G.R. No. 191090, October 13, 2014
EXTRAORDINARY DEVELOPMENT CORPORATION, Petitioner, v. HERMINIA F. SAMSON-BICO AND ELY B. FLESTADO, Respondents.
D E C I S I O N
WHEREFORE, judgment is rendered as follows:chanRoblesvirtualLawlibrary
1. The Deed of Absolute Sale dated April 16, 2002 covering a property consisting of 29,748 square meters covered by Tax Declaration No. BI-030-1509 is hereby declared null and void to the extent of one half of the property sold or 14,874 square meters.
2. That the Tax Declaration No. 00-BI-030-3512 in the name of [EDC] is hereby declared null and void and the Provincial Assessor of Rizal or defendant Municipal Assessor of Binangonan, Rizal is hereby ordered to cancel the same, and the Tax Declration covering the subject parcel of land be reinstated in the name of the heirs of Apolonio Ballesteros and Maria Membrebe.
3. That the [EDC] is hereby ordered to vacate, surrender or reconvey ownership and possession of the parcel of land subject of the Deed of Absolute Sale to [respondents] or the heirs of Apolonio Ballesteros or that they be reinstated to the lawful ownership of one-half (1/2) of the property sold or 14,874 square meters.
4. The defendants are hereby ordered to pay the following damages to the [respondents] jointly and severally:a. Moral damages – P100,000.005. The defendants are hereby ordered to pay the costs of suit.15
b. Exemplary damages – [P]100,000.00
c. Attorney’s fees – [P]100,000.00
THE TRIAL COURT COMMITTED GRAVE ERROR WHEN IT RENDERED A DECISION HOLDING APPELLEES THE LAWFUL OWNER OF ONE-HALF OF THE SUBJECT PROPERTY
THE TRIAL COURT COMMITTED GRAVE ERROR WHEN IT ANNULLED THE 16 APRIL 2002 DEED OF ABSOLUTE SALE AND INVALIDATED THE TITLE OF THE APPELLANT CORPORATION TO THE SUBJECT PROPERTY DESPITE THE COMPLETE ABSENCE OF ANY EVIDENCE TO SUPPORT THE APPELLEES’ CLAIM OF OWNERSHIP OVER ONE-HALF OF THE SUBJECT PROPERTY.
THE TRIAL COURT COMMITTED GRAVE ERROR WHEN IT AWARDED MORAL AND EXEMPLARY DAMAGES AND ATTORNEY’S FEES AND LITIGATION EXPENSES IN FAVOR OF THE APPELLEES DESPITE THE UTTER ABSENCE OF EVIDENCE WHICH CAN PROVE THEY ARE ENTITLED TO THE SAME.
THE TRIAL COURT COMMITTED GRAVE ERROR AND VIOLATED THE RIGHT TO DUE PROCESS OF THE DEFENDANT CORPORATION WHEN IT SUBMITTED THE CASE FOR RESOLUTION WITHOUT PROVIDING THE APPELLANT THE OPPORTUNITY TO PRESENT EVIDENCE IN SUPPORT OF ITS CLAIMS AND DEFENSES.16
WHEREFORE, premises considered, appeal is PARTLY GRANTED. The Decision dated 03 January 2008 of the Regional Trial Court of Binangonan, Rizal, Branch 68 in Civil Case No. 03-035 is AFFIRMED with the following MODIFICATIONS:chanRoblesvirtualLawlibrary
No pronouncement as to costs.17ChanRoblesVirtualawlibrary
- Defendants-appellants Leonardo T. Ballesteros, Marcelina T. Ballesteros-Abad, Lydia T. Ballesteros-De Lara, Cresencia T. Ballesteros-Lirio, Lourdes T. Ballesteros-Tan and Juan T. Ballesteros, Jr. are hereby ORDERED to return to defendant-appellant Extraordinary Development Corporation the amount of P1,487,400.00 or one-half of the purchase price as stated in the Deed of Absolute Sale dated 16 April 2002;cralawlawlibrary
- The Deed of Absolute Sale in favor of the [EDC] is valid only to the extent of one-half of the subject property or 14,874 square meters, but not as to the other half of 14,874 square meters which is co-owned by [respondents];cralawlawlibrary
- The Provincial Assessor of Rizal is hereby ORDERED to CANCEL Tax Declaration No. 00-BI-030-3512 in the name of [EDC] and to ISSUE a new one in the names of co-owners [EDC] (one-half of the subject property) and [respondents] (the other half); and
- The award of moral damages, exemplary damages, and attorney’s fees in the amount of P100,000.00 each is hereby DELETED.
43.1 The Court of Appeals committed grave error in ruling that the Respondents are entitled to ½ of the Subject Property despite their utter failure to present evidence which can prove their claim thereto.
43.2 The Court of Appeals gravely erred in failing to recognize that Petitioner is an innocent party to the instant dispute and is a buyer in good faith and for value.18
DIRECT EXAMINATION BY
ATTY. ROGELIO SILVESTRE, JR.,
ON WITNESS HERMINIA BICO
Q: Mrs. Bico, are you the same Herminia Bico, one of the plaintiffs in this case? A: Yes, sir. Q: Do you know the defendants Ballesteros in this case? A: I know them, sir. Q: Why do you know them? A: Because they are my relatives, sir. Q: Why did you say that they are your relatives? A: [Their] father and my mother are brother and sister, sir. Q: What is the name of your mother? A: Irenea Ballesteros, sir. Q: What is the name of the father of the defendants Ballesteros? A: Juan Ballesteros, sir. Q: So, you mean that they are brother and sister, what is the name of the mother of Irenea Ballesteros and [Juan] Ballesteros? A: Maria Membrebe, sir. Q: What about the father of Irenea Ballesteros and Juan Ballesteros? A: Apolonio Ballesteros, sir. Q: So, you are saying that Irenea Ballesteros and Juan Ballesteros being brother and sister they are the children of Maria Membrede and Apolonio Ballesteros? A: Yes, sir. Q: Do you have proof that your mother is Irenea? ATTY. CERVO I admit the relationship. ATTY. SILVESTRE However, Your Honor, the defendant Extra-Ordinary is denying. COURT But they are not here. ATTY. CERVO As far as I am concerned… COURT As far as the Ballesteros… ATTY. CERVO As far as the Ballesteros are concerned they are admitting the relationship. ATTY. SILVESTRE But on the next hearing the counsel for the Extra-Ordinary will appear. COURT The admission is effective only insofar as the client of Atty. Cervo is concerned. ATTY. SILVESTRE That is the reason why I am asking these questions. COURT They are not here. So, if they will question it later on they are not here. I think the objection will be too late. If they do not object right now the objection is waived. ATTY. SILVESTRE I went over the record of the case, the complainant and the Answer filed by the defendant now when I read the Answer filed by defendant Ballesteros, defendant Ballesteros are practically admitting everything except for a few allegations. COURT Are they disputing relationship? ATTY. SILVESTRE No, Your Honor. COURT So, if it is not disputed in the Answer, it is considered admitted. ATTY. SILVESTRE Okay, Your Honor. Would counsel for the defendant stipulate that the parents, grandparents as well as the father and the mother are already dead? ATTY. CERVO Yes admitted, Your Honor. COURT How can you deny that they are already dead? ATTY. SILVESTRE We would like to proceed to the markings, Your Honor of the exhibits. COURT Proceed. ATTY. SILVESTRE There being no objections, we would like to mark the Certificate of Baptism of Irenea Ballesteros, child of Apolonio Ballesteros and Maria Membrebe as Exhibit “A”. COURT Mark it. ATTY. SILVESTRE The name Apolonio Ballesteros and Maria Membrebe be bracketed and marked as Exhibit “A-1”. COURT Mark it. ATTY. SILVESTRE The Death Certificate of Irenea Samson as Exhibit “B”. The name of husband Santiago Samson be bracketed and marked as Exhibit “B-1”. The Certificate of Death of Santiago Samson be marked as Exhibit “C”. COURT Mark them. ATTY. SILVESTRE The name Herminia Bico followed by the word daughter be marked as our Exhibit “C-1”. COURT Mark it. ATTY. SILVESTRE The certificate of Live Birth of Herminia Samson be marked as Exhibit “D”. COURT Mark it. ATTY. SILVESTRE The Certificate of Baptism of Merlita Samson as Exhibit “E”. COURT Mark it. ATTY. SILVESTRE The name Santiago Samson and Herminia Ballesteros be bracketed and marked as Exhbit “E-1”. COURT Mark it. ATTY. SILVESTRE Will counsel for defendants Ballesteros stipulate that prior to the death of the sister of the witness Merlita Samson she married the other co-plaintiff Ely Flestado? ATTY. CERVO Yes. ATTY. SILVESTRE We would like to mark, Your Honor, the Marriage Contract executed by and between Merlita Samson and Ely Flestado as Exhibit “F”. COURT Mark it. ATTY. SILVESTRE The Certificate of Death of Merlita Flestado be marked as Exhbit “G”. COURT Mark it. ATTY. SILVESTRE One of the entries in the Certificate of Death, Herminia Bico followed by the name sister be bracketed and marked as Exhbit “G-1”. COURT Mark it.19 ANSWER
x x x x
2. The defendants BALLESTEROS admit the allegations in paragraphs 8, 9, 10, 11, 12 and 13 of the complaint;20
8. [Respondents] together with defendants-Ballesteros and defendant Juan T. Ballesteros, Jr., are co-owners of a parcel ofland measuring TWENTY-NINE THOUSAND SEVEN HUNDRED FORTY-EIGHT (29,748) SQUARE METERS situated at Barangay Pantok, Binangonan, Rizal by virtue of succession;cralawlawlibrary
9. [Herminia], defendants Ballesteros and defendant Juan T. Ballesteros are the Heirs of the late Spouses Apolonio Ballesteros and Maria Membrebe who were the parents of the late Juan M. Ballesteros and the late Irenea M. Ballesteros-Samson x x x;cralawlawlibrary
10. During her lifetime, Irenea M. Ballesteros married Santiago Samson, now deceased, with whom she had two (2) children, namely: [Herminia] and Merlita B. Samson x x x;cralawlawlibrary
11. Merlita B. Samson married [respondent] Ely and later died childless and intestate x x x;cralawlawlibrary
12. In his lifetime, Juan M. Ballesteros married Leonarda Tambongco, now deceased, with whom she had six (6) children, namely: defendants Ballesteros and defendant Juan T. Ballesteros, Jr.;cralawlawlibrary
13. Likewise, during the lifetime of Apolonio Ballesteros, he was the owner of the parcel of land mentioned in paragraph 8 hereof and the same was declared for taxation purposes under his name x x x;21
COURT Asan si Ballesteros? ATTY. CERVO He is in court, Your Honor. COURT (to Ballesteros) Q: Alam mo ba na ang may-ari ng lupa na binenta ninyo ay isa sa may-ari sya? A: Opo. Q: So, hindi lang kayo ang may-ari ng lupa? Ang ina nya kasama doon sa may-ari at kalahati lang ang sa inyo? A: Hindi pa naparti. Q: Kahit hindi pa naparte narerecognize ninyo na ang nanay niya ay isa sa may-ari ng lupa kasama ang tatay mo, hindi ba? A: Opo. Q: So, kalahati ang interest ninyo sa lupa, tama? A: Opo. Q: Why did you sell all? A: Hindi pa po bayad lahat, ang hinahabol nila magkabayaran. Kulang pa po ng isang milyon. Q: Ang tanong saiyo, kalahati ng lupa may karapatan ka, you have a right [to] only to one of the property? A: Opo. Q: Bakit sa Deed of Sale ibinenta lahat? Wala silang pirma. A: Nakalimutan ko.22
Sec. 4. Judicial admissions. – An admission, verbal or written, made by a party in the course of the proceedings in the same case, does not require proof. The admission may be contradicted only by showing that it was made through palpable mistake or that no such admission was made.
In a contract of sale, it is essential that the seller is the owner of the property he is selling. Under Article 1458 of the Civil Code, the principal obligation of a seller is to transfer the ownership of the property sold. Also, Article 1459 of the Civil Code provides that the thing must be licit and the vendor must have a right to transfer the ownership thereof at the time it is delivered. The execution by appellants Ballesteros of the Deed of Absolute Sale over the subject property which they do not exclusively own but is admittedly co-owned by them together with the [respondents], was valid only to the extent of the former’s undivided one-half share thereof, as they had no title or interest to transfer the other one-half portion which pertains to the [respondents] without the latter’s consent. It is an established principle that no one can give what one does not have – nemo dat quod non habet. Accordingly, one can sell only what one owns or is authorized to sell, and the buyer can acquire no more than what the seller can transfer legally. Thus, since appellant EDC’s rights over the subject property originated from sellers-appellants Ballesteros, said corporation merely stepped into the shoes of its sellers and cannot have a better right than what its sellers have. Indeed, a spring cannot rise higher than its source.25cralawred (Emphasis ours)
Art. 493. Each co-owner shall have the full ownership of his part of the fruits and benefits pertaining thereto, and he may therefore alienate, assign or mortgage it, and even substitute another person in its enjoyment, except when personal rights are involved. But the effect of the alienation or the mortgage, with respect to the co-owners, shall be limited to the portion which may be allotted to him in the division upon the termination of the co-ownership.
x x x Would the sale by a co-owner of a physical portion of an undivided property held in common be valid? x x x
On the first issue, it seems plain to us that the trial court concluded that petitioners could not have acquired ownership of the subject land which originally formed part of Lot 162, on the ground that their alleged right springs from a void sale transaction between Salome and Soledad. The mere fact that Salome purportedly transferred a definite portion of the co-owned lot by metes and bounds to Soledad, however, does not per se render the sale a nullity. This much is evident under Article 493 of the Civil Code and pertinent jurisprudence on the matter. More particularly in Lopez vs. Vda. De Cuaycong, et. al. which we find relevant, the Court, speaking through Mr. Justice Bocobo, held that:…The fact that the agreement in question purported to sell a concrete portion of the hacienda does not render the sale void, for it is a well-established principle that the binding force of a contract must be recognized as far as it is legally possible to do so. “Quando res non valet ut ago, valeat quantum valere potest.” (When a thing is of no force as I do it, it shall have as much force as it can have.)Applying this principle to the instant case, there can be no doubt that the transaction entered into by Salome and Soledad could be legally recognized in its entirety since the object of the sale did not even exceed the ideal shares held by the former in the co-ownership. As a matter of fact, the deed of sale executed between the parties expressly stipulated that the portion of Lot 162 sold to Soledad would be taken from Salome’s 4/16 undivided interest in said lot, which the latter could validly transfer in whole or in part even without the consent of the other co-owners. Salome’s right to sell part of her undivided interest in the co-owned property is absolute in accordance with the well-settled doctrine that a co-owner has full ownership of his pro-indiviso share and has the right to alienate, assign or mortgage it, and substitute another person in its enjoyment. Since Salome’s clear intention was to sell merely part of her aliquot share in Lot 162, in our view no valid objection can be made against it and the sale can be given effect to the full extent.
We are not unaware of the principle that a co-owner cannot rightfully dispose of a particular portion of a co-owned property prior to partition among all the co-owners. However, this should not signify that the vendee does not acquire anything at all in case a physically segregated area of the co-owned lot is in fact sold to him. Since the co-owner/vendor’s undivided interest could properly be the object of the contract of sale between the parties, what the vendee obtains by virtue of such a sale are the same rights as the vendor had as co-owner, in an ideal share equivalent to the consideration given under their transaction. In other words, the vendee steps into the shoes of the vendor as co-owner and acquires a proportionate abstract share in the property held in common.29
1Rollo, 30-59; Penned by Associate Justice Celia C. Librea-Leagogo with Associate Justices Juan Q. Enriquez, Jr. and Antonio L. Villamor concurring.
2 Id. at 61-65.
3 Records, pp. 177-180; Presided by Judge John C. Quirante.
4 Id. at 21-22.
5Rollo, p. 84.
6 Id. at 85.
7 Id. at 66-75.
8 Id. at 91-98.
9 Id. at 101-104.
10 Id. at 133.
11 Id. at 134.
12 Id. at 135.
13 Id. at 136.
14 Id. at 137.
15 Id. at 140-141.
16 Id. at 42-43.
17 Id. at 55-56.
18 Id. at 13.
19 TSN, 12 March 2007, pp. 4-10.
20 Rollo, p. 101.
21 Id. at 68-69.
22 TSN, 12 March 2007, pp. 19-20.
23Spouses Binarao v. Plus Builders, Inc., 524 Phil. 361, 365 (2006) citing Regalado, Remedial Law Compendium, Volume Two, Seventh Revised Edition at 650.
24Cahilig v. Terencio, G.R. No. 164470, 28 November 2011, 661 SCRA 261, 271 citing Maagad v. Maagad, G.R. No. 171762, 5 June 2009, 588 SCRA 649.
25cralawred Rollo, pp. 51-52.
26 Heirs of Bugarin v. Republic, G.R. No. 174431, 6 August 2012, 678 SCRA 209, 225 citing Lacson v. Executive Secretary, G.R. Nos. 165399, 165475, 165404 and 165489, 30 May 2011, 649 SCRA 142, 155; Estrada v. People, 505 Phil. 339, 353-354 (2005).
27Heirs of Cayetano Pangan and Consuelo Pangan v. Spouses Perreras, G.R. No. 157374, 27 August 2009, 597 SCRA 253, 260.
28 403 Phil. 707 (2001).
29 Id. at 715-717.
30Reyes v. Lim, 456 Phil. 1, 14 (2003).