Chester Cabalza recommends his visitors to please read the original & full text of the case cited. Xie xie!
G.R. No. 170318 January 15, 2009
JOSEPH REMENTIZO, Complainant,
HEIRS OF PELAGIA VDA. DE MADARIETA, Respondent.
The instant controversy stemmed from a Complaint for Annulment and Cancellation of Original Certificate of Title filed by the late Pelagia Vda. De Madarieta against Rementizo before the Department of Agrarian Reform Adjudication Board (DARAB) in Camiguin.
In her complaint, Madarieta claimed that she is the owner of a parcel of land declared in the name of her late husband Angel Madarieta with an area of 436 square meters situated in Tabulig, Poblacion, Mambajao, Camiguin.
The trial court ordered the cancellation and/or revocation of the OCT for being null and void ab initio, and the respondent or anybody in possession or occupation of subject land is hereby ordered to turn over subject land to the plaintiff and vacate the premises.
Rementizo appealed the Provincial Adjudicator’s order to the DARAB-Central Office. On 7 February 2001, the DARAB-Central Office reversed the Provincial Adjudicator’s order by ruling in favor of Rementizo.
Madarieta filed a petition for review with the Court of Appeals under Rule 43 of the Rules of Court assailing the decision of the DARAB. But in its Decision of 26 May 2004, the Court of Appeals held that when Madarieta filed an action on 5 November 1998, for the annulment and cancellation of Rementizo’s title, more than 10 years had passed after the issuance of Rementizo’s title rendering the title incontrovertible.
The crucial issue in this case is whether the action for the annulment of the emancipation patent, which ultimately seeks the reconveyance of the title issued to Rementizo, has already prescribed.
The petition is meritorious.
In the present case, the DAR, which is presumed to have regularly performed its official function, awarded EP No. A-028390-H to Rementizo in 1987. Aside from this emancipation patent, two other emancipation patents and certificates of title (OCT Nos. 183 and 174) were issued to Rementizo covering two different parcels of land.
This means that Rementizo was a qualified beneficiary of various parcels of agricultural land placed under the government’s Operation Land Transfer.
The Court notes that Madarieta was claiming the subject property as the surviving spouse of Angel. While Madarieta presented evidence pointing out that Lot No. 153-F was historically owned and declared in the name of her deceased husband, Angel, there is nothing in the records showing that Angel during his lifetime opposed Rementizo’s occupation and possession of the subject land. Madarieta and respondents started claiming the property after the death of Angel. Considering that the subject property was proximate to the Madarietas’ residence, Angel could have questioned the legality of Rementizo’s occupation over the land.
In an action for reconveyance, the decree of registration is respected as incontrovertible but what is sought instead is the transfer of the property wrongfully or erroneously registered in another’s name to its rightful owner or to one with a better right. The person in whose name the land is registered holds it as a mere trustee.
Nevertheless, the right to seek reconveyance of registered property is not absolute because it is subject to extinctive prescription.
Article 1144. The following actions must be brought within ten years from the time the right of action accrues:
(1) Upon a written contract;
(2) Upon an obligation created by law;
(3) Upon a judgment. (Emphasis supplied)
The 10-year prescriptive period is reckoned from the date of issuance of the certificate of title.
In the instant case, however, it is the rule rather than the exception which should apply.
In this case, there is no evidence adduced by Madarieta or respondents that Rementizo employed fraud in the issuance of EP No. A-028390-H and OCT No. EP-195. Madarieta did not even present any evidence that her late husband objected to Rementizo’s occupation over the subject land after the issuance of EP No. A-028390-H and OCT No. EP-195.
The petition is granted.