[G.R. NO. 165938 : November 25, 2009]
ROGELIO DIZON, Petitioner, v. PHILIPPINE VETERANS BANK, Respondent.
D E C I S I O N
Assailed in the present Petition for Review on Certiorari under Rule 45 of the Rules of Court is the Resolution1 of the Court of Appeals (CA) in CA-G.R. CV No. 72856, dated August 25, 2003, which dismissed herein petitioner's appeal, and its Resolution2 dated November 2, 2004 denying petitioner's motion for reconsideration.
The undisputed facts are as follows:
Herein petitioner Rogelio Dizon and his wife Corazon were the owners of three parcels of land located in Angeles City, Pampanga covered by Transfer Certificate of Title (TCT) Nos. T-12567, T-35788 and T-29117-R (3793). On September 26, 1979, the Spouses Dizon mortgaged these lots to herein respondent Philippine Veterans Bank (PVB) as security for a credit accommodation which they obtained from PVB. The Spouses Dizon failed to pay their obligation. As a consequence, PVB extrajudicially foreclosed the mortgage and was able to acquire the subject properties at public auction conducted on December 8, 1983. Subsequently, a Certificate of Sale was issued in favor of PVB which was registered with the Register of Deeds of Angeles City on November 22, 1984.
Sometime in June 1986, PVB filed with the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Angeles City a Petition for the Issuance of Owner's Duplicate Certificate of Title covering the subject lots. The case was docketed as L.R.C. CAD. CASE NO. A-124-91. Apparently, for failure of PVB to prosecute the case for an unreasonable length of time, the petition was dismissed without prejudice.
On July 26, 1999, PVB filed anew with the RTC of Angeles City a Petition for Issuance of Owner's Duplicate Copy of Transfer Certificate of Title over the same parcels of land. The case was docketed as L.R.C. Case No. A-124-1024. Herein petitioner opposed the petition.
On November 16, 1999, PVB filed with the RTC of Angeles City an ex-parte petition for the issuance of a writ of possession. The case was docketed as Cad. Case No. A-124-1057. On February 19, 2002, the RTC rendered judgment in favor of PVB. On appeal, however, the CA reversed the decision of the RTC and dismissed PVB's petition for the issuance of a writ of possession. The CA Decision became final and executory on January 14, 2004.
Meanwhile, after due proceedings in L.R.C. Case No. A-124-1024, the RTC rendered judgment granting the petition of PVB. The dispositive portion of the RTC Decision, dated August 6, 2001, reads as follows:
WHEREFORE, the Register of Deeds of Angeles City is directed to issue another owner's duplicate copies of T.C.T. Nos. T-12567, 29117 (3793) and 35788 in favor of petitioner Philippine Veterans Bank, which shall contain a memorandum of the fact that they be issued in place of the lost ones but shall, in all respect, be entitled to like faith and credit as the original duplicates and shall thereafter be regarded as such for all purposes of Pres. Decree No. 1529, after the petitioner shall have complied with all the mandatory requirements of the law on the matter.
Feeling aggrieved, Rogelio filed an appeal with the CA. On August 25, 2003, the CA issued the presently assailed Resolution dismissing Rogelio's appeal for his failure to file his appellant's brief.
Rogelio filed a motion for reconsideration, but the same was denied by the CA in a subsequent Resolution dated November 2, 2004.
Hence, the present petition based on the following grounds:
I. Whether or not the questioned second Petition for Issuance of Owner's Duplicate copy of Transfer Certificate of Title Nos. T-12567, 2917 (3793), 5788 in lieu of lost owner's copy filed by the Petitioner-Appellee on July 26, 1999, after more than sixteen (16) years after the Foreclosure Sale sometime in December 8, 1983 is barred by prescription;
II. Whether or not the three (3) defective, fictitious and/or fake Owner's duplicate certificates of title attached in the dismissed original petition filed on June 1986 when it was the Respondent Bank (petitioner therein) itself which placed the remarks on the upper right corner of the titles the phrase: ALLEGEDLY FAKE in our possession presented as collaterals are similar to the three (3) certified true copies of the original certificates of title on file at the Register of Deeds of Angeles City attached in the second Petition and marked as Annexes "A", "B" and "C" thereof respectively;
III. Whether or not Atty. Ma. Rosario A. Sabalburo, Head of Assets Recovery Department of the PVB, has committed the crime of perjury in her Sworn Affidavit of Loss that she executed on July 23, 1999, by presenting as pieces of evidence the copies of the original certificates of title secured from the Register of Deeds of Angeles City and not the machine copies of the owner's duplicate certificates of title that were found in their file as claimed or true xerox copies from RTC BR. 62;
IV. Whether or not the documentary bases (the three certified copies of title issued by the Register of Deeds of Angeles City only last November 16, 1999 which were duly verified by Mr. Ronnie Vergara and Mr. Herminio Manalang, the records officer and Vault Keeper, respectively of the said Office, used in the Respondent Bank's second Petition are the very same copies of the said collaterals having the same annotations and encumbrances making them as the true and faithful reproductions of the titles used in the Bank's first Petition filed by the Petitioner on June 19, 1986. (Emphasis supplied.)4
The petition lacks merit.
With respect to the first issue, petitioner contends that the petition filed by respondent bank has prescribed, citing Article 1142 of the Civil Code which states that "[a] mortgage action prescribes in ten years."
It is true that, under Article 1142 of the Civil Code, an action to enforce a right arising from a mortgage should be enforced within ten (10) years from the time the right of action accrues; otherwise, it will be barred by prescription and the mortgage creditor will lose his rights under the mortgage.5 It is clear that the actions referred to under Article 1142 of the Civil Code are those that necessarily arise from a mortgage. In the present case, however, PVB's petition for the issuance of an owner's duplicate certificate of title already arises from its right as the owner of the subject properties and no longer as a mortgagee. The mortgage contract respondent entered into with petitioner had already been foreclosed, the properties sold and the sale in favor of PVB registered with the Register of Deeds of the Province of Cagayan. Hence, since the petition filed by PVB is not a mortgage action, the provisions of Article 1142 of the Civil Code do not apply.
In any case, Presidential Decree (PD) No. 1529, otherwise known as the Property Registration Decree, the law that specifically governs petitions for the replacement of lost duplicate certificates of title, does not provide for any limitation or period for filing the said petition. The silence of the law on this matter can only be interpreted to mean that there is no intention to provide a prescriptive period for filing this petition.
As to the second issue, petitioner anchors his opposition to the petition filed by PVB on the contention that the titles, which he presented to the bank as evidence that the subject properties were used as security for the loan he and his wife incurred with the said bank, were genuine but were later on altered by the bank's officials and employees with whom he allegedly entered a deal in order to have his loan approved. Petitioner claims that this altered and spurious titles were the ones presented by PVB in its first petition filed with the RTC in June 1986. However, these allegations remain unsubstantiated. They are self-serving statements which are not supported by any evidence whatsoever. It is settled that one who alleges a fact has the burden of proving it and mere allegation is not evidence.6 The established fact remains that petitioner and his wife were the ones who submitted to PVB the authentic owner's copy of the titles over the subject properties and that these copies were lost.Ï‚Î·Î±Ã±rÎ¿blÎµÅ¡ Î½Î¹râ€ Ï…Î±l lÎ±Ï‰ lÎ¹brÎ±rÃ¿
The Court cannot follow the logic in petitioner's arguments considering that, in the first place, he and his wife were the ones who submitted the titles to PVB. Now that PVB seeks to obtain a duplicate copy of the titles covering the subject properties which it legally acquired, petitioner has made a complete turnaround and now assails the authenticity of these titles which he and his wife used to obtain their loan. Nonetheless, petitioner is estopped from doing so.
Settled is the rule that a person, who by his deed or conduct has induced another to act in a particular manner, is barred from adopting an inconsistent position, attitude or course of conduct that thereby causes loss or injury to the latter.7 The doctrine of estoppel is based upon the grounds of public policy, fair dealing, good faith and justice, and its purpose is to forbid one to speak against his own act, representations, or commitments to the injury of one to whom they were directed and who reasonably relied thereon.8
Article 1431 of the Civil Code states that "[t]hrough estoppel an admission or representation is rendered conclusive upon the person making it, and cannot be denied or disproved as against the person relying thereon."
The essential elements of estoppel are: (1) conduct of a party amounting to false representation or concealment of material facts or at least calculated to convey the impression that the facts are otherwise than, and inconsistent with, those which the party subsequently attempts to assert; (2) intent, or at least expectation, that this conduct shall be acted upon by, or at least influence, the other party; and (3) knowledge, actual or constructive, of the real facts.9
In the present case, petitioner may not renege on his own acts and representations to the prejudice of respondent bank, which has relied on them. Since petitioner entered into a binding contract on his own volition using the titles which he now assails, he is therefore estopped from questioning the authenticity of these documents which paved the way for the consummation of the contract from which he derived benefit.
Other than to harass the respondent, the Court is at a loss as to what petitioner really desires to achieve in opposing the respondent bank's petition. The Court agrees with respondent's observation that petitioner's actuations are demonstrative of his desperate attempt to cling on to the subject properties despite the fact that he has lost them by reason of foreclosure due to his failure to pay his obligations and his subsequent inability to redeem them during the period allowed by law.
Coming to the third and fourth issues, petitioner calls on the Court to resolve issues of fact. Settled is the rule that a Petition for Review on Certiorari filed with this Court under Rule 45 of the Revised Rules of Court shall raise only questions of law.10 This Court is not a trier of facts. It is not its function to analyze or weigh evidence. The jurisdiction of this Court over cases brought to it is limited to the review and rectification of errors allegedly committed by the lower courts.11 While there are exceptions to this rule,12 the Court finds that the present case does not fall under any of them.
In any case, what petitioner is trying to impress upon the Court in the third and fourth issues is that PVB is concealing the fact that the alleged spurious copies of the subject TCTs were not actually lost. However, the Court gives full faith and credence to the finding of the RTC that the owner's duplicate copies in the possession of PVB were, in fact, lost. This is consistent with the settled rule that appellate courts should not, unless for strong and cogent reasons, reverse the findings of fact of trial courts.13 This is so because trial judges are in a better position to examine real evidence and at a vantage point to observe the actuation and the demeanor of the witnesses.14 In the instant case, the Court finds no sufficient reason to depart from the above findings of the RTC.
Petitioner further questions PVB's submission of the certified true copies of the TCTs covering the subject properties, which were taken from the files of the Register of Deeds of Angeles City. However, PVB has sufficiently explained that it is only submitting evidence to prove that it complied with the jurisdictional requirement under Section 10915 of PD No. 1529, which directs a person applying for the issuance of another duplicate certificate of title to file a sworn statement with the concerned Register of Deeds of the fact of loss or destruction of the original owner's duplicate copy of the subject TCT.
It bears to emphasize that in a petition for the issuance of a second owner's duplicate copy of a certificate of title in replacement of a lost one, the only questions to be resolved are: whether or not the original owner's duplicate copy has indeed been lost and whether the petitioner seeking the issuance of a new owner's duplicate title is the registered owner or other person in interest.16
The first question is factual and, in the present case, the RTC had already made a finding that the original owner's duplicate copy of the subject TCTs had indeed been lost. In this respect, the Court finds no cogent reason to depart from the findings of the RTC as discussed earlier.
As to the second question, there is no dispute that PVB has an interest over the subject properties having acquired the same at public auction.
In sum, there is no doubt as to the identity of the subject properties. There is neither any dispute with respect to the fact that petitioner and his wife mortgaged these properties to PVB and that they subsequently failed to pay their obligations to the latter. Nor is there any issue as to the validity of the foreclosure proceedings as well as the auction sale conducted and PVB's subsequent acquisition of the subject properties.
Hence, on the basis of the foregoing, the Court finds that the RTC committed no error in granting PVB's petition for the issuance of an owner's duplicate copy of certificates of title covering the subject properties.
WHEREFORE, the petition is DENIED. The Resolutions dated August 25, 2003 and November 2, 2004, respectively, of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. CV No. 72856, are AFFIRMED.
1 Penned by Associate Justice Andres B. Reyes, Jr., with Associate Justices Eubulo G. Verzola (now deceased) and Regalado E. Maambong, concurring; rollo, p. 87.
2 Rollo, p. 22.
3 Id. at 44.
4 Id. at 7.
5 Cando v. Spouses Olazo, G.R. No. 160741, March 22, 2007, 518 SCRA 741; Tambunting, Jr. v. Sumabat, G.R. No. 144101, September 16, 2005, 470 SCRA 92, 97.
6 Heirs of Cesar Marasigan v. Marasigan, G.R. No. 156078, March 14, 2008, 548 SCRA 409, 440; Amor-Catalan v. Court of Appeals, G.R. No. 167109, February 6, 2007, 514 SCRA 607, 612.
7 Harold v. Aliba, G.R. No. 130864, October 2, 2007, 534 SCRA 478, 487.
9 Lim v. Queensland Tokyo Commodities, Inc., 424 Phil. 35, 43-44 (2002).
10 Marcelo v. Bungubung, G.R. No. 175201, April 23, 2008, 552 SCRA 589, 605.
11 Quitoriano v. Department of Agrarian Reform Adjudication Board, G.R. No. 171184, March 4, 2008, 547 SCRA 617, 627.
12 1. When the conclusion is a finding grounded entirely on speculation, surmises and conjectures;
2. When the inference made is manifestly mistaken, absurd or impossible;
3. Where there is a grave abuse of discretion;
4. When the judgment is based on a misapprehension of facts;
5. When the findings of fact are conflicting;
6. When the Court of Appeals, in making its findings, went beyond the issues of the case, and the same is contrary to the admissions of both appellant and appellee;
7. When the findings are contrary to those of the trial court;
8. When the findings of fact are conclusions without citation of specific evidence on which they are based;
9. When the facts set forth in the petition as well as in the petitioner's main and reply briefs are not disputed by the respondents; andcralawlibrary
10.When the findings of fact of the Court of Appeals are premised on the supposed absence of evidence and contradicted by the evidence on record. (Samaniego-Celada v. Abena, G.R. No. 145545, June 30, 2008, 556 SCRA 569, 576-577)
13 United Airlines v. Court of Appeals, 409 Phil. 88, 101 (2001).
15 SEC. 109. Notice and replacement of lost duplicate certificate. - In case of loss or theft of an owner's duplicate certificate of title, due notice under oath shall be sent by the owner or by someone in his behalf to the Register of Deeds of the province or city where the land lies as soon as the loss or theft is discovered. If a duplicate certificate is lost or destroyed, or cannot be produced by a person applying for the entry of a new certificate to him or for the registration of any new instrument, a sworn statement of the fact of such loss or destruction may be filed by the registered owner or other person in interest and registered.
Upon the petition of the registered owner or other person in interest, the court may, after notice and due hearing, direct the issuance of a new duplicate certificate, which shall contain a memorandum of the fact that it is issued in place of the lost duplicate certificate, but shall in all respects be entitled to like faith and credit as the original duplicate, and shall thereafter be regarded as such for all purposes of this decree.
16 Macabalo-Bravo v. Macabalo, G.R. No. 144099, September 26, 2005, 471 SCRA 60, 67 citing New Durawood Co., Inc. v. Court of Appeals, 324 Phil. 109, 123 (1996).