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G.R. No. 59550 January 11, 1995

NOEL vs. CA 

G.R. No. 60636 January 11, 1995




G and H were a childless, legally-married couple. G, however, had a child V by another woman. V was reared by G and H since he was two years old. During their marriage, G and H acquired certain property including a 34.7-hectare land in the  province on which they planted sugarcane, corn and bananas; where they lived with V and 15 tenants. Eventually, G died. H then administered the property with the help of V. Through their tenants, H and V enjoyed the produce of the land to the exclusion of J, the brother of G, and E and C, G’s daughters by still another woman. In 1953, V declared the property in his name for taxation purposes under Tax Declaration 5534. On 1 November 1952, H and V, mortgaged the 34.7-hectare land in consideration of the amount of P4,800.00. On 16 February 1954, H and V executed a deed of sale over the same tract of land also in favor of the mortgagor in consideration of the sum of P16,000.00.  When H died, the other heirs of G began to question the sale of the 34.7-hectare land.


Whether the surviving spouse acquired title over the property by prescription.


Surviving spouse cannot acquire a title by prescription over said administered half

Being a trustee with respect to the other half for the benefit of whoever may be legally entitled to inherit the said portion, the surviving spouse “could therefore no more acquire a title by prescription against those for whom he was administering the conjugal estate than could a guardian against his ward or a judicial administrator against the heirs of an estate. The surviving husband as the administrator and liquidator of the conjugal estate occupies the position of a trustee of the highest order and is not permitted by the law to hold that estate or any portion thereof adversely to those for whose benefit the law imposes upon him the duty of administration and liquidation”


Prescription is ten years in an action to recover the undivided half-interest

The action to recover the undivided half-interest of the collateral heirs of G prescribes in 10 years. The cause of action is based on Article 1456 of the Civil Code of the Philippines, which made the mortgagor a trustee of an implied trust in favor of the said heirs. Under Article 1144 of the Civil Code of the Philippines, actions based upon an obligation created by law, can be brought within ten years from the time the right of action accrues (Rosario v. Auditor General, 103 Phil. 1132 [1958]). The 10-year prescriptive period within which the collateral heirs of G could file an action to recover their share in the property sold to the buyer (prescripcion extintiva) accrued only on 2 March 1954, when the deed of sale was registered with the Register of Deeds (Cf. Arradaza v. Court of Appeals, 170 SCRA 12 [1987]). From 2 March 1954 to 30 April 1963, when the complaint for the recovery of the property was filed, less than 10 years had elapsed. Therefore, the action had not been barred by prescription. The 10-year prescriptive period before title to real estate shall vest by adverse possession (prescripcion adquisitiva) is also reckoned in the case of the buyer from 2 March 1954 (Corporacion de PP. Agustinos Recoletos v. Crisostomo, 32 Phil. 427 [1915]).


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