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G.R. No. 193443
April 16, 2012
 
JEAN TAN, ROSELLER C. ANACINTO, CARLO LOILO ESPINEDA andDAISY ALIADO MANAOIS, represented in this act by their Attorney-in-Fact,
 
MA. WILHELMINA E. TOBIAS Petitioners
 
- versus
 – 
 
REPUBLIC OF THE PHILIPPINES
 
Respondent.
 
Facts:
On June 14, 2001, the petitioners filed with the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Naic,
Cavite
, an application forland registration covering a parcel of land identified as Lot 9972, Cad-459-D of Indang Cadastre, situatedin
 Barangay
Bancod, Indang,
Cavite
and with an area of 6,920 square meters.
 The petitioners alleged that theyacquired the subject property from Gregonio Gatdula pursuant to a Deed of Absolute Sale dated April 25, 1996; and theyand their predecessors-in-interest have been in open, continuous and exclusive possession of the subject property in theconcept of an owner for more than 30 years. RTC issued a decision granting petitioners application. CA ruled that thepetitioners failed to prove that they and their predecessors-in-interest have been in possession of the subject property forthe requisite period of 30 years.Issue:Whether the petitioners have proven themselves qualified to the benefits under the relevant laws on theconfirmation of imperfect or incomplete titles.
Property; acquisition by prescription; confirmation of incomplete or imperfect titles; requirements
. Held: There must be an express declaration by the Statethat the public dominion property is no longer intended for public service or the development of the national wealth or that the property has beenconverted into patrimonial. Without such express declaration, the property, even if classified as alienable or disposable, remains property of thepublic dominion, pursuant to Article 420(2), and thus incapable of acquisition by prescription. It is only when such alienable and disposable landsare expressly declared by the State to be no longer intended for public service or for the development of the national wealth that the period ofacquisitive prescription can begin to run. Such declaration shall be in the form of a law duly enacted by Congress or a Presidential Proclamation incases where the President is duly authorized by law.For one to invoke the provisions of Section 14(2) and set up acquisitive prescription against the State, it is primordial that the status of the propertyas patrimonial be first established. Furthermore, the period of possession preceding the classification of the property as patrimonial cannot beconsidered in determining the completion of the prescriptive period.Adverse, continuous, open, public possession in the concept of an owner is a conclusion of law and the burden to prove it by clear, positive andconvincing evidence is on the applicant. A claim of ownership will not proper on the basis of tax declarations if unaccompanied by proof of actualpossession.The counting of the thirty (30)-year prescriptive period for purposes of acquiring ownership of a public land under Section 14(2) can only start fromthe issuance of DARCO Conversion Order. Before the property was declared patrimonial by virtue of such conversion order, it cannot be acquiredby prescription.
 Jean Tan, et al. vs. Republic of the Philippines
; 
. Will, extrinsic validity. The state of being forgetful does not necessarily make a person mentally unsound so as to render him unfit to execute a Will.
 
Forgetfulness is not equivalent to being of unsound mind. Besides, Article 799 of the New Civil Code states: “To be of sound
mind, it is notnecessary that the testator be in full possession of all his reasoning faculties, or that his mind be wholly unbroken, unimpaired, or unshattered by
disease, injury or other cause”. It shall be sufficient if the testator was able at the time o
f making the will to know the nature of the estate to bedisposed of, the proper objects of his bounty, and the character of the testamentary act. Bare allegations of duress or influence of fear or threats,undue and improper influence and pressure, fraud and trickery cannot be used as basis to deny the probate of a will.
Baltazar, et. al. vs. Laxa 
 
Special Laws
 
Torrens System; registration; action for reconveyance; acquisitive prescription
. Registration of a piece of
 
land under the Torrens System does not create or vest title, because it is not a mode of acquiringownership. A certificate of title is merely an evidence of ownership or title over the particular propertydescribed therein. Thus, notwithstanding the indefeasibility of the Torrens title, the registered ownermay still be compelled to reconvey the registered property to its true owners.In an action for reconveyance, the decree of registration is respected as incontrovertible. What issought instead is the transfer of the property or its title which has been wrongfully or erroneously
registered in another person’s name, to its rightful or legal owner, o
r to the one with a better right. Anaction for annulment of title or reconveyance based on fraud is imprescriptible where the plaintiff is inpossession of the property subject of the acts.Acquisitive prescription is a mode of acquiring ownership by a possessor through the requisite lapseof time. In order to ripen into ownership, possession must be in the concept of an owner, public,peaceful and uninterrupted. Possession is open when it is patent, visible, apparent, notorious andnot 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 anappropriation of it to his own use and benefit; and notorious when it is so conspicuous that it isgenerally known and talked of by the public or the people in the neighborhood. The party whoasserts ownership by adverse possession must prove the presence of the essential elements ofacquisitive prescription.For civil interruption to take place, the possessor must have received judicial summons.
 Heirs of Tanyag vs. Gabriel, et. al.; 
. 
 
Free patent; prohibition against alienation
. Section 118 of CA 141 requires that before the five year
 
prohibition applies, there should be an alienation or encumbrance of the land acquired under freepatent or homestead.In real property law, alienation is defined as the transfer of the property and possession of lands,
tenements, or other things from one person to another. It is the “act by which the title to real estate is
voluntarily resigned by one person to another and accepted by the latter, in the forms prescribed by
law.” In this case, Comia
did not transfer, convey or cede the property; but rather, he relinquished,
renounced and “quitclaimed” the property considering that the property already belonged to the
spouses. The voluntary renunciation by Comia of that portion was not an act of alienation, but an actof correcting the inclusion of the property in his free patent.
 
In support of the fact that the alienation transpired prior to the grant of a free patent, it is remarkablethat Comia never contested that the spouses had been in actual possession of the subject portioneven before his patent application. The private ownership of land
 –
as when there is a prima facieproof of ownership like a duly registered possessory information or a clear showing of open,continuous, exclusive, and notorious possession
 –
is not affected by the issuance of a free patentover the same land.
 Jose Abelgas, Jr., et al. vs. Servilliano Comia, et al.
; 
. 
 
Emancipation patents; cancellation; land titles; tax declarations; mere tax declarations not conclusive evidenceof ownership or possession
. Under DAR Administrative Order No. 02, Series of 1994, emancipation
 
patents may be cancelled by the PARAD or the DARAB for violations of agrarian laws, rules and
regulations. The same administrative order further states that “administrative corrections may include
non-identification of spouse, correction of civil status, corrections of technical descriptions and other
matters related to agrarian reform;” and that the DARAB’s decision “may include cancellation of 
registered EP/CLOA, reimbursement of lease rental as amortization to ARBs, reallocation of the landto qualified beneficiary, perpetual disqualification to become an ARB, and other ancillary matters
related to the cancellation of the EP or CLOA.” However, the DAR’s issuance of an Emancipation
Patent and the corresponding OCT covering the contested lot carries with it a presumption ofregularity. The Petition t
o correct/cancel Pablo’s Emancipation Patent can prosper only if petitioners
are able to present substantial evidence that a portion of their lot was erroneously covered by thepatent. Substantial evidence refers to such relevant evidence as a reasonable mind might accept asadequate to support a conclusion.Well settled is the rule that tax declarations and receipts are not conclusive evidence of ownership orof the right to possess land when not supported by any other evidence. The fact that the disputedproperty may have been declared for taxation purposes in the names of the applicants forregistration or of their predecessors-in-interest does not necessarily prove ownership. They aremerely indicia of a claim of ownership.
Sps. Magno v. Heirs of Parulan
; 
. 
 
Marriage; Divorce not allowed in the Philippines; Exception based on principles of comity; Divorce must be proven as a fact.
The Supreme Court had alreadyruled that under the principles of comity, our jurisdiction recognizes a valid divorce obtained by a spouse of foreign nationality. This doctrine wasestablished as early as 1985 in Van Dorn v. Romillo, Jr. wherein the SC sa
id: “It is true that owing to the nationality principle embodied in Article 15
of the Civil Code, only Philippine nationals are covered by the policy against absolute divorces, the same being considered contrary to our conceptof public policy and morality. However, aliens may obtain divorces abroad, which may be recognized in the Philippines, provided they are validaccording to their national law. In this case, the divorce in Nevada released private respondent from the marriage from the standards of American
law, under which divorce dissolves the marriage.”
 
Nonetheless, the fact of divorce must still first be proven as the Supreme Court has enunciated in Garcia v. Recio, to wit: “
Before a foreign judgmentis given presumptive evidentiary value, the document must first be presented and admitted in evidence. A divorce obtained abroad is proven by thedivorce decree itself. Indeed the best evidence of a judgment is the judgment itself. The decree purports to be a written act or record of an act of anofficial
body or tribunal of a foreign country.”
 
 Merope Enriquez Vda De Catalan vs Louella A. Catalan-Lee ,G.R. No. 183622. February 8, 2012.
Marriage; Presumption of conjugality of property;
“Married
 
to”
is merely descriptive of the status of the owner.
Pursuant to Article 160 of the Civil Code ofthe Philippines, all property of the marriage is presumed to belong to the conjugal partnership, unless it be proved that it pertains exclusively to the

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