Posted by: Elmer Brabante | September 1, 2009

Mateo vs. Lagua


BONIFACIA MATEO vs. GERVACIO LAGUA

29 SCRA 864

October 30, 1969 

 

FACTS:

                Sometime in 1917, the parents of Alejandro Lagua donated two lots to him in consideration of his marriage to petitioner Bonifacia Mateo.  The marriage was celebrated on May 15, 1917 and thereafter the couple took possession of the lots, but the certificates of title remained in the donor’s name. 

                In 1923, Alejandro died, leaving behind his widow Bonifacia with their infant daughter, who lived with the father-in-law Cipriano Lagua who in turn undertook to farm on the donated lots.  At first, Cipriano gave to Bonifacia the share from the lots’ harvests, but in 1926 he refused to deliver to petitioner the said share, which reason prompted her to initiate an action and won for her possession of the lots plus damages. 

                On July 31, 1941, Cipriano executed a deed of sale of the said lots in favor of his younger son, herein respondent Gervacio.  Petitioner learned of this only in 1956 when Cipriano stopped giving to petitioner her share to the harvest.  A Transfer Certificate of Title (TCT) was issued under respondent’s name by the Registry of Deeds (ROD) of Pangasinan. 

                The CFI of Pangasinan declared the TCT issued to respondent null and void and ordered cancelled by the ROD, and for respondent to vacate and deliver the lots to petitioner.  In 1957, Gervacio and Cipriano filed with the CFI for the annulment of the donation of the two lots.  While the case was pending, Cipriano died in 1958.  It was dismissed for prescription, having been filed after the lapse of 41 years.  When appealed, the CA in 1966 held that the donation to Alejandro of the two lots with the combined area of 11,888 sq. m. exceeded by 494.75 sq. m. his legitime and the disposable portion that Cipriano could have freely given by will, and to the same extent prejudiced the legitime  of Cipriano’s other heir, Gervacio.  The donation was thus declared inofficious and herein petitioners were ordered to reconvey to Gervacio a portion of 494.75 sq. m. from any convenient part of the lots. 

ISSUE:  Whether or not the Court of Appeals correctly reduced the donation propter nuptias for being inofficious. 

HELD:   

                Decision of CA based on unsupported assumptions set aside; trial court’s order of dismissal sustained. 

                Before the legal share due to a compulsory heir may be reached, the net estate of the decedent must be ascertained, by deducting all payable obligations and charges from the value of the property owned by the deceased at the time of his death; then, all donations subject to collation would be added to it.  With the partible estate thus determined, the legitimes of the compulsory heirs can be established, and only thereafter can it be ascertained whether or not a donation had prejudiced the legitimes.  Certainly, in order that a donation may be reduced for being inofficious,  there must be proof that the value of the donated property exceeds that of the disposable free portion plus the donee’s share as legitime in the properties of the donor.  In the present case, it can hardly be seen that, with the evidence then before the court, it was in any position to rule on the inofficiousness of the donation involved here, and to order its reduction and reconveyance of the deducted portion to the respondents. 

                Article 908.  To determine the legitime, the value of the property left at the death of the testator shall be considered, deducting all debts and charges, which shall not include those imposed in the will. 

                To the value of the hereditary estate, shall be added the value of all donations by the testator that are subject to collation, at the time he made them.

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