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Jorge was the registered owner of a 2,172-sqm parcel of land. The said property was part of a bigger parcel of land originally owned by his grandmother, Lola Tana. When Lola Tana died, the land was adjudicated to Jorge’s father, Howie, by virtue of intestate succession, evidenced by an affidavit of adjudication in 1982.

In 1983, Howie executed a deed of reconveyance, which subdivided the parcel of land into five areas. In the said deed of conveyance, Howie stated that the portion designated as Lot 1-A was transferred to his son, Jorge, while the remaining portions were transferred to four others.

During the lifetime of Howie, Nida asked permission to temporarily build a house on a vacant portion of the property. Randy also asked permission to occupy a portion thereof and build a temporary structure for storing corns during harvest season. In 2011, Jorge demanded Nida and Randy to vacate the portions of the property that they occupied, but to no avail.


Nida and Randy claimed that Lola Tana had other heirs: namely, Lui, Herie, Ana, Fina, and Juli. Fina, the mother of Nida, and Ana, is the mother of Randy, both allowed their children to build their houses on the subject property. Considering that Lola Tana had other heirs, the adjudication made by Jorge’s father, Howie, of the subject property for himself was invalid.


Consequently, the deed of reconveyance executed by Howie in favor of Jorge was invalid as well. As heirs of Lola Tana, Nida and Randy have the right to possess the subject property as co-owners thereof.

Q: Can Nida and Randy question the certificate of title of respondent Jorge that emanated from the purportedly defective Deed of Reconveyance and Affidavit of Adjudication executed by Howie, as basis of Jorge’s better right of possession in an accion publiciana or action for recovery of possession?

A: Yes. The objective of an accion publiciana is to recover possession only, not ownership. However, where the parties raise the issue of ownership, the courts may pass upon the issue to determine who between the parties has the right to possess the property.

Thus, in an accion publiciana, the defense of ownership (i.e., that the defendant, and not the plaintiff, is the rightful owner) will not trigger a collateral attack on the plaintiffs Torrens or certificate of title because the resolution of the issue of ownership is done only to determine the issue of possession.

Q: Is Howie the sole owner of the subject lot or is there a co-ownership among the heirs of Lola Tana?

A: No. Under Article 1078 of the Civil Code, “[w]here there are two or more heirs, the whole estate of the decedent is, before its partition, owned in common by such heirs, subject to the payment of debts of the deceased.”

Thus, from the moment of the death of the decedent, and pending actual partition of the estate, the heirs become co-owners of such estate, each one having an undivided interest in the property to the extent of his or her share therein.

Consequently, when Lola Tana died, the mothers of Nida and Randy, Rufina and Juliana, who were Lola Tana’s children, became co-owners, with their other siblings, of the land owned by Lola Tana. While it is true that the heirs of Fina were given a share in the said land by virtue of the Deed of Reconveyance, it appears that the partition thereof is questionable inasmuch as the other siblings of Howie were excluded.


Thus, the Affidavit of Adjudication and the Deed of Reconveyance are ineffective to vest sole ownership of the land left by Lola Tana in favor of Howie. In the same vein, Jorge, who benefited from the defective Deed of Reconveyance, cannot claim exclusive ownership of the subject property. Since the mothers of Nida and Randy have died, they themselves became co-owners of the land previously owned by Lola Tana by virtue of their right to succeed from their mothers.

Also, it appears that Howie has passed away. As a child of Severino, Jorge inherited together with his three siblings whatever share his father inherited from Lola Tana. Thus, Nina, Randy and Jorge are co-owners of the land left by Cayetana; and in the absence of contrary evidence, the share of each of her seven children is equal. Given that the area of the land owned by Cayetana was about 8,657 sqm, each of her children would have inherited around 1,236 sqm, but the share of each is undivided or pro indiviso.

Q: Can Jorge eject Nina and Randy from the land?

A: Since Nina and Randy are being recognized provisionally as co-owners, they cannot be ejected from the subject property by Jorge, who is himself a co-owner.

(Source: Sps. Bangug vs De la Cruz, G.R. No. 259061. August 15, 2022)

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The author is Dean of Lyceum of the Philippines University, Makati and Cavite Campuses; Chairperson, Philippine Association of Law Schools; and founder of Mawis Law Office

TAGS: Business, column, property, Property Rules

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