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HEIRS OF ROMANA SAVES (petitioners) v HEIRS OF ESCOLASTICO SAVES (respondents) October 6 2010 | Leonardo-De Castro, J.

Rule 132; Offer & Objection Leigh SUPERFACTS! People sold their shares to a lot to Valencia, who then sold it to Abella. Petitioners claimed that the sale was invalid, and the TC ruled in their favor. The CA, in reversing the TC decision, took into consideration 3 pieces of evidence that the respondents did not formally offer into evidence in the TC. Petitioners now allege that the CA cannot do that! SC however still affirmed the CA. The rules now allow evidence not formally offered to be admitted and considered by the TC provided the following requirements are present: 1) The same must have been duly identified by testimony duly recorded; 2) The same must have been incorporated in the records of the case.

FACTS: - 1921: Several persons filed claims before CFI Negros Oriental for the titling of the respective lots they occupy among them were Severo and Benedicta Chavez, together with Escolastico, Maximo, Romana, Rafaela, and Januaria Saves (Saves siblings!) - The court adjudicating parcels of land to different claimants. One of them was Lot 382, adjudicated to Benedicta, Escolastico, Romana, Rafaela, Januaria and Maximo Saves - Lot 382 was ordered to be registered in the names of Benedicta, Escolastico, sons of Romana (deceased), Rafaela, Januaria, and sons of Maximo (deceased) 1/6 share each!!! - Severo died intestate, leaving his wife Teresa Ramirez and 4 surviving children, and the heirs of his 2 children who predeceased him (the Saves siblings!!!) - BASICALLY: Everyone sold their shares to Guadencia Valencia (wife of Escolastico Saves):
o o o Adelaida and Felicidad Martinez (heirs of Januaria) sold their 1/6 share, evidenced by a public instrument of the notarial register in a Motion for the Issuance of Transfer Certificate of Title Heirs of Romana Saves1 (1/6), sole heir of Rafaela Saves (Pablo Saves Dizon) (1/6), and sole heir of Escolastico Saves (Teodoro Saves) (1/6) executed a Deed of Sale in favor of Valencia (total of 3/6) Benedicta Saves (1/6) and sole heir of Maximo Saves (Marcela Saves) (1/6) via an Absolute Deed of Sale (total of 2/6)

Valencia, now owning all the shares, then initiated the titling of the property under her name in a motion for issuance of TCT, which was issued by the Register of Deeds 1961: Valencia sold the entire property to Enriqueta Chavez Abella. A TCT was issued. 1979: Meleriana Saves wrote to her relatives (petitioners), asking them to verify with the Register of Deeds information pertaining to lot 382, as they were among the heirs entitled to the property (basically saying that they should make claims to the property) 1981: a case for reconveyance and partition was filed by the petitioners, alleging that lot 382 was fraudulently acquired by Valencia, and that she fictitiously sold the lot to her grandchild Abella. TC ruled in favor of petitioners! Declared the deed of sale null and void, and ordered Abella to deliver to petitioners their share of lot 382, which they are entitled to succeed from the shares of their predecessors-in-interest who are the original registered owners of the lot CA ruled in favor of respondents! Declared the TCT in Abellas name as valid. Petitioners: respondents did not formally offer three pieces of evidence (exhibits 7, 8 and 13) at the trial court proceedings. In accordance with Rule 132, sec. 34, the TC did not consider them as evidence. Despite this, the CA allegedly utilized the same as basis for reversing the TCs decision.

ISSUE: Can the CA consider evidence not formally offered in the TC? YES RULING: petition DENIED. CA decision AFFIRMED. HELD: - It is a basic procedural rule that the court shall consider no evidence which has not been formally offered. o A formal offer is necessary because judges are mandated to rest their findings of facts and their judgment only upon the evidence offered by the parties at the trial. It also allows

Sinforosa, Vicente, Felimon, and Proferia Alimayda

opposing parties to examine the evidence and object to its admissibility. It facilitates review as the appellate court will not be required to review documents not previously scrutinized by the trial court. However, this rule was relaxed in People v Napat-a citing People v Mate. It now allows evidence not formally offered to be admitted and considered by the TC provided the following requirements are present: o The same must have been duly identified by testimony duly recorded o The same must have been incorporated in the records of the case. In the present case, these 2 requisites have been satisfactorily complied with for exhibit 7, the document entitled Motion for the Issuance of Transfer Certificate of Title, filed by Gaudencia in the same TC, that led to the issuance of a TCT. o This document was the same document that petitioners witness Fruto Rosario identified in his testimony. It was then incorporated and made part of the records of the case, as a common exhibit of the parties. o That only the petitioners were able to formally offer the said motion does not mean that it can only be considered by the courts for the evidentiary purpose offered by them. It is within the discretion of the courts to determine whether an exhibit indeed serves the probative purpose for which it is offered. Exhibit 13 (the TCT issued to respondent Abella after she bought the lot from Gaudencia) also complies with these requirements. It was identified by Abella during direct examination, and included in the records that was elevated to the CA

Other stuff - An admission (hi admissions!!!), verbal or written, made by a party in the course of the proceedings in the same case, does not require proof. Such admission may be contradicted only by showing that it is made through palpable mistake or that no such admission was made. o Exhibit 13 was known to the petitioners. It was alleged in their appellees brief and petition for review. They even relied upon it in their theory that the sale to Abella was void, because (according to them) it appears from the TCT that Abella was only 9 years old at the time of the transaction. o It is inconsistent for petitioners to claim that exhibit 13 proves its theory and also assail it as inadmissible! - Petitioners also insist that Abella was a purchaser in bad faith for failing to exercise prudence and caution in buying the property in question. o SC: Abella is an innocent purchaser for value in good faith. One who deals with property registered under the Torrens system need not go beyond the same, but only has to rely on the certificates of title. He is charged with notice only of such burdens and claims as are annotated on the certificates. There was no such annotation in the said TCT. o Petitioners also called Abella as a (hostile) witness. She testified that Valencias title was clean when she (Abella) purchased the property. The burden of proof (hi burden of proof!!!) that Abella had notice of any defect in the title of her predecessor lies with the petitioners. o Moreover, the property was in the possession of Valencia! Abella had no legal compulsion to inquire beyond the TCT. Petitioners were never in possession of the property! Nor did they think they were entitled to the fruits of the property, not until co-petitioner Meleriana wrote to them about the possibility of having a claim to the property! - Petitioners also claim that the deeds of sale executed in favor of Valencia were void. o SC: Abella had no participation in the execution of these documents, which were signed when she was very young. Like any stranger to said transactions, it was reasonable for Abella to assume that these public documents were what they purport to be on their face in the absence of any circumstance to lead her to believe otherwise. - CA also correctly held that the petitioners are barred from asserting their claims over the property because of estoppel by laches (the failure to assert a right for an unreasonable and unexplained length of time). o Petitioners and their predecessors-in-interest did not oppose the sale of the property (which was in 1961) until 1981 (34 years from Valencias acquisition!)