Case Digest: Manzano, Jr. vs. Garcia

G.R. No. 179323: November 28, 2011

VICENTE MANZANO, JR., Petitioner, v. MARCELINO GARCIA, Respondent.

LEONARDO-DE CASTRO, J.:


FACTS:

This case involves a parcel of land covered by Transfer Certificate of Title (TCT) No. T-25464, issued in the name of respondent Marcelino D. Garcia (Garcia). The property was the subject of a deed of pacto de retro sale dated May 26, 1992 allegedly executed by Garcia in favor of Constancio Manzano, the predecessor-in-interest and brother of petitioner Vicente Manzano, Jr. (Vicente) for the amount of eighty thousand five hundred pesos (P80,500.00). Under said contract, Garcia purportedly reserved the right to repurchase the subject property for the same price within three months from the date of the instrument.

On July 12, 1992, Constancio Manzano passed away. His properties, including the subject of this case, were adjudicated to his heirs by virtue of a deed of extrajudicial partition with special power of attorney executed by them. Vicente was named the administrator of the intestate estate of Constancio Manzano.

Garcia did not redeem the subject property within the three-month period. Consequently, Vicente instituted a petition for consolidation of ownership over the property, docketed as Civil Case No. 93-610. Garcia filed an opposition and answer, alleging that the document evidencing the pacto de retro sale was a forgery. He claimed that he and his wife were in the United States of America (USA) from June 1, 1988 to November 14, 1992, and therefore could not have possibly executed the said pacto de retro sale on May 26, 1992.

During the trial, Vicente presented TCT No. T-25464 and Tax Declaration No. 41672 to prove the due execution of the pacto de retro sale, which was recorded in the office of the Register of Deeds of Cagayan de Oro City.

On the other hand, Garcia testified that he went to the USA on November 7, 1987. A few months later, he returned to the Philippines. He went back to the USA on June 1, 1988. His three children were left in the Philippines, while the titles to his properties were left in the office of his business establishment in Tablon, Cagayan de Oro City with two of their children. Garcia testified that the signatures appearing in the pacto de retro sale were not his and his wifes. He presented his passport and drivers license, both of which bear an entirely different signature than what appeared in the pacto de retro sale document.

Atty. Demosthenes Mediante, Jr. (Atty. Mediante), the person who notarized the deed of conveyance in question, and Perla Babano, one of the witnesses to the execution of the pacto de retro sale, testified that the Marcelino Garcia who appeared in his office and who executed the pacto de retro sale is not the same Marcelino Garcia who was in court during the trial of the case.

ISSUE:

I. Whether the pacto de retro sale between the parties was valid

HELD:

From an assiduous examination of the records of the case, it is plainly apparent to this Court that the alleged signature of Garcia in the pacto de retro sale is utterly dissimilar from his customary signature appearing in the evidence on record, as well as in the verifications of the pleadings before this Court and the courts a quo. From this circumstance alone, we are constrained to affirm the ruling of the Court of Appeals finding that the pacto de retro sale was forged and, therefore, void ab initio.

the variance in the alleged signature of Garcia in the pacto de retro sale, on one hand, and in the evidence on record and in the verifications of the pleadings before this Court and the courts a quo, on the other hand, was enormous and obvious, such that this Court can readily conclude that the pacto de retro sale was in all likelihood made by someone who has not even seen the customary signature of Garcia. Furthermore, the falsity of the signature on the pacto de retro sale was affirmed by two persons present when the instrument was signed, one of which is the very person who notarized the same.

Petitioner likewise argues that the Court of Appeals erred in failing to appreciate that the notarized deed of pacto de retro sale was entitled to the presumption of regularity and should be given great weight. It is settled that while a notarized document enjoys this presumption, "the fact that a deed is notarized is not a guarantee of the validity of its contents." The "presumption of regularity of notarized documents is not absolute and may be rebutted by clear and convincing evidence to the contrary."

Irregularities in the notarization of the document may be established by oral evidence of persons present in said proceeding. Here, the presumption of regularity of the notarized deed of pacto de retro sale was sufficiently overcome by the testimony of Atty. Mediante.

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