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A. Types of Prescription

There are two kinds of prescription provided in the Civil Code. One is acquisitive, i.e., the acquisition of a right by the lapse of time; the other is extinctive, whereby rights and actions are lost by the lapse of time. (James v. Eurem Realty Development Corporation, G.R. No. 190650, 14 October 2013)

1. Acquisitive

Acquisitive prescription of dominion and other real rights may be ordinary or extraordinary.(Article 1117, Civil Code)

Ordinary acquisitive prescription requires possession of things in good faith and with just title for the time fixed by law.(Paragraph 2, Article 1117, Ibid.)

a. Ordinary

Possession has to be in the concept of an owner, public, peaceful and uninterrupted. (Article 1118, Ibid.)

Ordinary acquisitive prescription requires possession of things in good faith and with just title for the time fixed by law. (Marcelo v. CA, G.R. No. 131803, 14 April 1999)

1) Requirements

a) Good faith

(1) Good faith possession

The good faith of the possessor consists in the reasonable belief that the person from whom he received the thing was the owner thereof, and could transmit his ownership. (Article 1127, Ibid.)

The conditions of good faith required for possession in Articles 526, 527, 528, and 529 of this Code are likewise necessary for the determination of good faith in the prescription of ownership and other real rights. (Article 1128, Ibid.)

(2) The 4-year uninterrupted possession in good faith

The ownership of movables prescribes through uninterrupted possession for four years in good faith. (Article 1132, Ibid.)

b) Just title

(1) Just title

For the purposes of prescription, there is just title when the adverse claimant came into possession of the property through one of the modes recognized by law for the acquisition of ownership or other real rights, but the grantor was not the owner or could not transmit any right.(Article 1129, Ibid.)

The title for prescription must be true and valid.(Article 1130, Ibid.)

For the purposes of prescription, just title must be proved; it is never presumed.(Article 1131, Ibid.)

2) Registered title recorded with Registry of Property

Against a title recorded in the Registry of Property, ordinary prescription of ownership or real rights shall not take place to the prejudice of a third person, except in virtue of another title also recorded; and the time shall begin to run from the recording of the latter. (Article 1126, Ibid.)

As to lands registered under the Land Registration Act, the provisions of that special law shall govern. (Paragraph 2, Article 1126, Ibid.)

3) Nature of possession

1) Concept of an owner

2) Public

3) Peaceful

4) Uninterrupted

Possession has to be in the concept of an owner, public, peaceful and uninterrupted. (Article 1118, Ibid.)

Acts of possessory character executed in virtue of license or by mere tolerance of the owner shall not be available for the purposes of possession. (Article 1119, Ibid.)

b. Extraordinary

Without good faith and just title, acquisitive prescription can only be extraordinary in character. (Marcelo v. CA, G.R. No. 131803, 14 April 1999)

1) Movables and personal property

a) The 4-year prescription, uninterrupted possession in good faith

The ownership of movables prescribes through uninterrupted possession for four years in good faith. (Article 1132, Ibid.)

b) The 8-year prescription, uninterrupted possession and no other condition

The ownership of personal property also prescribes through uninterrupted possession for eight years, without need of any other condition.  (Paragraph 2, Article 1132, Ibid.)

c) Lost, illegal deprivation, public sale/fair/market, merchant’s store

With regard to the right of the owner to recover personal property lost or of which he has been illegally deprived, as well as with respect to movables acquired in a public sale, fair, or market, or from a merchant’s store the provisions of Articles 559 and 1505 of this Code shall be observed. (Paragraph 3, Article 1132, Ibid.)

Cross-referenced article/s

The possession of movable property acquired in good faith is equivalent to a title. Nevertheless, one who has lost any movable or has been unlawfully deprived thereof may recover it from the person in possession of the same. (Article 559, Ibid.)

If the possessor of a movable lost or which the owner has been unlawfully deprived, has acquired it in good faith at a public sale, the owner cannot obtain its return without reimbursing the price paid therefor. (Paragraph 2, Article 559, Ibid.)

Subject to the provisions on the law on sales, where goods are sold by a person who is not the owner thereof, and who does not sell them under authority or with the consent of the owner, the buyer acquires no better title to the goods than the seller had, unless the owner of the goods is by his conduct precluded from denying the seller’s authority to sell. (Article 1505, Ibid.)

Nothing on the law on sales, however, shall affect:

1) The provisions of any factors’ act, recording laws, or any other provision of law enabling the apparent owner of goods to dispose of them as if he were the true owner thereof;

2) The validity of any contract of sale under statutory power of sale or under the order of a court of competent jurisdiction;

3) Purchases made in a merchant’s store, or in fairs, or markets, in accordance with the Code of Commerce and special laws. (Paragraph 2, Article 1505, Ibid.)

d) Through a crime, no prescription

Movables possessed through a crime can never be acquired through prescription by the offender.(Article 1133, Ibid.)

2) Immovable and real rights

a) The 10-year ordinary prescription

Ownership and other real rights over immovable property are acquired by ordinary prescription through possession of ten years.  (Article 1134, Ibid.)

In case the adverse claimant possesses by mistake an area greater, or less than that expressed in his title, prescription shall be based on the possession.(Article 1135, Ibid.)

b) The 30-year uninterrupted adverse possession

Ownership and other real rights over immovables also prescribe through uninterrupted adverse possession thereof for thirty years, without need of title or of good faith. (Article 1137, Ibid.)

The law requires one who asserts ownership by adverse possession to prove the presence of the essential elements which in ordinary acquisitive prescription of real estate are good faith, a just title (which according to Art. 1131 is, never presumed but must be proved), and the lapse of time fixed by law. (Art. 1117, par. 2, Civil Code) (Morales v. CFI, G.R. No. L-52278, 29 May 1980)

c) Computation

In the computation of time necessary for prescription the following rules shall be observed:

1) The present possessor may complete the period necessary for prescription by tacking his possession to that of his grantor or predecessor in interest;

2) It is presumed that the present possessor who was also the possessor at a previous time, has continued to be in possession during the intervening time, unless there is proof to the contrary;

3) The first day shall be excluded and the last day included. (Article 1138, Ibid.)

d) Wartime

Possession in wartime, when the civil courts are not open, shall not be counted in favor of the adverse claimant. (Article 1136, Ibid.)

2. Extinctive

Extinctive prescription is one whereby rights and actions are lost by the lapse of time. (De Morales v. CFI, G.R. No. L-52278, 29 May 1980)

Another name for extinctive prescription is litigation of action. (De Morales v. CFI, supra.)

a. Characteristics

Actions prescribe by the mere lapse of time fixed by law.(Article 1139, Ibid.)

b. Requisites

c. Periods

1) The 1-year prescription

The following actions must be filed within one year:

1) For forcible entry and detainer; and

2) For defamation. (Article 1147, Ibid.)

2) The 4-year prescription

The following actions must be instituted within four years:

1) Upon an injury to the rights of the plaintiff; and

2) Upon a quasi-delict. (Article 1146, Ibid.)

However, when the action arises from or out of any act, activity, or conduct of any public officer involving the exercise of powers or authority arising from Martial Law including the arrest, detention and/or trial of the plaintiff, the same must be brought within one (1) year.(Paragraph 2, Article 1146, Ibid.)

3) The 5-year prescription, default if unspecified by law

All other actions whose periods are not fixed in this Code or in other laws must be brought within five years from the time the right of action accrues. (Article 1149, Ibid.)

The time for prescription for all kinds of actions, when there is no special provision which ordains otherwise, shall be counted from the day they may be brought. (Article 1150, Ibid.)

The time for the prescription of actions which have for their object the enforcement of obligations to pay principal with interest or annuity runs from the last payment of the annuity or of the interest. (Article 1151, Ibid.)

The period for prescription of actions to demand the fulfillment of obligation declared by a judgment commences from the time the judgment became final.(Article 1152, Ibid.)

The period for prescription of actions to demand accounting runs from the day the persons who should render the same cease in their functions.(Article 1153, Ibid.)

The period for the action arising from the result of the accounting runs from the date when said result was recognized by agreement of the interested parties. (Paragraph 2, Article 1153, Ibid.)

The period during which the obligee was prevented by a fortuitous event from enforcing his right is not reckoned against him.(Article 1154, Ibid.)

4) The 6-year prescription

The following actions must be commenced within six years:

1) Upon an oral contract;

2) Upon a quasi-contract. (Article 1145, Ibid.)

5) The 8-year prescription

Actions to recover movables shall prescribe eight years from the time the possession thereof is lost, unless the possessor has acquired the ownership by prescription for a less period, according to Articles 1132, and without prejudice to the provisions of Articles 559, 1505, and 1133.(Article 1140, Ibid.)

6) The 10-year prescription

A mortgage action prescribes after ten years. (Article 1142, Ibid.)

The following actions must be brought within ten years from the time the right of action accrues:

1) Upon a written contract;

2) Upon an obligation created by law;

3) Upon a judgment. (Article 1144, Ibid.)

7) The 30-year prescription

Real actions over immovables prescribe after thirty years. (Article 1141, Ibid.)

This provision is without prejudice to what is established for the acquisition of ownership and other real rights by prescription. (Paragraph 2, Article 1141 Ibid.)

Next B. When prescription is inapplicable
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