G.R. No. 74287 October 27, 1989
SPOUSES AGUSTIN FLORES and PURITA M. FLORES, petitioners,
THE HONORABLE INTERMEDIATE APPELLATE COURT and SALVADOR, MILAGROS and CONRADA, all SURNAMED NICO, respondents.
Private respondent Nico owns Assessors Lot No. 71, located at Miag-ao, Iloilo. They claim that the area of their lot is 689 square meters as shown by Tax Declarations and the sketch plans duly certified by the Office of the Provincial Assessor; and that they have been in possession of that property since 1936.
On the other hand, petitioner Flores owns the adjoining Assessors Lot No. 72. Their allegation is that this lot has an area of 3,173 square meters pursuant to the Deed of Sale in their favor dated 11 January 1967 and as shown by Tax Declarations. A sketch plan however, also indicates that the area is 3,083 square meters. Both lots are unregistered properties.
Sometime in 1975, petitioners constructed a bamboo fence, and in 1978, a hollow-block fence to separate the two adjoining properties, over the strong protest of Nico who alleged that the construction encroached upon a portion of their property. As they refused to heed the protest, Nico filed an action for “Recovery of Real Property with Damages”.
Lower courts ruled that the disputed area of 199 square meters (Lot A of 55 square meters being claimed by Flores, Lot B of 144 square meters by Nico) belong to Nico and that Flores should demolish the fence.
Whether or not the ownership of disputed area belongs to Flores or to Nico.
SC deemed it best to divide the disputed area between the parties equally, or 99.5 square meters for each of them. Neither party has proven its entitlement to the entire disputed portion, much less has either party convincingly shown the dividing line between their two properties. All contrary to the basic rule that in an action to recover, the person who claims that he has a better right to the property must prove both ownership and identity.
While Nico may have been in possession of their lot since 1936 in the concept of owners and planted trees thereon, these are insufficient to delineate boundaries. The bamboo fences respectively built by the parties do not conclusively appear either as clear dividing lines. Also, Flores will necessarily have to demolish their concrete fence and move it towards the resulting boundary, but they have only themselves to blame since they proceeded with its construction despite the verbal and written protests of Nico.