"I chose to go to law school because I thought that someday, somehow I'd make a difference." -A.

November 26, 2014

"After all, those who have less in life must have more in law."

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As ruled by the Supreme Court in the case of People vs. Ricardo Rio, decided on September 24, 1991.


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October 6, 2014

In reading let your motto be ‘much not many.”

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“Master those books you have. Read them thoroughly. Bathe in them until they saturate you. Read and reread them…digest them. Let them go into your very self. Peruse a good book several times and make notes and analyses of it. A student will find that his mental constitution is more affected by one book thoroughly mastered than by twenty books he has merely skimmed. Little learning and much pride comes from hasty reading. Some men are disabled from thinking by their putting meditation away for the sake of much reading. In reading let your motto be ‘much not many.” 

― Charles H. Spurgeon, Lectures to My Students

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September 19, 2014

Worker's Statutory Monetary Benefits Handbook 2014 Edition

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The Handbook on Workers' Statutory Monetary Benefits provides a comprehenive outline of the mandatory benefits that workers are entitled to receive under the Labor Code and other existing laws.

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September 16, 2014

Aznar vs. Yapdiangco

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Facts:
  • Theodoro Santos advertised in the newspapers the sale of his Ford Fairlane 500. 
  • After the advertisement, a certain de Dios, claiming to be the nephew of Vicente Marella, went to the residence of Santos and expressed his uncle’s intent to purchase the car. 
  • Since Santos wasn't around, it was Irineo (son of Theodoro) who talked with de Dios. On being informed, Santos advised his son to see Marella, which the son did. 
  • Marella expressed his intention to purchase the car. A deed of sale was prepared and Irineo was instructed by his father not to part with the deed and the car without receiving the purchase price from Marella. 
  • Upon arriving at the house of Vicente Marella, he said that his money was short and  that he had to borrow from his sister. 
  • Marella then instructed de Dios and Irineo to go the supposed house of the sister to obtain the money with an unidentified person. 
  • He also asked Irineo to leave the deed to have his lawyer see it. Relying on the good faith of Marella, Irineo did as requested. 
  • Upon arriving at the house of Marella’s supposed to be sister, de Dios and the unidentified person then disappeared together with the car. Santos reported the incident to the authorities.
  • Thereafter, Marella was able to sell the land to Aznar. While in possession of the car, police authorities confiscated the same from him. 
  • Aznar filed an action for replevin (to recover the car). Claiming ownership of the vehicle, he prayed for its delivery to him. 
  • In the course of the litigation, however, Teodoro Santos moved and was allowed to intervene by the lower court.
  • Lower court ruled in favor of Teodoro Santos saying that he has been unlawfully deprived of his car and he retains ownership of the same.

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September 15, 2014

Torrecampo vs. Alindogan

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Facts:
May 24, 1997: spouses Jose and Lina Belmes executed a deed of sale in favor of respondent-spouses Dennis and Heide Alindogan over a house and lot located in Legazpi city.
July 4, 1997: Lina Belmes wrote spouses Alindogan wherein she delivered the constructive possession of the house and lot to them. However, on July 5, 1997, before they could take actual possession of the property, spouses Gil and Brenda Torrecampo, petitioners, and spouses Jonathan Lozares and Jocelyn Torrecampo, entered and occupied the premises.
Despite spouses Alindogan’s repeated demands, spouses Torrecampo failed and refused to vacate the property. 
The spouses Alindogan filed a Complaint for Recovery of Ownership, Possession and Damages against spouses Torrecampo.
Spouses Torrecampo alleged that:
o On March 25, 1997, Belmes received from them P73,000.00 as advance payment for the sale of the house and lot. 
o On April 8, 1997, they executed a "Contract to Buy and Sell."
o That to complete the agreed partial payment of P220,000.00, spouses Torrecampo paid spouses Belmes P130,000.00, but the latter refused to accept the amount. Thus, on July 7, 1997, spouses Torrecampo filed with RTC a Complaint for Specific Performance against spouses Belmes.
The RTC ruled in favor of spouses Alindogan. It ruled that the contract between Belmes and Torrecampo was a mere contract to sell and thus, the ownership of the property was not transferred to spouses Torrecampo. CA affirmed in toto RTC’s ruling.
Spouses Torrecampo contended that when spouses Alindogan bought the property, they already knew that the same property was previously sold to them and being buyers in bad faith, ownership of the property must pertain to spouses Torrecampo who, in good faith, were first in possession.
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September 13, 2014

Behn Meyer vs. Yangco

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Facts:

  • A sale of 80 drums of caustic soda was agreed between Behn, Meyer & Co. and Teodoro Yanco. The merchandise was shipped from New York to Manila. 
  • However, the ship carrying the cargo was detained at Penang and the 71 of the 80 drums were removed. Respondent Yangco also refused to accept the 9 remaining and also refused to accept the offer of Behn Meyer to have the products substituted with other merchandise, which however were different from what was ordered. 
  • It must be noted that the contract provided for "c.i.f. Manila, pagadero against delivery of documents." 
  • Yanco filed an action seeking for damages for alleged breach of contract. 

Issue: WON Behn, Meyer & Co. should bear the burden of the loss of the merchandise? YES

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September 11, 2014

Danguilan vs. IAC

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Facts:
  • A parcel of lot owned by Domingo Melad was being claimed by petitioner Felix Danguilan and respondent Apolonia Melad. 
  • Apolonia Melad contends that she acquired the property when Dominggo Melad sold it to her when she was just 3 years old in which her mother paid the consideration. (Evidence: Deed of sale dated December 4, 1943 with a sum consideration of P80.00.)
  • Apolonia contended that she just moved out of the farm only in 1946 when Felix Danguilan approached her and asked permission to cultivate the land and to stay therein. 
  • Dangguilan, on the other hand, presented for his part 2 documents executed in September 14, 1941 and December 18, 1943, to prove his claim that the properties were given to him by Dominggo Melad through an onerous donation. The onerous part of the donation includes the taking care of the farm and the arrangement of the burial of Dominggo. 
  • RTC ruled in favor of Danguilan. CA reversed RTC’s ruling. It ruled that there was a donation, which was void for failing to comply with the formalities.

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September 9, 2014

Carbonell vs. CA

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Facts:
  • Respondent Jose Poncio was the owner of the parcel of land located in Rizal. (Area – more or less 195 sq. m.)
  • The said lot was subject to mortgage in favor of the Republic Savings Bank for the sum of P1,500.00. 
  • Carbonell and respondent Emma Infante offered to buy the said lot from Poncio.
  • Poncio offered to sell his lot to Carbonell excluding the house on which he and his family stayed. Carbonell accepted the offer and proposed the price of P9.50/sq. m.. 
  • Poncio accepted the price on the condition that from the purchase price would come the money to be paid to the bank.
  • January 27, 1995: The parties executed a document in the Batanes dialect which is translated as: CONTRACT FOR ONE HALF LOT WHICH I (Poncio) BOUGHT FROM.
  • Carbonell asked a lawyer to prepare the deed of sale and delivered the document, together with the balance of P400, to Jose Poncio. (Note: Carbonell already paid P200 for the mortgage debt of Poncio + obligated herself to pay the remaining installments.)
  • However, when she went to Poncio, the latter informed her that he could no longer proceed with the sale as the lot was already sold to Emma Infante and that he could not withdraw with the sale.
  • Poncio admitted that on January 30, 1995, Mrs. Infante improved her offer and he agreed to sell the land and its improvements to her for P3,535.00. 
  • In a private memorandum agreement, Poncio bound to sell to Infante the lot for the sum of P2,357.52, with Infante still assuming the mortgage debt of P1,177.48. (Note: The full amount of mortgage debt was already paid by the Infantes)
  • February 2, 1995: A deed of sale was executed between Poncio and Infante.
  • February 8, 1995: Knowing that the sale to Infante has not been registered, Carbonell filed an adverse claim. 
  • February 12, 1995: The deed of sale was registered but it has an annotation of the adverse claim of Carbonell.
  • Thereafter, Emma Infante took possession of the lot, built a house and introduced some improvements.
  • In June 1995, Carbonell filed a complaint praying that she be declared the lawful owner of the land, that the subsequent sale to spouses Infante be declared null and void, and that Jose Poncio be ordered to execute the corresponding deed of conveyance of said land in her favor
  • RTC ruled that the sale to spouses Infante was null and void. After re-trial, it reversed its ruling. CA ruled in favor of Carbonell but after a MfR, it reversed its ruling and ruled in favor of the Infantes.

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September 8, 2014

Spouses Santiago vs. Villamor (2012)

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Facts:
  • Spouses Villamor are the parents of respondents Mancer, Carlos and Domingo Jr. (respondents) and the grandparents of respondent John Villamor.
  • In January 1982: Spouses Villamor mortgaged their 4.5-hectare coconut land in Masbate to the San Jacinto Bank as security for a P10,000.00 loan.
  • For failure to pay the loan, the property was extra-judicially foreclosed by the bank. Spouses Villamor failed to redeem the property so San Jacinto Bank obtained a final deed of sale in its favor in 1991. The San Jacinto Bank then offered the land for sale to any interested buyer.
  • The children of spouses Villamor agreed to buy the property.
  • The San Jacinto Bank agreed with the respondents and Catalina (one of the sisters of the respondents) to a P65,000.00 sale, payable in installments. 
  • Upon full payment of the children of spouses Catalina, San Jacinto bank refused to issue the deed of conveyance. Hence, they filed an action for specific performance
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Tagatac vs. Jimenez

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Facts:
  • Trinidad Tagatac bought a car for $4,500 in the US. After 7 months, she brought the car to the Philippines. 
  • Warner Feist, who pretended to be a wealthy man, offered to buy Trinidad’s car for P15,000, and Tagatac was amenable to the idea. Hnece, a deed of sale was exceuted.
  • Feist paid by means of a postdated check, and the car was delivered to Feist. However, PNB refused to honor the checks and told her that Feist had no account in said bank. 
  • Tagatac notified the law enforcement agencies of the estafa committed by Feist, but the latter was not apprehended and the car disappeared.
  • Meanwhile, Feist managed succeeded in having the car’s registration certificate (RC) transferred in his name. He sold the car to Sanchez, who was able to transfer the registration certificate to his name. 
  • Sanchez then offered to sell the car to defendant Liberato Jimenez, who bought the car for P10,000 after investigating in the Motor Vehicles Office.
  • Tagatac discovered that the car was in California Car Exchange’s (place where Jimenez displayed the car for sale), so she demanded from the manager for the delivery of the car, but the latter refused. 
  • Tagatac filed a suit for the recovery of the car’s possession, and the sheriff, pursuant to a warrant of seizure that Tagatac obtained, seized and impounded the car, but it was delivered back to Jimenez upon his filing of a counter-bond. 
  • The lower court held that Jimenez had the right of ownership and possession over the car.

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September 6, 2014

PALS Bar Ops Pilipinas 2014: First Batch of Materials Ready for Download

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Sharing to you the list of the first batch of materials under PALS BAR OPS PILIPINAS 2014. Bar Ops Pilipinas is a project of the Philippine Association of Law Schools (PALS) under the leadership of Dean Nilo Divina of UST.

The materials below contain snap shot summaries of the decisions laid down by the Supreme Court in their decided cases as of March 31, 2014, as well as the cased penned by SC Justice Diosdado Peralta. These materials are made by the top volunteer students from different law schools all over the Philippines. All their outputs have been reviewed by incumbent law deans considered experts in the different bar subjects who unselfishly and heroically devoted their precious time for this endeavor despite their very tight schedule.

Click the link/s below to download the materials.

1. Civil Procedure - http://bit.ly/PALS_CivPro
2. Mercantile Law - http://bit.ly/PALS_Mercantile
3. Special Proceedings - http://bit.ly/PALS_SpecPro
5. Provisional Remedies & Special Civil Actions - http://bit.ly/PALS_ProvRem
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September 3, 2014

PUP vs. GOLDEN

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Facts:
  • National Development Company (NDC) had in its disposal a 10 hectare property, commonly called as NDC Compound, located along Pureza St., Sta. Mesa, Manila. 
  • September 7, 1977: NDC entered into a Contract of Lease with Golden Horizon Realty Corporation (GHRC) over a portion of the NDC Compound for a period of ten years, renewable for another ten  years with mutual consent of the parties.
  • May 4, 1978: a second Contract of Lease was executed between NDC and GHRC. In addition, GHRC as lessee was granted the “option to purchase the area leased, the price to be negotiated and determined at the time the option to purchase is exercised.”
  • Sometime after September 1988, GHRC discovered that NDC had decided to secretly dispose the property to a third party. 
  • In the meantime, then President Corazon C. Aquino issued Memorandum Order No. 214 dated January 6, 1989, ordering the transfer of the whole NDC Compound to the National Government, which in turn would convey the said property in favor of PUP at acquisition cost. 
  • The order of conveyance of the 10.31-hectare property would automatically result in the cancellation of NDC’s total obligation in favor of the National Government in the amount of P57,193,201.64.
  • PUP demanded that GHRC vacate the premises, insisting that the latter’s lease contract had already expired. Its demand letter unheeded by GHRC, PUP filed an ejectment case. GHRC argued that Memorandum Order No. 214 is a nullity.
  • RTC rendered its decision upholding the right of first refusal granted to GHRC under its lease contract with NDC and ordering PUP to reconvey the said portion of the property in favor of GHRC. CA affirmed the RTC ruling.

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September 2, 2014

Rules of Procedure for Environmental Cases PPT by Dean La Viña

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On August 31, 2014, Dean Antonio La Viña of De La Salle University College of Law posted on his Facebook account his powerpoint presentation entitled The Rules of Procedure for Environmental Cases. 


He wrote "For 2014 bar examinees: Since it has been mentioned that the Rule on Environmental Procedure, and specially the Writ of Kalikasan, is likely to be a topic for the Remedial Law Bar exams next month, I am posting for the benefit of my former students and for all examinees a short version of my regular lecture on the Rule, with emphasis on the two Writs - Kaikasan and Conitnuing Mandamus - but also the basics of SLAPP and the precautionary principle.
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September 1, 2014

Paranaque Kings vs. CA

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Facts:
  • PR Catalina L. Santos is the owner of 8 parcels of land located at Parañaque, Metro Manila.
  • November 28, 1977: a certain Frederick Chua leased the subject property from defendant Catalina L. Santos, the said lease was registered in the Register of Deeds. 
  • February 12, 1979: Frederick Chua assigned all his rights and interest and participation in the leased property to Lee Ching Bing, by virtue of a deed of assignment and with the conformity of defendant Santos, the said assignment was also registered. 
  • August 6, 1979: Lee Ching Bing also assigned all his rights and interest in the leased property to Parañaque Kings Enterprises, Incorporated by virtue of a deed of assignment and with the conformity of defendant Santos. Their contract provided that:
  • "9. That in case the properties subject of the lease agreement are sold or encumbered, Lessors shall impose as a condition that the buyer or mortgagee thereof shall recognize and be bound by all the terms and conditions of this lease agreement and shall respect this Contract of Lease as if they are the LESSORS thereof and in case of sale, LESSEE shall have the first option or priority to buy the properties subject of the lease;"
  • September 21, 1988: Catalina Santos sold the eight parcels of land subject of the lease to defendant David Raymundo for a consideration of P5,000,000. 
  • Upon learning of this fact, the representative of Paranaque King wrote a letter to defendant Santos, requesting her to rectify the error and consequently realizing the error, she had it reconveyed to her for the same consideration of P5M.
  • Only 2 days after Catalina Santos sold her properties did she reply to Paranaque Kings’ letter saying period has lapsed.
  • July 6, 1989: counsel for defendant Santos informed the petitioners Paranaque Kings that the new owner is RAYMUNDO.
  • From the preceding facts, it is clear that the sale was simulated and that there was a collusion between the respondents Santos and Raymundo in the sales of the leased properties (defendants SANTOS and RAYMUNDO have the same counsel who represented both of them in their exchange of communication with PK’s counsel, a fact that led to the conclusion that a collusion exist between them, among others)
  • Petitioner Paranaque demanded from the defendants to rectify their unlawful acts that they committed, but defendants refused and failed to comply with plaintiffs just and valid demands.
  • RTC issued the order dismissing the complaint for lack of a valid cause of action. CA affirmed in toto.

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Bible Baptist vs. CA

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Facts:
  • June 7, 1985: Petitioner Bible Baptist Church entered into a contract of lease with respondent spouses Villanueva. (Lease period – 15 years)
  • Spouses Villanueva are the registered owners of a property located at Leon Guinto St., Malate, Manila.
  • Pertinent stipulations of the lease contract are as follows:

3. LESSEE (Bible Baptist) shall pay the LESSOR (Spouses Villanueva) within 5 days of each calendar month, beginning 12 months from the date of this agreement, a monthly rental of P10,000, plus 10% escalation clause per year starting on June 7, 1988.
4. That upon signing of the LEASE AGREEMENT, the LESSEE shall pay the sum of P84,000.00. Said sum is to be paid directly to the Rural Bank, Valenzuela, Bulacan for the purpose of redemption of said property which is mortgaged by the LESSOR.
8. That the LESSEE (Bible Baptist) has the option to buy the leased premises during  the 15 years of the lease. If the LESSEE decides to purchase the premises the terms will be: A) A selling P1.8 million. B) A down payment agreed upon by both parties. C) The balance of the selling price may be paid at the rate of P120,000.00 per year.
  • Petitioner Baptist Church seeks to buy the leased premises from the spouses Villanueva, under the option given to them. 
  • Baptist Church argues that the consideration supporting the option was their agreement to pay off the Villanueva's P84,000 loan with the bank, thereby freeing the subject property from the mortgage encumbrance. 
  • Baptist Church states that "it is true that it did not pay a separate and specific sum of money to cover the option alone. But the P84,000 it paid the Villanuevas in advance should be deemed consideration for the one contract they entered into – the lease with option to buy."
  • Spouses Villanueva argued that the amount of P84,000 was paid for the rental payments and there is no separate consideration to speak of which could support the option.
  • RTC and CA ruled in favor of Villanueva.

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August 28, 2014

Vasquez vs. CA

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Facts:
  • A lot of the Himalayan Cadastre was registered under the name of spouses Olea.
  • October 1959:  the lot was leased by respondent-spouses Olea to spouses Vasquezz. 
  • September 21, 1964: the spouses Olea sold the lot to spouses Vasquez under a Deed of Sale for the amount of P9,000.00. The Deed of Sale was duly ratified and notarized. 
  • On the same day and along with the execution of the Deed of Sale, a separate instrument, denominated as Right to Repurchase, was executed by the parties granting spouses Olea the right to repurchase the lot for P12,000.00, likewise duly ratified and notarized.
  • January 2, 1969: spouses Olea sold the same lot to Benito Derrama, Jr., after securing spouses Vasquez' title, for the sum of P12,000.00. Upon the protestations of spouses Vasquez, assisted by counsel, the said second sale was cancelled after the payment.
  • January 15, 1975: Respondents Spouses Olea filed an action against the Spouses Vasquez and Gayanelo seeking to redeem the subject property which was previously sold by Spouses Olea to Spouses Vasquez on September 21, 1964.
  • Spouses Vasquez resisted this action for redemption on the premise that the Right to Repurchase is just an option to buy since it is not embodied in the same document of sale but in a separate document, and since such option is not supported by a consideration distinct from the price, said deed for right to repurchase is not binding upon them. 
  • RTC ruled against spouses Vasquez ordering them to resell the lots to spouses Olea for the repurchase price of P24,000.00, which amount combines the price paid for the first sale and the price paid by defendants to Benito Derrama, Jr. 
  • Spouses Vasquez insist that they cannot be compelled to resell the lot contending that the nature of the sale over the said lot between them and spouses Olea was that of an absolute deed of sale and that the Right to Repurchase can only be either an option to buy or a mere promise on their part to resell the property. 
  • They argued that since the "RIGHT TO REPURCHASE" was not supported by any consideration distinct from the purchase price it is not valid and binding on the petitioners pursuant to Article 1479 of the Civil Code.

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August 24, 2014

Spouses Lequin vs. Sps. Vizconde

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Facts:
  • In 1995, spouses Ramon and Virginia Lequin, residents bought the subject lot consisting of 10,115 sq. m. from one Carlito de Leon.  The sale was negotiated by respondent Raymundo Vizconde.  
  • In 1997, spouses Vizconde represented to spouses Lequin that they had also bought from Carlito de Leon a 1,012 sq. m. lot adjacent to the Lequins and built a house thereon.  
  • As later confirmed by de Leon, however, the 1,012 sq. m. lot claimed by the Vizcondes is part of the 10,115 sq. m. lot Lequin bought from him.
  • With the consent of the Vizcondes, spouses Lequin then constructed their house on the 500-square meter half-portion of the lot claimed by respondents, as this was near the road.  
  • Given this situation where the house of Lequins stood on a portion of the lot allegedly owned by Vizcondes, the former consulted a lawyer, who advised them that the 1,012 sq. m. lot be segregated from the subject lot whose title they own and to make it appear that they are selling to respondents 512 square meters thereof.  
  • This sale was embodied in the February 12, 2000 Kasulatan where it was made to appear that the Vizcondes paid PhP 15,000 for the purchase of the 512-square meter portion of the subject lot.  
  • In July 2000, petitioners tried to develop the dried up canal located between their 500-square meter lot and the public road.  However, the respondents objected, claiming ownership of said dried up canal or sapang patay.
  • This prompted the Liquins to look into the ownership of the dried up canal and the lot claimed by the respondents  Carlito de Leon told petitioners that what he had sold to respondents was the dried up canal or sapang patay and that the 1,012-square meter lot claimed by respondents really belongs to petitioners.
  • In 2001, petitioners filed a complaint praying for the Kasulatan to be declared as null and void ab initio.
  • The RTC found the  Kasulatan allegedly conveying 512 square meters to respondents to be null and void due to:  (1) the vitiated consent of  petitioners in the execution of the simulated contract of sale; and (2) lack of consideration, since it was shown that while petitioners were ostensibly conveying to respondents 512 square meters of their property, yet the consideration of PhP 15,000 was not paid to them and, in fact,they were the ones who paid respondents PhP 50,000.
  • Upon appeal by the respondent-spouses, CA reversed the ruling. 

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Ang Yu Asuncion vs. CA

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Facts:
  • July 29, 1987: An amended Complaint for Specific Performance was filed by petitioners Ang Yu Asuncion and others against Bobby Cu Unjieng, Rose Cu Unjieng and Jose Tan before RTC.
  • Petitioners (Ang Yu) alleged that:
- they are the tenants or lessees of residential and commercial spaces owned by Bobby Unijeng and others located in Binondo, Manila (since 1935)
that on several occasions before October 9, 1986, the lessors informed the lessees (petitioners) that they are offering to sell the premises and are giving them priority to acquire the same; 
- that during the negotiations, Bobby Cu Unjieng offered a price of P6-million while they made a counter offer of P5-million;
- that they wrote them on October 24, 1986 asking that they specify the terms and conditions of the offer to sell; that when plaintiffs did not receive any reply, they sent another letter dated January 28, 1987 with the same request; 
  • The RTC found that Cu Unjiengs’ offer to sell was never accepted by the petitioners (Ang Yu) for the reason that they did not agree upon the terms and conditions of the proposed sale, hence, there was no contract of sale at all. The Court of Appeals affirmed the decision of the lower court. This decision was brought to the Supreme Court by petition for review on certiorari which subsequently denied the appeal on May 6, 1991 “for insufficiency in form and substance”. (Referring to the first case filed by Ang Yu)
  • November 15, 1990: While the case was pending consideration by this Court, the Cu Unjieng spouses executed a Deed of Sale transferring the subject petitioner to petitioner Buen Realty and Development Corporation.
  • Petitioner Buen Realty and Development Corporation, as the new owner of the subject property, wrote a letter to the lessees demanding that the latter vacate the premises.
  • August 30, 1991: the RTC ordered the Cu Unjiengs to execute the necessary Deed of Sale of the property in litigation in favor of plaintiffs Ang Yu Asuncion, Keh Tiong and Arthur Go for the consideration of P15 Million pesos in recognition of petitioners’ right of first refusal and that a new Transfer Certificate of Title be issued in favor of the buyer. The court also set aside the title issued to Buen Realty Corporation for having been executed in bad faith. On September 22, 1991, the Judge issued a writ of execution.
  • The CA reversed the RTC ruling.

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August 19, 2014

Heirs of Intac vs. CA

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Facts:
  • Ireneo Mendoza, married to Salvacion Fermin, was the owner of the subject property located in Quezon city which he purchased in 1954. (TCT No. 242655)
  • Ireneo had two children: respondents Josefina and Martina (respondents), Salvacion being their stepmother. 
  • When he was still alive, Ireneo, also took care of his niece, Angelina, since she was three years old until she got married. 
  • On October 25, 1977, Ireneo, with the consent of Salvacion, executed a deed of absolute sale of the property in favor of Angelina and her husband, Mario (Spouses Intac). 
  • Despite the sale, Ireneo and his family, including the respondents, continued staying in the premises and paying the realty taxes. After Ireneo died intestate in 1982, his widow and the respondents remained in the premises. After Salvacion died, respondents still maintained their residence there. Up to the present, they are in the premises, paying the real estate taxes thereon, leasing out portions of the property, and collecting the rentals.
  • The controversy arose when respondents sought the cancellation of TCT No. 242655, claiming that the sale was only simulated and, therefore, void.
  • The heirs of Ireneo, the respondents in this case, alleged that: 1. When Ireneo was still alive, Spouses Intac borrowed the title of the property (TCT No. 106530) from him to be used as collateral for a loan from a financing institution; 2. they objected because the title would be placed in the names of said spouses and it would then appear that the couple owned the property; that Ireneo, however, tried to appease them, telling them not to worry because Angelina would not take advantage of the situation considering that he took care of her for a very long time; that during his lifetime, he informed them that the subject property would be equally divided among them after his death; and 3. that respondents were the ones paying the real estate taxes over said property.
  • Spouses Intac countered, among others, that the subject property had been transferred to them based on a valid deed of absolute sale and for a valuable consideration; that the action to annul the deed of absolute sale had already prescribed; that the stay of respondents in the subject premises was only by tolerance during Ireneo’s lifetime because they were not yet in need of it at that time; and that despite respondents’ knowledge about the sale that took place on October 25, 1977, respondents still filed an action against them.
  • RTC ruled in favor of the respondents saying that the sale to the spouses Intac was null and void. The CA also ruled that there was no consideration in the sale to the spouses Intac and that the contract was one for equitable mortgage.

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Vda. De Catindig vs. Heirs of Roque

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Facts:
  • The subject property in this case is a fishpond which was part of the Malolos Cadastre and has an area of more than thirteen hectares. As shown in Original Certificate of Title, it is co-owned or registered in the names of the different persons. (note: there are 16/16 shares)
  • The co-owners of the fishpond leased it to Mrs. Catindig for a term of ten years counted from October 1, 1941 for a total rental of six thousand pesos.
  • After the termination of the lease on September 30, 1951, Mrs. Catindig remained in possession of the fishpond because she was negotiating with the co-owners for the purchase thereof. She wanted to buy it for P52,000.
  • On October 18, 1960 German Ramirez, one of the co-owners, executed a deed wherein he sold his 2/16 share to Mrs. Catindig for P6,500  The sale was annotated on the title on October 19, 1960. 
  • Two weeks later, Pedro Villanueva, one of the co-owners, learned of the sale executed by German Ramirez. That sale retroacted to April 13, 1950.
  • In 1960 the respondents filed this action against Mrs. Catindig to compel her to allow them to redeem the portion sold by German Ramirez. 
  • The respondents amended their complaint by including  a prayer for the recovery of the possession of the fishpond.
  • The RTC declared void certain documents of sale regarding portions of the fishpond in litigation. It ordered Mrs. Catindig to deliver to the respondents (except German Ramirez) the possession of the said fishpond and to allow the respondents to redeem from Mrs. Catindig the 2/16 portion of the fishpond which German Ramirez had sold to her.
  • CA affirmed in toto the RTC ruling. CA said that Mrs. Catindig did not pay P52,000 (the projected sale) and that it the contract was simulated. Hence, this appeal. 

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August 16, 2014

Modina vs. CA

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Facts:
  • This case involves parcels of land registered under the name of Ramon Chiang.
  • Chiang theorized that  the subject properties were sold to him by his wife, Merlinda Plana Chiang as evidenced by a Deed of Sale and were subsequently sold by Chiang to the petitioner Serafin Modina. (Dates of sale:August 3, 1979 and August 24, 1979, respectively.)
  • Modina brought a Complaint for Recovery of Possession with Damages against the private respondents before the RTC.
  • Upon learning the institution of the said case, Merlinda presented a Complaint-in-intervention, seeking the declaration of nullity of the Deed of Sale between her husband and MODINA on the ground that the titles of the parcels of land in dispute were never legally transferred to her husband. 
  • She contended that fraudulent acts were allegedly employed by her husband to obtain a Torrens Title in his favor.  However, she confirmed the validity of the lease contracts with the other private respondents.
  • MERLINDA also admitted that the said parcels of land were those ordered sold by the CFI of Iloilo in “Intestate Estate of Nelson Plana” where she was appointed as the administratix, being the widow of the deceased, her first husband.  An Authority to Sell was issued by the said Probate Court for the sale of the same properties.
  • RTC ruled in favor of the wife Merlinda declaring the two sales in August 1979 as void and inexistent. 
  • Upon appeal, the CA affirmed in toto the RTC ruling.

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August 13, 2014

Mapalo vs. Mapalo

By With No comments:
Facts:
  • The spouses Miguel Mapalo and Candida Quiba were the registered owners of a residential land located in Pangasinan. (1,635 sq. m.)
  • The spouses donated the eastern half of the land to Miguel’s brother – Maximo Mapalo who was about to get married.
  • However, they were deceived into signing, on October 15, 1936, a deed of absolute sale over the entire land in Maximo’s favor. Their signatures were procured by fraud because they were made to believe by Maximo and the lawyer who acted as notary public who "translated" the document, that the same was a deed of donation in Maximo's favor covering one-half of their land. (It must be noted that the spouses are illiterate farmers).
  • Although the document of sale stated a consideration of Five Hundred (P500.00) Pesos, the aforesaid spouses did not receive anything of value for the land. 
  • In 1938, Maximo Mapalo, without the consent of the spouse, registered the sale in his favor.
  • After thirteen years (1951), he sold the land to the Narcisos.  (Evaristo, Petronila Pacifico and Miguel) who thereafter registered the sale and obtained a title in their favor. 
  • In 1952, the Narcisos filed a complaint with the CFI to be declared owners of the entire land, for possession of its western portion; for damages; and for rentals. 
  • The Mapalo spouses filed a counterclaim seeking cancellation of the the Narcisos’ titles as to the western half of the land. They said that their  signatures to the deed of sale of 1936 was procured by fraud and that the Narcisos were buyers in bad faith.
  • They also filed another complaint wherein they asked the court to declare deeds of sale of 1936 and of 1951 over the land in question be declared null and void as to the western half of said land.
  • CFI ruled in favor of the Mapalo spouses. Upon appeal filed by Narcisos, CA reversed the lower court’s ruling solely on the ground that the consent of the Mapalo spouses to the deed of sale of 1936 having been obtained by fraud, the same was voidable, not void ab initio, and, therefore, the action to annul the same, within four years from notice of the fraud, had long prescribed. (From March 15, 1938).  Hence, this appeal.

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Zambales Mining Workers: Lift the DENR Suspension Orders and Resume Mining Operations

By With 1 comment:
On the morning of August 9, 2014, over 1,000 mine workers from the town of Sta. Cruz, Zambales, gathered in what was believed to be an opening salvo for their campaign in defense of the mining operations in their area. They are calling the local officials to support them in their fight to win their jobs back.


The fate of more than 3,000 workers, mostly from this town, now hangs in the balance after the Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB) and Environmental Management Bureau (EMB) Region III of the Department of Natural and Environmental Resources (DENR) suspended the operations of four mining firms in Central Luzon. These companies are as follows:

  • Zambales Diversified Metals Corporation
  • Benguet Corporation Nickel Mines, Inc.
  • Eramen Minerals, Inc. 
  • LNL Archipelago Minerals Inc

By reason of the suspension of the operations of the above-mentioned mining entities, the workers formed a group called Coalition of Mine Workers, Families, and Communities (CMWFC) with the goal of pressing for the resumption of the mine operations of the four companies as well as for the lifting of the cease and desist and suspension orders issued by DENR last June 9 and July 15, 2014.
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August 12, 2014

Baranda vs. Gustillo

By With No comments:
Facts:
  • A petition for reconstitution of title was filed with the CFI (now RTC) of Iloilo involving a parcel of land known as Lot No. 4517 of the Sta. Barbara Cadastre covered by OCT No. 6406 in the name of Romana Hitalia.
  • The OCT was cancelled and TCT No. 106098 was issued in the names of petitioners Baranda and Hitalia.
  • The Court issued a writ of possession which Gregorio Perez, Maria P. Gotera and Susana Silao refused to honor on the ground that they also have TCT No. 25772 over the same Lot No. 4517.
  • The Court found out that TCT No. 257772 was fraudulently acquired by Perez, Gotera and Susana.
  • Thereafter, the court issued a writ of demolition which was questioned by Perez and others so a motion for reconsideration was filed.
  • Another case was filed by Baranda and Hitalia (GR. NO. 62042) for the execution of judgement in the resolutions issued by the courts.
  • In the meantime, the CA dismissed a civil case (GR. NO. 00827) involving the same properties. (NOTE: This time three cases na ang involve excluding the case at bar.)
  • The petitioners prayed that an order be released to cancel No.T-25772. Likewise to cancel No.T-106098 and once cancelled to issue new certificates of title to each of Eduardo S. Baranda and Alfonso Hitalia To cancel No.T-25772. Likewise to cancel No.T-106098 and once cancelled to issue new certificates of title to each of Eduardo S. Baranda and Alfonso Hitalia.
  • In compliance with the order or the RTC, the Acting Register of Deeds Avito Saclauso annotated the order declaring TCT T-25772 null and void, cancelled the same and issued new certificate of titles in the name of petitioners. 
  • However, by reason of a separate case pending in the Court of Appeals, a notice of lis pendens was annotated in the new certificate of title. 
  • This prompted the petitioners to move for the cancellation of the notice of lis pendens in the new certificates. 
  • Judge Tito Gustilo then ordered the Acting Register of Deeds for the cancellation of the notice of lis pendens but the Acting Register of Deeds filed a motion for reconsideration invoking Sec 77 of PD 1529.


Issue: What is the nature of the duty of a Register of Deeds to annotate or annul a notice of lis pendens in a torrens certificate of title.

Held: 

Section 10, Presidential Decree No. 1529 states that "It shall be the duty of the Register of Deeds to immediately register an instrument presented for registration dealing with real or personal property which complies with all the requisites for registration. ... If the instrument is not registrable, he shall forthwith deny registration thereof and inform the presentor of such denial in writing, stating the ground or reasons therefore, and advising him of his right to appeal by consulta in accordance with Section 117 of this Decree."

Section 117 provides that "When the Register of Deeds is in doubt with regard to the proper step to be taken or memoranda to be made in pursuance of any deed, mortgage or other instrument presented to him for registration or where any party in interest does not agree with the action taken by the Register of Deeds with reference to any such instrument, the question shall be submitted to the Commission of Land Registration by the Register of Deeds, or by the party in interest thru the Register of Deeds. ... ."

The function of ROD is ministerial in nature
The function of a Register of Deeds with reference to the registration of deeds encumbrances, instruments and the like is ministerial in nature. The respondent Acting Register of Deeds did not have any legal standing to file a motion for reconsideration of the respondent Judge's Order directing him to cancel the notice of lis pendens annotated in the certificates of titles of the petitioners over the subject parcel of land. 

In case of doubt as to the proper step to be taken in pursuance of any deed ... or other instrument presented to him, he should have asked the opinion of the Commissioner of Land Registration now, the Administrator of the National Land Title and Deeds Registration Administration in accordance with Section 117 of Presidential Decree No. 1529.

No room for construction for the laws on functions of ROD
The elementary rule in statutory construction is that when the words and phrases of the statute are clear and unequivocal, their meaning must be determined from the language employed and the statute must be taken to mean exactly what it says. The statute concerning the function of the Register of Deeds to register instruments in a torrens certificate of title is clear and leaves no room for construction.

Read the full text:
G.R. No. 81163 September 26, 1988 
EDUARDO S. BARANDA and ALFONSO HITALIA, petitioners, vs. HONORABLE JUDGE TITO GUSTILO, ACTING REGISTER OF DEEDS AVITO SACLAUSO, HONORABLE COURT OF APPEALS, and ATTY. HECTOR P. TEODOSIO, respondents.
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August 7, 2014

Ramos vs. Director of Land

By With No comments:
Facts:
  • In 1882, Restituto Romero y Ponce apparently gained possession of a tract of land located in the municipality of San Jose, Province of Nueva Ecija.
  • Ponce obtained a possessory information title of the land (by taking advantage of the Maura Law or Royal Decree of Feb. 13, 1994) and registered the land in 1896.
  • In 1907, the part of the land (Parcel 1) was sold by Ponce to petitioner Ramos and to his wife Ambrosia Salamanca.
  • Ramos instituted appropriate proceedings to have his title registered. 
  • The Director of Lands and Director of Forestry opposed the application on the following grounds: Ramos had not acquired a good title from the Spanish government; The first parcel was forest land.
  • RTC and CA ruled against Ramos. 
  • It has been seen however that the predecessor in interest to Ramos at least held this tract of land under color of title.
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August 3, 2014

What are the powers of the COMELEC?

By With No comments:
These are the mandated powers and functions of the COMELEC as provided for under Article 9 (Constitutional Commissions) of the 1987 Constitution:


  • Enforce and administer all laws and regulations relative to the conduct of and elections, plebiscite, initiative, referendum, and recall.
  • Exercise exclusive original jurisdiction over all contests relating to the elections, returns, and qualifications of all elective regional, provincial, and city officials, and appellate jurisdiction over all contests involving elective municipal officials decided by trial courts of general jurisdiction, or involving elective barangay official decided by trial courts of limited jurisdiction.
  • Decide, except those involving the right to vote, all questions affecting elections, including determination of the number and location of polling places, appointment of election officials and inspectors, and registration of voters.
  • Deputize, with the concurrence of the President, law enforcement agencies and instrumentalities of the Government, including the Armed Forces of the Philippines, for the exclusive purposes of ensuring free, orderly, honest, peaceful credible elections.
  • Register, after sufficient publication, political parties, organizations, of coalitions which, in addition to other requirements, must present their platform or program of government; and accredit citizens arms of the Commission on Elections.
  • File, upon a verified complaint, or on its own initiative, petitions in court for inclusion or exclusion of voters; investigate and, where appropriate, prosecute cases of violations of elections laws, including acts or omissions constituting election frauds, offenses, and malpractices.
  • Recommend to the Congress effective measures to minimize election spending, including limitation of places where propaganda materials shall be posted, and to prevent and penalize all forms of election frauds, offenses, malpractices, and nuisance candidates.
  • Recommend to the President the removal of any officer of employee it has deputized, or the imposition of any other disciplinary action, for violation or disregard of, or disobedience to its directive, order, or decision.
  • Submit to the President and the Congress a comprehensive report on the conduct of each election, plebiscite, initiative, referendum, or recall.

Note: EEDDRFRRS or R3E2D2FS
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July 5, 2014

Navarra vs. Planters

By With No comments:
Facts:
• Spouses Jorge and Carmelita Navarra obtained loan of 1.2 M from Planters Bank. 
• They mortagaged 5 LOTS for security. Couple failed to pay, so the bank foreclosed on the mortgage and sold it for more than 1.3 M. Bank was highest bidder. 1 year redemption expired w/o it having been redeemed by couple.
• RRRC Development Corporation on the other hand, a real estate company owned by the parents of Carmelita, obtained a loan with the same bank. They also mortgaged a certain property as security. They also failed to pay and the mortgaged assets was foreclosed. BUT they were able to negotiate with the bank by way of concession .
• Eventually, the foreclosed properties of RRRC were sold to third persons whose payments were directly made to the Bank, were in excess by P300,000.00 for the redemption price.
• In July 1985 - Back to the spouses, Jorge sent a letter to the bank proposing to repurchase the said 5 LOTS previously foreclosed.
• In response, Planters Bank, thru its Vice-President wrote back Navarra via a letter agreeing to the request and telling him to see the Head of the bank’s Acquired Assets Unit for the details of the transaction so that they may work on the necessary documentation.
• In August 1985 - Jorge went to see the Head with a letter requesting that the excess payment ofP300,000.00 in connection with the redemption made by the RRRC be applied as down payment for the Navarras’ repurchase of their foreclosed properties but because the amount of P300,000.00 was sourced from a different transaction between RRRC and Planters Bank and involved different debtors, the Bank required Navarra to submit a board resolution from RRRC authorizing him to negotiate for and its behalf and empowering him to use the amount 
• In Jan 1987 - Planters Bank sent a letter to Jorge Navarra informing him that it could not proceed with the documentation of the proposed repurchase of the foreclosed properties on account of his non- compliance with the Bank’s request for the submission of the needed board resolution of RRRC. Navarra claimed having already delivered copies of the required board resolution to the Bank. The Bank, however, did not receive said copies.
• In June 1987 - Navarras filed their complaint for Specific Performance against bank. Planters Bank asserted however that there was no perfected contract of sale because the terms and conditions for the repurchase have not yet been agreed upon
• Sep 1988 – Planters bank sold the properties to Gatchalian Realty 
• RTC ruled for the Navarra spouses and said there was perfected Contract of Sal.
• The CA reversed the trial court ruling.

Issue: WON there was perfected Contract of Sale 

Ruling: NO. SC upheld the CA decision. 

Navarras assert that the following exchange of correspondence between them and Planters Bank constitutes the offer and acceptance. The July 1985 letter being the offer from Navarra and the Aug 1985 letter-reply from the Bank the acceptance. BUT SUCH WERE NOT “CERTAIN OFFER” and “ABSOLUTE ACCEPTANCE”. 

While the foregoing letters indicate the amount of P300,000.00 as down payment, they are, however, completely silent as to how the succeeding installment payments shall be made. At most, the letters merely acknowledge that the down payment of P300,000.00 was agreed upon by the parties. However, this fact cannot lead to the conclusion that a contract of sale had been perfected. Quite recently, this Court held that before a valid and binding contract of sale can exist, the manner of payment of the purchase price must first be established since the agreement on the manner of payment goes into the price such that a disagreement on the manner of payment is tantamount to a failure to agree on the price. 

Navarras’ letter/offer failed to specify a definite amount of the purchase price for the sale/repurchase of the subject properties. It merely stated that the "purchase price will be based on the redemption value plus accrued interest at the prevailing rate up to the date of the sales contract." The ambiguity of this statement only bolsters the uncertainty of the Navarras’ so-called "offer" for it leaves much rooms for such questions. 

Also not clear insofar as concerned the exact number of years that will comprise the long-term payment scheme. As we see it, the absence of a stipulated period within which the repurchase price shall be paid all the more adds to the indefiniteness of the Navarras’ offer. 

Further, the tenor of Planters Bank’s letter-reply negates the contention of the Navarras that the Bank fully accepted their offer. The letter specifically stated that there is a need to negotiate on the other details of the transaction before the sale may be formalized. Such statement in the Bank’s letter clearly manifests lack of agreement between the parties as to the terms of the purported contract of sale/repurchase, particularly the mode of payment of the purchase price and the period for its payment. The law requires acceptance to be absolute and unqualified.
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July 1, 2014

Buenaventura vs. CA

By With No comments:
Facts:
  • Defendant spouses Leonardo Joaquin and Feliciana Landrito are the parents of plaintiffs Consolacion, Nora, Emma and Natividad as well as of defendants Fidel, Tomas, Artemio, Clarita, Felicitas, Fe, and Gavino, all surnamed JOAQUIN.  (Note: So there are two sets of children here.)
  • Sought to be declared null and void ab initio are certain deeds of sale of real property executed by Leonardo Joaquin and Feliciana Landrito in favor of their co-defendant children and the corresponding certificates of title issued in their names.
  • The plaintiffs in this case sought for the declaration of nullity of the six deeds of sale and certificates of title in favor of the defendants. 
  • They alleged that certain deed of sale were null and void ab initio because they are simulated.
  • They said that: a. Firstly, there was no actual valid consideration for the deeds of sale xxx over the properties in litis; b. Secondly, assuming that there was consideration in the sums reflected in the questioned deeds, the properties are more than three-fold times more valuable than the measly sums appearing therein; c. Thirdly, the deeds of sale do not reflect and express the true intent of the parties (vendors and vendees); and d. Fourthly, the purported sale of the properties in litis was the result of a deliberate conspiracy designed to unjustly deprive the rest of the compulsory heirs (plaintiffs herein) of their legitime.
  • Defendants, on the other hand aver (1) that plaintiffs do not have a cause of action against them as well as the requisite standing and interest to assail their titles over the properties in litis; (2) that the sales were with sufficient considerations and made by defendants parents voluntarily, in good faith, and with full knowledge of the consequences of their deeds of sale; and (3) that the certificates of title were issued with sufficient factual and legal basis.
  • RTC ruled in favor of the defendants (respondents in this case) and dismissed the complaint. Upon appeal, the CA upheld RTC’s ruling.

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Republic vs. CA and Tabangao Realty

By With No comments:
Facts:

  • On January 8, 1991, Tabangao Realty, Inc. filed an application for Original Registration of Title over three parcels of land.
  • Applicant Tabangao Realty, Inc. alleged in its application that it acquired the above-mentioned lots by purchase from its previous owners as evidenced by the corresponding Deeds of Sale; that it is the owner of all adjoining lots; that it had been in actual possession of the lots since the time it acquired the same from the previous owners up to the present; and that its possession and occupation as owners including that of its predecessor-in-interest has been open, peaceful, continuous, adverse to the whole world and in the concept of an owner.
  • Tabangao Realty alleged that the plant of the Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LPG) Company is partly erected on the subject lots which improvements are owned by it (applicant).  {There is a lease contract between LPG and Tabangao}
  • Should the property registration decree invoked not be allowed, the applicant in the alternative applied for the benefits under CA No. 141 as amended and thus alleged that together with its predecessors-in-interest it had been in open, continuous, public, peaceful and adverse possession of the subject lots for more than 30 years. 
  • Geron (Tabango’s witness) testified that the applicant-corporation was duly organized and registered with the Securities and Exchange Commission and is authorized to acquire land by purchase and develop, subdivide, sell, mortgage, exchange, lease and hold for investment or otherwise, real estate of all kinds.
  • He also testified that the subject properties in this case were purchased by Tabangao Realty as evidenced by Deed of Sale and that the taxes of the properties were properly paid by the corporation.
  • Marasigan corroborated the testimony of Romeo Geron with regard to the ownership, possession and the status of the lots subject of the application.
  • Loida Maglinao (from the Bureau of Forest Development) testified that the subject properties are within the alienable and disposable area of the public domain and no forestry interest is adversely interposed by the Bureau of Forest Development.
  • RTC and CA granted the petition of Tabangao. Hence, this appeal by the Republic.

Issue: WON Tabangao Realty, Inc. has registerable title over three (3) parcels of land situated in Tabangao, Batangas City applied for.

Held: NO. The ruling of the CA was erroneous.

There is a presumption that all lands belong to the public domain of the State
An applicant seeking to establish ownership over land must conclusively show that he is the owner thereof in fee simple, for the standing presumption is that all lands belong to the public domain of the State, unless acquired from the Government either by purchase or by grant, except lands possessed by an occupant and his predecessors since time immemorial, for such possession would justify the presumption that the land had never been part of the public domain or that it had been private property even before the Spanish conquest.

The land in question is admittedly public 
The applicant has no title at all. Its claim of acquisition of ownership is solely based on possession. In fact, the parcels of land applied for were declared public land by decision of the Cadastral Court. Such being the case, the application for voluntary registration under P. D. No. 1529 (Property Registration Decree) is barred by the prior judgment of the Cadastral Court. 

The land having been subjected to compulsory registration under the Cadastral Act and declared public land can no longer be the subject of registration by voluntary application under Presidential Decree No. 1529. The second application is barred by res-judicata. As previously held, "[W]here the applicant possesses no title or ownership over the parcel of land, he cannot acquire one under the Torrens System of registration."

There is no sufficient evidence that Tabangao Realty was in open, continuous, exclusive and notorious possession of the lands for 30 years
Applicant failed to prove specific acts showing the nature of its possession and that of its predecessors in interest. "The applicant must present specific acts of ownership to substantiate the claim and cannot just offer general statements which are mere conclusions of law than factual evidence of possession." "Actual possession of land consists in the manifestation of acts of dominion over it of such a nature as a party would naturally exercise over his own property."

In other words, facts constituting possession must be duly established by competent evidence.

Hence, the application for registration of the properties must be denied. (Ruled in favor of the Republic.)

Reference:
GR. No. 130174 July 14, 2000
REPUBLIC OF THE PHILIPPINES, petitioner, 
vs. COURT OF APPEALS AND TABANGAO REALTY, INC., represented by Rodolfo Perez, respondents.
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Lasquite Vs. Victory Hills

By With No comments:
Facts:

  • 1971: Jose Manahan executed a Deed of Quitclaim or Assignment of Rights in over a parcel of land in favor of Conrado Lasquite. 
  • Lasquite applied for a Free Patent over the lot. Pending the approval of the application, he sold 1/2 of the land to Juanito Andrade. 
  • Upon the grant of the patent application, OCTs were issued in their names.
  • 1983: Prescillas filed a protest with the Bureau of Lands to question the grant of free patent in favor of Lasquite and Andrade claiming that they have been in possession of the lot since 1940. 
  • Prescillas also instituted a case for reconveyance alleging that Lasquite forged the signature of Jose Manahan in the deed since Manahan died prior to its execution.
  • The Manahans filed complaint for annulment of title, reconveyance and damages.
  • Claiming to be the owner of the lot (OCT 380) which was allegedly registered in 1937 to to Jose Manahan by virtue of Homestead Patent, Victory Hills filed a motion to intervene.
  • RTC upheld the title of Lasquite and Andrade. It disregarded OCT 380 and ruled that it lacked the signature of the Secretary of Agriculture and Commerce which is a requirement for the patent's validity. 
  • The CA reversed the RTC's ruling and declared victory Hills as the Absolute owner of the lot.

Issues: 
1. WON Victory Hills is entitled to reconveyance of the lot since their Homestead Patent cannot be simply defeated by the subsequent grant of Free Patent to Lasquite and Andrade.
2. WON the claim of Victoria Hills had prescribed.


Held:

1. No. To give OCT No. 380 probative value in court would be to allow variance or an evasion or circumvention of the requirement laid down in Section 105 of Act No. 2874. We are thus warned that any title sourced from the flawed OCT No. 380 could be void. On this basis, we are justified to consider with great care any claims derived therefrom.

The established legal principle in actions for annulment or reconveyance of title is that a party seeking it should establish not merely by a preponderance of evidence but by clear and convincing evidence that the land sought to be reconveyed is his. It is rather obvious from the foregoing disquisition that respondent failed to dispense such burden. Indeed, the records are replete with proof that respondent declared the lots comprising Lot No. 3050 for taxation purposes only after it had instituted the present case in court. This is not to say of course that tax receipts are evidence of ownership, since they are not, albeit they are good indicia of possession in the concept of owner, for no one would ordinarily be paying taxes for a property not in his actual or at least constructive possession.

2. The action has not prescribed.

An action for reconveyance based on an implied trust prescribes in 10 years. The reference point of the 10-year prescriptive period is the date of registration of the deed or the issuance of the title. The prescriptive period applies only if there is an actual need to reconvey the property as when the plaintiff is not in possession of the property. 

However, if the plaintiff, as the real owner of the property also remains in possession of the property, the prescriptive period to recover title and possession of the property does not run against him. In such a case, an action for reconveyance, if nonetheless filed, would be in the nature of a suit for quieting of title, an action that is imprescriptible.

The action assumed the nature of a suit to quiet title; hence, imprescriptible. However, in our view, respondent Victory Hills has failed to show its entitlement to a reconveyance of the land subject of the action.

Reference:
G.R. No. 175375 June 23, 2009
CONRADO O. LASQUITE and TEODORA I. ANDRADE, Petitioners, 
vs. VICTORY HILLS, INC., Respondent.
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June 25, 2014

Macariola vs. Asuncion

By With No comments:
Facts:

  • In 1968, Bernardita R. Macariola charged respondent Judge Elias B. Asuncion of the Court of First Instance of Leyte, now Associate Justice of the Court of Appeals, with "acts unbecoming a judge." 
  • Civil Case No. 3010 of the Court of First Instance of Leyte was a complaint for partition filed by Sinforosa R. Bales, Luz R. Bakunawa, Anacorita Reyes, Ruperto Reyes, Adela Reyes, and Priscilla Reyes, plaintiffs, against Bernardita R. Macariola, defendant, concerning the properties left by the deceased Francisco Reyes, the common father of the plaintiff and defendant. 
  • Judge Asuncion was the hearing judge of the civil case which became final for lack of appeal. 
  • A particular Lot 1184-E was sold on July 31, 1964 to Dr. Arcadio Galapon who was issued transfer certificate of title No. 2338 of the Register of Deeds of the city of Tacloban. The same lot was part of the properties which was decided by Asunsion in civil case no. 3010.
  • On March 6, 1965, Dr. Arcadio Galapon and his wife Sold a portion of Lot 1184-E with an area of around 1,306 sq. meters to Judge Asuncion and his wife, Victoria S. Asuncion, which particular portion was declared by the latter for taxation purposes.
  • On August 31, 1966, spouses Asuncion and spouses Galapon conveyed their respective shares and interest in Lot 1184-E to "The Traders Manufacturing and Fishing Industries Inc.". 
  • At the time of said sale the stockholders of the corporation were Dominador Arigpa Tan, Humilia Jalandoni Tan, Jaime Arigpa Tan, Judge Asuncion, and the latter's wife, Victoria S. Asuncion, with Judge Asuncion as the President and Mrs. Asuncion as the secretary . The Articles of Incorporation of "The Traders Manufacturing and Fishing Industries, Inc." which we shall henceforth refer to as "TRADERS" were registered with the Securities and Exchange Commission only on January 9, 1967. 
  • Complainant Bernardita R. Macariola filed on August 9, 1968 the instant complaint dated August 6, 1968 alleging four causes, to wit: 
[1] that respondent Judge Asuncion violated Article 1491, paragraph 5, of the New Civil Code in acquiring by purchase a portion of Lot No. 1184-E which was one of those properties involved in Civil Case No. 3010 decided by him;
[2] that he likewise violated Article 14, paragraphs I and 5 of the Code of Commerce, Section 3, paragraph H, of R.A. 3019, otherwise known as the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act, Section 12, Rule XVIII of the Civil Service Rules, and Canon 25 of the Canons of Judicial Ethics, by associating himself with the Traders Manufacturing and Fishing Industries, Inc., as a stockholder and a ranking officer while he was a judge of the Court of First Instance of Leyte;
[3] that respondent was guilty of coddling an impostor and acted in disregard of judicial decorum by closely fraternizing with a certain Dominador Arigpa Tan who openly and publicly advertised himself as a practising attorney when in truth and in fact his name does not appear in the Rolls of Attorneys and is not a member of the Philippine Bar; and
[4] that there was a culpable defiance of the law and utter disregard for ethics by respondent Judge. 

Issue: Whether or not Judge Asuncion may acquire property under whom said property has been decided in a civil case. 

Held: Yes. He may acquire the property in question. 

Article 1491. The following persons cannot acquire by purchase, even at a public or judicial action, either in person or through the mediation of another: 
xxx xxx xxx (5) Justices, judges, prosecuting attorneys, clerks of superior and inferior courts, and other officers and employees connected with the administration of justice, the property and rights in litigation or levied upon an execution before the court within whose jurisdiction or territory they exercise their respective functions; this prohibition includes the act of acquiring by assignment and shall apply to lawyers, with respect to the property and rights which may be the object of any litigation in which they may take part by virtue of their profession.

In the case at bar, when the respondent Judge purchased on March 6, 1965 a portion of Lot 1184-E, the decision in Civil Case No. 3010 which he rendered on June 8, 1963 was already final because none of the parties therein filed an appeal within the reglementary period; hence, the lot in question was no longer subject of the litigation. 

Moreover, at the time of the sale on March 6, 1965, respondent's order dated October 23, 1963 and the amended order dated November 11, 1963 approving the October 16, 1963 project of partition made pursuant to the June 8, 1963 decision, had long become final for there was no appeal from said orders. 

Furthermore, respondent Judge did not buy the lot in question on March 6, 1965 directly from the plaintiffs in Civil Case No. 3010 but from Dr. Arcadio Galapon who earlier purchased on July 31, 1964 Lot 1184-E from three of the plaintiffs after the finality of the decision in Civil Case No. 3010. The subsequent sale on August 31, 1966 by spouses Asuncion and spouses Galapon of their respective shares and interest in said Lot 1184-E to the Traders Manufacturing and Fishing Industries, Inc., in which respondent was the president and his wife was the secretary, took place long after the finality of the decision in Civil Case No. 3010 and of the subsequent two aforesaid orders therein approving the project of partition. 

However, it was improper for him to have acquired the same. He should be reminded of Canon 3 of the Canons of Judicial Ethics which requires that: "A judge's official conduct should be free from the appearance of impropriety, and his personal behavior, not only upon the bench and in the performance of judicial duties, but also in his everyday life, should be beyond reproach." 

And as aptly observed by the Investigating Justice: "... it was unwise and indiscreet on the part of respondent to have purchased or acquired a portion of a piece of property that was or had been in litigation in his court and caused it to be transferred to a corporation of which he and his wife were ranking officers at the time of such transfer. One who occupies an exalted position in the judiciary has the duty and responsibility of maintaining the faith and trust of the citizenry in the courts of justice, so that not only must he be truly honest and just, but his actuations must be such as not give cause for doubt and mistrust in the uprightness of his administration of justice.
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June 22, 2014

NPC vs. Ibrahim

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Facts:

  • Ibrahim owns a parcel of land located in Lanao del Norte.
  • In 1978, NAPOCOR took possession of the sub-terrain area of the land and constructed underground tunnels on the said property. 
  • The tunnels were apparently being used by NAPOCOR in siphoning the water of Lake Lanao and in the operation of NAPOCOR’s Agus projects.
  • In 1991, Maruhom (one of the co-heirs of Ibrahim) requested Marawi City Water District for a permit to construct or install a motorized deep well on the parcel of land but it was rejected on the grounds that the construction would cause danger to lives and property by reason of the presence of the underground tunnels.
  • Maruhom demanded NAPOCOR to pay damages and to vacate the sub-terrain portion of the land.

Issue: WON Ibrahim is the rightful owner of the sub-terrain area of the land.
If yes, are they entitled to the payment of just compensation.

Held: YES. The sub-terrain portion of the property belongs to Ibrahim.

The Supreme Court cited Article 437 of the Civil Code which provides that: The owner of a parcel of land is the owner of its surface and of everything under it, and he can construct thereon any works or make any plantations and excavations which he may deem proper, without detriment to servitudes and subject to special laws and ordinances. xxx

Hence, the ownership of land extends to the surface as well as to the subsoil under it. Therefore, Ibrahim owns the property as well as the sub-terrain area of the land where the underground tunnels were constructed.

On the issue of just compensation, the Supreme Court also said that Ibrahim should be paid a just compensation.

Ibrahim could have dug upon their property and built motorized deep wells but was prevented from doing so by the authorities because of the construction of the tunnels underneath the surface of the land.

Ibrahim still had a legal interest in the sub-terrain portion insofar as they could have excavated the same for the construction of the deep wells.  It has been shown that the underground tunnels have deprived the plaintiffs of the lawful use of the land and considerably reduced its value. 

It was held that: If the government takes property without expropriation and devotes the property to public use, after many years, the property owner may demand payment of just compensation in the event restoration of possession is neither convenient nor feasible. This is in accordance with the principle that persons shall not be deprived of their property except by competent authority and for public use and always upon payment of just compensation.

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June 18, 2014

Lee Tek Sheng vs. CA

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Facts:

  • After his mother’s death, petitioner Leoncio Lee Tek Sheng filed a complaint against his father (private respondent) for the partition of the conjugal properties of his parents.
  • The private respondent alleged that the 4 parcels of land registered in petitioner’s name are conjugal properties.
  • The PR contends that the lots were registered under Leoncio’s name only as a trustee because during the registration, Leoncio was the only Filipino in the family.
  • Respondent prayed for the dismissal of the partition case and for the reconveyance of the lots to its rightful owner – the conjugal regime.
  • To protect the interest of the conjugal regime during the pendency of the case, PR caused the annotation of a notice of lis pendens on TCT 8278.
  • Petitioner moved for the cancellation of said annotation but it was denied by RTC on the grounds that: (a) the notice was not for the purpose of molesting or harassing petitioner and (b) also to keep the property within the power of the court pending litigation. CA affirmed the decision. Hence this petition. 
  • Petitioner’s contention: The resolution of an incidental motion for cancellation of the notice of lis pendens was improper to thresh out the issue of ownership of the disputed lots since ownership cannot be passed upon in a partition case and that it would amount to a collateral attack of his title obtained more than 28 years ago.
  • Private respondent’s contention: The evidence of ownership is admissible in a partition case as this is not a probate or land registration proceedings when the court’s jurisdiction is limited. 

Issue: WON the annotation of a notice of lis pendens is valid. 

Held: Yes. 

Petitioner’s claim is not legally tenable. The annotation of a notice of lis pendens does not in any case amount nor can it be considered as equivalent to a collateral attack of the certificate of title for a parcel of land. 

What cannot be collaterally attacked is the certificate of title and not the title. Placing a parcel of land under the mantle of the Torrens system does not mean that ownership thereof can no longer be disputed. Ownership is different from a certificate of title. The TCT is only the best proof of ownership of a piece of land. Besides, the certificate cannot always be considered as conclusive evidence of ownership.

Registration is not the equivalent of title, but is only the best evidence thereof. Title as a concept of ownership should not be confused with the certificate of title as evidence of such ownership although both are interchangeably used. In this case, contrary to petitioner’s fears, his certificate of title is not being assailed by private respondent. What the latter disputes is the former’s claim of sole ownership. Thus, although petitioner’s certificate of title may have become incontrovertible one year after issuance, yet contrary to his argument, it does not bar private respondent from questioning his ownership.

A notice of lis pendens may be cancelled only on two grounds:
(1) if the annotation was for the purpose of molesting the title of the adverse party
(2) when the annotation is not necessary to protect the title of the party who caused it to be recorded. 
Neither ground for cancellation of the notice was convincingly shown to concur in this case. 

It must be emphasized that the annotation of a notice of lis pendens is only for the purpose of announcing “to the whole world that a particular real property is in litigation, serving as a warning that one who acquires an interest over said property does so at his own risk, or that he gambles on the result of the litigation over said property.”

On the contention that ownership cannot be passed upon in partition case, suffice it to say that until and unless ownership is definitely resolved, it would be premature to effect partition of the property. For purposes of annotating a notice of lis pendens, there is nothing in the rules which requires the party seeking annotation to prove that the land belongs to him. Besides, an action for partition is one case where the annotation of a notice of lis pendens is proper.
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June 16, 2014

Lacbayan vs. Samoy

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Facts:

  • Betty Lacbayan (petitioner) and Bayani S. Samoy (respondent) had an illicit relationship. 
  • During their relationship, they, together with three more incorporators, were able to establish a manpower services company.
  • The company acquired five parcels of land were registered in petitioner and respondent’s names, ostensibly as husband and wife.
  • When their relationship turned sour, they decided to divide the said properties and terminate their business partnership by executing a Partition Agreement.
  • Initially, respondent agreed to petitioner’s proposal that the properties in Malvar St. and Don Enrique Heights be assigned to the latter, while the ownership over the three other properties will go to respondent.
  • However, when Lacbayan wanted additional demands to be included in the partition agreement, Samoy refused.
  • Feeling aggrieved, petitioner filed a complaint for judicial partition of the said properties.
  • Petitioner’s contention: She claimed that they started to live together as husband and wife in 1979 without the benefit of marriage and worked together as business partners, acquiring real properties amounting to P15,500,000.00.
  • Respondent’s contention: He purchased the properties using his own personal funds.
  • RTC and CA ruled in favor or respondent. 

Issues:
1. WON an action for partition precludes a settlement on the issue of ownership.
2. Would a resolution on the issue of ownership subject the Torrens title issued over the disputed realties to a collateral attack?

Held: 

1. No.

While it is true that the complaint involved here is one for partition, the same is premised on the existence or non-existence of co-ownership between the parties. Until and unless this issue of co-ownership is definitely and finally resolved, it would be premature to effect a partition of the disputed properties. More importantly, the complaint will not even lie if the claimant, or petitioner in this case, does not even have any rightful interest over the subject properties.

A careful perusal of the contents of the so-called Partition Agreement indicates that the document involves matters which necessitate prior settlement of questions of law, basic of which is a determination as to whether the parties have the right to freely divide among themselves the subject properties.

2. No. 

There is no dispute that a Torrens certificate of title cannot be collaterally attacked, but that rule is not material to the case at bar. What cannot be collaterally attacked is the certificate of title and not the title itself. The certificate referred to is that document issued by the Register of Deeds known as the TCT. In contrast, the title referred to by law means ownership which is, more often than not, represented by that document. 

Moreover, placing a parcel of land under the mantle of the Torrens system does not mean that ownership thereof can no longer be disputed. Mere issuance of the certificate of title in the name of any person does not foreclose the possibility that the real property may be under co-ownership with persons not named in the certificate, or that the registrant may only be a trustee, or that other parties may have acquired interest over the property subsequent to the issuance of the certificate of title. Needless to say, registration does not vest ownership over a property, but may be the best evidence thereof.

Other topic: 

Whether respondent is estopped from repudiating co-ownership over the subject realties.

YES. Petitioner herself admitted that she did not assent to the Partition Agreement after seeing the need to amend the same to include other matters. Petitioner does not have any right to insist on the contents of an agreement she intentionally refused to sign.

Moreover, to follow petitioner’s argument would be to allow respondent not only to admit against his own interest but that of his legal spouse as well, who may also be lawfully entitled co-ownership over the said properties.
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June 7, 2014

10 Best Performing Law School for 2013 Bar Examinations

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May 3, 2014

Bautista vs. Salonga

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Facts: 
- August 27, 1987: President Cory Aquino appointed petitioner Mary Concepcion Bautista as permanent Chairman of the Commission on Human Rights (CHR). 
- December 22, 1988: Bautista took her oath of office to Chief Justice Marcelo Fernan and immediately acted as such.
- January 9, 1989: The Secretary of the Commission on Appointments (CoA) wrote a letter to Bautista requesting for her presence along with several documents at the office of CoA on January 19. Bautista refused to be placed under CoA's review.
- Bautista filed a petition with the Supreme Court. 
- While waiting for the progress of the case, President Aquino appointed Hesiquio R. Mallillin as "Acting Chairman of the Commission on Human Rights" but he was not able to sit in his appointive office because of Bautista's refusal to surrender her post. 
- Malilin invoked EO 163-A which provides that the tenure of the Chairman and the Commissioners of the CHR should be at the pleasure of the President thus stating that Bautista shall be subsequently removed as well. 

Issues:
WON the President's appointment is considered constitutional.
WON or not Bautista's appointment is subject to CoA's confirmation.
WON or not President should extend her appointment on January 14, 1989.

Held:

Sec. 16, Art. VII of the 1987 Constitution provides:
The President shall nominate and, with the consent of the Commission on Appointments, appoint the heads of the executive departments, ambassadors, other public ministers and consuls, or officers of the armed forces from the rank of colonel or naval captain, and other officers whose appointments are vested in him in this Constitution. He shall also appoint all other officers of the Government whose appointments are not otherwise provided for by law, and those whom he may be authorized by law to appoint.

The Congress may, by law, vest the appointment of other officers lower in rank in the President alone, in the courts, or in the heads of the departments, agencies, commissions or boards. The President shall have the power to make appointments during the recess of the Congress, whether voluntary or compulsory, but such appointments shall be effective only until disapproval by the Commission on Appointments or until the next adjournment of the Congress.

The Court held that it is within the authority of the President, vested upon her by the Constitution, that she appoint Executive officials. The second sentence of the provision Section 16, Article VII provides that the President is authorized by law to appoint, without confirmation of CoA, several government officials. The position of Chairman of CHR is not among the positions mentioned in the first sentence of Sec. 16, Art VII of the 1987 Constitution, which provides the appointments which are to be made with the confirmation of CoA. It therefore follows that the appointment of the Chairman of CHR by the President is to be made and finalized even without the review or participation of CoA. Bautista's appointment as the Chairman of CHR, therefore, was already a completed act on the day she took her oath as the appointment was finalized upon her acceptance, expressly stated in her oath.

Furthermore, the Court held that the provisions of EO 163-A is unconstitutional and thus cannot be invoked by Mallillin. The Chairman of CHR cannot be removed at the pleasure of the President for it is constitutionally guaranteed that they must have a term of office.

To hold, as the Court holds, that petitioner Bautista is the lawful incumbent of the office of Chairman of the Commission on Human Rights by virtue of her appointment, as such, by the President on 17 December 1988, and her acceptance thereof, is not to say that she cannot be removed from office before the expiration of her seven (7) year term. She certainly can be removed but her removal must be for cause and with her right to due process properly safeguarded.

It is to the credit of the President that, in deference to the rule of law, after petitioner Bautista had elevated her case to this Tribunal, Her Excellency merely designated an Acting Chairman for the Commission on Human Rights (pending decision in this case) instead of appointing another permanent Chairman. The latter course would have added only more legal difficulties to an already difficult situation.

Petitioner Bautista is declared to be, as she is, the duly appointed Chairman of the Commission on Human Rights and the lawful incumbent thereof, entitled to all the benefits, privileges and emoluments of said office. The temporary restraining order heretofore issued by the Court against respondent Mallillin enjoining him from dismissing or terminating personnel of the Commission on Human Rights is made permanent.

Petition granted.
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