Sotera Marcelo et al. vs Court of Appeals

G.R. No. 131803 – 365 Phil. 354 – 305 SCRA 800 – Civil Law – Law on Property – Modes of Acquiring Ownership – Prescription; Ordinary Prescription

Since 1939, Jose Marcelo has been in possession of a parcel of lot in Angat, Bulacan. In 1965, Jose died. In 1967, his heirs (Sotera Marcela et al.) discovered that a portion of Jose’s lot (about 7,000 sq. m) was encroached upon by Fernando Cruz.

In 1968, Fernando Cruz sold his property (including the portion he allegedly encroached) to Servando Flores. Thereafter, Servando prohibited Sotera et al. from entering the subject lot.

In October 1982, Sotera et al. filed a complaint to recover the 7,000+ sq. m. lot from Servando.

ISSUE: Whether or not Sotera et al. may still recover the property.

HELD: No. Servando had already acquired ownership over the subject property.

When Fernando sold the property to Servando, Fernando was the declared owner. When Servando bought the property in 1968, he immediately took possession and caused the property documents to be transferred to his name. From that time on, Servando had been in possession of the entire area in the concept of an owner and holding it in that capacity for almost fourteen (14) years before Sotera et al. initiated their complaint in October 1982.

Acquisitive prescription is a mode of acquiring ownership by a possessor through the requisite lapse of time. In order to ripen into ownership, possession must be in the concept of an owner, public, peaceful and uninterrupted. Thus, mere possession with a juridical title, such as, to exemplify, by a usufructuary, a trustee, a lessee, an agent or a pledgee, not being in the concept of an owner, cannot be ripen into ownership by acquisitive prescription, unless the juridical relation is first expressly repudiated and such repudiation has been communicated to the other party. Acts of possessory character executed due to license or by mere tolerance of the owner would likewise be inadequate. Possession, to constitute the foundation of a prescriptive right, must be en concepto de dueno, or, to use the common law equivalent of the term, that possession should be adverse; if not, such possessory acts, no matter how long, do not start the running of the period of prescription.

Acquisitive prescription of dominion and other real rights may be ordinary or extraordinary. Ordinary acquisitive prescription requires possession of things in good faith and with just title for the time fixed by law; 15 without good faith and just title, acquisitive prescription can only be extraordinary in character.

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