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BLANCO vs RIVERA

G.R. No. 145878 April 25, 2006

Facts: Respondent Rivera and Eugenia Reyes vda. de Rivera (mother of both petitioner and respondent)
are the co-owners of a parcel of residential land. On 1977, Eugenia sold her undivided share to petitioner
Blanco. The sale was not registered.

On 1980, Eugenia again sold her undivided share to respondent Felimon. The latter registered the sale
with the Register of Deeds and was issued a TCT.

Sometime in 1982, Blanco, who was residing on one-fourth (1/4) of the property, heard about the sale of
the property to respondent. Felimon later filed an ejectment case against Blanco. However, the ejectment
suit was decided in favor of the latter.

On 1991, Rivera filed the present civil case for quieting of title. Eugenia failed to testify because she died.
The trial court held that Rivera was the lawful owner of the land which was affirmed by the CA on appeal.

Issue: Who, between Rivera and Blanco, has the better right over Eugenia’s portion of the property?

Ruling: Rivera has a better right.

When an immovable property is sold to two different buyers at different times, ownership shall pertain to
the person acquiring it who in good faith first recorded it in the Registry of Property.

Here, Rivera was the first to register his ownership over the property, untainted by proof of any knowledge
of the prior sale. His acquisition and registration of the property were therefore in good faith. While Blanco
presented the affidavit of their mother attesting that the subject lot was sold to him and that notice was
given to the co-owner, proof of the said notice was never presented nor attached to the said affidavit. Hence,
Blanco failed to prove that there was any notice, aside from the statement in the said affidavit. The Court
did not give much weight to the affidavit of Eugenia Reyes Vda. de Rivera for the reason that Rivera denied
having been told of the sale in his testimony in open court. An affidavit taken ex-parte is generally
considered to be inferior to testimonies in open court.

Besides, even if Blanco’s claim were true, he would nonetheless still be guilty of laches. He failed to utilize,
for an unreasonable and unexplained length of time, the available legal remedies for his claim over the
property to be recognized not only by Rivera but all other persons. Beginning from his alleged acquisition
of the land in 1977, to his discovery of Rivera’s registration in 1982, up to the filing of this case in 1991,
more than 14 years had lapsed without any legal action on his part to secure his ownership over the
property.

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