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ARTICLE 1083

G.R. No. 139524

October 12, 2000

PHILIP C. SANTOS and HEIRS OF ELISEO M. SANTOS, petitioners,


vs.
LADISLAO M. SANTOS represented herein by his Attorney-In-Fact NOE M.
SANTOS, respondents.
DECISION
GONZAGA-REYES, J.:
Before us is a petition for review on certiorari assailing the January 8, 1999
Decision1 of the Court of Appeals2 in CA-G.R. CV No. 48576 which reversed
the decision3 of the Regional Trial Court4 of San Mateo, Rizal (Branch 76) and
which declared Ladislao M. Santos and Eliseo M. Santos as entitled to pro
indiviso shares in the property of Isidra M. Santos. The dispositive portion of the
assailed Decision reads:
"IN THE LIGHT OF ALL THE FOREGOING, the appeal is granted. The Decision
appealed from is REVERSED. Judgment is hereby rendered in favor of the
Appellant and against the Appellees as follows:
1. Tax Declaration Nos. 04-0566 and 04-0016, Exhibits "8" and "9", under the
name of Appellee Philip Santos and the "Deed of Sale of Unregistered
Residential Land" (Exhibit "15) are hereby declared inefficacious insofar as the
undivided one-half portion of the Appellant in the Isidra property is concerned;

The Appellant averred, inter alia, in his complaint, that, when his and Eliseo
Santos sister, Isidra Santos, died intestate on April 1, 1967, without any issue,
they inherited her parcel of land covered by Tax Declaration 1115, issued by the
Provincial Assessor of Rizal located along General Luna Street, Gitnangbayan,
San Mateo, Rizal; that, sometime, in February 1, 1993, the Appellant discovered
that Tax Declaration No. 1115 had been cancelled by Tax Declaration No. 7892,
under the name of his nephew, Appellee Philip Santos, and that, on December
16, 1980, Virgilio Santos executed a "Deed of Absolute Sale of Unregistered
Residential Land" on the basis of which Tax Declaration No. 04-0016 was issued
to the Appellee Philip Santos. The Appellant prayed the Court that judgment be
rendered in his favor as follows:
"WHEREFORE, it is most respectfully prayed of this Honorable Court that after
due hearing judgment be rendered as follows:
(1) Ordering the division of the intestate estate of the late Isidra Santos between
petitioner and respondent Eliseo M. Santos;
(2) Declaring Tax Declaration No. 04-0015 in the name of Virgilio Santos as null
and void;
(3) Declaring the Deed of Sale dated December 11, 1980, executed by Virgilio
Santos in favor of Philip Santos as null and void;
(4) Declaring Tax Declaration No. 04-00161 (sic) in the name of Philip Santos as
null and void;

2. The Appellant and the Appellee Eliseo Santos are hereby declared each
entitled to pro indiviso shares in the Isidra property;

Petitioner prays for other relief which this Court may deem just and equitable in
the premises." (at page 3, Records)

3. The Court a quo is hereby ordered to effect the partition of the subject lot
conformably with Rule 69 of the 1997 Rules of Civil procedure.

In their Answer to the complaint, the Appellees admitted that, upon the demise of
Isidra Santos, the Appellant and the Appellee Eliseo Santos inherited the said
property and the latters share in Lot 1522 of the San Mateo Cadastre, which
they and their sister, Isidra Santos, inherited from their father, Bonifacio Santos
who died before the outbreak of the Second World War but insisted that the
Appellant and the Appellee Eliseo Santos had agreed, in 1969, after the death of
Isidra Santos, on April 1, 1967, to partition Lot 1522, under which a portion of Lot
1522, with an area of 3,387 square meters, was adjudicated to the Appellant,
and a portion of the same lot, with an area of 3,000 square meters, was
conveyed to the Appellee Eliseo Santos and the parcel of land left by Isidra
Santos was conveyed by Appellee Eliseo Santos to Virgilio Santos, who, from
infancy had been under the care of Isidra Santos, to approximately equalize the
share of the Appellee Eliseo Santos in the estate of Bonifacio Santos. The
Appellees further averred that Appellees had acquired the Isidra property by
acquisitive prescription.

Without pronouncement as to costs.


SO ORDERED."
The following facts as narrated by the Court of Appeals are undisputed:
On May 13, 1993, Ladislao Santos, a resident in the United States of America,
the Appellant in the present recourse, through his Attorney-in-fact, Noe Santos,
filed a complaint, with the Regional Trial Court of Rizal, against his brother,
Eliseo Santos and the latters son, Philip Santos, the Appellees in the present
recourse, for "Judicial Partition".

ARTICLE 1083

Neither Appellant Ladislao Santos nor Appellee Eliseo Santos testified in the
Court a quo. Although the Appellee Eliseo Santos was present during the
proceeding, he did not testify anymore because of senility being then about 88
years old. Virginia Santos, the widow of Virgilio Santos, testified, in the Court a
quo, and declared, that she and Virgilio Santos married, on February 12, 1967,
and resided in the house of Isidra Santos until the sale, by Virgilio Santos, of the
Isidra property to his brother, the Appellee Philip Santos and in exchange with
the property of the latter located at Kambal Street, Gitnangbayan, San Mateo,
Rizal, where the couple and, after Virgilio Santos death, on April 5, 1984, had
been residing. Virginia Santos likewise declared that Appellant Ladislao Santos
and the Appellee Eliseo Santos had an agreement, notarized by Atty. Sixto
Natividad, that Virgilio Santos and Virginia Santos became the new owners of
the Isidra property. The copy of the Agreement given Virgilio Santos was
xeroxed and the xerox copy was given to Appellee Philip Santos while Virgilio
Santos copy was filed with the Provincial Assessors Office on the basis of
which, Tax Declaration No. 7892 was issued under his name. The Appellee
Philip Santos, on the other hand, declared that the Appellant Ladislao Santos
and the Appellee Eliseo Santos and their respective Spouses executed a
"Combined Deed of Partition", in 1969, covering the Lot 1522 and the Isidra
Property, wherein it was covenanted that the Isidra Property was deeded to
Appellee Eliseo Santos. The Appellee Philip Santos further declared that he was
then about 20 years old, and saw the said "Combined Deed of Partition" in the
possession of Appellee Eliseo Santos.
After due proceedings, the Court a quo promulgated a Decision dismissing
Appellants complaint on the ground that the Appellant failed to adduce proof of
his entitlement to the relief prayed for by him and on the ground of acquisitive
prescription.
The present recourse stemmed from the following factual backdrop - when
Bonifacio Santos died intestate, he was survived by his two (2) sons, namely
Ladislao Santos, the Appellant in the present recourse, and Appellee Eliseo
Santos, one of the Appellees in the present recourse and their sister, Isidra
Santos. The latter was the owner of a parcel of land, hereinafter referred to, for
brevitys sake, as the Isidra property, located in General Luna Street,
Gitnangbayan, San Mateo, Rizal, with an area of 391 square meters, more or
less, covered by Tax Declaration No. 655, located in front of but oblique to and
about fifty (50) meters away from the property, with an area of 6,340 square
meters, covered by Tax Declaration No. 383 of the Provincial Assessors Office,
(Exhibit "L-3"). She had a house constructed on her lot where she had been
residing ever since.
In the meantime, on November 10, 1964, a cadastral survey of lands in San
Mateo, Rizal, was undertaken. The property, with an area of 6,340 square
meters was identified as Lot 1522, Cadastre No. 375-D. Tax Declaration No.

655, covering the Isidra Property was later cancelled by Tax Declaration 1115
under her name, effective 1966 (Exhibit "4").
On May 29, 1967, the Appellant and his wife, Leonila Mateo executed a "Deed
of Absolute Conveyance with Right of Way" over the southwestern portion of Lot
1522, with an area of 3,000 square meters, in favor of his brother, the Appellee
Eliseo Santos for the price of P500.00, with a provision for a right of way.
On April 1, 1967, Isidra Santos died intestate and was survived by her two (2)
brothers, the Appellant and the Appellee Eliseo Santos.
On September 9, 1969, the Provincial Assessor issued Tax Declaration No.
7892, over the Isidra property, under the name of Virgilio Santos and Virginia
Santos, thereby canceling Tax Declaration No. 1115 under the name of Isidra
Santos (Exhibit "5"). In 1972, Tax Declaration No. 7892 was cancelled by Tax
Declaration No. 5043, still under the names of Virgilio Santos and Virginia
Santos, effective 1974 (Exhibit "4") and by Tax Declaration No. 04-0015,
effective 1980 (Exhibit "7").
On December 16, 1980, Virgilio Santos executed a "Deed of Absolute Sale of
Unregistered Residential Land" in favor of his brother, the Appellee Philip
Santos, over the Isidra Property at the time covered by Tax Declaration No. 040015, for the price of P24,460.00 (Exhibit "H"). On the basis of said deed, Tax
Declaration No. 04-0015 was cancelled by Tax Declaration No. 04-0566, under
the name of Appellee Philip Santos, effective 1981 (Exhibit "E"). The Spouses
Virgilio Santos vacated the said property and resided at Kambal Street,
Gitnangbayan I, San Mateo, Rizal formerly owned by Philip Santos . The latter,
in turn, had the house on the lot demolished and had his shop installed in the
Isidra Property. Since then, Philip Santos had been paying the realty taxes
therefor. On April 5, 1984, Virgilio Santos died intestate and was survived by his
wife, Virginia Santos. In the meantime, the Appellant and Appellee Philip Santos
left the Philippines and resided in the United States of America.
Despite the "Deed of Absolute Conveyance With Right of Way" executed by the
Appellant in favor of Appellee Eliseo Santos, the children of the Appellant and
their uncle, the Appellee Eliseo Santos, signed an Application, on September 26,
1984 and filed the same with the Regional Trial Court of Rizal (at San Mateo) for
the registration of "their title" over Lots 1522 and 2433 of Cadastre 375-D. The
Applicants alleged, inter alia in said application, that Noe Santos, et al., (children
of Ladislao Santos), were occupying a portion of Lot 1522, with an area of 3,430
square meters, while Appellee Eliseo Santos was occupying a portion of the
same lot, with an area of 3,000 square meters, more or less, as a site of cockpit
building (Exhibit "5"). On July 16, 1986, the Regional Trial Court promulgated a
Decision granting the application, the decretal portion of which reads as follows:

ARTICLE 1083

"WHEREFORE, this Court hereby declares herein applicants the absolute


owners of that parcels of land identified as Lot 1522 and Lot 2433, both of Plan
AP-04-001205 marked as Exhibit "D" and in consequence thereof, it is hereby
Ordered that the said parcels of land be registered in the names of the
applicants, to wit:
1. Noe Santos, married to Felicidad Santos; Asuncion S. Ramos, married to
Virgilio Ramos; LADISLAO SANTOS, JR., married to Regina Linco; NELIA S.
MACALALAD, married to Jacinto Macalalad; OFELIA SANTOS, single; RECTO
SANTOS, single, all of legal ages, Filipino citizens and all are residents of Gen.
Luna St., San Mateo, Rizal, an undivided portion of 3,387 square meters of that
parcel of land identified as Lot 1522 of Plan AP-04-001205, marked as Exhibit
"D" and undivided rights, interest and participation of that parcel of land
identified as Lot 2433 of the above-mentioned Plan with an area of 43 square
meters, all in equal shares (pro-indiviso);
2. ELISEO SANTOS, of legal age, Filipino citizen, married to Virginia Santos and
resident of Gen. Luna St., San Mateo, Rizal, an undivided portion of 3,000
square meters of that parcel of land identified as Lot 1522 of Plan AP-04001205.
Once this Decision becomes final, let an Order of the issuance of a Decree of
Registration issue" (Exhibits "26-E" and "26-F")
On the basis of the Decision of the Court, Noe Santos, et al., and Appellee
Eliseo Santos, were issued an Original Certificate of Title No. ON-1146, on
November 18, 1986 over Lot 1522 (Exhibit M").
Noe Santos, for and in behalf of his siblings and Appellee Eliseo Santos had a
subdivision plan prepared, subdividing Lot 1522 into two (2) subdivision lots,
namely, Lot 1522-A, with an area of 3,000 square meters (Exhibit "15-A") and
Lot 1522-B, with an area of 3,387 square meters (Exhibit "15-B").
In June, 1987, Noe Santos and his siblings and their uncle, Appellee Eliseo
Santos, executed a "Partition Agreement" adjudicating Lot 1522-A, with an area
of 3,000 square meters unto Appellee Eliseo Santos, and Lot 1522-B, with an
area of 3,387 square meters, unto Noe Santos, et al., (Exhibit "13"). On the
basis of said deed, Original Certificate of Title No. ON-1146 was cancelled and
Transfer Certificate of Title No. 148892 was issued to Appellee Eliseo Santos
over Lot 1522-A (Exhibit "11").
On March 17, 1993, Appellant Ladislao Santos, through counsel, sent a letter to
the Appellee Philip Santos alleging that the Appellant had discovered that the
Isidra property inherited by Appellant and Appellee Eliseo, had been declared,
for taxation purposes, under the name of Appellee Philip Santos, on the basis of

a "Deed of Sale" executed by Virgilio Santos and suggesting a conference


regarding the matter (Exhibit "J"). The Appellee Philip Santos wrote to the
counsel of the Appellant, declaring, inter alia, that the Isidra property, with the
portion and Lot 1522-A, with an area of 3,000 square meters, formed part of the
share of Appellee Eliseo Santos in the estate of his father, Bonifacio Santos; that
Appellee Eliseo Santos transferred the Isidra property to his son, Virgilio Santos,
who, in turn, sold the said property to Appellee Philip Santos, for the amount of
P24,600.00, as part of the consideration of the conveyance, by Appellee Philip
Santos, of his property located in Kambal Street, Gitnangbayan, San Mateo,
Rizal, where Virgilio Santos widow and family had been residing (Exhibit "24")
and the redemption, by Appellee Philip Santos, of the Mortgage of the property
by Virgilio Santos from the Rural Bank of San Mateo."5
On May 13, 1993, herein respondent Ladislao Santos filed an action for the
judicial partition of the Isidra property. After due proceedings, the trial court
promulgated a decision dismissing Ladislaos complaint on the ground that the
latter failed to adduce proof of his entitlement to the relief prayed for by him and
on the ground of acquisitive prescription. Specifically, the trial court cited the
following reasons: (1) the subject property was registered/declared for taxation
purposes only in the name of Isidra Santos; (2) the fact of co-ownership thereof
by reason of inheritance was not reflected in the tax declaration; (3) there was
no proof presented that the cancellation of the tax declaration in Isidras name
and the issuance of another in Virgilios name had been effected through fraud
and misrepresentation; (4) there is no proof that a fake document was presented
to the provincial assessor for the cancellation of the tax declaration and the
issuance of another in lieu thereof as all assessment records were destroyed by
the fire which gutted the office of the provincial assessor; and (5) from the time
of Isidras death in 1967 up to May 13, 1993 when this case was filed,
acquisitive prescription may have already set in.
In due course, the Court of Appeals, as earlier stated, rendered its assailed
Decision granting the appeal, reversing the trial courts decision and declaring
that Ladislao Santos and Eliseo Santos are each entitled to pro indiviso
shares in the Isidra property.
Hence, this appeal to this Court under Rule 45 of the Rules of Court raising the
following issues:
"I. THE HONORABLE COURT OF APPEALS ERRED IN NOT UPHOLDING
THE LEGALITY AND REGULARITY OF THE TRANSFER OF ISIDRA
PROPERTY TO VIRGILIO SANTOS AND LATER TO PETITIONER PHILIP C.
SANTOS.
II. THE HONORABLE COURT OF APPEALS ERRED IN AWARDING ONEHALF (1/2) PORTION PRO INDIVISO OF ISIDRA PROPERTY IN FAVOR OF

ARTICLE 1083

RESPONDENT DESPITE AND INSPITE OF THE ABSENCE OF PROOF OF


ALLEGED FRAUD AND MISREPRESENTATION IN THE CANCELLATION OF
THE TAX DECLARATION IN ISIDRAS NAME ANT ITS SUBSEQUENT
TRANSFER TO VIRGILIO SANTOS NAME.
III. THE HONORABLE COURT OF APPEALS ERRED IN NOT UPHOLDING
THAT ACQUISITIVE PRESCRIPTION HAS ALREADY SET IN AS TO BAR THE
INSTANT ACTION FOR PARTITION.
IV. THE HONORABLE COURT OF APPEALS ERRED IN NOT HOLDING THAT
RESPONDENTS RIGHT TO FILE THIS INSTANT ACTION FOR PARTITION
HAS ALREADY PRESCRIBED.
V. THE HONORABLE COURT OF APPEALS ERRED IN NOT HOLDING THAT
LACHES HAS ALREADY SET IN AS TO BAR RESPONDENT IN ASSERTING
HIS CLAIM UNDER THE PETITION.
VI. THE HONORABLE COURT OF APPEALS ERRED IN NOT UPHOLDING
THE RIGHT OF PETITIONER PHILIP SANTOS AS BUYER IN GOOD FAITH
AND FOR VALUE."6
The material aspects of the issues are closely intertwined; hence, they are
consolidated into two main issues specifically dealing with the following subjects:
(1) the validity of the transfers of the property originally belonging to Isidra M.
Santos (the Isidra property) from Eliseo Santos to Virgilio Santos and then to
Philip Santos; and (2) whether the action for partition is already barred by
ordinary acquisitive prescription of ten years and estoppel by laches.
The petition is not meritorious.
The controversy involves a 391 square meter parcel of land situated in San
Mateo, Rizal, owned by Isidra Santos, a spinster who died intestate and without
issue in 1967. She was survived by her two brothers, Ladislao and Eliseo.
Sometime in 1993, Ladislao through his attorney-in-fact Noe M. Santos filed an
action for judicial partition of the Isidra property against his brother Eliseo and
the latters son Philip. While admitting that Ladislao and Eliseo inherited the
subject Isidra property, Eliseo and Philip submitted that "Eliseo Santos and wife
and Ladsilao and wife signed a document wherein Eliseo acquired the subject
lot from the combined partition of the estate of their father Bonifacio Santos and
their sister Isidra Santos. Bonifacios estate was composed of 6,387 square
meters while that of Isidra Santos is the subject property with an area of 391
square meters. Out of this combined parcels of land, respondent got 3,387
square meters while Eliseo got 3,000 square meters and the subject Isidra
property with an area of 391 square meters. Eliseo, in turn, donated the subject
Isidra property to his son, Virgilio Santos."

Considering that petitioners Eliseo and Philip disputed the status of Ladislao as
co-owner on the ground that the brothers entered into a Combined Deed of
Partition wherein the entire Isidra property was conveyed to Eliseo, It was then
incumbent upon them to present the best evidence obtainable to prove the
same. We agree with the Court of Appeals that the claim of a subsisting coownership by Ladislao over the Isidra property has not been effectively refuted
by Eliseo and Philip, and that Eliseo and his successors-in-interest (Virgilio and
Philip) did not acquire exclusive title over the entire Isidra property.
Petitioners insist that they have effectively refuted the co-ownership between
Ladislao and Eliseo based on a "lawful document" proven as follows in the court
a quo: (1) the annotation at the back of Tax Declaration No. 1115 which states:
"cancelled by Tax No. 7892, dated September 9, 1969, Virgilio and Virginia
Cruz-Santos"; (2) Rodolfo Bautista, municipal assessor of San Mateo, Rizal
testified on the existence of the "document" authorizing the cancellation of Tax
Declaration No. 1115 in favor of the issuance of Tax Declaration No. 7892 in
Virgilios name; (3) Virginia Santos (wife of Virgilio), Philip and a certain Dr. Linco
testified on the existence of said "document". In relation to the foregoing,
petitioners argue that the Isidra property was acquired through a valid document
inscribed in the tax declaration;7 that the existence and nature of this document
was proved by testimonial evidence; and that respondent was not able to show
that the document registered with the provincial assessors office was not the
combined partition or deed of transfer by brothers Ladislao and Eliseo.
We agree with the Court of Appeals that only the original document is the best
evidence of the fact as to whether the brothers Ladislao and Eliseo Santos
executed a Combined Deed of Partition wherein the entire property of Isidra
Santos was conveyed to Eliseo. In the absence of such document, petitioners
arguments regarding said partition must fail. The testimonies of Virginia Santos
and Philip Santos on the existence of and the contents of the aforesaid
documents are, at most, secondary evidence, which are inadmissible
considering that the petitioners as the offerors failed to prove any of the
exceptions provided in Section 3, Rule 130 of the Rules of Court8 and to
establish the conditions for their admissibility.9 We quote with favor the findings
of the Court of Appeals, thus:
"Even if we assumed, for the nonce, that indeed, Lot 1522 was inherited by the
Appellant and his brother, the Appellee Eliseo Santos, however, we are not
convinced that the Appellant and his wife deeded to the Appellee Eliseo Santos
and the latter to Virgilio Santos the Isidra Property under a "Deed of Transfer" as
testified to by Virginia Santos or under a "Combined Deed of Partition" as
testified to by Appellee Philip Santos. The Appellees never adduced in evidence
any copy of the said deed executed by the Appellant and the Appellee Eliseo
Santos and their respective spouses. Since the subject of inquiry was the
subject of said deed, it was incumbent on the Appellees to adduce in evidence

ARTICLE 1083

the original of the deed or a copy of the original of the deed conformably with
Section 3, Rule 130 of the Rules of Evidence. The Appellees failed to do so. The
Court a quo allowed the Appellees to adduce secondary evidence to prove the
contents of the said deed, but it was inappropriate for the Court a quo to do so
over the objections of the Appellant. This is so because, before the Appellees
are allowed to adduce secondary evidence to prove the contents of the original
of the deed, the Appellees had to prove, with the requisite quantum of evidence,
the loss or destruction or unavailability of all the copies of the original of the
deed. As former Supreme Court Chief Justice Manuel V. Moran declared:

xxx

"Where there are two or more originals, it must appear that all of them have
been lost, destroyed or cannot be produced before secondary evidence can be
given of any one. For example, a lease was executed in duplicate, one being
retained by the lessor and the other by the lessee. Either copy was, therefore,
an original, and could have been introduced as evidence of the contract without
the production of the other. One of these originals could not be found. The nonproduction of the other was not accounted for it was held that "under these
circumstances, the rule is that no secondary evidence of the contents of either is
admissible until it is shown that originals must be accounted for before
secondary evidence can be given of any one." (Moran, Comments on the Rules
of Court, Volume V, 1970 ed. at pages 90-91, supra, underscoring supplied)

The Appellees could very well have procured, by subpoenae ad testificandum


and duces tecum, the attendance of Atty. Sixto Natividad before the Court a quo
and bring with him his copy of the deed. After all, there is no evidence on record
that he was already dead or was unavailable at the time of the trial in the Court a
quo. The Appellees did not. Moreover, the Appellees failed to prove the loss or
destruction of the copy on file with the Notarial Section of the Regional Trial
Court or of the copy in the possession of the Appellee Eliseo Santos. Assuming,
for the nonce, that the Appellees mustered the requisite quantum of evidence to
prove the loss or destruction of all the copies of the original of the deed,
however, Section 5 of Rule 130 of the Rules of Evidence provides that, before
testimonial evidence may be adduced to prove the contents of the original of the
deed, the offeror is mandated to prove the loss or non-availability of any copy of
the original or of some authentic document reciting the contents thereof: x x x."

Indeed, before a party is allowed to adduce secondary evidence to prove the


contents of the original of the deed, the offeror is mandated to prove the
following:

xxx

x x x.

While the Appellees adduced evidence that the copy filed with the Provincial
Assessors Office was burned when the Office of the Provincial Assessor was
burned on April 7, 1977, however, the Appellees failed to adduce proof that the
copy in the possession of Atty. Sixto Natividad was lost or destroyed. It bears
stressing that a Notary Public is mandated, under the Notarial Law, to retain two
(2) copies of every deed involving real estate as part of his notarial record, a
copy of which he is to submit to the Notarial Section of the Regional Trial Court.

xxx

xxx

x x x.

"(a) the execution and existence of the original (b) the loss and destruction of the
original or its non-production in court; and (c) unavailability of the original is not
due to bad faith on the part of the offeror." (Francisco, Rules of Court, Part I,
Volume VII, 1997 ed. at page 154)."

In the present recourse, Virginia Santos admitted that a xerox copy of the deed
was given to the Appellee Philip Santos. However, when she testified in the
Court a quo, she admitted not having inquired from the Appellee Philip Santos if
he still had the xerox copy of all deeds that Virgilio gave him. x x x.10

When she testified in the Court a quo, Virginia Santos declared that there were
three (3) copies of the deed signed by the parties thereof. One copy of the deed
was given to Virgilio Santos, one copy was retained by the Appellee Eliseo
Santos, and one copy was retained by Atty. Sixto Natividad, the Notary Public.
Virgilio Santos had his copy xeroxed and gave the xerox copy to Appellee Philip
Santos. Virgilio Sanots copy was later filed with the Provincial Assessors Office.
x x x.

We also agree with the Court of Appeals that petitioners evidence consisting of
the tax declarations in Virgilios name and then in Philips name are not
conclusive and indisputable evidence to show that the lot in question was
conveyed to Virgilio Santos, Philips predecessor-in-interest. A mere tax
declaration does not vest ownership of the property upon the declarant. Neither
do tax receipts nor declarations of ownership for taxation purposes constitute
adequate evidence of ownership or of the right to possess realty.11

xxx

As for the much-vaunted testimony of the municipal assessor of San Mateo,


Rizal, the Court of Appeals had this to say:

xxx

x x x.

When he testified in the Court a quo, the Appellee Philip Santos admitted that he
saw a copy of the deed in the possession of his father, the Appellee Eliseo
Santos:

"The Appellees presented Rodolfo Bautista, the representative of the Rizal


Provincial Assessor, to prove that Tax Declaration No. 7892, under the name of
Virgilio Santos and Virginia Santos, cancelled Tax Declaration No. 1115, under

ARTICLE 1083

the name of Isidra Santos, on the basis of the "Combined Deed of Partition"
purportedly executed by the Appellant and his wife, in tandem with the Appellee
Eliseo Santos and his wife, which was, however, burned when the Provincial
Assessors Office was gutted by fire on April 7, 1977. However, Rodolfo Bautista
himself unabashedly admitted, when he testified in the Court a quo that he had
no knowledge of the nature of the deed that was used for the cancellation of Tax
Declaration No. 1115 under the name of Isidra Santos or the previous document
burned or gutted by the fire.

The Appellees can find no solstice12 on the face of Tax Declaration No. 1115,
Exhibit "4", which contains the following entry:

"Atty. Ferry:

Virgilio & Virginia Cruz Santos"

Q: When you testified last March 14, 1994, Mr. Bautista, you declared that you
assumed your position in the Office of the Municipal Assessor only on January
6, 1982. Before that, you were not connected with the Municipal Assessor?

(Exhibit "4-B")

A: I am not yet connected, sir.


Q: So for the first time you learned, in your official capacity, the alleged lost of all
records in the Office of the Provincial Assessor bearing dates 1977 down was
only recently?
A: No, sir.
Q: When?
A: When I took over in 1982, sir.
Q: But the fact is, you will agree with me in so far as the present controversy is
concerned, you have no way of determining the particular document presented
to the Office of the Provincial Assessor which was made the basis in effecting
the transfer of tax declaration in the name of Isidra Santos in favor of Virgilio
Santos marked in evidence as Exh. 4. You have no way of determining or
identifying the particular document used or presented to the Office of the
Provincial Assessor which was made the basis for the cancellation of tax
declaration in the name of Isidra Santos and that paved the issuance of the tax
declaration in the name of Virgilio Santos marked in evidence by the defendants
as Exh. 5. You will not be able to know that simply on the basis of this
document? You are in no position to tell or determine what particular document
was presented in the Office of the Provincial Assessor which paved the way to
the cancellation of Exh. 4 which is tax declaration no. 1115 in the name of Isidra
Santos and the issuance of another one in the name of Virgilio Santos marked in
evidence as Exh. 5?
A: I do not know, sir (t.s.n. Bautista, at pages 9-10, April 18, 1994, underscoring
supplied)

"Cancelled by:
Tax Declaration No. 7892
Dated: Sept. 9, 1969

This is so because the entry does not contain any clue of the nature of the deed,
if it was a deed at all, used for the cancellation of Tax Declaration No. 1155, the
parties who executed the said deed or the beneficiary of said deed. Indeed, the
Court admitted, in its Decision, that there was no way of identifying the
document used as basis for the issuance of a new tax declaration under the
name of Virgilio Santos (t.s.n. Bautista, supra). Virgilio Santos could very well
have executed a "Deed of Extra-judicial Settlement of Estate and of SelfAdjudication of Real Property" covering the Isidra Property and filed the same
with the Provincial Assessor on the basis of which he was issued Tax
Declaration No. 7892 over the property. But then, such a deed did not prejudice
the share of the Appellant in the Isidra Property. It is not legally possible for one
to adjudicate unto himself a property he was not the owner of. Hence, We find
and so declare that the Isidra Property remained the property of the Appellant
and the Appellee Eliseo Santos as their inheritance from Isidra Santos. As our
Supreme Court declared in an avuncular case:
"Despite admission during the hearing on the identify of the land in question
(see p. 21, Record on Appeal), Marias counsel, on appeal, re-emphasized her
original claim that the two parcels of land in her possession were acquired from
the Sps. Placido Biduya and Margarita Bose. However, the private document
relative to the purchase, was not produced at the trial, allegedly because they
were placed in a trunk in their house which were burned during the Japanese
Occupation. In 1945, Maria sold the riceland. No written evidence was submitted
for all intents therefore, the riceland remained inherited property (Maria Bicarme,
et al., versus Court of Appeals, et al., 186 SCRA 294, at pages 298-299)."
In the light of our findings and disquisitions, Virgilio Santos did not acquire title
over the Isidra Property. Hence, Virgilio Santos could not have lawfully sold the
said property to his brother, the Appellee Philip Santos. As the Latin aphorism
goes: "NEMO DAT QUOD NON HABET."13

ARTICLE 1083

All told, the testimonies of the prosecution witnesses, Virginia Santos, Philip
Santos and Rodolfo Bautista, on the existence of said document, specifically,
the Combined Deed of Partition, cannot be considered in favor of the petitioners,
the same being, at most, secondary evidence.
Anent the second issue, petitioners insist that acquisitive prescription has
already set in; and that estoppel lies to bar the instant action for partition.
According to petitioners, Virgilio Santos was already in possession of the subject
property since after the death of Isidra Santos on April 1, 1967. Thereafter, Philip
Santos took possession of the subject property on December 16, 1980 upon its
sale on said date. They reason out that more than 13 years had lapsed from
April 1, 1967 to December 16, 1980; and that more than 12 years had lapsed
from the time Philip Santos took possession of the property on December 16,
1980 up to the time Ladislao Santos filed the action for partition on May 13,
1993. Petitioners conclude that the instant action is already barred by ordinary
acquisitive prescription of ten years. Further, it is argued that the possession of
Virgilio Santos could be tacked with the possession of Philip Santos bringing to
a total of 26 years the time that elapsed before the filing of the case in 1993.
They add that these 26 years of inaction call for the application of the principle of
estoppel by laches.
Considering that there was no proof that Ladislao Santos executed any
"Combined Deed of Partition" in tandem with the Eliseo Santos, we rule that a
co-ownership still subsists between the brothers over the Isidra property. This
being the case, we apply Article 494 of the Civil Code which states that,
"prescription does not run in favor of a co-owner or co-heir against his coowners or his co-heirs so long as he expressly or impliedly recognizes the coownership." In Adile vs. Court of Appeals,14 it was held:
"x x x. Prescription, as a mode of terminating a relation of co-ownership, must
have been preceded by repudiation (of the co-ownership). The act of
repudiation, in turn, is subject to certain conditions: (1) a co-owner repudiates
the co-ownership; (2) such an act of repudiation is clearly made known to the
other co-owners; (3) the evidence thereon is clear and conclusive; and (4) he
has been in possession through open, continuous, exclusive, and notorious
possession of the property for the period required by law."
There is no showing that Eliseo Santos had complied with these
requisites.1wphi1 We are not convinced that Eliseo had repudiated the coownership, and even if he did, there is no showing that the same had been
clearly made known to Ladislao. As aptly observed by the Court of Appeals:
"Under Article 1119 of the New Civil Code, acts of possessory character
executed in virtue of license or tolerance of the owners shall not be available for
the purposes of possession.

Indeed, Filipino family ties being close and well-knit as they are, and considering
that Virgilio Santos was the ward of Isidra Santos ever since when Virgilio
Santos was still an infant, it was but natural that the Appellant did not interpose
any objection to the continued stay of Virgilio Santos and his family on the
property and even acquiesce thereto. Appellant must have assumed too, that his
brother, the Appellee Eliseo Santos, allowed his son to occupy the property and
use the same for the time being. Hence, such possession by Virgilio Santos and
Philip Santos of the property does not constitute a repudiation of the coownership by the Appellee Eliseo Santos and of his privies for that matter. As
our Supreme Court succinctly observed:
"x x x [A]nd it is probable that said conduct was simply tolerated by the plaintiffs
on account of his being their uncle, and they never thought that by said conduct
the defendant was attempting to oust them forever from the inheritance, nor that
the defendant would have so intended in any way, dealing as we do here with
the acquisition of a thing by prescription, the evidence must be so clear and
conclusive as to establish said prescription without any shadow of doubt. This
does not happen in the instant case, for the defendant did not even try to prove
that he has expressly or impliedly refused plaintiffs right over an aliquot part of
the inheritance. (at page 875, supra)"15
Penultimately, the action for partition is not barred by laches. An action to
demand partition is imprescriptible or cannot be barred by laches. Each coowner may demand at any time the partition of the common property.16
As a final note, it must be stated that since Ladislao has successfully hurdled the
issue of co-ownership of the property sought to be partitioned, there is the
secondary issue of how the property is to be divided between the two
brothers.17 This Court cannot proceed forthwith with the actual partitioning of
the property involved, hence, we reiterate the order of the Court of Appeals for
the trial court to effect the partition of the subject property in conformity with Rule
69 of the 1997 Rules of Civil Procedure.
WHEREFORE, the decision of the Court of Appeals is AFFIRMED in toto.
SO ORDERED.
Melo, (Chairman), Vitug, Panganiban, and Purisima JJ., concur.

ARTICLE 1083

G.R. No. 179859

August 9, 2010

IN RE: PETITION FOR PROBATE OF LAST WILL AND TESTAMENT OF


BASILIO SANTIAGO, MA. PILAR SANTIAGO and CLEMENTE SANTIAGO,
Petitioners,
vs.
ZOILO S. SANTIAGO, FELICIDAD SANTIAGO-RIVERA, HEIRS OF RICARDO
SANTIAGO, HEIRS OF CIPRIANO SANTIAGO, HEIRS OF TOMAS
SANTIAGO, Respondents.
FILEMON SOCO, LEONILA SOCO, ANANIAS SOCO, URBANO SOCO,
GERTRUDES SOCO AND HEIRS OF CONSOLACION SOCO, Oppositors.
DECISION
CARPIO MORALES, J.:
Basilio Santiago (Basilio) contracted three marriagesthe first to Bibiana Lopez,
the second to Irene Santiago, and the third to Cecilia Lomotan. Basilio and his
first wife bore two offsprings, Irene and Marta, the mother of herein oppositors
Felimon, Leonila, Consolacion, Ananias, Urbano, and Gertrudes, all surnamed
Soco.
Basilio and his second wife had six offsprings, Tomas, Cipriano, Ricardo,
respondents Zoilo and Felicidad, and petitioner Ma. Pilar, all surnamed
Santiago.
Basilio and his third wife bore three children, Eugenia herein petitioner
Clemente, and Cleotilde, all surnamed Santiago.1
After Basilio died testate on September 16, 1973, his daughter by the second
marriage petitioner Ma. Pilar filed before the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of
Bulacan2 a petition for the probate of Basilios will, docketed as SP No. 1549-M.
The will was admitted to probate by Branch 10 of the RTC and Ma. Pilar was
appointed executrix.
The will contained the following provisions, among others:
4. Ang mga ari-arian ko na nasasaysay sa itaas ay INIWAN,
IPINAGKAKALOOB, IBINIBIGAY, at IPINAMAMANA ko sa aking mga nasabing
tagapagmana sa ilalim ng gaya ng sumusunod:

c) ang aking anak na si Ma. Pilar ang magpapalakad at mamamahala ng


balutan na nasa Santiago, Malolos, Bulacan, na nasasaysay sa itaas na 2(y);
d) Sa pamamahala ng bigasan, pagawaan ng pagkain ng hayop at lupat bahay
sa Maynila, ang lahat ng solar sa danay ng daang Malolos-Paombong na nasa
Malolos, Bulacan, kasali at kasama ang palaisdaan na nasa likuran niyon, ay
ililipat sa pangalan nila Ma. Pilar at Clemente; ngunit ang kita ng palaisdaan ay
siyang gagamitin nila sa lahat at anomang kailangang gugol, maging majora o
roperacion [sic], sa lupat bahay sa Lunsod ng Maynila na nasasaysay sa itaas
na 2(c);
e) Ang lupat bahay sa Lunsod ng Maynila na nasasaysay sa itaas na 2(c) ay
ililipat at ilalagay sa pangalan nila Ma. Pilar at Clemente hindi bilang pamana ko
sa kanila kundi upang pamahalaan at pangalagaan lamang nila at nang ang
sinoman sa aking mga anak sampu ng apo at kaapuapuhan ko sa habang
panahon ay may tutuluyan kung magnanais na mag-aral sa Maynila o kalapit na
mga lunsod x x x.
f) Ang bigasan, mga makina at pagawaan ng pagkain ng hayop ay ipinamamana
ko sa aking asawa, Cecilia Lomotan, at mga anak na Zoilo, Ma. Pilar, Ricardo,
Cipriano, Felicidad, Eugenia, Clemente, at Cleotilde nang pare-pareho. Ngunit,
sa loob ng dalawampong (20) taon mula sa araw ng aking kamatayan, hindi nila
papartihin ito at pamamahalaan ito ni Clemente at ang maghahawak ng salaping
kikitain ay si Ma. Pilar na siyang magpaparte. Ang papartihin lamang ay ang kita
ng mga iyon matapos na ang gugol na kakailanganin niyon, bilang reparacion,
pagpapalit o pagpapalaki ay maawas na. Ninais ko ang ganito sa aking
pagmamahal sa kanila at pagaaring ibinubuhay ko sa kanila lahat, bukod sa
yaon ay sa kanila ding kapakinabangan at kabutihan.
g) Ang lahat ng lupa, liban sa lupat bahay sa Lunsod ng Maynila, ay
ipinapamana ko sa aking nasabing asawa, Cecilia Lomotan, at mga anak na
Tomas, Zoilo, Ma. Pilar, Ricardo, Cipriano, Felicidad, Eugenia, Clemente at
Cleotilde nang pare-pareho. Datapwat, gaya din ng mga bigasan, makina at
gawaan ng pagkain ng hayop, ito ay hindi papartihin sa loob ng dalawampong
(20) taon mula sa aking pagpanaw, at pamamahalaan din nila Ma. Pilar at
Clemente. Ang mapaparte lamang ay ang kita o ani ng nasabing mga pag-aari
matapos bayaran ang buwis at/o patubig at iba pang mga gugol na kailangan. Si
Ma. Pilar din ang hahawak ng ani o salaping manggagaling dito. (emphasis and
underscoring supplied)3
The oppositors-children of Marta, a daughter of Basilio and his first wife, were,
on their motion, allowed to intervene.4

xxxx
After the executrix-petitioner Ma. Pilar filed a "Final Accounting, Partition and
Distribution in Accordance with the Will,"5 the probate court approved the will by

ARTICLE 1083

Order of August 14, 1978 and directed the registers of deeds of Bulacan and
Manila to register the certificates of title indicated therein.6 Accordingly, the titles
to Lot Nos. 786, 837, 7922, 836 and 838 in Malolos, Bulacan and Lot No. 8-C in
Manila were transferred in the name of petitioners Ma. Pilar and Clemente.7
The oppositors thereafter filed a Complaint-in-Intervention8 with the probate
court, alleging that Basilios second wife was not Irene but a certain Maria
Arellano with whom he had no child; and that Basilios will violates Articles 979981 of the Civil Code.9
The probate court dismissed the Complaint-in-Intervention, citing its previous
approval of the "Final Accounting, Partition, and Distribution in Accordance with
the Will."10
The oppositors-heirs of the first marriage thereupon filed a complaint for
completion of legitime before the Bulacan RTC, docketed as Civil Case No. 562M-90,11 against the heirs of the second and third marriages.

In the interregnum, or on October 17, 2000, respondent-heirs of the second


marriage filed before the probate court (RTC-Branch 10) a Motion for
Termination of Administration, for Accounting, and for Transfer of Titles in the
Names of the Legatees.19 Citing the earlier quoted portions of Basilios will, they
alleged that:
x x x x the twenty (20) year period within which subject properties should be
under administration of [Ma.] Pilar Santiago and Clemente Santiago expired on
September 16, 1993.
Consequently, [Ma.] Pilar Santiago and Clemente Santiago should have ceased
as such administrator[s] way back on September 16, 1993 and they should have
transferred the above said titles to the named legatees in the Last Will and
Testament of the testator by then. Said named legatees in the Last Will and
Testament are no[ne] other than the following:
xxxx

In their complaint, oppositors-heirs of the first marriage essentially maintained


that they were partially preterited by Basilios will because their legitime was
reduced.12 They thus prayed, inter alia, that an inventory and appraisal of all the
properties of Basilio be conducted and that Ma. Pilar and Clemente be required
to submit a fresh accounting of all the incomes of the properties from the time of
Basilios death up to the time of the filing of Civil Case No. 562-M-90.13

Said [Ma.] Pilar Santiago and Clemente Santiago should have also rendered an
accounting of their administration from such death of the testator up to the
present or until transfer of said properties and its administration to the said
legatees.

RTC-Branch 17 decided Civil Case No. 562-M-90 (for completion of legitime) in


favor of the oppositors-heirs of the first marriage.

Respondents prayed that petitioners be ordered:

On appeal (docketed as CA G.R. No. 45801), the Court of Appeals, by Decision


of January 25, 2002,14 annulled the decision of RTC-Branch 17, holding that the
RTC Branch 17 dismissal of the Complaint-in-Intervention in SP No. 1549-M and
its August 14, 1978 Order approving the probate of the will constitute res
judicata with respect to Civil Case No. 562-M-90.15 Thus the appellate court
disposed:
WHEREFORE, premises considered, the Appeal is hereby GRANTED. The
Decision in Civil Case No. 562-M-90 is hereby ANNULLED on the ground of res
judicata. Let the Decree of Distribution of the Estate of Basilio Santiago remain
UNDISTURBED.

x x x x20

1) To surrender the above-enumerated titles presently in their names to [the]


Honorable Court and to transfer the same in the names of the designated
legatees in the Last Will and Testament, to wit:
1) asawa, Cecilia Lomotan, at mga anak na
2) Tomas
3) Zoilo
4) Ma. Pilar
5) Ricardo

SO ORDERED.16 (emphasis in the original; underscoring supplied)


6) Cipriano
Oppositors-heirs of the first marriage challenged the appellate courts decision in
CA G.R. No. 45801 by petition for review, docketed as G.R. No. 155606, which
this Court denied.17 The denial became final and executory on April 9, 2003.18

7) Felicidad

ARTICLE 1083

8) Eugenia

feeds factory, and all improvements thereon from August 14, 1978 up to the
present.

9) Clemente at
10) Cleotilde

e.) To submit a proposed Project of Partition, indicating how the parties may
actually partition or adjudicate all the above said properties including the
properties already in the name of all the said legatees xxx.

(all surnamed SANTIAGO)


x x x x.
2) To peacefully surrender possession and administration of subject properties,
including any and all improvements thereon, to said legatees.
3) To render an accounting of their administration of said properties and other
properties of the testator under their administration, from death of testator
Basilio Santiago on September 16, 1973 up to the present and until possession
and administration thereof is transferred to said legatees.21
Opposing the motion, petitioners argued that with the approval of the Final
Accounting, Partition and Distribution in Accordance with the Will, and with the
subsequent issuance of certificates of title covering the properties involved, the
case had long since been closed and terminated.22
The probate court, finding that the properties in question would be transferred to
petitioners Ma. Pilar and Clemente for purposes of administration only, granted
the motion, by Order of September 5, 2003,23 disposing as follows:
WHEREFORE, premises considered, the Motion for Termination of
Administration, for Accounting, and for Transfer of Titles in the Names of the
Legatees dated October 3, 2000 filed by some heirs of the testator Basilio
Santiago xxx is hereby GRANTED. Accordingly, the administratrix [sic] Ma. Pilar
Santiago and Mr. Clemente Santiago are hereby DIRECTED, as follows:
a.) To surrender the above-enumerated titles presently in their names to this
Honorable Court and to transfer the same in the names of the designated
legatees in the Last Will and Testament, to wit: 1.) asawa, Cecilia Lomotan at
mga anak na 2.) Tomas 3). Zoilo 4.) Ma. Pilar 5.) Ricardo 6.) Cipriano 7.)
Felicidad 8.) Eugenia 9.) Clemente and 10.) Cleotilde all named SANTIAGO.
b.) To peacefully surrender possession and administration of subject properties
including any and all improvements thereon, to said legatees; and
c.) To render an accounting of their administration of subject properties,
including any and all improvements thereon, to said legatees; and
d.) To submit an accounting of their administration of the above-mentioned
estate of the testator or all the above said lots including the rice mill, animal

Further, the Register of Deeds of Bulacan are hereby DIRECTED to cancel and
consider as no force and effects Transfer Certificates of Title Nos. T-249177 (RT46294) [Lot No. 786], T-249175 (RT-46295) [Lot No. 837], T-249174 (RT-46296)
[Lot No. 7922], T-249173 (RT-46297) [Lot No. 836], and T-249176 (RT-46293)
[Lot No. 838] in the names of Ma. Pilar Santiago and Clemente Santiago and to
issue new ones in the lieu thereof in the names of Cecilia Lomotan-Santiago,
Tomas Santiago, Zoilo Santiago, Ma. Pilar Santiago, Ricardo Santiago, Cipriano
Santiago, Felicidad Santiago, Eugenia Santiago, Clemente Santiago, and
Cleotilde Santiago.
Moreover, the Register of Deeds of Manila is hereby DIRECTED to cancel and
consider as no force and effect Transfer Certificate of Title No. 131044 [Lot No.
8-C] in the names of Ma. Pilar Santiago and Clemente Santiago and to issue
new ones in lieu thereof in the names of the Heirs of Bibiana Lopez, the Heirs of
Irene Santiago, and the Heirs of Cecilia Lomotan.
The Motion to Suspend Proceedings filed by Filemon, Leonila, Ma. Concepcion,
Ananias, Urbano and Gertrudes, all surnamed Soco, dated December 3, 2002,
is hereby DENIED for lack of merit.24
Respecting petitioners argument that the case had long been closed and
terminated, the trial court held:
x x x x [I]t is clear from the Last Will and Testament that subject properties
cannot actually be partitioned until after 20 years from the death of the testator
Basilio Santiago x x x x. It is, therefore, clear that something more has to be
done after the approval of said Final Accounting, Partition, and Distribution. The
testator Basilio Santiago died on September 16, 1973, hence, the present action
can only be filed after September 16, 1993. Movants cause of action accrues
only from the said date and for which no prescription of action has set in.
The principle of res judicata does not apply in the present probate proceeding
which is continuing in character, and terminates only after and until the final
distribution or settlement of the whole estate of the deceased in accordance with
the provision of the will of the testator. The Order dated August 14, 1978 refers
only to the accounting, partition, and distribution of the estate of the deceased

10

ARTICLE 1083

for the period covering from the date of the filing of the petition for probate on
December 27, 1973 up to August 14, 1978. And in the said August 14, 1978
order it does not terminate the appointment of petitioner[s] Ma. Pilar Santiago
and Clemente Santiago as executrix and administrator, respectively, of the
estate of the deceased particularly of those properties which were prohibited by
the testator to be partitioned within 20 years from his death. Since then up to the
present, Ma. Pilar Santiago and Clemente Santiago remain the executor and
administrator of the estate of the deceased and as such, they are required by
law to render an accounting thereof from August 14, 1978 up to the present;
there is also now a need to partition and distribute the aforesaid properties as
the prohibition period to do so has elapsed. (emphasis and underscoring
supplied)25
Petitioners, together with the oppositors, filed a motion for reconsideration,26
which the probate court denied, drawing them to appeal to the Court of Appeals
which docketed it as CA G.R. No. 83094.
The Court of Appeals affirmed the decision of the probate court,27 hence, the
petition28 which raises the following grounds:
I.

The petition lacks merit.


Petitioners argument that the decision of the appellate court in the earlier CAG.R. NO. 45801 (upheld by this Court in G.R. No. 155606) constitutes res
judicata to the subsequent CA G.R. No. 83094 (the subject of the present
petition for review) fails.
Res judicata has two aspects, which are embodied in Sections 47 (b) and 47 (c)
of Rule 39 of the Rules of Civil Procedure.30 The first, known as "bar by prior
judgment," proscribes the prosecution of a second action upon the same claim,
demand or cause of action already settled in a prior action.31 The second,
known as "conclusiveness of judgment," ordains that issues actually and directly
resolved in a former suit cannot again be raised in any future case between the
same parties involving a different cause of action.32
Both aspects of res judicata, however, do not find application in the present
case. The final judgment regarding oppositors complaint on the reduction of
their legitime in CA-G.R. NO. 45801 does not dent the present petition, which
solely tackles the propriety of the termination of administration, accounting and
transfer of titles in the names of the legatees-heirs of the second and third
marriages. There is clearly no similarity of claim, demand or cause of action
between the present petition and G.R. No. 155606.

"CAN THE HONORABLE COURT OF APPEALS REVERSE ITSELF"


A. THE COURT OF APPEALS ERRED IN NOT BINDING ITSELF WITH ITS
PREVIOUS DECISION INVOLVING THE SAME PARTIES AND SAME
PROPERTIES;
B. THE COURT OF APPEALS ERRED IN AFFIRMING THE RTC AS IT
AGREED WITH THE RTC THAT THIS CASE IS NOT BARRED BY RES
JUDICATA;
C. IN C.A.-G.R. NO. 45801, THE HONORABLE COURT OF APPEALS HELD
THAT THERE WAS RES JUDICATA; IN C.A.-G.R. CV NO. 83094, THERE WAS
NO RES JUDICATA.
II.
"GRANTING THAT THE COURT OF APPEALS HAS ALL THE COMPETENCE
AND JURISDICTION TO REVERSE ITSELF, STILL THE COURT OF APPEALS
ERRED IN AFFIRMING THE RTCS ORDER TO TRANSFER THE MANILA
PROPERTY COVERED BY TCT NO. 131004 TO THE NAMES OF CECILIA
LOMOTAN, TOMAS, ZOILO, MA. PILAR, RICARDO, CIPRIANO FELICIDAD,
EUGENIA, CLEMENTE AND CLEOTILDE, ALL SURNAMED SANTIAGO."29
(emphasis in the original)

While as between the two cases there is identity of parties, "conclusiveness of


judgment" cannot likewise be invoked. Again, the judgment in G.R. No. 155606
would only serve as an estoppel as regards the issue on oppositors supposed
preterition and reduction of legitime, which issue is not even a subject, or at the
very least even invoked, in the present petition.
What is clear is that petitioners can invoke res judicata insofar as the judgment
in G.R. No. 155606 is concerned against the oppositors only. The records
reveal, however, that the oppositors did not appeal the decision of the appellate
court in this case and were only impleaded pro forma parties.
Apparently, petitioners emphasize on the directive of the appellate court in CA
G.R. No. 45801 that the decree of distribution of the estate of Basilio should
remain undisturbed. But this directive goes only so far as to prohibit the
interference of the oppositors in the distribution of Basilios estate and does not
pertain to respondents supervening right to demand the termination of
administration, accounting and transfer of titles in their names.
Thus, the Order of September 5, 2003 by the probate court granting
respondents Motion for Termination of Administration, for Accounting, and for
Transfer of Titles in the Names of the Legatees is a proper and necessary
continuation of the August 14, 1978 Order that approved the accounting,

11

ARTICLE 1083

partition and distribution of Basilios estate. As did the appellate court, the Court
notes that the August 14, 1978 Order was yet to become final pending the whole
settlement of the estate. And final settlement of the estate, in this case, would
culminate after 20 years or on September 16, 1993, when the prohibition to
partition the properties of the decedent would be lifted.
Finally, petitioners object to the inclusion of the house and lot in Manila, covered
by TCT No. 131044, among those to be transferred to the legatees-heirs as it
would contravene the testators intent that no one is to own the same.1avvphi1

But the condition set by the decedent on the propertys indivisibility is subject to
a statutory limitation. On this point, the Court agrees with the ruling of the
appellate court, viz:
For this Court to sustain without qualification, [petitioners]s contention, is to go
against the provisions of law, particularly Articles 494, 870, and 1083 of the Civil
Code, which provide that the prohibition to divide a property in a co-ownership
can only last for twenty (20) years x x x x
xxxx

The Court is not persuaded. It is clear from Basilios will that he intended the
house and lot in Manila to be transferred in petitioners names for administration
purposes only, and that the property be owned by the heirs in common, thus:
e) Ang lupat bahay sa Lunsod ng Maynila na nasasaysay sa itaas na 2(c) ay
ililipat at ilalagay sa pangalan nila Ma. Pilar at Clemente hindi bilang pamana ko
sa kanila kundi upang pamahalaan at pangalagaan lamang nila at nang ang
sinoman sa aking mga anak sampu ng apo at kaapuapuhan ko sa habang
panahon ay may tutuluyan kung magnanais na mag-aral sa Maynila o kalapit na
mga lunsod sa medaling salita, ang bahay at lupang itoy walang magmamay-ari
bagkus ay gagamitin habang panahon ng sinomang magnanais sa aking
kaapuapuhan na tumuklas ng karunungan sa paaralan sa Maynila at katabing
mga lunsod x x x x33 (emphasis and underscoring supplied)

x x x x Although the Civil Code is silent as to the effect of the indivision of a


property for more than twenty years, it would be contrary to public policy to
sanction co-ownership beyond the period expressly mandated by the Civil Code
x x x x34
WHEREFORE, the petition is DENIED.
Costs against petitioners.
SO ORDERED.
CONCHITA CARPIO MORALES
Associate Justice

12