PRESCRIPTION- Acquisition Of Property By Prescription

In Intercontinental Broadcasting Corp. v. Panganiban,  G.R. No. 151407, February 6, 2007, the SC had the occasion to rule that like other causes of action, the prescriptive period for money claims is subject to interruption, an din the absence of an equivalent Labor Code provision for determining whether the said period may be interrupted, Article 1155 of the Civil Code may be applied, (De Guzman v. CA, 358 Phil. 397 (1998), to wit:

ART. 1155. The prescription of actions is interrupted when they are filed before the Court, when there is a written extrajudicial demand by the creditors, and when there is any written acknowledgment of the debt by the debtor.

Thus, the prescription of an action is interrupted by (a) the filing of an action, (b) a written extrajudicial demand by the creditor, and (c) a written acknowledgment of the debt by the debtor. On this point, the Court ruled that although the commencement of a civil action stops the running of the statute of prescription or limitations, its dismissal or voluntary abandonment by plaintiff leaves the parties in exactly the same position as though no action had been commenced at all. (Laureano v. CA, 381 Phil. 403 (2000).

Acquisition of property by laches.

In Sps. Aguirre v. Heirs of Lucas Villanueva, et al., G.R. No. 169898, October 27, 2006, the petitioners have been in possession of a parcel of land for more than 26 years. They declared it for taxation purposes, occupied it, built fences, planted trees and used the same as ingress and egress towards their cottages. The respondent knew all these but they did not lift a finger to bar them from doing so. They waited for 16 years to oust them. Will the action prosper? Why?

Held: No. Laches had already set it. Since they have been in continuous possession and enjoyment of the disputed land in good faith and with a just title since 1971 until 1997, petitioners doubtlessly obtained title by ordinary acquisitive prescription.

The action is barred by laches which is defined as the failure to assert a right for an unreasonable and unexplained length or time, warranting a presumption that the party entitled to assert it has either abandoned or declined to assert it. This equitable defense is based upon grounds of public policy, which requires the discouragement of stale claims for the peace of society. (Vda. de Rigonan v. Derecho, G.R. No. 159571, July 15, 2005, 463 SCRA 627).

Acquisition of property by prescription.

Prescription, in general, is a mode of acquiring (or losing) ownership and other real rights through the lapse of time in the manner and under conditions laid down by law, namely, that the possession should be in the concept of an owner, public, peaceful, uninterrupted and adverse. Acquisitive prescription is either ordinary or extraordinary. Ordinary acquisitive prescription requires possession in good faith and with just title for 10 years. Without good faith and just title, acquisitive prescription can only be extraordinary in character which requires uninterrupted adverse possession for 30 years. (Heirs of Maningding v. CA, 342 Phil. 567 (1979)).

Thus, for ordinary acquisitive prescription to set in, possession must be for at least 10 years, in good faith and with just title. Possession is “in good faith” when there is a reasonable belief that the person from whom the thing is received has been the owner thereof and could thereby transmit his ownership. (Art. 1127, NCC). There is “just title” when the adverse claimant comes into possession of the property through any of the modes recognized by law for the acquisition of ownership or other real rights, but the grantor is neither the owner nor in a position to transmit the right. (Art. 1129, NCC).