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[G.R. No. 125339. June 22, 1998]

PACIONE and LERMA B. PACIONE, Respondents.

This petition for review seeks the reversal of the decision of respondent Court of
Appeals of 16 January 1996 in CA-G.R. CV Case No. 37273, "Cresencia Cristobal,
et al. v. Cesar Ledesma, Inc., et al.," [1] which affirmed in toto the decision of the RTCBr. 81, Quezon City,[2] dismissing herein petitioners complaint for easement of right of
way, and the Resolution of 14 June 1996 denying their motion for reconsideration.
Petitioners own a house and lot situated at No. 10 Visayas Avenue Extension,
Quezon City, where they have been residing from 1961 to the present. Respondent
Cesar Ledesma, Inc., on the other hand, is the owner of a subdivision at Barrio
Culiat along Visayas Avenue which once included the disputed residential lots, Lot 1
and Lot 2, with areas of 164 square meters and 52 square
meters, respectively, located adjacent to petitioners property. Lots 1 and 2 were
originally part of a private road known as Road Lot 2 owned exclusively by Cesar
Ledesma, Inc. Petitioners were using Road Lot 2 in going to and from the nearest
public road. When Visayas Avenue became operational as a national road in 1979,
Cesar Ledesma, Inc., filed a petition before the RTC of Quezon City to be allowed to
convert Road Lot 2 into residential lots. [3] The petition was granted, hence, Road Lot
2 was converted into residential lots designated as Lot 1 and Lot 2. Subsequently,
Cesar Ledesma, Inc., sold both lots to Macario Pacione in whose favor Transfer
Certificates of Title were correspondingly issued. In turn, Macario Pacione conveyed
the lots to his son and daughter-in-law, respondent spouses Jesus and Lerma
When the Pacione spouses, who intended to build a house on Lot 1, visited the
property in 1987, they found out that the lot was occupied by a squatter named
Juanita Geronimo and a portion was being used as a passageway by petitioners to
and from Visayas Avenue. Accordingly, the spouses complained about the intrusion
into their property to the Barangay Office. At the barangay conciliation proceeding,
petitioners offered to pay for the use of a portion of Lot 1 as passageway but the

Pacione spouses rejected the offer. When the parties failed to arrive at an amicable
settlement, the spouses started enclosing Lot 1 with a concrete fence.
Petitioners protested the enclosure alleging that their property was bounded on
all sides by residential houses belonging to different owners and had no adequate
outlet and inlet to Visayas Avenue except through the property of the Paciones. As
their protests went unheeded, petitioners instituted an action for easement of right of
way with prayer for the issuance of a temporary restraining order (TRO).
On 3 June 1987 the trial court issued a TRO directing the Pacione spouses to
cease and desist from fencing the disputed property. The Paciones objected arguing
that petitioners were not entitled to a TRO since they showed no valid basis for its
issuance, and that petitioners had no cause of action against respondents because
there were actually two (2) accessible outlets and inlets - a pathway right in front of
their gate leading towards an asphalted 5-meter road to the left, and across an open
space to the right adjacent to respondents lot likewise leading to Visayas Avenue.
At the instance of the parties, the trial court ordered an ocular inspection of the
property. A Board of Commissioners was constituted for that purpose composed of
representatives chosen by the parties, with Deputy Sheriff Florencio D. Dela Cruz,
Jr., as representative of the court.
On 3 January 1990 Deputy Sheriff Dela Cruz, Jr., submitted his Report [4] relative
to the ocular inspection on the litigated lots -

x x x there is another way from the Visayas Ave. to the plaintiffs lot existing
at the time of the ocular inspection. Plaintiffs can use the street originating
from Visayas Avenue, identified as Ma. Elena St., which is about 2.5 m. in
width and about 150 m. in length up to an intersection, meeting a private
road, which is about 100 meters in length, that ends at the lower portion of
the right side of the adjacent vacant lot previously identified, and at the
back of a lot with concrete fence located at the back of the plaintiffs
property. From that point the plaintiff must enter the adjacent vacant lot
(entry to the said lot is still possible during the ocular inspection because
the barbed wires were not properly placed) to reach a gate at the side of
the plaintiffs lot, about 16 m. from the end of the private road, allegedly
used by the plaintiffs before the adjacent lot was enclosed by barbed wires.
According to Atty. Mendoza, counsel for the defendants, that gate no longer
exist(ed) at the time of the ocular inspection.
As may be observed from the above report, only one outlet was indicated by
Sheriff Dela Cruz, Jr. The other outlet across an open space to the right referred to
by the Pacione spouses was not reflected thereon. However, on the basis of the
report as well as the testimonial and documentary evidence of the parties, the trial
court dismissed the complaint holding that one essential requisite of a legal
easement of right of way was not proved, i.e., the absence of an alternative
adequate way or outlet to a public highway, in this case, Visayas Avenue. [5]
Petitioners appealed to the Court of Appeals arguing that the trial court erred in
finding that they failed to sufficiently establish the essential fact that from their
property no adequate outlet or access to a public highway existed; and, that the

conversion of the Road Lot into two (2) residential lots by Cesar Ledesma, Inc., was
violative of PD No. 957, hence illegal, and the titles issued as a consequence of the
conversion were null and void.
On 16 January 1996 the Court of Appeals rendered its assailed decision
affirming the findings of the trial court -

The burden of proving the existence of the requisites of easement of right

of way lies on the owner of the dominant estate. In the case at bar, plaintiffappellants failed to prove that there is no adequate outlet from their
property to a public highway. Convenience of the dominant estate is not a
gauge for the grant of compulsory right of way. The true standard for the
grant of the legal right is adequacy. Hence, when there is already an
existing adequate outlet from the dominant estate to a public highway, as in
this case, even if the outlet, for one reason or another, be inconvenient, the
need to open up another servitude is entirely unjustified. To justify the
imposition of an easement of right of way, there must be real, not fictitious
or artificial necessity for it. A right of way is legally demandable, but the
owner of the dominant estate is not at liberty to impose one based
on arbitrarychoice. Art. 650 of the Civil Code provides for the criteria in the
establishment of such easement but it has been settled that the criterion of
least prejudicial prevails over shortest distance. Each case must be
weighed according to its individual merits and judged according to the
sound discretion of the court (Costabella Corporation v. Court of Appeals,
G.R. No. 80511, 193 SCRA 333 [1991]).
The second assigned error has no legal leg to stand on since plaintiffappellants cannot just introduce a new issue to an already settled one,
especially for the first time on appeal.
Their motion for reconsideration having been denied, petitioners now come to us
with the following assignment of errors: First, the Court of Appeals erred in applying
the doctrine in Costabella, considering that in the instant case the four (4) requisites
that must be complied with by an owner of the dominant estate in order to validly
claim a compulsory right of way have been clearly established by petitioners,
contrary to the Decision appealed from, and that the facts in Costabella are not the
same as in the present case. Second, the Court of Appeals seriously erred in holding
that the question of legality or illegality of the conversion of Road Lot 2 into two (2)
residential lots by the Cesar Ledesma, Inc., is a new issue raised for the first time on
appeal, because such issue appeared in the complaint filed before the trial court.
Quite noticeably, petitioners first assigned error is essentially factual in nature,
i.e., it merely assails the factual findings of both the Court of Appeals and the trial
court. Basic is the rule in this jurisdiction that only questions of law may be raised in
a petition for review under Rule 45 of the 1997 Rules of Civil Procedure. The
jurisdiction of the Supreme Court in cases brought to it from the Court of Appeals is
limited to reviewing errors of law, the findings of fact of the appellate court being
conclusive.[6] We have emphatically declared that it is not the function of this Court to

analyze or weigh such evidence all over again, its jurisdiction being limited to
reviewing errors of law that may have been committed by the lower court. [7]
Petitioners insist that their petition raises a question of law, that is, the
correctness of the appellate courts ruling that one who has an existing passageway,
however inconvenient that passageway may be, is no longer entitled to an easement
of right of way.
We do not agree. Questions of law are those that do not call for any examination
of the probative value of the evidence presented by the parties. [8] In the instant case,
petitioners' assignment of errors would have this Court go over the facts because it
necessarily entails an examination of the evidence and its subsequent re-evaluation
to determine whether petitioners indeed have no sufficient outlet to the highway.
Petitioners next claim that the findings of the appellate court are based on
misapprehension of facts, which circumstance warrants a review of the appellate
courts decision.Yet, they failed to sufficiently demonstrate this allegation in their
pleadings. Absent a clear showing that the findings complained of are totally devoid
of support in the record, or that they are so glaringly erroneous as to constitute
serious abuse of discretion, such findings must stand.
At any rate, even assuming that the first assignment of error may be properly
raised before this Court, we find no reversible error in the assailed decision. To be
entitled to a compulsory easement of right of way, the preconditions provided under
Arts. 649 and 650 of the Civil Code must be established. These are: (1) that the
dominant estate is surrounded by other immovables and has no adequate outlet to a
public highway; (2) that proper indemnity has been paid; (3) that the isolation was
not due to acts of the proprietor of the dominant estate; (4) that the right of way
claimed is at a point least prejudicial to the servient estate and, in so far as
consistent with this rule, where the distance from the dominant estate to a public
highway may be the shortest.[9] The burden of proving the existence of these
prerequisites lies on the owner of the dominant estate. [10]
In the present case, the first element is clearly absent. As found by the trial court
and the Court of Appeals, an outlet already exists, which is a
path walk located at the leftside of petitioners property and which is connected to a
private road about five hundred (500) meters long. The private road, in turn, leads to
Ma. Elena Street which is about 2.5 meters wide and, finally, to Visayas Avenue. This
outlet was determined by the court a quo to be sufficient for the needs of the
dominant estate, hence petitioners have no cause to complain that they have no
adequate outlet to Visayas Avenue.
Further, no evidence was adduced by petitioners to prove that the easement
they seek to impose on private respondents property is to be established at a point
least prejudicial to the servient estate. For emphasis, Lot 1 is only 164 square meters
and an improvident imposition of the easement on the lot may unjustly deprive
private respondents of the optimum use and enjoyment of their property, considering
that its already small area will be reduced further by the easement. Worse, it may
even render the property useless for the purpose for which private respondents
purchased the same.
It must also be stressed that, by its very nature, and when considered with
reference to the obligations imposed on the servient estate, an easement involves an

abnormal restriction on the property rights of the servient owner and is regarded as a
charge or encumbrance on the servient estate. Thus, it is incumbent upon the owner
of the dominant estate to establish by clear and convincing evidence the presence of
all the preconditions before his claim for easement of right of way may be granted.
Petitioners miserably failed in this regard.
On the question of adequacy of the existing outlet, petitioners allege that the
path walk is much longer, circuitous and inconvenient, as from Visayas Avenue one
has to pass by Ma. Elena St., turn right to a private road, then enter a vacant lot, and
turn right again to exit from the vacant lot until one reaches petitioners property.
We find petitioners concept of what is "adequate outlet" a complete disregard of
the well-entrenched doctrine that in order to justify the imposition of an easement of
right of way there must be a real, not fictitious or artificial, necessity for it. Mere
convenience for the dominant estate is not what is required by law as the basis for
setting up a compulsory easement. Even in the face of necessity, if it can be satisfied
without imposing the easement, the same should not be imposed. [11]
Thus, in Ramos v. Gatchalian,[12] this Court disallowed the easement prayed for even if petitioner therein "had to pass through lots belonging to other owners, as
temporary ingress and egress, which lots were grassy, cogonal and greatly
inconvenient due to flood and mud" - because it would run counter to the prevailing
jurisprudence that mere convenience for the dominant estate does not suffice to
serve as basis for the easement.
Also, in Floro v. Llenado,[13] we refused to impose an easement
of right of way over petitioners property, although private respondents alternative
route was admittedly inconvenient because he had to traverse several rice lands and
rice paddies belonging to different persons, not to mention that said passage, as
found by the trial court, was impassable during rainy season.
Admittedly, the proposed right of way over private respondents property is the
most convenient, being the shorter and the more direct route to Visayas
Avenue. However, it is not enough that the easement be where the way is shortest. It
is more important that it be where it will cause the least prejudice to the servient
estate.[14] As discussed elsewhere, petitioners failed to sufficiently demonstrate that
the proposed right of way shall be at a point least prejudicial to the servient estate.
The second assignment of error was likewise properly rejected by the appellate
court. Primarily, the issue of legality or illegality of the conversion of the road lot in
question has long been laid to rest in LRC Case No. Q-1614[15] which declared with
finality the legality of the segregation subdivision survey plan of the disputed road lot.
Consequently, it is now too late for petitioners to question the validity of the
conversion of the road lot.
Finally, questions relating to non-compliance with the requisites for conversion of
subdivision lots are properly cognizable by the National Housing Authority (NHA),
now the Housing and Land Use Regulatory Board (HLURB), pursuant to Sec.
22 of PD 957[16] and not by the regular courts. Under the doctrine of primary
administrative jurisdiction,[17]where jurisdiction is vested upon an administrative body,
no resort to the courts may be made before such administrative body shall have
acted upon the matter.

WHEREFORE, Petition is DENIED. The 16 January 1996 Decision and the 14

June 1996 Resolution of the Court of Appeals denying reconsideration thereof are
AFFIRMED.Costs against petitioners.
Davide, Jr. (Chairman), Vitug, Panganiban and Quisumbing, JJ. concur.


[G.R. NO. 130845. November 27, 2000]


in his capacity as Presiding Judge of the Regional Trial Court
of Quezon City, Branch 88, JULIO N. SEBASTIAN and
SHIRLEY LORILLA, respondents.
This petition for certiorari assails (1) the decision dated December 27, 1996 of
the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. SP No. 39166, dismissing petitioners petition for
review under Rule 65 with prayer for the issuance of a cease and desist order and/or
temporary restraining order, and (2) the resolution dated August 14, 1997 denying
the subsequent motion for reconsideration.


Petitioner Bryan Villanueva is the registered owner of the parcel of land covered
by Transfer Certificate of Title No. 127862 of the Register of Deeds of Quezon
City. He bought it from Pacific Banking Corporation, the mortgagee of said
property. The bank had acquired it from the spouses Maximo and Justina Gabriel at
a public auction on March 19, 1983. When petitioner bought the parcel of land there
was a small house on its southeastern portion. It occupied one meter of the twometer wide easement of right of way the Gabriel spouses granted to the Espinolas,
predecessors-in-interest of private respondents, in a Contract of Easement of Right
of Way. The pertinent portion of the contract dated November 28, 1979, states:

. . . in order to have an access to and from their aforementioned land where

their houses are constructed and to have an outlet to Tandang Sora Ave.
which is the nearest public road and the least burdensome to the servient
estate and to third persons, it would be necessary for them to pass
through spouses MAXIMO GABRIEL and JUSTINA CAPUNOs land and for
this purpose, a path or passageway of not less than two (2) meters wide of
said spouses property is necessary for the use of ROMEO, RODOLFO,
NENITA and AURORA ESPINOLA and for all their needs in entering their


WHEREFORE, in view of the fact that the property of the ESPINOLA had
been bought by them from MAXIMO CAPUNO, father of MAXIMO
and their families to have a permanent easement of right of way over the
aforementioned property of said spouses limited to not more than two
meters wide, throughout the whole length of the southeast side of said
property and as specifically indicated in the attached plan which is made an
integral part of this Contract as Annex A;
This Agreement shall be binding between the parties and upon their heirs,
successors, assigns, without prejudice in cases of sale of subject property
that will warrant the circumstances.

Unknown to petitioner, even before he bought the land, the Gabriels had
constructed the aforementioned small house that encroached upon the two-meter
easement.Petitioner was also unaware that private respondents, Julio Sebastian and
Shirley Lorilla, had filed on May 8, 1991, Civil Case No. Q-91-8703, for easement,
damages and with prayer for a writ of preliminary injunction and/or restraining order
against the spouses Gabriel. As successors-in-interest, Sebastian and Lorilla
wanted to enforce the contract of easement.

On May 15, 1991, the trial court issued a temporary restraining order. On August
13, 1991, it issued a writ of preliminary mandatory injunction ordering the Gabriels to
provide the right of way and to demolish the small house encroaching on the
easement. On August 15, 1991, the Gabriels filed a motion for reconsideration which
was also denied. Thus, they filed a petition for certiorari before the Court of Appeals.
On March 26, 1992, the Eighth Division of the Court of Appeals dismissed the
petition and upheld the RTCs issuances. The decision became final and executory
on July 31, 1992.

On January 5, 1995, Judge Tirso Velasco of the RTC in Quezon City, Branch 88,
issued an Alias Writ of Demolition. On June 20, 1995, the sheriff tried to demolish the
small house pursuant to the writ. Petitioner filed a Third Party Claim with Prayer to
Quash Alias Writ of Demolition. He maintains that the writ of demolition could not
apply to his property since he was not a party to the civil case. His Third Party Claim
with prayer to quash the writ of demolition was denied for lack of merit on August 16,
1995. The motion for reconsideration as well as the Supplemental Motion for
Reconsideration dated September 12, 1995 were denied on October 19, 1995.


Petitioner, thereafter, filed a petition for certiorari before the Court of Appeals,
docketed as CA-G.R. SP No. 39166, asserting that the existence of the easement of
right of way was not annotated in his title and that he was not a party to Civil Case
No. Q-91-8703, hence the contract of easement executed by the Gabriels in favor of
the Espinolas could not be enforced against him. The Court of Appeals dismissed
the petition for lack of merit and denied the reconsideration, disposing thus:

WHEREFORE, the instant petition is hereby dismissed by this court for lack
of merit.
No costs considering the failure of private respondents to file their
comment, despite notice.

Hence, this instant petition.

Petitioner now avers that the appellate court erred in declaring,



Primarily, the issue is whether the easement on the property binds petitioner.
Petitioner argues it could not be enforced against him. First, he says that a right
of way cannot exist when it is not expressly stated or annotated on
the Torrens title.According to him, even if an easement is inherent and inseparable
from the estate to which it actively belongs as provided in Art. 617 of the Civil Code,
the same is extinguished when the servient estate is registered and the easement
was not annotated in said title conformably with Section 39 of the Land Registration
Law. Second, petitioner points out that the trial court erred when it faulted him for
relying solely on the clean title of the property he bought, as it is well-settled that a
person dealing with registered land is not required to go beyond what is recorded in
the title. He adds that it is private respondents who should have made sure their right
of way was safeguarded by having the same annotated on the title with the Register
of Deeds. He adds that Section 76 of P.D. No. 1529 also requires that when a case
is commenced involving any right to registered land under the Land Registration Law
(now the Property Registration Decree), any decision on it will only be effectual
between or among the parties thereto, unless a notice of lis pendens of such action
is filed and registered in the registry office where the land is recorded. There was no
such annotation in the title of the disputed land, according to petitioner. Lastly, since
he was not a party to Civil Case No. Q-91-8703, petitioner argues that he cannot be
bound by the writ of demolition and be forcibly divested of a portion of his land
without having his day in court.


Private respondents Sebastian and Lorilla, for their part, adopted the disquisition
of the appellate court as their Comment and asked for the dismissal of the petition
and P100,000.00 in damages. In its decision the appellate court, citing the decision

of the lower court, stressed that unlike other types of encumbrance of real property, a
servitude like a right of way can exist even if they are not expressly stated or
annotated as an encumbrance in a Torrens title because servitudes are inseparable
from the estates to which they actively or passively belong. Moreover, Villanueva
was bound by the contract of easement, not only as a voluntary easement but as
a legal easement. A legal easement ismandated by law, and continues to exists
unless its removal is provided for in a title of conveyance or the sign of the easement
is removed before the execution of the conveyance conformably with Article 649 in
accordance with Article 617 of the Civil Code.


At the outset, we note that the subject easement (right of way) originally was
voluntarily constituted by agreement between the Gabriels and the Espinolas. But as
correctly observed by the Court of Appeals, the easement in the instant petition is
both (1) an easement by grant or a voluntary easement, and (2) an easement by
necessity or a legal easement. A legal easement is one mandated by law, constituted
for public use or for private interest, and becomes a continuing property right. As a
compulsory easement, it is inseparable from the estate to which it belongs, as
provided for in said Article 617 of the Civil Code. The essential requisites for an
easement to be compulsory are: (1) the dominant estate is surrounded by other
immovables and has no adequate outlet to a public highway; (2) proper indemnity
has been paid; (3) the isolation was not due to acts of the proprietor of the dominant
estate; (4) the right of way claimed is at a point least prejudicial to the servient
estate; and (5) to the extent consistent with the foregoing rule, where the distance
from the dominant estate to a public highway may be the shortest. The trial court
and the Court of Appeals have declared the existence of said easement (right of
way). This finding of fact of both courts below is conclusive on this Court, hence we
see no need to further review, but only to re-affirm, this finding. The small house
occupying one meter of the two-meter wide easement obstructs the entry of private
respondents cement mixer and motor vehicle. One meter is insufficient for the needs
of private respondents. It is well-settled that the needs of the dominant estate
determine the width of the easement. Conformably then, petitioner ought to
demolish whatever edifice obstructs the easement in view of the needs of private
respondents estate.




Petitioners second proposition, that he is not bound by the contract of easement

because the same was not annotated in the title and that a notice of lis pendens of
the complaint to enforce the easement was not recorded with the Register of Deeds,
is obviously unmeritorious. As already explained, it is in the nature of legal easement
that the servient estate (of petitioner) is legally bound to provide the dominant estate
(of private respondents in this case) ingress from and egress to the public highway.
Petitioners last argument that he was not a party to Civil Case No. Q-91-8703
and that he had not been given his day in court, is also without merit. Rule 39, Sec.
47, of the Revised Rules of Court:

SEC. 47. Effect of judgments or final orders. The effect of a judgment or

final order rendered by a court of the Philippines, having jurisdiction to
pronounce the judgment or final order, may be as follows:
(a) In case of a judgment or final order against a specific thing, or in respect
to the probate of a will, or the administration of the estate of a deceased

person, or in respect to the personal, political, or legal condition or status of

a particular person or his relationship to another, the judgment or final order
is conclusive upon the title to the thing, the will or administration, or the
condition, status or relationship of the person; however, the probate of a will
or granting of letters of administration shall only be prima facie evidence of
the death of the testator or intestate;
(b) In other cases, the judgment or final order is, with respect to the
matter directly adjudged or as to any other matter that could have been
raised in relation thereto,conclusive between the parties and their
successors in interest by title subsequent to the commencement of
the action or special proceeding, litigating for the same thing and
under the same title and in the same capacity; and
(c) In any other litigation between the same parties or their successors in
interest, that only is deemed to have been adjudged in a former judgment
or final order which appears upon its face to have been so adjudged, or
which was actually and necessarily included therein or necessary
thereto. (Emphasis ours).
Simply stated, a decision in a case is conclusive and binding upon the parties to
said case and those who are their successor in interest by title after said case has
been commenced or filed in court. In this case, private respondents, Julio
Sebastian and Shirley Lorilla, initiated Civil Case No. Q-91-8703 on May 8, 1991,
against the original owners, the spouses Maximo and Justina Gabriel. Title in the
name of petitioner was entered in the Register of Deeds on March 24, 1995, after
he bought the property from the bank which had acquired it from the
Gabriels. Hence, the decision in Civil Case No. Q-91-8703 binds petitioner. For,
although not a party to the suit, he is a successor-in-interest by title subsequent to
the commencement of the action in court.



WHEREFORE, the instant petition is DENIED. The assailed decision and

resolution of the Court of Appeals are AFFIRMED. Costs against petitioner.
Bellosillo (Chairman), Mendoza, Buena, and De Leon, Jr., JJ., concur.