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Period Within Which to File an Action for Reconveyance By Persons In Possession of the Subject Property

The petitioner claimed to have purchased a 2. 7360-hectare agricultural land from his father Jose Campit in 1977. On the other hand, respondents claimed to be the rightful owners of the subject property, as earlier adjudged by the court in Civil Case decided on June 12, 1961, and in Civil Case decided on August 8, 1978.

The Court, in these cases, cancelled the titles of the petitioner and his father Jose because they were obtained through the misrepresentation of the petitioner’s grandfather, Isidro Campit. The respondents further contended that they have long desired to divide the subject property among themselves, but the petitioner adamantly refused to surrender his title to the property to them, or to the Register of Deeds, despite their formal demand.

Due to the petitioner’s continued refusal to surrender the subject TCT, the respondents filed anew an action for annulment and cancellation of title with the RTC on August 15, 2003.

In his petition before this Court, the petitioner argues that his title to the subject property must prevail not only because the August 8, 1978 decision, which declared his title null and void, was never executed, but also because, under the Torrens system of registration, a certificate of title is an indefeasible and incontrovertible proof of ownership of the person, inwhose favor it was issued, over the land described therein. He now contends that he had acquired the property in good faith and for valuable consideration and, thus, entitled to own and possess the subject property.

 

ISSUE:
Has the action of the respondents prescribed?

 

RULING:
NO. The Torrens system of registration cannot be used to protect a usurper from the true owner, nor can it be used as a shield for the commission of fraud,or to permit one to enrich oneself at the expense of others.

Notwithstanding the indefeasibility of the Torrens title, the registered owner can still be compelled under the law to reconvey the property registered to the rightful owner under the principle that the property registered is deemed to be held in trust for the real owner by the person in whose name it is registered. The party seeking to recover title to property wrongfully registered in another person’s name must file an action for reconveyance within the allowed period of time.

An action for reconveyance based on an implied or constructive trust prescribes in ten (10) years from the issuance of the Torrens title over the property. There is, however, an exception to this rule where the filing of such action does not prescribe, i.e. when the plaintiff is in possession of the subject property, the action, being in effect that of quieting of title to the property, does not prescribe.

In the present case, the respondents, have always been in possession of the subject property. Hence, the action shall be treated as an action to quiet title, the filing of which does not prescribe. Thus, the respondents’ filing of Civil Case is proper and not barred by the time limitations set forth under the Rules of Court in enforcing or executing a final and executory judgment.

G.R. No. 195443, September 17, 2014
JUANARIO G. CAMPIT, Petitioner, vs. ISIDRA B. GRIP A, PEDRO BARDIAGA, and SEVERINO BARDIAGA, represented by his son ROLANDO BARDIAGA, Respondents.
BRION, J.:

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