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WHEREFORE, premises

DISMISSED.
Costagainstthepetitioner.
SOORDERED.

considered,

the

petition

is

Puno (C.J.), Quisumbing, YnaresSantiago, Carpio, Corona,


ChicoNazario,Velasco,Jr.,Nachura,LeonardoDeCastro,Peralta
andBersamin,JJ.,concur.
CarpioMorales,J.,Onleave.
Petitiondismissed.
Note.An association has the legal personality to represent its
membersandtheoutcomeofthecasewillaffecttheirvitalinterest.
(PurokBagongSilangAssociation,Inc.vs.Yuipco, 489 SCRA 382
[2006])
o0o

G.R.No.180067.June30,2009.*

REPUBLIC OF THE PHILIPPINES, petitioner, vs. IGLESIA NI


CRISTO, Trustee and APPLICANT, with its Executive Minister
ERAOMANALOasCorporateSole,respondent.
LandRegistrationItiswellsettledthatnopubliclandcanbeacquired
by private persons without any grant, express or implied, from the
governmentanditisindispensablethatthepersonsclaimingtitletoapublic
landshould show that their title was acquired from the State or any other
modeofacquisitionrecognizedbylaw.Itiswellsettledthatnopublicland
can be acquired by private persons without any grant, express or implied,
from the government, and it is indispensable that the persons claiming title
toapublic
_______________
*THIRDDIVISION.

439

VOL.591,JUNE30,2009

439

Republicvs.IglesianiCristo

land should show that their title was acquired from the State or any other
mode of acquisition recognized by law. In the instant case, it is undisputed
thatthesubjectlothasalreadybeendeclaredalienableanddisposablebythe
governmentonMay16,1993oralittleoverfiveyearsbeforetheapplication
forregistrationwasfiledbyINC.
SameHerbietoessentiallyruledthatreckoningofthepossessionofan
applicantforjudicialconfirmationofimperfecttitleiscountedfromthedate
when the lot was classified as alienable and disposable, and possession
beforesuchdateisinconsequentialandmustbeexcludedinthecomputation
of the period of possession In Naguit, the reckoning for the period of
possessionistheactualpossessionofthepropertyanditissufficientforthe
property sought to be registered to be already alienable and disposable at
thetimeoftheapplicationforregistrationoftitleisfiled.Itmustbenoted
thatthisCourthadconflictingrulingsinNaguit(448SCRA442[2005])and
Herbieto (459 SCRA 183 [2005]), relied on by the parties contradictory
positions.Herbietoessentially ruled that reckoning of the possession of an
applicantforjudicialconfirmationofimperfecttitleiscountedfromthedate
when the lot was classified as alienable and disposable, and possession
beforesuchdateisinconsequentialandmustbeexcludedinthecomputation
oftheperiodofpossession.Thisrulingisverystringentandrestrictive,for
therecanbenoperfectionoftitlewhenthedeclarationofpublicagricultural
land as alienable and disposable is made after June 12, 1945, since the
reckoning of the period of possession cannot comply with the mandatory
period under Sec. 14(1) of PD 1529. In Naguit, this Court held a less
stringentrequirementintheapplicationofSec.14(1)ofPD1529inthatthe
reckoning for the period of possession is the actual possession of the
property and it is sufficient for the property sought to be registered to be
alreadyalienableanddisposableatthetimeoftheapplicationforregistration
oftitleisfiled.
Same Correct interpretation of Section 14(1) of P.D. 1529 is that
whichwasadoptedinNaguit.Indeclaringthatthecorrectinterpretationof
Sec.14(1)ofPD1529isthatwhichwasadoptedinNaguit,theCourtruled
thatthemorereasonableinterpretationofSec.14(1)ofPD1529isthat
it merely requires the property sought to be registered as already
alienable and disposable at the time the application for registration of
titleisfiled.
440

440

SUPREMECOURTREPORTSANNOTATED
Republicvs.IglesianiCristo

Same Courts Affirmation of Naguit in Malabanan as regards the


correct interpretation of Sec. 14(1) of Presidential Decree 1529 relative to
the reckoning of possession visvis the declaration of the property of the
public domain as alienable and disposable is indeed more in keeping with
thespiritofthePublicLandAct,asamended,andofPD1529.Wewishto
emphasize that our affirmation of Naguit in Malabanan (587 SCRA 172
[2009])as regards the correct interpretation of Sec. 14(1) of PD 1529
relative to the reckoning of possession visvis the declaration of the
propertyofthepublicdomainasalienableanddisposableisindeedmorein
keepingwiththespiritofthePublicLandAct,asamended,andofPD1529.
ThesestatuteswereenactedtoconformtotheStatespolicyofencouraging
and promoting the distribution of alienable public lands to spur economic
growth and remain true to the ideal of social justice. The statutes
requirements, as couched and amended, are stringent enough to safeguard
against fraudulent applications for registration of title over alienable and
disposablepublicland.Theapplicationofthemorestringentpronouncement
inHerbietowouldindeedstifleandrepresstheStatespolicy.

PETITION for review on certiorari of a decision of the Court of


Appeals.
ThefactsarestatedintheopinionoftheCourt.
TheSolicitorGeneralforpetitioner.
Lazaro, Tuazon, Santos and Associates Law Offices for
respondent.
VELASCO,JR.,J.:
TheCase
In this Petition for Review on Certiorari under Rule 45, the
Republic of the Philippines assails the October 11, 2007 Decision1
oftheCourtofAppeals(CA)inCAG.R.CVNo.85348,
_______________
1Rollo, pp. 2432. Penned by Associate Justice Josefina GuevaraSalonga and
concurredinbyAssociateJusticesVicenteQ.RoxasandRamonR.Garcia.
441

VOL.591,JUNE30,2009

441

Republicvs.IglesianiCristo

which affirmed the April 26, 2005 Decision2 of the Municipal


Circuit Trial Court (MCTC) in PaoayCurrimao, Ilocos Norte, in
Land Registration Case No. 762C for Application for Registration
of Title, entitled Iglesia Ni Cristo, Trustee and Applicant with its
ExecutiveMinisterEraoManaloasCorporateSolev.Republicof

thePhilippinesasoppositor.
TheFacts
Subject of the instant controversy is Lot No. 3946 of the
CurrimaoCadastre,particularlydescribedasfollows:
Aparcelofland(PlanSwoI001047,L.R.C.Rec.No.______)situated
in the Barrio of Baramban, Municipality of Currimao, Province of Ilocos
Norte,IslandofLuzon.BoundedontheSE.,alongline12bytheNational
Road (20.00 m. wide) on the SW. & NW., along lines 234 by lot 3946,
Cads562D, Currimao Cadastral Sketching, Bernardo Badanguio on the
NE., along line 41 by lot 3947, portion, Cads562D (Pacita B. Lazaro)
andlot3948,PacitaB.Lazaro,Cads562D,CurrimaoCadastralSketching
x x x containing an area of FOUR THOUSAND TWO HUNDRED AND
ONE(4201)SQUAREMETERS.xxx

OnNovember19,1998,IglesiaNiCristo(INC),representedby
Erao G. Manalo, as corporate sole, filed its Application for
Registration of Title before the MCTC in PaoayCurrimao.
Appendedtotheapplicationwerethesepiaortracingclothofplan
Swo1001047, the technical description of subject lot,3 the
GeodeticEngineersCertificate,4TaxDeclarationNo.(TD)5080265
covering the subject lot, and the September 7, 1970 Deed of Sale6
executedbyBernardoBadanguioinfavorofINC.
_______________
2Id.,atpp.5556.PennedbyJudgeDesignateFelixC.Salvador.
3Id.,atpp.41,datedMarch12,1979.
4Id.,atp.42,datedMarch15,1979.
5Id.,atp.44.
6Id.,atpp.4748.
442

442

SUPREMECOURTREPORTSANNOTATED
Republicvs.IglesianiCristo

TheRepublic,throughtheOfficeoftheSolicitorGeneral(OSG),
entered its appearance and deputized the Provincial Prosecutor of
Laoag City to appear on its behalf. It also filed an Opposition to
INCsapplication.
TheRulingoftheCadastralCourt
After the required jurisdictional publication, notification, and
posting, hearing ensued where the INC presented three testimonial
witnesses,7 the MCTC, acting as cadastral court, rendered its

DecisiononApril26,2005,grantingINCsapplication.Thedecretal
portionreads:
Wherefore, the application for registration is hereby granted. Upon
finality of this decision, let an Order be issued directing the Land
RegistrationAuthoritytoregisterandissueanOriginalCertificateofTitleto
theapplicantIglesiaNiCristo,asCorporationSole,withofficialaddressat
No.1CentralAvenue,NewEra,DilimanQuezonCity.
SOORDERED.

The cadastral court held that based on documentary and


testimonial evidence, the essential requisites for judicial
confirmation of an imperfect title over the subject lot have been
compliedwith.
Itwasestablishedduringtrialthatthesubjectlotformedpartofa
bigger lot owned by one Dionisio Sabuco. On February 23, 1952,
Sabuco sold a small portion of the bigger lot to INC which built a
chapelonthelot.SaturninoSacayanan,whowasbornin1941and
became a member of INC in 1948, testified to the sale by Sabuco
andtheerectionofthesmallchapelbyINCin1952.Subsequently,
Sabuco sold the bigger lot to Bernardo Badanguio less the small
portionwheretheINCchapelwasbuilt.
_______________
7(1)TeofiloTulali,atenantofLotNo.3946(2)SaturninoSacayanan,amember
ofINCsince1948and(3)JaimeAlcantara,thepropertycustodian of Lot No. 3946
andMinisterofINCsince1965.
443

VOL.591,JUNE30,2009

443

Republicvs.IglesianiCristo

Badanguio in 1954 then declared the entire bigger lot he


purchased from Sabuco for tax purposes and was issued TD
006114.8In1959,Badanguioalsosoldasmallportionofthebigger
lot to INC for which a Deed of Absolute Sale9 was executed on
January 8, 1959. Jaime Alcantara, the property custodian of INC,
testifiedtothepurchasesconstitutingthesubjectlotandtheissuance
ofTDscoveringitasdeclaredbyINCfortaxpurposes.Thus,these
twopurchasesbyINCofasmallportionofthebiggerlotoriginally
ownedbySabuco,whoinheriteditfromhisparentsandlatersoldit
toBadanguio,constitutedthesubjectlot.
On September 7, 1970, a Deed of Sale was executed by
Badanguio in favor of INC formally ceding and conveying to INC
the subject lot which still formed part of the TD of the bigger lot
underhisname.ThiswastestifiedtobyTeofiloTulaliwhobecame

atenantofthebiggerlotin1965andcontinuedtobeitstenantunder
Badanguio.Tulalitestifiedfurtherthattheownershipandpossession
ofSabucoandBadanguioofthebiggerlotwereneverdisturbed.
Subsequently,TD648510wasissuedin1970inthenameofINC
pursuant to the September 7, 1970 Deed of Sale. This was
subsequentlyreplacedbyTDNo.40605611in1974,TD508026in
1980,andTD605153in1985.
Fortheprocessingofitsapplicationforjudicialconfirmationof
title, subject Lot No. 3946 of the Currimao Cadastre was surveyed
and consisted of 4,201 square meters. With the presentation of the
requisite sepia or tracing cloth of plan Swo1001047, technical
description of the subject lot, Geodetic Engineers Certificate, and
ReportgivenbytheCityEnvironmentandNaturalResourcesOffice
special investigator showing that the subject lot is within alienable
anddis
_______________
8Records,p.439.
9Id.,atpp.356357.
10Rollo,p.46.
11Id.,atp.45.
444

444

SUPREMECOURTREPORTSANNOTATED
Republicvs.IglesianiCristo

posable public zone, the MCTC found and appreciated the


continuous possession by INC of the subject lot for over 40 years
afteritsacquisitionofthelot.Besides,itnotedthatBadanguioand
Sabuco,thepredecessorsininterestofINC,wereneverdisturbedin
their possession of the portions they sold to INC constituting the
subjectlot.
Aggrieved,theRepublicseasonablyinterposeditsappealbefore
theCA,docketedasCAG.R.CVNo.85348.
TheRulingoftheCA
On October 11, 2007, the appellate court rendered the assailed
Decision affirming the April 26, 2005 MCTC Decision. The fallo
reads:
WHEREFORE, the foregoing considered, the instant appeal is hereby
DENIEDandtheassaileddecisionAFFIRMEDintoto.
SOORDERED.

In denying the Republics appeal, the CA found that the


documentary and testimonial evidence on record sufficiently

established the continuous, open, and peaceful possession and


occupationofthesubjectlotintheconceptofanownerbyINCof
more than 40 years and by its predecessorsininterest prior to the
conveyanceofthelottoINC.
Hence,wehavethispetition.
TheIssue
THE COURT OF APPEALS ERRED ON A QUESTION OF LAW IN
AFFIRMING THE [MCTC] DECISION GRANTING THE
APPLICATION FOR LAND REGISTRATION DESPITE EVIDENCE
THATTHELANDWASDECLAREDALIENABLEANDDISPOSABLE
LANDOFTHEPUBLICDOMAINONLYONMAY16,1993,ORFIVE
(5) YEARS BEFORE THE FILING OF THE APPLICATION FOR
REGISTRATIONONNOVEMBER19,1998.12
_______________
12Id.,atp.13.
445

VOL.591,JUNE30,2009

445

Republicvs.IglesianiCristo

TheCourtsRuling
May a judicial confirmation of imperfect title prosper when the
subject property has been declared as alienable only after June 12,
1945?Thisisthesoleissuetoberesolved.
Thepetitionisbereftofmerit.Thesoleissueraisedisnotnovel.
TheRepublicsContention
TheRepubliccontendsthatsubjectLotNo.3946wascertifiedas
alienableanddisposablelandofthepublicdomainonlyonMay16,
1993.RelyingonRepublicv.Herbieto,13itarguesthatpriortosaid
date, the subject lot remained to be of the public dominion or res
publicae in nature incapable of private appropriation, and,
consequently, INC and its predecessorsininterests possession and
occupation cannot confer ownership or possessory rights and any
periodofpossessionpriortothedatewhenthelotwasclassifiedas
alienableanddisposableisinconsequentialandshouldbeexcluded
inthecomputationoftheperiodofpossession.14
The Republic maintains further that since the application was
filed only on November 19, 1998 or a scant five years from the
declarationofthesubjectlottobealienableanddisposablelandon
May 16, 1993, INCs possession fell short of the 30year period
requiredunderSection48(b)ofCommonwealthActNo.(CA)141,
otherwiseknownasthePublicLandAct.
TheArgumentofINC

RespondentINCcountersthattheCourthasalreadyclarifiedthis
issue in Republic v. Court of Appeals (Naguit case), in which we
heldthatwhatismerelyrequiredbySec.14(1)of
_______________
13G.R.No.156117,May26,2005,459SCRA183.
14Id.,atpp.201202.
446

446

SUPREMECOURTREPORTSANNOTATED
Republicvs.IglesianiCristo

PresidentialDecreeNo.(PD)1529,otherwiseknownastheProperty
RegistrationDecree,isthatthepropertysoughttoberegistered[is]
alreadyalienableanddisposableatthetimeoftheapplicationfor
registration of title is filed.15 Moreover, INC asserts that the
Herbieto pronouncement quoted by the Republic cannot be
considereddoctrinalinthatitismerelyanobiterdictum,statedonly
after the case was dismissed for the applicants failure to comply
withthejurisdictionalrequirementofpublication.
Necessityofdeclarationofpublicagricul
turallandasalienableanddisposable
It is wellsettled that no public land can be acquired by private
personswithoutanygrant,expressorimplied,fromthegovernment,
anditisindispensablethatthepersonsclaimingtitletoapublicland
shouldshowthattheirtitlewasacquiredfromtheStateoranyother
mode of acquisition recognized by law.16 In the instant case, it is
undisputed that the subject lot has already been declared alienable
anddisposablebythegovernmentonMay16,1993oralittleover
fiveyearsbeforetheapplicationforregistrationwasfiledbyINC.
ConflictingrulingsinHerbietoandNaguit
ItmustbenotedthatthisCourthadconflictingrulingsinNaguit
andHerbieto,reliedonbythepartiescontradictorypositions.
Herbietoessentiallyruledthatreckoningofthepossessionofan
applicantforjudicialconfirmationofimperfecttitleiscountedfrom
thedatewhenthelotwasclassifiedasalienableanddisposable,and
possessionbeforesuchdateisinconsequentialandmustbeexcluded
inthecomputationofthepe
_______________
15G.R.No.144057,January17,2005,448SCRA442,448449.
16Republicv.Sarmiento,G.R.No.169397,March13,2007,518SCRA250,257
citingHerbieto,supranote13,atpp.199200.
447

VOL.591,JUNE30,2009

447

Republicvs.IglesianiCristo

riod of possession. This ruling is very stringent and restrictive, for


there can be no perfection of title when the declaration of public
agriculturallandasalienableanddisposableismadeafterJune12,
1945,sincethereckoningoftheperiodofpossessioncannotcomply
withthemandatoryperiodunderSec.14(1)ofPD1529.
In Naguit, this Court held a less stringent requirement in the
application of Sec. 14(1) of PD 1529 in that the reckoning for the
periodofpossessionistheactualpossessionofthepropertyanditis
sufficient for the property sought to be registered to be already
alienable and disposable at the time of the application for
registrationoftitleisfiled.
A review of subsequent and recent rulings by this Court shows
that the pronouncement in Herbieto has been applied to
Buenaventura v. Republic,17 Republic v. Diloy,18 Ponciano, Jr. v.
Laguna Lake Development Authority,19 and Preciosa v. Pascual.20
ThisCourtsrulinginNaguit,ontheotherhand,hasbeenappliedto
Republicv.Bibonia.21
CoreissuelaidtorestinHeirsof
MarioMalabananv.Republic
In Heirs of Mario Malabanan v. Republic (Malabanan),22 the
CourtupheldNaguitandabandonedthestringentrulinginHerbieto.
Sec.14(1)ofPD1529pertinentlyprovides:
SEC.14.Who may apply.The following persons may file in the
properCourtofFirstInstance[nowRegionalTrialCourt]an
_______________
17G.R.No.166865,March2,2007,517SCRA271.
18G.R.No.174633,August26,2008,563SCRA413.
19G.R.No.174536,October29,2008,570SCRA207.
20G.R.No.168819,November27,2008,572SCRA143.
21G.R.No.157466,June21,2007,525SCRA268.
22G.R.No.179987,April29,2009,587SCRA172.
448

448

SUPREMECOURTREPORTSANNOTATED
Republicvs.IglesianiCristo

application for registration of title to land, whether personally or through


theirdulyauthorizedrepresentatives:
(1)Those who by themselves or through their predecessorsininterest
have been in open, continuous, exclusive and notorious possession and
occupation of alienable and disposable lands of the public domain under a

bonafideclaimofownershipsinceJune12,1945,orearlier.

In declaring that the correct interpretation of Sec. 14(1) of PD


1529isthatwhichwasadoptedinNaguit,theCourtruledthatthe
morereasonableinterpretationofSec.14(1)ofPD1529isthatit
merelyrequiresthepropertysoughttoberegisteredasalready
alienable and disposable at the time the application for
registrationoftitleisfiled.
The Court in Malabanan traced the rights of a citizen to own
alienableanddisposablelandsofthepublicdomainasgrantedunder
CA 141, otherwise known as the Public Land Act, as amended by
PD1073,andPD1529.TheCourtobservedthatSec.48(b)ofCA
141andSec.14(1)ofPD1529arevirtuallythesame,withthelatter
law specifically operationalizing the registration of lands of the
public domain and codifying the various laws relative to the
registrationofproperty.WecitedNaguitandratiocinated:
Despite the clear text of Section 48(b) of the Public Land Act, as
amendedandSection14(a)ofthePropertyRegistrationDecree,theOSGhas
adopted the position that for one to acquire the right to seek registration of
an alienable and disposable land of the public domain, it is not enough that
the applicant and his/her predecessorsininterest be in possession under a
bona fide claim of ownership since 12 June 1945 the alienable and
disposable character of the property must have been declared also as of 12
June 1945. Following the OSGs approach, all lands certified as alienable
and disposable after 12 June 1945 cannot be registered either under Section
14(1) of the Property Registration Decree or Section 48(b) of the Public
LandActasamended.Theabsurdityofsuchanimplicationwasdiscussedin
Naguit.
449

VOL.591,JUNE30,2009

449

Republicvs.IglesianiCristo

Petitioner suggests an interpretation that the alienable and disposable


character of the land should have already been established since June 12,
1945orearlier.ThisisnotborneoutbytheplainmeaningofSection14(1).
Since June 12, 1945, as used in the provision, qualifies its antecedent
phrase under a bona fide claim of ownership. Generally speaking,
qualifyingwordsrestrictormodifyonlythewordsorphrasestowhichthey
areimmediatelyassociated, and not those distantly or remotely located. Ad
proximumantecedentsfiatrelationnisiimpediatursentencia.
Besides,we are mindful of the absurdity that would result if we adopt
petitioners position. Absent a legislative amendment, the rule would be,
adoptingtheOSGsview,thatalllandsofthepublicdomainwhichwerenot
declared alienable or disposable before June 12, 1945 would not be
susceptible to original registration, no matter the length of unchallenged
possession by the occupant. Such interpretation renders paragraph (1) of

Section 14 virtually inoperative and even precludes the government from


giving it effect even as it decides to reclassify public agricultural lands as
alienable and disposable. The unreasonableness of the situation would even
beaggravatedconsideringthatbeforeJune12,1945,thePhilippineswasnot
yetevenconsideredanindependentstate.
Accordingly,theCourtinNaguitexplained:
[T]he more reasonable interpretation of Section 14(1) is that it
merely requires the property sought to be registered as already
alienableanddisposableatthetimetheapplicationforregistrationof
titleisfiled.IftheState,atthetimetheapplicationismade,hasnot
yet deemed it proper to release the property for alienation or
disposition,the presumption is that the government is still reserving
the right to utilize the property hence, the need to preserve its
ownershipintheStateirrespectiveofthelengthofadversepossession
even if in good faith. However, if the property has already been
classifiedasalienableanddisposable,asitisinthiscase,thenthere
isalreadyanintentiononthepartoftheStatetoabdicateitsexclusive
prerogativeovertheproperty.
TheCourtdeclaresthatthecorrectinterpretationofSection14(1)isthat
which was adopted in Naguit. The contrary pronouncement in Herbieto, as
pointedoutinNaguit,absurdlylimitstheapplicationoftheprovisiontothe
point of virtual inutility since it would only cover lands actually declared
alienableanddisposablepriorto
450

450

SUPREMECOURTREPORTSANNOTATED
Republicvs.IglesianiCristo

12 June 1945, even if the current possessor is able to establish open,


continuous, exclusive and notorious possession under a bona fide claim of
ownershiplongbeforethatdate.
Moreover,theNaguitinterpretationallowsmorepossessorsunderabona
fide claim of ownership to avail of judicial confirmation of their imperfect
titles than what would be feasible under Herbieto. This balancing fact is
significant, especially considering our forthcoming discussion on the scope
andreachofSection14(2)ofthePropertyRegistrationDecree.
Petitioners make the salient observation that the contradictory passages
fromHerbietoareobiterdictasincethelandregistrationproceedingstherein
isvoidabinitiointhefirstplaceduetolackoftherequisitepublicationof
thenoticeofinitialhearing.ThereisnoneedtoexplicitlyoverturnHerbieto,
as it suffices that the Courts acknowledgment that the particular line of
argumentusedthereinconcerningSection14(1)isindeedobiter.

NaguitasaffirmedinMalabananmore
inaccordwiththeStatespolicy
Moreover, we wish to emphasize that our affirmation of Naguit
inMalabananasregardsthecorrectinterpretationofSec.14(1)of
PD 1529 relative to the reckoning of possession visvis the

declaration of the property of the public domain as alienable and


disposableisindeedmoreinkeepingwiththespiritofthePublic
LandAct,asamended,andofPD1529.Thesestatuteswereenacted
to conform to the States policy of encouraging and promoting the
distribution of alienable public lands to spur economic growth and
remain true to the ideal of social justice.23 The statutes
requirements, as couched and amended, are stringent enough to
safeguardagainstfraudulentapplicationsforregistrationoftitleover
alienable and disposable public land. The application of the more
stringentpronouncementinHerbietowouldindeedstifleandrepress
theStatespolicy.
_______________
23Bibonia,supranote21,atp.277citingMenguitov.Republic,G.R.No.134308,
December14,2000,348SCRA128,141.
451

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451

Republicvs.IglesianiCristo

Finally, the Court in Malabanan aptly synthesized the doctrine


thattheperiodofpossessionrequiredunderSec.14(1)ofPD1527
is not reckoned from the time of the declaration of the property as
alienableanddisposable,thus:
Wesynthesizethedoctrineslaiddowninthiscase,asfollows:
(1)In connection with Section 14(1) of the Property Registration
Decree, Section 48(b) of the Public Land Act recognizes and confirms that
thosewhobythemselvesorthroughtheirpredecessorsininteresthavebeen
in open, continuous, exclusive, and notorious possession and occupation of
alienableanddisposablelandsofthepublicdomain,underabonafideclaim
of acquisition of ownership, since June 12, 1945 have acquired ownership
of,andregistrabletitleto,suchlandsbasedonthelengthandqualityoftheir
possession.
(a)SinceSection48(b)merelyrequirespossessionsince12June1945
anddoesnotrequirethatthelandsshouldhavebeenalienableanddisposable
during the entire period of possession, the possessor is entitled to secure
judicial confirmation of his title thereto as soon as it is declared alienable
anddisposable,subjecttothetimeframeimposedbySection47ofthePublic
LandAct.
(b)TherighttoregistergrantedunderSection48(b)ofthePublicLand
Act is further confirmed by Section 14(1) of the Property Registration
Decree.

INCentitledtoregistrablerightoversubjectlot
With the resolution of the core issue, we find no error in the

findings of the courts a quo that INC had indeed sufficiently


established its possession and occupation of the subject lot in
accordance with the Public Land Act and Sec. 14(1) of PD 1529,
and had duly proved its right to judicial confirmation of imperfect
titleoversubjectlot.
Asarule,thefindingsoffactofthetrialcourtwhenaffirmedby
the CA are final and conclusive on, and cannot be reviewed on
appealby,thisCourtaslongastheyareborneoutbytherecordor
arebasedonsubstantialevidence.TheCourtisnotatrieroffacts,
itsjurisdictionbeinglimitedto
452

452

SUPREMECOURTREPORTSANNOTATED
Republicvs.IglesianiCristo

reviewingonlyerrorsoflawthatmayhavebeencommittedbythe
lowercourts.24Thisisapplicabletotheinstantcase.
ThepossessionofINChasbeenestablishednotonlyfrom1952
and1959whenitpurchasedtherespectivehalvesofthesubjectlot,
butisalsotackedontothepossessionofitspredecessorsininterest,
Badanguio and Sabuco, the latter possessing the subject lot way
before June 12, 1945, as he inherited the bigger lot, of which the
subject lot is a portion, from his parents. These possessions and
occupationfrom Sabuco, including those of his parents, to INC
andfromSabucotoBadanguiotoINChadbeenintheconceptof
owners: open, continuous, exclusive, and notorious possession and
occupationunderabonafideclaimofacquisitionofproperty.These
hadnotbeendisturbedasattestedtobyrespondentswitnesses.
WHEREFORE, this petition is hereby DENIED. Accordingly,
the October 11, 2007 CA Decision in CAG.R. CV No. 85348 is
herebyAFFIRMEDINTOTO.
Nocosts.
SOORDERED.
YnaresSantiago (Chairperson), ChicoNazario, Nachura and
Peralta,JJ.,concur.
Petitiondenied,judgmentaffirmedintoto.
Note.Executive Department classifies and reclassifies public
landsintoalienableordisposable,mineralorforestlands.(Heirs of
the Late Spouses Pedro S. Palanca and Soterranes Rafols Vda. de
Palancavs.Republic,500SCRA209[2006])
o0o

_______________
24PrudentialBankv.Lim,G.R.No.136371,November11,2005,474SCRA485,
491 citing Swagman Hotels and Travel, Inc. v. Court of Appeals, G.R. No. 161135,
April8,2005,455SCRA175(othercitationsomitted).

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