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Flordeliza L. Valisno v Judge Andres B.

Plan,
GR No. L-55152 August 19, 1986

FACTS:
Petitioners purchased 2 parcels of land from the family of Blancos and
subsequently declared ownership over the land for taxation purposes and took
possession thereof by assigning a caretaker over the property who built his house
thereon.
Respondent Cayaba claims to be the owner of the property by virtue of a deed of
sale executed in his and Bienvenido Noriegas favor from the heirs of Verano and
ousted the caretaker from the property and constructed an apartment thereon.
Petitioners filed an action for recovery of possession of the land.
The court decided in favor of the petitioner but on appeal, the CA reversed the
decision and dismissed the complaint of the petitioner on grounds that the
description of the property in the complaint is different from the subdivision plan
provided by the respondents with their respective area and boundaries appearing
to be completely different.
The court did not find any compliance to the requirement of the law that the
property in dispute must be clearly identified.
Under the Civil Code, Articles 433 and 541, the actual possessor of the property
has the presumption of a just title and he need not be compelled to show or prove
why he possesses the same. It was clear that the respondent is the current
possessor of the property having constructed the apartment on the property in
dispute.
Contrasting the evidence of the respondent and petitioner, the court choose the
respondents evidence as they were able to provide a vicinity plan that shows the
land position in relation to the adjoining properties with known boundaries and
landmarks. Petitioner merely presented a sketch prepared by Dr. Blanco
constituting as mere guess works.
Subsequently, the respondents filed a petition for registration of the property
before the CFI which was opposed by the petitioner.
Respondent moved for the dismissal of the opposition that the same is barred by
a prior judgment of the court.
The CFI dismissed the opposition on ground of res judicata thus this appeal
before the SC.
With the petition given due course by the SC, it orders both parties to submit
their briefs.
Only the petitioner submitted their own brief within the given period thus the SC
considered the case submitted for decision with the brief of the respondent.
The petitioner filed a motion to amend the application to include Bienvenido
Noriega as a co-applicant to the petition.

ISSUE: Whether or not to grant the motion to dismiss filed by the petitioner?

HELD:

The Land Registration Act does not provide for pleading similar to a motion to
dismiss but the Rules of Court allows its application in land registration
proceeding as only suppletory when it is practicable and convenient.
o Therefore, the court may sustain a motion to dismiss in land registration
proceeding as the case at bar.
o Noted by the court in the ordinary civil case, the counterclaim can be taken
as a complaint where the defendant becomes the plaintiff.
o The original plaintiff thus becomes defendant in the counterclaim and he
may choose to answer the counterclaim or be declared in default or file a
motion to dismiss the same. The respondent clearly opted for the last
choice.
The SC held that res judicata operates in the case at bar with its requisites present
in the case: [a] the former judgment must be final, [b] it must have been'
rendered by a court having jurisdiction of the subject matter and of the parties,
[c] it must be a judgment on the merits and [d] there must be between the first
and second actions identity of parties, of subject matter and of cause of action.
The inclusion of private respondent Cayaba's co-owner, Bienvenido Noriega, Sr.,
in the application for registration does not result in a difference in parties
between the two cases.
o One right of a co-owner is to defend in court the interests of the co-
ownership.
o Although the first action was captioned for the recovery of possession,
possession is sought based on ownership, thus the action was one in the
nature of accion reinvidicatoria.
o The second action is for registration of title where the registration is
sought based on ones ownership over the property.
o The difference between the two is that the plaintiff seeks to exclude other
persons from ownership over the property in the first action while it seeks
to exclude the whole world in the second action. The cause of action
however remains the same.
o The employment of two different actions does not allow one to escape
against the principle of res judicata where one and the same cause of
action cannot be litigated twice.
o Although the first action was litigated before a competent court of general
jurisdiction and the other over a registration court is of no significance
since that both courts should be of equal jurisdiction is not a requisite for
res judicata to apply.
o For convenience, the SC should decide whether to dismiss the application
for registration or the opposition thereto. Because the conflicting claims of
both parties have been settled and decided by the court previously, it
upheld the finality of its decision and dismissed the petition.