Almendra v. IAC

21 November 1991

FACTS:

Aleja Ceno was first married to Juanso Yu Book with whom she had 3 children: Magdaleno, Melecia, and Bernardina. During said marriage, Aleja acquired a parcel of land which she declared in her name under Tax Declaration No. 11500. Book took his family to China where he eventually died. Aleja and Bernardina returned to the Philippines. After Book’s death, Bernardina filed against her mother a case for the partition of the said property in the CFI of Leyte. The lower court rendered a decision finding that the property had been subdivided into Lots Nos. 6354, 6353, 6352, and 6366.Lots 6354 and 6353 (without prejudice to whatever may be the rights of Melecia) were declared owned by Bernardina while lots 6352 (subject to whatever may be the rights of Magdaleno) and 6366 were declared owned by Aleja.

Meanwhile, Aleja married Santiago Almendra with whom she had 4 children: Margarito, Angeles, Roman, and Delia. During said marriage, they acquired a 59,196 square-meter parcel of land in Cagbolo, Abuyog, Leyte. Also during such time, Aleja inherited from her father, Juan Ceno, a 16,000 square-meter parcel of land while Santiago inherited from his mother, Nicolasa Alvero, a 164 square-meter parcel of residential land in Nalibunan, Abuyog, Leyte.

While Santiago was alive, he apportioned all of his properties among Aleja’s children in the Philippines, including Bernardina. Upon his death, Aleja sold to Angeles and Roman certain parcels of land. When Aleja died, Margarito, Delia, and Bernardina filed for the annulment of the deeds of sale in their favor, partition of the properties and accounting their produce. They contend that the deeds of sale were obtained through fraud, undue influence, and misrepresentation and that there was a deficit in the consent of Aleja in the execution of the documents because she was then residing with Angeles. Furthermore, the uniform price of P2,000.00 in all the sales was grossly inadequate. Also, it was averred that the IAC erred in having sanctioned the sale of particular portions of yet undivided real properties. It was the IAC’s view that no conclusive proof was presented to override the duly notarized deed of sale.

ISSUE:

Did the IAC err in having sanctioned the sale of particular portions of yet undivided real properties?

RULING:

While petitioners’ contention is basically correct, we agree with the appellate court that there is no valid, legal and convincing reason for nullifying the questioned deeds of sale. Petitioner had not presented any strong, complete and conclusive proof to override the evidentiary value of the duly notarized deeds of sale. 15 Moreover, the testimony of the lawyer who notarized the deeds of sale that he saw not only Aleja signing and affixing her thumbmark on the questioned deeds but also Angeles and Aleja “counting money between them deserves more credence than the self-serving allegations of the petitioners. Such testimony is admissible as evidence without further proof of the due execution of the deeds in question and is conclusive as to the truthfulness of their contents in the absence of clear and convincing evidence to the contrary.

The petitioners’ allegations that the deeds of sale were “obtained through fraud, undue influence and misrepresentation,” and that there was a defect in the consent of Aleja in the execution of the documents because she was then residing with Angeles, had not been fully substantiated. They failed to show that the uniform price of P2,000 in all the sales was grossly inadequate. It should be emphasized that the sales were effected between a mother and two of her children in which case filial love must be taken into account.

On the other hand, private respondents Angeles and Roman amply proved that they had the means to purchase the properties.

The unquestionability of the due execution of the deeds of sale notwithstanding, the Court may not put an imprimatur on the intrinsic validity of all the sales. The August 10, 1973 sale to Angeles of one-half portion of the conjugal property covered by OCT No. P-10094 may only be considered valid as a sale of Aleja’s one-half interest therein. Aleja could not have sold particular hilly portion specified in the deed of sale in absence of proof that the conjugal partnership property had been partitioned after the death of Santiago. Before such partition, Aleja could not claim title to any definite portion of the property for all she had was an ideal or abstract quota or proportionate share in the entire property.

However, the sale of the one-half portion of the parcel of land covered by Tax Declaration No. 27190 is valid because the said property is paraphernal being Aleja’s inheritance from her own father.

As regards the sale of the property covered by Tax Declaration No. 11500, we hold that, since the property had been found in Civil Case No. 4387 to have been subdivided, Aleja could not have intended the sale of the whole property covered by said tax declaration. She could exercise her right of ownership only over Lot No. 6366 which was unconditionally adjudicated to her in said case.

Lot No. 6352 was given to Aleja in Civil Case No. 4387 “subject to whatever may be the rights thereto of her son Magdaleno Ceno.” A reading of the deed of Sale covering parcel of land would show that the sale is subject to the condition stated above; hence, the rights of Magdaleno Ceno are amply protected. The rule on caveat emptor applies.

WHEREFORE, the decision of the then Intermediate Appellate Court is hereby affirmed subject to the modifications herein stated.

*Case Digest by Radolfzell Adasa, JD – 4, Andres Bonifacio College, SY 2019 – 2020

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