CATHOLIC VICAR vs. COURT OF APPEALS, G.R. No. 80294-95 September 21, 1988

Facts:
filed with the Court of First Instance of Baguio Benguet on September 5, 1962 an application for registration of title over Lots 1, 2, 3, and 4 in Psu-194357, situated at Poblacion Central, La Trinidad, Benguet. the Heirs of Juan Valdez and the Heirs of Egmidio Octaviano filed their Answer/Opposition on Lots Nos. 2 and 3, respectively, asserting ownership and title thereto. After trial on the merits, the land registration court promulgated its Decision, dated November 17, 1965, confirming the registrable title of VICAR to Lots 1, 2, 3, and 4. the Respondent appealed the decision of the land registration court to the then Court of Appeals, reversing the decision of the land registration court and dismissing the VICAR’s application as to Lots 2 and 3, the lots claimed by the two sets of oppositors in the land registration case. for The Court of Appeals found that petitioner did not meet the requirement of 30 years possession for acquisitive prescription over Lots 2 and 3. Neither did it satisfy the requirement of 10 years possession for ordinary acquisitive prescription because of the absence of just title. The appellate court did not believe the findings of the trial court that Lot 2 was acquired from Juan Valdez by purchase and Lot 3 was acquired also by purchase from Egmidio Octaviano by petitioner Vicar because there was absolutely no documentary evidence to support the same and the alleged purchases were never mentioned in the application for registration.

By the very admission of petitioner Vicar, Lots 2 and 3 were owned by Valdez and Octaviano. Both Valdez and Octaviano had Free Patent Application for those lots since 1906. The predecessors of private respondents, not petitioner Vicar, were in possession of the questioned lots since 1906.

There is evidence that petitioner Vicar occupied Lots 1 and 4, which are not in question, but not Lots 2 and 3, because the buildings standing thereon were only constructed after liberation in 1945. Petitioner Vicar only declared Lots 2 and 3 for taxation purposes in 1951. The improvements oil Lots 1, 2, 3, 4 were paid for by the Bishop but said Bishop was appointed only in 1947, the church was constructed only in 1951 and the new convent only 2 years before the trial in 1963.

When petitioner Vicar was notified of the oppositor’s claims, the parish priest offered to buy the lot from Fructuoso Valdez. Lots 2 and 3 were surveyed by request of petitioner Vicar only in 1962.

Issue:
Whether the ownership of a property maybe transfer to the bailee for failure of the bailor to demand for the return if it.

Held:
No, The bailees’ failure to return the subject matter of commodatum to the bailor did not mean adverse possession on the part of the borrower. The bailee held in trust the property subject matter of commodatum. The adverse claim of petitioner came only in 1951 when it declared the lots for taxation purposes. The action of petitioner Vicar by such adverse claim could not ripen into title by way of ordinary acquisitive prescription because of the absence of just title. The Court of Appeals found that the predecessors-in-interest and private respondents were possessors under claim of ownership in good faith from 1906; that petitioner Vicar was only a bailee in commodatum; and that the adverse claim and repudiation of trust came only in 1951.

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