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CARAGAY-LAGNO vs.

CA

FACTS: Salvador Estrada, nephew and administrator of the intestate estate


of the deceased Mariano De Vera, instituted a suit against Juliana Caragay-
Layno for the recovery of a portion (3732 sq. m.) of sugar and coconut land
(total area indicated in OCT: 8752 sq. m.) located at Calasiao, Pangasinan.
Juliana and decedent, Mariano, were first cousins, both orphans, who lived
together in the care of a common aunt. As prior Administratrix, Marianos
widow filed in the Special Proceeding an Inventory of all of Marianos
properties, including a parcel of land in Calasiao with an area of 5417 sq. m.
Because of a discrepancy in area mentioned in the Inventory and that in the
OCT, Salvador repaired to the Disputed Property. He found that it was
occupied by petitioners Juliana and Benito Layno. Salvador demanded that
they vacate the lot because it was titled in the name of Mariano. Petitioners
refused, claiming that the land belonged to them and, before them, to
Julianas father, Juan Caragay. Juliana claims that the disputed portion had
been fraudulently or mistakenly included in the OCT so that an implied or
constructive trust existed in her favor. RTC: Salvador entitled to recover
possession of the disputed portion. Petitioners ordered to vacate the same.
CA: Affirmed. Although Sec. 102 of Act 496 allows a Petition to compel a
trustee to reconvey a registered land to the cestui que trust, this remedy is
no longer available to Juliana. Marianos land was registered on Sept. 11,
1947 and it was only on March 28, 1967 when Jualiana filed her answer that
she sought the reconveyance of the disputed land. Thus, her claim for
reconveyance prescribed after 10 years. Marianos OCT has become
indefeasible.

ISSUES:

Whether Juliana was entitled to reconveyance.

RULING:

Yes. First, Juliana and her father had been in actual, open, continuous and
uninterrupted possession in the concept of an owner of the disputed portion
for about 45 years. Second, Mariano and his successors-in-interest are guilty
of laches. Third, Julianas property had not yet passed into the hand of third
parties.

RATIO:

The disputed portion was originally possessed openly, continuously and


uninterruptedly in the concept of an owner by Juan and had been declared in
his name under a tax declaration beginning with the year 1921. Upon the
demise of her father, in 1914(?), Juliana adjudicated the property to herself
as his sole heir in 1958 and declared it in her name under a tax declaration
beginning with the year 1959. Realty
taxes were religiously paid from 1938 to 1972. Juliana and her father had
been in actual, open, continuous and uninterrupted possession in the
concept of owner for about 45 years, until said possession was disturbed in
1966 when Salvador informed her that the property was registered in
Marianos name. For 20 years from the date of registration of title (1947) to
when this suit was instituted (1967), neither Mariano up to the time of his
death in 1951, nor his successors-in-interest,
had taken steps to possess/lay adverse claim to the disputed portion, hence
they may be said to be guilty of laches.

The remedy of the landowner whose property has been


wrongfully/erroneously registered in anothers name is, after 1 year from the
date of the decree, not to set aside the decree, but , respecting the decree
as incontrovertible and no longer open to review, to bring an ordinary action
in the ordinary court of justice for reconveyance, or, if the property has
passed into th hands of an innocent purchaser for value,
for damages. Prescription cannot be invoked against Juliana because, as
lawful possessor and owner of the disputed portion, her cause of action for
reconveyance, which, in effect, seeks to quiet title to property, falls within
the settled rule that an action to quiet property in ones possession is
imprescriptible. One who is in actual possession of a piece of land claiming to
be owner thereof may wait until his
possession is disturbed or his title attacked before taking steps to vindicate
his right. Her undisturbed possession for 52 years gave her a continuing right
to seek the aid of a court of equity to determine the nature of the adverse
claim of a 3rd party and the effect on her own title. Besides, her right to
quiet title, to seek reconveyance and to annul the OCT accrued only in 1966
when she was made aware of a
claim adverse to her own.

DISPOSITIVE: CA judgment reversed and set aside. Salvador ordered to


cause segregation of the disputed portion occupied by Juliana and to
reconvey the same to her. Register of Deeds ordered to issue a new
certificate of title covering the area of the disputed portion in favor of Juliana
and the remaining area in another certificate of title in favor of the estate of
Mariano.