Case Digest: Villanueva vs. Spouses Branoco

G.R. No. 172804.January 24, 2011

GONZALO VILLANUEVA, represented by his heirs, petitioner, vs. SPOUSES FROILAN and LEONILA BRANOCO, respondent.



Gonzalo, here represented by his heirs, sued spouses Froilan and Leonila Branoco in the RTC of Naval, Biliran for the recovery of a parcel of land in Leyte. He claimed ownership over the property through purchase from Vere who in turn purchased the property from Rodrigo in 1970. The respondents in this case claimed ownership in their answer through purchase in 1983 from Rodriguez to whom Rodrigo donated the property in 1965.

The trial court ruled in favor of the petitioner, saying that by the time Rodriguez sold the property to the respondents in this case she had no title to transfer because the donation to her by Rodrigo was deemed cancelled when Rodrigo decided to sell the property to Vere instead.

The respondents brought the case up to the Court of Appeals, which granted their appeal. It found the following factors pivotal to its reading of the Deed as donationintervivos: (1) Rodriguez had been in possession of the Property as owner since 21 May 1962, subject to the delivery of part of the produce toApoyAlve; (2) the Deeds consideration was not Rodrigos death but her "love and affection" for Rodriguez, considering the services the latter rendered; (3) Rodrigo waived dominion over the Property in case Rodriguez predeceases her, implying its inclusion in Rodriguezs estate; and (4) Rodriguez accepted the donation in the Deed itself, an act necessary to effectuate donationsintervivos, not devises.Accordingly, the CA upheld the sale between Rodriguez and respondents, and, conversely found the sale between Rodrigo and petitioners predecessor-in-interest,Vere, void for Rodrigos lack of title.

ISSUE: Whether petitioners title is superior to that of respondents.

HELD: The petition is unmeritorious.

CIVIL LAW Property; donations

It is immediately apparent that Rodrigo passed naked title to Rodriguez under a perfected donationintervivos.

First.Rodrigo stipulated that "if the hereinDonee predeceases me, the [Property] will not be reverted to the Donor, but will be inherited by the heirs of xxxRodriguez," signaling the irrevocability of the passage of title to Rodriguezs estate, waiving Rodrigos right to reclaim title.

Second. What Rodrigo reserved for herself was only the beneficial title to the Property, evident from Rodriguezs undertaking to "give one [half] xxxof the produce of the land toApoyAlveduring her lifetime." Indeed, if Rodrigo still retained full ownership over the Property, it was unnecessary for her to reserve partialusufructuaryright over it.

Third.The existence of consideration other than the donors death, such as the donors love and affection to thedoneeand the services the latter rendered, while also true of devises, nevertheless "corroborates the express irrevocability of xxx[intervivos] transfers." Thus, the CA committed no error in giving weight to Rodrigos statement of "love and affection" for Rodriguez, her niece, as consideration for the gift, to underscore its finding.

Petition is DENIED.