Lukang v. Pagbilao Dev't (G.R. No. 195374; March 10, 2014)

CASE DIGEST: PEDRO LUKANG v. PAGBILAO DEVELOPMENT CORPORATION AND EDUARDO T. RODRIGUEZFACTS: Arsenio Lukang and Mercedes Dee lived as husband and wife from 1992-1934 and begot three (3) children. In 1935, Arsenio started cohabiting with Leonicia with whom he had ten (10) children. During their cohabitation, they acquired several properties registered in the name of Arsenio. When Arsenio died, his 13 children executed an extrajudicial settlement. Claiming that he lost the certificate of titles of the subject lands, Simeon, one the heirs of Arsenio filed a petition for the issuance of a duplicate copy of the certificate and as a result, new certificate of titles were issued in his favor. Thereafter, in a deed of donation, he transferred the said properties in favor of his two children and as a result, a new TCT was issued in their respective names.Claiming that the certificates were not lost but under their possession, Leonicia filed a civil case for the recovery of the duplicate copies of the TCTs filed by Simeon. Leonicia, through Pedro, caused the annotation of notice of lis pendens on the TCTs. While the civil case is pending, Pagbilao Development Corporation (PDC) acquired the subject properties from Simeon. When Pedro learned about the sale, they filed an application for a writ of preliminary injunction with ex-parte prayer for TRO.

The RTC granted the TRO. PDC filed a pettion for certiorari in the CA where it granted the same, stating that Pedro had no clear right over the subject property as it was contingent depending on the outcome of the civil case hence, no paramount necessity because there will be no great and irreparable injury. Pedro filed a petition for review under Rule 45 assailing the CA decision.

ISSUE: Did the RTC err in granting the writ of preliminary injunction?

HELD: 
A notice of lis pendens serves as an announcement to the whole world that a particular real property is in litigation and as a warning that those who acquire interest in the property do so at their own risk

The annotation of an adverse claim and notice of lis pendens over the subject properties is a notice to third persons that there is a controversy over the ownership of the land and serves to preserve and protect the right of the adverse claimants during the pendency of the controversy.

It is to be emphasized that the deeds of sale between the vendors of the six parcels of land and the Pagbilao Development Corporation were executed on June 1, 1993. The Affidavit of Adverse Claim of Leoncia Martinez Vda. De Lukang and the Notice of Lis Pendens of Pedro Lukang over the six properties were all inscribed on February 3, 1989.

Here, it must be noted that the annotations of adverse claim and lis pendens have been inscribed in the certificates of titles on the following dates February 3, 1989, November 6, 1989 and October 1, 1990, more than three (3) years before PDC bought the subject properties in 1993. It would have been different if the adverse claims and lis pendens were not annotated in the titles. With PDC having been officially aware of them, there can be no grave abuse of discretion that can be attributed to the RTC for issuing the writ of preliminary injunction.

There is no question that when PDC purchased the property, the petitioner and other intervenors were in actual possession of the property and their claims adverse to its predecessors-in-interest were annotated in the very titles of the properties. In fact, these annotations were carried over to PDC's title. PDC cannot invoke its being the registered owner to dispossess the present possessors for, precisely, when it brought the properties, it was charged with the knowledge that the ownership and sale of the subject properties by its predecessors-in-interest have been questioned by their co-heirs. Inevitably, PDC is deemed to have obtained the properties subject to the outcome of the litigation among the heirs of Arsenio. DENIED.

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