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September 23, 2016

Spouses Paragas vs. Heirs of Balacano

Facts:
  • Gregorio Balacano, married to Lorenza Sumigcay, was the registered owner of Lot 1175-E and Lot 1175-F of the Subd. Plan Psd-38042 [located at Baluarte, Santiago City, Isabela].
  • Gregorio and Lorenza had three children, namely: Domingo, Catalino and Alfredo, all surnamed Balacano. 
  • Lorenza died on December 11, 1991. Gregorio, on the other hand, died on July 28, 1996. Petitioners were the grandchildren of Gregorio. 
  • Prior to his death, Gregorio was admitted at the Veterans General Hospital in Bayombong, Nueva Vizcaya on June 28, 1996 and stayed there until July 19, 1996. He was transferred in the afternoon of July 19, 1996 to the Veterans Memorial Hospital in Quezon City where he was confined until his death. 
  • Respondents essentially alleged – in asking for the nullification of the deed of sale – that: (1) their grandfather Gregorio could not have appeared before the notary public on July 22, 1996 at Santiago City because he was then confined at the Veterans Memorial Hospital in Quezon City; (2) at the time of the alleged execution of the deed of sale, Gregorio was seriously ill, in fact dying at that time, which vitiated his consent to the disposal of the property; and (3) Catalino (uncle) manipulated the execution of the deed and prevailed upon the dying Gregorio to sign his name on a paper the contents of which he never understood because of his serious condition. 
  • Alternatively, they alleged that assuming Gregorio was of sound and disposing mind, he could only transfer a half portion of Lots 1175-E and 1175-F as the other half belongs to their grandmother Lorenza who predeceased Gregorio – they claimed that Lots 1175-E and 1175-F form part of the conjugal partnership properties of Gregorio and Lorenza. 
  • Finally, they alleged that the sale to the Spouses Paragas covers only a 5-hectare portion of Lots 1175-E and 1175-F leaving a portion of 6,416 square meters that Catalino is threatening to dispose. They asked for the nullification of the deed of sale executed by Gregorio and the partition of Lots 1175-E and 1175-F. 
  • The defendants-appellees denied the material allegations of the complaint. Additionally, they claimed that: (1) the deed of sale was actually executed by Gregorio on July 19 (or 18), 1996 and not July 22, 1996; (2) the Notary Public personally went to the Hospital in Bayombong, Nueva Vizcaya on July 18, 1996 to notarize the deed of sale already subject of a previously concluded covenant between Gregorio and the Spouses Paragas; (3) at the time Gregorio signed the deed, he was strong and of sound and disposing mind; (4) Lots 1175-E and 1175-F were Gregorio’s separate capital and the inscription of Lorenza’s name in the titles was just a description of Gregorio’s marital status; (5) the entire area of Lots 1175-E and 1175-F were sold to the Spouses Paragas. 


Issues:Whether or not Gregorio has executed a perfected Deed of Sale. NO

Ruling: Gregorio’s consent was absent in the execution of the Deed of Sale. 

It is not disputed that when Gregorio signed the deed of sale, Gregorio was seriously ill, as he in fact died a week after the deed’s signing. Gregorio died of complications caused by cirrhosis of the liver. Gregorio’s death was neither sudden nor immediate; he fought at least a month-long battle against the disease until he succumbed to death on July 22, 1996. Given that Gregorio purportedly executed a deed during the last stages of his battle against his disease, we seriously doubt whether Gregorio could have read, or fully understood, the contents of the documents he signed or of the consequences of his act. We note in this regard that Gregorio was brought to the Veteran’s Hospital at Quezon City because his condition had worsened on or about the time the deed was allegedly signed. This transfer and fact of death not long after speak volumes about Gregorio’s condition at that time. We likewise see no conclusive evidence that the contents of the deed were sufficiently explained to Gregorio before he affixed his signature. 

Article 24 of the Civil Code tells us that in all contractual, property or other relations, when one of the parties is at a disadvantage on account of his moral dependence, ignorance, indigence, mental weakness, tender age or other handicap, the courts must be vigilant for his protection. 

In the case at bar, the Deed of Sale was allegedly signed by Gregorio on his death bed in the hospital. Gregorio was an octogenarian at the time of the alleged execution of the contract and suffering from liver cirrhosis at that – circumstances which raise grave doubts on his physical and mental capacity to freely consent to the contract.

Citation:
  • G.R. No. 168220
  • August 31, 2005
  • SPS. RUDY PARAGAS and CORAZON B. PARAGAS, petitioners, vs. HRS. OF DOMINADOR BALACANO, namely: DOMINIC, RODOLFO, NANETTE and CYRIC, all surnamed BALACANO, represented by NANETTE BALACANO and ALFREDO BALACANO, respondents.

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