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Secuya v. Vda de Selma (2000) Petitioner: Benigna Secuya (and other Secuyas) Respondent: Gerarda Vda. De Selma Ponente: Panganiban, J.

Doctrine: Although there is no form required for a sale to be valid, a sale pertaining to land must be registered in the Registry of Property. If it was not, and that it was only a private document, then the sale is valid as to only the contracting parties, but not to 3 rd parties.

Short Version: Maxima partitioned her land and sold it. Secuya eventually held possession of the land and cultivated it. Wh en he died, his siblings inherited it. A certain Selma came a long and bought a partition of the Maxima’s land. In Selma’s title, t he land in the possession of the Secuyas was within the boundary bought by Selma. Selma now asserts ownership over the land a nd files a case of quieting of title. SC says in this case, Selma is the owner because of the strength of his title.

Maxima Caballero owned a land. She partitioned the land and executed a deed selling 1/3 of the land to Pacencia Sabellona.

o Pacencia took possession of the parted 1/3 portion.

Dalmacio Secuya bought the land from Pacenciaby means of a private document which was lost.

o

Such sale was confirmed by Ramon Sabellona, the only heir of Pacienca.

o

Pursuant to Pacencia’s will, Ramos inherited all Pacencia’s properties.

Anyway, after Secuya bought the land, Secuya took possession of the land and cultivated it.

A certain Edilberto Superales married Secuya’s neice.

o With Secuya’s tolerance, Superales was able to build his house on the land and continuously lived there.

Eventually, Secuya died. Being single, his brothers and sisters took physical possession of the land.

Then, a certain Selma bought a portion of Lot 5679. The land in the Secuyas’ possession was a portion of Lot 5679 and is included within the boundary of what Selma acquired.

Selma is now asserting ownership over the land on the strength of his title.

RTC-Cebu decided in favor of Selma.

CA affirmed.

Issue: Does the land belong to Selma?

Held: Yes.

Ratio:

There is strength in his title.

Since this is an action for quieting of title, it must first be established if the Secuyas have the requisite title that would enable them to avail of the remedy of quieting of title.

The Secuyas contest their claim on the basis of 2 documents:

o

the Agreement of Partition executed by Maxima Caballero and Paciencia Sabellona, and

o

The Deed of Confirmation of Sale executed by Ramon Sabellona.

Re: Partition

Upon closer look, the SC says this Agreement is not one of partition, because there was no property to partition, and the parties in the contract are not co-owners.

This is one in the nature of a trust agreement.

o

Trust is the right to the beneficial enjoyment of property, while the legal title to land is vested in another.

o

Caballero merely entrusted the portion specified to Sabellona.

o

It therefore does not constitute a title.

Since this is a trust agreement, it can be repudiated.

This (right to) repudiation does not expire, and was therefore exercised by the heirs of Caballeros, when they sold the land to a 3 rd party buyer (Selma).

Re: Sale

Secuyas contest that there was a sale, but allege that the contract had been lost.

SC says that although there is no form required for a sale to be valid, a sale such as this (one pertaining to land) must be registered in the Registry of Property.

If it was not, and that it was only a private document, then the sale is valid as to only the contracting parties, but not to 3 rd parties, like Selma in this case.

Decision affirmed.