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wG.R. No. 39095           September 27, 1933


A. A. ADDISON, plaintiff-appellant,
vs.
THE PAYATAS ESTATE IMPROVEMENT CO., ET AL., defendants-appellees.
J. W. Ferrier and Daniel M. Gomez for appellant.
Benedicto M. Javier and Vicente Santiago for appellees the Payatas Estate
Improvement Co., G. Cruz and J. Rodriguez.
HULL, J.:
Plaintiff brought suit in the Court of First Instance of Rizal claiming to be the
owner of a strip of land situated in that province, then in the possession of
defendants, and for damages for its unlawful detention. After the case had been
pending in the trial court for many years, an agreed statement of facts was
entered into between the parties and signed by themselves and by their various
attorneys of record.
Defendant are the owners of a parcel of land described in the original certificate
of title No. 333 of the office of the register of deeds of the Province of Rizal,
issued on the 31st of January, 1905, pursuant to land registration proceedings.
Subsequently, in cadastral proceedings, plaintiff claimed to be the owner of a
large tract of land, part of which was claimed to have been included in the
certificate of title No. 333, above mentioned.
In the statement of facts it was agreed that the strip of land in dispute was
included within the original certificate of title of defendants, and in view of this
stipulation of fact, the trial court held that defendants were the owners of the
land in question and therefore were entitled to its possession and were not
responsible in damages for its detention.
Section 134 of the Code of Civil Procedure authorizes judgment on an agreed
statement of facts. This appeal therefore raises only the narrow question of law,
"Can land which has been duly registered and for which Torrens certificate of
title has been issued be given to another in a cadastral proceedings?"
This question has been repeatedly answered by this court. The two cases of
Legarda and Prieto vs. Saleeby (31 Phil., 590), and Reyes and Nadres vs.
Borbon and Director of Lands (50 Phil., 791), are sufficient to show that the
original owner cannot be divested of title by subsequent cadastral proceedings.
The judgment appealed from is therefore affirmed. No expression as to costs.
So ordered.
Avanceña, C.J., Abad Santos, Vickers and Diaz, JJ., concur.
Director of Lands vs CA [GR No. L-47847 : July 31, 1981] FACTS:
On May 8, 1974, respondent Manuela Pastor filed with the Court of First
Instance of Batangas LRC Case No. N-893, an application for confirmation of
imperfect title over thirteen (13) lots situated in Gulod and Pallocan, Batangas
City.
The application shows that seven (7) of the lots were allegedly inherited by
respondent Manuela Pastor from her parents Rafael Pastor and Natalia Quinio
who died on July 1, 1938 and July 12, 1908, respectively. The other six (6) lots
were allegedly inherited by respondent from her aunt Rosario Pastor who died
on January 13, 1950 without any surviving heir except respondent herein, that
she and her predecessors-in-interest had been in continuous, uninterrupted,
open, public, adverse and notorious possession of the lots for more than thirty
(30) years.
The Director of Lands filed an OPPOSITION to the application on the ground
that applicant Manuela Pastor and her predecessors-in-interest neither had title
in fee simple nor imperfect title under Section 48 of the Public Land Law, as
amended, over the lots in question.
During the hearings, the applicant presented as her witnesses her nephew
Antonio M. Pastor, and Geodetic Engineer Quirino P. Clemeneo.
As part of her documentary evidence, applicant Manuela Pastor
presented the certifications of the Treasurer of Batangas City showing official
receipts of payments of real estate tax on the same lots for 1975, a certification
from the Land Registration Commission stating that Lot No. 9330 of the
Cadastral Survey of Batangas, Province of Batangas, was declared public land in
Cadastral Case No. 41, LRC Cad. Record No. 1706. She likewise submitted
another certification from the Land Registration Commission to the effect that
some lots of the Cadastral Survey of Batangas, Province of Batangas, were the
subject of a decision in Cad. Case No. 43, LRC Cad. Record No. 1712, although
no decree of registration has as yet been issued.
On August 6, 1975 the Court of First Instance of Batangas rendered a
decision IN FAVOR OF APPLICANT PASTOR. Court of Appeals rendered
judgment affirming in toto the decision of the Court of First Instance of
Batangas.
ISSUE: Whether decision rendered in Cadastral Case No. 41 cranad(Exhibit L)
declaring Lot No. 9330 — from which Lots Nos. 9330-A and 9330-C were
derived — constitutes res adjudicata as to the nature of the lots in question and
therefore, a bar to appelleeʼs application.
HELD: NO
It is clear from the evidence on record that in the proceedings had before the
Court of First Instance of Batangas, acting as a land registration court, the
oppositor Director of Lands, petitioner herein, did not interpose any objection
nor set up the defense of res judicata with
respect to the lots in question. Such failure on the part of oppositor Director of
Lands, to OUR mind, is a procedural infirmity which cannot be cured on appeal.
Section 2, Rule 9, Revised Rules of Court of 1964, in no uncertain language,
provides that: “SEC. 2. Defenses and objections not pleaded deemed waived. —
Defenses and objections not pleaded either in a motion to dismiss or in the
answer are deemed waived;”

The decision in Cadastral Case No. 41 does not constitute a bar to the
application of respondent Manuela Pastor; because a decision in a cadastral
proceeding declaring a lot public land is not the final decree contemplated in
Sections 38 and 40 of the Land Registration Act. A judicial declaration that a
parcel of land is public, does not preclude even the same applicant from
subsequently seeking a judicial confirmation of his title to the same land,
provided he thereafter complies with the provisions of Section 48 of
Commonwealth Act No. 141, as amended, and as long as said public land
remains alienable and disposable (now sections 3 and 4, P.D. No. 1073).
With respect to Cadastral Case No. 43, the evidence on record is too scanty to
sustain the view of the petitioner that the decision rendered
therein constitutes res adjudicata, or in the absence of finality thereof, litis
pendentia. On the contrary, private respondent has amply shown that no final
decree whatsoever was issued in connection with said cadastral case, even as it
is not known in whose favor said decision was rendered. Morevoer, Manuela
Pastor has performed and complied with all the conditions essential to entitle
her to a confirmation of her imperfect title over the thirteen cranad(13) lots
subject of her application.
QRATIO: All defenses therefore not interposed in a motion to dismiss or in an
answer are deemed waived.

G.R. No. L-19535             July 10, 1967


HEIRS OF PELAGIO ZARA; PIO, CLEMENTE, SERAFIA, PORFIRIO and
ESTEBAN, all surnamed MINDANAO; MARIA and GLICERIA, both
surnamed SEDARIA; DULCE CORDERO, VICTORIA DE LOS REYES and
JOSE GARCIA, applicants-appellants,
vs.
DIRECTOR OF LANDS, DIRECTOR OF FORESTRY, Government oppositor-
appellees.
VICENTE V. DE VILLA, JR., and VICENTE S. DE VILLA, SR., private
oppositors-appellees.
Jose L. Matias and H. A. Jambora for applicants-appellants.
Francisco Villanueva, Jr. and Gregorio L. Oquitania for private oppositors-
appellees.
Manuel Reyes Castro for oppositor-appellee Director of Forestry.
MAKALINTAL, J.:
Appeal from an order of the Court of First Instance of Batangas (Lipa City)
dismissing appellants' "application for registration of the parcel of land
consisting of 107 hectares, more or less, situated in the barrio of Sampiro,
Municipality of San Juan, Province of Batangas, and designated in amended
plan PSU-103696 as Lot A."
The proceedings in the court a quo are not disputed.
On August 4, 1960 appellants filed an application for registration of the land
above described pursuant to the provisions of Act 496. They alleged that the
land had been inherited by them from their grandfather, Pelagio Zara, who in
turn acquired the same under a Spanish grant known as "Composicion de
Terrenos Realengos" issued in 1888. Alternatively, should the provisions of the
Land Registration Act be not applicable, applicants invoke the benefits of the
provisions of Chapter VIII, Section 48, subsection (b) of C.A. 141 as amended,
on the ground that they and their predecessor-in-interest had been in
continuous and adverse possession of the land in concept of owner for more
than 30 years immediately preceding the application.
Oppositions were filed by the Director of Lands, the Director of Forestry and by
Vicente V. de Villa, Jr. The latter's opposition recites:
x x x that the parcel of land sought to be registered by the applicants consisting
of 107 hectares, more or less, was included in the area of the parcel of land
applied for registration by Vicente S. de Villa, Sr. in Civil Case No. 26, L.R. Case
No. 601 in this Court, which was decided by this same Court through the then
incumbent Judge, the Honorable Juan P. Enriquez, on September 30, 1949; that
the parcel sought to be registered by the applicants was declared public land in
said decision; that they (the oppositors Vicente V. de Villa, Jr. and Vicente S. de
Villa, Sr.) have an interest over the land in question because for a period more
than sixty (60) years, the de Villas have been in possession, and which
possession, according to them, was open continuous, notorious and under the
claim of ownership; that the proceeding being in rem, the failure of the
applicants to appear at the case No. 26, L.R. Case No. 601 to prove their
imperfect and incomplete title over the property, barred them from raising the
same issue in another case; and that as far as the decision in Civil Case No. 26,
L.R. Case No. 601 which was affirmed in the appellate court in CA-G.R. No.
5847-R is concerned, there is already "res-adjudicata" — in other words, the
cause of action of the applicant is now barred by prior judgment; and that this
Court has no more jurisdiction over the subject matter, the decision of the Court
in said case having transferred to the Director of Lands.
On November 15, 1960 the De Villas (De Villa, Sr. was subsequently included as
oppositor) filed a motion to dismiss, invoking the same grounds alleged in its
opposition, but principally the fact that the land applied for had already been
declared public land by the judgment in the former registration case.
The trial court, over the objection of the applicants, granted the motion to
dismiss by order dated January 27, 1961, holding, inter alia, that "once a parcel
of land is declared or adjudged public land by the court having jurisdiction x x x
it cannot be the subject anymore of another land registration proceeding x x x
(that) it is only the Director of Lands who can dispose of the same by sale, by
lease, by free patent or by homestead."
In the present appeal from the order of dismissal neither the Director of Lands
nor the Director of Forestry filed a brief as appellee. The decisive issue posed by
applicants-appellants is whether the 1949 judgment in the previous case,
denying the application of Vicente S. de Villa, Sr., and declaring the 107 hectares
in question to be public land, precludes a subsequent application by an alleged
possessor for judicial confirmation of title on the basis of continuous possession
for at least thirty years, pursuant to Section 48, subsection (b) of the Public
Land Law, C.A. 141, as amended. This provision reads as follows:
The following-described citizens of the Philippines, occupying lands of the
public domain or claiming to own any such lands or an interest therein, but
whose titles have not been perfected or completed, may apply to the Court of
First Instance of the province where the land is located for confirmation of their
claims and the issuance of a certificate of title therefor, under the Land
Registration Act, to wit:
xxx     xxx     xxx
(b) Those who by themselves or through their predecessors in interest have
been in open, continuous, exclusive and notorious possession and occupation of
agricultural lands of the public domain, under a bona fide claim of acquisition of
ownership, for at least thirty years immediately preceding the filing of the
application for confirmation of title, except when prevented by war or force
majeure. These shall be conclusively presumed to have performed all the
conditions essential to a Government grant and shall be entitled to a certificate
of title under the provisions of this Chapter.1äwphï1.ñët
The right to file an application under the foregoing provision has been extended
by Republic Act No. 2061 to December 31, 1968.
It should be noted that appellants' application is in the alternative: for
registration of their title of ownership under Act 496 or for judicial confirmation
of their "imperfect" title or claim based on adverse and continuous possession
for at least thirty years. It may be that although they were not actual parties in
that previous case the judgment therein is a bar to their claim as owners under
the first alternative, since the proceeding was in rem, of which they and their
predecessor had constructive notice by publication. Even so this is a defense
that properly pertains to the Government, in view of the fact that the judgment
declared the land in question to be public land. In any case, appellants'
imperfect possessory title was not disturbed or foreclosed by such declaration,
for precisely the proceeding contemplated in the aforecited provision of
Commonwealth Act 141 presupposes that the land is public. The basis of the
decree of judicial confirmation authorized therein is not that the land is already
privately owned and hence no longer part of the public domain, but rather that
by reason of the claimant's possession for thirty years he is conclusively
presumed to have performed all the conditions essential to a Government grant.
On the question of whether or not the private oppositors-appellees have the
necessary personality to file an opposition, we find in their favor, considering
that they also claim to be in possession of the land, and have furthermore
applied for its purchase from the Bureau of Lands.1äwphï1.ñët
Wherefore, the order appealed from is set aside and the case is remanded to
the Court a quo for trial and judgment on the merits, with costs against the
private oppositors-appellees.
Reyes, J.B.L., Bengzon, J.P., Zaldivar, Castro, Angeles and Fernando, JJ.,
concur.
Concepcion, C.J. and Dizon, J., took no part.

RODRIGUEZ vs. TORENO


G.R. No. L-29596 October 14, 1977
FACTS:
Valentine Quinones owned a parcel of land in Davao City. On her death,
Valentine was survived by her children, namely, Maximina, Martiliano, Felix,
Petra Eugenia, Restitute and Ana, all surnamed Bocase and all of whom are now
deceased.
Maximina died in 1940 and was survived by her children Sabina Toreno and
Timoteo Toreno, two of the herein respondents.
Martiliano was survived by his children Eugenia Simplicia, Pedro, Bernardo and
Green, of whom the latter four are some of the herein respondents.
Felix was survived by his children Gliceria and the three minors Luciana
Alejandro and Lourdes who are likewise respondents Martiliano Petra died a
widow and without any issue.
Eugenia does not appear to have left any children.
Restitute was survived by her 12 children who, fake Ana's four children, are not
parties to the case at bar.
On July 9, 1958, the respondents filed with the Court of First Instance of Davao,
a complaint for ejectment and damages against the petitioner, alleging basically
that, together with their cousins, the children of Restitute and Ana, they are pro-
indiviso registered owners of the land covered by O.C.T. No. 0-15; that in or
about June 1953, the petitioner reply maliciously' and by means of force and
intention entered the land in question and occupied approximately 27,500
square meters thereof, which portion, prior thereto, was in their possession as
their share pursuant to a partition agreed upon by the co-owners thereof. In his
answer, the petitioner claimed that the heirs of Valentine Quinones, with the
exception of Restitute and Ana Bocase had already sold their rights over the
land covered by O.C.T. No. 0-15 to him as early as 1941 and 1950 either through
themselves or their successors in interest, thus making him the rightful and legal
owner of approximately 27,899 square meters thereof; that he had been in the
peaceful, continuous and public possession of the same; that there was no then,
encumbrance or adverse claim annotated on O.C.T. No 0-15 so that the series of
sales made in his favor, although not registered and annotated thereon, are valid
and binding between the parties, the said land not having passed to a third
person; and that he had spent no less than P5,000.00 in improving the land in
question. On October 31, 1960, after hearing on the merits, the trial court
rendered its decision ordering the petitioner to vacate the land in question and
to pay damages and costs. In due course, the petitioner appealed to the Court
of Appeals. On August 22, 1968, the Court of Appeal rendered its decision
finding the petitioner's claim "to the property in controversy untenable" and
affirming, except for to P550.00 the value of the coconut trees the petitioner
had to reimburse the respondents, the appealed judgment of the trial court.
(1) Whether the existence of a decree of registration is a bar to an action filed
after one year from the issuance of the decree to compel reconveyance of the
property in question;
(2) Whether the unrecorded deeds of sale between the parties are binding upon
them and their respective heirs.
(1) No. The prevailing rule in this jurisdiction does not bar a landowner whose
property was wrongfully or erroneously registered under the Torrens system
from bringing an action, after one year from the issuance of the decree for the
reconveyance of the property in question. Such an action does not aim or
purport to re-open the registration proceeding and set aside the decree of
registration, but only to show that the person who the registration of the
questioned property is not the real owner thereof.
(2) No. Even if the contracts executed by the respondents and their over the
land question in favor of the respondents were genuine and bona fide Purchase
covenants, the same however, lost for efficacy upon the reaction of judgment
and of the due partition in favor of the respondents. A cadastral court is a judge
proceeding in rem which, as such, binds the whole world for judgment is limited
to have settled the status of the subject thereof, if not noted barred under the
principles of res judicata.
The decision of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. No. 30053-R is hereby
affirmed. No costs.
ISSUE/S:
HELD:

G.R. No. L-18814             July 31, 1962


ANACLETO P. NAVARRO, applicant-appellant,
vs.
THE DIRECTOR OF LANDS, oppositor-appellee.
Francisco Ventura for applicant-appellant.
Office of the Solicitor General for oppositor-appellee.
MAKALINTAL, J.:
This is an appeal by Anacleto P. Navarro from the order of the Court of First
Instance of Manila dated July 1, 1959, dismissing his application for registration
of lots Nos. 1 and 2 of Plan PSU-117149, both residential properties located in
Malate along the Dewey Boulevard.
The application was filed on February 6, 1958 and docketed as Case No. N-53,
L.R.C. Rec. No. N-14566. The Director of Lands interposed an opposition,
alleging that the lots applied for are part of the public domain belonging to the
Republic of the Philippines. Evidence was submitted by the applicant on
February 11 and March 30, 1959, after which the hearing was adjourned to June
18. On May 8 of the same year the Director of Lands filed a motion to dismiss on
two grounds: (1) that the application was barred by prior judgment and (2) that
the same was improper application for judicial confirmation of imperfect title
under Section 48, paragraph (b), of Public Land Law, as amended by Republic
Act No. 1942, which applies only to public agricultural lands and not to those
which are residential in character. The trial court, in its order from which this
appeal has been taken, sustained the motion on both grounds.
It appears that sometime in 1950 the Director of Lands instituted a cadastral
proceeding in the Court of First Instance of Manila (G.L.R.C. Cad. Rec. No. 6,
G.L.R.C. Cad. Case No. 1) to settle and adjudicate title to the same lots now in
litigation. The Republic of the Philippines claimed them as part of the public
domain. One Caridad Guillen Cortez filed an answer and was later on substituted
by appellant Anacleto P. Navarro, who sought registration of the properties in his
name pursuant to the provision of Section 48, paragraph (b), of the Public Land
Act. In the decision of the aforesaid Court dated July 17, 1954 his claim was
denied and the two lots were declared public lands. The case was appealed to
the Court of Appeals, which rendered a decision of affirmance on June 29, 1957
(CA-G.R. No. L-13983-R). Still unsatisfied, Navarro elevated the case to this
Court for review by certiorari, but the petition was dismissed "for being factual
and for lack of merit" in a resolution dated September 6, 1957.
The plea of res judicata must be upheld. The requisites of this plea are: (1) the
former judgment must be final; (2) it must have been rendered by a court having
jurisdiction of the subject matter and the parties; (3) it must be a judgment on
the merits; and (4) there must be, between the first and second actions, (a)
identity of parties (b) identity of subject matter and (c) identity of cause of
action. The only controversy here is with respect to the last element, namely,
identity of cause of action, the others being concededly present. In the case of
De la Rosa vs. Director of Lands, et al., G.R. No. L-6311, Feb. 28, 1955; 53 O.G.
No. 13, p. 4092 this Court held:
The parcel of land (Lot No. 4) sought to be registered being the same lot already
declared public land in Land Registration Case No. 295, G.L.R.O. No. 30055,
where the herein appellant and the Director of Lands were parties and the
applicant therein failed to establish title secured from the Spanish Government
or possession of the land in accordance with the Public Land Act then in force,
the decision in the former case declaring Lot No. 4 as part of the public domain
must be deemed res judicata.
The cause of action in both the present case and the former cadastral
proceeding is the registration of the two lots in question. The specific issue
involved is whether the lots applied for are part of the public domain or have so
far been possessed by appellant that he must be deemed to have acquired title
thereto which is sufficient for registration in his name. The declaration by final
judgment in the cadastral proceeding that they are public lands settled this
issue once and for all.
It is contended that the basis for such declaration was the insufficiency of
appellant's evidence in the former case to prove continuous possession by him
and by his predecessors-in-interest since July 26, 1894, as required by the
Public Land Law before its amendment by Republic Act No. 1942, and that since
in the present case his claim is based on possession only for a period of thirty
years immediately preceding the filing of his new application in 1958, in
accordance with the amendatory law, the issue has entirely changed and
consequently he should have been allowed to prove such claim. Even on this
theory, however, we note that both in the decision of the Court of First Instance
in the cadastral case and in the decision of affirmance rendered by the Court of
Appeals, the fact as well as the length of the alleged possession of appellant
and his predecessors-in-interest were placed in issue and duly passed upon.
The appellate court stated therein:
The evidence of appellant Anacleto P. Navarro stems mainly from his own
testimony. He declared that since 1936, he was lessee of the two lots from the
spouses Emilio Arceo and Margarita Jimenez. He fenced it and built a dike
because when it was low tide, part of the land was submerged in water. He
made fillings on the property, planted coconuts thereon and built two houses,
which were destroyed during the liberation of Manila. Sometime later he heard
that the property was sold to Rosario Dumlao, who, in turn, sold it to Bernardino
Landeta; that thereafter the latter sold the land to Caridad Guillen Cortez from
whom he (appellant Anacleto P. Navarro) leased and later bought to property.
Appellant Navarro admits that neither Caridad Guillen Cortez nor her
predecessors ever declared the land in question for taxation purposes; and that
none of them paid taxes on said land.
We start with the statement that it is a rule long familiar in this jurisdiction that
all lands are presumed to be a part of the public domain; that to overcome this
presumption, evidence must be more than a mere preponderance and that
vague and indecisive proofs are insufficient even in the absence of opposition
on the part of the government.
Considering the averment in appellant's answer to the effect that his title over
the two lots is supposed to have been derived from Margarita Jimenez, the
question of whether or not the latter, that is Margarita Jimenez, ever became
owner of the property looms large in the resolution of the present case. To begin
with, it is well to remember, as a pivotal point, that said Margarita Jimenez only
claims ownership over Lot No. 2 which is the smaller of the two lots. Of course,
she made a statement that Lot No. 1 is not included in her claim, but that if, in
fairness, it be disclosed at the hearing that some of it is really owned by her, she
would also include that portion in her claim. This vague and uncertain claim to
Lot No. 1 remains what it is, uncertain. Unable to pin-point her alleged property,
Margarita Jimenez, was, during the course of the trial, taken to the place. And
true enough, she laid claim to Lot No. 2 and also but to a small fraction of Lot
No. 1.
On the face of this uncertain evidence, we are persuaded to state that right at
this point, Lot No. 1 should be excluded from appellant's claim and declared
public land.
Inspite of the averment that the two lots in controversy constitute privately
owned property, the evidence is unanimous to the effect that none of the
alleged owners ever declared the land for taxation purposes. None of them ever
paid taxes on the property. It has been truthfully said that tax declarations and
tax receipts constitute evidence of great weight in support of possession or
ownership. Tupaz, et al. vs. Ricamora, et al., 37 Gaceta Official, No. 28, pp. 617,
618; Director of Lands vs. Aaron, et al., CA-G.R. No. 10337-R, October 28,
1954; Director of Lands vs. Baligod, et al., CA-G.R. No. 8749-R, May 13, 1955;
Director of Lands vs. Depositario, et al., CA-G.R. No. 10308-R, May 20, 1955;
Angeles, et al. vs. Duran, et al., CA-G.R. No. 16233-R, March 4, 1957. Any
owner, the most ignorant included, knows his obligation of seeing to it that his
real property is declared for taxation purposes and that he regularly pay the
taxes thereon. This obligation could perhaps have escaped the attention of one
person. But to say that all the alleged owners from Juana Guinto, thru Margarita
Jimenez and her husband Francisco Arceo, Bernardino Landeta, Caridad Guillen
Cortez and finally appellant Anacleto P. Navarro forgot to declare the property
for taxation purposes and to pay the taxes thereon, is utterly unbelievable.
Moraza vs. El Director de Terrenos, 37 Gaceta Official, No. 129, pp. 2819,
2821. Paraphrasing Mr. Justice Torres in Cruzado vs. Bustos and Escaler, 34
Phil. 17, 35, none of the foregoing persons ever did "believe himself to be the
owner of the land he claims."
One look at the sketch, Exhibit 1, and sketch, Exhibit 2, of the Director of Lands,
will readily show why lots 1 and 2 in question could not have been private
property. The whole of Lot No. 1 and part of Lot No. 2 were originally under
water forming part of Manila Bay; while the remainder or upper portion of Lot
No. 2 forms part of the mouth of Estero Maytubig which flows into the Bay.
Then there is the oral evidence for the government.
Novardo Advincula, Civil Engineer of the Bureau of Public Works, testified as
follows: When the government proposed to extend Dewey Boulevard, he was
assigned to locate the right of way from Cortabitarte to Libertad. He used the
plan Exhibit 1 of the Bureau of Lands and was guided by the technical
description furnished by the said bureau in his job to locate exactly the
proposed line of the right of way. In 1939 he made an ocular inspection of the
place. It was then that he found that the two lots in question were under water;
so much so, that at that time there were bancas tied to the poles in that place
and that there were no improvements on the land. Of course, the place at
present is no longer under water as it was drained and filled up by the Bureau of
Public Works which dredged the Manila Bay and pumped the dredged soil from
the Bay into the area and throughout Dewey Boulevard Extension. This filling
was made before the war.
Another witness, Enrique Alcantara, surveyor of the Bureau of Lands, testified:
He knows the land in question because he was ordered by the Chief Surveyor to
identify the adjoining owners; that the land, consisting of the two lots described
in plan Exhibit A has not been included in the cadastral survey in 1913-1914
because the said lands were outside the shore-line of Manila Bay. He likewise
declared that he executed survey of Dewey Boulevard Extension in 1935; that at
that time he had to wade from Vito Cruz to Libertad for the reason that the
water thereon was hip deep and that Lots Nos. 1 and 2 were under water and no
improvements were found thereon. In 1951, so this witness continued, he made
an investigation of the adjoining owners of the land in question and that, then he
found that said lots were already filled up. Not knowing who the owners of the
two lots were, he tried to gather information from the Office of the City Assessor
of Manila. The said Office gave out a written statement to the effect that the lots
aforesaid definitely were never declared for taxation or assessment purposes.
The fact that the property in question was under water prior to the filling thereof
is corroborated by appellant Navarro himself. Navarro testified that in the year
he leased the land, he built a dike as part of the land was submerged under
water during low tide. During the course of the ocular inspection, Margarita
Jimenez declared that the land she was claiming became high "thru the sand
thrown from the sea by means of the machinery" probably belonging to the
government. Tr. ocular inspection, p. 8.
True it is, that there is testimony in the record calculated to show that when
Margarita Jimenez and her husband acquired this property in 1907, they were
informed by their vendor, Jacinto Villalon — not Juana Guinto — that said
Villalon had been in possession of the land since the Spanish regime. However,
the exact date such alleged possession by Villalon commenced has not been
established, and neither appellant nor any of his alleged predecessors in
interest, has shown acquisition of the land by composition title from the Spanish
government or by possessory information title or by any of the legal modes of
acquiring public lands.
Upon the facts, the conclusion is irresistible that appellant's evidence is utterly
inadequate to support his claim of ownership over the lots in question.
It is quite clear from the foregoing that the Court of Appeals, in dismissing
appellant's claim in the cadastral case, found it as a fact that he had not
possessed the lands in question for even the thirty years now asserted by him.
Such finding is conclusive on the question of possession and precludes any new
litigation concerning it.
The foundation principle upon which the doctrine of res judicata rests is that
parties ought not to be permitted to litigate the same issue more than once;
that, when a right or fact has been judicially tried and determined by a court of
competent jurisdiction, or an opportunity for such trial has been given, the
judgment of the court, so long as it remains unreversed, should be conclusive
upon the parties, and those in privity with them in law or estate. (National Bank
vs. Barreto, 52 Phil. 818, 824; Escudero vs. Flores, et al., G.R. No. L-7401, June
25, 1955).
One further point may be noted: When Republic Act No. 1942 was approved on
June 22, 1957, appellant's appeal in the cadastral case was still pending in the
Court of Appeals and after it was decided therein he filed before us a petition for
review by certiorari, invoking precisely the provision of the new law requiring
only continuous possession, under claim of ownership, for a period of thirty
years to entitle the possessor to apply for judicial confirmation of his imperfect
title. The dismissal of the petition by this Court for lack of merit, therefore,
constituted an adjudication of appellant's claim in the light of such new
legislation.
Having thus sustained appellee's plea that this case is already barred by prior
judgment, we deem it unnecessary to pass upon the second legal point raised
by him, namely, that the lots in question being residential in character, they do
not fall within the purview of Section 48, paragraph (b), of the Public Land Law,
as amended by Republic Act No. 1942, and hence cannot be the subject of
judicial confirmation of an imperfect title.
WHEREFORE, the order appealed from is affirmed, with costs against appellant.
Bengzon, C.J., Padilla, Bautista Angelo, Labrador, Concepcion, Barrera,
Paredes, Dizon and Regala, JJ., concur.
Reyes, J.B.L., J., took no part.
SPOUSES MELCHOR and SATURNINA ALDE, Petitioners,
vs.
RONALD B. BERNAL, OLYMPIA B. BERNAL, JUANITO B. BERNAL, and MYRNA D.
BERNAL, Respondents.
G.R. No. 169336 March 18, 2010 CARPIO, J.:
Facts
WON Mario has a better right over the subject land.
In 1957, Adriano Bernal, father of Ronald, Olympia, Juanito and Myrna had in his
possession a property which was later surveyed and designated as Cadastral
Lot No. 1123, Cad 1119-D, Case 8 in 1992. In 1994, Adriano secured a loan from
Melchor and Saturnina Alde and turned over physical possession, occupation
and cultivation of 3 hectares of the property to Spouses Alde. Then Adriano had
later sold the property to Spouses Aldo.
On 18 October 1994, OCT No. AO-7236 was issued in the names of the Bernals.
OCT No. AO-7236 originated from CLOA No. 00073938 issued by the
Department of Agrarian Reform pursuant to Republic Act No. 6657. Then, in
April 2002, respondents demanded from petitioners P50,000 as additional
consideration for the property. Respondents also informed petitioners, for the
first time, of the existence of OCT No. AO-7236. Petitioners rejected
respondentsʼ request since they already bought the entire property in 1994 and
requested that respondents should turn-over to them OCT No. AO-7236.
Issue
WON the respondents can claim ownership over the disputed portions of the
property.
Ruling
The respondents claim ownership of the property based on OCT No. AO-7236.
However, a certificate of title is not equivalent to title. In Lee Tek Sheng v. Court
of Appeals: By title, the law refers to ownership which is represented by that
document [the Original Certificate of Title or the Transfer Certificate of Title].
Petitioner apparently confuses certificate with title. Placing a parcel of land
under the mantle of the Torrens system does not mean that ownership thereof
can no longer be disputed. Ownership is different from a certificate of title. The
TCT is only the best proof of ownership of a piece of land. Besides, the
certificate cannot always be considered as conclusive evidence of ownership.
Mere issuance of the certificate of title in the name of any person does not
foreclose the possibility that the real property may be under co-ownership with
persons not named in the certificate or that the registrant may only be a trustee
or that other parties may have acquired interest subsequent to the issuance of
the certificate of title. To repeat, registration is not the equivalent of title, but is
only the best evidence thereof. Title as a concept of ownership should not be
confused with the certificate of title as evidence of such ownership although
both are interchangeable.
In this case, respondents cannot claim ownership over the disputed portions of
the property absent any showing of how they acquired title over the same.
Accordingly, the property must be reconveyed in favor of petitioners. An action
for reconveyance is a legal and equitable remedy granted to the rightful owner
of land which has been wrongfully or erroneously registered in the name of
another for the purpose of compelling the latter to transfer or reconvey the land
to him. However, since petitioners did not make a direct attack on the validity of
OCT No. AO-7236 and had not asked for the cancellation of the original
certificate of title

as required by Section 48 of Presidential Decree No. 1529, this Court cannot


cancel OCT No. AO-7236 and order the issuance of a new certificate of title in
the name of petitioners. Any direct attack on the validity of a Torrens certificate
of title must be instituted with the proper Regional Trial Court. This case
originated in the Municipal Circuit Trial Court. Even if the Court will consider
petitionersʼ counter-claim as a petition for the cancellation of OCT No. AO-7236
and, thus, a direct attack on the certificate of title, the MCTC still does not have
jurisdiction over the cancellation of a Torrens title.

FACTS:
NATIONAL HOUSING AUTHORITY VS. BASA, Jr. GR No. 149121. April 20, 2010
Spouses Basa loaned from NHA secured by a real estate mortgage over their
properties. Spouses Basa did not pay the loan despite repeated demands. To
collect its credit, the NHA filed a verified petition for extrajudicial foreclosure of
mortgage before the Sheriffʼs Office in Quezon City.
After notice and publication, the properties were sold at public auction where
NHA emerged as the highest bidder. On April 16, 1991, the sheriffʼs certificate of
sale was registered and annotated only on the ownerʼs duplicate copies of the
titles in the hands of the respondents, since the titles in the custody of the
Register of Deeds were among those burned down when a fire gutted the City
Hall of Quezon City on June 11, 1988.
On April 16, 1992, the redemption period expired, without respondents having
redeemed the properties. Shortly thereafter, on April 24, 1992, NHA executed an
Affidavit of Consolidation of Ownership over the foreclosed properties, and the
same was inscribed by the Register of Deeds on the certificates of title in the
hand of NHA.
NHA moved for the issuance of an alias writ of possession. Before the RTC could
resolve the motion for the issuance of an alias writ of possession, respondents,
filed a Motion for Leave to Intervene and Petition in Intervention.
Respondents theorized that the instrument is deemed registered only upon
actual inscription on the certificate of title in the custody of the civil registrar.
Since the sheriffʼs certificate was only inscribed on the ownerʼs duplicate
certificate of title, and not on the certificate of title in the possession of the
Register of Deeds, then there was no effective registration and the one-year
redemption period had not even begun to run. Thus, respondents asked the
RTC, among others, to declare the foreclosure sale null and void, to allow the
respondents to redeem the mortgaged properties.
NHA maintained that respondentsʼ right of redemption had long expired on April
15, 1992 since the certificate of sale was inscribed on their TCT Nos. 285413
and 287008 a year earlier, or on April 16, 1991.
RTC issued an Order admitting the Petition in Intervention and treating the same
as the petition to set aside sale.
NHA filed a special civil action for certiorari and prohibition before the Court of
Appeals.
The Court of Appeals rendered a Decision in favor of the NHA. Respondents
filed a motion for reconsideration.
The Court of Appeals, in its Amended Decision, reconsidered its earlier stance.
It declared that the period of redemption had not expired as the certificate of
sale had not been registered or annotated in the original copies of the titles
supposedly kept with the Register of Deeds since said titles were earlier razed
by fire.

ISSUE: Whether or not the annotation of the sheriffʼs certificate of sale in the
primary entry book of the register of deeds and on the ownerʼs duplicate title is
sufficient compliance with the requirement of law on registration.
HELD:
The prevailing rule is that there is effective registration once the registrant has
fulfilled all that is needed of him for purposes of entry and annotation, so that
what is left to be accomplished lies solely on the register of deeds.
NHA followed the procedure in order to have its sheriffʼs certificate of sale
annotated in the transfer certificates of title. It was not NHAʼs fault that the
certificate of sale was not annotated on the transfer certificates of title which
were supposed to be in the custody of the Registrar, since the same were
burned. Neither could NHA be blamed for the fact that there were no
reconstituted titles available during the time of inscription as it had taken the
necessary steps in having the same reconstituted as early as July 15, 1988. NHA
did everything within its power to assert its right.
Since entry of the certificate of sale was validly registered, the redemption
period accruing to respondents commenced therefrom, since the one-year
period of redemption is reckoned from the date of registration of the certificate
of sale.

G.R. No. L-21593             April 29, 1966


RAYMUNDA S. DIGRAN, in her capacity as Administratrix of Estate of
Deceased Ruperta Cabucos, petitioner,
vs.
AUDITOR GENERAL, DEPUTY AUDITOR GENERAL, COMMISSIONER OF
PUBLIC HIGHWAYS and CITY ENGINEER OF CEBU CITY, respondents.
D. de la Victoria and L. D. de la Victoria for petitioner.
Office of the Solicitor General Arturo A. Alafriz, Assistant Solicitor General F.
C. Zaballero and Solicitor C. V. Bautista for respondents.
BENGZON, J.P., J.:
On June 22, 1909, Ruperta Cabucos bought from, and fully paid to the
Government, Lot No. 638 of the Banilad Friar Lands Estate situated in Cebu City
for which a formal deed of conveyance was executed in her favor on November
27, 1915 by the Friar Lands Agency. On February 28, 1916 Transfer Certificate of
Title No. RT-3918 (T-320) was issued to her. The Banilad Friar Lands Estate was
among the friar lands acquired by the Government for resale to actual tenants or
occupants pursuant to Act 1120 of the Philippine Commission.
Sometime in 1914 or 1915, without prior expropriation proceedings, the
government constructed Mango Avenue, a municipal road,1 passing through Lot
No. 638. A claim for compensation was filed with the Municipality of Cebu but it
was still unpaid when World War II broke out.
In 1927 Ruperta Cabucos subdivided Lot No. 638 into Lots Nos. 638-A, 638-B
and 638-C. Lot No. 638-B is the portion of Lot No. 638 covered and traversed
by Mango Avenue.
Ruperta Cabucos died in 1940. In 1951 her heirs subdivided Lot No. 638 into
eight lots, namely, Lots Nos. 638-A-1, 638-A-2, 638-B, 638-C-1, 638-C-2,
638-C-3, 638-C-4, and 638-C-5, and apportioned them to themselves except
Lot No. 638-B, the road lot, which remained in the name of her estate. Candido
Samson, her son, became extrajudicial administrator of the estate. The
extrajudicial partition and adjudication was submitted to the Court of First
Instance of Cebu for approval, and on May 30, 1953 said court decreed the
issuance of the corresponding certificates of title to the heirs but ordered the
annotation on the certificate of title of Lot No. 638-B of the following: "... this lot
shall not be closed nor disposed of to the prejudice of the using public as such
highway, ..."
On April 20, 1961 Candido Samson filed with the City Appraisal Committee of
the City of Cebu a claim for the value of Lot No. 638-B as compensation
therefor. He amended said claim on July 12, 1961. On August 15, 1961 he
supplemented it with a demand for the payment of interests and attorney's fees.
Thereupon, the City Appraisal Committee appraised the land at P15.00 per
square meter or P13,245.00 for 883 square meters, the area traversed by the
road. The claim was thereafter referred to the City Fiscal of Cebu who
recommended payment thereof. However, the City Engineer, to whom said claim
was later indorsed, recommended its denial. This recommendation was
concurred in by the Cebu Division Engineer of the Bureau of Public Highways
and, on the strength of said recommendation, the Commissioner of Public
Highways denied the claim in question. A request for reconsideration was
denied.1äwphï1.ñët
On July 9, 1962 the Commissioner of Public Highways transmitted the aforesaid
claim to the Auditor General. The City Auditor of Cebu whose comment was
requested by the Auditor General recommended its payment, but such
recommendation notwithstanding, the Deputy Auditor General, on February 18,
1963 denied the claim on the grounds that (1) claimant failed to register the
same with the Committee on Claims pursuant to Administrative Order No. 6
dated July 29, 1946; (2) claimant and his predecessors are guilty of laches; (3)
the right to enforce the claim has prescribed; (4) the owner presumably
consented to the construction of the road; (5) the road already existed when the
title was actually issued, thus making said title subject to the road encumbrance
pursuant to Section 39 of the Land Registration Act; and (6) the annotation on
Lot No. 638-B — "that this lot shall not be claimed nor disposed of to the
prejudice of the using public as such highway" — should be respected by the
heirs of Ruperta Cabucos.
On February 16, 1963 Raymunda S. Digran, a daughter of Candida Samson,
became administratrix of the estate of Ruperta Cabucos. On February 18, 1963
the Deputy Auditor General, as stated, denied the claim. This decision was the
subject of two motions for reconsideration, the later one having been denied on
June 10, 1963. On July 9 of the same year Raymunda S. Digran appealed to this
Court from said decision altho on July 1, 1963 she filed an amended claim for
compensation with the Auditor General. On August 7, 1963 the Auditor General
desisted from rendering a decision on the amended claim on July 1, 1963 for the
reason that the case was already sub judice.
The bone of contention is whether or not the heirs of Ruperta Cabucos are
entitled to compensation for Lot No. 638-B, the road lot.
The Government denies the obligation to give due compensation for Lot No.
638-B mainly on the grounds that Ruperta Cabucos' title over Lot No. 638 was
subject to the Government's reservations for public use, such as rights of way
and other public servitudes under Sections 19, 20 and 21 of Act 1120 and
Section 39 of Act 496; and, that the right to enforce the claim for compensation
is barred by prescription and laches.
The grounds relied upon by the Government, stated above, lack merit. Firstly,
Sections 19, 20 and 21 of Act 1120 sanction no authority for the Government to
take private lands covered by said Act for public use without just compensation.
Sections 19, 20 and 21 state:
SEC. 19. No purchaser or lessee under this Act shall acquire any exclusive rights
to any canal, ditch, reservoir, or other irrigation works, or to any water supply
upon which such irrigation works are or may be dependent, but all of such
irrigation works and water supplies shall remain under the exclusive control of
the Government of the Philippine Islands and be administered under the
direction of the Chief of the Bureau of Public Lands for the common benefit of
those interests dependent upon them. And the Government reserves as a part
of the contract of sale in each instance the right to levy an equitable
contribution or tax for the maintenance of such irrigation works, the assessment
of which shall be based upon the amount of benefits received, and each
purchaser under this Act, by accepting the certificate of sale or deed herein
provided to be given, shall be held to assent thereto. And it is further provided
that all lands leased or conveyed under this Act shall remain subject to the right
of way of such irrigation canals, ditches, and reservoirs as now exist or as the
Government may hereafter see fit to construct.
SEC. 20. All persons receiving title to lands under the provisions of this Act shall
hold such lands subject to the same public servitudes as existed upon lands
owned by private persons under the sovereignty of Spain, including those with
reference to the littoral of the sea and the banks of navigable rivers and rivers
upon which rafting may be done.
SEC. 21. The Civil Governor, when authorized by resolution of the Commission,
may by proclamation, designate any tract or tracts of said lands as nonalienable,
and reserve the same for public use, and thereafter such tracts shall not be
subject to sale, lease, or other disposition under this Act.
Section 19 withholds from a purchaser of a friar land exclusive right to any canal,
ditch, reservoir, or other irrigation works, or to any water supply upon which
such irrigation works are or may be dependent which were already existing at
the time of purchase. It also subjects the land so purchased to the right of way
of such canal, ditch, reservoir or irrigation works. Section 20 holds the friar
lands subject to public servitudes also imposed on other lands owned by private
persons. Section 21 gives the Civil Governor, upon resolution of the Philippine
Commission, the authority to designate any tract or tracts of friar land as non-
alienable and reserve the same for public use. Needless to say, the road
construction through Lot No. 638-B is not the servitude contemplated in
Sections 19 and 20, above quoted. Moreover, it has not been shown that Lot No.
638-B was declared nonalienable by the Civil Governor prior to sale to, and
purchase by, Ruperta Cabucos so as to prevent her from acquiring ownership
thereover.
The provision of Section 39 of the Land Registration Act which states:
SEC. 39. Every person receiving a certificate of title in pursuance of a decree of
registration, and every subsequent purchaser of registered land who takes a
certificate of title for value in good faith shall hold the same free of all
encumbrances except those noted on said certificate, and any of the following
encumbrances which may be subsisting namely:
xxx     xxx     xxx
Third. Any public highway, way, private way established by law or any
Government irrigation canal or lateral thereof; where the certificate of title does
not state that the boundaries of such highway, way, or irrigation canal or lateral
thereof, have been determined.
has no application in this case for the reason that Mango Avenue was
constructed subsequent to the acquisition of Lot No. 638 by Ruperta Cabucos.
In other words, Mango Avenue is not an "encumbrance which may be
subsisting" when Ruperta Cabucos purchased the land from the Government in
1909.
Furthermore, it would be unfair for the Government to invoke the above
statutory reservations and take back from Ruperta Cabucos Lot No. 638-B
without just compensation after selling it to her and collecting the full price
therefor. To do so would abridge her individual right, guaranteed by the
Constitution, to own private property and keep it, free from State appropriation
without due process and without just compensation. Ours is a government
dedicated to uphold and preserve the right of an individual, a fundamental
concept in a democratic society which spells the big difference between
democracy and totalitarianism. The Government must respect and observe
individual rights for, otherwise, the citizenry would be liable to lose confidence in
it. Said Mr. Justice Montemayor in the celebrated case of Herrera vs. Auditor
General:2
Here before us is a case of law abiding citizen and taxpayer who as far back as
1934, realizing the need of the Government of his lot for road purposes, instead
of compelling said Government to resort to expropriation proceedings, readily
and in all ingenuousness allowed the Government to immediately occupy it. In
his implicit trust in his Government, he did not even bother to require it to make
a judicial deposit of the approximate value of his land, not even to make an offer
of a price it would pay for it. But since then, he has continuously asked for thue
payment of said fair price as a condition precedent to his conveyance and sale
of the property. But the Government neglected to make an offer, much less
make payment, then evidently forgot all about, and now it flatly refuses to pay,
evidently forgetting that it had also neglected to secure a conveyance of the
property, so that Herrera, as already stated, is still the owner of the same. ...
There is nothing that can more speedily and effectively embitter a citizen and
tax-payer against his Government and alienate his faith in it, than an injustice
and unfair dealing like the present case.
Secondly, laches and prescription cannot deprive Ruperta Cabucos of her
ownership over Lot No. 638-B nor would they dispossess her of her right to
demand compensation due for its taking. The land being registered under the
Torrens System the Government cannot acquire ownership over the same by
prescription in derogation of the registered owner.3 Such was the ruling of this
Court in Herrera vs. Auditor General,4 whose facts are very similar to the
instant case. There the Government took a registered property for road
purposes sometime in 1934 without prior expropriation proceedings or payment
of compensation. The owner, who executed no formal deed of conveyance in
favor of the Government, filed his claim for compensation only in 1955.
This case would be resolved differently from Jaen vs. Agregado,5 cited by the
Government, where the landowner had formally conveyed the property to the
Government but did not file his claim for the price therefor until after 33 years
later. Jaen's claim being merely one for a sum of money rather than one
involving a question on acquisitive prescription, the some was found and
declared to have prescribed. Such is not the nature of the claim instituted in this
case.
It is not so clear as to what measures Ruperta Cabucos took to prosecute her
claim against the municipal government of Cebu. But the allegation is to the
effect that she in fact filed a claim which, since no payment has yet been made,
was probably simply ignored or lost in the malestrom of official red tape. It
should be borne in mind that as of today her heirs are still the registered owners
of lot in question. Their title is clean and they have not transferred it in favor of
the Government thru any instrument or verbal agreement. Their right cannot be
more aptly stated than in Alfonso vs. City of Pasay, L-12754, January 30, 1960,
where this Court, through Mr. Justice Montemayor, said:
. . . As registered owner, he could bring an action to recover possession at any
time because possession is one of the attributes of ownership of land. However,
said restoration of possession by the City of Pasay is neither convenient nor
feasible because it is now and has been used for road purposes. So, the only
relief available is for the City of Pasay to make due compensation, which it could
and should have done years ago since 1925.
Mindful as we are that said right is guaranteed by paragraph (2), Section 1,
Article III of the Constitution, which reads:
(2) Private property shall not be taken for public use without just compensation.
and by Article 435 of the Civil Code, we see no reason why petitioner's claim
should not be sustained.
With respect to the contention that petitioner lost her right to demand
compensation for Lot No. 638-B because she failed to register her claim in 1946
with the Claims Committee created by Administrative Order No. 6 of July 29,
1946, suffice it to state that said committee was created only for the purpose of
determining the obligations of the National Government and failure to register
any claim with it did not bar such claim inasmuch as Administrative Order No. 6
did not so provide.
Having actually appealed from the decision signed by the Deputy Auditor
General of February 18, 1963, petitioner is estopped from maintaining that said
decision is not the one appealable under Section 1 of Rule 45 of the Rules of
Court. Nonetheless, it may be worth pointing out that the Deputy Auditor
General, being the next highest official in the General Auditing Office, has
charge of said office in the absence of the Auditor General6 and as such
performs the functions of the latter, e.g., signing decisions on money claims.
That the Deputy Auditor General regularly performed his duties when he signed
the decision appealed from is presumed in the absence — as herein — of a
contrary showing.
The authorities are agreed that the owner of the land expropriated for public use
is entitled to recover the fair market value of the property at the time of taking
plus interest at the legal rate.7 However, only the fair market value of Lot No.
638-B as of August 1961, the date the amended claim was filed with the City
Engineer of Cebu, is disclosed by the records. In fairness to the heirs of Ruperta
Cabucos who have been deprived of the use of the lot in question for quite a
long time, this Court is inclined under the circumstances to award as reasonable
compensation the amount of P13,245.00 fixed by the Cebu Appraisal
Committee.
Wherefore, the decision appealed from is reversed. Petitioner-appellant
Raymunda S. Digran, as administratrix of the estate of Ruperta Cabucos, is
hereby ordered to execute a formal deed of conveyance on Lot No. 638-B in
favor of the Republic of the Philippines for which the Republic of the Philippines
shall pay, as it is hereby ordered to pay, petitioner-appellant Raymunda S. Digran
the sum of P13,245.00 plus interest at the legal rate from the date of filing of her
claim on April 20, 1961 until the full amount is paid and attorney's fees in the
amount of P1,500.00. No costs. So ordered.
Bengzon, C.J., Bautista Angelo, Concepcion, Reyes, J.B.L., Barrera, Dizon,
Regala, Makalintal and Sanchez, JJ., concur.
Zaldivar, J., took no part.

FACTS:
10. PANGANIBAN VS DAYRIT GR No. 151235, 28 July 2005
Petitioners alleged that they are the possessors and owners of Lot 1436 which
they inherited from the late Juan and Ines, the owner of the subject land in
question covered by OCT No. 7864. However, the said ownerʼs duplicate copy
of OCT No. 7864 covering the said lot had been lost and upon
The ownerʼs duplicate copy of OCT No. 7864 covering Lot 1436 had been lost
but upon petition with the trial court in 1977 by Erlinda B. Pacursa (Erlinda), one
of the heirs of Ines and a petitioner herein, the trial court granted the petition.[9]
Accordingly, the Register of Deeds of Misamis Oriental issued an ownerʼs
duplicate certificate of OCT No. 7864 to Erlinda.[10]
Petitioners further alleged that unknown to them, a certain Cristobal Salcedo
(Salcedo) asserted ownership over Lot 1436 and believing that it was
unregistered, sold a portion of it to respondent. The latter subsequently
discovered that what she had bought was registered land. Unable to annotate
the deed of sale at the back of OCT No. 7864, respondent fraudulently filed a
petition for issuance of the ownerʼs copy of said title, docketed as Misc. Case
No. 90-018 in March 1990. This petition of the respondent alleged that the copy
issued to Erlinda was lost in the fire that razed Lapasan, Cagayan de Oro City in
1981. While the petition mentioned Erlinda as the last one in possession of the
alleged lost ownerʼs duplicate copy of the title, she was not notified of the
proceedings.[11]
The petition in Misc. Case No. 90-018 was subsequently granted and the
Register of Deeds of Misamis Oriental issued an ownerʼs duplicate certificate of
OCT No. 7864 to respondent.[12] This second duplicate certificate issued to
respondent contained Entry No. 160180, the annotation of a Notice of Adverse
Claim filed by Erlinda.[13] The Notice of Adverse Claim[14] dated 24 February
1992 alleged in part that Erlinda is one of the lawful heirs of Juan and Ines, the
registered owners of the property, and as such, she has a legitimate claim
thereto.
Petitioners further alleged that the newly issued ownerʼs duplicate certificate of
OCT No. 7864 to respondent was prejudicial to their previously issued title
which is still

in existence. Thus, they prayed among others that they be declared as the
rightful owners of the property in question and that the duplicate certificate of
OCT No. 7864 in their possession be deemed valid and subsisting.[15]
In her answer to the amended complaint, respondent denied all the material
allegations of the complaint and set up affirmative and special defenses. She
alleged that Lot 1436 was actually sold sometime in 1947 by the petitioners
themselves and their father, Mauricio Baconga. The sale was purportedly
covered by a Deed of Definite Sale. Salcedo then came into ownership,
possession and enjoyment of the property in question.[16] On 14 February 1978,
Salcedo sold a portion of Lot 1436 with an area of two thousand twenty- five
(2,025) square meters, more or less, to respondent. From then on, the property
in question has been in her actual and physical enjoyment, she added.[17]
Respondent further alleged that the complaint was barred by the principles of
estoppel and laches by virtue of the sales executed by petitioners themselves
and their father. The complaint, according to her, also failed to include as
defendants, the heirs of Salcedo who are indispensable parties.[18]
On 10 August 1992, upon motion duly granted, respondent filed a third-party
complaint against the heirs of Salcedo alleging that as such heirs, they carry the
burden of warranting that their predecessors in interest were the true, legal and
rightful owners of the property in question at the time of the sale. Hence, she
prayed therein that she be maintained in peaceful and legal ownership,
possession and enjoyment of the questioned property.[19]
Answering the third-party complaint, the heirs of Salcedo effectively admitted
the existence of the 1978 deed of sale in favor of respondent by their parents
and considered the sale as within the personal and legal right of their parents
and an act outside their control.[20]
After due trial and consideration of the documentary and testimonial evidence
adduced by both parties, the trial court rendered a decision against petitioners
and in favor of respondent. The dispositive portion of the decision provides:

WHEREFORE, premises considered judgment is hereby rendered:


1. DISMISSING plaintiffʼs complaint, for lack of merit and cause of action;
2. DECLARING defendant as the true and real owner of the lot in question;
3. DECLARING the ownerʼs duplicate copy of Original Certificate of Title No.
7864 (plaintiffʼs Exh. “A”) null and void same being obtained by plaintiffs when
they were not owners anymore of Lot 1436;
4. DECLARING the ownerʼs duplicate copy of Original Certificate of Title No.
7864 obtained by defendant (Exh. “1”) as the one valid to be given like faith and
credit as the one that was lost and declared null and void; and
5. ORDERING the Register of Deeds of Cagayan de Oro City to issue a transfer
certificate of title to Angela N. Dayrit, herein defendant, for her 2,025 square
meter portion of Lot 1436; to Anita Baconga Fuentes for her 505 square meter
portion of Lot 1436 and to Atty. Isabelo N. Pacursa or his heirs, he being
allegedly dead already, for his 170 square meter portion of Lot 1436 and after
they shall have presented an approved subdivision plan and an agreement to
partition, to issue to each of them, their respective transfer certificate of title
with an area according to the respective technical description corresponding to
each of their land.
Defendantʼs counterclaim and third-party complaint are hereby dismissed.
SO ORDERED.[21]
The Regional Trial Court Decision was modified by the CA on appeal by
petitioners. The appellate court held that contrary to the ruling of the trial court,
the valid and subsisting duplicate certificate of OCT No. 7864 was the one
issued to Erlinda, not to respondent, considering that respondent had failed to
comply with the mandatory jurisdictional requirements of law for the
reconstitution of title under Sec. 13 of Republic Act No. 26.[22]
The CA invoked the doctrine that a trial court does not acquire jurisdiction over
a petition for the issuance of a new ownerʼs duplicate certificate of title if the
original is in fact not lost. Citing Strait Times, Inc. v. Court of Appeals,[23] the
CA held that the

reconstituted certificate is itself void once the existence of the original is


unquestionably demonstrated.[24]
Nonetheless, the CA affirmed in all other respects the ruling of the trial court,
including the critical holding that respondent was the owner of the subject
property. The decretal portion of the CAʼs decision reads:
WHEREFORE, in view of the foregoing, and pursuant to applicable law and
jurisprudence on the matter and evidence on hand, judgment is hereby rendered
granting partly the instant appeal. Consequently, the decision of the trial court is
MODIFIED so as to order the cancellation of the ownerʼs duplicate copy of OCT
No. 7864 issued to defendant Angelina Dayrit and declaring the ownerʼs
duplicate copy of OCT No. 7864 (Exh. “A” and sub-markings with SN No.
014439) to be still valid for all intents and purposes and to be given like faith
and credit as the original. All other aspects areAFFIRMED. No costs.
SO ORDERED.[25] (Emphasis in the original.)
Petitioners now come before this Court seeking the partial reversal of the
decision rendered by the CA. They contend that the CA erred in finding that the
tax declarations and the alleged adverse possession of respondent and her
predecessor-in- interest are conclusive proofs of their ownership of Lot 1436.
They further contend that the CA erred when it found them guilty of laches.[26]
However, it is apparent that in order that the petition may be properly resolved,
we must ascertain first, who between petitioners and respondent is the rightful
owner of the property in dispute and second, whether petitionersʼ right to
recover the property is barred by laches assuming they are the rightful owners
thereof as they claim.
The resolution of the foregoing issues hinges on the question of which ownerʼs
duplicate certificate of title is valid and subsisting, the one in petitionersʼ
possession or the one issued to respondent. What appears on the face of the
title is controlling in questions of ownership since the certificate of title is an
absolute and indefeasible evidence of ownership of the property in favor of the
person whose name appears therein.[27]

The CA correctly ruled that the duplicate certificate of title in petitionersʼ


possession is valid and subsisting. This Court had already ruled in Serra Serra v.
Court of Appeals[28] that if a certificate of title has not been lost but is in fact in
the possession of another person, the reconstituted title is void and the court
rendering the decision has not acquired jurisdiction over the petition for
issuance of a new title.[29]Since the ownerʼs duplicate copy of OCT No. 7864
earlier issued to Erlinda is still in existence, the lower court did not acquire
jurisdiction over respondentʼs petition for reconstitution of title. The duplicate
certificate of title subsequently issued to respondent is therefore void and of no
effect.
The registered owners of OCT No. 7864 on the face of the valid and subsisting
duplicate certificate of title are still Juan and Ines, petitionersʼ predecessors in
interest. [30] Per Section 46 of the Land Registration Act, no title to registered
land in derogation to that of the registered owner shall be acquired by
prescription or adverse possession. This rule taken in conjunction with the
indefeasibility of a Torrens title leads to the conclusion that the rightful owners
of the property in dispute are petitioners. They are indisputably the heirs of the
registered owners, both of whom are already dead.
These premises considered, it was error on the part of the trial court to rule that
respondent was the owner of the subject property and for the CA to have
affirmed such holding. We rule instead that the successors-in-interest of Juan
and Ines are the legal owners of the subject property, namely petitioners herein.
Petitionersʼ ownership of the property having been established, the question
now is whether they are entitled to its possession. On this point, the Court rules
in the negative. Petitioners are no longer entitled to recover possession of the
property by virtue of the equitable defense of laches. Thus, petitionersʼ
argument that laches is not applicable to them has no merit. By laches is meant:
...the failure or neglect, for an unreasonable and unexplained length of time, to
do that which by exercising due diligence could or should have been done
earlier, it is negligence or omission to assert a right within a

reasonable time, warranting a presumption that the party entitled to assert it


either has abandoned it or declined to assert it. The defense of laches is an
equitable one and does not concern itself with the character of the defendantʼs
title but only with whether or not by reason of plaintiffʼs long inaction or
inexcusable neglect, he should be barred from asserting his claim at all,
because to allow him to do so would be inequitable and unjust to defendant.[31]
In our jurisdiction, it is an enshrined rule that even a registered owner of
property may be barred from recovering possession of property by virtue of
laches.[32] Thus, in the case of Lola v. Court of Appeals,[33] this Court held
that petitioners acquired title to the land owned by respondent by virtue of the
equitable principles of laches due to respondentʼs failure to assert her claims
and ownership for thirty-two (32) years. In Miguel v. Catalino,[34] this Court
said that appellantʼs passivity and inaction for more than thirty-four (34) years
(1928-1962) justifies the defendant-appellee in setting up the equitable defense
of laches in his behalf. Likewise, in the case of Mejia de Lucas v. Gamponia,[35]
we stated that while the defendant may not be considered as having acquired
title by virtue of his and his predecessorʼs long continued possession for thirty-
seven (37) years, the original ownerʼs right to recover possession of the
property and the title thereto from the defendant has, by the latterʼs long period
of possession and by patenteeʼs inaction and neglect, been converted into a
stale demand.[36]
In this case, both the lower court and the appellate court found that contrary to
respondentʼs claim of possession, it was Salcedo, respondentʼs predecessor-in-
interest who had been in actual possession of the property. In fact, when the
lower court conducted an ocular inspection on the subject premises sometime
on 16 March 1993, the court-appointed Commissioner elicited from the people
residing near the subject property, more particularly Celso Velez, Nieto Abecia
and Paquito Nabe, that Salcedo was the owner and the one in possession of the
land until 1978 when respondent became the possessor thereof.[37]

It was only in 1992 or forty-five (45) years from the time Salcedo took
possession of the property that petitioners made an attempt to claim it as their
own. Petitioners declared the property for tax purposes, registered their adverse
claim to respondentʼs title, and filed the instant case all in 1992.[38] These
actuations of petitioners point to the fact that for forty-five (45) years, they did
nothing to assert their right of ownership and possession over the subject
property.
Given the circumstances in the case at bar, the application of the equitable
defense of laches is more than justified.
Petitioners claim that prescription and adverse possession can never militate
against the right of a registered owner since a title, once registered cannot be
defeated even by adverse, open and notorious possession.[39]
They are right in that regard. But their cause is defeated not by prescription and
adverse possession, but by laches.
This Court had occasion to distinguish laches from prescription in the case of
Heirs of Batiog Lacamen v. Heirs of Laruan.[40] It was held therein that:
“Laches” has been defined as “such neglect or omission to assert a right, taken
in conjunction with lapse of time and other circumstances causing prejudice to
an adverse party, as will operate as a bar in equity.” It is a delay in the assertion
of a right “which works disadvantage to another” because of the “inequity
founded on some change in the condition or relations of the property or parties.”
It is based on public policy which, for the peace of society, ordains that relief will
be denied to a stale demand which otherwise could be a valid claim. It is
different from and applies independently of prescription. While prescription is
concerned with the fact of delay, laches is concerned with the effect of delay.
Prescription is a matter of time; laches is principally a question of inequity of
permitting a claim to be enforced, this inequity being founded on some change
in the condition of the property or the relation of the parties. Prescription is
statutory; laches is not. Laches applies in equity, whereas prescription applies at
law. Prescription is based on a fixed time, laches is not. [41] (Footnotes are
omitted.)

Thus, it is the effect of delay in asserting their right of ownership over the
property which militates against petitioners, not merely the fact that they
asserted their right to the property too late in the day.
All the four (4) elements of laches prescribed by this Court in the case of Go Chi
Gun, et al. v. Co Cho, et al.[42] and reiterated in the cases of Mejia de Lucas v.
Gamponia,[43] Miguel v. Catalino[44] and Claverias v. Quingco[45] are present
in the case at bar, to wit:
(1) conduct on the part of the defendant, or of one under whom he claims,
giving rise to the situation of which complaint is made for which the complaint
seeks a remedy;
(2) delay in asserting the complainantʼs rights, the complainant having had
knowledge or notice, of the defendantʼs conduct and having been afforded an
opportunity to institute a suit;
(3) lack of knowledge or notice on the part of the defendant that the
complainant would assert the right on which he bases his suit; and
(4) injury or prejudice to the defendant in the event relief is accorded to
the complainant, or the suit is not held to be barred.[46]
Petitionersʼ inaction for forty-five (45) years reduced their right to recover the
subject property into a stale demand.
In Mejia,[47] the Court held in essence that the principle of laches is one of
estoppel because it prevents people who have slept on their rights from
prejudicing the rights of third parties who have placed reliance on the inaction of
the original patentee and his successors in interest.[48] The following
pronouncement in the case of Claverias v. Quingco[49] is therefore apropos to
the case at bar:
...Courts cannot look with favor at parties who, by their silence, delay and
inaction, knowingly induce another to spend time, effort and expense in
cultivating the land, paying taxes and making improvements thereon for 30 long
years, only to spring from ambush and claim title when the possessorʼs efforts
and the rise of the land values offer an opportunity to make easy profit at his
expense.[50]

WHEREFORE, the Petition is DENIED. The challenged decision of the Court of


Appeals is AFFIRMED insofar as it ruled that the claim of petitioners is barred by
laches. No pronouncement as to costs.
SO ORDERED.

Mejia de Lucas vs Gamponia 100 Phil. 277 10/31/1956 Gonzales, Liezel


FACTS:
Free patent No. 3699 was issued over the land subject of the action in the name
of Domingo Mejia which was transcribed in the Office of the Register of Deeds
of Nueva Vizcaya and certificate of title No. 380 issued in the name of Domingo
Mejia. After the issuance of the patent but before the registration of the same,
Mejia deeded the land to Zacarias Ciscar. Upon his death the property was
included in the distribution of his estate and adjudicated to Roque Sanchez.
Sanchez sold the land to Andres Gamponia.
Domingo Mejia, upon his death, left his brother Pedro Mejia who is survived by
his daughter Concordia Mejia de Lucas.
The court a quo held that the sale by the patentee to Zacarias Ciscar is null and
void, as the sale was made only 11 days after the issuance of a patent in
violation of the provisions of section 35 of Act No. 926. It further held that since
the land is registered land no title in derogation to that of the registered owner
could have been acquired either by Zacarias Ciscar or Sanchez and Gamponia.
The main defense is plaintiffʼs right of action has already prescribed by virtue of
the possession of the land by the defendant and his predecessors in interest for
a period of 37 years. This defense was overruled by the court a quo on the
ground that as the land is registered, with a certificate of title in the name of
patentee Domingo Mejia, title thereto may not be acquired by the defendant and
his predecessors in interest against said registered owner. This ruling is
evidently based on Section 46 of the Land Registration Act, which provides that
“no title to registered land in derogation to that of the registered owner shall be
acquired by prescription or adverse possession.
ISSUE:
Whether or not Mejia de Lucas is entitled to the property
HELD:
The Court ruled in the negative.
While no legal defense to the action lies, an equitable one lies in favor of the
defendant and that is, the equitable defense of laches. No hold that the defense
of prescription or adverse possession in derogation of the title of the registered
owner Domingo Mejia does not lie, but that of the equitable defense of laches.
Otherwise, stated, we hold that while defendant may not be considered as
having acquired title by virtue of his and his predecessorsʼ long continued
possession for 37 years, the original ownerʼs right to recover back the
possession of the property and the title thereto from the defendant has, by the
long period of 37 years and by patenteeʼs inaction and neglect, been converted
into a stale demand.
It is to be noted that all the complications would never had been occasioned had
the original patentee and his successors in interest not slept on their rights for
more than a generation. Add to this the fact that the original conveyance made
by the patentee is not absolutely null and void. The prohibition against the sale
of free patents is for a period of seven years (Section 35, Act No. 926) ; after
that period of time a patentee would be free to dispose of the land. Within seven
years from the conveyance the original patentee could have brought an action to
recover back his property. Since nothing of this sort was done by him, it was
certainly natural for the purchase to have assumed that the original patentee
gave up his right to recover back the property and acquiesced in vendeeʼs right
and title. The successor in interest of the original purchaser must also have
believed in good faith that the patentee and his successors in interest were
reconciled to the idea of allowing the property to stay in the hands of the
successors in interest.

CLAVERIAS v. QUINCO, 207 SCRA 66 (1992)

FACTS:
            The original complaint in Civil Case No. 615, an action instituted by
petitioner against private respondents for annulment of title and reconveyance
with damages involving more than fifteen (15) hectares designated as Lot No.
737 of the Himamaylan Cadastre located at Himamaylan, Negros Occidental. It
is alleged therein that Lot No. 737 was originally decreed and registered in the
names of petitioner Teodora Claverias and her brother Federico. The latter died
unmarried and without any issue, leaving Sinforosa as his only heir. They also
alleged that the owner's copy of the original certificate of title was lost during
the last world war. However, after the war, private respondent Adoracion
Quingco, taking advantage of plaintiff's illiteracy, had the original title
reconstructed in the name of petitioner Claverias and her deceased brother.

Thereafter, through fraud, Quingco had the said title cancelled and obtained a
new certificate in her name. Subsequently, in connivance with private
respondent Tongson, she executed a fictitious and simulated deed of sale of Lot
No. 737 in favor of the latter and, by virtue thereof, a new transfer certificate of
title was issued in Tongson's name. Subsequently, through force and
intimidation, Tongson succeeded in evicting petitioner and her mother from the
premises which they had been occupying until then. The trial court overruled
the theory of fraud relied upon by petitioner on the ground that the facts
established do not support it. It then held that the petitioner and her mother had
in fact twice sold the property in question to Venancia Alarcon de Quingco,
mother of respondent Adoracion Quingco, as evidenced by Exhibits "17" and
"18" Petitioner appealed to the Court of Appeals. The latter sustained the trial
court and affirmed its decision. The motion for reconsideration of the foregoing
decision having been denied for lack of merit in the 17 February 1987 Resolution
of the Court of Appeals, petitioner took this present recourse. He contended
that respondent court erred by not finding that exhibits. "17" and "18" being
merely true copies of the alleged original and under the law the documents are
not admissible as evidence.

ISSUE:
            Whether exhibits "17" and "18" being merely true copies of the alleged
original, not the best evidence, and under the law the documents are not
admissible as evidence?

RULING:
            Yes. Exhibits “17” and “18” are not the best evidence and under the law
the documents are not admissible as evidence. Exhibit "17" is not the best
evidence and should have been rejected because the grounds for non-
production of the original deed of sale under Section 3, in relation to Section 5,
Rule 130 of the Rules of Court, were not duly established. Said sections provide:

Sec. 3. Original document must be produced; exceptions. — When the


subject of inquiry is the contents of a document, no evidence shall be
admissible other than the original document itself, except in the following cases:
(a) When the original has been lost or destroyed, or cannot be produced in
court, without bad faith on the part of the offeror;
(b) When the original is in the custody or under the control of the party against
whom the evidence is offered, and the latter fails to produce it after reasonable
notice;
(c) When the original consists of numerous accounts or other documents which
cannot be examined in court without great loss of time and the fact sought to be
established from them is only the general result of the whole; and
(d) When the original is a public record in the custody of a public officer or is
recorded in a public office.
xxx xxx xxx

Sec. 5 When original document is unavailable. — When the original document


has been lost or destroyed, or cannot be produced in court, the offeror, upon
proof of its execution or existence and the cause of its unavailability without bad
faith on his part, may prove its contents by a copy, or by a recital of its contents
in some authentic document, or by the testimony of witnesses in the order
stated.

Private respondents failed to present the original deed of sale and do not claim
that they did. No justification has been adduced to show why they could not
produce the original or the duplicate originals thereof. Indeed, serious doubts
surrounds the existence of said deed of sale. Moreover, there is no showing that
the same had been registered. The reconstituted Original Certificate of Title No.
RO-7111 (17502) does not carry any entry regarding the said sale.

On the other hand, Exhibit "18" is not a deed of sale. It is but a certification of an
entry in the notarial register of notary public Vallejera. The certification states
that "no copy of the above-mentioned document has been received by this
office for file." It was, therefore, erroneous for both the trial and the respondent
appellate courts to declare that it is a deed of sale. While the certification may
be taken as evidence that sometime in the past the notary public did make that
entry in his notarial book, the entry is neither a substitute for the document, nor
the best evidence thereof. In this regard, private respondents again failed to
show why they could not produce the best evidence. The testimony of the
notary public that the document was acknowledged before him was insufficient
to prove the contents thereof. We also note that aside from the fact that this so-
called sale was not registered, no entry relating thereto appears in the
reconstituted Original Certificate of Title.

G.R. No. L-28975 February 27, 1976


VENANCIA B. MAGAY, assisted by her husband, VICTORIANO R. MAGAY,
plaintiff-appellee,
vs.
EUGENIO L. ESTIANDAN, defendant-appellant.
Valeriano V. Santos for appellant.
Inigo R. Pena for appellee.

ANTONIO, J:
Appeal from the judgment of the Court of First Instance of Palawan in an accion
publiciana filed by plaintiff-appellee Venancia B. Magay, assisted by her
husband, Victoriano R. Magay, against the defendant-appellant Eugenio L.
Estiandan in Civil Case No. 518, finding plaintiff-appellee as the registered
owner of the land in question under Transfer Certificate of Title No. 2004,
ordering defendant-appellant to vacate the property within fifteen (15) days
after the decision has become final, and to pay plaintiff-appellee the amount of
Ten Pesos (P10.00) monthly as rentals on the land from October 1965 until he
vacates the premises, and to pay the amount of Six Hundred Pesos (P600.00)
by way of attorney's fees and the costs of the suit.
The facts of the case as found by the trial court are as follows:
During the hearing of this case, the Court gathered from the evidence of the
plaintiff, that the plaintiff Venancia B. Magay bought the land. in question. from
her mother-in-law, Soledad de los Reyes. The land was formerly titled in the
name of Soledad de los Reyes under Original Certificate of Title No. E-2020
which was subsequently cancelled and transferred in the name of the herein
plaintiff under Transfer Certificate of Title No. 2004, Exhibit 'A'. The area bought
by the plaintiff from Soledad de los Reyes was resurveyed, Exhibit Al Exhibit
'A-1-a' is lot No. 1 of Exhibit Al which is the land in question: The defendant has
constructed two houses in the land in question: Exhibit 'A-1-a-1' which is an old
house and Exhibit 'A-1-a-2' which is a new house. Before this property was old
by Soledad de los Reyes to the plaintiff, the former sent two letters, Exhibits 'C'
and 'D' to the defendant telling him to vacate the premises. After the plaintiff
has acquired the property in question, she sent other letters to the defendant
advising him to vacate the premises, Exhibits 'E' and F The plaintiff has declared
the property in question for purposes of taxation, Exhibit 'G' and has paid the
real estate taxes, Exhibit 'H'. Due to the refusal of the defendant to vacate the
premises in question, the plaintiff was obliged to hire the services of a lawyer
and spent P600.00 for attorney's fees.
On the other hand, the defendant testified that he has filed a miscellaneous
sales application, Exhibit '6' over the land in question. said application,
according to him, is now pending in the Bureau of Lands and it has neither-been
rejected nor approved. The defendant bases his application on the decision
rendered by Judge Bartolome Revilla in the case of El Gobierno de las Islas
Filipinos contra Antonio Aborot y otros Exhibit '5' adjudicating the land in
question in favor of the Government of the Philippines. Moreover, the defendant
questions the validity of the title issued to Soledad de log Reyes, alleging that
the issuance and reconstitution thereof was done under anomalous
circumstances.
Appellants brought this case on appeal directly to this Court on the
representation that only questions of law are involved. After a careful analysis of
the issues raised, it appears that the principal question to be resolved is whether
appellant can question in this proceedings the validity of Original Certificate No.
E-2020 issued to Soledad de los Reyes, now d and of the subsequent issuance
of Transfer Certificate of Title No. 2W4 by the Register of Deeds to plaintiff-
appellee as a consequence of the registration of the deed of sale executed by
Soledad de los Reyes in favor of plaintiff-appellee dated June 26, 1963, on the
ground that Original Certificate of Title No. E-2020 was allegedly "fraudulently
issued" to the late Soledad de los Reyes in 1948.
It is well-settled that a torrens title cannot be co attacked. The issue on the
validity of the title can only in action expressly instituted for that purpose. 1 Even
assuming that the land in question is still part of the public domain, then the
appellant is not the proper party to institute the reversion of the land but it must
be the Solicitor General in the name of the Republic of the Philippines. 2
Finally, We also find no merit in appellant's contention that the lower Court erred
in assuming jurisdiction over the case. As clearly emphasized by Justice Fred
Ruiz Castro (now Chief Justice of this Court) in Serrano v. Munoz Hi Motors,
Inc.," 3 jurisdiction over the subject matter is determined by the allegations of
the complaint, irrespective of whether or not the plaintiff is entitled to recover
upon all or some of the claims asserted therein-a matter that can be resolved
only after and as a result of the trial. Nor may the jurisdiction of the court be
made to depend upon the defenses set up in the answer or upon the motion to
dismiss, for, were we to be governed by such rule, the question of jurisdiction
could depend almost entirely upon the defendant." The lower court did not
commit any am in declaring that plaintiff-appellee's complaint is actually an
accion publiciana rather than one for unlawful detainer, within the intendment of
Section 1, Rule 70 of the procedural law.
WHEREFORE, in view of the foregoing, the judgment appealed from is hereby
affirmed, with costs against the appellant.
Fernando (Chairman), Barredo, Aquino and Jr., JJ., concur.

1.
 
G.R. No. 152440. January 31, 2005
FELICITACION B. BORBAJO,
 petitioner, vs
. HIDDEN VIEW
HOMEOWNERS, INC., SPS. MARCELINA A. SARCON, ELY D.
SARCON, ROBERTO ALVAREZ, CORAZON NOMBRADO, and
GILBERT ANDRALES, in their personal
capacities,
 respondents.
 
FACTS:
Jose C. Bontuyan (Bontuyan), Lucy Solon, Georgina
Solon, Helen Solon and Vicente Solon, Jr. (the Solons) were
the registered owners of a parcel of agricultural land (Lot
10183-A), covering an area of 13,910 square meters as
evidenced by Transfer Certificate of Title (TCT) No. 73709 of
the Register of Deeds of Cebu City. At the instance of
Bontuyan, the property was surveyed on 19 May 1991 to
convert it into a subdivision. Meanwhile, in his own behalf
and as attorney-in-fact of the Solons and following the
subdivision scheme in the plan, Bontuyan sold the resulting
lots to different individuals,as evidenced by the
Deed of
 Absolute Sale
 dated 18 June 1991. Among the lots sold are
the ones which later became the subject of this case, the
three (3) road lots. The road lots were sold to petitioner
Felicitacion B. Borbajo. Using the advance payments of his
lot purchasers, Bontuyan proceeded to develop a
subdivision which was later named
Hidden View
Subdivision I
 by its residents and homeowners. Later, he
applied for and secured from the Housing and Land Use
Regulatory Board (HLURB) a
License to Sell
.
The residents and homeowners of
Hidden View
Subdivision
 
I
heard reports to the effect that Borbajo had
purchased the entire subdivision from Bontuyan through
an oral agreement. They also heard that they have no
right to use the road lots, since the lots have already been
registered in Borbajos name. As a consequence, the
Hidden View Homeowners, Inc. invited Borbajo to a
meeting. When confronted by the homeowners about her
claim that she had bought the subdivision from Bontuyan,
Borbajo confirmed her claim of ownership over the
subdivision and the road lots. She also told them that they
have no right regarding the road right-of-way.
[12]
On 10
August 1997, the homeowners caused the construction of
a guardhouse at the entrance of
Hidden View Subdivision
I
 and hired the services of a security guard to prevent
unauthorized persons and construction vehicles from
passing through their subdivision. The measures adversely
affected the residents of the subdivisions at the back, as
well as Borbajo herself since her delivery trucks and heavy
equipment used in the construction of her housing projects
then on-going had been effectively prevented from
passing through the road lots
.
[15]
 
The trial court issued a TRO effective for seventy-two (72)
hours. After due hearing, it also granted Borbajos
application for a writ of preliminary injunction. It denied
respondents motion to dismiss on the ground that it is the
HLURB which has jurisdiction over the case.
On appeal, the Court of Appeals reversed the lower court
decision
ISSUE:
Whether respondents may legally prevent Borbajo from
using and passing through the three (3) road lots
within
Hidden View Subdivision I
RULING:
No. As a registered co-owner(Petitioner) of the road
lots, Borbajo is entitled to avail of all the attributes of
ownership under the Civil Code
 jus utendi, fruendi,
abutendi, disponendi et vindicandi
.
[32]
 
Article 428 of the
New Civil Code is explicit that the owner has the right to
enjoy and dispose of a thing, without other limitations than
those established by law. A co-owner, such as Borbajo, is
entitled to use the property owned in common under
Article 486 of the Civil Code. Therefore, respondents
cannot close the road lots to prevent Borbajo from using
the same.

G.R. No. L-68291 March 6, 1991


ARCADIO, MELQUIADES, ABDULA, EUGENIO, APOLONIO, all surnamed
YBAÑEZ, petitioners, vs.
THE HONORABLE INTERMEDIATE APPELLATE COURT and VALENTIN O.
OUANO, respondents,
Dominador F. Carillo for petitioners. Pableo B. Baldoza for private respondent.
FERNAN, C.J.:
Facts:
Records show that private respondent Valentin Ouano, a claimant- occupant of
Lot No. 986, Pls-599-D situated at sitio Bagsac, barrio of Manikling, Governor
Generoso (now San Isidro), Davao del Norte, containing an area of three (3)
hectares, 48 ares and 78 centares which was surveyed on March 13, 1958 as
evidenced by the "Survey Notification Card" issued in his name, a homestead
application 1 with the Bureau of Lands. The said application was approved in an
order dated March 3, 1959 issued by the District Land Officer and by authority
of the Director of Lands.
Three (3) years thereafter, a "Notice of Intention to Make Final Proof was made
by Valentin Ouano to establish his claim to the lot applied for and to prove his
residence and cultivation before Land Inspector.
After 19 years of possession, cultivation and income derived from coconuts
planted on Lot No. 986, private respondent Valentin Ouano was interrupted in
his peaceful occupation thereof when a certain Arcadio Ybanez and his sons,
Melquiades, Abdula, Eugenia
Numeriano, Apolonio and Victoriano, forcibly and unlawfully entered the land
armed with spears, canes and bolos.
Because of the unwarranted refusal of Arcadio Ybanez, et al. to vacate the
premises since the time he was dispossessed in 1975, private respondent
Valentin Ouano filed a complaint for recovery of possession, damages and
attorney's fees before the then Court of First Instance (now RTC) of Davao
Oriental. Seeking to enjoin the Ybanezes from further the coconuts therefrom
and restore to him the peaceful possession and occupation of the premises. In
his complaint, Valentin Ouano, then plaintiff therein, alleged that he has been in
lawful and peaceful possession since 1956 to which an Original Certificate of
Title No. P-(l5353)-P-3932 was issued in his name; that petitioners, then
defendants therein, unlawfully entered his land on January 4, 1975 and started
cultivating and gathering the coconuts, bananas and other fruits therein,
thereby illegally depriving him of the possession and enjoyment of the fruits of
the premises.
Petitioners, on the other hand, alleged that plaintiff Valentin Ouano, now private
respondent, has never been in possession of any portion of Lot No. 986 as the
same has been continously occupied and possessed by petitioners since 1930
in the concept of owner and have introduced valuable improvements thereon
such as coconuts and houses; that Lot No. 986 was the subject matter of
administrative proceedings before the Bureau of Lands in Mati, Davao Oriental
which was consequently decided in their favor by the Director of Lands on the
finding that Valentin Ouano has never resided in the land; that it was declared by
the Director of Lands that the homestead patent issued to private respondent
Valentin Ouano was improperly and erroneously issued, since on the basis of
their investigation and relocation survey, the actual occupation and cultivation
was made by petitioner Arcadio Ybañez and his children, consisting of 9.6
hectares which cover the whole of Lot No. 986 and portions of Lot Nos. 987,
988 and 989; that based on the ocular inspection conducted, it was established
that Valentin Ouano did not have a house on the land and cannot locate the
boundaries of his titled land for he never resided therein.
On April 15, 1963, an "Original Certificate of Title No. P-15353" was issued to
private respondent Valentin Ouano over Homestead Patent No. 181261 which
was transcribed in the "Registration Book" for the province of Davao on October
28, 1963. 3

The trial court, after hearing, rendered its decision 6 in favor of private
respondent.
Petitioners appealed to the Intermediate Appellate Court.
The Intermediate Appellate Court, First Civil Cases Division promulgated a
decision, 8 affirming the decision of the trial court, with modification.
Hence the instant recourse by petitioners.
Issue:
WON Valentine Ouano is the rightful owner of the questioned parcel of land.
Held:
Affirmative;
The public land certificate of title issued to private respondent attained the
status of indefeasibility one (1) year after the issuance of patent on April 15,
1963, hence, it is no longer open to review on the ground of actual fraud.
Consequently, the filing of the protest before the Bureau of Lands against the
Homestead Application of private respondent on January 3, 1975, or 12 years
after, can no longer re- open or revise the public land certificate of title on the
ground of actual fraud. No reasonable and plausible excuse has been shown for
such an unusual delay. The law serves those who are vigilant and diligent and
not those who sleep when the law requires them to act.
The trial court merely applied the rule and jurisprudence that a person whose
property has been wrongly or erroneously registered in another's name is not to
set aside the decree, but, respecting the decree as incontrovertible and no
longer open to review, to bring an ordinary action in the ordinary court of justice
for reconveyance or, if the property has passed into the hands of an innocent
purchaser for value, for damages. 18
The prescriptive period for the reconveyance of fraudulently registered real
property is ten (10) years reckoned from the date of the issuance of the
certificate of title. 19
private respondent Ouano has a better right of possession over Lot No. 986
than petitioners who claimed to own and possess a total of 12 hectares of land
including that of Lot No. 986. Records indicate that petitioners have not taken
any positive step to legitimize before the Bureau of Lands their self-serving
claim of possession and cultivation of a total of 12 hectares of public agricultural
land by either applying for homestead settlement, sale patent, lease, or
confirmation of imperfect or incomplete title by judicial legalization under
Section 48(b) of the Public Land Law, as amended by R.A. No. 1942 and P.D.
1073, or by administrative legalization (free patent) under Section 11 of Public
Land Law, as amended.1âwphi1 What was clearly shown during the trial of the
case was that petitioners wrested control and possession of Lot No. 986 on
January 4, 1975, or one (1) day after they filed their belated protest on January
3, 1975 before the Bureau of Lands against the homestead application of private
respondent, thus casting serious doubt on their claim of prior possession and
productive cultivation.
WHEREFORE, the petition is DENIED for lack of merit.
The certificate of title serves as evidence of an indefeasible title to the property
in favor of the person whose name appears therein. After the expiration of the
one (1) year period from the issuance of the decree of registration upon which it
is based, it becomes incontrovertible. 12 The settled rule is that a decree of
registration and the certificate of title issued pursuant thereto may be attacked
on the ground of actual fraud within one (1) year from the date of its entry and
such an attack must be direct and not by a collateral proceeding. 13 The validity
of the certificate of title in this regard can be threshed out only in an action
expressly filed for the purpose. 14

There is no specific provision in the Public Land Law (C.A. No. 141, as amended)
or the Land Registration Act (Act 496), now P.D. 1529, fixing the one (1) year
period within which the public land patent is open to review on the ground of
actual fraud as in Section 38 of the Land Registration Act, now Section 32 of
P.D. 1529, and clothing a public land patent certificate of title with indefeasibility.
Nevertheless, the pertinent pronouncements in the aforecited cases clearly
reveal that Section 38 of the Land Registration Act, now Section 32 of P.D. 1529
was applied by implication by this Court to the patent issued by the Director of
Lands duly approved by the Secretary of Natural Resources, under the signature
of the President of the Philippines in accordance with law. The date of issuance
of the patent, therefore,
corresponds to the date of the issuance of the decree in ordinary registration
cases because the decree finally awards the land applied for registration to the
party entitled to it, and the patent issued by the Director of Lands equally and
finally grants, awards, and conveys the land applied for to the applicant.
If the title to the land grant in favor of the homesteader would be subjected to
inquiry, contest and decision after it has been given by the Government thru the
process of proceedings in accordance with the Public Land Law, there would
arise uncertainty, confusion and suspicion on the government's system of
distributing public agricultural lands pursuant to the "Land for the Landless"
policy of the State.
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