EDDIE E. DIZON and BRYAN R. DIZON, Petitioners,
YOLANDA VIDA P. BELTRAN, Respondent.
G.R. No. 221071
January 18, 2017
Eddie, a seafarer since the 1980’s, and Verona, a housewife, has two children named Bryan and James. She and her mother, together with Bryan and James, resided in the house erected on a 240-square-meter lot (disputed property) in Lanang, Davao City. The disputed property was covered by a TCT issued in 2002 wherein the registered owners were “[Verona], married to [Eddie].”
On 2008, the spouses agreed to sell their house and lot in the amount of not less than P4 million and further agreed that the price shall be increased by P100,000 for every succeeding year until the same is finally sold. They would thereafter equally divide the proceeds from the sale.
On 27 September 2009, Eddie left to work on board a ship outside the Philippines. On October 2009, unknown to Eddie, Verona was rushed to the hospital. Verona died on 8 December 2009 due to cardio-respiratory arrest, which Eddie claimed to only know of the hopitalization and passing on 9 December 2009 through his brother, Jun.
Eddie instructed Jun to ask Verona’s relatives to wait for his arrival. But it was only on December 21, 2009 that he arrived home as it took a while before Eddie’s employer finally permitted him to go home. Verona was already buried before Eddie’s arrival.
Thereafter, a copy of a Deed of Absolute Sale (Deed), dated 1 December 2009, was shown to Eddie. Its subject was the disputed property conveyed to herein respondent, Yolanda Vida P. Beltran (Vida), for ₱1,500,000.00.
Eddie alleged that the Deed was falsified, and his and Verona’s signatures thereat were forgeries. Thereafter, Eddie filed two complaints against Vida. One for nullification of the Deed, and payment of damages and attorney’s fees. The other was a criminal complaint for falsification of public document. He also caused the annotation of a notice of lis penden upon TCT No. T-351707.
On April 6, 2010, TCT No. T-351707 was cancelled, and a new TCT was issued in Vida’s name. Eddie belatedly discovered about the foregoing fact sometime in May 2010 after Davao Light and Power Company cut off the electrical connection purportedly upon the advice of the new owner of the disputed property.
While Eddie’s cases were pending, Vida filed before the Municipal Trial Court in Cities (MTCC) an action for unlawful detainer against Eddie, his son with Verona, and his mother-in-law residing in the disputed property. Vida alleged that she is the registered owner of the disputed property, and that Eddie’s pre-signed the same before he left to work abroad. She further alleged that she merely tolerated the said family to stay in the disputed property, and that she sent a formal letter requiring petitioners to vacate, but to no avail.
MTCC ruled in favor of Vida, which was reversed by the RTC, and was reversed by the CA.
Whether or not Vida has a cause of action for unlawful detainer against the petitioners considering that the Deed was falsified.
No. When the Deed was executed on December 1, 2009, Eddie claimed that he was abroad while Verona was already unconscious. Vida did not directly refute these allegations and instead pointed out that the Deed was pre-signed in April of 2008. The foregoing circumstances reduced the Deed into the category of a private instrument.
With respect to deeds of sale or conveyance, what spells the difference between a public document and a private document is the acknowledgment in the former that the parties acknowledging the document appear before the notary public and specifically manifest under oath that they are the persons who executed it, and acknowledge that the same are their free act and deed.
In the instant petition, Vida impliedly admits the irregularity of the Deed’s notarization as both of the vendors were not personally present. Consequently, clue execution can no longer be presumed. Besides, the extant circumstances surrounding the controversy constitute preponderant evidence suggesting that forgery was committed. Eddie promptly filed a criminal case for falsification of documents and a civil case to nullify the Deed. Later, the Office of the Davao City Prosecutor found probable cause to indict Vida for falsification. Consequently, the issue of ownership cannot be disregarded in the unlawful detainer case. It bears stressing though that while the RTC aptly resolved the issue of ownership, it is at best preliminary and shall not be determinative of the outcome of the two other cases filed by Eddie against Vida.