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BENITO vs. SAQUITAN-RUIZ

If a person claiming to be the owner of a wrongfully registered parcel of land is in actual possession, then his right to seek reconveyance does not prescribe.


FACTS:

Petitioners Horacio and Felisa Benito, originally, bought the land from Francisco Morales and instituted ejectment proceedings against all of the other squatters in the land. Respondent, Agapita Saquitan-Ruiz bought a portion of the land from petitioner on a promise to contribute Php 6000 for the ejectment proceedings which will serve as the consideration for the sale. On 17 April 1979, a Deed of Absolute Sale was issued in favor of respondent, however, he failed to pay his obligation of Php 6000. Thus, the petitioner never caused the issuance of the certificate of title despite demands of the respondent for such issuance. Instead, petitioner subdivided the lot where respondent’s land was located into five while the latter continued to possess such land. Petitioners, then borrowed Php75,000 from a certain Basilia Dela Cruz, who later sued them for collection. For failure to pay the borrowed money, a writ of execution was issued by the RTC and the disputed petitioner’s land was sold to Dela Cruz at a public auction, in which the latter was the highest bidder. On 25 March 1996, the assailed Certificate of Title was issued to Dela Cruz but it was only on 27 May 1999 that the Certificate of Final Deed of Sale was issued. On 1 April 1999, respondent filed the case for specific performance with declaration of nullity of titles and damages.


ISSUE:

Whether or not petitioner’s action to quiet title had already prescribed?


RULING: No.

The respondent is in possession of the disputed property. If a person claiming to be the owner of a wrongfully registered parcel of land is in actual possession, the right to seek reconveyance does not prescribe. A petition for the quieting of title, although essentially an action for reconveyance, should not be dismissed on the ground of prescription, if it is alleged that the plaintiff is in possession of the property.
Furthermor

e, the action was seasonably filed since Dela Cruz’s right to its conveyance and possession was subject to the 12-month redemption perion provided under section 33 of rule 39 of the Rules of court. In this case, only a month had passed.