Paulino Castrillo vs Court of Appeals

G.R. No. L-18046 – 10 SCRA 549 – Civil Law – Law on Property – Co-ownership – Equity – Rights of Co-owners

Civil Law – General Principles – Retroactivity of Laws

In 1917, Crispina Miranda acquired a title over a 590 sq. m. land in Biñan, Laguna. In 1924, she executed an affidavit admitting and recognizing the fact that the parcel of land is co-owned by her and her 2 sisters, Isabel and Telesfora. So each has an undivided share of 1/3. In 1929, Crispina sold 85 sq. m. to spouses Almoro. Almoro later sold the 85 sq. m. land to Jose Garcia.

In 1932, Isabel sold her share to Doroteo Dimaranan.  Dimaranan from then on occupied that portion used to be occupied by Isabel. He resided there and planted bananas.

In 1935, Crispina died. In 1954, Jose Garcia died and his 85 square meter land was inherited by his heirs which later have the land titled under their names.

In April 1955, Dimaranan assailed the title granted to the heirs of Garcia. He demanded that the title be conveyed under his name and under the name of Crispina (her heirs) and Telesfora – as they are the co-owners. Dimaranan has already substituted Isabel by virtue of him buying out Isabel’s share.

In September 1955, the heirs of Cristina (Paulino Castrillo and Felicisima Castrillo) executed a deed of partition dividing unto themselves 505 square meter of land 252.5 sq. m. each.

Dimaranan assailed the partition. He claimed that he is a co-owner of the land and is entitled 1/3 share of the whole 590 sq. m.

ISSUE: Whether or not Dimaranan owns 1/3 of the share.

HELD: YES. Art. 1434 of the Civil Code provides:

ART. 1434. When a person who is not the owner of a thing sells and alienates and delivers it, and later the seller or grantor acquires title thereto, such title passes by operation of law to the buyer or grantee.

When Isabel sold her share to Dimaranan, Dimaranan acquired Isabel’s interest in the property.

There is co-ownership as acknowledged by Isabel via the affidavit she executed in 1924 respecting her sisters’ right over the parcel of land.

Art. 1434 is a principle of equity and is applicable whenever and wherever the special circumstances of a case so demand. So even if the new Civil Code was enacted years after the fact existed, the said article is still applicable.

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