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LAND TITLES AND DEEDS

REPUBLIC OF THE PHILIPPINES, petitioner,


vs.
COURT OF APPEALS and HEIRS OF DEMOCRITO O. PLAZA , respondents
G.R. No. 108926 July 12, 1996

FACTS:
The subject property, was first owned by Santos de la Cruz who declared the same
in his name under Tax Declaration Nos. 3932; 3933; and 6905. Subsequently, the subject
property was successively bought or acquired by Pedro Cristobal, Regino Gervacio,
Diego Calugdan and Gil Alhambra. After Gil Alhambra died, his heirs extra-judicially
partitioned the subject property and declared it in their names under Tax Declaration in
the year 1960. On 5 July 1966, they executed a "Deed of Sale With Mortgage" deeding the
subject property to private respondent for P231,340.00 payable in three (3) installments,
the payment of which was secured by a mortgage on the property. Upon receipt of the
full payment, they executed a "Release of Mortgage". After the sale, private respondent
took possession of the subject property and paid the taxes due thereon for the years 1966
up to 1986, and in 1985 declared it in his name under Tax Declaration Nos. B-013-01392
and B-013-01391. He appointed Mauricio Plaza and Jesus Magcanlas as the administrator
and caretaker thereof, respectively. Due to losses, the property in question was cultivated
only for a while. Five (5) years according to Mauricio Plaza, and from 1966, up to 1978
according to Jesus Magcanlas.

On 14 November 1986, private respondent filed a petition, which was amended on 17


July 1987, for the registration and confirmation of his title over the subject property. On
24 February 1988, oppositor-appellant, the Republic of the Philippines (Republic, for
brevity), filed its opposition maintaining, among others, that:

(1) petitioner-appellee and his predecessors-in-interest have not been in open,


continuous, exclusive and notorious possession and occupation of the land in question
since 12 June 1945 or prior thereto; (2) the muniment of title and tax declarations as well
as tax payments relied upon do not constitute sufficient evidence of a bona fide
acquisition of the land by petitioner-appellee and of his open, continuous possession and
occupation thereof in the concept of owner since 12 June 1945, or prior thereto, and (3)
the subject property pertains to the public domain and is not subject to private
appropriation.

On 9 March 1988, after the compliance of the jurisdiction requirements was proved
and, on motion, the lower court issued its order of general default. Aside from the
Republic, there were others who opposed the petition and filed their opposition. On 3
January 1991 Proclamation No. 679 was issued by the President of the Republic of the
Philippines withdrawing the subject property from sale or settlement and reserve (the
same) for slum improvement and sites and services program under the administration
and disposition of the National Housing Authority in coordination with the National
Capital Region, Department of Environment and Natural Resources.

ISSUE:
Whether or not the Tax declarations or Realty Tax payments are not sufficient
proof of ownership.

HELD:
Proof that private respondent and his predecessors-in-interest have acquired and
have been in open, continuous, exclusive and notorious possession of the subject
property for a period of 30 years under a bona fide claim of ownership are the tax
declarations of private respondent's predecessors-in-interest, the deed of sale, tax
payment receipts and private respondent's tax declarations

Although tax declarations or realty tax payments of property are not conclusive
evidence of ownership, nevertheless, they are good indicia of possession in the concept
of owner for no one in his right mind would be paying taxes for a property that is not in
his actual or at least constructive possession. They constitute at least proof that the holder
has a claim of title over the property. The voluntary declaration of a piece of property for
taxation purposes manifests not only one's sincere and honest desire to obtain title to the
property and announces his adverse claim against the State and all other interested
parties, but also the intention to contribute needed revenues to the Government.

Presidential Proclamation No. 679 which was issued on January 7, 1991 or almost 6
months prior to the issuance of the trial court's decision, did not have any effect on the
subject property as the proclamation only withdrew it from sale or settlement and
reserved the same for slum improvement and sites and services program, but subject to
actual survey and existing private rights. The proclamation did not prohibit the
registration of title of one who claims, and proves, to be the owner thereof."

Cuenco v. Vda. De Manguerra

FACTS:
Concepcion (respondent) filed the initiatory complaint herein for specific
performanceagainst her uncle Miguel Cuenco (petitioner, later substituted by
Cuyegkeng). Concepcion’s father, the late Don Mariano Jesus Cuenco (who became
Senator and Miguel Cuenco formed the ‘Cuenco and Cuenco Law Offices’. Cuenco and
Cuenco Law Offices served as lawyers in two (2) cases entitled ‘Valeriano Solon versus
Zoilo Solon and ‘Valeriano Solon versus ApoloniaSolon’ involving a dispute among
relatives over ownership of lot 903 of the Banilad Estate. Records of said cases indicate
the name of the Miguel alone as counsel of record, but in truth and in fact, the real lawyer
behind the success of said cases was the influential Don Mariano Jesus Cuenco After
winning the said cases:
Lot 903-A: 5000 square meters ( Don Mariano Jesus Cuenco’s attorney’s fees )
Lot 903-B: 5000 square meters ( Miguel Cuenco’s attorney’s fees )
Lot 903-C: 54,000 square meters (Solon’s retention)

Mariano Cuenco entrusted Lot 903 A to Miguel. Miguel was able to obtain in his own
name a title for Lot 903-A. Miguel was under the obligation to hold the title in trust for
his brother Mariano’s children by first marriage. Lot 903-A was partitioned into six (6)
sub-lots (Lots 903-A-1 to 903-A-6) to correspond to the six (6) children of Mariano’s first
marriage (Teresita, Manuel, Lourdes, Carmen, Consuelo, and Concepcion). The case of
Concepcion, five deeds of donation were executed in favour of five children. This left out
Concepcion (who became respondent in this case). Concepcion occupied Lot 903-A-6 and
paid taxes for it. When Concepcion went to the Register of Deeds to register the Lot 903-
A-6,there was an adverse claim by Miguel saying that he was the absolute owner of said
lot. Miguel’s allegations that he executed five deeds of donation to five children of his
brother because of the love, care and gratitude <3 they exhibited during his long sickness.
Concepcion never visited him. Miguel was able to take the witness stand but he became
sick and was not able to bepresent on cross-examination so his testimony was stricken off
the record. Marietta Cuyegkeng (her only daughter) substituted him in the case. She is
the owner of the lot as he purchased it from his father. That she was aware of the case
because her father used to commute to Cebu toattend hearings. That she constructed a
house on the said lot.

ISSUE:
Whether Concepcion is entitled to ownership of the property (Lot 903-A-6)
RULING:
Given as attorney’s fees was one hectare of Lot 903, of which two five-thousand
square meter portions were identified as Lot 903-A and Lot 903-B. That only Miguel
handled Civil Case No. 9040 does not mean that he alone is entitled to the attorney’s fees
in the said cases. "When a client employs the services of a law firm, he does not employ
the services of the lawyer who is assigned to personally handle the case. Rather, he
employs the entire law firm." Being a partner in the law firm, Mariano -- like Miguel--
was likewise entitled to a share in the attorney’s fees from the firm’s clients. Although
Lot 903- A was titled in Miguel’s name, the circumstances surrounding the acquisition
and the subsequent partial dispositions of this property eloquently speak of the intent
that the equitable or beneficial ownership of the property should belong to Mariano and
his heirs. Lot 903-A was one half of the one-hectare portion of Lot 903 given as attorney’s
fees by a client of the law firm of Partners Miguel and Mariano Cuenco. Lot 903-A was
one half of the one-hectare portion of Lot 903 given as attorney’s fees by a client of the
law firm of Partners Miguel and Mariano Cuenco. Miguel readily surrendered his
Certificate of Title and interposed no objectionto the subdivis ion and the allocation of
the property to Mariano’s six children, including Concepcion. Mariano’s children,
including Concepcion, were the ones who shouldered the expenses incurred for the
subdivision of the property. After the subdivision of the property, Mariano’s children
-- including Concepcion -- took possession of their respective portions thereof.

The legal titles to five portions of the property were transferred via a gratuitous
deed of conveyance to Mariano’s five children, following the allocations specified in the
subdivision plan prepared for Lourdes Cuenco. Respondent is not barred by laches. In
the present case, respondent has persistently asserted her right to Lot 903-A-6 against
petitioner

Carino vs Insular Government


212 SCRA 449

FACTS:
Carino is an Igorot of the Province of Benguet, where the land lies filed for writ of
error because the CFI and SC dismissed his petition for application. For more than 50
years before the Treaty of Paris, April 11, 1899, he and his ancestors had held the land as
recognized owners by the Igorots. (grandfather maintain fences for holding cattle>father
had cultivated parts and used parts for pasturing cattle>he used it for pasture) 1893-1894
& 1896-1897: he made an application but with no avail 1901: petition alleging ownership
under the mortgage law and the lands were registered to him but process only
established possessory title. Even if the applicant have title, he cannot have it registered,
because the Philippine Commission's Act No. 926, of 1903, excepts the Province of
Benguet among others from its operation

ISSUE:
W/N Carino has ownership and is entitled to registration.
HELD:
Land was not registered, and therefore became, if it was not always, public land.
Spanish Law: "Where such possessors shall not be able to produce title deeds, it shall be
sufficient if they shall show that ancient possession, as a valid title by prescription." For
cultivated land, 20 years, uninterrupted, is enough. For uncultivated. Applicant's
possession was not unlawful, and no attempt at any such proceedings against him or his
father ever was made. Every native who had not a paper title is not a trespasser. There
must be a presumption against the government when a private individual claims
property as his or her own. It went so far as to say that the lands will be deemed private
absent contrary proof.
Lee Hong Kok V. David (1972)
G.R. No. L-30389 December 27, 1972

FACTS:
Aniano David acquired lawful title pursuant to his miscellaneous sales application
in accordance with which an order of award and for issuance of a sales patent (*similar
to public auction) was made by the Director of Lands on June 18, 1958, covering Lot 2892.
On the basis of the order of award of the Director of Lands the Undersecretary of
Agriculture and Natural Resources issued on August 26, 1959, Miscellaneous Sales Patent
No. V-1209 pursuant to which OCT No. 510 was issued by the Register of Deeds of Naga
City on October 21, 1959. Land in question is not a private property as the Director of
Lands and the Secretary of Agriculture and Natural Resources have always sustained the
public character for having been formed by reclamation (as opposed to peittioners
contention that it is accretion) The only remedy: action for reconveyance on the ground
of fraud - But there was no fraud in this case.

ISSUES:
W/N Lee Hong Kok can question the grant. - NO

W/N David has original acquisition of title. - YES

HELD:
Court of Appeals Affirmed. (no legal justification for nullifying the right of David
to the disputed lot arising from the grant made in his favor by respondent officials. Only
the Government, represented by the Director of Lands, or the Secretary of Agriculture
and Natural Resources, can bring an action to cancel a void certificate of title issued
pursuant to a void patent. The legality of the grant is a question between the grantee and
the government. Private parties like the plaintiffs cannot claim that the patent and title
issued for the land involved are void since they are not the registered owners thereof nor
had they been declared as owners in the cadastral proceedings of Naga Cadastre after
claiming it as their private property. Well-settled Rule : no public land can be acquired
by private persons without any grant, express or implied, from the government, Cabacug
v. Lao: holder of a land acquired under a free patent is more favorably situated than that of an
owner of registered property. Not only does a free patent have a force and effect of a Torrens Title,
but in addition the person to whom it is granted has likewise in his favor the right to repurchase
within a period of 5 years.

Director, Land Management Bureau vs. Court of Appeals,


G.R. No. 112567, February 7, 2000 (381 Phil. 761)

Facts:
Respondent Aquilino Cariño filed a petition for registration for Lot 6 which is a
sugar land claimed to be owned by his mother of whom after she died he became the
administrator of the property in behalf of his brothers and sisters. By virtue of a deed of
extrajudicial settlement, he became the sole owner of the property. Report from the land
investigator showed that the lot is agricultural in nature. Respondent claims that the
improvements introduced were in the form of bamboo clumps, sugarcane and mango
trees with the house of the tenant; that the land is free from claim and conflict and is not
covered by existing public land application and no patent or title has been issued to it;
that the respondent is on continuous, open and exclusive possession of the land as
inherited from his deceased mother. Respondent is the sole witness for his petition and
the only oppositor is the Bureau of Lands. The court granted the petition of the
respondent. The petitioner filed a review for certiorari contending that the respondent
failed to submit proof of his fee simple title and has not overthrown the presumption that
the land is a portion of the public domain belonging to the state.

Issue:
Whether or not the respondent established proof of his muniment of title to merit
registration of land in his favor?

Ruling:
The petition of the respondent is covered by the Land Registration Act providing
that a person alleging in his petition or application ownership in fee simple must present
muniments of title to substantiate his claim of ownership, presenting evidence of his
possession in the concept of an owner in a manner and number of years required by law.
The manner shall be open, continuous, exclusive, and notorious possession of the
property known as agricultural land of the public domain for 30 years preceding the filing
of application for confirmation (Commonwealth Act No. 141).

Possession of public land however long never confers title upon the possessor
unless occupant of the same is under claim of ownership for the required period. Even in
the absence of opposition the court can deny registration of land under the Torrens
System on ground that an applicant failed to establish his ownership by a fee simple on
the property sought to be registered.

The respondent only traced his own possession in the land in 1949 by virtue of
extrajudicial settlement and order and at the same time he filed his application for
registration in 1975 thus he was in possession of said land only for 26 years. His mere
allegation that his mother was in possession of the land since 1911 is self-serving and
hearsay and is inadmissible as evidence. The tax receipts and tax declaration he offered
as evidence do not substantiate clear proof of ownership. Thus, with his failure to prove
that his predecessor-in-interest occupied the land under the condition laid down by law,
he can only establish his possession of the land from 1949. Respondent failed to prove his
muniment of title for the registration of the land under the Registration Act with failure
to present convincing and positive proof of his continuous, open, uninterrupted and
notorious occupation of lot 6 in the concept of an owner for at least 30 years.