Remedial law; Writ of Habeas Corpus; When the State may intervene in rearing children. Under Section 1, Rule 102 of the Rules of Court, the writ of habeas corpus is available, not only in cases of illegal confinement or detention by which any person is deprived of his liberty, but also in cases involving the rightful custody over a minor. The general rule is that parents should have custody over their minor children. But the State has the right to intervene where the parents, rather than care for such children, treat them cruelly and abusively, impairing their growth and well-being and leaving them emotional scars that they carry throughout their lives unless they are liberated from such parents and property counseled.
Civil law; Article 41 of the Family Code requires that the present spouse has a well-founded belief that the prior spouse was already dead. Mere absence of the spouse (even for such period required by the law), lack of any news that such absentee is still alive, failure to communicate or general presumption of absence under the Civil Code would not suffice. This conclusion proceeds from the premise that Article 41 of the Family Code places upon the present spouse the burden of proving the additional and more stringent requirement of “well-founded belief” which can only be discharged upon a showing of proper and honest-to-goodness inquiries and efforts to ascertain not only the absent spouse’s whereabouts but, more importantly, that the absent spouse is still alive or is already dead.
The law did not define what is meant by “well-founded belief.” It depends upon the circumstances of each particular case. Its determination, so to speak, remains on a case-to-case basis. To be able to comply with this requirement, the present spouse must prove that his/her belief was the result of diligent and reasonable efforts and inquiries to locate the absent spouse and that based on these efforts and inquiries, he/she believes that under the circumstances, the absent spouse is already dead. It requires exertion of active effort (not a mere passive one).
Strict standard prescribed under Article 41 of the Family Code is for the present spouse’s benefit. The requisite judicial declaration of presumptive death of the absent spouse (and consequently, the application of a stringent standard for its issuance) is also for the present spouse’s benefit. It is intended to protect him/her from a criminal prosecution of bigamy under Article 349 of the Revised Penal Code which might come into play if he/she would prematurely remarry sans the court’s declaration.
Upon the issuance of the decision declaring his/her absent spouse presumptively dead, the present spouse’s good faith in contracting a second marriage is effectively established. The decision of the competent court constitutes sufficient proof of his/her good faith and his/her criminal intent in case of remarriage is effectively negated. Thus, for purposes of remarriage, it is necessary to strictly comply with the stringent standard and have the absent spouse judicially declared presumptively dead.
Civil law; Art. 176 of the Family Code gives illegitimate children the right to decide if they want to use the surname of their father or not. On its face, Art. 176, as amended, is free from ambiguity. And where there is no ambiguity, one must abide by its words. The use of the word “may” in the provision readily shows that an acknowledged illegitimate child is under no compulsion to use the surname of his illegitimate father. The word “may” is permissive and operates to confer discretion upon the illegitimate children.
Civil Law; Annulment of Torrens Title must be seasonably filed. It is an established rule that a Torrens certificate of title is not conclusive proof of ownership. Verily, a party may seek its annulment on the basis of fraud or misrepresentation. However, such action must be seasonably filed, else the same would be barred. In this relation, Section 32 of PD 1529 provides that the period to contest a decree of registration shall be one ( 1) year from the date of its entry and that, after the lapse of the said period, the Torrens certificate of title issued thereon becomes incontrovertible and indefeasible.
Civil Law; Prescriptive period of an action for reconveyance. The prescriptive period for actions for reconveyance is ten (10) years reckoned from the date of issuance of the certificate of title, except when the owner is in possession of the property, in which case the action for reconveyance becomes imprescriptible.
Civil Law; Spanish titles not longer used as evidence of ownership. Petitioner’s complaint for annulment of title should be dismissed altogether since she merely relied on the titulo posesorio issued in favor of Estabillo sometime in 1893 or 1895. Based on Section 1 of PD 892, entitled “Discontinuance of the Spanish Mortgage System of Registration and of the Use of Spanish Titles as Evidence in Land Registration Proceedings,” Spanish titles can no longer be used as evidence of ownership after six (6) months from the effectivity of the law, or starting August 16, 1976.
Civil law; Novation is never presumed. The settled rule is that novation is never presumed, but must be clearly and unequivocally shown. In order for a new agreement to supersede the old one, the parties to a contract must expressly agree that they are abrogating their old contract in favor of a new one. Thus, the mere substitution of debtors will not result innovation, and the fact that the creditor accepts payments from a third person, who has assumed the obligation, will result merely in the addition of debtors and not novation, and the creditor may enforce the obligation against both debtors. If there is no agreement as to solidarity, the first and new debtors are considered obligated jointly.
The Act has amended the Price Act redefining the terms “Basic Necessities” and “Prime Commodities” and provides for the term for automatic price control during emergency situations.
The Act shall ensure the protection of children against potential hazards to their health and safety by requiring special labeling of toys and games. To guarantee the rights of children to protection and safety, the Act shall provide a means of redress for violation of said rights.
Criminal law; Bigamy; Subsequent marriage must be valid. For bigamy to exist, the second or subsequent marriage must have all the essential requisites for validity except for the existence of a prior marriage. In this case, there was really no subsequent marriage. Benjamin and Sally just signed a purported marriage contract without a marriage license. The supposed marriage was not recorded with the local civil registrar and the National Statistics Office. In short, the marriage between Benjamin and Sally did not exist. They lived together and represented themselves as husband and wife without the benefit of marriage.
Civil law; Property relations of cohabitants. Benjamin and Sally cohabitated without the benefit of marriage. Thus, only the properties acquired by them through their actual joint contribution of money, property, or industry shall be owned by them in common in proportion to their respective contributions.
Civil law; Notice of extrajudicial foreclosure. [U]nless the parties stipulate, “personal notice to the mortgagor in extrajudicial foreclosure proceedings is not necessary” because Section 3 of Act 3135 only requires the posting of the notice of sale in three public places and the publication of that notice in a newspaper of general circulation.
In this case, the parties stipulated in paragraph 11 of the Mortgage that:
All correspondence relative to this mortgage, including demand letters, summons, subpoenas, or notification of any judicial or extra-judicial action shall be sent to the Mortgagor at xxx or at the address that may hereafter be given in writing by the Mortgagor or the Mortgagee;
However, no notice of the extrajudicial foreclosure was sent by DBP to petitioners about the foreclosure sale scheduled on July 11, 1994. The letters dated January 28, 1994 and March 11, 1994 advising petitioners to immediately pay their obligation to avoid the impending foreclosure of their mortgaged properties are not the notices required in paragraph 11 of the Mortgage. The failure of DBP to comply with their contractual agreement with petitioners, i.e., to send notice, is a breach sufficient to invalidate the foreclosure sale.
Civil law; Contract to sell; Rescission. In a contract to sell, the seller retains ownership of the property until the buyer has paid the price in full. A buyer who covertly usurps the seller’s ownership of the property prior to the full payment of the price is in breach of the contract and the seller is entitled to rescission because the breach is substantial and fundamental as it defeats the very object of the parties in entering into the contract to sell.
In the case at bar, we find that respondent Rowena’s act of transferring the title to the subject land in her name, without the knowledge and consent of petitioners and despite non-payment of the full price thereof, constitutes a substantial and fundamental breach of the contract to sell. As previously noted, the main object or purpose of a seller in entering into a contract to sell is to protect himself against a buyer who intends to buy the property in installments by withholding ownership over the property until the buyer effects full payment therefor. As a result, the seller’s obligation to convey and the buyer’s right to conveyance of the property arise only upon full payment of the price. Thus, a buyer who willfully contravenes this fundamental object or purpose of the contract, by covertly transferring the ownership of the property in his name at a time when the full purchase price has yet to be paid, commits a substantial and fundamental breach which entitles the seller to rescission of the contract.