Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Land Titles: Sajonas vs. Court of Appeals; July 5, 1996


The case is for cancellation of the inscription of a Notice of Levy on Execution from a certificate of Title covering a parcel of real property. The inscription was caused to be made by the private respondent on Transfer Certificate of Title No. N-79073 of the Register of Deeds of Marikina, issued in the name of the spouses Uychocde, and was later carried over to and annotated on Transfer Certificate of Title No. N-109417 of the same registry, issued in the name of the spouses Sajonas, who purchased the parcel of land from the Uychocdes, and are now the petitioners in this case.

The subject property was bought by Sajonas spouses on September 1983 and caused the annotation of their adverse claim on August 1984. The Deed of Sale was executed upon the full payment of the purchase price and the same was registered only on August 1985.

Meanwhile, without the petitioners' knowledge, there has been a compromise agreement between the spouses Uychocde and Pilares (Uychocde's judgment creditor), and a notice of levy on execution was issued on February 12, 1985. On February 12, 1985, defendant sheriff Roberto Garcia of Quezon City presented said notice of levy on execution before the Register of Deeds of Marikina and the same was annotated at the back of TCT No. 79073 as Entry No. 123283.

Which should be preferred between the notice of levy on execution and the deed of absolute sale. The Deed of Absolute Sale was executed on September 4, 1984, but was registered only on August 28, 1985, while the notice of levy on execution was annotated six (6) months prior to the registration of the sale on February 12, 1985.

The annotation of the adverse claim is equivalent to notice to third persons of the interest of the claimant. The provision of the law (PD 1529) that the adverse claim is only valid for 30 days cannot be upheld. Clearly, the intention of the law is otherwise as may be gleaned on the following discussion:

“Sec. 70 Adverse Claim- Whoever claims any part or interest in registered land adverse to the registered owner, arising subsequent to the date of the original registration, may, if no other provision is made in this decree for registering the same, make a statement in writing setting forth fully his alleged right or interest, and how or under whom acquired, a reference to the number of certificate of title of the registered owner, the name of the registered owner, and a description of the land in which the right or interest is claimed.

The statement shall be signed and sworn to, and shall state the adverse claimant’s residence, and a place at which all notices may be served upon him. This statement shall be entitled to registration as an adverse claim on the certificate of title. The adverse claim shall be effective for a period of thirty days from the date of registration. After the lapse of said period, the annotation of adverse claim may be cancelled upon filing of a verified petition therefor by the party in interest: Provided, however, that after cancellation, no second adverse claim based on the same ground shall be registered by the same claimant.

Before the lapse of thirty days aforesaid, any party in interest may file a petition in the Court of First Instance where the land is situated for the cancellation of the adverse claim, and the court shall grant a speedy hearing upon the question of the validity of such adverse claim, and shall render judgment as may be just and equitable. If the adverse claim is adjudged to be invalid, the registration thereof shall be ordered cancelled. If, in any case, the court, after notice and hearing shall find that the adverse claim thus registered was frivolous, it may fine the claimant in an amount not less than one thousand pesos, nor more than five thousand pesos, in its discretion. Before the lapse of thirty days, the claimant may withdraw his adverse claim by filing with the Register of Deeds a sworn petition to that effect.”

Construing the provision as a whole would reconcile the apparent inconsistency between the portions of the law such that the provision on cancellation of adverse claim by verified petition would serve to qualify the provision on the effectivity period. The law, taken together, simply means that the cancellation of the adverse claim is still necessary to render it ineffective, otherwise, the inscription will remain annotated and shall continue as a lien upon the property. For if the adverse claim has already ceased to be effective upon the lapse of said period, its cancellation is no longer necessary and the process of cancellation would be a useless ceremony.

To interpret the effectivity period of the adverse claim as absolute and without qualification limited to thirty days defeats the very purpose for which the statute provides for the remedy of an inscription of adverse claim, as the annotation of an adverse claim is a measure designed to protect the interest of a person over a piece of real property where the registration of such interest or right is not otherwise provided for by the Land Registration Act or Act 496 (now P.D. 1529 or the Property Registration Decree), and serves as a warning to third parties dealing with said property that someone is claiming an interest or the same or a better right than the registered owner thereof.

Petition was granted. The inscription of the notice of levy on execution on TCT No. N-109417 is ordered CANCELLED.

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