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L-46296 201 SCRA 641 SEPTEMBER 24, 1991


Doctrine: No prescription shall run in favor of a co-owner against his co-owners or co-heirs as long as he expressly or impliedly recognizes the co-ownership. The exception however is that the from the moment one of the co-owners claims that he is the absolute and exclusive owner of the properties and denies the others any share therein, the question is no longer one of partition but of ownership.

Facts: Lino Delima acquired Lot. No. 7758 of the Talisay-Minglanilla Friar Lands Estate in Cebu by sale on installments from the government. After his demise in 1921 he had his three brothers and a sister listed as his heirs. The heirs were Eulalio Delima, Juanita Delima, Galileo Delima, and Vicente Delima. A new Transfer Certificate of Title was issued in the name of the Legal Heirs of Lino Delima represented by Galileo Delima. On September 22, 1953, Galileo executed an affidavit of Extra-judicial Declaration of Heirs adjudicating to himself the subject property excluding the other heirs. He declared the lot to be of his own and paid for its taxes. On February 29, 1968, the surviving heirs of Eulalio and Juanita Delima, filed with the Court of First Instance of Cebu an action for reconveyance and partition of property and for the annulment of the certificate of title issued plus damages against their Uncle Galileo. Vicente Delima was also later included as party defendant for his refusal to help in the action.

The trial court decided in favor of the petitioners rendering the TCT No. 3009 null and void and declaring Vicente, the Heirs of Juanita, the Heirs of Eulalio and the Heirs of Galileo to be owners of the property, each sharing a pro-indiviso share of one-fourth of the whole. The respondents, Heirs of Galileo Delima, appealed to the Court of Appeals which reversed the decision in their favor. It upheld the claim of Galileo that the other brothers and sisters have already waived their rights to the property being that it was Galileo alone that paid for the balance of the purchase price and the realty taxes for the property. Issue: Whether or not petitioners action for partition is already barred by the statutory period provided by law which shall enable Galileo Delima to perfect his claim of ownership by acquisitive prescription to the exclusion of petitioners from their shared in the disputed property? Held: Yes, Article 494 (5) of the Civil Code provides that: No prescription shall run in favor of a co-owner or co-heir against his co-owners or co-heirs so long as he expressly or impliedly recognized the coownership. By this it is therefore understood that possession by a co-owner will not be presumed to be adverse to the others, but will be held to benefit all. Being that Galileo was holding the property in representation of the co-owners; he was therefore acting as an administrator who took care of the property yet still having the ultimate obligation to deliver the property to his co-owners.

However this rule shall no longer apply when one of the co-owners begin to claim the absolute and exclusive ownership and denies the others any share therein. The imprescriptability of the action for partition shall no longer apply since Galileo is adversely claiming lone ownership over the property. In order that a possession be considered adverse amounting to a repudiation of the co-ownership, the following elements must concur: (1) that the trustee has performed the unequivocal acts amounting to an ouster of the cestui que trust; (2) that such positive acts of repudiation had been made known to the cestui que trust; and (3) that the evidence thereon should be clear and conclusive.

Since Galileo, having executed a deed of partition and obtained subsequent to that the cancellation of the old title and the creation of a new one wherein he appears as the new owner of the property, he thereby in effect denied and repudiated the ownership of the other co-owners over their shares. From this act, the statute of limitations started to run. Since an action for reconveyance