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Bailon-Casilao v. CA (1988) Petitioners: Delia Bailon-Casilao, Luz Paulino-Ang,

Emma Paulino-Ybanez, Nilda Paulino-Tolentino, and Sabina Bailon Respondents: CA
and Celestino Afable Ponente: Cortes, J.
The fate of petitioners' claim over a parcel of land rests ultimately on a deter
mination of whether or not said petitioners are chargeable with such laches as m
ay effectively bar their present action. There is a parcel of land in the names
of the Bailons (Rosalia, Gaudencio, Sabina Bernabe, Nenita and Delia) as coowner
s, each with a 1/6 share. o Gaudencio and Nenita are now dead, (Nenita being rep
resented in this case by her children) o Bernabe went to China and had not been
heard from since It appears that Rosalia and Gaudencio sold a portion of the lan
d to Donato Delgado. Rosalia alone, then sold the remainder of the land to Ponci
ana Aresgado de Lanuza. o On the same date, Lanuza acquired from Delgado land wh
ich the Delgado had earlier acquired from Rosalia and Gaudencio. Husband John La
nuza, acting under a special power of attorney given by his wife, Ponciana, sold
the two parcels of land to Celestino Afable, Sr. In all these transfers, it was
stated in the deeds of sale that the land was not registered under the provisio
ns of Act No. 496 when the fact is that it is. o It appears that the land had be
en successively declared for taxation first, in the name of Ciriaca Dellamas, mo
ther of the co-owners, then in the name of Rosalia Bailon, then in that of Donat
o Delgado, then in Ponciana de Lanuza's name, and finally in the name of Celesti
no Afable, Sr. The petitioners in this case, the Bailons, filed a case for recov
ery of property against Celestino Afable. In his answer, Afable claimed that he
had acquired the land in question through prescription and said that the Bailons
are guilty of laches. LC declared Afable co-owner because he validly bought 2/6
of the land (the shares of Rosalia and Gaudencio) CA affirmed. Prescription doe
s not apply against the Bailons because they are co-owners of the original selle
rs. But, an action to recover may be barred by laches. o CA held the Bailons gui
lty of laches and dismissed their complaint
Issue: Applicability of the doctrine of laches Ratio:

Initially, a determination of the effect of a sale by one or more co-owners of t

he entire property held in common without the consent of all the co-owners and o
f the appropriate remedy of the aggrieved co-owners is required. The rights of a
co-owner of a certain property are clearly specified in NCC 493: Art. 493. Each
co-owner shall have the full ownership of his part and of the acts and benefits
pertaining thereto, and he may therefore alienate assign or mortgage it and eve
n substitute another person in its enjoyment, except when personal rights are in
volved. But the effect of the alienation or mortgage, with respect to the co-own
ers, shall be limited to the portion which may be allotted to him in the divisio
n upon the termination of the co-ownership SC has already ruled in other cases t
hat even if a co-owner sells the whole property as his, the sale will affect onl
y his own share but not those of the other co-owners who did not consent to the
sale o By virtue of the sales made by Rosalia and Gaudencio, which are valid wit
h respect to their proportionate shares, and the subsequent transfers which culm
inated in the sale to private respondent Celestino Afable, Afable thereby became
a co-owner of the disputed parcel of land Since a co-owner is entitled to sell
his undivided share, a sale of the entire property by one co-owner without the c
onsent of the other co-owners is not null and void. o However, only the rights o
f the co-owner-seller are transferred, thereby making the buyer a co-owner of th
e property.
Re: Proper action

The proper action in cases like this is not for the nullificat

ion of the sale or for the recovery of possession but the division of the common
Neither recovery of possession nor restitution can be granted since th
e buyers are legitimate possessors in joint ownership of the common property cla
imed Re: Prescription
Here, prescription cannot be invoked.
Pursuant to NCC 494,
no co-owner shall be obliged to remain in the co-ownership. Such co-owner may d
emand at anytime the partition of the thing owned in common, insofar as his shar
e is concerned. In Budiong v. Bondoc , SC has interpreted that provision to mean
that the action for partition is imprescriptible or cannot be barred by prescri
ption. For NCC 494 explicitly declares: No prescription shall lie in favor of a
co-owner or co- heir so long as he expressly or impliedly recognizes the co-owne
rship. Also, the disputed parcel of land being registered under the Torrens Syst
em, the express provision of Act No. 496 that no title to registered land in dero
gation to that of the registered owner shall be acquired by prescription or adve
rse possession is applicable.
Prescription will not lie in favor of Afable as aga
inst the Bailons who remain the registered owners of the parcel of land.

Re: Argument of Bailons that as to the children who represent their deceased mot
her, Nenita, prescription lies
It is argued, that as to the children who are not
the registered co-owners but merely represent their deceased mother, prescripti
on lies. (citing Pasion v. Pasion: "the imprescriptibility of a Torrens title ca
n only be invoked by the person in whose name the title is registered" and that
'one who is not the registered owner of a parcel of land cannot invoke imprescri
ptibility of action to claim.' Reliance on the previous case is wrong. o The rul
ing there applies only against transferees other than direct issues or heirs or
to complete strangers. The reason for that is: if prescription is unavailing aga
inst the registered owner, it must be equally unavailing against the owners hered
itary successors, because they merely step into the shoes of the decedent Re: La
ches Laches is also unavailing as a shield against the action of petitioners Bai
lon. o There are 4 basic elements of laches 1) Conduct on the part of the defend
ant or of one under whom he claims, giving rise to the situation of which compla
int is made and for which the complainant seeks a remedy; 2) Delay in asserting
the corporations complainant s rights, the complainant having had knowledge or n
otice of the defendant s conduct and having been afforded an opportunity to inst
itute suit; 3) Lack of knowledge or notice on the part of the defendant that the
complainant would assert the right on which he bases his suit; and, 4) Injury o
r prejudice to the defendant in the event relief is accorded to the complainant,
or the suit is not held to be barred o First and last elements are present. o S
econd and third elements are missing.
The second element speaks of delay in asse
rting the complainant s rights. o However, the mere fact of delay is insufficien
t to constitute, laches. o It is required that (1) complainant must have had kno
wledge of the conduct of defendant or of one under whom he claims and (2) he mus
t have been afforded an opportunity to institute suit. o This court has pointed
out that laches is not concerned with the mere lapse of time.
Laches is defined
as the failure or neglect, for an unreasonable length of time to do that which b
y exercising due diligence could or should have been done earlier; it is neglige
nce or omission to assert a right within a reasonable time warranting a presumpt
ion that the party entitled to assert it either has abandoned it or declined to
assert it. o The doctrine of "laches" or of "stale demands" is based upon ground
s of public policy which requires for the peace of society, the discouragement o
f stale claims and unlike the statute of limitations, is not a mere question of
time but is principally a question of inequity or unfairness of permitting a rig
ht or claim to be enforced or asserted. While there was delay in asserting the B
ailons rights, such delay was not attended with any knowledge of the sale nor wit
h any opportunity to bring a suit. o In the first place, the Bailons had no noti
ce of the sale made by their eldest sister. o In the second place, they were not
afforded an opportunity to bring suit because they were kept in the dark about
the transactions entered into by their sister. It was only when Delia returned t
hat she found out about the sales and immediately, she and her siblings filed th
e present action for recovery of property. The third element of laches is absent
. o There was no lack of knowledge o It is actually Afable who is guilty of bad
faith in purchasing the property as he knew that the property was coowned by six
persons and yet, there were only two signatories to the deeds of sale and no sp
ecial authorization to self was granted to the two sellers by the other co-owner
s. A person dealing with a registered land has a right to rely upon the face of
the Torrens certificate of title and to dispense with the need of inquiring furt
her, except when the party concerned has actual knowledge of facts and circumsta
nces t hat would impel a reasonably cautions man to make such inquiry.
Also, pet
itioners Bailon are relatives of his wife. As a gesture of good faith, he should
have contacted the Bailons who were still listed as co-owners in the certificat
e of title which was already in his possession even before the sale. o In failin
g to exercise even a minimum degree of ordinary prudence, he is deemed to have b
ought the lot at his own risk. o Hence any prejudice or injury that may be occas
ioned to him by such sale must be borne by him. Decision set aside