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G.R. No.

175073 August 15, 2011


ESTATE OF MARGARITA D. CABACUNGAN, rerese!te" #$ %U& %AIGO'
A%I, Petitioner,
vs.
MARI%OU %AIGO, (EDRO RO) %AIGO, STE%%A BA%AGOT *!" S(OUSES
MARIO B. CAM(OS AND +U%IA S. CAM(OS, Respondents.
FACTS,
It appears that sometime in 1969, Roberto applied for a tourist visa for the United
States. However, in order to qualif, Roberto had to prove that he owned real
properties. Roberto as!ed his mother, "ar#arita, to help him b transferrin# her
ta$ de%larations over the above&mentioned properties in his name. "ar#arita
obli#ed, e$e%utin# a 'ransferor(s )ffidavit in favor of Roberto. 'he transfer was
made without the !nowled#e of "ar#arita(s other %hildren. )rmed of su%h
ownership, Roberto su%%eeded in a%quirin# a visa. Roberto then left for the
United States but returned in due time.
*n +ebruar 19,9, Roberto married -stela .ala#ot in )rin#a /a Union.
*n 0ul 16, 1992, Roberto sold the 3,421 square meters land in .a%%uit,.auan#,
/a Union to spouses "ario and 0ulia 5ampos for P 16,222.22 without the
!nowled#e or %onsent of "ar#arita and her other %hildren.
*n )u#ust 16, 1991, Roberto li!ewise sold the 1,976 and 6,343 square meters
land to his adopted %hildren, "arilou and Pedro /ai#o, for in %onsideration of p
122,222.22 and P 32,222.22, respe%tivel, a#ain without the !nowled#e or
%onsent of "ar#arita and her other %hildren.
*n )u#ust 14, 1994, Roberto died. 8urin# his wa!e, "ar#arita learned of the
surreptitious sale of the properties b Roberto, promptin# "ar#arita to file a
%omplaint for annulment of sale of real propert, re%over of ownership and
possession and %an%ellation of 'a$ 8e%larations with dama#es a#ainst the
spouses 5ampos, "arilou and Pedro.
"ar#arita %laimed that the transfer of the properties to Roberto was not Intended
to divest her of ownership the properties9 that the sale is null and void as Roberto
had no ri#ht to sell the properties. "ar#arita also alle#ed that the sale is merel
fi%titious or simulated, the %onsideration for the alle#ed sale bein# #rossl
inadequate and done in evident bad faith.
"arilou and Pedro on the other hand, %ountered that when the a%quired the
sub:e%t properties from Roberto, there was no le#al infirmit in the ownership of
Roberto and that th were inno%ent pur%hasers for value. Sin%e "ar#arita was
alread barred b la%hes and pres%ription.
*n +ebruar 26, 1999, "ar#arita and spouses 5ampos entered into %ompromise
a#reement . 'hus, the %ase a#ainst the spouses 5ampos was dismissed while
the %ase a#ainst "arilou and Pedro remained. *n +ebruar 23,1999, "ar#arita
died and was substituted b siblin#s of Roberto.
DECISION OF RTC
*n +ebruar 7, 1999, the trial %ourt rendered a Partial 8e%ision approvin# the
%ompromise a#reement and dismissin# the %omplaint a#ainst the Spouses
5ampos. +orthwith, trial on the merits ensued with respe%t to Pedro and "arilou.
*n 0ul 21, 1221,the %ourt rendered :ud#ment dismissin# the %omplaint in favor
of respondents "arilou and Pedro.
'he trial %ourt ruled that the 1967 )ffidavit of 'ransfer operated as a simple
transfer of the sub:e%t properties from "ar#arita to Roberto. It found no e$press
trust %reated between Roberto and "ar#arita b virtue merel of the said
do%ument as there was no eviden%e of another do%ument showin# Roberto(s
underta!in# to return the sub:e%t properties. Interestin#l, it %on%luded that,
instead, an ;implied or %onstru%tive trust; was %reated between the parties, as if
affirmin# that there was indeed an a#reement < albeit unwritten < to have the
properties returned to "ar#arita in due time.
"oreover, the trial %ourt surmised how "ar#arita %ould have failed to re%over the
sub:e%t properties from Roberto at an time between 1967, followin# the
e$e%ution of the )ffidavit of 'ransfer, and Roberto(s return from the United States
shortl thereafter.
+indin# "ar#arita #uilt of la%hes b su%h ina%tion, the trial %ourt barred
re%over from respondents who were found to have a%quired the properties
supposedl in #ood faith and for value. It also pointed out that re%over %ould no
lon#er be pursued in this %ase be%ause "ar#arita had li!ewise e$hausted the
ten&ear pres%riptive period for re%onvean%e based on an implied trust whi%h
had %ommen%ed to run in 1967 upon the e$e%ution of the )ffidavit of 'ransfer.
+inall, it emphasi=ed that mere inadequa% of the pri%e as alle#ed would not be
a suffi%ient #round to annul the sales in favor of Pedro and "arilou absent an
defe%t in %onsent.
DECISION OF COURT OF A((EA%S
)##rieved, petitioner appealed to the 5ourt of )ppeals whi%h, on *%tober 16,
1226, affirmed the trial %ourt(s disposition. 'he appellate %ourt dismissed
petitioner(s %laim that Roberto was merel a trustee of the sub:e%t properties as
there was no eviden%e on re%ord supportive of the alle#ation that Roberto merel
borrowed the properties from "ar#arita upon his promise to return the same on
his arrival from the United States. +urther, it hpothesi=ed that #rantin# the
e$isten%e of an implied trust, still "ar#arita(s a%tion thereunder had alread been
%ir%ums%ribed b la%hes.
5uriousl, while the appellate %ourt had found no implied trust relation in the
transa%tion between "ar#arita and Roberto, nevertheless, it held that the ten&
ear pres%riptive period under )rti%le 1133 of the 5ivil 5ode, in relation to an
implied trust %reated under )rti%le 1346, had alread been e$hausted b
"ar#arita be%ause her %ause of a%tion had a%%rued wa ba%! in 19679 and that
while la%hes and pres%ription as defenses %ould have availed a#ainst Roberto,
the same would be unavailin# a#ainst Pedro and "arilou be%ause the latter were
supposedl buers in #ood faith and for value.
DECISION OF SU(REME COURT
*n *%tober 16, 1226 de%ision of 5ourt of )ppeals affirms the 0ul 21,1221
:ud#ment of the Re#ional 'rial 5ourt. >here 5ivil 5ase ?o. 1261&.@, is reversed
and set aside, and a new one is entered dire%tin# the %an%ellation of the ta$
de%larations %overin# the sub:e%t properties in the name of Roberto d. /ai#o and
his transferees, nullifin# the deeds of sale e$e%uted b Roberto 8. /ai#o in favor
of respondents Pedro Ro /ai#o and "arilou /ai#o, and dire%tin# said
respondents to e$e%ute re%onvean%e in favor of petitioner.
ISSUES,
1. >hether or not the trial %ourt erred in rulin# that "ar#arita was #uilt of
la%hes for her failure to re%over the propert durin# her lifetime after her
son, Roberto(s lips were sealed.
1. >hether or not the trial %ourt erred in rulin# that "ar#arita(s a%tion to
re%over the said properties pres%ribed after the lapse of the A12B ears
from the time of transfer b "ar#arita to Roberto in 1967.
6. >hether or not the trial %ourt erred in holdin# that the petitioner failed to
rebut the presumption of #ood faith.
-E%D,
'he petitioner %ontends that sin%e la%hes si#nif the absen%e of an effort to
assert a ri#ht for a prolon#ed period of time, it %annot appl to "ar#arita sin%e
she %ontinued to par real estate ta$es on the properties until Roberto(s demise9
that she retained phsi%al,a%tual,open, and %ontinuous possession and
ownership over the properties until her demise on +ebruar 23,1999. 'hus, she
%ontinued to e$er%ise a%ts of ownership over the properties. /a%hes as a rule of
equit, %annot find appli%ation in the instant %ase where "ar#arita never showed
si#ns of total abandonment of the propert, but on the %ontrar e$erted %omplete
and un%ontrovertible a%ts of ownership.
/a%hes, bein# rooted in equit, is not alwas to be applied stri%tl in a wa that
would obliterate an otherwise valid %laim espe%iall between blood relatives. 'he
e$isten%e of a %onfidential relationship based upon %onsan#uinit is an important
%ir%umstan%e for %onsideration9 hen%e, the do%trine is not to be applied
me%hani%all as between near relatives.Adaza v. Court of Appeals held that the
relationship between the parties therein, who were siblin#s, was suffi%ient to
e$plain and e$%use what would otherwise have been a lon# dela in enfor%in#
the %laim and the dela in su%h situation should not be as stri%tl %onstrued as
where the parties are %omplete stran#ers vis-a-vis ea%h other9 thus, relian%e b
one part upon his blood relationship with the other and the trust and %onfiden%e
normall %onnoted in our %ulture b that relationship should not be ta!en a#ainst
him. 'oo, Sotto v. Teves ruled that the do%trine of la%hes is not stri%tl applied
between near relatives, and the fa%t that the parties are %onne%ted b ties of
blood or marria#e tends to e$%use an otherwise unreasonable dela.
'he petitioner %laims that the %ourt a quo erred in applin# the ten A12B ear
pres%riptive period for a%tions to re%over propert based on implied trust. 'he
%ourt a quo overloo!ed the rule that an a%tion for re%onvean%e of title based on
brea%h of fidu%iar relations andC or fraud should be filed within four A3B ears
from the time of dis%over of the fraud, %itin# "i#uel vs 5), 19 S5R) ,62.
'he petitioner faults the %ourt for upholdin# respondent(s #ood faith, insistin# that
as members of the famil, respondents were presumed to have !nown
"ar#arita(s ownership, this %laim must fail as no eviden%e has been addu%ed to
show that "ar#arita or an of her %hildren had informed respondents as to
"ar#arita(s ownership or the truth behind the 'ransferor(s affidavit e$e%uted b
mar#arita in favor of Roberto. It is worth notin# that the transfer was e$e%uted in
196,, lon# before respondent(s formal adoption b Roberto in 19,9. 'hus, the
are deemed i#norant of the said transa%tion, unless it is proven otherwise.
Petitioner also harps on the #ross inadequa% of the pri%e, alle#edl %onfirmin#
that the sale was fi%titious or simulated. However, it %on%urs with the %ourt a quo
in holdin# that %onsideration, thou#h #rossl inadequate, %annot invalidate a sale
absent a showin# of a defe%t in %onsent. Settled is the rule that hardness of the
bar#ain or the inadequa% of the pri%e is not suffi%ient #round for the %an%ellation
of a %ontra%t otherwise free from invalidatin# defe%ts.