to his house and told him that he wanted to have a primary school in their place as he saw the plight of small pupils in their place; that the elementary school then existing was very far from their place and Isaias del Rosario wanted to have a primary school to help these pupils; that Isaias del Rosario was willing to donate a portion of the questioned lot for school site, so that said matter was relayed to the municipal council; he also testified that he prepared the deed of donation which was signed by Isaias del Rosario in his residence which was accepted by the municipality of Sta. Maria, Bulacan through a resolution signed in the office of the secretary and the municipal mayor; that a copy of said resolution could not be found due to the transfer of the municipal hall from the old to the new building.5

Respondents presented two witnesses: Eugenia R. Ignacio and Maria Del Rosario-Esteban, daughters of the late Isaias. The trial court summarized their testimonies, as follows:

For the plaintiffs, Eugenia R. Ignacio, 59, residing at Kaypombo, Sta. Maria, Bulacan testified that she knows the plaintiffs as they are her brothers/sisters; that their father Isaias del Rosario died on April 18, 1966 long after the construction of the school and that she does not know everything about the donation because her father never informed them of his dealings and she did not inquire from him about the occupancy of the lot by the school.

Maria del Rosario-Esteban, 66, residing at Pulang-lupa, Pandi, one of the plaintiffs herein, testified that she knows the property in question and that they own it by virtue of succession and that she cannot recall how the school was constructed on the land; that her parents never donated any property because that is their only property. Also, she stated that their father told them that he just lent the property temporarily to the municipality and she never found any document conveying the lot in question to the municipality of Sta. Maria, Bulacan.6

On 7 July 1993, the trial court rendered judgment dismissing respondents' complaint for recovery of possession as follows:

WHEREFORE, based on the foregoing premises, and for a much greater cause, the instituted complaint, for recovery of possession of 1,181 square meters of land in Kaypombo, Sta. Maria, Bulacan, covered by TCT No. T-222432 against the defendant is hereby DISMISSED without costs.7

The trial court explained its decision in this wise:

After a careful consideration of the facts at hand, taking into account the credibility and reasonableness of the testimonies of the witnesses, the court is of the opinion that the defense was able to prove the due execution of the deed of donation and its acceptance, as well as the loss of the same, in accordance with Rule 130[,] Sec. 4. It is recalled that Judge Eli Natividad, then a municipal councilor of Sta. Maria, testified that he was the person who prepared the deed of donation and later notarized the same, and that said deed was duly executed and signed before him and in his presence. Likewise, he affirmed that the municipal board of Sta. Maria, Bulacan, passed a resolution accepting the deed of donation in favor of the said municipality. Noteworthy is the rule that a recantation/recollection of witness is a form of secondary evidence to prove the existence/content of a document. Since the loss of the deed subject matter of this case was likewise duly proved by the defense, exerting the best possible efforts to locate or secure a copy of the same and without bad faith on its part, this Court is bent to give a greater weight to the secondary evidence adduced by the defense vis - à-vis the title in the name of the plaintiff[s], most particularly in this case, where the plaintiffs failed to make it appear that other and more secondary evidence is known to the defendant and can be produced by them.

Further judging on the consistency, credibility and personality of the witnesses of the defense, notably Judge Eli Natividad who was then a municipal councilor of Sta. Maria at the time of the execution of the deed of donation and who is thus in a best position to testify on the matter, not to mention the fact that their testimonies were all under oath, the Court cannot avoid but give weight to their statements and declarations. The defense witnesses were not induced by ill motive to testify in favor of the DECS, considering that they will not derive any personal benefit, material or otherwise, from such an act. On the contrary, such act may be considered heroic, as it is a manifestation of a moral compulsion to help shed light to the truth.

On the part of the plaintiffs, it was testified to by Eugenia Ignacio that their father (donor) died on April 18, 1966, long after the school was constructed on the subject land with the occupation of the land by the school which continued up to the present, and even after the land was allegedly transferred by succession to the plaintiffs in 1976, it was only now that it comes to the mind of the plaintiffs to seek recovery of the possession of the same. This, among other things, may be taken to favor the stand of the defense that the land occupied by the school was in truth, donated to the municipality of Sta. Maria.8

Respondents appealed to the Court of Appeals. On 25 September 2000, the Court of Appeals rendered judgment as follows:

WHEREFORE, premises considered, the appealed decision is REVERSED and another one entered ordering the defendant to vacate the subject premises.9

The appellate court denied DECS' motion for reconsideration in the Resolution dated 29 December 2000. Hence, this petition.

The Court of Appeals' Ruling

The Court of Appeals held that DECS failed to prove the existence and due execution of the deed of donation as well as the Resolution of the municipal council accepting the donation. The Court of Appeals was not fully satisfied that DECS or the Municipality had made a diligent search of the alleged "lost" deed of donation. Pertinent portions of the Court of Appeals' Decision read:

It is unfortunate that the Deed of Donation and the Resolution were not produced during the trial. The defendant alleged that these were lost when the Municipality transferred to a new building. The defendant resorted to proving the documents' existence through Sec. 5 of Rule 130 (B) of the Revised Rules on Evidence by relying on the testimony of the witnesses who were present during the execution of the lost documents. xxx.

xxx

The Court disagrees with the ruling of the lower court to the effect that the defendant was able to satisfy the foregoing requisites. The defense was not able to prove the due execution or existence of the deed of donation and the resolution, as well as the loss of these documents as the cause of their unavailability.

The Rule requires that the defendant must "prove its contents by a copy, or by a recital of its contents in some authentic document, or by the testimony of the witnesses in the order stated". However, the defendant proceeded with the last resort-testimony of the witnesses, without even showing any diligent effort to secure a copy of the deed of donation and the resolution. Note that Atty. Eli Natividad, then a municipal councilor of Sta. Maria, testified that he was the person who prepared the deed of donation and later notarized the same. He also affirmed that the municipal board of Sta. Maria, Bulacan passed a Resolution as he was a municipal councilor at that time such resolution was passed. He testified that he furnished the municipal government, the Division Office of Education in Bulacan, the court of Sta. Maria a copy of the deed. However, the defendant only submitted an affidavit showing that the deed can no longer be located in the municipal government. There was no evidence to show that the defendant looked for a copy from the Clerk of Court of Sta. Maria, Bulacan. If it is true that Atty. Natividad notarized the deed, he should have a copy of it. In fact, such act of notarizing the deed should have been in his notarial register. This notarial register was supposed to be forwarded to the Clerk of Court of the Court of First Instance of the province and later, to the Chief of the National Library.

"Before secondary evidence of a writing may be introduced on the ground that the instrument has been lost there must be proof that a diligent search has been made in the place where it is most likely to be found and that the search has not been successful."

In the case at bar, this Court is not fully satisfied that a search was made or that there was diligence in the search. The lower court erred in hastily concluding that the loss of the document was sufficiently established when in fact, the defendant did not look for it in the office of the Clerk of Court and the National Library. Since there was no diligent search, this Court finds it hard to believe the defendant's theory that such documents existed because, for sure, if there really was a notarized deed or a resolution, there must be a copy.

"Secondary evidence of the contents of writings is admitted upon the theory that the original cannot be produced by the party by whom the evidence is offered within a reasonable time by the exercise of reasonable diligence. Until, however, the non-production of the primary evidence has been sufficiently accounted for, secondary evidence is not ordinarily admissible."

For this Court to affirm the ruling of the lower court based on testimonies alone will work injustice to the plaintiffs.10

The Issue

In its memorandum, DECS raises the sole issue of'

WHETHER THE COURT OF APPEALS GRAVELY ERRED IN HOLDING THAT PETITIONER FAILED TO PROVE THE DUE EXECUTION OR EXISTENCE OF THE DEED OF DONATION AND THE RESOLUTION OF THE MUNICIPAL COUNCIL ACCEPTING THE DONATION, AS WELL AS THE LOSS OF THE DOCUMENTS AS THE CAUSE OF THEIR UNAVAILABILITY.11

The Solicitor General contends that DECS had satisfactorily proven by secondary evidence the fact of donation, the existence and due execution of the deed of donation as well as the municipal council Resolution accepting the donation. DECS had also adequately proven the loss of these documents. According to the Solicitor General, based on the evidence presented in the trial court, DECS established that Isaias donated a parcel of land to the Municipality as the site of a school. Isaias executed a deed of donation, which then Atty. Eli Natividad notarized. There was a municipal council Resolution accepting the donation and expressing gratitude to Isaias. There was notice of this acceptance as DECS constructed the school on the Donated Site during the lifetime of the donor, without objection on his part. Since all the essential formalities had been followed, the donation made by Isaias long after the death of his wife Nieves Gumatay is valid and proven by secondary evidence.

The Court's Ruling

The petition lacks merit.

Formal Requisites of Donations of Real Property

The donation of real property, which is a solemn contract, is void without the formalities stated in Article 749 of the Civil Code of the Philippines ("Civil Code"). Article 749 of the Civil Code reads:

Art. 749. In order that the donation of an immovable may be valid, it must be made in a public document, specifying therein the property donated and the value of the charges which the donee must satisfy.

The acceptance may be made in the same deed of donation or in a separate public document, but it shall not take effect unless it is done during the lifetime of the donor.

If the acceptance is made in a separate instrument, the donor shall be notified thereof in an authentic form, and this step shall be noted in both instruments.

Article 749 of the Civil Code requires that the donation of real property must be made in a public instrument. Otherwise, the donation is void. A deed of donation acknowledged before a notary public is a public document.12 The notary public shall certify that he knows the person acknowledging the instrument and that such person is the same person who executed the instrument, acknowledging that the instrument is his free act and deed. The acceptance may be made in the same deed of donation or in a separate instrument. An acceptance made in a separate instrument must also be in a public document. If the acceptance is in a separate public instrument, the donor shall be notified in writing of such fact. Both instruments must state the fact of such notification.13

Best and Secondary Evidence

The best or primary evidence of a donation of real property is an authentic copy of the deed of donation with all the formalities required by Article 749 of the Civil Code. The duty to produce the original document arises when the subject of the inquiry are the contents of the writing in which case there can be no evidence of the contents of the writing other than the writing itself. Simply put, when a party wants to prove the contents of the document, the best evidence is the original writing itself.

A party may prove the donation by other competent or secondary evidence under the exceptions in Section 3, Rule 130 of the Revised Rules on Evidence. Section 3 reads:

SEC. 3. Original document must be produced; exceptions. - When the subject of inquiry is the contents of a document, no evidence shall be admissible other than the original document itself, except in the following cases:

(a) When the original has been lost or destroyed, or cannot be produced in court, without bad faith on the part of the offeror;

(b) xxx;

(c) xxx;

(d) xxx.

In relation to this, Section 5 of Rule 130 reads:

SEC. 5. When original document is unavailable. - When the original document has been lost or destroyed, or cannot be produced in court, the offeror, upon proof of its execution or existence and the cause of its unavailability without bad faith on his part, may prove its contents by a copy, or by a recital of its contents in some authentic document, or by the testimony of witnesses in the order stated.

Secondary evidence of the contents of a document refers to evidence other than the original document itself.14 A party may introduce secondary evidence of the contents of a written instrument not only when the original is lost or destroyed, but also when it cannot be produced in court, provided there is no bad faith on the part of the offeror. However, a party must first satisfactorily explain the loss of the best or primary evidence before he can resort to secondary evidence. A party must first present to the court proof of loss or other satisfactory explanation for non-production of the original instrument. The correct order of proof is as follows: existence, execution, loss, contents, although the court in its discretion may change this order if necessary.15

The testimony of Ricardo Nicolas may have established to some extent the existence of the deed of donation since he testified that he was present when Isaias and the mayor talked about the donation and that he witnessed the signing of the document.ςηαñrοblεš νιr†υαl lαω lιbrαrÿ

However, Ricardo Nicolas admitted during cross-examination that he did not read and did not have personal knowledge of the contents of the document that Isaias and the mayor supposedly signed.16

In the same vein, Vidal De Jesus' testimony does not help to establish the deed of donation's existence, execution and contents. He testified that he never saw the deed of donation. On cross-examination, Vidal De Jesus admitted that the information that Isaias donated the lot to the Municipality was only relayed to him by Judge Natividad himself.17 If at all, DECS offered Vidal De Jesus' testimony to establish the loss of the deed of donation. Vidal de Jesus testified that the barangay council tried to get a copy of the deed but the Municipality informed the barangay council that the deed was lost when the municipal office was transferred to a new building. DECS also made a search in the DECS office in Malolos but this proved futile too.

This leaves us with Judge Natividad's testimony. Judge Natividad testified that he prepared and notarized the deed of donation. He further testified that there was a municipal council Resolution, signed in the Office of the Secretary and of the Mayor, accepting the donation and expressing gratitude to the donor. He furnished the municipal government, the DECS Division Office of Bulacan and the clerk of court of Sta. Maria a copy of the deed of donation.

DECS did not introduce in evidence the municipal council Resolution accepting the donation. There is also no proof that the donee communicated in writing its acceptance to the donor aside from the circumstance that DECS constructed the school during Isaias' lifetime without objection on his part. There is absolutely no showing that these steps were noted in both instruments.

Sufficiency of Proof of Loss

What mainly militates against DECS' claim is, as the Court of Appeals found, inadequate proof that DECS or the Municipality made a diligent search in the places where the deed of donation may likely be found and that the search was unsuccessful. Prior to the introduction of secondary evidence, a party must establish the existence and due execution of the instrument. After a party establishes the existence and due execution of the document, he must prove that the document was lost or destroyed.18 The destruction of the instrument'

may be proved by any person knowing the fact. The loss may be shown by any person who knew the fact of its loss, or by any one who had made, on the judgment of the court, a sufficient examination in the place [or] places where the document or papers of similar character are usually kept by the person in whose custody the document lost was, and has been unable to find it; or who has made any other investigation which is sufficient to satisfy the court that the instrument is indeed lost.19

Here, DECS allegedly made a search in the municipal building and in the DECS Division Office in Bulacan. The copies of the deed of donation furnished these offices were purportedly "lost" when these offices transferred to new locations. However, as the Court of Appeals correctly pointed out, Judge Natividad who claimed to have notarized the deed of donation failed to account for other copies of the deed, which the law strictly enjoins him to record, and furnish to other designated government offices.

The Notarial Law is explicit on the obligations and duties of a notary public. The law requires him to keep a notarial register where he shall record all his official acts as notary public. The law specifies the information that the notary public must enter in the notarial register. Failure to perform this duty results in the revocation of his commission as notary public. We quote the provisions of the Notarial Law pertinent to the case:

SECTION 245. Notarial register. - Every notary public shall keep a register to be known as the notarial register, wherein record shall be made of all his official acts as notary; and he shall supply a certified copy of such record, or any part thereof, to any person applying for it and paying the legal fees therefor.ςηαñrοblεš νιr†υαl lαω lιbrαrÿ

Such register shall be kept in books to be furnished by the Attorney-General (Solicitor-General) to any notary public upon request and upon payment of the actual cost thereof, but officers exercising the functions of notaries public ex officio shall be supplied with the register at government expense. The register shall be duly paged, and on the first page, the Attorney-General (Solicitor-General) shall certify the number of pages of which the book consist[s].

SECTION 246. Matters to be entered therein. - The notary public shall enter in such register, in chronological order, the nature of each instrument executed, sworn to, or acknowledged before him, the person executing, swearing to, or acknowledging the instrument, the witnesses, if any, to the signature, the date of the execution, oath, or acknowledgment or the instrument, the fees collected by him for his services as notary in connection therewith, and; when the instrument is contract, he shall keep a correct copy thereof as part of his records, and shall likewise enter in said records a brief description of the substance thereof, and shall give to each entry a consecutive number, beginning with number one in each calendar year. The notary shall give to each instrument executed, sworn to, or acknowledged before him a number corresponding to the one in his register, and shall also state on the instrument the page or pages of his register on which the same is recorded. No blank line shall be left between entries.

x x x

At the end of each week the notary shall certify in his register the number of instruments executed, sworn to, acknowledged, or protested before him; or if none, such certificate shall show this fact.

A certified copy of each month's entries as described in this section and a certified copy of any instrument acknowledged before them shall within the first ten days of the month next following be forwarded by the notaries public to the clerk of the Court of First Instance of the province and shall be filed under the responsibility of such officer; Provided, that if there is no entry to certify for the month, the notary shall forward a statement to this effect in lieu of the certified copies herein required. (As amended by C.A. 72, Sec. 1.)

SECTION 247. Disposition of notarial register. - Immediately upon his notarial register being filled, and also within fifteen days after the expiration of his commission, unless reappointed, the notary public shall forward his notarial register to the clerk of the Court of First Instance of the province or of the City of Manila, as the case may be, wherein he exercises his office, who shall examine the same and report thereon to the judge of the Court of First Instance. If the judge finds that no irregularity has been committed in the keeping of the register, he shall forward the same to the chief of the division of archives, patents, copyrights, and trade-marks. In case the judge finds that irregularities have been committed in the keeping of the register, he shall refer the matter to the fiscal of the province - and in the City of Manila, to the fiscal of the city - for action and the sending of the register to the chief of the division of archives, patents, copyrights, and trade-marks shall be deferred until the termination of the case against the notary public. (Emphasis and underscoring supplied)ςrαlαωlιbrαrÿ

The Notarial Law mandates a notary public to record in his notarial register the necessary information regarding the instrument acknowledged before him. The Notarial Law also mandates the notary public to retain a copy of the instrument acknowledged before him when it is a contract.20 The notarial register is a record of the notary public's official acts. Acknowledged instruments recorded in the notarial register are public documents.21 If the instrument is not recorded in the notarial register and there is no copy in the notarial records, the presumption arises that the document was not notarized and is not a public document.22

DECS should have produced at the trial the notarial register where Judge Natividad as the notary public should have recorded the deed of donation. Alternatively, DECS should have explained the unavailability of the notarial register. Judge Natividad could have also explained why he did not retain a copy of the deed of donation as required by law. As the Court of Appeals correctly observed, there was no evidence showing that DECS looked for a copy from the Clerk of Court concerned or from the National Archives. All told, these circumstances preclude a finding that DECS or the Municipality made a diligent search to obtain a copy of the deed of donation.

In civil cases, the party having the burden of proof must establish his case by a preponderance of evidence. "Preponderance of evidence" means that the evidence as a whole adduced by one side is superior to that of the other. In other words, preponderance of evidence means the greater weight of the evidence - or evidence that outweighs the evidence of the adverse party. This Court is not satisfied that the evidence on the side of the party carrying the burden of proof is of preponderating weight.

Finally, DECS raises for the first time before this Court the issue on whether respondents' claim is barred by the equitable defense of laches. DECS did not raise this matter in the complaint or during the trial in the court below. DECS did not also raise this matter in its appeal to the Court of Appeals.ςηαñrοblεš νιr†υαl lαω lιbrαrÿ

This Court cannot entertain this issue at this late stage, for to do so would plainly violate the basic rule of fair play, justice and due process.23

Much as we sympathize with the plight of the schoolchildren, we do not find reversible error in the Decision of the Court of Appeals. We cannot grant the relief DECS is seeking and disregard existing laws and jurisprudence. DECS, however, is not without remedy. The government can expropriate at any time the Donated Site, paying just compensation to respondents.

WHEREFORE, we DENY the petition. The Decision dated 25 September 2000 and the Resolution dated 29 December 2000 of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. CV No. 43929 are AFFIRMED.

SO ORDERED.

Davide, Jr., C.J., (Chairman), Quisumbing, Ynares-Santiago, and Azcuna, JJ., concur.

Endnotes:


1 Under Rule 45 of the 1997 Rules of Civil Procedure.

2 Penned by Associate Justice Romeo A. Brawner, with Associate Justices Cancio C. Garcia (now Associate Justice of this Court) and Andres B. Reyes, Jr., concurring.

3 Penned by Judge Valentin R. Cruz.

4 Also spelled CayPombo or Kay Pombo.

5 Rollo, pp. 64-65.

6 Ibid., pp. 65-66.

7 Ibid., p. 67.

8 Ibid., pp. 66-67.

9 Ibid., p. 46.

10 Rollo, pp. 45-46.

11 Ibid., p. 193.

12 See R. J. FRANCISCO, BASIC EVIDENCE 272-273 (1991).

13 Quilala v. Alcantara, 422 Phil. 648 (2001).

14 Supra, see note 12, p. 283.

15 Lazatin v. Campos, No. L-43955-56, 30 July 1979, 92 SCRA 250.

16 TSN, 19 November 1992, pp. 7-9.

17 Ibid., p. 10.

18 O. M. HERRERA, REMEDIAL LAW, 186 VOLUME V (1999).

19 Ibid.

20 See also Section 2(d) of the 2004 Rules on Notarial Practice.

21 Manongsong v. Estimo, G.R. No. 136773, 25 June 2003, 404 SCRA 683; Section 19, Rule 132 of the Revised Rules of Court provides in part:

Sec. 19. Classes of documents. - For the purpose of their presentation in evidence, documents are either public or private.

Public documents are:

(a) x x x

(b) Documents acknowledged before a notary public except last wills and testaments; x x x. (Emphasis supplied)ςrαlαωlιbrαrÿ

22 Bernardo v. Atty. Ramos, 433 Phil. 8 (2002).

23 Sanchez v. The Hon. Court of Appeals, 345 Phil. 155 (1997).




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