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REPUBLIC OF THE PHILIPPINES

COURT OF APPEALS
Manila

FOURTEENTH DIVISION

ARTURO PASAJOL,
Applicant-Appellee,

CA-G.R. CV No. 104174


- versus - Re: Application for Land
Registration of a Parcel of Land
situated in Brgy. Cumba, Lipa
City, Batangas
REPUBLIC OF THE PHILIPPINES,
Oppositor-Appellant.
x--------------------------------------------------x

BRIEF FOR THE OPPOSITOR-APPELLANT

Oppositor-Appellant REPUBLIC OF THE PHILIPPINES, through the


Office of the Solicitor General (OSG), most respectfully submits this brief.

ASSIGNMENT OF ERRORS

1. The court a quo erred in giving credence to applicant-


appellee’s evidence as they do not constitute adequate
proof that the government had declared the subject
parcel of land as alienable and disposable on 26 March
1928.

2. The court a quo erred in giving credence to applicant-


appellant’s evidence as they do not constitute adequate
proof that he and his predecessors-in-interest had been
in open, public, peaceful, continuous and adverse
possession and occupation thereof for more than thirty
(30) years.

3. Assuming arguendo that the subject parcel of land is


proven to be alienable and disposable, the court a quo
erred in allowing said property to be registered and
titled in the name of applicant-appellee as the records
are bereft of any evidence that the property may be
subject to acquisitive prescription.
STATEMENT OF THE CASE

1. The present appeal is instituted under Rule 41 of the Revised


Rules of Court assailing the Decision dated 29 April 2014 of the Regional Trial
Court in Lipa City, granting the application for land registration of a parcel of
land filed by applicant-appellee Arturo Pasajol in L.R.C. No. 2008-0137. The
dispositive portion of the Decision, reads as follows:
“WHEREFORE, in view of all the foregoing, the
Court finds the evidence adduced by the applicant sufficient
to justify the registration and confirmation of his title over
Lot 3428-A, under Cad 218, Lipa Cadastre consisting of
Fifteen Thousand Seven Hundred Fifty One (15,751) square
meters, more or less, situated at Barangay Cumba, Lipa City,
Batangas and described on the Survey Plan Csd-04-018274.

Upon finality of this decision, let an Order issue


directing the Land Registration Authority (LRA) to issue the
corresponding decree of registration.

SO ORDERED.”

A copy of the Decision, is hereto attached as Annex “A”.

STATEMENT OF FACTS

2. In an Amended Application for Land Registration dated 20 March


2009, applicant-appellee alleged that: (i) he is the owner of a parcel of land
situated in Barangay Cumba, Lipa City, Batangas; (ii) he inherited said parcel of
land from his father, Pedro Pasajol, who died on 20 January 1982; and, (iii) he
and his predecessors-in-interest have been in continuous, uninterrupted, open,
public, adverse possession in the concept of an owner of the subject parcel of
land for more than thirty (30) years.

3. The court a quo rendered the assailed Decision, granting applicant-


appellee’s application for land registration under the second paragraph of
Presidential Decree No. 1529 upon finding that the subject parcel of land has
been declared alienable and disposable since 26 March 1928 and that
applicant-appelle had sufficiently proved that he and his predecessors-in-
interest have been in open, public, peaceful, continuous and adverse possession
and occupation thereof for more than sixty (60) years.

4. Hence, oppositor-appellant interposes the instant appeal.

ISSUES

I. Whether the applicant-appellee was able to prove that the subject


parcel of land has been positively declared by the government as alienable and
disposable.
II. Whether the applicant-appellee was able to prove that he and his
predecessors-in-interest had been in open, public, peaceful, continuous and
adverse possession and occupation thereof for more than thirty (30) years as
required by law.

III. Assuming arguendo that the subject parcel of land was proven to
be alienable and disposable, whether the same is subject to acquisitive
prescription.

ARGUMENTS

Applicant-appellee failed to prove


that the subject parcel of land has
been positively identified by the
government as alienable and
disposable.

5. The court a quo immediately concluded that the land applied for is
alienable and disposable merely on the basis of the following certifications and
testimonies of the officers of the Department of Environment and Natural
Resources – Community Environment and Natural Resources Office (DENR-
CENRO), Batangas, viz:

a. The CENRO Investigation Report1 dated 12 Novemeber


2010, prepared by Special Investigator I Ben Hur U. Hernandez,
declared that the subject lot is “within the alienable and disposable zone
as classified under Project No. 22, L.C. Map No. 718, released and
certified as such on March 26, 1928.”

b. The CENRO Certification 2 dated 15 November 2010


prepared by Forester Loida Y. Maglinao declared that the subject lot
“has been verified to be within the alienable and disposable zone under
Project No. 22, Land Classification Map No. 718 certified on 26 March
1928.”

c. Ben Hur U. Hernandez, in his testimony, authenticated the


aforecited CENRO Investigation Report. He further stated that:

i. He conducted an occular inspection of the subject


lot on 11 November 2010 together with two other persons,
namely, Loida Maglinao and one Engineer Magabo;3 and

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1
Exhibit “FF”.
2
Exhibit “GG”.
3
Transcript of Stenographic Notes (TSN) dated 18 November 2010, Cross Examination of Ben Hur U.
Hernandez, p. 12.
ii. He concluded that the land was alienable and
disposable based on said occular inspection and upon checking
with the Forest Management Services in the person of Forester
Loida Maglinao.4

d. Loida Y. Maglinao, in her testimony, authenticated the


aforeceited CENRO Certification and further stated that her basis in
arriving at the conclusion that the subject lot is within the alienable and
disposable zone was the project and the land classification map.5

e. Reymunda Andal, Records Officer of the DENR-CENRO


Batangas, in her testimony stated that:

i. The subject lot is within the alienable and disposable


zone upon verification from the records of their office;6

ii. Her basis in arriving at that conclusion was the Land


Classification Map No. 718 found in their records;7 and

iii. Her basis in saying that subject lot is covered by


Project No. 22 of the Land Classification Map No. 718 is the
CENRO Certification by Forester Loida Maglinao and the
CENRO Investigation Report by Ben Hur Hernandez.8

6. Relevant in the present case are the basic principles enunciated by


the Supreme Court in its decision in the case Heirs of Malabanan v. Republic of the
Philippines,9 to wit:

“Land, which is an immovable property, may be classified as either of


public dominion or of private ownership. Land is considered of
public dominion if it either: (a) is intended for public use; or (b)
belongs to the State, without being for public use, and is intended for
some public service or for the development of the national wealth.
Land belonging to the State that is not of such character, or although
of such character but no longer intended for public use or for public
service forms part of the patrimonial property of the State. Land that
is other than part of the patrimonial property of the State, provinces,
cities and municipalities is of private ownership if it belongs to a
private individual.

Pursuant to the Regalian Doctrine (Jura Regalia), a legal concept first


introduced into the country from the West by Spain through the
Laws of the Indies and the Royal Cedulas, all lands of the public
domain belong to the State. This means that the State is the source of
any asserted right to ownership of land, and is charged with the
conservation of such patrimony.

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4
TSN dated 18 November 2010, Direct Examination of Ben Hur U. Hernandez, p. 10.
5
TSN dated 18 November 2010, Direct Examination of Loida Y. Maglinao, p. 19.
6
TSN dated 23 February 2012, Direct Examination of Reymunda Andal, p. 6.
7
Id., p. 7.
8
Id., pp. 9-10.
9
G.R. No. 179987, 03 September 2013.
All lands not appearing to be clearly under private ownership are
presumed to belong to the State. Also, public lands remain part of
the inalienable land of the public domain unless the State is shown to
have reclassified or alienated them to private persons.”10

7. Therefore, before applicant-appellee may assert his right to the


parcel of land subject of this case, it is necessary that he prove, in accordance
with the requirements of the law and jurisprudence, that the same has been
reclassified and declared by the government as part of the alienable and
disposable land of the State.

8. Classification of lands is an executive function. Under


Commonwealth Act No. 141, or the Public Land Act, it is the President of the
Philippines, upon the recommendation of the Secretary of Agriculture and
Natural Resources, who shall classify the lands of the public domain into
alienable and disposable, timber, and mineral lands,11 and who shall declare
what lands are open to disposition and concession.12

9. The Supreme Court has reiterated in a number of its decisions the


rule that in order to prove that land has been classified and released as alienable
and disposable, the applicant for land registration must present and offer as
evidence a PENRO or CENRO certification and a certified true copy of the
original classification approved by the DENR Secretary. This rule was first
enunciated in the case of Republic v. T.A.N. Properties,13 which is also cited by the
applicant-appellant in his Manifestation and Motion to Present Additional Evidence
dated 24 August 2012, to wit:

“Further, it is not enough for the PENRO or CENRO to certify that


a land is alienable and disposable. The applicant for land registration
must prove that the DENR Secretary had approved the land
classification and released the land of the public domain as alienable
and disposable, and that the land subject of the application for
registration falls within the approved area per verification through
survey by the PENRO or CENRO. In addition, the applicant for
land registration must present a copy of the original classification
approved by the DENR Secretary and certified as a true copy by the
legal custodian of the official records.”

10. In the present case, only the certification from the DENR-
CENRO Batangas was presented and offered in evidence by the applicant-
appellant. The pertinent Forest Administrative Order (FAO) or DENR
Administrative Order (DAO) declaring the subject lot to be within the alienable
and disposable zone was not presented as it was neither found in the records of
the DENR-CENRO Batangas nor in that of the National Mapping and
Resource Information Authority (NAMRIA), as evidenced by the
Memorandum issued by the Land Bureau Management (LMB) dated 01 June
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10
Emphasis supplied.
11
Sec. 6, Commonwealth Act No. 141.
12
Sec. 7, Id.
13
G.R. No. 154953, 06 June 2008.
201214 and the Certification of No Available Record issued by the NAMRIA
dated 06 August 2012,15 respectively.

11. Applicant-appellant cannot be said to have substantially complied


with the requirements of the law in proving that the subject lot is already part
of the alienable and disposable land of the State. The court a quo cannot simply
rely on the certifications presented and offered as evidence by the applicant-
appellee.

12. The Land Classification Map No. 718, which is used by the
DENR-CENRO officers as basis for their conclusion that the subject lot is
within the alienable and disposable zone, could not be given any probative
value as the FAO/DAO on which it is based was not presented and offered in
evidence. Under the Rules of Court, when the original document had been lost
or destroyed, the offeror must first prove its execution or existence and the
caus of its unavailability before he may prove its contents by a copy, or by a
recital of its contents in some authentic document, or by the testimony of
witnesses in the order stated.16

13. The Certification of No Available Record does not only show


that the pertinent FAO/DAO is not part of the records of the office, it also
gives doubt as to actual existence of said FAO/DAO.

14. Given that the existence of the FAO/DAO on which the land
classification map is based is questionable, the data presented in the land
classfication map, granting arguendo that it is a recital of the contents of the
FAO/DAO, also becomes questionable.

15. Hence, the certificaitons made by the DENR-CENRO officers


cannot be said to have any reliable foundation. According to Republic v. T.A.N.
Properties,17 the certifications are conclusions unsupported by adequate proof,
and thus have no probative value.

16. The land classification map was presented to the court and
identified during the direct examination of Reymunda Andal, Records Officer
of the DENR-CENRO Batangas. During her cross-examination, she stated
that the said land classifiaction map was a “NAMRIA original copy.” 18
Although it seems proper that the DENR-CENRO Batangas should have a
copy of the land classification map, it cannot be said that the same office is the
official repository or legal custodian thereof. In fact, it can be inferred from her
testimony that she believes that it is the NAMRIA which is the official
repository of the said land classifiation map.

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14
Exhibit “JJ”.
15
Exhibit “KK-2”.
16
Section 5, Rule 130.
17
Supra, note 13.
18
TSN dated 23 February 2012, Cross Examination of Reymunda Andal, p. 11.
17. Granting, arguendo, that the NAMRIA is the official repository or
legal custodian of the land classification map, the latter was not identified in
court by the proper officer, particularly the officer having legal custody of the
record, of the NAMRIA. The law provides that records of public documents
may be evidenced by an official publication thereof or by a copy attested by the
officer having legal custody of the record, or by his deputy.19

Applicant-appellee failed to prove


that in open, public, peaceful,
continuous and adverse possession
and occupation thereof for more
than thirty (30) years.

18. The court a quo immediately concluded that applicant-appellee


and his predecessors-in-interest have been in possession and occupation of the
lot for more than sixty (60) years, and that the same had been open, public,
peaceful and continuous and adverse against the whole world and in the
concept of owners, based merely on the twelve (12) tax declarations and the
testimonies of applicant-appellee and witness Luis Roxas Pangcaliwangan.

19. The Supreme Court, in the case of Heirs of Marcelina Arzadon-


Crisologo v. Raon, 20 expounded on the nature of possession required under
Section 14 of P.D. No. 1529, viz:

“It is concerned with lapse of time in the manner and under


conditions laid down by law, namely, that the possession should be in
the concept of an owner, public, peaceful, uninterrupted and adverse.
Possession is open when it is patent, visible, apparent, notorious and
not clandestine. It is continuous when uninterrupted, unbroken and
not intermittent or occasional; exclusive when the adverse possessor
can show exclusive dominion over the land and an appropriation of it
to his own use and benefit; and notorious when it is so conspicuous
that it is generally known and talked of by the public or the people in
the neighborhood. The party who asserts ownership by adverse
possession must prove the presence of the essential elements of
acquisitive prescription.”

20. The aforementioned rule was applied in the case of Republic of the
Philippines v. East Silverlane Realty Development Corporation,21 wherein the Supreme
Court found that the evidence presented by the claimant, particularly tax
declarations and existence of some plants, to prove that he had complied with
the possession required under said law was wanting. Said the Court:

“First, the twelve (12) Tax Declarations covering Area A and the eleven
(11) Tax Declarations covering Area B for a claimed possession of more
than forty-six (46) years (1948-1994) do not qualify as competent evidence
of actual possession and occupation. As this Court ruled in Wee v. Republic
of the Philippines:
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19
Section 24 of Rule 132, Rules of Court.
20
G.R. No. 171068, 05 September 2007.
21
G.R. No. 186961, 20 February 2012.
It bears stressing that petitioner presented only five tax
declarations (for the years 1957, 1961, 1967, 1980 and
1985) for a claimed possession and occupation of more
than 45 years (1945-1993). This type of intermittent and
sporadic assertion of alleged ownership does not prove
open, continuous, exclusive and notorious possession and
occupation. In any event, in the absence of other
competent evidence, tax declarations do not conclusively
establish either possession or declarants right to
registration of title.

xxx

The respondents claim of ownership will not prosper on the basis of the tax
declarations alone. In Cequea v. Bolante, this Court ruled that it is only
when these tax declarations are coupled with proof of actual possession of
the property that they may become the basis of a claim of ownership.

xxx

We are, therefore, constrained to conclude that the mere existence of an


unspecified number of coffee plants, sans any evidence as to who planted
them, when they were planted, whether cultivation or harvesting was made
or what other acts of occupation and ownership were undertaken, is not
sufficient to demonstrate petitioners right to the registration of title in her
favor.”22

21. It is apparent that the present case should suffer the same fate.
Applicant-appellant failed discharge his burden to prove by clear and
convincing evidence that he and his predecessors in interst were in possession
and occupation of the subject lot for more than thirty (30) years and that such
possession and occupation were open, public, peaceful and continuous and
adverse and in the concept of an owner.

22. In seeking to prove that he and his predecessors-in-interest were


in possession and occupation of the subject lot for more than sixty (60 ) years,
he merely presented and offered in evidence twelve (12) tax declarations for the
following years: 1953, 1967, 1974, 1980, 1985, (no date), 1992, 1995, 1998,
2000, 2006, 2008.23 This shows merely an intermittent and sporadic claim of
ownership.

23. To prove actual possession, applicant-appellee offered his


testimony wherein he stated he planted plants on the subject lot. His testimony
is as follows:

Q - How about this subject parcel of land, what


actions were you taking with regard to this parcel
of land?
A - Planting, Ma’am.
Q - Planting what?
A - Orchard, Ma’am.
Q - Aside from that?
A - Trees, fruit bearing trees, Ma’am.

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22
Emphasis supplied.
23
Exhibits “N” to “Y”.
Q - Mr. Witness, how often do you visit this parcel of
land?
A - Very often, Ma’am.

x x x.24

Q -Who planted trees? You mentioned earlier that


you…?
A - I also participated in planting there are also other
trees planted by my parents, Ma’am.
Q - And aside from the orchard plants and fruit
bearing trees that you mentioned awhile ago, what
other plants or trees if any were planted in the said
property?
A - Black pepper, Ma’am.
Q - Mr. Witness, how old were you then when you
started planting these trees?
A - 18, Ma’am.
Q - Eighteen years old, but you mentioned earlier that
as early as 12 years old, you were already visiting
the property?
A - I am going to that subject land, Ma’am.
Q - As of this, as of today, Mr. Witness, would you say
that you are peacefully enjoying the possession of
the property?
A - Yes, Ma’am.
Atty. M.Y. Espina:
That would be all for the witness, Your Honor.
x x x.25

24. Applicant-appellee also offered the following testimony of Luis


Roxas Pangcaliwangan, which merely showed that there were plants found in
the property, but did not, at any other point, corroborate the testimony of
applicant-appellee to the effect that he planted the aforementioned plants on
the subject lot, to wit:
Q - Would you know how did Arturo Pasajol acquire
or possess the property?
A - Yes, Ma’am.
Q - How?
A - It was inherited, Ma’am.
Q - Inherited from whom?
A - From Pedro, Ma’am.
Q - Do you know, Mr. Witness, what kinds of plants
are planted in this property?
A - Yes, Ma’am. Lanzones, coffee and coconut,
Ma’am.
Q - Would you be able to know the area of the
property?
A - Yes, Ma’am. Around fifteen thousand square
meters, Ma’am.

x x x.26

25. Their testimonies were only able to prove the presence of plants
in the subject lot. The mere allegation that applicant-appellee planted the
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24
TSN dated 05 August 2010, Direct Testimony of Arturo Pasajol, p. 5.
25
Id., pp. 15-16.
26
TSN dated 26 May 2011, Direct Testimony of Luis Roxas Pangcaliwangan, pp. 7-8.
aforementioned plants thereon since he was eighteen (18) years old was not
supported by the testimony of witness Luis Roxas Pangcaliwangan. These bare
allegations of applicant-appellee should not be given any probative value and
weight as they are not supported by any other evidence. At most, he could be
said to have done some casual planting on the subject lot.

26. Aside from tax declarations and planting, applicant-appellant


offered no other evidence manifesting that he executed acts of ownership or
dominion over the subject lot. He admitted in his testimony that he resides, not
in the subject lot, but in another property that he owns, although the latter is
also situated in Barangay Cumba. 27 He made no mention of any fence
surrounding the property nor any improvement such as a house or small nipa
hut built by him or his predecessors-in-interest thereon.

27. Tax declarations and receipts are not conclusive evidence of


ownership or right of possession over a piece of land. They are merely indicia
of a claim of ownership. Tax declarations only become strong evidence of
ownership of land acquired by prescription when accompanied by proof of
actual possession.28 In this case, their testimonies were not able to conclusively
prove when the plants were actually planted and by whom and whether
harvesting, cultivation or other acts of occupation and ownership were made.

28. Indeed, it would be to the prejudice of the State if applications for


land registration are imprudently granted upon scant and unreliable evidence. It
would go against the basic principles that all lands of the public domain belong
to the State and that all lands not appearing to be clearly under private
ownership are presumed to belong to the State.

The subject parcel of land is not


subject to acquisitive prescription.

29. The court a quo, upon finding that the subject lot was within the
alienable and disposable zone and that there were enough evidence to show
that applicant-appellant had been in open, public, peaceful, continuous and
adverse possession of the property in the concept of an owner for more than
thirty (30) years as required by law, immediately concluded that there is no legal
impediment to the property being registered and titled in the name of
applicant-appellant.

30. In granting the application for land registration, the court a quo
used as basis, not Section 14(1) of P.D. No. 1529, but rather, Section 14(2)
thereof. In so ruling, it stated that there is no comptent proof that the open,
continuous, exclusive and notorious possession an doccupation under a bona
fide claim of ownership can be reckoned since June 12, 1945 or earlier as the
documents, particularly the purported Deed of Sale and tax declarations prior

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27
Supra, note 24, pp. 4-5.
28
San Miguel Corporation v. Court of Appeals, G.R. No. 57667, 28 May 1990.
to 1953, seeking to prove the same were among those which were destroyed by
the fire in 1945.29 The pertinent provision is as follows:

Section 14. Who may apply. The following persons may file in the proper
Court of First Instance an application for registration of title to land,
whether personally or through their duly authorized representatives:
(1) Those who by themselves or through their predecessors-in-interest have
been in open, continuous, exclusive and notorious possession and
occupation of alienable and disposable lands of the public domain under a
bona fide claim of ownership since June 12, 1945, or earlier.
(2) Those who have acquired ownership of private lands by prescription
under the provision of existing laws.

x x x.30

31. At this juncture, reference must be made to the guidelines set


forth in the case of Heirs of Malabanan v. Republic of the Philippines,31 regarding the
disposition public land, viz:

To sum up, we now observe the following rules relative to the disposition
of public land or lands of the public domain, namely:

(1) As a general rule and pursuant to the Regalian Doctrine, all lands of the
public domain belong to the State and are inalienable. Lands that are not
clearly under private ownership are also presumed to belong to the State
and, therefore, may not be alienated or disposed;

(2) The following are excepted from the general rule, to wit:
(a) Agricultural lands of the public domain are rendered alienable and
disposable through any of the exclusive modes enumerated under Section
11 of the Public Land Act. If the mode is judicial confirmation of imperfect
title under Section 48(b) of the Public Land Act, the agricultural land
subject of the application needs only to be classified as alienable and
disposable as of the time of the application, provided the applicant’s
possession and occupation of the land dated back to June 12, 1945, or
earlier. Thereby, a conclusive presumption that the applicant has performed
all the conditions essential to a government grant arises, and the applicant
becomes the owner of the land by virtue of an imperfect or incomplete title.
By legal fiction, the land has already ceased to be part of the public domain
and has become private property.

(b) Lands of the public domain subsequently classified or declared as no


longer intended for public use or for the development of national wealth
are removed from the sphere of public dominion and are considered
converted into patrimonial lands or lands of private ownership that may be
alienated or disposed through any of the modes of acquiring ownership
under the Civil Code. If the mode of acquisition is prescription, whether
ordinary or extraordinary, proof that the land has been already converted to
private ownership prior to the requisite acquisitive prescriptive period is a
condition sine qua non in observance of the law (Article 1113, Civil Code)
that property of the State not patrimonial in character shall not be the
object of prescription. (Emphasis supplied)

32. It may be inferred from these rules that the reclassification of land
from being within the public domain to being within the alienable and
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29
Exhibit “CC”.
30
Emphasis supplied.
31
Supra, note 9.
disposable zone is of no moment, if the basis for which the application for land
registration being sought is Section 14(2) of P.D. No. 1529, wherein the mode
of acquisition is prescription. The Supreme Court, in its earlier decision in the
same case32, expounded on and laid down the rule for land registration under
Section 14(2), to wit:

The obiter in Naguit cited the Civil Code provisions on prescription


as the possible basis for application for original registration under
Section 14(2). Specifically, it is Article 1113 which provides legal
foundation for the application. It reads:

All things which are within the commerce of men are


susceptible of prescription, unless otherwise provided.
Property of the State or any of its subdivisions not
patrimonial in character shall not be the object of
prescription.

It is clear under the Civil Code that where lands of the public domain
are patrimonial in character, they are susceptible to acquisitive
prescription.

xxx

When Section 14(2) of the Property Registration Decree explicitly


provides that persons who have acquired ownership over private
lands by prescription under the provisions of existing laws, it
unmistakably refers to the Civil Code as a valid basis for the
registration of lands. The Civil Code is the only existing law that
specifically allows the acquisition by prescription of private lands,
including patrimonial property belonging to the State.

xxx

Again, the thirty-year period is derived from the rule on extraordinary


prescription under Article 1137 of the Civil Code. At the same time,
Section 14(2) puts into operation the entire regime of prescription
under the Civil Code, a fact which does not hold true with respect to
Section 14(1).

xxx

It is clear that property of public dominion, which generally includes


property belonging to the State, cannot be the object of prescription
or, indeed, be subject of the commerce of man. Lands of the public
domain, whether declared alienable and disposable or not, are
property of public dominion and thus insusceptible to acquisition by
prescription.

xxx

Nonetheless, Article 422 of the Civil Code states that [p]roperty of


public dominion, when no longer intended for public use or for
public service, shall form part of the patrimonial property of the
State. It is this provision that controls how public dominion property
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32
Heirs of Malabanan v. Republic of the Philippines, G.R. No. 179987, 29 April 2009.
may be converted into patrimonial property susceptible to acquisition
by prescription. After all, Article 420 (2) makes clear that those
property which belong to the State, without being for public use, and
are intended for some public service or for the development of the
national wealth are public dominion property. For as long as the
property belongs to the State, although already classified as alienable
or disposable, it remains property of the public dominion if when it is
intended for some public service or for the development of the
national wealth.

Accordingly, there must be an express declaration by the State that


the public dominion property is no longer intended for public service
or the development of the national wealth or that the property has
been converted into patrimonial. Without such express declaration,
the property, even if classified as alienable or disposable, remains
property of the public dominion, pursuant to Article 420(2), and thus
incapable of acquisition by prescription. It is only when such
alienable and disposable lands are expressly declared by the State to
be no longer intended for public service or for the development of
the national wealth that the period of acquisitive prescription can
begin to run. Such declaration shall be in the form of a law duly
enacted by Congress or a Presidential Proclamation in cases where
the President is duly authorized by law.

xxx

The limitation imposed by Article 1113 dissuades us from ruling that


the period of possession before the public domain land becomes
patrimonial may be counted for the purpose of completing the
prescriptive period. Possession of public dominion property before it
becomes patrimonial cannot be the object of prescription according
to the Civil Code. As the application for registration under Section
14(2) falls wholly within the framework of prescription under the
Civil Code, there is no way that possession during the time that the
land was still classified as public dominion property can be counted
to meet the requisites of acquisitive prescription and justify
registration.

x x x Section 14(1) mandates registration on the basis of possession,


while Section 14(2) entitles registration on the basis of prescription.
Registration under Section 14(1) is extended under the aegis of the
Property Registration Decree and the Public Land Act while
registration under Section 14(2) is made available both by the
Property Registration Decree and the Civil Code.

xxx

We synthesize the doctrines laid down in this case, as follows:

xxx

(2) In complying with Section 14(2) of the Property Registration


Decree, consider that under the Civil Code, prescription is
recognized as a mode of acquiring ownership of patrimonial
property. However, public domain lands become only patrimonial
property not only with a declaration that these are alienable or
disposable. There must also be an express government manifestation
that the property is already patrimonial or no longer retained for
public service or the development of national wealth, under Article
422 of the Civil Code. And only when the property has become
patrimonial can the prescriptive period for the acquisition of property
of the public dominion begin to run.33

33. Therefore, in order that land may be registered in favor of an


applicant under Section 14(2) of P.D. No. 1529, he must follow the law on
acquisitive prescription as provided under the Civil Code. Under the rules as set
forth above, land must be either private property or patrimonial property of the
State; there can be no acquisition of land by prescription if it is still within the
sphere of public domain or, although declared alienable or disposable by the
government, intended for public use, public service or the development of
national wealth. In other words, the land must first be positively declared by
the government as patrimonial or no longer intended for public use, public
service or development of national wealth. This positive declaration may be in
the form of a congressional enactment or a presidential proclamation and it is
only after such declaration is made that the prescriptive period may begin to
run.

34. Applying these rules in the present case, the court a quo cannot
simply rely on the government’s declaration that the land is already declared
alienable or disposable. Such declaration is sufficient if the land is sought to be
registered under Section 14(1) of P.D. No. 1529, which is not the situation
here. Section 14(2) requires a different declaration from the government – that
which declares the land as patrimonial property of the State or no longer
retained or intended for public use, public service or development of national
wealth.

35. The records of this case show that applicant-appellant was not
able to present and offer in evidence any congressional enactment or
presidential proclamation declaring the land to be patrimonial property of the
State or no longer retained or intended for public use, public service or
development of national wealth. Rather, the evidence that he brought to the
court a quo sought only to prove that the land had been declared alienable and
disposable. Hence, the subject lot is still presumed to be property of the State
and the period for the acquisitive prescription of the subject lot never began to
run.

36. Since the applicant-appellee failed to discharge his duty to prove


that: (i) the land has been declared by the government alienable and disposable;
(ii) the possession and occupation by him and his predecessors-in-interest had
been open, public, peaceful, continuous and adverse in the concept of an
owner for more than 30 years; and (iii) the land has been declared by the
government as patrimonial property of the state or no longer intended for
public use, public servie or development of national wealth, his application for
land registration should be denied.

!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
33
Emphasis supplied.
PRAYER

WHEREFORE, premises considered, it is respectfully prayed that the


Decision dated 29 April 2014 be REVERSED and SET ASIDE.

Oppositor-Appellant further prays for other just and equitable reliefs


under the premises.

Makati City for the City of Manila, 02 October 2015.

OFFICE OF THE SOLICITOR GENERAL


134 Amorsolo St., Legaspi Village
1229 Makati City
Tel. No.: 8186301 to 09 (Trunkline)
Fax No.: 8176037
Website: www.osg.gov.ph
Email: docket@osg.gov.ph

FLORIN T. HILBAY
Solicitor General
Roll No. 44957
IBP Lifetime No. 08505
MCLE Exemption No. IV-001068, 05-14-13

MAXIMO PAULINO T. SISON III


Associate Solicitor
Officer-in-Charge, Lorenzo Tañada Division
Roll No. 59301
IBP Lifetime No. 012977
MCLE Compliance No. N/A

RAMON ANTONIO D. PANDAN


Associate Solicitor
Roll No. 63042, 05-06-14
IBP No. 0999169, 03-11-15
MCLE Exempt, Admitted 2014

ANNA CRISELDA H. FLORES


Legal Intern
Copy Furnished:
Atty. Leannie A. Dela Cruz
Counsel for Applicant-Appellee
Unit 908 ENTRATA Urban Tower I
2609 Civic Drive, Filinvest Corporate City
Alabang, 1780 Muntinlupa City

EXPLANATION
[Pursuant to Section 11, Rule 13 of the 1997 Rules of Civil Procedure]

The foregoing Brief for the Oppositor-Appellant is being filed and served by registered
mail, personal filing and service not being practicable due to lack of sufficient personnel at
the OSG.

RAMON ANTONIO D. PANDAN


Associate Solicitor