G.R. No. 1284. November 10, 1905

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5 Phil. 227

[ G.R. No. 1284. November 10, 1905 ]




This is an action to recover the possession of the two lots
described in the complaint, located in Calles Clavel and Barcelona,
district of Tondo, at present occupied by the defendant.

The court below entered judgment in favor of the plaintiff and
against the defendant for possession and damages in the sum of $2,500,
United States currency, and costs.

At the trial, after the plaintiff rested, the defendant moved for
the dismissal of the case upon the ground that the plaintiff had failed
to establish the allegations in the complaint. This motion was
overruled by the court, to which ruling the defendant duly excepted.
The question thus raised puts in issue the trial court’s finding that
the plaintiff was entitled to the ownership and possession of the land
in question. We accordingly hold that this point is impliedly involved
in the third and fourth assignments of error.

Plaintiff introduced both documentary and oral evidence. The latter
consisted of the testimony of John R. Wilson, Eduardo Timoteo, Juan
Villegas, Sotera Roco, Lorenzo del Rosario, and Modesto Reyes, the city
attorney. The first witness testified that he did not know of his own
knowledge if the land in question belonged to the city (p. 11 of the
bill of exceptions). The next witness testified that the land included
in Calles Clavel and Barcelona was formerly part of Plaza Divisoria,
which belonged to the Central Government (not the city), and that he
did not know to whom it now belongs (pp. 12 and 13 of the bill of
exceptions). It must be borne in mind that this witness referred to the
land included in Calles Clavel and Barcelona, and not to the lots
described in the complaint. These lots abut upon the streets referred
to, but do not form a part of either. According to the complaint, they
are building lots.

The third witness, Juan Villegas, testified that the land in
question was formerly included in the Gran Divisoria, and that all the
land included in it belonged to the city. In this particular his
testimony is at variance with that of the preceding witness, who
testified that the land belonged to the Central Government. Villega’s
testimony was merely hearsay. It consisted of what he,had learned from
some of the oldest residents in that section of the city. His testimony
was introduced by the plaintiff apparently for the purpose of proving
that the city was generally considered the owner of the land, drawing
from this fact the presumption of actual ownership under paragraph 11,
section 334, of the Code of Civil Procedure. Such testimony, however,
does not constitute the “common reputation” referred to in the section
mentioned. “Common reputation,” as used in that section, is equivalent
to universa! reputation. The testimony of this witness is not
sufficient to establish the presumption referred to.

Furthermore, this witness stated that the land in Calle Azcarraga
had been partitioned between the municipality and the Central
Government, share and share alike, and that the Central Government
(not the city) retained Calles Gabriel de Rivera and Barcelona, which
are precisely the streets on which the property abuts (bill of
exceptions, pp. 15 and 16).

The fourth witness (Sotera Roco) testified merely that Lorenzo del
Rosario had paid 100 pesos to her brother Cipriano Roco for the purpose
of instituting a possessory information as to the property abutting on
Calle Clavel. It appears that Lorenzo del Rosario acquired the land
from Cipriano Roco and sold it to his brother Jacinto del Rosario, the
defendant in this case. Notwithstanding this, and assuming that the
hearsay testimony of Sotera Roco is admissible, we do not see how it
can be inferred from her testimony that the plaintiff is the real owner
of the property.

The witnesses Modesto Reyes and Lorenzo del Rosario said nothing as
to the ownership of the land. They simply testified as to the
authenticity of some of the documentary evidence introduced by the

Of these documents the most important of all is the petition
presented by Lorenzo del Rosario to the “mayor of the city of Manila”
on the 26th of September, 1891, and the letter written by him on the
9th of October, 1901, to the Municipal Board of Manila. Lorenzo del
Rosario, in his testimony, admitted the authenticity of both documents
which contain an offer to the municipality of Manila to purchase the
land on Calle Clavel. Lorenzo del Rosario admitted also that he signed
the first document under the misapprehension that the land belonged to
the city, but that he had been subsequently informed by some of the
city officials that the land did not belong to the municipality, but to
Cipriano Roco y Vera. He stated that he signed the second document
because the President of the Municipal Board, Senor Herrera, advised
him to do so in order to avoid litigation with the city. His testimony
in this respect was not contradicted. We accordingly hold that the
provisions of section 346 of the Code of Civil Procedure are applicable
to the case at bar in so far as they declare that an offer of compromise is not admissible in evidence.

Again, Lorenzo del Rosario signed the first document before he
acquired from Cipriano Roco y Vera the ownership of the land referred
to therein, the second document being signed after he had transferred
the land to the defendant Jacinto del Rosario, who took possession of
the same and had it registered, as the plaintiff admits (par. 2 of the
complaint), on the 23d of February, 1893. If this is so, whatever
statements Lorenzo del Rosario might have made in the documents
mentioned, they are not binding upon the defendant, because, under
section 278 of the Code of Civil Procedure, “where one derives title to
real property from another, the declaration, act, or omission of the
latter, in relation to the property, is evidence against the former
only when made while the latter holds the title

The plaintiff also introduced in evidence a map of the city of
Manila. This map is not before us. It is sufficient to say, in order to
show that it has no value as evidence, that the reliability of the map
was not proven at the trial. The only witness examined with regard to
it was the city attorney. He was unable to say who made it or who
caused it to be made, or when it was made. He said only that he
believed the map had been drawn in the month of July, 1880, or prior to May, 1893.
Neither this nor his statement that the map was found among the
archives of the city of Manila is of itself sufficient to show that the
map is authentic. No one appears to certify as to its correctness.

The map identified by the witness John R. Wilson was introduced by
the plaintiff for the sole purpose of showing the location of the land
in question. It has, therefore, no value in establishing the right of
possession claimed by the plaintiff.

On the other hand, the two public instruments executed on March 7,
1900, between the defendant and Telesfora Apostol y Perea, also
introduced in evidence by the plaintiff, show that the defendant was in
possession of the land under a good title and with the status of owner
of the land. In the first instrument it is stated in so many words that
the defendant is the owner in fee simple of the land, he having
repurchased it from Liberio de Aurteneche y Menchacatorre, whose title
had been recorded in the property register.

From the foregoing it appears that the evidence introduced by the
plaintiff does not prove its claim of title to the land in question.
Neither the testimony of the witnesses presented by the plaintiff nor
the documentary evidence introduced show that the city of Manila is the
owner of the land, or that it has a right to its possession as claimed
in the complaint. Some of the documents introduced, as well as the two
public instruments referred to as having been executed in 1900, tended
to support the contentions of the defendant rather than those of the
plaintiff. Furthermore, the plaintiff itself admits in the complaint
that the defendant’s possession of the land in Calle Barcelona was
recorded since March, 1901, and his possession of that in Calle Clavel
since February, 1893. This shows that the defendant had been in the
adverse possession of the land. According to article 448 of the Civil
Code he must be presumed to hold under a just title, unless the
contrary is shown.

In view of the foregoing, we hold that the defendant had a perfect
right to ask for the dismissal of the case on the ground that the
plaintiff had failed to establish the allegations in the complaint, and
the court erred in overruling his motion to dismiss.

The order of the trial court overruling the motion of the defendant
to dismiss and the judgment appealed from are hereby reversed. Let the
case be remanded to the court of its origin for action in accordance
herewith. The plaintiff shall pay the costs of the Court of First
Instance. No special order is made as to the costs on appeal. After the
expiration of twenty days from the date hereof let judgment be entered
in conformity herewith. So ordered.

Torres, Johnson, Carson, and Willard, JJ., concur.

Arellano, C.J., did not sit in this case.

Date created: April 28, 2014


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