Villanueva v. Intermediate Appellate Court

GR No. 67582, 29 October 1987

FACTS:

Modesto Aranas, husband of Victoria, inherited a land from his father. Dorothea and Teodoro, Modesto’s illegitimate children, borrowed money from private respondent Jesus Bernas, mortgaging as collateral their father’s property. In the loan agreement, Aranas described themselves as the absolute co-owners. Dorothea and Teodoro failed to pay the loan resulting to extrajudicial foreclosure of mortgage in 1977 and thereafter Bernas acquired the land as the highest bidder. Aftewards, the Aranases executed a deed of extrajudicial partition in 1978, in which they adjudicated the same land unto themselves in equal share pro-indiviso. Bernas then consolidated his ownership over the lot when the mortgagors failed to redeem it withn the reglementary period, and had the title in the name of Modesto cancelled and another TCT issued in his name.

In 1978, petitioner Consolacion Villanueva and Raymundo Aranas filed a complaint against respondents spouses Jesus and RemediosBernas, for the cancellation of the TCT under the name of the Bernases, and they be declared co-owners of the land. Petitioner alleged that spouses Modesto and Victoria in 1987 and 1958 executed 2 separate wills: first bequeathing to Consolacion and Raymundo and to Dorothea and Teodoro, in equal shares pro diviso, all of said Victoria’s shares from the conjugal partnership property; and second Modesto’s interests in his conjugal partnership with Victoria as well as his separate properties bequeathed to Dorothea and Teodoro. Trial court dismissed the complaint, declaring herein respondents as the legal owners of the disputed property. IAC likewise affirmed the lower court’s decision.

ISSUE:

WON Villanueva had a right over the land and the improvements thereon made by Victoria who rendered the lot as conjugal property.

RULING:

No. Villanueva did not have a right over the land and the improvements thereon made by Victoria who rendered the lot as conjugal property. There was no proof presented by Villanueva. Such proof is needed at the time of the making or construction of the improvements and the source of the funds used thereof in order to determine the character of the improvements as belonging to the conjugal partnership or to one spouse separately.

Article 148 of the Civil Code clearly decrees: that to be considered as “the exclusive property of each spouse” is inter alia, “that which is brought to the marriage as his or her own,” or “that which each acquires, during the marriage, by lucrative title.”

What is certain is that the land on which the improvements stand was the exclusive property of Modesto and that where the property is registered in the name of one spouse only and there is no showing of when precisely the property was acquired, the presumption is that is belongs exclusively to said spouse. Therefore, the land was not a conjugal partnership property of Victoria and Modesto. It was Modesto’s exclusive property since he inherited it from his parents. Moreover, since Victoria died ahead of Modesto, Victoria did not inherit said lot from him and therefore had nothing of the land to bequeath by will of otherwise to Consolacion.

* Case digest by Cherrie Mae E. Aguila-Granada, LLB-1, Andres Bonifacio Law School, SY 2017-2018

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