Remedial Law

Viaje v. Pamintel G.R. NO. 147792 January 23, 2006 Clear and Convincing Evidence

FACTS:

Silverio owned a parcel of land (“Lot No. 1993-A”) covered by TCT No. T-19110 issued in his name.

On 5 July 1968, Pedro secured the cancellation of TCT No. T-19110 and obtained TCT No. T-30457 issued in his name based on a July 3, 1968 “Deed of Sale” wherein Silverio sold Lot No. 1993-A to Pedro. 

Pedro obtained a P3,000 loan from Cavite Development Bank and mortgaged Lot No. 1993-A to secure the loan.

Respondent Felicisima Pamintel (daughter of Silverio) paid Pedro’s loan with the said bank.

In a Deed of Reconveyance, dated 19 March 1974, Pedro and Ciriaca resold Lot No. 1993-A to Silverio for P3,000. Respondent Felicisima secured the cancellation of TCT No. T-30457 and obtained TCT No. T-312870 issued in Silverio’s name based on said Deed of Reconveyance. A certain Atty. Mapalad P. Santera notarized the Deed of Reconveyance also on 19 March 1974.

Silverio died on 1 November 1977.

On 30 October 1991, Pedro and Ciriaca, represented by petitioner Lazara P. Viaje, sued respondents for “Cancellation of TCT No. T-312870 With Declaration of Nullity of Deed of Reconveyance Plus Damages”. They alleged that they did not execute the Deed of Reconveyance, thus they prayed that the trial court cancel TCT No. T-312870 and declare them true owners of Lot No. 1993-A. 

According to respondents, Pedro and Ciriaca voluntarily executed the Deed of Reconveyance. 

During the trial, Pedro and Ciriaca presented in evidence a letter-complaint and Salaysay of respondent Felicisima charging Pedro with Estafa. Neither the letter-complaint nor the Salaysay mentioned the Deed of Reconveyance.

Respondent Felicisima for her part, testified that Atty. Santera, who prepared and notarized the Deed of Reconveyance, was Pedro’s lawyer.

The trial court dismissed the complaint of Pedro and Ciriaca and also respondents’ counterclaim. The trial court upheld the validity of TCT No. T-312870 and the Deed of Reconveyance.

Petitioners appealed to the CA.

The CA affirmed the trial court’s ruling.

ISSUE:

Whether the Deed of Reconveyance is valid.

RULING:

The petition has no merit. 

The Court finds no reason to disturb the finding of the trial court, as affirmed by the CA, that Pedro and Ciriaca duly signed the Deed of Reconveyance. Atty. Santera, whom Pedro confirmed was his former counsel, notarized the Deed of Reconveyance. 

As a notarized instrument, the Deed of Reconveyance enjoys the presumption of due execution. Only a clear and convincing evidence to the contrary can overcome this presumption. 

Petitioners have presented no such evidence. Indeed, other than his own denial that he did not sign the Deed of Reconveyance (as allegedly shown by the specimens of his signature), Pedro presented no other proof to corroborate his claim. 

In an earlier case, this Court held that such allegation and evidence are insufficient to overcome a notarized deed’s presumption of due execution, thus:

Far from being clear and convincing, all private respondent had to offer by way of evidence was her mere denial that she had signed the same. Such mere denial will not suffice to overcome the positive value of the subject Deed, a notarized document. Indeed, even in cases where the alleged forged signature was compared to samples of genuine signatures to show its variance therefrom, this Court still found such evidence insufficient, to wit –

x x x

[“]Documents acknowledged before a notary public have the evidentiary weight with respect to their due execution. The questioned power of attorney and deed of sale, were notarized and therefore, presumed to be valid and duly executed. xxx Forgery should be proved by clear and convincing evidence and whoever alleges it has the burden of proving the same. Just like the petitioner, witness Atty. Tubig merely pointed out that his signature was different from that in the power of attorney and deed of sale. 

The other evidence petitioners invoke to support their claim of forgery – respondent Felicisima’s failure to mention the Deed of Reconveyance in her letter-complaint and Salaysay – also does not suffice to rebut the Deed of Reconveyance’s presumptive genuineness. Such omission and respondent Felicisima’s statement in her letter-complaint that Pedro “refus[ed] to transfer in Silverio’s name Lot No. 1993-A” do not negate the Deed of Reconveyance’s execution.

The SC affirmed the CA ruling upholding the validity of the Deed of Reconveyance and, consequently, of TCT No. T-312870. A Torrens title enjoys the presumption of having been regularly issued.

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