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G.R. No. 122973. July 18, 2000
DIONISIO C. LADIGNON, Petitioner, v. COURT OF APPEALS and LUZVIMINDA C. DIMAUN, Respondents.
The case originates from a Complaint for Declaration of Nullity of Conveyance and Recovery of Possession and Damages filed by a private respondent against Richard C. Tong, Jose Porciuncula, Jr. and Litogo Company, Inc. on May 12, 1990.
Private respondent claimed that petitioner made her sign a Petition for the reconstitution of Transfer Certificate of Title No. 240724, covering an eight hundred fifty nine and seven/tenths (859.7) square meter parcel of land located in Talayan, Quezon City, registered under her name and that of her adoptive mother, Ligaya Flores Collantes.
Attached to private respondents Complaint was a copy of a Deed of Absolute Sale which appears to have been executed by her as vendor and by Litoco Co., Inc., represented by its President, Richard Tong, as vendee.
Private respondent denied having received the purchase price, nor having signed the same, insisting that her alleged signatures thereon are falsified or forged. Thus, she prayed for the declaration of nullity of the said Deed of Absolute Sale and for the defendants to be ordered to surrender possession of the lot covered. The trial court found the evidence submitted by private respondent as insufficient to overturn the public document sought to be annulled. Thus, a Decision was rendered on May 20, 1992, in favor of petitioner.
However, the Court of Appeals reversed the trial courts decision.
Whether or not the evidence presented by private respondent against the Deed of Absolute Sale clear, convincing and more than merely preponderant to overcome both the presumption of regularity attached to public documents and to meet the stringent requirements to prove forgery?
We note that the Deed of Absolute Sale being questioned is a public document, having been notarized by Atty. Elsa R. Reblora who appeared on the witness stand to testify on the due execution of the same.
As a public document, the subject Deed of Absolute Sale had in its favor the presumption of regularity, and to contradict the same, there must be evidence that is clear, convincing and more than merely preponderant; otherwise the document should be upheld.
It is also worth stressing that private respondent claim that her signature on the subject Deed of Absolute Sale is forged. As a rule, forgery cannot be presumed and must be proved by clear, positive and convincing evidence and the burden of proof lies on the party alleging forgery.
In the case at bar, the court cannot accept the claim of forgery where no comparison of private respondents signatures was made, no witness (save for private respondent herself) was presented to testify on the same, much less an expert witness called, and all that was presented was private respondents testimony that her signature on the questioned Deed was forged. Indeed, even when the evidence is conflicting, the public document must still be upheld.
All told, the court finds that private respondent, who has filed the Complaint for nullity of conveyance below has not sufficiently met the burden of proof to sustain her case and for such reason and must reinstate the dismissal of her complaint as ordered by the court.
The petition for review is granted. But Court of Appeals decision is reversed and reinstated the RTC’s decision.