SC: Ancient document can be proof of ownership

FIRST DIVISION [ G.R. No. 239990, August 22, 2018 ] LUCENA HERNANDEZ V. PIO HERNANDEZ AND ROSENDO HERNANDEZ.

Acting on petitioner's Motion for Extension of Time, the Court resolves to GRANT her a period of thirty (30) days, not just fifteen (15) days as prayed for, from the expiration of the reglementary period within which to file her Petition for Review on Certiorari.

After a careful review of the allegations, issues, and arguments adduced in the instant Petition for Review on Certiorari filed under Rule 45 of the Rules of Court, the Court resolves to DENY the same for failure of petitioner to show that the Court of Appeals (CA) committed any reversible error in denying her appeal.

Petitioner, in essence, contends that the CA should not have given any weight and credence to the Malayang Bilihan ng Lupa which she claims was not duly notarized. Petitioner harps on the fact that the name of the notary public was not indicated on the document as only an illegible signature appears on top of the words "Notary Public."

The Court does not agree.

Both the trial court and the CA found no reason to discredit the validity of the notarized Malayang Bilihan ng Lupa considering that the question on the identity of the notary public had already been answered by the Certification issued by the Records Management and Archives Office which identified the name of the notary public.

In any case, even if the said document was not duly notarized, the Court agrees with the CA that this does not preclude the document from being admissible in evidence.Section 21, Rule 132 of the Rules of Court states:
Sec. 21. When evidence by authenticity of private document not necessary— Where a private document is more than thirty years old, is produced from a custody in which it would naturally be found if genuine, and is unblemished by any alterations or circumstances of suspicion, no other evidence of its authenticity need be given.
From the foregoing, to be considered an ancient document, the following requisites must concur: (1) it should be more than thirty (30) years old; (2) it should be found in the proper custody; and (3) it should be unblemished by any alteration or by any circumstance of suspicion.[1]

In this case, all the requisites are present. The Malayang Bilihan ng Lupa was executed on May 10, 1952 or more than 30 years ago. It was also found in the custody of the heirs of Juan Hernandez, unblemished, and without any alteration. The CA, therefore, correctly gave weight and credence to the said document as proof that the subject property was owned by Juan Hernandez. Thus, it no longer formed part of the Estate of Maria Ople.

In view of the foregoing, the Court finds no error on the part of the CA in denying petitioner's appeal.

ACCORDINGLY, the Court resolves to AFFIRM the December 20, 2017 Decision and the May 3, 2018 Resolution of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. CV No. 104707.

SO ORDERED. Peralta, J., designated as Acting Chairperson of the First Division per Special Order No. 2582 (Revised) dated August 8, 2018; Gesmundo, J., designated as Acting Member per Special Order No. 2560 dated May 11, 2018.

[1] Aldemita v. Heirs of Melquiades Silva, 537 Phil. 97, 112 (2006).

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