Oral vs written

A LAW EACH DAY (KEEPS TROUBLE AWAY) - Jose C. Sison - The Philippine Star

This is a case about the validity of oral partition or “toka” of a parcel of land as against a subsequent written Deed of Absolute Sale over the same land. The issue here is whether the subsequent Deed of Sale will prevail over the said “toka.”

The lands involved here are located in several southern Luzon provinces registered in the name Mario and Minda Abelardo, all of which were distributed by “toka” among their children during their lifetime, some of whom have already transferred their shares in their names. Of these properties, one half of the 2,696 square meters property located in a Laguna town were given to Romy married to Betty (Abelardo spouses), while the other half was given to Romy’s sister Fely who is married to Pedro Serrano (Serrano spouses). Upon receipt of his share, Romy built a house thereon.

When Romy died nine years after the death of his parents, Betty discovered that her husband Romy’s share has been transferred in the name of Fely and her husband Pedro by virtue of a Deed of Absolute Sale executed right after the “toka.” The signatures of their parents in said Deed and the Affidavit attached thereto, however, are not genuine compared with the documents bearing their standard signatures. Moreover, the said property had been mortgaged to a financial company (TRC) which has already foreclosed the same.

So Betty filed a complaint for annulment of the Real Estate Mortgage, Deed of Sale and other documents or proceedings of the alleged ownership of TRC.

The Regional Trial Court (RTC), however, dismissed her complaint, ruling that the “toka” is void for lack of formalities required by law on donation and the Deed of Sale in favor of Fely and Pedro valid.

On appeal by the heirs of Romy, the CA reversed and set aside the RTC decision. It upheld the validity of the oral “toka” made in favor of Romy in so far as his one-half share thereon. So the mortgage executed in favor of TRC is valid only with respect to the share of Fely and Pedro in said land and not with respect to the shares of the heirs. Was the CA correct?

The Supreme Court ruled that the CA is correct. Records show that during the lifetime of Mario and Minda, Romy’s parents, one-half of the 2,696 sq.m. property was given to Romy by “toka” while the other half was given to Fely. And upon receipt of his share, Romy built his house and his heirs continue to occupy the same.

Hence Fely can no longer lay claim to the one-half share of Romy now occupied by his heirs. The spouses Fely and Pedro, not being the absolute owners of the 2,696 square meters, have no right to mortgage the same to TRC.

As between the oral partition or toka and the Deed of Absolute Sale, the “toka”shall prevail. So, the decision of the CA is affirmed.

This is the ruling in the case of Technology Resource Center etc. vs. Heirs of Alvarez etc. G.R. 214419, Aug. 3, 2022.

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