September 2005 - Philippine Supreme Court Decisions/Resolutions
G.R. No. 137808 - Aldegonda Vda. De Ramones, et al. v. Aurora P. Agbayani.
[G.R. NO. 137808. September 30, 2005]
ALDEGONDA VDA. DE RAMONES, BEATRIZ and MARGARITA, BOTH SURNAMED RAMONES, Petitioners, v. AURORA P. AGBAYANI, ASSISTED BY HER HUSBAND FILEMON AGBAYANI, Respondent.
D E C I S I O N
Petition for Review on Certiorari under Rule 45 of the 1997 Rules of Civil Procedure, as amended, assailing the Decision1 dated May 8, 1998 and the Resolution dated February 16, 1999 of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. CV No. 49807, entitled "AURORA AGBAYANI, assisted by her husband, FILEMON AGBAYANI v. ALDEGONDA VDA. DE RAMONES, BEATRIZ AND MARGARITA, both surname RAMONES."
Spouses Santos and Aldegonda Ramones are the registered owners of a 358-square meter lot located at Calamagui, Ilagan, Isabela, covered by Transfer Certificate of Title (TCT) No. T-43468 of the Registry of Deeds, same province.
On May 23, 1979, Santos Ramones, without the knowledge of his wife, Aldegonda, sold to Aurora P. Agbayani a 100-square meter portion of the lot for
P5,000.00. The Deed of Sale was annotated by the Register of Deeds as Entry No. 90 at the back of TCT No. T-43468.
On March 7, 1980, Santos Ramones died. Subsequently, Aldegonda and her daughters Beatriz and Margarita, herein petitioners, had a restroom and a concrete septic tank built on the area sold by Santos Ramones to respondent without the latter's knowledge. This prompted respondent to bring the matter to the barangay authorities but no settlement was reached by the parties.
On June 27, 1983, respondent filed with the Regional Trial Court of Isabela, Branch 17, a complaint for quieting of title and recovery of possession against petitioners on the basis of the Deed of Sale executed by Santos Ramones.
In their amended answer, petitioners averred that the 100-square meter lot subject of the Deed of Sale is the conjugal property of spouses Santos and petitioner Aldegonda Ramones. Even if Santos, during his lifetime, sold the property to respondent, the sale is void since it was executed without the consent of his wife, Aldegonda Ramones.
On October 11, 1995, the trial court rendered a Decision2 in favor of petitioners and against respondent, holding that the Deed of Sale is void because it was executed without the consent of his wife Aldegonda.
On appeal, the Court of Appeals rendered its Decision reversing that of the trial court, thus:
"WHEREFORE, IN VIEW OF THE FOREGOING, the decision of the lower court dated October 11, 1995 is REVERSED, and a new judgment is rendered in favor of plaintiff-appellant Aurora P. Agbayani, confirming the Deed of Sale executed by Santos P. Ramones in her favor and declaring plaintiffs as absolute owners of the lot sold to them by the aforenamed vendor. No pronouncement as to costs.
Petitioners' motion for reconsideration was denied.
In ruling that the Deed of Sale between Santos Ramones and herein respondent is valid, the Appellate Court held: Article 166 of the Civil Code prohibits alienation or encumbrance of real property by the husband without the consent of the wife. This provision should be read with Article 173 of the same Code providing that the wife may, during the marriage and within ten (10) years from the questioned transaction, ask the courts for annulment of any contract of the husband entered into without her consent. In other words, the lack of consent by the wife will not make the alienation of the conjugal property by the husband void. It is merely voidable. In the instant case, however, petitioner Aldegonda Ramones, wife of Santos, did not ask the courts for the annulment of the Deed of Sale involving a portion of their conjugal property within ten (10) years from the transaction. Thus, the sale is valid.
The only issue in this case is whether the sale of real property belonging to the conjugal partnership by the husband without his wife's consent is void.
In Villaranda v. Villaranda, et al.,4 this Court, through Mr. Justice Artemio V. Panganiban, ruled that without the wife's consent, the husband's alienation or encumbrance of conjugal property prior to the effectivity of the Family Code is not void, but merely voidable. However, the wife's failure to file with the courts an action for annulment of the contract during the marriage and within ten (10) years from the transaction shall render the sale valid. In the present case, the Deed of Absolute Sale was executed by Santos Ramones on May 23, 1979.5 The Family Code took effect much later, or only on August 3, 1988. Laws should be applied prospectively, unless a legislative intent to give them retroactive effect is expressly declared or is necessarily implied from the language used.6 This exception is not present here. Therefore, the provisions of the Civil Code, not the Family Code, apply to the present case.
There is no dispute that the lot sold is the conjugal property of spouses Ramones. In this connection, Article 166 of the Civil Code, provides:
"Article 166. Unless the wife has been declared a non compos mentis or a spendthrift, or is under civil interdiction or is confined in a leprosarium, the husband cannot alienate or encumber any real property of the conjugal partnership without the wife's consent. x x x"
Clearly, Article 166 is categorical that the husband cannot alienate or encumber any real property of the conjugal partnership without the wife's consent. This provision, however, must be interpreted in conjunction with Article 173 of the same Code, quoted as follows:
"Article 173. The wife may, during the marriage, and within ten years from the transaction questioned, ask the courts for the annulment of any contract of the husband entered into without her consent, when such consent is required, or any act or contract of the husband which tends to defraud her or impair her interest in the conjugal partnership property. Should the wife fail to exercise this right, she or her heirs, after the dissolution of the marriage, may demand the value of the property fraudulently alienated the husband."
The above provision states that an action to annul an alienation or encumbrance by the husband may be instituted by the wife during the marriage and within ten years from the transaction questioned. Consequently, the lack of consent on her part will not make the husband's alienation or encumbrance of real property of the conjugal partnership void, but merely voidable.7
Here, there is no proof that petitioner Aldegonda Ramones filed any complaint to annul the Deed of Sale entered into by her husband. As held by this Court in Villaranda,8 "her right to bring an action to invalidate the contract has thus prescribed. Hence, the assailed Deed is still valid and enforceable."
WHEREFORE, the petition is DENIED and the assailed Decision of the Court of Appeals is AFFIRMED. Costs against petitioners.
Panganiban, J., (Chairman), Corona, Carpio Morales, and Garcia, JJ., concur.
1 Penned by Associate Justice Fermin A. Martin, Jr. (retired) and concurred in by Associate Justices Conrado M. Vasquez, Jr. and Teodoro P. Regino, (retired).
2 Rollo at 42-49.
3 Id., at 57-62.
4 G.R. No. 153447, February 23, 2004, 423 SCRA 571.
5 Rollo at 31.
6 Villaranda v. Villaranda, G. R. No. 153447, February 23, 2004, 423 SCRA 571, citing Article 4, New Civil Code; Gailardo v. Borromeo, 161 SCRA 500, May 25, 1988; Nilo v. CA, 128 SCRA 519, April 2, 1984.
7 Villaranda v. Villaranda, et al., supra, citing Rojas v. CA, 192 SCRA 709, 723 (1990); Reyes v. De Leon, 126 Phil. 710 (1967); Heirs of Christina Ayuste v. CA, 372 Phil. 370 (1999).