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G.R. No.

L-40399 February 6, 1990

MARC
MARCEL ELIINO C. AGNE, GNE, FELI
FELIX
X ORIA
ORIANE
NE,, AGATO
GATON N TAGA
TAGANA
NAS,
S, HILA
HILARI
RIO
O
ESCO
ESCORPI
RPIZOZO,, ISA
ISABELO
BELO MAURI
MAURICI
CIO,
O, HEIR
HEIRS
S OF ROMA
ROMAN N DAMA
DAMASO,
SO, NAMEL
NAMELY: Y:
JORGE DAMASO
DAMASO and ALEJANDRO DAMASO,DAMASO, HEIRS OF FRANCISCO
FRANCISCO RAMOS,
NAMELY
NAMELY:: ENCA
ENCARNACIO
RNACION N R. LEANO
LEANO and DOMING
DOMINGA A R. MEDRA
MEDRANO,
NO, HEIRS
HEIRS OF
SABINA
SABINA GELAC
GELACIO IO AGAPITO
GAPITO,, NAMELY
NAMELY:: SERAPIO
SERAPIO AGAPITO,
GAPITO, and NICOLA
NICOLASASA
AGAPITO, FELISA DICCION AGNE, ESTANISLAO GOROSPE, LIBRADO BADUA,
NICOLAS
NICOLAS VILLANUEVA,
VILLANUEVA, HEIRS OF CARLOS
CARLOS PALADO,
PALADO, NAMELY:
NAMELY: FORTUNATA
FORTUNATA
PALADO
PALADO and ISABELITA
ISABELITA PALADO, PRIMITIVO
PRIMITIVO TAGANAS,
TAGANAS, PANFILO
PANFILO SOINGCO,
SOINGCO,
BERNA
BERNARDO RDO PALAT
PALATTAO
TAO,, MARCEL
MARCELINO
INO S. SANTO
SANTOS S and PAULIN
PAULINO
O D. AGNE
AGNE JR.
(Mi
(Minor)
nor),, rep
represe
resent
nted
ed by his
his moth
mother
er FELI
FELISA
SA DICC GNE, petitioners,
DICCIION AGNE,
vs.
THE
THE DIRE
DIRECTCTOR
OR OF LANDS
LANDS,, PRES
PRESEN
ENTA
TACIO
CIONN AGPOON
GPOON GASCO
GASCON,
N, JOA
JOAQUIN
QUIN
GASCON
GASCON and HON. HON. ROSALIO
ROSALIO C. SEGUND
SEGUNDO,O, Presid
Presiding
ing Judge,
Judge, Court of First
First
Instance of Pangasinan, Branch V, respondents.

G.R. No. L-72255 February 6,1990

MARC
MARCELELIN
INO
O C. AGNE,
GNE, FELI
FELIX
X ORIA
ORIANE
NE,, AGATO
GATONN TAGA
TAGANA
NASS (dec
(decea
ease
sed)
d),,
represen
represented
ted by FLOREN
FLORENTIN
TINO
O C. TAGA
TAGANAS
NAS,, FELISA
FELISA DICCIO
DICCION
N AGNE,
AGNE, HILARIO
HILARIO
ESCO
ESCORPI
RPIZO
ZO,, NICO
NICOLA
LAS
S VILL
VILLA
ANUEVA
NUEVA,, ISA
ISABELO
BELO MAURI
MAURICI
CIO,
O, ESTA
ESTANI
NISLA
SLAOO
GOROSPE (deceased), represented by ELIZABETH G. BADUA and SILVINA G.
VALERIO,
VALERIO, LIBRADO
LIBRADO BADUA,
BADUA, JOSE ALSISTO,
ALSISTO, SERAPIO AGAPITO,
AGAPITO, NICOLASA
NICOLASA
AGAPITO,
AGAPITO, JORGE DAMASO, ALEJANDRO
ALEJANDRO DAMASO,
DAMASO, ENCARNACIO
ENCARNACION N RAMOS,
RAMOS,
DOMINGA RAMOS and CARLOS PALADO, petitioners,
vs.
HON. INTERMEDIATE APPELLATE COURT, PRESENTACION AGPOON GASCON
and JOAQUIN GASCON, respondents.

On April 13, 1971, private respondent spouses filed Civil Case No. U-2286 in the Court
of First
First Insta
Instance
nce of Pang
Pangasasina
inann for
for recov
recovery
ery of posse
possess
ssion
ion and
and damag
damageses again
against
st
petiti
petition
oners
ers.. Their
Their compl
complain
aintt state
states
s that
that they
they are
are the
the regis
register
tered
ed owne
owners
rs under
under the
aforesaid Transfer Certificate of Title No. 32209 of the parcel of land situated in Barrio
Bantog, Asingan, Pangasinan which is now in the possession of petitioners.

Petitioners answered that the land which was formerly a part of the river is owned by
them by reason of accretion and accession due to the big flood that happened in 1920.
They contend that since 1920, they and their predecessors in interest occupied and
exercised dominion openly and adversely over said portion of the abandoned river bed
in question abutting their respective riparian lands continuously
continuously up to the present to the
exclusion of all other persons, particularly Herminigildo Agpoon and that they have
introduced improvements thereon by constructing irrigation canals and planting trees
and agricultural crops thereon 6 and converted the land into a productive area.

During the pendency of the said case, the petitioners filed a complaint (Case No. U-
2649 ) against the Director of Lands and Spouses Agpoon with the CFI of Pangasinan
for annulment of title, reconveyance of and/or action to clear title to a parcel of land.
They allege that the land in question belong to them. They further contend that it was
only on April 13, 1971, when respondent spouses filed a complaint against them, that
they
they found
found out that
that the said land
land was
was grante
grantedd by the
the Gove
Governrnmen
mentt to Hermi
Hermininigil
gildo
do
 Agpoon under
under Free Patent
Patent No. 23263, pursuant
pursuant to which Original
Original Certificate
Certificate of Title No.
2370 was issued in the latter's name and that the said patent and subsequent titles
issued pursuant thereto are null and void since the said land, an abandoned river bed,
is of private ownership and, therefore, cannot be the subject of a public land grant.
On June 21, 1974, the trial court rendered a decision in Civil Case U-2286 in favor of 
the Respondents.

On June 24, 1974, Court of First Instance of Pangasinan, acting on the motion to
dismiss filed by respondents Director of Lands and spouses Agpoon, issued an order 
dismissing Civil Case No. U-2649 for annulment of title by merely citing the statement in
 Antonio, et al. vs. Barroga, et al. 12 that an action to annul a free patent
the case of  Antonio,
many years after it had become final and indefeasible states no cause of action.

ISSUE: Whether the action to annul a free patent many years after it had become final
and indefeasible states no cause of action.

Ruling: No

The facts alleged in the complaint, which are deemed hypothetically admitted upon the
filing of the motion to dismiss, constitute a sufficient cause of action against private
respondents. In the case at bar, it was admitted in the stipulation of facts that the land
was formerly an abandoned river bed formed due to natural causes in 1920. It was
likewise admitted that the riparian owners of the lands abutting said abandoned river 
bed were the plaintiffs and/or their predecessors in interest and that since then and up
to the present, they have been occupying and cultivating aliquot portions of the said
land proportionate to the respective lengths of their riparian lands and that they are the
real and lawful owners of the said land as decreed by Article 370 of the old Civil Code,
the law then in force that time. With that being said, then, the land in question was and
is of private ownership and, therefore, beyond the jurisdiction of the Director of Lands.
The free patent and subsequent title issued pursuant thereto are null and void. The
indefeasibility and imprescriptibility of a Torrens title issued pursuant to a patent may be
invoked only when the land involved originally formed part of the public domain. If it was
a private land, the patent and certificate of title issued upon the patent are a nullity.

The rule on the incontrovertibility of a certificate of title upon the expiration of one year,
after the entry of the decree, pursuant to the provisions of the Land Registration Act,
does not apply where an action for the cancellation of a patent and a certificate of title
issued pursuant thereto is instituted on the ground that they are null and void because
the Bureau of Lands had no jurisdiction to issue them at all, the land in question having
having
been withdrawn from the public domain prior to the subsequent award of the patent and
the grant of a certificate of title to another person. Such an action is different from a
review of the decree of title on the ground of fraud.

 Although a period
period of one year has already
already expired
expired from the time a certificate
certificate of title was
issued pursuant to a public grant, said title does not become incontrovertible but is null
and void if the property covered thereby is originally of private ownership, and an action
to annu
annull the same
same does
does not
not presc
prescrib
ribe.
e. Moreov
Moreover,
er, since
since herein
herein petit
petitio
ioner
nerss are
are in
20
possession of the land in dispute, an action to quiet title is imprescriptible. Their action
for reconveyance which, in effect, seeks to quiet title to property in one's possession is
impres
imprescr
cript
iptibl
ible.
e. Their
Their undis
undistur
turbed
bed poss
possess
essio
ion
n for a numbe
numberr of years
years gave
gave them
them a
continuing right to seek the aid of a court of equity to determine the nature of the
adverse claims of a third party and the effect on her title.