Civil Law

Victorino Villanueva vs Francisco Viloria

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548 SCRA 401 – Civil Law – Land Titles and Deeds – Reconstitution of Title – Cancellation if there is fraud

Victorino Viloria claimed that he is the owner of a parcel of land in Iba, Zambales covered by TCT 16156; that he and his wife went to and settled in Ilocos Sur until her wife’s death in 1995. In the same year, he discovered that the duplicate copy of the TCT was eaten by termites. He executed an Affidavit of Loss and he applied for reconstitution which the lower court granted.

Viloria then sold the land in 2002 and a new TCT was issued to the buyer (Ruben Marty).

On the other hand, the spouses Villanueva were the actual occupants of the said land. They came to know of the foregoing only in 2002. They petitioned for the annulment of the reconstitution. They claimed that they are in possession of the duplicate copy of TCT 16156 as well as a Deed of Sale executed in their favor by the late wife of Viloria in 1986.

ISSUE: Whether or not to annul the reconstitution of the title.

HELD: Yes. If an owner’s duplicate copy of a certificate of title has not been lost but is in fact in possession of another person, the reconstituted title is void and the court rendering the decision has not acquired jurisdiction. Consequently, the decision may be attacked any time.

As there is no proof to support actual loss of the said owner’s duplicate copies of said certificates of title, the trial court did not acquire jurisdiction and the new titles issued in replacement thereof are void.

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