Finally, as to whether respondent’s assent to the initial partition agreement serves as an admission against interest, in that the respondent is deemed to have admitted the existence of co-ownership between him and petitioner, we rule in the negative.
An admission is any statement of fact made by a party against his interest or unfavorable to the conclusion for which he contends or is inconsistent with the facts alleged by him. Admission against interest is governed by Section 26 of Rule 130 of the Rules of Court, which provides:
Sec. 26. Admissions of a party. – The act, declaration or omission of a party as to a relevant fact may be given in evidence against him.
To be admissible, an admission must (a) involve matters of fact, and not of law; (b) be categorical and definite; (c) be knowingly and voluntarily made; and (d) be adverse to the admitter’s interests, otherwise it would be self-serving and inadmissible.
A careful perusal of the contents of the so-called Partition Agreement indicates that the document involves matters which necessitate prior settlement of questions of law, basic of which is a determination as to whether the parties have the right to freely divide among themselves the subject properties. Moreover, to follow petitioner’s argument would be to allow respondent not only to admit against his own interest but that of his legal spouse as well, who may also be lawfully entitled co-ownership over the said properties. Respondent is not allowed by law to waive whatever share his lawful spouse may have on the disputed properties. Basic is the rule that rights may be waived, unless the waiver is contrary to law, public order, public policy, morals, good customs or prejudicial to a third person with a right recognized by law.
Curiously, petitioner herself admitted that she did not assent to the Partition Agreement after seeing the need to amend the same to include other matters. Petitioner does not have any right to insist on the contents of an agreement she intentionally refused to sign.
As to the award of damages to respondent, we do not subscribe to the trial court’s view that respondent is entitled to attorney’s fees. Unlike the trial court, we do not commiserate with respondent’s predicament. The trial court ruled that respondent was forced to litigate and engaged the services of his counsel to defend his interest as to entitle him an award of P100,000.00 as attorney’s fees. But we note that in the first place, it was respondent himself who impressed upon petitioner that she has a right over the involved properties. Secondly, respondent’s act of representing himself and petitioner as husband and wife was a deliberate attempt to skirt the law and escape his legal obligation to his lawful wife. Respondent, therefore, has no one but himself to blame the consequences of his deceitful act which resulted in the filing of the complaint against him.