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DIRECTOR OF LANDS vs IAC

FACTS: The land involved in the case at bar is an island known as Tambac Island in Lingayen Gulf.
Situated in the Municipality of Bani, Pangasinan. The area consists of 187,288 square meters, more or
less. The initial application for registration was filed for Pacific Farms, Inc. under the provisions of the
Land Registration Act, Act No. 496, as amended.

The Republic of the Philippines, thru the Director of Lands opposed the application alleging that the
applicant, Pacific Farms, Inc. does not possess a fee simple title to the land nor did its predecessors
possess the land for at least thirty (30) years immediately preceding the filing of application. The
opposition likewise specifically alleged that the applicant is a private corporation disqualified under
the (1973) new Philippine Constitution from acquiring alienable lands of the public domain citing
Section 11, Article 14.

The Director of Forest Development also entered its opposition alleging that the land is within the
unclassified public land and, hence, inalienable. Other private parties also filed their oppositions, but
were subsequently withdrawn.

Applicant presented Placido Orlando’s testimony who has been a guard of the Fishery for 40 years
and that when he first came to know the property it was then owned by and in the possession of
Paulino Castelo, Juan Ambrosio and Julio Castelo, and later on the whole island was bought by Atty.
Vicente Castelo who in turn sold it to J. Antonio Araneta. Upon cross-examination, however, Araneta
failed to submit the original tracing cloth plan, and submitted only certified copies thereof.

Subsequently, respondent filed an Omnibus Motion for Substitution of private respondent.


Apparently, Antonio Araneta had assigned his rights to and interest in Tambac Island to Amancio R.
Garcia who in turn assigned his rights and interest in the same property to Johnny A. Khonghun
whose nationality was not alleged in the pleadings.

On October 4, 1979, the trial court rendered a decision adjudicating the subject property to J. Antonio
Araneta. On appeal to the then Intermediate Appellate Court, the decision of the lower court was
affirmed on December 12, 1985.

ISSUE: WON the lower court erred in not declaring that the applicant has failed to overthrow the
presumption that the land is a portion of the public domain belonging to the Republic of the
Philippines.

HELD: Lands of the public domain are classified under three main categories, namely: Mineral, Forest
and Disposable or Alienable Lands. Under the Commonwealth Constitution, only agricultural lands
were allowed to be alienated. Their disposition was provided for under Commonwealth Act No. 141
(Secs. 6-7), which states that it is only the President, upon the recommendation of the proper
department head, who has the authority to classify the lands of the public domain into alienable or
disposable, timber and mineral lands. Mineral and Timber or forest lands are not subject to private
ownership unless they are first reclassified as agricultural lands and so released for alienation. In the
absence of such classification, the land remains as unclassified land until released therefrom and
rendered open to disposition. Courts have no authority to do so.

This is in consonance with the Regalian doctrine that all lands of the public domain belong to the
State, and that the State is the source of any asserted right to ownership in land and charged with the
conservation of such patrimony. Under the Regalian Doctrine, all lands not otherwise appearing to be
clearly within private ownership are presumed to belong to the State. Hence, a positive act of the
government is needed to declassify a forest land into alienable or disposable land for agricultural or
other purposes.
The burden of proof in overcoming the presumption of state ownership of the lands of the public
domain is on the person applying for registration that the land subject of the application is alienable
or disposable.
LEE HONG HOK vs DAVID

FACTS: Petitioners in the case at bar filed the instant petition, praying for the reversal of the decision
of the CA in affirming the validity of respondent David’s Torren’s Title over the subject lot. Petitioners
alleged that they acquired ownership of the said lot through accretion, without having presented any
evidence to bolster their claims.

It appears that Respondent Aniano David acquired lawful title over the lot in question pursuant to his
miscellaneous sales application in accordance with which an order of award and for issuance of a
sales patent was made by the Director of Lands on June 18, 1958, covering Lot 2892 containing an
area of 226 square meters, which is a portion of Lot 2863 of the Naga Cadastre. 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 to respondent Aniano David on October 21, 1959.

Since the filing of the sales application of Aniano David and during all the proceedings in connection
with said application, up to the actual issuance of the sales patent in his favor, the plaintiffs-
appellants did not put up any opposition or adverse claim thereto. This is fatal to them because after
the registration and issuance of the certificate and duplicate certificate of title based on a public land
patent, the land covered thereby automatically comes under the operation of Republic Act 496
subject to all the safeguards provided therein. Under Section 38 of Act 496 any question concerning
the validity of the certificate of title based on fraud should be raised within one year from the date of
the issuance of the patent. Thereafter the certificate of title based thereon becomes indefeasible.

In this case the 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 thereof for having
been formed by reclamation. The only remedy therefore, available to the appellants is an action for
reconveyance on the ground of fraud.

The RTC and the CA found that in the case at bar, there was no fraud committed by respondent David
in applying for the purchase of the land involved through his Miscellaneous Sales Application No.
MSA-V-26747, entered in the records of the Bureau of Lands [Miscellaneous Sales] Entry No. V-9033,
because everything was done in the open. The notices regarding the auction sale of the land were
published, the actual sale and award thereof to Aniano David were not clandestine but open and
public official acts of an officer of the Government. The application was merely a renewal of his
deceased wife's application, and the said deceased occupied the land since 1938.

ISSUE: WON the CA erred in its decision in declaring Aniano David as the lawful owner of the lot in
question.

HELD: NO. According to the Stipulation of Facts, since the filing of the sales application of Aniano
David and during all the proceedings in connection with said application, up to the actual issuance of
the sales patent in his favor, the plaintiffs-appellants did not put up any opposition or adverse claim
thereto. This is fatal to them because after the registration and issuance of the certificate and
duplicate certificate of title based on a public land patent, the land covered thereby automatically
comes under the operation of Republic Act 496 subject to all the safeguards provided therein ... Under
Section 38 of Act 496 any question concerning the validity of the certificate of title based on fraud
should be raised within one year from the date of the issuance of the patent. Thereafter the certificate
of title based thereon becomes indefeasible ..."

Petitioners cannot reconcile themselves to the view that respondent David's title is impressed with
the quality of indefeasibility. In thus manifesting such an attitude, they railed to accord deference to
controlling precedents. As far back as 1919, in Aquino v. Director of Lands, Justice Malcolm, speaking
for the Court, stated: "The proceedings under the Land Registration Law and under the provisions of
Chapter VI of the Public Land Law are the same in that both are against the whole world, both take
the nature of judicial proceedings, and for both the decree of registration issued is conclusive and
final." Such a view has been followed since then. The latest case in point is Cabacug v. Lao. There is
this revealing excerpt appearing in that decision: "It is said, and with reason, that a 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 five years." It is
quite apparent, therefore, that petitioners' stand is legally indefensible.
REPUBLIC vs CANDY MAKER, INC.

FACTS: Sometime in 1998, Candy Maker, Inc. decided to purchase Lot No. 3138 Cad. 688 of the Cainta-
Taytay Cadastre, a parcel of land located below the reglementary lake elevation of 12.50 meters,
about 900 meters away from the Laguna de Bay, and bounded on the southwest by the Manggahan
Floodway, and on the southeast by a legal easement.

On April 1, 1998, Geodetic Engineer Potenciano H. Fernandez, prepared and signed a Subdivision
Plan of the property for Apolonio Cruz. The property was subdivided into two lots. The technical
description of the lots was also prepared by Fernandez, and was approved by the Regional Technical
Director of the Bureau of Lands on April 14, 1998.

On April 29, 1999, Antonio, Eladia, and Felisa, all surnamed Cruz, executed a Deed of Absolute Sale in
favor of Candy Maker, Inc.5The buyer declared the lot for taxation purposes in 1999 under Tax
Declaration Cerfificates. Subsequently, Candy Maker, Inc. filed an application with the MTC of Taytay,
Rizal, for the registration of its alleged title over the said lot. Reports from the Administrator of the
Land Registration Authority (LRA) and the Directors of the Land Management Bureau (LMB) and
Forest Management Bureau (FMB) were submitted before the hearing was conducted by the MTC.

The CENRO of Antipolo City declared that the land falls within the Alienable and Disposable Zone,
while the LRA recommended the exclusion of a part of the lot on the ground that it is a legal easement
intended for public use, thus that part is inalienable and disposable.

The Republic and the LLDA filed their respective oppositions to the Application of respondent. They
alleged that the subject lot may not be alienated and disposed since it is considered part of the
Laguna Lake bed, a public land within its jurisdiction. It was also indicated that the lot is “located
below the reglementary lake elevation of 12.50 meters referred to datum 10.00 meters below mean
lower water" and under Section 41(11) of R.A. No. 4850, the property is a public land which forms
part of the bed of the Laguna Lake.

One of the vendees, Antonio Cruz, testified that this grandparents owned the property, and that after
their demise, his parents inherited the lot. He and his father allegedly cultivated the property since
1937. He further averred that his father has been paying taxes on the said property, and he continued
such even after his father’s death.

Fernando Co Siy testified that the applicant acquired Lot No. 3138 from siblings Antonio, Eladia and
Felisa, who had possessed it since 1945; that after paying the real estate taxes due thereon, it caused
the survey of the lot; that possession thereof has been peaceful and none of the former owners claims
any right against it; neither the applicant nor its predecessors-in-interest received information from
any government agency that the lot is a public land; the subject lot is 3 kms. away from Laguna de
Bay, above its elevation and that of the nearby road; the property is habitable and was utilized as a
riceland at the time it was sold by the former owners; and that he was aware that a legal easement is
affecting the lot and is willing to annotate it in the land title.

The LLDa moved for a joint ocular inspection of the parcels of land in order to determine its exact
elevation. It was found that the lot is below the prescribed elevation of 12.50m, and thus forms part
of the bed of the lake. As such, it could not be titled to the applicant.

Nonetheless, the MTC granted the application for registration over the lots. Upon appeal, petitioner
averred that the testimonies of the applicant’s witnesses are more of conclusions of law rather than
factual evidence of ownership. Other than the general statement that they planted rice and vegetables
on the subject lots, their possession could properly be characterized as mere casual cultivation since
they failed to account for its exclusive utilization since 1945 or earlier. After stressing that tax
declarations are not conclusive proof of ownership, it concluded that the subject lots rightfully belong
to the State under the Regalian doctrine.
ISSUE: WON the land in question may be the subject of registration.

HELD: NO. To prove that the land subject of an application for registration is alienable, an applicant
must conclusively establish the existence of a positive act of the government such as a presidential
proclamation or an executive order, or administrative action, investigation reports of the Bureau of
Lands investigator or a legislative act or statute. Until then, the rules on confirmation of imperfect
title do not apply. A certification of the Community Environment and Natural Resources Officer in the
Department of Environment and Natural Resources stating that the land subject of an application is
found to be within the alienable and disposable site per a land classification project map is sufficient
evidence to show the real character of the land subject of the application.

The applicant is burdened to offer proof of specific acts of ownership to substantiate the claim over
the land. Actual possession consists in the manifestation of acts of dominion over it of such a nature
as a party would actually exercise over his own property. A mere casual cultivation of portions of the
land by the claimant does not constitute sufficient basis for a claim of ownership; such possession is
not exclusive and notorious as to give rise to a presumptive grant from the State.

In this case, the evidence on record shows that the property is alienable agricultural land. Romeo
Cadano of the Community Environment and Natural Resources Office, Antipolo Rizal, certified that
the property "falls within the Alienable and Disposable zone, under Land Classification Project No. 5-
A, per L.C. Map No. 639 certified released on March 11, 1927."76 However, under R.A. No. 4850 which
was approved on July 18, 1966, lands located at and below the maximum lake level of elevation of the
Laguna de Bay are public lands which form part of the bed of said lake. Such lands denominated as
lakeshore areas are linear strips of open space designed to separate incompatible element or uses, or
to control pollution/nuisance, and for identifying and defining development areas or zone. Such areas
of the lake with an approximate total area of 14,000 hectares form a strip of the lakebed along its
shores alternately submerged or exposed by the annual rising and lowering of the lake water. They
have environmental ecological significance and actual potential economic benefits.

Under Section 1 of the law, the national policy of the State is to promote and accelerate the
development and balanced growth of the Laguna Lake area and the surrounding provinces, cities and
towns within the context of the national and regional plans and policies for social and economic
development and to carry out the development of the Laguna Lake region with due regard and
adequate provisions for environmental management and control, preservation of the quality of
human life and ecological systems, and the prevention of undue ecological disturbances,
deterioration and pollution.
DIRECTOR OF LANDS vs CA and Valeriano

FACTS: Private respondent applied for a lot situated in Obando, Bulacan, which adjoins the Kailogan
River. Private respondent has converted it into a fishpond. In their application for registration filed on
May 10, 1976, private respondents (Applicants, for brevity) claimed that they are the co-owners in
fee simple of the land applied for partly through inheritance in 1918 and partly by purchase on May
2, 1958; that it is not within any forest zone or military reservation; and that the same is assessed for
taxation purposes in their names.

The Republic of the Philippines, represented by the Director of the Bureau of Forest Development
opposed the application on the principal ground that the land applied for is within the unclassified
region of Obando, Bulacan, per BF Map LC No. 637 dated March 1, 1927; and that areas within the
unclassified region are denominated as forest lands and do not form part of the disposable and
alienable portion of the public domain.

The RTC ordered the registration of the subject land in favor of the applicants. This was affirmed by
the CA, wherein it held that: “through indubitable evidence (Applicants) and their predecessors-in-
interest have been in open, public, continuous, peaceful and adverse possession of the subject parcel
of land under a bona fide claim of ownership for more than 30 years prior to the filing of the
application" and are, therefore, entitled to registration. It further opined that "since the subject
property is entirely devoted to fishpond purposes, it cannot be categorized as part of forest lands. "

ISSUE: WON the applicants are entitled to judicial confirmation of title.

HELD: NO. While it may be that the Municipality of Obando has been cadastrally surveyed in 1961, it
does not follow that an lands comprised therein are automatically released as alienable. A survey
made in a cadastral proceeding merely Identifies each lot preparatory to a judicial proceeding for
adjudication of title to any of the lands upon claim of interested parties. Besides, if land is within the
jurisdiction of the Bureau of Forest Development, it would be beyond the jurisdiction of the Cadastral
Court to register it under the Torrens System.

Since the subject property is still unclassified, whatever possession Applicants may have had, and,
however long, cannot ripen into private ownership.

The conversion of subject property into a fishpond by Applicants, or the alleged titling of properties
around it, does not automatically render the property as alienable and disposable. Applicants'
remedy lies in the release of the property from its present classification. In fairness to Applicants, and
it appearing that there are titled lands around the subject property, petitioners-officials should give
serious consideration to the matter of classification of the land in question.
BRACEWELL vs CA and REPUBLIC

FACTS: Sometime in 1908, Maria Cailles, married to James Bracewell, Sr., acquired approximately
9,657 sqm of land located in Las Pias, Metro Manila from the Dalandan and Jimenez families of Las
Pias; after which corresponding Tax Declarations were issued in the name of Maria Cailles. On
January 16, 1961, Maria Cailles sold the said parcels of land to her son, the petitioner, by virtue of a
Deed of Sale which was duly annotated and registered with the Registry of Deeds of Pasig, Rizal. Tax
Declarations were thereafter issued in the name of petitioner, cancelling the previous Tax
Declarations issued to Maria Cailles. Petitioner then filed before the CFI of Pasig, Rizal an action for
confirmation of imperfect title.

The Director of Lands, represented by the Solicitor General, opposed petitioners application on the
grounds that neither nor his predecessors-in-interest possessed sufficient title to the subject land,
nor have they been in open, continuous, exclusive and notorious possession and occupation of the
same for at least 30 years prior to the application, and that the said land is part of public domain.

After forwarding the case to the RTC of Makati, the said court granted the application of petitioner.

ISSUE: WON the lower court erred in granting the application of petitioner.

HELD: YES. The requisites to acquire title to public land were laid down, as follows --

"x x x. The original Section 48(b) of C.A. No. 141 provided for possession and occupation of
lands of the public domain since July 26, 1894. This was superseded b R.A. No. 1942 which
provided for a simple thirty-year prescriptive period of occupation by an applicant for
judicial confirmation of imperfect title. The same, however, has already been amended by
Presidential Decree No. 1073, approved on January 25, 1977. As amended, Section 48(b) now
reads:

(b) Those who by themselves or through their predecessors-in-interest have been in open,
continuous, exclusive and notorious possession and occupation of agricultural lands of the
public domain, under a bona fide claim of acquisition or ownership, since June 12, 1945, or
earlier, immediately preceding the filing of the application for confirmation of title, except
when prevented by wars or force majeure. Those shall be conclusively presumed to have
performed all the conditions essential to a Government grant and shall be entitled to a
certificate of title under the provisions of this chapter." (italicized in the original)

Thus, in the aforecited Republic vs. CA case, we stated that the Public Land Act requires that
the applicant must prove (a) that the land is alienable public land and (b) that his open,
continuous, exclusive and notorious possession and occupation of the same must be since
time immemorial or for the period prescribed in the Public Land Act. When the conditions
set by law are complied with, the possessor of the land, by operation of law, acquires a right
to a grant, a government grant, without the necessity of a certificate of title being issued."

Clear from the above is the requirement that the applicant must prove that the land is alienable
public land. On this score, we agree with respondents that petitioner failed to show that the parcels of
land subject of his application are alienable or disposable. On the contrary, it was conclusively shown
by the government that the same were only classified as alienable or disposable on March 27, 1972.
Thus, even granting that petitioner and his predecessors-in-interest had occupied the same since
1908, he still cannot claim title thereto by virtue of such possession since the subject parcels of land
were not yet alienable land at that time nor capable of private appropriation. The adverse possession
which may be the basis of a grant of title or confirmation of an imperfect title refers only to alienable
or disposable portions of the public domain.
Prior to March 27, 1972, when the subject parcels of land were classified as inalienable or
indisposable, therefore, the same could not be the subject of confirmation of imperfect title. There
can be no imperfect title to be confirmed over lands not yet classified as disposable or alienable. In
the absence of such classification, the land remains unclassified public land until released therefrom
and open to disposition. Indeed, it has been held that the rules on the confirmation of imperfect title
do not apply unless and until the land classified as forest land is released in an official proclamation
to that effect so that it may form part of the disposable agricultural lands of the public domain.