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Lasam vs.

Director of Lands
Actual possession of land consists in the manifestation of acts of dominion over it of such a nature
as a party would naturally exercise over his own property.

possession in the eyes of the law does not mean that a man has to have his feet on every square
meter of ground before it can be said that he is in possession," possession under paragraph 6 of
Section 54 of Act No. 926, as amended by paragraph (b) of Section 45 of Act No. 2874, is not
gained by mere nominal claim. The mere planting of a sign or symbol of possession cannot justify a
Magellan-like claim of dominion over an immense tract of territory. Possession as a means of
acquiring ownership, while it may be constructive, is not a mere fiction. x x x.

Possession is open when it is patent, visible, apparent, notorious and not clandestine. It is
continuous when uninterrupted, unbroken and not intermittent or occasional; exclusive when the
adverse possessor can show exclusive dominion over the land and an appropriation of it to his own
use and benefit; and notorious when it is so conspicuous that it is generally known and talked of by
the public or the people in the neighborhood.

Use of land is adverse when it is open and notorious.


In sum, a simple claim of "open, continuous, exclusive and notorious possession and occupation"
does not suffice. An applicant for a grant or title over a lot must be able to show that he has
exercised acts of dominion over the property in question. The applicant’s possession must not be
simply a nominal claim where he only plants a sign or symbol of possession. In other words, his
possession of the property must be patent, visible, apparent, notorious and not clandestine; it should
be uninterrupted, unbroken and not intermittent or occasional; it should demonstrate exclusive
dominion over the land and an appropriation of it to his own use and benefit; and it should be
conspicuous, which means generally known and talked of by the public or the people in the
neighborhood

However, in the present petition, the respondent failed to specifically show that she and her
predecessors-in-interest had exercised acts of dominion over the subject lots. Admittedly, the
respondent’s best evidence to prove possession and ownership were tax declarations and receipts
issued in her name or the names of her predecessors-in-interest, but these tax declarations and
receipts are not conclusive evidence of ownership or right of possession over a piece of land. "Well
settled is the rule that tax declarations and receipts are not conclusive evidence of ownership or of
the right to possess land when not supported by any other evidence.

The fact that the disputed property may have been declared for taxation purposes in the names of
the applicants for registration or of their predecessors-in- interest does not necessarily prove
ownership. They are merely indicia of a claim of ownership."51

On the other hand, a "lien" is a charge on property usually for the payment of some debt or
obligation.15 A "lien" is a qualified right or a proprietary interest, which may be exercised over the
property of another. It is a right which the law gives to have a debt satisfied out of a particular
thing. 16 It signifies a legal claim or charge on property, either real or personal, as a collateral or
security for the payment of some debt or obligation.

Similarly, an "encumbrance is a burden upon land, depreciative of its value, such as a lien,
easement, or servitude, which, though adverse to (the) interest of (the) landowner, does not conflict
with his conveyance of (the) land in fee." 17

The following are considered encumbrances: A claim, lien, charge, or liability attached to and
binding real property; e.g., a mortgage, judgment lien, lease, security interest, easement or right of
way, accrued and unpaid taxes. 18 A lien is already an existing burden or charge on the property
while a notice of lis pendens, as the very term connotes, is only a notice or warning that a claim or
possible charge on the property is pending determination by the court.

Jurisprudence is replete with Supreme Court decisions to the effect that actions to cancel or
nullify or to declare void, Certificates of Title which have acquired indefeasibility, (for the reason
that the same were attained or procured through fraud) like the Certificate of Title of defendant
Conrado T. (sic) de Lara, as alleged by the Solicitor General in his complaint, can only be
maintained when the subject property has not passed to an innocent third person for value. Yet,
this is the case of defendant Sisters of St. John the Baptist, Inc. The Court feels that in the
hands of the latter, its title over the property in question is indeafisible (sic), and can no longer
be annulled. Hence, an action of this kind will no longer lie against the said defendant. As
against the latter, this case is, therefore, ordered DISMISSED.

An innocent purchaser for value is one who buys the property of another, without notice that
some other person has a right to, or interest in, such property and pays a full and fair price for
the same at the time of such purchase, or before he has notice of the claims or interest of some
other person in the property.[16]

Furthermore, even assuming arguendo that the procurement of the Free Patent and
Original Certificate of Title of the vendor, Conrado F. de Lara, was tainted with fraud and
misrepresentation, a defective title may be the source of a completely legal and valid title
in the hands of an innocent purchaser for value. In Gloria R. Cruz vs. Court of Appeals,
281 SCRA 492 [1997], the Court held:

"Where innocent third persons, relying on the correctness of the certificate of


title thus issued, acquire rights over the property the court cannot disregard
such rights and order the total cancellation of the certificate.The effect of such
an outright cancellation would be to impair public confidence in the certificate
of title, for everyone dealing with property registered under the Torrens
system would have to inquire in every instance whether the title has been
regularly or irregularly issued. This is contrary to the evident purpose of the
law. Every person dealing with registered land may safely rely on the
correctness of the certificate of title issued therefor and the law will in no way
oblige him to go behind the certificate to determine the condition of the
property. xxx"

NELAYAN VS NELAYAN

It should be remembered that possession since time immemorial carries the presumption that the
land had never been part of the public domain or that it had been a private property even before the
Spanish conquest. And so, we said in one case —

... All lands that were not acquired from the Government, either by purchase or by grant,
belong to the public domain. An exception to the rule would be any land that should have
been in the possession of an occupant and of his predecessors in interest since time
immemorial for such possession would justify the presumption that the land had never been
part of the public domain or that it had been a private property even before the Spanish
conquest. (Oh Cho vs. Director of Lands, 75 Phil., 890 892, Citing Cariño vs.Insular
Government, 212 U.S. 449, 53 L. ed. 394). (Emphasis supplied).

SECRETARY OF DENR VS MAYOR YAP

Regalian Doctrine

The 1935 Constitution classified lands of the public domain into agricultural,
forest or timber.[40]Meanwhile, the 1973 Constitution provided the following
divisions: agricultural, industrial or commercial, residential, resettlement, mineral,
timber or forest and grazing lands, and such other classes as may be provided by
law,[41] giving the government great leeway for classification.[42] Then the 1987
Constitution reverted to the 1935 Constitution classification with one addition:
national parks.[43] Of these, onlyagricultural lands may be alienated.[44] Prior to
Proclamation No. 1064 of May 22, 2006, Boracay Island had neverbeen expressly
and administratively classified under any of these grand divisions. Boracay was an
unclassified land of the public domain.
The Regalian Doctrine dictates that all lands of the public domain belong to
the State, that the State is the source of any asserted right to ownership of land
and charged with the conservation of such patrimony.[45] The doctrine has been
consistently adopted under the 1935, 1973, and 1987 Constitutions.[46]

All lands not otherwise appearing to be clearly within private ownership are
presumed to belong to the State.[47] Thus, all lands that have not been acquired
from the government, either by purchase or by grant, belong to the State as part
of the inalienable public domain.[48]

Our present land law traces its roots to the Regalian Doctrine. Upon the
Spanish conquest of the Philippines, ownership of all lands, territories and
possessions in the Philippines passed to the Spanish Crown.[50] The Regalian
doctrine was first introduced in the Philippines through the Laws of the Indies and
the Royal Cedulas, which laid the foundation that all lands that were not acquired
from the Government, either by purchase or by grant, belong to the public
domain.[51]

The Laws of the Indies was followed by the Ley Hipotecaria or the Mortgage
Law of 1893. The Spanish Mortgage Law provided for the systematic registration of
titles and deeds as well as possessory claims.[52]

The Royal Decree of 1894 or the Maura Law[53] partly amended the Spanish
Mortgage Law and the Laws of the Indies. It established possessory information as
the method of legalizing possession of vacant Crown land, under certain conditions
which were set forth in said decree.[54] Under Section 393 of the Maura Law,
an informacion posesoria or possessory information title,[55]when duly inscribed in
the Registry of Property, is converted into a title of ownership only after the lapse
of twenty (20) years of uninterrupted possession which must be actual, public, and
adverse,[56] from the date of its inscription.[57]However, possessory information
title had to be perfected one year after the promulgation of the Maura Law, or
until April 17, 1895. Otherwise, the lands would revert to the State.
On February 1, 1903, the Philippine Legislature passed Act No. 496,
otherwise known as the Land Registration Act. The act established a system of
registration by which recorded title becomes absolute, indefeasible, and
imprescriptible. This is known as the Torrens system.[66]

Concurrently, on October 7, 1903, the Philippine Commission passed Act


No. 926, which was the first Public Land Act. The Act introduced the homestead
system and made provisions for judicial and administrative confirmation of
imperfect titles and for the sale or lease of public lands. It permitted corporations
regardless of the nationality of persons owning the controlling stock to lease or
purchase lands of the public domain.[67] Under the Act, open, continuous, exclusive,
and notorious possession and occupation of agricultural lands for the next ten (10)
years preceding July 26, 1904 was sufficient for judicial confirmation of imperfect
title.[68]
The issuance of PD No. 892[75]on February 16, 1976discontinued the use of
Spanish titles as evidence in land registration proceedings.[76]Under the decree, all
holders of Spanish titles or grants should apply for registration of their lands under
Act No. 496 within six (6) months from the effectivity of the decree on February 16,
1976. Thereafter, the recording of all unregistered lands[77] shall be governed by
Section 194 of the Revised Administrative Code, as amended by Act No. 3344.

On June 11, 1978, Act No. 496 was amended and updated by PD No. 1529,
known as the Property Registration Decree. It was enacted to codify the various
laws relative to registration of property.[78] It governs registration of lands under
the Torrens system as well as unregistered lands, including chattel mortgages.

The burden of proof in overcoming the presumption of State ownership of the


lands of the public domain is on the person applying for registration (or claiming
ownership), who must prove that the land subject of the application is alienable
or disposable.[83] To overcome this presumption, incontrovertible evidence must
be established that the land subject of the application (or claim) is alienable or
disposable.[84]There must still be a positive act declaring land of the public domain
as alienable and disposable. To prove that the land subject of an application for
registration is alienable, the applicant must establish the existence of a positive
act of the government such as a presidential proclamation or an executive order;
an administrative action; investigation reports of Bureau of Lands investigators;
and a legislative act or a statute.[85]The applicant may also secure a certification
from the government that the land claimed to have been possessed for the
required number of years is alienable and disposable.[86

Section 14(1), Presidential Decree No. 1529 provides as follows:

Section 14. Who may apply. The following persons may file in the proper Court of First Instance an
application for registration of title to land, whether personally or through their duly authorized
representatives:

(1) Those who by themselves or through their predecessorsin-interest have been in open,
continuous, exclusive and notorious possession and occupation of alienable and disposable lands of
the public domain under a bona fide claim of ownership since June 12, 1945, or earlier. In the same
manner, Section 48 of Commonwealth Act No. 141, otherwise known as The Public Land Act, as
amended by Presidential Decree No. 1073, states:

Sec. 48. The following described citizens of the Philippines, occupying lands of the public domain
orclaiming 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:

xxxx

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

Based on the above provisions, an applicant for original registration of title based on a claim of
exclusive and continuous possession or occupation must show the existence of the following:

1. Open, continuous, exclusive and notorious possession, by themselves or through their


predecessors-in-interest, of land;

2. The land possessed or occupied must have been declared alienable and disposable
agricultural land of public domain;
3. The possession or occupation was under a bona fideclaim of ownership;

4. Possession dates back to June 12, 1945 or earlier.6

Based on the above provisions, an applicant for original registration of title based on a claim of
exclusive and continuous possession or occupation must show the existence of the following:

1. Open, continuous, exclusive and notorious possession, by themselves or through their


predecessors-in-interest, of land;

2. The land possessed or occupied must have been declared alienable and disposable
agricultural land of public domain;

3. The possession or occupation was under a bona fideclaim of ownership;

4. Possession dates back to June 12, 1945 or earlier.6

right to the original registration of title over the subject property is, therefore, dependent on the
existence of (a) a declaration that the land is alienable and disposable at the time of the application
for registration and (b) open and continuous possession in the concept of an owner through itself or
wethrough its predecessors-in-interest since June 12, 1945 or earlier.12

USE THE SEARCH FOR ALL YOUR LEGAL RESEARCH NEEDS:

THE CONCEPT OF JURE REGALIA -REGALIAN


DOCTRINE
Land Titles And Deeds

inShare
WHAT IS THE CONCEPT OF
JURE REGALIA?
(REGALIAN DOCTRINE)
> Generally, under this concept, private title to land must be traced to some grant, express or implied, from
the Spanish Crown or its successors, the American Colonial Government, and thereafter, the Philippine
Republic
> In a broad sense, the term refers to royal rights, or those rights to which the King has by virtue of his
prerogatives
> The theory of jure regalia was therefore nothing more than a natural fruit of conquest

We reiterate the standing doctrine that land of the public domain, to be the subject of appropriation, must
be declared alienable and disposable either by the President or the Secretary of the DENR. In Republic v.
T.A.N. Properties, Inc.,41 we explicitly ruled: c hanRoblesv irtual Lawlib rary

The applicant for land registration must prove that the DENR Secretary
had approved the land classification and released the land of the public
domain as alienable and disposable, and that the land subject of the
application for registration falls within the approved area per verification
through survey by the PENRO or CENRO. In addition, the applicant for
land registration must present a copy of the original classification
approved by the DENR Secretary and certified as a true copy by the
legal custodian of the official records.� These facts must be established
to prove that the land is alienable and disposable.42

This doctrine unavoidably means that the mere certification issued by the CENRO or PENRO did not suffice to
support the application for registration, because the applicant must also submit a copy of the original
classification of the land as alienable and disposable as approved by the DENR Secretary and certified as a
true copy by the legal custodian of the official records. As the Court said in Republic v. Bantigue
Point Development Corporation: 43

The Regalian doctrine dictates that all lands of the public domain belong
to the State. The applicant for land registration has the burden of
overcoming the presumption of State ownership by establishing through
incontrovertible evidence that the land sought to be registered is
alienable or disposable based on a positive act of the
government. We held in Republic v. T.A.N. Properties, Inc. that a
CENRO certification is insufficient to prove the alienable and disposable
character of the land sought to be registered. The applicant must also
show sufficient proof that the DENR Secretary has approved the land
classification and released the land in question as alienable and
disposable.

Thus, the present rule is that an application for original registration must
be accompanied by (1) a CENRO or PENRO Certification; and (2) a copy
of the original classification approved by the DENR Secretary and
certified as a true copy by the legal custodian of the official records.

Here, respondent Corporation only presented a CENRO certification in


support of its application. Clearly, this falls short of the requirements for
original registration.44

Aliens, as a general rule, are not allowed to own real property in the Philippines. By
“aliens”, we don’t mean creatures from outer space, but persons who are citizens of other
countries. By “general rule”, we mean that there are certain exceptions, and two of such
exceptions are discussed below.

The prohibition on foreigners owning Philippine lands is embodied in no less than the
Philippine Constitution. This, in fact, is one of the usual reason cited by those who want
to revise or amend the Constitution. The Constitution provides:

“Save in cases of hereditary succession, no private lands shall be


transferred or conveyed except to individuals, corporations, or associations
qualified to acquire or hold lands of the public domain.” (Article XII, Section
7)

It’s clear from this provision that private land may be transferred only to persons or entitles
who/which has the capacity “to acquire or hold lands of the public domain.” Those who
are qualified to acquire or hold lands of the public domain are as follows:

1. Filipino citizens.
2. Corporations at least 60% of the capital of which is owned by Filipinos.
In other words, the Constitution explicitly prohibits non-Filipinos from acquiring or holding
title to private lands. Among the exceptions are as follows: (1) transfer to an alien by way
of legal succession; or (2) if the acquisition was made by a former natural-born citizen.
The 1987 Constitution provides that:

“Notwithstanding the provisions of Section 7 of this Article, a natural-born


citizen of the Philippines who has lost his Philippine citizenship may be a
transferee of private lands, subject to limitations provided by law.” (Art. XII,
Sec. 8)

The Supreme Court reiterated this general rule in a recent case (Borromeo vs. Descallar,
G.R. No. 159310, 24 February 2009). The Court also reiterated the consistent ruling that
if land is invalidly transferred to an alien who subsequently becomes a Filipino citizen or
transfers it to a Filipino, the flaw in the original transaction is considered cured and the
title of the transferee is rendered valid.

There are other exceptions to the prohibition on aliens owning real property in the
Philippines, like full ownership by foreigners of condominium units, but this shall be the
subject of future discussions.

In general, only Filipino citizens and corporations or partnerships with least 60% of the shares are
owned by Filipinos are entitled to own or acquire land in the Philippines. Foreigners or non-Philippine
nationals may however purchase condominiums, buildings, and enter into a long term land lease.

Exceptions to the restriction on foreigners


acquisition of land in the Philippines are the
following:
 Acquisition before the 1935 constitution
 Acquisition through hereditary succession if the foreigner is a legal or natural heir
 Purchase of not more than 40% interest in a condominium project
 Purchase by a former natural-born Filipino citizen subject to the limitations prescribed by law.
(Natural-born Filipinos who acquired foreign citizenship is entitled to own up to 5,000 sq.m. of
residential land, and 1 hectare of agricultural or farm land)
 Filipinos who are married to aliens who retain their Filipino citizenship, unless by their act or
omission they have renounced their Filipino citizenship
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Mirror Principle And The Land Act


Question 1
The Mirror Principle And The Land Act Of 2002
A sound system of land registration is underpinned by three principles: the insurance
principle; the curtain principle, and; the mirror principle. The insurance principle refers to the
guarantee secured by the State that any loss incurred by a registered land resulting from
reliance on the conclusiveness of the land Registry by a land purchaser will be
compensated through a statutory indemnity system. The curtain principle, on the other hand,
is the concept that land registration may allow certain equitable interests attached to the
land hidden from a purchaser's view. This ‘curtain,' however, does not affect the validity of
any transaction on the registered land so long as the details of the registration reflects the
validity of the title. Finally, there is the mirror principle. The mirror principle refers to the idea
that the due registration of a land title must reflect all the important and significant details
that a purchaser must know before buying the land. These details refer to the identity of the
“owner, the nature of his ownership, any limitations on his ownership and any rights enjoyed
by other persons over the land that are adverse to the owner.” The objective of the mirror
principle has not been met under the Land Registration Act 2000 because of the
impossibility of entering all land details in the Registry.