Image via WikipediaBy Beverly Caboteja
As is implicit in said Section 119 of the Public Land act, where the vendor is still living, he alone has the right of redemption, but if he had died, his widow and his legal heirs have that right.
As stated in Section 119: “Every conveyance of land acquired under the free patent or homestead provisions of the Public Land Act, when proper, shall be subject to repurchase by the applicant, his widow or legal heirs, within a period of five (5) years from the date of conveyance.”
It has been noted that the enumeration in the law as to who can effect the repurchase within a period of five years from the date of conveyance is not an exclusionary rule. It merely includes the persons qualified under the law to make repurchase, without regard to order of preference. Hence, the son and lawful heir of the homesteader can exercise the right of repurchase while the latter is still living, and a deed of assignment to that effect is valid.
Further, the term legal heir, as explained in the case of Medarcos v. Merrced (174 SCRA 599), is used in Section 119 in a generic sense. It is broad enough to cover any person who is called to the succession either by provision of a will or by operation of law. Thus, legal heirs, according to the Court, include both testate and intestate heirs depending upon whether succession is by the will of the testator or by law. Legal heirs are not necessarily compulsory heirs but they may be if the law so prescribes or reserves it for them. Nonetheless, well-settled is the rule that only the vendor has the right to redemption.
In the aforementioned case, as the decedents had left no will, the law supplanted its intention. Since the deceased couple were childless and are survived only by their nephew and nieces, the latter succeeded to the entire estate of the deceased.
Article 975 of the Civil Code states that “when children of one or more brothers or sisters of the deceased survive, they shall inherit from the latter by representation, if they survive with their uncles or aunts. But if they alone survive, they shall inherit in equal portions.”
Verily, the Court held that petitioners are legal heirs. Having been decreed under the rules on intestacy as entitled to succeed the estate of the Catain spouses due to the absence of compulsory heirs, they now step into the shoes of the decedents. They should be considered as among the legal heirs contemplated by Section 119 as entitled to redeem the property.
In sum, in any of the 3, the applicant, his widow or his legal heirs may avail of the right to repurchase but take note, that it is only the vendor who has the right of redemption.