CASE DIGEST: Viado v. CA (G.R. No. 137287)


FACTS: During their lifetime, the spouses Julian C. Viado and Virginia P. Viado owned several pieces of property, among them a house and lot located at La Loma, Quezon City. Virginia P. Viado died on 20 October 1982. Julian C. Viado died three years later. Surviving them were their children — Nilo Viado, Leah Viado Jacobs, and herein petitioner Rebecca Viado. Nilo Viado and Leah Viado Jacobs both died on 22 April 1987. Nilo Viado left behind as his own sole heirs herein respondents — his wife Alicia Viado and their two children Cherri Viado and Fe Fides Viado.

Petitioners and respondents shared a common residence at the Isarog property. Soon, however, tension would appear to have escalated between petitioner Rebecca Viado and respondent Alicia Viado after the former had asked that the property be equally divided between the two families. Respondents, claimed absolute ownership over the entire property and demanded that petitioners vacate the portion occupied by the latter. Petitioners, asserting co-ownership over the property in question, fi led a case for partition before the Quezon City.

Respondents predicated their claim of absolute ownership over the subject property on two documents — a deed of donation executed by the late Julian Viado and a deed of extrajudicial settlement in which Julian Viado, Leah Viado Jacobs (through a power of attorney in favor of Nilo Viado).

Petitioners, in their action for partition, attacked the validity of the foregoing instruments, contending that the late Nilo Viado employed forgery and undue infl uence to coerce Julian Viado to execute the deed of donation. Petitioner Rebecca Viado, in her particular case, averred that her brother Nilo Viado employed fraud to procure her signature to the deed of extrajudicial settlement. She added that the exclusion of her retardate sister, Delia Viado, in the extrajudicial settlement, resulted in the latter’s preterition that should warrant its annulment. The trial court and the Court of Appeals adjudged Alicia Viado and her children as being the true owners of the disputed property.

ISSUE: Who are the true owners of the disputed property belonging to spouses Julian Viado and Virginia Viado?

RULING: The Supreme Court ruled in favor of the respondents. When Virginia P. Viado died intestate in 1982, her part of the conjugal property, the Isarog property in question included, was transmitted to her heirs — her husband Julian and their children Nilo Viado, Rebecca Viado, Leah Viado and Delia Viado. The inheritance, which vested from the moment of death of the decedent, remained under a co-ownership regime among the heirs until partition.

Every act intended to put an end to indivision among co-heirs and legatees or devisees would be a partition although it would purport to be a sale, an exchange, a compromise, a donation or an extrajudicial settlement. In debunking the continued existence of a co-ownership among the parties hereto, respondents rely on the deed of donation and deed of extrajudicial settlement which consolidated the title solely to Nilo Viado. Petitioners assail the due execution of the documents on the grounds heretofore expressed.

The evidence submitted by petitioners were utterly wanting and mainly consisted of self-serving testimonies. While asserting that Nilo Viado employed fraud, forgery and undue influence in procuring the signatures of the parties to the deeds of donation and of extrajudicial settlement, petitioners are vague on how and in what manner those supposed vices occurred. The asseveration of petitioner Rebecca Viado that she has signed the deed of extrajudicial settlement on the mistaken belief that the instrument merely pertained to the administration of the property is too tenuous to accept. It is also quite difficult to believe that Rebecca Viado, a teacher by profession, could have misunderstood the tenor of the assailed document.

The exclusion of petitioner Delia Viado, alleged to be a retardate, from the deed of extrajudicial settlement verily has had the effect of preterition. This kind of preterition, however, in the absence of proof of fraud and bad faith, does not justify a collateral attack on Transfer Certifi cate of Title No. 373646. The relief, as so correctly pointed out by the Court of Appeals, instead rests on Article 1104 of the Civil Code to the effect that where the preterition is not attended by bad faith and fraud, the partition shall not be rescinded but the preterited heir shall be paid the value of the share pertaining to her. Again, the appellate court has thus acted properly in ordering the remand of the case for further proceedings to make the proper valuation of the Isarog property and ascertainment of the amount due petitioner Delia Viado.