Civil Law, Remedial Law

Tabuada v. Tabuada G.R. No. 196510, September 12, 2018 Real Estate Mortgage, Preponderance of Evidence

FACTS:

Petitioners Sofia Tabuada et al commenced an action to declare the nullity of a mortgage and damages against respondents Spouses Certeza, Eleanor Tabuada, Trabuco and Redondo. The complainant included a prayer for a temporary restraining order (TRO) and for the issuance of the writ of preliminary injunction.

Petitioner testified that her late husband Simeon Tabuada, was the son of Loreta Tabuada; that Loreta Tabuada had died on April 16, 1990 while her husband had died on July 18, 1997; that she received the notice sent by the Spouses Certeza regarding their land, known as Lot 4272-B-2, located in Jaro, Iloilo City that her husband had inherited from his mother, Loreta Tabuada, and where they were residing, informing them that the land had been mortgaged to them (Spouses Certeza); that she immediately inquired from Eleanor Tabuada and Trabuco about the mortgage, and both admitted that they had mortgaged the property to the Spouses Certeza; that there was a signature purportedly of Loreta Tabuada on top of the name Loreta Tabuada printed on the Mortgage of Real Rights dated July 1, 1994 and the Promissory Note dated July 4, 1994 despite Loreta Tabuada having died on April 16, 1990;  and that the property under mortgage was the where she and her daughters were residing.

The RTC rendered judgment in favor of the petitioners..

The Mortgage of Real Rights dated July 1, 1994 and the Promissory Note dated July 4, 1994 were declared null and void.

On appeal, the CA reversed and set aside the judgment of the RTC

The CA found merit in the contention that the petitioners were not able to prove by preponderance of evidence that they were the legal heirs of the late Loreta Tabuada, the registered holder of the title over the mortgaged real property.

ISSUES:

  1. Whether or not the Real estate mortgage was null and void.
  1. Whether or not the legal relationship of Sofia Tabuada with

deceased Loreta Tabuada was established by preponderance of evidence.

RULING:

Under Article 2085 of the Civil Code, a mortgage, to be valid, must have the following requisites, namely: 

(a) that it be constituted to secure the fulfillment of a principal obligation; 

(b) that the mortgagor be the absolute owner of the thing mortgaged; and 

(c) that the person constituting the mortgage has free disposal of the property, and in the absence of the right of free disposal, that the person be legally authorized for the purpose.

A person constituting a mortgage should be the owner of the property, or should have the right of free disposal of it, or, in the absence of the right of free disposal, such person should be legally authorized for the purpose. Otherwise, the mortgage is null and void.

It is uncontested that the late Loreta Tabuada had died in 1990, or four years before the mortgage was constituted; and that Eleanor Tabuada and Trabuco admitted to petitioner Sofia Tabuada that they had mortgaged the property to the Spouses Certezas. Accordingly, the RTC was fully justified in declaring the nullity of the mortgage based on its finding that Eleanor Tabuada had fraudulently represented herself to the Spouses Certeza as the late Loreta Tabuada, the titleholder. That the titleholder had been dead when the mortgage was constituted on the property by Eleanor Tabuada was not even contested by Eleanor Tabuada and Tabuco. In any event, Eleanor Tabuada had not been legally authorized to mortgage the lot to the Spouses Certeza.

2. 

Under the Rules of Court, evidence – as the means of ascertaining in a judicial proceeding the truth respecting a matter of fact – may be object, documentary, and testimonial. It is required that evidence, to be admissible, must be relevant and competent. But the admissibility of evidence should not be confused with its probative value. Admissibility refers to the question of whether certain pieces of evidence are to be considered at all, while probative value refers to the question of whether the admitted evidence proves an issue. Thus, a particular item of evidence may be admissible, but its evidentiary weight depends on judicial evaluation within the guidelines provided by the rules of evidence.

Although documentary evidence may be preferable as proof of a legal relationship, other evidence of the relationship that are competent and relevant may not be excluded. The preponderance of evidence, the rule that is applicable in civil cases, is also known as the greater weight of evidence. There is a preponderance of evidence when the trier of facts is led to find that the existence of the contested fact is more probable than its nonexistence. In short, the rule requires the consideration of all the facts and circumstances of the cases, regardless of whether they are object, documentary, or testimonial.

To establish filiation, the courts like the RTC herein should consider and analyze not only the relevant testimonies of witnesses who are competent but other relevant evidence as well.

Verily, the facts and circumstances sufficiently and competently affirmed the legal relationship between Sofia Tabuada and the late titleholder Loreta H. Tabuada.

Competent proof of a legal relationship is not limited to documentary evidence. Object and testimonial evidence may be admitted for the same purpose. Indeed, the relationship may be established by all the relevant facts and circumstances that constitute a preponderance of evidence.

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