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PRESCRIPTION OF ACTION

1139- Actions prescribe by the mere lapse of time fixed by law.

How Actions Prescribe

-By the mere lapse of the time indicated in the law. There is no other requirement.

Scope or Nature of the Chapter

-This chapter is our general Statute of Limitations, because particular provisions on prescription
naturally prevail.

Prescription as a Defense

-In general, we may say that the prescription of action is available as a DEFENSE. To be asserted as such,
it must be specifically pleaded and proved.

1140- Actions to recover movables shall prescribe eight years from the time the possession thereof is
lost, unless the possessor has acquired the ownership by prescription for a less period, according of
Article 1132, and without prejudice to the provisions of Articles 559, 1505, and 1133.

-This refers to extraordinary prescription for movables.

1141-Real action over immovables prescribe after thirty years.

This provision is without prejudice to what is established for the acquisition of ownership and other real
rights by prescription.

Recovery of Immovables

(a) This refers to extraordinary prescription for immovables.

(b) The possession de jure of an immovable is lost, however, at the end of 10 years.

1142- A mortgage action prescribes after ten years.

Prescription of Mortgage Actions

-10 years

When Period Begins

From what moment must the 10-year period be counted? From the day on which it could have been
brought. (Art. 1150, Civil Code). Thus, if the parents of an employee should execute a real estate
mortgage to secure a performance bond given by a surety company for their son, the period of
prescription begins from the moment the surety company pays by reason of said bond because from
said date, the mortgagors become liable, and foreclosure can be made.
Lands With a Torrens Title

While lands with a Torrens Title cannot be acquired by prescription (Sec. 39, Act 496 and Rosario v. Aud.
General, L-11817, Apr. 30, 1958), still the right to foreclose a mortgage on such lands does prescribe for
what does not prescribe is the ownership of said lands.

Effect if Mortgage Is Registered

Even if a mortgage is registered, the action to foreclose upon it may still prescribe. (Buhat v. Besana, 50
O.G. 4215, Sept. 1954).

Effect on Interest on Debt

If a mortgage debt had already prescribed, so also has the action to recover interest thereon. (Soriano v.
Enriquez, 24 Phil. 584).

1143-The following rights among others specified elsewhere in this Code, are not extinguished by
prescription:

(1) To demand a right of way, regulated in Article 649;

(2) To bring an action to abate a public or private nuisance.

Rights Not Extinguished by Prescription

(a) Two rights are indicated in the Article. [The first right, the demanding of the right of way, would
seem to cover also the right to demand a compulsory or legal easement of drainage

(b) Reason for the non-prescriptibility: public policy.

1144- The following actions must be brought within ten years from the time the right of action
accrues:

(1) Upon a written contract;

(2) Upon an obligation created by law;

(3) Upon a judgment.

Actions That Prescribe in 10 Years

The Article enumerates three kinds.

Other actions that prescribe in 10 years include the following:


(a) action to recover de jure possession of real property from a possessor in good faith. (Art. 555, Civil
Code; also Art. 1141, par. 2, in relation to Art. 1134, Civil Code).

(b) a real mortgage action. (Art. 1142, Civil Code).

[NOTE: An action to annul a marriage on the ground of impotency prescribes in eight (8) years, counted
from the celebration of the marriage.

1145-The following actions must be commenced within six years:

(1) Upon an oral contract;

(2) Upon a quasi-contract.

Actions That Prescribe in 6 Years

The Article enumerates two kinds.

Actions Where Periods Are Not Fixed

Any other action whose period has not been fixed in the Civil Code or in other laws, to be counted from
the time the right of action accrues.

1146- The following actions must be instituted within four years:

(1) Upon an injury to the rights of the plaintiff;

(2) Upon a quasi-delict

Actions That Prescribe in 4 Years

The Article enumerates two kinds.

Other actions include:

(a) Action for the annulment of marriage based on non-age, fraud, force, or intimidation.

(b) Action for the revocation or reduction (this is actually only for reduction) of donations based on
birth, appearance, or adoption of a child.

(c) Action to revoke a donation for non-compliance with conditions imposed by donor upon donee, the
period to be counted from the non-compliance with the said condition.

(d) Action for rescission of contracts.

[NOTE: In case of persons under guardianship and in the case of absentees, the period of prescription
shall not begin until the termination of the former’s incapacity, or until the domicile of the latter is
known.
(e) Action for the annulment of a contract.

[NOTE: In cases of intimidation, violence, or undue influence, the period is counted from the time the
vitiation ceases (Art. 1391, par. 3, Civil Code); in case of mistake or fraud, from the time of discovery of
the same (Art. 1391, par. 4, Civil Code); and in cases of contracts entered into by minors or other
incapacitated persons, from the time the guardianship ceases.

Rules for Quasi-Delicts

(a) In a quasi-delict, the period begins from the day the quasi- delict was committed.

b) An action for damages arising from physical injuries because of a tort must be fi led within 4
years. (See Escueta v. Fandialan, L-39675, Nov. 29, 1974). However, when a criminal action for the
same physical injuries is instituted, the civil action for recovery of civil liability arising from the
offense charged is impliedly instituted with the criminal action, unless the offended party expressly
waives the civil action or reserves his right to institute it separately.

Rule Under the Code of Civil Procedure

-Under the Code of Civil Procedure, an action to recover personal property, and an action for the
recovery of damages for taking, retaining, or injuring personal property, can only be brought within 4
years after the right of action accrues.

1147-The following actions must be filed within one year:

(1) For forcible entry and detainer;

(2) For defamation.

Actions That Prescribe in 1 Year

The Article enumerates two kinds. Others include:

(a) An action for legal separation, to be counted from knowledge of the cause (but the action must be
brought within 5 years from occurrence). (Art. 102, Civil Code).

Note: Under Art. 57 of the Family Code, the prescriptive period for fi ling an action for legal separation
shall be counted from the date of occurrence of the cause.

(b) Action to impugn the legitimacy of a child, the period to be counted from the recording of the birth
in the Local Civil Registry, if the husband should be in the same place, or in a proper case, any of his
heirs. (Art. 263, par. 1, Civil Code).
[NOTE: If the husband or his heirs are absent, the period shall be 18 months if they should reside in the
Philippines; 2 years if abroad; if the birth of the child is concealed, the period is to be counted from the
discovery of the fraud. (Art. 263, par. 2, Civil Code).]

(c) Action for the revocation of a donation on the ground of ingratitude, the period to be counted from
the time the donor had knowledge of the fact, and it was possible for him to bring the action. (Art. 169,
Civil Code).

(d) Action for rescission or for damages for sale of immovable encumbered with any non-apparent
burden or servitude, the period to be counted from the execution of the deed. (Art. 1560, par. 3, Civil
Code).

(e) Action for damages (no rescission anymore) for sale of immovable encumbered with any non-
apparent burden or servitude, the one year after the execution of the deed having lapsed, said period to
be counted from the date on which the burden or servitude is discovered. (Art. 1560, par. 4, Civil Code).

Rule in Case of Forcible Entry and Detainer

-In forcible entry, the period is counted from date of unlawful deprivation (Sec. 1, Rule 70, 1997 Rules of
Civil Procedure); in case of fraud or stealth, counted from discovery of the same. In unlawful detainer,
the period is to be counted from the date of last demand

Rule in Case of Libel

-In libel, while it is true that the written defamation become actionable upon its publication (i.e.,
communication to third person), still the libelous matter must first be exhibited to the person libelled
before the action can be brought. Hence, the one-year period runs from the time the offended party
knows of the libelous matter. A person defamed can hardly be expected to institute proceedings for
damages arising from libel when he has no knowledge of the said libel.

Actions That Prescribe in Six (6) Months

(a) Action for the reduction of the price or for rescission of a sale of real estate (by the unit area) if the
vendor is unable to deliver on demand all that is stated in the contract. (

(b) Action for reduction of the price or for rescission of a sale (a cuerpo cierto) of real estate (made with
mention of boundaries) if the vendor is unable to deliver all that is included within said boundaries.

1148- The limitations of action mentioned in Articles 1140 to 1142, and 1144 to 1147 are without
prejudice to those specified in other parts of this Code, in the Code of Commerce, and in special laws.

Periods of Prescription Specified Elsewhere


Aside from the periods and actions indicated in the Articles stated, other periods and other actions are
found elsewhere.

Rules in Case of Fraud

(a) The action for relief on the ground of fraud may be brought within 4 years from the discovery of the
fraud. (Art. 1391, Civil Code; and Sec. 43[3], Act 190). Thus, where the plaintiffs filed an action in 1953 to
annul a contract of sale on the ground that they had been fraudulently induced to sign the same in the
belief that it was a mortgage, although they discovered the fraud in 1945, the same is barred.
(Raymundo v. Afable, L-7651, Feb. 28, 1955). A subsequent action by the same plaintiffs against the
same defendants for the recovery of title and possession of the real property, subject matter of the
aforementioned contract of sale is likewise barred. While it may be true that the recovery of the title
and possession of the lot were ultimate objectives of the plaintiffs, still to attain that goal, they must
first travel over the road of relief on the ground of fraud. (Rone v. Claro and Baquiring, 91 Phil. 250).
Indeed, the plaintiffs cannot be declared as still the owners of the property, entitled to its possession,
without annulling the contract of sale. Said contract cannot be annulled without declaring it fraudulent,
and annulment on this ground cannot be done anymore in view of the prescription. (Raymundo v. De
Guzman, L-109020, Dec. 29, 1959).

(b) An action for reconveyance of land, for which a patent had been issued to the defendant by reason
of fraudulent statements, is one based on fraud, and must be instituted within 4 years from the
discovery of the fraudulent statements made in the application

1149- All other actions whose periods are not fixed in this Code or in other laws must be brought
within five years from the time the right of action accrues.

Examples

(a) Action to impugn the recognition of a natural child. (Art. 296, Civil Code).

(b) Action to impugn the legitimation of a child. (Art. 275, Civil Code).

(c) Action to reduce inoffi cious donations (to be counted from the death of the donor). (See Art. 772,
Civil Code).

[NOTE: Castan believes, however, that the period for this is 4 years, not 5 years, applying the rule for
rescissible contracts under Art. 1389 of the Civil Code.

Query (Re Validity of Stipulation Concerning Period)

May the parties stipulate when action for court enforcement may be brought?

ANS.: Yes, unless the stipulation:

(a) contravenes a valid statute;


(b) or the time fixed is unreasonably short.

1150-The time for prescription for all kinds of actions, when there is no special provision which
ordains otherwise, shall be counted from the day they may be brought.

From What Time Period Is to Be Counted

Note that the period shall be counted from the day the action may be brought, except if there is a
special provision that ordains otherwise.

Reason for the Law

One cannot be said to begin sleeping on his rights, if such rights have not yet accrued. Thus, the starting
point is the legal possibility.

Examples

(a) In an action based on a quasi-delict because of a traffic collision — from the day of the collision

(b) In a promissory note with a maturity date, from the date of such maturity.

(c) In a collection for the unpaid balance of subscribed corporation shares, from the date of demand or
call by the Board of Directors.

(d) In an action to compel the registration of an assigned membership certificate in a non-stock


corporation, the period runs not from the date of assignment, but from the date of denial of
registration. Reason: The existence of a right is one thing; right to have is another. It was only from the
time of denial of registration that the cause of action accrued.

(e) In an action to recover payment of the difference between the wages paid an employee and that
fixed by the Minimun Wage Law, every monthly payment of salaries made by defendant employer gives
the employee a separate and independent cause of action to recover the underpayment; hence, the
period provided for by law is to be counted from the date of each and every monthly payment.

1151-The time for the prescription of actions which have for their object the enforcement of
obligations to pay principal with interest or annuity runs from the last payment of the annuity or of
the interest.

Obligations to Pay Principal With Interest or Annuity

Example: If a matured debt is recognized later by the payment of interest, the prescriptive period
begins, not from the date of maturity, but from the last payment of said interest.
1152- The period for prescription of actions to demand the fulfillment of obligations declared by a
judgment commences from the time the judgment became final.

1153-The period for prescription of action to demand accounting runs from the day the persons who
should render the same cease in their functions.

The period for the action arising from the result of the accounting runs from the date when said result
was recognized by agreement of the interested parties.

Actions to Demand Accounting and Actions Arising from Result of the Accounting

The first paragraph deals with the demand for accounting,

the second deals with the result of the accounting.

Accounting and Reliquidation

There is NO difference, however, between an action for ACCOUNTING and one for RELIQUIDATION, both
of which involve the determination and settlement of what is due the parties under the provisions of the
law.

1154- The period during which the obligee was prevented by a fortuitous event from enforcing his
right is not reckoned against him.

1155-The prescription of actions is interrupted when they are filed before the court, when there is a
written extrajudicial demand by the creditors, and when there is any written acknowledgment of the
debt by the debtor.