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VOL.

475, NOVEMBER 22, 2005 731 acquisitive prescription requires possession of things in good faith
Heirs of Flores Restar vs. Heirs of Dolores R. Cichon and with just title for a period of ten years. Without good faith and
just title, acquisitive prescription can only be extraordinary in
G.R. No. 161720. November 22, 2005. *

character which requires uninterrupted adverse possession for


HEIRS OF FLORES RESTAR namely: ESMENIA R.
thirty years.
RESTAR, BERNARDITA R. RENTINO, LUCIA RESTAR, Actions; Appeals; While the Supreme Court is not a trier of facts,
RODOLFO RESTAR, JANET R. RELOJERO, LORNA R. if the inference drawn by the appellate court from the facts is
RAMOS, MANUEL RESTAR, NENITA R. BELLEZA, manifestly mistaken, the Supreme Court may, in the interest of
MIRASOL R. DELA CRUZ, ROSELLE R. MATORRE, justice, review the evidence in order to arrive at the correct factual
POLICARPIO RESTAR and ADOLFO RESTAR, conclusions based on the record.—Resolving the main issue of
petitioners, vs. HEIRS OF DOLORES R. CICHON, namely: whether petitioners acquired ownership over the lot by
RUDY R. CICHON, NORMA C. LACHICA, NILDA C. extraordinary prescription, the appellate court held in the negative.
JUMAYAO, LYDIA C. SANTOS, and NELSON R. CICHON; While this Court is not a trier of facts, if the inference drawn by the
HEIRS OF PERPETUA R. STA. MARIA, namely GEORGE appellate court from the facts is manifestly mistaken, it may, in the
interest of justice, review the evidence in order to arrive at the
STA. MARIA, LILIA M. MANIAGO, DERLY M.
correct factual conclusions based on the record. Contrary to the
CONCEPCION, GERVY STA. MARIA, DORY M. INDULO;
findings of the appellate court, the records of the case amply support
HEIRS OF MARIA R. ROSE, namely: TERESITA R. petitioners’ claim that the requirements for extraordinary
MALOCO, ROLANDO ROSE, EDELYN R. PALACIO and prescription had been duly met.
MINERVA R. PASTRANA, DOMINICA RESTAR- Property; Co-ownership; Prescription; Tax Declarations; The
RELOJERO and PACIENCIA RESTAR MANARES, statutory period of prescription commences when a person who has
respondents. neither title nor good faith, secures a tax declaration in his name and
may, therefore, be said to have adversely claimed the ownership of
_______________
the lot.—When Restar died in 1935, his eight children became pro
* THIRD DIVISION. indiviso co-owners of the lot by intestate succession. Respondents
never possessed the lot, however, much less asserted their claim
732 thereto until January 21, 1999 when they filed the complaint for
732 SUPREME COURT REPORTS ANNOTATED partition subject of the present petition. In contrast, Flores took
Heirs of Flores Restar vs. Heirs of Dolores R. Cichon possession of the lot after Restar’s death and exercised acts of
Property; Co-ownership; Partition; Prescription; While the dominion thereon—tilling and cultivating the land, introducing
action to demand partition of a co-owned property does not prescribe, improvements, and
a co-owner may acquire ownership thereof by prescription where 733
there exists a clear repudiation of the co-ownership, and the co- VOL. 475, NOVEMBER 22, 2005 733
owners are apprised of the claim of adverse and exclusive
ownership.—While the action to demand partition of a co-owned Heirs of Flores Restar vs. Heirs of Dolores R.
property does not prescribe, a co-owner may acquire ownership Cichon
thereof by prescription where there exists a clear repudiation of the enjoying the produce thereof. The statutory period of
co-ownership, and the co-owners are apprised of the claim of adverse prescription, however, commenced not in 1935 but in 1960 when
and exclusive ownership. Acquisitive prescription of dominion and Flores, who had neither title nor good faith, secured a tax
other real rights may be ordinary or extraordinary.Ordinary declaration in his name and may, therefore, be said to have
adversely claimed ownership of the lot. And respondents were also Lot 3177 (the lot), located at Barangay Carugdog, Lezo, Aklan
deemed to have been on said date become aware of the adverse which was among the properties left by Restar, and the
claim. Flores’ possession thus ripened into ownership through issuance of Tax Declaration No. 11134 in his name.
acquisitive prescription after the lapse of thirty years in accordance Flores died on June 10, 1989.
with the earlier quoted Article 1137 of the New Civil Code.
On November 5, 1998, the co-heirs of Flores discovered the
Same; Same; Same; Same; Possession; While tax declarations
cancellation of Restar’s Tax Declaration No. 6696 and the
and receipts are not conclusive evidence of ownership and do not
prove title to the land, nevertheless, when coupled with actual issuance in lieu thereof of Tax Declaration No. 11134 in his 4

possession, they constitute evidence of great weight and can be a name. On January 21, 1999, the heirs of Flores’ sisters Dolores
basis of claim of ownership through prescription.—While tax R. Cichon, Perpetua Sta. Maria, and Maria Rose who had in
declarations and receipts are not conclusive evidence of ownership the meantime died, together with Flores’ surviving sisters
and do not prove title to the land, nevertheless, when coupled with Dominica Restar-Relojero and Paciencia Restar-Manares,
actual possession, they constitute evidence of great weight and can filed a Complaint against Flores’ heirs for “partition [of the
5

be the basis of a claim of ownership through prescription. lot], declaration of nullity of documents, ownership with
damages and preliminary injunction” before the Regional
PETITION for review on certiorari of a decision of the Court Trial Court (RTC) of Aklan.
of Appeals. Flores’ brothers Policarpio and Adolfo were impleaded also
as defendants, they being unwilling co-plaintiffs.
The facts are stated in the opinion of the Court.
The plaintiffs, herein respondents, alleged that, inter alia,
Allan B. Gepty for petitioners.
during the lifetime of Flores, they were given their shares
Diomedes T. Resurreccion for respondents.
of palay from the lot and even after Flores death up to 1991;
CARPIO-MORALES, J.: after Flores’ death in 1989, his widow Esmenia appealed to
them to allow her to hold on to the lot to finance the education
In 1935, Emilio Restar (Restar) died intestate, leaving eight of her children, to which they (the plaintiffs) agreed on the
(8) children-compulsory heirs, namely: Flores Restar, Dolores condition that after the children had finished their education,
Restar-Cichon, Perpetua Restar-Sta. Maria, Paciencia Restar- it would be divided into eight (8) equal parts; and upon their
Manares, Dominica Restar-Relojero, Policarpio Restar, Maria demand for partition of the lot, the defendants Heirs of Flores
Restar-Rose and Adolfo Restar. _______________

In 1960, Restar’s eldest child, Flores, on the basis of a July 2 Id., at p. 7.


12, 1959 Joint Affidavit he executed with one Helen Restar,
1 3 As eventually determined by court appointed Commissioner Crispulo M.
_______________ Vega, Id., at pp. 100-102.
4 Id., at p. 9.

1 Records at p. 8. 5 Id., at pp. 1-6.

734 735
734 SUPREME COURT REPORTS ANNOTATED VOL. 475, NOVEMBER 22, 2005 735
Heirs of Flores Restar vs. Heirs of Dolores R. Cichon Heirs of Flores Restar vs. Heirs of Dolores R. Cichon
caused the cancellation of Tax Declaration No. 6696 in 2 refused, they claiming that they were the lawful owners
Restar’s name covering a 5,918 square meter parcel of land,
3 thereof as they had inherited it from Flores.
By Answer filed February 23, 1999, the defendants-herein
6 1981. He thus prayed that, among other things, an order for
12

petitioners Heirs of Flores claimed that they had been in the partition of the lot among Restar’s heirs be issued
possession of the lot in the concept of owner for more than excluding, however, that portion sold to him by Flores. 13

thirty (30) years and have been paying realty taxes since time After trial, Branch 3 of the RTC of Kalibo, Aklan held that
immemorial. And they denied having shared with the Flores’ share in Restar’s estate was not the lot but that covered
plaintiffs the produce of the lot or that upon Flores’ death in by Cadastral Lot No. 3183. Nevertheless, the trial court,
1989, Esmenia requested the plaintiffs to allow her to hold on holding that Flores and his heirs had performed acts sufficient
to it to finance her children’s education, they contending that to constitute repudiation of the co-ownership, concluded that
by 1977, the children had already finished their respective they had acquired the lot by prescription. 14

courses. 7 Respecting the defendant Policarpio’s claim that a portion


The defendants Heirs of Flores further claimed that after of the lot was sold to him, the trial court discredited the same
World War II and under the “new Tax Declaration in 1945,” upon noting that Flores’ signature in the purported Deed of
Flores caused the transfer of parcels of ricelands situated in Sale differed from those appearing in other documents
Carugdog, Lezo, Aklan to his siblings as their shares from the submitted by the parties; in 1981, when the said Deed of Sale
estate of their father Restar; and an extrajudicial partition
8 was alleged to have been executed, Flores was admittedly
was subsequently executed on September 28, 1973 by Restar’s paralyzed and bedridden and could not have written his name
heirs, which was notarized by one Atty. Jose Igtanloc, dividing in a “straight” manner, as in fact his signature appearing in at
and apportioning among themselves four (4) parcels of land. 9 least two documents dated 1980 was “crooked,” and there
The defendant Adolfo Restar, by separate Answer, alleged
10 existed discrepancies in the spelling of Flores’ wife’s signature
that the complaint did not state a cause of action as against which read “Esmeña” in the deed, and not as “Esmenia.” 15

him for he interposed no objection to the partition of the lot The trial court thus dismissed the complaint by Decision of
among the heirs of Restar. June 30, 1999. 16

As for the defendant Policarpio Restar, he in his Amended On appeal by the defendants Heirs of Flores and Policarpio
Answer acknowledged Flores as the owner of the lot but
11 Restar, the appellate court, by Decision of October 29,
claimed that a portion of it, 1,315 square meters, was sold to 2002. reversed the decision of the trial court, it finding that
17

him as shown by a Deed of Absolute Sale dated May 14, the


_______________ _______________

6 Id., at pp. 31-36. 12 Exhibit “1”—Policarpio Restar, vide Records at pp. 131-132 (the List of

7 Id., at pp. 32-33. Exhibits prepared by the RTC Clerk of Court identifies the deed as such
8 Ibid. Exhibit “1” but the deed on pages 131-132 bears no such marking.
9 Exhibits Folder – Exhibit “20.” 13 Records at p. 129.

10 Records at pp. 19-21. 14 RTC Decision, Records at pp. 161-171.

11 Id., at p. 128. 15 Records at p. 170. The records disclose, however, that Esmenia Restar

signed as “Esmenia” in the deed of sale whereas she always signed as


736 “Esmeña.”
736 SUPREME COURT REPORTS ANNOTATED 16 Records at pp. 161-171.

17 CA Rollo at pp. 158-165.


Heirs of Flores Restar vs. Heirs of Dolores R. Cichon
737
VOL. 475, NOVEMBER 22, 2005 737 18 Id., at p. 163.
19 Ibid.
Heirs of Flores Restar vs. Heirs of Dolores R. Cichon
defendants Heirs of Flores failed to prove that their possession 738
of the lot excluded their co-owners or that they derived title to 738 SUPREME COURT REPORTS ANNOTATED
it from a separate conveyance to them by Restar. Heirs of Flores Restar vs. Heirs of Dolores R. Cichon
The appellate court further found that there was no
adequate notice by Flores to his other co-heirs/co-owners of the 1. PETITIONERS AS HEIRS OF FLORES RESTAR
repudiation of the co-ownership and neither was there a HAVE ACQUIRED OWNERSHIP BY ADVERSE
categorical assertion by the defendants of their exclusive right POSSESSION OF THE LAND IN QUESTION.
to the entire lot that barred the plaintiffs’ claim of ownership.18 2. B.THE COURT OF APPEALS PATENTLY ERRED IN
And the appellate court found it credible for the plaintiffs NOT RULING THAT THERE WAS ACQUISITIVE
to have failed to immediately take legal action to protect their PRESCRIPTION ON THE LAND IN QUESTION
rights on account of forbearance towards their eldest brother NOTWITHSTANDING THAT THE LAND IN
who had asked them to continue cultivating the lot to support QUESTION HAS BEEN DECLARED IN THE NAME
his children’s education.19 OF FLORES RESTAR, FATHER OF PETITIONERS,
Respecting the defendant Policarpio’s claim that part of the AS EARLY AS 1960 AND THAT PETITIONERS AND
lot had been sold to him by Flores, the appellate court THEIR PREDECESSOR-IN-INTEREST HAVE
sustained the trial court’s rejection thereof. BEEN IN OPEN, CONTINUOUS, EXCLUSIVE AND
Accordingly, the appellate court disposed: NOTORIOUS POSSESSION OF THE LAND IN
“WHEREFORE, in view of all the foregoing, the appeal is hereby QUESTION IN THE CONCEPT OF OWNER FOR
GRANTED in so far as plaintiffs-appellants Heirs of Dolores MORE THAN THIRTY (30) YEARS. 20

Cichon, et al., are concerned and DENIED in so far as defendant-


appellant Policarpio Restar. The decision of the Regional Trial The petition is impressed with merit.
Court of Kalibo, Aklan, Branch 3, dated June 30, 1999 Article 494 of the New Civil Code expressly provides:
is MODIFIED. The ruling of the said court that the heirs of Flores “ART. 494. No co-owner shall be obliged to remain in the co-
Restar have acquired ownership by adverse possession of the land ownership. Each co-owner may demand at any time the partition of
in question, Cadastral Lot No. 6686, is hereby REVERSED. the thing owned in common, insofar as his share is concerned.
SO ORDERED.” (Emphasis in the original) xxx
The appellate court having denied reconsideration of its No prescription shall run in favor of a co-owner or co-heir against
his co-owners or co-heirs so long as he expressly or impliedly
decision, only the defendants Heirs of Flores filed the present
recognizes the co-ownership.”
petition, assigning the following errors:
While the action to demand partition of a co-owned property
1. A.THE COURT OF APPEALS PATENTLY ERRED IN does not prescribe, a co-owner may acquire ownership thereof
REVERSING THE RULING OF THE LOWER by prescription where there exists a clear repudiation of the
21

COURT THAT THE co-ownership, and the co-owners are apprised of the claim of
adverse and exclusive ownership. 22

_______________
Acquisitive prescription of dominion and other real rights requirements for extraordinary prescription had been duly
may be ordinary or extraordinary. Ordinary acquisitive met.
prescription requires possession of things in good faith and When Restar died in 1935, his eight children became pro
with just title for a period of ten years. Without good faith and indiviso co-owners of the lot by intestate succession.
just Respondents never possessed the lot, however, much less
_______________ asserted their claim thereto until January 21, 1999 when they
filed the complaint for partition subject of the present petition.
20 Rollo at p. 17.
21 Bargayo v. Camumot, 40 Phil. 857, 868 (1920). In contrast, Flores took possession of the lot after Restar’s
22 Heirs of Segunda Maningding v. Court of Appeals, 276 SCRA 601, 608 death and exercised acts of dominion thereon—tilling and
(1997). _______________

739 23 Ferrer v. Court of Appeals, 219 SCRA 302, 305 (1993).


VOL. 475, NOVEMBER 22, 2005 739
740
Heirs of Flores Restar vs. Heirs of Dolores R. Cichon
740 SUPREME COURT REPORTS ANNOTATED
title, acquisitive prescription can only be extraordinary in
Heirs of Flores Restar vs. Heirs of Dolores R. Cichon
character which requires uninterrupted adverse possession
for thirty years. cultivating the land, introducing improvements, and enjoying
Thus, the New Civil Code provides: the produce thereof.
“ART. 1117. Acquisitive prescription of dominion and other real The statutory period of prescription, however, commenced
rights may be ordinary or extraordinary. not in 1935 but in 1960 when Flores, who had neither title nor
Ordinary acquisitive prescription requires possession of things good faith, secured a tax declaration in his name and may,
in good faith and with just title for the time fixed by law. therefore, be said to have adversely claimed ownership of the
ART. 1134. Ownership and other real rights over immovable lot. And respondents were also deemed to have been on said
property are acquired by ordinary prescription through possession date become aware of the adverse claim. 24

of ten years. Flores’ possession thus ripened into ownership through


ART. 1137. Ownership and other real rights over immovables acquisitive prescription after the lapse of thirty years in
also prescribe through uninterrupted adverse possession thereof for accordance with the earlier quoted Article 1137 of the New
thirty years, without need of title or of good faith.”
Civil Code.
Resolving the main issue of whether petitioners acquired The following observations of the trial court thus merit this
ownership over the lot by extraordinary prescription, the Court’s approval.
appellate court held in the negative. “The evidence proved that as far back as 1959, Flores Restar
While this Court is not a trier of facts, if the inference adjudicated unto himself the whole land in question as his share
drawn by the appellate court from the facts is manifestly from his father by means of a joint affidavit which he executed with
one Helen Restar, and he requested the Provincial
mistaken, it may, in the interest of justice, review the evidence
Treasurer/Assessor to have the land declared in his name. It was
in order to arrive at the correct factual conclusions based on
admitted by the parties during the pre-trial that this affidavit was
the record. 23
the basis of the transfer of Tax Declaration No. 6686 from Emilio
Contrary to the findings of the appellate court, the records Restar to Flores Restar. So that from 1960 the land was declared in
of the case amply support petitioners’ claim that the the name of Flores Restar (Exhibit “10”). This was the first concrete
act of repudiation made by Flores of the co-ownership over the land As for respondents’ claim that they have been receiving
in question. x x x shares from the produce of the land, it was correctly
“Plaintiffs did not deny that aside from the verbal partition of discredited by the trial court.
one parcel of land in Carugdog, Lezo, Aklan way back in 1945, they “[P]laintiffs’ claim that Flores Restar gave them five to eight
also had an amicable partition of the lands of Emilio Restar in gantas each as their shares in the produce cannot be sustained. A
Cerrudo and Palale, Banga Aklan on September 28, 1973 (Exhibit few gantas cannot be considered one-eight share of sixty (60)
“20”). If they were able to demand the partition, why then did they cavans of palay produced per cropping. One eight of sixty cavans
not demand the inclusion of the land in question in order to settle would be at least six cavans, not merely gantas after excluding
once and for all the inheritance from their father Emilio Restar, expenses for cultivation and production. If plaintiffs were to be
considering that at that time all of the brothers and sisters, the eight believed, their whole 7/8 share of the produce would total two
heirs of Emilio Restar, were still alive and participated in the cavans, six gantas only at the usual rate of 25 gantas per cavan.” 28

signing of the extra-judicial partition?


_______________ _______________

24 De Jesus v. Court of Appeals, 217 SCRA 307, 321 (1993). 25 Records at pp. 168-169.
26 Heirs of Segunda Maningding v. Court of Appeals, 276 SCRA 601, 606
741 (1997).
VOL. 475, NOVEMBER 22, 2005 741 27 Cequeña v. Bolante, 330 SCRA 216, 226-227 (2000).

28 Records at p. 170.
Heirs of Flores Restar vs. Heirs of Dolores R. Cichon
“Also it was admitted that Flores died only in 1989. Plaintiffs had 742
all the chances (sic) to file a case against him from 1960, or a period 742 SUPREME COURT REPORTS ANNOTATED
of 29 years when he was still alive, yet they failed to do so. They Heirs of Flores Restar vs. Heirs of Dolores R. Cichon
filed the instant case only on January 22, 1999, almost ten (10) years
Unless there are strong and impelling reasons to disturb the
after Flores’ death.
“From the foregoing evidence, it can be seen that the adverse trial court’s findings of facts which must, as a matter of
possession of Flores started in 1960, the time when the tax judicial policy, be accorded with the highest respect, they must
declaration was transferred in his name. The period of acquisitive remain. Respondents have not, however, proffered any reason
prescription started to run from this date. Hence, the adverse warranting the disturbance of the trial court’s findings of
possession of Flores Restar from 1960 vested in him exclusive facts.
ownership of the land considering the lapse of more than 38 years. Indeed, the following acts of Flores show possession adverse
Acquisitive prescription of ownership, laches and prescription of the to his co-heirs: the cancellation of the tax declaration
action for partition should be considered in favor of Flores Restar certificate in the name of Restar and securing another in his
and his heirs.” 25
name; the execution of a Joint Affidavit stating that he is the
While tax declarations and receipts are not conclusive owner and possessor thereof to the exclusion of respondents;
evidence of ownership and do not prove title to the land, payment of real estate tax and irrigation fees without
nevertheless, when coupled with actual possession, they respondents having ever contributed any share therein; and
constitute evidence of great weight and can be the basis of a
26
continued enjoyment of the property and its produce to the
claim of ownership through prescription. 27
exclusion of respondents. And Flores’ adverse possession was
continued by his heirs.
The appellate court’s crediting of respondents’ justification VOL. 475, NOVEMBER 22, 2005 743
for failing to immediately take legal action to protect their Heirs of Julian Dela Cruz and Leonora Talaro vs.
rights—forbearance toward Flores and/or his wife who asked Heirs of Alberto Cruz
to be allowed to cultivate the land to support their children’s SO ORDERED.
education—does not impress. For assuming such justification Panganiban (Chairman), Corona and Garcia,
to be true, why did not any of respondents assail Flores’ JJ.,concur.
continuous possession after his children completed their Sandoval-Gutierrez, J.,On Leave.
college education in 1977?
The trial court’s finding and conclusion that Flores and his Petition granted, judgment reversed and set aside. That of
heirs had for more than 38 years possessed the land in open, the trial court reinstated.
adverse and continuous possession in the concept of owner— Notes.—A co-ownership or co-possession is not
which length of possession had never been questioned, an indicium of the existence of a partnership. The essence of a
rebutted or disputed by any of respondents, being thus duly partnership is that the partners share in the profits and
supported by substantial evidence, he and his heirs have losses. (Heirs of Tan Eng Kee vs. Court of Appeals, 341 SCRA
become owner of the lot by extraordinary prescription. It is 740 [2000])
unfortunate that respondents slept on their rights. Dura lex There is no co-ownership when the different portions owned
sed lex. by different people are already concretely determined and
WHEREFORE, the petition is GRANTED. The decision of separately identifiable, even if not yet technically described.
the Court of Appeals is REVERSED and SET ASIDE and the (Si vs. Court of Appeals, 342 SCRA 653 [2000]
June 30, 1999 decision of the trial court is REINSTATED.
No pronouncement as to costs. ——o0o——
743
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