Undischarged burden
A LAW EACH DAY (KEEPS TROUBLE AWAY) - Jose C. Sison (The Philippine Star) - September 4, 2020 - 12:00am

In civil cases, particularly with regards to ownership of property, the burden of proof rests upon the plaintiff who is required to establish his/her claim by preponderance of evidence or the greater weight of credible evidence more convincing to the court as worthier of belief than that which is offered in opposition thereto. It concerns a determination of the truth or falsity of the alleged facts based on the evidence presented by the party claiming ownership. This is explained and illustrated in this case between Angie and Romy.

Angie is a widow who is the registered owner of a 364-square meter property located in the suburban city covered by Transfer Certificate of Title (TCT) No. 4738. Said property was previously owned by her husband Jun who inherited it from Gina by virtue of an Extrajudicial Settlement of Gina’s Estate. When Jun died, Angie executed an Affidavit of Adjudication, adjudicating to herself the subject property. Hence the aforementioned TCT was issued in her name.

When Romy learned about Angie’s moves regarding said property, he filed a complaint against Angie for cancellation of said title and for recovery of one-half of said property plus damages. He alleged that when Jun died, he was survived not only by Angie his wife but by him and his sister Rina who are his brother and sister. In support of his claim, he presented the Deed of Extrajudicial Settlement of the Estate of Gina as well as the waiver of rights executed by his sister Rina in his favor.

For her part, Angie sought the dismissal of the complaint and denied that Romy is a legitimate brother of Jun. She also denied committing any falsehood or misrepresentation in the execution of the Affidavit of Adverse claim.

After trial, the Regional Trial Court ruled that the Extrajudicial Settlement of the Estate of the deceased Gina does not suffice to prove Romy’s claim that he is the brother of Jun. Moreover, the Waiver of rights executed by his sister Rina in his favor is inadmissible for being mere photocopies of the originals. The court said that Romy should have presented the birth certificate of Jun showing that they have the same father or mother. This ruling was affirmed by the Court of Appeals (CA) without prejudice to the filing in an appropriate court of an intestate proceeding to determine the heirs who may be entitled to inherit the estate of Jun, including the subject property. The CA also deleted the award of exemplary damages and sustained only the awards of attorney’s fees and litigation expenses. Thus, Romy still brought the case to the Supreme Court (SC) on a Petition for Review on Certiorari.

The SC, however, denied Romy’s Petition because Romy’s allegations are mere rehash of his arguments before the CA that essentially raise questions of fact which are beyond the ambit of a petition for review on certiorari under Rule 45 of the Rules of Court.According to the SC, his claim that he is entitled to the entire property because he is the brother of Jun, although his birth  certificate stated that his mother was Gina while the marriage contract between Jun and Angie indicated that Jun’s mother is Dolly and both documents indicated that they have the same father, requires a review of the probative values and evaluation of the evidence presented. This is beyond the purview of a petition for review under Rule 45, the SC said.

Besides, it is incumbent upon Romy to prove that he is the brother of Jun. Unfortunately, he failed to overcome this burden with preponderance of evidence. He should have submitted documents such as birth certificates duly showing that he and Jun have the same mother, father or both. The Extrajudicial Settlement of the State of the deceased Gina, the waiver of rights executed by his sister Rina in his favor and the Special Power of Attorney executed by Jun designating Rina as his attorney-in-fact do not suffice to support Romy’s claim that he is the brother of Jun (Caranto vs. Caranto, G.R. 202889, March 2, 2020).

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Email: js0711192@gmail.com

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