Add TAGS to your cases to easily locate them or to build your SYLLABUS.
Please SIGN IN to use this feature.
Highlight text as FACTS, ISSUES, RULING, PRINCIPLES to generate case DIGESTS and REVIEWERS.
Please LOGIN use this feature.
Show printable version with highlights
19 Phil. 145

[ G.R. No. 6276, March 21, 1911 ]




This is an appeal from a decree entered in the Court of Land Registration in a  proceeding wherein the  appellants sought to have title to the land  described in the application adjudicated in  their  favor  and a decree entered for its registry.

The applicants are the widow and minor  children of one Simon  Tecson,  deceased, and  claim title to the  land in question under a deed of sale to him from Eduvigis Manikis, widow of Estanislao G. Cruz, deceased.

The objectors,  who opposed the registry of the land in favor of the applicants in the court below, claim title to an undivided one-half interest in the land,  as  the sole heirs of Estanislao C. Cruz, deceased, through his  brother Pedro C. Cruz, deceased, their common ancestor.

It was  satisfactorily  proven,  and,  indeed,  practically agreed in the court below  that the land  in question was originally  public land, conveyed to Estanislao C. Cruz, deceased,  by Government  grant in the year  1886; that it thereafter became the communal property of Estanislao C. Cruz and his wife, Eduvigis Manikis; that after the death of Estanislao C. Cruz, his widow executed a deed of sale of the land on the 19th of May, 1896, to Simon Tecson, deceased, the husband  and  father, respectively, of the applicants, and that from that date to the date of the filing of the  application in this  proceeding,  December  2,  1908  (a period of more than ten  years' duration), Tecson and  the appellants have successively been in quiet, peaceable and uninterrupted possession, under a  claim of ownership.

It was further practically agreed and satisfactorily proven in the court below, that at the time of the death of Estanislao C. Cruz, his estate and his widow  were each  entitled to an undivided one-half interest in the land in question, it being a part of the bienes gananciales (communal property); that the  objectors in this proceeding are the  legitimate heirs of the estate of Estanislao C. Cruz, and his  only  heirs, if it be a fact that Pedro C. Cruz (the brother of Estanislao C. Cruz, through whom they claim their right of inheritance) was  lawfully married to  Petra, his alleged wife; but that if  Pedro C. Cruz and Petra were not lawfully married then the land in question, as a part of  the estate  of  Estanislao C. Cruz, went, at his death, to his widow, in accordance with the laws touching the distribution of intestate estates.

The applicants contend  that the evidence does not sustain a finding that Pedro C. Cruz and  Petra, his  alleged wife, were lawfully married; and that even if it be granted that they were, and  that the objectors are the lawful  heirs of Estanislao C. Cruz, through his brother Pedro C. Cruz, nevertheless, the admitted occupation of the land in question for a period of more than ten years, under a claim of ownership, based on the deed of sale executed by  the widow of Estanislao Ci Cruz, establishes a prescriptive title, valid even against the heirs of the estate of her deceased  husband.

The court below found against the applicants  on both contentions, and was of opinion that they are entitled to but an  undivided  one-half interest in  the land in question, that being all that the widow owned at the time when she executed the deed of sale.  We think that the opinion of the trial judge in this regard must be sustained.

We have carefully examined the evidence of record touching the marriage of Pedro C. Cruz and Petra, his wife, and we agree with the trial judge that the evidence upon which the applicants attempt to raise a question  as  to its legality is of the flimsiest character, and wholly insufficient to justify us in holding that the trial court erred in finding the existence of a lawful marriage.  True, the evidence in support of the marriage (and we might here  add  of  the birth and baptism of the offspring therefrom) lacks  the confirmation which would be furnished by duly authenticated copies of the  pertinent extract from the  parish  registers  (libros canonicos) of the church  of San Rafael,  in  the Province of Bulacan, wherein it is alleged the formal record of these events was  kept,  but we think that the other evidence of record satisfactorily establishes, the fact of the marriage, and further establishes the legitimacy of the alleged offspring therefrom.  This  evidence was  properly  taken into consideration by the trial court, not only because no objection was offered to its introduction in the  court below  but also because it appears from the record that the parish registers, wherein it was alleged the above  mentioned entries were made, have been destroyed.  (Chua Soco vs. Veloso, 2 Phil. Rep., 658; Loper  vs. Standard Oil Co., 5  Phil. Rep., 549; City of Manila vs. Cabangis, 10 Phil. Rep., 151; Boiler vs. Alcazar, 13  Phil. Rep., 282; Marella vs. Reyes, 12  Phil. Rep., 1.)

Under the provisions of article 1950 of the Civil Code a prescriptive title to real estate is not acquired by the mere possession thereof, under a claim of ownership, for a period of ten years, unless it was originally acquired "con justo titulo y buena fe"  (with color  of  title  and good faith). Good faith,  in this connection,  while it is always to be presumed in the absence of proof to the contrary, requires a  well-founded belief that  the  person  from whom  title was received was himself the owner .of the land, with the right to convey it.   In the case at bar, it affirmatively appears that Simon Tecson, through whom applicants claim title, was well aware  that  the  widow, Eduvigis Manikis, was only entitled in her own right to an undivided one-half interest in the land in question at the time of her husband's death, and that this  other undivided one-half interest was the property of her deceased husband's estate, and, as such, of his heirs; it also appears that, although the fact  that the Government grant of the land in question was made to and in the name  of Estanislao C. Cruz was well known to Tecson, the original title deeds having been delivered to him when he purchased the land from the widow, nevertheless he took from his vendor a deed which  falsely makes it appear that the grant had been made to the widow herself, this false recital  manifestly having  for its object the  concealment of the fact that the vendor was entitled, in her own right, to only an undivided one-half interest in  the  land conveyed; and it further appears that some, if not all, of the heirs of the estate  of the deceased husband were living in the vicinity wherein the transaction took place, and could hardly fail to have been known as such to the purchaser of the land had he made reasonable inquiry to  satisfy himself as to their existence or nonexistence.   Under these circumstances we think that the finding of the lower court against the existence of good faith in the original purchase - that is to say, of a well-founded belief that the vendor was the owner of all the land which she undertook to sell him, and had the right to convey it - must be sustained.

The trial court, however, having properly found that the appellants are only entitled to an undivided one-half interest in the land in question, and that the objectors (opositores) are entitled to the remaining undivided  one-half interest therein, thereupon improperly directed the registry of the land as the property of both the applicants  and the objectors in the proportions indicated.  Under the provisions of section 19 of the Land Registration Act, which requires "That one or more tenants claiming undivided shares less than a fee simple in the whole land described in the application shall not make application except jointly with  the other tenant owning undivided shares, so that the whole fee shall be represented in the action;" and under our ruling in the case of Tecson vs. Corporacion de los PP. Dominicos, decided March 16, 1911[1] (with which compare Foss vs. Atkins, 201 Mass., 158; Id., 204 Mass.,  337), wherein we  held that under the general provisions of the Act, the court has no jurisdiction to decree the registry of title in favor of an objector  (opositor); it is quite clear that the application  should have been dismissed,  without prejudice to  the  right of the various owners of the  undivided interests in the land, jointly to present a new application for registry.

Twenty days hereafter judgment will be entered reversing the decree entered in the lower court without costs to either party in this instance, and ten days thereafter the record will be returned to the court below where the proper decree will be entered in accordance herewith.  It is  so ordered.

Arellano, C. J., Mapa, Moreland, and Trent, JJ.,  concur.

[1] Page 79, supra.