G.R. No. 136773, 25 June 2003, 685 SCRA 209


Allegedly, Agatona Guevarra (“Guevarra”) inherited a property from Justina Navarro, which is now under possession of the heirs of Guevarra. Guevarra had six children, one of them is Vicente Lopez, the father of petitioner Milagros Lopez Manongsong (“Manongsong”). The respondents, the Jumaquio sisters and Leoncia Lopez claimed that the property was actually sold to them by Justina Navarro prior to her death. The respondents presented deed of sale dated October 11, 1957. Milagros and Carlito Manongsong (“petitioners”) filed a Complaint on June 19, 1992 praying for the partition and award to them of an area equivalent to one-fifth (1/5), by right of representation. The RTC ruled that the conveyance made by Justina Navarro is subject to nullity because the property conveyed had a conjugal character and that Agatona Guevarra as her compulsory heir should have the legal right to participate with the distribution of the estate under question to the exclusion of others. The Deed of Sale did not at all provide for the reserved legitime or the heirs, and, therefore it has no force and effect against Agatona Guevarra and should be declared it a nullity ab initio.


Whether or not the rights of the compulsory heirs were impaired by the alleged sale of the property by Justina.


No. The Kasulatan, being a document acknowledged before a notary public, is a public document and prima facie evidence of its authenticity and due execution. There is no basis for the trial court’s declaration that the sale embodied in the Kasulatan deprived the compulsory heirs of Guevarra of their legitimes. As opposed to a disposition inter vivos by lucrative or gratuitous title, a valid sale for valuable consideration does not diminish the estate of the seller. When the disposition is for valuable consideration, there is no diminution of the estate but merely a substitution of values, that is, the property sold is replaced by the equivalent monetary consideration. The Property was sold in 1957 for P250.00.

The trial court’s conclusion that the Property was conjugal, hence the sale is void ab initio was not based on evidence, but rather on a misapprehension of Article 160 of the Civil Code, which provides: “All property of the marriage is presumed to belong to the conjugal partnership; unless it be proved that it pertains exclusively to the husband or to the wife.” The presumption under Article 160 of the Civil Code applies only when there is proof that the property was acquired during the marriage. Proof of acquisition during the marriage is an essential condition for the operation of the presumption in favor of the conjugal partnership. There was no evidence presented to establish that Navarro acquired the Property during her marriage.

*Case digest by Rosemarie Baliquig, LLB-IV, Andres Bonifacio College Law School, SY 2018-2019