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PAGKATIPUNAN V CA Quezon in the land registration case has become

final and conclusive against the Republic.


PETITIONERS: Nestor Pagkatipunan o Moreover, the action for reversion of the land to
Rosalina Maagas-Pagkatipunan the public domain is barred by prior judgment.
RESPONDENTS: Court of Appeals
Republic of the Philippines June 27, 1986 IAC held that the land in question was
DOCKET NO.: G.R. No. 129682 forestral land; hence not registrable.
PROMUL. DATE: March 21, 2002 o There was no evidence on record to show that the
PONENTE: Ynares-Santiago, J. land was actually and officially delimited and
classified as alienable or disposable land of
FACTS: the public domain. Therefore, the Court of First
November 1960 petitioners predecessors-in-interest, Instance did not acquire jurisdiction to take
sps. Getulio Pagkatipunan and Lucrecia Esquires, filed cognizance of the application for registration and
with CFI Gumaca, Quezon an application for judicial to decide the same.
confirmation and registration of their title to Lots 1 and 2
of Plan Psu-174406 and Lots 1 and 2 of Plan Psu-112066, MOTION FOR RECONSIDERATION (by petitioners, July
all located in San Narciso, Quezon. 16, 1986)
May 4, 1961 CFI entered an order of default against the o Reiterated that the land in question was
whole world agricultural because it was possessed and
o Except sps. Felicisimo Almace and Teodulo cultivated as such long before its classification as
Medenilla, who were given 10 days to file their timberland by the Bureau of Forestry in 1955
written opposition as regards to Lot No. 2 of Plan o Petitioners and their predecessors-in-interest
Psu-174406 have been in open, continuous, exclusive,
o Getulio and Lucrecia filed a motion, and Lot. No. 2 notorious possession and occupation of said land
of Plan Psu-174406 was removed from the for agricultural and cattle raising purposes as far
coverage of the application. The remaining back as the Spanish regime.
parcel of land covered by Lot No. 1 has an area of o CA DENIED (August 20, 1986). Their previous
3,804.261 square meters. decision on June 27 (see above) attained finality
June 15, 1967 CFI promulgated a decision confirming and judgment was entered in the book of entries
petitioners title to the property. On October 23, 1967, OCT of judgments. (Dec. 12, 1986)
No. O-12665 was issued in the name of petitioners. URGENT MOTION TO SET ASIDE ENTRY OF
JUDGMENT (April 2, 1987)
September 12, 1985 (18 years later) the Republic of the o Filed by petitioners on the ground that Atty. Cirilo
PH filed with the Intermediate Appellate Court (IAC): E. Doronila, their counsel, was not furnished a
o an action to declare the proceedings in LRC Case copy of the resolution denying the motion for
No. 91-G, LRC Record No. N-19930 before the reconsideration.
Court of First Instance of Gumaca, Quezon null o In the absence of such notice, the decision of the
and void, and to cancel Original Certificate of Title appellate court did not become final and
No. 0-12665 and titles derived therefrom as null executory.
and void October 22, 1987 - the Court of Appeals set aside and
o to direct the register of deeds to annul said lifted the entry of judgment in CA-G. R. SP No. 07115 and
certificates of title, and to confirm the subject directed the clerk of court to furnish petitioners counsel a
land as part of the public domain. copy of the August 20, 1986 resolution.
REPUBLICS CLAIMS: o For petitioners inaction despite service of the
o at the time of filing of the land registration case August 20, 1986 resolution, the June 27, 1986
and of rendition of the decision on June 15, 1967, decision became final and executory.
the subject land was classified as timberland o On March 2, 1988, entry of judgment was again
under LC Project No. 15-B of San Narciso, made in the land registration case.
Quezon, as shown in BF Map No. LC-1180; September 4, 1995 - Atty. Doronila withdrew his
hence inalienable and not subject to appearance as counsel for petitioners
registration On April 1, 1996, petitioners, through their new counsel,
o petitioners title thereto cannot be confirmed for Atty. George I. Howard, filed with the Court of Appeals an
lack of showing of possession and occupation urgent motion to recall the entry of judgment, which
of the land in the manner and for the length of was denied by the appellate court on December 16,
time required by Section 48(b), Commonwealth 1996.
Act No. 141, as amended o An MR was also DENIED on the ground that it
o Neither did petitioners have any fee simple title raised arguments already discussed and resolved
which may be registered under Act No. 496, as in the urgent motion to recall entry of judgment.
amended.
o Consequently, the Court of First Instance did not ISSUE: WON the Republics cause of action has been
acquire jurisdiction over the res and any barred by prescription and res judicata?
proceedings had therein were null and void.
HELD:
PETITIONERS DEFENSE: o Petitioners claim that their title to the land became
o Raised the special defences of indefeasibility of
incontrovertible and indefeasible one (1) year
title and res judicata.
after issuance of the decree of registration.
o Due to the lapse of a considerable length of time,
Hence, the Republics cause of action was barred
the judgment of the Court of First Instance of
by prescription and res judicata, proceedings State. To overcome such presumption,
having been initiated only after about 18 years incontrovertible evidence must be shown by the
from the time the decree of registration was applicant that the land subject of the application is
made. Contrary to the appellate courts findings, alienable or disposable.
the land is agricultural and the inclusion and o In the case at bar, there was no evidence
classification thereof by the Bureau of Forestry in showing that the land has been reclassified as
1955 as timberland cannot impair the vested disposable or alienable. Before any land may be
rights acquired by petitioners predecessors-in- declassified from the forest group and converted
interest who have been in open, continuous, into alienable or disposable land for agricultural or
adverse and public possession of the land in other purposes, there must be a positive act from
question since time immemorial and for more than the government. Even rules on the confirmation of
thirty (30) years prior to the filing of the application imperfect titles do not apply unless and until the
for registration in 1960. Hence, the Court of land classified as forest land is released in an
Appeals committed grave error when it denied official proclamation to that effect so that it may
their motion to set aside entry of judgment in the form part of the disposable agricultural lands of
land registration case. - The petition lacks merit. the public domain. Declassification of forest
o Unless public land is shown to have been land is an express and positive act of
reclassified or alienated to a private person by Government. It cannot be presumed. Neither
the State, it remains part of the inalienable should it be ignored nor deemed waived. It
public domain. Occupation thereof in the calls for proof.
concept of owner, no matter how long, cannot o The court a quo found registrable title in favor of
ripen into ownership and be registered as a petitioners based on the Republics failure to show
title. that the land is more valuable as forest land than
o Evidence extant on record showed that at the time for agricultural purposes, a finding which is
of filing of the application for land registration and based on a wrong concept of what is forest
issuance of the certificate of title over the disputed land.
land in the name of petitioners, the same was o There is a big difference between forest as
timberland and formed part of the public defined in the dictionary and forest or timber
domain, as per certification issued by the land as a classification of land of the public
Bureau of Forest Development on April 1, 1985, domain in the Constitution. One is descriptive
thus: of what appears on the land while the other is a
TO WHOM IT MAY CONCERN: legal status, a classification for legal purposes.
This is to certify that the tract of land situated The forest land started out as a forest or vast
in Vigo Cantidang, San Narciso, Quezon,
tracts of wooded land with dense growths of trees
containing an area of 3,804.261 square
meters as described in Transfer Certificate of and underbrush. However, the cutting down of
Title No. T-117618 x x x registered in the trees and the disappearance of virgin forest do
name of Spouses Nestor E. Pagkatipunan and not automatically convert the land of the public
Rosalina Magas is verified to be within the domain from forest or timber land to alienable
Timberland Block -B, Project No. 15-B of San agricultural land.
Narciso, Quezon, certified and declared as o The classification of forest land, or any land for
such on August 25, 1955 per BFD Map LC- that matter, is descriptive of its legal nature or
1880. The land is, therefore, within the
status, and does not have to be descriptive of
administrative jurisdiction and control of the
Bureau of Forest Development, and not what the land actually looks like. A person cannot
subject to disposition under the Public Land enter into forest land and by the simple act of
Law. cultivating a portion of that land, earn credits
towards an eventual confirmation of imperfect
[Sgd.]ARMANDO CRUZ title. The Government must first declare the forest
Supervising Cartographer
land to be alienable and disposable agricultural
land before the year of entry, cultivation, and
o This fact was even admitted by petitioners during
exclusive and adverse possession can be
the proceedings before the court a quo on March
counted for purposes of an imperfect title.
10, 1986, when they confirmed that the land
o Moreover, the original text of Section 48 (b),
has been classified as forming part of forest
Chapter VIII of the Public Land Act, which took
land, albeit only on August 25, 1955. Since no
effect on December 1, 1936, expressly provided
imperfect title can be confirmed over lands not
that only agricultural land of the public domain are
yet classified as disposable or alienable, the
subject to acquisitive prescription, to wit:
title issued to herein petitioners is considered
void ab initio. Section 48. x x x
o Under the Regalian doctrine, all lands of the (a) x x x
public domain belong to the State, and the State (b) Those who by themselves or through their
is the source of any asserted right to ownership in predecessors-in-interest have been in open, continuous,
land and charged with the conservation of such exclusive, and notorious possession and occupation of
agricultural lands of the public domain, under a bona
patrimony. This same doctrine also states that all
fide claim of acquisition of ownership, except as against
lands not otherwise appearing to be clearly within the Government, since July twenty-six, eighteen
private ownership are presumed to belong to the
hundred and ninety-four, except when prevented by war in continuous possession and occupation of the same
or force majeure. These shall be conclusively presumed as early as June 1945.
to have performed all the conditions essential to a o He narrated that his father, the late Pedro
Government grant and shall be entitled to a certificate of Raneses (Pedro), was a farmer who cultivated the
title under the provisions of this Chapter. (Emphasis subject properties by planting palay and other
supplied) crops thereon.
o Thus, it is clear that the applicant must prove not o He further narrated that since the subject
only his open, continuous, exclusive and properties were near the lake, Pedro used a
notorious possession and occupation of the land portable irrigation system to suck water from
either since time immemorial or for the period Laguna de Bay and a mechanized harvester to
prescribed therein, but most importantly, he must harvest the palay.
prove that the land is alienable public land. In the o However, he claimed that when Pedro died on
case at bar, petitioners failed to do so. November 15, 1982, the cultivation of the subject
o Petitioners contention that the Republic is properties was likewise stopped. Respondent
now barred from questioning the validity of averred that Pedro declared the subject
the certificate of title issued to them properties for real estate tax purposes, as
considering that it took the government evidenced by several tax declarations issued
almost eighteen (18) years to assail the same in Pedros name.
o Respondent claimed that he acquired ownership
is erroneous. It is a basic precept that
over the subject properties when his mother, Nina
prescription does not run against the State. The
Raneses, and his sisters, Annabelle R. San Juan
lengthy occupation of the disputed land by
and Belinda R. Bayas, executed an Extrajudicial
petitioners cannot be counted in their favor, as it Settlement of Estate with Deed of Waiver
remained part of the patrimonial property of the (Extrajudicial Settlement of Estate) on April 24,
State, which property, as stated earlier, is 1997, whereby they agreed to partition and
inalienable and indisposable. adjudicate among themselves the subject
o In light of the foregoing, the Court of Appeals properties, and thereafter, waive all their
did not err when it set aside the June 15, 1967 rights, interest and participation over the
decision of the court a quo and ordered that same in favor of respondent.
the subject lot be reverted back to the public o Respondent also testified that there were no other
domain. Since the land in question is persons or entities who occupied the subject
unregistrable, the land registration court did not properties.
acquire jurisdiction over the same. Any
proceedings had or judgment rendered therein is A Conversion Subdivision Plan, prepared by a private
void and is not entitled to the respect accorded to Geodetic Engineer named Andrew DG. Montalla:
o Said Plan noted that the subject properties were
a valid judgment. [s]urveyed in accordance with Survey Authority No.
LMS-SA-007607-310 dated August 29, 2006 issued by
the CENRO, South [S]ector and that the subject
properties were inside alienable and disposable land
REPUBLIC V RANESES area [P]roj. [N]o. 27-B as per LC Map No. 2623 certified
by the Bureau of Forestry on January 3, 1968.
Respondent also presented before the RTC an Inter-
PETITIONER: Republic of the Philippines Office Memorandum dated March 26, 2007 (Inter-Office
RESPONDENT: Crisanto S. Raneses Memorandum) prepared and signed by the Engineering
DOCKET NO.: G.R. No. 189970 and Construction Division (ECD) of the Laguna Lake
Development Authority (LLDA) composed of Engineer
DATE: June 9, 2014 Ramon D. Magalonga, Jr. (Engr. Magalonga),
PONENTE: Villarama, Jr., J. Fredisvindo A. Latoza and Renato Q. Medenilla (ECD
Team) and addressed to the Division Chief-III of the
FACTS: ECD. Said Memorandum provided that after an actual
March 26, 2007 respondent Crisanto S. Raneses filed field verification, the ECD Team found that the subject
an Application for Original Registration of Land Title properties are presently above (back filling) the
docketed as LRC No. N-11573-TG over two parcels of land reglementary 12.5-meter elevation.
identified as Lot No. 3085-A, Csd- 00-001621 and Lot No.
Catalina Raneses (mother of respondent) testified that
3085-B, Csd-00-001621 both located at Barangay
she and her husband Pedro had been in possession of the
Napindan, Taguig City, Metro Manila with a total area of
subject properties since the Japanese occupation.
twenty-two thousand six hundred (22,600) square meters
o Pedro cultivated the subject properties for palay
(subject properties)
production. However, after Pedros death in 1982,
Sept. 24, 2007 - respondent marked several documents to
the subject properties were no longer used for
establish compliance with the jurisdictional requirements.
palay production, and were, instead, at times
o There being no opposition filed, the RTC issued
leased out for the production of watermelons.
an Order of General Default against all o sometime in 1997, she, her daughters and
persons except herein petitioner Republic of the
respondent executed the aforementioned
Philippines (petitioner) and granted respondents
Extrajudicial Settlement of Estate, wherein all of
Motion to Present his Evidence Ex-Parte.
them waived their rights and interests over the
Oct. 1, 2007 - respondent testified that despite the fact that subject properties in favor of respondent for a
the earliest tax declaration on record over the subject consideration.
properties was issued only in 1980, his parents had been October 11, 2007 - the RTC issued its first assailed Order
granting respondents application for land registration.
October 25, 2007 - the LLDA filed its Opposition to the alienable and disposable lands of the public domain
application alleging that the subject properties are below under a bona fide claim of ownership since June 12,
1945, or earlier.
the 12.50-meter elevation, hence, forming part of the bed
of Laguna Lake and are, therefore, inalienable,
indisposable and incapable of registration. o The afore-quoted provision authorizes the
o To support its cause, the LLDA attached to its registration of title acquired in accordance with
Opposition a Memorandum23 dated September Section 48 (b) of Commonwealth Act No. 141,
24, 2007 (ECD Memorandum) prepared and otherwise known as the Public Land Act, as
signed by no less than Engr. Magalonga of the amended by P.D. No. 1073, which reads:
ECD and concurred by the ECDs Division Chief-
III, Engr. Donato C. Rivera, Jr. which stated that SEC. 48. The following described citizens of the
upon the projection of the subject properties in the Philippines, occupying lands of the public domain or
LLDAs topographic map, the same were below claiming to own any such lands or an interest therein,
the reglementary elevation of 12.50 meters. but whose titles have not been perfected or completed,
o The LLDA posited that in the absence of any may apply to the Court of First Instance of the province
where the land is located for confirmation of their claims
declaration by the Director of Lands, the subject
and the issuance of a certificate of title therefor, under
properties remain inalienable and indisposable. the Land Registration Act, to wit:
In the meantime, petitioner through the Office of the (a) x x x
Solicitor General (OSG) filed its Notice of Appeal on (b) Those who by themselves or through their
November 7, 2007. predecessors in interest have been in the open,
In compliance with the RTCs Order, respondent filed his continuous, exclusive, and notorious possession and
Comment and Motion to the said Opposition: occupation of alienable and disposable lands of the
o arguing that the RTC should give more credence public domain, under a bona fide claim of acquisition or
to the Inter-Office Memorandum as the findings ownership, since June 12, 1945, except when prevented
therein were based on an actual field inspection by war or force majeure. These shall be conclusively
rather than the ECD Memorandum, the findings of presumed to have performed all the conditions essential
which were based on a mere table survey to a Government grant and shall be entitled to a
certificate of title under the provisions of this chapter.
o respondent argued that the ECD Memorandum
should not be considered by the RTC as the same
o Thus, under Section 14 (1) of P.D. No. 1529, a
was not formally offered in evidence.
On November 27, 2007, the RTC issued its second petition may be granted upon compliance with the
assailed Order, finding merit in respondents arguments following requisites: (a) that the property in
and dismissing LLDAs Opposition. (For the LLDAs question is alienable and disposable land of the
failure to take any action, the RTC, approved the Notice of public domain; (b) that the applicants by
Appeal filed by the OSG and directed the transmittal of the themselves or through their predecessors-in-
records of this case to the CA.) interest have been in open, continuous, exclusive
and notorious possession and occupation; and (c)
COURT OF APPEALS that such possession is under a bona fide claim of
o On June 18, 2009 the CA UPHELD the RTC ownership since June 12, 1945 or earlier.
which gave more credence to the findings o It bears noting that in support of the respondents
contained in the Inter-Office Memorandum than claim that the subject properties are alienable and
that of the ECD Memorandum and in granting disposable, respondent merely presented the
respondents application. Conversion Subdivision Plan which was prepared
o respondent had adequately proven that the
by Engr. Montallana with the annotation that the
subject properties form part of the disposable and
subject properties were inside alienable and
alienable lands of the public domain. Petitioner
disposable land area [P]roj. [N]o. 27-B as per LC
filed its MR which the CA, however, denied in its
Resolution dated October 5, 2009. Map No. 2623 certified by the Bureau of Forestry
on January 3, 1968 and the Inter-Office
ISSUE: WON the subject properties in this case are Memorandum from the LLDA. - Respondents
alienable or disposable land of the public domain reliance on the said annotation and Inter-
Office Memorandum is clearly insufficient.
HELD: o Clearly, the pieces of evidence submitted by
o In this case, the records do not support the respondent before the RTC in this case hardly
findings made by the RTC and the CA that the satisfy the aforementioned documentary
subject properties are part of the alienable and requirements. Given the lack of evidence that the
disposable portion of the public domain. subject properties are alienable and disposable, it
o Respondent bases his right to registration of title becomes unnecessary for this Court to
on Section 14 (1) of Presidential Decree (P.D.) resolve whether the Inter-Office Memorandum
No. 1529,otherwise known as the Property should be given more credence over the ECD
Registration Decree, which provides: Memorandum.
o WHEREFORE, the petition is GRANTED. The
SEC. 14. Who may apply. The following persons may
file in the proper Court of First Instance an application Decision of the Court of Appeals dated June 18,
for registration of title to land, whether personally or 2009 in CA-G.R. CV No. 90383, affirming the
through their duly authorized representatives: Orders dated October 11, 2007 and November 27,
(1) Those who by themselves or through their 2007 of the Regional Trial Court of Pasig City,
predecessors-in-interest have been in open, continuous,
Branch 153 in Land Registration Case No. N-
exclusive and notorious possession and occupation of
11573-TG, is REVERSED and SET ASIDE. The
application for registration of title filed by
respondent Crisanto S. Raneses over two parcels
of land identified as Lot No. 3085-A, Csd-00-
001621 and Lot No. 3085-B, Csd-00-001621 both
located at Barangay Napindan, Taguig City, Metro
Manila, is DISMISSED.