April 2010 Philippine Supreme Court Decisions on Civil Law

Here are selected April 2010 rulings of the Supreme Court of the Philippines on civil law:

Civil Code

Agency; sale of land by an unauthorized agent. Respondent sold land owned by her daughter without any written authority. Article 1874 of the Civil Code explicitly requires a written authority before an agent can sell an immovable property. Based on a review of the records, there is absolutely no proof of respondent’s written authority to sell the lot to petitioners. In fact, during the pre-trial conference, petitioners admitted that at the time of the negotiation for the sale of the lot, petitioners were of the belief that respondent was the owner of lot. Consequently, the sale of the lot by respondent who did not have a written authority from the real owner is void. A void contract produces no effect either against or in favor of anyone and cannot be ratified.  Sps. Joselina Alcantara and Antonio Alcantara, et al. vs. Brigida L. Nido, as attorney-in-fact of Revelen Srivastava, G.R. No. 165133, April 19, 2010.

Contracts; breach of; rebus sic stantibus. See Daniel T. So vs. Food Fest Land, Inc./Food Fest Land, Inc. vs. Daniel T. SoG.R. Nos. 183628 & 183670, April 7, 2010, below.

Contracts; void and voidable; prescription. See Manuel O. Fuentes, et al. vs. Conrado G. Roca, et al., G.R. No. 178902, April 21, 2010, below.

Damages; actual damages; unrealized profits. Food Fest leased property from So. Food Fest sought to pre-terminate the lease. So sued Food Fest for ejection, payment of arrears and damages. On the matter of damages, So claims that Food Fest did not exercise care in removing the installations and fixtures, thereby causing destruction to the premises to thus entitle him to damages, as well as to damages corresponding to unrealized profits (lucrum cessans) to answer for the period during which the unit was not rented out.

Unrealized profits fall under the category of actual or compensatory damages. If there exists a basis for a reasonable expectation that profits would have continued to be generated had there been no breach of contract, indemnification for damages based on such expected profits is proper.  This is, however, subject to the rule that a party is entitled to an adequate compensation only for such pecuniary loss suffered by him as he has duly proved. Other than the photographs evincing damage to the premises, no evidence was proffered to show So’s entitlement to unrealized profits. That the leased unit was not subsequently leased is not solely attributable to Food Fest. As borne by the records, no renovation was undertaken by So for almost three years following Food Fest’s vacation of the premises in 2001. The quotations issued by construction companies for purposes of renovation were issued only in 2004. However, So may seek damages pursuant to the contract.

Respecting So’s claim for renovation expenses, the same must be denied absent proof as to the actual cost of renovation. Only firm offers or quotations from construction companies are in the records.  Following Article 2224 of the Civil Code, however, the appellate court’s award of temperate damages is in order. This Court notes that the appellate court did not award liquidated damages in contravention of the contract.  As for the appellate court’s award of P20,000.00 as attorney’s fees, the contractual stipulation should prevail.

As for Food Fest’s invocation of the principle of rebus sic stantibus as enunciated in Article 1267 of the Civil Code to render the lease contract functus officio, and consequently release it from responsibility to pay rentals, the Court is not persuaded. Article 1267 provides: “Article 1267. When the service has become so difficult as to be manifestly beyond the contemplation of the parties, the obligor may also be released therefrom, in whole or in part.”

This article, which enunciates the doctrine of unforeseen events, is not, however, an absolute application of the principle of rebus sic stantibus, which would endanger the security of contractual relations.  The parties to the contract must be presumed to have assumed the risks of unfavorable developments.  It is, therefore, only in absolutely exceptional changes of circumstances that equity demands assistance for the debtor. Food Fest claims that its failure to secure the necessary business permits and licenses rendered the impossibility and non-materialization of its purpose in entering into the contract of lease, in support of which it cites the earlier-quoted portion of the preliminary agreement dated July 1, 1999 of the parties. The cause or essential purpose in a contract of lease is the use or enjoyment of a thing. A party’s motive or particular purpose in entering into a contract does not affect the validity or existence of the contract; an exception is when the realization of such motive or particular purpose has been made a condition upon which the contract is made to depend. The exception does not apply here. It is clear that the condition set forth in the preliminary agreement pertains to the initial application of Food Fest for the permits, licenses and authority to operate.  It should not be construed to apply to Food Fest’s subsequent applications. Food Fest was able to secure the permits, licenses and authority to operate when the lease contract was executed.  Its failure to renew these permits, licenses and authority for the succeeding year, does not, however, suffice to declare the lease functus officio, nor can it be construed as an unforeseen event to warrant the application of Article 1267. Contracts, once perfected, are binding between the contracting parties. Obligations arising therefrom have the force of law and should be complied with in good faith. Food Fest cannot renege from the obligations it has freely assumed when it signed the lease contract. Daniel T. So vs. Food Fest Land, Inc. / Food Fest Land, Inc. vs. Daniel T. So, G.R. Nos. 183628 & 183670, April 7, 2010.

Family relations; annulment of marriage; psychological incapacity. This is a petition for certiorari under Rule 65, questioning a Court of Appeals decision that ruled that private respondent’s alleged sexual infidelity, emotional immaturity and irresponsibility do not constitute psychological incapacity within the contemplation of the Family Code and that the psychologist failed to identify and prove the root cause thereof or that the incapacity was medically or clinically permanent or incurable.

In this case at bench, the Court finds no commission of a grave abuse of discretion in the rendition of the assailed CA decision dismissing petitioner’s complaint for declaration of nullity of marriage under Article 36 of the Family Code. A petition for declaration of nullity of marriage is anchored on Article 36 of the Family Code. Psychological incapacity required by Art. 36 must be characterized by (a) gravity, (b) juridical antecedence and (c) incurability. The incapacity must be grave or serious such that the party would be incapable of carrying out the ordinary duties required in marriage. It must be rooted in the history of the party antedating the marriage, although the overt manifestations may emerge only after the marriage. It must be incurable or, even if it were otherwise, the cure would be beyond the means of the party involved. The Court likewise laid down the guidelines in resolving petitions for declaration of nullity of marriage, based on Article 36 of the Family Code, in Republic v. Court of Appeals. Relevant to this petition are the following: (1) The burden of proof to show the nullity of the marriage belongs to the plaintiff; (2) the root cause of the psychological incapacity must be medically or clinically identified, alleged in the complaint, sufficiently proven by experts and clearly explained in the decision; (3) the incapacity must be proven to be existing at the “time of the celebration” of the marriage; (4) such incapacity must also be shown to be medically or clinically permanent or incurable; and (5) such illness must be grave enough to bring about the disability of the party to assume the essential obligations of marriage.

Guided by these pronouncements, it is the Court’s considered view that petitioner’s evidence failed to establish respondent’s psychological incapacity. Petitioner’s testimony did not prove the root cause, gravity and incurability of private respondent’s condition. Even the psychologist failed to show the root cause of her psychological incapacity. The root cause of the psychological incapacity must be identified as a psychological illness, its incapacitating nature fully explained and established by the totality of the evidence presented during trial. More importantly, the acts of private respondent do not even rise to the level of the “psychological incapacity” that the law requires. Private respondent’s act of living an adulterous life (wife came home late and had lovers) did not come cannot automatically be equated with a psychological disorder, especially when no specific evidence was shown that promiscuity was a trait already existing at the inception of marriage. Petitioner must be able to establish that respondent’s unfaithfulness is a manifestation of a disordered personality, which makes her completely unable to discharge the essential obligations of the marital state.  Doubtless, the private respondent was far from being a perfect wife and a good mother.  She certainly had some character flaws. But these imperfections do not warrant a conclusion that she had a psychological malady at the time of the marriage that rendered her incapable of fulfilling her marital and family duties and obligations. Silvino A. Ligeralde vs. May Ascension A. Patalinghug, et al., G.R. No. 168796, April 15, 2010.

Family relations; applicable law – Civil Code vs. Family Code. See Manuel O. Fuentes, et al. vs. Conrado G. Roca, et al., G.R. No. 178902, April 21, 2010, below.

Family relations; sale of conjugal property.  The law that applies to this case is the Family Code, not the Civil Code. Although Tarciano and Rosario got married in 1950, Tarciano sold the conjugal property to the Fuentes spouses on January 11, 1989, a few months after the Family Code took effect on August 3, 1988. When Tarciano married Rosario, the Civil Code put in place the system of conjugal partnership of gains on their property relations.  While its Article 165 made Tarciano the sole administrator of the conjugal partnership, Article 166 prohibited him from selling commonly owned real property without his wife’s consent.  Still, if he sold the same without his wife’s consent, the sale is not void but merely voidable.  Article 173 gave Rosario the right to have the sale annulled during the marriage within ten years from the date of the sale.  Failing in that, she or her heirs may demand, after dissolution of the marriage, only the value of the property that Tarciano fraudulently sold. But, as already stated, the Family Code took effect on August 3, 1988.  Its Chapter 4 on Conjugal Partnership of Gains expressly superseded Title VI, Book I of the Civil Code on Property Relations Between Husband and Wife.  Further, the Family Code provisions were also made to apply to already existing conjugal partnerships without prejudice to vested rights.  Thus: “Art. 105.  x x x  The provisions of this Chapter shall also apply to conjugal partnerships of gains already established between spouses before the effectivity of this Code, without prejudice to vested rights already acquired in accordance with the Civil Code or other laws, as provided in Article 256. (n)”

Consequently, when Tarciano sold the conjugal lot to the Fuentes spouses on January 11, 1989, the law that governed the disposal of that lot was already the Family Code. In contrast to Article 173 of the Civil Code, Article 124 of the Family Code does not provide a period within which the wife who gave no consent may assail her husband’s sale of the real property.  It simply provides that without the other spouse’s written consent or a court order allowing the sale, the same would be void. Under the provisions of the Civil Code governing contracts, a void or inexistent contract has no force and effect from the very beginning.  And this rule applies to contracts that are declared void by positive provision of law, as in the case of a sale of conjugal property without the other spouse’s written consent.  A void contract is equivalent to nothing and is absolutely wanting in civil effects.  It cannot be validated either by ratification or prescription. But, although a void contract has no legal effects even if no action is taken to set it aside, when any of its terms have been performed, an action to declare its inexistence is necessary to allow restitution of what has been given under it.  This action, according to Article 1410 of the Civil Code does not prescribe. Here, the Rocas filed an action against the Fuentes spouses in 1997 for annulment of sale and reconveyance of the real property that Tarciano sold without their mother’s (his wife’s) written consent.

The passage of time did not erode the right to bring such an action.  Besides, even assuming that it is the Civil Code that applies to the transaction, Article 173 provides that the wife may bring an action for annulment of sale on the ground of lack of spousal consent during the marriage within 10 years from the transaction.  Consequently, the action that the Rocas, her heirs, brought in 1997 fell within 10 years of the January 11, 1989 sale.  It did not yet prescribe. The Fuentes spouses point out that it was to Rosario, whose consent was not obtained, that the law gave the right to bring an action to declare void her husband’s sale of conjugal land.  But here, Rosario died in 1990, the year after the sale.  Does this mean that the right to have the sale declared void is forever lost? The answer is no.  As stated above, that sale was void from the beginning.  Consequently, the land remained the property of Tarciano and Rosario despite that sale.  When the two died, they passed on the ownership of the property to their heirs, namely, the Rocas.  As lawful owners, the Rocas had the right, under Article 429 of the Civil Code, to exclude any person from its enjoyment and disposal. In fairness to the Fuentes spouses, however, they should be entitled, among other things, to recover from Tarciano’s heirs, the Rocas, the P200,000.00 that they paid him, with legal interest until fully paid, chargeable against his estate.  Further, the Fuentes spouses appear to have acted in good faith in entering the land and building improvements on it.  Atty. Plagata, whom the parties mutually entrusted with closing and documenting the transaction, represented that he got Rosario’s signature on the affidavit of consent.  The Fuentes spouses had no reason to believe that the lawyer had violated his commission and his oath.  They had no way of knowing that Rosario did not come to Zamboanga to give her consent.  There is no evidence that they had a premonition that the requirement of consent presented some difficulty.  Indeed, they willingly made a 30 percent down payment on the selling price months earlier on the assurance that it was forthcoming.  Further, the notarized document appears to have comforted the Fuentes spouses that everything was already in order when Tarciano executed a deed of absolute sale in their favor on January 11, 1989.  In fact, they paid the balance due him.  And, acting on the documents submitted to it, the Register of Deeds of Zamboanga City issued a new title in the names of the Fuentes spouses.  It was only after all these had passed that the spouses entered the property and built on it.  He is deemed a possessor in good faith, said Article 526 of the Civil Code, who is not aware that there exists in his title or mode of acquisition any flaw which invalidates it.  As possessor in good faith, the Fuentes spouses were under no obligation to pay for their stay on the property prior to its legal interruption by a final judgment against them.  What is more, they are entitled under Article 448 to indemnity for the improvements they introduced into the property with a right of retention until the reimbursement is made. The Rocas shall of course have the option, pursuant to Article 546 of the Civil Code, of indemnifying the Fuentes spouses for the costs of the improvements or paying the increase in value which the property may have acquired by reason of such improvements. Manuel O. Fuentes, et al. vs. Conrado G. Roca, et al., G.R. No. 178902, April 21, 2010.

Property; possession in good faith. See Manuel O. Fuentes, et al. vs. Conrado G. Roca, et al., G.R. No. 178902, April 21, 2010 above.

Sale; conjugal property. See Manuel O. Fuentes, et al. vs. Conrado G. Roca, et al., G.R. No. 178902, April 21, 2010.

Sale; contract to sell land; payment of price; Maceda Law. Contracts are law between the parties, and they are bound by its stipulations.  It is clear from the above-quoted provisions that the parties intended their agreement to be a Contract to Sell:  Dela Cruz retains ownership of the subject lands and does not have the obligation to execute a Deed of Absolute Sale until petitioners’ payment of the full purchase price.  Payment of the price is a positive suspensive condition, failure of which is not a breach but an event that prevents the obligation of the vendor to convey title from becoming effective.  Strictly speaking, there can be no rescission or resolution of an obligation that is still non-existent due to the non-happening of the suspensive condition.  Dela Cruz is thus not obliged to execute a Deed of Absolute Sale in petitioners’ favor because of petitioners’ failure to make full payment on the stipulated date.

The trial court erred in applying R.A. 6552, or the Maceda Law, to the present case.  The Maceda Law applies to contracts of sale of real estate on installment payments, including residential condominium apartments but excluding industrial lots, commercial buildings and sales to tenants.  The subject lands, comprising five parcels and aggregating 69,028 square meters, do not comprise residential real estate within the contemplation of the Maceda Law.  Moreover, even if we apply the Maceda Law to the present case, petitioners’ offer of payment to Dela Cruz was made a year and a half after the stipulated date.  This is beyond the sixty-day grace period under Section 4 of the Maceda Law.  Petitioners still cannot use the second sentence of Section 4 of the Maceda Law against Dela Cruz for Dela Cruz’s alleged failure to give an effective notice of cancellation or demand for rescission because Dela Cruz merely sent the notice to the address supplied by petitioners in the Contract to Sell. It is undeniable that petitioners failed to pay the balance of the purchase price on the stipulated date of the Contract to Sell.  Thus, Dela Cruz is within her rights to sell the subject lands to Bartolome.  Neither Dela Cruz nor Bartolome can be said to be in bad faith. Spouses Faustino and Josefina Garcia, et al. vs. Court of Appeals, et al., G.R. No. 172036, April 23, 2010.

Succession; waiver of inheritance. The basic questions to be resolved in this case are:  Is a waiver of hereditary rights in favor of another executed by a future heir while the parents are still living valid?  Is an adverse claim annotated on the title of a property on the basis of such waiver likewise valid and effective as to bind the subsequent owners and hold them liable to the claimant?

Pursuant to the second paragraph of Article 1347 of the Civil Code, no contract may be entered into upon a future inheritance except in cases expressly authorized by law.  For the inheritance to be considered “future”, the succession must not have been opened at the time of the contract.  A contract may be classified as a contract upon future inheritance, prohibited under the second paragraph of Article 1347, where the following requisites concur: (1) the succession has not yet been opened., (2)  the object of the contract forms part of the inheritance; and (3) the promissor has, with respect to the object, an expectancy of a right which is purely hereditary in nature. In this case, there is no question that at the time of execution of Comandante’s Waiver of Hereditary Rights and Interest Over a Real Property (Still Undivided), succession to either of her parent’s properties has not yet been opened since both of them are still living.  With respect to the other two requisites, both are likewise present considering that the property subject matter of Comandante’s waiver concededly forms part of the properties that she expect to inherit from her parents upon their death and, such expectancy of a right, as shown by the facts, is undoubtedly purely hereditary in nature. From the foregoing, it is clear that Comandante and petitioner entered into a contract involving the former’s future inheritance as embodied in the Waiver of Hereditary Rights and Interest Over a Real Property (Still Undivided) executed by her in petitioner’s favor. Guided by the above discussions, the court declares in this case that the Waiver of Hereditary Rights and Interest Over a Real Property (Still Undivided) executed by Comandante in favor of petitioner as not valid and that same cannot be the source of any right or create any obligation between them for being violative of the second paragraph of Article 1347 of the Civil Code.

Anent the validity and effectivity of petitioner’s adverse claim, it is provided in Section 70 of PD 1529, that it is necessary that the claimant has a right or interest in the registered land adverse to the registered owner and that it must arise subsequent to registration.  Here, as no right or interest on the subject property flows from Comandante’s invalid waiver of hereditary rights upon petitioner, the latter is thus not entitled to the registration of his adverse claim.  Therefore, petitioner’s adverse claim is without any basis and must consequently be adjudged invalid and ineffective and perforce be cancelled.  Atty. Pedro M. Ferrer vs. Spouses Alfredo Diaz, et al., G.R. No. 165300, April 23, 2010.

Special Laws

Foreclosed property; rules on redemption period. See  Spouses Basilio and Norma Hilaga vs. Rural Bank of Isulan, etc.G.R. No. 179781. April 7, 2010, below.

Property Registration Decree; effect of annotation of sheriff’s certificate of sale in registry on redemption period.  In the case under consideration, NHA presented the sheriff’s certificate of sale to the Register of Deeds and the same was entered as Entry No. 2873 and said entry was further annotated in the owner’s transfer certificate of title.  A year later and after the mortgagors did not redeem the said properties, respondents filed with the Register of Deeds an Affidavit of Consolidation of Ownership after which the same instrument was presumably entered into in the day book as the same was annotated in the owner’s duplicate copy.  NHA followed the procedure in order to have its sheriff’s certificate of sale annotated in the transfer certificates of title.  It was not NHA’s fault that the certificate of sale was not annotated on the transfer certificates of title which were supposed to be in the custody of the Registrar, since the same were burned.  Neither could NHA be blamed for the fact that there were no reconstituted titles available during the time of inscription as it had taken the necessary steps in having the same reconstituted as early as July 15, 1988.  NHA did everything within its power to assert its right.  The current doctrine that entry in the primary book produces the effect of registration can be applied since the registrant therein complied with all that was required of it, hence, it was fairly reasonable that its acts be given the effect of registration, just as the Court did in past cases. To hold said entry ineffective, amounts to declaring that it did not, and does not, protect the registrant from claims arising, or transactions made, thereafter which are adverse to or in derogation of the rights created or conveyed by the transaction thus entered.  That, surely, is a result that is neither just nor can, by any reasonable interpretation of Section 56 of Presidential Decree No. 1529 be asserted as warranted by its terms. Since entry of the certificate of sale was validly registered, the redemption period accruing to respondents commenced therefrom, since the one-year period of redemption is reckoned from the date of registration of the certificate of sale.  It must be noted that on April 16, 1991, the sheriff’s certificate of sale was registered and annotated only on the owner’s duplicate copies of the titles and on April 16, 1992, the redemption period expired, without respondents having redeemed the properties.  In fact, on April 24, 1992, NHA executed an Affidavit of Consolidation of Ownership.  Clearly, respondents have lost their opportunity to redeem the properties in question. National Housing Authority vs. Augusto Basa, Jr. Luz Basa and Eduardo S. Basa, G.R. No. 149121, April 20, 2010.

Public Land Act; violation of five-year prohibitory period.  Petitioners executed a document called a Deed of Confirmation and Quitclaim in favor of a certain Vicente Lazo whereby petitioners agreed to “sell, cede, convey, grant, and transfer by way of QUITCLAIM” a parcel of land covered by an original certificate of title. The OCT had been issued pursuant to a homestead patent.  Lazo then sold the property to the respondent. The latter later filed an action for ownership, quieting of title, partition and damages against petitioners, praying that he be declared as the true owner of the property. In answer, petitioners stated that they had not relinquished ownership or possession of the land to Lazo. While admitting that they executed the Deed of Confirmation and Quitclaim in favor of Lazo, petitioners claimed that they were misled into signing the same, with Lazo taking advantage of their lack of education.Without going into petitioners’ allegation that they were unaware of the contents of the Deed of Confirmation and Quitclaim, we nonetheless hold that the deed is void for violating the five-year prohibitory period against alienation of lands acquired through homestead patent as provided under Section 118 of the Public Land Act. It bears stressing that the law was enacted to give the homesteader or patentee every chance to preserve for himself and his family the land that the State had gratuitously given to him as a reward for his labor in cleaning and cultivating it.  Its basic objective, as the Court had occasion to stress, is to promote public policy, that is to provide home and decent living for destitutes, aimed at providing a class of independent small landholders which is the bulwark of peace and order.  Hence, any act which would have the effect of removing the property subject of the patent from the hands of a grantee will be struck down for being violative of the law. To repeat, the conveyance of a homestead before the expiration of the five-year prohibitory period following the issuance of the homestead patent is null and void and cannot be enforced, for it is not within the competence of any citizen to barter away what public policy by law seeks to preserve.  There is, therefore, no doubt that the Deed of Confirmation and Quitclaim, which was executed three years after the homestead patent was issued, is void and cannot be enforced. Julio Flores, et al. vs. Marciano Bagaoisan, G.R. No. 173365, April 15, 2010.

Rural Banks Act; redemption of mortgaged lands. Section 5 of Republic Act No. 720, as amended by Republic Act Nos. 2670 and 5939, specifically provides for the redemption period for lands foreclosed by rural banks.  It provides in part as follows: “Loans may be granted by rural banks on the security of lands without Torrens titles where the owner of private property can show five years or more of peaceful, continuous and uninterrupted possession in the concept of an owner; x x x or of homesteads or free patent lands pending the issuance of titles but already approved, the provisions of any law or regulations to the contrary notwithstanding: Provided, That when the corresponding titles are issued the same shall be delivered to the register of deeds of the province where such lands are situated for the annotation of the encumbrance: x x x Provided, That when a homestead or free patent land is foreclosed, the homesteader or free patent holder, as well as their heirs shall have the right to redeem the same within two years from the date of foreclosure in case of a land not covered by a Torrens title or two years from the date of the registration of the foreclosure in case of a land covered by a Torrens title x x x.”

In Sta. Ignacia Rural Bank, Inc. v. Court of Appeals, we summarized the rules on redemption in the case of an extrajudicial foreclosure of land acquired under our free patent or homestead statutes as follows.  If the land is mortgaged to a rural bank under Republic Act No. 720, as amended, the mortgagor may redeem the property within two (2) years from the date of foreclosure or from the registration of the sheriff’s certificate of sale at such foreclosure if the property is not covered or is covered, respectively, by a Torrens title. If the mortgagor fails to exercise such right, he or his heirs may still repurchase the property within five (5) years from the expiration of the two (2)-year redemption period pursuant to Section 119 of the Public Land Act (C.A. No. 141).  If the land is mortgaged to parties other than rural banks, the mortgagor may redeem the property within one (1) year from the registration of the certificate of sale pursuant to Act No. 3135. If he fails to do so, he or his heirs may repurchase the property within five (5) years from the expiration of the redemption period also pursuant to Section 119 of the Public Land Act.

In the present case, petitioners admit that when the property was mortgaged, only the tax declaration was presented.  Although a free patent title was subsequently issued in their favor on August 4, 1976, petitioners failed to inform the creditor rural bank of such issuance.  As a result, the certificate of sale was not registered or annotated on the free patent title. Petitioners are estopped from redeeming the property based on the free patent title which was not presented during the foreclosure sale nor delivered to the Register of Deeds for annotation of the certificate of sale as required under Section 5 of Republic Act No. 720, as amended.  Estoppel in pais arises when one, by his acts, representations or admissions, or by his own silence when he ought to speak out, intentionally or through culpable negligence, induces another to believe certain facts to exist and such other rightfully relies and acts on such belief, so that he will be prejudiced if the former is permitted to deny the existence of such facts.

Petitioners cannot fault respondent for the non-registration of the certificate of sale because petitioners did not inform the respondent bank that a Torrens title had already been acquired by them on August 4, 1976.  By their silence and inaction, petitioners misled the respondent bank to believe that their only proof of ownership was the tax declaration.   Thus, the two (2)-year redemption period shall be reckoned from the date of the foreclosure. For the same reason, petitioners’ assertion that they will have five (5) years from the date of registration of the sale to redeem the foreclosed property under Section 119 of the Public Land Act has no merit, the reckoning period for the redemption period being properly from the date of sale. But even assuming arguendo that petitioners can avail of the five (5)-year redemption period provided under Section 119 of the Public Land Act, they still failed to exercise their right of redemption within the reglementary period provided by law.

As mentioned earlier, Section 119 of said Act expressly provides that where the land involved is acquired as a homestead or under a free patent, if the mortgagor fails to exercise the right of redemption, he or his heirs may still repurchase the property within five (5) years from the expiration of the two (2)-year redemption period. The auction sale having been conducted on April 20, 1977, petitioners had until April 20, 1984 within which to redeem the mortgaged property.  Since petitioner only filed the instant suit in 1999, their right to redeem had already lapsed. It took petitioners twenty-two (22) years before instituting an action for redemption.  The considerable delay in asserting one’s right before a court of justice is strongly persuasive of the lack of merit in petitioners’ claim, since it is human nature for a person to enforce his right when the same is threatened or invaded.  Spouses Basilio and Norma Hilaga vs. Rural Bank of Isulan, etc., G.R. No. 179781. April 7, 2010.

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