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Gonzaga

August 13, 2017. (Coverage of the midterm shall be from the very beginning up to the last
question of this email.)

117. Explain the rule of Prior est temporae, prior est in jura.[1]
The case of Calalang v. Register of Deeds of Quezon City involves a duplication or overlapping
of titles issued to different persons over the same land. Applying the rule of prior est temporae,
prior est in jura, the Court said:

The sale of the land to Lucia dela Cruz and the subsequent registration thereof in the Primary
Book of the Registry of Deeds, Manila constitutes constructive notice to the whole world. (Heirs
of Maria Marasigan v. Intermediate Appellate Court, 152 SCRA 253 [1987]; People v. Reyes,
175 SCRA 597 [1989]). Since it is the act of registration which transfers ownership of the land
sold (Government Service Insurance System v. Court of Appeals, 169 SCRA 244 [1989]), Lot
671 was already owned by Lucia dela Cruz as early as 1943. Amando Clementes alleged title
meanwhile which was issued on August 9, 1951 was very much later. Thus, the petitioners, who
merely stepped into the shoes of Amando Clemente cannot claim a better right over said land.
Prior est temporae, prior est in jura (he who is first in time is preferred in right) (Garcia v.
Court of Appeals, 95 SCRA 380 [1980]). The fact that Amando Clemente possessed a certificate
of title does not necessarily make him the true owner. And not being the owner, he cannot
transmit any right to nor transfer any title or interest over the land conveyed (Beaterio del
Santisimo Rosario de Molo v. Court of Appeals, 137 SCRA 459 [1985]; Treasurer of the Phil. v.
Court of Appeals, 153 SCRA 359 [1987]).

118. If the property is no longer registered in the name of the person who procured the
wrongful registration, is reconveyance still available? Explain.[2]
Reconveyance is available not only to the legal owner of a property but also to the person with a
better right than the person under whose name said property was erroneously registered.
Reconveyance is always available as long as the property has not passed to an innocent third
person for value.
Munoz v. Yabut, Jr., G.R. No. 142676, June 6, 2011, 650 SCRA 344, 366-367, citing Heirs of
Eugenio Lopez, Sr. v. Enriquez, 490 Phil. 74 (2005).

119. May an action for reconveyance be filed even before the issuance of the decree of
registration? Explain.[3]
Yes. Such remedy is not exclusive of, and does not bar any other to which the aggrieved party
may be entitled. Moreover, if even after the rendition of a decision for the registration of a parcel
of land in favor of one party, and the issuance of the decree of registration, both may still be
reviewed, even before the actual issuance of the decree.

120. Appellants filed an action for reconveyance before the trial court, e.i., before the
court had issued an order directing the issuance of the decree of registration. The court
dismissed the action holding that appellants, instead of filing an action for reconveyance,
should have exhausted their remedies in the cadastral proceeding by filing the
corresponding petition to set aside the decision therein. Is the trial court correct? Explain.
[4]
No. Appellants' action should be allowed to continue and take its course until final judgment
instead of it being dismissed on the ground that (a) there is another action pending between the
same parties upon the same cause of action, and that (b) appellants should first attempt to enforce
their right in the cadastral proceeding through a petition for review of the decree of registration
pursuant to Section 38 of Act 496.
G.R. No. L-22312 May 31, 1971

121. Petitioner Eloy Miguel, actual occupant and possessor of a parcel of land, engaged
the service of Leonor Reyes, an ambulatory notary public, to facilitate the issuance to him
of a patent for said land. But Reyes instead worked for the issuance of a sales patent in the
name of his own wife, respondent Anacleta Reyes. A sales patent was issued to Anacleta on
January 10, 1951, registered as OCT No. P1433 on January 22, 1951. On September 7,

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1953, petitioner filed a complaint against respondent for the reconveyance to him of the
land covered by the said patent and title. The trial court dismissed the action because the
land is not the private property of petitioner but it is a part of the public domain; however,
it held that petitioner should be given priority to acquire the land under the Public Land
Act. Petitioner appealed but the appellate court dismissed the appeal, holding that
petitioner's objection to the respondent's sales patent, based on fraud, should have been
interposed within one year from the date of the issuance of the patent. Is the holding of the
appellate court correct? Explain.[5]
No. It must be observed, firstly, that the petitioners because of the fraud practised on them by
the Reyes spouses never came to know about the public bidding in which the land was offered
for sale and therefore could not have participated therein. Had not the Reyes spouses
misrepresented in their sales application that the land was uncultivated and unoccupied, the
Director of Lands would in all probability have found out about the occupancy and cultivation of
the said land by the petitioners and about Eloy Miguel's homestead application over the same,
and consequently would have denied the sales application of the Reyes spouses. Secondly, it may
justifiably be postulated that equity will convert one who, for any reason recognized by courts of
equity as a ground for interference, has received legal title from the Government to lands, which
in equity and by the laws of Congress ought to have gone to another, into a trustee for such other
and compel him to convey the legal title accordingly. Thirdly, Eloy Miguel could have very
easily obtained title to the said parcel of land in either of two ways, had he not been inveigled by
Leonor Reyes to file a homestead application. Thus, since he is a natural-born Filipino citizen,
who is not an owner of more than twenty-four hectares of land, and who since prior to July 4,
1926 (under R.A. 782, approved June 21, 1952, occupation and cultivation since July 4, 1945, or
prior thereto, is deemed sufficient) has continuously occupied and cultivated a parcel of land not
more than twenty-four hectares in area, he was entitled to apply for a free patent for, or
gratuitous grant, of said land. This is known as confirmation of imperfect or incomplete titles by
administrative legalization. Or, since Eloy Miguel has possessed the land prior to July 26, 1894
and said possession has been continuous, uninterrupted, open, adverse and in the concept of an
owner, there is a presumption juris et de jure that all necessary conditions for a grant by the State
have been complied with, and he would have been by force of law entitled pursuant to the
provisions of sec. 48(b) of the Public Land Act to the registration of his title to the land.
G.R. No. L-20274 October 30, 1969

122. May a forged deed be the root of a valid title? Explain.[6]


It has been consistently ruled that a forged deed can legally be the root of a valid title when an
innocent purchaser for value intervenes.
> A forged deed may be the root of a valid title in the hands of a bona fide purchaser or
mortgagee
> Torrens system permits a forged transfer, when duly entered in the registry, to become the root
of a valid title in a bona fide purchaser
> The law erects a safeguard against a forged transfer being registered by the requirement that no
transfer shall be registered unless the owners certificate is produced along with the instrument of
transfer
> Public policy, expediency, and the need for a statute of repose as to the possession of land,
demand such a rule.
> The right or lien of an innocent mortgagee for value upon the land mortgaged must be
respected and protected, even if the mortgagor obtained his title through fraud

123. Gregoria Hernandez is the registered owner of property. She turned the duplicate
certificate over to her nephew, defendant Vedasto Velasquez, who forged a deed of sale to
himself of the property and, presenting the forged deed together with the duplicate
certificate of title to the ROD, obtained a TCT in his name. Velazquez thereafter sold the
land to Ramon Fabie to whom a TCT was issued upon the cancellation of Velasquez'
certificate. Meanwhile, the original owner, Hernandez, became aware of the fraud and
brought an action to recover the property. Will the action prosper? Explain.[7]
No, the action will not prosper. Ramon Fabie is an innocent holder of a certificate of title for
value; consequently, in conformity with the oft-cited section 55 of Act No. 496, he is the absolute

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owner of the land mentioned in the complaint, and the action for recovery of possession,
improperly brought against him, can in no wise prosper.
De la Cruz vs. Fabie (35 Phil., 144) G.R. No. 8160 October 27, 1916

124. Petitioner and their predecessors-in-interest have been occupying Lot No. 1580,
covered by TCT No. T-40624, since 1910. In 1982, respondents found that they are the
registered owners of said lot under TCT No. RT-599, hence, they filed a complaint for
recovery of possession against petitioners. Both the trial court and the CA ruled in favor of
respondents on the basis of a ground survey that respondents are the true and lawful
owners of Lot No. 1580. Petitioners filed a petition for review before the SC, contending
that they are the actual occupants and owners of the land and that respondents' action is
barred by prescription. Is their contention valid? Explain.[8]
Anent petitioners contention that respondents action has been barred by prescription, suffice it to
state that no title to registered land in derogation to that of the registered owner shall be acquired
by prescription or adverse possession. Neither can prescription be allowed against the hereditary
successors of the registered owner, because they step into the shoes of the decedent and are
merely the continuation of the personality of their predecessor-in-interest. Verily, the Court of
Appeals did not err when it ruled that respondents are the true and lawful owners of Lot No.
1580. Hence, they should now be placed in possession thereof.
Ochoa v Apeta G.R. No. 146259 September 13, 2007

125. Can forgery be presumed? Explain.[9]


As a rule, forgery cannot be presumed and must be proved by clear, positive and convincing
evidence and the burden of proof lies on the party alleging forgery.
Heirs of Gregorio v. Court of Appeals, 300 SCRA 565, 574 (1998)

126. Petitioner Circe Duran owned two parcels of land covered by TCT NO. 1647. On
May 13, 1963, a deed of sale of two lots was made in favor of Circe's mother, Fe Duran.
After obtaining title in her name, Fe Duran mortgaged the property to Erlinda Tiangco. Fe
Duran failed to redeem the mortgage and the property was sold at auction to Tiangco who
was issued the corresponding TCT. Circe Duran claims that the deed of sale in favor of her
mother is a forgery since she was in the US at the time of the supposed sale. She brought
suit to recover the property from Tiangco who invoke the defense of a purchaser in good
faith. Is the defense of Tiangco valid? Explain.[10]
Yes. The defense of Tiangco is valid.
In the case at bar, private respondents, in good faith relied on the certificate of title in the name
of Fe S. Duran and as aptly stated by respondent appellate court "[e]ven on the supposition that
the sale was void, the general rule that the direct result of a previous illegal contract cannot be
valid (on the theory that the spring cannot rise higher than its source) cannot apply here for We
are confronted with the functionings of the Torrens System of Registration. The doctrine to
follow is simple enough: a fraudulent or forged document of sale may become the ROOT of a
valid title if the certificate of title has already been transferred from the name of the true owner to
the name of the forger or the name indicated by the forger." (p. 147, Rollo)
Thus, where innocent third persons relying on the correctness of the certificate of title issued,
acquire rights over the property, the court cannot disregard such rights and order the total
cancellation of the certificate for that would impair public confidence in the certificate of title.
Stated differently, an innocent purchaser for value relying on a Torrens title issued is protected. A
mortgagee has the right to rely on what appears in the certificate of title and, in the absence of
anything to excite suspicion, he is under no obligation to look beyond the certificate and
investigate the title of the mortgagor appearing on the face of said certificate.
Duran v IAC G.R. No. L-64159 September 10, 1985

127. Characterize the nature of an action for reconveyance?[11]


An action for reconveyance is an action in personam available to a person whose property has
been wrongfully registered under the Torrens system in anothers name.

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128. Differentiate and action in personam from an action in rem.[12]


The rule is that:
(1) a judgment in rem is binding upon the whole world, such as a judgment in a land registration
case or probate of a will; and
(2) a judgment in personam is binding upon the parties and their successors-in-interest but not
upon strangers.

A judgment directing a party to deliver possession of a property to another is in personam; it is


binding only against the parties and their successors-in-interest by title subsequent to the
commencement of the action. An action for declaration of nullity of title and recovery of
ownership of real property, or re-conveyance, is a real action but it is an action in personam, for
it binds a particular individual only although it concerns the right to a tangible thing. Any
judgment therein is binding only upon the parties properly impleaded.
Alonso v. Cebu Country Club, Inc., 426 Phil. 61, 86-87 (2002)

129. What is the prescriptive period in an action for reconveyance, under the following
circumstances,
(a) Action based on fraud;[13]
The prescriptive period for the reconveyance of fraudulently registered real property is ten years
reckoned from the date of the issuance of the certificate of title, or date of registration of the
deed. There is fraud where, for instance, the ownership of private respondents over the
questioned property was obtained through false assertions, misrepresentations and deceptive
allegations, in which case the prescriptive period is ten (10) years reckoned from the date of
the issuance of the certificate of title.

(b)action based on implied trust;[14]


An action for reconveyance based on an implied trust prescribes in 10 years. The reference point
of the 10-year prescriptive period is the date of registration of the deed or the issuance of the
title. The prescriptive period applies only if there is an actual need to reconvey the property as
when the plaintiff is not in possession of the property. However, if the plaintiff, as the real owner
of the property also remains in possession of the property, the prescriptive period to recover title
and possession of the property does not run against him. In such a case, an action for
reconveyance, if nonetheless filed, would be in the nature of a suit for quieting of title, an action
that is imprescriptible.
Lasquite v. Victory Hills, Inc. G.R. No. 175375. June 23, 2009, 590 SCRA 616, 631-632

(c)action based on a void contract;[15]


When the action for reconveyance is based on a void contract, as when there was no consent on
the part of the alleged vendor, the action is imprescriptible.
Amado D. Aquino, Land Registration and Related Proceedings, p. 136, 4th Ed., 2007

(d) action based on a fictitious deed;[16]


An action for reconveyance on the ground that the certificate of title was obtained by means of a
fictitious or forged deed of sale is virtually an action for the declaration of the nullity of the
forged deed, hence, it does not prescribe. xxx
Rollo, p. 61

and (e) action where plaintiff is in actual possession.[17]


If the plaintiff, as the real owner of the property also remains in possession of the property, the
prescriptive period to recover title and possession of the property does not run against him. In
such a case, an action for reconveyance, if nonetheless filed, would be in the nature of a suit for
quieting of title, an action that is imprescriptible.
Alfredo v. Borras, G.R. No. 144225, June 17, 2003, 404 SCRA 145, 163-164, 166

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130. Cite the provision on quieting of title.[18]


Art. 476, Civil Code.
Whenever there is a cloud on title to real property or any interest therein, by reason of any
instrument, record, claim, encumbrance or proceeding which is apparently valid or effective but
is in truth and in fact invalid, ineffective, voidable, or unenforceable, and may be
prejudicial to said title, an action may be brought to remove such cloud or to quiet the title.
An action may also be brought to prevent a cloud from being cast upon title to real property or
any interest therein.

131. What is a cloud on title?[19]


A cloud on title is an outstanding claim or encumbrance which, if valid, would affect or impair
the title of the owner of a particular estate, and on its face has that effect, but can be shown by
extrinsic proof to be invalid or inapplicable to the estate in question. The remedy for removing a
cloud on title is usually the means of an action to quiet title.
Blacks Law Dictionary, 6th Ed., 255.

132. How does a cloud of title arise?[20]


xxx by reason of any instrument, record, claim, encumbrance or proceedings which is apparently
valid or effective but is in truth and in fact invalid, ineffective, voidable, or unenforceable, and
may be prejudicial to said title, xxx
Art. 476, Civil Code.

133. For an action to quiet title to prosper, what indispensable requisites must concur?
[21]
For an action to quiet title to prosper, two indispensable requisites must concur, namely:
(1) the plaintiff or complainant has a legal or an equitable title to or interest in the real property
subject of the action; and
(2) the deed, claim, encumbrance or proceeding claimed to be casting cloud on his title must be
shown to be in fact invalid or inoperative despite its prima facie appearance of validity or legal
efficacy.
Calacala v. Republic, G.R. No. 154415, July 28, 2005, 464 SCRA 444

134. Is it required that the plaintiff be in possession before he can bring an action for
quieting of title? Explain.[22]
The plaintiff must have legal or equitable title to, or interest in the real property which is the
subject matter of the action. He need not be in possession of said property.
Art 477, Civil Code.

135. Teodoro Husain sold his land to Serapio Chichirita, with right to repurchase within
six years. Thereafter, Serapio transferred his right to Graciana Husain. Possession of the
land together with the owner's duplicate certificate of title of Teodoro was delivered to
Graciana who since then has been in possession of the land. Teodoro failed to redeem the
land within the stipulated period. Hence, Graciana filed suit to compel Teodoro to execute a
deed of conveyance in her favor so that she could get a transfer certificate of title in her
name. Teodoro moved to dismiss the action on ground of prescription. Is the defense valid?
Explain.[23]
No, the defense is not valid.
As plaintiff-appellee is in possession of the land, the action is imprescriptible. Appellant's
argument that the action has prescribed would be correct if they were in possession as the action
to quiet title would then be an action for recovery of real property which must be brought within
the statutory period of limitation governing such actions.
Gallar v Husain G.R. No. L-20954 May 24, 1967

136. Petitoner Pingol is the registered owner of Lot No. 3223. On February 17, 1969, he
executed a deed of absolute sale of one-half undivided portion thereof in favor of Donasco
who immediately took possession of the land. Donasco started paying the monthly
installments but was able to pay only up to 1972. Donsaco died in 1984. At that time, he still

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had a balance of P10,161.00. On October 19, 1988, his heirs (respondents) filed an action
for Specific Performance and Damages against Pingol. They averred that they offered to
pay the balance of P10,161.00 plus interest but petitioner (Pingol) has been demanding for
a bigger and unreasonable amount, in complete variance to what is lawfully due and
payable. They prayed that petitioner be ordered to accept the amount of P10,161.00, plus
interest, as full and complete payment, and to execute the final deed of sale in their favor.
In his answer, Pingol argued that the deed of sale actually embodied a conditional contract
of sale, and that plaintiffs' cause of action had already prescribed. Is Pingol correct?
Explain.[24]
In Dignos vs. Court of Appeals, it was held that a deed of sale is absolute in nature although
denominated as a "Deed of Conditional Sale" where there is no stipulation in the deed that title to
the property sold is reserved in the seller until the full payment of the price, nor is there a
stipulation giving the vendor the right to unilaterally resolve the contract the moment the buyer
fails to pay within a fixed period.
Prescription thus cannot be invoked against the private respondents for it is aphoristic that an
action to quiet title to property in one's possession is Imprescriptible.
Sps Pingol v CA G.R. No. 102909 September 6, 1993

137. In an action for recovery of possession based on ownership (accion reivindicatoria), is


it required that the defendant be in actual possession of the property? Explain.[25]
Yes, the defendant must be in actual possession and the plaintiffs cause of action is the
termination of the defendants right to continue in possession.
G.R. No. 187944

138. Define laches.[26]


Laches has been defined as the failure or neglect, for an unreasonable and unexplained length of
time, to do that which by exercising due diligence could or should have been done earlier; it is
negligence or omission to assert a right within a reasonable time, warranting a presumption that
the party entitled to assert it either has abandoned it or declined to assert it.

139. What is the basis of the equitable defense of laches?[27]


The defense of laches is an equitable one and does not concern itself with the character of the
defendants title, but only with whether or not by reason of plaintiff s long inaction or
inexcusable neglect, he should be barred from asserting his claim at all, because to allow him to
do so would be inequitable and unjust to defendant. Laches is not concerned merely with lapse of
time, unlike prescription. While the latter deals with the fact of delay, laches deals with the effect
of unreasonable delay.

140. What are the elements of laches?[28]


The elements of laches indicated in Go Chi Gun. v. Co Cho, and reiterated in the cases of Lucas
v. Gamponia, Miguel v. Catalino and Claverias v. Quingco are as follows:

(a) Conduct on the part of the defendant, or of one under whom he claims, giving rise to the
situation of which complaint is made for which the complaint seeks a remedy;
(b) Delay in asserting the complainants rights, the complainant having had knowledge or notice
of the defendants conduct and having been afforded an opportunity to institute a suit;
(c) Lack of knowledge or notice on the part of the defendant that the complainant would assert
the right on which he bases his suit; and
(d) Injury or prejudice to the defendant in the event relief is accorded to the complainant, or the
suit is not held to be barred.

141. May the registered owner be barred from recovering possession of his property on
the ground of laches? Explain,[29]
The rule is exemplified in Panganiban v. Dayrit where the Court held that even a registered
owner of property may be barred from recovering possession of property by virtue of laches. In
this case, petitioners, for forty-five (45) years, did nothing to assert their right of ownership and
possession over the subject property.

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142. Cite case illustrative of the defense of laches.[30]


In the case of Lola v. Court of Appeals, the Court held that petitioners acquired title to the land
owned by respondent by virtue of the equitable principles of laches due to respondents failure to
assert her claim and ownership for thirty-two (32) years.
In Miguel v. Catalino, the Court said that appellants passivity and inaction for more than thirty-
four (34) years justifies the defendant-appellee in setting up the equitable defense of laches.

143. Can a party who has lost rights of ownership in a parcel of land due to laches be
allowed to regain such ownership when one who benefited from the delay waives such
benefit? Explain.[31]
Yes, the party who has lost rights of ownership due to laches can be allowed to regain such
ownership when one who benefited from the delay waives such benefit.
Verily, laches serves to deprive a party guilty of it to any judicial remedies. However, the
equitable rights barred by laches still subsist and are not otherwise extinguished. Thus, parties
guilty of laches retains equitable rights albeit in an empty manner as they cannot assert their
rights judicially. However, such equitable rights may be revived or activated by the waiver of
those whose right has ripened due to laches, and can be exercised to the extent of the right
waived.
G.R. No. 138463

144. Are there exceptions to the application of the rule on laches? Explain.[32]
Action for partition imprescriptible; exception.
Article 494 of the Civil Code states that No co-owner shall be obliged to remain in the co-
ownership. Each co-owner may demand at any time the partition of the thing owned in common,
insofar as his share is concerned. The article implies that an action to demand partition is
imprescriptible or cannot be barred by laches.

145. The State cannot be put in estoppel or laches by the mistakes or errors of its officials
or agents. Is the rule absolute? Explain.[33]
The general rule is that the State cannot be put in estoppel by the mistakes or errors of its
officials or agents. However, like all general rules, this is also subject to exception, viz.:

Estoppels against the public are little favored. They should not be invoked except in a rare and
unusual circumstances, and may not be invoked where they would operate to defeat the effective
operation of a policy adopted to protect the public. They must be applied with circumspection
and should be applied only in those special cases where the interests of justice clearly require it.
Nevertheless, the government must not be allowed to deal dishonorably or capriciously with its
citizens, and must not play an ignoble part or do a shabby thing; and subject to limitations . . .,
the doctrine of equitable estoppel may be invoked against public authorities as well as against
private individuals.
G.R. No. 116111 January 21, 1999

146. Is res judicata available as a defense in an action for recovery of ownership? Explain.
[34]
The judgment in a case for recovery of property, adjudicating the ownership thereof to one of the
parties, is res judicata against the defeated party and bars him from applying for the registration
of the same land or from opposing the application of the former for the registration of the same
land.
Santiago v. Santos, GR No. 31568, March 19, 1930, 54 Phil. 619; Verzosa v. Nicolas, GR No.
9227, Feb. 10, 1915, 29 Phil. 425.

147. Define trust.[35]


Trust is the legal relationship between one person having an equitable ownership in property and
another person owning the legal title to such property, the equitable ownership of the former
entitling him to the performance of certain duties and the exercise of certain powers by the latter.
Trusts are either express or implied.

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148. What is express trusts?[36]


An express trust is created by the direct and positive acts of the parties, by some writing or deed
or will or by words evidencing an intention to create a trust. No particular words are required for
the creation of an express trust, it being sufficient that a trust is clearly intended.

149. What is implied trust?[37]


Implied trusts are those which, without being expressed, are deducible from the nature of the
transaction as matters of intent or which are superinduced on the transaction by operation of law
as matters of equity, independently of the particular intention of the parties. In turn, implied
trusts are either resulting or constructive trusts.

150. What is resulting trust?[38]


Resulting trusts are based on the equitable doctrine that valuable consideration and not legal title
determines the equitable title or interest and are presumed always to have been contemplated by
the parties. They arise from the nature or circumstances of the consideration involved in a
transaction whereby one person thereby becomes invested with legal title but is obligated in
equity to hold his legal title for the benefit of another.

151. What is constructive trust?[39]


Constructive trusts are created by the construction of equity in order to satisfy the demands of
justice and prevent unjust enrichment. They arise contrary to intention against one who, by fraud,
duress or abuse of confidence, obtains or holds the legal right to property which he ought not, in
equity and good conscience, to hold.

152. A parcel of land was patented and titled in the name of respondent through false
pretenses by misrepresenting that he was the occupant and possessor of the land when he
was not because it was petitioner who was the actual occupant and prior applicant for a
free patent over the same land. What juridical relationship has been created by the act of
respondent? Explain.[40]
Indubitably, the act of respondent in misrepresenting that he was in actual possession and
occupation of the property in question, obtaining a patent in his name, created an implied trust in
favor of the actual possessor of the said property. The Civil Code provides:

ARTICLE 1456. If property is acquired through mistake or fraud, the person obtaining it is by
force of law, considered a trustee of an implied trust for the benefit of the person from whom the
property comes.

153. When may an action for damages arising from fraudulent registration lie?[41]
As earlier stated, a Torrens title can be attacked only for fraud within one year after the date of
the issuance of the decree of registration. Such attack must be direct and not by collateral
proceeding. The title represented by the certificate cannot be changed, altered, modified,
enlarged or diminished in a collateral proceeding. After one year from the date of the decree, the
sole remedy of the landowner whose property has been wrongfully or erroneously registered in
anothers name is not to set aside the decree but, respecting the decree as incontrovertible and no
longer open to review, to bring an ordinary action in the ordinary court of justice for
reconveyance. However, if the property has passed into the hands of an innocent purchaser for
value, the remedy is an action for damages.
An action for damages should be brought within ten years from the date of the issuance of the
questioned certificate of title pursuant to Article 1144 of the Civil Code.179

154. Petitioner filed a complaint for damages against the registrant, claiming that he is
the true owner of the property registered in the name of the latter. However, petitioner did
not file any opposition to the application for registration. Will the action prosper? Explain.
[42]
When no answer in writing nor any opposition is made to an application for registration of
property, all the allegations contained in the application shall be held as confessed by reason of
the absence of denial on the part of the opponent. A person who has not challenged an

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application for registration of land even if the appeal afterwards interposed is based on the right
of dominion over the same land, cannot allege damage or error against the judgment ordering the
registration inasmuch as he did not allege or pretend to have any right to such land.

155. What is an action for reversion?[43]


Reversion connotes restoration of public land fraudulently awarded or disposed of to the mass of
the public domain and may again be the subject of disposition in the manner prescribed by law to
qualified applicants. It is instituted by the government, through the Solicitor General. But an
action for cancellation, not reversion, is proper where private land had been subsequently titled,
and the party plaintiff in this case is the prior rightful owner of the property.

156. Differentiate an action for reversion from an escheat proceeding.[44]


An action for reversion is slightly different from escheat proceeding, but in its effects they are
the same. They only differ in procedure. Escheat proceedings may be instituted as a consequence
of a violation of article XIII, section 5 of our Constitution, which prohibits transfers of private
agricultural lands to aliens, whereas an action for reversion is expressly authorized by the Public
Land Act (sections 122, 123, and 124 of Commonwealth Act No. 141).
G.R. No. L-1411. September 29, 1953

157. Where land subject of fraudulent registration is public land, who has the right to file
an action to recover the property? Explain.[45]
A fraudulently acquired free patent may only be assailed by the government in an action for
reversion.

In Republic v. Heirs of Felipe Alejaga, Sr.:


True, once a patent is registered and the corresponding certificate of title [is] issued, the land
covered by them ceases to be part of the public domain and becomes private property. Further,
the Torrens Title issued pursuant to the patent becomes indefeasible a year after the issuance of
the latter. However, this indefeasibility of a title does not attach to titles secured by fraud and
misrepresentation. Well-settled is the doctrine that the registration of a patent under the Torrens
System does not by itself vest title; it merely confirms the registrants already existing one. Verily,
registration under the Torrens System is not a mode of acquiring ownership.

Nonetheless, a free patent that was fraudulently acquired, and the certificate of title issued
pursuant to the same, may only be assailed by the government in an action for reversion pursuant
to Section 101 of the Public Land Act. In Sherwill Development Corporation v. Sitio Sto. Nio
Residents Association, Inc., this Court pointed out that:

It is also to the public interest that one who succeeds in fraudulently acquiring title to a public
land should not be allowed to benefit therefrom, and the State should, therefore, have an even
existing authority, thru its duly-authorized officers, to inquire into the circumstances surrounding
the issuance of any such title, to the end that the Republic, thru the Solicitor General or any other
officer who may be authorized by law, may file the corresponding action for the reversion of the
land involved to the public domain, subject thereafter to disposal to other qualified persons in
accordance with law. In other words, the indefeasibility of a title over land previously public is
not a bar to an investigation by the Director of Lands as to how such title has been acquired, if
the purpose of such investigation is to determine whether or not fraud had been committed in
securing such title in order that the appropriate action for reversion may be filed by the
Government.

158. Is reversion the proper remedy where private land had been subsequently registered.
Explain.[46]
An action for cancellation, not reversion, is proper where private land had been subsequently
titled, and the party plaintiff in this case is the prior rightful owner of the property.

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159. On what grounds may an action for reversion be filed? Explain.[47]


Generally, an action for reversion may be instituted by the government, through the Solicitor
General, in all cases where lands of the public domain and the improvements thereon and all
lands are held in violation of the Constitution.

Section 24 of the Public land Act (CA No. 141, as amended) provides that Any acquisition,
conveyance, alienation, transfer, or other contract made or executed in violation of any of the
provisions of sections one hundred and eighteen, one hundred and twenty, one hundred and
twenty-one, one hundred and twenty-two, and one hundred and twenty-three of this Act shall be
unlawful and null and void from its execution and shall produce the effect of annulling and
cancelling the grant, title, patent, or permit originally issued, recognized or confirmed, actually
or presumptively, and cause the reversion of the property and its improvements to the State.

Parenthetically, under the present Constitution, it should be noted that, with the exception of
agricultural lands, all other natural resources shall not be alienated, and that private corporations
or associations may not hold alienable lands of the public domain except by lease for a period
not exceeding twenty-five years, renewable for not more than twenty-five years, and not to
exceed one thousand hectares in area. Citizens of the Philippines may lease not more than five
hundred hectares, or acquire not more than twelve hectares thereof by purchase, homestead, or
grant.

160. The government has appealed a decision of the trial court enjoining the Director of
Lands from investigating the alleged fraud committed by appellees in obtaining their free
patents and certificates of title. Appellees claim that their titles had already become
indefeasible since more than one year had already elapsed from the issuance thereof; hence,
the decision appealed from should be sustained. Is the contention of the appellees valid?
Explain.[48]
No, the contention of the appellees are not valid. Notwithstanding the doctrine of indefeasibility
of a Torrens title after the expiration of the 1-year period provided in Section 32 of the Property
Registration Decree, Section 101 of the Public Land Act provides a remedy whereby lands of the
public domain fraudulently awarded to the applicant may be recovered or reverted back to its
original owner, the government.

161. Plaintiff Republic of the Philippines filed a complaint to declare Free patent No. V-
466102 and OCT No. P-2508 in the name of respondent Isagani Timbol null and void and
to order the reversion of the land to the mass of public domain on the ground that the land
is a forest or timber land which is not disposable under the Public Land Act. The court
dismissed the complaint, holding that OCT No. P-2508 had become indefeasible in view of
the lapse of the one-year period prescribed under Section 38 of the Land Registration Act
(Sec. 32, PD 1529). Plaintiff appealed. Is the appeal meritorious? Explain.[49]
Yes. The appeal is meritorious.
The defense of indefeasibility of a certificate of title issued pursuant to a free patent does not lie
against the state in an action for reversion of the land covered thereby when such land is a part of
a public forest or of a forest reservation. As a general rule, timber or forest lands are not alienable
or disposable under either the Constitution of 1935 or the Constitution of 1973. Although the
Director of Lands has jurisdiction over public lands classified as agricultural under the
constitution, or alienable or disposable under the Public Land Act, and is charged with the
administration of all laws relative thereto, mineral and timber lands are beyond his jurisdiction. It
is the Bureau of Forestry that has jurisdiction and authority over the demarcation, protection,
management, reproduction, occupancy and use of all public forests and forest reservations and
over the granting of licenses for the taking of products therefrom, including stone and earth
(Section 1816 of the Revised Administrative Code). The area in question was not a disposable or
alienable public land but a public forest. Titles issued to private parties by the Bureau of Lands
when the land covered thereby is not disposable public land but forest land are void ab initio.

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162. Is an action for reversion of forest land which was earlier decreed as private
property by the registration court barred by res judicata? Explain.[50]
An action for reversion filed by the State to recover property registered in favor of any party
which is part of the public forest or of a forest reservation never prescribes. Verily, non-
disposable public lands registered under the Land Registration Act may be recovered by the State
at any time and the defense of res judicata would not apply as courts have no jurisdiction to
dispose of such lands of the public domain.

163. Assume that neither the Director of Lands nor the Director of Forestry interposed
any opposition to an application for registration, is the government estopped from filing
later on an action for cancellation of title and reversion on the ground that the land titled in
the name of the applicant formed part of the inalienable portion of the public domain?
Explain.[51]
It is a well settled rule in our jurisdiction that the Republic or its government is usually not
estopped by mistake or error on the part of its officials or agents.
Manila Lodge No. 761 v. Court of Appeals, 73 SCRA 166; Republic v. Marcos, 52 SCRA 238;
Luciano v. Estrella, GR No. L-31622, Aug. 31, 1970, 34 SCRA 769; Republic v. Court of Appeals
and Arquillo, GR No. 62572, Feb. 19, 1990, 182 SCRA 290.

164. Differentiate an action for reversion from an ordinary action for cancellation of title.
[52]
In contrast to an action for reversion which is filed by the government, through the Solicitor
General, an action for cancellation is initiated by a private property usually in a case where there
are two titles issued to different persons for the same lot. When one of the two titles is held to be
superior over the other, one should be declared null and void and ordered cancelled. If a party is
adjudged to be the owner, pursuant to a valid certificate of title, said party is entitled to the
possession of the land covered by the title. The land does not revert to the mass of the public
domain, as in an action for reversion, but is declared as lawfully belonging to the party whose
certificate of title is held superior over the other. The judgment would direct the defeated party to
vacate the land in question, and deliver possession thereof to the lawful owner of the land.

165. When land was disposed of by the Director of Lands under a free patent, but it turns
out that the land had ceased to be public land because it had been acquired by a private
individual by operation of law, does the State have the cause of action for reversion of the
property? Explain.[53]
The jurisdiction of the Director of Lands is limited to public land and does not extend to land
already privately owned. A free patent which purports to convey land to which the Government
no longer has title at the time of its issuance does not vest any title in the patentee as against the
registered owner.
Agne vs. Director of Lands, G.R. No. 40399, February 6, 1990, 181 SCRA 803.

166. May the holder of an unapproved miscellaneous sales application file an action for
recovery of property subject of fraudulent registration? Explain.[54]
It has been held that the filing by the petitioner of a miscellaneous sales application for the land
did not vest title in him over the property where there is no showing that his application was
approved by the Lands Management Bureau or that a sales patent over the property was granted
to him prior to the issuance of free patent and title in favor of respondent.

167. Cite the law on recovery of compensation from the Assurance Fund.[55]
Section 95 of the Property Registration Decree provides:

SEC. 95. Action for compensation from funds. A person who, without negligence on his part,
sustains loss or damage, or is deprived of land or any estate or interest therein in consequence of
the bringing of the land under the operation of the Torrens system of arising after original
registration of land, through fraud or in consequence of any error, omission, mistake or
misdescription in any certificate of title or in any entry or memorandum in the registration book,
and who by the provisions of this Decree is barred or otherwise precluded under the provision of

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any law from bringing an action for the recovery of such land or the estate or interest therein,
may bring an action in any court of competent jurisdiction for the recovery of damages to be paid
out of the Assurance Fund.

168. May a person who obtains registration through fraud be held criminally liable?
Explain.[56]
The State may criminally prosecute for perjury the party who obtains registration through fraud,
such as by stating false assertions in the application for registration, sworn answer required of
applicants in cadastral proceedings, or application for public land patent. This is rightly so, for to
give immunity from prosecution to those successful in deceiving the registration court or
administrative agency would, in effect, be putting a premium on perjury. It is the policy of the
law that judicial proceedings and judgments shall be fair and free from fraud, and that litigants
and parties be encouraged to tell the truth, and that they be punished if they do not. The
prosecution for falsification or perjury is a proceeding in personam which inquires into the
criminal liability of the accused.

169. Are the provisions of the Rules of Court applicable to registration proceedings?
Explain.[57]
Yes. Rule 132 of the Rules of Court, however, allows the application of the Rules in land
registration proceedings in a suppletory character or whenever practicable and convenient.

170. Explain the nature and purpose of cadastral proceedings.[58]


> Upon the initiative of the government
> To have titles to all lands in the stated area adjudicated
> Public interest demands that titles to any unregistered land settled and adjudicated
> The principal aim is to settle as much as possible all disputes over the land and to remove all
clouds over the land titles as far as practicable, in a community
> Nature of a proceeding in rem

171. Characterize the nature of the cadastral proceeding.[59]


Like ordinary registration proceedings, a cadastral proceeding is in rem, hence, binding generally
upon the whole world, inclusive of persons not parties thereto, and particularly upon those who
had actually taken part in the proceeding and their successors in interest by title subsequent to the
commencement of the action.

172. What are the steps leading to the adjudication of property


through cadastral proceedings?[60]
1. Cadastral survey preparatory to filing a petition
2. Filing of petition for registration
3. Notice of survey
4. Publication
> Though there is no express mention of any publication requirement following PD1529,
there has to be mailing, posting and publication following the Cadastral Registration Law
> Publication in the OG twice under said law
5. Filing of answer
6. Hearing of petition
7. Judgment

173. What actions are taken by the cadastral court after trial?[61]
After trial in a cadastral case, three actions are taken. The first adjudicates ownership in favor of
one of the claimants. This constitutes the decision the judgment the decree of the court,
and speaks in a judicial manner. The second action is the declaration by the court that the decree
is final and its order for the issuance of the certificates of title by the Administrator of the Land
Registration Authority. Such order is made if within fifteen days from the date of receipt of a
copy of the decision no appeal is taken from the decision. This again is judicial action, although
to a less degree than the first. The third and last action devolves upon the Land Registration
Authority. This office has been instituted in order to have a more efficient execution of the laws

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relative to the registration of lands and to issue decrees of registration pursuant to final
judgments of the courts in land registration proceedings.

174. When is title in a cadastral proceeding deemed vested?[62]


The title of ownership on the land is vested upon the owner upon the expiration of the period to
appeal from the decision or adjudication by the cadastral court, without such an appeal having
been perfected. The certificate of title would then be necessary for purposes of effecting
registration of subsequent disposition the land where court proceedings would no longer be
necessary.

As we have here a decree issued by the cadastral court, ordering the issuance of Inocencio de los
Santos of the certificate of title over Lot No. 395 after the decision adjudged ownership to him of
said property had already become and there being no imputation of irregularity in the said
cadastral proceedings, title of ownership on the said adjudged was vested as of the date of the
issuance of such judicial decree. The land, for all intents and purposes, had become, that time,
registered property which could not be acquired adverse possession.

In the absence of fraud, title to land in a cadastral proceeding is vested on the owner, upon the
expiration of the period to appeal from the decision or adjudication by the cadastral court,
without such appeal being perfected; and from that time the land becomes registered property
which cannot be lost by adverse possession. The certificate of title would then be necessary for
purposes of effecting registration of subsequent disposition of the land where court proceedings
would no longer be necessary.

175. How does cadastral proceedings differ from the disposition of public lands under the
Public Land Act? Explain.[63]
The rule is different in case of public lands. Under Section 103 of the Property Registration
Decree, the property is not considered registered until the final act or the entry in the registration
book of the Registry of Deeds had been accomplished.

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