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129. Bartolome v. IAC

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  University of the Philippines College of Law 3D Topic Authentication and Proof  –  Ancient Document Case No. G.R. 76792 / March 12, 1990 Case Name BARTOLOME V. IAC (NOW CA) Ponente FERNAN, c.j. RELEVANT FACTS    Epitacio Batara “ owned a parcel ”  of land in Laoag, Ilocos Norte, evidenced by a 1906 tax declaration o   It was bounded in the south by the property of his cousin, Doroteo Bartolome o   Epitacio then left for Isabela, ultimately leaving Doroteo to be in charge of his land    After Epitacio died, his wife (Maria Gonzales) came back along with grandchild Resurreccion Bartolome o   After Maria died, however, Resurrecion also went back to Isabela o   Doroteo, the cousin, as well, migrated to Davao City, during that year, and died in Davao    Thereafter, the Director of Lands instituted cadastral proceedings over the land o   Urusla Cid, who was the daughter-in-law of Doroteo, through his deceased son Bernabe, filed an answer claiming ownership over the land, through inheritance from Doroteo o   Three (3) months later, Resurreccion also filed an answer in the same cadastral case claiming ownership over a portion of the lot by inheritance from her grandparents Maria and Epitacio    From then on, no further proceedings were held in the cadastral case. o   Later on, Resurreccion verbally entrusted her claim to the land to Maria Bartolome (the daughter of Doroteo Bartolome and sister of Bernabe, Ursula’s husband ) o   Ursula and her children then also migrated to Davao, instructing the same Maria to receive the rentals for the house and land, then subsequently, leased to Philippine United Trading Co. Inc    For the later lease, Maria Bartolome gave Resurreccion, who had been residing in Isabela, about P50 as consideration of the lease contract o   Maria Bartolome also paid the taxes on the property, until 1948 when Dominador (Bernabe and Urusla’s son) took over    In 1968, the CFI of Ilocos Norte sent out notices for the continuation of the hearing o   Maria filed in a motion to admit answer in intervention, alleging that she is one of the children of Doroteo Bartolome and that she and her co-heirs had been excluded in Ursu la’s answer      She therefore prayed that the answer of Ursula be amended so as to include the rightful heirs of Doroteo Bartolome, who were her and her siblings Clemente, Julia, Rosario, along with Bernabe’s widow Ursula   o   Three months later, Ursula Cid filed a motion to amend her answer to reflect her complete basis of acquisition. She claims that she was the absolute owner the lot, and had been the possessor of the same for over fifty years.    She acquired it by inheritance from Bernabe, who together with her, purchased the lot from three (3) respective woners    The lot had been declared for tax purposes in the name of her late husband Bernabe    No hearing was conducted in the case until 1974 o   Only Resurreccion and Urusla’s answers were considered by the Court o   Ursula Cid presented at the trial three deeds of sale [See Table]  University of the Philippines College of Law 3D    1984: the RTC of Ilocos Norte  rendered a decision in favor of Resurreccion o   It found that the lots described by the first two deeds presented by Ursula are not the land in contention, and that said exhibits are defective as the vendors are not the real owner(s) o   As to Exhibit 4 (the last deed of sale), the court ruled that it has no probative value as the same is incomplete and unsigned. o   The court also held that Ursula's possession of the land after the claimants had filed their respective answer(s)” did not confer ownership on her because said possession was interrupted and merely tolerated by all the parties during the pendency of the case    Ursula Cid appealed to the then IAC, which reversed the RTC    o   The deeds of sale presented by Ursula Cid are ancient documents under Section 22, Rule 132 of the Rules of Court   o   It also ruled that Ursula Cid's continuous possession of the lot from its acquisition and her exercise of rights of ownership over it vested her with the legal presumption that she possessed it under a just title    This is a petition for review on certiorari by Resurreccion questioning the IAC’s decision   EVIDENCE PRESENTED IN TRIAL PROSECUTION DEFENSE (Ursula Cid) n/a Three Deeds of Sale    [a] one dated 1917 by spouses Domingo Agustin and Josefa Manrique    [b] another dated 1913 executed by Ignacia Manrique in favor of Bernabe Bartolome    [c] still another deed executed by Maria (Ressureccion’s grandmother) in favor of Bernabe and Urusla, ceding to the latter the land being claimed by Resurreccion   [EXHIBIT 4]   ISSUE AND RATIO DECIDENDI Issue Ratio W/N the provisions of Rule 132 on ancient documents are applicable with respect to Exhibit 4? [Important] NO, the deed of sale (Exhibit 4) is not an ancient document. Rule 132 of the Rules of Court provides: Sec. 22. Evidence of execution not necessary. —  Where a private writing is more than thirty years old, is produced from a custody in which it would naturally be found if genuine, and is unblemished by any alterations or circumstances of suspicion, no other evidence of its execution and authenticity need be given . 1. The first two requirements ordained by Section 22 (now Section 21) are met by Exhibit 4.  University of the Philippines College of Law 3D    It appearing that it was executed in 1917, Exhibit 4 was more than thirty years old when it was offered in evidence in 1983.    It was presented in court by the proper custodian thereof who is an heir of the person who would naturally keep it. However, the third requirement, that no alterations or circumstances of suspicion are present was not conformed with. 2. According to Dominador Bartolome (son of Ursula Cid), he first saw Exhibit 4 in the possession of his mother when he was just eleven years old. He noticed that the document had a fourth page containing the signature of Maria Gonzales and that all four pages were sewn together. However, when the document was entrusted to him by his mother in 1947 as he was then representing the family in litigation concerning the land, the document's fourth page was already missing. On its face, the deed of sale (Exhibit 4) appears unmarred by alteration. However, the missing page has nonetheless affected its authenticity.  3. It is important because it allegedly bears the signature of the vendor of the portion of lot in question and therefore, it contains vital proof of the voluntary transmission of rights over the subject of the sale. Without that signature, the document is incomplete. Verily, an incomplete document is akin to if not worse than a document with altered contents. Necessarily, since Exhibit 4 is not an ancient document, proofs of its due execution and authenticity are vital.  4. Under Section 21 (now Section 20) of Rule 132, the due execution and authenticity of a private writing must be proved either by anyone who saw the writing executed, by evidence of the genuineness of the handwriting of the maker, or by a subscribing witness. The testimony of Ursula Cid's and her son Dominador on the authenticity of Exhibit 4 do not fall within the purview of Section 21 (now Section 20). The signature of Maria Gonzales on the missing fourth page of Exhibit 4 would have helped authenticate the document if it is proven to be genuine. W/N acquisitive prescription runs during the pendency of a cadastral case? NO, the institution of cadastral proceedings, or at least the publication of the notice therein issued, has the effect of suspending the running of the prescriptive period.    University of the Philippines College of Law 3D Neither can Ursula Cid successfully assert that prior to the institution of the cadastral proceedings, she and her husband had gained acquisitive prescription over the property. Until Doroteo Bartolome migrated to Davao City in 1926, he was in possession of the whole lot including the portion entrusted to him by Epitacio Batara. Granting that Bernabe Bartolome had declared as his own in 1925 a portion of the lot. Still the period from 1925 until the filing of the cadastral case in 1933 failed to give him an advantage. It is short of the 10-year actual, adverse and uninterrupted period of possession mandated by Section 41 of the Code of Civil Procedure in order that a full and complete title could be vested on the person claiming to be the owner of a piece of land. Furthermore, while it is true that the property had been declared for tax purposes by Bernabe Bartolome and that, subsequent to his death, taxes thereon were paid in the name of his son, Dominador, ownership thereof had not been acquired by Ursula Cid or her heirs. A tax declaration in the name of the alleged property owner or of his predecessor-in-interest, does not prove ownership. It is merely an indicium of a claim of ownership. Only a portion of the lot, however, can be given to Resurreccion as evidenced by the tax declaration in Epitacio’s name.  The remaining portions cannot be granted to Ursula and her heirs in like manner, considering the deeds of sale evidencing her ownership to be worthless. RULING WHEREFORE, the appealed decision of the then Intermediate Appellate Court is hereby reversed and set aside. The eastern portion of Lot No. 11165 with an area of 772 square meters is hereby adjudicated in favor of the heirs of Epitacio Batara who are herein represented by Resurreccion Bartolome while the remaining area of Lot No. 11165 is hereby adjudicated in favor of the heirs of Doroteo Bartolome. Petitioners shall pay the cost of the survey and subdivision of Lot No. 11165. No costs. SEPARATE OPINIONS NOTES  
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