Gregorio v. Vda. De Culig

G.R. No. 180559, 20 January 2016

FACTS:

Respondent Maria Crisologo V da. De Culig (respondent) is the widow of Alfredo Culig, Sr. (Alfredo). During his lifetime, Alfredo was granted a homestead patent under the Public Land Act (C.A. 141) over a 54,730-square meter parcel of land (the property) in Nuangan, Kidapawan, North Cotabato.1 Alfredo died sometime in 1971, and on October 9, 1974, his heirs, including respondent, executed an extra-judicial settlement of estate with simultaneous sale of the property in favor of spouses.

On September 26, 1979, respondent filed a complaint demanding the repurchase of the property under the provisions of the Public Land Act. She alleged that she first approached the spouses personally and offered to pay back the purchase price of ₱25,000.00 but the latter refused. Subsequently, respondent and her son, Alfredo Culig, Jr. (petitioner’s attorney-in-fact) wrote letters reiterating their desire to repurchase the property but the spouses did not answer.

Before trial could commence, the parties made the following stipulations:

1. That the property subject of the complaint was acquired as homestead during the existence of the marriage between plaintiff and her deceased husband, and, therefore, it is admittedly a conjugal property;
2. That the plaintiff and six of her eight children executed an extra-judicial settlement and simultaneous sale in favor of the defendants and title was transferred to them;
3. That the complaint was filed within the [reglementary] period of five (5) years;
4. That the amount of ₱25,000.00 was fully paid at the time of the extra-judicial settlement and sale;
5. That there was no consignment with the Court of the repurchase price of ₱25,000.00.

According to the CA, consignation should not be considered a requisite element for the repurchase of homestead or free patent lots, citing Adelfa Properties, Inc. v. Court of Appeals, wherein this Court held that consignation is not necessary in a sale with right of repurchase because it involves “an exercise of a right or privilege … rather than the discharge of an obligation, hence tender of payment would be sufficient to preserve [a] right or [a] privilege.”

Petitioner insists that there was no valid redemption since there was no valid tender of payment nor consignation of the amount of repurchase made by the respondent.

ISSUE:

Whether or not there was no valid redemption as there was no valid tender of payment?

RULING:

The argument fails.

In Hulganza v. Court of Appeals, we held that the bona fide tender of the redemption price or its equivalent—consignation of said price in court is not essential or necessary where the filing of the action itself is equivalent to a formal offer to redeem. As explained in the said case,

“The formal offer to redeem, accompanied by a bona fide tender of the redemption price, within the period of redemption prescribed by law, is only essential to preserve the right of redemption for future enforcement beyond such period of redemption and within the period prescribed for the action by the statute of limitations. Where, as in the instant case, the right to redeem is exercised thru the filing of judicial action within the period of redemption prescribed by the law, the formal offer to redeem, accompanied by a bona fide tender of the redemption price, might be proper, but is not essential. The filing of the action itself, within the period of redemption, is equivalent to a formal offer to redeem.

*Case digest by Claudette Anne G. Sayson, JD – 4, Andres Bonifacio College, SY 2019 – 2020

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