FACTS: Simeon Prudencio filed a complaint for recovery of possession and damages against Danilo Parel with the RTC Baguio.

Prudencio is claiming that he is the owner of a two storey residential house.

He also claims that the house was constructed in 1972-1975 from his own funds and declared in his name in a tax declaration and that he has been paying the taxes on it ever since Assessor’s assessment of the property all in respondent’s name since tax declarations are not conclusive proof of ownership.

In 1973, when the 2nd floor of the house was already habitable, he allowed Parel’s parents to live there and supervise the construction below. When the house was finished, the Parel family was allowed to live there since they have no house of their own.

Parel’s dad, Florentino, now deceased, was Prudencio’s wife’s younger brother. Prudencio wrote Florentino a notice for them to vacate the said house as the former was due for retirement and he needed the place. Danilo’s parents heeded this when they migrated to US, however, Danilo and his family unlawfully entered and took possession of the ground floor of the house; and refused to leave despite many demands

So Prudencio filed an action for recovery of possession, and also asked from Parel for a monthly rental (3k) from April 1988 until he leaves the premises, plus moral and exemplary damages and costs. It rejected the affidavit executed by Florentino declaring the house as owned by respondent saying that the affidavit should be read in its entirety to determine the purpose of its execution; that it was executed because of an advisement addressed to the late Florentino by the City Treasurer concerning the property’s tax assessment and Florentino, thought then that it should be the respondent who should pay the taxes; and that the affidavit cannot be accepted for being hearsay.

From this decision, Prudencio appealed, decision reversed by CA, declaring him the sole owner. The CA found that since petitioner failed to formally offer in evidence any documentary evidence, there is nothing to refute the evidence offered by respondent.

It ruled that the TC’s statement that defendants’ occupancy of the house is due to a SPA executed by his parents is wanting of any concrete evidence on record; that said power of attorney was never offered, hence, could not be referred to as petitioner’s evidence to support his claim; that except for the bare testimonies of Candelario Regua, the carpenter-foreman, that it was Florentino who constructed the house and Corazon Garcia, the former barangay captain, who testified that the lot was allocated to petitioner’s father, there was no supporting document which would sufficiently establish factual bases for the trial court’s conclusion; and that the rule on offer of evidence is mandatory.

Parel filed his Answer with Counterclaim alleging that his parents are co-owners of the house (ground floor to Parel, 2nd floor to Prudencio), and that his parents spent their own resources in improving the house and that the construction workers were hired by Florentino, and that Florentino was an awardee of the land on which the house stands.

He also claims that Prudencio had filed ejectment case as well as criminal cases against them involving the subject house, which were all dismissed.

Parel asked for the dismissal of the complaint and prayed for damages and attorney’s fees. RTC declared that the house is co-owned by Parel and Prudencio, so Prudencio cannot evict Parel. Parel was also ordered to pay moral and actual damages, atty.’s fees, and costs.

RTC concluded that the land was allocated to Florentino as part of a program of the former mayor of Baguio (Lardizabal) to allow lowly-paid gov’t workers to construct their own houses on the reservation; that Prudencio failed to show proof of any contract, written or oral, express or implied, that the late Florentino and his family stayed on the house not as co-owners but as mere lessees, nor any other proof that would clearly establish his sole ownership of the house; and, that the late Florentino was the one who gathered the laborers for the construction of the house and paid their salaries. Thus, the RTC ruled that co-ownership existed between respondent and petitioner’s father, Florentino.

From this, RTC concluded that Florentino and Prudencio had an agreement that Florentino would contribute money for the construction and once the house is completed, hati sila. RTC also questioned that Prudencio only claimed sole-ownership after 15 years. RTC did not give credence to the tax declaration as well as the several documents showing the City

The CA found the affidavit dated Sep. 24, 1973 of Florentino, petitioner’s father, stating that he is not the owner of the subject house but respondent, as conclusive proof of respondent’s sole ownership of the subject house as it is a declaration made by Florentino against his interest. It also gave weight to Prudencio’s tax declarations as sufficient to establish his case which constitute at least proof that the holder has a claim of title over the property. Parel filed an MFR, denied.

ISSUE: Whether or not it was necessary to formally offer Parel’s documentary evidence.

HELD: YES. Parel cited Bravo vs. Borja to support his claim that the rule that the court shall consider no evidence which has not been formally offered is not absolute, and that his evidence, though not formally offered were marked as exhibits in the presentation of testimonies of petitioner’s witnesses, and were part of the testimonies, and also that the evidence were part of a memorandum filed before the court.

SECTION 34 of RULE 132 of the Rules of Court provides: Offer of evidence. – The court shall consider no evidence which has not been formally offered. The purpose for which the evidence is offered must be specified.

A formal offer is necessary because it is the duty of a judge to rest his findings of facts and his judgment only and strictly upon the evidence offered by the parties to the suit. It is a settled rule that the mere fact that a particular document is identified and marked as an exhibit does not mean that it has thereby already been offered as part of the evidence of a party

Parel cannot rely on the Bravo case because there, the court allowed evidence on minority by admitting the certified true copy of the birth certificate attached to a motion for bail even if it was not formally offered in evidence, because it was properly filed in support of a motion for bail to prove petitioner’s minority which was never challenged by the prosecution and it already formed part of the records of the case.

The rule referred to in the Bravo case was Section 7 of Rule 133 of the Rules of Court, not Section 34 of Rule 132 of the Rules of Court which is the one applicable to the present case.

Even if the documentary evidence would be considered, the evidence showing that the cases filed by Prudencio were dismissed, and the SPA of Parel’s parents did not establish co-ownership.

The construction worker’s testimony that Florentino was the one who hired him, and the barangay captain’s allegation that he was allocated a lot does not overcome Florentino’s own affidavit naming Prudencio as owner of the house.

The fact that not one of the witnesses saw respondent during the construction of the said house does not establish that petitioner’s father and respondent co-owned the house.

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