Tan v. Dasal


Tan v. Dasal

G.R. No. 255694

January 16, 2023



                Spouses Silverio and Purificacion Dasal owned a parcel of land located in Roxas City. When they died, ownership was passed onto their three surviving children, namely: Enrico, Cristino, and herein respondent Diosdado Dasal who later subdivided the property into three portions. Thereafter, the Dasal brothers decided to sell Lots 1833-L-2 and 1833-L-3, retaining Lot 1833-L-1 which was further subdivided into four lots and a Subdivision Plan prepared for such purpose wherein a portion of Diosdado's property abutting the property of Inocencio Bermejo and parallel to Lot 1833-L-1-B owned by Enrico was indicated as an existing alley. Sometime in October 1987, Enrico caused the further subdivision of Lot 1833-L-1-B into two parcels: (1) Lot 1833-L-1-B-1, which was sold to herein petitioners; and (2) Lot 1833-L-1-B-2, which was sold to Edmund Sia. Attached to the Subdivision Plan prepared for Lot-1833-L-1-B, subject to the approval of the Land Management Sector of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources, was an Affidavit purportedly executed by respondent Diosdado, stating that a portion of his lot had been donated to all the occupants within the said subdivision for their free use and passage as an alley.

Later on, petitioners constructed a commercial building on Lot 1833-L-1-B-1, which was leased out to different entities, including the AMA Computer Learning Center. However, respondent Diosdado apparently constructed a fence on the disputed alley, preventing petitioners and their lessees from using it. After he rejected their request to re-open the alley, petitioners were constrained to institute a complaint for injunction and damages. In in their complaint asserted that the Dasal brothers and Inocencio earlier agreed to reserve a portion of respondent Diosdado's lot as an alley to provide ingress and egress to their property. Respondent Diosdado disavowed having knowledge about the subdivision of Lot 1833-L-1 and claimed that his signature appearing on the supposed Subdivision Agreement of Lot 1833-L-1 was forged. Likewise, he was not aware that a portion of the area assigned to him was reserved as an alley. However, since his house was already erected on Lot 1833-L-1-D, he no longer objected to such assignment. He also insisted that the alley was intended as a foot path for the use only of Inocencio and no one else, and that his property was not a servient estate insofar as petitioners' lot was concerned. Instead, petitioners should have asked for a right of way from Enrico, who sold the realty to them. Ultimately, respondent Diosdado denied that petitioners had to pass through the existing alley in his lot to go to and from their property; only that it was more convenient for them to use the same.



                Whether or not the petitioners are legally entitled to the use of the alley in dispute.



                The Court ruled in negative. It found no reason to deviate from the pronouncement of the Court of Appeals that petitioners are not entitled to use the alley found on the property of respondents. In Republic v. Ortigas, the Court elucidated that the foregoing provision contemplates roads and streets in a subdivided property, not public thoroughfares built on a private property that was taken from an owner for public purpose. Given that the alley involved in the case at hand refers to one located inside a private subdivided property, reliance on Section 50 of Presidential Decree No. 1529 is proper. Section 50 of Presidential Decree No. 1529 supersedes Section 44 of Act No. 496. Section 50 of Presidential Decree No. 1529 now allows the Register of Deeds to register a subdivision plan containing streets or passageways, duly approved by the Commissioner of Land Registration or the Bureau of Lands, sans court approval. The Register of Deeds is enjoined to annotate on the new certificate of title a memorandum to the effect that the streets or passageways delineated as such shall not be closed by the registered owner without court approval. Therefore, the best evidence that the alley in Diosdado's property is truly a street or passageway reserved for the use of all occupants of Lot 1833-L-1, as subdivided, and not merely Inocencio, would be the memorandum to that effect annotated on the certificate of title covering it.

In the case at bar, petitioners presented Transfer Certificate Title No. T-21393, covering Lot 1833-L-1-D in the name of respondent Diosdado, which bears the following statement: "NOTE: Existing Alley of 3.00 m. wide along Line 5-1 is reserved." This annotation does not explicitly state for whom the use of the alley on Lot 1833-L-1-D was reserved. After careful examination of the approved Subdivision Plan from which the title was derived, it demonstrates that it is equally ambiguous for whose benefit the existing alley was reserved since it was only designated as such. Moreover, it bears stressing that the annotation on respondent Diosdado's title does not comply with the required tenor of the memorandum under Section 50, signaled by the use of the word shall in the said provision. Absent clear and express terms in the Subdivision Agreement and the Subdivision Plan for Lot 1833-L-1 drawn up by the parties herein as to the nature of the burden upon respondent Diosdado's estate, the Court may determine their intention, as may be gathered from their contemporaneous and subsequent acts. The Court also noted that a voluntary easement defined by Article 619 of the Civil Code as that created by will of the owners was not established by the documentary evidence proffered by petitioners. The Court proceeds there being none to determine whether a legal easement was created over the disputed alley in favor of petitioners. The conferment of a legal or compulsory easement of right of way is governed by Articles 649 and 650 of the Civil Code must concur such as the dominant estate is surrounded by other immovables and has no adequate outlet to a public highway (Art. 649, par. 1); There is payment of proper indemnity (Art. 649, par. 1); The isolation is not due to the acts of the proprietor of the dominant estate (Art. 649, last par.); and The right of way claimed is at the point least prejudicial to the servient estate; and insofar as consistent with this rule, where the distance from the dominant estate to a public highway may be the shortest (Art. 650).