Beatingo v. Gasis (G.R. No. 179641; February 9, 2011)

CASE DIGEST: DOLORITA C. BEATINGO, Petitioner, v. LILIA BU GASIS, Respondent. (G.R. No. 179641; February 9, 2011).

Petitioner Dolorita Beatingo bought a piece of land, denominated as Lot No. 7219 from Flora G. Gasis on May 19, 1998. Petitioner went to the Register of Deeds to have the sale registered. She, however, failed to obtain registration as she could not produce the owner’s duplicate certificate of title. She, thus, filed a petition for the issuance of the owner’s duplicate certificate of title but was opposed by respondent Lilia Bu Gasis, claiming that she was in possession of the Original Certificate of Title (OCT) as she purchased the subject property from Flora on January 27, 1999.

Petitioner filed a Complaint for Annulment and Cancellation of Sale, Reconveyance, Delivery of Title and Damages against respondent before the Regional Trial Court. Respondent claimed that she purchased the subject property from Flora without knowledge of the prior sale of the same subject property to petitioner, which makes her an innocent purchaser for value.

The RTC considered the controversy as one of double sale and since the two sales – that of petitioner and that of respondent – were not registered with the Registry of Property, the RTC held that whoever was in possession had the better right. Hence, it decided in favor of respondent.

Petitioner elevated the matter to the CA via a Notice of Appeal. However, due to pressures of work in equally important cases with other clients, counsel for petitioner requested for an extension of ninety (90) days within which to file the brief. Instead of filing the Appellant’s Brief within the extended period, petitioner twice moved for extension of time to file the brief.

The CA denied the motions for extension to file brief. Thus, for failure to file the Appellant’s Brief, the appellate court dismissed the appeal.

ISSUE: Did the CA err in not reviewing the merits of the appeal?

HELD: Evidently, petitioner’s counsel was negligent in failing to file the required brief not only within 45 days from receipt of the notice but also within the extended period of ninety (90) days granted by the appellate court. The excuse forwarded above is unacceptable. An attorney is bound to protect his client’s interest to the best of his ability and with utmost diligence. Failure to file brief certainly constitutes inexcusable negligence, more so if the delay results in the dismissal of the appeal.

The failure to file the Appellant’s Brief, though not jurisdictional, results in the abandonment of the appeal which may be the cause for its dismissal.

Nevertheless, to put an end to the controversy, the Court carefully perused the records of the case and reached the conclusion that the decision dated December 29, 2005 of the RTC is in perfect harmony with law and jurisprudence. The rules on double sales, as discussed above, apply. DENIED.