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Category Archives: Civil Law

Response to Kat: Pointers for the Bar Exam

I noticed that my blog had been silent for more than 3 months now. I have been busy back to work since December 2017, and had been (re)answering the 2017 Bar Exam since then. Two months before the release of the bar exam results, I was “interviewed” by my law school classmate who is now a candidate for graduation this June 2018. Having passed by our chat, I decided to post our Q&A. May the reader find this post as source of useful pointers in taking the #Bar2018 [Note: The Q&A is edited/modified to fit this blog-type post.]

 

KAT: First of all, congrats in finishing the bar. That alone takes a huge amount of endurance, and for that, I congratulate you! :’)

ME: Thank you!

KAT: Second, habang fresh pa sayo ang mga bagay-bagay, nais kong humingi ng mga words of advice or tips like:

Ano ang mga bagay na na-realize mo na dapat mong ginawa pero hindi mo nagawa?

ME: Most of the things I planned were accomplished naman, except for that run on the syllabus. Original plan ko kasi ay gagawan ko ng reviewer each and every subject based on syllabus. But since August 2017 na ako nag-start ng review proper ko (take not I did not resign or totally left work), I realized na I will be losing material time just doing such reviewer than focusing on what statistically may come out. So I abandoned the plan, and instead read as many Arellano Bar Review Program (ABRP) materials I’ve collected since 2012 as a premium for being consistently and actively participating in the Bar Operations.

I realized na, if only I have completed that self-made reviewer, maybe I could have better answered some questions. But take note abandoning it is not a bad idea after all. I just feel I could have answered better.

KAT: Mistakes you did or ung mga pagkukulang, if any? Or
Yung mga tamang ginawa mo na tingin mo hindi nagawa ng iba, if any? Hehe

I am not sure if it’s a mistake when I slightly changed my answering style a few months before the bar exam. Napansin ko kasi, if I will maintain my style, parang pare-parehas na mababasa ng examiner na phrasing (like kung susundan mo yung answering style na 3-paragraph rule). I have to admit I am aiming for the top. Without any professional guidance, I tried to trim down my answer into 2-paragraph super direct to the point “answer-reason then basis” approach. Maybe some portions of the correct answer could have been lost somewhere. But nonetheless, I passed. So baka naman hindi mistake.   

I believe I did my best in answering all the questions. That should be every examinee’s objective. Never leave a question unanswered, and always have a spare time to review your work. In my case, I made sure that I am done answering before the 3rd bell (i.e. 30 minutes before time’s up) so I still have at least 25 minutes (I submit my booklet after the 4th bell, i.e. 5 minutes before time’s up with the exception of Legal Ethics where I submitted 45 minutes before time kasi I am excited to go out before the sun sets). That way, I can review my work for any spelling, grammar, or punctuation. To my surprise, I was able to discover (this was during the first Sunday) that I skipped answering some sub-questions. I was able naman to insert my answers because, fortunately, my answers were (extremely) short and I use 1 page in answering even sub-questions.

KAT: Third, sa dami ng binasa mo, ano sa tingin mo ung best material/s (pnka marami kang nahugot sa pagsagot sa bar) and worst (na dapat ndi na basahin ng isang barrista) for each bar subject?

ME: Honestly, I have not read any reference book in the entire review (I tried to borrow some books, but I never had the chance to read it). In our case (Bar 2017), there is no single best material that you can use to survive the exam.  You really have to rely on the years of preparation you have in law school. In my case, I relied mostly on ABRP materials including our very own Pre-Week materials. My observation is that all other review materials are practically the same. They just differ in the presentation and emphasis on certain topics. But they are just like any other review material.

Take note I did not enroll in any other Bar Review simultaneous with the ABRP. To me, simultaneous schooling is not good at all because you will hear different approaches and answers to the same question, which later on may affect you while answering the bar exam. Just choose one set of materials that you are comfortable with. Stick with it, and just be able to identify which part is “poisonous” LoL. 

KAT: Best material (to read) and worst material (to avoid)
Poli-
Labor-
Civil law-
Tax-
Com-
Crim-
Remedial law-
Ethics-

ME: Following my answer above, I do not recommend any best or worst material for any subject. Given enough value and appreciation, our very own ABRP materials are good enough. You will later discover that some of Arellano barristers are reading “Blue Notes”, “Red Notes”, UP Notes, etc. But you will also be amazed to see some Ateneo, San Beda, and UP barristers reading Arellano Last Minute Tips (LMTs) LoL. Just choose which materials are most comfortable for you to use.

Bar materials and LMTs by itself will not, by itself, save you. They are just intended as reminders to what you should have known already way back law school days.

However, there are some notable exceptions to this like in the case of Political Law and Civil Law. AUSL is known to have very good predictions on Political Law (average 50%) and it was maintained.

Labor Law is likewise fair enough. Using Atty. Chan’s pre-week notes is more than enough arsenal.

In the case of Civil Law, there are a lot of basic ObliCon questions and our very own Atty. Rabuya discussed many of the questions which were lifted from the J.Bersamin cases.

Taxation law is again a killer (to me). I cannot give advice on this. But if you have read enough recent tax cases, it will be less painful.

Commercial law is also a pain in the a**. A handful of questions were lifted from the Financial Rehabilitation and Insolvency Act (FRIA). But the questions were basic, so I suggest reading the law (note, it is lengthy) and at least understanding the terms, just in case a “boomerang” happens in your bar exam.

Criminal Law is also complained as a killer subject, but I disagree. The questions are basic. The problem is its presentation. You will get confused by the manner the questions are presented. But I believe the questions are phrased that way to see if the examinee can discern the issue and use only material facts to arrive at a conclusion applying the law. The exceptional term “doli incapax” can be answered if you are familiar with latin root words “dolus” (dolo).  But never mind.

Remedial law is just a walk in the park (Jurassic park LoL) if you have been under Atty. Brondial’s class. If you have not, I suggest you get a copy of Atty. Brondial’s latest syllabus and start reading the cases there. It will be a smooth ride after finishing it.

Legal Ethics questions were mostly recycled questions in the past bar exams. Be prepared on legal forms because it may drain your time in preparing one if you have not practiced doing it. 

 

KAT: Your response will be much appreciated hehe.. thank you!

P.S. sa free time mo po gawin. I am willing to wait.

ME: I don’t want you to wait. Start early and feel relieved early. I hope, though, that I have not increased your stress levels by promptly replying to your queries.

Good luck!

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Chua, et al. v. United Coconut Planters Bank, et al., G.R. No. 215999, 16 August 2017

Third Division

[BERSAMIN, J.]

FACTS: It is undisputed that petitioners Spouses Chua and LGCTI as well as respondents Jose Go, had existing loan obligations with UCPB prior to the March 1997 JVA. As an offshoot of the JVA, two deeds of trust were executed by the parties involving petitioners’ 44-hectare property covered by 32 titles. The deeds of trust were neither expressly cancelled not rescinded despite the fact that the project under the JVA never came to fruition. On March 21, 2000, UCPB and petitioners entered into the MOA consolidating the outstanding obligations of the Spouses Chua and LGCTI.

Petitioners exchanged their 30 parcels of land to effectively reduce their total unpaid obligations to only P68,000,000.00. To settle the balance, they agreed to convert it into equity in LGCTI in case they would default in their payment. To implement the MOA, they signed the REM drafted by UCPB, which included the properties listed in the MOA as security for the credit accommodation of P404,597,177.04. Unknown to them, however, Jose Go, acting in behalf of Revere, likewise executed another REM covering the properties that Revere was holding in trust for them. When UCPB foreclosed the mortgages, it applied about P75.09 million out of the P227,700,000.00 proceeds of the foreclosure sale to the obligations of Revere and Jose Go. Moreover, UCPB pursued petitioners for their supposed deficiency amounting to P68,000,000.00, which was meanwhile assigned to respondent Asset Pool A by UCPB.

 

ISSUE#1: Did the REM subsist even after the foreclosure sale of the subject properties?

HELD#1: NO.

A review of the MOA dated March 21, 2000 would reveal that petitioners’ outstanding obligation referred to, after deducting the amount of the thirty properties, was reduced to only P68,000,000.00. To settle this balance, petitioners agreed to convert this into equity in LGCTI in case they defaulted in their payment. In this case, what prompted the foreclosure sale of the mortgaged properties was petitioners’ failure to pay their obligations. When the proceeds of the foreclosure sale were applied to their outstanding obligations, the payment of the balance of the P68,000,000.00 was deliberately left out, and the proceeds were conveniently applied to settle P75,000,000.00 of Revere and/or Jose Go’s unpaid obligations with UCPB. This application was in blatant contravention of the agreement that Revere’s or Jose Go’s obligations would be paid only if there were excess in the application of the foreclosure proceeds. Accordingly, the CA should have applied the proceeds to the entire outstanding obligations of petitioners, and only the excess, if any, should have been applied to pay off Revere and/or Jose Go’s obligations.

ISSUE#2: Was the deed of assignment covering the deficiency in petitioner’s obligations to UPCB valid?

HELD#2: NO.

Based on the foregoing, therefore, we conclude that the deed of assignment of liabilities covering the deficiency in its obligation to UCPB in the amount of P68,000,000.00 was null and void. According to the apportionment of bid price executed by UCPB ‘s account officer, the bidamounting to P227,700,000.00 far exceeded the indebtedness of the Spouses Chua and LGCTI in the amount of P204,597,177.04, which was inclusive of the P68,000,000.00 subject of the deed of assignment of liabilities as well as the P32,703,893,450.00 corresponding to the interests and penalties that UCPB waived in favor of petitioners.

It can be further concluded that UCPB could not have validly assigned to Asset Pool A any right or interest in the P68,000,000.00 balance because the proper application of the proceeds of the foreclosure sale would have necessarily resulted in the full extinguishment of petitioners’ entire obligation. Otherwise, unjust enrichment would ensue at the expense of petitioners. There is unjust enrichment when a person unjustly retains a benefit to the loss of another, or when a person retains money or property of another against the fundamental principles of justice, equity and good conscience. The principle of unjust enrichment requires the concurrence of two conditions, namely: (1) that a person is benefited without a valid basis or justification; and (2) that such benefit is derived at the expense of another. The main objective of the principle against unjust enrichment is to prevent a person from enriching himself at the expense of another without just cause or consideration. This principle against unjust enrichment would be infringed if we were to uphold the decision of the CA despite its having no basis in law and in equity.

 
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Posted by on January 27, 2018 in Case Digests, Civil Law

 

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Gabucan v. Judge Manta, G.R. No. L-51546, January 28, 1980.

[AQUINO, J.]

FACTS

The Court of First Instance of Camiguin in its “decision” for the probate of the will of the late Rogaciano Gabucan, dismissed the proceeding because the requisite documentary stamp was not affixed to the notarial acknowledgment in the will and, hence, according to respondent Judge, it was not admissible in evidence, citing section 238 of the Tax Code, now section 250 of the 1977 Tax Code.

 

ISSUE

Whether or not the probate of a notarial will should be denied on the ground that it does not bear a thirty-centavo documentary stamp.

 

RULING

NO. What the probate court should have done was to require the petitioner or proponent to affix the requisite thirty-centavo documentary stamp to the notarial acknowledgment of the will which is the taxable portion of that document. That procedure may be implied from the provision of section 238 that the non-admissibility of the document, which does not bear the requisite documentary stamp, subsists only “until the requisite stamp or stamps shall have been affixed thereto and cancelled.” Thus, it was held that the documentary stamp may be affixed at the time the taxable document is presented in evidence. That the lack of the documentary stamp on a document does not invalidate such document.

 
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Posted by on August 14, 2017 in Case Digests, Civil Law, Succession

 

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Cruz v. Judge Villasor, G.R. No. L-32213, November 26, 1973.

[ESGUERRA, J.]

FACTS

The probate of the last will and testament of the late Valente Z. Cruz was opposed by petitioner Agapita on the ground of fraud, deceit, misrepresentation and undue influence, and that it was not executed in accordance with law. Of the three instrumental witnesses thereto, namely Deogracias T. Jamaloas Jr., Dr. Francisco Pañares and Atty. Angel H. Teves, Jr., one of them, the last named, is at the same time the Notary Public before whom the will was supposed to have been acknowledged.

 

ISSUE

Whether or not the probate of a will is valid if one of the three instrumental witnessed is the notary public to whom the will was acknowledged.

 

RULING

NO. To allow the notary public to act as third witness, or one the attesting and acknowledging witnesses, would have the effect of having only two attesting witnesses to the will which would be in contravention of the provisions of Article 80 be requiring at least three credible witnesses to act as such and of Article 806 which requires that the testator and the required number of witnesses must appear before the notary public to acknowledge the will. The result would be, as has been said, that only two witnesses appeared before the notary public for or that purpose. In the circumstances, the law would not be duly in observed.

 

 
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Posted by on August 14, 2017 in Case Digests, Civil Law, Succession

 

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Icasiano v. Icasiano, G.R. No. L-18979, June 30, 1964.

[REYES, J.B.L., J.]

FACTS

Witness Natividad who testified on his failure to sign page three (3) of the original, admits that he may have lifted two pages instead of one when he signed the same, but affirmed that page three (3) was signed in his presence.

 

ISSUE

Whether or not a will can be probated if one of the witness inadvertently failed to sign one of the pages thereof.

 

RULING

YES. The inadvertent failure of one witness to affix his signature to one page of a testament, due to the simultaneous lifting of two pages in the course of signing, is not per se sufficient to justify denial of probate. Impossibility of substitution of this page is assured not only the fact that the testatrix and two other witnesses did sign the defective page, but also by its bearing the coincident imprint of the seal of the notary public before whom the testament was ratified by testatrix and all three witnesses. The law should not be so strictly and literally interpreted as to penalize the testatrix on account of the inadvertence of a single witness over whose conduct she had no control, where the purpose of the law to guarantee the identity of the testament and its component pages is sufficiently attained, no intentional or deliberate deviation existed, and the evidence on record attests to the full observance of the statutory requisites.

 
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Posted by on August 14, 2017 in Case Digests, Civil Law, Succession

 

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Lopez v. Lopez, G.R. No. 189984, November 12, 2012.

[PERLAS-BERNABE, J.]

FACTS

The RTC disallowed the probate of the will for failure to comply with the required statement in the attestation clause as to the number of pages used upon which the will is written. While the acknowledgment portion stated that the will consists of 7 pages including the page on which the ratification and acknowledgment are written, the RTC observed that it has 8 pages including the acknowledgment portion. As such, it disallowed the will for not having been executed and attested in accordance with law.

 

ISSUE

Whether or not the discrepancy between the number of pages in the attestation clause and the actual number of pages in the will that would warrant its disallowance.

 

RULING

YES. The provisions of the Civil Code on Forms of Wills, particularly, Articles 805 and 809 of the Civil Code provide that the attestation must state the number of pages used upon which the will is written. The purpose of the law is to safeguard against possible interpolation or omission of one or some of its pages and prevent any increase or decrease in the pages. Here, the will actually consists of 8 pages including its acknowledgment which discrepancy cannot be explained by mere examination of the will itself but through the presentation of evidence aliunde.

 

 
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Posted by on August 14, 2017 in Case Digests, Civil Law, Succession, Uncategorized

 

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Echavez v. Dozen Construction and Development Corporation, G.R. No. 192916, October 11, 2010.

[BRION, J.]

FACTS

Vicente Echavez (Vicente) was the absolute owner of the subject lots donated to petitioner Manuel Echavez (Manuel) through a Deed of Donation Mortis Causa, sans attestation clause, acknowledged before a notary public. Manuel accepted the donation. Vicente sold the same lots in favor of Dozen Construction and Development Corporation (Dozen Corporation). Manuel filed a petition to approve Vicente’s donation mortis causa in his favor and an action to annul the contracts of sale Vicente executed in favor of Dozen Corporation.

 

ISSUE

Whether or not the donation mortis causa is valid despite the non-conformity with the formalities of a will.

 

RULING

NO. A donation mortis causa must comply with the formalities prescribed by law for the validity of wills, “otherwise, the donation is void and would produce no effect.” Articles 805 and 806 of the Civil Code should have been applied. Although the witnesses in the present case acknowledged the execution of the Deed of Donation Mortis Causa before the notary public, this is not the avowal the law requires from the instrumental witnesses to the execution of a decedent’s will.  Hence, the donation is void, while the sale to Dozen Construction is valid.

 

 

 
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Posted by on August 14, 2017 in Case Digests, Civil Law, Succession

 

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