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BISHOP OF CALBAYOG, Mons. Miguel F.

Acebedo, applicant-appellant, adjudicating Lot 2, together with all the improvements existing thereon, except the
vs.THE DIRECTOR OF LANDS and THE MUNICIPALITY OF CATARMAN, portion of Nalazon street along the eastern boundary of the lot, in favor of the
SAMAR, oppositors-appellees. Municipality of Catarman; and (4) confirming the applicant's title over Lot 3 and
ordering that the same be registered in the name of the Bishop of Calbayog.
MAKALINTAL, J.:p
The Bishop of Calbayog appealed.
This is an appeal from the decision of the Court of First Instance of Samar in Land
Registration Case No. 3448 involving three parcels of land located in Catarman,
Samar (denominated as Lots 1, 2 and 3), titles to which were sought to be confirmed
and registered in favor of the Bishop of Calbayog. The lower court adjudicated Lot 2 The evidence discloses the following pertinent facts: The survey plan presented by
in favor of the Municipality of Catarman and declared the eastern portion of Lot 1, the applicant as Exhibit D, which was executed on September 14-15, 1951, shows
and the portions of Nalazon street and Anunciacion street traversing said Lot 1 and that the entire area of Lot 1 is 17,571 square meters, more o less. It is bounded on
Lot 2, as public plaza and public thoroughfares, respectively, and hence not subject the north by a provincial road (now Rizal St.), on the east by Mendiola St., on the
to registration. south by Bonifacio St., and on the west by a national road (Trece Martires del 1900
St.). Opposite Lot 1 to the northwest is Lot 2, which has an area of approximately
The petition for registration was filed by the Bishop of Calbayog, as a corporation 4,707 square meters. It is bounded by the provincial road (Rizal St.) on the south, on
sole, on March 27, 1953, alleging open, continuous, exclusive and notorious the west by the national road (Trece Martires del 1900 St.), on the north by
possession, since the Spanish regime, of three parcels of land known as Lot 1 and 2 Blumentrit St. and on the east by a municipal lot.
in the survey plan Exhibit D, dated September 14-15, 1951, and Lot 3 in the survey
plan Exhibit E, the first two lots situated in the poblacion of Catarman, Samar, and The survey plan does not contain any other information or markings. But from the
the third in barrio Cawayan. undisputed actual observation by the lower court as well as from the description
given by the witnesses for both parties, Nalazon St., which traverses the entire
Opposition to the application was filed by the Director of Lands with respect to the length of the poblacion from south to north, crosses Jacinto and Real streets and
three lots on October 1, 1953, and by the Municipality of Catarman with respect to cuts across Lot 1 from Bonifacio St. to Rizal St., passing immediately in front of the
Lot 2 during the survey thereof. church and the convent. It extends across Lot 2 along its eastern boundary from
Rizal St. to Blumentrit St. Thus, from actual observation Lot 2 appears bounded on
On October 15, 1955 the lower court issued an order of general default except as the east by Nalazon St. and not by the municipal lot as described in the survey plan.
against the aforementioned oppositors. In the same order the Municipality of With respect to Lot 1, Nalazon St. divides the lot into the western portion, which
Catarman was given 5 days from notice within which to submit in proper form its forms about 2/3 of the entire area, and the eastern portion which comprises the
opposition with respect to Lot 2. Copy of the order of general default was received other 1/3. All the permanent improvements on Lot 1, which include the Roman
by the municipal secretary on October 18, 1955, and on October 21 the Municipality Catholic church, the belfry and convent, the St. Michael Academy building and a
of Catarman filed its formal opposition as ordered. On November 28, 1956 it filed an nun's residence, are found on the western portion. Lot 2 has no permanent
amended opposition, including therein the eastern portion of Lot 1 and portions of improvements. The eastern portion of Lot 1, the area in contention, is an empty
Nalazon street and Anunciacion street traversing said Lot 1. A second amended space except for concrete benches along the perimeter. A partly cemented path
opposition was filed on June 15, 1957, particularly describing Lot 1 and Lot 2 and runs across this lot from east to west leading up to the front or entrance of the
alleging that the eastern portion of Lot 1, being a municipal plaza, was registrable in church and appears to be an extension of Anunciacion St., which runs from the bank
favor of the municipality. of the Catarman river up to Mendiola St. In the middle of this path, half-way between
Mendiola St. and the church, is a statue of the Sacred Heart of Jesus.
After initial hearing the lower court, in an order dated June 15, 1957, denied the
amendment on the ground that the proper procedure, which was by means of The Roman Catholic Church relies on the testimony of its witnesses to prove its
petition for relief from the order of general default, had not been resorted to. ownership. Mariano Singzon, 59 years old and one-time municipal councilor of
Catarman and also counsel in this case for the applicant, was the principal witness.
After trial on the merits the lower court rendered its decision on April 18, 1964 (1) The following is his testimony: Prior to 1910 the portions of Nalazon and Anunciacion
ordering the applicant to segregate from Lot I Nalazon street and Anunciacion street streets traversing Lot 1 and Lot 2 were merely trails used by the parishioners in
as public thoroughfares and the eastern portion of Lot 1, beginning from Nalazon going to and from the church. A retracing (Exhibit M) of a survey plan of the
street up to Mendiola street, as public plaza of the Municipality of Catarman; (2) poblacion of Catarman executed in 1909 shows that Anunciacion St. stopped at Calle
confirming the imperfect title of the applicant over the remaining portion of Lot 1, Garfil (now Mendiola St.) and that there was no other street traversing Lot 1.
with all the improvements existing thereon, and ordering that the same be According to Atty. Singzon, Nalazon St. was opened and improved by the
registered in the name of the Bishop of Calbayog as a corporation sole; (3) municipality sometime in 1910 or 1911. Anunciacion St. was opened only about 2

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years before the trial of the case. In 1920, the municipality planted acacia trees on The case for oppositors was presented by the following witnesses:
both sides of Nalazon St. inside Lot 1 and along Mendiola St. bordering Lot 1 but
these trees were recently cut down upon order of the priest, Fr. Ricalde, and all that 1. Martin Evangelista, 65 years old and former municipal treasurer of Catarman,
remain are stumps. The statue of the Sacred Heart found in the middle of declared that as property custodian of the municipality before his retirement, he
Anunciacion St. was put up in 1927, but the base of the statue had been standing on knew that Lot 2 was owned by the municipality. This lot was fenced by the
that site even before 1905. The Roman Catholic Church had made no improvements municipality first with bamboos and then with barbed wire because the municipal
on this eastern portion of Lot 1, which at present is being used as a public prisoners were planting camotes on this lot. On February 21, 1952 Fr. Franquela
playground, although a bandstand stood there for about three years after it was personally handed to him a letter (Exhibit 1) asking that he be allowed to use a
constructed in 1926 by the members of an orchestra which was organized by a Fr. portion of Lot 2 as playground for the students of St. Michael Academy. He endorsed
Ranera and which used to give musical performances on the bandstand. On the the letter to the municipal council of Catarman, which passed Resolution No. 19
feast of Corpus Christi the parishioners would construct an altar on this lot and hold (Exhibit 3), declaring Lot 2 as temporary public playground until such time that the
the procession there. municipality was ready to construct a permanent improvement thereon.

With respect to Lot 2, although the Church had made no improvements thereon, 2. Eusebio Moore, 54, mayor of Catarman since 1948, declared that Lot 2 was owned
around the turn of the century there were camarins on this lot which were used as by the municipality because when he was in the elementary grades he attended
stables for the horses and cows owned by a Fr. Troquillo. In 1933 the municipal classes in a public school building located on the municipal lot next to Lot 2 and did
council passed a resolution (Exhibit G) asking the Bishop of Calbayog, then Mons. school gardening on Lot 2. When he was in Grade 6, as leader of the school football
Hacbang, to donate a small portion of this lot for the construction of a monument in team he invited the Chinese team to play and he was the one who asked permission
honor of the Trece Martires del 1900, but this request was denied by the Bishop. from the municipal president to use Lot 2 as their football ground. When he assumed
Gonzalo Olmedo, the municipal secretary of Catarman in 1933 whose signature office in 1948 he had the lot fenced and planted to fruit trees and during fiestas
appears on Exhibit G, testified as to the authenticity of the resolution and even temporary sheds would be put up for rent to itinerant merchants. It was Fr. Ortega
pointed to the western portion of Lot 2 as the subject matter of the request. Mons. who went to see him in 1949 regarding the fencing of Lot 2 by the municipality and
Desoloc, who acted as private secretary to the Bishop at that time, testified that the together they discussed the matter with Atty. Singzon, the lawyer for the Church,
writing on the lower right hand corner of Exhibit G, which reads "cont. negativ" is the and the latter suggested to him that Lot 2 be exchanged with another lot owned by
handwriting of the Bishop and was meant to impart an order that the request the municipality and he replied that it was up to the municipal council to decide. In
contained in the resolution be denied. In 1949 Mayor Eusebio Moore of Catarman 1950 he had the lot declared for taxation purposes. The tax declaration (Exhibit 5)
and Fr. Ortega asked him, Atty. Singzon, to draft a contract of exchange between covers the entire area of Lot 2 claimed by the applicant as well as the uncontested
Lot 2 and a lot owned by the municipality, but the exchange did not materialize municipal lot, from Trece Martires del 1900 on the west to Mendiola St. on the east,
because the lot intended to be bartered by the municipality had no title, although he Blumentrit St. on the north and Rizal St. on the south. This tax declaration was
(the witness) found a copy of a tax declaration (Exhibit F) for Lot 2 dated May 8, marked on the reverse side as newly issued because according to him the old tax
1948 in the name of the Roman Catholic Church. This tax declaration describes Lot 2 declaration could not be located as the public records had been destroyed during
as being bounded by Trece Martires del 1900 on the west, Nalazon St. (instead of the war. Mayor Moore denied the authenticity of Resolution No. 19 (Exh. G) sent by
the municipal lot as described in Exhibit D) on the east, Blumentrit St. on the north the municipal council to the Bishop in 1933 on the ground that the document is in
and Rizal St. on the south. Spanish, language not spoken either by the municipal secretary who certified as to
the correctness of the resolution or by the municipal president, who supposedly
The testimony of Atty. Singzon was corroborated by Candido Franzuela, a 63 year- dictated its text. The witness produced the affidavits of Pelayo Saldo, municipal
old resident of Catarman and brother of Fr. Franzuela of the same municipality as councilor in 1933 and one of those listed as present when the resolution was taken
well as Salvadora Olmedo, an 82 year-old local resident, who died after giving her up, to the effect that Lot 2 is owned by the municipality. He also produced a similar
direct testimony. Franzuela confirmed the existence on Lot 2 of camarins used as affidavit executed by Antonio Oladive, a former municipal president of Catarman. To
stables for the cattle owned by the church. He remembered that sometime in 1927 a further buttress the municipality's position the mayor produced a letter dated
group of Chinese asked permission from the parish priest to use the lot as a football February 29, 1952 by Matias Rodriguez, representing the Northern Samar Academy,
ground, which they did for 2 years. On cross-examination he admitted that before requesting that Lot 2 be used as playground for the school. The mayor disclosed that
Nalazon St. was extended there was no visible boundary between Lot 2 claimed by he, the mayor, had been president of the Northern Samar Academy. Nalazon St. and
the Church and the municipal lot on which a public school building used to stand. Anunciacion St., according to Mayor Moore, are cleaned and maintained by the
Salvadora Olmedo also testified that when she was yet schooling a certain Fr. municipality. With respect to the eastern portion of Lot 1 the same had always been
Troquillo had camarins on Lot 2 which he used as stables for his cows and horses regarded as owned by the municipality because the municipal building used to face
and that whenever she and her classmates wanted to gather flowers on this lot they this lot, although when he assumed the office of Mayor he had the backyard of the
asked permission from the priest. municipal building improved and the stairway transferred there.

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3. Gaudencio Camposano, a 75 year-old resident of Catarman, testified that a municipality stands on the same footing as the Church. The tax declaration in its
bandstand was constructed on the eastern portion of Lot 1 in 1905 and it was not name was issued only in 1950, when the present dispute was already imminent. The
only the orchestra organized by Fr. Ranera that used to play there but also the letters of Fr. Franzuela and Mr. Matias Rodriguez asking permission to use this lot as
municipal band. He also testified that when he was attending school in 1905 the a playground are not proof of municipal ownership, since after all the municipal
school garden was located inside Lot 2, which he believed to be in the possession of government may be considered the administrator of public property, that is,
the municipality because nobody owned it and when he became acting mayor he property for public use.
required the prisoners to clear Lot 2 and had it planted to camotes and bananas.
In the case of Harty vs. Municipality of Victoria, 13 Phil. 152, involving the question
The conclusion that may be drawn from the evidence on record is that Lot 2, called as to the ownership of a parcel of land which surrounded the parish church of the
the "town plaza" by oppositor, is a public plaza and that Nalazon St., traversing Lot I town, this Court said:
and Lot 2, is a public thoroughfare and should therefore be excluded from the
application for registration filed by the Church. Even though all the remaining space of land which now forms the great plaza of the
town of Victoria had been owned by the said Tañedo, it must be presumed that he
Admittedly Nalazon St. was originally merely a trail used by the parishioners in going waived his right thereto for the benefit of the townspeople, since from the creation
to and from the church. But since 1910, when it was opened and improved as a or establishment of the town, down to the present day, all the residents, including
public thoroughfare by the municipality, it had been continuously used as such by the curate of said town, have enjoyed the free use of said plaza.
the townspeople of Catarman without objection from the Church authorities. The
acacia trees along both sides of the street were planted by the municipality in 1920, xxx xxx xxx
although these trees were cut down recently upon order of the priest. There is no
proof that the Church merely tolerated and limited the use of this street for the That both the curates and the gobernadorcillos of said town procured fruit trees and
benefit of its parishioners, considering that the street traverses the entire length of plants to be set out in the plaza, does not constitute an act of private ownership, but
the poblacion from south to north and that Lot 1, on which the church stands, is evidences the public use thereof, or perhaps the intention to improve or embellish
located almost at the center of the poblacion. The street does not stop on Lot I but the said plaza for the benefit of the townspeople.
extends north toward the sea, passing along the lot occupied by the Central
Elementary School and the Northern Samar General Hospital. Thus it is clear that xxx xxx xxx
Nalazon St. inside Lot 1 is used by the residents not only in going to the church but
to the public school and the general hospital north of Lot 1. Certain it is that the plaintiff has not proven that the Catholic Church or the parish of
Victoria was the owner or proprietor of the said extensive piece of land which now
With respect to Lot 2, there is no evidence that either the Church or the municipality forms the public plaza of said town, nor that it was in possession thereof under the
exercised clear acts of ownership or of exclusive possession over this lot. It is true form and conditions required by law, inasmuch as it has been fully proven that said
that there were witnesses who testified that around the turn of the century there plaza has been used without let or hindrance by the public and the residents of the
were camarins inside this lot used as stables for the horses and cows owned by a Fr. town of Victoria ever since its creation.
Troquillo. But these witnesses likewise testified that this lot had been used also as a
playground as well as a school garden by the students of the public school located Since neither the Church nor the municipality could present positive proof of
on the adjoining municipal lot. This lot still serves as a public playground up to the ownership or exclusive possession for an appreciable period of time and the only
present. The municipality also makes use of this lot during town fiestas by indubitable fact is the free and continuous use of Lot 2 by the residents of Catarman,
constructing temporary sheds which are rented to itinerant vendors. In 1949 the coupled with the fact that the town has no public plaza to speak of other than this
municipality constructed a fence around this lot because the prisoners planted it to disputed parcel of land, there is a strong presumption that the same was segregated
camotes. The Church, however, objected to the putting up of the fence. as a public plaza upon the founding of the municipality of Catarman.

The municipality, as has been heretofore noted, was declared in default with respect
to Lot 1, and the default was never lifted. Indeed the amended opposition of the
All these facts only show that neither the Church nor the municipality possessed Lot municipality which purported to include the eastern portion of said lot, was denied
2 exclusively. While it may be true that as late as 1933 the municipality by the lower court. In any event, the municipality failed to establish its allegation
acknowledged the ownership of the Church over Lot 2 and in 1949 the Church with respect to the said portion of Lot 1 and to the portion of Anunciacion St. within
declared this lot for tax purposes, the continuous use thereof enjoyed by the this lot. This portion is only a path which is cemented from the corner of Mendiola St.
residents of Catarman is admitted by all the witnesses. Thus, even the witness for to the monument of the Sacred Heart, and asphalted from the monument to the
the applicant testified that the Church had made no improvements on Lot 2 and that front of the church. There is no evidence that this path was planted to acacia trees,
the same had been used primarily as playground for schoolchildren. The unlike Nalazo St. and Mendiola St., where acacia stumps were observed by the lower
court. The explanation offered by Mayor Moore as to the presence of this religious
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monument in the middle of a public thoroughfare that the residents of Catarman are REPUBLIC OF THE PHILIPPINES, Represented by the DIRECTOR OF LANDS,
religious is not convincing. The statue was enthroned only in 1927, when the petitioner, vs.
separation of church and state was already a confirmed legal principle. The statue HON. PEDRO SAMSON ANIMAS, in his capacity as Judge of CFI South
was even recently improved with the construction of a platform beneath it. Its Cotabato, Branch I, General Santos City, ISAGANI DU TIMBOL and the
location shows that the path leading to it and to the front of the church is not an REGISTER OF DEEDS OF GENERAL SANTOS CITY, respondent.
extension of Anunciacion St. but was opened mainly for the benefit of the
parishioners. The eastern portion of Lot 1 itself is used for religious functions, such ESGUERRA, J.:p
as the feast of Corpus Christi and the procession held on the occasion. It is admitted
by the municipality that the Church does not ask for a permit whenever it uses this Petition to review the order of the Court of First Instance of South Cotabato, Branch
lot for such activities. I, General Santos City, dated June 22, 1973, dismissing the complaint in its Civil Case
No. 1253, entitled "Republic of the Philippines, Plaintiff, vs. Isagani Du Timbol and
the Register of Deeds of General Santos City, Defendants", instituted by the plaintiff
to declare null and void Free Patent No. V-466102 and Original Certificate of Title
On the other hand, there is no evidence that the municipality uses this lot for its (O.C.T.) No. P-2508 based thereon issued in the name of defendant Isagani Du
official activities to support its claim that this lot is a municipal plaza. The Timbol; to order the aforesaid defendant to surrender the owner's duplicate of O.C.T.
circumstance that the municipal band used to perform weekly on the "kiosko" found No. P-2508 and the defendant Register of Deeds to cancel the same; to decree the
on this lot sometime in 1927 does not constitute an act of exclusive possession reversion of the land in question to the mass of public domain, and granting such
which could be the basis of a title. Moreover, the "kiosko" stood only for three years further relief as may be just and equitable in the premises.
and the municipality has not adduced any evidence that it continued to use the lot
after the "kiosko" was demolished. The land covered by the free patent and title in question was originally applied for
by Precila Soria, who on February 23, 1966, transferred her rights to the land and its
improvements to defendant Isagani Du Timbol who filed his application therefor on
February 3, 1969, as a transferee from Precila Soria.
For the foregoing reasons, the appealed decision is hereby modified in the sense
that Lot 2, being a public plaza, and Nalazon St., traversing Lot 1 and Lot 2, being a On December 12, 1969, free Patent No. V-466102 was issued by the President of the
public thoroughfare, are not subject to registration; and that the title of the Bishop Philippines for the land in question, and on July 20, 1970, after transmittal of the
of Calbayog with respect to the entire area of Lot 1, except the portion covered by patent to the Register of Deeds of General Santos City, Original Certificate of Title
Nalazon St., and to Lot 3, is confirmed and ordered registered in his name, as (O.C.T.) No. P-2508 was issued in the name of defendant Isagani Du Timbol.
corporation sole. In all other respects the decision appealed from is affirmed. No
pronouncement as to costs. On August 5, 1971, the Republic of the Philippines, at the instance of the Bureau of
Forestry, filed a complaint in the Court of First Instance of Cotabato, Branch I,
General Santos City (Civil Case No. 1253), to declare free patent No. V-466102 and
Original Certificate of Title No. P-2508 in the name of defendant Isagani Du Timbol
null and void ab initio and to order the reversion of the land in question to the mass
of public domain. The action is based on the ground that the land covered thereby is
a forest or timber land which is not disposable under the Public Land Act; that in a
reclassification of the public lands in the vicinity where the land in question is
situated made by the Bureau of Forestry on March 7, 1958, the said land was plotted
on Bureau of Forestry map L.C. 700 to be inside the area which was reverted to the
category of public forest, whereas the application for free patent by Isagani Du
Timbol was filed on June 3, 1969, or more than eleven years thereafter; that the said
patent and title were obtained fraudulently as private respondent Isagani Du Timbol
never occupied and cultivated the land applied for.

Invoking the case of Ramirez vs. Court of Appeals (G.R. No. L-28591, 30 SCRA 207-
301), holding that a certificate of title fraudulently secured is not null and void ab
initio, unless the fraud consisted in misrepresenting that the land covered by the
application is part of the public domain when it is not, the respondent court
dismissed the complaint on the ground that Certificate of Title based on the patent
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had became indefeasible in view of the lapse of the one-year period prescribed that case no forest land was involved but agricultural public land which was first
under Section 38 of the Land Registration Act for review of a decree of title on the covered by a patent issued to one party and later registered under the Torrens
ground of fraud. From this order of June 22, 1973, dismissing the complaint, plaintiff System by the other party. The litigation was between private parties where the
Republic of the Philippines has appealed to this Court for review. party who registered it under Act No. 496 sought the nullity of the title of the
patentee under the Public Land Act. In the case at bar the party seeking the nullity
After careful deliberation, this Court grants the petition on the ground that the area of the title and reversion of the land is the state itself which is specifically authorized
covered by the patent and title is not disposable public land, it being a part of the under Section 101 of the Public Land Act to initiate such proceedings as an attribute
forest zone and, hence the patent and title thereto are null and void. of sovereignty, a remedy not available to a private individual.

The defense of indefeasibility of a certificate of title issued pursuant to a free patent The complaint alleges in its paragraph 8 that applicant Isagani Du Timbol was never
does not lie against the state in an action for reversion of the land covered thereby in possession of the property prior to his filing the application, contrary to the
when such land is a part of a public forest or of a forest reservation. As a general provisions of law that the applicant must have been in possession or cultivation
rule, timber or forest lands are not alienable or disposable under either the thereof for at least 30 years; that the applicant, after diligent search by the Acting
Constitution of 1935 or the Constitution of 1973. Although the Director of Lands has Chief of the Survey-Party, Francisco R. Alcones, in South Cotabato, could not be
jurisdiction over public lands classified as agricultural under the constitution, or contacted because he is a resident of Davao City; that there are no existing signs of
alienable or disposable under the Public Land Act, and is charged with the improvements found in the area in question as it is not under cultivation but covered
administration of all laws relative thereto, mineral and timber lands are beyond his with grasses, bushes and small trees; that it is being used as ranch for grazing cows
jurisdiction. It is the Bureau of Forestry that has jurisdiction and authority over the by the heirs of Hermogenes Chilsot; that no monuments were placed on the area
demarcation, protection, management, reproduction, occupancy and use of all surveyed which goes to show that there was no actual survey thereof; that the
public forests and forest reservations and over the granting of licenses for the taking property in question is inside the ranch of the heirs of Hermogenes Chilsot under
of products therefrom, including stone and earth (Section 1816 of the Revised Pasture Lease Agreement No. 1244 and, therefore, inside the forest zone; and that
Administrative Code). That the area in question is a forest or timber land is clearly said ranch has a fence around it to show that other persons could not enter and
established by the certification made by the Bureau of Forest Development that it is cultivate the same, and that the signature of then Acting District Land Officer Elias
within the portion of the area which was reverted to the category of forest land, de Castro of South Cotabato has been forged to facilitate the issuance of patent in
approved by the President on March 7, 1958. When the defendant Isagani Du Timbol favor of Isagani Du Timbol.
filed his application for free patent over the land in question on June 3, 1969, the
area in question was not a disposable or alienable public land but a public forest. The above alleged circumstances are indicative of fraud in the filing of the
Titles issued to private parties by the Bureau of Lands when the land covered application and obtaining title to the land, and if proven would override respondent
thereby is not disposable public land but forest land are void ab initio. In Gatchalian Judge's order dismissing the case without hearing. The misrepresentations of the
vs. Pavilen, et al., L-17619, Oct. 31, 1962, 6 SCRA p. 508, 512, this Court said: applicant that he had been occupying and cultivating the land and residing thereon
are sufficient grounds to nullify the grant of the patent and title under Section 91 of
And if it be true that the Bureau of Lands had no jurisdiction to issue a patent the Public Land Law which provides as follows:
because the land involved was still inalienable forest land when granted, then it may
be plausibly contended that the patent title would be ab initio void, subject to attack That statements made in the application shall be considered as essential conditions
at any time by any party adversely affected. (Gatchalian vs. Pavilen, et al., L-17619, or parts of any concession, title or permit issued on the basis of such application,
Oct. 31, 1962, supra, citing Civil Code Arts. 1409 and 1421; Vaño vs. Insular Gov't., and any false statement thereon or omission of facts, changing, or modifying the
41 Phil. 161; Aderable vs. Director of Forestry, L-13663, March 25, 1960). consideration of the facts set forth in such statement, and any subsequent
modification, alteration, or change of the material facts set forth in the application
A patent is void at law if the officer who issued the patent had no authority to do so shall ipso facto produce the cancellation of the concession, title or permit granted. ...
(Knight vs. Land Ass., 142 U.S. 161, 12 Sup. Ct., 258, 35L ED. 974; emphasis
supplied). If a person obtains a title under the Public Land Act which includes, by A certificate of title that is void may be ordered cancelled. A title will be considered
mistake or oversight, lands which cannot be registered under the Torrens System, or void if it is procured through fraud, as when a person applies for registration of the
when the Director of Lands did not have jurisdiction over the same because it is a land under his name although the property belongs to another. In the case of
public forest, the grantee does not, by virtue of said certificate of title alone, become disposable public lands, failure on the part of the grantee to comply with the
the owner of the land illegally included. (See Ledesma vs. Municipality of Iloilo, 49 conditions imposed by law is a ground for holding such title void (Director of Lands
Phil. 769) vs. Court of Appeals, et al., G.R. No. L-17696, May 19, 1966, 17 SCRA, 71, 79-80;
emphasis supplied). The lapse of the one year period within which a decree of title
The case of Ramirez vs. Court of Appeals, G. R. No. L-28591, Oct. 31, 1969, 30 SCRA may be reopened for fraud would not prevent the cancellation thereof, for to hold
297, relied upon by respondent Court in dismissing this case, is not controlling. In that a title may become indefeasible by registration, even if such title had been
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secured through fraud or in violation of the law, would be the height of absurdity. had occupied the land since 1935, planting it with api-api trees, and that his
Registration should not be a shield of fraud in securing title. (J. M. Tuason & Co., Inc. possession has been continuous, adverse and public for a period of 20 years until
vs. Macalindog, L-15398, December 29, 1962, 6 SCRA 938, page 38). said possession was disturbed by Valeriano. To the application, the Director of
Lands, Laureano Valeriano and Domingo Gutierrez filed oppositions. Gutierrez later
Considering that it is the state is seeking the cancellation of the title of respondent withdrew his opposition. The Director of Lands claimed the parcel applied for as a
Isagani Du Timbol, said title has not become indefeasible for prescription cannot be portion of the public domain, being a foreshore land covered by the ebb and flow of
invoked against the state. A title founded on fraud may be cancelled, the tide. In his turn, Valeriano alleged that he was holding the land by virtue of a
notwithstanding the lapse of one year from the issuance thereof, through a petition permit granted him by the Bureau of Fisheries, issued on 13 January 1947, and
filed in court by the Solicitor General, (Sumail vs. Court of First Instance of Cotabato, approved by the President. After hearing, the CFI Rizal dismissed Ignacio’s
51 O.G. p. 2414 Phil. L-8278. 96 Phil. 946: Eugenio, et al., vs. Perdido, et al., G. R. application for the registration of the parcel of land, holding it to form part of the
No. L-7083, May 19, 1955; De los Santos vs. Roman Catholic Church of Midsayap public domain.
G.R. No. L-6088, Feb. 24, 1954, 94 Phil. 405).
The Supreme Court affirmed the appealed decision, with costs.
Public land fraudulently included in patents or certificates of title may be recovered
or reverted to the state in accordance with Section 101 of the Public Land Act 1. Article 457 NCC does not apply as it covers accretion on banks of rivers
(Director of Lands vs. Jugado et al., G.R. No. L-14707, May 23, 1961). Prescription Article 457 of the New Civil Code (Article 366, Old Civil Code), which provides that
does not lie against the state in such cases for the Statute of Limitations does not "to the owners of lands adjoining the banks of rivers belong the accretion which they
run against the state (Article 1108, paragraph 4 of the New Civil Code). The right of gradually receive from the effects of the current of the waters." This is inapplicable
reversion or reconveyance to the state is not barred prescription (Republic of the as it refers to accretion or deposits on the banks of rivers, while the accretion in the
Philippines vs. Ramona Ruiz, et al., G.R. No. L-23712, April 29, 1968, 23 SCRA 348. present case was caused by action of the Manila Bay.
People vs. Ramos, G.R. No. L-15484, Jan. 31, 1963, 47 SCRA 12; Government of the
Philippines vs. Monte de Piedad 35 Phil. 728; 751-753). 2. Article 1, 4 and 5 of the Law of Waters apply (accretion formed by the
sea) as bay is part of the sea
Even granting that the title of private respondent Isagani Du Timbol can no longer Articles 1, 4 and 5 of the Law of Waters are applicable, referring to accretions
be reopened under the Land Registration Act, the land covered thereby may be formed by the sea. Manila Bay is a part of the sea, being a mere indentation of the
reconveyed to the state in an action for reconveyance under Section 101 of same. As defined, bay is an opening into the land where the water is shut in on all
Commonwealth Act 141 (Public Land Act), for the remedy of reconveyance is sides except at the entrance; an inlet of the sea; an arm of the sea, distinct from a
adequately covered by the prayer of the complaint for the grant of such other relief river, a bending or curbing of the shore of the sea or of a lake.
as may be just and equitable in the premises.
3. Application of Law of Waters on lands bordering Manila Bay; cases
FOR ALL THE FOREGOING, the order of the respondent court, dated June 22, 1973, The Supreme Court has in some cases applied the Law of Waters on Lands bordering
dismissing the complaint, and that of September 29, 1973, denying the motion for Manila Bay; such as the cases of Ker & Co. vs. Cauden, 6 Phil., 732, involving a
its reconsideration, both issued in Civil Case No. 1253 of the respondent court, are parcel of land bounded on the sides by Manila Bay, where it was held that such land
hereby annulled and set aside. The respondent court shall proceed to hear said Civil formed by the action of the sea is property of the State; Francisco vs. Government of
Case and render judgment thereon accordingly. P.I., 28 Phil., 505, involving a land claimed by a private person and subject to the
ebb and flow of the tides of the Manila Bay.
Costs against respondent Isagani Du Timbol.
4. Interpretation of Article 4 of the Law of Waters of 1866; Declaration that
Ignacio v. Director of Lands land is not necessary for purposes of public utility, etc., lies with the
[G.R. No. L-12958. May 30, 1960.] executive and possibly the legislative departments
First Division, Montemayor (J): 8 concur Article 4 of the Law of Waters of 1866 provides that when a portion of the shore is
no longer washed by the waters of the sea and is not necessary for purposes of
Facts: Faustino Ignacio, on 25 January 1950, filed an application for the registration public utility, or for the establishment of special industries, or for coastguard service,
of a parcel of land (mangrove), adjoining a parcel of land that Ignacio has previously the government shall declare it to be the property of the owners of the estates
acquired from the Government by virtue of a free patent title in 1936, situated in adjacent thereto and as an increment thereof. We believe that only the executive
barrio Gasac, Navotas, Rizal, with an area of 37,877 sq.m.. Later, he amended his and possibly the legislative departments have the authority and the power to make
application by alleging among others that he owned the parcel applied for by right of the declaration that any land so gained by the sea, is not necessary for purposes of
accretion; the parcel being formed by accretion and alluvial deposits caused by the public utility, or for the establishment of special industries, or for coast-guard
action of the Manila Bay which borders it on the sourtwest. He also claims that he service. If no such declaration has been made by said departments, the lot in

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question forms part of the public domain." (Natividad vs. Director of Lands [CA], 37 same parcels. The objector excepted to this judgment and asked for its annulment
OG 2905) and a new trial on the grounds that the judgment and order were contrary to law
and to the rule laid down by this Supreme Court in the case of Municipality of
5. Court are not in position to determine if land are used as specified in Tacloban vs. Director of Lands (18 Phil. Rep., 201), and were unsupported by the
Article 4 of the Law of Waters evidence.
The courts are neither primarily called upon, nor indeed in a position to determine
whether any public land are to be used for the purposes specified in Article 4 of the This motion for a new trial was overruled, the court holding that, in adjudicating the
Law of Waters (Vicente Joven y Monteverde v. Director of Lands (93 Phil. 134). parcels Nos. 6 and 7 to the applicant municipality, he had taken into account
sections 38 and 41 of the Code of Civil Procedure, relative to prescription. The
6. Public domain not subject to ordinary prescription objector excepted to this ruling and appealed the case to us, through the proper bill
Land of the public domain is not subject to ordinary prescription. "The occupation or of exceptions. He alleges that the trial court erred in applying to said lots or parcels
material possession of any land formed upon the shore by accretion, without Nos. 6 and 7 the provisions of sections 38 and 41 of the Code of Civil Procedure,
previous permission from the proper authorities, although the occupant may have which regulate prescription, and in denying on this account a new trial; and that it
held the same as owner for seventeen years and constructed a wharf on the land, is likewise erred in decreeing the adjudication and registration of said parcels in favor
illegal and is a mere detainer, inasmuch as such land is outside of the sphere of of the applicant disallowing the adverse claim filed in respect thereto.lawphi1.net
commerce; it pertains to the national domain; it is intended for public uses and for
the benefit of those who live nearby. (Insular Government vs. Aldecoa & Co., 19 In the applicant's plan, Exhibit A (record, p. 36), and in the one containing a drawing
Phil., 505) of said two parcels, Nos. 6 and 7, there is a note which reads thus:

The lands around these parcels are public lands. The names of the persons
appearing on (the plan of) these parcels are those of the present occupants of the
THE MUNICIPALITY OF TIGBAUAN, petitioner-appellee, vs. THE DIRECTOR OF same.
LANDS, objector-appellant.
From the testimony of the municipal president of Tigbauan, Constantino B.
ARAULLO, J.: Benedicto, and from that of a resident of this same municipality, Francisco de Paula
Tina, the former 42 and the latter 56 years of age, it appears that, since the time of
In representation of the municipal corporation of Tigbauan, Province of Iloilo, the the Spanish Government, the municipality was wont to gather cane for its own use
president of said municipality applied for the registration in the property registry of from the canebreaks growing on said two parcels of land; that it had subsequently
a tract of land situate within said town, barrio of Supa, and composed of seven planted thereon cañas espinas, which were already yielding product at the time this
parcels described in the application and the plans presented therewith. The testimony was given (March, 1915); and that these witnesses had known of these
application was based on the claim that the municipality had acquired the land by facts ever since their early childhood. They further testified that the municipality's
continuous possession since time immemorial, and was opposed by the Director of possession of the parcels of land in question had been continuous, and that no one
the Bureau of Lands, through the Attorney-General in representation of the had opposed the same or claimed any right, title or interest in said land. The first of
Government of the Philippine Islands, in so far as concerned the registration of the these witnesses, Benedicto, designated the boundaries of the parcel No. 6 as
parcels Nos. 1, 6, and 7, on the ground that the first of these was a public square in follows: On the north, Francisco Gotera; on the east, Paulo Totay; on the south,
the public use of said municipality, and that the other two were property of the Ignacio Totay; and on the west Benito Totay. The boundaries of the parcel No. 7 as
Government of the United States under the control and administration of the being: on the north, public lands; on the southeast, Ignacio Totay; on the southwest,
Government of the Philippine Islands. Nicolas Guimbal and public lands; and on the northeast, Francisco Garda.

The applicant withdrew in favor of the Insular Government its application for the There is no proof that said parcels were private property at any time prior to the
registration of the parcel No. 1, as being a public square of the municipality of possession mentioned by the two above-named witnesses. They are surrounded by
Tigbauan, but maintained its claim with respect to the other two parcels, Nos. 6 and the public lands, as shown by the plan presented by the applicant, and the persons
7. The Director of Lands, in representation of the Government, maintained his also. whom one of these witnesses designated as adjacent property owners are mere
After trial and the introduction of evidence by both parties, the Court of First occupants of the lands situated around the parcels, as also so stated in the plan
Instance of Iloilo on April 14, 1915, rendered judgment (subsequently supplemented itself.
by an order of the 16th of the same month) in which he held that the application
was entitled to the adjudication and registration of the parcels Nos. 6 and 7, Said parcels are public or government lands, as shown by the evidence. It was
together with their respective improvements, and disallowed the adverse claim of neither established in the record that this land had been granted by the Government
the Director of Lands, represented by the Attorney-General, in respect to these to the municipality of Tigbauan to form a part of its municipal assets or estate; nor

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that there was erected thereon any building belonging to the municipality and As the property in question is agricultural land, aside from the possible presumption
intended for public service, such as might induce the presumption that the land had that the government might have granted it to the applicant municipality to enable
been granted to the municipality; nor that the latter had used these parcels for this latter to meet public needs, it cannot be understood, in accordance with the
recognized public purposes. Therefore, under the rule laid down by this Supreme holding made by this court in the first of the decisions aforecited, that this
Court in several decisions, among others the case of Municipality of Tacloban vs. corporation was accorded the benefits allowed by Act No. 926, section 54, to wit,
Director of Lands (18 Phil. Rep., 201), it is evident that the applicant municipality those of applying to the Court of Land Registration for the confirmation of its claim
cannot be held to be the owner of said two parcels of land or to be entitled to enter of alleged right is said parcels and for the issuance of a certificate of title therefore;
them in its name in the property registry. and consequently neither may said municipality, in order to obtain said title, allege
the right of prescription provided for in sections 38 and 41 of the Code of Civil
In the decision above cited the following considerations appears:itc@a1f Procedure, for section 55 of Act No. 926 clearly prescribes that all persons claiming
title to government lands who do come not within the classes specified in the
The mere fact that a municipality continued to collect revenues or rentals from the section 55 are excluded from the benefits of Chapter VI of said Act which comprises
residents who occupy any parcel of land comprised within its district is not proof that these two sections. On the other hand, pursuant to Act No. 648 of the Philippine
the said municipality is the proprietor of such realty; at the most, it might be Commission, the Governor-General is authorized to reserve for public uses the public
considered to be a usufructuary of the land in question, but without the right to lands comprised within certain boundaries, whether they belong to the Insular
enter it in the property registry. Government or to provincial or municipal governments. This provision
unquestionably shows that the municipalities or municipal corporations of these
The benefit granted by section 54 of Act No. 926, for the purpose of fostering Islands cannot appropriate to themselves public or Government lands without a prior
agriculture and increasing the wealth of the country, can not be deemed to be grant from the Government and without reservation in the manner and by the
granted, according to economic principles, to municipal corporations which, on procedure specified in said Act No. 648 and in the Act cited, No. 627. It is also
account of their special conditions, the idiosyncrasy and character of the functions evident that municipalities cannot acquire the ownership of public lands through
which they exercise, and, because of the administrative mission which they have to prescription, as provided in the aforementioned sections 38 and 41 of the Code of
fulfill in the name of the Government and in representation of the people who Civil Procedure, nor do they need to avail themselves of this means for acquiring the
elected them, can not engage in agriculture and other industries nor can they attend same. Therefore, the trial court erred in taking account of the provisions of the two
to the administration of agricultural land and give particular attention to strictly sections above cited for the purpose of decreeing the adjudication and registration
private business, without serious detriment to the interests of the community. of said parcels of land in the applicant's behalf.

In another decision of this Supreme Court, in the case of Municipality of Luzuriaga For the foregoing reasons we reverse the judgment and order appealed from the
vs. Director of Lands and Roman Catholic Bishop of Jaro (24 Phil. Rep., 193), cited in latter in the part thereof that is complementary of the former and relative to the two
the aforementioned decision, and also in the case of Municipality of Catbalogan vs. parcels of land Nos. 6 and 7 described in the application and hold that the
Director of Lands (17 Phil. Rep., 216), we said: adjudication and registration of these parcels in behalf of the applicant municipality
must be denied, whereby we sustain the adverse claim filed in connection therewith
It is apparent from these quotations that, as we have said before, in order that the by the Director of Lands in representation of the Government of the Philippine
municipality may rely upon a presume grant from the State in its favor, the land Islands. No special finding is made in regard to costs. So ordered.
concerning which the grant is to be presumed must have been used by the
municipality for the purposes specified in said quotations, namely, to meet a public RAFAEL S. SALAS, in his capacity as Executive Secretary; CONRADO F.
necessity, and therefore must be land which would have been originally granted by ESTRELLA, in his capacity as Governor of the Land Authority; and LORENZO
the State for such purposes. In other words, the lands susceptible of this GELLA, in his capacity as Register of Deeds of Manila, petitioners-appellants,
presumption cannot be agricultural or communal lands; they must be lands which vs.HON. HILARION U. JARENCIO, as Presiding Judge of Branch XXIII, Court of
the municipality itself can exclusively own, i. e., they must be lands used to meet a First Instance of Manila; ANTONIO J. VILLEGAS, in his capacity as Mayor of
public necessity. the City of Manila; and the CITY OF MANILA, respondents-appellees.

The mere facts that during many years the municipality of Tigbauan has been
ESGUERRA, J.:p
cutting can from the cane brakes which have been growing on said two parcels land
from the time of the Spanish Government, and the further fact that it is
This is a petition for review of the decision of the Court of First Instance of Manila,
subsequently planted thereon caña espina trees now yielding product, do not prove
Branch XXIII, in Civil Case No. 67946, dated September 23, 1968, the dispositive
that the municipality is the owner of these parcels, but only that it has been
portion of which is as follows:
enjoying their usufruct, which does, not give it the right to have them entered as its
own in the property registry.

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WHEREFORE, the Court renders judgment declaring Republic Act No. 4118 In the particular case of the property subject of this bill, the City of Manila does not
unconstitutional and invalid in that it deprived the City of Manila of its property seem to have use thereof as a public communal property. As a matter of fact, a
without due process and payment of just compensation. Respondent Executive resolution was adopted by the Municipal Board of Manila at its regular session held
Secretary and Governor of the Land Authority are hereby restrained and enjoined on September 21, 1960, to request the feasibility of declaring the city property
from implementing the provisions of said law. Respondent Register of Deeds of the bounded by Florida, San Andres and Nebraska Streets as a patrimonial property of
City of Manila is ordered to cancel Transfer Certificate of Title No. 80876 which he the City of Manila for the purpose of reselling these lots to the actual occupants
had issued in the name of the Land Tenure Administration and reinstate Transfer thereof. Therefore, it will be to the best interest of society that the said property be
Certificate of Title No. 22547 in the name of the City of Manila which he cancelled, if used in one way or another. Since this property has been occupied for a long time by
that is feasible, or issue a new certificate of title for the same parcel of land in the the present occupants thereof and since said occupants have expressed their
name of the City of Manila. 1 willingness to buy the said property, it is but proper that the same be sold to them. 4

The facts necessary for a clear understanding of this case are as follows: Subsequently, a revised version of the Bill was introduced in the House of
Representatives by Congressmen Manuel Cases, Antonio Raquiza and Nicanor
On February 24, 1919, the 4th Branch of the Court of First Instance of Manila, acting Yñiguez as House Bill No. 1453, with the following explanatory note:
as a land registration court, rendered judgment in Case No. 18, G.L.R.O. Record No.
111, declaring the City of Manila the owner in fee simple of a parcel of land known The accompanying bill seeks to convert one (1) parcel of land in the district of
as Lot No. 1, Block 557 of the Cadastral Survey of the City of Mani1a, containing an Malate, which is reserved as communal property into a disposable or alienable
area of 9,689.8 square meters, more or less. Pursuant to said judgment the Register property of the State and to provide its subdivision and sale to bona fide occupants
of Deeds of Manila on August 21, 1920, issued in favor of the City of Manila, Original or tenants.
Certificate of Title No. 4329 covering the aforementioned parcel of land. On various
dates in 1924, the City of Manila sold portions of the aforementioned parcel of land This parcel of land in question was originally an aggregate part of a piece of land
in favor of Pura Villanueva. As a consequence of the transactions Original Certificate with an area of 9,689.8 square meters, more or less. ... On September 21, 1960, the
of Title No. 4329 was cancelled and transfer certificates of title were issued in favor Municipal Board of Manila in its regular session unanimously adopted a resolution
of Pura Villanueva for the portions purchased by her. When the last sale to Pura requesting the President of the Philippines and Congress of the Philippines the
Villanueva was effected on August 22, 1924, Transfer Certificate of Title No. 21974 feasibility of declaring this property into disposable or alienable property of the
in the name of the City of Manila was cancelled and in lieu thereof Transfer State. There is therefore a precedent that this parcel of land could be subdivided
Certificate of Title (TCT) No. 22547 covering the residue thereof known as Lot 1-B-2- and sold to bona fide occupants. This parcel of land will not serve any useful public
B of Block 557, with an area of 7,490.10 square meters, was issued in the name of project because it is bounded on all sides by private properties which were formerly
the City of Manila. parts of this lot in question.

On September 21, 1960, the Municipal Board of Manila, presided by then Vice-Mayor Approval of this bill will implement the policy of the Administration of land for the
Antono J. Villegas, adopted a resolution requesting His Excellency, the President of landless and the Fifth Declaration of Principles of the Constitution, which states that
the Philippines to consider the feasibility of declaring the City property bounded by the promotion of Social Justice to insure the well-being and economic security of all
Florida, San Andres, and Nebraska Streets, under Transfer Certificate of Title Nos. people should be the concern of the State. We are ready and willing to enact
25545 and 22547, containing a total area of 7,450 square meters as a patrimonial legislation promoting the social and economic well-being of the people whenever an
property of the City of Manila for the purpose of reselling these lots to the actual opportunity for enacting such kind of legislation arises.
occupants thereof. 2
In view of the foregoing consideration and to insure fairness and justice to the
The said resolution of the Municipil Board of the City of Manila was officially present bona fide occupants thereof, approval of this Bill is strongly urged. 5
transmitted to the President of the Philippines by then Vice-Mayor Antonio J. Villegas
on September 21, 1960, with the information that the same resolution was, on the The Bill having been passed by the House of Representatives, the same was
same date, transmitted to the Senate and House of Representatives of the Congress thereafter sent to the Senate where it was thoroughly discussed, as evidenced by
of the Philippines. 3 the Congressional Records for May 20, 1964, pertinent portion of which is as follows:

During the First Session of the Fifth Congress of the Philippines, House Bill No. 191 SENATOR FERNANDEZ: Mr. President, it will be re called that when the late Mayor
was filed in the House of Representatives by then Congressman Bartolome Lacson was still alive, we approved a similar bill. But afterwards, the late Mayor
Cabangbang seeking to declare the property in question as patrimonial property of Lacson came here and protested against the approval, and the approval was
the City of Manila, and for other purposes. The explanatory note of the Bill gave the reconsidered. May I know whether the defect in the bill which we approved, has
grounds for its enactment, to wit: already been eliminated in this present bill?

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SENATOR TOLENTINO: I understand Mr. President, that that has already been Sec. 5. In the event of the death of the purchaser prior to the complete payment of
eliminated and that is why the City of Manila has no more objection to this bill. the price of the lot purchased by him, his widow and children shall succeed in all his
rights and obligations with respect to his lot.
SENATOR FERNANDEZ: Mr. President, in view of that manifestation and considering
that Mayor Villegas and Congressman Albert of the Fourth District of Manila are in Sec. 6. The Chairman of the Land Tenure Administration shall implement and issue
favor of the bill. I would not want to pretend to know more what is good for the City such rules and regulations as may be necessary to carry out the provisions of this
of Manila. Act.

SENATOR TOLENTINO: Mr. President, there being no objection, I move that we Sec. 7. The sum of one hundred fifty thousand pesos is appropriated out of any
approve this bill on second reading. funds in the National Treasury not otherwise appropriated, to carry out the purposes
of this Act.
PRESIDENT PRO-TEMPORE: The biII is approved on second reading after several
Senetors said aye and nobody said nay. Sec. 8. All laws or parts of laws inconsistent with this Act are repealed or modified
accordingly.
The bill was passed by the Senate, approved by the President on June 20, 1964, and
became Republic Act No. 4118. It reads as follows: Sec. 9. This Act shall take effect upon its approval.

Lot I-B-2-B of Block 557 of the cadastral survey of the City of Manila, situated in the Approved, June 20, 1964.
District of Malate, City of Manila, which is reserved as communal property, is hereby
converted into disposal or alienable land of the State, to be placed under the To implement the provisions of Republic Act No. 4118, and pursuant to the request
disposal of the Land Tenure Administration. The Land Tenure Administration shall of the occupants of the property involved, then Deputy Governor Jose V. Yap of the
subdivide the property into small lots, none of which shall exceed one hundred and Land Authority (which succeeded the Land Tenure Administration) addressed a
twenty square meters in area and sell the same on installment basis to the tenants letter, dated February 18, 1965, to Mayor Antonio Villegas, furnishing him with a
or bona fide occupants thereof and to individuals, in the order mentioned: Provided, copy of the proposed subdivision plan of said lot as prepared for the Republic of the
That no down payment shall be required of tenants or bona fide occupants who Philippines for resale of the subdivision lots by the Land Authority to bona fide
cannot afford to pay such down payment: Provided, further, That no person can applicants. 6
purchase more than one lot: Provided, furthermore, That if the tenant or bona fide
occupant of any given lot is not able to purchase the same, he shall be given a lease On March 2, 1965, the City Mayor of Manila, through his Executive and Technical
from month to month until such time that he is able to purchase the lot: Provided, Adviser, acknowledged receipt of the proposed subdivision plan of the property in
still further, That in the event of lease the rentals which may be charged shall not question and informed the Land Authority that his office would interpose no
exceed eight per cent per annum of the assessed value of the property leased: And objection to the implementation of said law, provided that its provisions be strictly
provided, finally, That in fixing the price of each lot, which shall not exceed twenty complied with. 7
pesos per square meter, the cost of subdivision and survey shall not be included.
With the above-mentioned written conformity of the City of Manila for the
Sec. 2. Upon approval of this Act no ejectment proceedings against any tenant or implementation of Republic Act No. 4118, the Land Authority, thru then Deputy
bona fide occupant of the above lots shall be instituted and any ejectment Governor Jose V. Yap, requested the City Treasurer of Manila, thru the City Mayor,
proceedings pending in court against any such tenant or bona fide occupant shall be for the surrender and delivery to the former of the owner's duplicate of Transfer
dismissed upon motion of the defendant: Provided, That any demolition order Certificate of Title No. 22547 in order to obtain title thereto in the name of the Land
directed against any tenant or bona fide occupant shall be lifted. Authority. The request was duly granted with the knowledge and consent of the
Office of the City Mayor. 8
Sec. 3. Upon approval of this Act, if the tenant or bona fide occupant is in arrears in
the payment of any rentals, the amount legally due shall be liquidated and shall be With the presentation of Transfer Certificate of Title No. 22547, which had been
payable in twenty-four equal monthly installments from the date of liquidation. yielded as above stated by the, City authorities to the Land Authority, Transfer
Certificate of Title (T.C.T. No. 22547) was cancelled by the Register of Deeds of
Sec. 4. No property acquired by virtue of this Act shall be transferred, sold, Manila and in lieu thereof Transfer Certificate of Title No. 80876 was issued in the
mortgaged, or otherwise disposed of within a period of five years from the date full name of the Land Tenure Administration (now Land Authority) pursuant to the
ownership thereof has been vested in the purchaser without the consent of the Land provisions of Republic Act No.
Tenure Administration. 4118. 9

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But due to reasons which do not appear in the record, the City of Manila made a ownership by selling parts thereof did not necessarily convert the land into a
complete turn-about, for on December 20, 1966, Antonio J. Villegas, in his capacity patrimonial property of the City of Manila nor divest the State of its paramount title.
as the City Mayor of Manila and the City of Manila as a duly organized public
corporation, brought an action for injunction and/or prohibition with preliminary Appellants further argue that a municipal corporation, like a city is a governmental
injunction to restrain, prohibit and enjoin the herein appellants, particularly the agent of the State with authority to govern a limited portion of its territory or to
Governor of the Land Authority and the Register of Deeds of Manila, from further administer purely local affairs in a given political subdivision, and the extent of its
implementing Republic Act No. 4118, and praying for the declaration of Republic Act authority is strictly delimited by the grant of power conferred by the State; that
No. 4118 as unconstitutional. Congress has the exclusive power to create, change or destroy municipal
corporations; that even if We admit that legislative control over municipal
With the foregoing antecedent facts, which are all contained in the partial stipulation corporations is not absolute and even if it is true that the City of Manila has a
of facts submitted to the trial court and approved by respondent Judge, the parties registered title over the property in question, the mere transfer of such land by an
waived the presentation of further evidence and submitted the case for decision. On act of the legislature from one class of public land to another, without compensation,
September 23, 1968, judgment was rendered by the trial court declaring Republic does not invade the vested rights of the City.
Act No. 4118 unconstitutional and invalid on the ground that it deprived the City of
Manila of its property without due process of law and payment of just compensation. Appellants finally argue that Republic Act No. 4118 has treated the land involved as
The respondents were ordered to undo all that had been done to carry out the one reserved for communal use, and this classification is conclusive upon the courts;
provisions of said Act and were restrained from further implementing the same. that if the City of Manila feels that this is wrong and its interests have been thereby
prejudiced, the matter should be brought to the attention of Congress for correction;
Two issues are presented for determination, on the resolution of which the decision and that since Congress, in the exercise of its wide discretionary powers has seen fit
in this case hinges, to wit: to classify the land in question as communal, the Courts certainly owe it to a
coordinate branch of the Government to respect such determination and should not
I. Is the property involved private or patrimonial property of the City of Manila? interfere with the enforcement of the law.

II. Is Republic Act No. 4118 valid and not repugnant to the Constitution? Upon the other hand, appellees argue by simply quoting portions of the appealed
decision of the trial court, which read thus:
I.As regards the first issue, appellants maintain that the land involved is a communal
land or "legua comunal" which is a portion of the public domain owned by the State; The respondents (petitioners-appellants herein) contend, among other defenses,
that it came into existence as such when the City of Manila, or any pueblo or town in that the property in question is communal property. This contention is, however,
the Philippines for that matter, was founded under the laws of Spain, the former disproved by Original Certificate of Title No. 4329 issued on August 21, 1920 in favor
sovereign; that upon the establishment of a pueblo, the administrative authority was of the City of Manila after the land in question was registered in the City's favor. The
required to allot and set aside portions of the public domain for a public plaza, a Torrens Title expressly states that the City of Manila was the owner in 'fee simple' of
church site, a site for public buildings, lands to serve as common pastures and for the said land. Under Sec. 38 of the Land Registration Act, as amended, the decree of
streets and roads; that in assigning these lands some lots were earmarked for confirmation and registration in favor of the City of Manila ... shall be conclusive
strictly public purposes, and ownership of these lots (for public purposes) upon and against all persons including the Insular Government and all the branches
immediately passed to the new municipality; that in the case of common lands or there ... There is nothing in the said certificate of title indicating that the land was
"legua comunal", there was no such immediate acquisition of ownership by the 'communal' land as contended by the respondents. The erroneous assumption by
pueblo, and the land though administered thereby, did not automatically become its the Municipal Board of Manila that the land in question was communal land did not
property in the absence of an express grant from the Central Government, and that make it so. The Municipal Board had no authority to do that.
the reason for this arrangement is that this class of land was not absolutely needed
for the discharge of the municipality's governmental functions. The respondents, however, contend that Congress had the power and authority to
declare that the land in question was 'communal' land and the courts have no power
It is argued that the parcel of land involved herein has not been used by the City of or authority to make a contrary finding. This contention is not entirely correct or
Manila for any public purpose and had not been officially earmarked as a site for the accurate. Congress has the power to classify 'land of the public domain', transfer
erection of some public buildings; that this circumstance confirms the fact that it them from one classification to another and declare them disposable or not. Such
was originally "communal" land alloted to the City of Manila by the Central power does not, however, extend to properties which are owned by cities, provinces
Government not because it was needed in connection with its organization as a and municipalities in their 'patrimonial' capacity.
municipality but simply for the common use of its inhabitants; that the present City
of Manila as successor of the Ayuntamiento de Manila under the former Spanish Art. 324 of the Civil Code provides that properties of provinces, cities and
sovereign merely enjoys the usufruct over said land, and its exercise of acts of municipalities are divided into properties for public use and patrimonial property.

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Art. 424 of the same code provides that properties for public use consist of Communal lands or "legua comunal" came into existence when a town or pueblo
provincial roads, city streets, municipal streets, the squares, fountains, public was established in this country under the laws of Spain (Law VII, Title III, Book VI,
waters, promenades and public works for public service paid for by said province, Recopilacion de las Leyes de Indios). The municipalities of the Philippines were not
cities or municipalities. All other property possessed by any of them is patrimonial. entitled, as a matter of right, to any part of the public domain for use as communal
Tested by this criterion the Court finds and holds that the land in question is lands. The Spanish law provided that the usufruct of a portion of the public domain
patrimonial property of the City of Manila. adjoining municipal territory might be granted by the Government for communal
purposes, upon proper petition, but, until granted, no rights therein passed to the
Respondents contend that Congress has declared the land in question to be municipalities, and, in any event, the ultimate title remained in the sovereign (City
'communal' and, therefore, such designation is conclusive upon the courts. The of Manila vs. Insular Government, 10 Phil. 327).
Courts holds otherwise. When a statute is assailed as unconstitutional the Courts
have the power and authority to inquire into the question and pass upon it. This has For the establishment, then, of new pueblos the administrative authority of the
long ago been settled in Marbury vs. Madison, 2 L. ed. 60, when the United States province, in representation of the Governor General, designated the territory for
Supreme Court speaking thru Chief Justice Marshall held: their location and extension and the metes and bounds of the same; and before
alloting the lands among the new settlers, a special demarcation was made of the
... If an act of the legislature, repugnant to the constitution, is void, does it, places which were to serve as the public square of the pueblo, for the erection of the
notwithstanding its validity, bind the courts, and oblige them to give effect? It is church, and as sites for the public buildings, among others, the municipal building or
emphatically the province and duty of the judicial department to say what the law the casa real, as well as of the lands whick were to constitute the common pastures,
is ... So if a law be in opposition to the constitution; if both the law and the and propios of the municipality and the streets and roads which were to intersect
constitution apply to a particular case, so that the court must either decide that case the new town were laid out, ... . (Municipality of Catbalogan vs. Director of Lands, 17
conformable to the constitution, disregarding the law, the court must determine Phil. 216, 220) (Emphasis supplied)
which of these conflicting rules governs the case. This is of the very essence of
unconstitutional judicial duty. It may, therefore, be laid down as a general rule that regardless of the source or
classification of land in the possession of a municipality, excepting those acquired
Appellees finally concluded that when the courts declare a law unconstitutional it with its own funds in its private or corporate capacity, such property is held in trust
does not mean that the judicial power is superior to the legislative power. It simply for the State for the benefit of its inhabitants, whether it be for governmental or
means that the power of the people is superior to both and that when the will of the proprietary purposes. It holds such lands subject to the paramount power of the
legislature, declared in statutes, stands in opposition to that of the people, declared legislature to dispose of the same, for after all it owes its creation to it as an agent
in the Constitution, the judges ought to be governed by the Constitution rather than for the performance of a part of its public work, the municipality being but a
by the statutes. subdivision or instrumentality thereof for purposes of local administration.
Accordingly, the legal situation is the same as if the State itself holds the property
There is one outstanding factor that should be borne in mind in resolving the and puts it to a different use (2 McQuilin,Municipal Corporations, 3rd Ed., p. 197,
character of the land involved, and it is that the City of Manila, although declared by citing Monagham vs. Armatage, 218 Minn. 27, 15 N. W. 2nd 241).
the Cadastral Court as owner in fee simple, has not shown by any shred of evidence
in what manner it acquired said land as its private or patrimonial property. It is true True it is that the legislative control over a municipal corporation is not absolute
that the City of Manila as well as its predecessor, the Ayuntamiento de Manila, could even when it comes to its property devoted to public use, for such control must not
validly acquire property in its corporate or private capacity, following the accepted be exercised to the extent of depriving persons of their property or rights without
doctrine on the dual character public and private of a municipal corporation. And due process of law, or in a manner impairing the obligations of contracts.
when it acquires property in its private capacity, it acts like an ordinary person Nevertheless, when it comes to property of the municipality which it did not acquire
capable of entering into contracts or making transactions for the transmission of title in its private or corporate capacity with its own funds, the legislature can transfer its
or other real rights. When it comes to acquisition of land, it must have done so under administration and disposition to an agency of the National Government to be
any of the modes established by law for the acquisition of ownership and other real disposed of according to its discretion. Here it did so in obedience to the
rights. In the absence of a title deed to any land claimed by the City of Manila as its constitutional mandate of promoting social justice to insure the well-being and
own, showing that it was acquired with its private or corporate funds, the economic security of the people.
presumption is that such land came from the State upon the creation of the
municipality (Unson vs. Lacson, et al., 100 Phil. 695). Originally the municipality It has been held that a statute authorizing the transfer of a Municipal airport to an
owned no patrimonial property except those that were granted by the State not for Airport Commission created by the legislature, even without compensation to the
its public but for private use. Other properties it owns are acquired in the course of city, was not violative of the due process clause of the American Federal
the exercise of its corporate powers as a juridical entity to which category a Constitution. The Supreme Court of Minnessota in Monagham vs. Armatage, supra,
municipal corporation pertains. said:
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... The case is controlled by the further rule that the legislature, having plenary people should be the concern of the State." We are ready and willing to enact
control of the local municipality, of its creation and of all its affairs, has the right to legislation promoting the social and economic well-being of the people whenever an
authorize or direct the expenditures of money in its treasury, though raised, for a opportunity for enacting such kind of legislation arises.
particular purpose, for any legitimate municipal purpose, or to order and direct a
distribution thereof upon a division of the territory into separate municipalities ... . The respondent Court held that Republic Act No. 4118, "by converting the land in
The local municipality has no such vested right in or to its public funds, like that question which is the patrimonial property of the City of Manila into disposable
which the Constitution protects in the individual as precludes legislative alienable land of the State and placing it under the disposal of the Land Tenure
interferences. People vs. Power, 25 Ill. 187; State Board (of Education) vs. City, 56 Administration violates the provisions of Article III (Secs. 1 and 2) of the Constitution
Miss. 518. As remarked by the supreme court of Maryland in Mayor vs. Sehner, 37 which ordain that "private property shall not be taken for public use without just
Md. 180: "It is of the essence of such a corporation, that the government has the compensation, and that no person shall be deprived of life, liberty or property
sole right as trustee of the public interest, at its own good will and pleasure, to without due process of law". In support thereof reliance is placed on the ruling in
inspect, regulate, control, and direct the corporation, its funds, and franchises." Province of Zamboanga del Norte vs. City of Zamboanga, G.R. No. 2440, March 28,
1968; 22 SCRA 1334, which holds that Congress cannot deprive a municipality of its
We therefore hold that c.500, in authorizing the transfer of the use and possession private or patrimonial property without due process of law and without payment of
of the municipal airport to the commission without compensation to the city or to just compensation since it has no absolute control thereof. There is no quarrel over
the park board, does not violate the Fourteenth Amendment to the Constitution of this rule if it is undisputed that the property sought to be taken is in reality a private
the United States. or patrimonial property of the municipality or city. But it would be simply begging
the question to classify the land in question as such. The property, as has been
The Congress has dealt with the land involved as one reserved for communal use previously shown, was not acquired by the City of Manila with its own funds in its
(terreno comunal). The act of classifying State property calls for the exercise of wide private or proprietary capacity. That it has in its name a registered title is not
discretionary legislative power and it should not be interfered with by the courts. questioned, but this title should be deemed to be held in trust for the State as the
land covered thereby was part of the territory of the City of Manila granted by the
This brings Us to the second question as regards the validity of Republic Act No. sovereign upon its creation. That the National Government, through the Director of
4118, viewed in the light of Article III, Sections 1, subsection (1) and (2) of the Lands, represented by the Solicitor General, in the cadastral proceedings did not
Constitution which ordain that no person shall be deprived of his property without contest the claim of the City of Manila that the land is its property, does not detract
due process of law and that no private property shall be taken for public use without from its character as State property and in no way divests the legislature of its
just compensation. power to deal with it as such, the state not being bound by the mistakes and/or
negligence of its officers.
II .
One decisive fact that should be noted is that the City of Manila expressly
The trial court declared Republic Act No. 4118 unconstitutional for allegedly recognized the paramount title of the State over said land when by its resolution of
depriving the City of Manila of its property without due process of law and without September 20, 1960, the Municipal Board, presided by then Vice-Mayor Antonio
payment of just compensation. It is now well established that the presumption is Villegas, requested "His Excellency the President of the Philippines to consider the
always in favor of the constitutionality of a law (U S. vs. Ten Yu, 24 Phil. 1; Go Ching, feasibility of declaring the city property bounded by Florida, San Andres and
et al. vs. Dinglasan, et al., 45 O.G. No. 2, pp. 703, 705). To declare a law Nebraska Streets, under Transfer Certificate of Title Nos. 25545 and 25547,
unconstitutional, the repugnancy of that law to the Constitution must be clear and containing an area of 7,450 square meters, as patrimonial property of the City of
unequivocal, for even if a law is aimed at the attainment of some public good, no Manila for the purpose of reselling these lots to the actual occupants thereof." (See
infringement of constitutional rights is allowed. To strike down a law there must be a Annex E, Partial Stipulation of Facts, Civil Case No. 67945, CFI, Manila, p. 121,
clear showing that what the fundamental law condemns or prohibits, the statute Record of the Case) [Emphasis Supplied]
allows it to be done (Morfe vs. Mutuc, et al., G.R. No. L-20387, Jan. 31, 1968; 22
SCRA 424). That situation does not obtain in this case as the law assailed does not in The alleged patrimonial character of the land under the ownership of the City of
any manner trench upon the constitution as will hereafter be shown. Republic Act Manila is totally belied by the City's own official act, which is fatal to its claim since
No. 4118 was intended to implement the social justice policy of the Constitution and the Congress did not do as bidden. If it were its patrimonial property why should the
the Government program of "Land for the Landless". The explanatory note of House City of Manila be requesting the President to make representation to the legislature
Bill No. 1453 which became Republic Act No. 4118, reads in part as follows: to declare it as such so it can be disposed of in favor of the actual occupants? There
could be no more blatant recognition of the fact that said land belongs to the State
Approval of this bill will implement the policy of the administration of "land for the and was simply granted in usufruct to the City of Manila for municipal purposes. But
landless" and the Fifth Declaration of Principles of the Constitution which states that since the City did not actually use said land for any recognized public purpose and
"the promotion of social justice to insure the well-being and economic security of all allowed it to remain idle and unoccupied for a long time until it was overrun by
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squatters, no presumption of State grant of ownership in favor of the City of Manila WHEREFORE, the appealed decision is hereby reversed, and petitioners shall
may be acquiesced in to justify the claim that it is its own private or patrimonial proceed with the free and untrammeled implementation of Republic Act No. 4118
property (Municipality of Tigbauan vs. Director of Lands, 35 Phil. 798; City of Manila without any obstacle from the respondents. Without costs.
vs. Insular Government, 10 Phil. 327; Municipality of Luzuriaga vs. Director of Lands,
24 Phil. 193). The conclusion of the respondent court that Republic Act No. 4118
converted a patrimonial property of the City of Manila into a parcel of disposable
land of the State and took it away from the City without compensation is, therefore, EUGENIA NELAYAN, ET AL., plaintiffs-appellants, vs.CECILIA NELAYAN, ET AL.,
unfounded. In the last analysis the land in question pertains to the State and the City defendants-appellees.
of Manila merely acted as trustee for the benefit of the people therein for whom the
State can legislate in the exercise of its legitimate powers. REYES, J.B.L., J.:

Republic Act No. 4118 was never intended to expropriate the property involved but On December 15, 1952, plaintiffs filed versus Cecilia Nelayan and the Director of
merely to confirm its character as communal land of the State and to make it Lands a complaint with the Court of First Instance of Camarines Sur for "Cancellation
available for disposition by the National Government: And this was done at the of Title and Reconveyance ", alleging that they (plaintiffs) have been since time
instance or upon the request of the City of Manila itself. The subdivision of the land immemorial, in actual possession as owners, respectively, of various parcels of land
and conveyance of the resulting subdivision lots to the occupants by Congressional described therein; that such possession has been public, uninterrupted and in the
authorization does not operate as an exercise of the power of eminent domain concept of owner; that on October 23, 1952, Original Certificate of Title No. 518 was
without just compensation in violation of Section 1, subsection (2), Article III of the issued in the name of defendant Cecilia Nelayan as a result of her application for
Constitution, but simply as a manifestation of its right and power to deal with state free patent over the parcels of land in dispute; that said certificate of title is null and
property. void with respect to the parcels claimed by plaintiffs, as the same were no longer
part of the public domain, and that the Director of Lands was without jurisdiction in
It should be emphasized that the law assailed was enacted upon formal written entertaining the application for, and in granting the free patent; that plaintiffs were
petition of the Municipal Board of Manila in the form of a legally approved resolution. never informed nor had they any knowledge of the survey of the said lands or of the
The certificate of title over the property in the name of the City of Manila was proceedings instituted by Cecilia Nelayan; and that the latter, who very well knew
accordingly cancelled and another issued to the Land Tenure Administration after that said parcels of land were being possessed by the plaintiffs as owners thereof, is
the voluntary surrender of the City's duplicate certificate of title by the City guilty of fraud in failing to notify them of the said proceedings. Plaintiffs, therefore,
Treasurer with the knowledge and consent of the City Mayor. To implement the prayed that Original Certificate of Title No. 518 be annulled and that they be
provisions of Republic Act No. 4118, the then Deputy Governor of the Land Authority declared owners of the parcels of land in question. They further asked for such other
sent a letter, dated February 18, 1965, to the City Mayor furnishing him with a copy relief as the court might deem just and equitable.
of the "proposed subdivision plan of the said lot as prepared for the Republic of the
Philippines for subdivision and resale by the Land Authority to bona fide applicants." Answering the complaint, defendant Cecilia Nelayan denied all material allegations
On March 2, 1965, the Mayor of Manila, through his Executive and Technical Adviser, of the complaint, and by way of special defense, asserted ownership over the
acknowledged receipt of the subdivision plan and informed the Land Authority that disputed parcels, having been in continuous, peaceful, public, adverse and material
his Office "will interpose no objection to the implementation of said law provided possession over it for a period of over 50 years. Defendant Director of Lands, in his
that its provisions are strictly complied with." The foregoing sequence of events, answer, likewise denied the material allegations of the complaint and attested, as
clearly indicate a pattern of regularity and observance of due process in the special defense, to the regularity of the proceedings leading to the issuance in
reversion of the property to the National Government. All such acts were done in Cecilia's favor of the certificate of title in question.
recognition by the City of Manila of the right and power of the Congress to dispose of
the land involved. On February 11, 1957, defendant Cecilia Nelayan filed a motion to dismiss the
complaint on the ground that (1) the complaint failed to state facts sufficient to
Consequently, the City of Manila was not deprived of anything it owns, either under constitute a cause of action and (2) that the lower court had no jurisdiction to annul
the due process clause or under the eminent domain provisions of the Constitution. or set aside the certificate of title already issued to her. Over plaintiff's objections,
If it failed to get from the Congress the concession it sought of having the land the lower court ordered the dismissal of the case for lack of jurisdiction (Order of
involved given to it as its patrimonial property, the Courts possess no power to grant April 30, 1957). From this order of dismissal and from the orders denying their
that relief. Republic Act No. 4118 does not, therefore, suffer from any constitutional motions for reconsideration and another motion for leave to amend the complaint so
infirmity. as to add a specific prayer for reconveyance, 36 3 plaintiffs interposed the present
appeal to the Court of Appeals, that certified the same to us, because it involves
only questions of law.

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Appellants contend, while appellees deny (1) that the Court of First Instance of under which they may ask for the judicial confirmation of their imperfect or
Camarines Sur, notwithstanding the certificate of title under free patent already incomplete title; but which course of action, appellees argue, is no longer available
issued to defendant Nelayan, still had the right to exercise its jurisdiction to try the to the appellants because section 48, in connection with section 47 of the Public
case; (2) that the complaint stated good cause of action against the defendant; and Land Act ceased to become operative on the day following December 31, 1938, the
lastly, (3) that the lower court erred in denying plaintiffs' motion for leave to accept original period fixed in the said Act within which possessors or occupants of public
the amended complaint. lands could avail of its benefits. Appellees evidently overlook that this period has
been extended from time to time by the legislature, the latest prorogation being by
Pertinent to the first issue is the rule that once a patent is issued, the land acquires Republic Act No. 2061, which extends the terms of its effectivity until December 31,
the character of registered property under section 122 of Act No. 496, and is, 1968.
therefore, deemed brought within the operation of the said Land Registration Act
(see Tomas Roco, et al., vs. Juan Gimeda,* 55 Off. Gaz. [37] 7922). It follows that There is likewise no merit in appellees' contention that the complaint does not aver
after issuance of the patent, an aggrieved party is accorded the same or similar sufficient facts of ownership to hold against either the appellee Nelayan or the
remedies as are extended in ordinary registration proceedings after entry of the government.
decree of confirmation or registration. One of such remedies may be found under
section 38 of Act 496, which, in part provides: Plaintiffs' allegation that they have been in continued possession of the properties in
dispute since time immemorial as owners thereof is a sufficient averment of private
. . . subject, however, to the right of any person deprived of land or of any estate or ownership.2 It should be remembered that possession since time immemorial carries
interest therein by decree of registration obtained by fraud to file in the competent the presumption that the land had never been part of the public domain or that it
Court of First Instance a petition for review within one year after entry of the decree had been a private property even before the Spanish conquest. And so, we said in
provided no innocent purchaser for value has acquired an interest. Upon expiration one case
of said term of one year, every decree of certificate of title issued in accordance with
this section shall be incontrovertible. . . . ... All lands that were not acquired from the Government, either by purchase or by
grant, belong to the public domain. An exception to the rule would be any land that
In Diwaling Sumail vs. Court of First Instance of Cotabato, et al., 96 Phil., 946; 51 Off. should have been in the possession of an occupant and of his predecessors in
Gaz.[5] 2413, this Court opined that the one-year period provided under section 38 interest since time immemorial for such possession would justify the presumption
should, in the case of public land grants (patents), be counted from the issuance of that the land had never been part of the public domain or that it had been a private
the patent by the Government under the Public Land Act (C.A. 141). Free Patent No. property even before the Spanish conquest. (Oh Cho vs. Director of Lands, 75 Phil.,
V-2371 was issued only on October 9, 1952, while the complaint in the case at bar 890 892, Citing CariNo vs. Insular Government, 212 U.S. 449, 53 L. ed. 394).
was filed on December 15, 1952, or after a period of only two months and six days. (Emphasis supplied).
Having been filed in due time, the case should have been given its regular course by
the lower court, instead of having been ordered dismissed outright. Whether this presumption should hold as a fact or not is a question appropriately
determinable only after the parties have already adduced, or at least, are given the
Neither is the complaint insufficient in stating a cause of action. Among other opportunity to adduce, their respective evidence.
matters, it contains allegations to the effect that the plaintiffs have been, since time
immemorial, in possession as owners of the disputed parcels of land, but that The ruling of this Court in Susi vs. Razon, and Director of Lands, 48 Phil., 424, 428
through actual fraud, defendant Cecilia Nelayan succeeded in securing for herself (reaffirmed in Mesina vs. Pineda, 108 Phil., 251; 58 Off. Gaz [25] 4603), is also
the certificate of title in question. Defendants-appellees must base their claim of conclusive in favor of appellants herein. It said:
ownership or right of action on Section 48 (B) of the Public Land Act, providing that:
In favor of Valentin Susi, there is moreover, the presumption juris et de jure
Those who by themselves or through their predecessors in interest have been in the established in paragraph (b) of section 45 of Act No. 2874, amending Act No. 926,
open, continuous, exclusive and notorious possession and occupation of agricultural that all the necessary requirements for a grant by the Government were complied
lands of the public domain, under a bona fide claim of acquisition of ownership for at with, for he has been in actual and physical possession, personally and through his
least thirty years immediately filing of the application for confirmation of title, predecessors, of an agricultural land of the public domain openly, continuously,
except when prevented by war or force majeure. These shall be conclusively exclusively and publicly since July 26, 1894, with a right to a certificate of title to
presumed to have performed all the conditions essential to a Government grant and said land under the provisions of Chapter VIII of said Act. So that when Angela Razon
shall be entitled to certificate of title under the provisions of this chapter. (As applied for the grant in her favor, Valentin Susi had already acquired, by operation
amended by Republic Act No. 1942, June 22, 1957)1 of law, not only a right to grant, but a grant of the Government for it is not
necessary that certificate of title should be issued in order that said grant may be
sanctioned by the courts, an application therefor is sufficient, under the provisions of

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section 47 of Act No. 2874. If by a legal fiction, Valentin Susi had acquired the land Wherefore the order of dismissal appealed from is hereby set aside, and the case
in question by a grant of the State, it had already at least by presumption, of ordered remanded to the lower court for further proceedings. Costs in this appeal
Valentin Susi, beyond the control of the Director of Lands. Consequently, in selling against appellee Cecilia Nelayan.
the land in question to Angela Razon, the Director of Lands disposed of a land over
which he had no longer any title or control, and the sale thus made was void and of Paras, C.J., Bengzon, Padilla, Bautista Angelo, Labrador, Concepcion, Barrera and
no effect, and Angela did not thereby acquire any right. Gutierrez David, JJ., concur.

The Director of Lands contends that the land in question being of the public domain, AURORA ALCANTARA-DAUS, petitioner, vs. Spouses HERMOSO and
the plaintiff-appellee cannot maintain an action to recover possession thereof. SOCORRO DE LEON, respondents.

If, as above-stated, the land, the possession of which is in dispute, had already PANGANIBAN, J.:
become, by operation of law, private property of the plaintiff, there lacking only the
judicial sanction of his title, Valentin Susi has the right to bring an action to recover While a contract of sale is perfected by mere consent, ownership of the thing sold is
the possession thereof and hold it. acquired only upon its delivery to the buyer. Upon the perfection of the sale, the
seller assumes the obligation to transfer ownership and to deliver the thing sold, but
The case of Reyes, et al., vs. Rodriguez, et al., 62 Phil., 771, cited by the appellees, the real right of ownership is transferred only “by tradition” or delivery thereof to
is not the authority to the contrary. In said case, there was a trial and upon the the buyer.
evidence at hand, it did not appear that the appellant really had any title or interest
in the land in question, presumed or proven, to hold against the appellee or the The Case
government. The presumption of ownership could not likewise hold because
appellants' possession was neither alleged nor proven to be since time immemorial. Before us is a Petition for Review[1] under Rule 45 of the Rules of Court, seeking to
In fact, the averment made there, that the claimant's possession started in 1883, set aside the February 9, 2001 Decision and the August 31, 2001 Resolution of the
was not even believed by the Court. For similar reasons, Li Seng Giap and Co. vs. Court of Appeals[2](CA) in CA-GR CV No. 47587. The dispositive portion of the
Director of Lands, 59 Phil., 687 does not govern the case at bar, considering that the assailed Decision reads as follows:
possession therein averred started only during the Spanish regime.
“WHEREFORE, premises considered, the decision of the trial court is hereby
It may not be amiss to state, furthermore, that the remedial provisions of section 38 REVERSED, and judgment rendered:
of the Land Registration Act, prescribing a mode by which a decree may be set aside
upon petition by private individuals, are expressly made applicable even to those 1. Declaring null and void and of no effect, the [D]eed of [A]bsolute [S]ale dated
who may have been deprived merely of an estate or interest in (not necessarily December 6, 1975, the [D]eed of [E]xtra-judicial [P]artition and [Q]uitclaim dated
ownership of) the land. July 1, 1985, and T.C.T. No. T-31262;

The fraud averred by plaintiffs is actual fraud, consisting in the alleged concealment 2. Declaring T.C.T. No. 42238 as valid and binding;
from the plaintiffs of the proceedings leading to the issuance of defendant Nelayan
of the questioned free patent, notwithstanding her knowledge that the land covered 3. Eliminating the award of P5,000.00 each to be paid to defendants-appellees.”[3]
under her application was being possessed by the appellants as the owners thereof.
This is fraud as contemplated under section 38 of the Land Registration Act (Angelo The assailed Resolution[4] denied petitioner’s Motion for Reconsideration.
vs. Director of Lands, et al., 49 Phil., 838).
The Facts
The third issue, presented by the parties in this appeal, is whether or not the
amended complaint should have been admitted by the court a quo. No discussion is The antecedents of the case were summarized by the Regional Trial Court (RTC) and
called for, since in substance and in contents, the original complaint (which has been adopted by the CA as follows:
captioned "For Cancellation of Title and Reconveyance"), as shown in the preceding
discussion, contains sufficient averments for either the cancellation of defendant “This is a [C]omplaint for annulment of documents and title, ownership, possession,
Nelayan's title or the reconveyance of the property, thereby negating further need injunction, preliminary injunction, restraining order and damages.
for an amendment. As authorized by the Rules (Section 9, Rule 15, Rules of Court;
see also Section 1, Rule 2, ibid), plaintiff may allege causes of action in the “[Respondents] alleged in their [C]omplaint that they are the owners of a parcel of
alternative, be they compatible with each other or not, to the end that the real land hereunder described as follows, to wit:
matter in the controversy may be resolved and determined.

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‘A parcel of land (Lot No. 4786 of the Cadastral Survey of San Manuel) situated in “1. Whether or not the Deed of Absolute Sale dated December 6, 1975 executed by
the Municipality of San Manuel, Bounded on the NW., by Lot No. 4785; and on the Rodolfo de Leon (deceased) over the land in question in favor of petitioner was
SE., by Lot Nos. 11094 & 11096; containing an area of Four Thousand Two Hundred perfected and binding upon the parties therein?
Twelve (4,212) sq. m., more or less. Covered by Original Certificate of Title No.
22134 of the Land Records of Pangasinan.’ “2. Whether or not the evidentiary weight of the Deed of Extrajudicial Partition with
Quitclaim, executed by [R]espondent Hermoso de Leon, Perlita de Leon and Carlota
which [Respondent] Hermoso de Leon inherited from his father Marcelino de Leon by de Leon in favor of Rodolfo de Leon was overcome by more than [a] preponderance
virtue of a [D]eed of [E]xtra-judicial [P]artition. Sometime in the early 1960s, of evidence of respondents?
[respondents] engaged the services of the late Atty. Florencio Juan to take care of
the documents of the properties of his parents. Atty. Juan let them sign voluminous “3. Whether or not the possession of petitioner including her predecessor-in-interest
documents. After the death of Atty. Juan, some documents surfaced and most Rodolfo de Leon over the land in question was in good faith?
revealed that their properties had been conveyed by sale or quitclaim to
[Respondent] Hermoso’s brothers and sisters, to Atty. Juan and his sisters, when in “4. And whether or not the instant case initiated and filed by respondents on
truth and in fact, no such conveyances were ever intended by them. His signature February 24, 1993 before the trial court has prescribed and respondents are guilty
in the [D]eed of [E]xtra-judicial [P]artition with [Q]uitclaim made in favor of x x x of laches?”[9]
Rodolfo de Leon was forged. They discovered that the land in question was sold by x
x x Rodolfo de Leon to [Petitioner] Aurora Alcantara. They demanded annulment of The Court’s Ruling: The Petition has no merit.
the document and reconveyance but defendants refused x x x.x x x
First Issue: Validity of the Deed of Absolute Sale
“[Petitioner] Aurora Alcantara-Daus [averred] that she bought the land in question in
good faith and for value on December 6, 1975. [She] has been in continuous, public, Petitioner argues that, having been perfected, the Contract of Sale executed on
peaceful, open possession over the same and has been appropriating the produce December 6, 1975 was thus binding upon the parties thereto.
thereof without objection from anyone.”[5]
A contract of sale is consensual. It is perfected by mere consent,[10] upon a
On August 23, 1994, the RTC (Branch 48) of Urdaneta, Pangasinan[6] rendered its meeting of the minds[11] on the offer and the acceptance thereof based on subject
Decision[7] in favor of herein petitioner. It ruled that respondents’ claim was barred matter, price and terms of payment.[12] At this stage, the seller’s ownership of the
by laches, because more than 18 years had passed since the land was sold. It thing sold is not an element in the perfection of the contract of sale.
further ruled that since it was a notarial document, the Deed of
The contract, however, creates an obligation on the part of the seller to transfer
Extrajudicial Partition in favor of Rodolfo de Leon was presumptively authentic. ownership and to deliver the subject matter of the contract.[13] It is during the
delivery that the law requires the seller to have the right to transfer ownership of
Ruling of the Court of Appeals the thing sold.[14] In general, a perfected contract of sale cannot be challenged on
the ground of the seller’s non-ownership of the thing sold at the time of the
In reversing the RTC, the CA held that laches did not bar respondents from pursuing perfection of the contract.[15]
their claim. Notwithstanding the delay, laches is a doctrine in equity and may not be
invoked to resist the enforcement of a legal right. Further, even after the contract of sale has been perfected between the parties, its
consummation by delivery is yet another matter. It is through tradition or delivery
The appellate court also held that since Rodolfo de Leon was not the owner of the that the buyer acquires the real right of ownership over the thing sold.[16]
land at the time of the sale, he could not transfer any land rights to petitioner. It
further declared that the signature of Hermoso de Leon on the Deed of Extrajudicial Undisputed is the fact that at the time of the sale, Rodolfo de Leon was not the
Partition and Quitclaim -- upon which petitioner bases her claim -- was a forgery. It owner of the land he delivered to petitioner. Thus, the consummation of the
added that under the above circumstances, petitioner could not be said to be a contract and the consequent transfer of ownership would depend on whether he
buyer in good faith. subsequently acquired ownership of the land in accordance with Article 1434 of the
Civil Code.[17] Therefore, we need to resolve the issue of the authenticity and the
Hence, this Petition.[8] due execution of the Extrajudicial Partition and Quitclaim in his favor.

The Issues Second Issue: Authenticity of the Extrajudicial Partition

Petitioner raises the following issues for our consideration: Petitioner contends that the Extrajudicial Partition and Quitclaim is authentic,
because it was notarized and executed in accordance with law. She claims that
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there is no clear and convincing evidence to set aside the presumption of regularity Article 1141 of the New Civil Code provides that real actions over immovable
in the issuance of such public document. We disagree. properties prescribe after thirty years. This period for filing an action is interrupted
when a complaint is filed in court.[30] Rodolfo de Leon alleged that the land had
As a general rule, the due execution and authenticity of a document must be been allocated to him by his brother Hermoso de Leon in March 1963,[31] but that
reasonably established before it may be admitted in evidence.[18] Notarial the Deed of Extrajudicial Partition assigning the contested land to the latter was
documents, however, may be presented in evidence without further proof of their executed only on September 16, 1963.[32] In any case, the Complaint to recover
authenticity, since the certificate of acknowledgment is prima facie evidence of the the land from petitioner was filed on February 24, 1993,[33] which was within the
execution of the instrument or document involved.[19] To contradict facts in a 30-year prescriptive period.
notarial document and the presumption of regularity in its favor, the evidence must
be clear, convincing and more than merely preponderant.[20] On the claim of laches, we find no reason to reverse the ruling of the CA. Laches is
based upon equity and the public policy of discouraging stale claims.[34] Since
The CA ruled that the signature of Hermoso de Leon on the Extrajudicial Partition laches is an equitable doctrine, its application is controlled by equitable
and Quitclaim was forged. However, this factual finding is in conflict with that of the considerations.[35] It cannot be used to defeat justice or to perpetuate fraud and
RTC. While normally this Court does not review factual issues,[21] this rule does not injustice.[36] Thus, the assertion of laches to thwart the claim of respondents is
apply when there is a conflict between the holdings of the CA and those of the trial foreclosed, because the Deed upon which petitioner bases her claim is a forgery.
court,[22] as in the present case.
WHEREFORE, the Petition is DENIED and the assailed Decision AFFIRMED. Costs
After poring over the records, we find no reason to reverse the factual finding of the against petitioners
appellate court. A comparison of the genuine signatures of Hermoso de Leon[23]
with his purported signature on the Deed of Extrajudicial Partition with Quitclaim[24]
will readily reveal that the latter is a forgery. As aptly held by the CA, such variance
cannot be attributed to the age or the mechanical acts of the person signing.[25] GOVERNMENT SERVICE INSURANCE SYSTEM, petitioner, vs. EDUARDO M.
SANTIAGO, substituted by his widow ROSARIO ENRIQUEZ VDA. DE
Without the corroborative testimony of the attesting witnesses, the lone account of SANTIAGO, respondent.
the notary regarding the due execution of the Deed is insufficient to sustain the
authenticity of this document. He can hardly be expected to dispute the CALLEJO, SR., J.:
authenticity of the very Deed he notarized.[26] For this reason, his testimony was --
as it should be --minutely scrutinized by the appellate court, and was found wanting. Before the Court is the petition for review on certiorari filed by the Government
Service Insurance System (GSIS), seeking to reverse and set aside the Decision[1]
Third Issue :Possession in Good Faith dated February 22, 2002 of the Court of Appeals (CA) in CA-G.R. CV No. 62309 and
its Resolution dated September 5, 2002 denying its motion for reconsideration.
Petitioner claims that her possession of the land is in good faith and that,
consequently, she has acquired ownership thereof by virtue of prescription. We are The antecedent facts of the case, as culled from the assailed CA decision and that of
not persuaded. the trial court, are as follows:

It is well-settled that no title to registered land in derogation of that of the registered Deceased spouses Jose C. Zulueta and Soledad Ramos obtained various loans from
owner shall be acquired by prescription or adverse possession.[27] Neither can defendant GSIS for (the) period September, 1956 to October, 1957 in the total
prescription be allowed against the hereditary successors of the registered owner, amount of P3,117,000.00 secured by real estate mortgages over parcels of land
because they merely step into the shoes of the decedent and are merely the covered by TCT Nos. 26105, 37177 and 50365. The Zuluetas failed to pay their
continuation of the personality of their predecessor in interest.[28] Consequently, loans to defendant GSIS and the latter foreclosed the real estate mortgages dated
since a certificate of registration[29] covers it, the disputed land cannot be acquired September 25, 1956, March 6, 1957, April 4, 1957 and October 15, 1957.
by prescription regardless of petitioner’s good faith.
On August 14, 1974 , the mortgaged properties were sold at public auction by
defendant GSIS submitting a bid price of P5,229,927.84. Not all lots covered by the
mortgaged titles, however, were sold. Ninety-one (91) lots were expressly excluded
Fourth Issue: Prescription of Action and Laches from the auction since the lots were sufficient to pay for all the mortgage debts. A
Certificate of Sale (Annex “F,” Records, Vol. I, pp. 23-28) was issued by then
Petitioner also argues that the right to recover ownership has prescribed, and that Provincial Sheriff Nicanor D. Salaysay.
respondents are guilty of laches. Again, we disagree.

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On May 7, 1990 , Antonio Vic Zulueta, represented by Eduardo M. Santiago, filed
with the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Pasig City , Branch 71, a complaint for
The Certificate of Sale dated August 14, 1974 had been annotated and inscribed in reconveyance of real estate against the GSIS. Spouses Alfeo and Nenita Escasa,
TCT Nos. 26105, 37177 and 50356, with the following notations: “(T)he following lots Manuel III and Sylvia G. Urbano, and Marciana P. Gonzales and the heirs of Mamerto
which form part of this title (TCT No. 26105) are not covered by the mortgage Gonzales moved to be included as intervenors and filed their respective answers in
contract due to sale to third parties and donation to the government: 50-H-5-C-9-J- intervention. Subsequently, the petitioner, as defendant therein, filed its answer
65-H-8, 50-H-5-C-9J-M-7; 50-H-5-C-9-J-65-H-5; 1 lots Nos. 1 to 13, Block No. 1 –-6,138 alleging inter alia that the action was barred by the statute of limitations and/or
sq.m. 2. Lots Nos. 1 to 11, Block No. 2 –4,660 sq.m. 3. Lot No. 15, Block No. 3 –487 laches and that the complaint stated no cause of action. Subsequently, Zulueta was
sq.m. 4. Lot No. 17, Block No. 4 –263 sq.m. 5. Lot No. 1, Block No. 7 – 402 sq.m. 6. substituted by Santiago as the plaintiff in the complaint a quo. Upon the death of
Road Lots Nos. 1, 2, 3, & 4 – 2,747 sq.m.” Santiago on March 6, 1996 , he was substituted by his widow, Rosario Enriquez Vda.
de Santiago, as the plaintiff.
In another “NOTE: The following lots in the Antonio Subdivision were already
released by the GSIS and therefore are not included in this sale, namely: LOT NO. 1, After due trial, the RTC rendered judgment against the petitioner ordering it to
6, 7, 8, 9, 10, and 13 (Old Plan) Block I; 1, 3, 4, 5, 7, 8 and 10 (Old Plan) Block II; 3, reconvey to the respondent, Rosario Enriquez Vda. de Santiago, in substitution of
10, 12 and 13 (New Plan) Block I (Old Plan) Block III; 7, 14 and 20 (New Plan) Block III her deceased husband Eduardo, the seventy-eight lots excluded from the
(Old Plan) Block V; 13 and 20 (New Plan) Block IV (Old Plan) Block VI; 1, 2, 3 and 10 foreclosure sale. The dispositive portion of the RTC decision reads:
(New Plan) Block V (Old Plan) Block VII; 1, 5, 8, 15, 26 and 27 (New Plan) Block VI
(Old Plan) Block VIII; 7, 12 and 20 (New Plan) Block VII (Old Plan) Block II; 1, 4 and 6 WHEREFORE, judgment is hereby rendered in favor of plaintiff and against the
(New Plan) Block VIII (Old Plan) Block X; 5 (New Plan) Block X (Old Plan) Block ZXII; 6 defendant:
(New Plan) Block XI (Old Plan) Block XII; 1, Block 9; 12 Block 1; 11 Block 2; 19 Block
1; 10 Block 6; 23 Block 3.” 1. Ordering defendant to reconvey to plaintiff the seventy-eight (78) lots
released and excluded from the foreclosure sale including the additional exclusion
And the lots on “ADDITIONAL EXCLUSION FROM PUBLIC SALE” are “LOTS NO. 6 Block from the public sale, namely:
4; 2 Block 2; 5 Block 5; 1, 2 and 3 Block 11, 1, 2, 3 and 4 Block 10; 5 Block 11 (New);
1 Block 3; 5 Block 1; 15 Block 7; 11 Block 9; 13 Block 5; 12 Block 5; 3 Block 10; 6.” a. Lot Nos. 1, 6, 7, 8, 0, 10, 13, Block I (Old Plan).b. Lot Nos. 1, 3, 4, 5, 7, 8 and 10,
Block II (Old Plan).c. Lot Nos. 3, 10, 12, and 13, Block I (New Plan), Block III
On November 25, 1975 , an Affidavit of Consolidation of Ownership (Annex “G,” (Old Plan),d Lot Nos. 7, 14 and 20, Block III (New Plan), Block V (Old Plan).e. Lot Nos.
Records, Vol. I, pp. 29-31) was executed by defendant GSIS over Zulueta’s lots, 13 and 20, Block IV (New Plan), Block VI (Old Plan).f Lot Nos. 1, 2, 3 and 10, Block V
including the lots, which as earlier stated, were already excluded from the (New Plan), Block VII (Old Plan).g Lot Nos. 1, 5, 8, 15, 26 and 27, Block VI (New
foreclosure. Plan), Block VIII (Old Plan).h.Lot Nos. 7 and 12, Block VII (New Plan), Block II (Old
Plan).i. Lot Nos. 1, 4 and 6, Block VIII (New Plan), Block X (Old Plan).j. Lot 5, Block X
On March 6, 1980 , defendant GSIS sold the foreclosed properties to Yorkstown (New Plan), Block XII (Old Plan).k. Lot 6, Block XI (New Plan), Block XII (Old Plan).l.
Development Corporation which sale was disapproved by the Office of the President Lots 2, 5, 12 and 15, Block I.m. Lots 6, 9 and 11, Block 2.n. Lots 1, 5, 6, 7, 16 and 23,
of the Philippines . The sold properties were returned to defendant GSIS. Block 3.o. Lot 6, Block 4.p. Lots 5, 12, 13 and 24, Block 5.q. Lots 10 and 16, Block
6.r. Lots 6 and 15, Block 7.s Lots 13, 24, 28 and 29, Block 8.t.Lots 1, 11, 17 and 22,
The Register of Deeds of Rizal cancelled the land titles issued to Yorkstown Block 9.u. Lots 1, 2, 3 and 4, Block 10.v. Lots 1, 2, 3 and 5 (New), Block 11.
Development Corporation. On July 2, 1980, TCT No. 23552 was issued cancelling
TCT No. 21926; TCT No. 23553 cancelled TCT No. 21925; and TCT No. 23554 2. Ordering defendant to pay plaintiff, if the seventy-eight (78) excluded lots
cancelling TCT No. 21924, all in the name of defendant GSIS. could not be reconveyed, the fair market value of each of said lots.

After defendant GSIS had re-acquired the properties sold to Yorkstown Development 3. Ordering the Registry of Deeds of Pasig City to cancel the land titles covering
Corporation, it began disposing the foreclosed lots including the excluded ones. the excluded lots in the name of defendant or any of its successors-in-interest
including all derivative titles therefrom and to issue new land titles in plaintiff’s
On April 7, 1990 , representative Eduardo Santiago and then plaintiff Antonio Vic name.
Zulueta executed an agreement whereby Zulueta transferred all his rights and
interests over the excluded lots. Plaintiff Eduardo Santiago’s lawyer, Atty. 4. Ordering the Registry of Deeds of Pasig City to cancel the Notices of Lis
Wenceslao B. Trinidad, wrote a demand letter dated May 11, 1989 (Annex “H,” Pendens inscribed in TCT No. PT-80342 under Entry No. PT-12267/T-23554; TCT No.
Records, Vol. I, pp. 32-33) to defendant GSIS asking for the return of the eighty-one 81812 under Entry No. PT-12267/T-23554; and TCT No. PT-84913 under Entry No.
(81) excluded lots.[2] PT-12267/T-23554.

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5. Costs of suit.[3] as affirmed by the CA, that it acted in bad faith, the petitioner thereby raised
questions of facts in its petition.
The petitioner elevated the case to the CA which rendered the assailed decision
affirming that of the RTC. The dispositive portion of the assailed decision reads: Nonetheless, even if we indulged the petition and delved into the factual issues, we
find the petition barren of merit.
WHEREFORE, premises considered, the herein appeal is DISMISSED for lack of merit.
The Decision of December 17, 1997 of Branch 71 of the Regional Trial Court of Pasig That the petitioner acted in bad faith in consolidating ownership and causing the
City is hereby AFFIRMED.[4] issuance of titles in its name over the subject lots, notwithstanding that these were
expressly excluded from the foreclosure sale was the uniform ruling of the trial court
The petitioner moved for a reconsideration of the aforesaid decision but the same and appellate court. As declared by the CA:
was denied in the assailed CA Resolution of September 5, 2002 .
The acts of defendant-appellant GSIS in concealing from the Zuluetas [the
The petitioner now comes to this Court alleging that: respondent’s predecessors-in-interest] the existence of these lots, in failing to notify
or apprise the spouses Zulueta about the excluded lots from the time it consolidated
THE COURT OF APPEALS COMMITTED A REVERSIBLE ERROR IN RULING THAT A) its titles on their foreclosed properties in 1975, in failing to inform them when it
PETITIONER WAS GUILTY OF BAD FAITH WHEN IN TRUTH AND IN FACT, THERE WAS entered into a contract of sale of the foreclosed properties to Yorkstown
NO SUFFICIENT GROUND TO SUPPORT SUCH CONCLUSION; AND B) THERE WAS NO Development Corporation in 1980 as well as when the said sale was revoked by then
PRESCRIPTION IN THIS CASE.[5] President Ferdinand E. Marcos during the same year demonstrated a clear effort on
its part to defraud the spouses Zulueta and appropriate for itself the subject
In its petition, the petitioner maintains that it did not act in bad faith when it properties. Even if titles over the lots had been issued in the name of the
erroneously included in its certificate of sale, and subsequently consolidated the defendant-appellant, still it could not legally claim ownership and absolute dominion
titles in its name over the seventy-eight lots (“subject lots”) that were excluded from over them because indefeasibility of title under the Torrens system does not attach
the foreclosure sale. There was no proof of bad faith nor could fraud or malice be to titles secured by fraud or misrepresentation. The fraud committed by defendant-
attributed to the petitioner when it erroneously caused the issuance of certificates of appellant in the form of concealment of the existence of said lots and failure to
title over the subject lots despite the fact that these were expressly excluded from return the same to the real owners after their exclusion from the foreclosure sale
the foreclosure sale. made defendant-appellant holders in bad faith. It is well-settled that a holder in bad
faith of a certificate of title is not entitled to the protection of the law for the law
The petitioner asserts that the action for reconveyance instituted by the respondent cannot be used as a shield for fraud.[7]
had already prescribed after the lapse of ten years from November 25, 1975 when
the petitioner consolidated its ownership over the subject lots. According to the
petitioner, an action for reconveyance based on implied or constructive trust
prescribes in ten years from the time of its creation or upon the alleged fraudulent The Court agrees with the findings and conclusion of the trial court and the CA. The
registration of the property. In this case, when the action was instituted on May 7, petitioner is not an ordinary mortgagee. It is a government financial institution and,
1990 , more than fourteen years had already lapsed. Thus, the petitioner contends like banks, is expected to exercise greater care and prudence in its dealings,
that the same was already barred by prescription as well as laches. including those involving registered lands.[8] The Court’s ruling in Rural Bank of
Compostela v. CA[9] is apropos:
The petitioner likewise takes exception to the holding of the trial court and the CA
that it (the petitioner) failed to apprise or return to the Zuluetas, the respondent’s
predecessors-in-interest, the seventy-eight lots excluded from the foreclosure sale
because the petitioner had no such obligation under the pertinent loan and Banks, indeed, should exercise more care and prudence in dealing even with
mortgage agreement. registered lands, than private individuals, for their business is one affected with
public interest, keeping in trust money belonging to their depositors, which they
The petitioner’s arguments fail to persuade. should guard against loss by not committing any act of negligence which amounts to
lack of good faith by which they would be denied the protective mantle of land
At the outset, it bears emphasis that the jurisdiction of this Court in a petition for registration statute, Act [No.] 496, extended only to purchasers for value and in
review on certiorari under Rule 45 of the Rules of Court, as amended, is limited to good faith, as well as to mortgagees of the same character and description.[10]
reviewing only errors of law. This Court is not a trier of facts. Case law has it that
the findings of the trial court especially when affirmed by the CA are binding and Due diligence required of banks extend even to persons, or institutions like the
conclusive upon this Court. Although there are exceptions to the said rule, we find petitioner, regularly engaged in the business of lending money secured by real
no reason to deviate therefrom.[6] By assailing the findings of facts of the trial court estate mortgages.[11]
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In this case, the petitioner executed an affidavit in consolidating its ownership and exclusively for himself beginning with his fraudulent misrepresentation in his
causing the issuance of titles in its name over the subject lots despite the fact that unilateral affidavit of extrajudicial settlement that he is “the only heir and child of
these were expressly excluded from the foreclosure sale. By so doing, the petitioner his mother Feliza with the consequence that he was able to secure title in his name
acted in gross and evident bad faith. It cannot feign ignorance of the fact that the [alone].” Accordingly, we hold that the right of the private respondents commenced
subject lots were excluded from the sale at public auction. At the least, its act from the time they actually discovered the petitioner’s act of defraudation.
constituted gross negligence amounting to bad faith. Further, as found by the CA, According to the respondent Court of Appeals, they “came to know [of it] apparently
the petitioner’s acts of concealing the existence of these lots, its failure to return only during the progress of the litigation.” Hence, prescription is not a bar.[16]
them to the Zuluetas and even its attempt to sell them to a third party is proof of
the petitioner’s intent to defraud the Zuluetas and appropriate for itself the subject The above ruling was reiterated in the more recent case of Samonte. In this case, as
lots. established by the CA, the respondent actually discovered the fraudulent act of the
petitioner only in 1989:
On the issue of prescription, generally, an action for reconveyance of real property
based on fraud prescribes in four years from the discovery of fraud; such discovery ... [T]he prescriptive period of the action is to be reckoned from the time plaintiff-
is deemed to have taken place upon the issuance of the certificate of title over the appellee (then Eduardo M. Santiago) had actually discovered the fraudulent act of
property. Registration of real property is a constructive notice to all persons and, defendant-appellant which was, as borne out by the records, only in 1989. Plaintiff-
thus, the four-year period shall be counted therefrom.[12] On the other hand, Article appellee Eduardo M. Santiago categorically testified (TSN of July 11, 1995, pp. 14-
1456 of the Civil Code provides: 15) that he came to know that there were 91 excluded lots in Antonio Village which
were foreclosed by the GSIS and included in its consolidation of ownership in 1975
Art. 1456. If property is acquired through mistake or fraud, the person obtaining it when, in 1989, he and Antonio Vic Zulueta discussed it and he was given by Zulueta
is, by force of law, considered a trustee of an implied trust for the benefit of the a special power of attorney to represent him to recover the subject properties from
person from whom the property comes. GSIS. The complaint for reconveyance was filed barely a year from the discovery of
the fraud.[17]
An action for reconveyance based on implied or constructive trust prescribes in ten
years from the alleged fraudulent registration or date of issuance of the certificate of Following the Court’s pronouncements in Adille and Samonte, the institution of the
title over the property.[13] action for reconveyance in the court a quo in 1990 was thus well within the
prescriptive period. Having acted in bad faith in securing titles over the subject lots,
The petitioner’s defense of prescription is untenable. As held by the CA, the general the petitioner is a holder in bad faith of certificates of title over the subject lots. The
rule that the discovery of fraud is deemed to have taken place upon the registration petitioner is not entitled to the protection of the law for the law cannot be used as a
of real property because it is “considered a constructive notice to all persons” does shield for frauds.[18]
not apply in this case. The CA correctly cited the cases of Adille v. Court of
Appeals[14] and Samonte v. Court of Appeals,[15] where this Court reckoned the Contrary to its claim, the petitioner unarguably had the legal duty to return the
prescriptive period for the filing of the action for reconveyance based on implied subject lots to the Zuluetas. The petitioner’s attempts to justify its omission by
trust from the actual discovery of fraud. insisting that it had no such duty under the mortgage contract is obviously clutching
at straw. Article 22 of the Civil Code explicitly provides that “every person who,
In ruling that the action had not yet prescribed despite the fact that more than ten through an act of performance by another, or any other means, acquires or comes
years had lapsed between the date of registration and the institution of the action into possession of something at the expense of the latter without just or legal
for reconveyance, the Court in Adille ratiocinated: ground, shall return the same to him.”

It is true that registration under the Torrens system is constructive notice of title, but
it has likewise been our holding that the Torrens title does not furnish a shield for
fraud. It is therefore no argument to say that the act of registration is equivalent to WHEREFORE, the petition is DENIED for lack of merit. The assailed Decision dated
notice of repudiation, assuming there was one, notwithstanding the long-standing February 22, 2002 and Resolution dated September 5, 2002 of the Court of Appeals
rule that registration operates as a universal notice of title. in CA-G.R. CV No. 62309 are AFFIRMED IN TOTO. Costs against the petitioner. SO
ORDERED.
For the same reason, we cannot dismiss private respondents’ claims commenced in
1974 over the estate registered in 1955. While actions to enforce a constructive
trust prescribes in ten years, reckoned from the date of the registration of the
property, we, as we said, are not prepared to count the period from such a date in REYNALDO, TELESFORO, REMEDIOS, ALFREDO and BELEN, all surnamed
this case. We note the petitioner’s sub rosa efforts to get hold of the property AGUIRRE, VICENTA, HORACIO and FLORENCIO, all surnamed MAGTIBAY and

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LEONILA, CECILIA, ANTONIO, and VENANCIO, all surnamed MEDRANO, and Petitioners demanded the reconveyance of the portions sold by Sixto but Tiburcio
ZOSIMA QUIAMBAO, petitioners, vs. COURT OF APPEALS and ELIAS, JOSE, Balitaan, Maria Bacong and Rosendo Bacong refused to do so. Hence, petitioners
ARSENIA and ROGELIO, all surnamed BALITAAN, and MARIA ROSALES, filed against them before the Regional Trial Court of Batangas (Branch 2), a
respondents. complaint for Declaration of Nullity of Documents, Partition, Malicious Prosecution
and Damages, docketed as Civil Case No. 202.[11]
AUSTRIA-MARTINEZ, J.:
In their Answer, Maria Bacong and Rosendo Bacong contend that petitioners have no
Before us is a petition for review on certiorari under Rule 45 of the Rules of Court cause of action because they acquired their property thru a valid deed of sale dated
seeking the reversal of the Decision[1] dated July 26, 1995 rendered by the Court of August 29, 1957, executed by Sixto and, alternatively, petitioners’ cause of action, if
Appeals in CA-G.R. CV No. 42350 which set aside the Decision[2] dated April 28, any, was barred by prescription and laches.[12]
1992 of the Regional Trial Court of Batangas City (Branch 2) in Civil Case No. 202,[3]
and declared private respondents Heirs of Tiburcio Balitaan, as owners of the parcel In his Answer, Tiburcio Balitaan contends that petitioners have no cause of action
of unregistered land with an approximate area of 1,695 square meters, located at since petitioners were well-aware of the sale of the property to him by Sixto; and
Aplaya, Bauan, Batangas. that he was an innocent purchaser for value, in possession and enjoyment of the
land in the concept of absolute owner, peacefully and publicly. He further echoed
The facts of the case are as follows: the contention of Maria and Rosendo Bacong that any cause of action petitioners
may have was barred by prescription and laches.[13]
In his lifetime, Leocadio Medrano was the owner and possessor of a parcel of
residential land, situated in Aplaya, Bauan, Batangas, containing an area of 2,611 Maria Bacong died during the pendency of the suit in the trial court and she was
square meters.[4] The parcel of land was conjugal property, having been acquired substituted by her surviving heirs, namely, Lorenza, Elena, Felipa, Manuel, Marilou,
by Leocadio during his first marriage with one Emiliana Narito. Their union begot Ricardo, Medel, Monchito and Milag, all surnamed Medrano.[14] Tiburcio Balitaan
four children, namely: (a) Gertrudes Medrano, now deceased, represented in this also died and was substituted by his heirs, herein private respondents, namely: his
case by her children, herein petitioners Telesforo, Reynaldo, Remedios, Alfredo, and wife, Maria Rosales and their four children: Elias, Jose, Arsenia and Rogelio, all
Belen, all surnamed Aguirre; (b) Isabel Medrano, likewise deceased, represented by surnamed Balitaan.[15]
her children, herein petitioners Vicenta, Horacio, and Florencio, all surnamed
Magtibay; (c) Placido Medrano, also deceased, represented by his only child, herein On July 28, 1989, petitioners and Rosendo Bacong, for himself and as attorney-in-
petitioner Zosima Quiambao; and (d) Sixto Medrano. fact of the heirs of Maria Bacong, entered into a compromise agreement to settle
the case between them.[16] The compromise agreement, as approved by the trial
After the death of his first wife, Leocadio contracted a second marriage with Miguela court, provided that Rosendo Bacong and the heirs of Maria Bacong agreed to pay
Cariño. Their union bore four children, herein co-petitioners, namely: Venancio, P30,000.00 to petitioners in recognition of petitioners’ ownership of a 269-square
Leonila, Antonio and Cecilia, all surnamed Medrano. meter portion[17] and in consideration of which, petitioners recognized the full
ownership, rights, interest and participation of the former over said land.[18] The
Upon the death of Leocadio on March 19, 1945, the surviving heirs agreed that Sixto area of the subject land is thus reduced to 2,342 square meters (2,611 square
should manage and administer the subject property. meters minus 269 square meters).

Sixto died on May 17, 1974. It was only after his death that petitioners heard After trial on the merits, the trial court rendered judgment dated April 28, 1992,
rumors that Sixto had, in fact, sold significant portions of the estate of Leocadio. It ruling that private respondents did not dispute, by any evidence, the falsity of the
appears that on September 7, 1953, Sixto, without the knowledge and consent of Affidavit of Transfer, as well as the fact that Sixto had co-owners to the property. It
the petitioners, executed an Affidavit of Transfer of Real Property stating therein found that private respondents’ affirmative defense of laches and/or prescription are
that he was the only heir of Leocadio.[5] Sixto declared that Leocadio died on unavailing against a property held in co-ownership as long as the state of co-
September 16, 1949, instead of the actual date of his death on March 19, 1945. ownership is recognized. Consequently, the trial court upheld the sale made by
With the use of said affidavit and a survey plan,[6] Tax Declaration No. 40105 in the Sixto in favor of private respondents only to the extent that Sixto is entitled to by
name of Leocadio was cancelled and Tax Declaration No. 44984 was issued in the virtue of his being a co-owner.[19]
name of Sixto.[7] On August 29, 1957, Sixto sold to Maria Bacong a 160- square
meter portion of the subject land.[8] On September 28, 1959, Sixto sold to Tiburcio In determining the area that Sixto could have validly sold to private respondents, the
Balitaan a 1,695 square meter portion of the same land.[9] Sometime in November trial court, in its decision, provided for the manner of partition among the parties,
1967, Maria Bacong sold her property to Rosendo Bacong.[10] based on the memorandum submitted by petitioners, thus:

For the four (4) children of the first marriage, namely:

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(1) Gertrudes, who is already dead represented by her children Tefesforo, On July 26, 1995, the appellate court rendered judgment recognizing the validity of
Reynaldo, Remedios, Alfredo and Belen, all surnamed Aguirre – 399.42 square the sale only with respect to the undivided share of Sixto Medrano as co-owner; but
meters; (2) Isabel Medrano, who is already dead, represented by the plaintiffs, nonetheless, declaring respondents as absolute owners of 1,695 square meters of
her children Vicenta, Horacio and Florencio, all surnamed Magtibay – 399.42 square the subject property, reasoning that:
meters;
. . . Defendants-appellees have been in possession, in the concept of owner, of the
entire parcel of land sold to Tiburcio Balitaan by Sixto Medrano for more than ten
years, seventeen years to be exact (1958-1975). Relying on the affidavit of transfer
(3) Placido Medrano (dead), represented by his only child Zosima Medrano – (Exhibit “B”) the tax declaration (Exhibit “C”) and the survey plan (Exhibit “D”)
399.42 square meters; and (4) Sixto Medrano – 399.42 square meters only shown to him by Sixto Medrano which indicate the latter as owner of the property in
which he had the right to dispose of in favor of Tiburcio Balitaan and Maria Rosales. dispute, Tiburcio Balitaan believed transfer to him was effected. (TSN, April 17,
1991, pp. 14-17) and thus, entered the property as owner (Ibid. at p. 13) Tiburcio
The above consist of undivided interest, shares and participations from the Balitaan, believing himself as the lawful transferee, in addition, caused Tax
inheritance or succession to the conjugal estate of Leocadio Medrano and Emiliana Declaration No. 51038 to be issued in his name (Exhibits “6”, “6-A”, “6-B”, and “6-
Narito. C”). Thus, although the sale of the co-owned property is only valid as to the
undivided share of Sixto Medrano, defendants, by virtue of their open, adverse and
For the children of the second marriage their shares in the inheritance from the uninterrupted possession from 1958 (Exhibit “G”) to 1975, obtained title to the
property of Leocadio Medrano are as follows: entire property and not just Sixto’s undivided share. This is pursuant to Article 1134
(1957a) of the New Civil Code which provides that:
(1) To Venancio Medrano - 138.32 square meters(2) To Leonila
Medrano - 138.32 square meters(3) To Antonio Medrano Ownership and other real rights over immovable property are acquired by ordinary
- 138.32 square meters(4) To Cecilia Medrano - prescription through possession of ten years.. . .
138.32 square meters with all the above consisting of undivided shares, interest and
participation in the estate. Plaintiffs did not at all inquire as to the status of their property all this time and thus
have been remiss of their duties as owners of the property. Plaintiffs waited until
For the defendants Maria Rosales, surviving spouse of the deceased Tiburcio Sixto’s death to learn more about their property. Even though the co-ownership is
Balitaan and their Children, an area of 399.42 square meters, the only area and to be preserved in accordance with the wishes of the deceased, the plaintiffs should
extent which Sixto Medrano could have legally dispensed of in their favor.[20] have taken it upon themselves to look into the status of the property once in a
while, to assure themselves that it is managed well and that they are receiving what
Thus, the dispositive portion of the trial court’s decision reads as follows: is due them as co-owners of the parcel of land or to at least manifest their continued
interest in the property as normal owners would do. But the plaintiffs did not show
WHEREFORE, in view of the foregoing, the Court renders judgment in favor of the any interest in the way Sixto Medrano was managing the property which in effect
plaintiffs and against the defendants, to wit: gave the latter carte blanche powers over the same. Such passivity is aggravated
by the fact that one of the plaintiffs resides a mere 600 meters away from the
(a) Ordering the partition of the property in question among the plaintiffs and the disputed property (TSN, April 17, 1991, p. 13). By not showing any interest, the
defendants; and plaintiffs have, in fact, slept on their rights and thus, cannot now exercise a stale
right.[23]
(b) Ordering the parties, plaintiffs and defendants, to make a partition among
themselves by proper instruments of conveyance and to submit before this Court a Petitioners sought reconsideration[24] but the appellate court denied it in a
project of partition should the parties be able to agree for the confirmation of the Resolution dated October 5, 1995.[25]
Court within two (2) months upon receipt of this decision, otherwise this Court will
be constrained to appoint commissioners to make the partition in accordance with In their present recourse, petitioners take exception from the appellate court’s
law. findings that respondents have been in possession, in the concept of owner of the
entire parcel of land sold to Tiburcio Balitaan by Sixto Medrano for seventeen years
All other claims not having been duly proved are ordered dismissed. (1958-1975), relying on the Affidavit of Transfer and Tax Declaration No. 51038 in
the name of Sixto; and that Tiburcio acquired ownership of the whole property from
SO ORDERED.[21]
Sixto through ordinary prescription for ten years.

Aggrieved, private respondents appealed to the Court of Appeals.[22]

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Petitioners submit that Tiburcio Balitaan was not a purchaser in good faith and for Article 1130 of the Civil Code states that the “title for prescription must be true and
value since there are enough circumstances which should have put him on guard valid.” In Doliendo vs. Biarnesa,[34] we elucidated on this provision, thus:
and prompted him to be more circumspect and inquire further about the true status
of Sixto Medrano’s ownership; that during his lifetime, Tiburcio was a neighbor of We think that this contention is based on a misconception of the scope and effect of
petitioners and was well-aware that Sixto had other siblings but Tiburcio chose to the provisions of this article of the Code in its application to “ordinary prescription.”
rely on the Affidavit of Transfer executed by Sixto Medrano declaring that he was It is evident that by a “titulo verdadero y valido” in this connection we are not to
the only heir of Leocadio; that the Court of Appeals should not have faulted them for understand a “titulo que por si solo tiene fuerza de transferir el dominio sin
failing to inquire about the status of the disputed property until after the death of necesidad de la prescricion” (a title which of itself is sufficient to transfer the
Sixto Medrano; that they are not guilty of laches. ownership without the necessity of the lapse of the prescription period); and we
accept the opinion of a learned Spanish law writer who holds that the “titulo
It is settled that in the exercise of the Supreme Court’s power of review, the findings verdadero y valido” as used in this article of the code prescribes a “titulo Colorado”
of facts of the Court of Appeals are conclusive and binding on the Supreme Court. and not merely “putativo;” a “titulo Colorado” being one ‘which a person has when
[26] The exceptions to this rule are: (1) when the findings are grounded entirely on he buys a thing, in good faith, from one whom he believes to be the owner,’ and a
speculation, surmises or conjectures; (2) when the inference made is manifestly “titulo putativo” “being one which is supposed to have preceded the acquisition of a
mistaken, absurd or impossible; (3) when there is grave abuse of discretion; (4) thing, although in fact it did not, as might happen when one is in possession of a
when the judgment is based on a misapprehension of facts; (5) when the findings of thing in the belief that it had been bequeathed to him.” (Viso Derecho Civil, Parte
fact are conflicting; (6) when in making its findings the Court of Appeals went Segunda, p. 541)[35]
beyond the issues of the case, or its findings are contrary to the admissions of both
the appellant and the appellee; (7) when the findings are contrary to the trial court; The requirements for ordinary acquisitive prescription as hereinabove described
(8) when the findings are conclusions without citation of specific evidence on which have not been met in this case.
they are based; (9) when the facts set forth in the petition as well as in the
petitioner’s main and reply briefs are not disputed by the respondent; (10) when the It must be remembered that the burden of proving the status of a purchaser in good
findings of fact are premised on the supposed absence of evidence and contradicted faith lies upon him who asserts that status. It is not sufficient to invoke the ordinary
by the evidence on record; and (11) when the Court of Appeals manifestly presumption of good faith, that is, that everyone is presumed to have acted in good
overlooked certain relevant facts not disputed by the parties, which, if properly faith, since the good faith that is here essential is integral with the very status that
considered, would justify a different conclusion.[27] Exceptions (4), (7), (10) and must be established.[36]
(11) are present in the instant case.
After a careful examination of the records, we find that private respondents failed to
We find the petition meritorious.[28] We agree with the petitioners that the Court of discharge the burden of proof that Tiburcio Balitaan was a purchaser in good faith.
Appeals committed a reversible error in upholding the claim of petitioners that they It is undisputed that Tiburcio practically lived his entire lifetime in the area where
acquired ownership of the subject property through prescription. the property in dispute is located and had been a neighbor of petitioners. He knew
that Sixto Medrano had other siblings because his son, Dr. Elias Balitaan, is the
Acquisitive prescription of real rights may be ordinary or extraordinary. Ordinary godson by baptism of spouses Jose Aguirre and Gertrudes Medrano, the latter being
acquisitive prescription requires possession of things in good faith and with just title a deceased sister of Sixto. Thus, Tiburcio was not a complete stranger to the
for the time fixed by law;[29] without good faith and just title, acquisitive Medrano clan. Yet, he deliberately chose to close his eyes to said facts and despite
prescription can only be extraordinary in character. Regarding real or immovable his personal knowledge to the contrary, he purchased the disputed property from
property, ordinary acquisitive prescription requires a period of possession of ten Sixto on the basis of the misrepresentation of the latter in his Affidavit of Transfer
years,[30] while extraordinary acquisitive prescription requires an uninterrupted that he is the sole surviving heir of Leocadio. A purchaser cannot close his eyes to
adverse possession of thirty years.[31] facts which should put a reasonable man upon his guard, and then claim that he
acted in good faith under the belief that there was no defect in the title of the
Ordinary acquisitive prescription demands that possession be “in good faith”, which vendor.[37]
consists in the reasonable belief that the person from whom the thing is received
has been the owner thereof and could thereby transmit that ownership.[32] There is Since the disputed property is an unregistered land, Tiburcio as buyer thereof did so
“just title” when the adverse claimant comes into possession of the property at his peril. Private respondents’ claim that Tiburcio bought the land in good faith,
through any of the modes recognized by law for the acquisition of ownership or that is, without notice that some other person has a right to or interest in the
other real rights, but that the grantor is neither the owner nor in a position to property, would not protect them if it turns out, as it actually did in this case, that
transmit the right.[33] the seller, Sixto Medrano, did not own the entire property at the time of the sale, but
only an undivided portion of the land as a co-owner. Private respondents failed to
show that the petitioners were notified of the subject sale or that respondents gave

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their consent to the sale. Not being in “good faith”, the ten-year period required for We have consistently held that if a co-owner sells the whole property as his, the sale
ordinary acquisitive prescription does not apply. will affect only his own share but not those of the other co-owners who did not
consent to the sale.[44] Article 493 of the Civil Code provides:
Even the thirty-year period under extraordinary acquisitive prescription has not been
met in this case. Private respondents claim to have been in possession, in the Art. 493. Each co-owner shall have the full ownership of his part and the fruits and
concept of owner, of the entire parcel of land sold to Tiburcio Balitaan by Sixto benefits pertaining thereto, and he may therefore alienate, assign or mortgage it,
Medrano for only seventeen years (1958-1975). and even substitute another person in its enjoyment, except when personal rights
are involved. But the effect of the alienation or the mortgage, with respect to the
In addition, as we have enunciated in Salvador vs. Court of Appeals,[38] to wit: co-owners, shall be limited to the portion which may be allotted to him in the
division upon the termination of the co-ownership.
This Court has held that the possession of a co-owner is like that of a trustee and
shall not be regarded as adverse to the other co-owners but in fact as beneficial to It clearly provides that the sale or other disposition affects only the seller’s share pro
all of them. Acts which may be considered adverse to strangers may not be indiviso, and the transferee gets only what corresponds to his grantor’s share in the
considered adverse insofar as co-owners are concerned. A mere silent possession partition of the property owned in common. Since a co-owner is entitled to sell his
by a co-owner, his receipt of rents, fruits or profits from the property, the erection of undivided share, a sale of the entire property by one co-owner without the consent
buildings and fences and the planting of trees thereon, and the payment of land of the other co-owners is not null and void; only the rights of the co-owner/seller are
taxes, cannot serve as proof of exclusive ownership, if it is not borne out by clear transferred, thereby making the buyer a co-owner of the property.[45] Accordingly,
and convincing evidence that he exercised acts of possession which unequivocably we held in Bailon-Casilao vs. Court of Appeals:
constituted an ouster or deprivation of the rights of the other co-owners.
From the foregoing, it may be deduced that since a co-owner is entitled to sell his
Thus, in order that a co-owner’s possession may be deemed adverse to the cestui undivided share, a sale of the entire property by one-co-owner without the consent
que trust or the other co-owners, the following elements must concur: (1) that he of the other co-owners is not null and void. However, only the rights of the co-
has performed unequivocal acts of repudiation amounting to an ouster of the cestui owner-seller are transferred, thereby making the buyer a co-owner of the property.
que trust or the other co-owners; (2) that such positive acts of repudiation have
been made known to the cestui que trust or the other co-owners; and (3) that the The proper action in cases like this is not for the nullification of the sale or for the
evidence thereon must be clear and convincing.[39] (Emphasis supplied) recovery of possession of the thing owned in common from the third person who
substituted the co-owner or co-owners who alienated their shares, but the DIVISION
Tested against these guidelines, respondents failed to present competent evidence of the common property as if it continued to remain in the possession of the co-
that the acts of Sixto adversely and clearly repudiated the existing co-ownership owners who possessed and administered it [Mainit v. Bandoy, supra].
among the heirs of Leocadio Medrano.
Thus, it is now settled that the appropriate recourse of co-owners in cases where
Private respondents’ reliance on the tax declaration in the name of Sixto Medrano is their consent were not secured in a sale of the entire property as well as in a sale
unworthy of credit since we have held on several occasions that tax declarations by merely of the undivided shares of some of the co-owners is an action for PARTITION
themselves do not conclusively prove title to land.[40] Further, private respondents under Rule 69 of the Revised Rules of Court. Neither recovery of possession nor
failed to show that the Affidavit executed by Sixto to the effect that he is the sole restitution can be granted since the defendant buyers are legitimate proprietors and
owner of the subject property was known or made known to the other co-heirs of possessors in joint ownership of the common property claimed [Ramirez v. Bautista,
Leocadio Medrano. supra].[46]

Neither can we subscribe to the appellate court’s view that petitioners are guilty of It is clear therefore that the deed of sale executed by Sixto Medrano in favor of
laches. Laches is the negligence or omission to assert a right within a reasonable Tiburcio Balitaan is a valid conveyance only insofar as the share of Sixto Medrano in
time, warranting a presumption that the party entitled to assert it has abandoned it the co-ownership is concerned. Thus, the respondent court erred in declaring the
or declined to assert it.[41] It does not involve mere lapse or passage of time, but is ownership of the entire 1,695-square meter property sold by Sixto, in favor of the
principally an impediment to the assertion or enforcement of a right, which has private respondents.
become under the circumstances inequitable or unfair to permit.[42] The rule that
each co-owner may demand at any time the partition of the common property The next question is what is the area of the pro indiviso share pertaining to Sixto
implies that an action to demand partition is imprescriptible or cannot be barred by Medrano that was sold to private respondents? The trial court endeavored to
laches.[43] determine the same by ascertaining the inheritance of each of the heirs of Leocadio.
However, the manner of partition as set out by the trial court in the text of its
decision needs to be amended so as to conform to the laws on intestate succession

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under the Old Civil Code absent any allegation or showing that Leocadio left any last of each of the seven heirs of Leocadio should be 227.04 square meters (292.75 -
will and testament. 65.71 = 227.04) and that pertaining to Sixto in 292.75 square meters.

It is not disputed that the 2,342-square meter property was a conjugal property of Thus, the manner of partition set forth by the trial court in its decision should be
Leocadio and Emiliana. Upon the death of Emiliana, which occurred many years amended, as follows:
before the death of Leocadio in 1945, both deaths occurring before the enactment of
the New Civil Code in 1950, all the four children of the first marriage and the four (1) Gertrudes M. Aguirre, deceased, represented by her children, herein
children of the second marriage shall share equally. The subject property should petitioners Telesforo, Reynaldo, Remedios, Alfredo and Belen, all surnamed Aguirre
have been divided into eight equal parts, pursuant to Articles 921 and 931 of the old - 227.04 square meters (2) Isabel M.
Civil Code,[47] or 292.75 square meters each. The respective heirs of the now Magtibay, deceased, represented by her children, herein petitioners Vicenta, Horacio
deceased children of Leocadio inherit by way of representation the respective shares and Florencio, all surnamed Magtibay -
of their respective parents, pursuant to Articles 933 and 934 of the Old Civil Code. 227.04 square meters (3) Placido Medrano, deceased, represented by his only
[48] child, Placido Medrano - 227.04 square meters (4) Private
respondents Maria Rosales and heirs of Tiburcio Balitaan, namely: Elias, Jose,
At the time of death of Leocadio in 1945, Miguela was entitled only to the usufruct of Arsenia and Rogelio all surnamed Balitaan (in lieu of Sixto Medrano) -
the land pursuant to Article 834 of the Old Civil Code,[49] which provides that “[i]f 292.75 square meters (5) Venancio Medrano - 227.04 square meters(6)
only one legitimate child or descendant survives, the widower or widow shall have Leonila Medrano - 227.04 square meters(7) Antonio
the usufruct of the third available for betterment, such child or descendant to have Medrano - 227.04 square meters (8) Cecilia Medrano - 227.04 square
the naked ownership until, on the death of the surviving spouse, the whole title is meters (9) Rosendo Bacong - 269 square meters (10) Mateo Castillo
merged in him”. - 460 square meters

Thus, to recapitulate, each of the heirs of Leocadio should inherit 292.75 square WHEREFORE, we GRANT the petition. The assailed decision of the Court of Appeals
meters, pro-indiviso (2,342 square meters ¸ 8 = 292.75 square meters) after in CA-G.R. CV No. 42350, dated July 26, 1995, is REVERSED and SET ASIDE. The
deducting from the original 2,611 square meters of the subject property the 269 decision of the Regional Trial Court is REINSTATED with the following
square meters ceded to the heirs of Maria Bacong in a compromise agreement MODIFICATIONS:
among the petitioners and the heirs of Maria Bacong. The deceased children of
Leocadio are represented by their respective heirs by right of representation under The sale in favor of private respondents is declared VALID but only insofar as the
Articles 933 and 934 of the Old Civil Code. 292.75 square meters undivided share of Sixto Medrano in the subject property is
concerned.
Accordingly, the undivided shares of Leocadio’s eight children or their heirs by right
of representation, upon the death of Leocadio in 1945 are as follows: Let the parcel of land, located at Aplaya, Bauan, Batangas, consisting of 2,611
square meters, be partitioned and distributed as determined by the Court in the text
(1) Venancio Medrano - 292.75 square meters(2) Leonila of herein decision. Accordingly, let the records of the case be remanded to the
Medrano - 292.75 square meters(3) Antonio Medrano Regional Trial Court of Batangas City (Branch 2) in Civil Case No. 202 for further
- 292.75 square meters(4) Cecilia Medrano - appropriate proceedings under Rule 69 of the Rules of Court.
292.75 square meters(5) Heirs of Gertrudes M. Aguirre, Telesforo, Reynaldo,
Remedios, Alfredo and Belen, all surnamed Aguirre- - No pronouncement as to costs. SO ORDERED.
292.75 square meters(6) Heirs of Isabel M. Magtibay, Vicenta, Horacio and
Florencio, all surnamed Magtibay - 292.75 square meters(7) Heirs of SOLEDAD CALICDAN, represented by her guardian GUADALUPE CASTILLO,
Placido Medrano, plaintiff Zosima Medrano Quimbao - petitioner, vs. SILVERiO CENDAÑA, substituted by his legal heir CELSA
292.75 square meters(8) Sixto Medrano - 292.75 square CENDAÑA-ALARAS, respondent.
meters
YNARES-SANTIAGO, J.:
During the pendency of the case in the trial court but after the death of Sixto,
petitioners sold 460 square meters to one Mateo Castillo. Consequently, the 460 This petition for review seeks the reversal of the April 4, 2002 decision of the Court
square meters should be charged against the shares of petitioners only and should of Appeals in CA-G.R. CV No. 67266,[1] which set aside the November 12, 1996
not affect the 292.75 square meters undivided share of Sixto Medrano which he had decision of the Regional Trial Court of Dagupan City, Branch 44 in Civil Case No. D-
sold in 1959.[50] Accordingly, 460 square meters divided by 7 equals 65.71 square 10270.[2]
meters. Deducting said area from 292.75 square meters, the final undivided share

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The instant controversy involves a 760 square meter parcel of unregistered land (2) whether or not petitioner lost ownership of the land by prescription.
located in Poblacion, Mangaldan, Pangasinan. The land was formerly owned by Sixto
Calicdan, who died intestate on November 4, 1941. He was survived by his wife, As a rule, our jurisdiction in cases brought from the Court of Appeals is limited to the
Fermina, and three children, namely, petitioner Soledad, Jose and Benigno, all review and revision of errors of law allegedly committed by the appellate court. This
surnamed Calicdan.[3] is because its findings of fact are deemed conclusive and we are not duty-bound to
analyze and weigh all over again the evidence already considered in the
On August 25, 1947, Fermina executed a deed of donation inter vivos whereby she proceedings below.[9]
conveyed the land to respondent Silverio Cendaña,[4] who immediately entered into
possession of the land, built a fence around the land and constructed a two-storey The rule, however, admits of the following exceptions:
residential house thereon sometime in 1949, where he resided until his death in
1998.[5] (1) when the findings are grounded on speculation, surmises or conjectures;

On June 29, 1992, petitioner, through her legal guardian Guadalupe Castillo, filed a (2) when the inference made is manifestly mistaken, absurd or impossible;
complaint for “Recovery of Ownership, Possession and Damages” against the
respondent, alleging that the donation was void; that respondent took advantage of (3) when there is grave abuse of discretion in the appreciation of facts;
her incompetence in acquiring the land; and that she merely tolerated respondent’s
possession of the land as well as the construction of his house thereon.[6] (4) when the factual findings of the trial and appellate courts are conflicting;

(5) when the Court of Appeals, in making its findings, has gone beyond the issues
of the case and such findings are contrary to the admissions of both appellant and
In his “Answer with Motion to Dismiss”, respondent alleged, by way of affirmative appellee;
defenses, that the land was donated to him by Fermina in 1947; and that he had
been publicly, peacefully, continuously, and adversely in possession of the land for a
period of 45 years. Moreover, he argued that the complaint was barred by prior
judgment in the special proceedings for the “Inventory of Properties of Incompetent (6) when the judgment of the appellate court is premised on a misapprehension of
Soledad Calicdan”, where the court decreed the exclusion of the land from the facts or when it has failed to consider certain relevant facts which, if properly taken
inventory of properties of the petitioner.[7] into account, will justify a different conclusion;

On November 12, 1996, the trial court rendered a decision in favor of the petitioner, (7) when the findings of fact are conclusions without citation of specific evidence
the dispositive portion of which reads as follows: upon which they are based; and

WHEREFORE, judgment is rendered in favor of plaintiff and against the defendant as (8) when findings of fact of the Court of Appeals are premised on the absence of
follows: evidence but are contradicted by the evidence on record.[10]

1. Ordering defendant Silverio Cendaña to vacate the land in question and In the case at bar, the factual findings of the trial court and the Court of Appeals are
surrender ownership and possession of the same to plaintiff; and conflicting; thus, we are constrained to review the findings of facts.

2. Ordering defendant to pay plaintiff P20,000.00 as moral damages, P20,000.00 The trial court found the donation of the land void because Fermina was not the
as exemplary damages, P10,000.00 by way of attorney’s fees and other litigation owner thereof, considering that it was inherited by Sixto from his parents. Thus, the
expenses, plus cost of suit. land was not part of the conjugal property of the spouses Sixto and Fermina
Calicdan, because under the Spanish Civil Code, the law applicable when Sixto died
SO ORDERED.[8] in 1941, the surviving spouse had a right of usufruct only over the estate of the
deceased spouse. Consequently, respondent, who derived his rights from Fermina,
On appeal by the respondent, the Court of Appeals reversed the trial court’s decision only acquired the right of usufruct as it was the only right which the latter could
and declared that the donation was valid. Furthermore, it held that petitioner lost convey.
her ownership of the property by prescription.
After a review of the evidence on record, we find that the Court of Appeals’ ruling
Hence, the instant petition for review on the following issues: that the donation was valid was not supported by convincing proof. Respondent
himself admitted during the cross examination that he had no personal knowledge
(1) whether or not the donation inter vivos is valid; and
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of whether Sixto Calicdan in fact purchased the subject land from Felomino Bautista. through uninterrupted adverse possession thereof for thirty years without need of
Pertinent portions of his testimony read: title or of good faith.[13]

Q. And Sixto Calicdan inherited this property from his parents? A. No, sir. 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
Q. What do you mean by no? A. To my knowledge and information, Sixto Calicdan ownership.[14] For purposes of prescription, there is just title when the adverse
bought the property from his cousin, I think Flaviano or Felomino Bautista. 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
Q. So, in other words, you have no personal knowledge about how Sixto Calicdan the owner or could not transmit any right.[15]
acquired this property? A. I think it was by purchase.
Assuming arguendo that ordinary acquisitive prescription is unavailing in the case at
Q. According to information, so you have no actual personal knowledge how Sixto bar as it demands that the possession be “in good faith and with just title,”[16] and
Calicadan acquired this property? A. Yes, because when the property was bought there is no evidence on record to prove respondent’s “good faith”, nevertheless, his
by my uncle, I was not yet born, so information only. adverse possession of the land for more than 45 years aptly shows that he has met
the requirements for extraordinary acquisitive prescription to set in.
Q. So when you were born, you came to know already that Sixto Calicdan is the
owner of this property? The records show that the subject land is an unregistered land. When the petitioner
filed the instant case on June 29, 1992, respondent was in possession of the land for
A. Yes, thru the son of Felomino Bautista who is now, I think, in Baguio. 45 years counted from the time of the donation in 1947. This is more than the
required 30 years of uninterrupted adverse possession without just title and good
Q. You have not seen any document to show that Sixto Calicdan purchased the faith. Such possession was public, adverse and in the concept of an owner.
property from one Felomino Bautista? A. None, sir.[11] Respondent fenced the land and built his house in 1949, with the help of
Guadalupe’s father as his contractor. His act of cultivating and reaping the fruits of
In People v. Guittap,[12] we held that: the land was manifest and visible to all. He declared the land for taxation purposes
and religiously paid the realty taxes thereon.[17] Together with his actual
Under Rule 130, Section 36 of the Rules of Court, a witness can testify only to those possession of the land, these tax declarations constitute strong evidence of
facts which he knows of his own personal knowledge, i.e., which are derived from his ownership of the land occupied by him. As we said in the case of Heirs of Simplicio
own perception; otherwise, such testimony would be hearsay. Hearsay evidence is Santiago v. Heirs of Mariano Santiago:[18]
defined as “evidence not of what the witness knows himself but of what he has
heard from others.” The hearsay rule bars the testimony of a witness who merely Although tax declarations or realty tax payment of property are not conclusive
recites what someone else has told him, whether orally or in writing. In Sanvicente evidence of ownership, nevertheless, they are good indicia of possession in the
v. People, we held that when evidence is based on what was supposedly told the concept of owner, for no one in his right mind would be paying taxes for a property
witness, the same is without any evidentiary weight for being patently hearsay. that is not in his actual or constructive possession. They constitute at least proof
Familiar and fundamental is the rule that hearsay testimony is inadmissible as that the holder has a claim of title over the property. The voluntary declaration of a
evidence. piece of property for taxation purposes manifests not only one’s sincere and honest
desire to obtain title to the property and announces his adverse claim against the
The Court of Appeals thus erred in ruling based on respondent’s bare hearsay State and all other interested parties, but also the intention to contribute needed
testimony as evidence of the donation made by Fermina. revenues to the Government. Such an act strengthens one’s bona fide claim of
acquisition of ownership.
Notwithstanding the invalidity of the donation, we find that respondent has become
the rightful owner of the land by extraordinary acquisitive prescription. Moreover, the deed of donation inter vivos, albeit void for having been executed by
one who was not the owner of the property donated, may still be used to show the
Prescription is another mode of acquiring ownership and other real rights over
exclusive and adverse character of respondent’s possession. Thus, in Heirs of
immovable property. It is concerned with lapse of time in the manner and under
Segunda Maningding v. Court of Appeals,[19] we held:
conditions laid down by law, namely, that the possession should be in the concept of
an owner, public, peaceful, uninterrupted and adverse. Acquisitive prescription is Even assuming that the donation propter nuptias is void for failure to comply with
either ordinary or extraordinary. Ordinary acquisitive prescription requires formal requisites, it could still constitute a legal basis for adverse possession. With
possession in good faith and with just title for ten years. In extraordinary clear and convincing evidence of possession, a private document of donation may
prescription ownership and other real rights over immovable property are acquired serve as basis for a claim of ownership. In Pensader v. Pensader we ruled that while

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the verbal donation under which the defendant and his predecessors-in-interest under Tax Declaration No. 3888 until 1991.[4] On July 9, 1992, Urbano executed a
have been in possession of the lands in question is not effective as a transfer of title, Deed of Quitclaim in favor of the heirs of Honorato Maming (Maming), wherein he
still it is a circumstance which may explain the adverse and exclusive character of renounced all his rights to the subject property and confirmed the sale made by his
the possession. (Underscoring ours) In sum, the Court of Appeals correctly ordered father to Maming sometime in 1955 or 1956.[5] Subsequently, the heirs of Maming
the dismissal of Civil Case No. D-10270 before the Regional Trial Court of Dagupan executed a deed of absolute sale in favor of respondent Naguit who thereupon
City, Branch 44, and declared respondent the rightful owner of the subject property, started occupying the same. She constituted Manuel Blanco, Jr. as her attorney-in-
not on the basis of the Deed of Donation Inter Vivos, which is hereby declared void, fact and administrator. The administrator introduced improvements, planted trees,
but on extraordinary acquisitive prescription. such as mahogany, coconut and gemelina trees in addition to existing coconut trees
which were then 50 to 60 years old, and paid the corresponding taxes due on the
WHEREFORE, in view of the foregoing, the petition is DENIED. The Decision of the subject land. At present, there are parcels of land surrounding the subject land
Court of Appeals dated April 4, 2002 in CA-G.R. CV No. 67266, which ordered the which have been issued titles by virtue of judicial decrees. Naguit and her
dismissal of Civil Case No. D-10270 before the Regional Trial Court of Dagupan City, predecessors-in-interest have occupied the land openly and in the concept of owner
Branch 44, is AFFIRMED. SO ORDERED. without any objection from any private person or even the government until she
filed her application for registration.

After the presentation of evidence for Naguit, the public prosecutor manifested that
the government did not intend to present any evidence while oppositor Jose
Angeles, as representative of the heirs of Rustico Angeles, failed to appear during
REPUBLIC OF THE PHILIPPINES, petitioner, vs. THE HONORABLE COURT OF the trial despite notice. On September 27, 1997, the MCTC rendered a decision
APPEALS and CORAZON NAGUIT, respondents. ordering that the subject parcel be brought under the operation of the Property
Registration Decree or Presidential Decree (P.D.) No. 1529 and that the title thereto
TINGA, J.: registered and confirmed in the name of Naguit.[6]

This is a Petition for Review on Certiorari under Rule 45 of the 1997 Rules of Civil The Republic of the Philippines (Republic), thru the Office of the Solicitor General
Procedure, seeking to review the Decision[1] of the Sixth Division of the Court of (OSG), filed a motion for reconsideration. The OSG stressed that the land applied for
Appeals dated July 12, 2000 in CA-G.R. SP No. 51921. The appellate court affirmed was declared alienable and disposable only on October 15, 1980, per the
the decisions of both the Regional Trial Court (RTC),[2] Branch 8, of Kalibo, Aklan certification from Regional Executive Director Raoul T. Geollegue of the Department
dated February 26, 1999, and the 7th Municipal Circuit Trial Court (MCTC)[3] of of Environment and Natural Resources, Region VI.[7] However, the court denied the
Ibajay-Nabas, Aklan dated February 18, 1998, which granted the application for motion for reconsideration in an order dated February 18, 1998.[8]
registration of a parcel of land of Corazon Naguit (Naguit), the respondent herein.
Thereafter, the Republic appealed the decision and the order of the MCTC to the
The facts are as follows: RTC, Kalibo, Aklan, Branch 8. On February 26, 1999, the RTC rendered its decision,
dismissing the appeal.[9]
On January 5, 1993, Naguit, a Filipino citizen, of legal age and married to Manolito S.
Naguit, filed with the MCTC of Ibajay-Nabas, Aklan, a petition for registration of title Undaunted, the Republic elevated the case to the Court of Appeals via Rule 42 of the
of a parcel of land situated in Brgy. Union, Nabas, Aklan. The parcel of land is 1997 Rules of Civil Procedure. On July 12, 2000, the appellate court rendered a
designated as Lot No. 10049, Cad. 758-D, Nabas Cadastre, AP – 060414-014779, decision dismissing the petition filed by the Republic and affirmed in toto the
and contains an area of 31,374 square meters. The application seeks judicial assailed decision of the RTC.
confirmation of respondent’s imperfect title over the aforesaid land.
Hence, the present petition for review raising a pure question of law was filed by the
On February 20, 1995, the court held initial hearing on the application. The public Republic on September 4, 2000.[10]
prosecutor, appearing for the government, and Jose Angeles, representing the heirs
of Rustico Angeles, opposed the petition. On a later date, however, the heirs of The OSG assails the decision of the Court of Appeals contending that the appellate
Rustico Angeles filed a formal opposition to the petition. Also on February 20, 1995, court gravely erred in holding that there is no need for the government’s prior
the court issued an order of general default against the whole world except as to the release of the subject lot from the public domain before it can be considered
heirs of Rustico Angeles and the government. alienable or disposable within the meaning of P.D. No. 1529, and that Naguit had
been in possession of Lot No. 10049 in the concept of owner for the required period.
The evidence on record reveals that the subject parcel of land was originally [11]
declared for taxation purposes in the name of Ramon Urbano (Urbano) in 1945

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Hence, the central question for resolution is whether is necessary under Section government from giving it effect even as it decides to reclassify public agricultural
14(1) of the Property Registration Decree that the subject land be first classified as lands as alienable and disposable. The unreasonableness of the situation would
alienable and disposable before the applicant’s possession under a bona fide claim even be aggravated considering that before June 12, 1945, the Philippines was not
of ownership could even start. yet even considered an independent state.

The OSG invokes our holding in Director of Lands v. Intermediate Appellate Instead, the more reasonable interpretation of Section 14(1) is that it merely
Court[12] in arguing that the property which is in open, continuous and exclusive requires the property sought to be registered as already alienable and disposable at
possession must first be alienable. Since the subject land was declared alienable the time the application for registration of title is filed. If the State, at the time the
only on October 15, 1980, Naguit could not have maintained a bona fide claim of application is made, has not yet deemed it proper to release the property for
ownership since June 12, 1945, as required by Section 14 of the Property alienation or disposition, the presumption is that the government is still reserving
Registration Decree, since prior to 1980, the land was not alienable or disposable, the right to utilize the property; hence, the need to preserve its ownership in the
the OSG argues. State irrespective of the length of adverse possession even if in good faith. However,
if the property has already been classified as alienable and disposable, as it is in this
Section 14 of the Property Registration Decree, governing original registration case, then there is already an intention on the part of the State to abdicate its
proceedings, bears close examination. It expressly provides: exclusive prerogative over the property.

SECTION 14. Who may apply.— The following persons may file in the proper Court of This reading aligns conformably with our holding in Republic v. Court of Appeals.[14]
First Instance an application for registration of title to land, whether personally or Therein, the Court noted that “to prove that the land subject of an application for
through their duly authorized representatives: registration is alienable, an applicant must establish the existence of a positive act
of the government such as a presidential proclamation or an executive order; an
(1) those who by themselves or through their predecessors-in-interest have been in administrative action; investigation reports of Bureau of Lands investigators; and a
open, continuous, exclusive and notorious possession and occupation of alienable legislative act or a statute.”[15] In that case, the subject land had been certified by
and disposable lands of the public domain under a bona fide claim of ownership the DENR as alienable and disposable in 1980, thus the Court concluded that the
since June 12, 1945, or earlier. alienable status of the land, compounded by the established fact that therein
respondents had occupied the land even before 1927, sufficed to allow the
(2) Those who have acquired ownership over private lands by prescription under application for registration of the said property. In the case at bar, even the
the provisions of existing laws. . . . . petitioner admits that the subject property was released and certified as within
alienable and disposable zone in 1980 by the DENR.[16]
There are three obvious requisites for the filing of an application for registration of
title under Section 14(1) – that the property in question is alienable and disposable This case is distinguishable from Bracewell v. Court of Appeals,[17] wherein the
land of the public domain; that the applicants by themselves or through their Court noted that while the claimant had been in possession since 1908, it was only
predecessors-in-interest have been in open, continuous, exclusive and notorious in 1972 that the lands in question were classified as alienable and disposable. Thus,
possession and occupation, and; that such possession is under a bona fide claim of the bid at registration therein did not succeed. In Bracewell, the claimant had filed
ownership since June 12, 1945 or earlier. his application in 1963, or nine (9) years before the property was declared alienable
and disposable. Thus, in this case, where the application was made years after the
Petitioner suggests an interpretation that the alienable and disposable character of property had been certified as alienable and disposable, the Bracewell ruling does
the land should have already been established since June 12, 1945 or earlier. This is not apply.
not borne out by the plain meaning of Section 14(1). “Since June 12, 1945,” as used
in the provision, qualifies its antecedent phrase “under a bonafide claim of A different rule obtains for forest lands,[18] such as those which form part of a
ownership.” Generally speaking, qualifying words restrict or modify only the words reservation for provincial park purposes[19] the possession of which cannot ripen
or phrases to which they are immediately associated, and not those distantly or into ownership.[20] It is elementary in the law governing natural resources that
remotely located.[13] Ad proximum antecedents fiat relation nisi impediatur forest land cannot be owned by private persons. As held in Palomo v. Court of
sentencia. Appeals,[21] forest land is not registrable and possession thereof, no matter how
lengthy, cannot convert it into private property, unless such lands are reclassified
Besides, we are mindful of the absurdity that would result if we adopt petitioner’s and considered disposable and alienable.[22] In the case at bar, the property in
position. Absent a legislative amendment, the rule would be, adopting the OSG’s question was undisputedly classified as disposable and alienable; hence, the ruling
view, that all lands of the public domain which were not declared alienable or in Palomo is inapplicable, as correctly held by the Court of Appeals.[23]
disposable before June 12, 1945 would not be susceptible to original registration, no
matter the length of unchallenged possession by the occupant. Such interpretation
renders paragraph (1) of Section 14 virtually inoperative and even precludes the
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It must be noted that the present case was decided by the lower courts on the basis Prescription is one of the modes of acquiring ownership under the Civil Code.[25]
of Section 14(1) of the Property Registration Decree, which pertains to original There is a consistent jurisprudential rule that properties classified as alienable public
registration through ordinary registration proceedings. The right to file the land may be converted into private property by reason of open, continuous and
application for registration derives from a bona fide claim of ownership going back exclusive possession of at least thirty (30) years.[26] With such conversion, such
to June 12, 1945 or earlier, by reason of the claimant’s open, continuous, exclusive property may now fall within the contemplation of “private lands” under Section
and notorious possession of alienable and disposable lands of the public domain. 14(2), and thus susceptible to registration by those who have acquired ownership
through prescription. Thus, even if possession of the alienable public land
A similar right is given under Section 48(b) of the Public Land Act, which reads: commenced on a date later than June 12, 1945, and such possession being been
open, continuous and exclusive, then the possessor may have the right to register
Sec. 48. The following described citizens of the Philippines, occupying lands of the the land by virtue of Section 14(2) of the Property Registration Decree.
public domain or claiming to own any such land or an interest therein, but those
titles have not been perfected or completed, may apply to the Court of First Instance The land in question was found to be cocal in nature, it having been planted with
of the province where the land is located for confirmation of their claims and the coconut trees now over fifty years old.[27] The inherent nature of the land but
issuance of a certificate of title therefor, under the Land Registration Act, to wit:xxx confirms its certification in 1980 as alienable, hence agricultural. There is no
xxx xxx impediment to the application of Section 14(1) of the Property Registration Decree,
as correctly accomplished by the lower courts.
(b) Those who by themselves or through their predecessors in interest have been in
open, continuous, exclusive, and notorious possession and occupation of agricultural The OSG posits that the Court of Appeals erred in holding that Naguit had been in
lands of the public domain, under a bona fide claim of acquisition of ownership, for possession in the concept of owner for the required period. The argument begs the
at least thirty years immediately preceding the filing of the application for question. It is again hinged on the assertion—shown earlier to be unfounded—that
confirmation of title except when prevented by war or force majeure. These shall be there could have been no bona fide claim of ownership prior to 1980, when the
conclusively presumed to have performed all the conditions essential to a subject land was declared alienable or disposable.
Government grant and shall be entitled to a certificate of title under the provisions
of this chapter. We find no reason to disturb the conclusion of both the RTC and the Court of Appeals
that Naguit had the right to apply for registration owing to the continuous
When the Public Land Act was first promulgated in 1936, the period of possession possession by her and her predecessors-in-interest of the land since 1945. The basis
deemed necessary to vest the right to register their title to agricultural lands of the of such conclusion is primarily factual, and the Court generally respects the factual
public domain commenced from July 26, 1894. However, this period was amended findings made by lower courts. Notably, possession since 1945 was established
by R.A. No. 1942, which provided that the bona fide claim of ownership must have through proof of the existence of 50 to 60-year old trees at the time Naguit
been for at least thirty (30) years. Then in 1977, Section 48(b) of the Public Land Act purchased the property as well as tax declarations executed by Urbano in 1945.
was again amended, this time by P.D. No. 1073, which pegged the reckoning date at Although tax declarations and realty tax payment of property are not conclusive
June 12, 1945. This new starting point is concordant with Section 14(1) of the evidence of ownership, nevertheless, they are good indicia of the possession in the
Property Registration Decree. concept of owner for no one in his right mind would be paying taxes for a property
that is not in his actual or at least constructive possession. They constitute at least
Indeed, there are no material differences between Section 14(1) of the Property proof that the holder has a claim of title over the property. The voluntary declaration
Registration Decree and Section 48(b) of the Public Land Act, as amended. True, the of a piece of property for taxation purposes manifests not only one’s sincere and
Public Land Act does refer to “agricultural lands of the public domain,” while the honest desire to obtain title to the property and announces his adverse claim
Property Registration Decree uses the term “alienable and disposable lands of the against the State and all other interested parties, but also the intention to contribute
public domain.” It must be noted though that the Constitution declares that needed revenues to the Government. Such an act strengthens one’s bona fide claim
“alienable lands of the public domain shall be limited to agricultural lands.”[24] of acquisition of ownership.[28]
Clearly, the subject lands under Section 48(b) of the Public Land Act and Section
14(1) of the Property Registration Decree are of the same type. Considering that the possession of the subject parcel of land by the respondent can
be traced back to that of her predecessors-in-interest which commenced since 1945
Did the enactment of the Property Registration Decree and the amendatory P.D. No. or for almost fifty (50) years, it is indeed beyond any cloud of doubt that she has
1073 preclude the application for registration of alienable lands of the public acquired title thereto which may be properly brought under the operation of the
domain, possession over which commenced only after June 12, 1945? It did not, Torrens system. That she has been in possession of the land in the concept of an
considering Section 14(2) of the Property Registration Decree, which governs and owner, open, continuous, peaceful and without any opposition from any private
authorizes the application of “those who have acquired ownership of private lands person and the government itself makes her right thereto undoubtedly settled and
by prescription under the provisions of existing laws.” deserving of protection under the law.
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WHEREFORE, foregoing premises considered, the assailed Decision of the Court of In May 7, 1974 petitioner Carmen vda. de Buenaventura and spouses Ignacio
Appeals dated July 12, 2000 is hereby AFFIRMED. No costs. SO ORDERED. Palomo and Trinidad Pascual filed Civil Case No. T-143 before the then Court of First
Instance of Albay for Injunction with damages against private respondents Faustino
SPOUSES IGNACIO PALOMO and TRINIDAD PASCUAL, and CARMEN PALOMO J. Perfecto, Raffy Santillan, Boy Ariado, Lorenzo Brocales, Salvador Doe and other
VDA. DE BUENAVENTURA, petitioners, vs.THE HONORABLE COURT OF Does who are all employees of the Bureau of Forest Development who entered the
APPEALS, THE REPUBLIC OF THE PHILIPPINES, FAUSTINO J. PERFECTO, land covered by TCT No. 3913 and/or TCT 3914 and cut down bamboos thereat,
RAFFY SANTILLAN, BOY ARIADO, LORENZO BROCALES, SALVADOR DOE, totally leveling no less than 4 groves worth not less than P2,000.00.
and other DOES, respondents.
On October 11, 1974, the Republic of the Philippines filed Civil Case No. T-176 for
ROMERO, J.: annulment and cancellation of Certificates of Title involving the 15 parcels of land
registered in the name of the petitioners and subject of Civil Case T-143. Impleaded
The issue in the case at bar pertains to ownership of 15 parcels of land in Tiwi, Albay with the petitioners as defendants were the Bank of the Philippine Islands, Legazpi
which form part of the "Tiwi Hot Spring National Park." The facts of the case are as Branch and the Register of Deeds of Albay.
follows.
The case against the Bank of Philippine Islands was dismissed because the loan of
On June 13, 1913, then Governor General of the Philippine Islands, William Cameron P200,000 with the Bank was already paid and the mortgage in its favor cancelled.
Forbes issued Executive Order No. 40 which reserved for provincial park purposes
some 440,530 square meters of land situated in Barrio Naga, Municipality of Tiwi, A joint trial of Civil Case T-143 and T-176 was conducted upon agreement of the
Province of Albay pursuant to the provisions of Act 648 of the Philippine Commission. parties and on July 31, 1986, the trial court rendered the following decision:
1

WHEREFORE, premises considered, judgment is hereby rendered:


Subsequently, the then Court of First Instance of Albay, 15th Judicial District, United
States of America, ordered the registration of 15 parcels of land covered by IN CIVIL CASE No. T-143, in favor of the defendants and against the plaintiffs,
Executive Order No. 40 in the name of Diego Palomo on December 9, 1916; 2 dismissing the complaint for injunction and damages, as it is hereby DISMISSED.
December 28, 3 and January 17, 1917. 4 Diego Palomo donated these parcels of land
consisting of 74,872 square meters which were allegedly covered by Original Costs against the plaintiffs.
Certificates of Title Nos. 513, 169, 176 and 173 5 to his heirs, herein petitioners,
In CIVIL CASE No. T-176, in favor of the plaintiffs and against the defendants:
Ignacio and Carmen Palomo two months before his death in April 1937. 6

(1) Declaring null and void and no force and effect the Order dated September 14,
Claiming that the aforesaid original certificates of title were lost during the Japanese
1953, as well as the Original Certificate of Titles Nos. 153, 10 169, 173 and 176 and
occupation, Ignacio Palomo filed a petition for reconstitution with the Court of First
Transfer Certificates of Titles Nos. 3911, T-3912, T-3913, and T-3914, all of the
Instance of Albay on May 30, 1950. 7 The Register of Deeds of Albay issued Transfer
Register of Deeds of Albay and all transactions based on said titles.
Certificates of Title Nos. 3911, 3912, 3913 and 3914 sometime in October 1953. 8

(2) Forfeiting in favor of the plaintiff Government any and all improvements on the
On July 10, 1954 President Ramon Magsaysay issued Proclamation No. 47 converting
lands in question that are found therein and introduced by the defendants;
the area embraced by Executive Order No. 40 into the "Tiwi Hot Spring National
Park," under the control, management, protection and administration of the defunct
(3) Declaring Lot Nos. 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7 8, 9,10, 11 and 12, Plan II-9299 and Lots 1,
Commission of Parks and Wildlife, now a division of the Bureau of Forest
21, 11 3 and 4 of Plan II-9205 as part of the Tiwi Hot Spring National Park;
Development. The area was never released as alienable and disposable portion of
the public domain and, therefore, is neither susceptible to disposition under the
(4) and Finally, the Register of Deeds of Albay is hereby ordered to cancel the
provisions of the Public Land Law (CA 141) nor registrable under the Land
alleged Original Certificates of Titles Nos. 513, 169, 173 and 176, Transfer
Registration Act (Act No. 496).
Certificates of Title Nos. T-3911, T-3912, T-3913 and T-3914.
The Palomos, however, continued in possession of the property, paid real estate
Costs against the defendants.
taxes thereon 9 and introduced improvements by planting rice, bananas, pandan and
coconuts. On April 8, 1971, petitioner Carmen vda. de Buenaventura and spouses
So Ordered. 12

Ignacio Palomo and Trinidad Pascual mortgaged the parcels of land covered by TCT
3911, 3912, 3913 and 3914 to guarantee a loan of P200,000 from the Bank of the The court a quo in ruling for the Republic found no sufficient proof that the Palomos
Philippine Islands. have established property rights over the parcels of land in question before the
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Treaty of Paris which ended the Spanish-American War at the end of the century. concessions which were documented in various forms, such as (1) Titulo Real or
The court further stated that assuming that the decrees of the Court of First Instance Royal Grant," (2) Concesion Especial or Special Grant, (3) Titulo de Compra or Title
of Albay were really issued, the Palomos obtained no right at all over the properties by Purchase and (4) Informacion Posesoria or Possessory Information title obtained
because these were issued only when Executive Order No. 40 was already in force. under the Spanish Mortgage Law or under the Royal Decree of January 26, 1889.
At this point, we take note that although the Geodetic Engineer of the Bureau of
Lands appointed as one of the Commissioners in the relocation survey of the Unfortunately, no proof was presented that the petitioners' predecessors in interest
properties stated in his reamended report that of the 3,384 square meters covered derived title from an old Spanish grant. Petitioners placed much reliance upon the
by Lot 2, Plan II-9205, only 1,976 square meters fall within the reservation area, 13 declarations in Expediente No. 5, G.L.R.O. Record Decision No. 9820, dated January
the RTC ordered TCT 3913 covering the entire Lot 21 (sic) Plan II-9205 cancelled. 17, 1917; Expediente No. 6, G.L.R.O. Record No. 9821, dated December 28, 1916;
Expediente No. 7, G.L.R.O. Record No. 9822, dated December 9, 1916; Expediente
The petitioners appealed to the Court of Appeals which affirmed in toto the findings No. 8, G.L.R.O. Record No. 9823, dated December 28, 1916 and Expediente No. 10,
of the lower Court; hence this petition raising the following issues: G.L.R.O. Record No. 9868, dated December 9, 1916 of the Court of First Instance of
Albay, 15th Judicial District of the United States of America presided by Judge Isidro
1. The respondent Court of Appeals committed grave abuse of discretion in affirming Paredes that their predecessors in interest were in open, adverse and continuous
in toto the decision of the lower court. possession of the subject lands for 20-50 years. 14 The aforesaid "decisions" of the
Court of First Instance, however, were not signed by the judge but were merely
2. The declaration of nullity of the original certificates of title and subsequent certified copies of notification to Diego Palomo bearing the signature of the clerk of
transfer certificates of titles of the petitioners over the properties in question is court.
contrary to law and jurisprudence on the matter.
Moreover, despite claims by the petitioners that their predecessors in interest were
3. The forfeiture of all improvements introduced by the petitioners in the premises in in open, adverse and continuous possession of the lands for 20 to 50 years prior to
favor of the government is against our existing law and jurisprudence. their registration in 1916-1917, the lands were surveyed only in December 1913, the
very same year they were acquired by Diego Palomo. Curiously , in February 1913 or
The issues raised essentially boil down to whether or not the alleged original 10 months before the lands were surveyed for Diego Palomo, the government had
certificate of titles issued pursuant to the order of the Court of First Instance in already surveyed the area in preparation for its reservation for provincial park
1916-1917 and the subsequent TCTs issued in 1953 pursuant to the petition for purposes. If the petitioners' predecessors in interest were indeed in possession of
reconstitution are valid. the lands for a number of years prior to their registration in 1916-1917, they would
have undoubtedly known about the inclusion of these properties in the reservation
Petitioners contend that the Treaty of Paris which ended the Spanish-American War in 1913. It certainly is a trifle late at this point to argue that the government had no
at the end of the 19th century recognized the property rights of Spanish and Filipino right to include these properties in the reservation when the question should have
citizens and the American government had no inherent power to confiscate been raised 83 years ago.
properties of private citizens and declare them part of any kind of government
reservation. They allege that their predecessors in interest have been in open, As regards the petitioners' contention that inasmuch as they obtained the titles
adverse and continuous possession of the subject lands for 20-50 years prior to their without government opposition, the government is now estopped from questioning
registration in 1916-1917. Hence, the reservation of the lands for provincial the validity of the certificates of title which were granted. As correctly pointed out by
purposes in 1913 by then Governor-general Forbes was tantamount to deprivation of the respondent Court of Appeals, the principle of estoppel, does not operate against
private property without due process of law. the Government for the act of its agents. 15

In support of their claim, the petitioners presented copies of a number of decisions Assuming that the decrees of the Court of First Instance were really issued, the
of the Court of First Instance of Albay, 15th Judicial District of the United States of lands are still not capable of appropriation. The adverse possession which may be
America which state that the predecessors in interest of the petitioners' father Diego the basis of a grant of title in confirmation of imperfect title cases applies only to
Palomo, were in continuous, open and adverse possession of the lands from 20 to 50 alienable lands of the public domain.
years at the time of their registration in 1916.
There is no question that the lands in the case at bar were not alienable lands of the
We are not convinced. public domain. As testified by the District Forester, records in the Bureau of Forestry
show that the subject lands were never declared as alienable and disposable and
The Philippines passed to the Spanish Crown by discovery and conquest in the 16th subject to private alienation prior to 1913 up to the present. 16 Moreover, as part of
century. Before the Treaty of Paris in April 11, 1899, our lands, whether agricultural, the reservation for provincial park purposes, they form part of the forest zone.
mineral or forest were under the exclusive patrimony and dominion of the Spanish
Crown. Hence, private ownership of land could only be acquired through royal
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It is elementary in the law governing natural resources that forest land cannot be The instant controversy stemmed from a dispute over a 1,151.80 square meter lot,
owned by private persons. It is not registrable and possession thereof, no matter located in Pasay City, covered by Transfer Certificate of Title No. 2355 (34515),[6]
how lengthy, cannot convert it into private property, 17 unless such lands are and registered in the name of Mariano Torres y Chavarria, the predecessor-in-
reclassified and considered disposable and alienable. interest of respondents. Petitioner claims that he is the lawful owner of the disputed
lot, having purchased it on September 29, 1972 from a certain Eusebio Leonardo
Neither do the tax receipts which were presented in evidence prove ownership of Roxas,[7] who in turn acquired the same lot by purchase on August 28, 1972 from
the parcels of land inasmuch as the weight of authority is that tax declarations are Mariano Torres y Chavarria.[8]
not conclusive proof of ownership in land registration cases. 18
On September 14, 1972, Eusebio Leonardo Roxas sent a letter-request[9] to the
Having disposed of the issue of ownership, we now come to the matter regarding Register of Deed of Pasay City asking for the registration of the deed of sale
the forfeiture of improvements introduced on the subject lands. It bears emphasis allegedly executed in his favor by Mariano Torres y Chavarria. The letter was
that Executive Order No. 40 was already in force at the time the lands in question entered in the Register’s Primary Book under Entry No. 55780, Vol. V. The Office of
were surveyed for Diego Palomo. Petitioners also apparently knew that the subject the Register of Deeds, however, did not register the deed as it was awaiting the final
lands were covered under the reservation when they filed a petition for disposition of a pending case[10] between Mariano Torres y Chavarria and a certain
reconstitution of the lost original certificates of title inasmuch as the blueprint of Francisco E. Fernandez involving title of the lot.[11] Incidentally, the said case was
Survey Work Order Number 21781 of Plan II-9299 approved by the Chief of the Land decided in favor of Mariano Torres y Chavarria, which decision became final and
Registration Office Enrique Altavas in 1953 as a true and correct copy of the Original executory on September 21, 1972.[12]
Plan No. II-9299 filed in the Bureau of Lands dated September 11, 1948 19 contains
the following note, "in conflict with provincial reservation." 20 In any case, petitioners On October 6, 1972, petitioner likewise asked the Register of Deeds to register the
are presumed to know the law and the failure of the government to oppose the deeds of sale dated August 28, 1972 and the September 29, 1972 involving Transfer
registration of the lands in question is no justification for the petitioners to plead Certificate of Title No. 2355 (34515), and to issue the corresponding transfer
good faith in introducing improvements on the lots. certificate of title in his name.[13] Petitioner did not present the owner’s duplicate
copy of Transfer Certificate of Title No. 2355 (34515), which remained in the
Finally, since 1,976 square meters of the 3,384 square meters covered by TCT 3913 possession of respondents. Petitioner’s letter-request was entered in the Primary
fall within the reservation, TCT 3913 should be annulled only with respect to the Books of the Register of Deeds under Entry No. 55952, V.5, on October 19, 1972.
aforesaid area. Inasmuch as the bamboo groves leveled in TCT 3913 and subject of The Register of Deeds, however, certified that the original copy of TCT No. 2355
Civil Case T-143, 21 were within the perimeter of the national park, 22 no (34515), could not be retrieved or located in the office of the Register of Deeds of
pronouncement as to damages is in order. Pasay, hence, the requested registration could not be effected.[14]

WHEREFORE, the decision of the Court of Appeals is hereby AFFIRMED with the On November 13, 1972, petitioner executed an affidavit of adverse claim[15] over
modification that TCT 3913 be annulled with respect to the 1,976 square meter area TCT No. 2355 (34515) which was entered in the Primary Book under Entry No.
falling within the reservation zone. 56039, Vol. 5, on November 15, 1972.

SO ORDERED. On May 18, 1993, the Register of Deeds of Pasay City was able to retrieve the
original copy of TCT No. 2355 (34515).[16]
LEOPOLDO C. LEONARDO, represented by his daughter EMERENCIANA
LEONARDO, petitioner, vs. VIRGINIA TORRES MARAVILLA and LEONOR C. On May 20, 1993, petitioner caused the annotation of his affidavit of adverse claim
NADAL, as Administratrices of the Estate of MARIANO TORRES, as on TCT No. 2355 (34515),[17] and asked the respondents to deliver possession of
substituted by FE NADAL VENTURINA, respondents. the owner’s duplicate copy of TCT No. 2355 (34515). When the latter ignored his
demand, petitioner filed on September 6, 1993 a complaint for “Delivery of
YNARES-SANTIAGO, J.: Possession of Property, Owner’s Duplicate Certificate of Title, Rentals and
Damages.” Petitioner alleged that he filed the case against respondents only in
This is a petition for review seeking to set aside the decision[1] dated November 26, 1993 because he was living abroad.[18]
1999 and the resolution[2] dated May 19, 2000 of the Court of Appeals[3] in CA-G.R.
CV No. 52932, which affirmed the order[4] of the Regional Trial Court of Pasay City, In their Answer, respondents countered that since 1938 up to the present, the lot in
Branch III, dismissing petitioner’s complaint[5] for “Delivery of Possession of question has been registered in the name of the late Mariano Torres y Chavarria,
Property, Owner’s Duplicate Certificate of Title, Rentals and Damages,” in Civil Case their predecessor-in-interest, and that they have been in material possession thereof
No. 93-10282. in the concept of owners. In the settlement of the estate of Mariano Torres y
Chavarria, who died on August 30, 1974,[19] his widow, Rosario Nadal, and his

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natural child, Virginia Torres Maravilla, acquired the disputed lot by succession.[20] REGISTRATION COULD NOT BE EFFECTED BECAUSE THE TITLE WAS MISSING (EXH.
After the demise of Rosario Nadal, sometime in January 1990, her share in the said 9).[25]
lot was inherited by her sister, Leonor Nadal, who was appointed as special
administratrix of the estate of Rosario Nadal.[21] Subsequently, Leonor Nadal was The issue in the instant case is whether or not petitioner’s action is barred by
also appointed administratrix of the estate of Mariano Torres y Chavarria.[22] prescription and laches.
Respondents maintain that they have been in open and peaceful possession of the
said property and that it was only in 1993 when they came to know of the alleged The Court of Appeals ruled that petitioner’s cause of action is founded on the deed
claim of petitioners over the same property. of absolute sale allegedly executed by respondents’ predecessor-in-interest on
August 28, 1972, which purportedly conveyed the disputed lot to Eusebio Leonardo
Respondents contended further that the deeds of sale dated August 28, 1972 and Roxas, and the deed of sale dated September 29, 1972, whereby the latter sold the
September 29, 1972 are falsified documents and that the signature of Mariano same lot to petitioner. Being an action based on written contracts, petitioner’s
Torres y Chavarria on the August 28, 1972 deed of absolute sale was a forgery. On complaint falls under Article 1144[26] of the Civil Code, which provides that an
February 28, 1994, respondents filed a motion to dismiss[23] the complaint on the action upon a written contract shall prescribe in ten years from the time the right of
grounds of: (1) non-payment of the correct docket fees; (2) prescription; and (3) action accrued. Since petitioner brought the instant case only on September 6,
laches. The motion to dismiss was denied on July 25, 1995. 1993, or 21 years from the time his supposed right of action accrued on September
29, 1972, i.e., the date of execution of the contract conveying to him the questioned
Meanwhile, Leonor Nadal died on October 23, 1995, and was substituted by Fe Nadal lot, his action was clearly barred by the statute of limitations.
Venturina on January 19, 1996.[24]
Petitioner, on the other hand, contends that the applicable provision is Article
1141[27] and not 1144 of the Civil Code because his action is one for recovery of
possession of real property which prescribes in thirty years.
On motion of respondents, the trial court reconsidered its order of July 25, 1995, and
issued an order on February 1, 1996, dismissing petitioner’s complaint on the The contention is without merit. Petitioner’s action is actually an action for specific
ground of prescription and laches. performance, i.e., to enforce the deed of absolute sale allegedly executed in his
favor. It is a fundamental principle that ownership does not pass by mere stipulation
Dissatisfied, petitioner appealed to the Court of Appeals which affirmed the assailed but by delivery. The delivery of a thing constitutes a necessary and indispensable
order on November 26, 1999. The motion for reconsideration was denied on May requisite for the purpose of acquiring the ownership of the same by virtue of a
19, 2000. contract.[28] Under Article 1498 of the Civil Code, when the sale is made through a
public instrument, the execution thereof shall be equivalent to the delivery of the
Hence, the instant petition contending that the Court of Appeals erred in holding thing which is the object of the contract, if from the deed the contrary does not
that: appear or cannot clearly be inferred. Thus, the execution of the contract is only a
presumptive, not conclusive delivery which can be rebutted by evidence to the
I THE RIGHT OF PETITIONER TO ENFORCE THE DEEDS (EXHS. 2 AND 4) THROUGH contrary, as when there is failure on the part of the vendee to take material
HIS COMPLAINT FILED ON SEPTEMBER 6, 1993 HAD ALREADY PRESCRIBED ON possession of the land subject of the sale in the concept of a purchaser-owner.[29]
SEPTEMBER 29, 1982 PER ARTICLE 114[4];
In the case at bar, it is not disputed that the lot in question was never delivered to
II THE TITLE ON THE PROPERTY REMAINED IN THE VENDOR’S (MARIO TORRES) NAME petitioner notwithstanding the alleged execution of a deed of absolute sale. From
BEFORE AND AFTER THE EXECUTION OF THE DEEDS (EXHS. 2 AND 4); 1972 to 1993, petitioner neither had, nor demanded, material possession of the
disputed lot. It was the respondents who have been in control and possession
III IF THE ORIGINAL COPY OF THE TCT WAS LOST/MISSING IN THE FILES OF THE thereof in the concept of owners since 1938 up to the present. It follows that
REGISTER OF DEEDS, PETITIONER SHOULD HAVE FILED A PETITION FOR ownership of the lot was never transferred to petitioner. Hence, he can not claim
RECONSTITUTION OF THE TITLE; that the instant case is an accion reivindicatoria or an action to recover ownership
and full possession of the property which, in the first place, never came into his
IV. PETITIONER’S INACTION FOR 21 YEARS TO ENFORCE HIS RIGHTS ON THE DEEDS possession for lack of the requisite delivery. Thus, in Danguilan v. Intermediate
(EXHS. 2 AND 4) MADE RESPONDENTS BELIVE THAT HE HAD ABANDONED HIS Appellate Court,[30] where the requisite delivery was not effected, the Court held
RIGHTS ON THE PROPERTY; and, that:

V. LACHES HAD OPERATED NOTWITHSTANDING THAT PETITIONER WROTE THE Since in this jurisdiction it is a fundamental and elementary principle that ownership
REGISTER OF DEEDS OF PASAY CITY (EXH. 8) AND THE LATTER REPLIED THAT does not pass by mere stipulation but only by delivery (Civil Code, Art. 1095; Fidelity

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and Surety Co. v. Wilson, 8 Phil. 51), and the execution of a public document does Sec. 110. Whoever claims any part or interest in registered land adverse to the
not constitute sufficient delivery where the property involved is in the actual and registered owner, arising subsequent to the date of the original registration, may, if
adverse possession of third persons (Addison v. Felix, 38 Phil. 404; Masallo v. Cesar, no other provision is made in this Act for registering the same, make a statement in
39 Phil. 134), it becomes incontestable that even if included in the contract, the writing setting forth fully his alleged right or interest, and how or under whom
ownership of the property in dispute did not pass... Not having become the owner acquired, and a reference to the volume and page of the certificate of title of the
for lack of delivery, [one] cannot presume to recover the property from its present registered owner, and a description of the land in which the right or interest is
possessors. [The] action, therefore, is not one of revindicacion, but one against [the] claimed.
vendor for specific performance of the sale ...
The statement shall be signed and sworn to, and shall state the adverse claimant's
Clearly, the case filed by petitioner was an action for specific performance of a residence and designate a place at which all notices may be served upon him. This
written contract of sale which, pursuant to Article 1144 of the Civil Code, prescribes statement shall be entitled to registration as an adverse claim, and the court, upon a
in 10 years from the accrual of the right of action. In a contract of sale, there is a petition of any party in interest, shall grant a speedy hearing upon the question of
reciprocal obligation to pay the purchase price and the corresponding delivery of the the validity of such adverse claim and shall enter such decree therein as justice and
thing sold, which obligations give rise to a right of action in case of breach.[31] Here, equity may require. If the claim is adjudged to be invalid, the registration shall be
petitioner’s right of action for specific performance or rescission arose when delivery cancelled. If in any case the court after notice and hearing shall find that a claim
of the thing sold was not effected on September 29, 1972, despite the payment of thus registered was frivolous or vexatious, it may tax the adverse claimant double or
the purchase price. Hence, from 1972 to 1993, when petitioner filed the instant treble costs in its discretion.
case, 21 years had elapsed barring the institution of petitioner’s action which is
definitely beyond the 10 year prescriptive period. In Junio v. De los Santos, et al.,[36] an action for cancellation of an adverse claim,
the Court ruled that the procedure for registration of voluntary instruments, like a
Petitioner’s claim that the prescriptive period was tolled when he registered his deed of sale, is laid down in Section 57[37] of Act 496. But where the vendor
adverse claim with the Register of Deeds is untenable. In Garbin v. Court of refused to deliver to the vendee the owner’s duplicate certificate of title, which title
Appeals, et al.,[32] wherein an action for annulment of a deed of sale was dismissed must be presented in order that the deed of conveyance may be registered and the
on the ground of prescription and laches, the Court held that the registration of an corresponding transfer certificate of title may be issued,[38] the vendee may file
adverse claim does not toll the running of the prescriptive period, thus: with the Register of Deeds an adverse claim under Section 110 of Act No. 496. For
an adverse claim to be valid, it must be shown that a demand was made on the
x x x the title of the defendant must be upheld for failure or the neglect of the vendor and that the latter refused to surrender the owner’s duplicate certificate of
plaintiffs for an unreasonable and unexplained length of time of more than fifteen title.[39]
(15) years since they registered their adverse claim, or for a period of more than
three (3) decades since the execution of the deed of sale in their favor upon which In instant case, it was not shown that Mariano Torres y Chavarria, the registered
their adverse claim is based, to do that which, by exercising diligence, could or owner of the disputed lot, refused to surrender the owner’s duplicate certificate of
should have been done earlier. For it is this negligence or omission to assert a right title, nor that petitioner demanded the surrender thereof. In the affidavit of adverse
within reasonable time that is construed that plaintiffs had abandoned their right to claim registered by petitioner he merely stated: “9. That in the meantime the herein
claim ownership under the deed of sale, or declined to assert it. Thus, when a person (VENDEE) LEOPOLDO C. LEONARDO has no means to get or secure the
slept on his rights for 28 years from the time of the transaction, before filing the aforementioned Owner[’]s Duplicate Copy of Title No. 2355 (34515) Pasay City
action, amounts to laches which cannot be excused even by ignorance resulting Registry Office, from the said Parties, he (Leopoldo C. Leonardo) hereby requests the
from inexcusable negligence (Vda. de Lima v. Tiu, 52 SCRA 516 [1970]). Register of Deeds of Pasay City to annotate whatever rights and interest on the
ORIGINAL CERTIFICATE OF TITLE No. 2355 (34515), Pasay Registry Office, in the
In the same vein, the annotation on May 20, 1993 of the November 13, 1972 name of MARIANO C. TORRES as a Notice of Adverse Claim(s) in favor of LEOPOLDO
affidavit of adverse claim on TCT No. 2355 (34515) afforded no protection to C. LEONARDO to any third party/ies;” For lack of the requisite unjustified refusal of
petitioner for the same reason that said belated assertion of his alleged right over the registered owner to surrender the owner’s duplicate certificate of title, the
the property is barred by prescription and laches. affidavit of adverse claim registered by petitioner is not valid.

Moreover, the affidavit of adverse claim registered by petitioner in 1972 was Likewise, there is no merit in petitioner's assertion that the prescriptive period
ineffective. The law enforced at the time petitioner filed an adverse claim was should commence to run only on May 18, 1993 when the original copy of Transfer
Section 110, of Act 496,[33] also known as the Land Registration Act, (now Section Certificate of Title No. 2355 (34515) was retrieved by the Register of Deeds. The
70[34] of P.D. No. 1529, or the Property Registration Decree[35]), which stated: loss of the original title will not prevent petitioner’s pursuit to enforce his right.
Otherwise stated, the recovery of the original title or the reconstitution thereof is not
the only means by which petitioner could protect his right. Under Article 1155 of the
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Civil Code - “[t]he prescription of actions is interrupted when they are filed in court, The facts that matter are, as follows:
when there is a written extrajudicial demand by the creditors, and when there is any
written acknowledgement of the debt by the debtor.” Petitioner therefore may Republic Act No. 1899 ("RA 1899"), which was approved on June 22, 1957,
pursue either judicial or extrajudicial means manifesting his interest in the authorized the reclamation of foreshore lands by chartered cities and municipalities.
questioned property in order to interrupt the prescriptive period. Section I of said law, reads:

Certainly, petitioner’s action filed on September 6, 1993 is barred by the 10 year Sec. 1. Authority is hereby granted to all municipalities and chartered cities to
prescriptive period from the accrual of his alleged right of action on September 29, undertake and carry out at their own expense the reclamation by dredging, filling, or
1972. In the same vein, said action is barred by laches having allowed 21 years to other means, of any foreshore lands bordering them, and to establish, provide,
lapse before enforcing his alleged right. Laches is defined as failure or neglect for construct, maintain and repair proper and adequate docking and harbor facilities as
an unreasonable and unexplained length of time, to do that which, by exercising due such municipalities and chartered cities may determine in consultation with the
diligence could or should have been done earlier. It is negligence or omission to Secretary of Finance and the Secretary of Public Works and Communications.
assert a right within a reasonable time, warranting presumption that the party
entitled to assert it has abandoned it or has declined to assert it.[40] Tempus enim On May 6, 1958, invoking the a forecited provision of RA 1899, the Pasay City
modus tollendi obligationes et actiones, quia tempus currit contra desides et sui juris Council passed Ordinance No. 121, for the reclamation of Three Hundred (300)
contemptores – For time is a means of dissipating obligations and actions, because hectares of foreshore lands in Pasay City, empowering the City Mayor to award and
time runs against the slothful and careless of their own rights.[41] enter into reclamation contracts, and prescribing terms and conditions therefor. The
said Ordinance was amended on April 21, 1959 by Ordinance No. 158, which
WHEREFORE, in view of all the foregoing, the instant petition is DENIED. The authorized the Republic Real Estate Corporation ("RREC") to reclaim foreshore lands
November 26, 1999 decision and the May 19, 2000 resolution of the Court of of Pasay City under certain terms and conditions.
Appeals in CA-G.R. CV No. 52932, which sustained the February 1, 1996 order of the
Regional Trial Court of Pasay City, Branch III, dismissing petitioner’s complaint in On April 24, 1959, Pasay City and RREC entered into an Agreement 2
for the
Civil Case No. 93-10282 on the ground of prescription and laches, is AFFIRMED. reclamation of the foreshore lands in Pasay City.

SO ORDERED. On December 19, 1961, the Republic of the Philippines ("Republic") filed a Complaint
3
for Recovery of Possession and Damages with Writ of Preliminary Preventive
REPUBLIC OF THE PHILIPPINES, petitioner, vs.THE HONORABLE COURT OF injunction and Mandatory Injunction, docketed as Civil Case No. 2229-P before the
APPEALS AND REPUBLIC REAL ESTATE CORPORATION, respondents, former Court of First Instance of Rizal, (Branch 7, Pasay City).
CULTURAL CENTER OF THE PHILIPPINES, intervenor.
On March 5, 1962, the Republic of the Philippines filed an Amended Complaint 4
G.R. No. 105276 November 25, 1998 questioning subject Agreement between Pasay City and RREC (Exhibit "P") on the
grounds that the subject-matter of such Agreement is outside the commerce of man,
PASAY CITY AND REPUBLIC REAL ESTATE CORPORATION, petitioners, vs. that its terms and conditions are violative of RA 1899, and that the said Agreement
COURT OF APPEALS and REPUBLIC OF THE PHILIPPINES, respondents. was executed without any public bidding.

PURISIMA, J.: The Answers 5 of RREC and Pasay City, dated March 10 and March 14, 1962,
respectively, averred that the subject-matter of said Agreement is within the
At bar are two consolidated petitions for review on certiorari under Rule 45 of the commerce of man, that the phrase "foreshore lands" within the contemplation of RA
Revised Rules of Court. Here, the Court is confronted with a case commenced before 1899 has a broader meaning than the cited definition of the term in the Words and
the then Court of First Instance (now Regional Trial Court) of Rizal in Pasay City, in Phrases and in the Webster's Third New International Dictionary and the plans and
1961, more than 3 decades back, that has spanned six administrations of the specifications of the reclamation involved were approved by the authorities
Republic and outlasted the tenure of ten (10) Chief Justices of the Supreme Court. concerned.

In G.R. No. 103882, the Republic of the Philippines, as petitioner, assails the On April 26,1962, Judge Angel H. Mojica, (now deceased) of the former Court of First
Decision, dated January 29, 1992 and Amended Decision, dated April 28, 1992, of Instance of Rizal (Branch 7, Pasay City) issued an Order 6 the dispositive portion of
the Court of Appeals 1 which affirmed with modification the Decision of the former which was to the following effect:
Court of First Instance of Rizal (Branch 7, Pasay City) in Civil Case No. 2229-P,
entitled "Republic of the Philippines vs. Pasay City and Republic Real Estate WHEREFORE, the court hereby orders the defendants, their agents, and all persons
Corporation". claiming under them, to refrain from "further reclaiming or committing acts of

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dispossession or dispoilation over any area within the Manila Bay or the Manila Bay On March 24, 1972, the trial court of origin came out with a Decision, disposing,
Beach Resort", until further orders of the court. thus:

On the following day, the same trial court issued a writ of preliminary injunction 7 WHEREFORE, after carefully considering (1) the original complaint, (2) the first
which enjoined the defendants, RREC and Pasay City, their agents, and all persons Amended Complaint, (3) the Answer of Defendant Republic Real Estate Corporation
claiming under them "from further reclaiming or committing acts of dispossession." to the first Amended Complaint, (4) the Answer of Defendant Pasay City to the first
Amended Complaint, (5) the Second Amended Complaint, (6) the Answer of
Thereafter, a Motion to Intervene 8, dated June 27, 1962, was filed by Jose L. Defendant Republic Real Estate Corporation to the Second Amended Complaint, (7)
Bautista, Emiliano Custodio, Renato Custodio, Roger de la Rosa, Belen Gonzales, the Answer of Defendant Pasay City to the Second Amended Complaint, (8) the
Norma Martiner, Emilia E. Paez, Ambrosio R. Parreno, Antolin M. Oreta, Sixto L. Memorandum in Support of Preliminary Injunction of Plaintiff, (9) the Memorandum
Orosa, Pablo S. Sarmiento, Jesus Yujuico, Zamora Enterprises, Inc., Industrial and In Support of the Opposition to the Issuance of Preliminary Injunction of Defendant
Commercial Factors, Inc., Metropolitan Distributors of the Philippines, and Bayview Pasay City and Defendant Republic Real Estate Corporation, (10) the Answer in
Hotel, Inc. stating inter alia that they were buyers of lots in the Manila Bay area Intervention of Intervenors Bautista, et. al., (11) Plaintiff's Opposition to Motion to
being reclaimed by RREC, whose rights would be affected by whatever decision to Intervene, (12) the Reply to Opposition to Motion to Intervene of Intervenors
be rendered in the case. The Motion was granted by the trial court and the Answer Bautista, et. al., (13) the Stipulation of Facts by all the parties, (14) the Motion for
attached thereto admitted. 9 Leave to Intervene of Intervenor Pasay Law and Conscience Union, Inc., (15) the
Opposition to Motion For Leave to Intervene of Intervenors Bautista, et. al., (16) the
The defendants and the intervenors then moved to dismiss 10 the Complaint of the Reply of Intervenor Pasay Law and Conscience Union, Inc., (17) the Supplement to
Republic, placing reliance on Section 3 of Republic Act No. 5187, which reads: Opposition to Motion to Intervene of Defendant Pasay City and Republic Real Estate
Corporation (18) the Complain in Intervention of Intervenor Pasay Law and
Sec. 3. Miscellaneous Projects Conscience Union, Inc., (19) the Answer of Defendant Republic Real Estate
Corporation, (20) the Answer of Intervenor Jose L. Bautista, et. al., to Complaint in
xxx xxx xxx Intervention, (21) the Motion to Dismiss of Defendant Republic Real Estate
Corporation, and Intervenors Bautista, et. al., (22) the Opposition of Plaintiff to said
m. For the construction of seawall and limited access highway from the south Motion to Dismiss, (23) the Opposition of Intervenor Pasay Law and Conscience
boundary of the City of Manila to Cavite City, to the south, and from the north Union, Inc., (24) the Memorandum of the Defendant Republic Real Estate
boundary of the City of Manila to the municipality of Mariveles, province of Bataan, Corporation, (25) the Memorandum for the Intervenor Pasay Law and Conscience
to the north, including the reclamation of the foreshore and submerged areas: Union, Inc., (26) the Manifestation of Plaintiff filed by the Office of the Solicitor
Provided, That priority in the construction of such seawalls, highway and attendant General, and all the documentary evidence by the parties to wit: (a) Plaintiff's
reclamation works shall be given to any corporation and/or corporations that may Exhibits "A" to "YYY- 4", (b) Defendant Republic Real Estate Corporation's Exhibits
offer to undertake at its own expense such projects, in which case the President of "1-RREC" to "40-a" and (c) Intervenor Pasay Law and Conscience Union, Inc's.,
the Philippines may, after competitive didding, award contracts for the construction Exhibits "A-PLACU" to "C-PLACU", the Court hereby:
of such project, with the winning bidder shouldering all costs thereof, the same to be
paid in terms of percentage fee of the contractor which shall not exceed fifty percent (1) Denies the "Motion to Dismiss" filed on January 10, 1968, by Defendant Republic
of the area reclaimed by the contractor and shall represent full compensation for the Real Estate Corporation and Intervenors Bautista, et. al., as it is the finding of this
purpose, the provisions of the Public Land Law concerning disposition of reclaimed Court that Republic Act No. 5187 was not passed by Congress to cure any defect in
and foreshore lands to the contrary notwithstanding: Provided, finally, that the the ordinance and agreement in question and that the passage of said Republic Act
foregoing provisions and those of other laws, executive orders, rules and regulations No. 5187 did not make the legal issues raised in the pleadings "moot, academic and
to the contrary notwithstanding, existing rights, projects and/or contracts of city or of no further validity or effect;" and
municipal governments for the reclamation of foreshore and submerged lands shall
be respected. . . . . (emphasis ours). (2) Renders judgment:

Since the aforecited law provides that existing contracts shall be respected, (a) dismissing the Plaintiff's Complaint;
movants contended that the issues raised by the pleadings have become "moot,
academic and of no further validity or effect." (b) Dismissing the Complaint in Intervention of Intervenor Pasay Law and Conscience
Union, Inc.,
Meanwhile, the Pasay Law and Conscience Union, Inc. ("PLCU") moved to intervene
11
, alleging as legal interest in the matter in litigation the avowed purpose of the (c) Enjoining Defendant Republic Real Estate Corporation and Defendant Pasay City
organization for the promotion of good government in Pasay City. In its Order of June to have all the plans and specifications in the reclamation approved by the Director
10, 1969, the lower court of origin allowed the said intervention 12.
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of Public Works and to have all the contracts and sub-contracts for said reclamation 1. The requirement by the trial court on public bidding and submission of RREC's
awarded by means of, and only after, public bidding; and plans specification to the Department Public Works and Highways in order that RREC
may continue the implementation of the reclamation work is deleted for being moot
(d) Lifting the preliminary Injunction issued by the Court on April 26, 1962, as soon and academic;
as Defendant Republic Real Estate Corporation and Defendant Pasay City shall have
submitted the corresponding plans and specifications to the Director of Public 2. Ordering the plaintiff-appellant to turn over to Pasay City the ownership and
Works, and shall have obtained approval thereof, and as soon as the corresponding possession over all vacant spaces in the twenty-one hectare area already reclaimed
public bidding for the award to the contractor and sub-contractor that will undertake by Pasay City and RREC at the time it took over the same. Areas thereat over which
the reclamation project shall have been effected. permanent structures has (sic) been introduced shall, including the structures,
remain in the possession of the present possessor, subject to any negotiation
No pronouncement as to costs. between Pasay City and the said present possessor, as regards the continued
possession and ownership of the latter area.
SO ORDERED. (See Court of Appeals' Decision dated January 28, 1992; pp. 6-8)
3. Sustaining RREC's irrevocable option to purchase sixty (60%) percent of the
Dissatisfied with the said judgment, the Republic appealed therefrom to the Court of Twenty-One (21) hectares of land already reclaimed by it, to be exercised within one
Appeals. However, on January 11, 1973, before the appeal could be resolved, (1) year from the finality of this decision, at the same terms and condition embodied
Presidential Decree No. 3-A issued, amending Presidential Decree No. 3, thus: in the Pasay City-RREC reclamation contract, and enjoining appellee Pasay City to
respect RREC's option.
Sec. 1. Section 7 of Presidential Decree No. 3, dated September 26, 1972, is hereby
amended by the addition of the following paragraphs: SO ORDERED.

The provisions of any law to the contrary notwithstanding, the reclamation of areas On February 14, 1992, Pasay City and RREC presented a Motion for Reconsideration
under water, whether foreshore or inland, shall be limited to the National of such Decision of the Court of Appeals, contending, among others, that RREC had
Government or any person authorized by it under a proper contract. actually reclaimed Fifty-Five (55) hectares, and not only Twenty-one (21) hectares,
and the respondent Court of Appeals erred in not awarding damages to them,
All reclamations made in violation of this provision shall be forfeited to the State movants.
without need of judicial action.
On April 28, 1992, the Court of Appeals acted favorably on the said Motion for
Contracts for reclamation still legally existing or whose validity has been accepted Reconsideration, by amending the dispositive portion of its judgment of January 28,
by the National Government shall be taken over by the National Government on the 1992, to read as follows:
basis of quantum meruit, for proper prosecution of the project involved by
administration. WHEREFORE, the dispositive portion of our Decision dated January 28, 1992 is
hereby AMENDED to read as follows:
On November 20, 1973, the Republic and the Construction Development Corporation
of the Philippines ("CDCP") signed a Contract 13 for the Manila-Cavite Coastal Road 1. The requirement by the trial court on public bidding and the submission of the
Project (Phases I and II) which contract included the reclamation and development of RREC's plans and specification to the Department of Public Works and Highways in
areas covered by the Agreement between Pasay City and RREC. Then, there was order that RREC may continue the implementation of the reclamation work is
issued Presidential Decree No. 1085 which transferred to the Public Estate Authority deleted for being moot and academic.
("PEA") the rights and obligations of the Republic of the Philippines under the
contract between the Republic and CDCP. 2. Ordering plaintiff-appellant to turn over to Pasay City the ownership and
possession of the above enumerated lots (1 to 9).
Attempts to settle amicably the dispute between representatives of the Republic, on
the one hand, and those of Pasay City and RREC, on the other, did not work out. The 3. Sustaining RREC's irrevocable option to purchase sixty (60%) percent of the land
parties involved failed to hammer out a compromise. referred to in No. 2 of this dispositive portion, to be exercised within one (1) year
from the finality of this Decision, at the same terms and condition embodied in the
On January 28, 1992, the Court of Appeals came out with a Decision 14
dismissing Pasay City-RREC reclamation contract, and enjoining Pasay City to respect RREC's
the appeal of the Republic and holding, thus: irrevocable option.

WHEREFORE, the decision appealed from is hereby AFFIRMED with the following SO ORDERED.
modifications:
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From the Decision and Amended Decision of the Court of Appeals aforementioned, It is the submission of the petitioner, Republic of the Philippines, that there are no
the Republic of the Philippines, as well as Pasay City and RREC, have come to this foreshore lands along the seaside of Pasay City 15; that what Pasay City has are
Court to seek relief, albeit with different prayers. submerged or offshore areas outside the commerce of man which could not be a
proper subject matter of the Agreement between Pasay City and RREC in question
On September 10, 1997, the Court commissioned the former thirteenth Division of as the area affected is within the National Park, known as Manila Bay Beach Resort,
Court of Appeals to hear and receive evidence on the controversy. The established under Proclamation No. 41, dated July 5, 1954, pursuant to Act No. 3915,
corresponding Commissioner's Report, dated November 25, 1997, was submitted of which area it (Republic) has been in open, continuous and peaceful possession
and now forms part of the records. since time immemorial.

On October 11, 1997, the Cultural Center of the Philippines ("CCP") filed a Petition in Petitioner faults the respondent court for unduly expanding what may be considered
Intervention, theorizing that it has a direct interest in the case being the owner of "foreshore land" through the following disquisition:
subject nine (9) lots titled in its (CCP) name, which the respondent Court of Appeals
ordered to be turned over to Pasay City. The CCP, as such intervenor, was allowed to The former Secretary of Justice Alejo Mabanag, in response to a request for an
present its evidence, as it did, before the Court of Appeals, which evidence has been opinion from the then Secretary of Public Works and Communications as to whether
considered in the formulation of this disposition. the term, "foreshore areas" as used in Section I of the immediately aforequoted law
is that defined in Webster's Dictionary and the Law of Waters so as to make any
In G.R. No. 103882, the Republic of the Philippines theorizes, by way of assignment dredging or filling beyond its prescribed limit illegal, opined:
of errors, that:
According to the basic letter of the Director of Public Works, the law of Waters
I THE COURT OF APPEALS ERRED IN UPHOLDING THE VALIDITY OF PASAY CITY speaks of "shore" and defines it thus: "that space movement of the tide. Its interior
ORDINANCE NO. 158 DATED APRIL 21, 1959 AND THE RECLAMATION CONTRACT or terrestrial limit in the line reached by highest equinoctial tides."
ENTERED INTO BETWEEN PASAY CITY AND RREC;
Webster's definition of foreshore reads as follows:
II THE COURT OF APPEALS ERRED IN FINDING THAT RREC HAD RECLAIMED 55
HECTARES AND IN ORDERING THE TURN-OVER TO PASAY CITY OF THE OWNERSHIP That part of the shore between high water and low-water marks usually fixed at the
AND POSSESSION OF NINE (9) LOTS TITLED IN THE NAME OF CCP. line to which the ordinary means tide flows: also, by extension, the beach, the shore
near the water's edge.
In G.R. No. 105276, the petitioners, Pasay City and RREC, contend, that:
If we were to be strictly literal the term foreshore or foreshore lands should be
I THE COURT OF APPEALS ERRED IN NOT DECLARING PRESIDENTIAL DECREE NO. 3-A confined to but a portion of the shore, in itself a very limited area. (p. 6, Intervenors-
UNCONSTITUTIONAL; appellees' brief).

II THE COURT OF APPEALS ERRED IN NOT AWARDING DAMAGES IN FAVOR OF PASAY Bearing in mind the (Webster's and Law of Waters) definitions of "shore" and of
CITY AND RREC. foreshore lands, one is struck with the apparent inconsistency between the areas
thus described and the purpose to which that area, when reclaimed under the
Let us first tackle the issues posed in G.R. No. 103882. provision of Republic Act No. 1899, shall be devoted. Section I (of said Law)
authorizes the construction thereat of "adequate docking and harbor facilities". This
On the first question regarding the validity of Pasay City Ordinance No. 158 dated purpose is repeated in Sections 3 and 4 of the Act.
April 21, 1959 and the Agreement dated April 24, 1959 between Pasay City and
RREC, we rule in the negative. And yet, it is well known fact that foreshore lands normally extend only from 10 to
20 meters along the coast. Not very much more if at all. In fact certain parts in
Sec. 1 of RA 1899, reads: Manila bordering on Manila Bay, has no foreshore to speak of since the sea washes
the sea wall.
Sec. 1. Authority is hereby granted to all municipalities and chartered cities to
undertake and carry out at their own expense the reclamation by dredging, filling, or It does not seem logical, then, that Congress had in mind. Webster's limited concept
other means, of any foreshore lands bordering them, and to establish, provide, of foreshore when it enacted Republic Act No. 1899, unless it intends that the
construct, maintain and repair proper and adequate docking and harbor facilities as wharves, piers, docks, etc. should be constructed parallel to the shore, which is
such municipalities and chartered cities may determine in consultation with the impractical.
Secretary of Finance and the Secretary of Public Works and Communications.

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Since it is to be presumed that Congress could not have intended to enact an Utilizing the above explanatory note in interpreting and construing the provisions of
ineffectual measure not one that would lead to absurd consequences, it would seem R.A. 1899, then Secretary of Justice Mabanag opined:
that it used "foreshore" in a sense wider in scope that defined by Webster. . . .
It is clear that the "Bacolod City pattern" was the basis of the enactment of the
To said opinion on the interpretation of the R.A. 1899, plaintiff-appellant could not aforementioned bill of general application. This so-called "Bacolod City pattern"
offer any refutation or contrary opinion. Neither can we. In fact, the above appears to be composed of 3 parts, namely: Republic Ad No. 161, which grants
construction is consistent with the "rule on context" in statutory construction which authority to Bacolod City to undertake or carry out . . . the reclamation . . . of any
provides that in construing a statute, the same must be construed as a whole. The [sic] carry out the reclamation project conformably with Republic Act No. 161; and
particular words, clauses and phrases should not be studied as detached and Republic Act No. 1132 authorizing Bacolod City to contract indebtedness or to issue
isolated expressions, but the whole and every part of the statute must be bonds in the amount not exceeding six million pesos to finance the reclamation of
considered in fixing the meaning of any of its parts in order to produce a harmonious land in said city.
whole (see Araneta vs. Concepcion, 99 Phil. 709). There are two reasons for this.
Firstly, the force and significance of particular expressions will largely depend upon Republic Act No. 161 did not in itself specify the precise space therein referred to as
the connection in which they are found and their relation to the general subject- "foreshore" lands, but it provided that docking and harbor facilities should be
matter of the law. The legislature must be understood to have expressed its whole erected on the reclaimed portions thereof, while not conclusive would indicate that
mind on the special object to which the legislative act is directed but the vehicle for Congress used the word "foreshore" in its broadest sense. Significantly, the plan of
the expressions of that meaning is the statute, considered as one entire and reclamation of foreshore drawn up by the Bureau of Public Works maps out an area
continuous act, and not as an agglomeration of unrelated clauses. Each clause or of approximately 1,600,000 square meters, the boundaries of which clearly extend
provision will be illuminated by those which are cognate to it and by the general way beyond Webster's limited concept of the term "foreshore". As a
tenor of the whole statute and thus obscurities end ambiguities may often be contemporaneous construction by that branch of the Government empowered to
cleared up by the most direct and natural means. Secondly effect must be given, if it oversee at least, the conduct of the work, such an interpretation deserves great
is possible, to every word and clause of the statute, so that nothing shall be left weight. Finally, Congress in enacting Republic Act No. 1132 (supplement to RA 161),
devoid of meaning or destitute of force. To this end, each provision of the statute tacitly confirmed and approved the Bureau's interpretation of the term 'foreshore'
should be read in the light of the whole. For the general meaning of the legislature, when instead of taking the occasion to correct the Bureau of over extending its plan,
as gathered from the entire act, may often prevail over the construction which it authorized the city of Bacolod to raise the full estimated cost of reclaiming the
would appear to be the most natural and obvious on the face of a particular clause. total area covered by the plan. The explanatory note to House Bill No. 1249 which
If is by this means that contradiction and repugnance between the different parts of became Republic Act No. 1132 states among the things:
the statute may be avoided. (See Black, Interpretation of Laws, 2nd Ed., pp. 317-
319). The Bureau of Public Works already prepared a plan for the reclamation of about
1,600,000 square meters of land at an estimated costs of about P6,000,000.00. The
Resorting to extrinsic aids, the "Explanatory Note" to House Bill No. 3830, which was project is self-supporting because the proceeds from the sales or leases of lands so
subsequently enacted as Republic Act No. 1899, reads: reclaimed will be more than sufficient to cover the cost of the project.

In order to develop and expand the Maritime Commerce of the Philippines, it is Consequently, when Congress passed Republic Act No. 1899 in order to facilitate the
necessary that harbor facilities be correspondingly improved and, where necessary, reclamation by local governments of foreshore lands on the basis of the Bacolod City
expanded and developed. The national government is not in a financial position to pattern and in order to obviate the passage of individual pieces of legislation for
handle all this work. On the other hand, with a greater autonomy many chartered every chartered city and provinces requesting authority to undertake such projects,
cities and provinces are financially able to have credit position which will allow them the lawmaking body could not have had in mind the limited area described by
to undertake these projects. Some cities, such as the City of Bacolod under R.A. 161, Webster as "foreshore" lands. . . . .
has been authorized to reclaim foreshore lands bordering it.
If it was really the intention of Congress to limit the area to the strict literal meaning
Other cities end provinces have continuously been requesting for authority to of "foreshore" lands which may be reclaimed by chartered cities and municipalities,
reclaim foreshore lands on the basis of the Bacolod City pattern, and to undertake Congress would have excluded the cities of Manila, Iloilo, Cebu, Zamboanga and
work to establish, construct on the reclaimed area and maintain such port facilities Davao from the operation of RA 1899 as suggested by Senator Cuenco during the
as may be necessary. In order not to unduly delay the undertaking of these projects, deliberation of the bill considering that these cities do not have 'foreshore' lands in
and inorder to obviate the passage of individual pieces of legislation for every the strict meaning of the term. Yet, Congress did not approve the proposed
chartered city and province, it is hereby recommended that the accompanying bill amendment of Senator Cuenco, implying therefore, that Congress intended not to
be approved. It covers Authority for All chartered cities and provinces to undertake limit the area that may be reclaimed to the strict definition of "foreshore" lands.
this work. . . . (emphasis supplied)
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The opinion of the then Secretary of Justice Mabanag, who was at that time the chief To begin with, erroneous and unsustainable is the opinion of respondent court that
law officer and legal adviser of the government and whose office is required by law under RA 1899, the term "foreshore lands" includes submerged areas. As can be
to issue opinions for the guidance of the various departments of the government, gleaned from its disquisition and rationalization aforequoted, the respondent court
there being then no judicial interpretation to the contrary, is entitled to respect (see unduly stretched and broadened the meaning of "foreshore lands", beyond the
Bengzon vs. Secretary of Justice and Insular Auditor, 68 Phil. 912). intentment of the law, and against the recognized legal connotation of "foreshore
lands". Well entrenched, to the point of being elementary, is the rule that when the
We are not unmindful of the Supreme Court Resolution dated February 3, 1965 in law speaks in clear and categorical language, there is no reason for interpretation or
Ponce vs. Gomez (L-21870) and Ponce vs. City of Cebu (L-2266), by a unanimous construction, but only for application. 16 So also, resort to extrinsic aids, like the
vote of six (6) justices (the other five (5) members deemed it unnecessary to records of the constitutional convention, is unwarranted, the language of the law
express their view because in their opinion the questions raised were not properly being plain and unambiguous. 17 Then, too, opinions of the Secretary of Justice are
brought before the court), which in essence applied the strict dictionary meaning of unavailing to supplant or rectify any mistake or omission in the law. 18 To repeat, the
"foreshore lands" as used in RA 1899 in the case of the city of Cebu. But this was term "foreshore lands" refers to:
promulgated long after the then Secretary of Justice Mabanag rendered the above
opinion on November 16, 1959 and long after RREC has started the subject The strip of land that lies between the high and low water marks and that is
reclamation project. alternately wet and dry according to the flow of the tide. (Words and Phrases,
"Foreshore")
Furthermore, as held by the lower court, Congress, after the Supreme Court issued
the aforementioned Resolution, enacted RA 5187. In Sec. 3 (m) of said law, Congress A strip of land margining a body of water (as a lake or stream); the part of a
appropriated money "for the construction of the seawall and limited access highway seashore between the low-water line usually at the seaward margin of a low-tide
from the South boundary of the city of Manila to Cavite City, to the South, and from terrace and the upper limit of wave wash at high tide usually marked by a beach
the North boundary of the city of Manila to the municipality of Mariveles, province of scarp or berm. (Webster's Third New International Dictionary)
Bataan, to the North (including the reclamation of foreshore and submerged areas . .
. provided . . . that . . . existing projects and/or contracts of city or municipal The duty of the court is to interpret the enabling Act, RA 1899. In so doing, we
governments for the reclamation of foreshore and submerged lands shall be cannot broaden its meaning, much less widen the coverage thereof. If the intention
respected . . ." This is a clear manifestation that Congress in enacting RA 1899, did of Congress were to include submerged areas, it should have provided expressly.
not intend to limit the interpretation of the term "foreshore land" to its dictionary That Congress did not so provide could only signify the exclusion of submerged
meaning. areas from the term "foreshore lands".

It is presumed that the legislature was acquainted with and had in mind the judicial Neither is there any valid ground to disregard the Resolution of this Court dated
construction given to a former statute on the subject, and that the statute on the February 3, 1965 in Ponce v. Gomez (L-21870) and Ponce v. City of Cebu (L-22669)
subject, and that the statute was enacted having in mind the judicial construction despite the enactment of Republic Act No. 5187 ("RA 5187"), the relevant portion of
that the prior enactment had received, or in the light of such existing judicial which, reads:
decisions as have direct bearing upon it (see 50 Am. Jur., Sec. 321, pp. 312-313). But
notwithstanding said interpretation by the Supreme Court of RA 1899 in the Ponce Sec. 3. Miscellaneous Projects
cases, Congress enacted a law covering the same areas previously embraced in a
RA 1899 (as mentioned earlier, cities without foreshore lands which were sought to xxx xxx xxx
be excluded from the operation of RA 1899 were not excluded), providing that
respect be given the reclamation of not only foreshore lands but also of submerged m. For the construction of seawall and limited access highway from the south
lands signifying its non-conformity to the judicial construction given to RA 1899. If boundary of the City of Manila to Cavite City, to the south, and from the north
Congress was in accord with the interpretation and construction made by the boundary of the City of Manila to the municipality of Mariveles, province of Bataan,
Supreme Court on RA 1899, it would have mentioned reclamation of "foreshore to the north, including the reclamation of the foreshore and submerged areas:
lands" only in RA 5187, but Congress included "submerged lands" in order to clarify Provided, That priority in the construction of such seawalls, highway and attendant
the intention on the grant of authority to cities and municipalities in the reclamation reclamation works shell be given to any corporation and/or corporations that may
of lands bordering them as provided in RA 1899. It is, therefore, our opinion that it is offer to undertake at its own expense such projects, in which case the President of
actually the intention of Congress in RA 1899 not to limit the authority granted to the Philippines may, after competitive bidding, award contracts for the construction
cities and municipalities to reclaim foreshore lands in its strict dictionary meaning of such projects, with the winning bidder shouldering all costs thereof, the same to
but rather in its wider scope as to include submerged lands. be paid in terms of percentage fee of the contractor which shall not exceed fifty
percent of the area reclaimed by the contractor and shall represent full
The Petition is impressed with merit. compensation for the purpose, the provisions of the Public Land Law concerning

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disposition of reclaimed and foreshore lands to the contrary notwithstanding: advance the money needed therefor; that the actual expenses incurred shall be
Provided, finally, that the foregoing provisions and those of other laws, executive deemed a loan to the Municipality; that Mr. Chuanico shall have the irrevocable
orders, rules and regulations to the contrary notwithstanding, existing rights, option to buy 70% of the reclaimed area at P7.00 per square meter; that he shall
projects and/or contracts of city or municipal governments for the reclamation of have the full and irrevocable powers to do any and all things necessary and proper
foreshore and submerged lands shall be respected. . . . . in and about the premises," including the power to hire necessary personnel for the
prosecution of the work, purchase materials and supplies, and purchase or lease
There is nothing in the foregoing provision of RA 5187 which can be interpreted to construction machineries and equipment, but any and all contracts to be concluded
broaden the scope of "foreshore lands." The said law is not amendatory to RA 1899. by him in behalf of the Municipality shall be submitted to public bidding.
It is an Appropriations Act, entitled � "AN ACT APPROPRIATING FUNDS FOR PUBLIC
WORKS, SYNCHRONIZING THE SAME WITH PREVIOUS PUBLIC WORKS xxx xxx xxx
APPROPRIATIONS."
3. On March 16, 1961, the Municipal Council of Navotas passed Resolution No. 22
All things viewed in proper perspective, we reiterate what was said in Ponce v. approving and ratifying the contract.
Gomez (L-21870) and Ponce v. City of Cebu (L-22669) that the term "foreshore"
refers to "that part of the land adjacent to the sea which is alternately covered and xxx xxx xxx
left dry by the ordinary flow of the tides." As opined by this Court in said cases:
III. Comments
WHEREAS, six (6) members of the Court (Justices Bautista Angelo, Concepcion,
Reyes, Barrera, Dizon and Jose P. Bengzon) opine that said city ordinance and 1. The above reclamation contract was concluded on the basis of Navotas Ordinance
contracts are ultra vires and hence, null and void, insofar as the remaining 60% of No. 1 which, in turn, had been enacted avowedly pursuant to Republic Act No. 1899.
the area aforementioned, because the term "foreshore lands" as used in Republic This being so, the contract, in order to be valid, must conform to the provisions of
Act No. 1899 should be understood in the sense attached thereto by common the said law.
parlance; (emphasis ours)
By authorizing local governments "to execute by administration any reclamation
The aforesaid ruling was applied by then Secretary of Justice Claudio Teehankee, in work," (Republic Act No. 1899 impliedly forbids the execution of said project by
his opinion dated December 22, 1966, in a case with analogous facts as the present contract. Thus, in the case or Ponce et al. vs. Gomez (February 3, 1966), five justices
one, to wit: of the Supreme Court voted to annul the contract between Cebu Development
Corporation and Cebu City for the reclamation of foreshore lands because "the
December 22, 1966 provisions of said . . . contract are not . . . in accordance with the provisions of
Republic Act No. 1899," as against one Justice who opined that the contract
The Secretary of Agriculture substantially complied with the provisions of the said law. (Five Justices expressed
no opinion on this point.)
and Natural Resources
Inasmuch as the Navotas reclamation contract is substantially similar to the Cebu
Diliman, Quezon City reclamation contract, it is believed that the former is likewise fatally defective.

Sir: 2. The Navotas reclamation project envisages the construction of a channel along
the Manila Bay periphery of that town and the reclamation of approximately 650
xxx xxx xxx hectares of land from said channel to a seaward distance of one kilometer. In the
basic letter it is stated that "practically, all the 650 hectares of lands proposed to be
I. Facts reclaimed under the agreement" do not constitute foreshore lands and that "the
greater portion of the area . . . is in fact navigable and presently being used as a
1. On January 19, 1961, pursuant to the provisions of Republic Act No. 1899, the fishing harbor by deep-sea fishing operators as well as a fishing ground of
Municipality of Navotas enacted Ordinance No. 1 authorizing the Municipal Mayor to sustenance fisherman. Assuming the correctness of these averments, the Navotas
enter into a reclamation contract with Mr. Chuanico. reclamation contract evidently transcends the authority granted under Republic Act
No. 1899, which empowers the local governments to reclaim nothing more than
2. On March 15, 1961, a reclamation contract was concluded between the "foreshore lands, i.e., "that part of the land adjacent to the see which is alternately
Municipality of Navotas, represented by the Municipal Mayor, and Mr. Chuanico in covered and left dry by the ordinary flow of the tides." (26 C.J. 890.) It was for this
accordance with the above ordinance. Thereunder, Mr. Chuanico shall be the reason that in the cited case Ponce case, the Supreme Court, by a vote of 6-0 with
attorney-in-fact of the Municipality in prosecuting the reclamation project and shall five Justices abstaining, declared ultra vires and void the contractual stipulation for
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the reclamation of submerged lands off Cebu City, and permanently enjoined its RREC testified on the 55 hectares supposedly reclaimed by RREC. What work was
execution under Republic Act No. 1899. done, who did the work, where was it commenced, and when was it completed, was
never brought to light by any witness before the court. Certainly, onus probandi was
xxx xxx xxx on RREC and Pasay City to show and point out the as yet unidentified 55 hectares
they allegedly reclaimed. But this burden of proof RREC and Pasay City miserably
In accordance with the foregoing, I have the honor to submit the view that the failed to discharge.
Navotas reclamation contract is not binding and should be disregarded for non-
compliance with law. So also, in the decision of the Pasay Court of First Instance dismissing the complaint
of plaintiff-appellant, now petitioner Republic of the Philippines, the lifting of the writ
Very truly yours, of Preliminary Injunction issued on April 26, 1962 would become effective only "as
soon as Defendant Republic Real Estate Corporation and Defendant Pasay City shall
(SGD) CLAUDIO TEEHANKEE have submitted the corresponding plans and specifications to the Director of Public
Work, and shall have obtained approval thereof, and as soon as corresponding
Secretary of Justice public bidding for the award to the contractor and sub-contractor that will undertake
the reclamation project shall have been effected." (Rollo, pp. 127-129, G.R. No.
The said opinion of Justice Secretary Teehankee who became Associate Justice, and 103882)
later Chief Justice, of this Court, did, in our considered view, supersede the earlier
opinion of former justice Secretary Alejo Mabanag, aforestated, as the cases, in From the records on hand, it is abundantly clear that RREC and Pasay City never
connection with which subject opinions were sought, were with similar facts. The complied with such prerequisites for the lifting of the writ of Preliminary Injunction.
said Teehankee opinion accords with RA 1899. Consequently, RREC had no authority to resume its reclamation work which was
stopped by said writ of preliminary injunction issued on April 26, 1962.
It bears stressing that the subject matter of Pasay City Ordinance No. 121, as
amended by Ordinance No. 158, and the Agreement under attack, have been found From the Contract for Dredging Work, dated November 26, 1960, marked Exhibit
to be outside the intendment and scope of RA 1899, and therefore ultra vires and "21-A" for RREC before the lower court, and Exhibit "EE" for CCP before the Court of
null and void. Appeals, it can be deduced that only on November 26, 1960 did RREC contract out
the dredging work to C and A Construction Company, Inc., for the reclamation of the
What is worse, the same Agreement was vitiated by the glaring absence of a public 55 hectares initially programmed to be reclaimed by it. But, as stated by RREC itself
bidding. in the position paper filed with this Court on July 15, 1997, with reference to CDCP's
reclamation work, mobilization of the reclamation team would take one year before
Obviously, there is a complete dearth of evidence to prove that RREC had really a reclamation work could actually begin. Therefore, the reclamation work undertaker
reclaimed 55 hectares. The letter of Minister Baltazar Aquino relied upon by RREC is by RREC could not have started before November 26, 1961.
no proof at all that RREC had reclaimed 55 hectares. Said letter was just referring to
a tentative schedule of work to be done by RREC, even as it required RREC to submit Considering that on April 26, 1962 RREC was enjoined from proceeding any further
the pertinent papers to show its supposed accomplishment, to secure approval by with its reclamation work, it had barely five (5) months, from November, 1961 to
the Ministry of Public Works and Highways to the reclamation plan, and to submit to April, 1962, to work on subject reclamation project. It was thus physically impossible
a public bidding all contracts and sub-contracts for subject reclamation project but for RREC to reclaim 55 hectares, with the stipulated specifications and elevation, in
RREC never complied with such requirements and conditions sine qua non. such a brief span of time. In the report of RREC (Exhibit "DD" for CCP), it was
conceded that due to the writ of preliminary injunction issued on April 26, 1962, C
No contracts or sub-contracts or agreements, plans, designs, and/or specifications of and A Construction Co., Inc. had suspended its dredging operation since May, 1962.
the reclamation project were presented to reflect any accomplishment. Not even
any statement or itemization of works accomplished by contractors or The "graphical report" on the Pasay Reclamation project, as of April 30, 1962,
subcontractors or vouchers and other relevant papers were introduced to describe attached to the Progress Report marked Exhibit "DD", is a schematic representation
the extent of RREC's accomplishment. Neither was the requisite certification from of the work accomplishment referred to in such Progress Report, indicating the
the City Engineer concerned that "portions of the reclamation project not less than various elevations of the land surface it embraced, ranging from 0.00 meters to the
50 hectares in area shall have been accomplished or completed" obtained and highest elevation of 2.5 meters above MLLW. Such portrayal of work accomplished is
presented by RREC. crucial in our determination of whether or not RREC had actually "reclaimed" any
land as under its Contract for Dredging Work with C and A Construction Company
As a matter of fact, no witness ever testified on any reclamation work done by RREC, (Exhibit "EE", the required final elevation for a completely reclaimed land was 3.5
and extent thereof, as of April 26, 1962. Not a single contractor, sub-contractor, meters above MLLW, as explicitly provided in said Contract for Dredging Work. So,
engineer, surveyor, or any other witness involved in the alleged reclamation work of
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the irresistible conclusion is when the work on subject RREC-Pasay City reclamation We regret that we are not agreeable to the amount of P10,926,071.29, based on
project stopped in April, 1962 in compliance with the writ of preliminary injunction 1962 cost data, etc., as compensation based on quantum meruit. The least we
issued by the trial court of origin, no portion of the reclamation project worked on by would consider is the amount of P10,926,071.29 plus interest at the rate of 6% per
RREC had reached the stipulated elevation of 3.5 meters above MLLW. The entire annum from 1962 to the time of payment. We feel that 6% is very much less than
area it worked on was only at sea level or 0.00 meter above MLLW. In short, RREC the accepted rate of inflation that has supervened since 1962 to the present, and
had not yet reclaimed any area when the writ of preliminary injunction issued in even less than the present legal rate of 12% per annum. 19
April 1962.
Undoubtedly, what RREC claimed for was compensation for what it had done, and
On this point, the testimonies of Architect Ruben M. Protacio, Architect and for the dredge fill of 1,558,395 cubic meters it used, on subject reclamation project.
Managing partner of Leandro V. Locsin and partners, Architect and City Planner
Manuel T. Mañoza, Jr. of Planning Resources and Operation System, Inc., Rose D. Respondent Court likewise erred in ordering the turn-over to Pasay City of the
Cruz, Executive Assistant, Office of the President, from 1966 to 1970, and Dr. following titled lots, to wit:
Lucrecia Kasilag, National Artist and member of CCP Advisory Committee, come to
the fore. These credible, impartial and knowledgeable witnesses recounted on the LOT NO. BUILDING AREA OCT/TCT 42 Gloria Maris 9,516 sq.m. OCT 159 in the
witness stand that when the construction of the Main Building of the Cultural Center Restaurant name of GSIS
of the Philippines (CCP) began in 1966, the only surface land available was the site
for the said building (TSN, Sept. 29, 1997, pages 8, 14 and 50), what could be seen 3 Asean Garden 76,299 sq.m. OCT 10251 in the name of CCP
in front of and behind it was all water (TSN, Sept. 29, 1997 pages 127-128). When
the CCP Main Building was being constructed, from 1968 to 1969, the land above 12 Folk Arts Theater 1.7503 hec. TCT 18627 in the and PICC parking name of CCP
sea level thereat was only where the CCP Main Building was erected and the rest of
the surroundings were all under water, particularly the back portion fronting the bay. Space 22 landscaped with 132,924 sq.m. TCT 75676 in the
(TSN, Sept. 13, 1997, pp. 181, 182, 185, 186, 188). Dr. Lucrecia R. Kasilag stressed
that on April 16, 1966, during the ground breaking for the CCP Main Building, it was sculpture of Asean name of CCP
water all around (TSN, Sept. 30, 1997, pp. 320, 324, 325).
Artists-site of
There was indeed no legal and factual basis for the Court of Appeals to order and
Boom na Boom
declare that "the requirement by the trial court on public bidding and the submission
of RREC's plans and specification to the Department of Public Works and Highways
23 open space, back 34,346 sq.m. TCT 75677 in the
in order that RREC may continue the implementation of the reclamation work is
deleted for being moot and academic." Said requirement has never become moot
of Philcite name of CCP
and academic. It has remained indispensable, as ever, and non-compliance
therewith restrained RREC from lawfully resuming the reclamation work under
24 Parking space for 10,352 sq.m. TCT 75678 in the
controversy, notwithstanding the rendition below of the decision in its favor.
Star City, CCP, name of CCP
Verily, contrary to what the Court of Appeals found, RREC had not reclaimed any
area with the prescribed elevation of 3.5 meters above MLLW, so much so that in Philcite
1978, it (RREC) opted to file with the former Ministry of Public Highways, a claim for
compensation of P30,396,878.20, for reclamation work allegedly done before the 25 open space 11,323 sq.m. TCT 75679 in the
CDCP started working on the reclamation of the CCP grounds. On September 7,
1979, RREC asked the Solicitor General to settle its subject claim for compensation occupied by Star name of CCP
at the same amount of P30,396,878.20. But on June 10, 1981, guided by the cost
data, work volume accomplished and other relevant information gathered by the City
former Ministry of Public Highways, the Solicitor General informed RREC that the
value of what it had accomplished, based on 1962 price levels, was only 28 open space, 27,689 sq.m. TCT 75684 in the
P8,344,741.29, and the expenses for mobilization of equipment amounted to
P2,581,330.00. The aforesaid evaluation made by the government, through the then beside PICC name of CCP
Minister of Public Highways, is factual and realistic, so much so that on June 25,
1981, RREC, in its reply letter to the Solicitor General, stated: 29 open space, 106,067 sq.m. TCT 75681 in the

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leased by El name of CCP oneself/itself at the expense of another 20, we believe; and so hold, that Pasay City
and RREC should be paid for the said actual work done and dredge-fill poured in,
Shaddai worth P10,926,071.29, as verified by the former Ministry of Public Highways, and as
claimed by RREC itself in its aforequoted letter dated June 25, 1981.
We discern no factual basis nor any legal justification therefor. In the first place, in
their answer to the Complaint and Amended Complaint below, RREC and Pasay City It is fervently hoped that long after the end of our sojourn in this valley of tears, the
never prayed for the transfer to Pasay City of subject lots, title to which had long court, for its herein historic disposition, will be exalted by the future generations of
become indefeasible in favor of the rightful title holders, CCP and GSIS, respectively. Filipinos, for the preservation of the national patrimony and promotion of our
cultural heritage. As writer Channing rightly puts it: "Whatever expands the
The annotation of a notice of lis pendens on the certificates of title covering the said affections, or enlarges the sphere of our sympathies . Whatever makes us feel our
lots is of no moment. It did not vest in Pasay City and RREC any real right superior to relation to the universe and all that it inherits in time and in eternity, and to the
the absolute ownership thereover of CCP and GSIS. Besides, the nature of the action great and beneficent cause of all, must unquestionably refine our nature, and
did not really warrant the issuance of a notice of lis pendens. elevate us in the scale of being."

Sec. 14 of Rule 13, Revised Rules of Civil Procedure, reads: WHEREFORE:

Sec. 14. Notice of lis pendens. In an action affecting the title or the right of In G.R. No. 103882, the Petition is GRANTED; the Decision, dated January 28, 1992,
possession of real properly, the plaintiff and the defendant, when affirmative relief is and Amended Decision, dated April 28, 1992, of the Court of Appeals, are both SET
claimed in his answer, may record in the office of the registry of deeds of the ASIDE; and Pasay City Ordinance No. 121, dated May 6, 1958, and Ordinance No.
province in which the property is situated a notice of the pendency of the action. 158, dated April 21, 1959, as well as the Reclamation Agreements entered into by
Said notice shall contain the names of the parties and the object of the action or Pasay City and Republic Real Estate Corporation (RREC) as authorized by said city
defense, and a description of the property in that province affected thereby. Only ordinances, are declared NULL and VOID for being ultra vires, and contrary to Rep.
from the time of filing such notice for record shall a purchaser, or encumbrancer of Act 1899.
the property affected thereby, be deemed to have constructive notice of the
pendency of the action, and only of its pendency against the parties designated by The writ of preliminary injunction issued on April 26, 1962 by the trial court a quo in
their real names. Civil Case No. 2229-P is made permanent and the notice of lis pendens issued by the
Court of Appeals in CA G.R. CV No. 51349 ordered CANCELLED. The Register of
The notice of lis pendens herein above mentioned may be cancelled only upon order Deeds of Pasay City is directed to take note of and annotate on the certificates of
of the court, after proper showing that the notice is for the purpose of molesting the title involved, the cancellation of subject notice of lis pendens.
adverse party, or that it is not necessary to protect the rights of the party who
caused it to be recorded. The petitioner, Republic of the Philippines, is hereby ordered to pay Pasay City and
Republic Real Estate Corporation the sum of TEN MILLION NINE HUNDRED TWENTY-
Under the aforecited provision of law in point, a notice of lis pendens is necessary SIX THOUSAND SEVENTY-ONE AND TWENTY-NINE CENTAVOS (P10,926,071.29)
when the action is for recovery of possession or ownership of a parcel of land. In the PESOS, plus interest thereon of six (6%) percent per annum from May 1, 1962 until
present litigation, RREC and Pasay City, as defendants in the main case, did not full payment, which amount shall be divided by Pasay City and RREC, share and
counterclaim for the turnover to Pasay City of the titled lots aforementioned. share alike.

What is more, a torrens title cannot be collaterally attacked. The issue of validity of In G.R. No. 105276, the Petition is hereby DENIED for lack of merit.
a torrens title, whether fraudulently issued or not, may be posed only in an action
brought to impugn or annul it. (Halili vs. National Labor Relations Commission, 257 No pronouncement as to costs.
SCRA 174, Cimafranca vs. Intermediate Appellate Court, 147 SCRA 611.)
Unmistakable, and cannot be ignored, is the germane provision of Section 48 of P.D. SO ORDERED.
1529, that a certificate of title can never be the subject of a collateral attack. It
cannot be altered, modified, or cancelled except in a direct proceeding instituted in G.R. No. L-4012 March 25, 1908
accordance with law.
MAXIMO CORTES Y PROSPERO, petitioner-appellant, vs.THE CITY OF MANILA,
Although Pasay City and RREC did not succeed in their undertaking to reclaim any respondent-appellee.
area within subject reclamation project, it appearing that something compensable
was accomplished by them, following the applicable provision of law and hearkening TORRES, J.:
to the dictates of equity, that no one, not even the government, shall unjustly enrich
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On the 26th of September, 1906, Maximo Cortes filed a written application for the city attorney had to limit his opposition to the registration simply to its effect upon
registration of a parcel of land owned by him, free of all incumbrances, situated in the Meisic Creek. The court, upon previous declaration of general default, then
Calle Aguilar, corner of Calle Cecilia in the district of Binondo, this city, together with ordered the adjudication and registration of the title of the applicant, Cortes, to said
the buildings erected thereon, which land has an area of 1,172.21 square meters, its building lot upon submitting an amended description of the land.
boundaries being stated in the application. The land was acquired by the applicant
by purchase from Higinio Francisco y Prospero, according to a deed of sale dated It having been satisfactorily shown that the portion of land included in the technical
July 3, 1894, recorded in the registry of property, no other person having any title to description presented by the applicant, situated between the lot to which said
or interest therein, and the property was assessed, for the purpose of taxation of the instrument refers and the bed of the Meisic Creek, has been gradually formed by
last fiscal year, at $1,444, United States currency. The buildings erected thereon alluvion, as the result of the current in the said stream, it can not be denied that
were paid for by the applicant with his own money, and the application is said portion of land with an area of 33.40 square meters, belongs by right accretion
accompanied by the deed of sale, plan, and technical description of the land. to the owner of the land referred to in the instrument of the 3rd of July, 1894,
exhibited by the applicant.
The examiner of titles reported, in due course, that the said building lot was
attached by reason of certain proceedings instituted against the applicant for reason The Law of Waters, promulgated by royal decree of the 3d of August, 1866, and
and rebellion, yet, inasmuch as the land was acquired by him more than ten years extended to these Islands by a royal decree dated April 8, 1873, provides in article
previously, he could be considered the real owner thereof by prescription; but that, 84 that The accretion resulting from the gradual deposit by or sedimentation from
in order to obtain title, it was necessary for him to show that said attachment had the waters belongs to the owners of land bordering on streams, torrents, lakes, and
been discharged or canceled, for which reason he considered the title of the rivers.
applicant to be defective and that it could not be registered.
Article 366 of the Civil Code provides that The accretions which banks of rivers may
Against the claim of the applicant the attorney for the city of Manila objected and gradually received from the effects of the currents belong to the owners of the
reproduced the verbal opposition offered in the case, alleging that both the plan and estates bordering thereon.
the technical description exhibited contained errors; that there was an excess in the
measurement which affected the interests of the city, and that, should the There is no evidence whatever to prove that the addition to the said property was
application be granted, an area of 33.40 square meters of the Meisic Creek would made artificially by the owner; therefore, the facts alleged and proven in the
become the property of Maximo Cortes, when, as a matter of fact, the said creek proceedings must stand. The increase or accretion which in a latent, incessant, and
was one of public use and belonged to the city of manila. For these reasons he spontaneous manner is received by the land from the effects of the current
asked that the registration applied for be denied in so far as it affected the Meisic depositing, in the course of time, sediment and alluvial matter along the shore, is
Creek, with costs against the applicant. undeniably the work of nature and lawfully belongs to the owner of the property;
and from the fact that all or almost the whole area of said increased portion is soft
Upon an examination of the evidence adduced, the judge rendered his decision on and unsettled, one is naturally convinced that it was formed by alluvion, and that for
the 11th of March, sustaining the opposition of the city of Manila, and ordering that such reason it appertains to the owner of the land bordering thereon by virtue of the
the said land, including its walls, be adjudicated and registered in favor of the right of accretion recognized by the law.
applicant upon presentation of an amended description, showing the measurements
of the property, including its walls but excluding therefrom the rest of the land The reason therefore is quite evident because, if lands bordering on streams are
shown in Exhibit A. exposed to floods and other damage due to destructive force of the waters, and if by
virtue of law they are subject to incumbrances and various kinds of easements, it is
The applicant asked that the case be reopened on account of his having discovered only just that such risks or dangers as may prejudice the owners thereof should in
very important proof; to this end he filed an affidavit stating that he had learned the some way be compensated by the right of accretion.
whereabouts of the original owner of the land, who was better informed with respect
to its conditions and location; but, as said motion was overruled, he excepted to the And, although the acts of possession exercised over the bordering land are always
judgment and also moved for a new trial on the ground that the decision of the court understood legally to cover that portion added to the property by accretion, in this
was contrary to law and to the weight of the evidence. This motion was likewise case shrubs have been planted there, which furnish additional proof that Maximo
denied and exception taken. Cortes has exercised rights of ownership and possession over the whole area of the
property the registration of which he requests.
The dominion of the applicant, Maximo Cortes, over the land or building lot acquired
by him from Higinio Francisco y Prospero, according to the public deed executed For the reasons above set forth it is our opinion that the judgment appealed from
before a notary on the 3rd of July, 1894, registered in the registry of property, is should be reversed, as we do hereby reverse the same, and that the court below
unquestionable and has been fully proven; and, in view of the validity of his title, the should direct that the land to which the appellant refers be recorded in the registry

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of property in accordance with the law, including that portion of the same added by Fabian B.S. Abellera appeared as claimant while Narciso de Guzman and others
accretion up to the water line of the Meisic River, without any special ruling as to appeared as adverse claimant. The latter through counsel moved that Abellera's
costs. So ordered. claim over the lots concerned be dismissed on the grounds of res judicata and
prescription.
G.R. No. L-48480 July 30, 1943
A careful examination of the decision of this Court in the previous case (37 Phil.,
FABIAN B. S. ABELLERA, petitioner, vs.MEYNARDO M. FAROL, ET AL., 865) convinces us that there is no res judicata. We merely held that Abellera had not
respondents. acquired title to the hacienda until the execution of the deed of acceptance and the
notification thereof, and we clearly refused to prevent Abellera from instituting a
BOCOBO, J.: new action based upon his assertion that he had acquired title to the estate since
the dismissal of his original action.
Whether in a cadastral case, the judge may upon motion of adverse claimants order
the cancellation of the claimant's answer and keep the latter from introducing The other ground for the motion for dismissal, prescription, is not involved in the
evidence to prove his ownership because the case is barred by a prior judgment, is present proceedings.
the legal question at issue in this case. An order to that effect issued by the Court of
First Instance of La Union, is impugned by Fabian B.S. Abellera in a petition for a writ The next question is: Did the cadastral court, on the ground of res judicata, have any
of certiorari. power to entertain the motion to dismiss Abellera's claim and bar him from
presenting evidence to prove his ownership of these lots?
Abellera, in a previous case concerning the same real estate involved herein, sued
Hermegildo Balanag and others who are either the same parties in this case or the Rule 132 of the Rules of Court provides:
latter's predecessors in interest, alleging ownership of the land. But his complaint
was dismissed by the Court of First Instance on two grounds: (1) prescription in favor These rules shall not apply to land registration, cadastral and election cases,
of defendants; and (2) the deed of donation of these lands to him had not been naturalization and insolvency proceedings, and other cases not herein provided for,
formally accepted according to Article 633 of the Civil Code. Upon appeal to this except by analogy or in a suppletory character and whenever practicable and
Court, the judgment of the trial court was affirmed on the second ground convenient.
aforementioned (Abellera vs. Balanag G.R. No. 11970, promulgated March 22, 1918,
and reported in 37 Phil. 865). The Rules of Court may be applied in cadastral cases when two conditions are
present: (1) analogy or need to supplement the cadastral law, and (2) practicability
It appears in that decision of this Court that after the perfection of the appeal, and convenience.
Abellera executed a public document formally accepting the donation of the land,
and presented and deed of acceptance together with proofs of notification of If the nature and objective of the cadastral scheme are kept in view, a motion to
acceptance to the donor, as ground for new trial. This Court held that this was not dismiss in a cadastral case on the ground of prior judgment would seem to be out of
newly-discovered evidence, and that Abellera had not acquired title to the hacienda place. The Government initiates a cadastral case, compelling all claimants in a
until the execution of the deed of acceptance and the notification thereof to donor. municipality to litigate against one another regarding their respective claims of
This Court added: ownership. By this plan, all the private lands in a town are registered in one single
collective proceeding. Thus, the piece-meal and isolated registration of lands, so
So that whether rights he may have to institute and maintain a new action of inadequate in more ways than one, is avoided. The principal aim is to settle as much
ejectment in reliance upon his claim that he has acquired title to the hacienda, since as possible all disputes over land and to remove all clouds over land titles, as far a
the date of the dismissal of this action, it is clear that the present action was practicable, in a community. To attain this purpose, the cadastral court should allow
properly dismissed on the ground of failure of proof of title in the plaintiff at the time all claimants ample freedom to ventilate whatever right they may assert over real
when the action was instituted and later when judgment of dismissal was entered by estate, permitting them, in keeping with the law of evidence, to offer proofs in
the trial court. support of their allegations. To countenance the contrary opinion, by suppressing
the presentation of evidence in support of claims, would but serve to perpetuate
In July of 1918, or four months after the above-mentioned decision of this Court, conflicts over land, for such stifled affirmations of ownership will fester like wounds
petitioner herein brought another action for recovery of the land against the same unskillfully treated. No sufficient leeway having been give all claimants to
defendants in the previous case. The second suit was later dismissed by the Court of demonstrate the strength and consistently of their alleged rights, the stability of
First Instance and transferred to cadastral case No. 5 which included the hacienda in decrees of title is jeopardized.
question that had in the meantime been subdivided into lots. When the cadastral
case came up before the Hon. Meynardo M. Farol at Aringay, La Union, in July 1941, In Haw Pia vs. Roman A. Cruz (G.R. No. 48506), we declared that the Court of First
Instance in a cadastral proceeding cannot appoint a receiver because its jurisdiction
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is special and limited. We declined in that case to apply the new Rules of Court by
analogy.

We are, therefore, of the opinion that while in a cadastral case res judicata is
available to a claimant in order to defeat the alleged rights of another claimant,
nevertheless prior judgment can not set up in a motion to dismiss.

The order appealed from is hereby reversed. Petitioner herein shall in the cadastral
proceedings be allowed to present evidence to prove his claim over the lots in
question. With costs against the adverse claimants who are respondents herein. So
ordered.

Yulo, C.J., Moran and Ozaeta, JJ. concur.

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