DISPOSITIVE:

WHEREFORE, the Petition is DENIED for lack of merit. The July 30, 2013 Decision and the February 26, 2014 Resolution of the Court of Appeals i.n CA-G.R. CV No. 01415-MIN are hereby AFFIRMED.

SO ORDERED.

SUBJECTS/DOCTRINES/DIGEST:

WHAT HAPPENED IN THIS CASE?

A LAND COVERED BY FREE PATENT TITLE WAS SOLD WITHIN THE PROHIBITORY PERIOD. SUPREME COURT SAID THAT THE SALE WAS VOID. PETITIONERS CLAIM THAT THE CASE IS BARRED BY LACHES. THAT THEY SHOULD BE REIMBURSED FOR THE PURCHASE AND FOR IMPROVEMENTS. SUPREME COURT SAID LACHES DOES NOT APPLY IN CASE OF CONTRACTS VOID AB INITIO. BUT RESPONDENTS ARE ENTITLED TO REIMBURSEMENT FOR PRICE OF THE LAND. BUT NO REIMBURSEMENT FOR IMPROVEMENTS BECAUSE SUCH ARE COMPENSATED FROM FRUITS ARISING FROM POSSESSION.

The CA likewise correctly ordered respondents to reimburse petitioners the purchase price of the sale since the Deed of Sale is void ab initio. As to the improvements made on the land and the interests on the purchase price, these are compensated by the fruits petitioners had received from their long possession of the homestead pursuant to the ruling of the Court in the case of Sps. Maltos v. Heirs of Eusebio Borromeo. . .

………………..

Likewise without merit is petitioners’ defense of laches. In the Heirs of A lido v. Campano,73 the Court made it clear that !aches do not apply to void ab initio contracts. It explained –

Laches, however, do not apply if the assailed contract is void ah initio. In Heirs oflng/ug-Tiro v. Spouses Casals, the Court expounded that laches cannot prevail over the law that actions to assail a void contract are imprescriptible it being based on equity, to wit:

In actions for reconveyance of property predicated on the fact that the conveyance complained of was null and void ah initio, a claim of prescription of action would be unavailing. “The action or defense for the declaration of the inexistence of a contract does not prescribe.” Neither could !aches be invoked in the case at bar. Laches is a doctrine in equity and our courts are basically courts of law and not courts of equity. Equity, which has been aptly described as “justice outside legality,” should be applied only in the absence of, and never against, statutory law. Aequetas [nunquam] contravenit legis. The positive mandate of Art. 1410 of the New Civil Code conferring imprescriptibility to actions for declaration of the incxistence of a contract should pre-empt and prevail over all abstract arguments based only on equity. Certainly, !aches cannot set up to resist the enforcement of an imprescriptible legal right, and petitioners can validly vindicate their inheritance despite the lapse qf time.

………………………..

As above-mentioned, a sale of a parcel of land is in violation of the five[1]year prohibition on the alienation of land acquired via free patent application is void and produces no legal effect. As successors-in-interest of Alido, petitioners’ right to challenge the sale between Alido and respondent cannot be barred by I aches as it was in violation of the restriction on the sale of land acquired through free patent. 74

TO READ THE DECISION, JUST CLICK/DOWNLOAD THE FILE BELOW. IF FILE DOES NOT APPEAR ON SCREEN GO TO DOWNLOAD. IT IS THE FIRST ITEM. OPEN IT.

NOTE: TO RESEARCH ON A TOPIC IN YAHOO OR GOOGLE SEARCH  JUST TYPE “attybulao and the topic”. EXAMPLE: TO RESEARCH ON FORUM SHOPPING JUST  TYPE “attybulao and forum shopping”.