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Republic of the Philippines

SUPREME COURT
Manila
SECOND DIVISION
G.R. No. 115734 February 23, 2000
RUBEN LOOL!, C!N"EL!R#! LOOL!, LOREN$O LOOL!, FLOR! LOOL!,
N#C!N"RO LOOL!, ROS!R#O LOOL!, TERES#T! LOOL! a%& '#CENTE
LOOL!, petitioners,
vs.
T(E (ONOR!BLE COURT OF !PPE!LS, N#E'ES, ROM!N!, ROMU!L"O,
GU#LLERMO, LUC#!, PUR#F#C!C#ON, !NGELES, ROBERTO, ESTRELL!, a))
*ur%a+e& $!RR!G! a%& T(E (E#RS OF ,OSE $!RR!G!, %a+e)y !UROR!,
M!R#T!, ,OSE, RON!L"O, '#CTOR, L!UR#!NO, a%& !R#EL, a)) *ur%a+e&
$!RR!G!, respondent.
-U#SUMB#NG, J.:
or revie! on certiorari is the decision of the Court of "ppeals in C"#$.R. No. CV
%&'(', pro)ul*ated on "u*ust %+, +((%, reversin* the ,ud*)ent of the Re*ional -rial
Court of .i/an, 0a*una, .ranch 12, in Civil Case No. .#1+(2. In said decision, the
appellate court decreed3
PREMISES CONSIDERED, the decision appealed fro) is hereb4
REVERSED and a ne! ,ud*)ent rendered as follo!s3
+. Dis)issin* the plaintiff5s Co)plaint6
1. Declarin* the 7.ilihan* -ulu4an n* 8alahati 9+:1; n* Isan* 9+; 0a*a4 na
0upa7 dated "u*ust 12, +(<' 9E=hibit +; as !ell as -ransfer Certificate of -itle
No. -#++&'&> of the Re*istr4 of Deeds for the Cala)ba .ranch to be la!ful,
valid, and effective.
SO ORDERED.
+
-he R-C decision reversed b4 the Court of "ppeals had disposed of the co)plaint as
follo!s3
?@EREORE, pre)ises considered, ,ud*)ent is hereb4 rendered in favor of
the plaintiffs and a*ainst the defendants as follo!s3
+. Declarin* the si)ulated deed of absolute sale purportedl4
e=ecuted b4 the late $audencia Aarra*a on "u*ust 12, +(<' as !ell
as the issuance of the correspondin* certificate of title in favor of the
defendants null and void fro) the be*innin*6
1. Orderin* the Re*ister of Deeds of 0a*una, Cala)ba .ranch to
cancel -ransfer Certificate of -itle No. -#++&'<> issued in favor of the
defendants and to issue another one, if feasible, in favor of the
plaintiffs and the defendants as co#o!ners and le*al heirs of the late
$audencia Aarra*a6
%. Order9in*; the defendants to reconve4 and deliver the possession
of the shares of the plaintiff on 9sic; the sub,ect propert46
2. Orderin* the defendants to pa4 the a)ount of P1',''' as and for
attorne45s fees and the costs of this suit.
B. "s there is no preponderance of evidence sho!in* that the
plaintiffs suffered )oral and e=e)plar4 da)a*es, their clai) for such
da)a*es is hereb4 dis)issed.
-he plaintiffs5 clai) under the second cause of action is hereb4 dis)issed on
the *round of prescription.
0iCe!ise, the defendants5 counterclai) is hereb4 dis)issed for lacC of )erit.
SO ORDERED.
1
?e shall no! e=a)ine the factual antecedents of this petition.
In dispute here is a parcel of land in .i/an, 0a*una, particularl4 described as follo!s3
" P"RCE0 O 0"ND 90ot ++B#"#+; of the subdivision plan 90RC; Psd#%1++>;,
bein* a portion of 0ot ++B#", described on Plan Psd#BB11<, 0RC 9$0RO;
Record No. <%>2;, situated in the Poblacion, Municipalit4 of .i/an, Province of
0a*una, Island of 0uDon. .ounded on the NE., points % to 2 b4 the .i/an
River6 on the SE., points 2 to + b4 0ot ++B#"#1 of the subd. Plan6 on the S?.,
points + to 1 b4 the Road and on points 1 to % b4 0ot ++B#., Psd#BB11< . . .
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containin* an area of SEVEN @ENDRED I-F -@REE 9>B%; SG. ME-ERS,
)ore or less . . . .
%
Ori*inall4 o!ned in co))on b4 the siblin*s Mariano and $audencia Aarra*a, !ho
inherited it fro) their father, the parcel is covered b4 -ransfer Certificate of -itle 9-C-;
No. -#%1''>. Mariano predeceased his sister !ho died sin*le, !ithout offsprin* on
"u*ust B, +(<%, at the a*e of (>.
Victorina Aarra*a vda. de 0o4ola and Cecilia Aarra*a, are sisters of $audencia and
Mariano. Victorina died on October +<, +(<(, !hile Civil Case No. .#1+(2 !as pendin*
!ith the trial court. Cecilia died on "u*ust 2, +((', un)arried and childless. Victorina
and Cecilia !ere substituted b4 petitioners as plaintiffs.
Private respondents, children of Mariano e=ceptin* those deno)inated as the 7@eirs of
Hose Aarra*a,7 are first cousins of petitioners. Respondents desi*nated as the 7@eirs of
Hose Aarra*a7 are first cousins once re)oved of the petitioners.
Private respondents alle*e that the4 are the la!ful o!ners of 0ot ++B#"#+, the one#half
share inherited b4 their father, Mariano and the other half purchased fro) their
deceased aunt, $audencia. -ransfer Certificate of -itle No. ++&'&> !as issued in their
na)es coverin* 0ot ++B#"#+.
-he records sho! that the propert4 !as earlier the sub,ect of Civil Case No. .#+'(2
before the then Court of irst Instance of 0a*una, .ranch +, entitled 7Spouses
Ro)ualdo Aarra*a, et al. v. $audencia Aarra*a, et al.7 Ro)ualdo Aarra*a, one of the
private respondents no!, !as the plaintiff in Civil Case No. .#+'(2. -he defendants
!ere his siblin*s3 Nieves, Ro)ana, $uiller)o, Purificacion, "n*eles, Roberto, Estrella,
and Hose, all surna)ed Aarra*a, as !ell as his aunt, the late $audencia. -he trial court
decided Civil Case No. .#+'(2 in favor of the defendants. $audencia !as ad,ud*ed
o!ner of the one#half portion of 0ot ++B#"#+. Ro)ualdo elevated the decision to the
Court of "ppeals and later the Supre)e Court. -he petition, docCeted as $.R. No.
B(B1(, !as denied b4 this Court on March +>, +(<1.
-he present controvers4 be*an on "u*ust 12, +(<', nearl4 three 4ears before the
death of $audencia !hile $.R. No. B(B1( !as still pendin* before this Court. On said
date, $audencia alle*edl4 sold to private respondents her share in 0ot ++B#"#+ for
P%2,'''.''. -he sale !as evidenced b4 a notariDed docu)ent deno)inated as
7.ilihan* -ulu4an n* 8alahati 9+:1; n* Isan* 0a*a4 na 0upa.7
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Ro)ualdo, the petitioner
in $.R. No. B(B1(, !as a)on* the vendees.
Mean!hile, the decision in Civil Case No. .#+'(2 beca)e final. Private respondents
filed a )otion for e=ecution. On ebruar4 +&, +(<2, the sheriff e=ecuted the
correspondin* deed of reconve4ance to $audencia. On Hul4 1%, +(<2, ho!ever, the
Re*ister of Deeds of 0a*una, Cala)ba .ranch, issued in favor of private respondents,
-C- No. -#++&'&>, on the basis of the sale on "u*ust 12, +(<' b4 $audencia to the).
On Hanuar4 %+, +(<B, Victorina and Cecilia filed a co)plaint, docCeted as Civil Case
No. .#1+(2, !ith the R-C of .i/an, 0a*una, for the purpose of annullin* the sale and
the -C-. -he trial court rendered ,ud*)ent in favor of co)plainants.
On appeal, the appellate court REVERSED the trial court. On Septe)ber +B, +((%,
herein petitioners 9as substitute parties for Victorina and Cecilia, the ori*inal plaintiffs;
filed a )otion for reconsideration, !hich !as denied on Hune &, +((2.
@ence, the instant petition.
Petitioners sub)it the follo!in* issues for resolution b4 this Court3
+. ?@E-@ER OR NO- -@ERE "RE S-RON$ "ND CO$EN- RE"SON9S;
-O DIS-ER. -@E INDIN$S "ND CONC0ESIONS O -@E -RI"0 COER-
-@"- -@E CON-R"C- DENOMIN"-ED "S DEED O ".SO0E-E S"0E IS
SIME0"-ED "ND -@EREORE NE00 "ND VOID.
1. ?@E-@ER -@E "C-S O PRIV"-E RESPONDEN-S IS 9SIC;
CONSIS-EN- ?I-@ -@E "C-S O VENDEES ?@EN -@EF DEIED 0O$IC
"S OEND .F -@E -RI"0 COER-. . .
%. ?@E-@ER -@E "00E$ED VENDORS 9SIC; $"EDENCI" A"RR"$"
?@O ?"S -@EN (2 FE"RS O0D, "0RE"DF ?E"8 "ND ?@O ?"S
ENDER -@E C"RE O ONE O -@E VENDEES PRIV"-E RESPONDEN-
ROM"N" A"RR"$", SIN$0E "ND ?I-@OE- "NF C@I0D .E- @"S
SIS-ERS "ND O-@ER NEP@E?S "ND NIECES ?I00 SE00 @ER
PROPER-F -@EN ?OR-@ P+<<,1B'.'' IN +(<' OR ON0F P%2,''', "ND
?@E-@ER " CON-R"C- O S"0E O RE"0-F IS PEREC-ED, V"0ID
"ND $ENEINE ?@EN ONE O -@E VENDEES ROME"0DO A"RR"$"
DOES NO- 8NO? O -@E -R"NS"C-ION, -@E O-@ER VENDEE HOSE
A"RR"$" ?"S "0RE"DF 0ON$ DE"D .EORE -@E EIECE-ION O
-@E .I0I@"N IN GEES-ION "ND FE- ?"S INC0EDED "S ONE O -@E
VENDEES, 0I8E?ISE, O-@ER SEPPOSED VENDEES NIEVES A"RR"$"
"ND $EI00ERMO A"RR"$" "SIDE ROM ROME"0DO ?ERE NO-
PRESEN- ?@EN -@E -R"NS"C-ION -OO8 P0"CE.
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2. -@E 0E$"0 ME"NIN$ "ND IMPOR- O SIME0"-ED CON-R"C- O
S"0E ?@IC@ INV"0ID"-ES " -R"NS"C-ION IS "0SO " 0E$"0 ISSEE -O
.E -@RES@ED OE- IN -@IS C"SE "- ."R.
B. ?@E-@ER PE-I-IONERS @"VE -@E 0E$"0 PERSON"0I-F -O SEE.
B
Not!ithstandin* petitioners5 for)ulation of the issues, !e find the onl4 issue for
resolution in this case is !hether or not the deed of absolute sale is valid.
Petitioners vi*orousl4 assail the validit4 of the e=ecution of the deed of absolute sale
su**estin* that since the notar4 public !ho prepared and acCno!led*ed the
Juestioned .ilihan did not personall4 Cno! $audencia, the e=ecution of the deed !as
suspect. @o!ever, the notar4 public testified that he intervie!ed $audencia prior to
preparin* the deed of sale.
&
Petitioners failed to rebut this testi)on4. -he rule is that a
notariDed docu)ent carries the evidentiar4 !ei*ht conferred upon it !ith respect to its
due e=ecution,
>
and docu)ents acCno!led*ed before a notar4 public have in their
favor the presu)ption of re*ularit4.
<
.4 their failure to overco)e this presu)ption, !ith
clear and convincin* evidence, petitioners are estopped fro) Juestionin* the re*ularit4
of the e=ecution of the deed.
(
Petitioners also char*e that one of the vendees, Hose Aarra*a, !as alread4 dead at the
ti)e of the sale. @o!ever, the records reveal that Hose died on Hul4 1(, +(<+.
+'
@e !as
still alive on "u*ust 12, +(<', !hen the sale tooC place.
Petitioners then contend that three of the vendees included in the deed, na)el4,
Ro)ualdo, $uiller)o, and Nieves, !ere not a!are of the transaction, !hich casts
doubt on the validit4 of the e=ecution of the deed. Curiousl4, Ro)ualdo !ho Juestioned
$audencia5s o!nership in Civil Case No. .#+'(2, !as one of those included as bu4er
in the deed of sale. Ro)ana, ho!ever, testified that Ro)ualdo reall4 had no Cno!led*e
of the transaction and he !as included as a bu4er of the land onl4 because he !as a
brother.
Petitioners su**est that all the aforecited circu)stances lead to the conclusion that the
deed of sale !as si)ulated.
Si)ulation is 7the declaration of a fictitious !ill, deliberatel4 )ade b4 a*ree)ent of the
parties, in order to produce, for the purposes of deception, the appearances of a
,uridical act !hich does not e=ist or is different !hat that !hich !as reall4
e=ecuted.7
++
Characteristic of si)ulation is that the apparent contract is not reall4
desired or intended to produce le*al effect or in an4 !a4 alter the ,uridical situation of
the parties. Perusal of the Juestioned deed !ill sho! that the sale of the propert4 !ould
convert the co#o!ners to vendors and vendees, a clear alteration of the ,uridical
relationships. -his is contrar4 to the reJuisite of si)ulation that the apparent contract
!as not reall4 )eant to produce an4 le*al effect. "lso in a si)ulated contract, the
parties have no intention to be bound b4 the contract. .ut in this case, the parties
clearl4 intended to be bound b4 the contract of sale, an intention the4 did not den4.
-he reJuisites for si)ulation are3 9a; an out!ard declaration of !ill different fro) the !ill
of the parties6 9b; the false appearance )ust have been intended b4 )utual a*ree)ent6
and 9c; the purpose is to deceive third persons.
+1
None of these are present in the
assailed transaction.
"nent Ro)ualdo5s lacC of Cno!led*e and participation in the sale, the rule is that
contracts are bindin* onl4 upon the parties !ho e=ecute the).
+%
Ro)ualdo had no
Cno!led*e of the sale. @e !as a stran*er and not a part4 to it. "rticle +%++ of the Civil
Code
+2
clearl4 covers this situation.
Petitioners fault the Court of "ppeals for not considerin* that at the ti)e of the sale in
+(<', $audencia !as alread4 (2 4ears old6 that she !as alread4 !eaC6 that she !as
livin* !ith private respondent Ro)ana6 and !as dependent upon the latter for her dail4
needs, such that under these circu)stances, fraud or undue influence !as e=ercised
b4 Ro)ana to obtain $audencia5s consent to the sale.
-he rule on fraud is that it is never presu)ed, but )ust be both alle*ed and
proved.
+B
or a contract to be annulled on the *round of fraud, it )ust be sho!n that
the vendor never *ave consent to its e=ecution. If a co)petent person has assented to
a contract freel4 and fairl4, said person is bound. -here also is a disputable
presu)ption, that private transactions have been fair and re*ular.
+&
"pplied to
contracts, the presu)ption is in favor of validit4 and re*ularit4. In this case, the
alle*ations of fraud !as unsupported, and the presu)ption stands that the contract
$audencia entered into !as fair and re*ular.
Petitioners also clai) that since $audencia !as old and senile, she !as incapable of
independent and clear ,ud*)ent. @o!ever, a person is not incapacitated to contract
)erel4 because of advanced 4ears or b4 reason of ph4sical infir)ities.
+>
Onl4 !hen
such a*e or infir)ities i)pair his )ental faculties to such e=tent as to prevent hi) fro)
properl4, intelli*entl4, and fairl4 protectin* his propert4 ri*hts,
+<
is he considered
incapacitated. Petitioners sho! no proof that $audencia had lost control of her )ental
faculties at the ti)e of the sale. -he notar4 public !ho intervie!ed her, testified that
!hen he talCed to $audencia before preparin* the deed of sale, she ans!ered
correctl4 and he !as convinced that $audencia !as )entall4 fit and Cne! !hat she
!as doin*.
On !hether or not $audencia !as under the undue influence of the private
respondents, "rticle +%%> of the Civil Code states3
3
-here is undue influence !hen a person taCes i)proper advanta*e of his
po!er over the !ill of another, deprivin* the latter of a reasonable freedo) of
choice. -he follo!in* circu)stances shall be considered3 confidential, fa)il4,
spiritual, and other relations bet!een the parties, or the fact that the person
alle*ed to have been undul4 influenced !as sufferin* fro) )ental !eaCness,
or !as i*norant or in financial distress.
Endue influence depends upon the circu)stances of each case
+(
and not on bare
acade)ic rules.
1'
or undue influence to be established to ,ustif4 the cancellation of an
instru)ent, three ele)ents )ust be present3 9a; a person !ho can be influenced6 9b;
the fact that i)proper influence !as e=erted6 9c; sub)ission to the over!hel)in* effect
of such unla!ful conduct.
1+
In the absence of a confidential or fiduciar4 relationship
bet!een the parties, the la! does not presu)e that one person e=ercised undue
influence upon the other.
11
" confidential or fiduciar4 relationship )a4 include an4
relation bet!een persons, !hich allo!s one to do)inate the other, !ith the opportunit4
to use that superiorit4 to the other5s disadvanta*e.
1%
Included are those of attorne4 and
client,
12
ph4sician and patient,
1B
nurse and invalid,
1&
parent and child,
1>
*uardian and
!ard,
1<
)e)ber of a church or sect and spiritual adviser,
1(
a person and his confidential
adviser,
%'
or !henever a confidential relationship e=ists as a fact.
%+
-hat $audencia
looCed after Ro)ana in her old a*e is not sufficient to sho! that the relationship !as
confidential. -o prove a confidential relationship fro) !hich undue influence )a4 arise,
the relationship )ust reflect a do)inant, over)asterin* influence !hich controls over
the dependent person.
%1
In the present case, petitioners failed to sho! that Ro)ana
used her aunt5s reliance upon her to taCe advanta*e or do)inate her and dictate that
she sell her land. Endue influence is not to be inferred fro) a*e, sicCness, or debilit4 of
bod4, if sufficient intelli*ence re)ains.
%%
Petitioners never rebutted the testi)on4 of the
notar4 public that he observed $audencia still alert and sharp.
In Baez v. Court of Appeals, B( SCR" +B 9+(>2;, !e had occasion to sa4 that
solicitation, i)portunit4, ar*u)ent, and persuasion are not undue influence. " contract
is not to be set aside )erel4 because one part4 used these )eans to obtain the
consent of the other. ?e have liCe!ise held in Martinez v. Hongkong and Shanghai
Bank, +B Phil. 1B1 9+(+';, that influence obtained b4 persuasion, ar*u)ent, or b4
appeal to the affections is not prohibited either in la! or )orals, and is not obno=ious
even in courts of eJuit4. "bsent an4 proof that Ro)ana e=erted undue influence, the
presu)ption is that she did not.
Petitioners also seeC the annul)ent of the sale due to *ross inadeJuac4 of price. -he4
contend that $audencia, in her ri*ht senses, !ould never have sold her propert4 !orth
P+<<,1B'.'' in +(<' for onl4 P%2,'''.''. -he records sho! that )uch of petitioners5
evidence !as )eant to prove the )arCet value of the lot at the ti)e of the sale.
%2
"
revie! of the records !ill sho! that lesion !as not an issue raised before the lo!er
courts. "n issue !hich !as neither averred in the co)plaint nor raised in the court
belo!, cannot be raised for the first ti)e on appeal. -o do so !ould be offensive to the
basic rules of fair pla4.
Petitioners see) to be unsure !hether the4 are assailin* the sale of 0ot ++B#"#+ for
bein* absolutel4 si)ulated or for inadeJuac4 of the price. -hese t!o *rounds are
irreconcilable. If there e=ists an actual consideration for transfer evidenced b4 the
alle*ed act of sale, no )atter ho! inadeJuate it be, the transaction could not be a
7si)ulated sale.7
%B
No reversible error !as thus co))itted b4 the Court of "ppeals in
refusin* to annul the Juestioned sale for alle*ed inadeJuac4 of the price.1wphi1n!t
?@EREORE, the petition is DENIED, and the assailed decision of the Court of
"ppeals "IRMED. Costs a*ainst petitioners.
SO ORDERED.
Bellosillo" Mendoza and #e $eon" %r" %%" concur.
Buena" %" on official leave.
4