Fabia vs IAC (GR No. L-66101 November 21, 1984)

Spouses Fabia vs Intermediate Appellate Court
GR No. L-66101 November 21, 1984

Facts: Respondents reside on a lot east of the land in question and adjunct to it which is owned in common. The land in question formerly belonged to Hugo Mararac who sold the same to the spouses Leonardo Mararac and Monica Resuello on March 27, 1971. At that time, the lot now owned by the respondents was owned by plaintiff Angel Mararac and Juanito Mararac, who was the husband of plaintiff Carina Rafanan who died in 1976. Leonardo Mararac and Monica Resuello sold to the petitioners the land in question on February 25, 1975. At that time, the lot in eastern side of the land in question was owned by Angel Mararac and his brother, Juanita Marara. On April 8, 1975,defendants declared the land for tax purposes. At the time of sale of the land in question to the defendants in 1975 there was no offer to exercise right of legal redemption. There was no legal redemption offered during the period between the first and second sale. The southern boundary of the lot in question is a barrio road with approximate area of 10 meters wide. The land in question in relation to plaintiffs’ lot is not separated by ravine, by brook, trait road or other servitude for the benefit of others. A portion of the land in question on the side farther from the road, is used as a fishwell. Plaintiffs offered to redeem the land in the amount paid by the defendants as well as an amount for the return of investment of the property and interest, and payments of attorney’s fees and are able and willing to make the payment.
 
Issue: Whether or not the statement made by the respondents in the pleadings are considered as an admission and thus binds them in relation to the character of the land to entitle them for legal redemption.
 
Held: Yes. As provided under Section 2, Rule 129 of the Rules of Court, Admissions made by the parties in the pleadings, or in the course of the trial or proceedings do not require proof and cannot be contradicted unless previously shown to have been made through palpable mistake.
 
No such palpable mistake has been shown. Evidence militates against the respondents’ contention that the above description does not bind them. The description was merely copied from the deed of sale between the property’s original owners and the petitioners when the self-same document was presented by the respondents as their own evidence, marked as Exhibit B, of the petitioner’s Declaration of Property for Tax Purposes which contains the assessor’s official finding and classification that the land covered by the declaration is residential.
 
The character of the locality, the streets, the neighboring and surrounding properties give a clear picture of a residential area. Lots, including the disputed property, with residential houses line the streets. There are concrete and semi-concrete houses, a chapel, an elementary school, and a public artesian well. Evidence consisting of photographs of the petitioners’ land show a one-storey nipa and bamboo house. Trees and plants abound on the petitioner’s property, yet, the same do not, by their mere presence make the lot agricultural. As correctly held by the lower court: “… the ordinary Philippine residence is traditionally profuse with trees and plants for home sufficiency, esthetic appreciation, and ecological balance.” In fact, the lots neighboring the land in question are likewise planted with trees and plants and some even have fishwells. Truly a residential home lot is not converted into agricultural land by the simple reservation of a plot for the cultivation of garden crops or the planting of bananas and some fruit trees. Nor can an orchard or agricultural land be considered residential simply because a portion thereof has been criss-crossed with asphalt and cement roads with buildings here and there (Republic of the Philippines v. Lara, 50 O.G. 5778). We have to apply the rule of reason based on the specific facts of each case. The land, subject matter of the petition, being primarily residential, cannot be considered as rural for purposes of legal redemption under the law.  
 
The stipulation of facts is deemed an admission by the respondents of the residential character of their own land thus disqualifying them from rightfully redeeming the property in question.

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