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#06 Civil Procedure (Jurisdiction Case #06)

NATURE OF ACTION FOR PARTITION

Roque vs. IAC, et. al.


G.R. No. 75886 (August 30, 1988)
Feliciano, J.

Principal Issues in an Action for Partition

PROCEDURAL ANTECEDENTS: RTC of Malolos - Concepcion (Partition with Specific Performance) = ruled in favor of
Concepcion CA Roque (appeal) = reversed and set aside, dismissed both; MR by Concepcion, denied SC
Concepcion (Review).

FACTS: A 312 square meter parcel of land situated in Malolos, Bulacan was registered originally in the name of Januario
Avendao, a bachelor who died intestate. Years later, the intestate heirs of Januario Avendafio executed a document
entitled "Paghahati at Pagtagabuyan ng Mana sa Labas ng Hukuman." Through this instrument, extrajudicial partition of
the lot was effected among the intestate, wherein it was co-owned by 4 parties, and the 1/4 undivided portion was given
to respondent Emesto Roque and Victor Roque.

Years later, in an aggregate amount of Php. 500.00, all the other co-owners sold their undivided portion to Ernesto and
Victor, thus, the full ownership of the land was vested to the Ernesto and Victor. Subsequently, in an unnotarized "Bilihan
Lubos at Patuluyan" Emesto and Victor Roque purportedly sold a three-fourths (3/4) undivided portion of the property to
their half-sister, petitioner Concepcion Roque, for the same amount (Php. 500.00). The property, however, remained
registered in the name of the decedent, Januario Avendao.

Thereafter, the property was surveyed and later on, a Subdivision Plan was drawn up identifying and delineating the 1/4
portion of Ernesto and Victor (substituted by his heirs) and the allegedly 3/4 portion of Concepcion. Concepcion claimed
that preparation of the Subdivision Plan, which was approved by the Land Registration Commission (now LRA) was a
preliminary step leading eventually to partition of the property, partition allegedly having been previously agreed upon
inter se by the co-owners. Ernesto and the legal heirs of Victor, however, refused to acknowledge Concepcion's claim of
ownership of any portion of the property and rejected the plan to divide the land.

Thus, Concepcion filed a Complaint for Partition with Specific Performance against Ernesto and the heirs of Victor.
Concepcion claimed legal ownership of an undivided 3/4 portion of property, by virtue of the "Bilihan Lubos at Patuluyan"
executed in her favor by Emesto Roque and Victor Roque. In support of this claim, she also presented an undated and
unnotarized "Kasulatang Pagkilala sa Bilihan Patuluyan ng Bahagui at Pagmamana sa Labas ng Hukuman at Paghahati-
hati at Abuyan ng Bahagui" said to have been signed by the Ernesto and Victor in acknowledgment of the existence and
validity of the Bilihan in favor of her. Finally, she alleged that, as a co-owner of the property, she had a right to seek
partition of the property, that she could not be compelled to remain in the co-ownership of the same. The respondents,
however, denied all of these and alleged that Concepcion was occupying some of the property only due to the
respondents tolerance.

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#06 Civil Procedure (Jurisdiction Case #06)
NATURE OF ACTION FOR PARTITION

ISSUE/s: WON an action for partition in this case is the correct remedy.

HELD: YES.
RATIO: An action for partition-which is typically brought by a person claiming to be co-owner of a specified property
against a defendant or defendants whom the plaintiff recognizes to be co-owners may be seen to present
simultaneously two principal issues. First, there is the issue of whether the plaintiff is indeed a co-owner of the property
sought to be partitioned. Second, assuming that the plaintiff successfully hurdles the first issue, there is the secondary
issue of how the property is to be divided between plaintiff and defendant(s) i.e., what portion should go to which co-
owner.

Should the trial court find that the defendants do not dispute the status of the plaintiff as co-owner, the court can
forthwith proceed to the actual partitioning of the property involved. In case the defendants assert in their Answer
exclusive title in themselves adversely to the plaintiff, the court should not dismiss the plaintiffs action for partition but,
on the contrary and in the exercise of its general jurisdiction, resolve the question of whether the plaintiff is co-owner or
not. Should the trial court find that the plaintiff was unable to sustain his claimed status as co-owner, or that the
defendants are or have become the sole and exclusive owners of the property involved, the court will necessarily have to
dismiss the action for partition. This result would be reached, not because the wrong action was commenced by the
plaintiff, but rather because the plaintiff having been unable to show co-ownership rights in himself, no basis exists for
requiring the defendants to submit to partition the property at stake. If, upon the other hand, the court after trial should
find the eidstence of co-ownership among the parties litigant, the court may and should order the partition of the
property in the same action. Judgment for one or the other party being on the merits, the losing party (respondents in this
case) may then appeal the same. In either case, however, it is quite unnecessary to require the plaintiff to file another
action, separate and independent from that for partition originally instituted. Functionally, an action for partition may be
seen to be at once an action for declaration of coownership and for segregation and conveyance of a determinate portion
of the property involved. This is the import of our jurisprudence on the matter and is sustained by the public policy which
abhors multiplicity of actions.

As to the issue of Prescription - The Court notes in this respect the finding of the trial court that petitioner, following
execution of the "Bilihan Lubos at Pattlluyan" on 27 November 1961, had been in "continuous occupancy of the 3/4
portion of the lot ... up to the present, and whereon plaintiffs house and that of her son are erected. " Respondents do not
dispute this finding of fact, although they would claim that petitioner's possession is merely tolerated by them. Second,
prior to filing in 1977 of the Complaint in Civil Case No. 5236-M, neither of the parties involved had asserted or
manifested a claim of absolute and exclusive ownership over the whole of Lot No. 1549 adverse to that of any of the
other co-owners: in other words, co-ownership of the property had continued to be recognized by all the owners.
Consequently, the action for partition could not have and, as a matter of fact, had not yet prescribed at the time of
institution by Concepcion of the action below. (16 years of undisturbed possession = laches)

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#06 Civil Procedure (Jurisdiction Case #06)
NATURE OF ACTION FOR PARTITION

RULING: The Decision of the RTC of Malolos is REINSTATED.

- Michael Joseph Nogoy

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