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G.R. No. 256141
19 July 2022


Spouses Jorge and Hilaria Escalona were married on November 14, 1960. They acquired unregistered parcels of land in Olongapo City (Lots 1 and 2). Jorge waived his rights over Lot 1 to this illegitimate son, Reygan. A few years later, Reygan relinquished his right over Lot 1 to petitioner Belinda. Reygan also transferred Lot 2 to Belinda. They entered into a deed of sale covering lots 1 and 2.

The spouses confronted Belinda and said that Reygan cannot validly sell the lots, while Belinda invoked the validity of her contracts with Reygan.

The spouses filed a complaint for annulment of documents with damages against Belinda since: (1) Hilaria did not consent to the waiver of rights to Reygan as to Lot 1, (2) They never sold Lot 2 to a third person. 

RTC upheld the transactions between Belinda and Reygan, ruling that the action to annul the documents have already prescribed. The CA reversed the RTC’s judgment.


1. What rules shall govern the status of a contract and the prescriptive period of an action when the husband and wife were married during the effectivity of the Civil Code, but the alienation or encumbrance of the property transpired after the effectivity of the Family Code without the spouse’s consent? 

2. What is the reckoning point of the applicable law — is the date of the marriage or the time of the transaction? 


The SC held that the governing law is the Family Code. More than the date of marriage of the spouses, the applicable law must be reckoned on the date of the alienation or encumbrance of the conjugal property made without the consent of the other spouse. 

Under the Art. 173 of the Civil Code, the wife has the option to ask the courts for the annulment of contracts of the husband entered into without her consent. Hence, under the Civil Code, the transaction would have been simply voidable, and the wife has ten (10) years to cause the annulment of such contract. Under the Family Code, however, any disposition or encumbrance of the conjugal property is void. 

So when the alienation or encumbrance of the conjugal property, without the wife’s consent, is made before the effectivity of the Family Code, the said alienation or encumbrance is not void but merely voidable. The applicable laws are Art. 166 and 173 of the Civil Code. However, when made after the effectivity of the Family Code, it is void. The applicable law is Article 124 of the Family Code.

The Family Code expressly repealed the relevant portions of the Civil Code, insofar it does not prejudice or impair vested or acquired rights therein. A vested right refers to a present and fixed interest which is protected against arbitrary state action, covering legal or equitable title to enforce a demand as well as exemptions from new obligations created after the right has become vested. Hence, a new law cannot be invoked to prejudice or affect a right that has become vested while the old law was still in force.

If Reygan and Belinda had vested rights, even the effectivity of the Family Code cannot impair their rights, which is expressly provided by the Family Code itself. However, they have no vested right since: the transaction for Lot 1 happened during the effectivity of the Family Code, and Hilaria did not give her written consent to these contracts. Hence, any alienation therein is actually void. The alienation of Lot 2 is likewise void since it was made without the Spouses Escalona’s consent.

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