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Co Giok Lun vs. Jose Co; G.R. No. 184454, August 3, 2011 – a case digest

Facts:court judgment

The case involves two lots allegedly co-owned by two brothers, petitioner Co Giok Lun (Lun) and Co Bon Fieng (Fieng), and the father of respondent Jose Co (Co). The lots are situated in Sorsogon province, one in the town of Gubat and the other in the town of Barcelona. The Gubat property was allegedly acquired by Lun from the P8,000.00 capital inherited  from their father, and later named under Fieng only since it has been a common practice and custom in China that properties intended for the children are placed in the name of the eldest child. Lun and Fieng set up a business, selling and trading of dry goods, called the Philippine Honest and Company in the Gubat property.

The Barcelona property, on the other hand, was acquired by Chaco in 1923 while he was still doing his business in Gubat.

The petitioners insist that their predecessor-in-interest Lun co-owned the Gubat and Barcelona properties with his brother Fieng. To prove co-ownership over the Gubat property, petitioners presented the following:

  1. Tax declarations from 1929 to 1983 under the name of Fieng but paid by Lun;
  2. The renewal certificate from Malayan Insurance Company Inc.;
  3. The insurance contract; and
  4. The statements of account from Supreme Insurance Underwriters which named Lun as administrator of the property.

To prove their right over the Barcelona property as legal heirs under intestate succession, petitioners presented a Deed of Sale dated 24 August 1923 between Chaco, as buyer, and Gabriel Gredona and Engracia Legata, as sellers, involving a price consideration of P1,200.

On the other hand, respondents presented notarized documents: (1) Deed of Sale dated 13 October 1935, and (2) Sale of Real Property dated 6 August 1936 showing that the former owners of the Gubat property entered into a sale transaction with Fieng, as buyer and Lun, as a witness to the sale. They also presented tax declarations in the name of Fieng from 1937 to 1958. After Fieng’s death, Co declared the Gubat property in his name in the succeeding tax declarations. Likewise, the respondents presented documents proving the declaration of the Barcelona property in the name of Co.

 

Issue: Whether or not Lun and Fieng holds no co-ownership over the Gubat and Barcelona properties and Fieng is the exclusive owner of both properties.

HELD:

The CA holds that the evidence of petitioners was insufficient or immaterial to warrant a positive finding of co-ownership over the Gubat and Barcelona properties. The CA correctly observed that petitioners failed to substantiate with reasonable certainty that Chaco gave Fieng a start-up capital of P8,000 to be used by Lun and Fieng in setting up a business, and that the Philippine Honest and Company was a partnership between Lun and Fieng, and that the Deed of Sale dated 24 August 1923 involving the Barcelona property is sufficient to establish co-ownership. Also, petitioners were not able to prove the existence of the alleged Chinese custom of placing properties in the name of the eldest child as provided under Article 12 of the Civil Code. In contrast, respondents were able to show documents of sale from the original owners of the Gubat property rendering the claim of custom as immaterial. Also, respondents sufficiently established that Fieng was the registered owner of the Gubat and Barcelona properties while Lun was merely an administrator. The court DENIES the petition and AFFIRMS the Decision dated 23 April 2008 (ruled in favor of the respondents) and Resolution dated 10 September 2008 of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. CV. No. 85920 (Denied the motion for reconsideration of the Petitioners).

 

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