Republic of the
SPS. FEDERICO VALENZUELA
G.R. No. 172611
and LUZ BUENA-VALENZUELA
- versus -
ABAD, ** and
SPS. JOSE MANO, JR. and
July 9, 2010
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D E C I S I O N
The rule that a Torrens Certificate of Title is conclusive evidence of ownership of the land described therein does not apply when such land, or a portion thereof, was illegally or erroneously included in said title.
This Petition for Review
on Certiorari assails the Decision dated
Petitioner Federico Valenzuela (Federico) is the son of Andres Valenzuela (Andres) who was the owner and possessor of a parcel of land with an area of 938 square meters, more or less, located at Dampol 1st, Pulilan, Bulacan. The property was declared in the name of Andres under Declaration of Real Property No. 7187 which described the property as follows:
Location: Dampol 1st, Pulilan, Bulacan
North: Camino Provincial
East: Felisa Calderon
South: Aurea Caleon
West: Benita Bailon
of Land: Residential
Area: 938 square meters
Andres died on
Sometime in 1997, Federico declared in his name under Tax Declaration No. 97-19005-01105 the property covered by Declaration of Real Property No. 7187 in the name of Andres.
Jose sold a portion of the land covered by OCT No. P-351 to Roberto S.
Balingcongan (Balingcongan). On
Federico transferred his residence to Malabon and so he left the care of the property to his nephew, Vicente Joson (Vicente). Sometime in 1999, Federico instructed Vicente to construct a perimeter fence on his property but he was prevented by Jose, claiming that the 447 square meters was his property as reflected in his TCT No. T-112864. On the other hand, Federico is claiming it as part of the property he inherited from his father, Andres.
When the matter
could not be settled amicably, the petitioners lodged a Complaint
for Annulment of Title and/or Reconveyance, Damages with the RTC of Malolos,
Bulacan. The case was set for pre-trial conference
Ruling of the Regional Trial Court
The RTC found
that even before Jose purchased the 2,056 square meters lot from Feliciano on
Thus, the trial
court found that the preponderance of evidence showed that the disputed area of
447 square meters rightfully belongs to Federico. This was a part of
WHEREFORE, judgment is hereby rendered in favor of the plaintiffs and against the defendants, as follows:
1. Ordering the defendants to return to the plaintiffs the disputed portion consisting of 447 square meters and now covered by TCT No. T-112864 of the Registry of Deeds of Bulacan, in the name of Jose Mano, Jr. married to Rosanna Reyes;
2. Ordering defendants to immediately demolish and/or remove the concrete fence erected on the premises;
3. Ordering the defendants to pay plaintiffs the
P50,000.00 for moral damages; P30,000.00 for exemplary
damages and P50,000.00 for attorneys fees;
4. Ordering the Register of Deeds of Bulacan to cancel said TCT No. T-112864 of the Registry of Deeds of Bulacan;
5. Defendants to pay costs of this suit.
Ruling of the Court of Appeals
to the CA on appeal. In a Decision
The Motion for Reconsideration filed
by petitioners was denied by the CA through its Resolution
Hence, this petition raising the following issues:
Whether the CA gravely abused its discretion when it declared that petitioners were unable to prove ownership of the disputed portion notwithstanding evidence introduced and admitted.
Whether the CA gravely abused its discretion, amounting to lack of jurisdiction, when it reversed the decision of the lower court finding fraud committed by the respondent in obtaining title to the property in question.
Simply put, the issues raised are: (1) Did the CA err in holding that the respondents are the owners of the disputed 447 square meter property? and (2) Did the CA err in finding that no fraud was committed by the respondents in obtaining title to the disputed property?
Petitioners argue that the CA erred
in not holding that they are the rightful owners as Federico inherited the
property from his father Andres, who died on
Respondents, on the other hand, contend that they have a better title to the property. The certificate of title issued in their name is an absolute and indefeasible evidence of ownership of the property. It is binding and conclusive upon the whole world. There was also no proof or evidence presented to support the alleged fraud on the part of Jose, nor was there any allegation of specific acts committed by him which constitute fraud.
After serious consideration, we find petitioners arguments to be meritorious.
There is preponderance of evidence that Federico is the owner of the disputed property.
We rule that Federico is the owner of the disputed 447 square meter lot. The Deed of Conditional Sale described the property purchased by Jose as follows:
A part of parcel of land (T.D. No. 14312) situated at Dampol 1st, Pulilan, Bulacan. Bounded on the North- Lot 6225; East- Lot 1306 & 1311; South- Lot 1307 and 1308 and West- Lot 1304 & 1299. Containing an area of Two Thousand Fifty Six (2,056) square meters, more or less. (Bulacan).
Feliciano sold a
prepared by Geodetic Engineer Norberto C. Chavez, it is shown that Lot No.
10176-B with an area of 2,292 square meters with a right of way going to
Moreover, during the ocular inspection, it was observed that all the neighboring lots are either square or rectangle. There is an old fence, measuring about 40 meters long (abutting the newly constructed fence), which bounds the true and actual area purchased by Jose. Thus, if the old fence is followed, the land purchased would either be square or rectangular like the adjoining lots. However, if the disputed 447 square meters would be included in the land purchased by Jose, the same would slant remarkably to the right, to the extent of covering the entire area fronting the provincial road, which as per tax declaration of Federico, is the boundary of his land on the north.
Furthermore, Feliciano, the owner of Lot No. 1305 from whom Jose acquired the property through sale, testified that his lot is only about 2,000 square meters and that Andres owns the adjoining lot which is enclosed by a fence. Part of his testimony is copied verbatim to wit:
Q. But before they caused the measuring of the lot in question, do you have any idea how much is the area of the lot?
A. About 2,000 plus, sir.
Q. This property measuring about 2,000 plus, as you mentioned a while ago before it was surveyed by them, who is the present owner of this property?
A. Jose Mano, sir.
Q. How did Jose Mano become the owner of the property?
A. I sold it to him in 1991, sir.
x x x x
Q. Mr. Geronimo, I withdraw the manifestation.
May we further request that the description of the land indicated in the first page thereof particularly the boundary and the area be bracketed and be marked as Exhibit D-3, your Honor.
Do you know your boundary owners of this lot located at Dampol 1st, Pulilan, Bulacan?
A. Teresa and Andres Valenzuela, sir.
Q. Who else if you know?
A. It is all that I could remember of, sir.
Q. At the time that the property was acquired from you by Jose Mano or by the defendants, do you have any fence erected on your property?
A. None, sir. The adjacent lot has, sir.
On all sides?
A. On Teresa and Andres Valenzuelas side, sir.
Q. They were fenced?
A. Yes, there is, sir. 
The testimony of
Feliciano from whom Jose purchased the property coincides with the observation
made during the ocular inspection conducted by the RTC that there is an old
fence, measuring about 40 meters which encloses the true and actual area
purchased by Jose. Feliciano retained
the upper portion of
Settled is the rule that a person, whose certificate of title included by mistake or oversight the land owned by another, does not become the owner of such land by virtue of the certificate alone. The Torrens System is intended to guarantee the integrity and conclusiveness of the certificate of registration but is not intended to perpetrate fraud against the real owner of the land. The certificate of title cannot be used to protect a usurper from the true owner.
Jose committed fraud in obtaining the title to the disputed property.
Anent the second issue, we rule that
Jose committed fraud in obtaining title to the disputed property. The chain of events leading to the issuance of
title in his name shows beyond cavil the bad faith or a fraudulent pattern on his
part. The evidence on record disclosed
that even before Jose purchased the 2,056 square meters from Feliciano, he had already
Petitioners are entitled to an award of moral and exemplary damages.
Article 2217 of the Civil Code defines what are included in moral damages while Article 2219 enumerates the cases where they may be recovered. Moral damages are in the category of an award designed to compensate the claimant for actual injury suffered and not to impose a penalty on the wrongdoer. The person claiming moral damages must prove the existence of bad faith by clear and convincing evidence for the law always presumes good faith. It is not enough that one merely suffered sleepless nights, mental anguish, serious anxiety as the result of the actuations of the other party. Invariably such action must be shown to have been willfully done in bad faith or with ill motive. In the same fashion, to warrant the award of exemplary damages, the wrongful act must be accompanied by bad faith, and an award of damages would be allowed only if the guilty party acted in wanton, fraudulent, reckless or malevolent manner. As regards attorneys fees, the law is clear that in the absence of stipulation, attorneys fees may be recovered as actual or compensatory damages under any of the circumstances provided for in Article 2208 of the Civil Code.
Having ruled that Jose committed fraud in obtaining title to the disputed property then he should be liable for both moral and exemplary damages. Likewise, since petitioners were compelled to litigate to protect their rights and having proved that Jose acted in bad faith, attorneys fees should likewise be awarded.
WHEREFORE, the instant
petition for review on certiorari is GRANTED. The assailed Decision of the Court of Appeals
in CA-G.R. CV No. 83577 dated
January 16, 2006 and its May 3, 2006 Resolution are REVERSED and SET ASIDE.
The Decision of the Regional Trial Court
of Bulacan, Branch 14 in Civil Case No. 1065-M-99 dated
RENATO C. CORONA
ARTURO D. BRION
ROBERTO A. ABAD
C E R T I F I C A T I O N
Pursuant to Section 13, Article VIII of the Constitution, it is hereby certified that the conclusions in the above Decision had been reached in consultation before the case was assigned to the writer of the opinion of the Courts Division.
RENATO C. CORONA
* Per Special Order No. 856 dated
Special Order No. 869 dated
 See Carvajal v. Court of Appeals, 345 Phil. 582, 594 (1997).
 Rollo, pp.12-31.
 Records, Vol. I, p.9.
 Rollo, pp. 43-44.
 CA rollo, pp. 109-110.
 Records, Vol. I, p. 201.
 Records, Vol. I, p. 201.
 Heirs of Toribio Waga v. Sacabin,
G.R. No. 159131,
 Art. 2217. Moral damages include physical suffering, mental anguish, fright, serious anxiety, besmirched reputation, wounded feelings, moral shock, social humiliation, and similar injury. Though incapable of pecuniary computation, moral damages may be recovered if they are the proximate result of the defendants wrongful act or omission.
 ABS-CBN Broadcasting Corp. v. Court of Appeals, 361 Phil 499, 529 (1999).
 Ace Haulers Corp. v. Court of Appeals, 393 Phil 220, 230 (2000).
 Francisco v. Ferrer, Jr., 405 Phil. 741, 750 (2001).
 It reads as follows:
ART. 2208. In the absence of stipulation, attorneys fees and expenses of litigation, other than judicial costs, cannot be recovered, except:
(1) When exemplary damages are awarded;
(2) When the defendants act or omission has compelled the plaintiff to litigate with third persons or to incur expenses to protect his interest;
(3) In criminal cases of malicious prosecution against the plaintiff;
(4) In case of a clearly unfounded civil action or proceeding against the plaintiff;
(5) Where the defendant acted in gross and evident bad faith in refusing to satisfy the plaintiffs plainly valid, just and demandable claim;
(6) In actions for legal support;
(7) In actions for the recovery of wages of household helpers, laborers and skilled workers;
(8) In actions for indemnity under workmens compensation and employers liability laws;
(9) In a separate civil action to recover civil liability arising from a crime;
(10) When at least double judicial costs are awarded;
(11) In any other case where the court deems it just and equitable that attorneys fees and expenses of litigation should be recovered.
In all cases, the attorneys fees and expenses of litigation must be reasonable.