Proper action

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

This is a case about the reconstitution of a land title, covered by Original Certificate of Title (OCT) No. 28907 of lot no. 522 which was allegedly lost or destroyed. The land involved here was one of the several parcels of land owned by Fernando.

Upon the death of Fernando, the properties were inherited by his five children – Danny, Tony, Ana, Cely and Lisa. Later on, when said five children of Fernando also died, the properties were inherited by their respective children, including Ernie, son of Danny.

During his lifetime, Ernie claimed ownership of Lot 527 by filing a Petition for Reconstitution before the Court of First Instance (CFI) of their province with a prayer for the issuance of Transfer Certificate of Title in his name.

This was granted by the CFI which ordered the reconstitution of said OCT and thereafter cancel it for the issuance of a TCT in the name of Ernie. Pursuant to this decision, TCT No. 2345 was issued in the name of Ernie.

Twenty-four years later, when Ernie was already dead, his heirs claimed ownership of said Lot 527. This was contested by the siblings of Ernie, the other heirs of Fernando, who filed an action for Quieting of Title before the Regional Trial Court (RTC) which declared TCT No. 2345 null and void and reinstated OCT 28907.

The heirs of Ernie thus filed an appeal before the Court of Appeals (CA) questioning the jurisdiction of the RTC in declaring TCT 2345 null and void, contending that the RTC cannot pass upon the validity of said TCT in an action for quieting of title.

The CA ruled that while a TCT should not have been issued to Ernie in an action for reconstitution, the declaration of its nullity can only be made in an action for annulment of judgment before the CA or in an action for reconveyance before the RTC. Was the CA correct?

The Supreme Court ruled that the CA is correct in ruling that the proper remedy of the heirs of Fernando is an action for reconveyance and not for annulment of the judgment reconstituting OCT 28907 then cancelling it and in lieu thereof to issue a new TCT in the name of the heirs of Ernie.

The proper recourse of the heirs of Fernando should have been to file an action for reconveyance. This a legal and equitable remedy granted to the rightful owner of land which has been wrongfully or erroneously registered in the name of another for the purpose of compelling the latter to transfer or reconvey the land to him.

In an action for reconveyance, the decree of registration is respected as incontrovertible. What is sought instead is the transfer of the property which has been wrongfully or erroneously registered in another person’s name, to its rightful and legal owner, or to the one with a better right.

So, the CA did not err in dismissing the petition for annulment of judgment (Heirs of Procopio Borras etc., vs. Heirs of Eustaqio Borras etc. G.R.213888, April 25, 2022).

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