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G.R. NO. 149750, 16 June 2003, THIRD DIVISION (Panganiban, J.)


Hermoso de Leon inherited a parcel of land from his father so he engaged the services of
Atty. Florentino Juan to take care of the documents of the properties of his parents. The latter
then let them sign voluminous documents. After Atty. Juan’s death, the documents surfaced,
revealing the conveyance of properties by sale or quitclaim of Hermoso’s brothers and sister to
Atty. Juan and his sister, when in truth and in fact, they were not. Furthermore, his signature in
the Deed of Extra-judicial Partition and Quitclaim made in favor of Rodolfo de Leon was forged.
They also discovered that Rodolfo sold the land in question to Aurora Alcantara. After which
they demanded the annulment of the document and reconveyance but the defendants refused.

The RTC ruled in favor of petitioner ruling that respondent was barred by laches. CA
reversed the decision of the RTC.

ISSUE: Whether or not there was a perfected contract of sale between Rodolfo and Aurora.


No. Rodolfo was not the owner of the land he delivered. Thus, the consummation of the
contract and the consequent transfer of ownership would depend on whether he subsequently
acquired ownership of the land. A comparison of the genuine signatures of Hermoso de Leon
with his purported signature on the Deed of Extrajudicial Partition with Quitclaim will readily
reveal that the latter is a forgery. Therefore, Rodolfo never acquired the land in question, even at
the time of the sale, so, he could not transfer any land rights to petitioner.

No title to registered land in derogation of that of the registered owner shall be acquired
by prescription or adverse possession. Neither can prescription be allowed against hereditary
successors of the registered owners because they merely stem into toe shoes of the decedent and
are merely the continuation of the personality of their predecessor in interest. Consequently,
since a certificate cannot be acquired by prescription regardless of petitioners good faith.

Laches are based upon equity and the public policy of discouraging stale claims. Since
laches is an equitable doctrine, its application is controlled by equitable considerations. It cannot
be used to defeat justice or to perpetuate fraud and injustice.

WHEREFORE, the petition is DENIED and the assailed decision AFFIRMED.