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Forgery gets you nowhere.

Spouses Al and Paz own a parcel of land in Cavite. In 1983, in need of funds to finance Al's travel to Saudi Arabia, Paz borrowed money from Ama.

By way of security, the parties verbally agreed that Ama would take physical possession of the Cavite property, cultivate it, then use the earnings from the cultivation to pay the loan and realty taxes.

Upon full payment of the loan, Amada would return the property to the Revilla spouses.

In 1984, unknown to Al and Paz, Ama presented a fictitious document entitled 'Kasulatan ng Bilihanng Lupa' before the Provincial Assessor of Cavite.

The document shows that the Al and Paz sold the property to Ama. Consequently, the tax declaration in the name of the spouses cancelled, and a new tax declaration in the name of Ama was issued.

In 1991, Ama then sold the property to the spouses Adolf. In turn, Adolf sold it to Rod.

Upon Al's return from Saudi Arabia in 1994, he asked Ama why he had not returned their tax declaration considering their full payment of the loan. He then discovered that the property's tax declaration was already in the name of the Rod spouses.

In 1995, Al and Paz were served a copy of the answer in the land registration case filed by Rod. It was then that they saw a copy of the 'Kasulatan ng Bilihan ng Lupa' and noticed that their signatures as sellers were forged.

Nine months after, Al and Paz filed a complaint for the annulment of sales and transfers of title and reconveyance with damages.

Q: Are Al and Paz barred from recovering the property on the ground of laches they allowed 16 years to lapse, with Ama having possession of the property, before filing suit?

A: There are elements that need to be present and proven before an action is considered barred by laches. The four basic elements of laches are:

(1) conduct on the part of the defendant, or of one under whom he claims, giving rise to the situation of which complaint is made and for which the complaint seeks a remedy;

(2) delay in asserting the complainant's rights, the complainant having had knowledge or notice of the defendant's conduct and having been afforded an opportunity to institute suit;

(3) lack of knowledge or notice on the part of the defendant that the complainant would assert the right on which he bases his suit; and,

(4) injury or prejudice to the defendant in the event relief is accorded to the complainant or the suit is not held to be barred.

There was no delay by Al and Paz in asserting their rights over the property. The spouses spouses first learned of the existence of the 'Kasulatan ng Bilihan ng Lupa' in February 1995 when they were serveda copy of the pleading in the land registration case instituted by Rod.

The lapse of only nine months from the time they learned of the questionable transfers on the property cannot be considered as sleeping on their rights. (Contoner-Zacarias vs. Revilla, G.R. No. 190901, November 12, 2014)

Q: Is Rod a buyer in good faith for value given that he did not know of the foregery?

A: The rule in land registration law that the issue of whether the buyer of realty is in good or bad faith is relevant only where the subject of the sale is registered land and the purchase was made from the registered owner whose title to the land is clean.

Necessarily, those who rely in good faith on a clean title issued under the Torrens system for registered lands must be protected.

On the other hand, those who purchase unregistered lands do so at their own peril.

This good faith argument cannot be considered as this case involves unregistered land. (Contoner-Zacarias vs. Revilla, G.R. No. 190901, November 12, 2014)

Q: Is the agreement between spouses Al and Paz and Ama a contract of antichresis?

A: It bears to note that whether the agreement of the spouses and Ama is one of antichresis, the same is totally irrelevant since the issue of the case that was filed by the spouses refer to the validity of the documents that caused the subsequent transfers of the property involved.

Be that as it may, the contract of antichresis the creditor acquires the right to receive the fruits of an immovable of his debtor, with the obligation to apply them to the payment of the interest, if owing, and thereafter to the principal of his credit. (Article 2132 of the Civil Code)

Thus, antichresis involves an express agreement between parties such that the creditor will have possession of the debtor's real property given as security, and such creditor will apply the fruits of the property to the interest owed by the debtor, if any, then to the principal amount.

Antichresis requires delivery of the property to the antichretic creditor, but the latter cannot ordinarily acquire this immovable property in his or her possession by prescription.

Antichresis also requires that the amount of the principal and the interest be in writing for the contract to be valid.

Similar to the prohibition against pactum commissorium since creditors cannot appropriate the things given by way of pledge or mortgage, or dispose of them, an antichretic creditor also cannot appropriate the real property in his or her favor upon the non-payment of the debt. (Contoner-Zacarias vs. Revilla, G.R. No. 190901, November 12, 2014)
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Publication:Philippines Daily Inquirer (Makati City, Philippines)
Date:Feb 4, 2017
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