[G.R. No. 144712. July 4, 2002]
SPOUSES SILVESTRE and CELIA PASCUAL, petitioners, vs. RODRIGO V. RAMOS, respondent. DECISION
DAVIDE, JR., C.J.:
Before us is a petition for review on certiorari assailing the 5 November 1999 Decision and the 18 August 2000 Resolution of the Court of Appeals in CA G.R. CV No. 52848. The former affirmed the 5 June 1995 and 7 September 1995 Orders of the Regional Trial Court, Malolos, Bulacan, Branch 21, in Civil Case No. 526 -M-93, and the latter denied petitioner’s motion for reconsideration.
The case at bar stemmed from the petition for consolidation of title or ownership filed on 5 July 1993 with the trial court by herein respondent Rodrigo V. Ramos (hereafter RAMOS) against herein petitioners, Spouses Silvestre and Celia Pascual (hereafter the PASCUALs). In his petition, RAMOS alleged that on 3 June 1987, for and in consideration of P150,000, the PASCUALs executed in his favor a Deed of Absolute Sale w ith Right to Repurchase over two parcels of land and the improvements thereon located in Bambang, Bulacan, Bulacan, covered by Transfer Certificate of Title (TCT) No. 305626 of the Registry of Deeds of Bulacan. This document was annotated at the back of the title. The PASCUALs did not exercise their right to repurchase the property within the stipulated one -year period; hence, RAMOS prayed that the title or ownership over the subject parcels of land and improvements thereon be consolidated in his favor. In their Answer, the PASCUALs admitted having signed the Deed of Absolute Sale with Right to Repurchase for a consideration of P150,000 but averred that what the parties had actually agreed upon and entered into was a real estate mortgage. They further alleged that there was no agreement limiting the period within which to exercise the right to repurchase and that they had even overpaid RAMOS. Furthermore, they interposed the following defenses: (a) the trial court had no jurisdiction over the subject or nature of the petition; (b) RAMOS had no legal capacity to sue; (c) the cause o f action, if any, was barred by the statute of limitations; (d) the petiti on stated no cause of action; (e) the claim or demand set forth in RAMOS’s pleading had been paid, waived, abandoned, or otherwise extinguished; and (f) RAMOS has not complied with the required confrontation and conciliation before the barangay. By way of counterclaim, the PASCUALs prayed that RAMOS be ordered to execute a Deed of Cancellation, Release or Discharge of the Deed of Absolute Sale with Right to Repurchase or a Deed of Real Estate Mortgage; deliver to them the owner’s duplicate of TCT No. T-305626; return the amount they had overpaid; and pay each of them moral damages and exemplary damages in the amounts of P200,000 and P50,000, respectively, plus attorney’s fees of P100,000; appearance fee of P1,500 per hearing; litigation expenses; and costs of suit. After the pre-trial, the trial court issued an order wherein it identified the following issues: (1) whether the Deed of Absolute Sale with Right to Repurchase is an absolute sale or a mere mortgage; (2) whether the PASCUALs have paid or overpaid the principal obligation; (3) whether the ownership over the parcel of land may be consolidated in favor of RAMOS; and (4) whether damages may be awarded.
Among the documents offered in evidence by RAMOS during the trial on the merits was a document denominated as Sinumpaang Salaysay signed by RAMOS and Silvestre Pascual, but not notarized. The contents of the document read:
Ako, si SILVESTRE PASCUAL, Filipino, nasa hustong gulang, may asawa at kasalukuyang naninirahan sa Bambang, Bulacan, Bulacan, ay nagsasabing buong katotohanan at sumusumpa sa aking mga salaysay sa kasulatang ito: 1. Na ngayong June 3, 1987 dahil sa aking matinding pangangailangan ng puhunan ay lumapit ako at nakiusap kay Rodrigo Ramos ng Taal, Pulilan, Bulacan na pautangin ako ng halagang P150,000.00. 2. Na aming...