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Republic of the Philippines

SUPREME COURT
Manila
EN BANC
G.R. Nos. 162335 and 162605 SEVERINO M. MANOTOK IV, FROILAN
M. MANOTOK, FERNANDO M. MANOTOK, FAUSTO M. MANOTOK III,
MA. MAMERTA M. MANOTOK, PATRICIA L. TIONGSON, PACITA L. GO,
ROBERTO LAPERAL III, MICHAEL MARSHALL V. MANOTOK, MARY
ANN V. MANOTOK, FELISA MYLENE V. MANOTOK, IGNACIO V.
MANOTOK, JR., MILAGROS V. MANOTOK, SEVERINO MANOTOK III,
ROSA R. MANOTOK, MIGUEL A.B. SISON, GEORGE M. BOCANEGRA,
MA. CRISTINA E. SISON, PHILIPP L. MANOTOK, JOSE CLEMENTE L.
MANOTOK, RAMON SEVERINO L. MANOTOK, THELMA R. MANOTOK,
JOSE MARIA MANOTOK, JESUS JUDE MANOTOK, JR., and MA.
THERESA L. MANOTOK, represented by their Attorney-in-fact, ROSA
R. MANOTOK, Petitioners, - versus - HEIRS OF HOMER L. BARQUE,
represented by TERESITA BARQUE- HERNANDEZ, Respondents.
x- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - x
SEPARATE CONCURRING OPINION
CARPIO, J.:
The Antecedents
On 22 October 1996, Homer L. Barque, Sr. (Barque, Sr.) represented by
Teresita Barque-Hernandez filed a petition for administrative reconstitution
of the original copy of TCT No. 210177 of the Registry of Deeds of Quezon
City. TCT No. 210177 was allegedly destroyed when a fire gutted the
Quezon City Hall on 11 June 1988. In support of the petition, Barque, Sr.
submitted the owners duplicate certificate of title, Real Estate Tax Receipts
and Tax Declaration.
Atty. Benjamin M. Bustos (Atty. Bustos), Reconstituting Officer and Chief of
the Reconstitution Division, Land Registration Authority (LRA) wrote a letter
dated 29 October 1996,1 addressed to Engineer Privadi J. Dalire (Engineer
Dalire), Chief of the Geodetic Surveys Division of the Lands Management

Bureau, Binondo, Manila. Atty. Bustos requested Engineer Dalire to furnish


him with a certified copy of Subdivision Plan Fls-3168-D (Fls-3168-D). Atty.
Bustos wrote a similar but undated letter addressed to the Chief of the
Surveys Division of the Lands Management Services, Department of
Environment and Natural Resources, National Capital Region (LMS-DENRNCR).2
In his reply dated 7 November 1996,3 Engineer Dalire informed Atty. Bustos
that the Lands Management Bureau has no record of Fls-3168-D. In a
letter dated 28 November 1996,4 Engineer Ernesto S. Erive (Engineer
Erive), Chief of the Surveys Division of the LMS-DENR-NCR, informed Atty.
Bustos that a microfilm copy of Fls-3168-D is on file in the Technical
Records and Statistical Section of their office.
The letter of Engineer Erive confirming the existence of a microfilm copy of
Fls-3168-D conflicted with the letter of Engineer Dalire that his office has no
record of Fls-3168-D. Thus, Atty. Bustos sent another letter dated 2
December 19965 to Engineer Dalire requesting for clarification. In a letter
dated 5 December 1996,6 Engineer Dalire requested the Regional
Technical Director of LMS-DENR-NCR for a copy of Fls-3168-D for
evaluation. Engineer Dalire wrote:
In connection with the letter of clarification dated December 2, 1996
of the Reconstituting Officer and Chief Reconstitution Division of LRA
relative to the certified reproduction plan FLS-3168-D (microfilm)
issued by the Chief, Technical Records & Statistical Section on
September 23, 1996 and our letter dated November 7, 1996 that we
have no record of Fls-3168-D. In this regards (sic), please forward to
us the copy on file in that office (DENR-NCR) from where the Chief of
Technical Records and Statistical Section reproduced a copy he
issued to LRA for our evaluation.
In the machine copy of Fls-3168-D (furnished to us by LRA) from
the copy of that office issued to LRA, the said copy on file in
your office did not emanate from this Office. The stamp,
particularly, bearing the name of this office and the Chief of
Geodetic Surveys is not the same stamp we are using.
Please forward to us the said plan for evaluation and comment.

A letter dated 2 January 1997,7 purportedly from Engineer Dalire,


addressed to the LRA Administrator, was handcarried to, and received by
the LRA General Records Section on 7 January 1997. The letter states:
SUBJECT: Copy of Plan FLS-3168-D
Caloocan, M.M.
02 January 1997
The Administrator
Attn: The Reconstituting Officer &
Chief, Reconstitution Division
Land Registration Authority
East Avenue, Quezon City
Sir:
In reply to your letter dated December 2, 1996, please be informed
that the copy of the subject plan was forwarded to this office by the
Chief, Technical Records and Statistical Section of the National
Capital Region Lands Management Sector for our evaluation. As per
verification and comparison made in our microfilm records, it was
found out that they are identical and bore the same stamps and
initials used in this office.
In view hereof, it is further informed that in our reply letter dated
Nov. 7, 1996 we indicated the status thereof because we failed to
verify from our index cards then for our last result, hence, this
case be given due course for Administrative reconstitution (sic).
Very truly yours,
For the Director,
Lands Management Bureau
(SGD.)
PRIVADI J. G. DALIRE
Chief, Geodetic Surveys Division

Interestingly, Engineer Dalire wrote another letter dated 5 January


19978 addressed to the Regional Technical Director, LMS-DENR-NCR,
thus:
This is a follow-up to our previous request dated 05 December 1996
to that Office in connection with the letter of clarification dated
December 2, 1996 of the Reconstituting Officer and Chief
Reconstitution Division of the Land Registration Authority relative to
the certified reproduction of plan Fls-3168-D (microfilm) issued by
that office (signed by Carmelita A. Soriano, Chief of Technical
Records and Statistics Section) on September 23, 1996 to Teresita
Hernandez and our letter dated November 7, 1996 to the LRA that we
have no records of Fls-3168-D.
The Land Registration Authority however, furnished us with
machine copy of Fls-3168-D reproduced from the copy issued by
that Office and we found out that the copy of Fls-3168-D file (sic)
in your office did not emanate from this Office. We reiterate that
we have no records (sic) of Fls-3168-D.
May we request you again to please forward to us the said copy
of plan Fls-3168-D on file in your office for our evaluation and
comment.
Engineer Dalire sent another letter dated 31 January 1997 9 to the LRA
Administrator. The letter states:
31 January 1997
The Administrator
Attn: The Reconstituting Officer
and Chief, Reconstitution Division
Land Registration Authority
East Avenue, Diliman, Quezon City
Sir:
In your letter dated December 2, 1996 (IN RE: Administrative
Reconstitution of the Original Transfer Certificate of Title No. 210177
in the Register of Deeds of Quezon City, Homer L. Barque, Sr.,

Represented by Teresita Barque-Hernandez, Petitioner) you


requested us to clarify the fact that the Regional Office has a
microfilm copy of plan Fls-3168-D, while our office does not have a
record of the same. In that letter, you attached for our reference the
following:
1. Xerox copy of a certified true copy of plan Fls-3168-D, issued
by the TRSS, NCR;
2. Reply letter of Engineer Ernesto S. Erive, dated Nov. 28,
1996;
3. Our reply letter dated November 7, 1996 to your letter dated
October 29, 1996
In this connection, please be informed that we wrote on December 5,
1996 the DENR-NCR about your letter dated December 2, 1996
informing them that the plan Fls-3168-D filed in that Office from
where the reproduced copy furnished to LRA did not emanate from
our office. We requested them to forward to us the said plan for our
evaluation and comment. Likewise, on January 5, 1997, we made a
follow-up, reiterating that we have no records (sic) of Fls-3168-D and
requesting them to forward the plan for our evaluation and comment.
It is regretted, they did not respond.
Upon examination of the copy of Fls-3168-D allegedly issued by
DENR-NCR, it is certain that the source of the copy is a spurious
plan which may have been inserted in the file. We requested for
the copy in their file last 05 December 1996 and 05 January 1997 but
until this writing, NCR has not sent us the copy for authentication as
required by DENR Administrative Order. We are sure that the copy
did not come from this Office. The reasons are:
a. Our inventory of approved plans enrolled in our file, our Microfilm
Computer list of plans available for decentralization all show that we
do not have this plan Fls-3168-D, logically we cannot issue any copy.
b. The copy of the plan Fls-3168-D shows visible signs that it is a
spurious copy.

1) The certification (rubber stamp) serves a two piece stamp.


The certification and the signing official are separate. Ours is
one-piece.
2) The alignment of: Lands, GEODETIC, this, Privadi, and Chief
in the syndicates (sic) stamp differ from our stamp. Chief,
Geodetic Surveys Division is our stamp, their (sic) is Survey
without the "s" plural.
3) We do not stamp the plan twice as the syndicate did on the
copy.
4) The size of the lettering in the rubber stamp "Not for
Registration/Titling For Reference Only" is smaller than our
stamp. It is also incomplete as an (sic) Stamp, in addition to
[the] above is "of _________".
5) The copy bears forged initials of my action officer and
myself. I sign completely certification.
6) The name of the claimant is very visible to have been
tampered in the master copy.
7) Again, it is certified that this Bureau does not have copy
of Fls-3168-D.
In view of the foregoing, the copy of Fls-3168-D furnished your
Office as well as the alleged letter authenticating it should be
disregarded or rejected as they come from spurious sources.
This involves the reconstitution of title allegedly lot 823-A of Fls-3168D with an area of 171,473 Sq. M. Surely, the use of the spurious copy
of Fls-3168-D for the reconstitution of title will create land problem
involving prime lots in that area.
Meanwhile, we requested our Records Division to find out to whom
lot 823 (or portion thereof) Piedad Estate was conveyed.
Very truly yours,
For the Director,
Lands Management Bureau:

(SGD.)
PRIVADI J.G. DALIRE
Chief, Geodetic Surveys Division
In a letter dated 13 February 199710 to the LRA Administrator, Engineer
Dalire explained that the 2 January 1997 letter was forged. Thus:
13 February 1997
The Administrator
Land Registration Authority
East Avenue, NIA Road
Quezon City
ATTN: Atty. Benjamin M. Bustos
Reconstituting Officer
Sir:
In reply to your letter dated January 28, 1997 which we received
today, please be informed that as per the inventory of approved
surveys which are officially enrolled in our file, the locator cards, the
microfilm, list of plans on file which were decentralized to our regions,
that are on file in this Bureau show that plan Fls-3168-D is not among
the plans in our file. The non-existence of plan Fls-3168-D in our
file, hence there is none to decentralize to our National Capital
Region, is the subject of our reply to you dated 07 November
1996 (copy attached).
With respect to the letter dated 02 January 1997, xerox copy
attached to your letter, this letter definitely did not come from
this office; it is a forged document. The statement that the
subject plan was forwarded to us by the Chief, Technical
Records Statistics Section of the NCR-LMS is not true. Until now
the NCR has not turned over the plan they reproduced in
compliance with our urgent requests dated 03 January 1996 and
followed up by our letters 03 January 1997 and 06 February
1997 (copies attached).

With respect to the questioned plan of Fls-3168-D, xerox copy


attached to your letter of December 2, 1996, our detailed findings
tending to prove it is a spurious copy have been discussed in our
letter-reply dated 31 January 1997.
Meanwhile, we are retrieving the plan allegedly in the file of NCR for
investigation and/or validation under DENR Administrative Order No.
40, s. 1991.
Very truly yours,
(SGD.)
PRIVADI J.G. DALIRE
Chief, Geodetic Surveys Division
Finally, in a letter dated 19 February 1997, 11 Engineer Dalire requested Atty.
Bustos to disregard Fls-3168-D for being spurious, thus:
19 February 1997
Atty. Benjamin M. Bustos
Reconstituting Officer
Land Registration Authority
East Avenue, Quezon City
Dear Atty. Bustos:
In reply to your query whether or not
a) the copy of plan Fls-3168-D submitted to you involving lot
823, Piedad Estate as surveyed for Emiliano Setosta;
b) the letter dated 07 November 1996, and
c) the letter dated 02 January 1997
are authentic and really coming from this office.
The letter dated 07 November 1996 (copy attached) stating that this
Bureau has no records of Fls-3168-D is authentic. Our Inventory
Record of Approved Surveys, our computerized list of plans officially

filed in this Bureau, the Locator Cards, and the microfilm all show that
we have no records or information about Plan Fls-3168-D.
The copy of Fls-3168-D attached to your letter dated December
2, 1996 is not issued by this Office.There are many markings on
the copy to prove it did not come from LMB. Reasons, among others,
are:
1) We have no copy of Fls-3168-D on file so how can we
issue a copy of plan that is non-existing?
2) The copy of plan bears two "Certifications" at the top and at
lower half. This is not our practice;
3) The rubber-stamp shows there are two pieces; one for the
certification and another for the signing official. We use one
piece rubber stamp. The alignment of the letters/words of one
rubber stamp is different from this marking on this spurious
plan;
4) The plan shows only initial. I sign in full copies of plans
with the initials of my action officers and their codings
below my signature. These are not present in the spurious
copy of plan;
5) The letter size of the rubber stamp "NOT FOR
REGISTRATION/TITLING, FOR REFERENCE ONLY" is
smaller than our rubber stamp;
6) The spurious copy of plan you furnished us does not carry
our rubber stamp "GOVERNMENT PROPERTY NOT TO BE
SOLD: FOR OFFICIAL USE ONLY OF ___________________
"This is stamped on all microfilm copies we issue because all
microfilm copies are for official use only of our LMS. We have
shown you our rubber stamps to prove that the copy of Fls3168-D in your possession is a spurious plan.
I firmly deny having prepared and issued the letter dated 02
January 1997 stating that copy of subject plan (Fls-3168-D) was
forwarded to us by the Chief Technical Records and Statistics
Section of the NCR and that as per verification, the plan is

identical to the microfilm and that the case be given due course
for administrative reconstitution. Certainly this is not true. This
is the handiwork of forgers. How can this be when NCR has
never given us the alleged copy in their file for validation. The
forwarding of the copy to us is mandatory under DAO No. 49 for
our validation. This is the subject of our letters to NCR dated 05
December 1996, 03 January 1997 and 06 February 1997 (copies
attached). Definitely this letter was never prepared and issued
by this Office. Our record books and file attest to this. We do not
use letterheads for letters involving this topic.
Apparently our letter of 31 January 1997 (copy attached) was
intercepted and did not reach you.
For all intent and purposes, please disregard the plan Fls-3168-D and
the letter dated 02 January 1997 as they are proven to be spurious
documents.
Very truly yours,
For the Director of Lands:
(SGD.)
PRIVADI J.G. DALIRE
Chief, Geodetic Surveys Division
The Ruling of the Reconstituting Officer
In an Order dated 30 June 1997,12 Atty. Bustos denied the petition for
administrative reconstitution of TCT No. 210177 on the following grounds:
1. Lots 823-A and 823-B, Fls-3168-D, containing areas of 171,473
Sq. Mtrs. and 171,472, respectively,covered by TCT No. 210177,
appear to duplicate Lot 823 Piedad Estate, containing an area of
342,945 Sq. Mtrs., covered by TCT No. 372302 registered in the
name of Severino M. Manotok, et al., reconstituted under Adm.
Reconstitution No. Q-213 dated February 01, 1991;
2. The submitted plan Fls-3168-D is a spurious document as
categorically stated by Engineer Privadi J.G. Dalire, Chief,

Geodetic Surveys Division, Lands Management Bureau, in his letter


dated February 19, 1997.13 (Boldfacing and underscoring supplied)
Barque, Sr. moved for reconsideration of the Order. In an Order dated 10
February 1998,14 Atty. Bustos denied the motion for lack of merit.
The Heirs of Barque (Barques) filed an appeal with the LRA, docketed as
Admin. Recons. No. Q-547-A [97].
The Ruling of the Land Registration Authority
In a Resolution dated 24 June 1998,15 the LRA gave due course to the
appeal. The LRA ruled that under LRA Circular No. 13, 16 only the owners or
co-owners duplicate of an original or transfer certificate of title may be
used as a source of administrative reconstitution. Hence, Atty. Bustos erred
in requiring the submission of documents other than the owners duplicate
TCT. The LRA further ruled that Engineer Dalire failed to deny or question
the genuineness of his signature in the letter of 2 January 1997. The LRA
held that the 2 January 1997 letter is an official communication from
Engineer Dalire. The LRA Administrator personally opined that the
Manotoks TCT No. RT-22481 [372302] is sham and spurious. Thus:
It is undisputed that Lot 823 of the Piedad Estate, the property in
question, is located at Barrio Matandang Balara, Quezon City.
Several documents submitted by oppositors particularly the several
Deeds of Sale and Unilateral Deed of Conveyance including the real
estate tax receipts would show that Lot 823 of the Piedad Estate is
located at Barrio Payong, and/or Barrio Culiat [Annexes "2" to "77"
inclusive "79", "84" and "85" of Opposition] which is grossly
inaccurate. The map of Quezon City [Annex "N" of Petitioners
Position Paper] would show that there is no such barrio as Payong. It
must likewise be noted that there is a Barrio Culiat but the same is
separate and distinct from Barrio Matandang Balara and they do not
adjoin each other. Quite perplexing though is the fact that the real
estate tax receipts for payments made after the Quezon City Hall was
gutted by fire on 11 June 1988 would show that the property covered
thereby is already situated at Barrio Matandang Balara [Annexes "91"
to "104" inclusive of Opposition], while in other tax payment receipts
[Annexes "103" to "114" inclusive of Opposition], Barrio Capitol is
indicated as the location of the property in question. This is highly

questionable and likewise highly irregular. The said real estate tax
receipts also reflect the tax declaration of the property covered
thereby. It is highly irregular that the tax declaration numbers
indicated therein would vary and those tax declarations which appear
to have been canceled would again be revived.
The claim of the oppositors that the property in question per TCT No.
RT-22481 [372302] covers only one [1] lot is also inaccurate and
without any basis. Plan FLS 3168D shows that the property in
question indeed consists of two [2] lots, Lot 823-A and Lot 823-B. The
same is being buttressed and corroborated by the certified copy of
the tax map over the property in question issued by the Quezon City
Assessors Office [annex "H" of Petitioners Position Paper]. Said tax
map shows that similar to TCT No. 210177 and Plan FLS 3168D, the
property in question covers two [2] lots, Lot 823-A and Lot 823-B.
Granting arguendo that Lot 823 of the Piedad Estate has not yet been
subdivided into two [2] lots from the date of original survey in 1907, it
is highly irregular that TCT No. RT-22481 [372302] would have Lot
822-A Psd 2498, Lot 818-A and Lot 818-C Psd 2507 as boundaries
when at the time of the original survey, there were no such Psds yet.
Examination of the technical decription and boundaries appearing in
TCT No. RT-22481 [372302] would show that the same do not, in all
respects, conform to the certified technical description and
boundaries of Lot 823 of the Piedad Estate [property in question]
which are the B. L. Form No. 28-37-R and B. L. Form No. 31-10
issued by the Bureau of Lands [Annexes "I" and "J" of Petitioners
Position Paper]. There was never any mention of Payatas Estate nor
Tuazon Estate as the boundaries of the lot in question. The lot in
question does not at all adjoin the Payatas Estate which was
surveyed only on January 12, 1923 as per certification issued by the
LMS-DENR-NCR [Annex "L" Petitioners Position Paper]. As correctly
pointed out by petitioners, Lot 822 was mentioned as one of the
boundaries of TCT No. RT-22481 [372302]. It was not, however,
indicated whether or not it was Lot 822 of the Piedad Estate. 17
However, the LRA ruled that TCT No. 210177 may only be
reconstituted after a court of competent jurisdiction cancelled TCT No.
RT-22481 (372302) in the name of the Manotoks. The dispositive portion of
the LRA Resolution reads:

WHEREFORE, in view of the foregoing, it is hereby ordered that


reconstitution of TCT No. 210177 in the name of Homer L. Barque,
Sr. shall be given due course after cancellation of TCT No. RT22481 (372302) in the name of the Manotoks upon order of a
court of competent jurisdiction.
SO ORDERED.18 (Emphasis supplied)
The Manotoks filed a motion for reconsideration. In an Order dated 14 June
2001,19 the LRA denied the motion.
The Manotoks filed a petition for review docketed as CA-G.R. SP No.
66642 before the Court of Appeals challenging the 24 June 1998
Resolution and 14 June 2001 Order of the LRA.
The Barques filed a petition for review docketed as CA-G.R. SP No. 66700
praying for the modification of 24 June 1998 Resolution and 14 June 2001
Order of the LRA. The Barques prayed for the immediate reconstitution of
TCT No. 210177 without prior cancellation of TCT No. RT-22481 (372302)
by a court of competent jurisdiction.
The Ruling of the Court of Appeals
CA-G.R. No. 66642
CA-G.R. No. 66642 was initially dismissed in the Resolution of 23 October
200120 for failure to show that Rosa Manotok was authorized to sign the
verification and certification against forum shopping in behalf of the other
petitioners. Upon motion for reconsideration filed by the Manotoks, the
petition was reinstated in the Resolution of 27 November 2001. 21
In its Decision of 29 October 2003,22 the Court of Appeals denied the
Manotoks petition and affirmed the LRA Resolution of 24 June 1998.
However, upon motion for reconsideration of the Barques, the Court of
Appeals promulgated an Amended Decision on 24 February 2004, 23 the
dispositive portion of which reads:
WHEREFORE, the Motion for Reconsideration is hereby GRANTED.
The Decision of this Court dated 29 October 2003 is
RECONSIDERED and a new one is entered ordering the Register of
Deeds of Quezon City to cancel petitioners TCT No. RT-22481 and

directing the LRA to reconstitute forthwith respondents TCT No. T210177.


SO ORDERED.24
The Manotoks came to this Court for relief. Their petition was docketed as
G.R. No. 162335.
CA-G.R. SP No. 66700
In a Decision promulgated on 13 September 2002, 25 the Court of Appeals
dismissed the Barques petition and affirmed the LRA Resolution of 24 June
1998. The Barques moved for reconsideration of the Decision.
In an Amended Decision promulgated on 7 November 2003, 26 the Court of
Appeals reconsidered its 13 September 2002 Decision, as follows:
WHEREFORE, our decision dated 13 September 2002 is hereby
reconsidered. Accordingly, the Register of Deeds of Quezon City is
hereby directed to cancel TCT No. RT-22481 of private respondents
and the LRA is hereby directed to reconstitute forthwith petitioners
valid, genuine and existing Certificate of Title No. T-210177.
No pronouncement as to costs.
SO ORDERED.27
The Manotoks filed a motion for reconsideration of the Amended Decision.
In its Resolution of 12 March 2004,28the Court of Appeals denied the
motion.
The Manotoks filed a petition for review with this Court, docketed as G.R.
No. 162605.
The cases were consolidated in the Courts Resolution of 2 August 2004.
In a Decision dated 12 December 2005,29 the First Division of this Court
denied the petitions and affirmed the Amended Decisions of the Court of
Appeals in CA-G.R. SP No. 66642 and CA-G.R. SP No. 66700. In its 19
April 2006 Resolution,30 the Special First Division of this Court denied the
Manotoks motion for reconsideration. No proceeding of any kind took

place before any trial court assailing the validity of the Torrens title of
the Manotoks. Yet, as the final resolution of the Barques simple petition
for administrative reconstitution, the First Division of this
Court cancelled the Torrens title of the Manotoks and declared the title of
the Barques not only reconstituted, but also valid.
In a Resolution dated 12 September 2006, this Court, among others,
granted the Motion for Leave to Intervene filed by Felicitas B. Manahan and
Rosendo Manahan (Manahans).
In a Resolution dated 19 July 2006, the Special First Division of this Court
referred the cases to the Court en banc. In its 26 July 2006 Resolution, the
Court en banc accepted the cases. In the Oral Argument on 24 July 2007,
the Court en banc considered the following issues:
1. Does the Court of Appeals have jurisdiction to cancel petitioners
TCT No. RT-22481 without a trial before the proper regional trial court
in a proceeding directly assailing the validity of petitioners title?
2. Does the LRA have jurisdiction to administratively reconstitute the
allegedly lost TCT No. 210177 in the name of respondents despite
the previously reconstituted TCT No. RT-22481 of the petitioners over
the same property?
3. Does the LRA have jurisdiction to adjudicate on the validity of
petitioners TCT No. RT-22481 in the administrative reconstitution
case filed by respondents with the LRA?
4. Does the Court of Appeals or the LRA have jurisdiction to decide
the ownership of the disputed property in the administrative
reconstitution of title filed by respondents?
The Ruling of This Court
We set aside the 12 December 2005 Decision of the First Division of this
Court.
First, the 12 December 2005 Decision of the First Division of this
Court overturns well-entrenched doctrines of this Court, such as the
decision in Sps. Antonio and Genoveva Balanon-Anicete, et al. v. Pedro
Balanon.31Second, the LRA has no jurisdiction to reconstitute the Barques

title because of the pre-existing Torrens title of the Manotoks. Third, a


Torrens title can only be cancelled if a direct proceeding assailing its validity
is filed before the proper Regional Trial Court. Fourth, the Barques
submitted patently forged documents in the administrative reconstitution
of their title, and even in the attachments to their Memorandum of 23
August 2007.
FOUR FIRSTS IN PHILIPPINE JURISPRUDENCE
The 12 December 2005 Decision of the First Division made four
"firsts." First, it is the first decision in Philippine jurisprudence where
an administrative reconstitution of title resulted in the cancellation of the
Torrens title of another person without a direct attack of the cancelled title in
any trial court. Second, it is the first decision in Philippine jurisprudence
authorizing the LRA to reconstitute administratively a Torrens title despite
the existence of a previously issued Torrens title over the same property in
the name of another person. Third, it is the firstdecision in Philippine
jurisprudence where the issue of ownership of land is decided with finality
in a petition foradministrative reconstitution of title. And fourth, it is
the first decision in Philippine jurisprudence where the petitioner in an
administrative petition praying for a simple reconstitution of title received an
unexpected and undeserved windfall the declaration of validity of his
reconstituted title and the cancellation of a previously issued Torrens title in
the name of another person over the same property.
LANDMARK DOCTRINES OVERTURNED
The Decision of the First Division overturns three doctrines firmly
established in numerous decisions of this Court, both en banc and in
division, many of them landmark rulings. To name a few of these
decisions starting in the year 1915: Legarda and Prieto v.
Saleeby,32 Magay, etc. v. Estiandan,33 Republic v. Court of
Appeals,34Alabang Development Corporation, et al. v. Valenzuela, etc., et
al.,35 MWSS v. Hon. Sison, etc., et al.,36 Liwag v. Court of Appeals,37 Ybaez
v. Intermediate Appellate Court,38 Serra Serra v. Court of Appeals,39 Ortigas
& Company Limited Partnership v. Velasco,40 Heirs of Santiago v. Heirs of
Santiago,41 and Alonso v. Cebu Country Club, Inc.42
The three well-established doctrines that the Decision of the First Division
has overturned are:

1. A Torrens title can be cancelled only in a proceeding directly


attacking the titles validity before the proper regional trial court. 43 This
is the bedrock principle that provides enduring stability to Torrens
titles.
2. A reconstitution of Torrens title, whether judicial or administrative,
cannot proceed once it is shown that another Torrens title has already
been issued to another person over the same property. The
reconstituting body or court has no jurisdiction to issue another
Torrens title over the same property to the petitioner.44The existence
of a prior title ipso facto nullifies the reconstitution proceedings.45 The
proper recourse is to assail directly in a proceeding before the
regional trial court the validity of the Torrens title already issued to the
other person.
3. The reconstituting officer or court has no jurisdiction to decide the
issue of ownership over the property or the validity of the title. 46 The
purpose of reconstitution is solely to replace a certificate of title that
was lost or destroyed in the same legal status it existed at the time of
the loss or destruction. The validity of a Torrens title, reconstituted or
not, is a separate issue from the reconstitution of title.
DOCTRINE OF IMMUTABILITY NOT APPLICABLE
The dissenting opinion asserts that the 12 December 2005 Decision of the
First Division has already become final and executory, and thus has
become immutable and unalterable. The dissenting opinion states that
there is no compelling reason to depart from the doctrine of immutability
and unalterability of decisions.
On the contrary, the 12 December 2005 Decision never became final and
executory. The doctrine of immutability and unalterability of
decisions necessarily applies only to final and executory decisions. If
the decision never became final and executory, the doctrine of immutability
and unalterability of decisions has no application. Before finality of a
decision, a court has "plenary power to alter, modify or even set aside, its
own decisions, and even order a new trial, at any time before the decision
becomes final."47
There are two compelling jurisdictional reasons why the 12 December
2005 Decision of the First Division never became final and executory. First,

the First Division has no jurisdiction to overturn a doctrine laid down by the
Court en banc or in division. The Court en banc has ruled in Group
Commander, Intelligence and Security Group, Philippine Army v. Dr.
Malvar48 that a decision of a division is void if it overturns a doctrine
established by the en banc or another division. There, the Court held:
Section 4, sub-paragraph (3), Article VIII of the 1987 Constitution,
provides:
"x x x no doctrine or principle of law laid down by the (Supreme)
Court en banc or its Divisions may be modified or reversed
except by the Court sitting en banc."
A Decision rendered by a Division of this Court in violation of
the above constitutional provision would be in excess of
jurisdiction and, therefore, invalid.49 (Emphasis supplied)
A void decision vests no right, creates no obligation, grants no title, and
settles no issue. A void decision protects no one and is subject to attack,
directly or collaterally,50 at any time. A void decision has no existence in law.
Therefore, a void decision cannot become final and executory against, or in
favor of, any one.
Second, the doctrine of immutability and unalterability of decisions applies
only if the trial court or hearing officer has jurisdiction over the subject
matter. A decision rendered by a trial court or hearing officer without
jurisdiction over the subject matter is void and cannot become final and
executory. Such decision cannot even become res judicata because there
can be no conclusiveness of judgment if the trial court or hearing officer
has no jurisdiction over the subject matter.51
In these cases, the LRA has no jurisdiction to reconstitute administratively
the title of the Barques because such reconstitution constitutes an indirect
or collateral attack on the pre-existing Torrens title of the Manotoks over
the same property. Section 48 of the Property Registration
Decree52 states that a "certificate of title shall not be subject to a
collateral attack." The LRA, or even any court for that matter, has no
jurisdiction to entertain a collateral attack53 on a Torrens title. The
Manotoks prior title must be deemed valid and subsisting as it cannot be
assailed through collateral attack in the reconstitution proceedings. 54

THE MANOTOKS PRIOR TITLE NULLIFIES RECONSTITUTION


PROCEEDINGS OF BARQUES
In fact, the existence of a prior Torrens title over the same property in the
name of another person ipso facto nullifies the reconstitution proceedings
and renders the reconstituted title void.55 Demetriou v. Court of
Appeals,56penned by Justice Vicente V. Mendoza, is instructive and
summarizes the law on this matter:
But a judgment otherwise final may be annulled not only on the
ground of extrinsic fraud but also because of lack of jurisdiction of the
court which rendered it. In Serra Serra v. Court of Appeals, on facts
analogous to those involved in this case, this Court already held
that if a certificate of title has not been lost but is in fact in the
possession of another person, the reconstituted title is void and
the court rendering the decision has not acquired jurisdiction.
Consequently, the decision may be attacked any time. Indeed,
Rep. Act No. 26, 18 provides that "in case a certificate of title,
considered lost or destroyed be found or recovered, the same shall
prevail over the reconstituted certificate of title." It was, therefore,
error for the Court of Appeals to dismiss the petition for annulment of
judgment of the petitioners.57 (Emphasis supplied)
Even before Demetriou, this Court had already ruled in Republic v. Court of
Appeals58 that the existence of a prior Torrens title ipso facto nullifies the
reconstitution proceedings, thus:
The existence of the two titles of the Government for Lots Nos.
915 and 918 ipso facto nullified the reconstitution
proceedings and signified that the evidence in the said proceedings
as to the alleged ownership of Laborada and Bombasi cannot be
given any credence. The two proceedings were sham and deceitful
and were filed in bad faith. Such humbuggery or imposture cannot be
countenanced and cannot be the source of legitimate rights and
benefits.
Republic Act No. 26 provides for a special procedure for the
reconstitution of Torrens certificates of title that are missing and not
fictitious titles or titles which are existing. It is a patent absurdity to

reconstitute existing certificates of title that are on file and available in


the registry of deeds.
The reconstitution proceedings in Civil Cases Nos. C-677 and C763 are void because they are contrary to Republic Act No. 26
and beyond the purview of that law since the titles reconstituted
are actually subsisting in the registry of deeds and do not
require reconstitution at all. As a rule, acts executed against the
provisions of mandatory laws are void (Art. 5, Civil Code).
To sustain the validity of the reconstituted titles in these cases
would be to allow Republic Act No. 26 to be utilized as an
instrument for landgrabbing (See Republic vs. Court of Appeals,
Ocampo and Anglo, L-31303-04, May 31, 1978, 83 SCRA 453, 480,
per J. G.S. Santos) or to sanction fraudulent machinations for
depriving a registered owner of his land, to undermine the
stability and security of Torrens titles and to impair the Torrens
system of registration.59 (Emphasis supplied)
These rulings of the Court are so essential in providing stability to land titles
that overturning them now would be catastrophic to our Torrens system of
land registration.
A TORRENS TITLE CAN ONLY BE CANCELLED IN A DIRECT ACTION
ASSAILING ITS VALIDITY BEFORE THE REGIONAL TRIAL COURT
The LRA has also no jurisdiction to cancel the Torrens title of the Manotoks
because the exclusive original jurisdiction to cancel a Torrens title belongs
to the Regional Trial Court. The LRA, moreover, has no jurisdiction to
decide the ownership dispute over a parcel of land 60 between the Barques
and the Manotoks because jurisdiction to adjudicate ownership of disputed
real properties belongs to courts of justice.
Two specific provisions of law confer exclusive original jurisdiction on
Regional Trial Courts to cancel a Torrens title. Section 48 of the Property
Registration Decree provides:
Section 48. Certificate not subject to collateral attack. - A certificate of
title shall not be subject to collateral attack. It cannot be altered,
modified, or cancelled except in a direct proceeding in
accordance with law. (Emphasis supplied)

Section 19 of the Judiciary Act61 provides that the "Regional Trial Court
shall exercise exclusive original jurisdiction x x x in all civil actions,
which involve the title to x x x real property."
That the proper Regional Trial Court has exclusive original jurisdiction to
entertain any action to cancel a Torrens title is reinforced by Section 108 of
the Property Registration Decree. Section 108 states that "no erasure,
alteration or amendment shall be made upon the registration book after the
entry of a certificate of title x x x,except by order of the proper Court of
First Instance (now the Regional Trial Court)."
LRA DECISION ON RECONSTITUTION DOES NOT
BECOME FINAL AND EXECUTORY
The doctrine of immutability and unalterability of decisions applies only to
decisions that are capable of becoming final and executory. Decisions of
the LRA on administrative reconstitutions of title never become final and
executory. An administrative reconstitution of title is merely a restoration or
replacement of a lost or destroyed title in its original form at the time of the
loss or destruction.62 The issuance of a reconstituted title vests no new
rights and determines no ownership issues.63 At any time, the LRA can
revoke its issuance of a reconstituted title if the lost or destroyed title
is subsequently found.64 The issuance by the LRA of a reconstituted title
is an executive function, not a judicial or quasi-judicial function. Only
judicial or quasi-judicial decisions can become res judicata. This Court
stated in A.G. Development Corp. v. Court of Appeals:65 "[T]he doctrine
of res judicataapplies only to judicial or quasi-judicial proceedings
and not to the exercise of administrative powers or to legislative,
executive or ministerial determination."66
The 12 December 2005 Decision of the First Division grants to the Barques
much more than what the Barques prayed for in their petition for
administrative reconstitution of title. In their petition before the LRA, the
Barques only prayed for the reconstitution of their allegedly destroyed title.
The Decision of the First Division grants the reconstitution, declares the
reconstituted title valid, awards ownership over the disputed property to the
Barques, and cancels the Torrens title of the Manotoks. This violates the
"cardinal principle that (a court) cannot grant anything more than what is
prayed for"67 in the petition.

A SURFEIT OF FORGERIES AND BADGES OF FRAUD


Equally disturbing, there are patent forgeries, badges of fraud, and
other dubious circumstances that the First Division inexplicably brushed
aside in its Decision. These forgeries alone are more than sufficient
grounds to deny the reconstitution of the Barques title. These forgeries
provide compelling reasons for this Court to require compliance with
Section 48 of the Property Registration Decree in determining the validity of
the Manotoks title. Section 48 requires a proceeding before the proper
Regional Trial Court directly assailing the validity of the Torrens title before
such title can be cancelled.
First: Forged Plan Fls-3168-D
The Barques submitted to the LRA reconstituting officer patently forged
documents in support of their petition. On 31 January 1997, Engineer
Dalire wrote the LRA reconstituting officer that the copy of the Barques
plan Fls-3168-D submitted to the LRA "bears forged initials of my
section officer and myself,"68 and that the Lands Management Bureau
National Office "does not have copy of Fls-3168-D."69 Engineer Dalire
urged the LRA that plan Fls-3168-D and the accompanying authentication
letter "be disregarded or rejected as they come from spurious
sources."70
Plan Fls-3168-D is vital in establishing the authenticity of the Barques
Torrens title, which contains two lots as subdivided by plan Fls-3168-D from
the original Lot 823. The Manotoks title covers only one lot, Lot 823,
without subdivision. Both the Manotoks and the Barques claim the same
original Lot 823. If there is no record in the Lands Management Bureau
National Office of plan Fls-3168-D showing the subdivision of Lot 823 into
two lots, then the Barques title is spurious.
During the oral argument of these cases, counsel for the Barques was
asked if the Barques have ever secured a copy of plan Fls-3168-D as
certified by the Lands Management Bureau National Office. Counsel
for the Barques showed the Court a copy of what purported to be plan Fls3168-D but on closer examination the copy was certified not by the Lands
Management Bureau National Office but by the NCR Regional Office. What
counsel for the Barques showed was the same copy of plan Fls-3168-D
that Engineer Privadi Dalire, Chief of the Geodetic Surveys Division of the

Lands Management Bureau National Office, had rejected as a forgery in his


31 January 1997 and 19 February 1997 letters to Atty. Bustos. In his letters,
Engineer Dalire stated that there is no plan Fls-3168-D in the files of the
Lands Management Bureau National Office.
Second: Forged 2 January 1997 Letter
On 13 February 1997, Engineer Privadi J. Dalire, Chief of the Geodetic
Surveys Division of the Lands Management Bureau National Office, wrote
the LRA reconstituting officer that the 2 January 1997 letter, purportedly
coming from Engineer Dalire, "definitely did not come from this office; it
is a forged document."71
In his 19 February 1997 letter, Engineer Dalire also informed the LRA
reconstituting officer that the 2 January 1997 letter purportedly coming from
him was the "handiwork of forgers."72 In the questioned 2 January 1997
letter73 addressed to the LRA reconstituting officer, Engineer Dalire
allegedly stated that the Chief of the Technical Records and Statistics of the
National Capital Region-Lands Management Bureau (NCR Regional Office)
had forwarded a copy of Fls-3168-D to Engineer Dalires office. Engineer
Dalire has repeatedly denounced this 2 January 1997 letter as a
forgery, not only because he never signed this letter, but also because
his office never received a copy of Fls-3168-D from the NCR Regional
Office.
Third: Plan Fls-3168-D Is Void Unless Validated by the Geodetic
Surveys Division
During the oral argument, counsel for the Barques then undertook to
present to the Court a copy of plan Fls-3168-D as certified by the Lands
Management Bureau National Office. In their Memorandum dated 6
September 2007, counsel for the Barques explained why they could not
present a copy of plan Fls-3168-D as certified by the Lands Management
Bureau National Office:
Following the order of the Honorable Justice Carpio for respondents
to secure a certified true copy of Fls-3168-D from the Land
Management Bureau, National Office, they went to said National
Office to secure said certified true copy of Fls-33168-D but were
instead given a copy of a form letter (Annex "J") issued in reply to a
prior request for transmittal of Plan FLS-3168-D with the information

that records of said plan had already been turned over to the National
Capital Region.
The form letter (Annex "J") from the Records Management Division of the
Lands Management Bureau National Office, that the Barques attached to
their Memorandum, states
x x x plan FLS-3168-D covering parcel/s of and situated in Caloocan
Rizal was among those survey records already turnedover/decentralized to DENR-National Capital Region (NCR), Roxas
Boulevard, Manila on April 5, 1979 as recorded in our file no. NCR199, for their reference/file purposes.
The form letter bears the printed name of Rainier D. Balbuena, OIC,
Records Management Division, Lands Management Bureau National Office
although someone whose signature is not legible signed for Rainier D.
Balbuena.
The Barques also submitted a Certification dated 19 June 2007 (Annex "EI") signed by Rainier D. Balbuena,OIC, Records Management Division,
Lands Management Bureau National Office, stating:
This is to certify that according to the verification of the Records
Management Division, Lands Management Bureau, Binondo, Manila,
EDPs Listing has available record with Fls-3168-D, Lot 823, Xerox
copy of which is herewith attached, situated in Caloocan, Rizal (Now
Quezon City), in the name of Survey Claimant Emiliano Setosta.
In sharp contrast, the Manotoks attached to their Memorandum dated 23
August 2007 a certification signed by three persons from the Lands
Management Bureau National Office, namely, Bienvenido F. Cruz,
Chief,Geodetic Surveys Division; Rodel Collantes, Chief, Technical
Services & Survey Records Documentation Section; and Teodoro A. de
Castro, researcher. This certification, dated 2 August 2007, states:
August 2, 2007
LUISA T. PADORA
2830 Juan Luna St. Tondo
Manila

S i r /M a d a m:
This is in connection with your request on the verification of survey
plan. As per our inventory we found out the following:
Survey No.
Location

Accession No.

Fls-3168-D

Not listed in EDP


listing.

Verified By:
(Sgd)
RODEL COLLANTES
Chief, Technical Services & Survey
Records Documentation Section

Researched by:
(Sgd)
TEODORO A. DE CASTRO
Very truly yours,

(Sgd)

BIENVENIDO F. CRUZ

Chief, Geodetic Surveys Division


OR#: 3041650
Date: 08/02/07
Amt. Php 40.00
The certification of the Chief, Geodetic Surveys Division prevails over the
certification of the OIC, Records Management Division. Under paragraph
2.4 of Lands Memorandum Order No. 368-92 dated 17 August 1992, "no
copies of white print, blue prints or photographic copies of plans
shall be issued unless said secondary copies have been validated by
the Geodetic Surveys Division." The same paragraph 2.4 further states
that unless validated by the Geodetic Surveys Divisions, copies of such
plans "should be temporarily expunged from the records of the
Records Division until they are validated and returned for official file."
Thus, no secondary copies of plans, like the Barques Fls-3168-D plan, can
have any evidentiary value unless validated by the Geodetics Surveys
Division of the Lands Management Bureau National Office. More
importantly, copies of plans, like the Barques Fls-3168-D plan, which have
not been validated by the Geodetic Surveys Division, are deemed
"expunged from the Records of the Records Division." The inescapable
conclusion is that the form letter (Annex "J") issued by the Records
Management Division of the Lands Management Bureau National
Office, and the Certification dated 19 June 2007 (Annex "E-I") signed
by Rainier D. Balbuena, OIC, Records Management Division, Lands
Management Bureau National Office, both of which refer to the
existence of the Barques Fls-3168-D plan, are absolutely worthless
and are mere scraps of paper.
The Barques explanation is further belied by the 19 February 1997 letter of
Engineer Dalire, Chief of the Geodetic Surveys Division of the Lands
Management Bureau National Office, that:
x x x Our Inventory Record of Approved Surveys, our computerized
list of plans officially filed in this Bureau, the Locator Cards, and the
microfilm all show that we have no records or information about Plan
Fls-3168-D.

xxx
x x x How can this be when NCR has never given us the alleged copy
in their file for validation. The forwarding of the copy to us is
mandatory under DAO No. 49 for our validation. This is the
subject of our letters to NCR dated 05 December 1996, 03 January
1997 and 06 February 1997 (copies attached). x x x. 74 (Emphasis
supplied)
As pointed out by Engineer Dalire, under DENR Administrative Order No.
49, series of 1991, the copy of plan Fls-3168-D must be forwarded by
the NCR Regional Office for validation by the Geodetic Surveys
Division of the Lands Management Bureau National Office. No copy of
the survey plan can be issued by the NCR Regional Office without the
validation of the Geodetic Surveys Division. Sections 4.3 and 4.5 of DENR
Administrative Order No. 49 states:
Section 4. Preparation of Certified True Copies of Approved
Plans. The following considerations on the preparation of Certified
True Copies of Approved Plans shall be observed:
xxx
4.3 Decentralized whiteprints or photographic copies of plans
especially those marked "SGD" (i.e. SIGNED) shall not be used for
the issuance of patent or certified true copy or titling
purposes, EXCEPT, upon or prior authentication by the Lands
Management Bureau (LMB) after diligent comparison with the
records of the Land Registration Authority (LRA) and other depository
of surveys records.
xxx
4.5 The Chief of the Regional Surveys Division of the Lands
Management Service in the concerned Regional Office shall certify all
copies for land registration and for other purposes as true, correct
and exact replica of the original plan. (Emphasis supplied)
The requirement of validation by the Geodetic Surveys Division is reiterated
and amplified in Lands Memorandum Order No. 368-92 dated 17 August
1992, thus:

2.4 No copies of white print, blue prints or photographic copies


of plans shall be issued unless said secondary copies have
been validated by the Geodetic Surveys Division (see paragraph
4.3, DENR A.O. 49, s-1991). The Survey Records Section shall turn
over all print (white, blue, xerox) copies and photographic copies in its
file to the Geodetic Surveys Division for examination, investigation
and/or validation. These copies should temporarily be expunged
from the records of the Records Division until they are validated
and returned for official file. (Boldfacing and underscoring supplied)
Unless validated by the Geodetic Surveys Division of the Lands
Management Bureau National Office, secondary copies of survey
plans, such as the Barques plan Fls-3168-D, have no evidentiary value
because they are "temporarily x x x expunged from the records of the
Records Division."
The Geodetic Surveys Division validates the survey plans based on
the "back-up file in the Central Records Office." Despite the
decentralization of the records of survey plans, the Lands Management
Bureau National Office retained "back-up files" of the decentralized records.
Lands Memorandum Order No. 368-92 states:
1. General Policy
1.1 It is the general policy that all isolated survey plans and other
survey records be decentralized immediately to the Lands
Management Sector for their reference and file after establishing a
back-up file in the Central office for records preservation. The
latter can be done thru microfilming or reproduction of the
original records. (Emphasis supplied)
The NCR Regional Office failed to submit to the Geodetics Survey Division
a copy of plan Fls-3168-D despite repeated requests from Engineer Dalire.
In his 31 January 1997 letter to the reconstituting officer, Atty. Bustos,
Engineer Dalire stated:
x x x please be informed that we wrote on December 5, 1996 the
DENR-NCR about your letter dated December 2, 1996 informing
them that the plan Fls-3168-D filed in that Office from where the
reproduced copy furnished to LRA (sic) did not emanate from our
office. We requested them to forward to us the said plan for our

evaluation and comment. Likewise, on January 5, 1997, we made


a follow-up, reiterating that we have no records (sic) of Fls-3168D and requesting them to forward the plan for our evaluation
and comment. It is regretted, they did not respond.75 (Emphasis
supplied)
This repeated and manifest failure by the NCR Regional Office is echoed
by the glaring failure of the Barques to submit, as they had promised to the
Court during the oral argument, a copy of plan Fls-3168-D as certified by
the Lands Management Bureau National Office.
This Court has already recognized that copies of survey plans are void
unless validated by the Geodetic Surveys Division in accordance with
DENR Administrative Order No. 49, series of 1991. In Fil-Estate Golf and
Development, Inc. v. Court of Appeals,76 the Court held:
Finally, private respondents cause of action against petitioner is
defeated by the findings of Mr. Privadi Dalire, Chief of the
Geodetic Surveys Division of the Bureau of Lands, contained in
his letters to the Regional Technical Director of the Department of
Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), Region IV dated 12
November 1992 and 15 December 1992, respectively:
12 November 1992
xxx
MEMORANDUM:
15 December 1992
FOR: The Regional Technical Director of Lands
The Chief, Regional Surveys Division
DENR, Region IV
L & S Building, Roxas Boulevard
Manila
FROM: L M B
SUBJECT: Psu-201

Records show that the region furnished us a white print copy


certified by Engineer Robert Pangyarihan to have been
"prepared from a tracing cloth plan on file in the NCR" for
validation. We returned the white print plan prepared by
Engineer Pangyarihan because we should examine the "tracing
cloth plan" and it is the tracing cloth plan, white prints and
photographic copies sent by the Central Records Division to be
returned to LMB for validation by this Division.
In the letter dated 27 November 1992, Engineer Pangyarihan
explained that he prepared the copy which he certified from a
white print plan on file in the region as the applicant claims to
have lost the tracing cloth. While the explanation may be
considered, yet the preparation of the plan is not yet in
accordance with Sections 1.3 and 4.3 of DENR Administrative
Order No. 49, s-1991 which requires that the white prints or
photographic print of the plan other than the original plan which
have been decentralized must first be authenticated by this
Bureau before a certified true copy is issued by the region. It is
evident therefore that the issuance of a certified true copy of
Psu-201 from a white print is premature, and considered void
ab initio.
Consider also that if the record of the Bureau is different from
the print copy is subjected to field ocular inspection of the land
and on the basis of the findings, the region may reconstruct the
plan to be approved as usual. Certified copies may now be
issued based on the reconstructed and approved plan. The
white print of Psu-201 should therefore be subjected to ocular
inspection.
Our records of inventory of approved plans show Psu-201 as a
survey of J. Reed covering a piece of land in Malate, Manila.
That plan was heavily damaged and its reconstruction was not
finalized. This should be included in the investigation.
For the Director of Lands:
(SGD.) PRIVADI J.G. DALIRE
Chief, Geodetic Surveys Division.77 (Emphasis supplied)

Clearly, in the present cases the copy of the Barques plan Fls-3168-D
issued by the NCR Regional Office is likewise void unless validated by the
Geodetic Surveys Division in accordance with DENR Administrative Order
No. 49, series of 1991, as amplified in Lands Memorandum Order No. 36892. Up to this time, the Barques have failed to submit a copy of their
plan Fls-3168-D as certified by the Geodetic Surveys Division. The
inescapable conclusion is that the Barques plan Fls-3168-D is void ab
initio.
In their Memorandum dated 6 September 2007, the Barques submitted to
the Court a copy of plan Fls-3168-D,certified by the NCR Regional
Office, to support the authenticity of the plan Fls-3168-D that the Barques
had earlier submitted to the reconstituting officer, Atty. Bustos, thus:
c. Photo Copy of Plan FLS-3168 (microfilm) duly certified by
Carmelito A. Soriano for the Chief, Regional Technical Director, NCR,
Annex "H" hereof. This microfilm copy is exactly the same as the
Tracing Cloth Plan copy, Annex G.
First, there does not appear in Annex "H" a signature over the printed name
Carmelito A. Soriano, Chief, Regional Technical Director, NCR National
Office.
Second, Annex "H" is not certified by the Chief of the Regional Surveys
Division, Lands Management Service of the NCR Regional Office as
required by Section 4.5 of DENR Administrative Order No. 49.
Third, Annex "H" is the same copy of Fls-3168-D that purportedly
originated from the office of Engineer Privadi Dalire, Chief of the
Geodetic Surveys Division of the Lands Management Bureau. Annex
"H" is also the same copy of plan Fls-3168-D that counsel for the Barques
showed to the Court during the oral argument.Engineer Privadi Dalire has
categorically declared this copy of Fls-3168-D as "spurious" in his 19
February 1997 letter to Atty. Bustos, thus:
The copy of Fls-3168-D attached to your letter dated December 2,
1996 is not issued by this Office. There are many markings on the
copy to prove it did not come from LMB. Reasons, among others, are:
1. We have no copy of Fls-3168-D on file so how can we issue
a copy of plan that is non-existing?

2. The copy of plan bears two "Certifications" at the top and at


lower half. This is not our practice;
3. The rubber-stamp shows there are two pieces; one for th
certification and another for the signing official. We use one
piece rubber stamp. The alignment of the letters/words of one
rubber stamp is different from this marking on this spurious
plan;
4. The plan shows only initial. I sign in full copies of plans
with the initials of my action officers and their codings
below my signature. These are not present in the spurious
copy of plan;
5. The letter size of the rubber stamp "NOT FOR
REGISTRATION/TITLING, FOR REFERENCE ONLY" is
smaller than our rubber stamp;
6. The spurious copy of plan you furnished us does not carry
our rubber stamp "GOVERNMENT PROPERTY NOT TO BE
SOLD: FOR OFFICIAL USE ONLY OF ___________________
"This is stamped on all microfilm copies we issue because all
microfilm copies are for official use only of our LMS. We have
shown you our rubber stamps to prove that the copy of Fls3168-D in your possession is a spurious plan.78 (Emphasis
supplied)
Engineer Dalire ended his letter by advising Atty. Bustos to "disregard the
plan Fls-3168-D and the letter dated 02 January 1997 as they are
proven to be spurious documents."79
Again, in his 31 January 1997 letter to Atty. Bustos, Engineer Dalire
reiterated that plan Fls-3168-D, which purportedly was certified by him, did
not come from his office. Engineer Dalire stated in his 31 January 1997
letter:
x x x We are sure that the copy did not come from this Office.
The reasons are:
a. Our inventory of approved plans enrolled in our file, our
Microfilm Computer list of plans available for

decentralization all show that we do not have this plan Fls3168-D, logically we cannot issue any copy.
b. The copy of the plan Fls-3168-D shows visible signs that
it is a spurious copy.
1) The certification (rubber stamp) serves a two piece
stamp. The certification and the signing official are
separate. Ours is one-piece.
2) The alignment of: Lands, GEODETIC, this, Privadi, and
Chief in the syndicates (sic) stamp differ from our stamp.
Chief, Geodetic Surveys Division is our stamp, their (sic)
is Survey without the "s" plural.
3) We do not stamp the plan twice as the syndicate did on
the copy.
4) The size of the lettering in the rubber stamp "Not for
Registration/Titling For Reference Only" is smaller than
our stamp. It is also incomplete as an (sic) Stamp, in
addition to [the] above is "of _________".
5) The copy bears forged initials of my action officer
and myself. I sign completely certification.
6) The name of the claimant is very visible to have been
tampered in the master copy.
7) Again, it is certified that this Bureau does not have
copy of Fls-3168-D.
In view of the foregoing, the copy of Fls-3168-D furnished your
Office as well as the alleged letter authenticating it should be
disregarded or rejected as they come from spurious
sources. This involves the reconstitution of title allegedly lot 823-A of
Fls-3168-D with an area of 171,473 Sq. M. Surely, the use of the
spurious copy of Fls-3168-D for the reconstitution of title will create
land problem involving prime lots in that area. 80 (Emphasis supplied)

The Barques have the temerity to foist on this Court their copy of plan Fls3168-D which has been repeatedly denounced as a forgery by Engineer
Dalire, the very person whom the Barques claim certified their copy of
Fls-3168-D. Engineer Dalire is the best person to determine the
authenticity of Fls-3168-D not only because he allegedly signed it as
claimed by the Barques, but also because he is the Chief of the Geodetic
Surveys Division of the Lands Management Bureau National Office, the
office that has the "inventory of approved plans x x x (and) Microfilm
Computer list of plans available for decentralization."
Fourth: The Barques Submitted a Tampered Copy of Administrative
Reconstitution Order No. Q-535(96)
On 7 February 1997, the Barques had written the LRA Administrator
complaining against the LRA reconstituting officers alleged "pattern of
effort to delay the administrative reconstitution." 81 The Barques attached to
their 7 February 1997 letter an alleged order of reconstitution signed by
Atty. Bustos approving the reconstitution of the Barques TCT No.
210177. In his 14 February 1997 reply to the LRA Administrator, Atty.
Bustos exposed the alleged order of reconstitution submitted by the
Barques as a "tampered document."
The Barques also informed the LRA Administrator that there was a
"recommendation dated January 2, 1997 by the Chief, Geodetic
Surveys, Lands Management Bureau, DENR, Manila, to give due
course to the said reconstitution." However, in his 13 February 1997
letter82 to the LRA reconstituting officer, Engineer Dalire, the Chief,
Geodetic Surveys, Lands Management Bureau, disowned this 2 January
1997 letter as a forgery.
On 14 February 1997, the LRA reconstituting officer wrote the LRA
Administrator that:83
1. There is no effort to delay the administrative reconstitution of the
aforesaid title. What we are doing is a thorough check of the
authenticity of the submitted documents;
2. The order of reconstitution containing TCT No. 210177 and the
name of Homer L. Barque, attached to the aforesaid letter is
a tampered document. For your comparison, herewith is a copy
of the genuine order of reconstitution, marked as annex "A";

3. The alleged letter-recommendation dated January 2, 1997, by


the Chief, Geodetic Surveys Division, LMB-DENR, is also a
forged document. Attached for your reference is a copy of the letter
which is self-explanatory, together with its enclosures, directly
received by the undersigned from Engineer Privadi J.G. Dalire, Chief,
Geodetic Surveys Division, LMB-DENR, marked as annex "B";
4. Lots 823-A & 823-B, Fls-3168-D, containing areas of 171,473
Sq. m. & 171, 472 Sq. m., respectively, purportedly covered by
TCT No. 210177, appear to duplicate Lot 823, Piedad Estate,
containing an area of 342,945 Sq. m. covered by TCT No. 372302,
registered in the name of Severino M. Manotok, et al., copy of
which is hereto attached as annex "C." (Boldfacing and
underscoring supplied)
In his 14 February 1997 letter, the LRA reconstituting officer complained to
the LRA Administrator that "there is an attempt to mislead us into
favorable action by submitting forged documents."
The tampering refers to the insertion of (1) the name of "Homer L.
Barque," and (2) the title number "210177" in Administrative Reconstitution
No. Q-535(96). The Barques justified the authenticity of the copy they
presented by claiming that their copy was "initialed in each and every
page."84 However, the Barques copy of Administrative Reconstitution No.
Q-535(96) differed from the original of Administrative Reconstitution No. Q535(96) that the LRA reconstituting officer himself signed on 27 January
1997. To repeat, the original of Administrative Reconstitution No. Q535(96) was an order issued and signed by the LRA reconstituting
officer, Atty. Bustos. Indeed, the Barques copy85 of Administrative
Reconstitution No. Q-535(96) shows that it was signed by the same LRA
reconstituting officer, Atty. Bustos, handling the Barques then pending
petition for administrative reconstitution.
The Barques also failed to explain why they still pursued their petition for
administrative reconstitution of their title if indeed they had already obtained
an approved reconstitution on 27 January 1997 under their copy of
Administrative Reconstitution Order No. Q-535(96). On 13 August 1998,
the LRA reconstituting officer filed before the LRA Administrator the
following Comment:

2. That we maintain our position denying the reconstitution of TCT


No. 210177, on the grounds stated in our Order dated June 30, 1997,
and on the following additional grounds, to wit:
2.1 If the late Homer L. Barque, really purchased the subject
property in the year 1975, why did he not take possession of it
upon purchase, and up to now his descendants, the Petitioners,
are not in possession of the property, but the Oppositors?;
2.2 Why was the property declared, and realty taxes were paid
in the name of Barque, only in the year 1996? Whereas, the
Oppositors and their predecessors have been paying realty
taxes on the property since the year 1965;
2.3 Why did the Petitioner try to mislead us by submitting a
tampered copy of Adm. Reconstitution Order No. Q535(96)?86 (Emphasis supplied)
The LRA reconstituting officer ended his Comment by urging the LRA
Administrator that "this case be referred to the Presidential AntiOrganized Crime Commission for investigation."
In their Memorandum dated 6 September 2007, the Barques explained the
circumstances of the order of reconstitution they submitted to the LRA in
this manner:
The said resolution was issued on January 27, 1997 when there was,
as yet, no opposition from anyone to the Barques petition for
reconstitution and after the Barque had already submitted their
Owners Duplicate Copy of TCT No. 210177 which entitled them, like
the several other petitioners listed in Mr. Bustos aforesaid
Resolution, to a reconstitution thereof under R.A. 6732.
In his letter, Atty. Turgano surmised that:
"The animosity and bias of Mr. Bustos against petitioners may
be explained by the fact that he was responsible in giving due
course and approving with dispatch the administrative
reconstitution of the Manotok title which is TCT No. RT-22481
(372302).

Mr. Bustos bias was likewise shown when he alerted the Manotoks of
the Barques Petition for Reconstitution which prompted them to file
their opposition to the Barques petition on April 14, 1997. He,
therefore, apparently had the motive to delete the title and name
of the Barques from his resolution.
At any rate, said resolution of Bustos was completely irrelevant to the
LRA proceedings since it is his Order denying Barques petition for
reconstitution that was raised on appeal before the LRA
Administrator. (Emphasis supplied)
In short, the Barques represent to this Court that their copy of
Administrative Reconstitution No. Q-535(96), listing their TCT No. 210177
in the name of Homer L. Barque, Sr. as one of the titles approved for
reconstitution by Atty. Bustos, is authentic, genuine and untampered. This
is contrary to the categorical declaration of Atty. Bustos that the copy of
Administrative Reconstitution No. Q-535(96) submitted by the Barques is a
"tampered document," and that the original Administrative
Reconstitution No. Q-535(96) that Atty. Bustos himself signed, which
original is on file in his office in the LRA, does not include TCT No.
210177 in the name of Homer L. Barque, Sr.
Ironically, the Barques put the blame on Atty. Bustos for "delet(ing) the
title and name of the Barques from the resolution." The Barques are
now accusing Atty. Bustos of falsification by deleting the Barques name
and title in Administrative Reconstitution No. Q-535(96). Before such
deletion, the Barques insist that Administrative Reconstitution No. Q535(96) included the Barques name and title, which is the copy that the
Barques submitted to the LRA Administrator.
In the first place, there was no reason whatsoever for Atty. Bustos to
include the Barques title and name in Administrative Reconstitution No. Q535(96). When Atty. Bustos signed the order on 27 January 1997, he was
still corresponding with Engineer Dalire on the forgery found in the
Barques plan Fls-3168-D. The last letter of Engineer Dalire to Atty. Bustos
was on 31 January 1997. On 14 February 1997, Atty. Bustos even wrote
the LRA Administrator about the "attempt to mislead us (LRA) into favorable
action by submitting forged documents." Clearly, Atty. Bustos could not
have included the Barques title and name in Administrative Reconstitution
No. Q-535(96).

In their Memorandum dated 6 September 2007, the Barques gave the lame
excuse that Administrative Reconstitution No. Q-535(96) is now "completely
irrelevant" because what was raised on appeal to the LRA was the order of
Atty. Bustos denying the Barques petition for reconstitution. If their copy of
Administrative Reconstitution Order No. Q-535(96) is truly authentic and
untampered, the Barques should insist that their petition for administrative
reconstitution was in fact approved by the reconstituting officer Atty. Bustos.
The Barques do not claim or even mention this now, instead they agree
that Atty. Bustos denied their petition, contrary to their claim that Atty.
Bustos granted their petition by including the Barques title and name in
Administrative Reconstitution No. Q-535(96).
The Barques cannot simply brush aside their submission of tampered or
forged documents. These patent forgeries are grounds to render the
Barques reconstituted title void ab initio. Section 11 of Republic Act No.
6732 (RA 6732),87 the law allowing administrative reconstitution of titles,
provides:
SEC. 11. A reconstituted title obtained by means of fraud, deceit or
other machination is void ab initio as against the party obtaining the
same and all persons having knowledge thereof. (Emphasis supplied)
This Court would never countenance these blatant and glaring forgeries.
The present cases involve 34 hectares of prime land located beside the
Ayala Heights Subdivision in Quezon City. Its value is estimated
conservatively at P1.7 billion.
Fifth: The Barques Title Surfaced Eight Years after the Quezon City
Hall Fire
The Barques filed their petition for administrative reconstitution on 22
October 1996, eight years after the original of their Torrens title was
allegedly burned in the 11 June 1988 fire that destroyed the records of the
Quezon City Register of Deeds. In contrast, the Manotoks administratively
reconstituted their Torrens title on 1 February 1991,three years after the
fire and just one year after the effectivity on 17 July 1989 of RA 6732
allowing again administrative reconstitution of titles under certain
circumstances.
Sixth: The Barques Cannot Explain Erasure of Notation on their Tax
Declarations

The Manotoks claim that the Barques erased the following notation in the
tax declarations they submitted to the LRA reconstituting officer: "Memo:
This property appear (sic) to duplicate the property of Manotok Realty,
Inc., declared under TD No. B-067-02136 with area of 343,945 sq.m./P.I.
no. 21-4202."88 In their Petition For Review dated 30 March 2004, the
Manotoks submitted certified true copies of the Barques Tax Declarations
0689289 and 0689590 containing this notation. In their Memorandum of 23
August 2007, the Manotoks again submitted copies of the Barques tax
declarations containing the same notation.
During the oral argument, counsel for the Barques denied the erasure of
the notation on the Barques tax declarations. However, counsel for the
Barques admitted that he has not seen the original tax declarations on file
with the Assessors Office, thus:
Justice Carpio:
x x x The Manotoks are claiming that the Barques erased,
removed annotation in the tax declaration of the Barques that in
the tax declaration on file with the Assessors Office the tax
declaration of the Barques is supposed to contain annotation
that this property appears to be registered in the name of
Manotok Realty Inc., is that correct?
Atty. Flaminiano:
Well, that is a serious accusation, Your honor and I have no
knowledge about that.
Justice Carpio:
But does the tax declaration of the Barques contain that
notation?
Atty. Flaminiano:
There is none that I know, Your Honor.
Justice Carpio:

How about the tax declaration on file with the Assessors


Office?
Atty. Flaminiano:
I have not seen those, Your Honor.
Justice Carpio:
You have not seen those?
Atty. Flaminiano:
I have not seen those. 91
In their Memorandum dated 6 September 2007, the Barques ignored
completely the Manotoks claim that the Barques erased the notation.
Seventh: The Barques Paid Realty Tax only for 1987 to 1996
The Barques first paid real estate tax on the property only in
1996,92 for realty taxes for the years 1987 to 1996, because the
Barques were required to pay the current and preceding years realty
taxes before they could file their petition for administrative
reconstitution. The Barques have not paid any realty tax after 1996, or
before 1987.93 In contrast, the LRA reconstituting officer found that the
Manotoks have been paying realty taxes on the property since 1965. In
their Memorandum dated 23 August 2007, the Manotoks claim that they
paid their realty taxes on the property from 1933 until the present, attaching
to their Memorandum representative copies of their realty tax payments.
Eighth: The Barques Have Never Set Foot on the Property
The Barques have never set foot on the property since the time Homer L.
Barque, Sr. allegedly purchased the property in 1975. Counsel for the
Barques admitted this when he stated during the oral argument that the
Barques merely "went around" the walled property. On the other hand, the
Manotoks assert that the property is publicly known in their neighborhood
as the Manotok Compound. The Manotoks further claim:

[A]s owners of said Lot 823, oppositors (Manotoks) had introduced


substantial improvements, amounting to several millions, thereon
consisting of, among others, high wall hollow block fence; their
respective houses, apartments; offices and employees quarters,
as early as in 1960, photographs of which are hereto attached as
Annexes "115" to "134";94 (Emphasis supplied)
During the oral argument, the Manotoks showed on the projector screen
the pictures of the various houses, buildings and concrete perimeter fence
that the Manotoks constructed on the property since 1960.
Ninth: LRA Administrator Relied only on Map Submitted by Barques
In calling the Manotoks title "sham and spurious," the LRA Administrator
cited the non-existence of Barrio Payong in Quezon City. The LRA
Administrator stated: "The map of Quezon City [Annex "N" of
Petitioners Position paper] would show that there is no such barrio
as Payong."95 This is a finding of fact that is based not only on self-serving
and suspect evidence, but also on a patently erroneous claim.
The LRA Administrator relied on Annex "N" of "Petitioners," that is, the map
of the Barques who were the petitioners before the LRA Administrator
assailing the LRA reconstituting officers denial of their reconstitution on the
ground of pre-existence of the Manotoks title and the submission of a
spurious document by the Barques. Obviously, this Court should not rely on
the LRA Administrators findings which were admittedly based on the
map of the Barques, who had earlier submitted forged documents to the
LRA reconstituting officer.
The existence of Barrio Payong in Quezon City has been judicially
acknowledged almost three decades ago in the Decision of the Court of
Agrarian Relations, the court of origin in Spouses Tiongson, et al. v. Court
of Appeals and Macaya,96 involving the same property under dispute in
these cases. In Spouses Tiongson, the Court of Agrarian Relations made
an ocular inspection of Barrio Payong in Quezon City, thus:
On June 20, 1978, the Court issued an Order directing the Clerk of
Court to conduct an ocular inspection of the landholding in question,
which is as follows:

"Conformably with Urgent Motion For An Ocular Inspection


filed with this Court on even date and as stated in paragraph 2
thereof, the Clerk of Court is hereby directed to conduct an
ocular inspection of the landholding in question situated
at Payong, Quezon City, which as agreed upon between them
is set on June 23, 1978 at 8:30 oclock A.M. (sic), wherein the
parties shall meet at the site of said landholding and to
determine:
(a) Portions of the property planted to rice (sic) by the
plaintiff and/or his children;
(b) Portions of the property where the rice paddies are
located;
(c) Portions of the property planted to (sic) corn and
vegetables;
(d) Portions of the property where the houses of the
plaintiff and/or his children are built and located;
(e) Portion of the property which, according to the
defendants, had been, before the filing of the complaint in
this case, worked on by Victorino Macaya and returned by
him to the defendants, through Atty. Perpetua Bocanegra,
with an area of more or less one hectare;
(f) Portions burned by the plaintiff."
Upon accomplishment thereof, said Clerk of Court is hereby
directed to submit his report as well as his sketch plan for
further disposition of the Court.
On June 27, 197[8], the Clerk of Court submitted his "REPORT",
which is as follows:
"In compliance with the Order of the Honorable Court dated
June 20, 1978, undersigned together with Mr. Victor Flores
of this Branch, proceeded to Barrio Payong, Quezon
City on June 23, 1978, to conduct an ocular inspection of

the landholding involved in this case. x x x"97 (Boldfacing and


underscoring supplied)
The recognition of the Court of Agrarian Relations that Barrio Payong exists
in Quezon City is based on the ocular inspection conducted on 23 June
1978 by the Clerk of Court of the Court of Agrarian Relations. In contrast,
the statement of the LRA Administrator that there is no Barrio Payong in
Quezon City is based merely on the map that the Barques submitted in
their petition for administrative reconstitution, which was filed only on
22 October 1996.
In Spouses Tiongson, there were 28 petitioners.98 Of these 28
petitioners, at least sixteen are petitioners composing part of the
Manotoks in these cases. Of these sixteen petitioners, eight Miguel A.B.
Sison, Ma. Cristina E. Sison, George M. Bocanegra, Philipp Manotok,
Maria Theresa Manotok, Ramon Severino Manotok, Jesus Jude Manotok,
Jr., and Jose Maria Manotok were then minors at the time of Spouses
Tiongson and were thus represented by judicial guardians. These eight are
now of age in these cases.
Tenth: The Barques Bought the Property Knowing the Manotoks Had
Constructed Buildings and Perimeter Wall on the Property
During the oral argument, the Manotoks showed on the projector screen a
picture of the 34-hectare Manotok compound completely surrounded by
a high concrete perimeter wall. When counsel for the Barques was asked
if his clients made an ocular inspection of the property at the time his
clients purchased it in 1975, Barques counsel answered as follows:
Justice Velasco:
Did your client prior to buying the lot from Mr. Setosta go to the
land to investigate the ownership of Mr. Setosta?
Atty. Flaminiano:
The one who bought the property was the father of Barques
now.
Justice Velasco:

Would you know if the father of respondent visit and inspect


and investigate the ownership of Mr. Setosta?
Atty. Flaminiano:
I was told that he visited the property because the father of the
Barques used to work for Mr. Antonio Florendo. I think he was
the manager of one of the businesses of Mr. Florendo in Davao
City having to do with accessory parts of cars and trucks and
he was at one time also the operator of a public transportation
company.
Justice Velasco:
Okay. Did the father of Mr. Barque find any building or
structures on the land now subject of this dispute?
Atty. Flaminiano:
We would not know because Mr. Barque died already, Your
Honor.99
xxxx
Justice Carpio:
Now, when did they take possession of the property since Mr.
Homer L. Barque purchased it in 1975, when did he take
possession of the property?
Atty. Flaminiano:
The reason why they could not take really possession of the
property because they were trying to get some papers from an
Aunt of Mr. Barque to whom the property was mortgaged before
he died. I understand that the property was mortgaged for
something like One Million to Two Million Pesos.
Justice Carpio:

So, from 1975 to the present they have not taken possession of
the property?
Atty. Flaminiano:
There were attempts to take possession, Your Honor.
Justice Carpio:
What kind of attempts, did they file ejectment suit?
Atty. Flaminiano:
In fact Your Honor I understand that some of the Barque girls
even went around the property.
Justice Carpio:
Went around the property (interrupted)
Atty. Flaminiano:
Went around the property to take a look at the property but after
that they left for the United States and for one reason or
another they have not been able to take the proper steps
(interrupted)
Justice Carpio:
So, they never filed any suit to recover possession of the
property, is that right?
Atty. Flaminiano:
None that I know, Your Honor.
Justice Carpio:
Did they send any demand letter to the Manotoks to vacate the
property since they were the owners?
Atty. Flaminiano:

None that I know, Your Honor.


Clearly, the Barques have never set foot on the property from 1975 up to
the present. The Barques merely "went around" the fully fenced property.
The Barques never sent a demand letter to the Manotoks to vacate the
property. The Barques never filed an ejectment or any action to recover
possession of the property.
Eleventh: The Barques Chain of Title Stops in 1975
The Manotoks can trace their Torrens title to the purchase by their
predecessors-in-interest of the property from the Government in
1919. In their Memorandum dated 23 August 2007, the Manotoks state:
9.5 The Manotok chain of titles began with the purchase by Zacarias
Modesto, Regina Geronimo and Feliciano Villanueva of Lot 823 from
the Philippine government on March 10, 1919. Attached hereto as
Annex E is a Land Management Bureau-certified xerox copy of Sale
Certificate No. 1054 issued by the Friar Lands Division, Bureau of
Lands, to Modesto, Geronimo and Villanueva. Ownership over Lot
823 was later consolidated in Modesto, who in 1920 assigned his
interests thereon to M. Teodoro and Severino Manotok. Attached
hereto as Annexes F and G are Land Management Bureau-certified
xerox copies of Assignments of Certificate of Sale No. 1054 dated
March 11, 1919 and June 7, 1920.
9.6 In 1923, M. Teodoro assigned his share and interests over Lot
823 to Severino Manotok, making him the sole and exclusive owner
of Lot 823. A certified xerox copy of Assignment of Certificate of Sale
No. 1054 dated May 4, 1923 is attached hereto as Annex H.
9.7 Through a series of transfers within the Manotok family and the
Manotok Realty, Inc., a company owned by petitioners, Lot 823 was
titled under TCT No. 372302 on October 16, 1987 in the names of all
of the Manotoks. The Manotoks chain of titles to the property, with
deeds of conveyances, are attached hereto as Annex I, with subannexes.
9.8 Fire gutted the Quezon City ROD on June 11, 1988, and shortly
thereafter (i.e., on August 31, 1988) the Manotoks filed reconstitution
proceedings before the LRA, and were issued a reconstituted

certificate of title, TCT No. RT-22841 (372302), by the ROD of


Quezon city in 1991. A xerox copy of the petition for reconstitution
filed by the Manotoks with the ROD, with attachments, is attached
hereto as Annex J, while a certified true copy of TCT No. 372302 (the
title sought to be reconstituted in this petition) is attached hereto as
Annex J-1.
On the other hand, the Barques can trace their chain of title only up to 1975
when Homer Barque, Sr. purchased the property from Emiliano Setosta,
who the Barques claim bought the property directly from the Government in
the 1940s. The Barques have not presented the deed of conveyance
by the Government to Setosta. The claim of the Barques that Setosta
purchased the property directly from the Government in the 1940s is belied
by the 1927 Annual Report of the Director of Lands, stating that:
With the exception of the estates of Calamba, Imus, Isabela,
Lolomboy, Naic, San Francisco de Malabon, Santa Cruz de Malabon,
Santa Maria de Pandi, and Talisay-Minglanilla, where there are still
some vacant lands, all the others of the 23 Friar land estates had
already been entirely disposed of. x x x.100(Emphasis supplied)
At the end of 1927, the Government had already sold all of the Piedad
Estate, a Friar land. Thus, the Government could not have sold directly
to Setosta the disputed property in the 1940s.
Twelfth: Lands Management Bureau Relocation Survey Shows
Barques Property Located 5.6 Kilometers from Piedad Estate
Intervenors Felicitas and Rosendo Manahan (Manahans) have submitted
a relocation survey made by the Lands Management Bureau NCR
Regional Office of the Barques plan Fls-3168-D showing that the Barques
property is located "some 5.6 kilometers away from Lot No. 823 of the
Piedad Estate, outside of Quezon City."101 The relocation survey plan is
signed by Ludivina L. Aromin, Chief of the Technical Services Division, and
Engineer III Evelyn G. Celzo. In their Memorandum dated 22 August 2007,
the Manahans attached as Annex "M" a copy of the Lands Management
Bureau relocation survey of plan Fls-3168-D.
A DULY ISSUED TORRENS TITLE IS ONE ISSUED
BY THE REGISTER OF DEEDS IN THE REGULAR PERFORMANCE OF
HIS DUTIES

This Court ruled in Alabang Development Corporation, et al. v. Valenzuela,


etc., et al.102 that courts have no jurisdiction over petitions for reconstitution
of title involving a property already covered by an existing Torrens title in
the name of another person. The dissenting opinion claims that the
Barques title was already existing at the time of the reconstitution of the
Manotoks title in 1991. This is an egregious error. When the Manotoks title
was reconstituted in 1991, the Barques title had not been reconstituted,
and even up to now the reconstitution of the Barques title is still pending
resolution in the instant case. In contrast, when the Barques filed their
reconstitution in 1996, the Manotoks title had already been finally
reconstituted and existing. Clearly, it is the Barques still pending
reconstitution that can no longer proceed because of the existing title of the
Manotoks.
In Alabang, the Court held that a "duly issued existing Torrens title x x x
cannot be the subject of petitions for reconstitution of allegedly lost
or destroyed titles by third parties without first securing by final
judgment the cancellation of such existing titles." The phrase "duly
issued existing Torrens title" simply means a title verifiably issued by the
proper Register of Deeds. The validity or invalidity of the title is not
material at that point. What is material is whether the Register of Deeds
actually issued the title as part of his regular functions.
Clearly, at the time of the reconstitution of the Manotoks title, the Barques
had no "duly issued existing Torrens title" from the Register of Deeds of
Quezon City. When the Barques filed the reconstitution of their title, the
Manotoks already had a prior title, which was the only "duly issued existing
Torrens title" over the property issued by the Register of Deeds of Quezon
City. The Manotoks title could be verified against the reconstituted original
title on file with the Register of Deeds. In fact, the LRA Administrator has
admitted that the Manotoks title "is existing as a reconstituted title at the
Office of the Register of Deeds."103
The Barques could not produce even up to now a "duly issued existing
Torrens title" from the Register of Deeds of Quezon City. The Barques
owners duplicate certificate of title could not be verified with the Register of
Deeds of Quezon City because the Barques title has no corresponding
original title, whether reconstituted or not, on file with the Register of
Deeds. Thus, the reconstitution of the Barques title, which is still pending in
this case, can no longer proceed.

Once the reconstituting court or officer establishes that the Register of


Deeds has in fact issued an existing title in the name of another person, the
proper step is to file an action before the Regional Trial Court to annul such
title.It is in such proceeding before the regional trial court that the
validity or invalidity of the title is determined. In such proceeding, any
party may introduce in evidence the LRA Administrator or the NBIs
findings. In the meantime, no reconstitution proceeding can prosper
until after the cancellation by final judgment of such existing title.
The Alabang ruling necessarily involves a situation where there is an
existing title issued by the Register of Deeds at the time of filing of a
petition to reconstitute another title over the same property in the name of
another person. The Alabang ruling states that in such a situation the
reconstituting authority has no jurisdiction to proceed with the reconstitution
until a final judgment cancels the other title. This is clear from the Courts
ruling inAlabang:
The Court stresses once more that lands already covered by
duly issued existing Torrens titles(which become incontrovertible
upon the expiration of one year from their issuance under Section 38
of the Land Registration Act) cannot be the subject of petitions for
reconstitution of allegedly lost or destroyed titles filed by third
parties without first securing by final judgment the cancellation
of such existing titles. (And as the Court reiterated in the recent
case of Silvestre vs. Court of Appeals, "in cases of annulment and/or
reconveyance of title, a party seeking it should establish not merely
by a preponderance of evidence but by clear and convincing
evidence that the land sought to be reconveyed is his.") The courts
simply have no jurisdiction over petitions by such third parties for
reconstitution of allegedly lost or destroyed titles over lands that are
already covered by duly issued subsisting titles in the names of their
duly registered owners. The very concept of stability and
indefeasibility of titles covered under the Torrens System of
registration rules out as anathema the issuance of two
certificates of title over the same land to two different holders
thereof. A fortiori, such proceedings for "reconstitution" without actual
notice to the duly registered owners and holders of Torrens Titles to
the land are null and void. Applicants, land officials and judges who
disregard these basic and fundamental principles will be held duly
accountable therefor.104 (Emphasis supplied)

The Decision of the First Division misapplies the Alabang ruling by holding
that the LRA Administrator can adjudicate on the validity of a Torrens title
by a finding that the title was not "duly issued." Even the Register of Deeds,
who physically issues a Torrens title as part of his regular functions, cannot
adjudicate on the validity of a title. The Decision states that the "function of
the (LRA) is adjudicatory in nature it can properly deliberate on the
validity of the titles submitted for reconstitution." This is grave error.
Time and again, this Court has ruled that reconstitution, even judicial
reconstitution, does not confirm or adjudicate ownership over a
property.105 Reconstitution merely restores a missing certificate of title in
the same condition that it was when lost or destroyed, nothing more. If the
original title had a legal defect at the time of the loss or destruction, as
when the land covered is part of the public forest, 106 the reconstituted title
does not cure such defect. As this Court held in Director of Lands v. Gan
Tan:107
But the lower court claims that petitioner, even if he complied with all
the requirements of the law, is not entitled to have his title
reconstituted for the reason that, being an alien, he is not
qualified to acquire the land covered by said title under our
Constitution. However, we find this claim untenable in the light
of the theory that a Torrens title cannot be collaterally attacked.
The rule on this matter is that this issue can only be raised in an
action expressly instituted for that purpose(Legarda vs. Saleeby,
31 Phil., 590). Moreover, it is a well known doctrine that a Torrens
title, as a rule, is irrevocable and indefeasible (Bachrach Motor Co.
vs. Kane, 61 Phil., 504), and our duty is to see to it that this title is
maintained and respected unless challenged in a direct
proceeding.
To our mind, the only issue here is whether there is a title to be
reconstituted. That is the only purpose of the law (Rep. Act No. 26). If
there is, then it is the duty of the court to comply with its
mandate. Whether the petitioner has the right to acquire the land
or not, is beyond the province of this proceeding. That should
be threshed out in a proper action. The two proceedings are
distinct and should not be confused.108 (Boldfacing and
underscoring supplied)

The fallacy in the dissenting opinions argument is that it assumes that the
LRA Administrator can adjudicate on the validity of a Torrens title. The
original jurisdiction to adjudicate or to decide the validity of a Torrens title is
vested by law exclusively in the Regional Trial Court pursuant to Section 48
of the Property Registration Decree. Section 19 of the Judiciary Act vests in
the Regional Trial Court the "exclusive original jurisdiction" to decide
factual and legal issues "which involve the title to x x x real property."
This means the Regional Trial Court first decides the validity of the Torrens
title, and this power to first decide is to the exclusion of all other organs of
the State. Not even the Court of Appeals or the Supreme Court can usurp
this exclusive original power of the Regional Trial Court. Any judgment
resulting from such usurpation is void.
What the LRA Administrator or agencies like the National Bureau of
Investigation (NBI) can issue are administrative, non-adjudicatory
findings on whether a Torrens title is spurious or authentic. These
findings are mere evidences that must be submitted to the Regional
Trial Court, which alone has the power to adjudicate whether the title
is void. Findings by the LRA or the NBI that a title is spurious are
merely administrative opinions, not a judicial determination that
settles rights and obligations between parties over a disputed
property. These findings are merely evidences, not the judgment itself
of validity or invalidity which can only come from the Regional Trial
Court. These findings do not become res judicata, while the judgment
of the Regional Trial Court can become res judicata.
Clearly, the grant of a reconstituted title is not an adjudication of the
titles validity. The Barques received an undeserved windfall when the
First Division declared their reconstituted title valid when the only relief they
sought in the administrative reconstitution was the restoration of their title in
its condition at the time of the alleged loss or destruction. This Court has
ruled in Alonso v. Cebu Country Club, Inc.:109
Respondent relies solely on its reconstituted title which, by itself,
does not determine or resolve the ownership of the land covered by
the lost or destroyed title. The reconstitution of a title is simply the
re-issuance of a lost duplicate certificate of title in its original
form and condition. It does not determine or resolve the
ownership of the land covered by the lost or destroyed title. A
reconstituted title, like the original certificate of title, by itself

does not vest ownership of the land or estate covered


thereby.110 (Emphasis in original)
Thus, the LRA has no jurisdiction, in administrative reconstitution
proceedings, to rule which between two titles over the same property is
valid, or who between two claimants over the same property is the lawful
owner. Section 19 of the Judiciary Act vests in courts of justice the
"exclusive original jurisdiction" to decide factual and legal issues
involving "the title to x x x real property."
EQUITY JURISDICTION DOES NOT APPLY
The dissenting opinion further argues that the Manotoks are estopped from
questioning the jurisdiction of the LRA Administrator or the LRA
reconstituting officer. The dissenting opinion asserts that the Manotoks
failed to question in the proceedings before these LRA officials their
jurisdiction to reconstitute administratively the Barques title. This invocation
of equity jurisdiction in favor of the LRA Administrator and the LRA
reconstituting officer for the benefit of the Barques - is grossly erroneous.
First, the settled doctrine is "he who seeks equity must come to court
with clean hands."111 The Barques have submitted patently forged
documents to the LRA reconstituting officer. In the development of equity
jurisdiction through the ages, the constant principle from which there was
no deviation was that equity could never be used to reward those who
commit fraud. This Court should not depart from the noble intention that
motivated the development and use of equity jurisdiction. As this Court
aptly stated in Pagasa Industrial Corporation v. Court of Appeals, et al.:112
Pagasa cannot rely on equity because he who comes into equity
must come with clean hands. Equity refuses to lend its aid in any
manner to one seeking its active interposition who has been
guilty of unlawful or inequitable conduct in the matter with
relation to which he seeks relief113 (30 C.J.S. 1009). (Emphasis
supplied)
Second, the principle of jurisdiction by estoppel applies only to those who
have sought affirmative relief in the wrong court, lost there, and then assail
the adverse decision of that court. This estoppel applies against a party
"who has invoked the jurisdiction of a court in a particular matter to
secure an affirmative relief, to afterwards deny that same jurisdiction

to escape an adverse decision."114 However, it was the Barques, not the


Manotoks, who sought the affirmative relief of a reconstituted title. In their
Opposition115 before the LRA reconstituting officer, the Manotoks sought a
defensive, negative relief - that the Barques petition "be dismissed for
lack of merit." It was also the Barques, not the Manotoks, who invoked the
jurisdiction of the LRA, which had no jurisdiction over the Barques petition
because of the pre-existing title of the Manotoks. Moreover, it was the
Barques, not the Manotoks, who lost before the LRA reconstituting officer
and who assailed the adverse decision before the LRA Administrator. The
Barques even lost before the LRA Administrator who refused to reconstitute
the Barques title without the intervention of a "court of competent
jurisdiction." Clearly, jurisdiction by estoppel cannot apply to the Manotoks.
Third, the LRA Administrator and the LRA reconstituting officer refused to
assume jurisdiction to reconstitute administratively the Barques title. The
LRA Administrator denied the Barques petition because of the existence of
the Manotoks title, which in the words of the LRA Administrator must first
be cancelled by "a court of competent jurisdiction" before the Barques
petition may be given due course. The LRA reconstituting officer also
denied the Barques petition because of the existence of the Manotoks title
which the LRA had already reconstituted. In short, these LRA officials
admitted that they had no jurisdiction over the Barques petition.
Since these LRA officials refused to assume jurisdiction, there was no
assumption of equity jurisdiction that the Manotoks could have questioned.
For the same reason, there is no assumption of jurisdiction that this Court
can now recognize and validate through equity principles.
Fourth, the principle of equity jurisdiction arising from estoppel or any
other reason applies only to courts of justice. The jurisdiction of courts of
justice arises from either statute or equity, or both. In legal systems which
recognize equity jurisdiction, equity is an inherent power of courts by
virtue of their duty to dispense justice to the full extent possible. Equity
jurisdiction is a judicial power. Administrative agencies or officers
exercising administrative, executive, or ministerial functions cannot assume
equity jurisdiction because they do not exercise judicial functions. Thus, it is
gross error to invest on the LRA Administrator and the LRA reconstituting
officer equity jurisdiction because these LRA officers perform administrative
or executive functions in petitions foradministrative reconstitution of titles.

Fifth, the Manotoks did in fact raise the issue of the LRA Administrators
jurisdiction in relation to the LRA Administrators opinion that the Manotoks
title was "sham and spurious." In their Motion for Reconsideration dated 27
August 1998 before the LRA Administrator,116 the Manotoks stated:
Moreover, it is not disputed that herein oppositors are the holder of an
existing valid and effective TCT No. RT-22481 (372302) covering the
same land embraced by TCT No. 210177 in question found which, as
stated, is non-existing and spurious. Given said fact, no
administrative reconstitution of TCT No. 210177 should proceed.
As held by the Supreme Court, to wit:
So too, this Court has stressed "that lands already covered
by duly issued existing Torrens titles (which become
incontrovertible upon the expiration of one year from their
issuance under section 38 of the Land Registration Act) cannot
be the subject of petitions for reconstitution of allegedly
lost or destroyed titles filed by third parties without first
securing by final judgment the cancellation of such
existing titles." (Ortigas & Company Limited Partnership vs.
Velasco, 234 SCRA 458 [1994])117 (Emphasis supplied)
Sixth, the principle of estoppel applies only if the LRA had in fact
jurisdiction to rule on the validity of the Torrens title of the Manotoks, so as
to bar the Manotoks, who previously claimed that the LRA had no
jurisdiction, from later taking a contrary position. Thus, the Court declared
in People v. Casiano:118
4. The operation of the principle of estoppel on the question of
jurisdiction seemingly depends upon whether the lower court actually
had jurisdiction or not. If it had no jurisdiction, but the case was
tried and decided upon the theory that it had jurisdiction, the
parties are not barred, on appeal, from assailing such
jurisdiction, for the same "must exist as a matter of law, and may
not be conferred by consent of the parties or by estoppel" (5
C.J.S., 861-863). However, if the lower court had jurisdiction, and
the case was heard and decided upon a given theory, such, for
instance, as that the court had no jurisdiction, the party who
induced it to adopt such theory will not be permitted, on appeal,
to assume an inconsistent position that the lower court had

jurisdiction. Here, the principle of estoppel applies. x x


x119 (Emphasis supplied)
The LRA never had jurisdiction to rule on the validity of the Torrens title of
the Manotoks. Jurisdiction, as ruled inPeople v. Casiano, "must exist as a
matter of law, and may not be conferred by consent of the parties or
by estoppel." It is axiomatic that only the law can confer jurisdiction. No
amount of estoppel can vest jurisdiction on an officer or court that the law
has not conferred jurisdiction.
The LRA Administrator expressly admitted that only the proper Regional
Trial Court has the jurisdiction to cancel the Torrens title of the Manotoks.
Only the Barques insist that the LRA has jurisdiction to cancel a Torrens
title of a third party in an administrative reconstitution proceedings filed by
another party, a contention that is patently baseless.
Seventh, and most important of all, equity jurisdiction can never be used
to violate the law. Equity jurisdiction aims to attain complete justice in cases
where a court of law is unable to render judgment to meet the special
circumstances of a case because of the limitations of its statutory
jurisdiction.120 However, equity follows the law, and courts exercising
equity jurisdiction must still apply the law and have no discretion to
disregard the law.121 Where the law prescribes a particular remedy with
fixed and limited boundaries, the court cannot, by exercising equity
jurisdiction, extend the boundaries further than the law allows. 122 Thus, this
Court has ruled:
As for equity, which has been aptly described as a justice outside
legality, this is applied only in the absence of, and never against,
statutory law or, as in this case, judicial rules of
procedure.Aequetas nunquam contravenit legis. The pertinent
positive rules being present here, they should pre-empt and prevail
over all abstract arguments based only on equity.123 (Emphasis
supplied)
Hence, no court can extend equity jurisdiction to the LRA where the
law has expressly reserved exclusive original jurisdiction to the
Regional Trial Court. No court, invoking equity jurisdiction, can also
allow a collateral attack on a Torrens title, either before the LRA or
before itself, in gross violation of Section 48 of the Property

Registration Decree expressly prohibiting collateral attacks on


Torrens titles.
This rule has special application to Section 48 of the Property Registration
Decree, enacted specifically to foreclose any possible collateral attack
on a Torrens title, as well as any possible cancellation or modification
of a Torrens title without a proceeding in the Regional Trial Court
directly assailing the validity of the title. Strict compliance with Section
48 is what gives Torrens titles enduring stability, preventing confusion and
fraud in land ownership. To extend equity jurisdiction to LRA officers to
allow them to entertain collateral attacks on a Torrens title is a gross and
blatant violation of the clear and express command of a positive law. Any
extension of equity jurisdiction that operates to negate Section 48 will
destroy the most basic safeguard in the Property Registration Decree.
Certainly, equity jurisdiction cannot be used for this purpose.
WHETHER ASSAILED AS FRAUDULENTLY ISSUED OR NOT, A
TORRENS TITLE CAN ONLY BE CANCELLED IN ACCORDANCE WITH
SECTION 48 OF THE PROPERTY REGISTRATION DECREE
In cancelling the Manotoks Torrens title without any trial before any court,
the First Division of this Court completely disregarded Section 48 of the
Property Registration Decree and Section 19 of the Judiciary Act. Section
48 of the Property Registration Decree provides that a Torrens title "cannot
be altered, modified, or cancelled except in a direct proceeding in
accordance with law."
That law is Section 19 of the Judiciary Act which states that the "Regional
Trial Court shall exercise exclusive original jurisdiction x x x in all
civil actions, which involve the title to x x x real property." These two
provisions mandate that no Torrens title can be cancelled unless there is a
proceeding in the proper Regional Trial Court directly assailing the validity
of such title.
Thus, the Court of Appeals committed a gross violation of Section 48 of the
Property Registration Decree and Section 19 of the Judiciary Act when it
ordered the cancellation of the Torrens title of the Manotoks without a prior
proceeding before the proper Regional Trial Court directly assailing the
validity of the Manotoks title. Likewise, the First Division of this Court
committed the same violation totally disregarding Section 48 of the

Property Registration Decree and Section 19 of the Judiciary Act, and in


the process overturning well-entrenched doctrines of this Court.
The validity of a Torrens title, whether fraudulently issued or not, can be
assailed only in a direct proceeding before the proper Regional Trial Court
in accordance with Section 48. In Ladignon v. Court of Appeals,124 the Court
declared:
What is worse, in ordering the cancellation of Transfer Certificate of
Title No. 383675, respondent Court of Appeals acted without
jurisdiction. After all, it is hornbook law that a torrens title cannot be
collaterally attacked. The issue of validity of a torrens title,
whether fraudulently issued or not, may be posed only in an
action brought to impugn or annul it. Unmistakable, and cannot
be ignored, is the germane provision of Section 48 of
Presidential Decree No. 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 accordance
with law. x x x.125 (Emphasis supplied)
The LRA Administrator has admitted that the Torrens title of the Manotoks
"is thus presumed valid."126 The law recognizes that the Manotoks Torrens
title is "evidence of an indefeasible title to the property in favor of the
person whose name appears therein."127 Even assuming, for the sake of
argument, that the prior title of the Manotoks is spurious, still
under Ladignon v. Court of Appeals,128 such title can only cancelled by the
proper Regional Trial Court in a direct proceeding assailing its validity.
The dissenting opinion cites Rexlon Realty Group, Inc. v. Court of Appeals,
et al.129 as authority that the Court of Appeals and this Court "have
jurisdiction to declare the title void even if the appealed case was not
originally filed with the Regional Trial Court for nullification of title" under
Section 48 of the Property Registration Decree. Theponente has obviously
misread Rexlon Realty. Rexlon Realty was a petition filed with the Court of
Appeals forannulment of judgment of the Regional Trial Court on the
ground that the trial court had no jurisdiction to grant the reconstitution of
lost owners duplicates of titles to respondent Alex David. Rexlon Realty
proved that the titles were not lost but were in its possession as the first
buyer of the properties from Alex David who had later sold again the
properties to Paramount Development Corporation. Rexlon Realty also

proved that Alex David delivered the titles to Rexlon Realty pursuant to the
sale.
Rexlon Realty does not involve two conflicting titles over the same property,
which is the situation in the present case. In Rexlon Realty, the opposing
parties agreed that there was only one set of titles covering the same
properties. The only issue in Rexlon Realty was whether the titles were
lost, and if so, the trial court had jurisdiction to grant the reconstitution of
the titles; but if the titles were not lost, then the trial court had no jurisdiction
to grant the reconstitution of titles.
Rexlon Realty did not question the validity of the titles of Alex David, which
covered properties that Rexlon Realty had purchased from Alex
David. Rexlon Realtys obvious interest was to maintain the validity of
the titles to the properties it had purchased, the titles to which were in
Rexlon Realtys possession. Thus, Rexlon Realty did not invoke Section
48 of the Property Registration Decree, the law requiring a direct
proceeding in the proper regional trial court in any attack assailing the
validity of a Torrens title. To reiterate, the validity of a Torrens title,
which is at issue in direct proceedings under Section 48, is a separate
and distinct issue from the propriety of a reconstitution of title.
What Rexlon Realty questioned was the jurisdiction of the trial court in
issuing replacement titles to the properties in the name of Alex David who
claimed that he lost the titles. In assailing as void the trial courts judgment,
Rexlon Realty invoked, as stated by the Court, "Section 2, of Rule 47 of the
1997 Revised Rules of Civil Procedure," which provides "the grounds to
annul a judgment of a lower court x x x [based on] fraud and lack of
jurisdiction." Thus, the Court in Rexlon Realty ruled:
x x x In the Strait Times case and in Demetriou v. Court of Appeals,
also on facts analogous to those involved in this case, we held that if
an owners duplicate copy of a certificate of title has not been
lost but is in fact in the possession of another person, the
reconstituted title is void and the court rendering the decision
has not acquired jurisdiction. Consequently, the decision may be
attacked any time. In the case at bar, the authenticity and
genuineness of the owners duplicate of TCT Nos. T-52537 and T52538 in the possession of petitioner Rexlon and the Absolute Deed
of Sale in its favor have not been disputed. As there is no proof to

support actual loss of the said owners duplicate copies of said


certificates of title, the trial court did not acquire jurisdiction and the
new titles issued in replacement thereof are void.
xxx
In this case at bar, we simply annulled the decision of the RTC, acting
as a land registration court in L.R.C. Record No. 8843, to issue new
owner's duplicate copies of TCT Nos. T-52537 and T-52538, for lack
of jurisdiction. The dispute between petitioner Rexlon and
respondent David regarding ownership over the parcels of land
will have to be threshed out or determined in a more appropriate
proceeding. In a petition for the issuance of a new owner's
duplicate copy of a certificate of title in lieu of one allegedly lost,
the RTC, acting only as a land registration court, has no
jurisdiction to pass upon the question of actual ownership of the
land covered by the lost owners duplicate copy of the certificate
of title. Possession of a lost owners duplicate copy of a
certificate of title is not necessarily equivalent to ownership of
the land covered by it. The certificate of title, by itself, does not
vest ownership; it is merely an evidence of title over a particular
property. 130 (Emphasis supplied)
Indeed, Rexlon Realty supports the Manotoks contention that once it is
shown that there is a pre-existing title duly issued by the Register of Deeds
over the same property which is the subject of reconstitution proceedings,
the reconstitution cannot proceed for either of two reasons. First, the
reconstituting officer or court has no jurisdiction to reconstitute a title that
has never been lost or destroyed. Second, the reconstituting officer or court
has no authority to decide which of two conflicting titles is valid.
Thus, Rexlon Realty categorically ruled that in reconstitution proceedings,
whether administrative or judicial, the reconstituting officer or court has no
jurisdiction "to pass upon the question of actual ownership of the land"
covered by the lost title because the "certificate of title, by itself, does not
vest ownership."
GUARANTY OF STABILITY OF THE TORRENS SYSTEM
Section 48 of the Property Registration Decree is the cornerstone of our
land registration system providing stability to land titles. Without Section 48,

our land registration system will crumble. Section 48 guarantees every


landowner with a Torrens title that his title can never be cancelled unless
the validity of his title is first directly assailed in court where he can adduce
evidence in his favor. The Decision of the First Division erases this
guarantee. In one stroke, the Decision of the First Division has overturned
over a century of jurisprudence fortifying a guarantee essential to the
stability of our land registration system.
In 1915, after the introduction in 1903131 of the Torrens system in this
country, this Court waxed poetic inLegarda and Prieto v. Saleeby132 in
describing the cornerstone of the then new system of land registration.
Declared the Court:
x x x The real purpose of that system is to quiet title to land; to put a
stop forever to any question of the legality of the title, except claims
which were noted at the time of registration, in the certificate, or
which may arise subsequent thereto. That being the purpose of the
law, it would seem that once a title is registered the owner may
rest secure, without the necessity of waiting in the portals of the
court, or sitting in the "mirador de su casa," to avoid the
possibility of losing his land. x x x
x x x The title once registered, with very few exceptions, should
not thereafter be impugned, altered, changed, modified,
enlarged, or diminished, except in some direct proceeding
permitted by law. Otherwise, all security in registered titles
would be lost. x x x133 (Boldfacing and underscoring supplied)
This Court has reiterated the doctrine in Legarda and Prieto v. Saleeby,
now embodied in Section 48 of the Property Registration Decree, in
innumerable decisions. In the 2003 case of Heirs of Santiago v. Heirs of
Santiago,134 a decision penned by Justice Consuelo Ynares-Santiago,
this Court declared:
Section 48 of P.D. 1529, the Property Registration Decree, provides
that a certificate of title shall not be subject to collateral attack
and can not be altered, modified, or canceled except in a direct
proceeding. An action is an attack on a title when the object of the
action is to nullify the title, and thus challenge the judgment or
proceeding pursuant to which the title was decreed. The attack is

direct when the object of an action is to annul or set aside such


judgment, or enjoin its enforcement. On the other hand, the
attack is indirect or collateral when, in an action to obtain a
different relief, an attack on the judgment or proceeding is
nevertheless made as an incident thereof.135 (Emphasis supplied)
The Decision of the First Division cancels a Torrens title without any
proceeding in a trial court directly attacking the title as required by law.
What this Court warned against in Legarda and Prieto v. Saleeby is now
before us a situation where "all security in registered titles [is] lost."
Every landowner holding a Torrens title will now have to camp in the
corridors of the courts, or constantly watch in the balcony of his house, just
to avoid losing his titled land. The Decision of the First Division, by
destroying the stability of land titles, will usher in an era of land disputes,
which before the advent of the Torrens system were often violent and
bloody.
The Decision of the First Division denies to the Manotoks a basic
guarantee under the Constitution that no person shall be deprived of his
property without due process of law.136 The Decision deprives the Manotoks
of their P1.7 billion property without any trial in any court contrary to the
clear and express mandate of Section 48 of the Property Registration
Decree. This Court should never allow such blatant, gross and shocking
violation of a fundamental constitutional right.
A FINAL WORD ON RECONSTITUTION OF TITLES
This Court has often warned of the pitfalls of reconstitutions of titles, which
have resulted in innocent landowners losing their titled lands to crime
syndicates specializing in forged titles and documents. The patently forged
documents presented in these cases remind us of what this Court stated
in Heirs of Pedro Pinote v. Dulay:137
There is no gainsaying the need for courts to proceed with extreme
caution in proceedings for reconstitution of titles to land under R.A.
26. Experience has shown that this proceeding has many times been
misused as a means of divesting a property owner of the title to his
property. Through fraudulent reconstitution proceedings, he
wakes up one day to discover that his certificate of title has

been cancelled and replaced by a reconstituted title in someone


elses name.138 (Emphasis supplied)
Accordingly, I vote to (1) GRANT petitioners letter motion for
reconsideration dated 19 July 2006, (2) REVERSEthe Courts First Division
Decision dated 12 December 2005 and Resolution dated 19 April 2006,
(3) RECALL the Entry of Judgment dated 2 May 2006, and (4) DENY the
petition for administrative reconstitution of TCT No. 210177 filed by
respondents Heirs of Homer L. Barque, Sr.
ANTONIO T. CARPIO
Associate Justice