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G.R. No. 163551 July 18, 2011

Respondent Hadji Serad Mingca Lantud filed an action to quiet title with damages with the RTC of Lanao
del Sur against petitioner Datu Kiram Sampaco alleging that he is the owner in fee simple of the subject
parcel of residential lot with an area of 897 sqm covered by OCT No. P-658. Petitioner Datu Kiram
Sampaco denied the respondents claim and asserted that he and his predecessors-in-interest are the ones
who had been in open, public, continuous, and exclusive possession of the property dispute.

He alleges that the lot in question is only a portion of the 1,800sqm of land that he inherited in 1952 from
his father. Since then, he had been in adverse possession and ownership of the subject lot through his
caretaker. In 1962, he mortgage the land (1.800 sqm) with the Development Bank of the Philippines
(DBP). He declared the land for taxation purposes and paid real estate taxes. Petitioner contended that
OCT No. P-658 was secured in violation of laws and through fraud, deception and misrepresentation,
considering that the subject parcel of land is a residential lot and the title issued is a free patent.

Petitioner filed a counterclaim for actual and moral damages. He sought the cancellation of respondents
OCT No. P-658 and the reconveyance of the subject parcel of land. The RTC dismissed the complaint.
Declared the Original Certificate of Title No. P-658 null and void and of no legal effect; and declared the
respondent the absolute or true owner and possessor of the land in dispute. On appeal, the CA reversed
the order of the RTC and held that there is no controversy that respondent is a holder of a Torrens title;
hence, he is the owner of the subject property.

W/N the Court of Appeals erred in sustaining the validity of OCT No. P-658 and confirming respondent as
owner of the property in dispute.

No. The Torrens title is conclusive evidence with respect to the ownership of the land described therein,
and other matters which can be litigated and decided in land registration proceedings. Tax declarations
and tax receipts cannot prevail over a certificate of title which is an incontrovertible proof of ownership.
An original certificate of title issued by the Register of Deeds under an administrative proceeding is as
indefeasible as a certificate of title issued under judicial proceedings. However, the Court has ruled that
indefeasibility of title does not attach to titles secured by fraud and misrepresentation.
In this case, petitioner alleged in his Answer to respondents Complaint in the trial court that respondents
title, OCT No. P-658, was secured in violation of the law and through fraud, deception and
misrepresentation, because the subject parcel of land is a residential lot, which cannot be subject of a free
patent, since only agricultural lands are subject of a free patent.

The trial court found that "[t]he lot under litigation as clearly described in the complaint is a residential
lot and a free patent title thereto cannot validly be issued." This finding was one of the bases for the trial
courts declaration that the issuance of OCT was tainted with fraud and irregularities and is, therefore,
spurious; thus, OCT No. P-658 is null and void.

It should be pointed out that the allegation in the Complaint that the land is residential was made only by
respondent, but the true classification of the disputed land as residential was not shown to have been
made by the President, upon recommendation by the Secretary of Environment and Natural Resources,
pursuant to Section 9 of Commonwealth Act No. 141, otherwise known as The Public Land Act. Hence, the
trial court erred in concluding that there was fraud in the issuance of respondents free patent title on the
ground that it covered residential land based only on the Complaint which stated that the property was
residential land when it was not shown that it was the President who classified the disputed property as
residential, and OCT No. P-658 itself stated that the free patent title covered agricultural land. It has been
stated that at present, not only agricultural lands, but also residential lands, have been made available by
recent legislation for acquisition by free patent by any natural born Filipino citizen. 31 Nevertheless, the
fact is that in this case, the free patent title was granted over agricultural land as stated in OCT No. P-658.