CASE DIGEST: Phil-Ville Devt vs. Bonifacio

G. R. No. 167391: June 8, 2011

PHIL-VILLE DEVELOPMENT AND HOUSING CORPORATION, Petitioner, v. MAXIMO BONIFACIO, et al., Respondents.

VILLARAMA, JR., J.:

FACTS:

Phil-Ville Development and Housing Corporation is the registered owner of three parcels of land designated as Lots 1-G-1, 1-G-2 and 1-G-3 of the subdivision plan Psd-1-13-006209, located in Caloocan City, having a total area of 8,694 square meters and covered by Transfer Certificates of Title (TCT) Nos. 270921,270922and 270923. Prior to their subdivision, the lots were collectively designated as Lot 1-G of the subdivision plan Psd-2731 registered in the name of Phil-Ville under TCT No. T-148220. Said parcels of land form part of Lot 23-A of the Maysilo Estate originally covered by Original Certificate of Title (OCT) No. 994registered on May 3, 1917 in the name of Isabel Gil de Sola as the judicial administratrix of the estate of Gonzalo Tuason and thirty-one (31) others.Phil-Ville acquired the lots by purchase from N. Dela Merced and Sons, Inc. on July 24, 1984.

Earlier, on September 27, 1961, a group composed of Eleuteria Rivera, Bartolome P. Rivera, Josefa R. Aquino, Gregorio R. Aquino, Pelagia R. Angeles, Modesta R. Angeles, Venancio R. Angeles, Felipe R. Angeles Fidela R. Angeles and Rosauro R. Aquino, claiming to be the heirs of Maria de la Concepcion Vidal, a co-owner to the extent of 1-189/1000% of the properties covered by OCT Nos. 982, 983, 984, 985 and 994 of the Hacienda Maysilo, filed a petition with the Court of First Instance (CFI) of Rizal in Land Registration Case No. 4557.They prayed for the substitution of their names on OCT No. 994 in place of Maria de la Concepcion Vidal.Said petition was granted by the CFI in an Order dated May 25, 1962.

Afterwards, the alleged heirs of Maria de la Concepcion Vidal filed a petition for the partition of the properties covered by OCT Nos. 982, 983, 984, 985 and 994.The case was docketed as Civil Case No. C-424 in the CFI of Rizal, Branch 12, Caloocan City.On December 29, 1965, the CFI granted the petition and appointed three commissioners to determine the most equitable division of the properties.Said commissioners, however, failed to submit a recommendation.

Thirty-one (31) years later, on May 22, 1996, Eleuteria Rivera filed a Supplemental Motionin Civil Case No. C-424, for the partition and segregation of portions of the properties covered by OCT No. 994.The Regional Trial Court (RTC), Branch 120, of Caloocan City, through Judge Jaime D. Discaya, to whom the case was transferred, granted said motion. In an Orderdated September 9, 1996, Judge Discaya directed the segregation of portions of Lots 23, 28-A-1 and 28-A-2 and ordered the Register of Deeds of Caloocan City to issue to Eleuteria Rivera new certificates of title over them.Three days later, the Register of Deeds of Caloocan, Yolanda O. Alfonso, issued to Eleuteria Rivera TCT No. C-314537covering a portion of Lot 23 with an area of 14,391.54 square meters.On December 12, 1996, the trial court issued another Order directing the acting Branch Clerk to issue a Certificate of Finality of the Order dated September 9, 1996.

ISSUE: Whether TCT No. C-314537 in the name of Eleuteria Rivera constitutes a cloud over petitioners titles over portions of Lot 23-A of the Maysilo Estate

HELD: NO

CIVIL LAW: Property Law, Quieting of Title

Quieting of title is a common law remedy for the removal of any cloud upon, doubt, or uncertainty affecting title to real property.Whenever there is a cloud on title to real property or any interest in real property by reason of any instrument, record, claim, encumbrance, or proceeding that is apparently valid or effective, but is, in truth and in fact, invalid, ineffective, voidable, or unenforceable, and may be prejudicial to said title, an action may be brought to remove such cloud or to quiet the title.In such action, the competent court is tasked to determine the respective rights of the complainant and the other claimants, not only to place things in their proper places, and make the claimant, who has no rights to said immovable, respect and not disturb the one so entitled, but also for the benefit of both, so that whoever has the right will see every cloud of doubt over the property dissipated, and he can thereafter fearlessly introduce any desired improvements, as well as use, and even abuse the property.

In order that an action for quieting of title may prosper, two requisites must concur: (1) the plaintiff or complainant has a legal or equitable title or interest in the real property subject of the action; and (2) the deed, claim, encumbrance, or proceeding claimed to be casting cloud on his title must be shown to be in fact invalid or inoperative despite itsprimafacieappearance of validity or legal efficacy.

As regards the first requisite, we find that petitioner was able to establish its title over the real properties subject of this action.Petitioner submitted in evidence the Deed of Absolute Saleby which it acquired the subject property from N. Dela Merced and Sons, Inc., as well as copies of OCT No. 994 dated May 3, 1917 and all the derivative titles leading to the issuance of TCT Nos. 270921, 270922 and 270923 in petitioners name Petitioner likewise presented theProyecto de particion de la Hacienda de Maysiloto prove that Lot 23-A, of which petitioners Lots 1-G-1, 1-G-2 and 1-G-3 form part, is among the 34 lots covered by OCT No. 994 registered on May 3, 1917.It produced tax receipts accompanied by a Certificationdated September 15, 1997 issued by the City Treasurer of Caloocan stating that Phil-Ville has been religiously paying realty taxes on the lots.Its documentary evidence also includes a Planprepared by the Chief of the Geodetic Surveys Division showing that Lot 23-A of the Maysilo Estate is remotely situated from Lot 23 portion of the Maysilo Estate.Petitioner ties these pieces of evidence to the finding in the DOJ Committee Reportdated August 28, 1997 and Senate Committee Report No. 1031 dated May 25, 1998 that, indeed, there is only one OCT No. 994, that is, the one registered on May 3, 1917.

Be that as it may, the second requisite in an action for quieting of title requires that the deed, claim, encumbrance, or proceeding claimed to be casting cloud on his title must be shown to be in fact invalid or inoperative despite itsprimafacieappearance of validity or legal efficacy.

Thus, the cloud on title consists of: (1) any instrument, record, claim, encumbrance or proceeding; (2) which is apparently valid or effective; (3) but is in truth and in fact invalid, ineffective, voidable, or unenforceable; and (4) may be prejudicial to the title sought to be quieted.The fourth element is not present in the case at bar.

While it is true that TCT No. C-314537 in the name of Eleuteria Rivera is an instrument that appeared to be valid but was subsequently shown to be invalid, it does not cover the same parcels of land that are described in petitioners titles.Foremost,Riveras title embraces a land measuring 14,391.54 square meters while petitioners lands has an aggregate area of only 8,694 square meters.On the one hand, it may be argued that petitioners land could be subsumed within Riveras 14,391.54-square meter property.Yet, a comparison of the technical descriptions of the parties titles negates an overlapping of their boundaries.

However, while petitioner was not able to demonstrate that respondents TCT No. C-314537 in the name of Eleuteria Rivera constitutes a cloud over its title, it has nevertheless successfully established its ownership over the subject properties and the validity of its titles which entitles it to declaratory relief.

GRANTED.

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