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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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