Case Digest: Lacbayan vs. Samoy, Jr.

G.R. No. 165427 : March 21, 2011.

BETTY B. LACBAYAN, Petitioner, v. BAYANI S. SAMOY, JR., Respondent.



Petitioner and respondent met each other through a common friend sometime in 1978. Despite respondent being already married, their relationship developed. During their illicit relationship, petitioner and respondent, together with three more incorporators, were able to establish a manpower services company.Five parcels of land were also acquired during the said period and were registered in petitioner and respondents names, ostensibly as husband and wife.

Eventually, however, their relationship turned sour and they decidedto part ways sometime in 1991.In 1998, both parties agreed to divide the said properties and terminate their business partnership by executing a Partition Agreement. Initially, respondent agreed to petitioners proposal that the properties in Malvar St. and Don Enrique Heights be assigned to the latter, while the ownership over the three other properties will go to respondent.However, when petitioner wanted additional demands to be included in the partition agreement, respondent refused. Feeling aggrieved, petitioner filed a complaint for judicial partition of the said properties before the RTC in Quezon City on May 31, 1999.

On February 10, 2000, the trial court rendered a decision dismissing the complaint for lack of merit. Aggrieved, petitioner elevated the matter to the CA asserting that she is thepro indivisoowner of one-half of the properties in dispute. Petitioner argued that the trial courts decision subjected the certificates of title over the said properties to collateral attack contrary to law and jurisprudence. Petitioner also contended that it is improper to thresh out the issue on ownership in an action for partition. Her appeal was denied.


1. Whether an action for partition precludes a settlement on ownership;
2. Whether the Torrens title over the disputed properties was collaterally attacked in the action for partition
3. Whether respondent is estopped from contesting the Partition Agreement


The petition is bereft of merit.

CIVIL LAW: Existence of co-ownership in an action for partition.

First issue: In Municipality of Bin v. Garcia, the Court explained that the determination as to the existence of co-ownership is necessary in the resolution of an action for partition. While it is true that the complaint involved here is one for partition, the same is premised on the existence or non-existence of co-ownership between the parties. Petitioner insists she is a co-owner pro indiviso of the five real estate properties based on the transfer certificates of title (TCTs) covering the subject properties. Respondent maintains otherwise. Indubitably, therefore, until and unless this issue of co-ownership is definitely and finally resolved, it would be premature to effect a partition of the disputed properties. More importantly, the complaint will not even lie if the claimant, or petitioner in this case, does not even have any rightful interest over the subject properties.

Second issue: There is no dispute that a Torrens certificate of title cannot be collaterally attacked, but that rule is not material to the case at bar. What cannot be collaterally attacked is the certificate of title and not the title itself. The certificate referred to is that document issued by the Register of Deeds known as the TCT. In contrast, the title referred to by law means ownership which is, more often than not, represented by that document. Petitioner apparently confuses title with the certificate of title. Title as a concept of ownership should not be confused with the certificate of title as evidence of such ownership although both are interchangeably used

REMEDIAL LAW: Admissions.
Third issue: An admission is any statement of fact made by a party against his interest or unfavorable to the conclusion for which he contends or is inconsistent with the facts alleged by him. To be admissible, an admission must (a) involve matters of fact, and not of law; (b) be categorical and definite; (c) be knowingly and voluntarily made; and (d) be adverse to the admitters interests, otherwise it would be self-serving and inadmissible.

A careful perusal of the contents of the so-called Partition Agreement indicates that the document involves matters which necessitate prior settlement of questions of law, basic of which is a determination as to whether the parties have the right to freely divide among themselves the subject properties. Moreover, to follow petitioners argument would be to allow respondent not only to admit against his own interest but that of his legal spouse as well, who may also be lawfully entitled co-ownership over the said properties. Respondent is not allowed by law to waive whatever share his lawful spouse may have on the disputed properties.


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