Heirs of Narvasa vs Imbornal

G.R. No. 182908. August 6, 2014

Perlas-Bernabe,  J.


Basilia Imbornal had four (4) children namely, Alejandra, Balbina, Catalina, and Pablo. Basilia owned a parcel of land situated at San Fabian, Pangasinan which she conveyed to her three (3) daughters.

Petitioners are the heirs and successors-in-interest of Francisco, Pedro, and Petra, who are children of Alejandra and Balbina. 

On the other hand, respondents Emiliana, Victoriano, Felipe, Mateo, Raymundo, Maria, and Eduardo, all surnamed Imbornal, are the descendants of Pablo.

Catalina’s husband, Ciriaco applied for and was granted a homestead patent over a 31,367-sq.m. riparian land (Motherland) adjacent to the Cayanga River in San Fabian, Pangasinan. The title was issued the name of Ciriaco’s heirs.  Ciriaco and his heirs had since occupied the northern portion of the Motherland, while respondents occupied the southern portion.

In 1949, the First Accretion, approximately 59,772 sq. m. in area, adjoined the southern portion of the Motherland. The title was issued in the name of one of the respondents (Victoriano).

In 1971, the Second Accretion, which had an area of 32,307 sq. m. abutted the First Accretion was issued in the name of all the respondents.

The petitioners (Francisco et al) filed  a complaint for reconveyance, partition and damages against respondents.

  • They claim rights over the entire motherland on the ground that Ciriaco urged Alejandra and Balbina to sell the property to raise fund for the pending application of homestead patent. In return, Ciriaco agreed to hold the land in trust in favor of the  Imbornal sisters.
  • They also claim that through deceit, fraud, falsehood, and misrepresentation, respondent Victoriano, with respect to the First Accretion, and the respondents collectively, with regard to the Second Accretion, had illegally registered the said accretions in their names, notwithstanding the fact that they were not the riparian owners (as they did not own the Motherland to which the accretions merely formed adjacent to).

And since they are the owners of motherland, they are likewise the owner of the said accretions even though it was registered in the name of respondents.



Whether or not the petitioners have the better right over the property including the accretions?


NO. The burden of proving the existence of a trust is on the party asserting its existence, and such proof must be clear and satisfactorily show the existence of the trust and its elements.— the petitioners failed to prove their ownership rights over the Motherland, their cause of action with respect to the First Accretion and, necessarily, the Second Accretion, must likewise fail.

Article 457 of the Civil Code states the rule on accretion as follows: “[t]o the owners of lands adjoining the banks of rivers belong the accretion which they gradually receive from the effects of the current of the waters.”

Accordingly, therefore, alluvial deposits along the banks of a creek or a river do not form part of the public domain as the alluvial property automatically belongs to the owner of the estate to which it may have been added. The only restriction provided for by law is that the owner of the adjoining property must register the same under the Torrens system; otherwise, the alluvial property may be subject to acquisition through prescription by third persons.

In this case, Francisco, et al. and, now, their heirs, i.e., herein petitioners, are not the riparian owners of the Motherland to which the First Accretion had attached, hence, they cannot assert ownership over the First Accretion. The respondents armed with a certificate of title in their names covering the First and Second Accretions coupled with their possession thereof, both of which give rise to the superior credibility of their own claim. Hence, petitioners’ action for reconveyance with respect to both accretions must altogether fail.


Therefore, whether through accretion or, independently, through prescription, the discernible conclusion is that Francisco, et al. and/or petitioners’ claim of title over the First and Second Accretions had not been substantiated, and, as a result, said properties cannot be reconveyed in their favor. This is especially so since on the other end of the fray lie respondents armed with a certificate of title in their names covering the First and Second Accretions coupled with their possession thereof, both of which give rise to the superior credibility of their own claim. Hence, petitioners’ action for reconveyance with respect to both accretions must altogether fail.

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