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G.R. No. 173289 February 17, 2010 and possession under the provisions of Sec.

48 (b)3 of the
Public Land Law or Commonwealth Act No. 141, as amended.
ELAND PHILIPPINES, INC., Petitioner,
vs. For having been in continuous, public, and adverse
AZUCENA GARCIA, ELINO FAJARDO, AND HEIR OF possession as owners of the said lot for at least thirty years,
TIBURCIO MALABANAN NAMED TERESA respondents stated that they were not aware of any person or
MALABANAN, Respondents. entity who had a legal or equitable interest or claim on the
same lot until the time they were requesting that the lot be
DECISION declared for tax purposes. They found out that the lot was the
subject of a land registration proceeding that had already been
PERALTA, J.: decided by the same court4 where their complaint was filed.
They also found out that Decree No. N-217313, LRC Record
This is a Petition for Review on Certiorari under Rule 45 of the No. N-62686, was already issued on August 20, 1997 to the
Rules of Court, seeking to reverse and set aside the petitioner pursuant to the Decision dated June 7, 1994 of the
decision1 dated February 28, 2006 of the Court of Appeals same court. They averred that they were not notified of the
(CA) in CA-G.R. CV No. 67417, which dismissed the appeal of said land registration case; thus, they claimed the presence of
petitioner Eland Philippines, Inc. and affirmed the Resolutions misrepresentation amounting to actual or extrinsic fraud. Thus,
dated November 3, 1999 and June 28, 2006 of Branch 18, they argued that they were also entitled to a writ of preliminary
Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Tagaytay City. injunction in order to restrain or enjoin petitioner, its privies,
agents, representatives, and all other persons acting on its
The facts of the case, as shown in the records, are the behalf, to refrain from committing acts of dispossession on the
following: subject lot.

Respondents Azucena Garcia, Elino Fajardo, and Teresa Summons, together with a copy of the complaint, were served
Malabanan, the heir of Tiburcio Malabanan, filed a on the petitioner on April 7, 1998. On April 29, 1998, petitioner
Complaint2 dated March 2, 1998 for Quieting of Title with Writ filed an Entry of Appearance with Motion for Extension of
of Preliminary Injunction with the RTC, Branch XVIII, Tagaytay Time,5 which the trial court granted6 for a period of ten (10)
City against petitioner Eland Philippines, Inc. Respondents days within which to file a responsive pleading. Petitioner filed
claimed that they are the owners, in fee simple title, of a parcel a Second Motion for Extension of Time to File Answer7 dated
of land identified as Lot 9250 Cad-355, Tagaytay Cadastre, April 29, 1998, which the trial court likewise granted.8
Plan Ap-04-008367, situated in Barangay Iruhin, Tagaytay
City, containing an area of Two Hundred Forty-Four Thousand Thereafter, petitioner filed a Motion to Dismiss9 dated May 9,
One Hundred Twelve (244,112) square meters, by occupation 1998, stating that the pleading asserting the claim of
respondents stated no cause of action, and that the latter were 1998 Petitioner Eland filed its Comment (on Plaintiff's Motion
not entitled to the issuance of a writ of preliminary injunction, to Declare Defendant Eland in Default)20dated December 2,
setting the same for hearing on May 21, 1998. On the date of 1998, while respondents filed a Reply to Comment (on
the hearing, the trial court issued an Order,10 which granted Plaintiff's Motion to Declare Defendant Eland in
the respondents ten (10) days from that day to file a comment, Default)21 dated December 29, 1998. Thereafter, the trial court
and set the date of the hearing on July 23, 1998. Respondents issued an Order22 dated January 11, 1999 declaring the
filed a Motion to Admit Comment/Opposition to Defendant petitioner in default and allowed the respondents to present
Eland,11 together with the corresponding evidence ex parte. Petitioner filed a Motion for
Comment/Opposition12 dated June 8, 1998. Reconsideration (of the Order dated 11 January 1999)23 dated
February 5, 1999 on the trial court's denial of its motion to
On the scheduled hearing of September 23, 1998, the trial dismiss and in declaring it in default. The trial court in an
court issued an Order,13 considering the Motion to Dismiss Order24 dated March 18, 1999, denied the former and granted
submitted for resolution due to the non-appearance of the the latter. In the same Order, the trial court admitted
parties and their respective counsels. The said motion was petitioner's Answer Ad Cautelam.
eventually denied by the trial court in an Order14 dated
September 25, 1998, ruling that the allegations in the Earlier, petitioner filed its Answer Ad Cautelam (With
complaint established a cause of action and enjoined Compulsory Counterclaim)25 dated November 12, 1998.
petitioner Eland to file its answer to the complaint within ten Respondents countered by filing a Motion to Expunge Eland's
(10) days from receipt of the same. Petitioner then filed two Answer from the Records26 dated December 2, 1998.
Motions for Extension to File an Answer.15 Petitioner filed its Opposition (to Plaintiff's Motion to Expunge
Eland's Answer from the Records)27 dated December 21,
Petitioner, on November 9, 1998, filed a Motion for 1998, as well as a Comment (on Plaintiff's Motion to Expunge
Reconsideration16 of the trial court's Order dated September Eland's Answer from the Records)28 dated January 26, 1999.
25, 1998, denying the former's Motion to Dismiss. Again,
petitioner filed a Motion for Final Extension of Time to File Consequently, respondents filed a Motion to Set Presentation
Answer17 dated November 6, 1998. Respondents filed their of Evidence Ex Parte29 dated January 18, 1999, which was
Comment/Opposition to Motion for Reconsideration dated granted in an Order30 dated January 22, 1999.
November 24, 1998. Subsequently, the trial court denied
petitioner's motion for reconsideration in an Order18dated On January 28, 1999, respondents presented their evidence
January 11, 1999. before the Clerk of Court of the trial court which ended on
February 3, 1999; and, on February 10, 1999, respondents
Meanwhile, respondents filed a Motion to Declare Defendant filed their Formal Offer of Evidence.31 However, petitioner filed
Eland in Default19 dated November 17, 1998. On December 4, an Urgent Motion to Suspend Plaintiff's Ex Parte Presentation
of Evidence32 dated February 8, 1999. In that regard, the trial Resolution44 dated November 3, 1999, the trial court found
court issued an Order33 dated February 11, 1999 directing the favor on the respondents. The dispositive portion of the
Clerk of Court to suspend the proceedings. Resolution reads:

On May 14, 1999, respondents filed a Motion for WHEREFORE, premises considered, the motion for summary
Clarification34 as to whether or not the evidence presented ex judgment is hereby GRANTED and it is hereby adjudged that:
parte was nullified by the admission of petitioner's Answer Ad
Cautelam. Petitioner filed its Comment35 dated May 13, 1999 1. Plaintiffs are the absolute owners and rightful
on the said motion for clarification. possessors of Lot 9250, CAD-355, Tagaytay Cadastre,
subject to the rights of occupancy of the farm workers
A pre-trial conference was scheduled on May 27, 1999, on the one-third area thereof;
wherein the parties submitted their pre-trial briefs.36However,
petitioner filed a Motion to Suspend Proceedings37 dated May 2. The Judgment dated June 7, 1994 in Land
24, 1999 on the ground that the same petitioner had filed a Registration Case No. TG-423 is set aside and the
petition for certiorari with the CA, asking for the nullification of Decree No. N-217313, LRC Record No. N-62686 dated
the Order dated March 18, 1999 of the trial court and for the August 20, 1997 is null and void;
affirmation of its earlier Order denying petitioner's Motion to
Dismiss. The petition for certiorari was subsequently denied; 3. The Original Transfer Certificate of Title is ordered to
and a copy of the Resolution38 dated June 14, 1999 was be canceled, as well as tax declaration covering Lot
received by the trial court. Hence, in an Order39 dated July 7, 9250, Cad-355.
1999, the trial court ruled that the reception of evidence
already presented by the respondents before the Clerk of SO ORDERED.
Court remained as part of the records of the case, and that the
petitioner had the right to cross-examine the witness and to Petitioner appealed the Resolution of the trial court with the
comment on the documentary exhibits already presented. CA, which dismissed it in a Decision dated February 28, 2006,
Consequently, petitioner filed a Motion for which reads:
Reconsideration40 dated July 19, 1999, but it was denied by
the trial court in an Omnibus Order41 dated September 14,
WHEREFORE, for lack of merit, the appeal is DISMISSED.
1999.
The assailed Resolution dated November 3, 1999, of the RTC,
Branch 18, Tagaytay City, in Civil Case No. TG-1784, is
Eventually, respondents filed a Motion for Summary AFFIRMED. No pronouncement as to cost.
Judgment42 dated August 5, 1999, while petitioner filed its
Opposition43 to the Motion dated August 31, 1999. In its
SO ORDERED.
Hence, the present petition. RESPONDENTS' WITNESSES TAKEN WITHOUT
GRANTING HEREIN PETITIONER THE RIGHT TO
The grounds relied upon by the petitioner are the following: CROSS-EXAMINE AND UPON DOCUMENTARY
EXHIBITS PRESENTED BUT NOT ADMITTED AS
5.1 THE COURT OF APPEALS ACTED IN A MANNER EVIDENCE.
NOT IN ACCORD WITH LAW AND WITH THE
APPLICABLE DECISIONS OF THIS HONORABLE 5.5 THE COURT OF APPEALS ACTED IN A MANNER
COURT WHEN IT RULED THAT RESPONDENTS' NOT IN ACCORD WITH LAW AND WITH THE
MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT DATED APPLICABLE DECISIONS OF THIS HONORABLE
AUGUST 05, 1999 DID NOT VIOLATE THE TEN (10)- COURT WHEN IT UPHELD THE RESOLUTION
DAY NOTICE RULE UNDER SECTION 3, RULE 35 DATED NOVEMBER 03, 1999 OF THE COURT A
OF THE 1997 RULES OF CIVIL PROCEDURE. QUO BASED ON FALSIFIED "EVIDENCE."

5.2 THE COURT OF APPEALS ACTED IN A MANNER 5.6 THE COURT OF APPEALS ACTED IN A MANNER
NOT IN ACCORD WITH LAW AND WITH THE NOT IN ACCORD WITH LAW AND WITH THE
APPLICABLE DECISIONS OF THIS HONORABLE APPLICABLE DECISIONS OF THIS HONORABLE
COURT WHEN IT RULED THAT A MOTION FOR COURT WHEN IT FAILED TO RULE THAT THE
SUMMARY JUDGMENT IS PROPER IN AN ACTION COURT A QUO PATENTLY DEPRIVED PETITIONER
FOR QUIETING OF TITLE. OF ITS RIGHT TO DUE PROCESS IN RENDERING
ITS SUMMARY JUDGMENT.
5.3 THE COURT OF APPEALS ACTED IN A MANNER
NOT IN ACCORD WITH LAW AND WITH THE 5.7 THE COURT OF APPEALS ACTED IN A MANNER
APPLICABLE DECISIONS OF THIS HONORABLE NOT IN ACCORD WITH LAW AND WITH THE
COURT WHEN IT RULED THAT THERE ARE NO APPLICABLE DECISIONS OF THIS HONORABLE
GENUINE FACTUAL AND TRIABLE ISSUES IN CIVIL COURT WHEN IT HELD THAT THE COURT A QUO
CASE NO. TG-1784. HAS JURISDICTION TO CANCEL PETITIONER'S
ORIGINAL CERTIFICATE OF TITLE (OCT) NO. 0-660
5.4 THE COURT OF APPEALS ACTED IN A MANNER IN AN ACTION TO QUIET TITLE.
NOT IN ACCORD WITH LAW AND WITH THE
APPLICABLE DECISIONS OF THIS HONORABLE According to the petitioner, a motion for summary judgment
COURT WHEN IT UPHELD THE RESOLUTION must be served at least ten (10) days before the date set for
DATED NOVEMBER 03, 1999 OF THE COURT A hearing thereof, and that a hearing must be held to hear the
QUO, BASED ON TESTIMONIES OF parties on the propriety of a summary judgment, per Sec. 3 of
Rule 35 of the Revised Rules of Court, which was not Respondents, in their Comment45 dated October 16, 2006,
observed because the petitioner received a copy of the countered the first issue raised by the petitioner, stating that
respondents' motion for summary judgment only on August 20, their filing of the motion for summary judgment fourteen (14)
1999, or the very same day that the motion was set for days before the requested hearing of the same motion was in
hearing. Petitioner further claims that the trial court never compliance with Sec. 3, Rule 35 of the Rules of Court.
conducted any hearing on the motion for summary judgment.
As to the second and third issues, respondents argued that
Petitioner also argued that a summary judgment is only petitioner had a constricted perception of the coverage of the
available to a claimant seeking to recover upon a claim, Rules of Summary Judgment, and that the latter's citation of
counterclaim or cross-claim or to obtain a declaratory relief, cases decided by this Court showed the diverse causes of
and does not include cases for quieting of title. Furthermore, action that could be the subject matters of summary judgment.
petitioner also averred that a summary judgment has no place Respondents also posited that petitioner's statements in its
in a case where genuine factual and triable issues exist, like in Answer Ad Cautelam, although denominated as Specific
the present case. It added that the genuine and triable issues Denial, were really general denials that did not comply with the
were all raised in its Answer Ad Cautelam. provisions of Section 10, Rule 8 of the Rules of Court.

Another ground relied upon by petitioner is its failure to cross- Anent the fourth and fifth issues, respondents claimed that
examine the witnesses for the respondents without fault on its despite the opportunity, or the right allowed in the Order dated
part. It also stated that the trial court did not issue any order July 17, 1999 of the trial court, for the petitioner to cross-
admitting in evidence the documentary exhibits presented by examine respondents' witnesses and to comment on the
the respondents. Hence, according to the petitioner, the trial documentary evidence presented ex parte after the default
court gravely erred in relying upon the testimonies of the order against the same petitioner, the latter evasively moved
witnesses for the respondents, without having the latter cross- to set aside respondents' evidence in order to suspend further
examined; and upon the documentary exhibits presented but proceedings that were intended to abort the pre-trial
not admitted as evidence. conference. They added that petitioner neglected to avail itself
of, or to comply with, the prescription of the rules found in Rule
Petitioner further claimed that the trial court based its 35 of the Rules of Court by opting not to avail itself of the
Resolution dated November 3, 1999 on falsified evidence. hearing of its opposition to the summary judgment after
receiving the Order dated August 20, 1999; by failing to serve
Lastly, petitioner raised the issue that by rendering summary opposing affidavit, deposition or admission in the records; and
judgment, the trial court deprived the former of its right to due by not objecting to the decretal portion of the said Order dated
process. August 20, 1999, which stated that the motion for summary
judgment has been submitted for resolution without further
argument. With regard to the contention of the petitioner that SEC. 3. Motion and proceedings thereon. - The motion shall
the trial court wrongly appreciated falsified evidence, be served at least ten (10) days before the time specified for
respondents asserted that petitioner's counsel failed to study the hearing. The adverse party prior to the day of hearing may
carefully the records of the proceedings for the presentation of serve opposing affidavits. After the hearing, the judgment
the evidence ex parte to be able to know that it was not only a sought shall be rendered forthwith if the pleading, depositions,
single-day proceeding, and that more than one witness had and admissions on file together with the affidavits, show that,
been presented. They further averred that the trial court did except as to the amount of damages, there is no genuine
not only rely on the photographs of the houses of the issue as to any material fact and that the moving party is
occupants of the property in question. entitled to a judgment as a matter of law.46

Finally, as to the sixth and seventh issues, respondents In the present case, it was the respondents who moved for a
asseverated that their complaint alleged joint causes of action summary judgment.
for quieting of title under Art. 476 of the New Civil Code and for
the review of the decree of registration pursuant to Sec. 32 of Petitioner contended that the ten-day notice rule was violated,
the Property Registration Decree or P.D. No. 1529, because because the copy of the motion for summary judgment was
they are complimentary with each other. served only on August 20, 1999 or on the same day it was set
for hearing. It also added that even if the petitioner received a
The petition is impressed with merit. copy of the motion only on August 20, 1999, there was no
hearing conducted on that date because the trial court issued
The basic contention that must be resolved by this Court is the an order giving petitioner 10 days within which to file its
propriety of the summary judgment in this particular case of comment or opposition.
quieting of title.
The above specific contention, however, is misguided. The CA
Rule 35 of the 1997 Rules of Civil Procedure provides: was correct in its observation that there was substantial
compliance with due process. The CA ruled, as the records
SEC. 1. Summary judgment for claimant. - A party seeking to show, that the ten-day notice rule was substantially complied
recover upon a claim, counterclaim, or cross-claim or to obtain with because when the respondents filed the motion for
a declaratory relief may, at any time after the pleading in summary judgment on August 9, 1999, they furnished
answer thereto has been served, move with supporting petitioner with a copy thereof on the same day as shown in the
affidavits for a summary judgment in his favor upon all or any registry receipt and that the motion was set for hearing on
part thereof August 20, 1999, or 10 days from the date of the filing thereof.
Due process, a constitutional precept, does not, therefore, In their motion for summary judgment, the respondents failed
always and in all situations a trial-type proceeding. The to clearly demonstrate the absence of any genuine issue of
essence of due process is found in the reasonable opportunity fact. They merely reiterated their averments in the complaint
to be heard and submit one's evidence in support of his for quieting of title and opposed some issues raised by the
defense. What the law prohibits is not merely the absence of petitioner in its Answer Ad Cautelam, to wit:
previous notice, but the absence thereof and the lack of
opportunity to be heard.47 Nonetheless, going by the records of the admitted and
uncontroverted facts and facts established there is no more
Petitioner further argues that summary judgment is not proper litigious or genuine issue of basic fact to be the subject of
in an action for quieting of title. This particular argument, further trial on the merits.
however, is misplaced. This Court has already ruled that any
action can be the subject of a summary judgment with the sole The first defense as to the identity of the subject property, the
exception of actions for annulment of marriage or declaration issue has already become nil because of not only the lack of
of its nullity or for legal separation.48 seriousness in the allegations but also because the identity of
the subject parcel of land Lot 9250 was proven by the
Proceeding to the main issue, this Court finds that the grant of approved plan Ap-04-008367 that was already presented and
summary judgment was not proper. A summary judgment is offered in evidence as Exhibit "B" for the plaintiffs.
permitted only if there is no genuine issue as to any material
fact and a moving party is entitled to a judgment as a matter of The second defense that plaintiffs' claim of the property is
law. A summary judgment is proper if, while the pleadings on barred by prior judgment rule is unavailing considering that the
their face appear to raise issues, the affidavits, depositions, vital documentary evidence they presented in Land
and admissions presented by the moving party show that such Registration Case No. TG-423 before this Honorable Court the
issues are not genuine.49 markings and descriptions of such documents are stated in the
Judgment quoted as follows:
It must be remembered that the non-existence of a genuine
issue is the determining factor in granting a motion for (1) Tax Declaration No. 015224-A (Exhibit "Q"; x x x.
summary judgment, and the movant has the burden of
proving such nonexistence. The trial court found no genuine (2) Tax Declaration No. 05019-B (Exhibit "R"; x x x.
issue as to any material fact that would necessitate conducting
a full-blown trial. However, a careful study of the case shows (3) Tax Declaration No. 01926-B (Exhibit "S"; x x x.
otherwise.
(4) Tax Declaration No. GR-007-0007 (Exhibit "T" x x x.
are the very documentary evidence adopted and relied upon plaintiffs' complaint is barred by the Statute of Limitation since
by the plaintiffs in seeking the review and nullity of the Decree Original Certificate of Title No. 0-660 has become
No. 217313 issued on August 20, 1997 under LRC Record No. incontrovertible.
N-62686 pursuant to the Judgment dated June 7, 1994
rendered by this Honorable Court penned by the acting Cross-reference of the above-cited Land Registration Case
presiding Judge Eleuterio F. Guerrero in said Land No. TG-423 that was decided previously by this Court with the
Registration Case No. TG-423. case at bench was imperatively made by this Court. Being
minded that the Court has and can take judicial notice of the
On the other hand, as to the gravamen of the claims in the said land registration case, this Court observed that there is no
complaint, the plaintiffs have presented clear and convincing genuine issue of fact to be tried on the merits. Firstly, because
evidence as the well-nigh or almost incontrovertible evidence the supposed identity crisis of the controverted parcel of land
of a registerable title to the subject land in the proceedings covered by the Land Registration Case No. TG-423 with the
conducted on the reception of evidence ex-parte for the subject parcel of land is established by Plan Ap-04-006275
plaintiffs establishing in detail the specifications of continuous, (Exhibit "N") LRC Case No. 423 and by Plan A04 008367
open, exclusive possession as aspects of acquisitive (Exhibit "B" of the plaintiffs) and the Technical Description of
prescription as confirmed in the affidavit herein attached as Lot 9250, Cad 355 (Exhibit "B-1" of the plaintiffs). Secondly,
Annex "A"; the prior judgment rule cannot be availed of by defendant
Eland since not only intrinsic fraud but extrinsic fraud were
In ruling that there was indeed no genuine issue involved, the alleged in and established by the records. (Heirs of Manuel
trial court merely stated that: Roxas v. Court of Appeals, G. R. No. 1184436, pro. March 21,
1997). Thirdly, it is incontrovertible that the complaint in this
This Court, going by the records, observed keenly that case seeking to review the judgment and annul the decree
plaintiffs’ cause of action for quieting of title on the disputed was filed on March 5, 1998 or within one (1) year from August
parcel of land is based on the alleged fraud in the 20, 1997 or the date of issuance of Decree No. 217313, LRC
substitution of their landholdings of Lot 9250, Cad 355, Record No. N-62686, hence, the Original Certificate of Title
Tagaytay Cadastre containing only an area of 244,112 square No. 0-660 issued to defendant Eland has not attained
meters with Lot 9121, Cad 335, Tagaytay Cadastre, containing incontrovertibility. (Heirs of Manuel Roxas v. Court of Appeals,
only an area of 19,356 square meters. While defendant Eland G.R. No. 118436, prom. March 21, 1997).
in its answer practically and mainly interposed the defenses of:
(a) the parcel of land being claimed by the plaintiffs is not the Notwithstanding, the issue of possession is a question of
parcel of land subject matter of Land Registration Case No. fact by the interaction of the basic pleadings, the
TG-423; (b) the claim of the plaintiffs is barred by prior observation of this Court is that the plaintiffs were able to
judgment of this Court in said Land Registration Case; and (c) prove by the well-nigh incontrovertible evidence, the aspects
of possession in accordance with Section 48 (b) of judicial knowledge of the court, summary judgment may be
Commonwealth Act 141, as amended, as hereinafter granted as a matter of right.
illustrated.
On the contrary, in petitioner's Answer Ad Cautelam, genuine,
The CA, in affirming the above Resolution of the trial court, factual and triable issues were raised, aside from specifically
propounded thus: denying all the allegations in the complaint, thus:

The contention of defendant-appellant is untenable. Summary 2. SPECIFIC DENIALS


judgment is not only limited to solving actions involving money
claims. Under Rule 35 of the 1997 Rules of Court, except as to 2.1 Answering defendant specifically denies the
the amount of damages, when there is no genuine issue as to allegations contained in paragraphs 1 and 3 of the
any material fact and the moving party is entitled to a judgment Complaint insofar as it alleges the personal
as a matter of law, summary judgment may be allowed. The circumstances of the plaintiff and one A. F.
term "genuine issue" has been defined as an issue of fact Development Corporation for lack of knowledge or
which calls for the presentation of evidence as distinguished information sufficient to form a belief as to the truth
from an issue which is sham, fictitious, contrived, set up in bad thereof.
faith and patently unsubstantial so as not to constitute a
genuine issue for trial. 2.2 Answering defendant specifically denies the
allegations contained in paragraphs 4, 5, 6 and 7 of the
Thus, under the aforecited rule, summary judgment is Complaint for lack of knowledge or information
appropriate when there are no genuine issues of fact, which sufficient to form a belief as to the truth of said
call for the presentation of evidence in a full-blown trial. Thus, allegations. And if the property referred to in said
even if on their face the pleadings appear to raise issues, but paragraphs is that parcel of land which was the subject
when the affidavits, depositions and admissions show that matter of Land Registration Case No. TG-423 which
such issues are not genuine, then summary judgment as was previously decided by this Honorable Court with
prescribed by the rules must ensue as a matter of law. finality, said allegations are likewise specifically denied
for the obvious reason that the said property had
It should be stressed that the court a quo which rendered the already been adjudged with finality by no less than this
assailed resolution in Civil Case No. TG-1784 was the very Honorable Court as absolutely owned by herein
court that decided the LRC Case No. TG-423. Such being the answering defendant as will be further discussed
case, the court a quo was privy to all relevant facts and rulings hereunder.
pertaining to LRC Case No. TG-423 which it considered and
applied to this case. Thus, where all the facts are within the
2.3 Answering defendant specifically denies the 2.5 Answering defendant specifically denies the
allegations contained in paragraph 8 of the Complaint allegations contained in paragraph 12 of the Complaint
insofar as it alleged that "(u)pon exercise of further for the obvious reason that it was the plaintiffs who
circumspection, counsel for the plaintiffs once followed- appear to have been sleeping on their rights
up in writing the 1994 request of the plaintiffs to have considering that up to the present they still do not have
the subject parcel of land be declared for taxation any certificate of title covering the parcel of land they
purposes" and insofar as it is made to appear that are claiming in the instant case, while on the part of
parcel of land being claimed by the plaintiffs is the herein defendant, no less than the Honorable Court
same parcel of land subject matter of Land Registration had adjudged with finality that the parcel of land subject
Case No. TG-423 for lack of knowledge or information matter of Land Registration Case No. TG-423 is
sufficient to form a belief as to the truth thereof and for absolutely owned by herein defendant.
the reason that the names of the herein plaintiffs were
never mentioned during the entire proceedings in said 2.6 Answering defendant specifically denies the
land registration case and by reason of the Affirmative allegations contained in paragraph 13 of the complaint
Allegations contained hereunder. for the reason that defendant has never ladgrabbed
any parcel of land belonging to others, much less from
2.4 Answering defendant specifically denies the the plaintiffs, and further, answering defendant
allegations contained in paragraphs 9, 10, 10 (a), 10 specifically denies the allegations therein that plaintiffs
(b), 10 (c), 10 (d), 10 (e), 10 (f), 10 (g), 10 (h), and 11 engaged the services of a lawyer for a fee for lack of
for the reason that there is no showing that the parcel knowledge r information sufficient to form a belief as to
of land being claimed by the plaintiff is the same parcel the truth thereof.
of land which was the subject matter of Land
Registration Case No. TG- 423, and in the remote 2.7 Answering defendant specifically denies the
possibility that the parcel of land being claimed by the allegations contained in paragraphs 14, 15, 16, 17 and
plaintiffs is the same as that parcel of land subject of 18 of the Complaint for lack of knowledge or
Land Registration Case No. TG-423, the allegations information sufficient to form a belief as the truth
contained in said paragraphs are still specifically thereof.
denied for the reason that no less than the Honorable
Court had decided with finality that the parcel of land is 2.8 Answering defendant specifically denies the
absolutely owned by herein defendant to the exclusion allegations contained in paragraphs IV (a) to IV (c) for
of all other persons as attested to by the subsequent the reason that, as above-stated, if the parcel of land
issuance of an Original Certificate of Title in favor of being claimed by the plaintiffs is the same as that
answering defendant and for reasons stated in the parcel of land subject matter of Land Registration Case
Affirmative Allegations.
No. TG-423, this Honorable Court had already decided a collateral of OCT No. 0-660 which is not permissible
with finality that said parcel of land is absolutely owned under the law.
by herein answering defendant and additionally, for
those reasons stated in defendant's Motion to Dismiss. 4.4 Plaintiffs are barred by their own acts and/or
omission from filing the present complaint under the
2.9 Answering defendant specifically denies the principles of estoppel and laches.
allegations contained in paragraph IV (d) of the
Complaint for lack of knowledge or information 4.5 Plaintiffs does not to the Court with clean hands as
sufficient to form a belief as to the truth thereof. they appear to be well aware of the proceedings in said
Land Registration Case No. TG- 423 and inspite of
Special and affirmative defenses were also raised in such knowledge, plaintiffs never bothered to present
the same Answer Ad Cautelam, to wit: their alleged claims in the proceedings.

xxxx 4.6 Answering defendant has always acted with justice,


given everyone his due, and observed honesty and
4.1 The pleading asserting the claim of the plaintiff good faith in his dealings.
states no cause of action as asserted in the Motion To
Dismiss filed by herein answering defendant and for Clearly, the facts pleaded by the respondents in their motion
the reason that there is no evidence whatsoever for summary judgment have been duly disputed and contested
showing or attesting to the fact that the parcel of land by petitioner, raising genuine issues that must be resolved
being claimed by the plaintiffs in the Complaint is the only after a full-blown trial. When the facts as pleaded by the
same parcel of land which was the subject matter of parties are disputed or contested, proceedings for summary
Land Registration Case No. TG-423. judgment cannot take the place of trial.50 In the present case,
the petitioner was able to point out the genuine issues. A
4.2 The complaint was barred by the prior judgment "genuine issue" is an issue of fact that requires the
rendered by this Honorable in Land Registration Case presentation of evidence as distinguished from a sham,
No. TG-423. fictitious, contrived or false claim.51

4.3 The complaint is barred by the Statute of Limitation It is of utmost importance to remember that petitioner is
in that OCT No. 0-660 had become incontrovertible by already the registered owner (Original Certificate of Title [OCT]
virtue of the Torrens System of Registration; and to No. 0-660 issued by the Register of Deeds) of the parcel of
allow plaintiffs to question the validity of answering land in question, pursuant to a decree of registration (Decree
defendant's title through the instant complaint would be No. N-217313, LRC Record No. 62686) based on the ruling of
the same court that granted the summary judgment for the pursuant to the provisions of the Land Registration Law, as
quieting of title. amended, inspite of the opposition filed by the Heirs of the late
Doroteo Miranda. Hence, the grant of applicant's petition
Incidentally, the findings of the trial court contained in the appears to be inevitable.
disputed summary judgment were obtained through judicial
notice of the facts and rulings pertaining to that earlier case WHEREFORE, this Court hereby approves the instant petition
(LRC Case No. TG-423) wherein the same trial court ruled in for land registration and, thus, places under the operation of
favor of the petitioner. It is, therefore, disorienting that the Act 141, Act 496 and/or P.D. 1529, otherwise known as the
same trial court reversed its earlier ruling, which categorically Property Registration Law, the land described in Plan Ap-04-
stated that: 006275 and containing an area of Two Hundred Forty-Two
Thousand Seven Hundred Ninety-Four (242,794) square
x x x There is overwhelming evidence or proof on record that meters, as supported by its technical description now forming
the vendors listed in Exhibit "HH," with submarkings, are the part of the record of this case, in addition to other proofs
previous owners of the parcel of land mentioned in the same adduced in the name of the applicant, ELAND PHILIPPINES,
deed of sale and aside form the tax declarations covering the INC., with principal office at No. 43 E. Rodriguez Ave. (España
same property (Exhibits "Q" to "T," inclusive), the Extension), Quezon City, Metro Manila.
uncontroverted testimony of Atty. Ruben Roxas establishes
beyond any shadow of doubt that applicant's (referring to Once this decision becomes final and executory, the
herein defendant-appellant) sellers/predecessors-in-interest corresponding decree of registration shall forthwith issue.
are the grandchildren, great grandchildren and great great
grandchildren of the spouses Lucio Petate and Maria Pobleta SO ORDERED.
Petate, the former owners of the same property, whose
ownership is further bolstered by tax receipts showing By granting the summary judgment, the trial court has in effect
payments of realty taxes (Exhibits "U" to "GG," inclusive, with annulled its former ruling based on a claim of possession and
submarkings). ownership of the same land for more than thirty years without
the benefit of a full-blown trial. The fact that the respondents
xxx seek to nullify the original certificate of title issued to the
petitioner on the claim that the former were in possession of
On the basis of the foregoing facts and circumstances, and the same land for a number of years, is already a
considering that applicant is a domestic corporation not clear indicium that a genuine issue of a material fact exists.
otherwise disqualified from owning real properties in the This, together with the failure of the respondents to show that
Philippines, this Court finds that applicant has satisfied all the there were no genuine issues involved, should have been
conditions/requirements essential to the grant of its application enough for the trial court to give the motion for summary
judgment, filed by respondents, scant consideration. Trial Under Article 476 of the New Civil Code, the remedy may be
courts have limited authority to render summary judgments availed of only when, by reason of any instrument, record,
and may do so only when there is clearly no genuine issue as claim, encumbrance or proceeding, which appears valid but is,
to any material fact.52 in fact, invalid, ineffective, voidable, or unenforceable, a cloud
is thereby cast on the complainant’s title to real property or any
Based on the foregoing, this Court deems it necessary to interest therein. The codal provision reads:
delve briefly on the nature of the action of quieting of title as
applied in this case. This Court's ruling in Calacala, et al. v. Article 476. Whenever there is a cloud on title to real property
Republic, et al.53 is instructive on this matter, thus: or any interest therein, by reason of any instrument, record,
claim, encumbrance or proceeding which is apparently valid or
To begin with, it bears emphasis that an action for quieting of effective but is in truth and in fact invalid, ineffective, voidable,
title is essentially a common law remedy grounded on equity. or unenforceable, and may be prejudicial to said title, an action
As we held in Baricuatro, Jr. vs. CA:54 may be brought to remove such cloud or to quiet the title.

Regarding the nature of the action filed before the trial court, An action may also be brought to prevent a cloud from being
quieting of title is a common law remedy for the removal of any cast upon title to real property or any interest therein.
cloud upon or doubt or uncertainty with respect to title to real
property. Originating in equity jurisprudence, its purpose is to In turn, Article 477 of the same Code identifies the party who
secure ‘x x x an adjudication that a claim of title to or an may bring an action to quiet title, thus:
interest in property, adverse to that of the complainant, is
invalid, so that the complainant and those claiming under him Article 477. The plaintiff must have legal or equitable title to, or
may be forever afterward free from any danger of hostile interest in the real property which is the subject-matter of the
claim.’ In an action for quieting of title, the competent court is action. He need not be in possession of said property.
tasked to determine the respective rights of the complainant
and other claimants, ‘x x x not only to place things in their It can thus be seen that for an action for quieting of title to
proper place, to make the one who has no rights to said prosper, the plaintiff must first have a legal, or, at least, an
immovable respect and not disturb the other, but also for the equitable title on the real property subject of the action and
benefit of both, so that he who has the right would see every that the alleged cloud on his title must be shown to be in fact
cloud of doubt over the property dissipated, and he could invalid. So it is that in Robles, et al. vs. CA,55 we ruled:
afterwards without fear introduce the improvements he may
desire, to use, and even to abuse the property as he deems It is essential for the plaintiff or complainant to have a legal title
best xxx. or an equitable title to or interest in the real property which is
the subject matter of the action. Also, the deed, claim,
encumbrance or proceeding that is being alleged as a cloud Section 32. Review of decree of registration; Innocent
on plaintiff’s title must be shown to be in fact invalid or purchaser for value. The decree of registration shall not be
inoperative despite its prima facie appearance of validity or reopened or revised by reason of absence, minority, or other
legal efficacy. disability of any person adversely affected thereby, nor by any
proceeding in any court for reversing judgments, subject,
Verily, for an action to quiet title to prosper, two (2) however, to the right of any person, including the government
indispensable requisites must concur, namely: (1) the plaintiff and the branches thereof, deprived of land or of any estate or
or complainant has a legal or an equitable title to or interest therein by such adjudication or confirmation of title
interest in the real property subject of the action; and (2) obtained by actual fraud, to file in the proper Court of First
the deed, claim, encumbrance, or proceeding claimed to Instance a petition for reopening and review of the decree of
be casting cloud on his title must be shown to be in fact registration not later than one year from and after the date of
invalid or inoperative despite its prima facie appearance the entry of such decree of registration, but in no case shall
of validity or legal efficacy. such petition be entertained by the court where an innocent
purchaser for value has acquired the land or an interest
Respondents, in their Complaint, claim that they have become therein, whose rights may be prejudiced. Whenever the phrase
the owners in fee-simple title of the subject land by occupation "innocent purchaser for value" or an equivalent phrase occurs
and possession under the provisions of Sec. 48 (b) of the in this Decree, it shall be deemed to include an innocent
Public Land Law or Commonwealth Act No. 141, as amended. lessee, mortgagee, or other encumbrancer for value.
Thus, it appears that the first requisite has been satisfied.
Anent the second requisite, respondents enumerated several Upon the expiration of said period of one year, the decree
facts that would tend to prove the invalidity of the claim of the of registration and the certificate of title issued shall
petitioner. All of these claims, which would correspond to the become incontrovertible. Any person aggrieved by such
two requisites for the quieting of title, are factual; and, as decree of registration in any case may pursue his remedy by
discussed earlier, the petitioner interposed its objections and action for damages against the applicant or any other persons
duly disputed the said claims, thus, presenting genuine issues responsible for the fraud.
that can only be resolved through a full-blown trial.
As borne out by the records and undisputed by the parties,
Anent the propriety of the filing of an action for the quieting of OCT No. 0-660 of petitioner was issued on August 29, 1997
title, the indefeasibility and incontrovertibility of the decree of pursuant to a Decree issued on August 20, 1997, while the
registration come into question. Under Sec. 32 of P.D. No. complaint for the quieting of title in Civil Case No. TG-1784
1529 or the Property Registration Decree: was filed and docketed on March 5, 1998; hence, applying the
above provisions, it would seem that the period of one (1) year
from the issuance of the decree of registration has not elapsed
for the review thereof. However, a closer examination of the A mere claim of ownership is not sufficient to avoid a
above provisions would clearly indicate that the action filed, certificate of title obtained under the Torrens system. An
which was for quieting of title, was not the proper remedy. important feature of a certificate of title is its finality. The
proceedings whereby such a title is obtained are directed
Courts may reopen proceedings already closed by final against all persons, known or unknown, whether actually
decision or decree when an application for review is filed by served with notice or not, and includes all who have an interest
the party aggrieved within one year from the issuance of the in the land. If they do not appear and oppose the registration
decree of registration.56 However, the basis of the aggrieved of their own estate or interest in the property in the name of
party must be anchored solely on actual fraud. Shedding light another, judgment is rendered against them by default, and, in
on the matter is a discussion presented in one of the the absence of fraud, such judgment is conclusive. If an
recognized textbooks on property registration,57 citing interest in the land will not by itself operate to vacate a decree
decisions of this Court, thus: of registration, a fortiori, fraud is not alone sufficient to do so.60

The right of a person deprived of land or of any estate or As further pointed out in the same book,61 the petition for
interest therein by adjudication or confirmation of title obtained review must be filed within one year from entry of the decree
by actual fraud is recognized by law as a valid and legal basis of registration. As written:
for reopening and revising a decree of registration.58 One of
the remedies available to him is a petition for review. To As long as a final decree has not been entered by the Land
avail of a petition for review, the following requisites must be Registration Authority and period of one year has not elapsed
satisfied: from the date of entry of such decree, the title is not finally
adjudicated and the decision in the registration case continues
(a) The petitioner must have an estate or interest in the to be under the control and sound discretion of the registration
land; court.62 After the lapse of said period, the decree becomes
incontrovertible and no longer subject to reopening or review.
(b) He must show actual fraud in the procurement of
the decree of registration; Section 32 provides that a petition for review of the decree
of registration may be filed "not later than one year from
(c) The petition must be filed within one year from the and after the date of entry of such decree of
issuance of the decree by the Land Registration registration." Giving this provision a literal interpretation, it
Authority; and may at first blush seem that the petition for review cannot be
presented until the final decree has been entered. However, it
(d) The property has not yet passed to an innocent has been ruled that the petition may be filed at any time
purchaser for value.59 after the rendition of the court's decision and before the
expiration of one year from the entry of the final decree of interest in the land before any final decree had been entered,
registration for, as noted in Rivera v. Moran,63 there can be the litigation was therefore in effect still pending and, in these
no possible reason requiring the complaining party to wait until circumstances, they can hardly be considered innocent
the final decree is entered before urging his claim for fraud. purchasers in good faith.671avvphi1

The one-year period stated in Sec. 32 within which a petition Where the petition for review of a decree of registration is filed
to re-open and review the decree of registration refers to the within the one-year period from entry of the decree, it is error
decree of registration described in Section 31, which decree is for the court to deny the petition without hearing the evidence
prepared and issued by the Land Registration Administrator.64 in support of the allegation of actual and extrinsic fraud upon
which the petition is predicated. The petitioner should be
The provision of Section 31 that every decree of registration afforded an opportunity to prove such allegation.68
shall bind the land, quiet title thereto, and be conclusive upon
and against all persons, including the national government, In the present case, the one-year period before the Torrens
and Sec. 32 that the decree shall not be reopened or revised title becomes indefeasible and incontrovertible has not yet
by reason of absence, minority or other disability or by any expired; thus, a review of the decree of registration would have
proceeding in court, save only in cases of actual fraud and been the appropriate remedy.
then only for one year from the entry of the decree, must be
understood as referring to final and unappealable decrees of Based on the above disquisitions, the other issues raised by
registration. A decision or, as it is sometimes called after entry, the petitioner are necessarily rendered inconsequential.
a decree of a registration court, does not become final and
unappealable until fifteen days after the interested parties WHEREFORE, the petition for review on certiorari of petitioner
have been notified of its entry, and during that period may be Eland Philippines, Inc. is hereby GRANTED, and the decision
set aside by the trial judge on motion for new trial, upon any of dated February 28, 2006 of the Court of Appeals (CA) in CA-
the grounds stated in the Rules of Court.65 An appeal from the G.R. CV No. 67417, which dismissed the appeal of petitioner
decision of the trial court prevents the judgment from Eland Philippines, Inc. and affirmed the resolutions dated
becoming final until that decree is affirmed by the judgment of November 3, 1999 and June 28, 2006 of Branch 18, RTC of
the appellate court.66 Tagaytay City, is hereby REVERSED and SET ASIDE.
Consequently, the resolutions dated November 3, 1999 and
A petition for review under Section 32 is a remedy June 28, 2006 of Branch 18, RTC of Tagaytay City in Civil
separate and distinct from a motion for new trial and the Case No. TG-1784 are hereby declared NULL and VOID.
right to the remedy is not affected by the denial of such a
motion irrespective of the grounds upon which it may SO ORDERED.
have been presented. Thus, where petitioners acquired their
G.R. No. 219500, August 09, 2017 On August 17, 2005, Mamerto, through his lawyer, sent a
letter to the Register of Deeds of Cebu informing the said
MAMERTO DY, Petitioner, v. MARIA LOURDES ROSELL office that his owner's duplicate copy of TCT No. T-24849 was
ALDEA, Respondent. never lost and that he never mortgaged his property to
anyone.4
DECISION
When Mamerto discovered that the subject land was being
MENDOZA, J.: fenced upon the instruction of respondent Maria Lourdes
Rosell Aldea (Lourdes), he immediately filed a complaint
This is a petition for review on certiorari seeking to reverse and against the latter before the barangay office of Minglanilla.
set aside the January 30, 2015 Decision1and July 1, 2015 Lourdes, however, failed to attend the hearing. A certificate to
Resolution2 of the Court of Appeals (CA) in CA-G.R. CV No. file action was subsequently issued.
03974, which nullified the November 18, 2009 Decision3 of the
Regional Trial Court, Branch 23, Cebu City (RTC) in Civil Case On September 16, 2005, Atty. Manolo D. Rubi, Deputy
No. CEB-31689. Register of Deeds, informed Nelson that TCT No. T-134753
covering the subject land was issued in Lourdes'
The Antecedents name.5 Mamerto insisted that he never executed any deed of
sale in favor of Lourdes and that the signature appearing on
Petitioner Mamerto Dy (Mamerto) is the owner of Lot 5158 the purported deed of sale was not his authentic signature.6
located in Vito, Minglanilla, Cebu, with an area of 6,738 square
meters, and covered by Transfer Certificate of Title (TCT) No. For her part, Lourdes countered that in 2004, a certain Mila
T-24849. Labang (Mila) was introduced to her by her aunt Luz
Aldea (Luz). Mila told her that several parcels of land in
In June 2005, Mamerto agreed to sell the subject land to his Minglanilla, including the subject land, were purportedly for
brothers Nelson Dy (Nelson) and Sancho Dy, Jr. (Sancho). He sale.7
asked them to secure copies of the tax declarations covering
the subject land from the Municipal Assessor's Office. Nelson After she visited the lots in Minglanilla, Lourdes signified her
found out that the subject land had gone through a series of intention to buy the subject land. Mila informed Lourdes that
anomalous transactions. The owner's duplicate copy of TCT the subject land was mortgaged to a certain Atty. Lim and
No.T-24849 was declared lost. As a result, a new owner's further told her that she should pay the loan secured by the
duplicate copy of the same TCT was issued and the subject mortgage. Thereafter, Mila introduced her to Fatima
land was subsequently mortgaged. Nadela (Fatima), who allegedly knew the owner of the subject
land and promised Lourdes that she would prepare the deed
of sale.8
reconstituted title issued in favor of the impostor was null and
On June 20, 2004, Lourdes met with the person impersonating void. Hence, the RTC nullified Lourdes' title as it was based on
Mamerto (the impostor) at a hotel in Cebu City. She gave the a void reconstituted title. It further opined that the contract of
impostor P1,010,700.00 as payment for the 3,369 square sale between Lourdes and the impostor was null and void
meter-portion of the subject land. Thereafter, they signed the because the latter did not have the right to transfer ownership
Deed of Sale9 in the presence of Mila, Fatima and Zenon of the subject land at the time it was delivered to Lourdes.
Aldea (Zenon), Lourdes' uncle. Afterwards, Lourdes, Fatima
and the impostor went to the office of Atty. Lim to pay the The trial court held that Lourdes could not be considered a
mortgage loan.10 buyer in good faith because she should have been suspicious
of the transaction which occurred at a hotel room and without
A few weeks thereafter, the impostor called Lourdes and any lawyer present. It noted that Lourdes gave her money to
insisted that she should buy the entire land for it would be the seller even if the owner's copy of the certificate of title was
difficult and expensive to subdivide the same. Lourdes agreed not handed to her; and that she decided to buy the remaining
and paid an additional P673,800.00. Lourdes and the impostor portion of the subject land when the price was reduced to
signed a second deed of sale. For the 6,738 square meter- P200.00 per square meter for the flimsy reason that it would
property, Lourdes paid an aggregate sum of P1,684,500.00.11 be hard for the seller to subdivide the subject land.

After weeks of waiting, Lourdes was informed by Fatima that Unconvinced, Lourdes elevated an appeal to the CA.
the impostor was dead and he had not given any money to
process the transfer of the subject land. Lourdes went to the The CA Ruling
Office of the Provincial Assessor to process the payment of
capital gains tax and the transfer of title in her name. In its assailed January 30, 2015 Decision, the CA reversed
Eventually, the Register of Deeds issued TCT No. T-134753 and set aside the RTC ruling. It declared that Lourdes was an
under her name.12 Consequently, Mamerto filed a complaint innocent purchaser for value. The appellate court ruled that a
for declaration of nullity of deed of sale and TCT No. T- person dealing with registered land is only charged with notice
134753, and recovery of real property with injunction and of the burdens on the property which are noted on the face of
damages. the register or the certificate of title. It observed that the only
annotation at the back of the title was that it was mortgaged to
The RTC Ruling Audie C. Uy (Uy).

In its November 18, 2009 Decision, the RTC ruled that The CA added that Lourdes exercised ordinary prudence
Mamerto had a better right over the subject land and was the because during the signing of the deed of sale, she asked for
rightful and lawful owner thereof. It found that Mamerto's an identification card and she was given a senior citizen's I.D.,
owner's duplicate copy was never lost, and so ruled that the showing that the person she was dealing with was "Mamerto
Dy." It stated that while it turned out that the I.D. exhibited by the identity of the vendor; that even though Fatima, Uy and the
the seller was fake and that the person claiming to be the purported overseers assured Lourdes that the person she was
owner of the land was a fraud, Lourdes could not be blamed dealing with was the real owner of the subject land, she should
for believing that she was dealing with the real owner of the have taken into consideration that these persons might have
land. The appellate court held that the confirmation of Fatima; been lying and that a possible syndicated sale might have
Engracia Mondrel and Rena Canio, the overseers of the been planned; that the impostor did not accompany her when
subject land; and Uy, the named mortgagee lead Lourdes to she visited the subject land; that she should have asked for
believe that she was dealing with the rightful owner. other documents to establish the identity of the seller; and that
the market value of the subject land ranges from P800.00 to
Aggrieved, Mamerto moved for reconsideration, but his motion P1,000.00, thus, Lourdes should have wondered why the
was denied by the CA in its July 1, 2015 Resolution. purchase price was inexpensive.

Hence, this petition. In her Comment,13 dated December 18, 2015, Lourdes
contends that she is an innocent purchaser for value; that
ISSUES while it may be true that an impostor had fraudulently acquired
a void reconstituted title over the subject land, such
(1) circumstance did not necessarily invalidate her own title; that a
WHETHER THE RECONSTITUTED TITLE, FROM WHICH valid transfer could issue from a void reconstituted title if an
TCT NO. T-134753 IN THE NAME OF LOURDES WAS innocent purchaser for value intervenes; and that where
DERIVED, IS VALID. innocent third persons rely on the correctness of the certificate
of title issued and acquire rights over the property, courts
cannot disregard such right and order the total cancellation of
(2) the certificate of title for that would impair public confidence in
WHETHER LOURDES IS AN INNOCENT PURCHASER FOR the certificate of title.
VALUE WHO IS ENTITLED TO THE APPLICATION OF THE
MIRROR DOCTRINE. In his Reply,14 dated April 8, 2016, Mamerto insists that
Lourdes' argument that a spurious deed can become the root
of a valid title when an innocent purchaser for value comes
(3) into the picture is not applicable where the real owner still
WHETHER MAMERTO HAS BETTER RIGHT OVER THE holds a valid and existing certificate of title; and that Lourdes
SUBJECT LAND. has met the impostor, thus, she should have inquired further
into the details of why the title was reconstituted.
Mamerto argues that the fact that the title was reconstituted
should have urged Lourdes to conduct further investigation on The Court's Ruling
must be complied with for an order for reconstitution to be
issued: (a) that the certificate of title had been lost or
The petition is meritorious. destroyed; (b) that the documents presented by petitioner are
sufficient and proper to warrant reconstitution of the lost or
When the Owner's Duplicate destroyed certificate of title; (c) that the petitioner is the
Certificate of Title has not been registered owner of the property or had an interest therein; (d)
lost, the reconstituted that the certificate of title was in force at the time it was lost
certificate is void and destroyed; and (e) that the description, area and
boundaries of the property are substantially the same as those
The governing law for judicial reconstitution of title is Republic contained in the lost or destroyed certificate of title. Verily, the
Act (R.A.) No. 26, Section 15 of which provides when reconstitution of a certificate of title denotes restoration in the
reconstitution of a title should be allowed: original form and condition of a lost or destroyed instrument
attesting the title of a person to a piece of land. The purpose of
Section 15. If the court, after hearing, finds that the documents the reconstitution of title is to have, after observing the
presented, as supported by parole evidence or otherwise, are procedures prescribed by law, the title reproduced in exactly
sufficient and proper to warrant the reconstitution of the lost or the same way it has been when the loss or destruction
destroyed certificate of title, and that petitioner is the occurred.15
registered owner of the property or has an interest
therein, that the said certificate of title was in force at the Indubitably, the fact of loss or destruction of the owner's
time it was lost or destroyed, and that the description, duplicate certificate of title is crucial in clothing the RTC with
area and boundaries of the property are substantially the jurisdiction over the judicial reconstitution proceedings.
same as those contained in the lost or destroyed In Spouses Paulino v. CA,16 the Court reiterated the rule that
certificate of title, an order of reconstitution shall be issued. when the owner's duplicate certificate of title was not actually
The clerk of court shall forward to the register of deeds a lost or destroyed, but is in fact in the possession of another
certified copy of said order and all the documents which, person, the reconstituted title is void because the court that
pursuant to said order, are to be used as the basis of the rendered the order of reconstitution had no jurisdiction over
reconstitution. If the court finds that there is no sufficient the subject matter of the case, viz.:
evidence or basis to justify the reconstitution, the petition shall
be dismissed, but such dismissal shall not preclude the right of As early as the case of Strait Times, Inc. v. CA, the Court has
the party or parties entitled thereto to file an application for held that when the owner's duplicate certificate of title has
confirmation of his or their title under the provisions of the not been lost, but is, in fact, in the possession of another
Land Registration Act. [Emphases supplied] person, then the reconstituted certificate is void, because
the court that rendered the decision had no
From the foregoing, it appears that the following requisites jurisdiction. Reconstitution can be validly made only in case
of loss of the original certificate. This rule was reiterated in the been in possession thereof. Moreover, it is beyond doubt that
cases of Villamayor v. Arante, Rexlon Realty Group, Inc. v. another person impersonated Mamerto and represented
[CA], Eastworld Motor Industries Corporation v. Skunac before the court that the owner's duplicate copy of TCT No. T-
Corporation, Rodriguez v. Lim, Villanueva v. 24829 was lost in order to secure a new copy which was
Viloria, and Camitan v. Fidelity Investment Corporation. Thus, consequently used to deceive Lourdes into purchasing the
with evidence that the original copy of the TCT was not lost subject land. Hence, the fact of loss or destruction of the
during the conflagration that hit the Quezon City Hall and that owner's duplicate certificate of title, which is the primordial
the owner's duplicate copy of the title was actually in the element in the validity of reconstitution proceedings, is clearly
possession of another, the RTC decision was null and void for missing. Accordingly, the RTC never acquired jurisdiction over
lack of jurisdiction. the reconstitution proceedings initiated by the impostor, and its
judgment rendered thereafter is null and void. This alone is
xxx xxx xxx sufficient to declare the reconstituted title null and void.

Only an innocent purchaser for


In reconstitution proceedings, the Court has repeatedly value may invoke the mirror
ruled that before jurisdiction over the case can be validly doctrine
acquired, it is a condition sine qua non that the certificate
of title has not been issued to another person. If a The real purpose of the Torrens system of registration is to
certificate of title has not been lost but is in fact in the quiet title to land and to put a stop to any question of legality of
possession of another person, the reconstituted title is the title except claims which have been recorded in the
void and the court rendering the decision has not certificate of title at the time of registration or which may arise
acquired jurisdiction over the petition for issuance of new subsequent thereto.18 As a consequence, the mirror doctrine
title. The courts simply have no jurisdiction over petitions by provides that every person dealing with registered land may
(such) third parties for reconstitution of allegedly lost or safely rely on the correctness of the certificate of title issued
destroyed titles over lands that are already covered by duly therefor and is in no way obliged to go beyond the certificate to
issued subsisting titles in the names of their duly registered determine the condition of the property.19
owners. The existence of a prior title ipso facto nullifies
the reconstitution proceedings. The proper recourse is to Every registered owner and every subsequent purchaser for
assail directly in a proceeding before the regional trial court the value in good faith holds the title to the property free from all
validity of the Torrens title already issued to the other encumbrances except those noted in the certificate.20 As such,
person.17 [Emphases supplied and citations omitted] a defective title, or one the procurement of which is tainted
with fraud and misrepresentation — may be the source of a
In this case, Mamerto asserted that he never lost his owner's completely legal and valid title, provided that the buyer is an
duplicate copy of TCT No. T-24829 and that he had always innocent third person who, in good faith, relied on the
correctness of the certificate of title, or an innocent purchaser faith does his homework and verifies that the particulars are in
for value.21 order — such as the title, the parties, the mode of transfer and
the provisions in the deed/contract of sale, to name a few. To
Thus, in order to resolve whether Lourdes holds an be more specific, such prudence can be shown by making an
indefeasible title to the subject land, it becomes necessary to ocular inspection of the property, checking the title/ownership
determine whether she is an innocent purchaser for value. with the proper Register of Deeds alongside the payment of
taxes therefor, or inquiring into the minutiae such as the
Lourdes cannot be considered a parameters or lot area, the type of ownership, and the capacity
purchaser in good faith of the seller to dispose of the property, which capacity
necessarily includes an inquiry into the civil status of the seller
In Nobleza v. Nuega,22 the Court defined an innocent to ensure that if married, marital consent is secured when
purchaser for value, to wit: necessary. In fine, for a purchaser of a property in the
possession of another to be in good faith, he must exercise
An innocent purchaser for value is one who buys the property due diligence, conduct an investigation, and weigh the
of another, without notice that some other person has a right surrounding facts and circumstances like what any prudent
or interest in the property, for which a full and fair price is paid man in a similar situation would do.23 [Emphases supplied and
by the buyer at the time of the purchase or before receipt of citations omitted]
any notice of claims or interest of some other person in the
property. It is the party who claims to be an innocent In the case at bench, Lourdes was deficient in her vigilance as
purchaser for value who has the burden of proving such buyer of the subject land.
assertion, and it is not enough to invoke the ordinary
presumption of good faith. To successfully invoke and be During cross-examination, Lourdes admitted that she did not
considered as a buyer in good faith, the presumption is that conduct a thorough investigation and that she merely
first and foremost, the "buyer in good faith" must have instructed her uncle to check with the Register of Deeds
shown prudence and due diligence in the exercise of whether the subject land is free from any
his/her rights. It presupposes that the buyer did everything 24
encumbrance. Further, it must be noted that Lourdes met the
that an ordinary person would do for the protection and seller only during the signing of the two deeds of sale.25 Yet,
defense of his/her rights and interests against prejudicial or she did not call into question why the seller refused to see her
injurious concerns when placed in such a situation. The during the negotiation. For sure, an ordinary prudent buyer of
prudence required of a buyer in good faith is not that of a real property who would be relinquishing a significant amount
person with training in law, but rather that of an average of money would want to meet the seller of the property and
man who 'weighs facts and circumstances without would exhaust all means to ensure that the seller is the real
resorting to the calibration of our technical rules of owner thereof.
evidence of which his knowledge is nil.' A buyer in good
Indeed, Lourdes conducted an ocular inspection of the subject
land. When she asked Engracia Mondrel, the overseer, if she Mamerto may recover the
knows the owner, Engracia affirmed that the property is owned subject land notwithstanding its
by a person named "Mamerto Dy." Noteworthy, however, is registration in Lourdes' name
Lourdes' admission that the seller was not present when she
talked to Engracia such that there was no way for the latter to While it is true that under Section 32 of Presidential Decree
ascertain whether she and Lourdes were talking about the No. 1529 the decree of registration becomes incontrovertible
same Mamerto Dy.26 after a year, it does not altogether deprive an aggrieved party
of a remedy in law. The acceptability of the Torrens System
Another circumstance indicating that Lourdes was not an would be impaired, if it is utilized to perpetuate fraud against
innocent purchaser for value was the gross undervaluation of the real owners.31
the property in the deeds of sale at the measly price of
P1,684,500.00 when the true market value was at least Furthermore, ownership is not the same as a certificate of title.
P5,390,400.00 for the entire property. Moreover, Lourdes Registering a piece of land under the Torrens System does not
initially decided to buy only half of the subject land or 3,369 create or vest title, because registration is not a mode of
square meters. When the impostor, however, insisted that she acquiring ownership.32 A certificate of title is merely an
should buy the remaining half just because it would be difficult evidence of ownership or title over the particular property
to divide the subject land, Lourdes readily acceded without described therein.33 The indefeasibility of the Torrens title
questioning why the seller was willing to sell at P200.00 per should not be used as a means to perpetrate fraud against the
square meter.27 rightful owner of real property. Good faith must concur with
registration, otherwise, registration would be an exercise in
Certainly, it was not enough for Lourdes to show that the futility. A Torrens title does not furnish a shield for fraud,
property was unfenced and vacant; otherwise, it would be too notwithstanding the long-standing rule that registration is a
easy for any registered owner to lose his property, including its constructive notice of title binding upon the whole world. The
possession, through illegal occupation.28 It was also imprudent legal principle is that if the registration of the land is fraudulent,
for her to simply rely on the face of the imposter's TCT the person in whose name the land is registered holds it as a
considering that she was aware that the said TCT was derived mere trustee.34
from a duplicate owner's copy reissued by virtue of the alleged
loss of the original duplicate owner's copy.29 That Hence, the fact that Lourdes was able to secure a title in her
circumstance should have already alerted her to the need to name neither operates to vest ownership upon her of the
inquire beyond the face of the impostor's TCT.30 subject land nor cures the void sale. Accordingly, the Court
deems it proper to restore Mamerto's rights of dominion over
In sum, the Court rules that Lourdes is not an innocent Lot 5158.
purchaser for value.
WHEREFORE, the January 30, 2015 Decision and July 1, This Court is unprepared to consider this case as
2015 Resolution of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. CV No. falling under any of the exceptions to the rule on
03974 are REVERSED and SET ASIDE. The November 18, exhaustion of administrative remedies because under
2009 Decision of the Regional Trial Court, Branch 23, Cebu plaintiffs allegations, her "Petition for Relief " is still
City in Civil Case No. CEB-31689 is hereby REINSTATED. pending resolution by the Secretary of Agriculture and
Natural Resources who may reconsider his action on
SO ORDERED. the matter in dispute; and, furthermore, an action for
annulment of title issued pursuant to a patent must be
initiated by the Director of Lands or at least by his prior
G.R. No. L-38387 January 29, 1990 authority and consent (Kabayan (sic) 1 vs. Republic, L-
33307, August 30, 1973) who may be directed by the
HILDA WALSTROM, petitioner-appellant, Secretary for that purpose if plaintiff's "Petition for
vs. Relief" is granted and the previous action reconsidered.
FERNANDO MAPA, JR., VICTORINO A. MAPA, MARIA C.M. The records fail to show that such authority or consent
DE GOCO, FERNANDO MAPA, III, MARIO L. MAPA, and has been secured by the plaintiff before instituting the
THE REGISTER OF DEEDS OF THE PROVINCE OF present action.
BENGUET, respondents-appellees.
A motion to dismiss of this nature does not affect the
Pelaez, Adriano & Gregrio for petitioner-appellant. jurisdiction of the court but shows that plaintiff lacks a
Tomas G. Mapa & Associates for private respondents. cause of action. (Commissioner of Immigration vs.
Vamenta, Jr., 45 SCRA 342.) In other words, non-
compliance with this requirement justifies the dismissal
for lack of cause of action. (Cruz vs. Del Rosario, 9
SCRA 755.)
SARMIENTO, J.:
WHEREFORE, the Court, finding the motion to dismiss
This is a review of the Order dated December 1, 1973 of the to be in order, hereby orders the dismissal of the case
then Court of First Instance of Baguio-Benguet, Branch IV, without pronouncement as to costs.
which dismissed, before trial on the merits, the petitioner's
complaint in Civil Case No. 2434. The concluding portion of SO ORDERED. 2
the assailed order states:
This drawn-out controversy between the parties, which is one (not surveyed) No improvements had been made on
of the many cases we inherited from the pre-EDSA Court, the land.
arose from the following facts and proceedings:
(5) On June l, 1956, Cacao Dianson filed Free Patent
I. Application No. 3-74 covering Lots Nos. 1, 2, and 3 of
Psu-153657, situated in Barrio Beckel, La Trinidad,
(1) The petitioner alleges that long before World War II, Mountain Province, and on the same date he filed with
Cacao Dianson, predecessor-in-interest of Gabriela the District Land Office in Baguio City a letter protesting
Walstrom, filed a Free Patent Application (FPA) for a the construction in April, 1956 by Josefa Abaya Mapa
parcel of land located between what are known as Lots of a camarin on the parcel of land (described as
Nos. 1 and 2 of Psu-153657. Under the said Free "portion A") of one of the parcels of land more
Patent Application, Cacao Dianson was able to secure specifically, Lot No. 1 of Psu-153657 — covered by
on April 10, 1933 the issuance of Free Patent No. Dianson's FPA No. 3-74. 3
14885 and Original Certificate of Title No. 1217 in his
name. (6) The private respondents counter that this portion
being claimed by Dianson, which is designated as
(2) On June 9, 1933, Josefa Abaya Mapa, Portion "A" of Lot 1, Psu-153657, was already awarded
predecessor- in-interest of the private respondents, to Josefa Abaya Mapa in the public bidding held in
filed Miscellaneous Sales Application No. 6439 for a 1934.
parcel of land located in barrio Pico, municipality of La
Trinidad, Mountain Province. (7) On June 17, 1958, the controversy between Cacao
Dianson and Josefa Abaya Mapa with respect to the
(3) According to the petitioner, a public auction of the disputed property was referred to Bureau of Lands
land subject of Josefa Abaya Mapa's miscellaneous Investigator Antonio Mejia for investigation. After
sales application was held on April 18, 1934. Josefa conducting several hearings and making an ocular
Abaya Mapa was the only bidder. inspection of the controverted premises, Mejia
submitted his "Report of Investigation," wherein he
(4) On May 12, 1934, the Director of Lands awarded stated the following:
Josefa Abaya Mapa a tract of land with an area of
2,800 square meters which was appraised at P0.05 per FINDINGS OF FACTS
square meter, located in Pico, La Trinidad, Mountain
Province, with the following boundaries: N.- Public Josefa Abaya Mapa has filed a Miscellaneous Sales
Land; S.E. - Public Land; S. - Road; W. - Public Land Application for a parcel of land located in Pico, La
Trinidad, Mt. Province, on June 9, 1933 and the same and the other, on the land which according to his
was awarded to her on May 12, 1934. The land has an findings and opinion would be the correct place of the
area of 2800 square meters with the following land covered by the application of Josefa Abaya Mapa.
boundaries. North — Public Land, South-East — Public
Land, South-Road and West — Public Land. Lands Investigator Mejia also found that:

The purchase price has been paid in full in 1943 as per During the ocular inspection of the land, it was found
Official Receipt No. B-1982778 dated November 8, out that Mrs. Josefa Abaya Mapa has constructed a
1943. shack near the road. On the other hand, Cacao
Dianson has also constructed a hut in the premises of
The land was first applied for by her husband, the said land. In fact, Cacao Dianson was in a
Fernando Mapa, but it was later transferred to Josefa threatening mood against the Mapas during the ocular
Abaya Mapa. inspection. Of the alleged improvements introduced by
Mrs. Josefa Abaya Mapa, they were not seen by the
Cacao Dianson filed a Free Patent Application for the herein Investigator, except the shack constructed by
same parcel of land on June 1, 1956, alleging that the her. However, rice terraces were found in the premises
said land was first occupied by his father, Dianson, in and other plants, but from the appearance of the said
1884. The land has been survey under Psu-153657 on improvements, it seems to be recently introduced.
September 10, 1956.
This Investigator has searched all the records in the
Cacao Dianson is occupying the land and has fenced Office of the Bureau of Lands, Baguio City, but no
it. Josefa Abaya Mapa has constructed a sort of a available records could be found regarding the location
shack near the land. Terraces were made by Cacao of the land applied for by Josefa Abaya Mapa. A
Dianson in the premises. Cacao Dianson has also verification of the records, however. show that Cacao
constructed a shack inside the land. Dianson has sold the land applied for by him to a
certain Agripino Farol, a resident of Davao. 4
No survey appears to have been conducted on the
land covered by the Miscellaneous Sales Application of (8) The regional land officer of Dagupan City, in a
Josefa Abaya Mapa. decision dated August 12, 1964, resolved the
controversy between Cacao Dianson and Josefa
Rodrigo H. Romea conducted a survey on the land. Abaya Mapa in this wise:
However, Mr. Romea made two surveys separately.
One on the land pointed to her by Josefa Abaya Mapa
In view of the foregoing, the undersigned holds and so This became DANR Case No. 3118.
decides that Free Patent Application No. 3-74 of Cacao
Dianson be, as hereby it is, amended so as to exclude II.
therefrom Portion "A" of Lot No. 1, Psu-153657, as
shown on the sketch drawn at the back hereof and (1) On July 28, 1967, the DANR Secretary rendered a
shall cover only portion "B" of Lot No. 1, Lots 2 and 3 of decision, dismissing Josefa Abaya Mapa's appeal from
Psu-153657, and the Miscellaneous Sales Application the order dated September 9, 1966 of the Director of
No. 6439 (E -1341) of Josefa Abaya Mapa shall cover Lands.
the said portion "A" of Lot No. 1, Psu-153657 and
thereafter both applications shall continue to be given (2) On September 21, 1967, the heirs of Josefa Abaya
due course. 5 Mapa, through their judicial administrator, Victorino
Mapa, filed a motion for reconsideration of the decision
(9) In the meantime, Cacao Dianson died on August 7, of the DANR promulgated on July 28, 1967.
1964. Nearly two years later, on July 8,1966, Gabriela
Walstrom filed a motion for reconsideration with the (3) On June 13, 1968, the DANR Secretary Set aside
Director of Lands of the decision dated August 12, the order of the Director of Lands dated September 9,
1964 of the regional land officer, claiming that she had 1966 and ordered that the decision of the regional land
acquired the rights and interests of Cacao Dianson to officer in Dagupan City dated August 12, 1964 be
the subject parcel of land by virtue of a transfer of said reinstated and given full force and effect.
rights and interests. by Dianson to one Agripino Farol
who, in turn, transferred the same rights and interests (4) On July 30, 1968, counsel of Gabriela Walstrom
to Gabriela Walstrom. manifested his intention to file a motion for
reconsideration against the DANR order, dated June
(10) On September 9, 1966, the Director of Lands, 13, 1968, but it was only on September 20, 1968 that a
acting on the motion for reconsideration filed by memorandum in support of his motion for
Gabriela Walstrom, issued an order setting aside the reconsideration was filed.
decision of August 12, 1964 of the district land officer of
Dagupan City. (5) On March 4, 1969, DANR Secretary Fernando
Lopez promulgated an order denying the motion for
(11) On November 9, 1966, Josefa Abaya Mapa reconsideration of Gabriela Walstrom on two (2)
appealed the order dated September 9, 1966 of the grounds, as follows:
Director of Lands to the Department of Agriculture and
Natural Resources (DANR).
1. From the foregoing, it is clear that more than Preliminary Statement
thirty days had elapsed from the time plaintiff
received the order she is seeking to be The land being controverted by Appellee Walstrom was
reconsidered to the time she manifested any the subject of the Miscellaneous Sales Application and
intention to have the same reconsidered. Such not a Homestead Patent Application. The property now
being the case, her motion does not merit any being contested by Appellee Walstrom is already titled
consideration whatsoever for having been filed in the name of the HEIRS OF JOSEFA ABAYA
out of tune. MAPA, under original Certificate of Title No. P-456 of
the Registry of deeds for the Province of Benguet,
2. Nevertheless, this office reviewed the records pursuant to a Miscellaneous Sales Patent No.
of this case in view of the errors mentioned by 4487. This property, therefore, is now under the
movant in her memorandum and the answer Torrens System.
thereto filed by defendant. This office, however
does not find any reversible error in its Order of It is also worthwhile to note that the land in question is
June 13, 1968.6 only a small portion of the claim of Cacao Dianson and
Walstrom. This is the land in question particularly
(6) Gabriela Walstrom filed a second motion for designated as Portion "A" of Lot 1, Psu-153657. 7
reconsideration of the Order of the DANR dated June
13, 1968. In the meantime Mapa filed a motion for (Emphasis supplied by petitioner Walstrom)
execution of the said order of DANR.
It was only upon receipt on April 11, 1972 of the above-stated
(7) The DANR, in its order dated March 24, 1970, answer of the heirs of Josefa Abaya Mapa to the petition for
denied the second motion for reconsideration of relief of the late Gabriela Walstrom, that the herein petitioner
Walstrom and granted the motion for execution filed by Hilda Walstrom, daughter and successor-in-interest of the late
the heirs of Josefa Abaya Mapa. Gabriela, learned for the first time that the property being
contested by Walstrom was already titled in the name of the
(8) On June 8, 1970, Gabriela Walstrom filed a petition heirs of Josefa Abaya Mapa, under Original Certificate of Title
for relief with the DANR. Before her petition was heard, No. P-456 of the Registry of Deeds for the Province of
she died on October 4, 1970. The heirs of Josefa Benguet, pursuant to Miscellaneous Sales Patent No. 4487.8
Abaya Mapa, pursuing the case, filed an answer dated
March 29, 1972, to the petition of Walstrom, stating III.
that:
Upon subsequent inquiry with respect to the claim of the heirs Hence, this petition.
of Josefa Abaya Mapa that the property in dispute in DANR
Case No. 3118 had already been titled pursuant to The petitioner submits two questions:
Miscellaneous Sales Patent No. 4487, the petitioner further
became aware, also for the first time, that Miscellaneous Sales I.
Patent No. 4487 was issued by the DANR Secretary on July
19,1971 and released for transmittal to the office of the DID PETITIONER-APPELLEE (sic) REALLY FAIL TO
Register of Deeds for Benguet Province on July 22, 1971; that EXHAUST ADMINISTRATIVE REMEDIES?
on September 30, 1971, respondent register of deeds issued
Original Certificate of Title No. P-456, pursuant to II.
Miscellaneous Sales Patent No. 4487; and that on or about
November 13, 1971, respondent Fernando Mapa, Jr.
IN THE LIGHT OF THE FACT THAT THE DISPUTED
transferred the property covered by Original Certificate of Title
MISCELLANEOUS SALES PATENT WAS ISSUED
No. P-456 to the other heirs of Josefa Abaya Mapa, namely,
ONJUNE 19, 1971, DOES THE FACT THAT THE
defendants Victorino A. Mapa, Jose A. Mapa, Maria C.M. de
PETITION FOR REVIEW IN DANR CASE NO. 3118
Goco, Fernando Mapa III, and Mario L. Mapa, in connection
HAD NOT YET BEEN RESOLVED AS OF JULY 19,
with which transfer, Transfer Certificate of Title No. T-6644
1972, PRECLUDE PETITIONER-APPELLANT FROM
was issued by the Register of Deeds of Benguet. 9
FILING ON SAID DATE (JULY 19,1972) HER SUIT TO
ANNUL SAID SALES PATENT AND THE TORRENS
During all this time, the petition for relief filed by Gabriela CERTIFICATES OF TITLE ISSUED BY THE
Walstrom on June 8, 1970 remained unresolved. In fact, the REGISTER OF DEEDS BY VIRTUE THEREOF? 10
DANR Secretary issued an order, dated January 9,1972,
giving due course to the said petition. According to petitioner
Petitioner Hilda Walstrom filed a civil complaint against the
Hilda Walstrom, she was compelled to file an action in the then
respondents praying for the nullification of the Mapas' sales
Court of First Instance of Baguio-Benguet on July 19, 1972
patent and certificates of title issued by the register of deeds of
because the one-year prescriptive period for seeking judicial
Benguet Province 11 under Section 38 of Act 496 or the Land
relief provided for in Sec. 38 of the Land Registration Act was
Registration Act.
about to lapse.
The pertinent portions of Section 38 of said Act are quoted as
The court a quo dismissed petitioner Hilda Walstrom's petition
follows:
on the ground of "failure to exhaust administrative remedy
dies."
SEC. 38. Decree of registration and remedies after
entry of decree.
If the court after hearing finds that the applicant or The first element is patently not present because the petitioner
adverse claimant has title as stated in his application or can not allege that she has already a real and dominical right
adverse claim and proper for registration, a decree of to the piece of property in controversy. The latest order of the
confirmation and registration shall be entered. Every DANR Secretary, dated June 13,1968, was to give full force
decree of registration shall bind the land, and quiet title and effect to the regional land officer's decision, dated August
thereto, subject only to the exceptions stated in the 12, 1964. 13 The regional land officer held that the petitioner's
following section. It shall be conclusive upon and Free Patent Application No. 3-74 shall exclude the disputed
against all persons, including the Insular Government portion "A" of Lot No. 1, which, instead, shall be included in the
and all the branches thereof, whether mentioned by Mapas' Miscellaneous Sales Application.
name in the application, notice of citation, or included in
the general description "To all whom it may concern," The second element is also absent since corollary to the
Such decree shall not be opened by reason of the aforecited ruling of the DANR Secretary, the petitioner can not
absence, infancy, or other disability of any person aver that she was deprived of property because she did not
affected thereby, nor by any proceeding in any court for have a real right over portion "A".
reversing judgments or decrees; subject, however, to
the right of any person deprived of land or of any estate Apropos the third element, the records are bereft of any
or interest therein by decree of registration obtained by indication that there was fraud in the issuance of the
fraud to file in the competent Court of First Instance a certificates of title. As matters stand, the prerequisites have
petition for review within one year after entry of the not been complied with. The petitioner's recourse to Section
decree provided no innocent purchaser for value has 38 would not have prospered; accordingly, the respondent
acquired an interest.... court's dismissal of petitioner's complaint was proper.

It is the teaching of the foregoing provisions that a decree of We also find that the lower court was correct in holding that
registration may be reopened or reviewed by the proper the case does not fall under any of the exceptions to the rule
Regional Trial Court upon the concurrence of five essential on exhaustion of administrative remedies. The petitioner
requisites, to wit: (a) that the petitioner has a real and a herself admits that her petition for relief is still pending
dominical right; (b) that he has been deprived thereof;(c) resolution by the Secretary of Agriculture and Natural
through fraud; (d) that the petition is filed within one year from Resources who may reconsider his action on the matter in
the issuance of the decree; and (e) that the property has not dispute. The petitioner's failure to exhaust administrative
as yet been transferred to an innocent purchaser for value. 12 remedies is a flaw which to our mind is fatal to a court review
at this time. 14
An examination of the records of the case shows non-
concurrence of the essential elements enumerated above.
Instead of invoking Section 38, the petitioner should have We find no reversible error in the challenged order of the trial
pressed for the speedy resolution of her petition with the court.
DANR. The petitioner avers that since the one-year
prescriptive period for seeking judicial relief provided for in WHEREFORE, the petition is DENIED. No costs.
Sec. 38 of the Land Registration Act was about to lapse, she
was compelled to file the action to nullify said patent. 15 The SO ORDERED.
petitioner's submission is not correct. Her fear of the futility, or
even only inefficacy, of exhausting the administrative remedies Melencio-Herrera (Chairperson), Paras, Padilla and Regalado,
granted her by law is clearly unfounded. JJ., concur.

We have ruled before in Amerol vs. Bagumbaran 16 that G.R. No. L-30694 October 31, 1969
notwithstanding the irrevocability of the Torrens title already
issued in the name of another person, he can still be STERLING INVESTMENT CORPORATION, PACIFIC
compelled under the law to reconvey the subject property to EQUIPMENT CORPORATION, REGIONAL INVESTMENT
the rightful owner. The property registered is deemed to be CORPORATION and GOLDEN HILLS DEVELOPMENT
held in trust for the real owner by the person in whose name it CORPORATION, petitioners,
is registered. After all, the Torrens system was not designed to vs.
shield and protect one who had committed fraud or HONORABLE V. M. RUIZ, in his capacity as Judge of the
misrepresentation and thus holds title in bad faith. 17 Court of First Instance of Rizal, and ALEJANDRO
CABASBAS, respondents.
In an action for reconveyance, the decree of registration is
respected as incontrovertible.1âwphi1 What is sought instead V. E. del Rosario and Associates for petitioners.
is the transfer of the property, in this case the title thereof,
Ramon V. Sison for respondents.
which has been wrongfully or erroneously registered in
another person's name, to its rightful and legal owner, or to
FERNANDO, J.:
one with a better right. This is what reconveyance is all
about. 18
The assumption of jurisdiction by respondent Judge V. M. Ruiz
of the Court of First Instance of Rizal, Branch XV, of a suit in
Yet, the right to seek reconveyance based on an implied or
Civil Case No. 10603, filed in his sala by private respondent
constructive trust is not absolute nor is it imprescriptible. An
Alejandro Cabasbas, to annul a decision rendered by another
action for reconveyance based on an implied or constructive
branch of the same court of first instance notwithstanding his
trust must perforce prescribe in ten years from the issuance of
alleged lack of jurisdiction and his failure to dismiss the same
the Torrens title over the property.19
on the ground that such complaint did not state a cause of
action, the ground relied upon for the annulment of such Cabasbas, by virtue of the following transfers, namely: (a)
decision being intrinsic and not extrinsic fraud, with res Elisa A. Reyes, sold a portion of the land to the spouses
judicata moreover operating as a bar, prompted this petition Demetrio de Jesus and Florencia Borja and the remaining
for certiorari, prohibition and mandamus. portion to the spouses Jose Rojas and Emiliana Mendoza; (b)
subsequently, the spouses Jose Rojas and Emiliana Mendoza
The subject matter of the controversy is a parcel of land acquired the whole lot by purchasing the portion belonging to
originally owned by one Teodorico Cabasbas, who obtained a the spouses Demetrio de Jesus and Florencia Borja; (c) the
homestead patent thereon on December 27, 1940. The spouses Jose Rojas and Emiliana Mendoza thereafter sold
deceased was the father of respondent Alejandro Cabasbas. one-half of the land to Natividad Araneta and the other half to
Petitioners Sterling Investment Corporation, Pacific Equipment the spouses Vincent Recto and Ofelia Martinez; (d) the
Corporation, Regional Investment Corporation and Golden spouses Vincent Recto and Ofelia Martinez sold their one-half
Hills Development Corporation, defendants in Civil Case No. interest to petitioner Regional Investment Corporation, while
10603, started by alleging that on February 18, 1958, Natividad Araneta sold her one-half share to Sterling
respondent Alejandro Cabasbas filed a complaint in Branch VI Investment Corporation; (e) finally, Sterling Investment
of the Court of First Instance of Rizal (Civil Case No. 4870), Corporation sold the portion belonging to it to Pacific
against the spouses Jose A. de Kastro and Estanislawa de Equipment Corporation, which in turn sold it to Golden Hills
Kastro, spouses Lutgardo Reyes and Elisa A. Reyes, and Development Corporation.2
Demetrio de Jesus, to recover the land originally owned by the
late Teodorico Cabasbas, as evidenced by Original Certificate Mention was then made that on October 24, 1968, respondent
of Title No. 815. On May 3, 1958, pursuant to a compromise Alejandro Cabasbas filed his second amended complaint, Civil
agreement entered into by the parties in the above-mentioned Case No. 10603, praying that the decision in the previous Civil
Civil Case No. 4870, the Honorable Judge Andres Reyes of Case No. 4870, based on a compromise agreement, be
Branch VI of the Court of First Instance of Rizal rendered a declared null and void with the allegation that it was obtained
decision in said case. By virtue of the above-mentioned through fraud as it was made to appear before the court of first
decision, the spouses Lutgardo Reyes and Elisa A. Reyes, instance that the conveyance of title was made on February,
and Demetrio de Jesus were declared to be the registered 1946 when in fact it took place on September 14, 1944, in
owners of the western portion of the land originally owned by violation of the Homestead Law.3
the late Teodorico Cabasbas as per Original Certificate of Title
No. 615, subject matter of the above-mentioned litigation.1 In the answer of petitioners as defendants, there was a
specific denial of the allegations that the previous
Petitioners then specifically made mention of how conveyances were made in bad faith or that they were null and
subsequently they acquired ownership of the above-mentioned void. In addition, petitioners Sterling Investment Corporation
property originally owned by the deceased Teodorico and Pacific Equipment Corporation alleged as affirmative and
special defenses that the sale to them made on June 1, 1967 sufficient cause of action and that the suit is not barred by the
and November 14, 1967 were in good faith and for valuable doctrine of res judicata. There was likewise an admission of
consideration they being innocent purchasers for value thus the principal facts alleged in the petition coupled with the
negating any cause of action against them.4 Petitioners filed a assertion that the sale of a parcel of land was made on
motion to lift the notice of lis pendens, previously issued on September 14, 1944 in violation of the five-year period within
March 6, 1968, with the allegation that the suit was filed by which a transfer of a homestead patent is prohibited.
respondent Alejandro Cabasbas for harassment purposes
only. They likewise asserted in such motion that petitioner The plea of petitioners must be granted. There is merit in the
Golden Hills Development Corporation had subdivided the petition.
property and contracted to sell the portion thereof to over 100
buyers. They affirmed their readiness and willingness to post a 1. The jurisdiction of respondent Judge is assailed on the
bond in favor of the plaintiff in that suit, Alejandro Cabasbas.5 ground that only the same branch of the Court of first instance,
which rendered a decision, possesses the competence to
In an order of January 14, 1969, respondent Judge Ruiz annul it. Since it is admitted that the 1958 decision was
denied such motion. Then came an omnibus motion for rendered in the sala then presided by Judge Andres Reyes,
reconsideration by petitioners as defendants stressing that now Justice of the Court of Appeals, clearly respondent Judge
respondent Judge should dismiss the then pending suit on the who presides in another and distinct branch is not vested with
grounds of lack of jurisdiction, failure to state a cause of jurisdiction over Civil Case No. 10603. This contention has
action, bar by res judicata and the impropriety of the regulation support in our decisions. Thus, in J. M. Tuason & Co. Inc. v.
of the notice of lis pendens, the omnibus motion petition being Torres,7 cited in the petition, we explicitly held: "Petitioner's
dated May 5, 1969.6 submission that only Branch IV of the Court of First Instance of
Quezon City can annul its own decision is well taken. It is
After an order denying such omnibus motion of June 24, 1969, settled that the jurisdiction to annul a judgment of a branch of
the present petition was filed on July 10 this year. In a the Court of First Instance belongs solely to the very same
resolution of July 15, 1969, we gave due course to this petition branch which rendered the judgment. Any other branch, even
for certiorari, prohibition and mandamus, requiring if it be in the same judicial district — like those of the Courts of
respondents to answer within ten days from notice. Likewise, First Instance of Rizal, sitting at Pasig and at Quezon City,
upon the posting of a bond of P10,000.00, we granted the writ which belong to the 7th Judicial District — that attempts to do
of preliminary injunction prayed for. so either exceeds its jurisdiction, as We held in Cabigao v. Del
Rosario, 44 Phil. 182, or acts with grave abuse of discretion
The three-page answer filed on July 29, 1969, admitted the amounting to lack of jurisdiction, as We ruled in P.N.B. v.
refusal of respondent Judge to dismiss Civil Case No. 10603 Javellana, 92 Phil. 525. In either case, certiorari and
but alleged that he has jurisdiction, that the complaint states prohibition would be proper to prevent the attempting branch
of the court from proceeding to nullify a final decision rendered charges and that its allegations have the ring of probability. To
by a co-equal and coordinate branch. The two cases cited write finis to litigations at the shortest possible time is a
have only recently been reaffirmed by Us in Mas v. Dumara- cardinal policy in the administration of justice, and rules of
og, L-16252, Sept. 29, 1964." . procedure have been adopted with this as one of their specific
ends in view. One who assails the judgment of the court
The success of the petition could thus be predicated on this whose machinery he himself had set in motion places upon
ground alone, although it must be admitted that at least two himself greater burden than is required in ordinary cases, to
members of the Court feel the need for a re-examination of the make in his complaint plausible showing that the court's and
above doctrine. the defendant's time, and expense will not again go to waste."
The De Almeda decision has been subsequently cited with
2. Insofar, however, as the petition is predicated on an approval in at least five cases.9
absence of a cause of action, the ground relied upon to annul
the 1958 decision based on a compromise agreement being The latest case in point, decided in 1968, this time in an
intrinsic and not extrinsic fraud, there is unanimity in the view opinion penned by Justice Zaldivar, reiterates the above
entertained by the Court that petitioners' stand must be doctrine.10 Thus: "Not every kind of fraud, however, is
sustained. sufficient ground to set aside a judgment. This Court has held
that only extrinsic or collateral, as distinguished from intrinsic,
It suffices to refer to the leading case of De Almeda v. Cruz,8 a fraud is a ground for annulling a judgment. Extrinsic fraud
1949 decision. As Justice Tuason speaking for the Court made refers to any fraudulent act of the successful party in a
clear: "Fraud to be ground for nullity of a judgment must be litigation which is committed outside the trial of a case against
extrinsic to the litigation. Were not this the rule there would be the defeated party, or his agents, attorneys or witnesses,
no end to litigations, perjury being of such common occurrence whereby said defeated party is prevented from presenting fully
in trials. In fact, under the opposite rule, the losing party could and fairly his side of the case. On the other hand, intrinsic
attack the judgment at any time by attributing imaginary fraud refers to acts of a party in a litigation during the trial,
falsehood to his adversary's proofs. But the settled law is that such as the use of forged instruments on perjured testimony,
judicial determination however erroneous of matters brought which did not affect the presentation of the case, but did
within the court's jurisdiction cannot be invalidated in another prevent a fair and just determination of the case."
proceeding. It is the business of a party to meet and repel his
opponent's perjured evidence." 3. In view of the above, there is no need to pass on the
question of res judicata, which for petitioners likewise
As likewise aptly pointed out by him: "Under these constitutes a bar to the assumption of jurisdiction of
circumstances, the most careful scrutiny of the complaint respondent Judge.
should be made to see that it contains concrete and explicit
WHEREFORE, the writ of certiorari prayed for is granted. The DECISION
order of respondent Judge of January 14, 1969 denying the
motion to lift the lis pendens and his order of June 24, 1969 PERLAS-BERNABE, J.:
denying the omnibus motion for reconsideration, which sought
the dismissal of Civil Case No. 10603 on the ground among Assailed in this petition for review on certiorari1 are the
others of lack of jurisdiction as well as the failure to state a Decision2 dated November 28, 2006 and the Resolution3dated
cause of action, are declared null and set aside. Respondent May 7, 2008 of the Court of Appeals (CA) in CA-G.R. CV No.
Judge is directed to order the cancellation of the notice of lis 57618 which reversed and set aside the Decision4 dated
pendens filed by respondent Cabasbas in such action, and August 20, 1996 of the Regional Trial Court of Dagupan City,
thereafter to dismiss Civil Case No. 10603. The writ of Branch 44 (RTC) in Civil Case No. D-6978, declared (a) the
prohibition is likewise granted, thereafter perpetually descendants of Ciriaco Abrio5 as the exclusive owners of the
restraining respondent Judge from further taking cognizance of Motherland covered by Original Certificate of Title (OCT) No.
the aforesaid Civil Case No. 10603. The writ of preliminary 1462,6 (b) the descendants of respondent Victoriano Imbornal
injunction is hereby made permanent. With costs against (respondent Victoriano) as the exclusive owners of the first
respondent Alejandro Cabasbas. accretion (First Accretion) covered by OCT No. P-318,7 and (c)
the descendants of Pablo Imbornal (Pablo) as the exclusive
Concepcion, C.J., Reyes, J.B.L., Dizon, Makalintal, Zaldivar, owners of the second accretion (Second Accretion) covered by
Sanchez, Castro, Teehankee and Barredo, JJ., concur. OCT No. 21481,8 and dismissed the complaint and
counterclaim in all other respects for lack of merit.

The Facts

Basilia Imbornal+ (Basilia) had four (4) children, namely,


G.R. No. 182908 August 6, 2014 Alejandra, Balbina, Catalina, and Pablo.Francisco I. Narvasa,
Sr.9 (Francisco) and Pedro Ferrer (Pedro) were the
HEIRS OF FRANCISCO I. NARVASA, SR., and HEIRS OF children10 of Alejandra, while petitioner Petra Imbornal (Petra)
PETRA IMBORNAL and PEDRO FERRER, represented by was the daughter of Balbina.11 Petitionersare the heirs and
their Attorney-in-Fact, MRS. REMEDIOS B. NARVASA- successors-in-interest of Francisco, Pedro, and Petra
REGACHO, Petitioners, (Francisco, et al.). On the other hand, respondentsEmiliana,
vs. Victoriano, Felipe, Mateo, Raymundo, Maria, and Eduardo, all
EMILIANA, VICTORIANO, FELIPE, MA TEO, RAYMUNDO, surnamed Imbornal, are the descendants of Pablo.12
MARIA, and EDUARDO, all surnamed
IMBORNAL,Respondents.
During her lifetime, Basilia owned a parcel of land situated at portion.19 On November 10, 1978, OCT No. 21481 was issued
Sabangan, Barangay Nibaliw West, San Fabian, Pangasinan in the names of all the respondents covering the Second
with an area of 4,144 square meters (sq. m.), more or less Accretion.
(Sabangan property), which she conveyed to her three (3)
daughters Balbina, Alejandra, and Catalina (Imbornal sisters) Claiming rights over the entire Motherland, Francisco, et al., as
sometime in 1920.13 the children of Alejandra and Balbina, filed on February
27,1984 an Amended Complaint20 for reconveyance,
Meanwhile, Catalina’s husband, Ciriaco Abrio (Ciriaco), partition,and/or damages against respondents, docketed as
applied for and was granted a homestead patent over a Civil Case No. D-6978. They anchored their claim on the
31,367-sq. m. riparian land (Motherland) adjacent to the allegation that Ciriaco, with the help of his wifeCatalina, urged
Cayanga River in San Fabian, Pangasinan.14 He was Balbina and Alejandra to sell the Sabangan property, and that
eventually awarded Homestead Patent No. 2499115 therefor, Ciriaco used the proceeds therefrom to fund his then-pending
and, on December 5, 1933, OCT No. 1462 was issued in his homestead patent application over the Motherland. In return,
name. Later, or on May 10, 1973, OCT No. 1462 was Ciriaco agreed that once his homestead patent is approved,
cancelled, and Transfer Certificate of Title (TCT) No. he will be deemed to be holding the Motherland – which now
10149516 was issued in the name of Ciriaco’s heirs, namely: included both accretions – in trust for the Imbornal sisters.21
Margarita Mejia; Rodrigo Abrio, marriedto Rosita Corpuz;
Antonio Abrio, married to Crisenta Corpuz; Remedios Abrio, Likewise, Francisco, et al.alleged that through deceit, fraud,
married to Leopoldo Corpuz; Pepito Abrio; Dominador Abrio; falsehood, and misrepresentation, respondent Victoriano, with
Francisca Abrio; Violeta Abrio; and Perla Abrio (Heirs of respect to the First Accretion, and the respondents collectively,
Ciriaco). with regard to the Second Accretion, had illegally registered
the said accretions in their names, notwithstanding the fact
Ciriaco and his heirs had since occupied the northern portionof that they werenot the riparian owners (as they did not own the
the Motherland, while respondents occupied the southern Motherland to which the accretions merely formed adjacent
portion.17 to). In this relation, Francisco, et al. explained that they did not
assert their inheritance claims over the Motherland and the
Sometime in 1949, the First Accretion, approximately 59,772 two (2) accretions because they respected respondents’ rights,
sq. m. in area, adjoined the southern portion of the until they discovered in 1983 that respondents have
Motherland. On August 15, 1952, OCT No. P-318 was issued repudiated their (Francisco, et al.’s) shares thereon.22 Thus,
in thename of respondent Victoriano, married to Esperanza bewailing that respondents have refused them their rights not
Narvarte, covering the First Accretion.18 Decades later, or in only with respect to the Motherland, but also to the subsequent
1971, the Second Accretion, which had an area of 32,307 sq. accretions, Francisco, et al. prayed for the reconveyance
m., more or less, abutted the First Accretion on its southern ofsaid properties, or, in the alternative, the payment of their
value, as well as the award of moral damages in the amount of and attorney’s fees in the sum of ₱10,000.00, as well as costs
₱100,000.00, actual damages in the amount of ₱150,000.00, of suit.
including attorney’s fees and other costs.23
The RTC found that the factual circumstances surrounding the
24
In their Amended Answer dated March 5, 1984, respondents present case showed that an implied trust existed between
contended that: (a) the Amended Complaint statedno cause of Ciriaco and the Imbornal sisters with respect to the
action against them, having failed to clearly and precisely Motherland.27 It gave probative weight to Francisco, et al.’s
describe the disputed properties and specify the allegation that the Sabangan property, inherited by the
transgressions they have allegedly committed; (b) the action Imbornal sisters from their mother, Basilia, was sold in order to
was barred by prescription; and (c) that the properties sought help Ciriaco raise funds for his then-pending homesteadpatent
to be reconveyed and partitioned are not the properties of their application. In exchange therefor, Ciriaco agreed that he shall
predecessors-ininterest but, instead, are covered by Torrens hold the Motherland in trust for them once his homestead
certificates of titles, free from any encumbrance, and declared patent application had been approved. As Ciriaco was only
for taxation purposes in their names. In this regard, able to acquire the Motherland subject of the homestead
respondents prayed that the Amended Complaint be patent through the proceeds realized from the sale of the
dismissed and that Francisco, et al.be held liable for the Sabangan property, the Imbornal sisters and, consequently,
payment of moral damages, attorney’s fees, and costs of suit Francisco, et al. (as the children of Alejandra and Balbina) are
in their favor. entitled to their proportionate shares over the Motherland,
notwithstanding the undisputed possession of respondents
During trial, it was established from the testimonies of the over its southern portion since 1926.28
parties that the Motherland was eventually sold bythe Heirs of
Ciriaco to a certain Gregorio de Vera (de Vera), and thatsaid With respect to the accretions thatformed adjacent to the
heirs and deVera were not impleaded as parties in this case.25 Motherland, the RTC ruled that the owner of the Motherland is
likewise the owner of the said accretions. Considering that the
The RTC Ruling Imbornal sisters have become proportionate owners of the
Motherland by virtue of the implied trust created between them
On August 20, 1996, the RTC rendered a Decision26 in favor of and Ciriaco, they (Imbornal sisters) and their heirs are also
Francisco, et al. and thereby directed respondents to: (a) entitled to the ownership of said accretions despite the fact
reconvey to Francisco, et al. their respective portions in the that respondents were able to register them in their names.
Motherland and in the accretions thereon, or their pecuniary
equivalent; and (b) pay actual damages in the amount of Dissatisfied with the RTC’s ruling, respondents elevated the
₱100,000.00, moral damages in the amount of ₱100,000.00, matter on appeal to the CA.
The CA Ruling prescription. Considering that accretions are not automatically
registered in the name of the riparianowner and are, therefore,
On November 28, 2006, the CA rendered a subject to acquisitive prescription by third persons, any
Decision29 reversing and setting aside the RTC Decision and occupant may apply for their registration. In this case, the CA
entering a new one declaring: (a) the descendants of Ciriaco found that respondents have acquired title to the subject
as the exclusive owners of the Motherland; (b) the accretions by prescription,33 considering that they have been in
descendants of respondent Victoriano asthe exclusive owners continuous possession and enjoyment of the First Accretion in
of the First Accretion; and (c) the descendants of Pablo (i.e., the concept of an owner since 1949 (when the First Accretion
respondents collectively) as the exclusive owners of the was formed), which resulted in the issuance of a certificate of
Second Accretion. title in the name of respondent Victoriano covering the same.
Accordingly, they have also become the riparian owners of the
With respect to the Motherland, the CA found that Ciriaco Second Accretion, and given thatthey have caused the
alone was awarded a homestead patent, which later became issuance of OCT No. 21481 in their names over the said
the basis for the issuance of a Torrens certificate of title in his Accretion, they have also become the absolute ownersthereof.
name; as such, saidcertificate of title cannot be attacked Since Francisco, et al. took no action to protect their purported
collaterally through an action for reconveyance filed by his interests over the disputed accretions, the respondents’ titles
wife’s (Catalina’s) relatives (i.e., Francisco, et al.being the over the same had already become indefeasible, to the
children of Alejandra and Balbina, who, in turn, are the sisters exclusion of Francisco, et al.34
of Catalina). The CA further observed that the homestead
patent was not aninheritance of Catalina; instead, it was At odds with the CA’s disposition, Francisco et al. filed a
awarded by the government to Ciriaco after having fully motion for reconsideration which was, however,denied by the
satisfied the stringent requirements set forth under CA in a Resolution35 dated May 7, 2008, hence, this petition
Commonwealth Act No. 141,30 as amended,31and his title taken by the latter’s heirs as their successors-in-interest.
thereto had already become indefeasible.32 Consequently,
since the entire Motherland was titled in Ciriaco’s name, his The Issue Before the Court
descendants should be regarded as the absolute owners
thereof. The issue to be resolved by the Court is whether or not the CA
erred in declaring that: (a) the descendants of Ciriaco are the
On the other hand, with regard to the disputed accretions, the exclusive owners of the Motherland; (b) the descendants of
CA ruled that respondents – i.e., respondent Victoriano with respondent Victoriano are the exclusive owners of the First
respect to the First Accretion, and all the respondents Accretion; and (c) the descendants of Pablo (respondents
withrespect to the Second Accretion – need not be the owners collectively) are the exclusive owners of the Second Accretion
of the Motherland in order to acquire them by acquisitive on the basis of the following grounds: (a) prescription of the
reconveyance action, which was duly raised as anaffirmative acquired the First and Second Accretions by means of
defense in the Amended Answer, and (b) the existence of an fraudand deceit.
implied trust between the Imbornal sisters and Ciriaco.
When property is registered in another’s name, an implied or
The Court’s Ruling constructive trust is created by law in favor of the true
owner.38 Article 1456 of the Civil Code provides that a person
The petition is bereft of merit. acquiring property through fraud becomes, by operation of law,
a trustee ofan implied trust for the benefit of the real owner of
A. Procedural Matter: Issue of Prescription. the property. An action for reconveyance based on an implied
trust prescribes in ten (10) years, reckoned from the date of
At the outset, the Court finds that the causes of action registration of the deed or the date ofissuance of the certificate
pertaining to the Motherland and the First Accretion are barred of title over the property,39 if the plaintiff is not in possession.
by prescription. However, if the plaintiff is in possession of the property, the
action is imprescriptible. As held in the case of Lasquite v.
An action for reconveyance is one that seeks to transfer Victory Hills, Inc.:40
property, wrongfully registered by another, to its rightful and
legal owner.36 Thus, reconveyance is a remedy granted only An action for reconveyance based on an implied trust
tothe owner of the property alleged to be erroneously titled in prescribes in 10 years. The reference point of the 10-
another’s name.37 yearprescriptive period is the date of registration of the deed or
the issuance of the title. The prescriptive period applies only if
As the records would show, the Amended Complaint filed by there is an actual need to reconvey the property as when the
petitioners’ predecessors-in-interest, Francisco, et al. is for the plaintiff is not in possession of the property. However, if the
plaintiff, as the realowner of the property also remains in
reconveyance of their purported shares or portions in the
following properties: (a) the Motherland, originally covered by possession of the property, the prescriptive period to recover
OCT No. 1462 in the name of Ciriaco; (b) the First Accretion, title and possession of the property does not run against him.
originally covered by OCT No. P-318 in the name of In such a case, an action for reconveyance, if nonetheless
respondent Victoriano; and (c) the Second Accretion, covered filed, would be in the nature of a suit for quieting of title, an
by OCT No. 21481 in the name of all respondents. To recount, action that is imprescriptible.41 (Emphases supplied)
Francisco, et al. asserted co-ownership over the Motherland,
alleging that Ciriaco agreed to hold the same in trustfor their Based on the foregoing, Francisco, et al. had then a period of
predecessors-in-interest Alejandra and Balbina upon issuance ten (10) years from the registration of the respective titles
of the title in his name. Likewise, they alleged that respondents covering the disputed properties within which to file their action
for reconveyance, taking into account the fact that they were
never in possessionof the said properties. Hence, with respect The main thrust of Francisco, et al.’s Amended Complaint is
tothe Motherland covered by OCT No. 1462 issued on that an implied trust had arisen between the Imbornal sisters,
December 5, 1933 in the name of Ciriaco, an action for on the one hand, and Ciriaco, on the other, with respect to the
reconveyance therefor should have been filed until December Motherland. This implied trust is anchored on their allegation
5, 1943; with respect to the First Accretion covered by OCT that the proceeds from the sale of the Sabangan property – an
No. P-318 issued on August 15, 1952in the name of inheritance of their predecessors, the Imbornal sisters – were
respondent Victoriano, an action of the same nature should used for the then-pending homestead application filed by
have been filed untilAugust 15, 1962; and, finally, with respect Ciriaco over the Motherland. As such, Francisco, et al. claim
to the Second Accretion covered by OCT No. 21481 issued on that they are, effectively, coowners of the Motherland together
November 10, 1978in the name of the respondents, a suit for with Ciriaco’s heirs.
reconveyance therefor should have been filed until November
10, 1988. An implied trust arises, not from any presumed intention of the
parties, but by operation of law in order to satisfy the demands
A judicious perusal of the records, however, will show that the of justice and equity and to protect against unfair dealing or
Amended Complaint42 covering all three (3) disputed downright fraud.44 To reiterate, Article 1456 of the Civil Code
properties was filed only on February 27, 1984. As such, it was states that "[i]f property is acquired through mistake or fraud,
filed way beyond the 10-year reglementary period within which the person obtaining it is, by force of law, considered a trustee
to seek the reconveyance of two (2) of these properties, of an implied trust for the benefit of the person from whom the
namely, the Motherland and the First Accretion, with only the property comes."
reconveyance action with respect to the Second Accretion
having been seasonably filed. Thus, considering The burden of proving the existence ofa trust is on the party
thatrespondents raised prescription as a defense in their asserting its existence, and such proof must be clear and
Amended Answer,43 the Amended Complaint with respect to satisfactorily show the existence of the trust and its
the Motherland and the First Accretion ought to have elements.45 While implied trusts may be proven by oral
beendismissed based on the said ground, with only the cause evidence, the evidence must be trustworthy and received by
of action pertaining to the Second Accretion surviving. As will the courts with extreme caution, and should not be made to
be, however, discussed below, the entirety of the Amended rest on loose, equivocal or indefinite declarations. Trustworthy
Complaint, including the aforesaid surviving cause of action, evidence is required because oral evidence can easily be
would falter on its substantive merits since the existence of the fabricated.46
implied trust asserted in this case had not been established. In
effect, the said complaint is completely dismissible. In this case, it cannot be said, merely on the basis of the oral
evidence offered by Francisco, et al., that the Motherland had
B. Substantive Matter: Existence of an Implied Trust. been either mistakenly or fraudulently registered in favor of
Ciriaco. Accordingly, it cannot be said either that he was the award of the homestead patent to Ciriaco and the lack of
merely a trustee of an implied trust holding the Motherland for evidence showing that the same was acquired and registered
the benefit of the Imbornal sisters or their heirs. by mistake or through fraud, the oral evidence of Francisco, et
al.would not effectively establish their claims of ownership. It
As the CA had aptly pointed out,47 a homestead patent award has been held that oral testimony as to a certain fact,
requires proof that the applicant meets the stringent depending as it does exclusively on human memory, is not as
conditions48 set forth under Commonwealth Act No. 141, as reliable as written or documentary evidence,50 especially since
amended, which includes actual possession, cultivation, and the purported agreement transpired decades ago, or in the
improvement of the homestead. It must be presumed, 1920s. Hence, with respect to the Motherland, the CA did not
therefore, that Ciriaco underwent the rigid process and duly err in holding that Ciriaco and his heirs are the owners thereof,
satisfied the strict conditions necessary for the grant of his without prejudice to the rights of any subsequent purchasers
homestead patent application. As such, it is highly implausible for value of the said property.
thatthe Motherland had been acquired and registered by
mistake or through fraudas would create an implied trust Consequently, as Francisco, et al.failed to prove their
between the Imbornal sisters and Ciriaco, especially ownership rights over the Motherland, their cause of action
considering the dearth of evidence showing that the Imbornal with respect to the First Accretion and, necessarily, the
sisters entered into the possession of the Motherland, or a Second Accretion, must likewise fail. A further exposition is
portion thereof, orasserted any right over the same at any apropos.
point during their lifetime. Hence, when OCT No. 1462
covering the Motherland was issued in his name pursuant to Article 457 of the Civil Code states the rule on accretion as
Homestead Patent No. 24991 on December 15, 1933, follows: "[t]o the owners of lands adjoining the banks of rivers
Ciriaco’s titleto the Motherland had become indefeasible. It belong the accretion which they gradually receive from the
bears to stress that the proceedings for land registration that effects of the current of the waters." Relative thereto, in
led to the issuance of Homestead Patent No. 24991 and Cantoja v. Lim,51 the Court, citing paragraph 32 of the Lands
eventually, OCT No. 1462 in Ciriaco’s name are presumptively Administrative Order No. 7-1 dated April 30, 1936, in relation
regular and proper,49 which presumption has not been to Article 4 of the Spanish Law of Waters of 1866, as well as
overcome by the evidence presented by Francisco, et al. related jurisprudence on the matter, elucidated on the
preferential right of the riparian owner over the land formed by
In this light, the Court cannot fully accept and accord accretions, viz.:
evidentiary value to the oral testimony offered by Francisco, et
al. on the alleged verbal agreement between their Being the owner of the land adjoining the foreshore area,
predecessors, the Imbornal sisters, and Ciriaco with respect to respondent is the riparian or littoralowner who has preferential
the Motherland. Weighed against the presumed regularity of right to lease the foreshore area as provided under paragraph
32 of the Lands Administrative Order No. 7-1, dated 30 April In other words, article 4 recognizes the preferential right of the
1936, which reads: littoral owner (riparian according to paragraph 32) to the
foreshore land formed by accretionsor alluvial deposits due to
32. Preference of Riparian Owner. – The owner of the property the action of the sea.1âwphi1
adjoining foreshore lands, marshylands or lands covered with
water bordering upon shores or banks of navigable lakes or The reason for that preferential right is the same as the
rivers, shall be given preference to apply for such lands justification for giving accretions to the riparianowner, which is
adjoining his property as may not be needed for the public that accretion compensates the riparian owner for the
service, subject to the laws and regulations governing lands of diminutions which his land suffers by reason of the destructive
this nature, provided that he applies therefor within sixty (60) force of the waters. So, in the case of littoral lands, he who
days from the date he receives a communication from the loses by the encroachments of the sea should gain by its
Director of Lands advising him of his preferential right. recession.52

The Court explained in Santulan v. The Executive Accordingly, therefore, alluvial deposits along the banks of a
Secretary[170 Phil. 567; 80 SCRA 548 (1977)] the reason for creek or a river do not form part of the public domain as the
such grant of preferential right to the riparian or littoral owner, alluvial property automatically belongs to the owner of the
thus: estate to which it may have been added. The only restriction
provided for by law is that the owner of the adjoining property
Now, then, is there any justification for giving to the littoral must register the same under the Torrens system; otherwise,
owner the preferential right to lease the foreshore land the alluvial property may be subject to acquisition through
abutting on his land? prescription by third persons.53

That rule in paragraph 32 is in consonance with Article 4 of the In this case, Francisco, et al. and, now, their heirs, i.e., herein
Spanish Law of Waters of 1866 which provides that, while petitioners,. are not the riparian owners of the Motherland to
lands added to the shore by accretions and alluvial deposits which the First Accretion had .attached, hence, they cannot
caused by the action of the sea form part of the public domain, assert ownership over the First Accretion. Consequently, as
such lands, "when they are no longer washed by the waters of the Second Accretion had merely attached to the First
the sea and are not necessary for purposes of public utility, or Accretion, they also have no right over the Second Accretion.
for the established [sic] of special industries, or for the coast Neither were they able to show that they acquired these
guard service, "shall be declared by the Government "to be the properties through prescription as it was ·not established that
property of the owners of the estates adjacent thereto and as they were in possession of any of them. Therefore, whether
increment thereof." through accretion or, independently, through prescription, the
discernible conclusion is that Francisco et al. and/or
petitioners' claim of title over the First and Second Accretions JOSE PORTUGAL PEREZ
had not been substantiated, and, as a result, said properties Associate Justice
cannot be reconveyed in their favor. This is especially so since
on the other end of the fray lie respondents armed with a ATTESTATION
certificate of title in their names covering the First and Second
Accretions coupled with their possession thereof, both of I attest that the conclusions in the above Decision had been
which give rise to the superior credibility of their own claim. reached in consultation before the case was assigned to the
Hence, petitioners' action for reconveyan.ce with respect to writer of the opinion of the Court's Division.
both accretions must altogether fail.
ANTONIO T. CARPIO
WHEREFORE, the petition is DENIED. The Decision dated Associate Justice
November 28, 2006 and the Resolution dated May 7, 2008 of Chairperson, Second Division
the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. CV No. 57618 are hereby
AFFIRMED, and a new judgment is entered DISMISSING the CERTIFICATION
Amended Complaint dated February 27, 1984 filed in said
case. Pursuant to Section 13, Article VIII of the Constitution, and the
Division Chairperson's Attestation, I certify that the conclusions
SO ORDERED. in the above Decision had been reached in consultation before
the case was assigned to the writer of the opinion of the
ESTELA M. PERLAS-BERNABE Court's Division.
Associate Justice
MARIA LOURDES P. A. SERENO
WE CONCUR: Chief Justice

ANTONIO T. CARPIO 306


Associate Justice
Chairperson
.R. No. 193787 April 7, 2014
MARIANO C. DEL
ARTURO D. BRION
CASTILLO SPOUSES JOSE C. ROQUE AND BEATRIZ DELA CRUZ
Associate Justice
Associate Justice ROQUE, with deceased Jose C. Roque represented by his
substitute heir JOVETTE ROQUE-LIBREA, Petitioners,
vs.
MA. PAMELA P. AGUADO, FRUCTUOSO C. SABUG, JR., (Rivero), Magdalena Aguilar, Angela Gonzales, Herminia R.
NATIONAL COUNCIL OF CHURCHES IN THE PHILIPPINES Bernardo, Antonio Rivero, Araceli R. Victa, Leonor R. Topacio,
(NCCP), represented by its Secretary General SHARON and Augusto Rivero (Rivero, et al.) – executed a Deed of
ROSE JOY RUIZ-DUREMDES, LAND BANK OF THE Conditional Sale of Real Property6 (1977 Deed of Conditional
PHILIPPINES (LBP), represented by Branch Manager Sale) over a 1,231-sq. m. portion of Lot 18089 (subject
EVELYN M. MONTERO, ATTY. MARIO S.P. DIAZ, in his portion) for a consideration of ₱30,775.00. The parties agreed
Official Capacity as Register of Deeds for Rizal, Morong that Sps. Roque shall make an initial payment of ₱15,387.50
Branch, and CECILIO U. PULAN, in his Official Capacity as upon signing, while the remaining balance of the purchase
Sheriff, Office of the Clerk of Court, Regional Trial Court, price shall be payable upon the registration of Lot 18089, as
Binangonan, Rizal,Respondents. well as the segregation and the concomitant issuance of a
separate title over the subject portion in their names. After the
DECISION deed’s execution, Sps. Roque took possession and introduced
improvements on the subject portion which they utilized as a
PERLAS-BERNABE, J.: balut factory.7

Assailed in this petition for review on certiorari1 are the On August 12, 1991, Fructuoso Sabug, Jr. (Sabug, Jr.), former
Decision2 dated May 12, 2010 and the Resolution3 dated Treasurer of the National Council of Churches in the
September 15, 2010 of the Court of Appeals (CA) in CA G.R. Philippines (NCCP), applied for a free patent over the entire
CV No. 92113 which affirmed the Decision4 dated July 8, 2008 Lot 18089 and was eventually issued Original Certificate of
of the Regional Trial Court of Binangonan, Rizal, Branch 69 Title (OCT) No. M-59558 in his name on October 21, 1991. On
(RTC) that dismissed Civil Case Nos. 03-022 and 05-003 for June 24, 1993, Sabug, Jr. and Rivero, in her personal capacity
reconveyance, annulment of sale, deed of real estate and in representation of Rivero, et al., executed a Joint
mortgage, foreclosure and certificate of sale, and damages. Affidavit9 (1993 Joint Affidavit), acknowledging that the subject
portion belongs to Sps. Roque and expressed their willingness
The Facts to segregate the same from the entire area of Lot 18089.

The property subject of this case is a parcel of land with an On December 8, 1999, however, Sabug, Jr., through a Deed
area of 20,862 square meters (sq. m.), located in Sitio Tagpos, of Absolute Sale10 (1999 Deed of Absolute Sale), sold Lot
Barangay Tayuman, Binangonan, Rizal, known as Lot 18089.5 18089 to one Ma. Pamela P. Aguado (Aguado) for
₱2,500,000.00, who, in turn, caused the cancellation of OCT
On July 21, 1977, petitioners-spouses Jose C. Roque and No. M-5955 and the issuance of Transfer Certificate of Title
Beatriz dela Cruz Roque (Sps. Roque) and the original owners (TCT) No. M-96692 dated December 17, 199911 in her name.
of the then unregistered Lot 18089 – namely, Velia R. Rivero
Thereafter, Aguado obtained an ₱8,000,000.00 loan from the years from the date OCT No. M-5955 was issued in Sabug,
Land Bank of the Philippines (Land Bank) secured by a Jr.’s name on December 17, 1999.17
mortgage over Lot 18089.12 When she failed to pay her loan
obligation, Land Bank commenced extra-judicial foreclosure On the other hand, Land Bank averred that it had no
proceedings and eventually tendered the highest bid in the knowledge of Sps. Roque’s claim relative to the subject
auction sale. Upon Aguado’s failure to redeem the subject portion, considering that at the time the loan was taken out,
property, Land Bank consolidated its ownership, and TCT No. Lot 18089 in its entirety was registered in Aguado’s name and
M-11589513 was issued in its name on July 21, 2003.14 no lien and/or encumbrance was annotated on her certificate
of title.18
On June 16, 2003, Sps. Roque filed a complaint15 for
reconveyance, annulment of sale, deed of real estate Meanwhile, on January 18, 2005, NCCP filed a separate
mortgage, foreclosure, and certificate of sale, and damages complaint19 also for declaration of nullity of documents and
before the RTC, docketed as Civil Case No. 03-022, against certificates of title and damages, docketed as Civil Case No.
Aguado, Sabug, Jr., NCCP, Land Bank, the Register of Deeds 05-003. It claimed to be the real owner of Lot 18089 which it
of Morong, Rizal, and Sheriff Cecilio U. Pulan, seeking to be supposedly acquired from Sabug, Jr. through an oral contract
declared as the true owners of the subject portion which had of sale20 in the early part of 1998, followed by the execution of
been erroneously included in the sale between Aguado and a Deed of Absolute Sale on December 2, 1998 (1998 Deed of
Sabug, Jr., and, subsequently, the mortgage to Land Bank, Absolute Sale).21 NCCP also alleged that in October of the
both covering Lot 18089 in its entirety. same year, it entered into a Joint Venture Agreement (JVA)
with Pilipinas Norin Construction Development Corporation
In defense, NCCP and Sabug, Jr. denied any knowledge of (PNCDC), a company owned by Aguado’s parents, for the
the 1977 Deed of Conditional Sale through which the subject development of its real properties, including Lot 18089, into a
portion had been purportedly conveyed to Sps. Roque.16 subdivision project, and as such, turned over its copy of OCT
No. M-5955 to PNCDC.22 Upon knowledge of the purported
For her part, Aguado raised the defense of an innocent sale of Lot 18089 to Aguado, Sabug, Jr. denied the transaction
purchaser for value as she allegedly derived her title (through and alleged forgery. Claiming that the Aguados23 and PNCDC
the 1999 Deed of Absolute Sale) from Sabug, Jr., the conspired to defraud NCCP, it prayed that PNCDC’s corporate
registered owner in OCT No. M-5955, covering Lot 18089, veil be pierced and that the Aguados be ordered to pay the
which certificate of title at the time of sale was free from any amount of ₱38,092,002.00 representing the unrealized profit
lien and/or encumbrances. She also claimed that Sps. from the JVA.24 Moreover, NCCP averred that Land Bank
Roque’s cause of action had already prescribed because their failed to exercise the diligence required to ascertain the true
adverse claim was made only on April 21, 2003, or four (4) owners of Lot 18089. Hence, it further prayed that: (a) all acts
of ownership and dominion over Lot 18089 that the bank might
have done or caused to be done be declared null and void; (b) have paid real property taxes in relation to Lot 18089; and (e)
it be declared the true and real owners of Lot 18089; and (c) Sps. Roque’s occupation of the subject portion did not ripen
the Register of Deeds of Morong, Rizal be ordered to cancel into ownership that can be considered superior to the
any and all certificates of title covering the lot, and a new one ownership of Land Bank.30 Moreover, the RTC ruled that Sps.
be issued in its name.25 In its answer, Land Bank reiterated its Roque’s action for reconveyance had already prescribed,
stance that Lot 18089 was used as collateral for the having been filed ten (10) years after the issuance of OCT No.
₱8,000,000.00 loan obtained by the Countryside Rural Bank, M-5955.31
Aguado, and one Bella Palasaga. There being no lien and/ or
encumbrance annotated on its certificate of title, i.e., TCT No. On the other hand, regarding NCCP’s complaint, the RTC
M-115895, it cannot be held liable for NCCP’s claims. Thus, it observed that while it anchored its claim of ownership over Lot
prayed for the dismissal of NCCP’s complaint.26 18089 on the 1998 Deed of Absolute Sale, the said deed was
not annotated on OCT No. M-5955. Neither was any certificate
On September 7, 2005, Civil Case Nos. 02-022 and 05-003 of title issued in its name nor did it take possession of Lot
were ordered consolidated.27 18089 or paid the real property taxes therefor. Hence, NCCP’s
claim cannot prevail against Land Bank’s title, which was
The RTC Ruling adjudged by the RTC as an innocent purchaser for value.
Also, the RTC disregarded NCCP’s allegation that the
After due proceedings, the RTC rendered a Decision28 dated signature of Sabug, Jr. on the 1999 Deed of Absolute Sale in
July 8, 2008, dismissing the complaints of Sps. Roque and favor of Aguado was forged because his signatures on both
NCCP. instruments bear semblances of similarity and appear genuine.
Besides, the examiner from the National Bureau of
With respect to Sps. Roque’s complaint, the RTC found that Investigation, who purportedly found that Sabug, Jr.’s
the latter failed to establish their ownership over the subject signature thereon was spurious leading to the dismissal of a
portion, considering the following: (a) the supposed owners- criminal case against him, was not presented as a witness in
vendors, i.e., Rivero, et al., who executed the 1977 Deed of the civil action.32
Conditional Sale, had no proof of their title over Lot 18089; (b)
the 1977 Deed of Conditional Sale was not registered with the Finally, the RTC denied the parties’ respective claims for
Office of the Register of Deeds;29 (c) the 1977 Deed of damages.33
Conditional Sale is neither a deed of conveyance nor a
transfer document, as it only gives the holder the right to The CA Ruling
compel the supposed vendors to execute a deed of absolute
sale upon full payment of the consideration; (d) neither Sps. On appeal, the Court of Appeals (CA) affirmed the foregoing
Roque nor the alleged owners-vendors, i.e., Rivero, et al., RTC findings in a Decision34 dated May 12, 2010. While Land
Bank was not regarded as a mortgagee/purchaser in good 1993 Joint Affidavit whereby Sabug, Jr. and Rivero
faith with respect to the subject portion considering Sps. acknowledged their ownership thereof.42 Being the first
Roque’s possession thereof,35 the CA did not order its purchasers and in actual possession of the disputed portion,
reconveyance or segregation in the latter’s favor because of they assert that they have a better right over the 1,231- sq. m.
Sps. Roque’s failure to pay the remaining balance of the portion of Lot 18089 and, hence, cannot be ousted therefrom
purchase price. Hence, it only directed Land Bank to respect by Land Bank, which was adjudged as a ortgagee/purchaser
Sps. Roque’s possession with the option to appropriate the in bad faith, pursuant to Article 1544 of the Civil Code.43
improvements introduced thereon upon payment of
compensation.36 In opposition, Land Bank espouses that the instant petition
should be dismissed for raising questions of fact, in violation of
As regards NCCP, the CA found that it failed to establish its the proscription under Rule 45 of the Rules of Court which
right over Lot 18089 for the following reasons: (a) the sale to it allows only pure questions of law to be raised.44 Moreover, it
of the lot by Sabug, Jr. was never registered; and (b) there is denied that ownership over the subject portion had been
no showing that it was in possession of Lot 18089 or any acquired by Sps. Roque who admittedly failed to pay the
portion thereof from 1998. Thus, as far as NCCP is concerned, remaining balance of the purchase price.45 Besides, Land
Land Bank is a mortgagee/purchaser in good faith.37 Bank points out that Sps. Roque’s action for reconveyance
had already prescribed.46
Aggrieved, both Sps. Roque38 and NCCP39 moved for
reconsideration but were denied by the CA in a Instead of traversing the arguments of Sps. Roque, NCCP, in
Resolution40dated September 15, 2010, prompting them to its Comment47 dated December 19, 2011, advanced its own
seek further recourse before the Court. case, arguing that the CA erred in holding that it failed to
establish its claimed ownership over Lot 18089 in its entirety.
The Issue Before the Court Incidentally, NCCP’s appeal from the CA Decision dated May
12, 2010 was already denied by the Court,48 and hence, will no
The central issue in this case is whether or not the CA erred in longer be dealt with in this case.
not ordering the reconveyance of the subject portion in Sps.
Roque’s favor. The Court’s Ruling

Sps. Roque maintain that the CA erred in not declaring them The petition lacks merit.
as the lawful owners of the subject portion despite having
possessed the same since the execution of the 1977 Deed of The essence of an action for reconveyance is to seek the
Conditional Sale, sufficient for acquisitive prescription to set in transfer of the property which was wrongfully or erroneously
in their favor.41 To bolster their claim, they also point to the registered in another person’s name to its rightful owner or to
one with a better right.49 Thus, it is incumbent upon the That as soon as the total amount of the property has been
aggrieved party to show that he has a legal claim on the paid and the Certificate of Title has been issued, an absolute
property superior to that of the registered owner and that the deed of sale shall be executed accordingly;
property has not yet passed to the hands of an innocent
purchaser for value.50 x x x x51

Sps. Roque claim that the subject portion covered by the 1977 Examining its provisions, the Court finds that the stipulation
Deed of Conditional Sale between them and Rivero, et al. was above-highlighted shows that the 1977 Deed of Conditional
wrongfully included in the certificates of title covering Lot Sale is actually in the nature of a contract to sell and not one
18089, and, hence, must be segregated therefrom and their of sale contrary to Sps. Roque’s belief.52 In this relation, it has
ownership thereof be confirmed. The salient portions of the been consistently ruled that where the seller promises to
said deed state: execute a deed of absolute sale upon the completion by the
buyer of the payment of the purchase price, the contract is
DEED OF CONDITIONAL SALE OF REAL PROPERTY only a contract to sell even if their agreement is denominated
as a Deed of Conditional Sale,53 as in this case. This treatment
KNOW ALL MEN BY THESE PRESENTS: stems from the legal characterization of a contract to sell, that
is, a bilateral contract whereby the prospective seller, while
xxxx expressly reserving the ownership of the subject property
despite delivery thereof to the prospective buyer, binds himself
That for and in consideration of the sum of THIRTY to sell the subject property exclusively to the prospective buyer
THOUSAND SEVEN HUNDRED SEVENTY FIVE PESOS upon fulfillment of the condition agreed upon, such as, the full
(₱30,775.00), Philippine Currency, payable in the manner payment of the purchase price.54 Elsewise stated, in a contract
hereinbelow specified, the VENDORS do hereby sell, transfer to sell, ownership is retained by the vendor and is not to pass
and convey unto the VENDEE, or their heirs, executors, to the vendee until full payment of the purchase
administrators, or assignors, that unsegregated portion of the price.55 Explaining the subject matter further, the Court, in
above lot, x x x. Ursal v. CA,56 held that:

That the aforesaid amount shall be paid in two installments, [I]n contracts to sell the obligation of the seller to sell becomes
the first installment which is in the amount of __________ demandable only upon the happening of the suspensive
(₱15,387.50) and the balance in the amount of __________ condition, that is, the full payment of the purchase price by the
(₱15,387.50), shall be paid as soon as the described portion of buyer. It is only upon the existence of the contract of sale that
the property shall have been registered under the Land the seller becomes obligated to transfer the ownership of the
Registration Act and a Certificate of Title issued accordingly; thing sold to the buyer. Prior to the existence of the contract of
sale, the seller is not obligated to transfer the ownership to the grant of his free patent application – could validly convey said
buyer, even if there is a contract to sell between them. property in its entirety to Aguado who, in turn, mortgaged the
same to Land Bank. Besides, as aptly observed by the RTC,
Here, it is undisputed that Sps. Roque have not paid the final Sps. Roque failed to establish that the parties who sold the
installment of the purchase price.57 As such, the condition property to them, i.e., Rivero, et al., were indeed its true and
which would have triggered the parties’ obligation to enter into lawful owners.61 In fine, Sps. Roque failed to establish any
and thereby perfect a contract of sale in order to effectively superior right over the subject portion as against the registered
transfer the ownership of the subject portion from the sellers owner of Lot 18089, i.e., Land Bank, thereby warranting the
(i.e., Rivero et al.) to the buyers (Sps. Roque) cannot be dismissal of their reconveyance action, without prejudice to
deemed to have been fulfilled. Consequently, the latter cannot their right to seek damages against the vendors, i.e., Rivero et
validly claim ownership over the subject portion even if they al.62 As applied in the case of Coronel v. CA:63
had made an initial payment and even took possession of the
same.58 It is essential to distinguish between a contract to sell and a
conditional contract of sale specially in cases where the
The Court further notes that Sps. Roque did not even take any subject property is sold by the owner not to the party the seller
active steps to protect their claim over the disputed portion. contracted with, but to a third person, as in the case at bench.
This remains evident from the following circumstances In a contract to sell, there being no previous sale of the
appearing on record: (a) the 1977 Deed of Conditional Sale property, a third person buying such property despite the
was never registered; (b) they did not seek the actual/physical fulfilment of the suspensive condition such as the full payment
segregation of the disputed portion despite their knowledge of of the purchase price, for instance, cannot be deemed a buyer
the fact that, as early as 1993, the entire Lot 18089 was in bad faith and the prospective buyer cannot seek the relief of
registered in Sabug, Jr.’s name under OCT No. M-5955; and reconveyance of the property.
(c) while they signified their willingness to pay the balance of
the purchase price,59Sps. Roque neither compelled Rivero et There is no double sale in such case.1âwphi1 Title to the
al., and/or Sabug, Jr. to accept the same nor did they consign property will transfer to the buyer after registration because
any amount to the court, the proper application of which would there is no defect in the owner-seller’s title per se, but the
have effectively fulfilled their obligation to pay the purchase latter, of course, may be sued for damages by the intending
price.60 Instead, Sps. Roque waited 26 years, reckoned from buyer. (Emphasis supplied)
the execution of the 1977 Deed of Conditional Sale, to institute
an action for reconveyance (in 2003), and only after Lot 18089 On the matter of double sales, suffice it to state that Sps.
was sold to Land Bank in the foreclosure sale and title thereto Roque’s reliance64 on Article 154465 of the Civil Code has been
was consolidated in its name. Thus, in view of the foregoing, misplaced since the contract they base their claim of
Sabug, Jr. – as the registered owner of Lot 18089 borne by the ownership on is, as earlier stated, a contract to sell, and not
one of sale. In Cheng v. Genato,66 the Court stated the WHEREFORE, the petition is DENIED. The Decision dated
circumstances which must concur in order to determine the May 12, 2010 and the Resolution dated September 15, 2010
applicability of Article 1544, none of which are obtaining in this of the Court of Appeals in CAG.R. CV No. 92113 are hereby
case, viz.: AFFIRMED.

(a) The two (or more) sales transactions in issue must SO ORDERED.
pertain to exactly the same subject matter, and must be
valid sales transactions; ESTELA M. PERLAS-BERNABE
Associate Justice
(b) The two (or more) buyers at odds over the rightful
ownership of the subject matter must each represent WE CONCUR:
conflicting interests; and

(c) The two (or more) buyers at odds over the rightful REPUBLIC OF THE PHILIPPINES, G.R. No. 170375
ownership of the subject matter must each have bought Petitioner,
from the same seller.

Finally, regarding Sps. Roque’s claims of acquisitive - versus -


prescription and reimbursement for the value of the
improvements they have introduced on the subject
property,67 it is keenly observed that none of the arguments HON. MAMINDIARA P. MANGOTARA, in
therefor were raised before the trial court or the his capacity as Presiding Judge of the
CA.68 Accordingly, the Court applies the well-settled rule that Regional Trial Court, Branch 1, Iligan
litigants cannot raise an issue for the first time on appeal as City, Lanao del Norte, and MARIA
this would contravene the basic rules of fair play and justice. In CRISTINA FERTILIZER CORPORATION,
any event, such claims appear to involve questions of fact and the PHILIPPINE NATIONAL BANK,
which are generally prohibited under a Rule 45 petition.69 Respondents,
x-----------------------x
With the conclusions herein reached, the Court need not LAND TRADE REALTY CORPORATION,
belabor on the other points raised by the parties, and Petitioner,
ultimately finds it proper to proceed with the denial of the
petition. G.R. No. 170505
- versus -
x-----------------------x
NATIONAL TRANSMISSION
NATIONAL POWER CORPORATION and CORPORATION,
NATIONAL TRANSMISSION Petitioner,
CORPORATION (TRANSCO),
Respondents,
x-----------------------x - versus -
NATIONAL POWER CORPORATION,
Petitioner,
HON. COURT OF APPEALS (Special
Twenty-Third Division, Cagayan de Oro
- versus - City), and LAND TRADE REALTY G.R. Nos. 173563-64
G.R. Nos. 173355-56
CORPORATION as represented by Atty.
Max C. Tabimina,
HON. COURT OF APPEALS (Special Respondents,
Twenty-Third Division, Cagayan de Oro x-----------------------x
City), and LAND TRADE REALTY
CORPORATION, LAND TRADE REALTY CORPORATION,
Respondents, Petitioner,
x-----------------------x
REPUBLIC OF THE PHILIPPINES, - versus -
Petitioner,
DEMETRIA CONFESOR VIDAL and
AZIMUTH INTERNATIONAL
- versus - DEVELOPMENT CORPORATION,
Respondents,
x-----------------------x
DEMETRIA CACHO, represented by G.R. No. 173401 TEOFILO CACHO and/or ATTY.
alleged Heirs DEMETRIA CONFESOR GODOFREDO CABILDO, G.R. No. 178779
VIDAL and/or TEOFILO CACHO, AZIMUTH Petitioner,
INTERNATIONAL DEVELOPMENT
CORPORATION and LAND TRADE
REALTY CORPORATION,
Respondents.
- versus - In G.R. No. 170375, the Republic of the Philippines
(Republic), by way of consolidated Petitions for Review
on Certiorari and for Certiorari under Rules 45 and 65 of the
Rules of Court, respectively, seeks to set aside the issuances
of Judge Mamindiara P. Mangotara (Judge Mangotara) of the
DEMETRIA CONFESOR VIDAL and Regional Trial Court, Branch 1 (RTC-Branch 1) of Iligan City,
AZIMUTH INTERNATIONAL G.R. No. 178894 Lanao del Norte, in Civil Case No. 106, particularly, the: (1)
DEVELOPMENT CORPORATION, Resolution[1] dated July 12, 2005 which, in part, dismissed the
Present: Complaint for Expropriation of the Republic for the latters
Respondents.
failure to implead indispensable parties and forum shopping;
CORONA, C.J., and (2) Resolution[2] dated October 24, 2005, which denied the
Chairperson, Partial Motion for Reconsideration of the Republic.
VELASCO, JR.,
LEONARDO-DE CASTRO, G.R. Nos. 178779 and 178894 are two Petitions for
DEL CASTILLO, and
Review on Certiorari under Rule 45 of the Rules of Court,
PEREZ, JJ. where Landtrade Realty Corporation (LANDTRADE), Teofilo
Cacho, and/or Atty. Godofredo Cabildo assail the
Promulgated: Decision[3] dated January 19, 2007 and Resolution[4] dated July
4, 2007 of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. CV No. 00456. The
July 7, 2010 Court of Appeals affirmed the Decision[5] dated July 17, 2004
x-------------------------------------------- of the Regional Trial Court, Branch 3 (RTC-Branch 3)
------x of Iligan City, Lanao del Norte, in Civil Case No. 4452, granting
the Petition for Quieting of Title, Injunction and Damages filed
by Demetria Vidal and Azimuth International Development
DECISION Corporation (AZIMUTH) against Teofilo Cacho and Atty.
Godofredo Cabildo.
LEONARDO-DE CASTRO, J.:
G.R. No. 170505 is a Petition for Review on Certiorari under
Before the Court are seven consolidated Petitions for Review Rule 45 of the Rules of Court in which LANDTRADE urges the
on Certiorari and a Petition for Certiorari under Rules 45 and Court to reverse and set aside the Decision[6] dated November
65 of the Rules of Court, respectively, arising from actions for 23, 2005 of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. SP Nos. 85714
quieting of title, expropriation, ejectment, and reversion, which and 85841. The appellate court annulled several issuances of
all involve the same parcels of land. the Regional Trial Court, Branch 5 (RTC-Branch 5) of Iligan
City, Lanao del Norte, and its sheriff, in Civil Case No. 6613,
specifically, the: (1) Order[7] dated August 9, 2004 granting the Republic, which raises pure questions of law and seeks the
Motion for Execution Pending Appeal of LANDTRADE; (2) Writ reversal of the following issuances of the Regional Trial Court,
of Execution[8] dated August 10, 2004; (3) two Notices of Branch 4 (RTC-Branch 4) of Iligan City, Lanao del Norte, in
Garnishment[9] both dated August 11, 2004, and (4) Civil Case No. 6686, an action for cancellation of titles and
Notification[10] dated August 11, 2004. These issuances of the reversion: (1) Order[14] dated December 13, 2005 dismissing
RTC-Branch 5 allowed and/or enabled execution pending the Complaint in Civil Case No. 6686; and (2) Order[15] dated
appeal of the Decision[11] dated February 17, 2004 of the May 16, 2006, denying the Motion for Reconsideration of the
Municipal Trial Court in Cities (MTCC), Branch 2 of Iligan City, Republic.
Lanao del Norte, favoring LANDTRADE in Civil Case No.
11475-AF, the ejectment case said corporation instituted I
against the National Power Corporation (NAPOCOR) and the THE PRECEDING CASES
National Transmission Corporation (TRANSCO).
The consolidated seven cases have for their common
G.R. Nos. 173355-56 and 173563-64 are two Petitions genesis the 1914 case of Cacho v. Government of the
for Certiorari and Prohibition under Rule 65 of the Rules of United States[16] (1914 Cacho case).
Court with prayer for the immediate issuance of a Temporary
Restraining Order (TRO) and/or Writ of Preliminary Injunction The 1914 Cacho Case
filed separately by NAPOCOR and TRANSCO. Both Petitions
seek to annul the Resolution[12] dated June 30, 2006 of the Sometime in the early 1900s, the late Doa Demetria
Court of Appeals in the consolidated cases of CA-G.R. SP Cacho (Doa Demetria) applied for the registration of two
Nos. 00854 and 00889, which (1) granted the Omnibus Motion parcels of land: (1) Lot 1 of Plan II-3732, the smaller parcel
of LANDTRADE for the issuance of a writ of execution and the with an area of 3,635 square meters or 0.36 hectares (Lot 1);
designation of a special sheriff for the enforcement of the and (2) Lot 2 of Plan II-3732, the larger parcel with an area
Decision[13]dated December 12, 2005 of the RTC-Branch 1 in of 378,707 square meters or 37.87 hectares (Lot 2). Both
Civil Case No. 6613, and (2) denied the applications of parcels are situated in what was
NAPOCOR and TRANSCO for a writ of preliminary injunction then the Municipality of Iligan, Moro Province, which later
to enjoin the execution of the same RTC Decision. The became Sitio Nunucan, then Brgy. Suarez, in Iligan City,
Decision dated December 12, 2005 of RTC-Branch 1 in Civil Lanao del Norte. Doa Demetrias applications for registration
Case No. 6613 affirmed the Decision dated February 17, 2004 were docketed as GLRO Record Nos. 6908 and 6909.
of the MTCC in Civil Case No. 11475-AF, favoring
LANDTRADE. The application in GLRO Record No.
6908 covered Lot 1, the smaller parcel of land. Doa Demetria
G.R. No. 173401 involves a Petition for Review allegedly acquired Lot 1 by purchase from Gabriel Salzos
on Certiorari under Rule 45 of the Rules of Court filed by the (Salzos). Salzos, in turn, bought Lot 1 from Datto Darondon
and his wife Alanga, evidenced by a deed of sale in favor of Philippine Islands. It appears that the husband
Salzos signed solely by Alanga, on behalf of Datto Darondon. of Alanga, Datto Darondon, is alive yet,
and before admitting this parcel to
The application in GLRO Record No. registration it is ordered that a deed from
6909 involved Lot 2, the bigger parcel of land. Doa Demetria Datto Darondon, husband of Alanga, be
purportedly purchased Lot 2 from Datto Bunglay.Datto presented, renouncing all his rights in the
Bunglay claimed to have inherited Lot 2 from his uncle, Datto small parcel of land object of Case No. 6908,
Anandog, who died without issue. in favor of the applicant.[17] (Emphases
supplied.)
Only the Government opposed Doa Demetrias
applications for registration on the ground that the two parcels
of land were the property of the United States and formed part In GLRO Record No. 6909, the LRC observed and
of a military reservation, generally known as Camp Overton. concluded that:
A tract of land 37 hectares in area,
On December 10, 1912, the land registration court which is the extent of the land under discussion,
(LRC) rendered its Decision in GLRO Record Nos. 6908 and is larger than is cultivated ordinarily by the
6909. Christian Filipinos. In the Zamboanga cadastral
case of thousands of parcels now on trial before
Based on the evidence, the LRC made the following this court, the average size of the parcels is not
findings in GLRO Record No. 6908: above 3 or 4 hectares, and the court doubts
very much if a Moro with all his family could
6th. The court is convinced from the cultivate as extensive a parcel of land as the
proofs that the small parcel of land sold by the one in question. x x x
Moro woman Alanga was the home of herself
and her husband, Darondon, and was their xxxx
conjugal property; and the court so finds.
The court is also convinced from the
xxxx proofs that the small portion in the southern
part of the larger parcel, where, according to
As we have seen, the deed on which the proofs, Datto Anandog had his house and
applicants title to the small parcel rests, is where there still exist some cocos and fruit
executed only by the Moro woman Alanga, wife trees, was the home of the said Moro Datto
of Datto Darondon, which is not permitted either Anandog; and the court so finds. As to the
by the Moro laws or the Civil Code of the rest of the large parcel the court does not
find the title of Datto Bunglay portion of land left by her deceased brother,
established. According to his own declaration Datto Anandog. By article LXXXV, section 3, of
his residence on this land commenced only a the Luwaran Code, it will be seen that the
few days before the sale.He admitted that the brothers and sisters of a deceased Moro inherit
coco trees he is supposed to have planted had his property to the exclusion of the more distant
not yet begun to bear fruit at the time of the relatives. Therefore Datto Bunglay had no legal
sale, and were very small. Datto Duroc interest whatever in the land to sell to the
positively denies that Bunglay lived on the land, applicant, Doa Demetria Cacho. But the Moro
and it clearly appears that he was not on the woman, Alanga, having appeared as a witness
land when it was first occupied by the for the applicant without having made any claim
military. Nor does Datto Bunglay claim to have to the land, the court finds from this fact that
planted the three mango trees by the roadside she has ratified the sale made by her nephew.
near point 25 of the plan. The court believes
that all the rest of this parcel, not occupied nor The court therefore finds that the
cultivated by Datto Anandog, was land claimed applicant Doa Demetria Cacho is owner of
by Datto Duroc and also by Datto Anandog and the portion of land occupied and planted by
possibly by other dattos as a part of their the deceased Datto Anandog in the southern
general jurisdiction, and that it is the class of part of the large parcel object
land that Act No. 718 prohibits the sale of, by of expediente No. 6909 only; and her
the dattos, without the express approval of the application as to all the rest of the land
Government. solicited in said case is denied. And it is
ordered that a new survey of the land be
It is also found that Datto Bunglay is the made and a corrected plan be presented,
nephew of Dato Anandog, and that the Moro excluding all the land not occupied and
woman Alanga, grantor of the small parcel, is cultivated by Datto Anandog; that said
the sister of Datto Anandog, and that he died survey be made and the corrected plan
without issue. presented on or before the 30th day of
March, 1913, with previous notice to the
xxxx commanding general of the Division of the
Philippines.
It appears also that according to the
provisions of the Civil Code as also the On the 8th day of December, the court
provisions of the Luwaran Code of the Moros, was at Camp Overton and had another ocular
the Moro woman Alanga has an interest in the inspection of the land for the purpose of fixing
the limits of the part cultivated by Datto 30th day of March, 1913. Final decision in these
Anandog, so often mentioned herein, with cases is reserved until the presentation of the
previous notice to the applicant and her said deed and the new plan.[19]
husband and representative, Seor Dionisio
Vidal. Having arrived late, Seor Vidal did not
assist in the ocular inspection, which was fixed Apparently dissatisfied with the foregoing LRC
for 3 oclock, p.m. of the day mentioned. But the judgment, Doa Demetria appealed to this Court. In its Decision
court, nevertheless, set stakes marking the dated December 10, 1914, the Court affirmed in toto the LRC
N.E., S.E., and S.W. corners of the land found Decision of December 10, 1912, well satisfied that the findings
to have been cultivated by the deceased of fact of the court below were fully sustained by the evidence
Anandog. The N.E. limit of said land is a brook, adduced during trial.
and the N.W. corner is the point where the Eighty-three years later, in 1997, the Court was again called
brook intersects the shore line of the sea, the upon to settle a matter concerning the registration of Lots 1
other corners mentioned being marked with and 2 in the case of Cacho v. Court of Appeals[20] (1997
pine stakes. And it is ordered that the new Cacho case).
survey be made in accordance with the
points mentioned, by tracing four straight The 1997 Cacho Case
lines connecting these four points. Between
the portion cultivated by Datto Anandog and the On June 29, 1978, Teofilo Cacho (Teofilo), claiming to
mouth of the River Agus there is a high steep be the late Doa Demetrias son and sole heir, filed before the
hill and the court does not believe it possible to RTC a petition for reconstitution of two original certificates of
cultivate said hill, it being covered with rocks title (OCTs), docketed under the original GLRO Record Nos.
and forest.[18] (Emphases supplied.) 6908 and 6909.

Teofilos petition was opposed by the Republic, National


The LRC additionally decreed at the end of its Steel Corporation (NSC), and the City of Iligan.
December 10, 1912 Decision:
Acting on the motion for judgment on demurrer to
It is further ordered that one-half of the evidence filed by the Republic and NSC, the RTC initially
costs of the new survey be paid by the applicant dismissed Teofilos petition for reconstitution of titles because
and the other half by the Government of there was inadequate evidence to show the prior existence of
the United States, and that the applicant the titles sought to be restored. According to the RTC, the
present the corresponding deed from Datto proper remedy was a petition for the reconstitution of decrees
Darondon on or before the above-mentioned since it is undisputed that in Cases No. 6908 and 6909,
Decrees No. 10364 and 18969, respectively, were the property and title thereto by laches; and (3) Teofilo failed to
issued. Teofilo sought leave of court for the filing and establish his identity and existence and that he was a real
admission of his amended petition, but the RTC party-in-interest.
refused. When elevated to this Court in Cacho v. Mangotara,
docketed as G.R. No. 85495, the Court resolved to remand the Teofilo then sought recourse from this Court in
case to the RTC, with an order to the said trial court to accept the 1997 Cacho case. The Court reversed the judgment of the
Teofilos amended petition and to hear it as one for re-issuance Court of Appeals and reinstated the decision of the RTC
of decrees. approving the re-issuance of Decree Nos. 10364 and
18969. The Court found that such decrees had in fact been
In opposing Teofilos petition, the Republic and NSC issued and had attained finality, as certified by the Acting
argued that the same suffered from jurisdictional infirmities; Commissioner, Deputy Clerk of Court III, Geodetic Engineer,
that Teofilo was not the real party-in-interest; that Teofilo was and Chief of Registration of the then Land Registration
guilty of laches; that Doa Demetria was not the registered Commission, now National Land Titles and Deeds Registration
owner of the subject parcels of land; that no decrees were Administration (NALTDRA). The Court further reasoned that:
ever issued in Doa Demetrias name; and that the issuance of
the decrees was dubious and irregular. [T]o sustain the Court of Appeals ruling as
regards requiring petitioners to fulfill the
After trial, on June 9, 1993, the RTC rendered its conditions set forth in Cacho vs. U.S. would
Decision granting Teofilos petition and ordering the constitute a derogation of the doctrine of res
reconstitution and re-issuance of Decree Nos. 10364 and judicata. Significantly, the issuance of the
18969. The RTC held that the issuance of Decree No. 10364 subject decrees presupposes a prior final
in GLRO No. 6908 on May 9, 1913 and Decree No. 18969 in judgment because the issuance of such
GLRO Record No. 6909 on July 8, 1915 was sufficiently decrees is a mere ministerial act on part of the
established by the certifications and testimonies of concerned Land Registration Commission (now the
officials. The original issuance of these decrees presupposed NALTDRA), upon presentation of a final
a prior judgment that had become final. judgment. It is also worth noting that the
judgment in Cacho vs. U.S. could not have
On appeal, the Court of Appeals reversed the RTC acquired finality without the prior fulfillment of
Decision dated June 9, 1993 and dismissed the petition for re- the conditions in GLRO Record No. 6908, the
issuance of Decree Nos. 10364 and 18969 because: (1) re- presentation of the corresponding deed of sale
issuance of Decree No. 18969 in GLRO Record No. 6909 from Datto Dorondon on or before March 30,
could not be made in the absence of the new survey ordered 1913 (upon which Decree No. 10364 was
by this Court in the 1914 Cacho case; (2) the heir of a issued on May 9, 1913); and in GLRO Record
registered owner may lose his right to recover possession of No. 6909, the presentation of a new survey per
decision of Judge Jorge on December 10, 1912 personally before the Vice Consul of the Philippine Consulate
and affirmed by this Court on December 10, General in Chicago to execute a Special Power of Attorney in
1914 (upon which Decree No. 18969 was favor of Atty. Godofredo Cabildo (Atty. Cabildo) who
issued on July 8, 1915). represented him in this case. The Court stressed that the
execution of public documents is entitled to the presumption of
Requiring the submission of a new plan as a regularity and proof is required to assail and controvert the
condition for the re-issuance of the decree same.
would render the finality attained by the Cacho
vs. U.S. case nugatory, thus, violating the In the Resolution dated July 28, 1997,[22] the Court
fundamental rule regarding res judicata. It must denied the Motions for Reconsideration of the Republic and
be stressed that the judgment and the resulting NSC.
decree are res judicata, and these are binding
upon the whole world, the proceedings being in As a result of the 1997 Cacho case, the decrees of
the nature of proceedings in rem. Besides, such registration were re-issued bearing new numbers and OCTs
a requirement is an impermissible assault upon were issued for the two parcels of land in Doa Demetrias
the integrity and stability of the Torrens System name. OCT No. 0-1200 (a.f.) was based on re-issued Decree
of registration because it also effectively No. N-219464 in GLRO Record No. 6908, while OCT No. 0-
renders the decree inconclusive.[21] 1201 (a.f.) was based on re-issued Decree No. N-219465 in
GLRO Record No. 6909.
II
As to the issue of laches, the Court referred to the THE ANTECENT FACTS
settled doctrine that laches cannot bar the issuance of a OF THE PETITIONS AT BAR
decree. A final decision in land registration cases can neither
be rendered inefficacious by the statute of limitations nor by
laches. The dispute over Lots 1 and 2 did not end with the
termination of the 1997 Cacho case. Another four cases
Anent the issue of the identity and existence of Teofilo involving the same parcels of land were instituted before the
and he being a real party-in-interest, the Court found that trial courts during and after the pendency of the 1997 Cacho
these were sufficiently established by the records. The Court case. These cases are: (1) the Expropriation Case, G.R. No.
relied on Teofilos Affidavit of Adjudication as Doa Demetrias 170375; (2) the Quieting of Title Case, G.R. Nos. 178779 and
sole heir, which he executed before the Philippine Consulate 178894; (3) the Ejectment or Unlawful Detainer Case, G.R.
General in Chicago, United States of America (U.S.A.); as well No. 170505 (execution pending appeal before the RTC) and
as the publication in the Times Journal of the fact of G.R. Nos. 173355-56 and 173563-64 (execution pending
adjudication of Doa Demetrias estate. Teofilo also appeared appeal before the Court of Appeals); and (4) the Cancellation
of Titles and Reversion Case, G.R. No. 173401. These cases ISA. The RTC-Branch 1 granted the Motion to Dismiss in an
proceeded independently of each other in the courts a Order dated November 9, 1988. ISA moved for
quo until they reached this Court via the present Petitions. In reconsideration or, in the alternative, for the substitution of the
the Resolution[23] dated October 3, 2007, the Court Republic as plaintiff in Civil Case No. 106, but the motion was
consolidated the seven Petitions considering that they either denied by RTC-Branch 1. The dismissal of Civil Case No. 106
originated from the same case or involved similar issues. was affirmed by the Court of Appeals, thus, ISA appealed to
this Court. In Iron and Steel Authority v. Court of
Expropriation Case Appeals[26] (ISA case), the Court remanded the case to RTC-
(G.R. No. 170375) Branch 1, which was ordered to allow the substitution of the
Republic for ISA as plaintiff. Entry of Judgment was made in
The Complaint for Expropriation was originally filed on August the ISA case on August 31, 1998. In an Order[27] dated
15, 1983 by the Iron and Steel Authority (ISA), now the NSC, November 16, 2001, the RTC-Branch 1 allowed the
against Maria Cristina Fertilizer Corporation (MCFC), and the substitution of the Republic for ISA as plaintiff in Civil Case No.
latters mortgagee, the Philippine National Bank (PNB). The 106.
Complaint was docketed as Civil Case No. 106 and raffled to
RTC-Branch 1, presided over by Judge Mangotara. Alleging that Lots 1 and 2 involved in the 1997 Cacho
case encroached and overlapped the parcel of land subject of
ISA was created pursuant to Presidential Decree No. Civil Case No. 106, the Republic filed with the RTC-Branch 1 a
2729[24] dated August 9, 1973, to strengthen, develop, and Motion for Leave to File Supplemental Complaint dated
promote the iron and steel industry in the Philippines. Its October 7, 2004 and to Admit the Attached Supplemental
existence was extended until October 10, 1988. Complaint dated September 28, 2004[28] seeking to implead in
Civil Case No. 106 Teofilo Cacho and Demetria Vidal and their
On November 16, 1982, during the existence of ISA, respective successors-in-interest, LANDTRADE and
then President Ferdinand E. Marcos issued Presidential AZIMUTH.
Proclamation No. 2239,[25] reserving in favor of ISA a parcel of
land in Iligan City, measuring 302,532 square meters or 30.25 MCFC opposed the Motion for leave to file and to admit the
hectares, to be devoted to the integrated steel program of the Supplemental Complaint on the ground that the Republic was
Government. MCFC occupied certain portions of this parcel of without legal personality to file the same because ISA was the
land. When negotiations with MCFC failed, ISA was compelled plaintiff in Civil Case No. 106. MCFC argued that the Republic
to file a Complaint for Expropriation. failed to move for the execution of the decision in the ISA
case within the prescriptive period of five years, hence, the
When the statutory existence of ISA expired during the only remedy left was for the Republic to file an independent
pendency of Civil Case No. 106, MCFC filed a Motion to action to revive the judgment. MCFC further pointed out that
Dismiss the case alleging the lack of capacity to sue of the unreasonable delay of more than six years of the Republic
in seeking the substitution and continuation of the action for What the Republic seeks [herein] is the
expropriation effectively barred any further proceedings therein expropriation of the subject parcels of
on the ground of estoppel by laches. land. Since the exercise of the power of
eminent domain involves the taking of private
In its Reply, the Republic referred to the Order dated lands intended for public use upon payment of
November 16, 2001 of the RTC-Branch 1 allowing the just compensation to the owner x x x, then a
substitution of the Republic for ISA. complaint for expropriation must, of necessity,
In an Order dated April 4, 2005, the RTC-Branch 1 denied the be directed against the owner of the land
Motion of the Republic for leave to file and to admit its subject thereof. In the case at bar, the decision
Supplemental Complaint. The RTC-Branch 1 agreed with of the Supreme Court in Cacho v. Government
MCFC that the Republic did not file any motion for execution of of the United States x x x, decreeing the
the judgment of this Court in the ISA case. Since no such registration of the subject parcels of land in the
motion for execution had been filed, the RTC-Branch 1 ruled name of the late Doa Demetria Cacho has long
that its Order dated November 16, 2001, which effected the attained finality and is conclusive as to the
substitution of the Republic for ISA as plaintiff in Civil Case No. question of ownership thereof. Since MCFC,
106, was an honest mistake. The Republic filed a Motion for the only defendant left in this case, is not a
Reconsideration of the April 4, 2005 Order of the RTC-Branch proper party defendant in this complaint for
1. expropriation, the present case should be
dismissed.
MCFC then filed a Motion to Dismiss Civil Case No. 106 for:
(1) failure of the Republic to implead indispensable parties This Court notes that the Republic [has
because MCFC insisted it was not the owner of the parcels of filed reversion proceedings] dated September
land sought to be expropriated; and (2) forum shopping 27, 2004, involving the same parcels of land,
considering the institution by the Republic on October 13, docketed as Case No. 6686 pending before the
2004 of an action for the reversion of the same parcels subject Regional Trial Court of Lanao del Norte, Iligan
of the instant case for expropriation. City Branch 4. [The Republic], however, did not
Judge Mangotara of RTC-Branch 1 issued a Resolution[29] on state such fact in its Verification and
July 12, 2005, denying for lack of merit the Motion for Certification of Non-Forum Shopping attached
Reconsideration of the Order dated April 4, 2005 filed by the to its Supplemental Complaint dated
Republic, and granting the Motion to Dismiss Civil Case No. September 28, 2004. [It is therefore] guilty of
106 filed by MCFC. Judge Mangotara justified the dismissal of forum shopping. Moreover, considering that in
the Expropriation Case thus: the Reversion case, [the Republic] asserts
ownership over the subject parcels of land, it
cannot be allowed to take an inconsistent
position in this expropriation case without Agreement dated April 2, 1998 and Deed of Conditional
making a mockery of justice.[30] Conveyance dated August 13, 2004, which Vidal executed in
favor of AZIMUTH.

The Republic filed a Motion for Reconsideration of the Teofilo opposed the Petition contending that it stated
Resolution dated July 12, 2005, insofar as it dismissed Civil no cause of action because there was no title being disturbed
Case No. 106, but said Motion was denied by Judge or in danger of being lost due to the claim of a third party, and
Mangatora in a Resolution[31] dated October 24, 2005. Vidal had neither legal nor beneficial ownership of the parcels
On January 16, 2006, the Republic filed with this Court the of land in question; that the matter and issues raised in the
consolidated Petition for Review on Certiorari and Petition Petition had already been tried, heard, and decided by the
for Certiorari under Rules 45 and 65 of the Rules of Court, RTC of Iligan City and affirmed with finality by this Court in
respectively, docketed as G.R. No. 170375. the 1997 Cacho case; and that the Petition was barred by the
Statute of Limitations and laches.
The Quieting of Title Case
(G.R. Nos. 178779 and 178894) LANDTRADE, among other parties, was allowed by the
RTC-Branch 3 to intervene in Civil Case No.
4452. LANDTRADE alleged that it is the owner of a portion of
the subject parcels of land, measuring 270,255 square meters
Demetria Vidal (Vidal) and AZIMUTH filed on or about 27.03 hectares, which it purportedly acquired through
November 18, 1998, a Petition[32] for Quieting of Title against a Deed of Absolute Sale dated October 1, 1996 from Teofilo,
Teofilo, Atty. Cabildo, and the Register of Deeds of Iligan City, represented by Atty. Cabildo. LANDTRADE essentially argued
which was docketed as Civil Case No. 4452 and raffled to that Vidal's right as heir should be adjudicated upon in a
RTC-Branch 3. separate and independent proceeding and not in the instant
Quieting of Title Case.
In the Petition, Vidal claimed that she, and not Teofilo, During the pre-trial conference, the parties manifested
was the late Doa Demetrias sole surviving heir, entitled to the that there was no possibility of any amicable settlement
parcels of land covered by OCT Nos. 0-1200 (a.f.) and 0-1201 among them.
(a.f.). She averred that she is the daughter of Francisco Cacho
Vidal (Francisco) and Fidela Arellano Confesor. Francisco was Vidal and AZIMUTH submitted testimonial and
the only child of Don Dionisio Vidal and Doa Demetria. documentary evidence during the trial before the RTC-Branch
3. Teofilo and Atty. Cabildo failed to present any evidence as
AZIMUTH, for its part, filed the Petition as Vidals they did not appear at all during the trial, while LANDTRADE
successor-in-interest with respect to a 23-hectare portion of was declared by the RTC-Branch 3 to have waived its right to
the subject parcels of land pursuant to the Memorandum of present evidence on its defense and counterclaim.
no valid right to or interest in the
On July 17, 2004, the RTC-Branch 3 rendered its Subject Property.
Decision[33] in Civil Case No. 4452 in favor of Vidal and
AZIMUTH, the dispositive portion of which reads: 2) ORDERING:

WHEREFORE, judgment is hereby a.) Respondent Register of


rendered in favor of the petitioners and against Deeds of Iligan City, and any
the respondents and intervenors: other person acting in his behalf,
stop, cease and desist:
1) DECLARING:
i) From accepting
a.) Petitioner Demetria C. Vidal or registering any
the sole surviving heir of the late affidavit of self-
Doa Demetria Cacho; adjudication or
b.) Petitioner Demetria C. Vidal any other
alone has the hereditary right to document
and interest in the Subject executed by
Property; respondents
c.) Petitioner Azimuth Teofilo Cacho,
International Development Godofredo
Corporation is the successor-in- Cabildo and/or
interest of petitioner Demetria C. any other person
Vidal to a portion of the Subject which in any way
Property to the extent provided in transfers the title
their 2 April 1998 Memorandum to the Subject
of Agreement and 13 August Property from
1998 Deed of Conditional Dona Demetria
Conveyance; Cacho to
d.) Respondent Teofilo Cacho is respondent
not a son or heir of the late Dona Teofilo Cacho,
Demetria Cacho; and Godofredo
e.) Respondent Teofilo Cacho, Cabildo and/or
Godofredo Cabildo and any of any of their
their transferees/assignees have transferees/assign
ees, including the registered therein,
intervenors. any affidavit of
ii) From cancelling self-adjudication
the OCTs or any or any other
certificate of title document which
over the Subject in any way
Property in the transfers title to
name of Demetria the Subject
Cacho or any Property from
successor Demetria Cacho
certificate of title, to respondents
and from issuing Teofilo Cacho,
new certificates of Godofredo
title in the name of Cabildo and/or
respondents any of their
Teofilo Cacho, transferees/assign
Godofredo ees, including the
Cabildo their intervenors.
transferees/assign ii) From canceling
ees, including the or causing the
intervenors. cancellation of
OCTs or any
b) Respondents Teofilo Cacho, certificate of title
Godofredo Cabildo, their over the Subject
transferees/assignees, and any Property in the
other person acting in their name of Demetria
behalf, to stop, cease and desist: Cacho or any
successor
i) From executing, certificate of title,
submitting to any and from issuing
Register of new certificates of
Deeds, or title in the name of
registering or respondent
causing to be Teofilo Cacho,
Godofredo For lack of factual and legal basis, the
Cabildo and/or counterclaim of Teofilo Cacho and Atty.
any of their Godofredo Cabildo is hereby dismissed.
transferees/assign
ees, including the Likewise, the counterclaim of intervenor
intervenors. IDD/Investa is dismissed for lack of basis as the
iii) From claiming petitioners succeeded in proving their cause of
or representing in action.
any manner that
respondent On the cross-claim of intervenor
Teofilo Cacho is IDD/Investa, respondents Teofilo Cacho and
the son or heir of Atty. Godofredo Cabildo are ORDERED to pay
Demetria Cacho IDD/Investa, jointly and severally, the principal
or has rights to or sum of P5,433,036 with 15% interest per
interest in the annum.
Subject Property.
For lack of legal basis, the counterclaim
3) ORDERING respondents Teofilo of Intervenor Landtrade Realty Development
Cacho and Atty. Godofredo Cabildo to pay Corporation is dismissed.
petitioners, jointly and severally, the following:
a) For temperate damages - Likewise, Intervenor Manguera's
P 80,000.00 counterclaim is dismissed for lack of legal
b) For nominal damages - P 60,000.00 basis.[34]
c) For moral damages - P500,000.00
d) For exemplary damages -
P 500,000.00 The joint appeal filed by LANDTRADE, Teofilo, and
e) For attorney's fees (ACCRA Law)- Atty. Cabildo with the Court of Appeals was docketed as CA-
P1,000,000.00 G.R. CV No. 00456. The Court of Appeals, in its Decision[35] of
f) For Attorney's fees - P500,000.00 January 19, 2007, affirmed in toto the Decision dated July 17,
(Atty. Voltaire Rovira) 2004 of the RTC-Branch 3.
g) For litigation expenses - P300,000.00
According to the Court of Appeals, the RTC-Branch 3
did not err in resolving the issue on Vidals status, filiation, and
hereditary rights as it is determinative of the issue on
ownership of the subject properties. It was indubitable that the Vidals cause of action had not yet prescribed. And, where the
RTC-Branch 3 had jurisdiction over the person of Teofilo and action was filed within the prescriptive period provided by law,
juridical personality of LANDTRADE as they both filed their the doctrine of laches was also inapplicable.
Answers to the Petition for Quieting of Title thereby voluntarily LANDTRADE, Teofilo, and Atty. Cabildo filed separate
submitting themselves to the jurisdiction of said trial Motions for Reconsideration of the January 19, 2007 Decision
court. Likewise, the Petition for Quieting of Title is in itself of the Court of Appeals, which were denied in the July 4, 2007
within the jurisdiction of the RTC-Branch 3. Hence, where Resolution[36] of the same court.
there is jurisdiction over the person and subject matter, the
resolution of all other questions arising in the case is but an On August 24, 2007, LANDTRADE filed with this Court a
exercise by the court of its jurisdiction.Moreover, Teofilo and Petition for Review on Certiorari under Rule 45 of the Rules of
LANDTRADE were guilty of estoppel by laches for failing to Court, which was docketed as G.R. No. 178779. On
assail the jurisdiction of the RTC-Branch 3 at the first September 6, 2007, Teofilo and Atty. Cabildo filed their own
opportunity and even actively participating in the trial of the Petition for Review on Certiorari under Rule 45 of the Rules of
case and seeking affirmative reliefs. Court, which was docketed as G.R. No. 178894.

In addition, the Court of Appeals held that the 1997 The Ejectment or Unlawful Detainer Case
Cacho case only determined the validity and efficacy of the (G.R. Nos. 170505, 173355-56, and 173563-64)
Affidavit of Adjudication that Teofilo executed before the
Philippine Consulate General in the U.S.A. The decision of Three Petitions before this Court are rooted in the
this Court in the 1997 Cacho case, which had become final Unlawful Detainer Case instituted by LANDTRADE against
and executory, did not vest upon Teofilo ownership of the NAPOCOR and TRANSCO.
parcels of land as it merely ordered the re-issuance of a lost
duplicate certificate of title in its original form and condition. On August 9, 1952, NAPOCOR took possession of two
parcels of land in Sitio Nunucan, Overton, Fuentes, Iligan City,
The Court of Appeals agreed in the finding of the denominated as Lots 2029 and 2043, consisting of 3,588
RTC-Branch 3 that the evidence on record preponderantly square meters (or 0.36 hectares) and 3,177 square meters (or
supports Vidals claim of being the granddaughter and sole 0.32 hectares), respectively. On Lot 2029, NAPOCOR
heiress of the late Doa Demetria. The appellate court further constructed its power sub-station, known as the Overton Sub-
adjudged that Vidal did not delay in asserting her rights over station, while on Lot 2043, it built a warehouse, known as the
the subject parcels of land. The prescriptive period for real Agus 7 Warehouse, both for the use of its Agus 7 Hydro-
actions over immovables is 30 years. Vidals rights as Doa Electric Power Plant. For more than 30 years, NAPOCOR
Demetrias successor-in-interest accrued upon the latters occupied and possessed said parcels of land pursuant to its
death in 1974, and only 24 years thereafter, in 1998, Vidal charter, Republic Act No. 6395.[37] With the enactment in 2001
already filed the present Petition for Quieting of Title. Thus, of Republic Act No. 9136, otherwise known as the Electric
Power Industry Reform Act (EPIRA), TRANSCO assumed the On February 17, 2004, the MTCC rendered its
functions of NAPOCOR with regard to electrical transmissions Decision[39] in favor of LANDTRADE. The MTCC disposed:
and took over possession of the Overton Sub-station.
WHEREFORE, premises considered, judgment
Claiming ownership of the parcels of land where the is hereby rendered in favor of Plaintiff Land
Overton Sub-station and Agus 7 Warehouse are located, Trade Realty Corporation represented by Atty.
LANDTRADE filed with the MTCC on April 9, 2003 a Max C. Tabimina and against defendant
Complaint for Unlawful Detainer against NAPOCOR and National Power Corporation represented by its
TRANSCO, which was docketed as Civil Case No. 11475-AF. President, Mr. Rogelio M. Murga and co-
defendant TRANSCO represented by its
In its Complaint, LANDTRADE alleged that it acquired President Dr. Allan T. Ortiz and Engr. Lorrymir
from Teofilo, through Atty. Cabildo, two parcels of land at Sitio A. Adaza, Manager, NAPOCOR-Mindanao,
Nunucan, Overton, Fuentes, Brgy. Maria Cristina, Iligan City, Regional Center, Ma. Cristina, Iligan City,
with a combined area of 270,255 square meters or around ordering:
27.03 hectares, as evidenced by a Deed of Absolute
Sale[38] dated October 1, 1996. Certain portions of said parcels 1. Defendants National Power
of land were being occupied by the Overton Sub-station and Corporation and TRANSCO, their agents or
Agus 7 Warehouse of NAPOCOR and TRANSCO, through the representatives or any person/s acting on its
tolerance of LANDTRADE. Upon failure of NAPOCOR and behalf or under its authority to vacate the
TRANSCO to pay rentals or to vacate the subject properties premises;
after demands to do so, LANDTRADE filed the present
Complaint for Unlawful Detainer, plus damages in the amount 2. Defendants NAPOCOR and
of P450,000.00 as yearly rental from date of the first extra- TRANSCO to pay Plaintiff jointly and solidarily:
judicial demand until NAPOCOR and TRANSCO vacate the
subject properties. a. Php500,000.00 a month representing
fair rental value or compensation since
In their separate Answers, NAPOCOR and TRANSCO June 29, 1978 until defendant shall have
denied the material allegations in the Complaint and vacated the premises;
countered, by way of special and affirmative defenses, that the b. Php20,000.00 for and as attorneys
Complaint was barred by res judicata; that the MTCC has no fees and
jurisdiction over the subject matter of the action; and that c. Cost of suit.
LANDTRADE lacked the legal capacity to sue.
Execution shall issue immediately upon
motion, unless an appeal has been perfected
and the defendant to stay execution files a suspended in whatever stage it may be found. Since
sufficient supersedeas bond, approved by this LANDTRADE anchors its right to possession of the subject
Court and executed in favor of the plaintiff, to parcels of land on the Deed of Sale executed in its favor by
pay the rents, damages, and costs accruing Teofilo on October 1, 1996, the ejectment case should be held
down to the time of judgment appealed from, in abeyance pending the resolution of other cases in which title
and unless, during the pendency of the appeal, over the same properties are in issue, i.e., (1) Civil Case No.
defendants deposit with the appellate court the 6600, the action for the annulment of the Deed of Sale dated
amount of P500,000.00 per month, as October 1, 1996 filed by Teofilo against LANDTRADE pending
reasonable value of the use and occupancy of before the RTC-Branch 4; and (2) Civil Case No. 4452, the
the premises for the preceding month or period Quieting of Title Case filed by Vidal and AZIMUTH against
on or before the tenth day of each succeeding Teofilo and Atty. Cabildo pending before the RTC-Branch 3.
month or period.[40]
LANDTRADE filed on July 19, 2004 another Motion for
Execution, which was heard together with the Joint Motion to
NAPOCOR and TRANSCO seasonably filed a Joint Suspend Proceedings of NAPOCOR and TRANSCO. After
Notice of Appeal. Their appeal, docketed as Civil Case No. said hearing, the RTC-Branch 5 directed the parties to file their
6613, was initially assigned to the RTC-Branch 5, presided memoranda on the two pending Motions.
over by Judge Maximino Magno Libre (Judge Libre).
LANDTRADE, in its Memorandum, maintained that the
LANDTRADE filed on June 24, 2004 a Motion for pendency of Civil Case No. 4452, the Quieting of Title Case,
Execution, asserting that NAPOCOR and TRANSCO had should not preclude the execution of the MTCC judgment in
neither filed a supersedeas bond with the MTCC nor the Unlawful Detainer Case because the issue involved in the
periodically deposited with the RTC the monthly rental for the latter was only the material possession or possession de
properties in question, so as to stay the immediate execution facto of the parcels of land in question. LANDTRADE also
pending appeal of the MTCC judgment. However, the said reported that Civil Case No. 6600, the action for annulment of
Motion failed to comply with the required notice of hearing the Deed of Sale dated October 1, 1996 instituted by Teofilo,
under Rule 15, Section 5 of the Rules of Court.LANDTRADE was already dismissed given that the RTC-Branch 4 had
then filed a Motion to Withdraw and/or Replace Notice of approved the Compromise Agreement executed between
Hearing. LANDTRADE and Teofilo.

NAPOCOR and TRANSCO filed on July 13, 2004 a NAPOCOR and TRANSCO likewise filed their respective
Joint Motion to Suspend Proceedings citing Amagan v. Memoranda. Subsequently, NAPOCOR filed a Supplement to
Marayag,[41] in which the Court ruled that if circumstances its Memorandum to bring to the attention of the RTC-Branch 5
should require, the proceedings in an ejectment case may be the Decision rendered on July 17, 2004 by the RTC-Branch 3
in Civil Case No. 4452, the Quieting of Title Case, the sums of (a) P156,000,000.00, representing the total fair
categorically declaring Teofilo, the predecessor-in-interest of rental value for the said properties, computed at P500,000.00
LANDTRADE, as having no right at all to the subject parcels of per month, beginning June 29, 1978 until June 29, 2004, or for
land. Resultantly, the right of LANDTRADE to the two a period of 26 years, and (b) P20,000.00 as attorney's fees.
properties, which merely emanated from Teofilo, was
effectively declared as non-existent too. Thereafter, NAPOCOR and TRANSCO each filed before the
Court of Appeals in Cagayan de Oro City a Petition
On August 4, 2004, the RTC-Branch 5 issued an for Certiorari, under Rule 65 of the Rules of Court, with prayer
Order[42] denying the Joint Motion to Suspend Proceedings of for the issuance of a TRO and writ of preliminary
NAPOCOR and TRANSCO. The RTC held that the pendency injunction. The Petitions, docketed as CA-G.R. SP Nos. 85174
of other actions involving the same parcels of land could not and 85841, were eventually consolidated.
stay execution pending appeal of the MTCC judgment
because NAPOCOR and TRANSCO failed to post the required The Court of Appeals issued on August 18, 2004 a
bond and pay the monthly rentals. TRO[47] enjoining the enforcement and implementation of the
Order of Execution and Writ of Execution Pending Appeal of
Five days later, on August 9, 2004, the RTC-Branch 5 the RTC-Branch 5 and Notices of Garnishment and
issued another Order[43] granting the Motion of LANDTRADE Notification of Sheriff Borres.
for execution of the MTCC judgment pending appeal.
The Court of Appeals, in its Decision[48] dated
The next day, on August 10, 2004, the Acting Clerk of November 23, 2005, determined that public respondents did
Court, Atty. Joel M. Macaraya, Jr., issued a Writ of Execution commit grave abuse of discretion in allowing and/or effecting
Pending Appeal[44] which directed Sheriff IV Alberto O. Borres the execution of the MTCC judgment pending appeal, since
(Sheriff Borres) to execute the MTCC Decision dated February NAPOCOR and TRANSCO were legally excused from
17, 2004. complying with the requirements for a stay of execution
specified in Rule 70, Section 19 of the Rules of Court,
A day later, on August 11, 2004, Sheriff Borres issued two particularly, the posting of a supersedeas bond and periodic
Notices of Garnishment[45] addressed to PNB and Land Bank deposits of rental payments. The decretal portion of said
of the Philippines in Iligan City, garnishing all the goods, appellate court Decision states:
effects, stocks, interests in stocks and shares, and any other
personal properties belonging to NAPOCOR and TRANSCO ACCORDINGLY, the two petitions at
which were being held by and under the possession and bench are GRANTED; the Order dated 9
control of said banks. On even date, Sheriff Borres also issued August 2004, the Writ of Execution Pending
a Notification[46] to NAPOCOR and TRANSCO for them to Appeal dated 10 August 2004, the two Notices
vacate the subject parcels of land; and to pay LANDTRADE of Garnishment dated 11 August 2004, and the
Notification dated 11 August 2004, are Appeals a Manifestation and Motion praying for the resolution
ANNULLED and SET ASIDE.[49] of its application for preliminary injunction.

On May 23, 2006, the same day the TRO lapsed, the Court of
Displeased, LANDTRADE elevated the case to this Appeals granted the motions for extension of time to file a
Court on January 10, 2006 via a Petition for Review consolidated comment of LANDTRADE. Two days later,
on Certiorari under Rule 45 of the Rules of Court, which was LANDTRADE filed an Omnibus Motion seeking the issuance
docketed as G.R. No. 170505. of (1) a writ of execution pending appeal, and (2) the
designation of a special sheriff in accordance with Rule 70,
In the meantime, with the retirement of Judge Libre and Section 21 of the Rules of Court.
the inhibition[50] of Judge Oscar Badelles, the new presiding
judge of RTC-Branch 5, Civil Case No. 6613 was re-raffled to In a Resolution[52] dated June 30, 2006, the Court of Appeals
the RTC-Branch 1, presided over by Judge Mangotara. The granted the Omnibus Motion of LANDTRADE and denied the
RTC-Branch 1 promulgated on December 12, 2005 a applications for the issuance of a writ of preliminary injunction
Decision[51]in Civil Case No. 6613 which affirmed in toto the of NAPOCOR and TRANSCO. In effect, the appellate court
February 17, 2004 Decision of the MTCC in Civil Case No. authorized the execution pending appeal of the judgment of
11475-AF favoring LANDTRADE. the MTCC, affirmed by the RTC-Branch 1, thus:

NAPOCOR and TRANSCO filed with the RTC-Branch 1 twin IN LIGHT OF THE ABOVE
Motions, namely: (1) Motion for Reconsideration of the DISQUISITIONS, this Court resolves to grant
Decision dated December 12, 2005; and (2) Motion for the [LANDRADE]s omnibus motion for
Inhibition of Judge Mangotara. The RTC-Branch 1 denied both execution pending appeal of the decision
Motions in a Resolution dated January 30, 2006. rendered in its favor which is being assailed in
these consolidated petitions for
NAPOCOR and TRANSCO filed with the Court of review. Accordingly, the [NAPOCOR and
Appeals separate Petitions for Review with prayer for TRO TRANSCOs] respective applications for
and/or a writ of preliminary injunction, which were docketed as issuance of writ of preliminary injunction are
CA-G.R. SP Nos. 00854 and 00889, respectively. In a both denied for lack of factual and legal
Resolution dated March 24, 2006, the Court of Appeals bases. The Municipal Trial Court in Cities,
granted the prayer for TRO of NAPOCOR and TRANSCO. Branch 2, Iligan City, which at present has the
custody of the records of the case a quo, is
With the impending lapse of the effectivity of the TRO on May hereby ordered to cause the immediate
23, 2006, NAPOCOR filed on May 15, 2006 with the Court of issuance of a writ of execution relative to its
decision dated 17 February 2004 in Civil Case On October 13, 2004, the Republic filed a Complaint
No. 11475-AF.[53] for the Cancellation of OCT Nos. 0-1200 (a.f.) and 0-1201
(a.f.) and Reversion against the late Doa Demetria,
represented by her alleged heirs, Vidal and/or Teofilo, together
On July 20, 2006, NAPOCOR filed with this Court a with AZIMUTH and LANDTRADE. The Complaint, docketed as
Petition for Certiorari and Prohibition under Rule 65 of the Civil Case No. 6686, was raffled to the RTC-Branch 4.
Rules of Court with an urgent plea for a TRO, docketed as
G.R. No. 173355-56. On August 2, 2006, TRANSCO filed with The Republic sought the cancellation of OCT Nos. 0-
this Court its own Petition for Certiorari, docketed as G.R. No. 1200 (a.f.) and 0-1201 (a.f.) and the reversion of the parcels of
173563-64. land covered thereby to the Government based on the
On July 21, 2006, NAPOCOR filed an Urgent Motion following allegations in its Complaint, under the heading
for the Issuance of a TRO in G.R. No. 173355-56. In a Cause of Action:
Resolution[54] dated July 26, 2006, the Court granted the
Motion of NAPOCOR and issued a TRO,[55] effective 5. On October 15, 1998, Original
immediately, which enjoined public and private respondents Certificates of Title (OCTs) Nos. 0-1200 (a.f.)
from implementing the Resolution dated June 30, 2006 of the and 0-1201 (a.f.) were issued in the name of
Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. SP Nos. 00854 and 00889 and Demetria Cacho, widow, now deceased
the Decision dated February 17, 2004 of the MTCC in Civil consisting of a total area of Three Hundred
Case No. 11475-AF. Seventy-Eight Thousand Seven Hundred and
On July 31, 2006, Vidal and AZIMUTH filed a Motion for Leave Seven (378,707) square meters and Three
to Intervene and to Admit Attached Comment-in-Intervention, Thousand Seven Hundred Thirty-Five (3,635)
contending therein that Vidal was the lawful owner of the square meters, respectively, situated in Iligan
parcels of land subject of the Unlawful Detainer Case as City, x x x
confirmed in the Decision dated July 17, 2004 of the RTC-
Branch 3 in Civil Case No. 4452. In a Resolution dated xxxx
September 30, 2006, the Court required the parties to
comment on the Motion of Vidal and AZIMUTH, and deferred 6. The afore-stated titles were issued in
action on the said Motion pending the submission of such implementation of a decision rendered in LRC
comments. (GLRO) Record Nos. 6908 and 6909 dated
December 10, 1912, as affirmed by the
The Cancellation of Titles and Reversion Case Honorable Supreme Court in Cacho v.
(G.R. No. 173401) Government of the United States, 28 Phil. 616
(December 10, 1914),
7. The decision in LRC (GLRO) Record bigger of two parcels and
Nos. 6908 and 6909, upon which the titles were contains 37.87 hectares
issued, did not grant the entire area applied for
therein. x x x 11. More significantly, the technical
description in Original Certificate of Title No. 0-
xxxx 1200 (a.f.) specifies the date of survey as
August 31 to September 1, 1910, which is
9. As events turned out, the titles issued EARLIER than the date the Supreme Court,
in connection with LRC (GLRO) Record Nos. in Cacho supra, resolved LRC (GLRO) Record
6908 and 6909 i.e. OCT Nos. 0-1200 (a.f.) and No. 6909 (involving 37.87 hectares). In
0-1201 (a.f.) cover property MUCH LARGER in resolving the application involving the 37.87
area than that granted by the land registration hectares, the Honorable Supreme Court
court in its corresponding decision, supra. declared that only the southern part of the
37.87 hectare property applied for is granted
10. While the LRC Decision, as affirmed and that a new survey specifying the southern
by the Honorable Supreme Court, granted only part thereof should be submitted. Accordingly,
the southern part of the 37.87 hectare land any survey involving the granted southern part
subject of LRC (GLRO) Record Case No. should bear a date subsequent to the
6909, the ENTIRE 37.87 hectares is indicated December 10, 1914 Supreme Court decision. x
as the property covered by OCT 0-1200 xx
(a.f.). Worse, OCT No. 0-1200 (a.f.) made
reference to Case No. 6908 as basis thereof, xxxx
yet, the decision in said case is clear:
12. The Honorable Supreme Court
(i) The parcel object of further declared that the Decision in LRC
Case No. 6908 is (GLRO) Record No. 6909 was reserved:
small (Cacho vs.
Government of the United Final decision in these case
States, 28 Phil. 616, p. is reserved until the presentation
619) of the new plan. (28 Phil. 616, p.
631; Underscoring supplied)
(ii) The parcel of land
claimed by the applicant In other words, as of December 10, 1914, when
in Case No. 6909 is the the Honorable Supreme Court rendered its
Decision on appeal in LRC (GLRO) Record No.
6909, final decision of the case was still 16. In sum, Original Certificates of Title Nos. 0-
reserved until the presentation of a new 1200 (a.f.) and 0-1201 (a.f.), as issued, are null
plan. The metes and bounds of OCT No. 0- and void since the technical descriptions vis--vis
1200 (a.f.) could not have been the technical the areas of the parcels of land covered therein
description of the property granted by the court went beyond the areas granted by the land
described as the southern part of the large registration court in LRC (GLRO) Record Nos.
parcel object of expediente 6909 only (Cacho 6908 and 6909.[56]
vs. Government of the United States, 28 Phil.
617, 629).As earlier stated, the technical
description appearing in said title was the result Vidal and AZIMUTH filed a Motion to Dismiss dated
of a survey conducted in 1910 or before the December 23, 2004 on the grounds that (1) the Republic
Supreme Court decision was rendered in 1914. has no cause of action; (2) assuming arguendo that the
Republic has a cause of action, its Complaint failed to state
13. In the same vein, Original Certificate of Title a cause of action; (3) assuming arguendo that the Republic
No. 0-1201 (a.f.) specifies LRC (GLRO) Record has a cause of action, the same is barred by prior judgment;
No. 6909 as the basis thereof (see front page of (4) assuming further that the Republic has a cause of
OCT No. 0-1201 (a.f.)).Yet, the technical action, the same was extinguished by prescription; and (4)
description makes, as its reference, Lot 1, Plan the Republic is guilty of forum shopping.
II-3732, LR Case No. 047, LRC (GLRO)
Record No. 6908 (see page 2 of said title). A Upon motion of the Republic, the RTC-Branch 4
title issued pursuant to a decision may only issued an Order[57] dated October 4, 2005, declaring
cover the property subject of the case. A title LANDTRADE and Teofilo, as represented by Atty. Cabildo,
cannot properly be issued pursuant to a in default since they failed to submit their respective
decision in Case 6909, but whose technical answers to the Complaint despite the proper service of
description is based on Case 6908. summons upon them.
LANDTRADE subsequently filed its Answer with
14. The decision in LRC (GLRO) Record Nos. Compulsory Counterclaim dated September 28, 2005. It
6908 and 6909 has become final and also moved for the setting aside and reconsideration of the
executory, and it cannot be modified, much less Order of Default issued against it by the RTC-Branch 4 on
result in an increased area of the property October 20, 2005.
decreed therein.
On December 13, 2005, the RTC-Branch 4 issued
xxxx an Order[58] dismissing the Complaint of the Republic in Civil
Case No. 6686, completely agreeing with Vidal and The RTC-Branch 4 was likewise persuaded that the
AZIMUTH. cause of action or remedy of the Republic was lost or
extinguished by prescription pursuant to Article 1106 of the
The RTC-Branch 4 reasoned that the Republic had Civil Code and Section 32 of Presidential Decree No. 1529,
no cause of action because there was no showing that the otherwise known as the Land Registration Decree, which
late Doa Demetria committed any wrongful act or omission prescribes a one-year period within which to file an action
in violation of any right of the Republic. Doa Demetria had for the review of a decree of registration.
sufficiently proven her ownership over the parcels of land as
borne in the ruling of the LRC in GLRO Record Nos. 6908 Finally, the RTC-Branch 4 found the Republic guilty
and 6909. On the other hand, the Republic had no more of forum shopping because there is between this case, on
right to the said parcels of land. The Regalian doctrine does one hand, and the 1914 and 1997 Cacho cases, on the
not apply in this case because the titles were already issued other, identity of parties, as well as rights asserted and
to Doa Demetria and segregated from the mass of the reliefs prayed for, as the contending parties are claiming
public domain. rights of ownership over the same parcels of land.
The Republic filed a Motion for Reconsideration of
The RTC-Branch 4 likewise held that the Republic the dismissal of its Complaint but the same was denied by
failed to state a cause of action in its Complaint. The the RTC-Branch 4 in its Order[59]dated May 16, 2006.
arguments of the Republic i.e., the absence of a new survey
plan and deed, the titles covered properties with much Assailing the Orders dated December 13, 2005 and
larger area than that granted by the LRC had been May 16, 2006 of the RTC-Branch 4, the Republic filed on
answered squarely in the 1997 Cacho case. Also, the August 11, 2006 a Petition for Review on Certiorari under Rule
Complaint failed to allege that fraud had been committed in 45 of the Rules of Court, which was docketed as G.R. No.
having the titles registered and that the Director of Lands 173401.
requested the reversion of the subject parcels of land.
III
The RTC-Branch 4 was convinced that the ISSUES AND DISCUSSIONS
Complaint was barred by res judicata because the 1914
Cacho case already decreed the registration of the parcels Expropriation Case
of land in the late Doa Demetrias name and the 1997 (G.R. No. 170375)
Cacho case settled that there was no merit in the argument
that the conditions imposed in the first case have not been The Republic, in its consolidated Petitions challenging
complied with. the Resolutions dated July 12, 2005 and October 24, 2005 of
the RTC-Branch 1 in Civil Case No. 106, made the following
assignment of errors:
RESPONDENT JUDGE GRAVELY ERRED IN Filing of
ORDERING THE DISMISSAL OF THE consolidated
EXPROPRIATION COMPLAINT IN CIVIL petitions under
CASE NO. 106 CONSIDERING THAT: both Rules 45
and 65
(a) THE NON-JOINDER OF
PARTIES IS NOT A GROUND
FOR THE DISMISSAL OF AN At the outset, the Court notes that the Republic filed a pleading
ACTION PURSUANT TO with the caption Consolidated Petitions for Review on
SECTION 11, RULE 3 OF THE Certiorari (Under Rule 45) and Certiorari (Under Rule 65) of
1997 RULES OF CIVIL the Rules of Court. The Republic explains that it filed the
PROCEDURE; Consolidated Petitions pursuant to Metropolitan Waterworks
and Sewerage System (MWSS) v. Court of Appeals[61] (MWSS
(b) AN EXPROPRIATION case).
PROCEEDING IS AN ACTION
QUASI IN REM WHEREIN THE The reliance of the Republic on the MWSS case to justify its
FACT THAT THE OWNER OF mode of appeal is misplaced, taking the pronouncements of
THE PROPERTY IS MADE A this Court in said case out of context.
PARTY TO THE ACTION IS
NOT ESSENTIALLY The issue in the MWSS case was whether a possessor in
INDISPENSABLE; good faith has the right to remove useful improvements, and
not whether consolidated petitions under both Rules 45 and 65
(c) PETITIONER DID NOT of the Rules of Court can be filed. Therein petitioner MWSS
COMMIT ANY FORUM simply filed an appeal by certiorari under Rule 45 of the Rules
SHOPPING WITH THE FILING of Court, but named the Court of Appeals as a
OF THE REVERSION respondent. The Court clarified that the only parties in an
COMPLAINT DOCKETED AS appeal by certiorari under Rule 45 of the Rules of Court are
CIVIL CASE NO. 6686 WHICH the appellant as petitioner and the appellee as
IS PENDING BEFORE BRANCH respondent. The court which rendered the judgment appealed
4 OF from is not a party in said appeal. It is in the special civil action
THE REGIONAL TRIAL COURT of certiorari under Rule 65 of the Rules of Court where the
OF ILIGAN CITY.[60] court or judge is required to be joined as party defendant or
respondent. The Court, however, also acknowledged that
there may be an instance when in an appeal
by certiorari under Rule 45, the petitioner-appellant would also But in the same case, the Court also held that:
claim that the court that rendered the appealed judgment
acted without or in excess of its jurisdiction or with grave This Court, x x x, in accordance with the
abuse of discretion, in which case, such court should be joined liberal spirit which pervades the Rules of Court
as a party-defendant or respondent. While the Court may have and in the interest of justice may treat a petition
stated that in such an instance, the petition for review for certiorari as having been filed under Rule
on certiorari under Rule 45 of the Rules of Court is at the same 45, more so if the same was filed within the
time a petition for certiorari under Rule 65, the Court did not reglementary period for filing a petition for
hold that consolidated petitions under both Rules 45 and 65 review.[63]
could or should be filed.

The Court, in more recent cases, had been stricter and It is apparent in the case at bar that the Republic
clearer on the distinction between these two modes of availed itself of the wrong mode of appeal by filing
appeal. In Nunez v. GSIS Family Bank,[62]the Court elucidated: Consolidated Petitions for Review under Rule 45 and
for Certiorari under Rule 65, when these are two separate
In Ligon v. Court of Appeals where the remedies that are mutually exclusive and neither alternative
therein petitioner described her petition as an nor successive. Nevertheless, the Court shall treat the
appeal under Rule 45 and at the same time as Consolidated Petitions as a Petition for Review
a special civil action of certiorari under Rule 65 on Certiorari under Rule 45 and the allegations therein as
of the Rules of Court, this Court, in frowning errors of judgment. As the records show, the Petition was filed
over what it described as a chimera, reiterated on time under Rules 45. Before the lapse of the 15-day
that the remedies of appeal and certiorari are reglementary period to appeal under Rule 45, the Republic
mutually exclusive and not alternative nor filed with the Court a motion for extension of time to file its
successive. petition. The Court, in a Resolution[64] dated January 23, 2006,
granted the Republic a 30-day extension, which was to expire
To be sure, the distinctions between on December 29, 2005. The Republic was able to file its
Rules 45 and 65 are far and wide. However, the Petition on the last day of the extension period.
most apparent is that errors of jurisdiction are Hierarchy of courts
best reviewed in a special civil action for The direct filing of the instant Petition with this Court
certiorari under Rule 65 while errors of did not violate the doctrine of hierarchy of courts.
judgment can only be corrected by appeal in a
petition for review under Rule 45. According to Rule 41, Section 2(c)[65] of the Rules of Court, a
decision or order of the RTC may be appealed to the Supreme
Court by petition for review on certiorari under Rule 45, The right of the Republic to be substituted for ISA as
provided that such petition raises only questions of law.[66] plaintiff in Civil Case No. 106 had long been affirmed by no
A question of law exists when the doubt or controversy less than this Court in the ISA case.The dispositive portion of
concerns the correct application of law or jurisprudence to a the ISA case reads:
certain set of facts; or when the issue does not call for an
examination of the probative value of the evidence presented, WHEREFORE, for all the foregoing, the
the truth or falsehood of facts being admitted.[67] A question of Decision of the Court of Appeals dated 8
fact exists when the doubt or difference arises as to the truth October 1991 to the extent that it affirmed the
or falsehood of facts or when the query invites calibration of trial courts order dismissing the expropriation
the whole evidence considering mainly the credibility of the proceedings, is hereby REVERSED and SET
witnesses, the existence and relevancy of specific surrounding ASIDE and the case is REMANDED to the
circumstances, as well as their relation to each other and to court a quo which shall allow the substitution of
the whole, and the probability of the situation.[68] the Republic of the Philippines for petitioner Iron
Steel Authority for further proceedings
Here, the Petition of the Republic raises pure questions consistent with this Decision. No
of law, i.e., whether Civil Case No. 106 should have been pronouncement as to costs.[69]
dismissed for failure to implead indispensable parties and for
forum shopping. Thus, the direct resort by the Republic to this
Court is proper. The ISA case had already become final and executory,
and entry of judgment was made in said case on August 31,
The Court shall now consider the propriety of the 1998. The RTC-Branch 1, in an Order dated November 16,
dismissal by the RTC-Branch 1 of the Complaint for 2001, effected the substitution of the Republic for ISA.
Expropriation of the Republic.
The failure of the Republic to actually file a motion for
execution does not render the substitution void. A writ of
execution requires the sheriff or other proper officer to whom it
is directed to enforce the terms of the writ.[70] The November
The proper 16, 2001 Order of the RTC-Branch 1 should be deemed as
parties in the voluntary compliance with a final and executory judgment of
expropriation this Court, already rendering a motion for and issuance of a
proceedings writ of execution superfluous.

Besides, no substantive right was violated by the


voluntary compliance by the RTC-Branch 1 with the directive
in the ISA case even without a motion for execution having
been filed. To the contrary, the RTC-Branch 1 merely enforced Rule 67, Section 1 of the then Rules of
the judicially determined right of the Republic to the Court[72] described how expropriation proceedings should be
substitution. While it is desirable that the Rules of Court be instituted:
faithfully and even meticulously observed, courts should not be
so strict about procedural lapses that do not really impair the Section 1. The complaint. The right of
administration of justice. If the rules are intended to insure the eminent domain shall be exercised by the filing
orderly conduct of litigation it is because of the higher objective of a complaint which shall state with certainty
they seek which is the protection of the substantive rights of the right and purpose of condemnation,
the parties.[71] describe the real or personal property sought to
be condemned, and join as defendants all
The Court also observes that MCFC did not seek any persons owning or claiming to own, or
remedy from the Order dated November 16, 2001 of the RTC- occupying, any part thereof or interest
Branch 1. Consequently, the said Order already became final, therein, showing, so far as practicable, the
which even the RTC-Branch 1 itself cannot reverse and set interest of each defendant separately. If the
aside on the ground of honest mistake. title to any property sought to be
condemned appears to be in the Republic of
The RTC-Branch 1 dismissed the Complaint in Civil the Philippines, although occupied by
Case No. 106 on another ground: that MCFC is not a proper private individuals, or if the title is otherwise
party to the expropriation proceedings, not being the owner of obscure or doubtful so that the plaintiff cannot
the parcels of land sought to be expropriated. The RTC- with accuracy or certainty specify who are the
Branch 1 ratiocinated that since the exercise of the power of real owners, averment to that effect may be
eminent domain involves the taking of private land intended for made in the complaint.[73] (Emphases supplied.)
public use upon payment of just compensation to the owner, For sure, defendants in an expropriation case are not limited to
then a complaint for expropriation must be directed against the the owners of the property to be expropriated, and just
owner of the land sought to be expropriated. compensation is not due to the property owner alone. As this
Court held in De Knecht v. Court of Appeals[74]:
The Republic insists, however, that MCFC is a real
party-in-interest, impleaded as a defendant in the Complaint The defendants in an expropriation
for Expropriation because of its possessory or occupancy case are not limited to the owners of the
rights over the subject parcels of land, and not by reason of its property condemned. They include all other
ownership of the said properties. In addition, the Republic persons owning, occupying or claiming to
maintains that non-joinder of parties is not a ground for the own the property. When [property] is taken
dismissal of an action. by eminent domain, the owner x x x is not
necessarily the only person who is entitled at an amount of Thirty (P30.00) Pesos per
to compensation. In the American jurisdiction, square meter or equivalent to the assessed
the term owner when employed in statutes value thereof (as determined by the City
relating to eminent domain to designate the Assessor of Iligan), whichever is higher. NSC
persons who are to be made parties to the shall give MCFC the option to either remove its
proceeding, refer, as is the rule in respect of aforesaid plant, structures, equipment,
those entitled to compensation, to all those who machinery and other facilities from the lands or
have lawful interest in the property to be to sell or cede ownership thereof to NSC at a
condemned, including a mortgagee, a lessee price equivalent to the fair market value thereof
and a vendee in possession under an executory as appraised by the Asian Appraisal Inc. as
contract. Every person having an estate or may be mutually agreed upon by NSC and
interest at law or in equity in the land taken is MCFC.
entitled to share in the award. If a person
claiming an interest in the land sought to be (2) In the event that NSC and MCFC fail
condemned is not made a party, he is given the to agree on the foregoing within sixty (60) days
right to intervene and lay claim to the from the date hereof, the Iron and Steel
compensation. (Emphasis supplied.) Authority (ISA) shall exercise its authority under
Presidential Decree (PD) No. 272, as amended,
to initiate the expropriation of the
At the time of the filing of the Complaint for Expropriation in aforementioned occupancy rights of MCFC on
1983, possessory/occupancy rights of MCFC over the parcels the subject lands as well as the plant,
of land sought to be expropriated were undisputed. In fact, structures, equipment, machinery and related
Letter of Instructions No. 1277[75] dated November 16, 1982 facilities, for and on behalf of NSC, and
expressly recognized that portions of the lands reserved by thereafter cede the same to NSC. During the
Presidential Proclamation No. 2239, also dated November 16, pendency of the expropriation proceedings,
1982, for the use and immediate occupation by the NSC, were NSC shall take possession of the properties,
then occupied by an idle fertilizer plant/factory and related subject to bonding and other requirements of
facilities of MCFC. It was ordered in the same Letter of P.D. 1533. (Emphasis supplied.)
Instruction that:

(1) NSC shall negotiate with the owners Being the occupant of the parcel of land sought to be
of MCFC, for and on behalf of the Government, expropriated, MCFC could very well be named a defendant in
for the compensation of MCFC's Civil Case No. 106. The RTC-Branch 1 evidently erred in
present occupancy rights on the subject lands
dismissing the Complaint for Expropriation against MCFC for the Philippines, although occupied by private individuals. The
not being a proper party. same rule provides that a complaint for expropriation shall
name as defendants all persons owning or claiming to own, or
Also erroneous was the dismissal by the RTC-Branch 1 of the occupying, any part thereof or interest in the property sought
original Complaint for Expropriation for having been filed only to be condemned. Clearly, when the property already appears
against MCFC, the occupant of the subject land, but not the to belong to the Republic, there is no sense in the Republic
owner/s of the said property. instituting expropriation proceedings against itself. It can still,
however, file a complaint for expropriation against the private
Dismissal is not the remedy for misjoinder or non-joinder of persons occupying the property. In such an expropriation
parties. According to Rule 3, Section 11 of the Rules of Court: case, the owner of the property is not an indispensable party.

SEC. 11. Misjoinder and non-joinder of To recall, Presidential Proclamation No. 2239 explicitly
parties. Neither misjoinder nor non-joinder of states that the parcels of land reserved to NSC are part of the
parties is ground for dismissal of an public domain, hence, owned by the Republic. Letter of
action. Parties may be dropped or added by Instructions No. 1277 recognized only the occupancy rights of
order of the court on motion of any party or on MCFC and directed NSC to institute expropriation proceedings
its own initiative at any stage of the action and to determine the just compensation for said occupancy
on such terms as are just. Any claim against a rights. Therefore, the owner of the property is not an
misjoined party may be severed and proceeded indispensable party in the original Complaint for Expropriation
with separately. (Emphasis supplied.) in Civil Case No. 106.

Assuming for the sake of argument that the owner of the


MCFC contends that the aforequoted rule does not apply in property is an indispensable party in the expropriation
this case where the party not joined, i.e., the owner of the proceedings, the non-joinder of said party would still not
property to be expropriated, is an indispensable party. warrant immediate dismissal of the complaint for
expropriation. In Vda. De Manguerra v. Risos,[77] the Court
An indispensable party is a party-in-interest without whom no applied Rule 3, Section 11 of the Rules of Court even in case
final determination can be had of an action.[76] of non-joinder of an indispensable party, viz:

Now, is the owner of the property an indispensable [F]ailure to implead an indispensable party is
party in an action for expropriation? Not necessarily. Going not a ground for the dismissal of an action. In
back to Rule 67, Section 1 of the Rules of Court, expropriation such a case, the remedy is to implead the non-
proceedings may be instituted even when title to the property party claimed to be indispensable. Parties may
sought to be condemned appears to be in the Republic of be added by order of the court, on motion of the
party or on its own initiative at any stage of the There is no dispute that the Republic instituted
action and/or such times as are just. If the reversion proceedings (Civil Case No. 6686) for the same
petitioner/plaintiff refuses to implead an parcels of land subject of the instant Expropriation Case (Civil
indispensable party despite the order of the Case No. 106). The Complaint for Cancellation of Titles and
court, the latter may dismiss the Reversion[78] dated September 27, 2004 was filed by the
complaint/petition for the petitioner's/plaintiff's Republic with the RTC on October 13, 2004. The records,
failure to comply. (Emphasis supplied.) however, do not show when the Supplemental Complaint for
Expropriation[79] dated September 28, 2004 was filed with the
RTC. Apparently, the Supplemental Complaint for
In this case, the RTC-Branch 1 did not first require the Expropriation was filed after the Complaint for Cancellation of
Republic to implead the alleged owner/s of the parcel of land Titles and Reversion since the Republic mentioned in the
sought to be expropriated. Despite the absence of any order former the fact of filing of the latter.[80] Even then, the
from the Court, the Republic upon becoming aware that the Verification and Certification of Non-Forum
parcels of land involved in the 1914 Cacho case and 1997 Shopping[81] attached to the Supplemental Complaint for
Cacho case, claimed by Teofilo and LANDTRADE, and Vidal Expropriation did not disclose the filing of the Complaint for
and AZIMUTH, encroached into and overlapped with the Cancellation of Titles and Reversion. Notwithstanding such
parcel of land subject of Civil Case No. 106 sought leave of non-disclosure, the Court finds that the Republic did not
court to file a Supplemental Complaint to implead these four commit forum shopping for filing both Complaints.
parties. The RTC-Branch 1 did not take the Supplemental
Complaint of the Republic into consideration. Instead, it In NBI-Microsoft Corporation v Hwang,[82] the Court laid
dismissed outright the original Complaint for Expropriation down the circumstances when forum shopping exists:
against MCFC.
Forum-shopping takes place when a
Forum shopping litigant files multiple suits involving the same
parties, either simultaneously or successively,
The RTC-Branch 1 further erred in finding that the Republic to secure a favorable
committed forum shopping by (1) simultaneously instituting the judgment.Thus, it exists where the elements of l
actions for expropriation (Civil Case No. 106) and reversion itis pendentia are present, namely: (a) identity o
(Civil Case No. 6686) for the same parcels of land; and (2) f parties, or at least such parties
taking inconsistent positions when it conceded lack of who represent the same interests in both
ownership over the parcels of land in the expropriation case actions; (b)identity of rights asserted and relief
but asserted ownership of the same properties in the reversion prayed for, the relief being founded on the
case. same facts; and (c) the identity with respect to
the two preceding particulars in the two cases
is such that any judgment that may The filing of a complaint for reversion does not preclude the
be rendered in the pending case, regardless of institution of an action for expropriation. Even if the land is
which party is reverted back to the State, the same may still be subject to
successful, would amount to res judicata in the expropriation as against the occupants thereof.
other case. Forum-shopping is an act of
malpractice because it abuses court processes. Also, Rule 67, Section 1 of the Rules of Court allows
x x x. the filing of a complaint for expropriation even when the title to
any property sought to be condemned appears to be in the
Republic of the Philippines, although occupied by private
Here, the elements of litis pendencia are individuals, or if the title is otherwise obscure or doubtful so
wanting. There is no identity of rights asserted and reliefs that the plaintiff cannot with accuracy or certainty specify who
prayed for in Civil Case No. 106 and Civil Case No. 6686. are the real owners. Rule 67, Section 9 of the Rules of Court
further provides:
Civil Case No. 106 was instituted against MCFC to acquire, for
a public purpose, its possessory/occupancy rights over SEC. 9. Uncertain ownership; conflicting
322,532 square meters or 32.25 hectares of land which, at the claims. If the ownership of the property taken
time of the filing of the original Complaint in 1983, was not yet is uncertain, or there are conflicting claims
covered by any certificate of title. On the other hand, Civil to any part thereof, the court may order any
Case No. 6686 sought the cancellation of OCT Nos. 0-1200 sum or sums awarded as compensation for the
(a.f.) and 0-1201 (a.f.), which was entered into registration on property to be paid to the court for the benefit of
December 4, 1998 in Doa Demetrias name, on the argument the person adjudged in the same proceeding to
that the parcels of land covered by said certificates exceeded be entitled thereto. But the judgment shall
the areas granted by the LRC to Doa Demetria in GLRO require the payment of the sum or sums
Record Nos. 6908 and 6909, as affirmed by this Court in awarded to either the defendant or the court
the 1914 Cacho case. before the plaintiff can enter upon the property,
Expropriation vis--vis reversion or retain it for the public use or purpose if entry
has already been made. (Emphasis supplied.)
The Republic is not engaging in contradictions when it
instituted both expropriation and reversion proceedings for the
same parcels of land. The expropriation and reversion Hence, the filing by the Republic of the Supplemental
proceedings are distinct remedies that are not necessarily Complaint for Expropriation impleading Teofilo, Vidal,
exclusionary of each other. LANDTRADE, and AZIMUTH, is not necessarily an admission
that the parcels of land sought to be expropriated are privately
owned. At most, the Republic merely acknowledged in its
Supplemental Complaint that there are private persons also Review filed by LANDTRADE as it supposedly raised only
claiming ownership of the parcels of land. The Republic can factual issues.
still consistently assert, in both actions for expropriation and
reversion, that the subject parcels of land are part of the public The Court rules in favor of Vidal and AZIMUTH.
domain.
In sum, the RTC-Branch 1 erred in dismissing the Petitions for review under Rule 45
original Complaint and disallowing the Supplemental
Complaint in Civil Case No. 106. The Court reverses and sets A scrutiny of the issues raised, not just in the Petition for
aside the Resolutions dated July 12, 2005 and October 24, Review of LANDTRADE, but also those in the Petition for
2005 of the RTC-Branch 1 in Civil Case 106, and reinstates Review of Teofilo and/or Atty. Cabildo, reveals that they are
the Complaint for Reversion of the Republic. both factual and legal.

The Quieting of Title Case The Court has held in a long line of cases that in a petition for
(G.R. Nos. 178779 and 178894) review on certiorari under Rule 45 of the Rules of Court, only
questions of law may be raised as the Supreme Court is not a
Essentially, in their Petitions for Review trier of facts. It is settled that as a rule, the findings of fact of
on Certiorari under Rule 45 of the Rules of Court, the Court of Appeals especially those affirming the trial court
LANDTRADE and Teofilo, and/or Atty. Cabildo are calling are final and conclusive and cannot be reviewed on appeal to
upon this Court to determine whether the Court of Appeals, in the Supreme Court. The exceptions to this rule are: (a) when
its Decision dated January 19, 2007 in CA-G.R. CV No. the conclusion is a finding grounded entirely on speculations,
00456, erred in (1) upholding the jurisdiction of the RTC- surmises or conjectures; (b) when the inference made is
Branch 3 to resolve the issues on Vidal's status, filiation, and manifestly mistaken, absurd or impossible; (c) when there is
heirship in Civil Case No. 4452, the action for quieting of title; grave abuse of discretion; (d) when the judgment is based on
(2) not holding that Vidal and AZIMUTH have neither cause of a misapprehension of facts; (e) when the findings of fact are
action nor legal or equitable title or interest in the parcels of conflicting; (f) when the Court of Appeals, in making its
land covered by OCT Nos. 0-1200 (a.f.) and 0-1201 (a.f.); (3) findings, went beyond the issues of the case and the same is
finding the evidence sufficient to establish Vidals status as contrary to the admissions of both appellant and appellee; (g)
Doa Demetrias granddaughter and sole surviving heir; and (4) where the Court of Appeals manifestly overlooked certain
not holding that Civil Case No. 4452 was already barred by relevant facts not disputed by the parties and which, if properly
prescription. considered, would justify a different conclusion; and (h) where
the findings of fact of the Court of Appeals are contrary to
In their Comment, Vidal and AZIMUTH insisted on the those of the trial court, or are mere conclusions without citation
correctness of the Court of Appeals Decision dated January of specific evidence, or where the facts set forth by the
19, 2007, and questioned the propriety of the Petition for petitioner are not disputed by the respondent, or where the
findings of fact of the Court of Appeals are premised on The aforementioned arguments fail to persuade.
absence of evidence but are contradicted by the evidence on
record.[83] None of these exceptions exists in the Petitions at In the first place, jurisdiction is not the same as the exercise of
bar. jurisdiction. The Court distinguished between the two, thus:

Be that as it may, the Court shall address in full-length all the Jurisdiction is not the same as the
issues tendered in the instant Petitions for Review, even when exercise of jurisdiction. As distinguished from
factual, if only to bolster the conclusions reached by the RTC- the exercise of jurisdiction, jurisdiction is the
Branch 3 and the Court of Appeals, with which the Court fully authority to decide a cause, and not the
concurs. decision rendered therein. Where there is
Jurisdiction vis-- jurisdiction over the person and the subject
vis exercise of matter, the decision on all other questions
jurisdiction arising in the case is but an exercise of the
jurisdiction. And the errors which the court
may commit in the exercise of jurisdiction are
LANDTRADE, Teofilo, and/or Atty. Cabildo argue that the merely errors of judgment which are the proper
RTC-Branch 3 had no jurisidiction to resolve the issues of subject of an appeal.[86] (Emphasis supplied.)
status, filiation, and heirship in an action for quieting of title as
said issues should be ventilated and adjudicated only in
special proceedings under Rule 90, Section 1 of the Rules of Here, the RTC-Branch 3 unmistakably had jurisdiction
Court, pursuant to the ruling of this Court in Agapay v. over the subject matter and the parties in Civil Case No. 4452.
Palang[84] (Agapay case) and Heirs of Guido Yaptinchay and
Isabel Yaptinchay v. Del Rosario[85](Yaptinchay case). Even Jurisdiction over the subject matter or nature of the
on the assumption that the RTC-Branch 3 acquired action is conferred only by the Constitution or by law. Once
jurisdiction over their persons, LANDTRADE, Teofilo, and/or vested by law on a particular court or body, the jurisdiction
Atty. Cabildo maintain that the RTC-Branch 3 erred in over the subject matter or nature of the action cannot be
the exercise of its jurisdiction by adjudicating and passing dislodged by anybody other than by the legislature through the
upon the issues on Vidals status, filiation, and heirship in the enactment of a law. The power to change the jurisdiction of the
Quieting of Title Case. Moreover, LANDTRADE, Teofilo, courts is a matter of legislative enactment, which none but the
and/or Atty. Cabildo aver that the resolution of issues legislature may do. Congress has the sole power to define,
regarding status, filiation, and heirship is not merely a matter prescribe and apportion the jurisdiction of the courts.[87]
of procedure, but of jurisdiction which cannot be waived by
the parties or by the court.
The RTC has jurisdiction over an action for quieting of
title under the circumstances described in Section 19(2) of Considering that the RTC-Branch 3 had jurisdiction over the
Batas Pambansa Blg. 129, as amended: subject matter and parties in Civil Case No. 4452, then it can
rule on all issues in the case, including those on Vidals status,
SEC. 19. Jurisdiction in civil filiation, and heirship, in exercise of its jurisdiction. Any alleged
cases. Regional Trial Courts shall exercise erroneous finding by the RTC-Branch 3 concerning Vidals
exclusive original jurisdiction: status, filiation, and heirship in Civil Case No. 4452, is merely
an error of judgment subject to the affirmation, modification, or
xxxx reversal by the appellate court when appealed.

(2) In all civil actions which involve the The Agapay and Yaptinchay cases
title to, or possession of, real property, or
any interest therein, where the assessed LANDTRADE, Teofilo, and/or Atty. Cabildo cannot rely
value of the property involved exceeds on the cases of Agapay and Yaptinchay to support their
Twenty thousand pesos (P20,000.00) or, for position that declarations on Vidals status, filiation, and heirsip,
civil actions in Metro Manila, where such value should be made in special proceedings and not in Civil Case
exceeds Fifty thousand pesos (P50,000.00) No. 4452.
except actions for forcible entry into and
unlawful detainer of lands or buildings, original In the Agapay case, the deceased Miguel Agapay
jurisdiction over which is conferred upon the (Miguel) contracted two marriages. Miguel married Carlina
Metropolitan Trial Courts, Municipal Trial (sometimes referred to as Cornelia) in 1949, and they had a
Courts, and Municipal Circuit Trial Courts. daughter named Herminia, who was born in 1950. Miguel left
for Hawaii a few months after his wedding to Carlina. When
Miguel returned to the Philippines in 1972, he did not live with
Records show that the parcels of land subject of Civil Carlina and Herminia. He married Erlinda in 1973, with whom
Case No. 4452 have a combined assessed value he had a son named Kristopher, who was born in 1977. Miguel
of P35,398,920.00,[88] undisputedly falling within the jurisdiction died in 1981. A few months after Miguels death, Carlina and
of the RTC-Branch 3. Herminia filed a complaint for recovery of ownership and
possession with damages against Erlinda over a riceland and
The RTC-Branch 3 also acquired jurisdiction over the house and lot in Pangasinan, which were allegedly purchased
person of Teofilo when he filed his Answer to the Complaint of by Miguel during his cohabitation with Erlinda.The RTC
Vidal and AZIMUTH; and over the juridical personality of dismissed the complaint, finding little evidence that the
LANDTRADE when the said corporation was allowed to properties pertained to the conjugal property of Miguel and
intervene in Civil Case No. 4452. Carlina. The RTC went on to provide for the intestate shares of
the parties, particularly of Kristopher, Miguels illegitimate estate of the latter and claims thereto should be
son. On appeal, the Court of Appeals: (1) reversed the RTC ventilated in the proper probate court or in a
judgment; (2) ordered Erlinda to vacate and deliver the special proceeding instituted for the purpose
properties to Carlina and Herminia; and (3) ordered the and cannot be adjudicated in the instant
Register of Deeds to cancel the Transfer Certificates of Title ordinary civil action which is for recovery of
(TCTs) over the subject property in the name of Erlinda and to ownership and possession.[89]
issue new ones in the names of Carlina and Herminia. Erlinda
filed a Petition for Review with this Court.
The Yaptinchay case involved two parcels of land
In resolving Erlindas Petition, the Court held in in Cavite which were supposedly owned by Guido and Isabel
the Agapay case that Article 148 of the Family Code applied to Yaptinchay (spouses Yaptinchay). Upon the death of the
Miguel and Erlinda. Article 148 specifically governs the spouses Yaptinchay, their heirs (Yaptinchay heirs) executed
property relations of a man and a woman who are not an Extra-Judicial Settlement of the deceased spouses
capacitated to marry each other and live exclusively with each estate. However, the Yaptinchay heirs discovered that the
other as husband and wife without the benefit of marriage or properties were already covered by TCTs in the name of
under a void marriage. Under said provision, only the Golden Bay Realty Corporation (Golden Bay), prompting the
properties acquired by both parties through their actual joint Yaptinchay heirs to file with the RTC a complaint against
contribution of money, property, or industry shall be owned by Golden Bay for the annulment and/or declaration of nullity of
them in common in proportion to their respective TCT Nos. 493363 to 493367 and all their derivatives, or in the
contributions. In this case, the Court found that the money alternative, the reconveyance of realty with a prayer for a writ
used to buy the subject properties all came from Miguel. of preliminary injunction and/or restraining order with
damages. The Yaptinchay heirs later filed an amended
The Court then proceeded to address another issue in complaint to include additional defendants to
the Agapay case, more relevant to the one at bar: whom Golden Bay sold portions of the subject properties. The
RTC initially dismissed the amended complaint, but acting on
The second issue concerning Kristopher the motion for reconsideration of the Yaptinchay heirs,
Palangs status and claim as an illegitimate son eventually allowed the same. Golden Bay and its other co-
and heir to Miguels estate is here resolved in defendants presented a motion to dismiss the amended
favor of respondent courts correct assessment complaint, which was granted by the RTC. The Yaptinchay
that the trial court erred in making heirs came before this Court viaa Petition for Certiorari.
pronouncements regarding Kristophers heirship
and filiation inasmuch as questions as to who The Court first observed in the Yaptinchay case that
are the heirs of the decedent, proof of filiation of the Yaptinchay heirs availed themselves of the wrong
illegitimate children and the determination of the remedy. An order of dismissal is the proper subject of an
appeal, not a petition for certiorari. Next, the Court affirmed the appellants were not children of
dismissal of the amended complaint, thus: the deceased, that the properties
in question were paraphernal
Neither did the respondent court commit properties of his wife, Marcosa
grave abuse of discretion in issuing the Rivera, and that the latter was
questioned Order dismissing the Second his only heir. On appeal to this
Amended Complaint of petitioners, x x x. Court, we ruled that such
declarations (that Marcosa
xxxx Rivera was the only heir of the
decedent) is improper, in Civil
In Litam, etc., et al. v. Rivera, this court Case No. 2071, it being within
opined that the declaration of heirship must be the exclusive competence of the
made in an administration proceeding, and not court in Special Proceedings No.
in an independent civil action. This doctrine was 1537, in which it is not as yet, in
reiterated in Solivio v. Court of Appeals where issue, and, will not be, ordinarily,
the court held: in issue until the presentation of
the project of partition. (p. 378).
In Litam, et al. v. Rivera,
100 Phil. 364, where despite the The trial court cannot make a
pendency of the special declaration of heirship in the civil action for the
proceedings for the settlement of reason that such a declaration can only be
the intestate estate of the made in a special proceeding. Under Section 3,
deceased Rafael Litam, the Rule 1 of the 1997 Revised Rules of Court, a
plaintiffs-appellants filed a civil civil action is defined as one by which a party
action in which they claimed that sues another for the enforcement or protection
they were the children by a of a right, or the prevention or redress of a
previous marriage of the wrong while a special proceeding is a remedy
deceased to a Chinese woman, by which a party seeks to establish a status, a
hence, entitled to inherit his one- right, or a particular fact. It is then decisively
half share of the conjugal clear that the declaration of heirship can be
properties acquired during his made only in a special proceeding inasmuch as
marriage to Marcosa Rivera, the the petitioners here are seeking the
trial court in the civil case establishment of a status or right.[90]
declared that the plaintiffs-
LANDTRADE, Teofilo, and/or Atty. Cabildo missed one vital An action for reconveyance is
factual distinction between the Agapay and Yaptinchay cases, an action in personam available to a person
on one hand, and the present Petitions, on the other, by whose property has been wrongfully
reason of which, the Court shall not apply the prior two to the registered under the Torrens system in
last. anothers name. Although the decree is
recognized as incontrovertible and no longer
The Agapay and Yaptinchay cases, as well as the open to review, the registered owner is not
cases of Litam v. Rivera[91] and Solivio v. Court of necessarily held free from liens. As a remedy,
Appeals,[92] cited in the Yaptinchay case, all arose an action for reconveyance is filed as
from actions for reconveyance; while the instant Petitions an ordinary action in the ordinary courts of
stemmed from an action for quieting of title. The Court may justice and not with the land registration
have declared in previous cases that an action for court. Reconveyance is always available as
reconveyance is in the nature of an action for quieting of long as the property has not passed to an
title,[93] but the two are distinct remedies. innocent third person for value. x x x
(Emphases supplied.)
Ordinary civil
action for
reconveyance On the other hand, Article 476 of the Civil Code lays
vis-a-vis special down the circumstances when a person may institute an action
proceeding for for quieting of title:
quieting of title
ART. 476. Whenever there is a cloud on
title to real property or any interest therein, by
The action for reconveyance is based on Section 55 of reason of any instrument, record, claim,
Act No. 496, otherwise known as the Land Registration Act, as encumbrance or proceeding which is apparently
amended, which states [t]hat in all cases of registration valid or effective but is in truth and in fact
procured by fraud the owner may pursue all his legal and invalid, ineffective, voidable, or unenforceable,
equitable remedies against the parties to such fraud, without and may be prejudicial to said title, an action
prejudice, however, to the rights of any innocent holder for may be brought to remove such cloud or to
value of a certificate of title. quiet the title.

The Court, in Heirs of Eugenio Lopez, Sr. v.


Enriquez,[94] described an action for reconveyance as follows:
An action may also be brought to The Court expounded further in Spouses Portic v.
prevent a cloud from being cast upon title to Cristobal[96] that:
real property or any interest therein.
Suits to quiet title are characterized
as proceedings quasi in rem. Technically,
In Calacala v. Republic,[95] the Court elucidated on the nature they are neither in rem nor in personam. In an
of an action to quiet title: action quasi in rem, an individual is named as
defendant. However, unlike suits in rem,
Regarding the nature of the action filed before a quasi in rem judgment is conclusive only
the trial court, quieting of title is a common law between the parties.
remedy for the removal of any cloud upon or
doubt or uncertainty with respect to title to real Generally, the registered owner of a
property. Originating in equity jurisprudence, its property is the proper party to bring an action to
purpose is to secure x x x an adjudication that a quiet title. However, it has been held that this
claim of title to or an interest in property, remedy may also be availed of by a person
adverse to that of the complainant, is invalid, so other than the registered owner because, in
that the complainant and those claiming under the Article reproduced above, title does not
him may be forever afterward free from any necessarily refer to the original or transfer
danger of hostile claim. In an action for quieting certificate of title. Thus, lack of an actual
of title, the competent court is tasked certificate of title to a property does not
to determine the respective rights of the necessarily bar an action to quiet title. x x x
complainant and other claimants, x x x not (Emphases supplied.)
only to place things in their proper place, to
make the one who has no rights to said
immovable respect and not disturb the other, but The Court pronounced in the Agapay and Yaptinchay
also for the benefit of both, so that he who has cases that a declaration of heirship cannot be made in
the right would see every cloud of doubt over the an ordinary civil action such as an action for reconveyance,
property dissipated, and he could afterwards but must only be made in a special proceeding, for it involves
without fear introduce the improvements he may the establishment of a status or right.
desire, to use, and even to abuse the property
as he deems best x x x . (Emphases supplied.) The appropriate special proceeding would have been
the settlement of the estate of the decedent. Nonetheless, an
action for quieting of title is also a special proceeding,
specifically governed by Rule 63 of the Rules of Court on
declaratory relief and similar remedies.[97] Actions for inherited the two parcels of land from the late Doa Demetria as
declaratory relief and other similar remedies are distinguished said decedents sole heir, but neither Vidal nor Teofilo has
from ordinary civil actions because: been able to transfer registration of the said properties to
her/his name as of yet.
2. In declaratory relief, the subject-
matter is a deed, will, contract or other written Instead, Civil Case No. 4452 is indisputably an action
instrument, statute, executive order or for quieting of title, a special proceeding wherein the court is
regulation, or ordinance. The issue is the precisely tasked to determine the rights of the parties as to a
validity or construction of these particular parcel of land, so that the complainant and those
documents. The relief sought is the declaration claiming under him/her may be forever free from any danger of
of the petitioners rights and hostile claim. Vidal asserted title to the two parcels of land as
duties thereunder. Doa Demetrias sole heir. The cloud on Vidals title, which she
sought to have removed, was Teofilos adverse claim of title to
The concept of a cause of action in the same properties, also as Doa Demetrias only heir. For it to
ordinary civil actions does not apply to determine the rights of the parties in Civil Case No. 4452, it
declaratory relief as this special civil action was therefore crucial for the RTC-Branch 3 to squarely make a
presupposes that there has been no breach or finding as to the status, filiation, and heirship of Vidal in
violation of the instruments relation to those of Teofilo. A finding that one is Doa Demetrias
involved. Consequently, unlike other judgments, sole and rightful heir would consequently exclude and
the judgment in an action for declaratory relief extinguish the claim of the other.
does not essentially entail any executional
process as the only relief to be properly granted Even assuming arguendo that the proscription in
therein is a declaration of the rights and the Agapay and Yaptinchay cases against making declarations
duties of the parties under the instrument, of heirship in ordinary civil actions also extends to actions for
although some exceptions have been quieting of title, the same is not absolute.
recognized under certain situations.[98] In Portugal v. Portugal-Beltran[99] (Portugal case), the Court
recognized that there are instances when a declaration of
heirship need not be made in a separate special proceeding:
Civil Case No. 4452 could not be considered an action
for reconveyance as it is not based on the allegation that the The common doctrine
two parcels of land, Lots 1 and 2, have been wrongfully in Litam, Solivio and Guilas in which
registered in another persons name. OCT Nos. 0-1200 (a.f.) the adverse parties are putative heirs to the
and 0-1201 (a.f.), covering the subject properties, are still in estate of a decedent or parties to the special
Doa Demetrias name. Vidal and Teofilo each claims to have proceedings for its settlement is that if the
special proceedings are pending, or if there are evidence before the trial court which assumed
no special proceedings filed but there is, under jurisdiction over the case upon the issues it
the circumstances of the case, a need to file defined during pre-trial.
one, then the determination of, among other
issues, heirship should be raised and settled in In fine, under the circumstances of the present
said special proceedings. Where special case, there being no compelling reason to still
proceedings had been instituted but had been subject Portugals estate to administration
finally closed and terminated, however, or if a proceedings since a determination of petitioners
putative heir has lost the right to have himself status as heirs could be achieved in the civil
declared in the special proceedings as co-heir case filed by petitioners, the trial court should
and he can no longer ask for its re-opening, proceed to evaluate the evidence presented by
then an ordinary civil action can be filed for his the parties during the trial and render a decision
declaration as heir in order to bring about the thereon upon the issues it defined during pre-
annulment of the partition or distribution or trial, x x x.[101]
adjudication of a property or properties
belonging to the estate of the deceased.[100]
Another case, Heirs of Teofilo Gabatan v. Court of
Appeals[102] (Gabatan case), involved an action for recovery of
In the Portugal case itself, the Court directed the trial ownership and possession of property with the opposing
court to already determine petitioners status as heirs of the parties insisting that they are the legal heirs of the
decedent even in an ordinary civil action, i.e., action for deceased. Recalling the Portugal case, the Court ruled:
annulment of title, because:
It appearing x x x that in the present case the Similarly, in the present case, there
only property of the intestate estate of Portugal appears to be only one parcel of land being
is the Caloocan parcel of land, to still subject it, claimed by the contending parties as their
under the circumstances of the case, to a inheritance from Juan Gabatan. It would be
special proceeding which could be long, hence, more practical to dispense with a separate
not expeditious, just to establish the status of special proceeding for the determination of the
petitioners as heirs is not only impractical; it is status of respondent as the sole heir of Juan
burdensome to the estate with the costs and Gabatan, specially in light of the fact that the
expenses of an administration proceeding. And parties to Civil Case No. 89-092, had voluntarily
it is superfluous in light of the fact that the submitted the issue to the RTC and already
parties to the civil casesubject of the present presented their evidence regarding the issue of
case, could and had already in fact presented heirship in these proceeding. Also the RTC
assumed jurisdiction over the same and LANDTRADE, Teofilo, and/or Atty. Cabildo further
consequently rendered judgment thereon. contend that Vidal and AZIMUTH have no cause of action for
quieting of title since Vidal has no title to the two parcels of
land. In comparison, Teofilos title to the same properties, as
In Fidel v. Court of Appeals[103] (Fidel case), therein Doa Demetrias only heir, was already established and
respondents, the heirs of the late Vicente Espineli (Vicente) recognized by this Court in the 1997 Cacho case.
from his first marriage, instituted an action to annul the sale of
Vicentes property to therein petitioners, the spouses Fidel. The Again, the Court cannot sustain the foregoing
subject property was sold to petitioners by Vicentes heirs from contention of LANDTRADE, Teofilo, and/or Atty. Cabildo.
his second marriage. Even though ones legitimacy can only be
questioned in a direct action seasonably filed by the proper It must be borne in mind that the concept of a cause of
party, the Court held that it was necessary to pass upon action in ordinary civil actions does not apply to quieting of
respondents relationship to Vicente in the action for annulment title. In declaratory relief, the subject-matter is a deed, will,
of sale so as to determine respondents legal rights to the contract or other written instrument, statute, executive order or
subject property. In fact, the issue of whether respondents are regulation, or ordinance. The issue is the validity or
Vicentes heirs was squarely raised by petitioners in their Pre- construction of these documents. The relief sought is the
Trial Brief. Hence, petitioners were estopped from assailing declaration of the petitioners rights and duties thereunder.
the ruling of the trial court on respondents status. Being in the nature of declaratory relief, this special civil action
presupposes that there has yet been no breach or violation of
In Civil Case No. 4452, Teofilo and/or Atty. Cabildo the instruments involved.[105]
themselves asked the RTC-Branch 3 to resolve the issue of
Vidal's legal or beneficial ownership of the two parcels of In an action for quieting of title, the subject matter is the
land.[104] During trial, Vidal already presented before the RTC- title sought to have quieted. Title is not limited to the certificate
Branch 3 evidence to establish her status, filiation, and of registration under the Torrens System (i.e., OCT or
heirship. There is no showing that Doa Demetria left any other TCT). Pursuant to Article 477 of the Civil Code, the plaintiff
property that would have required special administration must have legal or equitable title to, or interest in, the real
proceedings. In the spirit of the Portugal, Gabatan, and Fidel property subject of the action for quieting of title. The plaintiff
cases, the Court deems it more practical and expeditious to need not even be in possession of the property. If she is
settle the issue on Vidals status, filiation, and heirship in Civil indeed Doa Demetrias sole heir, Vidal already has equitable
Case No. 4452. title to or interest in the two parcels of land by right of
succession, even though she has not yet secured certificates
Title in quieting of title to the said properties in her name.
of title
LANDTRADE, Teofilo, and/or Atty. Cabildo mistakenly believe
that the 1997 Cacho case had conclusively settled Teofilo's
identity and existence as Doa Demetrias sole heir. They failed LANDTRADE, Teofilo, and/or Atty. Cabildo additionally posit
to appreciate that the 1997 Cacho case involved Teofilos that the evidence presented by Vidal and AZIMUTH were
petition for reconstitution of title, treated as a petition for the insufficient to prove the fact of Vidal's filiation and heirship to
re-issuance of Decree Nos. 10364 and 18969. The grant by Doa Demetria. LANDTRADE, Teofilo, and/or Atty. Cabildo
the RTC of Teofilos petition, affirmed by this Court, only particularly challenged the reliance of the RTC-Branch 3 on
conclusively established the prior issuance and Vidals baptismal certificate, arguing that it has no probative
existence and the subsequent loss of the two decrees, thus, value and is not conclusive proof of filiation.
entitling Teofilo to the re-issuance of the said decrees in Alternative means of proving an individuals filiation have been
their original form and condition. recognized by this Court in Heirs of Ignacio Conti v. Court of
Appeals.[106] The property in litigation in said case was co-
As the Court of Appeals pointed out in its assailed owned by Lourdes Sampayo (Sampayo) and Ignacio Conti,
Decision dated January 19, 2007, the issue of Teofilos married to Rosario Cuario (collectively referred to as the
heirship was not the lis mota of the 1997 Cacho case. It was spouses Conti). Sampayo died without issue. Therein
addressed by the Court in the 1997 Cacho case for the simple respondents, claiming to be Sampayos collateral relatives,
purpose of determining Teofilos legal interest in filing a petition filed a petition for partition of the subject property, plus
for the re-issuance of the lost decrees. The Court merely found damages. To prove that they were collaterally related to
therein that Teofilos Affidavit of Adjudication, executed in the Sampayo through the latters brothers and sisters, respondents
U.S.A. before the Philippine Consulate General, enjoyed the submitted photocopies of the birth certificates, certifications on
presumption of regularity and, thus, sufficiently established the non-availability of records of births, and certified true
Teofilos legal interest. The 1997 Cacho case, however, did not copies of the baptismal certificates of Sampayos siblings. The
conclusively settle that Teofilo is indeed Doa Demetrias only spouses Conti questioned the documentary evidence of
heir and the present owner, by right of succession, of the respondents filiation on the ground that these were
subject properties. incompetent and inadmissible, but the Court held that:

Under Art. 172 of the Family Code, the filiation


of legitimate children shall be proved by any
other means allowed by the Rules of Court and
special laws, in the absence of a record of birth
Factual findings or a parents admission of such legitimate
of the RTC- filiation in a public or private document duly
Branch 3 and the signed by the parent. Such other proof of ones
Court of Appeals filiation may be a baptismal certificate, a judicial
admission, a family Bible in which his name has that Lourdes, Josefina, Remedios and Luis had
been entered, common reputation respecting the same set of parents, as indicated
his pedigree, admission by silence, the therein. Corroborated by the undisputed
testimonies of witnesses and other kinds of testimony of Adelaida Sampayo that with the
proof admissible under Rule 130 of the Rules of demise of Lourdes and her brothers Manuel,
Court. By analogy, this method of proving Luis and sister Remedios, the only sibling left
filiation may also be utilized in the instant case. was Josefina Sampayo Reyes, such baptismal
xxxx certificates have acquired evidentiary weight to
The admissibility of baptismal prove filiation.[107]
certificates offered by Lydia S. Reyes, absent
the testimony of the officiating priest or the
official recorder, was settled in People v. Ritter, Thus, Vidals baptismal certificate is not totally bereft of
citing U.S. v. de Vera (28 Phil. 105 [1914]), thus any probative value. It may be appreciated, together with all
- the other documentary and testimonial evidence submitted on
Vidals filiation, to wit:
x x x the entries made in
the Registry Book may be The first issue proposed by petitioners
considered as entries made in the for resolution is whether or not petitioner
course of the business under Demetria C. Vidal is the sole surviving heir of
Section 43 of Rule 130, which is the late Doa Demetria Cacho. To prove that,
an exception to the hearsay rule. indeed, she is the sole surviving heir of the late
The baptisms administered by the Doa Demetria Cacho, she testified in open court
church are one of its transactions and identified the following documentary
in the exercise of ecclesiastical evidence, to wit:
duties and recorded in the book
of the church during the course of Exhibit A Birth Certificate of
its business. Demetria C. Vidal
Exhibit B Partida de Bautismo of
It may be argued that baptismal Demetria C. Vidal
certificates are evidence only of the Exhibit C Certificate of Baptism
administration of the sacrament, but in this Demetria C. Vidal
case, there were four (4) baptismal certificates Exhibit D Cacho Family Tree
which, when taken together, uniformly show Exhibit D-1 Branch of Demetria
Cacho
Exhibit F Death Certificate of Since respondents Teofilo Cacho and
Demetria Cacho. Atty. Godofredo Cabildo opted not to adduce
Exhibit P Drivers license of evidence in this case as they failed to appear
Demetria C. Vidal. during the scheduled trial dates, the court shall
Exhibit Q to Q5 The book entitled decide on the basis of the evidence for the
CACHO, the introductory respondents-intervenor and petitioners.[109]
page on March 1988
when the data were
compiled, page 58 on the Based on the evidence presented before it, the RTC-
Vidal branch of the Branch 3 made the following factual findings:
Cacho family, page 62 on
Demetria Cacho and her From the evidence adduced, both
descendants, page 69 on testimonial and documentary, the court is
the family member with convinced that petitioner Vidal is the
the then latest birth day granddaughter of Demetria Cacho Vidal, the
26 March 1988, and page registered owner of the subject property covered
77 with the picture of by decree Nos. 10364 & 18969, reissued as
Demetria Cacho Vidal, Decrees No. 19364 and No. 16869. Such being
Dionisio Vidal and the case, she is an heir of Demetria Cacho
[108]
Francisco Vidal. Vidal.

Petitioner Vidals Certificate of Birth (Exh.


In contrast, LANDTRADE, Teofilo, and/or Atty. Cabildo A) shows that she was born on June 3, 1941,
failed to present any evidence at all in support of their with the name Demetria Vidal. [Her] father was
claims. According to the RTC-Branch 3: Francisco Vidal and her mother was Fidela
Confesor, Francisco Vidal is the son of Dionisio
Landtrade was also declared to have Vidal and Demetria Cacho as shown by [his]
waived its right to present evidence on its Partida de Bautismo (Baptismal
defense and counterclaim in the above-entitled Certificate). Moreover, it was shown in the same
case in view of its failure to present evidence on document that her godmother was Demetria
their scheduled trial date. Cacho. By inference, this Demetria Cacho is
actually Demetria Cacho Vidal because she was
xxxx married to Dionisio Vidal, the father of Francisco
Vidal.
Demetria Cacho. The following facts and
Now then, is Demetria Cacho Vidal the circumstances negate the impression that he is
same person referred to in Cacho v. the son, as he claims to be, of Doa Demetria
Government of the United States (28 Phil. 616 Cacho. Thus:
[1914])? Page 618, Vol. 28 of the Philippine
Reports would indicate that the applicant for a) Doa Demetria Cacho was
registration was Doa Demetria Cacho y Soriano married to Don Dionisio Vidal,
(Exh. R-1). The Death Certificate of Demetria and thus her full name was
Cacho Vidal shows that her mother was Doa Demetria Cacho
Candelaria Soriano (Exh. F). Necessarily, they Vidal. Her only child,
are one and the same person. This is further expectedly, carried the
confirmed by the fact that the husband of surname Vidal (Francisco
Demetria Cacho Vidal, Seor Dionisio Vidal, was Cacho Vidal). Had Teofilo
quoted in pp. 629-630 of the aforecited decision Cacho actually been a son of
as the husband of Demetria Cacho (Exh. R-3). Demetria Cacho, he would
and should have carried the
The book CACHO (Exhs. Q to Q-5) and name Teofilo Cacho Vidal,
the Cacho Family Tree (Exhs. D to D-1) further but he did not.
strengthen the aforecited findings of this Court.
b) Teofilo Cacho admits to
It was established by petitioner Vidals being married to one Elisa
own testimony that at the time of Doa Demetria Valderrama in the Special
Cacho's death, she left no heir other than Power of Attorney he issued
petitioner Vidal. Her husband, Don Dionisio, to Atty. Godofredo [Cabildo]
died even before the war, while her only child, (Exh. O).Teofilo Cacho
Francisco Cacho Vidal xxx Vidals father died married Elisa Valderrama on
during the war. Petitioners only sibling Francisco 27 May 1953, in the Parish of
Dionisio died at childbirth. the Immaculate Conception,
Bani, Pangasinan. The
xxxx Certificate of Marriage shows
that Teofilo Cacho is the son
The next factual issue proposed by of Agustin Cacho and
petitioners is whether or not respondent Teofilo Estefania Cordial, not
Cacho is the son or heir of the late Doa Demetria Cacho. In his
Certificate of Baptism (Exh. whether this allegation is true
G), he was born to Agustin or not because it concerns
Cacho and Estefania Cordial him. If true, he should admit
on May 1930 (when Doa and if false, he opted to deny
Demetria Cacho was already the charges for lack of
50 years old). knowledge or information to
form a belief. The Court
c) The Cacho Family Tree considers his denial as an
(Exh. D) (that is, the Cacho admission of the allegation
Family to which Doa Demetria that he is falsely and
Cacho belonged) as well as fraudulently claiming to be the
the book on the Cacho Family son and sole heir of the late
(Exh. Q) are bereft of any Doa Demetria Cacho.[110]
mention of Teofilo Cacho or
his wife Elisa Valderrama, or
even his real father Agustin Considering the aforequoted factual findings, the RTC-
Cacho, or mother Estefania Branch 3 arrived at the following legal conclusions, quieting
Cordial. They are not known the titles of Vidal and AZIMUTH, viz:
to be related to the Cacho
family of Doa Demetria The first proposed legal issue to be
Cacho. resolved had been amply discussed under the
first factual issue. Certainly, petitioner Vidal has
d) Paragraph 1.11 of the hereditary rights, interest, or title not only to a
Petition charges respondent portion of the Subject Property but to the entire
Teofilo Cacho of having property left by the late Doa Demetria Cacho
falsely and fraudulently Vidal, subject, however, to the Deed of
claiming to be the son and Conditional Conveyance executed by petitioner
sole heir of the late Doa Vidal of a portion of the Subject Property in favor
Demetria Cacho. In his of petitioner Azimuth International Development
answer to this particular Corporation (Exh. J) executed pursuant to their
paragraph, he denied the Memorandum of Agreement (Exh.
same for lack of knowledge or I). Consequently, it goes without saying that
information to form a petitioner Azimuth International Development
belief. He should know
Corporation has a right, interest in, or title to a It is only right that petitioner Vidal
portion of the subject property. should seek protection of her ownership from
acts tending to cast doubt on her title. Among
As discussed earlier in this decision, the legal remedies she could pursue, is this
Teofilo Cacho, not being the son, as he claims petition for Quieting of Title under Chapter 3,
to be, of the late Doa Demetria Cacho Vidal, has Title I, Book II of the Civil Code, Articles 476 to
no hereditary rights to the Subject Property left 481 inclusive. x x x.[111]
by Doa Demetria Cacho Vidal. He failed to show
any evidence that he is the son of the late Doa
Demetria Cacho Vidal as he and his co The Court of Appeals affirmed in toto the judgment of
respondent, Atty. Godofredo Cabildo, even the RTC-Branch 3. The appellate court even soundly
failed to appear on the scheduled trial date. trounced Teofilos attack on the factual findings of the trial
court:
It is, therefore, safe to conclude that
respondents Teofilo Cacho and/or Atty. [T]he material facts sought to be established by
Godofredo Cabildo and their the afore-mentioned documentary evidence
transferees/assignees have no right, interest in, corroborated by the testimony of VIDAL, whose
or title to the subject property. testimony or credibility neither TEOFILO and
LANDTRADE even attempted to impeach, only
Prescinding from the finding of this proves one thing, that she is the granddaughter
Court that respondent Teofilo Cacho is not the of DOA DEMETRIA and the sole heiress
son of the registered owner of the Subject thereof.
Property, the late Doa Demetria Cacho Vidal,
respondent Cacho committed false pretenses xxxx
and fraudulent acts in representing himself as
son and sole heir of Doa Demetria Cacho Hence, it is now too late for appellant
(Vidal) in his petition in court, which eventually TEOFILO to assail before Us the facts proven
led to the reconstitution of the titles of Doa during the trial, which he failed to refute in open
Demetria Cacho (Vidal). Certainly, his court. Verily, TEOFILOs lackadaisical attitude in
misrepresentation in the reconstitution case, the conduct of his defense only shows that he
which apparently is the basis of his claim to the has no proof to offer in refutation of the
subject property, casts clouds on [respondents'] evidence advanced by appellee VIDAL.
title to the subject property.
Otherwise stated, appellant TEOFILO is evidence. It is not the function of the Court to analyze or weigh
an impostor, a pretender and bogus heir of all over again the evidence or premises supportive of such
DOA DEMETRIA. factual determination. The Court has consistently held that
the findings of the Court of Appeals and other lower courts
xxxx are, as a rule, accorded great weight, if not binding upon it,
save for the most compelling and cogent reasons.[113] There is
Besides, it is quite unnatural and no justification for the Court to deviate from the factual findings
against human nature for a rightful heir, if of the RTC-Branch 3 and the Court of Appeals which are
TEOFILO is really one, to merely stand still with clearly supported by the evidence on record.
folded arms, while the accusing finger of VIDAL
is right on his very nose. In all likelihood, and Prescription
with all his might and resources, a rightful heir LANDTRADE finally asserts that the action for quieting of title
may even be expected to cross continents and of Vidal and AZIMUTH already prescribed since LANDTRADE
reach distant shores to protect his interest over has been in possession of the two parcels of land in
the subject properties, which in this case is question. The prescriptive period for filing said action lapsed in
arguably worth more than a Kings ransom. 1995, ten years from the time Teofilo executed his Affidavit of
Adjudication in 1985. Yet, Vidal and AZIMUTH instituted Civil
It stands on record that TEOFILO Case No. 4452 only in 1998.
CACHO has all along even prior to executing
his Affidavit of Adjudication in 1985 in Chicago, It is too late in the day for LANDTRADE to raise the
United States of America, and in simultaneously issue of prescription of Civil Case No. 4452 for the first time
executing a Special Power of Attorney in favor before this Court. In this jurisdiction, the defense of
of ATTY. CABILDO, had remained in the United prescription cannot be raised for the first time on
States, and not for a single moment appeared appeal. Such defense may be waived, and if it was not raised
in court except through his agents or as a defense in the trial court, it cannot be considered on
representatives. To Our mind, this fact alone appeal, the general rule being that the Appellate Court is not
adversely affects his pretension in claiming to authorized to consider and resolve any question not properly
be an heir of DOA DEMETRIA.[112] raised in the lower court.[114]

But even if the Court takes cognizance of the issue of


As a rule, the findings of fact of the trial court when prescription, it will rule against LANDTRADE.
affirmed by the Court of Appeals are final and conclusive, and
cannot be reviewed on appeal by this Court as long as they A real action is one where the plaintiff seeks the
are borne out by the record or are based on substantial recovery of real property or, as indicated in what is now Rule
4, Section 1 of the Rules of Court, a real action is an action LANDTRADE cannot insist on the application of the 10-
affecting title to or recovery of possession of real year ordinary acquisitive prescription period since it cannot be
property.[115] An action for quieting of title to real property, considered a possessor in good faith. The good faith of the
such as Civil Case No. 4452, is indubitably a real action. possessor consists in the reasonable belief that the person
from whom he received the thing was the owner thereof, and
Article 1141 of the Civil Code plainly provides that real could transmit his ownership.[119]
actions over immovables prescribe after thirty years. Doa
Demetria died in 1974, transferring by succession, her title to LANDTRADE came to possession of the two parcels of
the two parcels of land to her only heir, Vidal. Teofilo, through land after purchasing the same from Teofilo. The Court
Atty. Cabildo, filed a petition for reconstitution of the stresses, however, that Teofilo is not the registered owner of
certificates of title covering said properties in 1978. This is the the subject properties. The said properties are still registered
first palpable display of Teofilos adverse claim to the same in Doa Demetrias name under OCT Nos. 0-1200 (a.f.) and 0-
properties, supposedly, also as Doa Demetrias only 1201 (a.f.). The Affidavit of Adjudication, by which Teofilo
heir. When Vidal and AZIMUTH instituted Civil Case No. 4452 declared himself to be the sole heir of Doa Demetrias estate,
in 1998, only 20 years had passed, and the prescriptive period is not even annotated on the OCTs. Worse, LANDTRADE is
for filing an action for quieting of title had not yet prescribed. not dealing directly with Teofilo, but only with the latters
attorney-in-fact, Atty. Cabildo. It is axiomatic that one who
Nevertheless, the Court notes that Article 1411 of the buys from a person who is not a registered owner is not a
Civil Code also clearly states that the 30-year prescriptive purchaser in good faith.[120]
period for real actions over immovables is without
prejudice to what is established for the acquisition of Furthermore, in its Complaint for Unlawful Detainer
ownership and other real rights by prescription. Thus, the against NAPOCOR and TRANSCO, which was docketed as
Court must also look into the acquisitive prescription periods of Civil Case No. 11475-AF before the MTCC, LANDTRADE
ownership and other real rights. itself alleged that when it bought the two parcels of land from
Teofilo, portions thereof were already occupied by
Acquisitive prescription of dominion and real rights may the Overton Sub-station and Agus 7 Warehouse of NAPOCOR
be ordinary or extraordinary. [116] and TRANSCO. This is another circumstance which should
have prompted LANDTRADE to investigate or inspect the
Ordinary acquisitive prescription requires property being sold to it. It is, of course, expected from the
possession of things in good faith and with just title for the time purchaser of a valued piece of land to inquire first into the
fixed by law.[117] In the case of ownership and other real rights status or nature of possession of the occupants, i.e., whether
over immovable property, they are acquired by ordinary or not the occupants possess the land en concepto de dueo, in
prescription through possession of 10 years.[118] concept of owner. As is the common practice in the real estate
industry, an ocular inspection of the premises involved is a
safeguard a cautious and prudent purchaser usually interest in the subject parcels of land; (b) AZIMUTH is Vidals
takes. Should he find out that the land he intends to buy is successor-in-interest to portions of the said properties in
occupied by anybody else other than the seller who, as in this accordance with the 1998 Memorandum of Agreement and
case, is not in actual possession, it would then be incumbent 2004 Deed of Conditional Conveyance; (c) Teofilo is not the
upon the purchaser to verify the extent of the occupants son or heir of Doa Demetria; and (d) Teofilo, Atty. Cabildo, and
possessory rights. The failure of a prospective buyer to take their transferees/assignees, including LANDTRADE, have no
such precautionary steps would mean negligence on his part valid right to or interest in the same properties.
and would thereby preclude him from claiming or invoking the
rights of a purchaser in good faith.[121] The Ejectment or Unlawful Detainer Case
(G.R. Nos. 170505, 173355-56, and 173563-64)
Since the ordinary acquisitive prescription period of 10 years
does not apply to LANDTRADE, then the Court turns its
attention to the extraordinary acquisitive prescription The Petitions in G.R. Nos. 170505, 173355-56, and 173563-64
period of 30 years set by Article 1137 of the Civil Code, which all concern the execution pending appeal of the Decision
reads: dated February 17, 2004 of the MTCC in Civil Case No.
11475-AF, which ordered NAPOCOR and TRANSCO to
ART. 1137. Ownership and other real vacate the two parcels of land in question, as well as to pay
rights over immovables also prescribe through rent for the time they occupied said properties.
uninterrupted adverse possession thereof for
thirty years, without need of title or of good faith. LANDTRADE filed its Petition for Review in G.R. No.
170505 when it failed to have the MTCC Decision dated
February 17, 2004 executed while Civil Case No. 6613, the
LANDTRADE adversely possessed the subject properties no appeal of the same judgment by NAPOCOR and TRANSCO,
earlier than 1996, when it bought the same from Teofilo, and was still pending before the RTC-Branch 5.
Civil Case No. 4452 was already instituted two years later
in 1998. LANDTRADE cannot tack its adverse possession of NAPOCOR and TRANSCO sought recourse from this
the two parcels of land to that of Teofilo considering that there Court through their Petitions for Certiorari and Prohibition
is no proof that the latter, who is already residing in the U.S.A., in G.R. Nos. 173355-56 and 173563-64 after the RTC-Branch
adversely possessed the properties at all. 1 (to which Civil Case No. 6613 was re-raffled) already
rendered a Decision dated December 12, 2005 in Civil Case
Thus, the Court of Appeals did not err when it No. 6613, affirming the MTCC Decision dated February 17,
affirmed in toto the judgment of the RTC-Branch 3 which 2004. Expectedly, NAPOCOR and TRANSCO appealed the
declared, among other things, that (a) Vidal is the sole judgment of the RTC-Branch 1 to the Court of Appeals. The
surviving heir of Doa Demetria, who alone has rights to and Court of Appeals granted the motion for execution pending
appeal of LANDTRADE, and denied the application for Rule 70, Section 19 of the Rules of Court lays down the
preliminary injunction of NAPOCOR and TRANSCO. requirements for staying the immediate execution of the MTCC
judgment against the defendant in an ejectment suit:
The
requirements of SEC. 19. Immediate execution of
posting a judgment; how to stay same. If judgment is
supersedeas rendered against the defendant, execution shall
bond and issue immediately upon motion, unless
depositing rent an appeal has been perfected and the
to stay execution defendant to stay execution files a sufficient
supersedeas bond, approved by the Municipal
Trial Court and executed in favor of the plaintiff
The pivotal issue in G.R. No. 170505 is whether to pay the rents, damages, and costs accruing
LANDTRADE is entitled to the execution of the MTCC down to the time of the judgment appealed
Decision dated February 17, 2004 even while said judgment from, and unless, during the pendency of the
was then pending appeal before the RTC-Branch 5. The RTC- appeal, he deposits with the appellate court
Branch 5 granted the motion for immediate execution pending the amount of rent due from time to
appeal of LANDTRADE because of the failure of NAPOCOR time under the contract, if any, as determined
and TRANSCO to comply with the requirements for staying the by the judgment of the Municipal Trial Court. In
execution of the MTCC judgment, as provided in Rule 70, the absence of a contract, he shall deposit with
Section 19 of the Rules of Court. The Court of Appeals the Regional Trial Court the reasonable value of
subsequently found grave abuse of discretion on the part of the use and occupation of the premises for the
RTC-Branch 5 in issuing the Order dated August 9, 2004 preceding month or period at the rate
which granted execution pending appeal and the Writ of determined by the judgment of the lower court
Execution Pending Appeal dated August 10, 2004; and on the on or before the tenth day of each succeeding
part of Sheriff Borres, in issuing the Notices of Garnishment month or period. The supersedeas bond shall
and Notification to vacate, all dated August 11, be transmitted by the Municipal Trial Court, with
2004. According to the appellate court, NAPOCOR and the other papers, to the clerk of the Regional
TRANSCO are exempt from the requirements of filing Trial Court to which the action is appealed.
a supersedeas bond and depositing rent in order to stay the
execution of the MTCC judgment. All amounts so paid to the appellate
court shall be deposited with said court or
authorized government depositary bank, and
shall be held there until the final disposition of
the appeal, unless the court, by agreement of in Philippine Geothermal, Inc. v. Commissioner of Internal
the interested parties, or in the absence of Revenue[122] that a chronological review of the NAPOCOR
reasonable grounds of opposition to a motion to Charter will show that it has been the lawmakers intention that
withdraw, or for justifiable reasons, shall decree said corporation be completely exempt not only from all forms
otherwise. Should the defendant fail to make of taxes, but also from filing fees, appeal bonds,
the payments above prescribed from time to and supersedeas bonds in any court or administrative
time during the pendency of the appeal, the proceedings. The Court traced the history of the NAPOCOR
appellate court, upon motion of the plaintiff, and Charter, thus:
upon proof of such failure, shall order the
execution of the judgment appealed from with Republic Act No. 6395 (10 September
respect to the restoration of possession, but 1971) enumerated the details covered by the
such execution shall not be a bar to the appeal exemptions by stating under Sec. 13 that The
taking its course until the final disposition Corporation shall be non-profit and shall devote
thereof on the merits. all its returns from its capital investment, as well
as excess revenues from its operation, for
After the case is decided by the expansionthe Corporation is hereby declared
Regional Trial Court, any money paid to the exempt from the payment of all taxes, duties,
court by the defendant for purposes of the stay fees, imposts, charges, costs and service fees
of execution shall be disposed of in accordance in any court or administrative proceedings in
with the provisions of the judgment of the which it may be a party, restrictions and duties
Regional Trial Court. In any case wherein it to the Republic of the Philippines, its provinces,
appears that the defendant has been deprived cities, municipalities and other government
of the lawful possession of land or building agencies and instrumentalities . .
pending the appeal by virtue of the execution of . Subsequently, Presidential Decree No.
the judgment of the Municipal Trial Court, 380 (22 January 1974), Sec. 10 made even
damages for such deprivation of possession more specific the details of the exemption of
and restoration of possession may be allowed NPC to cover, among others, both direct and
the defendant in the judgment of the Regional indirect taxes on all petroleum products used in
Trial Court disposing of the appeal. (Emphases its operation. Presidential Decree No. 938 (27
supplied.) May 1976), Sec. 13 amended the tax exemption
by simplifying the same law in general terms. It
succinctly exempts service fees, including filing
The Court had previously recognized the exemption of fees, appeal bonds, supersedeas bonds, in any
NAPOCOR from filing a supersedeas bond. The Court stated court or administrative proceedings. The use of
the phrase all forms of taxes demonstrate the In A.M. No. 05-10-20-SC, captioned In Re: Exemption
intention of the law to give NPC all the of the National Power Corporation from Payment of
exemption it has been enjoying before. The Filing/Docket Fees, the Court addressed the query of a Clerk
rationale for this exemption is that being non- of Court from the RTC of Urdaneta, Pangasinan on whether
profit, the NPC shall devote all its return from its NAPOCOR is exempt from the payment of filing fees and
capital investment as well as excess revenues Sheriffs Trust Fund. In its Resolution dated December 6, 2005,
from its operation, for the Court, upon the recommendation of the Court
expansion.[123] (Emphases supplied.) Administrator, declared that NAPOCOR is still exempt from the
payment of filing fees, appeal bonds, and supersedeas bonds.

As presently worded, Section 13 of Republic Act No. Consistent with the foregoing, the Court of Appeals
6395, the NAPOCOR Charter, as amended, reads: rendered its Decision dated November 23, 2005 in CA-G.R.
SP Nos. 85714 and 85841 declaring that NAPOCOR was
exempt from filing a supersedeas bond to stay the execution of
SEC. 13. Non-profit Character of the the MTCC judgment while the same was pending appeal
Corporation; Exemption from All Taxes, Duties, before the RTC-Branch 5. The appellate court also held that
Fees, Imposts and Other Charges by the the exemption of NAPOCOR extended even to the
Government and Government Instrumentalities. requirement for periodical deposit of rent, ratiocinating that:
The Corporation shall be non-profit and shall
devote all its returns from its capital investment On the whole, the posting
as well as excess revenues from its operation, of supersedeas bond and the making of the
for expansion. To enable the Corporation to pay periodical deposit are designed primarily to
its indebtedness and obligations and in insure that the plaintiff would be paid the back
furtherance and effective implementation of the rentals and the compensation for the use and
policy enunciated in Section One of this Act, the occupation of the premises should the municipal
Corporation, including its subsidiaries, is hereby trial courts decision be eventually affirmed on
declared exempt from the payment of all forms appeal. Elsewise stated, both the posting of the
of taxes, duties, fees, imposts as well as costs supersedeas bond and the payment of monthly
and service fees including filing fees, appeal deposit are required to accomplish one and the
bonds, supersedeas bonds, in any court or same purpose, namely, to secure the
administrative proceedings. (Emphasis performance of, or to satisfy the judgment
supplied.) appealed from in case it is affirmed on appeal
by the appellate court.
xxxx occupancy of the property, as determined in the
municipal trial courts decision.[124]
Thus viewed, the inescapable
conclusion is, and so We hold, that although the
term making of monthly deposit in ejectment The Court of Appeals further adjudged that the
cases is not expressly or specifically mentioned exemptions of NAPOCOR similarly applied to TRANSCO
in Section 13 of R.A. 6395, however, inasmuch since [i]t is all too obvious that the interests of NAPOCOR and
as it has the same or similar function, purpose, TRANSCO over the premises in litigation are so interwoven
and essence as a supersedeas bond, it should and dependent upon each other, such that whatever is
be deemed included in the enumeration laid adjudged in regard to the former, whether favorable or
down under the said provision. This accords adverse, would ineluctably and similarly affect the latter[;] and
well with the principle of ejusdem generis which [c]onsequently, x x x the stay of the execution of the appealed
says that where a statute uses a general word decision insofar as NAPOCOR is concerned necessarily
followed by an enumeration of specific words extends and inures to its co-defendant TRANSCO, not by
embraced within the general word merely as virtue of the formers statutory exemption privilege from filing
examples, the enumeration does not restrict the supersedeas bond and making periodic deposits, but by the
meaning of the general word which should be indisputably operative fact that the rights and liabilities in litis of
construed to include others of the same class BOTH defendants are so intimately interwoven,
although not enumerated therein; or where a interdependent, and indivisible.[125]
general word or phrase follows an enumeration
of particular and specific words of the same Only recently, however, the Court reversed its stance
class or where the latter follow the former, the on the exemption of NAPOCOR from filing fees, appeal bonds,
general word or phrase is to be construed to and supersedeas bonds. Revisiting A.M. No. 05-10-20-SC, the
include persons, things or cases akin to, Court issued Resolutions dated October 27, 2009 and March
resembling, or of the same kind or class as 10, 2010, wherein it denied the request of NAPOCOR for
those specifically mentioned. exemption from payment of filing fees and court fees for such
request appears to run counter to Article VIII, Section
In a nutshell, We hold that petitioner 5(5)[126] of the Constitution, on the rule-making power of the
NAPOCOR enjoys exemption not only from Supreme Court over the rules on pleading, practice and
posting supersedeas bond in courts in appealed procedure in all courts, which includes the sole power to fix the
ejectment cases, but also from periodically filing fees of cases in courts. The Court categorically
depositing the amount of the monthly rental or pronounced that NAPOCOR can no longer invoke its amended
the reasonable compensation of the use and Charter as basis for exemption from the payment of legal
fees.
appeal, via a Petition for Review, before the
Nevertheless, in this case, the RTC-Branch 1 already Court of Appeals and/or Supreme Court.
promulgated its Decision in Civil Case No. 6613 on December (Emphases supplied.)
12, 2005, denying the appeal of NAPOCOR and TRANSCO
and affirming the MTCC judgment against said
corporations. NAPOCOR and TRANSCO presently have According to Rule 70, Section 21 of the Rules of Court,
pending appeals of the RTC-Branch 1 judgment before the [t]he judgment of the Regional Trial Court against the
Court of Appeals. defendant shall be immediately executory, without prejudice to
a further appeal that may be taken therefrom. It no longer
Rule 70, Section 19 of the Rules of Court applies only provides for the stay of execution at such stage.
when the judgment of a Municipal Trial Court (and any same
level court such as the MTCC) in an ejectment case is pending Thus, subsequent events have rendered the Petition of
appeal before the RTC. When the RTC had already resolved LANDTRADE in G.R. No. 170505 moot and academic. It will
the appeal and its judgment, in turn, is pending appeal before serve no more purpose for the Court to require NAPOCOR
the Court of Appeals, then Rule 70, Section 21 of the Rules of and TRANSCO to still comply with the requirements of filing
Court governs. a supersedeas bond and depositing rent to stay execution
pending appeal of the MTCC judgment, as required by Rule
The Court already pointed out in Northcastle Properties 70, Section 19 of the Rules of Court, when the appeal had
and Estate Corporation v. Paas[127] that Section 19 applies only since been resolved by the RTC.
to ejectment cases pending appeal with the RTC, and Section
21 to those already decided by the RTC. The Court again held Preliminary
in Uy v. Santiago[128] that: injunction to
stay execution of
[I]t is only execution of the Metropolitan or RTC judgment
Municipal Trial Courts judgment pending appeal against
with the Regional Trial Court which may be defendant in an
stayed by a compliance with the requisites ejectment case
provided in Rule 70, Section 19 of the 1997
Rules on Civil Procedure. On the other hand,
once the Regional Trial Court has rendered a The issues raised by NAPOCOR and TRANSCO in
decision in its appellate jurisdiction, such their Petitions in G.R. Nos. 173355-56 and 173563-64 boil
decision shall, under Rule 70, Section 21 of down to the sole issue of whether the Court of Appeals
the 1997 Rules on Civil Procedure, be committed grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack or
immediately executory, without prejudice to an excess of jurisdiction in refusing to enjoin the execution of the
Decision dated December 12, 2005 of the RTC-Branch 1 in judgment or final order requiring a party or a
Civil Case No. 6613 while the same is pending appeal before court, agency or a person to refrain from a
the appellate court. particular act or acts. Injunction is accepted as
the strong arm of equity or a transcendent
The Court of Appeals granted the issuance of a writ of remedy to be used cautiously as it affects the
execution in favor of LANDTRADE and denied the application respective rights of the parties, and only upon
for writ of preliminary injunction of NAPOCOR and TRANSCO full conviction on the part of the court of its
because Rule 70, Section 21 of the Rules of Court explicitly extreme necessity. An extraordinary remedy,
provides that the RTC judgment in an ejectment case, which is injunction is designed to preserve or maintain
adverse to the defendant and pending appeal before the Court the status quo of things and is generally availed
of Appeals, shall be immediately executory and can be of to prevent actual or threatened acts until the
enforced despite further appeal.Therefore, the execution of the merits of the case can be heard. It may be
RTC judgment pending appeal is the ministerial duty of the resorted to only by a litigant for the preservation
Court of Appeals, specifically enjoined by law to be done. or protection of his rights or interests and for no
other purpose during the pendency of the
NAPOCOR and TRANSCO argue that neither the rules principal action. It is resorted to only when there
nor jurisprudence explicitly declare that Rule 70, Section 21 of is a pressing necessity to avoid injurious
the Rules of Court bars the application of Rule 58 on consequences, which cannot be remedied
preliminary injunction. Regardless of the immediately under any standard compensation. The
executory character of the RTC judgment in an ejectment resolution of an application for a writ of
case, the Court of Appeals, before which said judgment is preliminary injunction rests upon the existence
appealed, is not deprived of power and jurisdiction to issue a of an emergency or of a special recourse before
writ of preliminary injunction when circumstances so warrant. the main case can be heard in due course of
proceedings.
There is merit in the present Petitions of NAPOCOR
and TRANSCO. Section 3, Rule 58, of the Rules of Court
enumerates the grounds for the issuance of a
The Court expounded on the nature of a writ of preliminary injunction:
preliminary injunction in Levi Strauss & Co. v. Clinton
Apparelle, Inc. [129]: SEC. 3. Grounds for issuance of
preliminary injunction. A
Section 1, Rule 58 of the Rules of Court preliminary injunction may be
defines a preliminary injunction as an order granted when it is established:
granted at any stage of an action prior to the
(a) That the applicant is actual right. There must be a patent showing by
entitled to the relief demanded, the complaint that there exists a right to be
and the whole or part of such protected and that the acts against which the
relief consists in restraining the writ is to be directed are violative of said right.
commission or continuance of
the act or acts complained of, or
in requiring the performance of Benedicto v. Court of Appeals[130] sets forth the
an act or acts, either for a limited following elucidation on the applicability of Rule 58 vis--vis
period or perpetually; Rule 70, Section 21 of the Rules of Court:
(b) That the commission,
continuance, or non- This section [Rule 70, Section 21]
performance of the act or acts presupposes that the defendant in a forcible
complained of during the entry or unlawful detainer case is unsatisfied
litigation would probably work with the judgment of the Regional Trial Court
injustice to the applicant; or and decides to appeal to a superior court. It
(c) That a party, court, authorizes the RTC to immediately issue a writ
agency or a person is doing, of execution without prejudice to the appeal
threatening, or is attempting to taking its due course. It is our opinion that on
do, or is procuring or suffering to appeal the appellate court may stay the said
be done, some act or acts writ should circumstances so require.
probably in violation of the rights
of the applicant respecting the In the case of Amagan v. Marayag, we
subject of the action or reiterated our pronouncement in Vda. de
proceeding, and tending to Legaspi v. Avendao that the proceedings in an
render the judgment ineffectual. ejectment case may be suspended in whatever
stage it may be found. We further drew a fine
Under the cited provision, a clear and line between forcible entry and unlawful
positive right especially calling for judicial detainer, thus:
protection must be shown. Injunction is not a
remedy to protect or enforce contingent, Where the action, therefore, is
abstract, or future rights; it will not issue to one of illegal detainer, as
protect a right not in esse and which may never distinguished from one of forcible
arise, or to restrain an act which does not give entry, and the right of the plaintiff
rise to a cause of action. There must exist an to recover the premises is
seriously placed in issue in a executory, preliminary injunction may still
proper judicial proceeding, it is be granted. There need only be clear
more equitable and just and less showing that there exists a right to be
productive of confusion and protected and that the acts against which
disturbance of physical the writ is to be directed violate said
possession, with all its right. (Emphasis supplied.)
concomitant inconvenience and
expenses. For the Court in
which the issue of legal As in Benedicto, substantial considerations exist herein that
possession, whether involving compels the Court to issue a writ of preliminary injunction
ownership or not, is brought to enjoining the execution of the February 17, 2004 Decision of
restrain, should a petition for the MTCC, as affirmed by the December 12, 2005 Decision of
preliminary injunction be filed the RTC-Branch 1, until the appeal of latter judgment, sought
with it, the effects of any order or by NAPOCOR and TRANSCO, is finally resolved by the Court
decision in the unlawful detainer of Appeals.
case in order to await the final
judgment in the more substantive First, the two parcels of land claimed by LANDTRADE are the
case involving legal possession subject of several other cases. In fact, Vidal and AZIMUTH,
or ownership. It is only where who instituted the Quieting of Title Case against Teofilo and
there has been forcible entry that LANDTRADE (also presently before the Court in G.R. Nos.
as a matter of public policy the 178779 and 178894) have filed a Motion For Leave to
right to physical possession Intervene in the instant case, thus, showing that there are
should be immediately set at rest other parties who, while strangers to the ejectment case, might
in favor of the prior possession be greatly affected by its result and who want to protect their
regardless of the fact that the interest in the subject properties. And although cases involving
other party might ultimately be title to real property, i.e., quieting of title, accion
found to have superior claim to publiciana, etc., are not prejudicial to and do not suspend an
the premises involved thereby to ejectment case,[131] the existence of such cases should have
discourage any attempt to already put the Court of Appeals on guard that the title of
recover possession thru force, LANDTRADE to the subject properties on which it
strategy or stealth and without fundamentally based its claim of possessory right is being
resorting to the courts. fiercely contested.
Patently, even if RTC judgments in
unlawful detainer cases are immediately
Second, it is undisputed that TRANSCO and its The Court must emphasize though that in so far as the
predecessor, NAPOCOR, have been in possession of the Ejectment Case is concerned, it has only settled herein issues
disputed parcels of land for more than 40 years.Upon said on the propriety of enjoining the execution of the MTCC
properties stand the TRANSCO Overton Sub-station and Agus Decision dated February 17, 2004 while it was on appeal
7 Warehouse. The Overton Sub-station, in particular, is a before the RTC, and subsequently, before the Court of
crucial facility responsible for providing the power Appeals. The Court of Appeals has yet to render a judgment
requirements of a large portion of Iligan City, the two Lanao on the appeal itself. But it may not be amiss for the Court to
Provinces, and other nearby provinces. Without doubt, having also point out that in G.R. Nos. 178779 and 178894 (Quieting
TRANSCO vacate its Overton Sub-station, by prematurely of Title Case), it has already found that Vidal, not Teofilo, is
executing the MTCC judgment of February 17, 2004, carries the late Doa Demetrias sole heir, who alone inherits Doa
serious and irreversible implications, primordial of which is the Demetrias rights to and interests in the disputed parcels of
widespread disruption of the electrical power supply in the land. This conclusion of the Court in the Quieting of Title Case
aforementioned areas, contributing further to the electric will inevitably affect the Ejectment Case still pending appeal
power crisis already plaguing much of Mindanao. before the Court of Appeals since LANDTRADE is basing its
right to possession in the Ejectment Case on its supposed title
Lastly, allowing execution pending appeal would result to the subject properties, which it derived from Teofilo.
in the payment of an astronomical amount in rentals which, per
Sheriff Borress computation, already amounted The Cancellation of Titles and Reversion Case
to P156,000,000.00 by August 11, 2004, when he issued the (G.R. No. 173401)
Notices of Garnishment and Notification against NAPOCOR
and TRANSCO; plus, P500,000.0 each month The Republic is assailing in its Petition in G.R. No. 173401 the
thereafter. Payment of such an amount may seriously put the (1) Order dated December 13, 2005 of the RTC-Branch 4
operation of a public utility in peril, to the detriment of its dismissing Civil Case No. 6686, the Complaint for Cancellation
consumers. of Titles and Reversion filed by the Republic against the
deceased Doa Demetria, Vidal and/or Teofilo, and AZIMUTH
These circumstances altogether present a pressing and/or LANDTRADE; and (2) Order dated May 16, 2006 of the
necessity to avoid injurious consequences, not just to same trial court denying the Motion for Reconsideration of the
NAPOCOR and TRANSCO, but to a substantial fraction of the Republic, averring that:
consuming public as well, which cannot be remedied under With due respect, the trial court decided
any standard compensation. The issuance by the Court of a question of substance contrary to law and
Appeals of a writ of preliminary injunction is justified by the jurisprudence in ruling:
circumstances.
(i) THAT PETITIONER HAD NO
CAUSE OF ACTION IN
INSTITUTING THE
SUBJECT COMPLAINT
FOR CANCELLATION The Court finds merit in the present Petition.
OF OCT NOS. 0-1200
(A.F.) AND 0-1201 (A.F.), Cause of action for reversion
INCLUDING ALL
DERIVATIVE TITLES, The Complaint in Civil Case No. 6686 seeks the cancellation
AND REVERSION. of OCT Nos. 0-1200 (a.f.) and 0-1201 (a.f.), with all their
derivative titles, and reversion. The Complaint was dismissed
(ii) THAT PETITIONERS by the RTC-Branch 4 in its Order dated December 13, 2005,
COMPLAINT FOR upon Motion of Vidal and AZIMUTH, on the ground that the
CANCELLATION OF State does not have a cause of action for reversion. According
OCT NOS. 0-1200 (A.F.) to the RTC-Branch 4, there was no showing that the late Doa
AND 0-1201 (A.F.) Demetria committed any wrongful act or omission in violation
INCLUDING ALL of any right of the Republic. Additionally, the Regalian doctrine
DERIVATIVE TITLES, does not apply to Civil Case No. 6686 because said doctrine
AND REVERSION IS does not extend to lands beyond the public domain. By the
BARRED BY THE own judicial admission of the Republic, the two parcels of land
DECISIONS IN CACHO in question are privately owned, even before the same were
VS GOVERNMENT OF registered in Doa Demetrias name.
THE UNITED STATES
(28 PHIL. 616 [1914] The Court disagrees.
AND CACHO VS COURT
OF APPEALS (269 Rule 2, Section 2 of the Rules of Court defines a cause of
SCRA 159 [1997]. action as the act or omission by which a party violates a right
of another. Its essential elements are the following: (1) a right
(iii) THAT PETITIONERS in favor of the plaintiff; (2) an obligation on the part of the
CAUSE OF ACTION named defendant to respect or not to violate such right; and
HAS PRESCRIBED; (3) such defendants act or omission that is violative of the right
AND of the plaintiff or constituting a breach of the obligation of the
former to the latter.[133]
(iv) THAT PETITIONER IS
GUILTY OF FORUM Reversion is an action where the ultimate relief sought is to
SHOPPING.[132] revert the land back to the government under the Regalian
doctrine. Considering that the land subject of the action indispensable that there be a showing of the title from the
originated from a grant by the government, its cancellation is a State.[141]
matter between the grantor and the grantee.[134] In Estate of
the Late Jesus S. Yujuico v. Republic[135] (Yujuico case), The reversion case of the Republic in Civil Case No.
reversion was defined as an action which seeks to restore 6686 rests on the main argument that OCT Nos. 0-1200 (a.f.)
public land fraudulently awarded and disposed of to private and 0-1201 (a.f.), issued in Doa Demetrias name, included
individuals or corporations to the mass of public domain. It parcels of lands which were not adjudicated to her by the
bears to point out, though, that the Court also allowed the Court in the 1914 Cacho case. Contrary to the statement
resort by the Government to actions for reversion to cancel made by the RTC-Branch 4 in its December 13, 2005 Order,
titles that were void for reasons other than fraud, i.e., violation the Republic does not make any admission in its Complaint
by the grantee of a patent of the conditions imposed by that the two parcels of land registered in Doa Demetrias name
law;[136]and lack of jurisdiction of the Director of Lands to grant were privately owned even prior to their registration. While the
a patent covering inalienable forest land[137] or portion of a Republic does not dispute that that two parcels of land were
river, even when such grant was made through mere awarded to Doa Demetria in the 1914 Cacho case, it alleges
oversight.[138] In Republic v. Guerrero,[139] the Court gave a that these were not the same as those covered by OCT Nos.
more general statement that the remedy of reversion can be 0-1200 (a.f.) and 0-1201 (a.f.) issued in Doa Demetrias name
availed of only in cases of fraudulent or unlawful 84 years later. If, indeed, the parcels of land covered by said
inclusion of the land in patents or certificates of title. OCTs were not those granted to Doa Demetria in the 1914
The right of the Republic to institute an action for Cacho case, then it can be presumed, under the Regalian
reversion is rooted in the Regalian doctrine. Under doctrine, that said properties still form part of the public
the Regalian doctrine, all lands of the public domain belong domain belonging to the State.
to the State, and that the State is the source of any asserted
right to ownership in land and charged with the conservation of Just because OCTs were already issued in Doa
such patrimony. This same doctrine also states that all lands Demetrias name does not bar the Republic from instituting an
not otherwise appearing to be clearly within private ownership action for reversion. Indeed, the Court made it clear
are presumed to belong to the State.[140] It is incorporated in in Francisco v. Rodriguez[142] that Section 101 of the Public
the 1987 Philippine Constitution under Article XII, Section 2 Land Act may be invoked only when title has already vested in
which declares [a]ll lands of the public domain, waters, the individual, e.g., when a patent or a certificate of title has
minerals, coal, petroleum, and other mineral oils, all forces of already been issued[,] for the basic premise in an action for
potential energy, fisheries, forests or timber, wildlife, flora and reversion is that the certificate of title fraudulently or unlawfully
fauna, and other natural resources are owned by the State. x x included land of the public domain, hence, calling for the
x No public land can be acquired by private persons without cancellation of said certificate. It is actually the issuance of
any grant, express or implied, from the government; it is such a certificate of title which constitutes the third element of
a cause of action for reversion.
motion to dismiss for lack of cause of action, the
The Court further finds that the Complaint of the complaint must show that the claim for relief
Republic in Civil Case No. 6686 sufficiently states a cause of does not exist, rather than that a claim has
action for reversion, even though it does not allege that fraud been defectively stated, or is ambiguous,
was committed in the registration or that the Director of Lands indefinite or uncertain.
requested the reversion.

It is a well-settled rule that the existence of a cause of The Republic meticulously presented in its Complaint
action is determined by the allegations in the complaint. In the the discrepancies between the 1914 Cacho case, on one
resolution of a motion to dismiss based on failure to state a hand, which granted Doa Demetria title to two parcels of land;
cause of action, only the facts alleged in the complaint must be and OCT Nos. 0-1200 (a.f.) and 0-1201 (a.f.), on the other,
considered. The test in cases like these is whether a court can which were supposedly issued pursuant to the said case. In
render a valid judgment on the complaint based upon the facts paragraphs 9 and 16 of its Complaint, the Republic clearly
alleged and pursuant to the prayer therein. Hence, it has been alleged that OCT Nos. 0-1200 (a.f.) and 0-1201 (a.f.) cover
held that a motion to dismiss generally partakes of the nature properties much larger than or areas beyond those granted by
of a demurrer which hypothetically admits the truth of the the land registration court in GLRO Record Nos. 6908 and
factual allegations made in a complaint.[143] The hypothetical 6909. Thus, the Republic was able to satisfactorily allege the
admission extends to the relevant and material facts well unlawful inclusion, for lack of an explicit grant from the
pleaded in the complaint and inferences fairly deducible Government, of parcels of public land into Doa Demetrias
therefrom. Hence, if the allegations in the complaint furnish OCTs, which, if true, will justify the cancellation of said
sufficient basis by which the complaint can be maintained, the certificates and the return of the properties to the Republic.
same should not be dismissed regardless of the defense that
may be assessed by the defendants.[144] That the Complaint in Civil Case No. 6686 does not
allege that it had been filed by the Office of the Solicitor
In Vergara v. Court of Appeals,[145] the Court General (OSG), at the behest of the Director of Lands, does
additionally explained that: not call for its dismissal on the ground of failure to state a
cause of action. Section 101 of Commonwealth Act No. 141,
In determining whether allegations of a otherwise known as the Public Land Act, as amended, simply
complaint are sufficient to support a cause of requires that:
action, it must be borne in mind that the
complaint does not have to establish or allege SEC. 101. All actions for the reversion to
facts proving the existence of a cause of action the Government of lands of the public domain
at the outset; this will have to be done at the or improvements thereon shall be instituted by
trial on the merits of the case. To sustain a the Solicitor General or the officer acting in
his stead, in the proper courts, in the name Public policy and sound practice enshrine the
of the Republic of the Philippines. (Emphasis fundamental principle upon which the doctrine of res
supplied.) judicata rests that parties ought not to be permitted to litigate
the same issues more than once. It is a general rule common
to all civilized system of jurisprudence, that the solemn and
Clear from the aforequoted provision that the authority deliberate sentence of the law, pronounced by its appointed
to institute an action for reversion, on behalf of the Republic, is organs, upon a disputed fact or a state of facts, should be
primarily conferred upon the OSG. While the OSG, for most of regarded as a final and conclusive determination of the
the time, will file an action for reversion upon the request or question litigated, and should forever set the controversy at
recommendation of the Director of Lands, there is no basis for rest. Indeed, it has been well said that this maxim is more than
saying that the former is absolutely bound or dependent on the a mere rule of law; more even than an important principle of
latter. public policy; and that it is not too much to say that it is a
fundamental concept in the organization of every jural
RTC-Branch 4 cited Sherwill Development Corporation system. Public policy and sound practice demand that, at the
v. Sitio Nio Residents Association, Inc. [146] (Sherwill case), to risk of occasional errors, judgments of courts should become
support its ruling that it is absolutely necessary that an final at some definite date fixed by law. The very object for
investigation and a determination of fraud should have been which courts were constituted was to put an end to
made by the Director of Lands prior to the filing of a case for controversies.[147]
reversion. The Sherwill case is not in point and does not
constitute a precedent for the case at bar. It does not even The doctrine of res judicata comprehends two distinct
involve a reversion case. The main issue therein was whether concepts - (1) bar by former judgment, and (2) conclusiveness
the trial court properly dismissed the complaint of Sherwill of judgment. For res judicata to serve as an absolute bar to a
Development Corporation for quieting of title to two parcels of subsequent action, the following requisites must concur: (1)
land, considering that a case for the declaration of nullity of its the former judgment or order must be final; (2) the judgment or
TCTs, instituted by the Sto. Nio Residents Association, Inc., order must be on the merits; (3) it must have been rendered by
was already pending before the Land Management Bureau a court having jurisdiction over the subject matter and parties;
(LMB). The Court recognized therein the primary jurisdiction of and (4) there must be between the first and second actions,
the LMB over the dispute, and affirmed the dismissal of the identity of parties, of subject matter, and of causes of
quieting of title case on the grounds of litis pendentia and action. When there is no identity of causes of action, but only
forum shopping. an identity of issues, there exists res judicata in the concept of
conclusiveness of judgment. Although it does not have the
Res judicata same effect as res judicata in the form of bar by former
judgment which prohibits the prosecution of a second action
upon the same claim, demand, or cause of action, the rule on
conclusiveness of judgment bars the relitigation of particular does not seek to re-litigate any of the issues resolved in
facts or issues in another litigation between the same parties the 1914 Cacho case. The Republic no longer questions in
on a different claim or cause of action.[148] Civil Case No. 6686 that Doa Demetria was adjudged the
owner of two parcels of land in the 1914 Cacho case. The
The 1914 Cacho case does not bar the Complaint for Republic is only insisting on the strict adherence to the
reversion in Civil Case No. 6686 by res judicata in either of its judgment of the Court in the 1914 Cacho case, particularly: (1)
two concepts. the adjudication of a smaller parcel of land, consisting only of
the southern portion of the 37.87-hectare Lot 2 subject of Doa
There is no bar by prior judgment because the 1914 Demetrias application in GLRO Record No. 6909; and (2) the
Cacho case and Civil Case No. 6686 do not have the same submission of a new technical plan for the adjudicated
causes of action and, even possibly, they do not involve southern portion of Lot 2 in GLRO Record No. 6909, and the
identical subject matters. deed executed by Datto Darondon, husband of Alanga,
renouncing all his rights to Lot 1, in GLRO Record No. 6908, in
Land registration cases, such as GLRO Record Nos. Doa Demetrias favor.[150]
6908 and 6909, from which the 1914 Cacho case arose, are
special proceedings where the concept of a cause of action in Similarly, the 1997 Cacho case is not an obstacle to
ordinary civil actions does not apply. In special proceedings, the institution by the Republic of Civil Case No. 6686 on the
the purpose is to establish a status, condition or fact; in land ground of res judicata.
registration proceedings, the ownership by a person of a
parcel of land is sought to be established.[149] Civil Case No. Bar by prior judgment does not apply for lack of identity of
6686 is an action for reversion where the cause of action is the causes of action between the 1997 Cacho case and Civil Case
alleged unlawful inclusion in OCT Nos. 0-1200 (a.f.) and 0- No. 6686. The 1997 Cacho caseinvolves a petition for re-
1201 (a.f.) of parcels of public land that were not among those issuance of decrees of registration. In the absence of
granted to Doa Demetria in the 1914 Cacho case. Thus, Civil principles and rules specific for such a petition, the Court
Case No. 6686 even rests on supposition that the parcels of refers to those on reconstitution of certificates of title, being
land covered by the certificates of title in Doa Demetrias name, almost of the same nature and granting closely similar reliefs.
which the Republic is seeking to have cancelled, are different
from the parcels of land that were the subject matter of Reconstitution denotes a restoration of the instrument
the 1914 Cacho caseand adjudged to Doa Demetria. which is supposed to have been lost or destroyed in its original
form or condition. The purpose of the reconstitution of title or
Res judicata in the concept of conclusiveness of any document is to have the same reproduced, after observing
judgment, likewise, does not apply as between the 1914 the procedure prescribed by law, in the same form they were
Cacho case and Civil Case No. 6686. A careful study of the when the loss or destruction occurred.[151] Reconstitution is
Complaint in Civil Case No. 6686 reveals that the Republic
another special proceeding where the concept of cause of is merely to have the same reproduced, after
action in an ordinary civil action finds no application. proper proceedings, in the same form they
were when the loss or destruction occurred,
The Court, in the 1997 Cacho case, granted the and does not pass upon the ownership of
reconstitution and re-issuance of the decrees of registration the land covered by the lost or destroyed
considering that the NALTDRA, through then Acting title. It bears stressing at this point that
Commissioner Santiago M. Kapunan,[152] its Deputy Clerk of ownership should not be confused with a
Court III, the Head Geodetic Engineer, and the Chief of certificate of title. Registering land under the
Registration, certified that according to the Record Book of Torrens System does not create or vest title
Decrees for Ordinary Land Registration Case, Decree No. because registration is not a mode of acquiring
18969 was issued in GLRO Record No. 6909 and Decree No. ownership. A certificate of title is merely an
10364 was issued in GLRO Record No. 6908[;][153] thus, evidence of ownership or title over the particular
leaving no doubt that said decrees had in fact been issued. property described therein. Corollarily, any
question involving the issue of ownership
The 1997 Cacho case only settled the issuance, existence, must be threshed out in a separate suit,
and subsequent loss of Decree Nos. 10364 and which is exactly what the private respondents
18969. Consequently, said decrees could be re-issued in their did when they filed Civil Case No. 95-3577
original form or condition. The Court, however, could not have before Branch 74. The trial court will then
passed upon in the 1997 Cacho case the issues on whether conduct a full-blown trial wherein the parties will
Doa Demetria truly owned the parcels of land covered by the present their respective evidence on the issue
decrees and whether the decrees and the OCTs subsequently of ownership of the subject properties to enable
issued pursuant thereto are void for unlawfully including land the court to resolve the said issue. x x x.
of the public domain which were not awarded to Doa (Emphases supplied.)
Demetria.

The following pronouncement of the Court in Heirs of Susana Whatever findings the Court made on the issue of ownership
de Guzman Tuazon v. Court of Appeals[154] is instructive: in the 1997 Cacho case are mere obiter dictum. As the Court
held in Amoroso v. Alegre, Jr.[155]:
Precisely, in both species of reconstitution
under Section 109 of P.D. No. 1529 and R.A. Petitioner claims in his petition that the 3
No. 26, the nature of the action denotes a October 1957 Decision resolved the issue of
restoration of the instrument which is supposed ownership of the lots and declared in the body
to have been lost or destroyed in its original of the decision that he had sufficiently proven
form and condition. The purpose of the action uncontroverted facts that he had been in
possession of the land in question since 1946 x from again raising as issues in Civil Case No. 6686 the
x x [and] has been in possession of the property issuance and existence of Decree Nos. 10364 and 18969, but
with sufficient title. However, such findings not the validity of said decrees, as well as the certificates of
made by the CFI in the said decision are title issued pursuant thereto.
mere obiter, since the ownership of the Forum shopping
properties, titles to which were sought to be
reconstituted, was never the issue in the Forum shopping is the filing of multiple suits involving
reconstitution case. Ownership is not the the same parties for the same cause of action, either
issue in a petition for reconstitution of title. simultaneously or successively, for the purpose of obtaining a
A reconstitution of title does not pass upon favorable judgment. A party violates the rule against forum
the ownership of the land covered by the shopping if the elements of litis pendentia are present; or if a
lost or destroyed title. final judgment in one case would amount to res judicata in the
other.[156]
It may perhaps be argued that
ownership of the properties was put in issue There is forum shopping when the following elements
when petitioner opposed the petition for are present: (a) identity of parties, or at least such parties as
reconstitution by claiming to be the owner of the represent the same interests in both actions; (b) identity of
properties. However, any ruling that the trial rights asserted and relief prayed for, the relief being founded
court may make on the matter is irrelevant on the same facts; and (c) the identity of the two preceding
considering the courts limited authority in particulars, is such that any judgment rendered in the other
petitions for reconstitution. In a petition for action will, regardless of which party is successful, amount
reconstitution of title, the only relief sought is to res judicata in the action under consideration; said
the issuance of a reconstituted title because the requisites are also constitutive of the requisites for auter action
reconstituting officers power is limited to pendant or lis pendens.[157]
granting or denying a reconstituted title. As
stated earlier, the reconstitution of title does not Given the preceding disquisition of the Court that
pass upon the ownership of the land covered by the 1914 and 1997 Cacho cases do not constitute res
the lost or destroyed title, and any change in the judicata in Civil Case No. 6686, then the Court also cannot
ownership of the property must be the subject sustain the dismissal by the RTC-Branch 4 of the Complaint of
of a separate suit. (Emphases supplied.) the Republic in Civil Case No. 6686 for forum shopping.

Prescription
The Court concedes that the 1997 Cacho case, by
reason of conclusiveness of judgment, prevents the Republic
According to the RTC-Branch 4, the cause of action for decree of registration in any case may pursue
reversion of the Republic was already lost or extinguished by his remedy by action for damages against the
prescription, citing Section 32 of the Property Registration applicant or any other persons responsible for
Decree, which provides: the fraud.

SEC. 32. Review of decree of


registration; Innocent purchaser for value. The Decree No. 10364 in GLRO Record No. 6908 was issued on
decree of registration shall not be reopened or May 9, 1913, while Decree No. 18969 in GLRO Record No.
revised by reason of absence, minority, or other 6909 was issued on July 8, 1915. In the course of eight
disability of any person adversely affected decades, the decrees were lost and subsequently
thereby, nor by any proceeding in any court for reconstituted per order of this Court in the 1997 Cacho
reversing judgment, subject, however, to the case. The reconstituted decrees were issued on October 15,
right of any person, including the government 1998 and transcribed on OCT Nos. 0-1200 (a.f.) and 0-1201
and the branches thereof, deprived of land or of (a.f.). The reconstituted decrees were finally entered into the
any estate or interest therein by such Registration Book for Iligan City on December 4, 1998 at 10:00
adjudication or confirmation of title obtained by a.m. Almost six years had elapsed from entry of the decrees
actual fraud, to file in the proper Court of First by the time the Republic filed its Complaint in Civil Case No.
Instance a petition for reopening and review of 6686 on October 13, 2004.
the decree of registration not later than one
year from and after the date of the entry of such Nonetheless, elementary is the rule that prescription
decree of registration, but in no case shall such does not run against the State and its subdivisions. When the
petition be entertained by the court where an government is the real party in interest, and it is proceeding
innocent purchaser for value has acquired the mainly to assert its own right to recover its own property, there
land or an interest therein, whose rights may be can as a rule be no defense grounded on laches or
prejudiced. Whenever the phrase innocent prescription. Public land fraudulently included in patents or
purchaser of value or an equivalent phrase certificates of title may be recovered or reverted to the State in
occurs in this Decree, it shall be deemed to accordance with Section 101 of the Public Land Act. The right
include an innocent lessee, mortgagee, or other of reversion or reconveyance to the State is not barred by
encumbrancer for value. prescription.[158]

Upon the expiration of said period of one The Court discussed lengthily in Republic v. Court of
year, the decree of registration and the Appeals[159] the indefeasibility of a decree of
certificate of title issued shall become registration/certificate of title vis--vis the remedy of reversion
incontrovertible. Any person aggrieved by such available to the State:
consideration of
The petitioner invokes Republic v. the facts set forth
Animas, where this Court declared that a title in such statement,
founded on fraud may be cancelled and any
notwithstanding the lapse of one year from the subsequent
issuance thereof. Thus: modification,
alteration, or
x x x The change of the
misrepresentations of the material facts set
applicant that he had been forth in the
occupying and cultivating the application
land and residing thereon are shall ipso
sufficient grounds to nullify the facto produce the
grant of the patent and title under cancellation of the
Section 91 of the Public Land concession, title
Law which provides as follows: or permit
granted. x x x"
"The
statements made A certificate of title that is
in the application void may be ordered
shall be cancelled. A title will be
considered as considered void if it is procured
essential through fraud, as when a person
conditions or parts applies for registration of the
of any land under his name although
concession, title the property belongs to
or permit issued another. In the case of
on the basis of disposable public lands, failure
such application, on the part of the grantee to
and any false comply with the conditions
statement thereon imposed by law is a ground for
or omission of holding such title void. The
facts, changing, or lapse of the one year period
modifying the within which a decree of title may
be reopened for fraud would not indefeasible by registration, even
prevent the cancellation thereof, if such title had been secured
for to hold that a title may through fraud or in violation of
become indefeasible by the law would be the height of
registration, even if such title had absurdity. Registration should
been secured through fraud or in not be a shield of fraud in
violation of the law, would be the securing title.
height of absurdity. Registration
should not be a shield of fraud in Justifying the above-quoted provision,
securing title. the Court declared in Piero, Jr. v. Director of
Lands:
This doctrine was reiterated in Republic
v. Mina, where Justice Relova declared for the It is true that under
Court: Section 122 of the Land
Registration Act, a Torrens title
A certificate of title that is issued on the basis of a free
void may be ordered patent or a homestead patent is
cancelled. And, a title will be as indefeasible as one judicially
considered void if it is procured secured. And in repeated
through fraud, as when a person previous decisions of this Court
applies for registration of the that indefeasibility has been
land on the claim that he has emphasized by Our holding that
been occupying and cultivating not even the Government can file
it. In the case of disposable an action for annulment, but at
public lands, failure on the part of the same time, it has been made
the grantee to comply with the clear that an action for reversion
conditions imposed by law is a may be instituted by the Solicitor
ground for holding such title General, in the name of the
void. x x x The lapse of one (1) Republic of the Philippines. It is
year period within which a to the public interest that one
decree of title may be reopened who succeeds in fraudulently
for fraud would not prevent the acquiring title to a public land
cancellation thereof for to hold should not be allowed to
that a title may become benefit therefrom, and the State
should, therefore, have an even patents. Nevertheless, we find that the doctrine
existing authority, thru its duly above quoted is no less controlling even if there
authorized officers, to inquire into be some factual disparities (which are not
the circumstances surrounding material here), especially as it has been
the issuance of any such title, to buttressed by subsequent jurisprudence.
the end that the Republic, thru
the Solicitor General or any other In Director of Lands v. Jugado, upon
officer who may be authorized by which the appellate court based its ruling, the
law, may file the corresponding Court declared meaningfully that:
action for the reversion of the
land involved to the public There is, however, a
domain, subject thereafter to section in the Public Land Law
disposal to other qualified (Sec. 101 of Commonwealth Act
persons in accordance with 141), which affords a remedy
law. In other words, the whereby lands of the public
indefeasibility of a title over land domain fraudulently awarded
previously public is not a bar to may be recovered or reverted
an investigation by the Director back to its original owner, the
of Lands as to how such title has Government. But the provision
been acquired, if the purpose of requires that all such actions for
such investigation is to reversion shall be instituted by
determine whether or not fraud the Solicitor General or the
had been committed in securing officer acting in his stead, in the
such title in order that the proper courts, in the name of the
appropriate action for reversion Republic of the Philippines (See
may be filed by the Government. Director of Lands v. De
Luna, supra). As the party in
Private respondent PNB points out interest in this case is the
that Animas involved timberland, which is not Director of Lands and not the
alienable or disposable public land, and that Republic of the Philippines, the
in Piero the issue raised was whether the action cannot prosper in favor of
Director of Lands would be enjoined by a writ of the appellant.
prohibition from investigating allegations of
fraud that led to the issuance of certain free
The reference was to the Public Land misrepresentation. Indefeasibility of a title does not attach to
Law which authorizes the reversion suit under titles secured by fraud and misrepresentation. Well-settled is
its Sec. 101, thus: the doctrine that the registration of a patent under the Torrens
system does not by itself vest title; it merely confirms the
Sec. 101. All actions for registrants already existing one. Verily, registration under the
the reversion to the Government Torrens system is not a mode of acquiring ownership.[160]
of lands of the public domain or
improvements thereon shall be But then again, the Court had several times in the past
instituted by the Solicitor General recognized the right of the State to avail itself of the remedy of
or the officer acting in his stead, reversion in other instances when the title to the land is void
in the proper courts, in the name for reasons other than having been secured by fraud or
of the Republic of the misrepresentation. One such case is Spouses Morandarte v.
Philippines. Court of Appeals,[161] where the Bureau of Lands (BOL), by
mistake and oversight, granted a patent to the spouses
This remedy was recently affirmed by Morandarte which included a portion of the Miputak River.The
the Court in Heirs of Gregorio Tengco v. Heirs Republic instituted an action for reversion 10 years after the
of Jose and Victoria Aliwalas, thus: issuance of an OCT in the name of the spouses
Morandarte. The Court ruled:
x x x Title to the property
having become incontrovertible, Be that as it may, the mistake or error of
such may no longer be the officials or agents of the BOL in this regard
collaterally attacked. If indeed cannot be invoked against the government with
there had been any fraud or regard to property of the public domain. It has
misrepresentation in obtaining been said that the State cannot be estopped by
the title, an action for reversion the omission, mistake or error of its officials or
instituted by the Solicitor General agents.
would be the proper remedy.
It is well-recognized that if a person
obtains a title under the Public Land Act which
It is evident from the foregoing jurisprudence that includes, by oversight, lands which cannot be
despite the lapse of one year from the entry of a decree of registered under the Torrens system, or when
registration/certificate of title, the State, through the Solicitor the Director of Lands did not have jurisdiction
General, may still institute an action for reversion when said over the same because it is a public domain,
decree/certificate was acquired by fraud or the grantee does not, by virtue of the said
certificate of title alone, become the owner of heirs. Thus, where a grantee is found not
the land or property illegally included. Otherwise entitled to hold and possess in fee simple the
stated, property of the public domain is land, by reason of his having violated Section
incapable of registration and its inclusion in a 118 of the Public Land Law, the Court may
title nullifies that title. properly order its reconveyance to the grantor,
although the property has already been brought
under the operation of the Torrens
Another example is the case of Republic of the Phils. v. CFI of System. And, this right of the government to
Lanao del Norte, Br. IV,[162] in which the homestead patent bring an appropriate action for reconveyance is
issued by the State became null and void because of the not barred by the lapse of time: the Statute of
grantees violation of the conditions for the grant. The Court Limitations does not run against the State."
ordered the reversion even though the land subject of the (Italics supplied). The above ruling was
patent was already covered by an OCT and the Republic reiterated in Republic vs. Mina, 114 SCRA 945.
availed itself of the said remedy more than 11 years after the
cause of action accrued, because:
If the Republic is able to establish after trial and
There is merit in this appeal considering hearing of Civil Case No. 6686 that the decrees and OCTs in
that the statute of limitation does not lie against Doa Demetrias name are void for some reason, then the trial
the State. Civil Case No. 1382 of the lower court can still order the reversion of the parcels of land
court for reversion is a suit brought by the covered by the same because indefeasibility cannot attach to
petitioner Republic of the Philippines as a a void decree or certificate of title. The RTC-Branch 4 jumped
sovereign state and, by the express provision of the gun when it declared that the cause of action of the
Section 118 of Commonwealth Act No. 141, any Republic for reversion in Civil Case No. 6686 was already lost
transfer or alienation of a homestead grant or extinguished by prescription based on the Complaint alone.
within five (5) years from the issuance of the All told, the Court finds that the RTC-Branch 4
patent is null and void and constitute a cause committed reversible error in dismissing the Complaint for
for reversion of the homestead to the State. In Cancellation of Titles and Reversion of the Republic in Civil
Republic vs. Ruiz, 23 SCRA 348, We held that Case No. 6686. Resultantly, the Court orders the
"the Court below committed no error in ordering reinstatement of said Complaint. Yet, the Court also deems it
the reversion to plaintiff of the land grant opportune to recall the following statements in Saad-Agro
involved herein, notwithstanding the fact that Industries, Inc. v. Republic[163]:
the original certificate of title based on the
patent had been cancelled and another It has been held that a complaint for
certificate issued in the names of the grantee reversion involves a serious controversy,
involving a question of fraud and IV
misrepresentation committed against the DISPOSITIVE PART
government and it is aimed at the return of the
disputed portion of the public domain. It seeks WHEREFORE, premises considered, the Court renders the
to cancel the original certificate of registration, following judgment in the Petitions at bar:
and nullify the original certificate of title,
including the transfer certificate of title of the 1) In G.R. No. 170375 (Expropriation Case), the
successors-in-interest because the same were Court GRANTS the Petition for Review of the Republic of
all procured through fraud and the Philippines. It REVERSES and SETS ASIDE the
misrepresentation. Thus, the State, as the party Resolutions dated July 12, 2005 and October 24, 2005 of
alleging the fraud and misrepresentation that the Regional Trial Court, Branch 1 of Iligan City, Lanao del
attended the application of the free patent, Norte. It further ORDERSthe reinstatement of the Complaint in
bears that burden of proof. Fraud and Civil Case No. 106, the admission of the Supplemental
misrepresentation, as grounds for cancellation Complaint of the Republic, and the return of the original record
of patent and annulment of title, should never of the case to the court of origin for further proceedings. No
be presumed but must be proved by clear and costs.
convincing evidence, mere preponderance of
evidence not even being adequate. It is but 2) In G.R. Nos. 178779 and 178894 (Quieting of Title Case),
judicious to require the Government, in an the Court DENIES the consolidated Petitions for Review of
action for reversion, to show the details Landtrade Realty Corporation, Teofilo Cacho, and/or Atty.
attending the issuance of title over the Godofredo Cabildo for lack of merit. It AFFIRMS the Decision
alleged inalienable land and explain why dated January 19, 2007 and Resolution dated July 4, 2007 of
such issuance has deprived the State of the the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. CV. No. 00456, affirming in
claimed property. (Emphasis supplied.) toto the Decision dated July 17, 2004 of the Regional Trial
Court, Branch 3 of Iligan City, Lanao del Norte, in Civil Case
No. 4452. Costs against Landtrade Realty Corporation, Teofilo
It may do well for the Republic to remember that there Cacho, and Atty. Godofredo Cabildo.
is a prima facie presumption of regularity in the issuance of
Decree Nos. 10364 and 18969, as well as OCT Nos. 0-1200 3) In G.R. No. 170505 (The Ejectment or Unlawful
(a.f.) and 0-1201 (a.f.), in Doa Demetrias name, and the Detainer Case execution pending appeal before the Regional
burden of proof falls upon the Republic to establish by clear Trial Court), the Court DENIES the Petition for Review of
and convincing evidence that said decrees and certificates of Landtrade Realty Corporation for being moot and academic
title are null and void. given that the Regional Trial Court, Branch 1 of Iligan City,
Lanao del Norte had already rendered a Decision dated
December 12, 2005 in Civil Case No. 6613. No costs.

4) In G.R. Nos. 173355-56 and 173563-64 (The Ejectment or


Unlawful Detainer Case execution pending appeal before the G.R. No. L-52064 December 26, 1984
Court of Appeals), the Court GRANTS the consolidated
Petitions for Certiorari and Prohibition of the National Power JULIANA CARAGAY-LAYNO, Assisted by Her Husband,
Corporation and National Transmission Corporation. It SETS BENITO LAYNO, petitioner,
ASIDE the Resolution dated June 30, 2006 of the Court of vs.
Appeals in CA-G.R. SP Nos. 00854 and 00889 for having HONORABLE COURT OF APPEALS and SALVADOR
been rendered with grave abuse of discretion amounting to ESTRADA as Administrator of the Estate of the Deceased,
lack or excess of jurisdiction. It further ORDERS the Court of MARIANO DE VERA, respondents.
Appeals to issue a writ of preliminary injunction enjoining the
execution of the Decision dated December 12, 2005 of the Pedro Peralta for petitioner.
Regional Trial Court, Branch 1 of Iligan City, Lanao del Norte,
in Civil Case No. 6613, while the same is pending appeal Andres T. Gutierrez for private respondent.
before the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. SP Nos. 00854 and
00889. It finally DIRECTS the Court of Appeals to resolve
without further delay the pending appeals before it, in CA-G.R.
SP Nos. 00854 and 00889, in a manner not inconsistent with MELENCIO-HERRERA, J.:
this Decision. No costs.
Respondent Appellate Court, then the Court of Appeal,
5) In G.R. No. 173401 (Cancellation of Titles and Reversion affirmed in toto the judgment of the former Court of First
Case), the Court GRANTS the Petition for Review of the Instance of Pangasinan, Branch III, at Dagupan adjudging
Republic of the Philippines. It REVERSES and SETS private respondent entitled to recover possession of a parcel
ASIDE the Orders dated December 13, 2005 and May 16, of land and ordering petitioners, as defendants below, to
2006 of the Regional Trial Court, Branch 4 of Iligan City in Civil vacate the premises. Petitioners, as paupers, now seek a
Case No. 6686. It further ORDERS the reinstatement of the reversal of that judgment.
Complaint in Civil Case No. 6686 and the return of the original
record of the case to the court of origin for further
It was established by a relocation survey that the Disputed
proceedings. No costs. Portion is a 3,732 square-meter-area of a bigger parcel of
sugar and coconut land (Lot No. 1, Psu-24206 [Case No. 44,
SO ORDERED. GLRO Rec. No. 117]), with a total area of 8,752 square
meters, situated at Calasiao, Pangasinan. The entire parcel is which she resisted, mainly on the ground that the Disputed
covered by Original Certificate of Title No. 63, and includes the Portion had been fraudulently or mistakenly included in OCT
adjoining Lots 2 and 3, issued on 11 September 1947 in the No. 63, so that an implied or constructive trust existed in her
name of Mariano M. DE VERA, who died in 1951 without favor. She then counterclaimed for reconveyance of property
issue. His intestate estate was administered first by his widow in the sense that title be issued in her favor.
and later by her nephew, respondent Salvador Estrada.
After hearing, the Trial Court rendered judgment ordering
Petitioner, JULIANA Caragay, and the decedent, Mariano DE JULIANA to vacate the Disputed Portion.
VERA, were first cousins, "both orphans, who lived together
under one roof in the care of a common aunt." On appeal respondent Appellate Court affirmed the Decision in
toto.
As Administratrix, DE VERA's widow filed in Special
Proceedings No. 4058 of the former Court of First Instance of Before us, JULIANA takes issue with the following finding of
Pangasinan, Branch III, an Inventory of all properties of the respondent Court:
deceased, which included "a parcel of land in the poblacion of
Calasiao, Pangasinan, containing an area of 5,417 square Although Section 102 of Act 496 allows a
meters, more or less, and covered by Tax Declaration No. Petition to compel a Trustee to reconvey a
12664." registered land to the cestui que trust (Severino
vs. Severino, 44 Phil 343; Escobar vs. Locsin,
Because of the discrepancy in area mentioned in the Inventory 74 PhiL 86) this remedy is no longer available
as 5,147 square meters (as filed by the widow), and that in the to Juliana Caragay. Mariano de Vera's land, Lot
title as 8,752 square meters, ESTRADA repaired to the 1, Psu-24206, was registered on September 11,
Disputed Property and found that the northwestern portion, 1947 (Exhibit"C") and it was only on March 28,
subsequently surveyed to be 3,732 square meters, was 1967 when the defendants filed their original
occupied by petitioner-spouses Juliana Caragay Layno and answer that Caragay sought the reconveyance
Benito Layno. ESTRADA demanded that they vacate the to her of the 3,732 square meters. Thus, her
Disputed Portion since it was titled in the name of the claim for reconveyance based on implied or
deceased DE VERA, but petitioners refused claiming that the constructive trust has prescribed after 10 years
land belonged to them and, before them, to JULIANA's father (Banaga vs. Soler, L-15717, June 30,1961; J.M.
Juan Caragay. Tuason & Co. vs. Magdangal, L-15539, Jan. 30,
1962; Alzona vs. Capunitan, 4 SCRA 450). In
ESTRADA then instituted suit against JULIANA for the other words, Mariano de Vera's Original
recovery of the Disputed Portion (Civil Case No. D-2007),
Certificate of Title No. 63 (Exhibit "C") has because of her ignorance; that she discovered the fraudulent
become indefeasible. 1 inclusion of the Disputed Portion in OCT No. 63 only in 1966
when ESTRADA so informed her and sought to eject them.
We are constrained to reverse.
Of significance is the fact, as disclosed by the evidence, that
The evidence discloses that the Disputed Portion was for twenty (20) years from the date of registration of title in
originally possessed openly, continuously and uninterruptedly 1947 up to 1967 when this suit for recovery of possession was
in the concept of an owner by Juan Caragay, the deceased instituted, neither the deceased DE VERA up to the time of his
father of JULIANA, and had been declared in his name under death in 1951, nor his successors-in-interest, had taken steps
Tax Declaration No. 28694 beginning with the year 1921 to possess or lay adverse claim to the Disputed Portion. They
(Exhibit "2-C"), later revised by Tax Declaration No. 2298 in may, therefore be said to be guilty of laches as would
1951 (Exhibit "2-B"). Upon the demise of her father in 1914, effectively derail their cause of action. Administrator ESTRADA
JULIANA adjudicated the property to herself as his sole heir in took interest in recovering the said portion only when he
1958 (Exhibit "4"), and declared it in her name under Tax noticed the discrepancy in areas in the Inventory of Property
Declaration No. 22522 beginning with the year 1959 (Exhibit and in the title.
"2-A"), later cancelled by TD No. 3539 in 1966 (Exhibit "2").
Realty taxes were also religiously paid from 1938 to 1972 Inasmuch as DE VERA had failed to assert any rights over the
(Exhibits "3-A" to "3-H"). Tacking the previous possession of Disputed Portion during his lifetime, nor did he nor his
her father to her own, they had been in actual open, successors-in-interest possess it for a single moment: but that,
continuous and uninterrupted possession in the concept of JULIANA had been in actual, continuous and open possession
owner for about forty five (45) years, until said possession was thereof to the exclusion of all and sundry, the inescapable
disturbed in 1966 when ESTRADA informed JULIANA that the inference is, fraud having been unsubstantiated, that it had
Disputed Portion was registered in Mariano DE VERA's name. been erroneously included in OCT No. 63. The mistake is
confirmed by the fact that deducting 3,732 sq. ms., the area of
To substantiate her claim of fraud in the inclusion of the the Disputed Portion from 8,752 sq. ms., the area of Lot 1 in
Disputed Portion in OCT No. 63, JULIANA, an unlettered OCT No. 63, the difference is 5,020 sq. ms., which closely
woman, declared that during his lifetime, DE VERA, her first approximates the area of 5,147 sq. ms., indicated in the
cousin, and whom she regarded as a father as he was much Inventory of Property of DE VERA. In fact, the widow by
older, borrowed from her the Tax Declaration of her land limiting the area in said Inventory to only 5,147 sq. ms., in
purportedly to be used as collateral for his loan and sugar effect, recognized and admitted that the Disputed Portion of
quota application; that relying on her cousin's assurances, she 3,132 sq. ms., did not form part of the decedent's estate.
acceded to his request and was made to sign some
documents the contents of which she did not even know
The foregoing conclusion does not necessarily wreak havoc for reconveyance or, if the property has passed
on the indefeasibility of a Torrens title. For, mere possession into the hands of an innocent purchaser for
of a certificate of title under the Torrens System is not value, for damages. 4
conclusive as to the holder's true ownership of all the property
described therein for he does not by virtue of said certificate Prescription cannot be invoked against JULIANA for the
alone become the owner of the land illegally included. 2 A Land reason that as lawful possessor and owner of the Disputed
Registration Court has no jurisdiction to decree a lot to Portion, her cause of action for reconveyance which, in effect,
persons who have never asserted any right of ownership over seeks to quiet title to the property, falls within settled
it. jurisprudence that an action to quiet title to property in one's
possession is imprescriptible. 5 Her undisturbed possession
... Obviously then, the inclusion of said area in over a period of fifty two (52) years gave her a continuing right
the title of Lot No. 8151 is void and of no effect to seek the aid of a Court of equity to determine the nature of
for a land registration Court has no jurisdiction the adverse claim of a third party and the effect on her own
to decree a lot to persons who have put no title. 6
claim in it and who have never asserted any
right of ownership over it. The Land Registration Besides, under the circumstances, JULIANA's right to quiet
Act as well as the Cadastral Act protects only title, to seek reconveyance, and to annul OCT. No. 63 accrued
the holders of a title in good faith and does not only in 1966 when she was made aware of a claim adverse to
permit its provisions to be used as a shield for her own. It was only then that the statutory period of
the commission of fraud, or that one should prescription may be said to have commenced to run against
enrich himself at the expense of another. 3 her, following the pronouncement in Faja vs. Court of Appeals,
supra, a case almost Identical to this one.
JULIANA, whose property had been wrongfully registered in
the name of another, but which had not yet passed into the ... Inasmuch as it is alleged in paragraph 3 of
hands of third parties, can properly seek its reconveyance. Frial's complaint, that Felipa Faja has been in
possession of the property since 1945 up to the
The remedy of the landowner whose property present for a period of 30 years, her cause of
has been wrongfully or erroneously registered action for reconveyance, which in effect seeks
in another's name is, after one year from the to quiet her title to the property, falls within that
date of the decree, not to set aside the decree, rule. If at all, the period of prescription began to
but, respecting the decree as incontrovertible run against Felipa Faja only from the time she
and no longer open to review, to bring an was served with copy of the complaint in 1975
ordinary action in the ordinary court of justice giving her notice that the property she was
occupying was titled in the name of Indalecio square meters forming part of Lot No. 1, Psu-24206, Case No.
Frial. There is settled jurisprudence that one 44, GLRO Rec. No. 117, presently occupied by petitioner
who is in actual possession of a piece of land Juliana Caragay-Layno, and to reconvey the same to said
claiming to be owner thereof may wait until his petitioner. After the segregation shall have been
possession is disturbed or his title is attacked accomplished, the Register of Deeds of Pangasinan is hereby
before taking steps to vindicate his right, the ordered to issue a new certificate of title covering said 3,732
reason for the rule being, that his undisturbed sq. m. portion in favor of petitioner, and another crtificate of
possession gives him a continuing right to seek title in favor of the Estate of the deceased, Mariano de Vera
the aid of a court of equity to ascertain and covering the remaining portion of 5,0520 square meters. No
determine the nature of the adverse claim of a costs.
third party and its effect on his own title, which
right can be claimed only by one who is in SO ORDERED
possession. No better situation can be
conceived at the moment for Us to apply this Teehankee (Chairman), Plana, De la Fuente and Cuevas, *
rule on equity than that of herein petitioners JJ., concur.
whose mother, Felipa Faja, was in possession
of the litigated property for no less than 30 Relova and Gutierrez, Jr., JJ., took no part.
years and was suddenly confronted with a claim
that the land she had been occupying and
cultivating all these years, was titled in the OFISTO OO, PRECY G.R. No. 154270
name of a third person. We hold that in such a O.NAMBATAC, VICTORIA O.
situation the right to quiet title to the property, to MANUGAS and POLOR O. Present:
seek its reconveyance and annul any certificate CONSOLACION,
of title covering it, accrued only from the time Petitioners, PUNO, C.J., Chairperson,
the one in possession was made aware of a CARPIO MORALES,
claim adverse to his own, and it is only then that LEONARDO-DE CASTRO,
the statutory period of prescription commences BERSAMIN, and
to run against such possessor. - versus - VILLARAMA, JR., JJ.
Promulgated: March 9,
2010
WHEREFORE, the judgment under review is hereby
VICENTE N. LIM,
REVERSED and SET ASIDE, and another one entered
Respondent.
ordering private respondent Salvador Estrada, as
Administrator of the Estate of the Deceased, Mariano de Vera, x----------------------------------------------------------------------------------
to cause the segregation of the disputed portion of 3,732 -------x
DECISION 1961 in favor of Luisa a notarized document denominated
as confirmation of sale,[5] which was duly filed in the Provincial
BERSAMIN, J.: Assessors Office of Cebu.
Zosimo Oo and petitioner Teofisto Oo (Oos) opposed
The subject of controversy is Lot No. 943 of the Balamban Lims petition, contending that they had the certificate of title in
Cadastre in Cebu City, covered by Original Certificate of Title their possession as the successors-in-interest of Spouses Oo.
(OCT) No. RO-9969-(O-20449), over which the contending
parties in this action for quieting of title, initiated by respondent On account of the Oos opposition, and upon order of
Vicente N. Lim (Lim) in the Regional Trial Court (RTC) in Cebu the RTC, Lim converted the petition for reconstitution into a
City, assert exclusive ownership, to the exclusion of the complaint for quieting of title,[6]averring additionally that he and
other. In its decision dated July 30, 1996,[1] the RTC favored his predecessor-in-interest had been in actual possession of
Lim, and ordered the cancellation of OCT No. RO-9969-(O- the property since 1937, cultivating and developing it, enjoying
20449) and the issuance of a new certificate of title in the its fruits, and paying the taxes corresponding to it. He
name of Luisa Narvios-Lim (Luisa), Lims deceased mother prayed, inter alia, that the Oos be ordered to surrender the
and predecessor-in-interest. reconstituted owners duplicate copy of OCT No. RO-9969-(O-
On appeal (CA-GR CV No. 57823), the Court of Appeals (CA) 20449), and that said OCT be cancelled and a new certificate
affirmed the RTC on January 28, 2002.[2] It later denied the of title be issued in the name of Luisa in lieu of said OCT.
petitioners motion for reconsideration through
the resolution dated June 17, 2002.[3] In their answer,[7] the Oos claimed that their predecessors-in-
interest, Spouses Oo, never sold Lot No. 943 to Luisa; and
Hence, this appeal via petition for review on certiorari. that the confirmation of salepurportedly executed by Antonio
was fabricated, his signature thereon not being authentic.
Antecedents
RTC Ruling
On October 23, 1992, Lim filed in the RTC in Cebu City a
petition for the reconstitution of the owners duplicate copy of On July 30, 1996, after trial, the RTC rendered its
OCT No. RO-9969-(O-20449), alleging that said OCT had decision,[8] viz:
been lost during World War II by his mother, Luisa;[4] that Lot
No. 943 of the Balamban Cadastre in Cebu City covered by WHEREFORE, premises considered,
said OCT had been sold in 1937 to Luisa by Spouses Diego judgment is hereby rendered quieting plaintiff's
Oo and Estefania Apas (Spouses Oo), the lots registered title to Lot No. 943 of the Balamban (Cebu)
owners; and that although the deed evidencing the sale had Cadastre, and directing the Register of Deeds
been lost without being registered, Antonio Oo (Antonio), the of Cebu
only legitimate heir of Spouses Oo, had executed on April 23,
(1) To register the aforestated April 23, appeared before him to acknowledge the instrument as true
1961 Confirmation of Sale of Lot No. 943 of the than to the testimony of the expert witness who attested that
Balamban, Cebu Cadastre by Antonio Oo in Antonios signature was a forgery.
favor of Luisa Narvios-Lim;
CA Ruling
(2) To cancel the original certificate of
title covering the said Lot No. 943 of the
Balamban, Cebu Cadastre; and, On appeal, the Oos maintained that the confirmation of
sale was spurious; that the property, being a titled one, could
(3) To issue in the name of Luisa not be acquired by the Lims through prescription; that their
Narvios-Lim, a new duplicate certificate of title (the Oos) action to claim the property could not be barred by
No. RO-9969 (O-20449) of the Register of laches; and that the action instituted by the Lims constituted a
Deeds of Cebu, which shall contain a collateral attack against their registered title.
memorandum of the fact that it is issued in
place of the lost duplicate certificate of title, and The CA affirmed the RTC, however, and found that Spouses
shall in all respects be entitled to like faith and Oo had sold Lot No. 943 to Luisa; and that such sale had been
credit as the original certificate, and shall be confirmed by their son Antonio.The CA ruled that the action for
regarded as such for all purposes of this quieting of title was not a collateral, but a direct attack on the
decree, pursuant to the last paragraph of title; and that the Lims undisturbed possession had given them
Section 109, Presidential Decree No. 1529. a continuing right to seek the aid of the courts to determine the
nature of the adverse claim of a third party and its effect on
Without special pronouncement as to their own title.
costs.
SO ORDERED.[9] Nonetheless, the CA corrected the RTC, by ordering
The RTC found that the Lims had been in peaceful possession that the Office of the Register of Deeds of Cebu City issue a
of the land since 1937; that their possession had never been new duplicate certificate of title in the name of Luisa,
disturbed by the Oos, except on two occasions in 1993 when considering that the owners duplicate was still intact in the
the Oos seized the harvested copra from the Lims caretaker; possession of the Oos.
that the Lims had since declared the lot in their name for
taxation purposes, and had paid the taxes corresponding to The decree of the CA decision was as follows:
the lot; that the signature of Antonio on the confirmation of
sale was genuine, thereby giving more weight to the testimony WHEREFORE, the appeal is DISMISSED
of the notary public who had notarized the document and for lack of merit. However, the dispositive
affirmatively testified that Antonio and Luisa had both
portion of the decision appealed from is
CORRECTED as follows: The CA denied the Oos motion for reconsideration[11] on June
17, 2002.[12]
(1) Within five (5) days from finality of the
decision, defendants-appellants are Hence, this appeal.
directed to present the owner's
duplicate copy of OCT No. RO-9969
(O-20449) to the Register of Deeds
who shall thereupon register the
Confirmation of Sale of Lot No. 943, Issues
Balamban Cadastre, Cebu, executed
on April 23, 1961 by Antonio Oo in
favor of Luisa Narvios-Lim, and issue The petitioners raise the following issues:
a new transfer certificate of title to and
in the name of the latter upon 1. Whether or not the validity of the OCT
cancellation of the outstanding original could be collaterally attacked through an
and owner's duplicate certificate of ordinary civil action to quiet title;
title.
2. Whether or not the ownership over
(2) In the event defendants-appellants registered land could be lost by prescription,
neglect or refuse to present the laches, or adverse possession;
owner's copy of the title to the Register
of Deeds as herein directed, the said 3. Whether or not there was a deed of sale
title, by force of this decision, shall be executed by Spouses Oo in favor of Luisa
deemed annulled, and the Register of and whether or not said deed was lost
Deeds shall make a memorandum of during World War II;
such fact in the record and in the new
transfer certificate of title to be issued 4. Whether or not the confirmation of
to Luisa Narvios-Lim. sale executed by Antonio in favor of Luisa
existed; and
(3) Defendants-appellants shall pay the
costs. 5. Whether or not the signature purportedly of
Antonio in that confirmation of sale was
SO ORDERED.[10] genuine.
Quieting of title is a common law remedy for the
Ruling of the Court removal of any cloud, doubt, or uncertainty affecting title to
real property.[15] Whenever there is a cloud on title to real
property or any interest in real property by reason of any
The petition has no merit. instrument, record, claim, encumbrance, or proceeding that is
apparently valid or effective, but is, in truth and in fact, invalid,
ineffective, voidable, or unenforceable, and may be prejudicial
A. to said title, an action may be brought to remove such cloud or
Action for cancellation of title to quiet the title.[16] In such action, the competent court is
is not an attack on the title tasked to determine the respective rights of the complainant
and the other claimants, not only to place things in their proper
places, and to make the claimant, who has no rights to said
The petitioners contend that this action for quieting of immovable, respect and not disturb the one so entitled, but
title should be disallowed because it constituted a collateral also for the benefit of both, so that whoever has the right will
attack on OCT No. RO-9969-(O-20449), citing Section 48 of see every cloud of doubt over the property dissipated, and he
Presidential Decree No. 1529, viz: can thereafter fearlessly introduce the improvements he may
desire, as well as use, and even abuse the property as he
Section 48. Certificate not subject to deems fit.[17]
collateral attack. A certificate of title shall not be
subject to collateral attack. It cannot be altered, Lims complaint pertinently alleged:
modified, or cancelled except in a direct
proceeding in accordance with law. 18. If indeed, the genuine original of the
Owner's Duplicate of the Reconstituted Original
Certificate of Title No. RO-9699 (O-20449)
The petitioners contention is not well taken. for Lot 943, Balamban Cadastre xxx is in
An action or proceeding is deemed an attack on a title Defendant's (Oos) possession, then VNL
when its objective is to nullify the title, thereby challenging the submits the following PROPOSITIONS:
judgment pursuant to which the title was decreed.[13] The xxx
attack is direct when the objective is to annul or set aside such 18.2. Therefore, the Original of Owners
judgment, or enjoin its enforcement. On the other hand, the Duplicate Certificate (which Respondents
attack is indirect or collateral when, in an action to obtain a [Defendants Oos] claim in their Opposition is in
different relief, an attack on the judgment is nevertheless their possession) must be surrendered to VNL
made as an incident thereof.[14] upon order of this Court, after the Court shall
have determined VNL's mother's acquisition of Prescription, in general, is a mode of acquiring or
the attributes of ownership over said Lot 943, in losing ownership and other real rights through the lapse of
this action, in accordance with Section 107, time in the manner and under the conditions laid down by
P.D. 1529, Property Registration Decree xxx law.[19] However, prescription was not relevant to the
xxx determination of the dispute herein, considering that Lim did
[t]hat OCT 20449 be cancelled and new title for not base his right of ownership on an adverse possession
Lot 943 be issued directly in favor of LUISA over a certain period. He insisted herein, instead, that title to
NARVIOS, to complete her title to said Lot;[18] the land had been voluntarily transferred by the registered
owners themselves to Luisa, his predecessor-in-interest.

The averments readily show that the action was neither Lim showed that his mother had derived a just title to the
a direct nor a collateral attack on OCT No. RO-9969-(O- property by virtue of sale; that from the time Luisa had
20449), for Lim was asserting only that the existing title acquired the property in 1937, she had taken over its
registered in the name of the petitioners predecessors had possession in the concept of an owner, and had performed
become inoperative due to the conveyance in favor of Lims her obligation by paying real property taxes on the property,
mother, and resultantly should be cancelled. Lim did not as evidenced by tax declarations issued in her name;[20] and
thereby assail the validity of OCT No. RO-9969-(O-20449), or that in view of the delivery of the property, coupled with Luisas
challenge the judgment by which the title of the lot involved actual occupation of it, all that remained to be done was the
had been decreed. In other words, the action sought the issuance of a new transfer certificate of title in her name.
removal of a cloud from Lims title, and the confirmation of
Lims ownership over the disputed property as the successor- C.
in-interest of Luisa. Forgery, being a question of fact,
could not be dealt with now
B.
Prescription was not relevant The petitioners submit that Lims evidence did not
preponderantly show that the ownership of the lot had been
transferred to Luisa; and that both the trial and the appellate
The petitioners assert that the lot, being titled in the name of courts disregarded their showing that Antonios signature on
their predecessors-in-interest, could not be acquired by the confirmation of sale was a forgery.
prescription or adverse possession.
Clearly, the petitioners hereby seek a review of the evaluation
The assertion is unwarranted. and appreciation of the evidence presented by the parties.
The Court cannot anymore review the evaluation and evidence. Preponderance of evidence is the weight, credit,
appreciation of the evidence, because the Court is not a trier and value of the aggregate evidence on either side, and is
of facts.[21] Although this rule admits of certain exceptions, viz: usually considered to be synonymous with the term greater
(1) when the conclusion is a finding grounded entirely on weight of the evidence or greater weight of the credible
speculation, surmises, or conjecture; (2) when the inference evidence. Preponderance of evidence is a phrase that means,
made is manifestly mistaken; (3) where there is a grave abuse in the last analysis, probability of the truth.[24] It is evidence that
of discretion; (4) when the judgment is based on a is more convincing to the court as worthy of belief than that
misapprehension of facts; (5) when the findings of fact are which is offered in opposition thereto.
conflicting; (6) when the Court of Appeals, in making its
findings, went beyond the issues of the case, and the findings Lim successfully discharged his burden of proof as the
are contrary to the admissions of both appellant and appellee; plaintiff. He established by preponderant evidence that he had
(7) when the findings of the Court of Appeals are contrary to a superior right and title to the property. In contrast, the
those of the trial court; (8) when the findings of fact are petitioners did not present any proof of their better title other
conclusions without specific evidence on which they are than their copy of the reconstituted certificate of title. Such
based; (9) when the facts set forth in the petition as well in the proof was not enough, because the registration of a piece of
petitioners main and reply briefs are not disputed by the land under the Torrens system did not create or vest title, such
respondents; and, (10) when the findings of fact of the Court of registration not being a mode of acquiring ownership. The
Appeals are premised on the supposed absence of evidence petitioners need to be reminded that a certificate of title is
and are contradicted by the evidence on record,[22] it does not merely an evidence of ownership or title over the particular
appear now that any of the exceptions is present herein. We property described therein. Its issuance in favor of a particular
thus apply the rule without hesitation, and reject the appeal for person does not foreclose the possibility that the real property
that reason. may be co-owned with persons not named in the certificate, or
that it may be held in trust for another person by the registered
It is emphasized, too, that the CA upheld the owner.[25]
conclusion arrived at by the RTC that the signature of Antonio
had not been simulated or forged. The CA ruled that the WHEREFORE, the petition for review on certiorari is
testimony of the notary public who had notarized denied, and the decision dated January 28, 2002 is affirmed.
the confirmation of sale to the effect that Antonio and Luisa
had appeared before him prevailed over that of the petitioners The petitioners are ordered to pay the costs of suit.
expert witness. The concurrence of their conclusion on the
genuineness of Antonios signature now binds the Court.[23] SO ORDERED.

In civil cases, the party having the burden of proof must HEIRS OF VALERIANO S. CONCHA, G.R. No. 158121
establish his case by a preponderance of SR. NAMELY: TERESITA CONCHA-
PARAN, VALERIANO P. CONCHA, separate motions to dismiss and Joint Motion for
JR., RAMON P. CONCHA, EDUARDO Reconsideration filed by the respondents.
P. CONCHA, REPRESENTED BY HIS
LEGAL GUARDIAN, REYNALDO P. The relevant facts are undisputed.
CONCHA, ALBERTO P. CONCHA,
BERNARDO P. CONCHA and GLORIA Present: Petitioners, heirs of spouses Dorotea and Valeriano
P. CONCHA-NUNAG, Concha, Sr., claim to be the rightful owners of Lot No. 6195
Petitioners, PUNO, C.J., Chairperson, (Civil Case No. 5188), a one-hectare portion of Lot No. 6196-
YNARES-SANTIAGO, A (Civil Case No. 5433), and a one-hectare portion of Lot Nos.
SANDOVAL-GUTIERREZ, 6196-B and 7529-A (Civil Case No. 5434), all situated in
- versus - CORONA, and Cogon, Dipolog City, under Section 48(b) of Commonwealth
AZCUNA, JJ. Act No. 141 (C.A. No. 141), otherwise known as the Public
SPOUSES GREGORIO J. LUMOCSO[1] Land Act. Respondent siblings Gregorio Lumocso (Civil Case
and BIENVENIDA GUYA, CRISTITA No. 5188), Cristita Lumocso Vda. de Daan (Civil Case No.
J. LUMOCSO VDA. DE DAAN, AND 5433) and Jacinto Lumocso (Civil Case No. 5434), are the
SPOUSES JACINTO J. LUMOCSO Promulgated: patent holders and registered owners of the subject lots.
and BALBINA T. LUMOCSO,[2]
Respondents. December 12, 2007 The records show that on August 6, 1997, Valeriano
Sr.[7] and his children, petitioners Valeriano Jr., Ramon,
x-------------------------------------------- Eduardo, Alberto, Bernardo, Teresita, Reynaldo, and Gloria,
------x all surnamed Concha, filed a complaint for Reconveyance
and/or Annulment of Title with Damages against "Spouses
Gregorio Lomocso and Bienvenida Guya." They sought to
DECISION annul Free Patent No. (IX-8)985 and the corresponding
Original Certificate of Title (OCT) No. P-22556 issued in the
PUNO, C.J.: name of "Gregorio Lumocso" covering Lot No. 6195. The case
was raffled to the RTC of Dipolog City, Branch 9, and
On appeal by certiorari under Rule 45 of the Rules of docketed as Civil Case No. 5188. In their Amended
Court are the Complaint, petitioners prayed that judgment be rendered:
decision[3] and resolution[4] of the Court of Appeals (CA) in CA-
G.R. SP No. 59499, annulling the resolutions[5] and order[6] of 1. Declaring Free Patent No.
the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Dipolog City, Branch 9, in (IX-8)985 and Original Certificate of Title No.
Civil Case Nos. 5188, 5433 and 5434 which denied the 22556 issued to defendants as null and void ab
initio;
Honorable Court may deem just and equitable
2. Declaring Lot No. 6195 or in the premises.[8]
1.19122-hectare as private property of the
plaintiffs under Sec. 48(b) of CA No. 141
otherwise known as the Public Land Act as On September 3, 1999, two separate complaints for
amended by RA 1942; Reconveyance with Damages were filed by petitioners,[9] this
time against "Cristita Lomocso Vda. de Daan" for a one-
3. Ordering the defendant hectare portion of Lot No. 6196-A and "Spouses Jacinto
Lomocsos to reconvey the properties (sic) in Lomocso and Balbina T. Lomocso" for a one-hectare portion of
question Lot No. 6195 or the 1.19122 hectares Lot Nos. 6196-B and 7529-A. The two complaints were also
in favor of the plaintiffs within 30 days from the raffled to Branch 9 of the RTC of Dipolog City and docketed as
finality of the decision in this case and if they Civil Case Nos. 5433 and 5434,
refuse, ordering the Clerk of Court of this respectively. In Civil Case No. 5433, petitioners prayed that
Honorable Court to execute the deed of judgment be rendered:
reconveyance with like force and effect as if
executed by the defendant[s] themselves; 1. Declaring [a] portion of Lot 6196-A
titled under OCT (P23527) 4888 equivalent to
4. Ordering defendant one hectare located at the western portion of
Lomocsos to pay P60,000.00 for the 21 forest Lot 4888 as private property of the plaintiffs
trees illegally cut; P50,000.00 for moral under Sec. 48(B) CA 141 otherwise known as
damages; P20,000.00 for Attorneys Public Land OCT (sic) as amended by RA No.
fees; P20,000.00 for litigation expenses; and to 1942;
pay the cost of the proceedings;
2. Ordering the defendant to reconvey
5. Declaring the confiscated the equivalent of one (1) hectare forested
three (sic) flitches kept in the area of the portion of her property in question in favor of
plaintiffs at Dampalan San Jose, Dipolog with a the plaintiffs within 30 days from the finality of
total volume of 2000 board feet a[s] property of the decision in this case segregating one
the plaintiff [they] being cut, collected and hectare from OCT (P23527) 4888, located at
taken from the land possessed, preserved, and its Western portion and if she refuse (sic),
owned by the plaintiffs; ordering the Clerk of Court of this Honorable
Court to execute the deed of reconveyance
6. The plaintiffs further pray with like force and effect, as if executed by the
for such other reliefs and remedies which this defenda[n]t herself;
3. Ordering defendants to
3. Ordering defendant to pay P20,000.00 for the six (6) forest trees
pay P30,000.00 for the 22 forest trees illegally illegally cut; P20,000.00 for moral
cut; P20,000.00 for moral damages; P20,000.00 for Attorney's
damages; P20,000.00 for Attorney's fees; P20,000.00 for litigation expenses; and to
fees; P20,000.00 for litigation expenses; and to pay the cost of the proceedings.[11]
pay the cost of the proceedings.[10]
The three complaints[12] commonly alleged: a) that
on May 21, 1958, petitioners' parents (spouses Valeriano Sr.
In Civil Case No. 5434, petitioners prayed that and Dorotea Concha) acquired by homestead a 24-hectare
judgment be rendered: parcel of land situated in Cogon, Dipolog City; b) that since
1931, spouses Concha "painstakingly preserved" the forest in
1. Declaring [a] portion of Lot 7529-A the 24-hectare land, including the excess four (4) hectares
under OCT (P-23207) 12870 and Lot 6196-B "untitled forest land" located at its eastern portion; c) that they
OCT (P-20845) 4889 equivalent to one hectare possessed this excess 4 hectares of land (which consisted of
located as (sic) the western portion of said lots Lot No. 6195, one-hectare portion of Lot No. 6196-A and one-
as private property of the plaintiffs under Sec. hectare portion of Lot Nos. 6196-B and 7529-A) "continuously,
48(b) of [C.A. No.] 141 otherwise know[n] as publicly, notoriously, adversely, peacefully, in good faith and in
the [P]ublic [L]and [A]ct as amended by RA concept of the (sic) owner since 1931;" d) that they continued
1942; possession and occupation of the 4-hectare land after the
death of Dorotea Concha on December 23, 1992 and
2. Ordering the defendants to reconvey Valeriano Sr. on May 12, 1999; e) that the Concha spouses
the equivalent of one (1) hectare forested "have preserved the forest trees standing in [the subject lots]
portion of their properties in question in favor to the exclusion of the defendants (respondents) or other
of the plaintiffs within 30 days from the finality persons from 1931" up to November 12, 1996 (for Civil Case
of the decision in this case segregating one No. 5188) or January 1997 (for Civil Case Nos. 5433 and
hectare from OCT (P-23207) 12870 and OCT 5434) when respondents, "by force, intimidation, [and] stealth
(T-20845)-4889 all of defendants, located at its forcibly entered the premises, illegally cut, collected, [and]
Western portion and if they refuse, ordering disposed" of 21 trees (for Civil Case No. 5188), 22 trees (for
the Clerk of Court of this Honorable Court to Civil Case No. 5433) or 6 trees (for Civil Case No. 5434); f)
execute the deed of reconveyance with like that "the land is private land or that even assuming it was part
force and effect as if executed by the of the public domain, plaintiffs had already acquired imperfect
defendants themselves[;] title thereto" under Sec. 48(b) of C.A. No. 141, as amended by
Republic Act (R.A.) No. 1942; g) that respondents allegedly
cut into flitches the trees felled in Lot No. 6195 (Civil Case No. considered which, if computed, allegedly falls within the
5188) while the logs taken from the subject lots in Civil Case exclusive original jurisdiction of the RTC.
Nos. 5433 and 5434 were sold to a timber dealer in Katipunan,
Zamboanga del Norte; h) that respondents "surreptitiously" The trial court denied the respective motions to dismiss
filed free patent applications over the lots despite their full of respondents.[15] The respondents filed a Joint Motion for
knowledge that petitioners owned the lots; i) that the geodetic Reconsideration,[16] to no avail.[17]
engineers who conducted the original survey over the lots
never informed them of the Dissatisfied, respondents jointly filed a Petition for Certiorari,
survey to give them an opportunity to oppose respondents' Prohibition and Preliminary Injunction with Prayer for Issuance
applications; j) that respondents' free patents and the of Restraining Order Ex Parte[18] with the CA, docketed as CA-
corresponding OCTs were issued "on account of fraud, deceit, G.R. SP No. 59499. In its Decision,[19] the CA reversed the
bad faith and misrepresentation"; and k) that the lots in resolutions and order of the trial court. It held that even
question have not been transferred to an innocent purchaser. assuming that the complaints state a cause of action, the
same have been barred by the statute of limitations. The CA
On separate occasions, respondents moved for the ruled that an action for reconveyance based on fraud
dismissal of the respective cases against them on the same prescribes in ten (10) years, hence, the instant complaints
grounds of: (a) lack of jurisdiction of the RTC over the subject must be dismissed as they involve titles issued for at least
matters of the complaints; (b) failure to state causes of action twenty-two (22) years prior to the filing of the complaints. The
for reconveyance; (c) prescription; and (d) waiver, CA found it unnecessary to resolve the other issues.
abandonment, laches and estoppel.[13] On the issue of
jurisdiction, respondents contended that the RTC has no Hence, this appeal in which petitioners raise the following
jurisdiction over the complaints pursuant to Section 19(2) of issues, viz:
Batas Pambansa Blg. (B.P.) 129, as amended by R.A. No.
7691, as in each case, the assessed values of the subject lots FIRST - WHETHER OR NOT RESPONDENT
are less than P20,000.00. COURT OF APPEALS (FORMER FIRST
DIVISION) ERRED IN REVERSING THE
Petitioners opposed,[14] contending that the instant ORDER OF THE COURT A QUO DENYING
cases involve actions the subject matters of which are THE MOTION FOR DISMISSAL,
incapable of pecuniary estimation which, under Section 19(1) CONSIDERING THE DISMISSAL OF A
of B.P. 129, as amended by R.A. 7691, fall within the exclusive PARTY COMPLAINT IS PREMATURE AND
original jurisdiction of the RTCs. They also contended that they TRIAL ON THE MERITS SHOULD BE
have two main causes of action: for reconveyance and for CONDUCTED TO THRESH OUT
recovery of the value of the trees felled by EVIDENTIARY MATTERS.
respondents. Hence, the totality of the claims must be
SECOND - WHETHER OR NOT THE CATUIRA VS. COURT OF APPEALS (172
RESPONDENT COURT OF APPEALS SCRA 136).[20]
(FORMER FIRST DIVISION) ERRED IN
DISMISSING THE PETITIONERS'
COMPLAINTS ON [THE] GROUND OF In their memorandum,[21] respondents reiterated their
PRESCRIPTION. arguments in the courts below that: a) the complaints of the
petitioners in the trial court do not state causes of action for
THIRD - WHETHER OR NOT THE reconveyance; b) assuming the complaints state causes of
RESPONDENT COURT OF APPEALS action for reconveyance, the same have already been barred
(FORMER FIRST DIVISION) ERRED IN by prescription;c) the RTC does not have jurisdiction over the
CONCLUDING THAT THERE IS NO subject matter of the instant cases; d) the claims for
DOCUMENTARY EVIDENCE ON RECORD reconveyance in the complaints are barred by waiver,
TO SHOW THAT PETITIONERS OWN abandonment, or otherwise extinguished by laches and
THE SUBJECT FOREST estoppel; and e) there is no special reason warranting a review
PORTION OF THE PROPERTIES by this Court.
ERRONEOUSLY INCLUDED IN THE TITLES
OF PRIVATE RESPONDENTS. Since the issue of jurisdiction is determinative of the
resolution of the instant case yet the CA skirted the question,
FOURTH - WHETHER OR NOT THE we resolved to require the parties to submit their respective
PETITION OF HEREIN PRIVATE Supplemental Memoranda on the issue of jurisdiction.[22]
RESPONDENTS FILED WITH THE
RESPONDENT COURT OF APPEALS In their Supplemental Memorandum,[23] petitioners
(FORMER FIRST DIVISION) SHOULD HAVE contend that the nature of their complaints, as denominated
BEEN DISMISSED OUTRIGHTLY FOR therein and as borne by their allegations, are suits for
PRIVATE RESPONDENTS' THEREIN reconveyance, or annulment or cancellation of OCTs and
FAILURE TO COMPLY WITH THE damages. The cases allegedly involve more than just the issue
MANDATORY REQUIREMENT OF SECTION of
1 RULE 65 OF THE RULES OF COURT TO title and possession since the nullity of the OCTs issued to
SUBMIT CERTIFIED TRUE COPIES OF THE respondents and the reconveyance of the subject properties
ASSAILED ORDERS OF THE TRIAL COURT were also raised as issues. Thus, the RTC has jurisdiction
WHICH RENDERED THEIR PETITION (CA under Section 19(1) of B.P. 129, which provides that the RTC
G.R. 59499) DEFICIENT IN FORM AND has jurisdiction "[i]n all civil actions in which the subject of the
SUBSTANCE CITING THE CASE OF litigation is incapable of pecuniary estimation." Petitioners
cited: a) Raymundo v. CA[24] which set the criteria for names, to its rightful and legal owners, or to those who claim
determining whether an action is one not capable of pecuniary to have a better right.[32] There is no special ground for an
estimation; b) Swan v. CA[25] where it was held that an action action for reconveyance. It is enough that the aggrieved party
for annulment of title is under the jurisdiction of the RTC; has a legal claim on the property superior to that of the
c) Santos v. CA[26]where it was similarly held that an action for registered owner[33] and that the property has not yet passed to
annulment of title, reversion and damages was within the the hands of an innocent purchaser for value.[34]
jurisdiction of the RTC; and d) Commodities Storage and ICE
Plant Corporation v. CA[27] where it was held that "[w]here The reliefs sought by the petitioners in the instant
the action affects title to the property, it should be filed in the cases typify an action for reconveyance. The following are
RTC where the property is located." Petitioners also contend also the common allegations in the three complaints that are
that while it may be argued that the assessed values of the sufficient to constitute causes of action for reconveyance, viz:
subject properties are within the original jurisdiction of the
municipal trial court (MTC), they have included in their prayers
"any interest included therein" consisting of 49 felled natural (a) That plaintiff Valeriano S. Concha,
grown trees illegally cut by respondents. Combining the Sr. together with his spouse Dorotea Concha
assessed values of the properties as shown by their respective have painstakingly preserve[d] the forest
tax declarations and the estimated value of the trees cut, the standing in the area [of their 24-hectare
total amount prayed by petitioners exceeds twenty thousand homestead] including the four hectares untitled
pesos (P20,000.00). Hence, they contend that the RTC has forest land located at the eastern portion of the
jurisdiction under Section 19(2) of B.P. 129. forest from 1931 when they were newly
married, the date they acquired this property
Jurisdiction over the subject matter is the power to hear by occupation or possession;[35]
and determine cases of the general class to which the
proceedings in question belong.[28] It is conferred by law and (b) That spouses Valeriano S. Concha
an objection based on this ground cannot be waived by the Sr. and Dorotea P. Concha have preserved the
parties.[29] To determine whether a court has jurisdiction over forest trees standing in [these parcels] of land
the subject matter of a case, it is important to determine the to the exclusion of the defendants Lomocsos
nature of the cause of action and of the relief sought.[30] or other persons from 1931 up to November
12, 1996 [for Civil Case No. 5188] and January
The trial court correctly held that the instant cases 1997 [for Civil Case Nos. 5433 and 5434]
involve actions for reconveyance.[31] An action for when defendants[,] by force, intimidation, [and]
reconveyance respects the decree of registration as stealth[,] forcibly entered the premises,
incontrovertible but seeks the transfer of property, which has illegal[ly] cut, collected, disposed a total of
been wrongfully or erroneously registered in other persons' [twenty-one (21) trees for Civil Case No. 5188,
twenty-two (22) trees for Civil Case No. 5433 Being in the nature of actions for reconveyance or
and six (6) trees for Civil Case No. 5434] of actions to remove cloud on one's title, the applicable law to
various sizes;[36] determine which court has jurisdiction is Section 19(2) of B.P.
129, as amended by R.A. No. 7691, viz:
(c) That this claim is an assertion that
the land is private land or that even assuming
it was part of the public domain, plaintiff had Section 19. Jurisdiction in Civil Cases.-
already acquired imperfect title thereto under - Regional Trial Courts shall exercise exclusive
Sec. 48(b) of [C.A.] No. 141[,] otherwise known original jurisdiction: x x x
as the Public Land Act[,] as amended by [R.A.]
No. [7691];[37] (2) In all civil actions which involve the
title to, or possession of, real property, or any
(d) That [respondents and their interest therein, where the assessed value of
predecessors-in-interest knew when they] the property involved exceeds Twenty
surreptitiously filed[38] [their respective patent thousand pesos (P20,000.00) or for civil
applications and were issued their respective] actions in Metro Manila, where such value
free patents and original certificates of title exceeds Fifty thousand pesos (P50,000.00)
[that the subject lots belonged to the except actions for forcible entry into and
petitioners];[39] unlawful detainer of lands or buildings, original
jurisdiction over which is conferred upon the
(e) [That respondents' free patents and Metropolitan Trial Courts, Municipal Trial
the corresponding original certificates of titles Courts, and Municipal Circuit Trial Courts;
were issued] on account of fraud, deceit, bad
faith and misrepresentation;[40] and x x x.

(f) The land in question has not been In the cases at bar, it is undisputed that the subject lots
transferred to an innocent purchaser.[41] are situated in Cogon, Dipolog City and their assessed values
are less than P20,000.00, to wit:
These cases may also be considered as actions to
remove cloud on one's title as they are intended to procure the Civil Case No. Lot No. Assessed Value
cancellation of an instrument constituting a claim on
petitioners' alleged title which was used to injure or vex them 5188 6195 P1,030.00
in the enjoyment of their alleged title.[42]
5433 6196-A 4,500.00
amendment introduced by R.A. No. 7691[48] in 1994 which
5434 6196-B 4,340.00 expanded the exclusive original jurisdiction of the first level
7529-A 1,880.00.[43] courts to include "all civil actions which involve title to, or
possession of, real property, or any interest therein where the
assessed value of the property or interest therein does
Hence, the MTC clearly has jurisdiction over the not exceed Twenty thousand pesos (P20,000.00) or, in
instant cases. civil actions in Metro Manila, where such assessed value
does not exceed Fifty thousand pesos (P50,000.00)
Petitioners' contention that this case is one that is exclusive of interest, damages of whatever kind,
incapable of pecuniary estimation under the exclusive original attorney's fees, litigation expenses and costs." Thus, under
jurisdiction of the RTC pursuant to Section 19(1) of B.P. 129 is the present law, original jurisdiction over cases the subject
erroneous. matter of which involves "title to, possession of, real property
or any interest therein" under Section 19(2) of B.P. 129 is
In a number of cases, we have held that actions for divided between the first and second level courts, with the
reconveyance[44] of or for cancellation of title[45] to or to quiet assessed value of the real property involved as the
title[46] over real property are actions that fall under the benchmark. This amendment was introduced to "unclog the
classification of cases that involve "title to, or possession of, overloaded dockets of the RTCs which would result in the
real property, or any interest therein." speedier administration of justice."[49]

The original text of Section 19(2) of B.P. 129 as well as The cases of Raymundo v. CA[50] and Commodities
its forerunner, Section 44(b) of R.A. 296,[47] as amended, gave Storage and ICE Plant Corporation v. CA,[51] relied upon by
the RTCs (formerly courts of first instance) exclusive original the petitioners, are inapplicable to the cases at
jurisdiction "[i]n all civil actions which involve the title to, bar. Raymundo involved a complaint for mandatory
or possession of, real property, or any interest injunction, not one for reconveyance or annulment of title. The
therein,except actions for forcible entry into and unlawful bone of contention was whether the case was incapable of
detainer of lands or buildings, original jurisdiction over which is pecuniary estimation considering petitioner's contention that
conferred upon Metropolitan Trial Courts, [MTCs], and the pecuniary claim of the complaint was only attorney's fees
Municipal Circuit Trial Courts (conferred upon the city and of P10,000, hence, the MTC had jurisdiction. The Court
municipal courts under R.A. 296, as amended)." Thus, under defined the criterion for determining whether an action is one
the old law, there was no substantial effect on jurisdiction that is incapable of pecuniary estimation and held that the
whether a case is one, the subject matter of which was issue of whether petitioner violated the provisions of the
incapable of pecuniary estimation, under Section 19(1) of B.P. Master Deed and Declaration of Restriction of the Corporation
129 or one involving title to property under Section 19(2). The is one that is incapable of pecuniary estimation. The claim for
distinction between the two classes became crucial with the attorney's fees was merely incidental to the principal action,
hence, said amount was not determinative of the court's unavailing. Section 19(2) of B.P. 129, as amended by R.A.
jurisdiction. Nor can Commodities Storage and ICE Plant No. 7691, is clear that the RTC shall exercise jurisdiction "in
Corporation provide any comfort to petitioners for the issue all civil actions which involve the title to, or possession of, real
resolved by the Court in said case was venue and not property, or any interest therein, where the assessed value
jurisdiction. The action therein was for damages, accounting of the property involved exceeds Twenty thousand pesos
and fixing of redemption period which was filed on October 28, (P20,000.00) or for civil actions in Metro Manila, where
1994, before the passage of R.A. No. 7691. In resolving the such value exceeds Fifty thousand pesos (P50,000.00)." It
issue of venue, the Court held that "[w]here the action affects is true that the recovery of the value of the trees cut from the
title to property, it should be instituted in the [RTC] where the subject properties may be included in the term "any interest
property is situated. The Sta. Maria Ice Plant & Cold Storage therein." However, the law is emphatic that in determining
is located in Sta. Maria, Bulacan. The venue in Civil Case No. which court has jurisdiction, it is only the assessed value of
94-727076 was therefore improperly laid." the realty involved that should be computed.[54] In this case,
there is no dispute that the assessed values of the subject
properties as shown by their tax declarations are less
Worse, the cases of Swan v. CA[52] and Santos v. than P20,000.00.Clearly, jurisdiction over the instant cases
[53]
CA cited by the petitioners, contradict their own position belongs not to the RTC but to the MTC.
that the nature of the instant cases falls under Section 19(1) of
B.P. 129. The complaints in Swan and Santos were filed prior
to the enactment of R.A. No. 7691. In Swan, the Court held IN VIEW WHEREOF, the decision of the Court of
that the action being one for annulment of title, the RTC had Appeals is hereby AFFIRMED that the RTC of Dipolog City,
original jurisdiction under Section 19(2) of B.P. Branch 9, has no jurisdiction in Civil Case Nos. 5188, 5433
129. In Santos, the Court similarly held that the complaint for and 5434.
cancellation of title, reversion and damages is also one that
involves title to and possession of real property under Section
19(2) of B.P. 129.Thus, while the Court held that the RTC had No costs.
jurisdiction, the Court classified actions for "annulment of title"
and "cancellation of title, reversion and damages" as civil
actions that involve "title to, or possession of, real property, or SO ORDERED.
any interest therein" under Section 19(2) of B.P. 129.

Petitioners' contention that the value of the trees cut in G.R. No. L-69622 January 29, 1988
the subject properties constitutes "any interest therein (in the
subject properties)" that should be computed in addition to the LILIA Y. GONZALES, petitioner,
respective assessed values of the subject properties is vs.
INTERMEDIATE APPELLATE COURT and RURAL BANK filed a petition in the Court of First Instance of Iloilo for the
OF PAVIA, INC., respondents. reconstitution of the original certificate of title. On February
26,1971, a reconstituted original certificate of title was issued
in the name of Asuncion Sustiguer alone. And by virtue of the
sale of said property by Sustiguer to the spouses Panzo, her
GANCAYCO, J.: title was cancelled and in lieu thereof TCT No. T-64807 was
issued by the Register of Deeds of Iloilo in the spouses' name
This is a petition for review on certiorari of the Decision of the on March 3, 1971. The said spouses then mortgaged the
Court of Appeals dated November 15,1983, 1 affirming the property to respondent Rural Bank of Pavia for P5,000.00.
decision of the trial court of July 16, 1975 2 dismissing the Upon their failure to pay the account, respondent bank
complaint for annulment of title and ordering plaintiff, herein foreclosed the mortgage on August 11, 1973 and the bank
petitioner, to deliver possession of the property covered by was the highest bidder. A certificate of sale was executed by
said title and to account for the produce thereof to defendant the Provincial Sheriff in its favor.
bank, private respondent herein.
On April 18, 1974, petitioner as judicial co-administratrix of the
The antecedent facts of this case as found by the Appellate Intestate Estate of the late Matias Yusay brought an action,
Court are as follows: against the spouses Panzo and the respondent Rural Bank
seeking the annulment and cancellation of the title in the name
The spouses Asuncion Sustiguer and Dioscoro Buensuceso of the Panzos and the issuance of a new title in favor of
were the original owners of Lot No. 2161 of the Cadastral Yusay. In her complaint, 3 petitioner alleged among other
Survey of Barotac Nuevo, the property subject of this things: that the subject property was first mortgaged to Yusay
controversy. For delinquency in the payment of the real estate on April 30, 1929 by the spouses Sustiguer and Buensuceso;
taxes due thereon, the land was sold at public auction to the that sometime November, 1934, said property was verbally
Province of Iloilo in 1955. Hortencia Buensuceso, daughter of sold to Yusay by the same spouses; that since Yusay bought
said spouses, discovered in the office of the Register of Deeds the property in 1948, he and his administrator and later plaintiff
of Iloilo that the Certificate of Title of subject land, OCT No. administratrix, have been in possession of the property thru
3351, was still in the name of her parents. Hortencia paid the their tenant Elias Daguino until April 15, 1971, when
back taxes on the land in behalf of her mother (who by that defendants spouses Panzo wrested possession from their
time was already separated in fact from her father) in whose tenant; that on May 12, 1971, plaintiff administratrix filed an
favor the Provincial Treasurer executed a deed of repurchase action, for forcible entry against them before the Municipal
on April 10, 1969. On April 17, 1969, the spouses Gaudioso Court of Barotac Nuevo, Iloilo docketed as Civil Case No. 577;
Panzo and Hortencia Buensuceso bought the land from the that the trial court having ruled in favor of plaintiffs on
latter's mother for P1,000.00. Thereafter, the spouses Panzo November 4, 1972, defendants spouses appealed the said
decision to the Court of First Instance of Iloilo, where the said
appeal still pends; that defendant Rural Bank was not a xxx xxx xxx
mortgagee in good faith for not having taken the necessary
precaution before accepting the subject property as collateral This being so, whether or not the bank inspect d
for the loan granted the defendants-spouses. the premises or whether or not the reconstituted
title was void is indeed irrelevant in the land in
In its answer of May 14,1984 4 defendant Rural Bank set up question was confiscated for non-payment of
the defense of good faith alleging that the certificate of title in taxes and that it was sold at public auction, for if
the names of the spouses Panzo was free from any lien and so, then at the time of its confiscation, in effect
that the rigid requirements for loan applications had been duly the land in question lost its Identity as private
deserved by the Bank. It further claimed that on August 11, land and acquired the status of a government
1973, the mortgage executed by the spouses was foreclosed land to say the least. If sold at public auction
and defendant bank being the highest bidder was issued a and the buyer was Asuncion Sustiguer, then all
certificate of sale by the Provincial Sheriff of Iloilo. prior ownership there was cancelled, including
that of the original owners, (the spouses
Upon receipt of the answer of defendant Bank, plaintiff on July Asuncion Sustiguer and her husband Dioscoro
15, 1974 moved to dismiss the case as regards defendants Buensuceso). Record shows they were later
spouses Panzo on the ground that the subject property having separated. There is therefore, no conjugal
already been sold to defendant Rural Bank, the said spouses property to speak of for the exclusive buyer of
ceased to have any interest in the property. 5 The lower court the land at the public auction was Asuncion
acting on this motion ordered the dismissal of the case on July Sustiguer and she alone. When this was not
26, 1974 against the said defendant-spouses only. 6 redeemed by the couple as they were then
separated, Asuncion Sustiguer became the
After trial and submission of the respective memoranda of the exclusive owner of the land on the basis of the
parties, the court a quo addressing itself to the only issue of Tax Sale pursuant to Sec. 40 Com. Act No. 470
whether or not defendant Rural Bank was a mortgagee and and Velasquez vs. Coroner, 9 SCRA 986-990.
subsequent buyer for value and in good faith ruled in favor of Its subsequent sale to the Panzos and later its
said defendant. 7 acquisition by the Rural Bank, the herein
defendant, is now beyond question. 8
From the decision of the court a quo, petitioner appealed to
the Intermediate Appellate Court which rendered its decision, In the petition for review before Us, herein petitioner, assigns
subject of this petition, agreement in toto the decision of the the following errors:
court a quo. Thus:
I
THE INTERMEDIATE APPELLATE COURT RECONSTITUTED TITLE IN THE NAME OF
COMMITTED AN ERROR OF LAW IN ASUNCION SUSTIGUER FROM THE
HOLDING THAT THE LAND IN QUESTION CADASTRAL COURT, THEN THEY CAN NOT
LOST ITS IdENTITY AS A PRIVATE LAND TRANSMIT TITLE TO DEFENDANT BANK.
AND ACQUIRED THE STATUS OF A
GOVERNMENT LAND, WHEN IT WAS SOLD IV
AT PUBLIC AUCTION FOR NON-PAYMENT
OF TAXES TO THE PROVINCE OF ILOILO, THE INTERMEDIATE APPELLATE COURT
DIVESTING THE SPOUSES BUENSUCESO COMMITTED AN ERROR OF LAW IN NOT
AND THEIR SUCCESSOR-IN-INTEREST, HOLDING THAT THE PUBLIC AUCTION SALE
MATIAS YUSAY, OF THE OWNERSHIP OF THE PROPERTY IN QUESTION IN 1955
THEREOF, WITH ASUNCION SUSTIGUER FOR NON-PAYMENT OF TAXES IN FAVOR
BECOMING THE EXCLUSIVE OWNER UPON OF THE PROVINCE OF ILOILO, IS NULL AND
HER REPURCHASE OF THE SAID LAND VOID, FOR WANT OF NOTICE TO JOSE S.
FROM THE PROVINCE OF ILOILO. YUSAY, THEN ADMINISTRATOR OF THE
ESTATE OF MATIAS YUSAY, HENCE THE
II SALE OF THE PROVINCE OF ILOILO IN
FAVOR OF ASUNCION SUSTIGUER AND
THE INTERMEDIATE APPELLATE COURT FROM HER TO THE SPOUSES PANZOS,
COMMITTED AN ERROR OF LAW IN NOT ARE NULL AND VOID.
HOLDING THAT THE RECONSTITUTED
TITLE IN THE NAME OF ASUNCION V
SUSTIGUER IS VOID FOR WANT OF
JURISDICTION OF THE CADASTRAL COURT THE INTERMEDIATE APPELLATE COURT
IN RECONSTITUTING THE SAME. ERRED IN NOT RESOLVING THE
FOLLOWING ERRORS OF FACT OF THE
III TRIAL COURT.

THE INTERMEDIATE APPELLATE COURT (a) The lower court erred in


COMMITTED AN ERROR OF LAW IN NOT finding that defendant bank has
HOLDING THAT SINCE ADMITTEDLY THE made an ocular inspection of the
SPOUSES PANZOS WERE GUILTY OF property prior to the granting of
FRAUD IN SECURING THE SAID the loan in favor of the spouses
Gaudioso Panzo and Hortencia certificate of title and, in the absence of anything to excite
Buensuceso; suspicion, was under no obligation to look beyond the
certificate and investigate the title of the mortgagor appearing
(b) The lower court erred in on the face of said certificate. 9
holding that defendant bank is
not negligent in not consulting a To further determine the good faith of the mortgagee Rural
lawyer before granting the loan; Bank, We must address ourselves to the fifth assigned error
which focuses on the alleged negligence of the respondent
(c) The lower court erred in bank in taking the precautionary steps in the processing of the
finding plaintiff as grossly loan application of the Panzo spouses. The findings of the trial
negligent in not taking steps to court which were affirmed by the appellate court ruled out any
perfect its title over the property. negligence of the Rural Bank, thus:

We affirm the dismissal by the court a quo. The preponderance of evidence favors
defendant Rural Bank. This Court is satisfied
The principal question in this controversy is whether or not the that an ocular inspection was indeed conducted
respondent bank was an innocent mortgagee and subsequent by Gorriceta pursuant to established practice
buyer for value in good faith of the property. among banks. Assuming, for the sake of
argument, that the Panzo spouses were not in
When the certificate of title in the name of the Panzo spouses actual possession of the entire property, the fact
was submitted to private respondent bank for purposes of their is that they possessed a substantial part thereof
loan application, it was free from any lien and encumbrance. and his possession coincided with the visit of
The mortgage was duly constituted and registered with the Gorriceta. At that particular moment, Panzo had
Register of Deeds on May 28,1971. The ejectment case which been working for him in the construction of the
was filed by petitioner against the said spouses which building and weeding of the land. These man
petitioner claims should have put the respondent bank on its had recognized Panzo as the owner of the land
guard was annotated at the back of the subject title only on in response to inquiries by Gorriceta to go
March 29,1973. There was therefore nothing on the face of the around the entire perimeter of the property
title of the Panzos which would arouse the suspicion of the because there was nothing to arouse his
respondent bank. The certificate of title was in the name of the suspicion, what with certificate of title in the
mortgagors when the land was mortgaged by them to name of the Panzos having been submitted to
respondent bank. Such being the case, said respondent bank, him. A contrary requirement would negate the
As mortgagee, had the right to rely on what appeared on the efficacy of a torrens title. In fact, the allegations
of plaintiff in Civil Case No. 517 (the ejectment The credit investigation and approval were undertaken by
case filed against Gaudencio Panzo and responsible officers of the respondent Bank. For the bank to
Hortencia Buensuceso — Annex D of the consult a lawyer would not have made much difference in its
complaint in this case), would bear out the claim findings.
of defendant Bank that the Panzos were in
effective possession of the As the trial court pointed out, the most that a lawyer could
10
property. have done was to consult the records in the reconstitution
case which would not reveal anything irregular. It must be
We have examined the records of this case and We find no presumed that official duty was duly and properly exercised in
cogent reason to disturb the findings of the court below in this the reconstitution proceedings. 13
regard. Well-settled is the rule that the findings of facts of the
Court of Appeals are generally final and conclusive upon this The well-known rule in this jurisdiction is that a person dealing
Court. 11 with a registered land has a light to rely upon the face of the
torrens certificate of title and to dispense with the need of
Petitioner now claims that the negligence of respondent bank inquiring her except when the party concerned has actual
consists in its failure to consult a lawyer before approving the knowledge of facts and circumstances that would impel a
loan of the Panzo spouses. She asserts that had a lawyer reasonably cautious man to make inquiry. 14 It has also been
been consulted, the fact that the Panzo's title had been held that a bank is not required, before accepting a mortgage,
derived from a reconstituted title would have surfaced. This to make an investigation of the title of the property being given
would have provoked an inquiry as to the status of the original as security. 15
title by the lawyer and he would have found out about the
irregularity of the reconstitution proceedings consisting of the Of course, banks are cautioned to exercise more care and
lack of publication and notices. prudence in dealing even with registered lands, than private
individuals, "for their business is one affected with public
We agree with the trial court that the respondent Bank was not interest, keeping in trust money belonging to their depositors,
negligent in failing to consult a lawyer. The loan application of which they should guard against loss by not committing any
the Panzos was subjected to the rigid requirements of the act of negligence which amounts to lack of good faith by which
bank. There was a physical inspection of the property. The they would be denied the protective mantle of the land
loan application passed thru the scrutiny of the Credit registration statute Act 496, extended only to purchasers for
Committee, the members of which are also the Directors of the value and in good faith, as well as to mortgagees of the same
Bank. 12 The mortgage wits then duly registered with the character and description.16 It is for this reason that banks
Register of Deeds. before approving a loan send representatives to the premises
of the land offered as collateral and investigate who are the
true owners thereof. 17 In this regard, We believe that to the registered owner who was already deceased. We ruled
respondent bank had exercised the due care demanded of it —
relative to the real estate loan of the Panzos for it to be
considered an innocent mortgagee for value. Yet it was her gross negligence which brought
about the appellee's predicament. Knowing her
If anyone can be faulted for being negligent, it is the petitioner property to be subject to tax, she neglected to
herself and her predecessors-in-interest. In the complaint, pay her obligation. Vigorous in her protest that
petitioner alleged that the subject property was sold verbally to she was not given opportunity to protect her
Matias Yusay by the original owners, the spouses rights, she at least neglected to put the
Buensuceso, in November, 1934 (under paragraph 5 of the Government in a position to allow her that
same complaint, it was alleged to have been bought by Yusay opportunity. And this, notwithstanding the
in 1948). From that time to the filing of the ejectment case in categorical mandate of Section 2482 of the
May 1971, or a period of almost 37 years, petitioner and her Revised Administrative Code, which she was
predecessors did not take any step to perfect their title over presumed to know, and which makes it the duty
the property. There was not even a tax declaration over the of each person acquiring real estate in the City
subject property of Matias Yusay or his successors-in-interest. to make a new declaration thereof, with the
advertence that failure to do so shall make the
When the land was sold at public auction to the Province of assessment in the name of the previous owner
Iloilo in 1955 for valid and binding on all persons interested and
non-payment of taxes, petitioner's brother Jose Yusay, the for all purposes, as though the same had been
administrator of the Yusay estate did not do anything to assessed in the name of the actual owner.
redeem the property. Petitioner alleged that the reason why
she and her predecessors had not been paying the taxes was Apart from this, the subject property was not even included in
their mistaken belief that Lot 2161, the subject property, was the project of partition and even the re-amended project of
Lot 2159, an adjacent lot, 18 the taxes of which were being paid partition over the estate of Matias Yusay after he died in 1948.
by her. She further claims that they were not given any notice What is revealing is that it took them almost 37 years to
of the public auction sale. So it was only in 1971, at the time of discover that there was such a discrepancy.
the filing of their ejectment case against the Panzos that
petitioner came to know of said public auction. The law helps the vigilant but not those who sleep on their
rights. For time is a means of destroying obligations and
Noteworthy is the case of Paguio vs. Ruiz, 19 where this Court actions, because time runs against the slothful and
upheld the city treasurer's 1947 tax sale of the delinquent contemners of their own rights. 20 By their inexplicable inaction
property despite non-delivery of the treasurer's notices of sale
for such a long period of time, they are now barred by laches In the case of Gomes vs. Government of the Philippine
to lay claim over the property. 21 Islands 26 this Court ruled:

Moreover, there are several inconsistencies in the evidence of The appealed judgment was finally based on
petitioner ranging from the date of the alleged verbal sale in the fact that both the plaintiff and the intervenor
favor of Matias Yusay as stated in the complaint 22 to the had succeeded in having notices of lis
testimonies of her witnesses, particularly her tenant Elias pendens noted in transfer certificate of title No.
Daguino as to his possession of subject property. 23 Indeed, 25909. It seems that it is desired to attribute to
the validity of petitioner's claim appears to be questionable. these notations a legal effect similar to a lien.
This is not, however, the effect of a notice of lis
Respondent bank is no doubt an innocent mortgagee for value pendens under sections 79 of Act No. 496, and
but is it a subsequent purchaser in good faith and for value? 401 of the Code of Civil Procedure. The
notation of the plaintiffs notice produced no
It will be remembered that at the time of the purchase of the effect whatsoever against the Government's
subject property at the foreclosure sale on August 11, 1973, mortgage not only because the latter was prior
the notice of lis pendens had already been inscribed in the title to the former but also because once the
of the Panzos, subject of the mortgage. mortgage is declared valid and effective by final
judgment, the plaintiff can no longer enforce
It is true that the notice of lis pendens is an announcement to any preferential right. ... We hold, therefore, that
the whole world that a particular real property is in litigation, the notices of lis pendens and the attachment
and serves as a warning that one who acquires an interest did not constitute justifiable or lawful cause to
over said property does so at his own risk, so that he gambles prevent the execution of the judgment of
on the results of the litigation over said property. 24 foreclosure of mortgage obtained by the
Government.
However, it has also been held that any subsequent lien or
encumbrance annotated at the back of the certificate of title A person who takes a mortgage in good faith and for a
cannot in any way prejudice the mortgage previously valuable consideration, the record showing a clear title in the
registered, and the lots subject thereto pass to the purchaser mortgagor will be protected against any equitable titles to the
at the public auction sale free from any lien or encumbrance. premises or equitable claims on the title, in favor of their
Otherwise, the value of the mortgage could be easily persons, of which he had no notice, actual or constructive and
destroyed by a subsequent record of an adverse claim, for no that protection extends to a purchaser at a Sheriff s sale under
one would purchase at a foreclosure sale if bound by the proceedings on the mortgage although such purchaser had
posterior claim. 25 notice of the alleged equity. 27
In the case at bar, it is the respondent bank, the mortgagee Asuncion Sustiguer from whom the Panzo spouses obtained
itself, which purchased the subject property in the foreclosure their title was never made a party to the proceedings. Her title
sale. Being an innocent mortgagee with a superior lien over was acquired from the Province of Iloilo which in turn acquired
that of petitioner, its right to a foreclosure of the property is the property way back in 1955 at a sale at public auction. As to
reserved. 28 The notice of lis pendens which antedated the the Panzo spouses, they were originally defendants in this
foreclosure and sale at public auction of subject property could case but on petitioner's motion, they were dropped from the
not affect the rights of the respondent bank because the complaint even before they had the opportunity to file their
foreclosure sale retroacts to the date of registration of the answer. Thus, the case proceeded against the respondent
mortgage. 29 Its character of being an innocent mortgagee bank alone.
continues up to the date of actual foreclosure and sale at
public auction. It is well-settled that a Torrens Title cannot be collaterally
attacked. The issue on the validity of the title can only be
At any rate, even if the pending litigation between petitioner raised in an action expressly instituted for that
and the Panzos be finally decided in favor of the former, it will purpose. 31
have no effect on the ownership rights of the respondent bank
over the subject property since a forcible entry suit is not A Torrens Title can be attacked only for fraud within one year
conclusive as to ownership but only as to possession. 30 after the date of the issuance of the decree of registration.
Such attack must be direct and not by collateral proceeding.
Petitioner, in the rest of the assigned errors, persists in The title represented by the certificate cannot be changed,
questioning the validity of the titles of the respondent bank's altered, modified, enlarged or diminished in a collateral
predecessors-in-interest, not only the title of its immediate proceeding. 32
transferor, the Panzo spouses but even that of Asuncion
Sustiguer, seeking a declaration of their nullity. After one year from the date of the degree, the sole remedy of
the landowner whose property has been wrongfully or
Furthermore, petitioner contends that notwithstanding the erroneously registered in another's name is not to set aside
good faith of the respondent bank, its title over the subject the decree, but, respecting the decree as incontrovertible and
property is fatally defective since the title of its predecessors no longer open to review, to bring an ordinary action in the
are null and void. ordinary court of justice for reconveyance or, if the property
has passed into the hands of an innocent purchaser for value,
Respondent Bank, however, maintains that the arguments of for damages. 33
petitioner constitute a collateral attack on said titles. We find
merit in this contention. The title of Asuncion Sustiguer was obtained on February 26,
1971 while that of the Panzos on March 3, 1971. The
complaint in this acto, was filed only on April 18, 1974, clearly JESUS S. YUJUICO, represented
more than one year from the date of the decree of registration. by ADMINISTRATORS
The disputed titles by then had become indefeasible. Since the BENEDICTO V. YUJUICO and Present:
property had already been acquired by respondent bank at the EDILBERTO V. YUJUICO; and
foreclosure sale, as an innocent purchaser for value, an action AUGUSTO Y. CARPIO, QUISUMBING, J., Chairperson,
for reconveyance cannot prosper. The only remedy of Petitioners, CARPIO MORALES,
petitioner is an action for damages against the person whom TINGA,
she claims procured the wrongful registration in his name. 34 VELASCO, JR., and
- versus - NACHURA,* JJ.
Nevertheless, even assuming that the validity of the titles of
Asuncion Sustiguer and the Panzo spouses may be REPUBLIC OF THE PHILIPPINES Promulgated:
questioned in these proceedings and such titles may be and the COURT OF APPEALS,
declared null and void, it will still be of no moment in this case. Respondents. October 26, 2007
Where the torrens title of the land was in the name of the x----------------------------------------------------------------------------------
mortgagor and later given as security for a bank loan, the -------x
subsequent declaration of said title as null and void is not a
ground for nullifying the mortgage right of the bank, which had DECISION
acted in good faith. 35 Being thus an innocent mortgagee for VELASCO, JR., J.:
value, its right or lien upon the land mortgaged must be
respected and protected, even if the mortgagors obtained their In 1973, Fermina Castro filed an application for the registration
title thereto thru fraud. 36 and confirmation of her title over a parcel of land with an area
of 17,343 square meters covered by plan (LRC) Psu-964
WHEREFORE, the decision of respondent Intermediate located in the Municipality of Paraaque, Province of Rizal (now
Appellate Court of November 15, 1983 agreement in totowith Paraaque City), in the Pasig-Rizal Court of First Instance
costs the decision of the Court of First Instance of Iloilo dated (CFI), Branch 22. The application was docketed LRC Case
July 16, 1975 is hereby AFFIRMED without pronouncement as No. N-8239. The application was opposed by the Office of the
to costs. Solicitor General (OSG) on behalf of the Director of Lands,
and by Mercedes Dizon, a private party. Both oppositions were
SO ORDERED. stricken from the records since the opposition of Dizon was
filed after the expiration of the period given by the court, and
Teehankee, C.J., Narvasa, Cruz and Paras, JJ., concur. the opposition of the Director of Lands was filed after the entry
of the order of general default. After considering the evidence,
the trial court rendered its April 26, 1974 Decision. The
ESTATE OF THE LATE G.R. No. 168661
dispositive portion reads:
29361[6] over Lot 2 was issued in the name of petitioner
____________________________ Augusto Y. Carpio.
* As per September 3, 2007 raffle. Annotations at the back of TCT No. 446386 show that Yujuico
WHEREFORE, the Court hereby declares the had, at one time or another, mortgaged the lot to the Philippine
applicant, Fermina Castro, of legal age, single, Investments System Organization (PISO) and Citibank,
Filipino and a resident of 1515 F. Agoncillo St., N.A. Annotations in the title of petitioner Carpio reveal the lot
Corner J. Escoda St., Ermita, Manila, the true was mortgaged in favor of Private Development Corporation
and absolute owner of the land applied for (PDC), Rizal Commercial Banking Corporation (RCBC) and
situated in the Municipality of Paraaque, then Philippine Commercial and Industrial Bank (PCIB) and
Province of Rizal, with an area of 17,343 square the Development Bank of the Philippines (DBP) to secure
meters and covered by plan (LRC) Psu-964 and various loans.
orders the registration of said parcel of land in Sometime in 1977, Presidential Decree No. (PD) 1085
her name with her aforementioned personal entitled Conveying the Land Reclaimed in the Foreshore and
circumstances. Offshore of the Manila Bay (The Manila-Cavite Coastal Road
Project) as Property of the Public Estates Authority as well as
Once this decision becomes final and Rights and Interests with Assumptions of Obligations in the
executory, let the corresponding order for the Reclamation Contract Covering Areas of the Manila Bay
issuance of the decree be issued. between the Republic of the Philippines and the Construction
and Development Corporation of the Philippines (1977) was
SO ORDERED.[1] issued. Land reclaimed in the foreshore and offshore areas
The Director of Lands and Mercedes Dizon did not appeal of Manila Bay became the properties of the Public Estates
from the adverse decision of the Pasig-Rizal CFI. Thus, the Authority (PEA), a government corporation that undertook the
order for the issuance of a decree of registration became final, reclamation of lands or the acquisition of reclaimed
and Decree No. N-150912 was issued by the Land lands. On January 13, 1989, OCT No. SP 02 was issued in
Registration Commission (LRC).[2] Original Certificate of Title favor of PEA. The PEA also acquired ownership of other
(OCT) No. 10215 was issued in the name of Fermina Castro parcels of land along the Manila Bay coast, some of which
by the Register of Deeds for the Province of Rizal on May 29, were subsequently sold to the Manila Bay Development
1974.[3] Corporation (MBDC), which in turn leased portions to Uniwide
Holdings, Inc.[7]
The land was then sold to Jesus S. Yujuico, and OCT
No. 10215 was cancelled. On May 31, 1974,[4] Transfer The PEA undertook the construction of the Manila Coastal
Certificate of Title (TCT) No. 445863 was issued in Yujuicos Road. As this was being planned, Yujuico and Carpio
name, who subdivided the land into two lots. TCT No. discovered that a verification survey they commissioned
446386[5] over Lot 1 was issued in his name, while TCT No. S- showed that the road directly overlapped their property, and
that they owned a portion of the land sold by the PEA to the The PEA fared no better in the Court of Appeals (CA),
MBDC. as the petition was dismissed for failure to pay the required
docket fees and for lack of merit.
On July 24, 1996, Yujuico and Carpio filed before the
Paraaque City Regional Trial Court (RTC), a complaint for the The matter was raised to the Supreme Court in Public
Removal of Cloud and Annulment of Title with Damages Estates Authority v. Yujuico[8] but PEAs petition was denied,
docketed as Civil Case No. 96-0317 against the PEA. On May upholding the trial courts dismissal of the petition for relief for
15, 1998 the parties entered into a compromise agreement having been filed out of time. The allegation of fraud in the
approved by the trial court in a Resolution dated May 18, titling of the subject property in the name of Fermina Castro
1998. On June 17, 1998, the parties executed a Deed of was not taken up by the Court.
Exchange of Real Property, pursuant to the compromise
agreement, where the PEA property with an area of 1.4007 On June 8, 2001, in a Complaint for Annulment and
hectares would be conveyed to Jesus Yujuico and petitioner Cancellation of Decree No. N-150912 and its Derivative Titles,
Carpio in exchange for their property with a combined area of entitled Republic of the Philippines v. Fermina Castro, Jesus
1.7343 hectares. S. Yujuico, August Y. Carpio and the Registry of Deeds of
Paraaque City docketed as Civil Case No. 01-0222, filed with
On July 31, 1998, the incumbent PEA General Manager, the Paraaque City RTC, respondent Republic of the
Carlos P. Doble, informed the OSG that the new PEA board Philippines, through the OSG, alleged that when the land
and management had reviewed the compromise agreement registered to Castro was surveyed by Engr. H. Obreto on
and had decided to defer its implementation and hold it in August 3, 1972 and subsequently approved by the LRC on
abeyance following the view of the former PEA General April 23, 1973, the land was still a portion of Manila Bay as
Manager, Atty. Arsenio Yulo, Jr., that the compromise evidenced by Namria Hydrographic Map No. 4243, Surveys to
agreement did not reflect a condition of the previous PEA 1980; 1st Ed/. January 9/61: Revised 80-11-2; that Roman
Board, requiring the approval of the Office of the Mataverde, the then OIC of the Surveys Division, Bureau of
President.The new PEA management then filed a petition for Lands, informed the OIC of the Legal Division that [w]hen
relief from the resolution approving the compromise projected on Cadastral Maps CM 14 deg. 13 N-120 deg, 59E,
agreement on the ground of mistake and excusable Sec.2-A of Paraaque Cadastre (Cad. 299), (LRC) Psu-964
negligence. falls inside Manila Bay, outside Cad. 299; that then Acting
Regional Lands Director Narciso V. Villapando issued a
The petition was dismissed by the trial court on the Report dated November 15, 1973 stating that plan (LRC) Psu-
ground that it was filed out of time and that the allegation of 964 is a portion of Manila Bay; that then Officer-in-Charge,
mistake and excusable negligence lacked basis. Assistant Director of Lands, Ernesto C. Mendiola, submitted
his Comment and Recommendation re: Application for
Registration of Title of FERMINA CASTRO, LRC Case No. N-
8239, dated Dec. 1, 1977, praying that the instant registration questioned the validity of the decision but did not. Civil Case
case be dismissed; and that Fermina Castro had no No. 01-0222 was thus found barred by prior judgment.
registrable rights over the property.
On appeal to the CA, in CA-G.R. CV No. 76212,
More significantly, respondent Republic argued that, first, respondent Republic alleged that the trial court erred in
since the subject land was still underwater, it could not be disregarding that appellant had evidence to prove that the
registered in the name of Fermina Castro.Second, the land subject parcel of land used to be foreshore land of the Manila
registration court did not have jurisdiction to adjudicate Bay and that the trial court erred in dismissing Civil Case No.
inalienable lands, thus the decision adjudicating the subject 01-0222 on the ground of res judicata.[14]
parcel of land to Fermina Castro was void. And third, the titles
of Yujuico and Carpio, being derived from a void title, were
likewise void.[9] The CA observed that shores are properties of the public
domain intended for public use and, therefore, not registrable
On September 13, 2001, Yujuico and Carpio filed a and their inclusion in a certificate of title does not convert the
Motion to Dismiss (With Cancellation of Notice of Lis same into properties of private ownership or confer title upon
Pendens),[10] on the grounds that: (1) the cause of action was the registrant.
barred by prior judgment; (2) the claim had been waived,
abandoned, or otherwise extinguished; (3) a condition Further, according to the appellate court res
precedent for the filing of the complaint was not complied with; judicata does not apply to lands of public domain, nor does
and (4) the complaint was not verified and the certification possession of the land automatically divest the land of its
against forum shopping was not duly executed by the plaintiff public character.
or principal party. The appellate court explained that rulings of the
Supreme Court have made exceptions in cases where the
On November 27, 2001, respondent Republic filed an findings of the Director of Lands and the Department of
Opposition[11] to the motion to dismiss to which defendants Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) were conflicting
filed a Reply[12] on January 14, 2002, reiterating the grounds as to the true nature of the land in as much as reversion efforts
for the motion to dismiss. pertaining foreshore lands are embued with public interest.

In the August 7, 2002 Order of the RTC,[13] Civil Case The dispositive portion of the CA decision reads,
No. 01-0222 was dismissed. The trial court stated that the
matter had already been decided in LRC Case No. N-8239,
and that after 28 years without being contested, the case had WHEREFORE, premises considered, the
already become final and executory. The trial court also found present appeal is hereby GRANTED. The
that the OSG had participated in the LRC case, and could have appealed Order dated August 7, 2002 of the
trial court in Civil Case No. 01-0222 is hereby A. IN THE FIRESTONE CASE, THE
REVERSED and SET ASIDE. The case is HONORABLE COURT APPLIED
hereby REMANDED to said court for further THE PRINCIPLE OF RES
proceedings and a full-blown trial on the merits JUDICATA NOTWITHSTANDING
with utmost dispatch.[15] ALLEGATIONS OF LACK OF
JURISDICTION OF A LAND
Hence, this petition. REGISTRATION COURT,
FORECLOSING ANY FURTHER
The Issues ATTEMPT BY RESPONDENT
THEREIN, AS IN THE INSTANT
Petitioners now raise the following issues before this Court: CASE, TO RESURRECT A LONG-
SETTLED JUDICIAL
DETERMINATION OF
THE COURT OF APPEALS COMMITTED REGISTRABILITY OF A PARCEL
REVERSIBLE ERROR AND DECIDED A OF LAND BASED ON THE SHEER
QUESTION OF SUBSTANCE IN A WAY NOT ALLEGATION THAT THE SAME IS
IN ACCORDANCE WITH LAW AND THE PART OF THE PUBLIC DOMAIN.
APPLICABLE DECISIONS OF THE
HONORABLE COURT AND HAS DEPARTED B. THE LAND REGISTRATION
FROM THE ACCEPTED AND USUAL COURT HAD JURISDICTION TO
COURSE OF JUDICIAL PROCEEDINGS DETERMINE WHETHER
NECESSITATING THE HONORABLE THE SUBJECT LAND WAS PART
COURTS EXERCISE OF ITS POWER OF OF THE PUBLIC DOMAIN.
SUPERVISION CONSIDERING THAT:
C. RESPONDENTS REVERSION
I. THE REVERSAL BY THE CASE SEEKS TO RETRY THE
COURT OF APPEALS OF THE TRIAL VERY SAME FACTUAL ISSUES
COURTS APPLICATION OF THE PRINCIPLE THAT HAVE ALREADY BEEN
OF RES JUDICATA IN THE INSTANT CASE IS JUDICIALLY DETERMINED OVER
BASED ON ITS ERRONEOUS ASSUMPTION THIRTY (30) YEARS AGO.
THAT THE SUBJECT LAND IS OF PUBLIC
DOMAIN, ALLEGEDLY PART D. THE JURISPRUDENTIAL BASES
OF MANILA BAY. APPLIED BY THE COURT OF
APPEALS IN ITS QUESTIONED
DECISION ARE MISPLACED, THE HONORABLE COURT IN
CONSIDERING THAT THEY ARE THE PEA CASE.
ALL PREDICATED ON THE
ERRONEOUS PREMISE THAT IT IV. EQUITABLE CONSIDERATIONS
IS UNDISPUTED THAT MANDATE THE APPLICATION OF THE
THE SUBJECT LAND IS PART OF RULE ON ORDINARY ESTOPPEL AND
THE PUBLIC DOMAIN. LACHES IN THE INSTANT CASE
AGAINST RESPONDENT.
II. RESPONDENT IS BARRED BY
JURISDICTIONAL ESTOPPEL AND V. RESPONDENT CANNOT BE GIVEN
LACHES FROM QUESTIONING SPECIAL CONSIDERATION AND
THE JURISDICTION OF THE LAND EXCUSED FOR TRANSGRESSING
REGISTRATION COURT. RULES OF PROCEDURE.[16]

III. RELIANCE BY THE COURT OF


APPEALS ON THE ISOLATED
PRONOUNCEMENT OF THE Essentially, the issues boil down to three: (1) Is a
HONORABLE COURT IN THE PEA CASE reversion suit proper in this case? (2) Is the present petition
IS UNWARRANTED AND MISLEADING estopped by laches? (3) Did the CA erroneously apply the
CONSIDERING THAT THE MATTER principle of res judicata?
OF WHETHER RES JUDICATA APPLIES
WITH RESPECT TO THE LAND An action for reversion seeks to restore public land
REGISTRATION COURTS DECISION IN fraudulently awarded and disposed of to private individuals or
1974 WAS NOT IN ISSUE IN SAID CASE. corporations to the mass of public domain.[17] This remedy is
provided under Commonwealth Act (CA) No. 141 (Public Land
A. THE INSTANT REVERSION Act) which became effective on December 1, 1936. Said law
CASE IS NOT THE PROPER recognized the power of the state to recover lands of public
RECOURSE. domain. Section 124 of CA No. 141 reads:

B. THE VALIDITY OF THE COURT- SEC. 124. Any acquisition, conveyance,


APPROVED COMPROMISE alienation, transfer, or other contract made or
AGREEMENT 15 MAY 1998 HAS executed in violation of any of the provisions of
ALREADY BEEN AFFIRMED BY Sections one hundred and eighteen, one
hundred and twenty, one hundred and twenty
one, one hundred and twenty-two, and one administratively issued by the Director of the Land
hundred twenty-three of this Act shall be Management Bureau or the Secretary of the DENR.
unlawful and null and void from its execution
and shall produce the effect of annulling and While CA No. 141 did not specify whether judicial
cancelling the grant, title, patent, or permit confirmation of titles by a land registration court can be subject
originally issued, recognized or confirmed, of a reversion suit, the government availed of such remedy by
actually or presumptively, and cause the filing actions with the RTC to cancel titles and decrees granted
reversion of the property and its in land registration applications.
improvements to the State. (Emphasis
supplied.) The situation changed on August 14, 1981 upon
effectivity of Batas Pambansa (BP) Blg. 129 which gave the
Intermediate Appellate Court the exclusive original jurisdiction
Pursuant to Section 124 of the Public Land Act, over actions for annulment of judgments of RTCs.
reversion suits are proper in the following instances, to wit:
When the 1997 Rules of Civil Procedure became
1. Alienations of land acquired under free patent or effective on July 1, 1997, it incorporated Rule 47 on annulment
homestead provisions in violation of Section of judgments or final orders and resolutions of the RTCs. The
118, CA No. 141; two grounds for annulment under Sec. 2, Rule 47 are extrinsic
fraud and lack of jurisdiction. If based on extrinsic fraud, the
2. Conveyances made by non-Christians in violation of action must be filed within four (4) years from its discovery,
Section 120, CA No. 141; and and if based on lack of jurisdiction, before it is barred by
laches or estoppel as provided by Section 3, Rule 47. Thus,
3. Alienations of lands acquired under CA No. 141 in effective July 1, 1997, any action for reversion of public land
favor of persons not qualified under Sections instituted by the Government was already covered by Rule 47.
121, 122, and 123 of CA No. 141.
The instant Civil Case No. 01-0222 for annulment and
cancellation of Decree No. N-150912 and its derivative titles
From the foregoing, an action for reversion to cancel was filed on June 8, 2001 with the Paraaque City RTC. It is
titles derived from homestead patents or free patents based on clear therefore that the reversion suit was erroneously
transfers and conveyances in violation of CA No. 141 is filed instituted in the Paraaque RTC and should have been
by the OSG pursuant to its authority under the Administrative dismissed for lack of jurisdiction. The proper court is the CA
Code with the RTC. It is clear therefore that reversion suits which is the body mandated by BP Blg. 129 and prescribed by
were originally utilized to annul titles or patents Rule 47 to handle annulment of judgments of RTCs.
In Collado v. Court of Appeals,[18] the government, or do a shabby thing; and subject to
represented by the Solicitor General pursuant to Section 9(2) limitations x x x, the doctrine of equitable
of BP Blg. 129, filed a petition for annulment of judgment with estoppel may be invoked against public
the CA. Similarly in the case of Republic v. Court of authorities as well as against private
Appeals,[19] the Solicitor General correctly filed the annulment individuals.[21] (Emphasis supplied.)
of judgment with the said appellate court.

This was not done in this case. The Republic misfiled Equitable estoppel may be invoked against public
the reversion suit with the Paraaque RTC. It should have been authorities when as in this case, the lot was already alienated
filed with the CA as required by Rule 47. Evidently, the to innocent buyers for value and the government did not
Paraaque RTC had no jurisdiction over the instant reversion undertake any act to contest the title for an unreasonable
case. length of time.

Assuming that the Paraaque RTC has jurisdiction over In Republic v. Court of Appeals, where the title of an
the reversion case, still the lapse of almost three decades in innocent purchaser for value who relied on the clean
filing the instant case, the inexplicable lack of action of the certificates of the title was sought to be cancelled and the
Republic and the injury this would cause constrain us to rule excess land to be reverted to the Government, we ruled that
for petitioners. While it may be true that estoppel does not [i]t is only fair and reasonable to apply the equitable
operate against the state or its agents,[20] deviations have been principle of estoppel by laches against the government to
allowed. In Manila Lodge No. 761 v. Court of Appeals, we avoid an injustice to innocent purchasers for
said: value (emphasis supplied).[22] We explained:

Estoppels against the public are little


favored. They should not be invoked except in Likewise time-settled is the doctrine that
rare and unusual circumstances, and may not where innocent third persons, relying on the
be invoked where they would operate to defeat correctness of the certificate of title, acquire
the effective operation of a policy adopted to rights over the property, courts cannot disregard
protect the public. They must be applied with such rights and order the cancellation of the
circumspection and should be applied only in certificate. Such cancellation would impair
those special cases where the interests of public confidence in the certificate of title, for
justice clearly require it. Nevertheless, the everyone dealing with property registered under
government must not be allowed to deal the Torrens system would have to inquire in
dishonorably or capriciously with its every instance whether the title has been
citizens, and must not play an ignoble part regularly issued or not. This would be contrary
to the very purpose of the law, which is to performance of their functions must be
stabilize land titles. Verily, all persons dealing respected. Otherwise, the integrity of
with registered land may safely rely on the the Torrens system, which petitioner
correctness of the certificate of title issued purportedly aims to protect by filing this case,
therefore, and the law or the courts do not shall forever be sullied by the ineptitude and
oblige them to go behind the certificate in order inefficiency of land registration officials, who are
to investigate again the true condition of the ordinarily presumed to have regularly performed
property. They are only charged with notice of their duties.[24]
the liens and encumbrances on the property
that are noted on the certificate.[23]
Republic v. Court of Appeals is reinforced by our ruling
xxxx in Republic v. Umali,[25] where, in a reversion case, we held
that even if the original grantee of a patent and title has
But in the interest of justice and equity, obtained the same through fraud, reversion will no longer
neither may the titleholder be made to bear the prosper as the land had become private land and the
unfavorable effect of the mistake or negligence fraudulent acquisition cannot affect the titles of innocent
of the States agents, in the absence of proof of purchasers for value.
his complicity in a fraud or of manifest damage
to third persons. First, the real purpose of Considering that innocent purchaser for value Yujuico
the Torrens system is to quiet title to land to put bought the lot in 1974, and more than 27 years had elapsed
a stop forever to any question as to the legality before the action for reversion was filed, then said action is
of the title, except claims that were noted in the now barred by laches.
certificate at the time of the registration or that
may arise subsequent thereto.Second, as we While the general rule is that an action to recover lands
discussed earlier, estoppel by laches now bars of public domain is imprescriptible, said right can be barred by
petitioner from questioning private respondents laches or estoppel. Section 32 of PD 1592 recognized the
titles to the subdivision lots. Third, it was never rights of an innocent purchaser for value over and above the
proven that Private Respondent St. Jude was a interests of the government. Section 32 provides:
party to the fraud that led to the increase in the
area of the property after its subdivision. Finally, SEC. 32. Review of decree of
because petitioner even failed to give sufficient registration; Innocent purchaser for value.The
proof of any error that might have been decree of registration shall not be reopened or
committed by its agents who had surveyed the revised by reason of absence, minority, or other
property, the presumption of regularity in the disability of any person adversely affected
thereby, nor by any proceeding in any court for value and in good faith shall hold the same free from all
reversing judgments, subject, however, to the encumbrances except those noted on the certificate and any
right of any person, including the of the x x x encumbrances which may be subsisting.[26] The
government and the branches thereof, same legal shield redounds to his successors-in-interest, the
deprived of land or of any estate or interest Yujuicos and Carpio, more particularly the latter since Carpio
therein by such adjudication or confirmation bought the lot from Jesus Y. Yujuico for value and in good
of title obtained by actual fraud, to file in the faith.
proper Court of First Instance a petition for
reopening and review of the decree of Likewise protected are the rights of innocent
registration not later than one year from and mortgagees for value, the PISO, Citibank, N.A., PDC, RCBC,
after the date of the entry of such decree of PCIB, and DBP. Even if the mortgagors title was proved
registration, but in no case shall such fraudulent and the title declared null and void, such declaration
petition be entertained by the court where cannot nullify the mortgage rights of a mortgagee in good
an innocent purchaser for value has faith.[27]
acquired the land or an interest therein,
whose rights may be prejudiced. Whenever All told, a reversion suit will no longer be allowed at this
the phrase innocent purchaser for value or an stage.
equivalent phrase occurs in this Decree, it shall
be deemed to include an innocent lessee, More on the issue of laches. Laches is the failure or
mortgagee, or other encumbrances for neglect, for an unreasonable and unexplained length of time,
value. (Emphasis supplied.) 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
In this petition, the LRC (now LRA), on May 30, 1974, the party entitled thereto has either abandoned or declined to
issued Decree No. N-150912 in favor of Fermina Castro and assert it.[28]
OCT No. 10215 was issued by the Rizal Registrar of Deeds
on May 29, 1974. OCT No. 10215 does not show any When respondent government filed the reversion case
annotation, lien, or encumbrance on its face. Relying on the in 2001, 27 years had already elapsed from the time the late
clean title, Yujuico bought the same in good faith and for value Jesus Yujuico purchased the land from the original owner
from her. He was issued TCT No. 445863 on May 31, Castro. After the issuance of OCT No. 10215 to Castro, no
1974. There is no allegation that Yujuico was a buyer in bad further action was taken by the government to question the
faith, nor did he acquire the land fraudulently. He thus had the issuance of the title to Castro until the case of Public Estates
protection of the Torrens System that every subsequent Authority, brought up in the oral argument before this Court
purchaser of registered land taking a certificate of title for on September 6, 2000.[29] We then held that allegation of fraud
in the issuance of the title was not proper for consideration and
determination at that stage of the case. Such a Rip Van Winkle, coupled with the signing of the
settlement with PEA, understandably misled petitioners to
From the undisputed facts of the case, it is easily believe that the government no longer had any right or interest
revealed that respondent Republic took its sweet time to nullify in the disputed lot to the extent that the two lots were even
Castros title, notwithstanding the easy access to ample mortgaged to several banks including a government financing
remedies which were readily available after OCT No. 10215 institution.Any nullification of title at this stage would unsettle
was registered in the name of Castro. First, it could have and prejudice the rights and obligations of innocent parties. All
appealed to the CA when the Pasig-Rizal CFI rendered a told, we are constrained to conclude that laches had set in.
decision ordering the registration of title in the name of
applicant Castro on April 26, 1974. Had it done so, it could Even granting arguendo that respondent Republic is
have elevated the matter to this Court if the appellate court not precluded by laches from challenging the title of petitioners
affirms the decision of the land registration court. Second, in the case at bar, still we find that the instant action for
when the entry of Decree No. N-150912 was made on May 29, reversion is already barred by res judicata.
1974 by the Rizal Register of Deeds, the Republic had one (1)
year from said date or up to May 28, 1975 to file a petition for Petitioners relying on Firestone Ceramics, Inc. v. Court
the reopening and review of Decree No. N-150912 with the of Appeals[31] as a precedent to the case at bar contend that
Rizal CFI (now RTC) on the ground of actual fraud under the instant reversion suit is now barred by res judicata.
section 32 of PD 1592. Again, respondent Republic did not
avail of such remedy. Third, when Jesus Yujuico filed a We agree with petitioners.
complaint for Removal of Cloud and Annulment of Title with
Damages against PEA before the Paraaque RTC in Civil Case The doctrine on precedents is expressed in the latin
No. 96-0317, respondent could have persevered to question maximStare decisis et non quieta movere. Follow past
and nullify Castros title. Instead, PEA undertook a compromise precedents and do not disturb what has been settled.[32] In
agreement on which the May 18, 1998 Resolution[30] was order however that a case can be considered as a precedent
issued. PEA in effect admitted that the disputed land was to another case which is pending consideration, the facts of
owned by the predecessors-in-interest of petitioners and their the first case should be similar or analogous to the second
title legal and valid; and impliedly waived its right to contest the case.
validity of said title; respondent Republic even filed the petition
for relief from judgment beyond the time frames allowed by the A perusal of the facts of the Firestone case and those
rules, a fact even acknowledged by this Court in Public of the case at bar reveals that the facts in the two (2) cases
Estates Authority. Lastly, respondent only filed the reversion are parallel. First, in Firestone and in this case, the claimants
suit on June 8, 2001 after the passage of 27 years from the filed land registration applications with the CFI; both claimants
date the decree of registration was issued to Fermina Castro. obtained decrees for registration of lots applied for and were
issued OCTs. Second, in Firestone, the Republic filed a Bureau of Lands and the LRC was not sufficient to support an
reversion case alleging that the land covered by the OCT was action for cancellation of OCT No. 4216. In the instant case,
still inalienable forest land at the time of the application and both the Solicitor General and the Government Corporate
hence the Land Registration Court did not acquire jurisdiction Counsel opined that the Yujuico land was not under water and
to adjudicate the property to the claimant. In the instant case, that there appears to be no sufficient basis for the Government
respondent Republic contend that the land applied for by to institute the action for annulment. Fifth, in Firestone, we
Yujuico was within Manila Bay at the time of application and ruled that the Margolles case had long become final, thus
therefore the CFI had no jurisdiction over the subject matter of the validity of OCT No. 4216 should no longer be disturbed
the complaint. Third, in Firestone, the validity of the title of the and should be applied in the instant case (reversion suit)
claimant was favorably ruled upon by this Court in G.R. No. based on the principle of res judicata or, otherwise, the rule on
109490 entitled Patrocinio E. Margolles v. CA. In the case at conclusiveness of judgment.[34]
bar, the validity of the compromise agreement involving the
disputed lot was in effect upheld when this Court in Public Clearly from the above, Firestone is a precedent
Estates Authority v. Yujuico dismissed the petition of PEA case. The Public Estates Authority had become final and thus
seeking to reinstate the petition for relief from the May 18, the validity of OCT No. 10215 issued to Castro could no longer
1998 Resolution approving said compromise agreement. With be questioned.
the dismissal of the petition, the May 18, 1998 Resolution
became final and executory and herein respondent Republic While we said in Public Estates Authority that the court
through PEA was deemed to have recognized Castros title does not foreclose the right of the Republic from pursuing the
over the disputed land as legal and valid. In Romero v. proper recourse in a separate proceedings as it may deem
Tan,[33] we ruled that a judicial compromise has the effect warranted, the statement was obiter dictum since the inquiry
of res judicata. We also made clear that a judgment based on on whether or not the disputed land was still under water at the
a compromise agreement is a judgment on the merits, wherein time of its registration was a non-issue in the said case.
the parties have validly entered into stipulations and the
evidence was duly considered by the trial court that approved Even granting for the sake of argument
the agreement. In the instant case, the May 18, 1998 that Firestone is not squarely applicable, still we find the
Resolution approving the compromise agreement confirmed reversion suit already barred by res judicata.
the favorable decision directing the registration of the lot to
Castros name in LRC Case No. N-8239. Similarly, For res judicata to serve as an absolute bar to a
in Firestone, the Margolles case confirmed the decision subsequent action, the following requisites must concur: (1)
rendered in favor of Gana in Land Registration Case No. 672 there must be a final judgment or order; (2) the court rendering
ordering the issuance of the decree to said applicant. Fourth, it must have jurisdiction over the subject matter and the
in Firestone, the Supreme Court relied on the letter of then parties; (3) it must be a judgment or order on the merits; and
Solicitor General Francisco Chavez that the evidence of the
(4) there must be between the two cases, identity of parties,
subject matter and causes of action.[35] [x x x] the want of jurisdiction by a court
There is no question as to the first, third and last over the subject matter renders the
requisites. The threshold question pertains to the second judgment void and a mere nullity, and
requisite, whether or not the then Pasig-Rizal CFI, Branch 22 considering that a void judgment is in
had jurisdiction over the subject matter in LRC Case No. N- legal effect no judgment, by which no
8239. In Civil Case No. 01-0222, the Paraaque City RTC, rights are divested, from which no rights
Branch 257 held that the CFI had jurisdiction. The CA can be obtained, which neither binds nor
reversed the decision of the Paraaque City RTC based on the bars any one, and under which all acts
assertion of respondent Republic that the Pasig-Rizal CFI had performed and all claims flowing out of
no jurisdiction over the subject matter, and that there was a are void, and considering, further, that
need to determine the character of the land in question. the decision, for want of jurisdiction of
the court, is not a decision in
The Paraaque City RTC Order dismissing the case contemplation of law, and hence, can
for res judicata must be upheld. never become executory, it follows that
such a void judgment cannot constitute
The CA, in rejecting the dismissal of the reversion case a bar to another case by reason of res
by the Paraaque RTC, relied on two cases, judicata.
namely: Municipality of Antipolo v. Zapanta[36] and Republic v.
Vda. De Castillo.[37] xxxx
It follows that if a person obtains a title
In Municipality of Antipolo, we held that the land under the Public Land Act which
registration court had no jurisdiction to entertain any land includes, by oversight, lands which
registration application if the land was public property, thus: cannot be registered under the Torrens
System, or when the Director of Lands
Since the Land Registration Court had no did not have jurisdiction over the same
jurisdiction to entertain the application for because it is a public forest, the grantee
registration of public property of ANTIPOLO, its does not, by virtue of the said certificate
Decision adjudicating the DISPUTED of title alone, become the owner of the
PROPERTY as of private ownership is null and land illegally included (Republic vs.
void. It never attained finality, and can be Animas, 56 SCRA 499, 503; Ledesma
attacked at any time. It was not a bar to the vs. Municipality of Iloilo, 49 Phil. 769).
action brought by ANTIPOLO for its annulment
by reason of res judicata. [x x x x]
SEC. 14. Who may apply.The following
Under these circumstances, the persons may file in the proper Court of First
certificate of title may be ordered Instance an application for registration of
cancelled (Republic vs. Animas, et title to land, whether personally or through
al., supra), and the cancellation maybe their duly authorized representatives:
pursued through an ordinary action
therefore. This action cannot be barred (1) Those who by themselves or through their
by the prior judgment of the land predecessors-in-interest have been in open,
registration court, since the said court continuous, exclusive and notorious possession
had no jurisdiction over the subject and occupation of alienable and disposable
matter. And if there was no such lands of the public domain under a bona
jurisdiction, then the principle of res fide claim of ownership since June 12, 1945, or
judicata does not apply. [x x x] Certainly, earlier. (Emphasis supplied.)
one of the essential requisites, i.e.,
jurisdiction over the subject matter, is
absent in this case. (Italics supplied).[38]
Conformably, the Pasig-Rizal CFI, Branch XXII has jurisdiction
over the subject matter of the land registration case filed by
Fermina Castro, petitioners predecessor-in-interest, since
The plain import of Municipality of Antipolo is that a land jurisdiction over the subject matter is determined by the
registration court, the RTC at present, has no jurisdiction over allegations of the initiatory pleadingthe application.[41] Settled is
the subject matter of the application which respondent the rule that the authority to decide a case and not the
Republic claims is public land. This ruling needs elucidation. decision rendered therein is what makes up jurisdiction. When
there is jurisdiction, the decision of all questions arising in the
Firmly entrenched is the principle that jurisdiction over case is but an exercise of jurisdiction.[42]
the subject matter is conferred by law.[39] Consequently, the
proper CFI (now the RTC) under Section 14 of PD In our view, it was imprecise to state in Municipality
1529[40] (Property Registration Decree) has jurisdiction over of Antipolo that the Land Registration Court [has] no
applications for registration of title to land. jurisdiction to entertain the application for registration of
public property x x x for such court precisely has the
Section 14 of PD 1592 provides: jurisdiction to entertain land registration applications since that
is conferred by PD 1529. The applicant in a land registration
case usually claims the land subject matter of the application
as his/her private property, as in the case of the application of
Castro. Thus, the conclusion of the CA that the Pasig-Rizal applicant testified in her behalf and substantially
CFI has no jurisdiction over the subject matter of the declared that: she was 62 years old, single,
application of Castro has no legal mooring. The land housekeeper and residing at 1550 J. Escoda,
registration court initially has jurisdiction over the land applied Ermita, Manila; that she was born on June 3,
for at the time of the filing of the application. After trial, the 1911; that she first came to know of the land
court, in the exercise of its jurisdiction, can determine whether applied for which is situated in the Municipality
the title to the land applied for is registrable and can be of Paraaque, province of Rizal, with an area of
confirmed. In the event that the subject matter of the 17,343 square meters and covered by plan
application turns out to be inalienable public land, then it has (LRC) Psu-964 while she was still ten (10)
no jurisdiction to order the registration of the land and perforce years old or sometime in 1921; that when she
must dismiss the application. first came to know of the land applied for, the
Based on our ruling in Antipolo, the threshold question person who was in possession and owner of
is whether the land covered by the titles of petitioners is under said land was her father, Catalino Castro; that
water and forms part of ManilaBay at the time of the land during that time her father used to plant on said
registration application in 1974. If the land was land various crops like pechay, mustard,
within Manila Bay, then res judicata does not apply. Otherwise, eggplant, etc.; that during that time, her father
the decision of the land registration court is a bar to the instant built a house on said land which was used by
reversion suit. her father and the other members of the family,
including the applicant, as their residential
After a scrutiny of the case records and pleadings of house; that the land applied for was inherited by
the parties in LRC Case No. N-8239 and in the instant petition, her father from her grandfather Sergio Castro;
we rule that the land of Fermina Castro is registrable and not that Catalino Castro continuously possessed
part of Manila Bay at the time of the filing of the land and owned the land in question from 1921 up to
registration application. the time of his death in 1952; and that during
that period of time nobody ever disturbed the
The trial courts Decision in 1974 easily reveals the possession and ownership of her father over
basis for its conclusion that the subject matter was a dry land, the said parcel of land; that after the death of
thus: her father in 1952 she left the place and
transferred her place of residence but she had
On February 1, 1974, the applicant also occasions to visit said land twice or thrice a
presented her evidence before the Deputy Clerk week and sometimes once a week; that after
of this Court and among the evidence she left the land in question in 1952, she still
presented by her were certain documents which continued possessing said land, through her
were marked as Exhibits D to J, inclusive. The caretaker Eliseo Salonga; that her possession
over the land in question from the time she whole world and in the concept of an owner;
inherited it up to the time of the filing of the that during the time that Catalino Castro was in
application has been continuous, public, possession of the land applied for he planted on
adverse against the whole world and in the said parcel of land mango, coconut and
concept of an owner; that it was never banana, etc.; that Catalino Castro continuously
encumbered, mortgaged, or disposed of by her possessed and owned said parcel of land up to
father during his lifetime and neither did she the year 1952 when he died; that during the
ever encumber or sell the same; that it was time that Catalino Castro was in possession of
declared for taxation purposes by her father said land, nobody ever laid claim over the said
when he was still alive and her father also paid property; that said land is not within any military
the real estate taxes due to the government or naval reservation; that upon the death of
although the receipt evidencing the payment of Catalino Castro, the applicant took possession
said real estate taxes for the property applied of the land applied for and that up to the present
for have been lost and could no longer be found the applicant is in possession of said land; that
inspite of diligent effort exerted to locate the he resided in the land in question from 1918 up
same. to the time he transferred his place of residence
in Baliwag, Bulacan in the year 1958.
The other witness presented by the
applicant was Emiliano de Leon, who declared On February 11, 1974, the Court,
that he was 70 years old, married, farmer and pursuant to the provision of Presidential Decree
residing at San Jose, Baliwag, Bulacan; that he No. 230 issued by his Excellency, Ferdinand E.
knew Catalino Castro, the father of the Marcos dated July 9, 1973 held in abeyance the
applicant because said Catalino Castro was his rendition of a decision in this case and directed
neighbor in Tambo, Paraaque, Rizal, he had a the applicant to submit a white print copy of
house erected on the land of Catalino Castro; plan (LRC) Psu-964 to the Director of lands who
that he was born in 1903 and he first came to was directed by the Court to submit his
know of the land in question when in 1918 when comment and recommendation thereon.
he was about 18 years old; that the area of the
land owned and possessed by Catalino Castro The property in question is declared for
where he constructed a residential house has taxation purposes under Tax Declaration No.
an area of more than one and one-half (1 ) 51842 (Exhibit G) and real estate taxes due
hectares; that the possession of Catalino Castro thereon have been paid up to the year 1973
over the land in question was peaceful, (Exhibit H).
continuous, notorious, adverse against the
In compliance with the Order of this Court they have lived on the land in question even
February 11, 1974, the Director of Lands, prior to the outbreak of the second world war
thru Special Attorney Saturnino A. Pacubas, and that the applicant has been in possession
submitted a report to this Court dated April of the land in question long time ago.[43]
25, 1974, stating among other things, that
upon ocular inspection conducted by Land
Inspector Adelino G. Gorospe and the To counter the evidence of applicant Castro, and
subsequent joint ocular inspection bolster its claim that she has no valid title, respondent
conducted by Geodetic Engineer Manuel A. Republic relies on the July 18, 1973 Office Memorandum[44] of
Cervantes and Administrative Assistant Roman Mataverde, OIC, Surveys Division, to the OIC, Legal
Lazaro G. Berania, it was established that Division, of the Bureau of Lands, stating that when projected
the parcel of land covered by plan (LRC) on cadastral maps CM 14 13N - 120 59 E., Sec. 3-D and CM
Psu-964 no longer forms part of the Manila 14 30N - 120 59E., Sec. 2-A of Paranaque [sic] Cadastre
Bay but is definitely solid and dry land. (Cad-299), (LRC) Psu-964 falls inside Manila Bay, outside
Cad-299.[45]
In this connection, it should be noted
that Administrative Assistant Lazaro G. Berania The same conclusion was adopted in a November 15,
and Geodetic Engineer Manuel A. Cervantes, in 1973 letter of Narciso Villapando, Acting Regional Lands
their report dated March 22, 1974 have also Director to the Chief, Legal Division, Bureau of Lands and in
stated that the land applied for cannot be the Comment and Recommendation of Ernesto C. Mendiola,
reached by water even in the highest tide Assistant Director, also of the Bureau of Lands.
and that the said land is occupied by
squatter families who have erected Respondent likewise cites Namria Hydrographic Map
makeshift shanties and a basketball court No. 4243 Revised 80-11-2 to support its position that Castros
which only prove that the same is dry and lot is a portion of Manila Bay.
solid land away from the shores of Manila
Bay. The burden of proving these averments falls to the
shoulders of respondent Republic. The difficulty is locating the
Furthermore, Land Inspector Adelino G. witnesses of the government. Roman Mataverde, then OIC of
Gorospe in his letter-report dated November 28, the Surveys Division retired from the government service in
1973 has also stated that there is a house of 1982. He should by this time be in his 90s. Moreover, Asst.
pre-war vintage owned by the applicant on the Regional Director Narciso Villapando and Asst. Director
land in question which in effect corroborates the Ernesto C. Mendiola are no longer connected with the Bureau
testimony of the applicant and her witness that of Lands since 1986.
Assuming that OIC Roman Mataverde, Asst. Regional
Director Narciso Villapando and Assistant Director Ernesto C. Surveys whose principal purpose is the
Mendiola are still available as witnesses, the projections made determination of data relating to bodies of
on the cadastral maps of the then Bureau of Lands cannot water. A hydrographic survey may consist of the
prevail over the results of the two ocular inspections by several determination of one or several of the following
Bureau of Lands officials that the disputed lot is definitely dry classes of data: depth water; configuration and
and solid land and not part of Manila Bay. Special Attorney nature of the bottom; directions and force of
Saturnino A. Pacubas, Land Inspector Adelino G. Gorospe, currents; heights and times of tides and water
Geodetic Engineer Manuel A. Cervantes and Administrative stages; and location of fixed objects for survey
Asst. Lazaro A. Berana, all officials of the Bureau of Lands, and navigation purposes.[47]
were positive that the disputed land is solid and dry land and
no longer forms part of Manila Bay. Evidence gathered from
the ocular inspection is considered direct and firsthand
information entitled to great weight and credit while the Juxtaposed with finding of the ocular inspection by
Mataverde and Villapando reports are evidence weak in Bureau of Lands Special Attorney Pacubas and others that
probative value, being merely based on theoretical projections Castros lot is dry land in 1974, Namria Hydrographic Map No.
in the cadastral map or table surveys.[46] Said projections must 4243 is therefore inferior evidence and lacking in probative
be confirmed by the actual inspection and verification survey force.
by the land inspectors and geodetic engineers of the Bureau of
Lands. Unfortunately for respondent Republic, the bureau land Moreover, the reliability and veracity of the July 18,
inspectors attested and affirmed that the disputed land is 1973 report of Roman Mataverde based on the alleged
already dry land and not within Manila Bay. projection on cadastral maps and the Villapando report dated
November 15, 1973 are put to serious doubt in the face of the
On the other hand, the Namria Hydrographic Map No. opinion dated October 13, 1997 of the Government Corporate
4243 does not reveal what portion of Manila Bay was Castros Counsel, the lawyer of the PEA, which upheld the validity of
lot located in 1974. Moreover, a hydrographic map is not the the titles of petitioners, thus:
best evidence to show the nature and location of the lot
subject of a land registration application. It is derived from a
hydrographic survey which is mainly used for navigation
purposes, thus: We maintain to agree with the findings
of the court that the property of Fermina Castro
was registrable land, as based on the two (2)
ocular inspections conducted on March 22,
1974 by Lands Administrative Assistant Lazaro required is a direct and not a collateral attack
G. Berania and Lands Geodetic Engr. Manuel (refer also to: Toyota Motor Philippine
Cervantes, finding the same no longer forms Corporation vs. CA, 216 SCRA 236).
part of Manila Bay but is definitely solid land
which cannot be reached by water even in the 4.2 OCT No. 10215 in favor of Fermina
highest of tides. This Berania-Cervantes Castro was issued pursuant to a cadastral
report based on ocular inspections literally proceeding, hence is a rem proceedings which
overturned the findings and is translated as a constructive notice to the
recommendations of Land Director Narciso whole world, as held in Adez Realty
V. Villapando dated November 15, 1973, and Incorporated vs. CA, 212 SCRA 623.
that of Director Ernesto C. Mendiola dated
December 1, 1977, and the fact that the 4.3 From the cursory and intent reading
Villapando-Mendiola reports were merely of the decision of Judge Sison in LRC Case No.
based on projections in the cadastral map or N-8239, we cannot find any iota of fraud having
table surveys. been committed by the court and the parties. In
fact, due process was observed when the Office
xxxx of the Solicitor General represented ably the
Bureau of Lands. In Balangcad vs. Justices of
A. The Legal prognosis of the case is not the Court of Appeals, 206 SCRA 169, the
promising in favor of PEA. Supreme Court held that title to registered
4.1 LRC Case No. N-8239 has already property becomes indefeasible after one-year
become final and executory and OCT No. from date of registration except where there is
10215 was already issued in favor of Fermina actual fraud in which case it may be challenged
Castro. Any and all attempts to question its in a direct proceeding within that period. This is
validity can only be entertained in a quo also the ruling in Bishop vs. CA, 208 SCRA
warranto proceedings (sic), assuming that there 636, that to sustain an action for annulment of a
are legal grounds (not factual grounds) to torrens certificate for being void ab initio, it must
support its nullification. Subjecting it to a be shown that the registration court had not
collateral attack is not allowed under the acquired jurisdiction over the case and there
Torrens Title System. In Calalang vs. Register was actual fraud in securing the title.
of Deeds of Quezon City, 208 SCRA 215, the
Supreme Court held that the present petition is 4.4 As to priority of torrens title, PEA has
not the proper remedy in challenging the validity no defense, assuming that both PEA and
of certificates of titles since the judicial action Yujuico titles are valid, as held in Metropolitan
Waterworks and Sewerage System vs. CA, 215 reconveyance of land may be based on fraud
SCRA 783, where two (2) certificates purport to which attended the issuance of the decree of
include the same land, the earlier in date registration and the corresponding certificate of
prevails. title.

4.5 The documents so far submitted Based on the decision in the LRC Case
by the parties to the court indicate that the No. N-8239 involving the petition for registration
mother title of the Yujuico land when and confirmation of title filed by Fermina Castro,
registered in 1974 was not underwater. This there is no showing that fraud attended the
was shown in the two (2) ocular inspections issuance of OCT No. 10215. it appears that the
conducted by the officials of the Land evidence presented by Fermina Castro was
Bureau. sufficient for the trial court to grant her petition.

4.6 The provision of P.D. 239 that no The testimony of Fermina Castro, which
decree of registration may be issued by the was corroborated by Emiliano de Leon, that she
court unless upon approval and and her predecessors-in-interest had been in
recommendation of the Bureau of Lands was possession of the land for more than thirty (30)
substantially complied with in the Report of years sufficiently established her vested right
Lands Special Attorney Saturnino Pacubas, over the property initially covered by OCT No.
submitted to the court.[48] 10215. The report dated April 25, 1974 which
was submitted to the trial court by the Director
of Lands through Special Attorney Saturnino
Pacubas showed that the parcel of land was
solid and dry land when Fermina Castros
application for registration of title was filed. It
Even the counsel of respondent Republic, the OSG, was based on the ocular inspection conducted
arrived at the conclusion that there is no sufficient legal basis by Land Inspector Adelino Gorospe and the
for said respondent to institute action to annul the titles of joint circular inspection conducted by Geodetic
petitioners, thus: Engineer Manuel A. Cervantes and
Administrative Assistant Lazaro Berania
on November 28, 1973 and March 22,
1974 respectively.
It may be stated at the outset that a
petition for annulment of certificate of title or
The aforesaid report must be requested Notably, the land in question has been the subject of a
unless there is a concrete proof that there was compromise agreement upheld by this Court in Public Estates
an irregularity in the issuance thereof. In the Authority.[50] In that compromise agreement, among other
absence of evidence to the contrary, the ocular provisions, it was held that the property covered by TCT Nos.
inspection of the parcel of land, which was 446386 and S-29361, the land subject of the instant case,
made the basis of said report, is presumed to would be exchanged for PEA property. The fact that PEA
be in order. signed the May 15, 1998 Compromise Agreement is already a
clear admission that it recognized petitioners as true and legal
Based on the available records, there owners of the land subject of this controversy.
appears to be no sufficient basis for the
Government to institute an action for the Moreover, PEA has waived its right to contest the
annulment of OCT No. 10215 and its legality and validity of Castros title. Such waiver is clearly
derivative titles. It is opined that a petition within the powers of PEA since it was created by PD 1084 as
for cancellation/annulment of Decree No. N- a body corporate which shall have the attribute of perpetual
150912 and OCT No. 10215 and all its succession and possessed of the powers of the corporations,
derivative titles will not prosper unless there to be exercised in conformity with the provisions of this Charter
is convincing evidence to negate the report [PD 1084].[51] It has the power to enter into, make, perform and
of the then Land Management Bureau carry out contracts of every class and description, including
through Special Attorney Pacubas. Should loan agreements, mortgages and other types of security
the Government pursue the filing of such an arrangements, necessary or incidental to the realization of its
action, the possibility of winning the case is purposes with any person, firm or corporation, private or
remote.[49] public, and with any foreign government or entity.[52] It also has
the power to sue and be sued in its corporate name.[53]Thus,
the Compromise Agreement and the Deed of Exchange of
Real Property signed by PEA with the petitioners are legal,
More so, respondent Government, through its counsel, valid and binding on PEA. In the Compromise Agreement, it is
admits that the land applied by Fermina Castro in 1973 was provided that it settles in full all the claims/counterclaims of the
solid and dry land, negating the nebulous allegation that said parties against each other.[54] The waiver by PEA of its right to
land is underwater. The only conclusion that can be derived question petitioners title is fortified by the manifestation by
from the admissions of the Solicitor General and Government PEA in the Joint Motion for Judgment based on Compromise
Corporate Counsel is that the land subject of the titles of Agreement that
petitioners is alienable land beyond the reach of the reversion
suit of the state. 4. The parties herein hereto waive and
abandon any and all other claims and
counterclaims which they may have against judicata in view of the peculiar facts and circumstances
each other arising from this case or related obtaining therein.
thereto.[55]
WHEREFORE, premises considered, the petition
is GRANTED. The Decision of the Court of Appeals in CA-
Thus, there was a valid waiver of the right of G.R. CV No. 76212 is REVERSED andSET ASIDE, and
respondent Republic through PEA to challenge petitioners the August 7, 2002 Order of the Paraaque City RTC, Branch
titles. 257 in Civil Case No. 01-0222 entitled Republic of
the Philippines v. Fermina Castro, et al. dismissing the
The recognition of petitioners legal ownership of the complaint is AFFIRMED.
land is further bolstered by the categorical and unequivocal
acknowledgment made by PEA in its September 30, 2003
letter where it stated that: Your ownership thereof was
acknowledged by PEA when it did not object to your G.R. No. L-36507 June 14, 1974
membership in the CBP-IA Association, in which an owner of a
piece of land in CBP-IA automatically becomes a member ANTONIO PIÑERO, JR., EMMA BERNAD (assisted by her
thereof.[56] Section 26, Rule 130 provides that the act, husband Norberto Bernad) and FORTUNATO
declaration or omission of a party as to a relevant fact may be PIÑERO, petitioners-appellees,
given in evidence against him. The admissions of PEA which vs.
is the real party-in-interest in this case on the nature of THE DIRECTOR OF LANDS, SEGUNDO M. REYES, in his
the land of Fermina Castro are valid and binding on capacity as the Provincial Land Officer of Zamboanga del
respondent Republic. Respondents claim that the disputed Norte, MARIANO D. PALERMO, in his capacity as Deputy
land is underwater falls flat in the face of the admissions of Public Lands Inspector, NICANOR ALASAAS, EUSEBIO
PEA against its interests. Hence, res judicata now effectively CAMANSI and TOMAS SUMALPONG, respondents. THE
precludes the relitigation of the issue of registrability of DIRECTOR OF LANDS, SEGUNDO M. REYES, in his
petitioners lot. capacity as the Provincial Land Officer of Zamboanga del
Norte and MARIANO D. PALERMO, in his capacity as
In sum, the Court finds that the reversion case should Deputy Public Lands Inspector, respondents-appellants.
be dismissed for lack of jurisdiction on the part of the
Paraaque RTC. Even if we treat said case as a petition for Porferio E. Mah for petitioners-appellees.
annulment of judgment under Rule 47 of the 1997 Rules of
Civil Procedure, the dismissal of the case nevertheless has to
be upheld because it is already barred by laches. Even if
laches is disregarded, still the suit is already precluded by res
Officer of the Solicitor General Arturo A. Alafriz, Assistant 3. That Lot No. 5790, Pls - 100 is covered by
Solicitor General Pacifico P. de Castro and Solicitor Francisco Free Patent No. V-63411 issued January 30,
J. Bautista for respondents-appellants. 1957 in favor of Antonio Piñero, Jr., and Lot No.
5792 Pls - 100 is covered by Free Patent No. V-
63420 issued on January 30, 1957 in favor of
Emma Piñero Bernad, and that Lot 2532 is
BARREDO, J.:p applied for by Fortunato Piñero under
Homestead Application No. V-66441 approved
Appeal by the Solicitor General from the decision of the Court as of January 2, 1953, but up to the present no
of First Instance of Zamboanga del Norte in its Civil Case No. Patent has as yet been issued; .
1128, granting the writ of prohibition prayed for by appellees
against the appellant Director of Lands, the Provincial Land 4. That Lot 2532 was formerly part of PSU -
Officer of the same province and other subordinate officials 111118, a private survey executed by Surveyor
who, by order of said director, had initiated an investigation of Calixto Sudiacal in 1939 for Fortunato Piñero
alleged fraud claimed to have led to the issuance of the Free and that by subsequent survey executed by the
Patents and corresponding Certificates of Title to the said ECA, Psu-111118 was subdivided into smaller
appellees. lots, one of which is now Lot 2532; .

This appeal was certified to Us by the Court of Appeals on 5. That pursuant to Free Patent No. V-63411,
February 20, 1973, the decision of the trial court being based Original Certificate of Title No. D-5349 was
exclusively on a stipulation of facts as follows: issued by the Register of Deeds of Zamboanga
del Norte in favor of Antonio Piñero, Jr., on
1. That Antonio Piñero, Jr., and Emma Piñero October 17, 1957; .
Bernad are residents of Dipolog, Zamboanga
del Norte; while Fortunate Piñero is presently a 6. That pursuant to Free Patent No. V-63420,
resident of Negros Oriental; Original Certificate of Title No. P-5312 was
issued by Register of Deeds of Zamboanga del
2. That the identities of Lots Nos. 5790, 5792 Norte, in favor of Emma Piñero on October 17,
and 2532, all of Pls- 100, situated at Napuyan, 1957; .
Dapitan, Zamboanga del Norte, are submitted
(sic); . 7. That on August 8, 1958, the Director of
Lands issued an order directing the
investigation of the protest of Eusebio Camansi,
against the patented application of Antonio 11. That with respect to the claim of Tomas
Piñero Jr., a copy of said order being found on Sumalpong against the application of Fortunato
page 14 of the expediente; and that on March Piñero an investigation was conducted on
24, 1959 the Director of Lands thru the Chief August 21, 1959 but neither Fortunato Piñero
Legal Division directed the Provincial Land nor counsel appeared; that when the said case
Officer at Dipolog, to investigate the protest of was rescheduled for October 30, 1959, Atty.
Nicanor Alasaas against the patented Jaime T. Hamoy counsel for Fortunato Piñero
application of Emma Piñero Bernad, a copy of filed a motion for postponement on the ground
said order is also being on page 15 of the that said counsel had a Criminal Case to attend
expediente; to in the Justice of the Peace Court of
Manukan, Zamboanga del Norte, after which
8. That as regards Lot 5790 Pls - 100 the the hearing was rescheduled for December 28,
protest of Eusebio Camansi has been given due 1959; that in said hearing counsel for Fortunato
course against the claim of Antonio Piñero Jr., Piñero for the first time attacked the authority of
which protest has been investigated and the investigation on the alleged ground that
terminated, Antonio Piñero Jr., being under the Revised Administrative Code only the
represented by his counsel Atty. Jesus Director of Lands and Chief of Section of said
Sarmiento; Office can order investigation of land conflicts;
that up to the present no resolution of that issue
9. That Nicanor Alasaas filed his protest dated has as yet been made; and that no written
February 27, 1958 and subscribed on March motion bearing on the same ground interposed
11, 1958, before Notary Public, G.R. Dalmacio, before the investigator was ever raised before
Jr., a copy is hereto attached as Exhibit A; and the Director of Lands;
that the protest of Nicanor Alasaas has been
investigated by Atty. Mariano D. Palermo, 12. That pursuant to a letter of Atty. Candido
investigator of the Bureau of Lands, Dipolog, Pa. Sumalpong as counsel for Tomas
Zamboanga del Norte on August 30, 1959; Sumalpong under date of July 28, 1959,
protesting against the above-mentioned
10. That with respect to Lot 5792 the same has homestead application of Fortunato Piñero
already been investigated and regarding Lot which letter was addressed to the Director of
5790 the investigation has already been Lands thru the Provincial Land Officer at
terminated but no decision has as yet been Dipolog, Zamboanga del Norte, the said
issued; Provincial Land Officer in the first indorsement
dated July 22, 1959 addressed to Deputy Public
Lands Inspector, Mariano D. Palermo, directed shown by this letter of September 4, 1959 which
the investigation of the case until the said case was addressed to Antonio Mabulay, Annex "B"
is terminated for disposition under the provision respondents Tomas Sumalpong, Nicanor
of Land Administrative Order No. 13-3 that the Alasaas and Eusebio Camansi were not given
said first indorsement was the sole authority for copy of this letter, and that the motion of
the investigation of the claim of said Tomas counsel for the "Dismiss the Protest" (sic) does
Sumalpong against the homestead application not show that respondents Tomas Sumalpong,
of Fortunato Piñero that as above stated the Eusebio Camansi and Nicanor Alasaas were
investigation of the claim of Tomas Sumalpong ever furnished a copy of said motion;
was not terminated because counsel for
Fortunato Piñero attacked the authority for the 14. That the Director of Lands was actually
said investigation; served with summons on January 20, 1960 as
shown by the return of the City Sheriff of
13. That in connection with the separate petition Manila, which return appears on page 25 of the
of the respondents, Nicanor Alasaas, Eusebio record of this case;
Camansi and Tomas Sumalpong against the
application of the petitioners the same 15. That for all matters not covered by this
respondents were required by the Chief of the stipulation of facts parties agree to ask for a
Legal Division of the Bureau of Lands in a letter date for the reception of evidence.
dated September 4, 1959 to file a sworn protest
and pay the protest fee within a period of thirty We hold the appeal to be meritorious. In the light of the facts
days from the receipt of the said letter, disclosed in the foregoing stipulation, We reiterate Cebedo vs.
otherwise the respondents claim will be Director of Lands, G.R. No. L-12777, May 22, 1961, 2 SCRA
dismissed and disregarded without further 25, wherein We held that it is not only the right but the duty of
notice; that a copy of said letter is hereto the Director of Lands to conduct the investigation of any
attached as an integral part of this stipulation of alleged fraud in securing a free patent and the corresponding
facts as Exhibit "B"; that there is no showing title to a public land and to file the corresponding court action
that respondents complied with the said letter for the reversion of the same to the State, if the facts disclosed
nor is there any showing that the claim of the in the course of such investigation should so warrant.
respondents are already dismissed (that is as of Consequently, prohibition cannot be issued to enjoin such an
this date); that on December 18, 1959 the investigation despite the existence of a Torrens title.
petitioners, thru counsel, filed a motion to
dismiss the alleged protest but up to the present
no resolution on has ever been made; that as
Indeed, it is to be clarified that Section 91 of the Public Land Director of Lands or his authorized delegates or
Act leaves no other alternative to the Director of Lands. The agents, or shall refuse or fail to give direct and
provision reads thus: specific answers to pertinent questions, and on
the basis of such presumption, an order of
SEC. 91. The statements made in the cancellation may issue without further
application shall be considered as essential proceedings.
conditions and parts of any concession, title, or
permit issued on the basis of such application, Underlying this section and providing its justification is the
and any false statement therein or omission of Regalian doctrine embodied in Section 1 of Article XIII of the
facts altering, changing, or modifying the Constitution of 1935, in force during the material dates of the
consideration of the facts set forth in such events herein involved, declaring that "all agricultural, timber,
statements, and any subsequent modification, and mineral lands of the public domain . . and other natural
alteration, or change of the material facts set resources of the Philippines belong to the State...." And
forth in the application shall ipso facto produce under Krivenko vs. Register of Deeds, 79 Phil. 461, "the scope
the cancellation of the concession, title, or of this constitutional provision, according to its heading and its
permit granted. It shall be the duty of the language, embraces all lands of any kind of the public domain,
Director of Lands, from time to time and its purpose being to establish a permanent and fundamental
whenever he may deem it advisable, to make policy for the conservation and utilization of all natural
the necessary investigations for the purpose of resources of the Nation." Accordingly, the right to acquire
ascertaining whether the material facts set out disposable lands from the State through any of the means
in the application are true, or whether they provided for in the Public Land Act, Commonwealth Act 141,
continue to exist and are maintained and must necessarily be subject to the reservation expressly made
preserved in good faith, and for the purpose of in above quoted Section 91 to the effect that "the statements
such investigation, the Director of Lands is made in the application shall be considered as essential
hereby empowered to issue subpoenas and conditions and parts of any ... title ... issued on the basis of
subpoenas duces tecum and, if necessary, to such application" and that "any false statement therein or
obtain compulsory process from the courts. In omission of facts altering, changing or modifying the
every investigation made in accordance with consideration of the facts set forth in such statements, and any
this section, the existence of bad faith, fraud, subsequent modification, alteration or change of the material
concealment, or fraudulent and illegal facts set forth in the application shall ipso facto1produce the
modification of essential facts shall be cancellation of the concession, title or permit granted."
presumed if the grantee or possessor of the
land shall refuse or fail to obey a subpoenas or
subpoenas duces tecum lawfully issued by the
It is true that under Section 122 of the Land Registration Act, a IN VIEW OF THE FOREGOING, the decision of the trial court
Torrens title issued on the basis of a free patent or a is reversed and the writ of prohibition sought by appellees is
homestead patent is as indefeasible as one judicially secured. denied. Costs against appellees.
And in repeated previous decisions of this Court that
indefeasibility has been emphasized by Our holding that not Makalintal, C.J., Zaldivar, Castro, Fernando, Teehankee,
even the Government can file an action for annulment, but at Makasiar, Antonio, Esguerra, Fernandez, Muñoz Palma and
the same time, it has been made clear that an action for Aquino, JJ., concur.
reversion may be instituted by the Solicitor General, in the
name of the Republic of the Philippines.2 It is 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 ever 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.

Nothing said above, however, should be understood as


holding that the Court has found that the titles of appellees
have been in fact fraudulently secured. That matter may be
resolved only after the Director of Lands shall have finished his
investigation.