G.R. No. 232165, October 02, 2017

SECOND DIVISION [ G.R. No. 232165, October 02, 2017 ] THE HEIRS OF OTILLO SIGUERRE, JR. AND THE HEIRS OF SALOME SIGUERRE V. HEIRS OF EUSEBIO SIGUERRE AND ESPERANZA AGDEPPA-SIGUERRE, REPRESENTED BY VILMA SIGUERRE, IN HER CAPACITY AS CO-HEIR AND REPRESENTATIVE.

After a judicious study of the case, the Court resolves to DENY the instant petition and AFFIRM the December 16, 2016 Decision[1] and May 31, 2017 Resolution[2] of the Court of Appeals (CA) in CA-GR SP No. 138069 for failure of petitioners Otillo Siguerre, Jr. and Salome Siguerre (petitioners) to sufficiently show that the CA committed any reversible error in giving due course to the Petition for Review filed (under Rule 42 of the Rules of Court) by respondents Heirs of Eusebio Siguerre and Esperanza Agdeppa-Siguerre, as represented by Vilma Siguerre (Vilma) in her capacity as co-heir and representative (respondents), and reinstating the January 24, 2014 Decision[3] of the Municipal Trial Court of Cabugao, Ilocos Sur (MTC).

As the CA correctly observed, respondents' failure to indicate their full names in the title of their Rule 42 Petition before the CA and the fact that only Vilma signed the Verification/Certification Against Forum Shopping are mere formal defects that should not result in the dismissal of the case considering that the full names were, in fact, indicated in the Complaint filed before the MTC, and that all respondents share a common interest.[4] On the merits, the Court likewise agrees with the CA that petitioners were not able to prove that respondents' Original Certificate of Title (OCT) No. 0-3397 covering the property was fraudulently issued and hence, should prevail. Notably, said OCT was issued by virtue of an August 12, 1971 Decision of the MTC that was never questioned by petitioners. It is well-settled that "a certificate of title serves as evidence of an indefeasible and incontrovertible title to the property in favor of the person whose name appears therein. The real purpose of the Torrens system of land registration is to quiet title to land and put a stop forever to any question as to the legality of the title."[5] While the certificate of title may be assailed on the ground of fraud,[6] petitioners failed to prove the same. To be sure, the tax declarations and receipts they presented are mere prima facie proof of ownership or possession.[7] Meanwhile, the Deed of Partition cannot be considered not only because the same was executed without the authorization of the other interested parties and hence, a nullity, but also because partition is not a mode of acquiring ownership.[8]

SO ORDERED.

[1] Rollo, pp. 285-292. Penned by Associate Justice Mario V. Lopez with Associate Justices Leoncia R. Dimagiba and Marie Christine Azcarraga-Jacob concurring.

[2] Id. at 303-306.

[3] Id. at 177-196.

[4] See Altres v. Empleo, 594 Phil. 246, 261-262 (2008)

[5] Sps. Peralta v. Heirs of Abalon, 737 Phil. 310, 322 (2014).

[6] See id.

[7] "Neither can the tax declarations and tax receipts presented by petitioners as evidence of ownership prevail over respondents' certificate of title which, to reiterate, is an incontrovertible proof of ownership. It should be stressed that tax declarations and receipts do not by themselves conclusively prove title to the land. They only constitute positive and strong indication that the taxpayer concerned has made a claim either to the title or to the possession of the property for which taxes have been paid. Stated differently, tax declarations and tax receipts are only prima facie evidence of ownership or possession." (Heirs of Vencilao, Sr. v. CA, 351 Phil. 815, 823-824 [1998])

[8] J.L.T Agro, Inc. v. Balansag, 493 Phil. 365, 379 (2005).

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