MARIATEGUI V. CA - Prescription of an Action for Partition
Prescription of an action for partition does not lie except when the co-ownership is properly repudiated by the co-owner. Petitioner’s registration of the properties in their names in 1971 did not operate as a valid repudiation of co-ownership, especially since there was fraud involved.
Lupo Mariateguie died without a will on June 15, 1953. During his lifetime, Lupo contracted 3 marriages. He had 8 children all in all: 4 with his first wife, Eusebia; 1 daughter with his second wife, Flaviana; and 3 with his third wife, Felipe.
Lupo left four properties which he acquired while he was still unmarried. On December 2, 1967, Lupo’s descendants by his 1st and 2nd marriages executed a deed of extrajudicial partition whereby they adjudicated one of the lots unto themselves. An OCT was issued in the names of these heirs. Subsequently, this lot was subdivided into two, for which separate TCTs were issued to the respective parties.
Lupo’s children with the third wife, who were claiming continuous enjoyment and possession of the land, protested. They went to court saying that when the court adjudicated one of the four lots to their co-heirs, they were deprived of their respective shares in the lot. They prayed for the partition of the entire estate (all 4 lots) and the annulment of the deed of extrajudicial partition.
The defendants (other heirs) filed a motion to dismiss on the grounds of lack of cause of action and prescription. The trial court dismissed the case while the CA declared that all the heirs were entitled to equal shares in the estate. CA directed the heirs who had acquired TCTs to execute deeds of reconveyance in favor of the heirs with the third wife.
Whether or not prescription barred private respondents’ right to demand partition of the estate
[The court established that the heirs had successional rights as their father had, during his lifetime, repeatedly acknowledged them as his children; that they enjoyed that status since birth legitimate children & heirs indeed]
No. Prescription does not run against private respondents wrt the filing of the action for partition so long as the heirs/co-owners for whose benefit the prescription is invoked have not expressly or impliedly repudiated the co-ownership.
The registration was not a valid act of repudiation because it was not clearly made known to the other heirs. For prescription to run, the act of repudiation is subject to certain conditions:
1. a co-owner repudiates the co-ownership
2. such act is clearly made known to the other co-owners
3. the evidence is clear and conclusive
4. OCEN possession of the property
Assuming that it was an act of repudiation of the co-ownership, prescription had not yet set in when the respondents filed the action for partition. The reason is because there was fraud involved in obtaining registration. Earlier the respondent heirs were assured by the petitioner-heirs no to worry about their share in their inheritance; their existence as co-owners was recognized and in fact, they constructed a house on the registered lot without objection from the petitioner-heirs. In as much as petitioners registered the properties in their names in fraud of their co-heirs, prescription can only be deemed to have commenced from the time respondents discovered the fraud. In this case, respondents immediately commenced an action two months after they learned of the fraud.