The presumption of regularity accorded to notarized documents is not conclusive.

Case Title: Noel M. Odrada v. Virgilio Lazaro and George Aseniero

Date of Promulgation: January 20, 2020 | G.R. No. 205515

FACTS: Petitioner Odrada alleges that: he is the registered owner of a black Range Rover which he bought from Basa, the previous registered owner of the same; he learned that respondent Aseniero, claiming to be the owner of the vehicle, had reported to the Anti-Carnapping Unit of the Philippine National Police Eastern Police District (PNP-EPD-ANCAR) that the said motor vehicle had been stolen.

On the other hand, respondents allege that: Rosmarino acquired the vehicle from Eagle Ridge as payment for the services he rendered to the latter; Eagle Ridge made arrangements with Transmix Builders and Construction (Transmix) to give the said vehicle to Rosmarino, who in turn placed it on display at Kotse Pilipinas; through Pueo, manager of Kotse Pilipinas, Aseniero was able to buy the vehicle; Rosmarino requested Transmix to transfer the ownership of the vehicle directly to Aseniero; Pueo offered to take the vehicle for registration and after getting the vehicle brought the car to Tan, to serve as collateral for the loan the former obtained from the latter; Aseniero tried to call Pueo but the latter could no longer be reached and was not in his office; Aseniero went to the Land Transportation Office (LTO) to ask for a hold order where he found that the vehicle was already registered in Odrada's name; he also discovered that it was sold by Transmix to Basa who eventually sold the same to Odrada; after confronting Transmix, the latter executed a Deed of Confirmation of Sale in Aseniero's favor attesting to the fact that the vehicle was only sold to him.

ISSUE: Who is the lawful of the motor vehicle?

RULING: Aseniero is the lawful owner of the motor vehicle. While Odrada may have presented a notarized Deed of Sale between Basa and Transmix, it is of little value in proving that a sale had occurred considering that none of the parties there testified in court and identified the said document.

It is true that a notarized document enjoys a presumption that it was duly executed by the parties. Thus, a notarial document must be sustained in full force and effect so long as he who impugns it does not present strong, complete and conclusive proof of its falsity or nullity on account of some flaws or defects.[1] However, the presumption of regularity accorded to notarized documents is not conclusive as it can be refuted by clear and convincing evidence. Here, respondents were able to overcome the presumption of regularity of the Deed of Sale between Basa and Transmix. First, there was a Deed of Sale between Transmix and Aseniero. Second, the Deed of Confirmation of Sale acknowledged the transaction between Transmix and Aseniero. These documents were likewise notarized. In addition, Rosmarino testified in court to identify the Deed of Confirmation of Sale and to narrate the circumstances surrounding the sale between Transmix and Aseniero. Between Odrada and Aseniero, it was the latter who was able to prove a clear and consistent transmission of ownership from Transmix as the original owner of the vehicle.

Even assuming that respondents failed to overcome the presumption of regularity accorded to the Deed of Sale between Basa and Transmix, ownership would still rest with Aseniero. Such scenario would amount to double sale. The rule on double sale is provided in Article 1544, Civil Code:

If the same thing should have been sold to different vendees, the ownership shall be transferred to the person who may have first taken possession thereof in good faith, if it should be movable property. (emphasis supplied)

x x x

The Deed of Sale between Basa and Transmix was executed on September 4, 2003. On the other hand, the Deed of Sale between Transmix and Aseniero was executed on November 5, 2003. While the Deed of Sale between Basa and Transmix bore an earlier date, there is no evidence when Basa had actually possessed the vehicle. Basa never appeared in court to testify on the circumstances of the purchase. The execution of the deed alone did not transfer the ownership of the vehicle from Transmix to Basa because ownership over movable property is transferred by delivery and not merely by contract. Further, there is no evidence to show that Aseniero was aware of the September 4, 2003 Deed of Sale between Basa and Transmix. As such, it was Aseniero who first possessed the vehicle in good faith. Since Basa did not acquire ownership over the vehicle, he did not transmit any rights when he sold the same to Odrada. This is in keeping with the principle that one cannot give what one does not have - nemo dat quod non habet.


[1] Almeda v. Heirs of Ponciano Almeda, G.R. No. 194189, September 14, 2017.

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