So uncharacteristic of a buyer | Inquirer Business
Property rules

So uncharacteristic of a buyer

In 2002, Belo filed a Complaint for Recovery of Possession with Preliminary and/or Temporary Restraining Order against spouses Boni and Ising.

Belo alleged he was in actual, public, continuous, peaceful and adverse possession of a piece of land that he inherited from his father, Isi. During his lifetime, Isi was in actual possession and cultivation of the land. Sometime in 1993, while petitioner was visiting relatives, spouses Boni and Ising, with the aid of some men and by means of force, intimidation, stealth, and strategy, entered the property and planted it with rice.

On his return, Belo immediately demanded that the spouses vacate his property. Boni threatened Belo’s and his family’s life and safety. Boni claimed he bought the land from Isi.


Belo could not recall his father telling him this. One year before he passed, Isi gave Belo the original title to the land and advised his son to take good care of it and manage it. Despite repeated demands to vacate, spouses Boni and Ising refused.


The spouses countered that, since 1988, they had been in peaceful possession of the land on which they planted rice and other crops. They said the property was first sold by Isi to Enri, whose heirs sold the same to Teo. The land was later sold by Teo to Seg who was the one who sold it to Boni.

The spouses had since been paying the real estate taxes due. The conveyances were all evidenced by notarized deeds of absolute sale.

Belo argued, however, that the purported deeds of sale did not transfer ownership of the land to the spouses and the alleged vendees before them. The alleged sales were not registered as required by law.

Belo added that the spouses and previous alleged vendees were not buyers in good faith. They knew he was cultivating the land at the time the transactions supposedly occurred, and the title to the property was not delivered to any of them.

Registration being the operative act that binds the land, the unregistered deeds of sale did not make the alleged vendees, nor the spouses, owners of the disputed land.

The spouses contended that mere possession by Belo of the certificate of title did not validate his claim of ownership. Isi had lost ownership of his property, which had been excluded from the inheritance of Belo. Moreover, the genuineness and due execution of any of the deeds of transfers was opposed by Belo.


Q: When is ownership of the thing sold acquired by the vendee?

A: While a contract of sale is perfected by mere consent, ownership of the thing sold is acquired only upon its delivery to the buyer. Upon the completion of the sale, the seller assumes the obligation to transfer ownership and deliver the thing sold, but the real right of ownership is transferred only “by tradition” or delivery thereof to the buyer.

Q: What does delivery mean?

A: In the Law on Sales, delivery may be either actual or constructive, but both forms of delivery contemplate “the absolute giving up of the control and custody of the property on the part of the vendor, and the assumption of the same by the vendee”. Under the Civil Code, ownership does not pass by mere stipulation but only by delivery.

According to noted civilists (one who studies or works with civil law), “the delivery of the thing [x x x] signifies that title has passed from the seller to the buyer”, and that, “the purpose of delivery is not only for the enjoyment of the thing but also a mode of acquiring dominion and determines the transmission of ownership, the birth of the real right. The delivery under any of the forms provided by Articles 1497 to 1505 of the Civil Code signifies that the transmission of ownership from vendor to vendee has taken place”.

Q: Was the ownership of the disputed land validly transferred to the spouses by virtue of the deed of absolute sale executed by Seg despite the latter not being in possession of either the land or the title?

A: No. It should be noted that the spouses, as vendees, were not placed in possession and control of the land they bought simply because Seg did not have such possession. In other words, Seg could not have effected a constructive delivery of the land to respondents by his execution of the Deed of Absolute Sale.

The execution of a public instrument gives rise only to a prima facie presumption of delivery, which is negated by the failure of the vendee to take actual possession of the land sold.

A person who does not have actual possession of the thing sold cannot transfer constructive possession by the execution and delivery of a public instrument. There being no actual or constructive delivery of the land subject of the sale between Seg and the spouses, the latter did not acquire ownership.

It is uncharacteristic of a conscientious buyer of real estate not to register immediately his deed of sale, as well as demand the issuance of a new certificate of title in his name. More so in this case, where the inaction of the purported vendees lasted for more than 30 years.

Belo was in possession of both land and title all through those years, his possession and cultivation having been disturbed only in June 1993 by the spouses who took advantage of his temporary absence.

Your subscription could not be saved. Please try again.
Your subscription has been successful.

Subscribe to our daily newsletter

By providing an email address. I agree to the Terms of Use and acknowledge that I have read the Privacy Policy.

Source: Cabalhin vs. Sps. Lansuela, G.R. No. 202029. February 15, 2022

The author is Chairman of Philippine Association of Law Schools; Dean of Lyceum of the Philippines University; and founder of Mawis Law Office
TAGS: Business

© Copyright 1997-2024 | All Rights Reserved

We use cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website. By continuing, you are agreeing to our use of cookies. To find out more, please click this link.