I have been in possession of a portion of a piece of land that I inherited from our parents. This is the share I got when my brother and I partitioned the land. To my surprise, I just found out recently that the title of the whole lot was in the name of my brother when I was processing documents needed to mortgage what I had inherited. Does this mean that my brother now owns the property?
The provision of the New Civil Code of the Philippines applies to your situation, particularly Article1456, which provides:
“Art. 1456. If property is acquired through mistake or fraud, the person obtaining it is, by force of law, considered a trustee of an implied trust for the benefit of the person from whom the property comes.”
Thus, even if the title of the land is in the name of your brother, it does not follow that he owns the whole lot. As stated in the aforesaid law, he is considered a trustee of the land therefore ownership thereof was not transferred to him. You may ask him to transfer half of the property in your name. Should he fail to do so, you may file a petition in court for reconveyance or cancelation of title.
In addition to this, to protect your rights over the property, you may execute an Affidavit of Adverse Claim, stating among others that you own half of the land and have the same annotated with the Register of Deeds where the land is located, so that others may be informed about this.
It is worthy to mention that issuance of title does not vest ownership of a parcel of land but only shows or evidences who the owner/s of the land is/are. In the case of Heirs of Clemente Ermac vs. Heirs of Vicente Ermac (G.R. No. 149679, May 30, 2003), the Supreme Court pronounced the following:
“Furthermore, ownership is not the same as a certificate of title. Registering a piece of land under the Torrens System does not create or vest title, because registration is not a mode of acquiring ownership. A certificate of title is merely an evidence of ownership or title over the particular property described therein. Its issuance in favor of a particular person does not foreclose the possibility that the real property may be co-owned with persons not named in the certificate, or that it may be held in trust for another person by the registered owner.”
Again, we find it necessary to mention that this opinion is solely based on the facts you have narrated and our appreciation of the same. The opinion may vary when the facts are changed or elaborated.
We hope that we were able to enlighten you on the matter.
Editor’s note: Dear PAO is a daily column of the Public Attorney’s Office. Questions for Chief Acosta may be sent to email@example.com