Case Digest: Tan vs. Ramirez

Rosario P. Tan v. Artemio Ramirez, et. al.

G.R. No. 158929, August 3, 2010

Justice Brion

Facts: Rosario Tan filed a case for recovery of ownership of a parcel of land against respondents Ramirez, et. al. Rosario alleges that her great-grandfather, Catalino, acquired said property under a Tax Declaration in 1915. The respondents trace their ownership of said land through a compromise agreement and deed of absolute sale from Gavino who has been cultivating the said property. Gavino is the husband of one of the daughters of Catalino.

The appellate court ruled that the respondents are the true owners of the property, there being acquisitive prescription. The deed of absolute sale and compromise agreement constitute just title, thus, their 24 years of possession was more than enough to meet the 10-year possession required by law.

Issue: Whether or not the compromise agreement and deed of sale were enough bases for good faith and just title, thus allowing ordinary acquisitive prescription to take place.
Held: No. A compromise agreement is aimed to put at end to litigation; it does not create or transmit ownership rights over a property. A deed of sale could not also be used as a basis for showing good faith in cases of acquisitive prescription. Good faith, or the want of it, can be ascertained only from the acts of the one claiming it, as it is a condition of mind that can only be judged by actual or fancied token or signs. 
The respondents in the case at bar were aware of the pending litigation over the property, as evidenced by the compromise agreement. Thus, they cannot be considered to be in good faith in acquiring said property by prescription. The respondents did not acquire the property through ordinary acquisitive prescription since they were not in good faith. Likewise, they did not acquire such by extraordinary acquisitive prescription for holding it only for 24 years, short of the 30-year period mandated by law.