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G.R. No. L-57062

TodayisThursday,August04,2016

RepublicofthePhilippines
SUPREMECOURT
Manila
THIRDDIVISION

G.R.No.L57062January24,1992
MARIADELROSARIOMARIATEGUI,ETAL.,petitioners,
vs.
HON.COURTOFAPPEALS,JACINTOMARIATEGUI,JULIANMARIATEGUIandPAULINAMARIATEGUI,
respondents.
Montesa,Albon&Associatesforpetitioners.
ParmenioB.Patacsil,PatacsilTwinsLawOfficefortheheirsofthelateMariadelRosarioMariategui.
Tinga,Fuentes&TagleFirmforprivaterespondents.

BIDIN,J.:
Thisisapetitionforreviewoncertiorariofthedecision*oftheCourtofAppealsdatedDecember24,1980inCA
G.R.No.61841,entitled"JacintoMariategui,etal.v.MariadelRosarioMariategui,etal.,"reversingthejudgmentof
thethenCourtofFirstInstanceofRizal,BranchVIII**atPasig,MetroManila.
Theundisputedfactsareasfollows:
LupoMariateguidiedwithoutawillonJune26,1953(Briefforrespondents,Rollo,pp.1168).Duringhislifetime,
LupoMariateguicontractedthree(3)marriages.Withhisfirstwife,EusebiaMontellano,whodiedonNovember8,
1904,hebegotfour(4)children,namely:Baldomera,MariadelRosario,UrbanaandIreneo.Baldomeradiedand
wassurvivedbyherchildrennamedAntero,Rufina,Catalino,Maria,Gerardo,VirginiaandFederico,allsurnamed
Espina. Ireneo also died and left a son named Ruperto. With his second wife, Flaviana Montellano, he begot a
daughternamedCresencianawhowasbornonMay8,1910(Rollo,Annex"A",p.36).
Lupo Mariategui and Felipa Velasco (Lupo's third wife) got married sometime in 1930. They had three children,
namely:Jacinto,bornonJuly3,1929,Julian,bornonFebruary16,1931andPaulina,bornonApril19,1938.Felipa
VelascoMariateguidiedin1941(Rollo,Ibid).
Atthetimeofhisdeath,LupoMariateguileftcertainpropertieswhichheacquiredwhenhewasstillunmarried(Brief
forrespondents,Rollo,pp.1164).ThesepropertiesaredescribedinthecomplaintasLotsNos.163,66,1346and
156oftheMuntinglupaEstate(Rollo,Annex"A",p.39).
OnDecember2,1967,Lupo'sdescendantsbyhisfirstandsecondmarriages,namely,MariadelRosario,Urbana,
Ruperto,Cresencia,allsurnamedMariateguiandAntero,Rufina,Catalino,Maria,Gerardo,VirginiaandFederico,
allsurnamedEspina,executedadeedofextrajudicialpartitionwherebytheyadjudicateduntothemselvesLotNo.
163oftheMuntinglupaEstate.Thereafter,LotNo.163wasthesubjectofavoluntaryregistrationproceedingsfiled
bytheadjudicateesunderActNo.496,andthelandregistrationcourtissuedadecreeorderingtheregistrationof
thelot.Thus,onApril1,1971,OCTNo.8828wasissuedinthenameoftheabovementionedheirs.Subsequently,
the registered owners caused the subdivision of the said lot into Lots Nos. 163A to 163H, for which separate
transfercertificatesoftitlewereissuedtotherespectiveparties(Rollo,ibid).
OnApril23,1973,Lupo'schildrenbyhisthirdmarriagewithFelipaVelasco(Jacinto,JulianandPaulina)filedwith
thelowercourtanamendedcomplaintclaimingthatLotNo.163togetherwithLotsNos.669,1346and154were
ownedbytheircommonfather,LupoMariategui,andthat,withtheadjudicationofLotNo.163totheircoheirs,they
(childrenofthethirdmarriage)weredeprivedoftheirrespectivesharesinthelots.Plaintiffsprayforpartitionofthe
estate of their deceased father and annulment of the deed of extrajudicial partition dated December 2, 1967
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(Petition,Rollo,p.10).CresenciaMariateguiAbas,FlavianaMariateguiCabreraandIsabelSantoswereimpleaded
in the complaint as unwilling defendants as they would not like to join the suit as plaintiffs although they
acknowledgedthestatusandrightsoftheplaintiffsandagreedtothepartitionoftheparcelsoflandaswellasthe
accountingoftheirfruits(Ibid.,Rollo,p.8RecordonAppeal,p.4).
Thedefendants(nowpetitioners)filedananswerwithcounterclaim(AmendedRecordonAppeal,p.13).Thereafter,
theyfiledamotiontodismissonthegroundsoflackofcauseofactionandprescription.Theyspecificallycontended
that the complaint was one for recognition of natural children. On August 14, 1974, the motion to dismiss was
deniedbythetrialcourt,inanorderthedispositiveportionofwhichreads:
ItisthereforetheopinionoftheCourtthatArticles278and285oftheCivilCodecitedbycounselfor
thedefendantsareoferroneousapplicationtothiscase.Themotiontodismissisthereforedeniedfor
lackofmerit.
SOORDERED.(Ibid,p.37).
However,onFebruary16,1977,thecomplaintaswellaspetitioners'counterclaimweredismissedbythetrialcourt,
initsdecisionstatingthus:
The plaintiffs' right to inherit depends upon the acknowledgment or recognition of their continuous
enjoymentandpossessionofstatusofchildrenoftheirsupposedfather.Theevidencefailstosustain
eitherpremise,anditisclearthatthisactioncannotbesustained.(Ibid,Rollo,pp.6768)
TheplaintiffselevatedthecasetotheCourtofAppealsonthegroundthatthetrialcourtcommittedanerror"...in
not finding that the parents of the appellants, Lupo Mariategui and Felipa Velasco (were) lawfully married, and in
holding (that) they (appellants) are not legitimate children of their said parents, thereby divesting them of their
inheritance..."(Rollo,pp.1415).
On December 24, 1980, the Court of Appeals rendered a decision declaring all the children and descendants of
LupoMariategui,includingappellantsJacinto,JulianandPaulina(childrenofthethirdmarriage)asentitledtoequal
sharesintheestateofLupoMariateguidirectingtheadjudicateesintheextrajudicialpartitionofrealpropertieswho
eventually acquired transfer certificates of title thereto, to execute deeds of reconveyance in favor, and for the
shares,ofJacinto,JulianandPaulinaprovidedrightsofinnocentthirdpersonsarenotprejudicedotherwisethesaid
adjudicatees shall reimburse the said heirs the fair market value of their shares and directing all the parties to
submit to the lower court a project of partition in the net estate of Lupo Mariategui after payment of taxes, other
governmentchargesandoutstandinglegalobligations.
The defendantsappellees filed a motion for reconsideration of said decision but it was denied for lack of merit.
Hence,thispetitionwhichwasgivenduecoursebythecourtonDecember7,1981.
ThepetitionerssubmittotheCourtthefollowingissues:(a)whetherornotprescriptionbarredprivaterespondents'
righttodemandthepartitionoftheestateofLupoMariategui,and(b)whetherornottheprivaterespondents,who
belatedlyfiledtheactionforrecognition,wereabletoprovetheirsuccessionalrightsoversaidestate.Theresolution
oftheseissueshinges,however,ontheresolutionofthepreliminarymatter,i.e.,thenatureofthecomplaintfiledby
theprivaterespondents.
Thecomplaintalleged,amongotherthings,that"plaintiffsarethechildrenofthedeceasedspousesLupoMariategui
. . . and Felipa Velasco" that "during his lifetime, Lupo Mariategui had repeatedly acknowledged and confirmed
plaintiffsashischildrenandthelatter,inturn,havecontinuouslyenjoyedsuchstatussincetheirbirth"and"onthe
basisoftheirrelationshiptothedeceasedLupoMariateguiandinaccordancewiththelawonintestatesuccession,
plaintiffsareentitledtoinheritsharesintheforegoingestate(RecordonAppeal,pp.5&6).Itprayed,amongothers,
thatplaintiffsbedeclaredaschildrenandheirsofLupoMariateguiandadjudicationinfavorofplaintiffstheirlawful
sharesintheestateofthedecedent(Ibid,p.10).
Aperusaloftheentireallegationsofthecomplaint,however,showsthattheactionisprincipallyoneofpartition.The
allegationwithrespecttothestatusoftheprivaterespondentswasraisedonlycollaterallytoasserttheirrightsinthe
estateofthedeceased.Hence,theCourtofAppealscorrectlyadoptedthesettledrulethatthenatureofanaction
filed in court is determined by the facts alleged in the complaint constituting the cause of action (Republic vs.
Estenzo,158SCRA282[1988]).
Ithasbeenheldthat,ifthereliefdemandedisnottheproperonewhichmaybegrantedunderthelaw,itdoesnot
characterizeordeterminethenatureofplaintiffs'action,andtherelieftowhichplaintiffisentitledbasedonthefacts
allegedbyhiminhiscomplaint,althoughitisnotthereliefdemanded,iswhatdeterminesthenatureoftheaction(1
Moran,p.127,1979ed.,citingBaguiorovs.Barrios,etal.,77Phil.120).
With respect to the legal basis of private respondents' demand for partition of the estate of Lupo Mariategui, the
CourtofAppealsaptlyheldthattheprivaterespondentsarelegitimatechildrenofthedeceased.
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LupoMariateguiandFelipaVelascowereallegedtohavebeenlawfullymarriedinorabout1930.Thisfactisbased
onthedeclarationcommunicatedbyLupoMariateguitoJacintowhotestifiedthat"when(his)fatherwasstillliving,
hewasabletomentionto(him)thatheand(his)motherwereabletogetmarriedbeforeaJusticeofthePeaceof
Taguig, Rizal." The spouses deported themselves as husband and wife, and were known in the community to be
such.Althoughnomarriagecertificatewasintroducedtothiseffect,noevidencewaslikewiseofferedtocontrovert
thesefacts.Moreover,themerefactthatnorecordofthemarriageexistsdoesnotinvalidatethemarriage,provided
allrequisitesforitsvalidityarepresent(Peoplevs.Borromeo,133SCRA106[1984]).
Underthesecircumstances,amarriagemaybepresumedtohavetakenplacebetweenLupoandFelipa.Thelaws
presumethatamanandawoman,deportingthemselvesashusbandandwife,haveenteredintoalawfulcontract
ofmarriagethatachildborninlawfulwedlock,therebeingnodivorce,absoluteorfrombedandboardislegitimate
andthatthingshavehappenedaccordingtotheordinarycourseofnatureandtheordinaryhabitsoflife(Section5
(z), (bb), (cc), Rule 131, Rules of Court Corpus v. Corpus, 85 SCRA 567 [1978] Saurnaba v. Workmen's
Compensation,85SCRA502[1978]Alavadov.CityGov't.ofTacloban,139SCRA230[1985]Reyesv.Courtof
Appeals,135SCRA439[1985]).
Courtslookuponthepresumptionofmarriagewithgreatfavorasitisfoundedonthefollowingrationale:
The basis of human society throughout the civilized world is that of marriage. Marriage in this
jurisdictionisnotonlyacivilcontract,butitisanewrelation,aninstitutioninthemaintenanceofwhich
the public is deeply interested. Consequently, every intendment of the law leans toward legalizing
matrimony. Persons dwelling together in apparent matrimony are presumed, in the absence of any
counterpresumptionorevidencespecialtothatcase,tobeinfactmarried.Thereasonisthatsuchis
thecommonorderofsocietyandifthepartieswerenotwhattheythusholdthemselvesoutasbeing,
theywouldbelivingintheconstantviolationofdecencyandof
law...(Adongvs.CheongSengGee,43Phil.43,56[1922]quotedinAlavadovs.CityGovernmentof
Tacloban,139SCRA230[1985]).
Somuchsothatonceamanandawomanhavelivedashusbandandwifeandsuchrelationshipisnotdeniednor
contradicted,thepresumptionoftheirbeingmarriedmustbeadmittedasafact(Alavadov.CityGov't.ofTacloban,
supra).
The Civil Code provides for the manner under which legitimate filiation may be proven. However, considering the
effectivity of the Family Code of the Philippines, the case at bar must be decided under a new if not entirely
dissimilarsetofrulesbecausethepartieshavebeenovertakenbyevents,tousethepopularphrase(Uyguangco
vs.CourtofAppeals,G.R.No.76873,October26,1989).Thus,underTitleVIoftheFamilyCode,thereareonly
two classes of children legitimate and illegitimate. The fine distinctions among various types of illegitimate
childrenhavebeeneliminated(Castrovs.CourtofAppeals,173SCRA656[1989]).
Article172ofthesaidCodeprovidesthatthefiliationoflegitimatechildrenmaybeestablishedbytherecordofbirth
appearing in the civil register or a final judgment or by the open and continuous possession of the status of a
legitimatechild.
Evidenceonrecordprovesthelegitimatefiliationoftheprivaterespondents.Jacinto'sbirthcertificateisarecordof
birthreferredtointhesaidarticle.Again,noevidencewhichtendstodisprovefactscontainedthereinwasadduced
before the lower court. In the case of the two other private respondents, Julian and Paulina, they may not have
presented in evidence any of the documents required by Article 172 but they continuously enjoyed the status of
childrenofLupoMariateguiinthesamemannerastheirbrotherJacinto.
WhilethetrialcourtfoundJacinto'stestimoniestobeinconsequentialandlackinginsubstanceastocertaindates
and names of relatives with whom their family resided, these are but minor details. The nagging fact is that for a
considerablelengthoftimeanddespitethedeathofFelipain1941,theprivaterespondentsandLupolivedtogether
untilLupo'sdeathin1953.Itshouldbenotedthateventhetrialcourtmentionedinitsdecisiontheadmissionmade
intheaffidavitofCresencianaMariateguiAbas,oneofthepetitionersherein,that"...Jacinto,JulianandPaulina
Mariateguiaypawangmgakapatidkosa
ama..."(Exh.M,RecordonAppeal,pp.6566).
Inviewoftheforegoing,therecanbenootherconclusionthanthatprivaterespondentsarelegitimatechildrenand
heirsofLupoMariateguiandtherefore,thetimelimitationprescribedinArticle285forfilinganactionforrecognition
isinapplicabletothiscase.Corollarily,prescriptiondoesnotrunagainstprivaterespondentswithrespecttothefiling
of the action for partition so long as the heirs for whose benefit prescription is invoked, have not expressly or
impliedlyrepudiatedthecoownership.Inotherwords,prescriptionofanactionforpartitiondoesnotlieexceptwhen
thecoownershipisproperlyrepudiatedbythecoowner(DelBancovs.IntermediateAppellateCourt,156SCRA55
[1987]citingJardinvs.Hollasco,117SCRA532[1982]).
Otherwise stated, a coowner cannot acquire by prescription the share of the other coowners absent a clear
repudiation of coownership duly communicated to the other coowners (Mariano vs. De Vega, 148 SCRA 342
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[1987]).Furthermore,anactiontodemandpartitionisimprescriptibleandcannotbebarredbylaches(DelBancovs.
IAC, 156 SCRA 55 [1987]). On the other hand, an action for partition may be seen to be at once an action for
declarationofcoownershipandforsegregationandconveyanceofadeterminateportionofthepropertyinvolved
(Roquevs.IAC,165SCRA118[1988]).
Petitioners contend that they have repudiated the coownership when they executed the extrajudicial partition
excluding the private respondents and registered the properties in their own names (Petition, p. 16 Rollo, p. 20).
However, no valid repudiation was made by petitioners to the prejudice of private respondents. Assuming
petitioners'registrationofthesubjectlotin1971wasanactofrepudiationofthecoownership,prescriptionhadnot
yetsetinwhenprivaterespondentsfiledin1973thepresentactionforpartition(Cenizavs.C.A.,181SCRA552
[1990]).
In their complaint, private respondents averred that in spite of their demands, petitioners, except the unwilling
defendantsinthelowercourt,failedandrefusedtoacknowledgeandconveytheirlawfulsharesintheestateoftheir
father(RecordonAppeal,p.6).Thisallegation,thoughdeniedbythepetitionersintheiranswer(Ibid,p.14),was
neversuccessfullyrefutedbythem.Putdifferently,inspiteofpetitioners'undisputedknowledgeoftheirrelationship
toprivaterespondentswhoarethereforetheircoheirs,petitionersfraudulentlywithheldprivaterespondent'sshare
intheestateofLupoMariategui.AccordingtorespondentJacinto,since1962,hehadbeeninquiringfrompetitioner
Maria del Rosario about their (respondents) share in the property left by their deceased father and had been
assured by the latter (Maria del Rosario) not to worry because they will get some shares. As a matter of fact,
sometimein1969,JacintoconstructedahousewherehenowresidesonLotNo.163withoutanycomplaintfrom
petitioners.
Petitioners' registration of the properties in their names in 1971 did not operate as a valid repudiation of the co
ownership.InAdillevs.CourtofAppeals(157SCRA455,461462[1988]),theCourtheld:
Prescription, as a mode of terminating a relation of coownership, must have been preceded by
repudiation(ofthecoownership).Theactofrepudiation,inturn,issubjecttocertainconditions:(1)a
coowner repudiates the coownership (2) such an act of repudiation is clearly made known to the
othercoowners(3)theevidencethereonisclearandconclusiveand(4)hehasbeeninpossession
throughopen,continuous,exclusive,andnotoriouspossessionofthepropertyfortheperiodrequired
bylaw.
xxxxxxxxx
ItistruethatregistrationundertheTorrenssystemisconstructivenoticeoftitle,butithaslikewisebeen
ourholdingthattheTorrenstitledoesnotfurnishshieldforfraud.Itisthereforenoargumenttosaythat
theactofregistrationisequivalenttonoticeofrepudiation,assumingtherewasone,notwithstanding
thelongstandingrulethatregistrationoperatesasauniversalnoticeoftitle.
Inasmuchaspetitionersregisteredthepropertiesintheirnamesinfraudoftheircoheirsprescriptioncanonlybe
deemed to have commenced from the time private respondents discovered the petitioners' act of defraudation
(Adillevs.CourtofAppeals,supra).Hence,prescriptiondefinitelymaynotbeinvokedbypetitionersbecauseprivate
respondentscommencedtheinstantactionbarelytwomonthsafterlearningthatpetitionershadregisteredintheir
namesthelotsinvolved.
WHEREFORE,thepetitionisDENIEDandtheassaileddecisionoftheCourtofAppealsdatedDecember24,1980
isAffirmed.
SOORDERED.
Gutierrez,Jr.,Feliciano,Davide,Jr.andRomero,JJ.,concur.

Footnotes
*PennedbyAssociateJusticeEliasB.Asuncion,concurredbySison,P.V.andCenson,JJ.
**PresidedbyJudgeSerafinE.Camilon.
TheLawphilProjectArellanoLawFoundation

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