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From the decision rendered by respondent court dated November 27, 1989, declaring respondent Ortigas and Company

Limited Partnership (Ortigas) as the registered owner of the disputed parcel of land, petitioner Widows and Orphans Association, Inc. (Widora), interposes this petition for review seeking ng to annul the aforesaid judgment and prays that the case be remanded to the trial court and there be tried on the merits. The facts, as found by respondent court, are as follows: On August 27, 1974, respondent Widora filed LRC Case No. Q336 before the respondent (trial) court an application for registration of title of a parcel of land as shown in Plan No. LRC (SWO)-l5352. Widora alleged that the parcel of land is covered by Titulo de Propriedad Numero 4136, dated April 25, 1894, issued in the name of the deceased Mariano San Pedro y Esteban. Later, on June 14, 1978, Widora filed an amended application for registration of the said parcel of land. It alleged that the parcel of land is situated at Malitlit-Uoogong, Quezon City, with an area of 156 hectares, more or less, described in Plan No. LRC (SWO)-15352; and that the applicant acquired said property from the heirs of Don Mariano San Pedro on December 12, 1954. The amended application prayed that said parcel of land be ordered registered in the name of Widora. On August 25, 1978, respondent Dolores Molina filed an opposition, claiming ownership over 12 to 14 hectares of Lot 8 (LRC) SWO-15352, and praying for a decree of registration over said portions of Lot 8. On October 24, 1978, petitioner Ortigas filed a motion to dismiss the case alleging, among others, that respondent court had no jurisdiction over the case, the land being applied for having been already registered under the Torrens System and in the name of Ortigas under TCT 77652 and TCT 77653. On April 20, 1979, the respondent (trial) court issued an order directing the applicant to prove its contention that TCT 77652 and TCT 77653 are not proper derivatives of the original certificates of titles from which they were purportedly issued, and setting the case for hearing on June 28, 1979, at 8:30 a.m.

On June 27, 1979, petitioner Ortigas filed a motion for reconsideration of said order of April 20, 1979, alleging that a Torrens title becomes indefeasible after a year and that the same becomes conclusive upon the entire world; that the Land Registration Commission itself has advised the court that the 156 hectare property sought to be registered is covered by valid and subsisting titles in the name of Ortigas; that Courts of First Instance and the appellate courts in previous cases had sustained the Ortigas titles over the land in question. On October 3, 1979, the motion for reconsideration of petitioner Ortigas was denied by the respondent (trial) court, but the latter set the motion to dismiss for hearing on October 18 and 19, 1979 at 8:30 a.m., for the purpose of enabling the applicant to prove its contention that TCT Nos. 77652 and 77653 are not proper derivatives of the original certificates of title from which they were purportedly issued. The parties presented their testimonial and documentary evidence before the respondent (trial) court in support of their respective positions. On March 30, 1988, the respondent (trial) court denied the motion to dismiss of petitioner Ortigas, holding, among others, that TCT 77652 and TCT 77653 on their face show that they were derived from OCT 337, 19, 336, 334, pursuant to Decree 1425; that if there was error in the correct number of OCT on said titles, no step or measure to rectify the same was taken; that Decree No. 1425 shows that it covers a total area of only 17 hectares, more or less, located in Sta. Ana, Manila, which was four kilometers away from the land subject of the application for registration which covers an area of 156 hectares, more or less, described in Plan No. LRC (SWO)15352 situated at Malitlit-Uoogong, Quezon City; that the contention of Ortigas that Decree No. 1425 covers an area in Manila and also a part of Rizal is not credible, for if this were true then the area of said Rizal portion should appear on the face of said decree of registration, which is not the case; that TCT 77652 and TCT 77653 were not derived from any decree of registration, and that the said TCTs being null and void,

cannot be used as basis to contest the right of the applicant to apply for registration over the subject land. The order of March 30, 1988, in its dispositive portion stated: "WHEREFORE, premises considered, the Omnibus Motion dated October 4, 1978 and Motion to Dismiss, dated, October 23, 1978 filed by oppositor Ortigas & Company, Limited Partnership are both DENIED for lack of merit; while this Court's order of September 15, 1978 directing the City Assessor of Quezon City to issue a separate tax declaration corresponding to the 12 or 14 hectares which is an undivided portion of the land applied for registration and now belonging to the said Dolores V. Molina; further, authorizing the City Treasurer of Quezon City to accept the corresponding realty taxes due thereon; and further the said Dolores V. Molina is allowed to intervene in these proceedings, is hereby affirmed; likewise, the City Treasurer is directed to accept the whole of the taxes due on the property subject of the instant petition from applicants Widows & Orphans Association, Inc., as prayed for in its Manifestation with Motion subject to the right of the oppositor Dolores V. Molina as contained in this Court's order of September 15, 1978." On April 26, 1988, petitioner Ortigas filed a motion for reconsider consideration of the said order of March 30, 1988, taking exception to the ruling that TCT Nos. 77652 and 77653 are null and void, and alleging, among others, that respondent (trial) court had no jurisdiction to hear an application for registration of a previously registered land; that the parcels of land applied for are covered by TCT 77652 and TCT 77653 in the name of Ortigas; that the parcels of land covered by TCT 77652 and TCT 77653 are within the parcel of land covered by OCT 351; and that OCT 351 is a copy of Decree No. 1425 issued on April 26, 1905. The motion for reconsideration prayed the respondent court to reconsider its order of March 30, 1988 on the ground that it had no jurisdiction over the application for

registration, the parcels of land subject thereof being already covered by Torrens Certificates of Title. On May 19, 1989, the respondent (trial) court issued an order, denying the motion for reconsideration of Ortigas, and setting the hearing on the merits on July 26, 1989, ... for the "eventual presentation of the parties' respective evidence respecting their alleged ownership of the property subject of this petition." (Rollo, pp. 24-26) Not satisfied, respondent Ortigas instituted an action for certiorari, prohibition and mandamus before respondent court praying for the annulment of the March 30, 1988 and May 19, 1989 orders of the trial court. It also prayed that the trial court be ordered to dismiss the land registration case. On November 27, 1989, respondent court rendered the decision sought to be reviewed, the decretal portion of which reads: WHEREFORE, the petition for certiorari, prohibition and mandamus of petitioner Ortigas & Company Limited Partnership is GRANTED. The orders of March 30, 1988 and May 19, 1989 of the Regional Trial Court of Quezon City, Branch 83, in LRC Case No. Q-336, are REVERSED and ANNULLED, and said LRC Case No. Q-336 is DISMISSED. The injunction issued by the Court, per Resolution of August 8, 1989, is made permanent. (Rollo, p. 35) Based on the plan and other evidence submitted by respondent Ortigas at the hearing of its application for preliminary injunction to enjoin the trial court from proceeding with the hearing of LRC Case No. Q-336, respondent court held that TCT Nos. 77652 and 77653, albeit reflecting their origins as OCT Nos. 337, 19, 336 and 334, are actually derivatives of OCT No. 351, the latter having been issued pursuant to Decree 1425 and that since OCT 351 is allegedly a copy of Decree 1425, the mere fact that the original copy of Decree 1425, or a certified copy thereof, can no longer be located or produced, does not mean that Decree 1425 covering the lots embraced in TCT Nos. 77652 and 77653 was not issued. Concluding, respondent court said:

It may be that TCT 77652 and 77653 do not show on their face (sic) that they were derived from OCT 351. But the fact remains, as shown above, that the parcel of land covered by OCT 351 embraced the parcels of land, Lots 7 and 8, of TCT 77652 and 77653. There was, therefore a mistake in the entries in TCT 77652 and 77653 when the same referred to OCTs 337, 19, 336, 337 (sic) and 334, as their source, for the correct OCT insofar as Lots 7 and 8 are concerned, should be OCT 351. (Rollo, p. 27) In this petition, petitioner WIDORA avers that the respondent Court of Appeals has decided questions of substance contrary to law and the applicable decisions of this Court because: I THE COURT OF APPEALS INSISTED IN UPHOLDING THE EXISTENCE OR VALIDITY OF TCTs 77652 and 77653 DESPITE THE ABSENCE OF A SUPPORTING DECREE OF REGISTRATION. II THE QUESTIONED DECISION UTILIZED SECONDARY EVIDENCE DESPITE THE EXISTENCE AND AVAILABILITY OF THE ORIGINAL DOCUMENT. III THE RESPONDENT COURT HAS NO POWER OR AUTHORITY TO ENJOIN THE TRIAL ON THE MERITS OF LRC NO. Q-336 SINCE JURISDICTION RESIDES WITH THE RTC ACTING AS A LAND REGISTRATION COURT. In essence, it is the contention of petitioner that respondent court's grounds and reasoning in support of its findings that respondent Ortigas is the registered owner of the disputed property are baseless in law and fact. Petitioner argues that respondent court erred in sustaining the validity of TCTs Nos. 77652 and 77653 despite the absence of a supporting decree of registration and instead utilized secondary evidence, OCT 351 which is supposedly a copy of Decree 1425. Petitioner maintains that Decree 1425

is itself existing and available at the Register of Deeds of Manila and on its face shows that it covers a parcel of land with an area of only 17 hectares in Sta. Ana, Manila while the parcel of land applied for contains an area of 156 hectares, located at Malitlit-Uoogong Quezon City, four (4) kilometers away from Sta. Ana, Manila and is certified by the Bureau of Lands and the Bureau of Forestry as alienable and disposable. Respondent Ortigas claims that respondent court committed no error in rectifying the mistake in the entries in TCT Nos. 77652 and 77653 as regards their sources and/or origins arguing that the correction was justified by the fact that the plan of OCT 351 coincides with the parcels of land covered by TCT Nos. 77652 and 77653; that OCT 351 was issued pursuant to Decree 1425 and that OCT 351 is a copy of the Decree itself. We find the petition impressed with merit. Undoubtedly, the evidence (i.e., plan submitted by respondent Ortigas, testimony of its surveyor and OCT 351) adduced by private respondent to prove the contents of Decree 1425 and admitted by respondent court is merely secondary and should not have been admitted in the first place. Before secondary evidence may be admitted, there must be 1) proof of the execution of the original writing and 2) that it has been lost or destroyed or cannot be produced in court or that it is in the possession of the adverse party who has failed to produce it after reasonable notice (Michael and Co. v. Enriquez, 33 Phil. 87 [1915]; Republic v. Court of Appeals, 73 SCRA 146 [1976]). Private respondent has not shown compliance with the above requisites which would justify the admission of the secondary evidence used and erroneously relied upon by respondent court. Furthermore, the unilateral action of respondent court in substituting its own findings regarding the extent of the coverage of the land included in TCT Nos. 77652 and 77653, ostensibly to correct the error in, and conform with, the technical description found in OCT 351 based on the plan and other evidence submitted by respondent Ortigas cannot be sustained. That function is properly lodged with the office of the trial court sitting as a land registration court and only after a full-dress investigation of the matter on the merits. It is before the land registration court that private respondent must adduce the proof that the disputed parcels of land is legally registered in its favor.

In Dioquino v. Intermediate Appellate Court (179 SCRA 163 [1989]), this Court held that "(w)hile it is true that the Court of Appeals is vested with the 'power to try cases and conduct hearings, receive evidence and perform any and all acts necessary to resolve factual issues raised ..." (Sec. 9 [3], BP 129), there was not even a request for evidentiary hearing filed in this case. The Court of Appeals therefore should not have admitted said evidence without giving the adverse party opportunity to present counter evidence, if any. Besides, "evidence necessary in regards to factual issues raised in cases falling within the Appellate Court's original and appellate jurisdiction contemplates incidental facts which were not touched upon, or fully heard by the trial or respondent Court. The law could not have intended that the Appellate Court would hold an original and full trial of a main factual issue in a case, which properly pertains to trial courts" (citing Lingner & Fisher GMBH v. IAC, 125 SCRA 522 [1983]). In the case at bar, it appears that the parties have yet to fully present their respective evidence in support of their claims before the trial court. As a matter of fact, the trial court had set the case for hearing on the merits in its order dated May 19, 1989. What is more, the case involves a vast tract of land consisting of 156 hectares, separately situated in two outlaying localities (i.e., Quezon City and Sta. Ana, Manila.) The resolution of this controversy calls for a full-blown trial on the merits if only to afford the contending parties their respective days in court. Further, a ground for dismissal based on disputed facts, as in this case is not proper in a motion to dismiss (Spouses Jayme and Solidarios v. Alampay, 62 SCRA 131 [1975]). In the case at bar, respondent Ortigas alleges that Decree 1425 embraces the lots covered by its TCT Nos. 77652 and 77653 which are identical to the lots applied for by petitioner. On the other hand, petitioner maintains that Decree 1425 covers a 17-hectare lot located at Sta. Ana, Manila while the lot applied for is alienable and disposable as certified by the Bureau of Lands and by the Bureau of Forestry and has an area of 156 hectares located in Quezon City four (4) kilometers away from Sta. Ana, Manila. Hence, the necessity of a trial on the merits to ascertain the disputed facts, i.e., whether the lot applied for is covered by Decree No. 1425 or is alienable and disposable. Under Act 496, it is the decree of registration issued by the Land Registration Commission which is the basis for the subsequent issuance of the certificate of title by the corresponding Register of Deeds that quiets the title to and binds the land (De la Merced v. Court of Appeals, 5 SCRA 240 [1962]). Consequently, if no decree of registration had been issued covering the parcel of land applied for, then the certificate

of title issued over the said parcel of land does not quiet the title to nor bind the land and is null and void. Besides, an order denying a motion to dismiss is merely interlocutory and, unless it constitutes clearly a grave abuse of discretion or was issued without or in excess of jurisdiction, the error, if any, should be corrected by appeal in due time, after trial and judgment on the merits and not by the extraordinary writ of prohibition (Moreno v. Macadaeg, 7 SCRA 700 [1963]; National Investment and Development Corporation v. Aquino, 163 SCRA 53 [1988]). Furthermore, on grounds of pre-maturity, interlocutory orders cannot be decided by the appellate courts until the lower court shall have decided the merit of the case. Thus, in Villegas v. Fernando (27 SCRA 1119 [1969]), this Court held: This first assigned error (assailing the personality of the appellees to ask for a review of the decision and decree in the registration case) is actually directed at an earlier order dated 26 April 1961 denying appellants heirs' motion to dismiss the petitions for review filed by the present appellees. And inasmuch as said order of 26 April 1961 is interlocutory, there being as yet no trial and decision on the merits of the petition for review, it is premature to raise said assigned error in appellants heirs' instant appeal. We shall rule thereon only when the proper time comes, i. e., after the lower court shall have settled not only the still unresolved status and rights of the parties, particularly those of petitioners (sic) for review, now appellees herein, almost all of whom are claiming that they are not mere homestead or free patent applicants but patent or title holders, but also whether the original decision should be maintained or not. For the court below, after receiving and hearing the parties, may still conclude in favor of appellants herein. (Emphasis supplied) But not only that. Respondent court committed a procedural lapse in correcting the alleged error in the questioned TCTs. A certificate of title cannot be altered, amended or cancelled except in a direct proceeding in accordance with law (Sec. 48, PD 1529; Natalia Realty Corp. v. Vallez, 173 SCRA 534 [1989]; Legarda v. Saleeby, 31 Phil. 590 [1915]). Also, no

correction of certificate of title shall be made except by order of the court in a petition filed for the purpose and entitled in the original case in which the decree of registration was entered (Sec. 112, Act 496; now Sec. 108, PD 1529). While the law fixes no prescriptive period therefor, the court, however, is not authorized to alter or correct the certificate of title if it would mean the reopening of the decree of registration beyond the period allowed by law (Rodriguez, v. Tirona, 68 Phil. 264 [1939]). Respondent Ortigas, on the other hand, argues that this Court has already recognized the fact that the parcel of land under TCT No. 227758 from which TCT Nos. 77652 and 77653 were issued, are covered by, among others, Decree 1425 issued in GLRO Record No. 917 (Rollo, p. 94). The argument is without merit True this Court declared in Ortigas & Company, Limited Partnership v. Ruiz (148 SCRA 326 [1987]) that "petitioner is the duly registered owner of the land * (then) in dispute as evidenced by OCT Nos. 13, 33, 334, and 337 by virtue of Decrees Nos. 240, 1942 and 1925 issued in GLRO Record Nos. 699, 875 and 917 ..." Nowhere in said decision, however, is a pronouncement that TCT Nos. 77652 and 77653 were issued from TCT No. 227758. On the contrary, it is not disputed by the parties that TCT Nos. 77652 and 77653 themselves show that they were derived from OCT No. 337, 19, 336 and 334 and not from OCT 351 or TCT 227758. If indeed, the real origin thereof is OCT No. 351, what respondent Ortigas should have done was to file a petition for the correction of the TCTs in question as stated earlier. While it may be true, as respondent Ortigas argues, that a land registration court has no jurisdiction over parcels of land already covered by a certificate of title, it is nevertheless true that the aforesaid rule only applies where there exists no serious controversy as to the certificate's authenticity visa vis the land covered therein. In the case at bar, the claimed origin of the questioned TCTs evidently appear to be different from what is stated therein. It does not appear indubitable that the disputed parcels of land are properly reflected in the TCTs relied upon by private respondent. Off-hand, and as the parties admit, the TCTs do not show that they are actually derivatives of OCT 351. Such being the case, the rule relied upon cannot therefore apply. One who relies on a document evidencing his title to the property must prove not only the genuineness thereof but also the identity of the land therein referred to (CF. Lasam v. Director of Lands, 65 Phil. 637 [1938]). In the case at bar, private respondent's TCT Nos. 77652 and

77653 trace their origins from OCT Nos. 337, 19, 336 and 334 and not from OCT 351 as it is now claimed by respondent Ortigas. The trial court cannot be faulted for not having granted respondent Ortigas' motion to dismiss simply because the TCTs relied upon by the latter do not accurately reflect their supposed origin. Thus, in Ledesma v. Municipality of Iloilo (49 Phil. 769 [1926]) this Court held that the "simple possession of a certificate of title, under the Torrens System, does not make the possessor the true owner of all the property described therein. If a person obtains a title, under the Torrens System, which includes by mistake or oversight land which cannot be registered under the Torrens System, he does not, by virtue of said certificate alone, become the owner of the lands illegally included (citing Legarda and Prieto v. Saleeby, 31 Phil. 590 [1915])." TMs pronouncement was reiterated by the Court in Caragay-Layno v. Court of Appeals (133 SCRA 718 [1984]; Coronel v. Intermediate Appellate Court (155 SCRA 270 [1987]; Goloy v. Court of Appeals (173 SCRA 26 [1989]; and Miranda v. Court of Appeals (177 SCRA 303 [1989]). As it is in this case, a certificate of title cannot be considered conclusive evidence of ownership where the certificate itself is faulty as to its purported origin. Further, the fact that respondent Ortigas' motion to dismiss was denied does not mean that it could no longer participate in the resolution of the case and factual determination of the parties' allegations. As correctly stated by the trial court, "(i)t is to be stressed, however, that the denial of oppositor Ortigas' instant motion for reconsideration does not necessarily mean that it is deprived of any participation in the instant petition. For as already stated, what follows after its denial is the eventual presentation of all the parties' respective evidence respecting their alleged ownership of the property subject of this petition." (Rollo, p. 65) WHEREFORE, the assailed judgment of respondent court is SET ASIDE and the orders of the trial court in LRC Case No. Q336 entitled, "In ReApplication for Registration of Title, WIDOWS and ORPHANS ASSOCIATION, Inc., Applicant, ORTIGAS & COMPANY LIMITED PARTNERSHIP and DOLORES V. MOLINA, Oppositors", dated March 30, 1988 and May 19, 1989 are hereby REINSTATED insofar as the denial of oppositor Ortigas' motion to dismiss and motion for reconsideration, respectively, are concerned and the case remanded to the trial court for trial and adjudication on the merits.

SO ORDERED. Davide, Jr., J., concur. Fernan, C.J., concur in the majority opinion and in the separate concurring opinion of Justice Gutierrez. Feliciano, J., is on leave.