Rep v CA Menguito vs Rep Coronado v CA

p2 p9 p21 p26

Heirs of Teodoro dela cruz v CA Tan v Phil bank corp Rep v Divinaflor Atok Big Min. Co. In. v CA p32 p38 p44

Municipality of Victorias v CA p 59

G.R. No. L-56948 September 30, 1987 REPUBLIC OF THE PHILIPPINES, represented by the Director of Forest Development and the Director of Lands, petitioner, vs. THE HONORABLE COURT OF APPEALS, and MARTINA CARANTES for and in behalf of the Heirs of SALMING PIRASO, respondents.

GUTIERREZ, JR., J.: This is a petition for review on certiorari to set aside the decision of the Court of Appeals affirming in toto the judgment of the Court of First Instance of Baguio and Benguet, Branch III, at La Trinidad in LRC Case No. N-287, Record No. 37205, the dispositive portion of which reads as follows: It having been proven convincingly that this land was owned and possessed by the late Salming Piraso and later by his successors-in-interest, who are his children for a period of more than thirty years up to this date, they have shown to have a registerable title on the property which this Court therefore confirms and affirms in accordance with the law. Let the land so described in the technical description of the survey made of the same and in accordance with the corresponding plan be so registered. (p. 50, Rollo) On May 9, 1968, respondent Martina S. Carantes for and in behalf of the Heirs of Saying Piraso filed with the Court of Firing Instance of Baguio and Benguet, Land Registration No. N-287, covering the following describe property: A parcel of land (as shown on plan PSU-43639) situated in the Barrio of Ansagan Municipality of Tuba, Mountain Province. Bounded in the, NE., along line 1-2 by property of Sioco Carino (PSU-43643, Lot 1); on the SE., and SW., along lines 2-3-45 by public land, on the We, along lines 5-6-1 by property of Tunccalo. Containing an area of TWO MILLION ONE HUNDRED NINETY SEVEN THOUSAND EIGHT HUNDRED AND SEVENTY NINE (2,197,879) SQUARE METERS. ... (p. 13, Rollo) On January 13, 1970, the Director of Lands, through the Solicitor General, filed an opposition to the application for registration stating, among others: That neither the applicant nor her predecessors-in-interest possess sufficient title to said parcel of land the same not having been acquired by them either by composition title from the Spanish Government or by possessory information title under the Royal Decree of February 13, 1894; That neither the applicant nor her predecessors-in-interest have been in open, continuous, exclusive, notorious possession and occupation of the land in question for at least thirty years immediately preceding the filing of the present application; That the aforementioned parcel of land is a portion of the public domain belonging to the Republic of the Philippines. (pp. 13-14, Rollo)

On April 7, 1970, the Director of Forestry also filed an opposition to the application for registration on the following grounds: That the whole area applied for registration is within the Central Cordillera Forest Reserve established under Proclamation No. 217 dated February 16, 1929; That the area sought to be registered is neither release for disposition nor alienation; and that the herein applicant has no registerable title over the whole parcel of land either in fact or in law. (p. 14, Rollo) After trial, a decision was rendered by the land registration court, as earlier stated, adjudicating the parcel of land to the applicants. The motion for reconsideration filed by Government oppositor's having been denied, an appeal was made to the Court of Appeals which affirmed in toto the decision of the land registration court. In this petition, the petitioner assigns the following alleged errors of the Court of Appeals: A. RESPONDENT COURT ERRED IN NOT DECLARING THAT THE LAND IN QUESTION IS NOT CAPABLE OF REGISTRATION BEING PART OF THE PUBLIC FORESTS WITHIN THE CENTRAL CORDILLERA FOREST RESERVE: B. RESPONDENT COURT ERRED IN NOT FINDING THAT THE ALLEGED POSSESSION OF THE LAND BY PRIVATE RESPONDENTS AND THEIR PREDECESSORS—INTEREST WAS NOT IN CONCEPT OF OWNER UNDER SECTION 48 of the PUBLIC LAND LAW, THE LAND BEING INALIENABLE; C. RESPONDENT COURT ERRED IN FINDING THAT THE LAND IS AGRICULTURAL BECAUSE THE GOVERNMENT FAILED TO SUBMIT PROOF THAT THE LAND IS MORE VALUABLE FOR FOREST PURPOSES; D. RESPONDENT COURT ERRED IN FINDING THAT THE PROPERTY BECAME SEGREGATED FROM THE LAND OF THE PUBLIC DOMAIN AND ASSUMED THE CHARACTER OF PRIVATE OWNERSHIP UPON APPROVAL OF ITS SURVEY PLAN BY THE DIRECTOR OF LAND IN 1925; E. ASSUMING THAT PRIVATE RESPONDENTS HAD POSSESSED AND CULTIVATED 10 TO 15 HECTARES OF THE LAND APPLIED FOR, RESPONDENT COURT ERRED IN RULING THAT THEY HAD ACQUIRED OWNERSHIP THRU CONSTRUCTIVE POSSESSION OVER THE REST OF THE (219.7879) HECTARES APPLIED FOR. (p. 18, Rollo) The issues raised are: 1. Whether or not the land in question is part of the public forest within the Central Cordillera Forest Reserve; and 2. Whether or not private respondents have established registerable title over the land in question. It is the stand of the petitioner that the land in question covered by the Plan-Psu-43639 is part of the public forests within the Central Cordillera Forest Reserve established under Proclamation No. 217 of Governor General Henry Stimson dated February 16, 1929. On February 27, 1980, an ocular inspection of said property was made by Land Inspector Crisogono Bartolo, Jr., of the Bureau of

the private respondents assert that the findings of fact of the Court of Appeals show that the land subject of application is not within the Central Cordillera Forest Reserve and the same land applied for registration is disposable and alienable.Lands together with representatives of the Bureau of Forestry. 217 was promulgated only on February 16. Zapatero. claim to have sufficiently shown by preponderance of evidence that the land being applied for registration had been possessed by Salming Piraso as far back as 1915 when he and his workers planted the arable portion of about 15 hectares to rice and other products and raised cows on the other portion suited for pasture. the Land Registration Court. Director of Lands. 1970 stating among others. During the ocular inspection. Jorge B. Vargas on March 6. 1925. Muñoz. and the applicants for registration. 1970 to the effect that the whole area falls within the Central Cordillera Forest Reserve and that the same has not been released for agricultural purposes by the Director of Forestry who had administrative jurisdiction over the same. The private respondents. De la Cruz 67 SCRA 221. 1929. otherwise known as the Public Land Act. 23 SCRA 1183. Forester Ricardo D. 401. Government of Philippine Islands. 161. 141. supra). Adorable v. Jr. Court of Appeals.. possession of the land by the applicants prior to the reclassification of the land as disposable and alienable cannot be credited as part of the thirty-year requirement under Section 48 (b) of the Public Land Act (Director of Lands vs. 89 SCRA 648. otherwise known as the Land Registration Act. As applicants. 133 SCRA 701) unless such lands are reclassified and considered disposable and alienable by the Director of Forestry. The petitioner points out that lands within the forest zone or within a duly established reservation do not form part of the disposable portion of the public domain nor can the same be alienated as said lands are not capable of private appropriation or ownership and possession thereof. or under Section 48(b) of Commonwealth Act No. the same can not be the subject of registration either under Act 496. Director of Forestry vs. they contend that they have possessed the land applied for in concept of owner. Director of Lands vs. Court of Appeals. however long. submitted to the Provincial Fiscal a separate report dated April 6. while Proclamation No. submitted a report on April 17. as applicants. They state that the approval of the said survey by the government thru the Director of Lands Jorge B. bushes and grasses and being also stony is not suitable for agricultural purposes. Republic vs. The representative of the Bureau of Forestry. and Director of Lands vs. cannot convert that same into private property. Court of Appeals. of convert them into private property (Vano vs. Reyes & Azurin vs. In this case. The petitioner states that since the land in question is indubitably part of the public forest and has not been reclassified or released from the forest zone. Bartolo. but even then. openly and publicly. 107 Phil. however long. It is already a settled rule that forest lands or forest reserves are not capable of private appropriation and possession thereof. Vargas can only mean that said land was no longer included in the overall survey of the government as it was no longer part of the public land. Republic vs. It is further argued by the petitioner that the private respondents or their predecessors-in-interest. The late Salming Piraso had the land surveyed by private surveyor Jose Castro on April 3-9. that the land is covered with trees. 1924 as Plan Psu-43639 which was approved by the then Director of Lands. 68 SCRA 177. adverse against the whole world and continuously for more than thirty (30) years before they filed the application over the land which is agricultural and separate from the public domain. the land was found to be rolling and stony in nature. Salming Piraso. 41 Phil. Director of Forestry. had not acquired ownership over the land prior to its classification as part of the Cordillera Forest Reserve use there is no evidence on record that Salming Piraso had possessed the property for any appreciable period prior to 1929 when the land became part of the Cordillera Forest Reserve. there is no . On the other hand. We find the petition to be meritorious.

It did not ease a classification from nonforest into forest land because of the proclamation. The Court of Appeals finding is based on a wrong concept of what is forest land. cultivation. There is an erroneous assumption implicit in the challenged decision of the Court of Appeals which the government oppositors also appear to have overlooked. This is the reliance on Proclamation No. (Section 3. Article XII of the 1987 Constitution. The proclamation merely declared a special forest reserve out of already existing forest lands. One is descriptive of what appears on the land while the other is a legal status a classification for legal purposes. Parcels of land classified as forest land may actually be covered with grass or planted to crops by kaingin cultivators or other farmers.7879) hectares claimed area has no legal significance. The land was already forest or timber land even before the proclamation. Article XIII of the 1935 Constitution). The land was not nonforest or agricultural land prior to the 1929 proclamation. and other trees growing in brackish or sea water may also be classffied as forest land.showing of reclassification by the Director of Forestry that the land in question is disposable or alienable. and Section 1. The Government must first declare the forest land to be alienable and disposable agricultural land before the year of entry. Swampy areas covered by mangrove trees. nipa palms. A person cannot enter into forest land and by the simple act of cultivating a portion of that land. The records positively establish that the land in question is part of the public forest which the Executive formally proclaimed as the Central Cordillera Forest Reserve to further preserve its integrity and to give it a status which is more special for certain purposes than that of ordinary forest lands. 75). and exclusive and adverse possession can be counted for purposes of an imperfect title. However. The "forest land" started out as a "forest" or vast tracts of wooded land with dense growths of trees and underbush. This is wrong. The alleged entry in 1915 of Salming Piraso and the cultivation of 15 hectares out of a (219. This is a matter which cannot be assumed. Stimson as the operative act which converted the lands covered by the Central Cordillera Forest Reserve into forest lands. As stated by this Court in Heirs of Amunategui v. earn credits towards an eventual confirmation of imperfect title. One reason for the respondent court's decision finding a registerable title for the private respondents is its observation that the Government failed to show that the disputed land is more valuable for forest purposes. Section 10. the cutting down of trees and the disappearance of virgin forest and not automatically convert the lands of the public domain from forest or timber land to alienable agricultural land. 217 of Governor General Henry L. The classification is descriptive of its legal nature or status and does not have to be descriptive of what the land actually looks like. as amended. Director of Forestry (126 SCRA 69. It calls for proof. There is a big difference between "forest" as defined in a dictionary and "forest or timber land" as a classification of lands of the public domain in the Constitution. Unless and until the land classified as "forest" is released in an official proclamation to that effect . The court noted a failure to prove that trees are thriving in the land. Article XIV of the 1973 Constitution. A forested area classified as forest land of the public domain does not lose such classification simply because loggers or settlers may have stripped it of its forest cover. "Forest lands" do not have to be on mountains or in out of the way places.

which states. if any ? . More important. This has not been successfully refuted. cannot ripen into private ownership. It bears emphasizing that a positive act of Government is needed to declassify land which is classified as forest and to convert it into alienable or disposable land for agricultural or other purposes. 1970. sir. of the Bureau of Lands. the rules on confirmation of imperfect title do not apply. we granted the petition on the ground that the area covered by the patent and title was not disposable public land. Jr. This negates the claim of the private respondents that the land has been cultivated since 1915. however.. have you inspected this land in question also?. Zapatero of the Bureau of Forestry. It has not been proved erroneous. Deputy Clerk of Court Roberto Gogoling as representative of the land registration court.. Q What is the purpose of your inspection? A The purpose of my inspection is to determine the status of the area if it falls within the reservation or within the alienable or disposable area. 75) On February 27. Q In connection with your duty to inspect the lands that are subject matters of land registration cases.(56 SCRA 499). together with Forester Ricardo D. Zapatero which declares that the whole area applied for by the applicant fails within the Central Cordillera Forest Reserve and that the same has not been released for agricultural purposes by the Director of Forestry who has administrative jurisdiction over the same. I inspected it. (at p. Muñoz (23 SCRA 1184) that possession of forest lands. Land Inspector Crisogono Bartolo. 1970 submitted to the Provincial Fiscal of Benguet Province by Forester Ricardo D. as stated in the separate report dated April 6. A Yes. And in Republic v. Testifying in connection with the matters stated in his report. Q What is your finding. sir. than the appearance of the land is its status. no matter how long. bushes and grasses and being stony is not suitable for agricultural that it may form part of the disposable agricultural lands of the public domain. an ocular inspection of the questioned property was conducted by Land Inspector Crisogono Bartolo. among others. submitted his report dated April 17. Jr. Fiscal Navarro and Andres Carantes as representative of the applicant. it being a part of the forest zone and any patent and title to said area is void at initio. that the land is covered with trees. This Court ruled in the leading case of Director of Forestry v. Forester Ricardo D. Zapatero stated that: Q Do you know the land in question here in this case? A I know. 1970. Animas.

you actually saw this land applied for? A Yes. COURT: As what? FISCAL BRAWNER: Rather as Exhibit "1" COURT: Have it marked. Q What is the relation of this report with that report that you made? A This is the original copy of the Report which I submitted to the Provincial Fiscal.A My finding was that the area falls within the Central Cordillera Forest Reserve. your Honor. Q Did you actually go to the land in question or the land applied for? A Yes. Q You stated that in paragraph 3 of your report. Zapatero". sir. air. Q Was that finding reduced into writing? A Yes. sir. whose signature is that? A That is mine. Q So. Q I am showing to you a report found on Pages Sixty-Eight (68) of the records which for purposes of Identification. Q There appears a signature above the typewritten name "Ricardo D. how did you arrive at that conclusion? A Because of what I have even of the improvements of the applicant and because of the Bureau of Forestry map. sir. Q What is the nature of this land applied for? . we pray that the same be marked as Exhibit "A" for the government oppositors. Exhibit 1 that the land falls within the Central Cordillera Forest Reserve.

Q What is the basis of that statement? A Because of the topography which is of solid inclination. COURT: Q What are the species of plants? A There are species of Binayuyu. it may be stated. the survey plan (Plan Psu-43639) for Salming Piraso. and undoubtedly will be. The existence of a sketch plan of real property even if approved by the Bureau of Lands is no proof in itself of ownership of the land covered by the plan. FISCAL BRAWNER: Q You stated in paragraph 2 of your report that the topography of the land applied for is generally stony. much less private property. and because of the Binayuyu species. that is not. should. the condition of the land is not suited for agricultural purposes? A Yes. The fact that a claimant or a possessor has a sketch plan or a survey map prepared for a parcel of land which forms part of the country's forest reserves does not convert such land into alienable land. Director of Lands (39 Phil.. tsn. 203-206. September 6. (Gimeno v. Emphasis supplied) The reports and testimonies of Land Inspector Bartolo and Forester Zapatero support the contention of the petitioner that the area applied for by the applicant is forest land within the Central Cordillera Forest Reserve. Assuming that a public officer erroneously approves the sketch plan. the petition is hereby GRANTED.1971. In the case of Ramos v. sir. The decision of the Court of Appeals affirming the decision of the land registration court which granted the private respondents' application for . The land applied for is more suited for pasture purposes. Paid by the courts to the opinion of the technical expert who speaks with authority on Forestry matters. There is no factual basis for the conclusion of the appellate court that the property in question was no longer part of the public land when the Government through the Director of Lands approved on March 6.A It is generally stony and the topography is level to rolling and there are certain enemies of plants inside the land. 1925. (pp. 175) we have ousted: Great consideration. in some area. There must first be a formal Government declaration that the forest land has been re-classified into alienable and disposable agricultural land which may then be acquired by private persons in accordance with the various modes of acquiring public agricultural lands. WHEREFORE. Court of Appeals. such approval is nun and void. we believe that is not good for agricultural purposes. Q That is for lumber? A No. 80 SCRA 623).

The application for land registration is DISMISSED. SO ORDERED.registration of the land in question is REVERSED and SET ASIDE. .

the order of general default against the whole world heretofore entered in this case is affirmed. DECISION PANGANIBAN.112 square meters. situated in the Barrio of Ususan. Even assuming that such land has been classified as alienable. 134308. granted petitioners’ application for registration in this wise:[5] “WHEREFORE. J.R. December 14. The Case Before us is a Petition for Review under Rule 45 of the Rules of Court assailing the September 30. and individual and separate certificates of titles to the lots comprising the said land are hereby ordered registered in the names of the applicants. HELEN MARTA MENGUITO-LUNA. respondent. vs. 2000] SUSANA MENGUITO. as follows: .” [3] The Decision of the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Pasig City (Branch 157). 1998 Resolution[2] of the Court of Appeals (CA) in CA-GR CV No.[G. [4] which was reversed by the appellate court. 1997 Decision[1] and the June 23. notorious and open possession in the concept of owner for a period of thirty years. BERSAMIN MENGUITO. Accordingly. The decretal portion of said Decision reads as follows: “WHEREFORE. title thereto can be registered only upon presentation of incontrovertible proof of adverse. petitioners. No. Municipality of Taguig. 39638. and containing an aggregate area of 2. REPUBLIC OF THE PHILIPPINES. RENATO MENGUITO. it remains part of the inalienable public domain. Metro Manila.: Unless a piece of public land is shown to have been classified as alienable and disposable. and judgment is hereby rendered confirming the registerable title of the applicants to the land described in their application under plan Swo-13-000227 and its technical descriptions. EMELITA MENGUITO-MANALILI. FROILAN MENGUITO and GENEROSO MENGUITO. the decision appealed from is hereby REVERSED and SET ASIDE. the appellees’ application for registration is hereby DISMISSED.

For Lot 6045-J -. St. of legal age. with residence and postal address at T. the name of Generoso Menguito.. and 6045-D in the name of Susana Menguito. of legal age. of legal age. of legal the name of Emelita Menguito. For Lot 6045-H -. Pateros. St.. married to Luciano Manalili. 7. Pateros. 6. Metro Manila. with residence and postal address at T. Filipino citizen. let an Order be issued to the Commissioner of Land Registration Authority for the issuance of the decree of registration and the corresponding certificates of title in favor of the applicants pursuant to Section 39 of PD No. Filipino citizen. Sulit. Filipino citizen. 1529. For Lot 6045-F -. single. of legal age. Metro Manila. married to Zenaida Carag. For Lot 6045-G -. Pateros. single.. Pater[o]s. Filipino citizen. For Lot 6045-E -. married to Irene Toledo. Filipino citizen. single. Metro Manila. 3. Sulit. For Lot 6045-K the name of Generoso Menguito. Filipino citizen. 4. with residence and postal address at T. For lots 6045-A. and Froilan Menguito. of legal age. with residence and postal address at T. Metro Manila.. SO ORDERED. Metro Manila. Filipino the name of Bersamin Menguito. Pateros. married to Luciano Manalili. the name of Helen Marta Menguito. Sulit. Pateros. with residence and postal address at T. St. Filipino citizen.. all with residence and postal address at T. Filipino citizen. Pateros.” The Facts the name of Renato Menguito. of legal age. Pateros. St. with residence and postal address at T. with residence and postal address at T. the name of Froilan Menguito. Metro Manila. Upon the finality of this Decision. Sulit.1. Metro Manila. and 8.Sulit St. of legal age. married to Zenaida Carag. For Lot 6046-I -. of legal age. St. St. Sulit St. Sulit. Metro Manila. 2. 6045-C. Sulit.

00 as per Tax Declaration No. 1529 and to have their title thereto registered and confirmed. remainder. 4. reversion or expectancy. 6045-A. BERSAMIN MENGUITO. open. continuous. AND DECLARE: 1. peaceful. 6045-E. That said parcels of land are assessed for taxation for the current year at P5. the application reads: ‘APPLICATION FOR REGISTRATION OF TITLE The above-named applicants hereby apply to have the land hereinafter described brought under the operation of the Land Registration Act as amended by the Property Registration Decree No. 1987. in the Regional Trial Court at Pasig. and are bounded and described as shown on plan Swo-13-000227 (lot Nos. B-11-01351 of the land record of Taguig. Metro Manila. Docketed in the said court as LRC Case No. 6045-H. . That to the best of applicants’ knowledge and belief. 6045-C. namely: SUSANA MENGUITO. HELEN MARTA MENGUITO-LUNA. legal or equitable. 5. That the applicants are the owners in fee simple of eleven (11) parcels of land situated in the Barrio of Ususan. 6045-I.The antecedents of the case are adequately summarized by the Court of Appeals as follows: “On November 10. RENATO MENGUITO. 3.910. 6045-B. there is no mortgage or encumbrance of any kind whatsoever affecting the said land nor any other persons having any estate or interest therein. Metro Manila an Application for Registration of Title was filed by the following successors-ininterest of the deceased spouses Cirilo Menguito and Juana ManaloMenguito. 6045-D. x x x. 6045-F. EMELITA MENGUITO-MANALILI. N-10938. That the applicants acquired the said parcels of land by inheritance. and adverse possession. 6045-J and 6045-K) and corresponding technical descriptions. of said parcels of land for more than thirty years. That said parcels of land are occupied by the applicants and their predecessors-in-interest have been in actual. FROILAN MENGUITO and GENEROSO MENGUITO. 2. 6045-G. in the concept of owners. in possession. Municipality of Taguig. Metro Manila.

and with residence and postal address at T. Metro Manila. citizenship. Metro Manila 7. 141 as amended. married to Irene Toledo. That the applicants’ full name. and GENEROSO MENGUITO. FROILAN MENGUITO. Taguig Metro Manila e) Pateros-Taguig Road c/o The District Engineer Pasig. widow. RENATO MENGUITO.6. 8.. Pateros. Jr. Taguig Metro Manila b) Andres Filemon Pateros-Taguig Road Ususan. and postal address. single. married to Luciano Manalili. Taguig Metro Manila d) Maura Cabanatan Pateros-Taguig Road Ususan. 9. residence. That the following documents are attached hereto and made part hereof: (a) Tracing cloth plan of Swo-13-000227 . age. of the owners of all adjoining properties are as follows: (a) Pilar Menguito Pateros-Taguig Road Ususan. are as follows: SUSAN MENGUITO. the applicants hereby apply for the benefit of Chapter VIII of Commonwealth Act No. MANALILI. Taguig Metro Manila c) Beatriz Dumagat Pateros-Taguig Road Ususan. all of legal age. Filipinos.. EMELITA M. BERSAMIN MENGUITO. Sulit St. married to Benjamin Luna. That should the Land Registration Act invoked be not applicable in the instant case. married to Elvira Salvacion. married to Zenaida Carag. HELEN MARTA M. LUNA. That the names in full and addresses as far known to the undersigned.

‘C’. the Secretary of the Department of Public Works and Highways. pp.(b) (c) Two (2) print copies of said plan Swo-13-000227 Three (3) copies each of the Technical Description of: Lot 6045-A Lot 6045-B Lot 6045-C Lot 6045-D Lot 6045-E Lot 6045-F Lot 6045-G Lot 6045-H Lot 6045-I Lot 6045-J Lot 6045-K (d) (e) Three (3) copies of Engineer’s Certificate Four (4) copies of Tax Declaration No. the Secretary of the Department of Agrarian Reform. informing them that the application is scheduled for initial hearing on April 25. and the owners of the adjacent properties as mentioned in the application. 1989 issue of Abante. B-011-01351 xxx xxx x x x’ (Amended Record on Appeal. “Said notice of initial hearing was published in the April 5. “Acting on the foregoing application. the lower court issued a ‘Notice of Initial Hearing’ addressed to: the Solicitor General. and to submit evidence in support of such claims and unless you appear at said court at the time and place aforesaid. and thereafter. ‘C-1’. the Director of the Bureau of Forest Development. 1-5). ‘C-1-A’). . a daily tabloid (Exhs. The addressees were then ordered ‘to present such claims as you may have to said lands or any portion thereof. 1989. you will forever be barred from contesting said application or any decree entered thereon’ (Exhibit ‘A’). the Director of the Land Management Bureau. your default will be recorded and the title to the lands will be adjudicated and determined in accordance with law and the evidence before the Court.

attached to or alleged in the application.A. Said muniments of title do not appear to be genuine and indicate the pretended possession of applicant to be of recent vintage. C. 1989. That the parcel applied is part of the public domain belonging to the Republic of the Philippines not subject to private appropriation. or on March 30.. who was directed to file his written opposition but never did.D. “The Solicitor General therefore prayed for the denial of the application for registration and for the declaration of the properties subject thereof as part of the public domain belonging to the Republic of the Philippines. trial on the merits ensued. 1990. as amended by P. or prior thereto. continuous. the applicants filed their ‘Formal Offer of Evidence. continuous. 1990. 1073). appeared and registered a verbal opposition to the application. inclusive (Exhs. ‘G’). “At the scheduled initial hearing of the case on April 25. a certain Jose Tangco. 141. 1976 as required by Presidential Decree No. 6045-A to 6045-J. filed its Opposition to the application for registration contending: ‘1. (2) technical descriptions of Lot Nos. 3. From the records. That neither the applicant nor his predecessors-in-interest have been in open. That the muniments of title and tax payment receipts of applicant. exclusive and notorious possession and occupation thereof in the concept of owner. ‘F’). since June 12. 5-6). pp. ‘F’ to ‘F-10’. Thereafter. it appears that the instant application was filed on July 31. . (3) Engineer’s Certificate (Exh. inclusive). 1989. 2. Jr. 1945. “On June 13. do not constitute competent and sufficient evidence of a bona fideacquisition of the lands applied for or his open. 892. the court issued an Order of General Default against the whole world. if any. 48 [b]. 4.“Earlier. through the Solicitor General. exclusive and notorious possession and occupation of the land in question since June 12. the Republic of the Philippines. Jr. That the claim of ownership in fee simple on the basis of Spanish title or grant can no longer be availed of by the applicant who has failed to file an appropriate application for registration within the period of six (6) months from February 16. On motion of counsel for the applicants.’ (Amended Record on Appeal. 1945 or prior thereto (Sec. except as against the oppositors Republic of the Philippines and Jose Tangco.’ submitting therewith the following documentary exhibits: (1) Plan Swo-13000227 (Exh.

relative to jurisdictional requirements. ‘Q’ and ‘R’). ‘T’). 1945. ‘M’. ‘K’. 1945. ‘Q’. ‘C’. It objects to Exhibits ‘H’. ‘P’. “On September 12. Furthermore. ‘J’. ‘K’. and ‘R’. ‘P-1’. the oppositor Republic filed its Manifestation and Opposition to applicants’ formal offer of evidence. 1985 (Exh. ‘P’. where the supposed acknowledgment of the instrument appears. 1969 executed by Cirilo Menguito in favor of Pedro Menguito (Exh. it is respectfully prayed that the application for registration be denied and that the land applied for be declared as part of the public domain belonging to the Republic of the Philippines. It objects to Exhibits ‘O’. . and (9) Deed of Partition dated November 7. ‘F-1’. It has no objection to Exhibits ‘E’. WHEREFORE. 1985 for being self serving. ‘P’. the same being incompetent and insufficient to prove possession since June 12. ‘N’ and ‘O’) (7) Tax Receipts (Exhs. 1989 executed by Cirilo Menguito the same cannot be accepted in evidence. page 2 of said exhibit. ‘O’.’H-1’ and ‘H-2’. The said manifestation reads: ‘It interposes no objection to the admission of Exhibits ‘A’. to ‘F10’ relating to the plan and the technical description of the lots being applied for and Exhibit ‘G’ which is the Engineer’s certificate. the same being incompetent and insufficient to prove possession since June 12. being self-serving and a mere photocopy. considering that the applicants have failed to prove their title to the lands applied for. ‘M’ and ‘N’ for being incompetent and insufficient proof of possession of the lot in question by applicants or their predecessors-in interest. It objects to the first page of Exhibit ‘T’. applicants not having first laid the basis for the presentation of secondary evidence. ‘F’. 1945. refers to different parcels of land other than those being applied for. respectively). ‘D’. 1990. ‘L’. ‘H’). ‘H-1’ to ‘H-2’ the extrajudicial settlement and partition dated December 12. ‘I’. ‘Q’. ‘S’). (5) description of the land and the apportionment thereof among the applicants (Exhs. ‘L’. It objects to Exhibits ‘I’.(4) Extra-judicial Settlement and Partition executed by the applicants dated December 12. (8) Kasulatan ng Pagkakaloob dated May 7. 1990 executed by the applicants (Exh. It objects to Exhibits ‘O’. ‘J’. It objects to Exhibit ‘S’ as being self-serving being a mere photocopy of the alleged Kasulatan ng Pagkakaloob dated May 7. ‘O-1’. ‘B’. (6) Tax Declarations (Exhs. and ‘R’. In fact the said tax declarations do not date back to at least June 12.

1991. It was not convinced that the land in question had been classified as alienable or disposable and that petitioners or their predecessors-in-interest had been in possession of it since June 12. “On July 8. 11-13). through the Solicitor General. the Court will resolve whether the CA erred in rejecting petitioners’ application for the registration of their respective titles. “On May 15. Hence.’ (Amended Record on Appeal. 1991. and judgment is hereby rendered confirming the registerable title of the applicants x x x’ “On June 11. moved for a reconsideration of the afore-quoted decision. petitioners submit a single issue for our consideration: “Whether or not the court a quo erred in reversing the findings of facts of the trial court.[7] The Issue In their Memorandum. the oppositor Republic. exclusively. 1991.” [6] Ruling of the Court of Appeals The Court of Appeals agreed with respondent that the lower court had failed to consider the legal requirements for registration of imperfect titles. the order of general default against the whole world heretofore entered in this case is affirmed. the lower court issued an order denying the motion for reconsideration for lack of merit. and (2) the applicants and their predecessors-in-interest have occupied and possessed the land openly. 1945.” [8] In fine. continuously. namely: (1) the land is alienable and disposable. this Petition. the lower court rendered its decision disposing as follows: ‘WHEREFORE.Considering the above. 1945. to which a written opposition was interposed by the applicants. oppositor respectfully manifests that there is no need for it to submit evidence in support of its opposition. pp. The Court’s Ruling . and adversely since June 12.

may apply to the Court of First Instance of the province where the land is located for confirmation of their claims. They 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. petitioners relied on the printed words which read: “This survey plan is inside Alienable and Disposable Land Area. Map . petitioners were duty-bound to prove two legal requirements: (1) the land applied for was alienable and disposable. but whose titles have not been perfected or completed. exclusive and notorious possession and occupation of agricultural lands of the public domain.[11] Hence. 1073[10] clarified paragraph “b” of the said provision by specifically declaring that it applied only to alienable and disposable lands of the public domain. occupying lands of public domain or claiming to own any such lands or an interest thereon.” Presidential Decree (PD) No.The Petition is devoid of merit. under the Land Registration Act. for at least thirty years immediately preceding the filing of the application for confirmation of title except when prevented by war or force majeure. 27-B as per L. and (2) the applicants and their predecessors-in-interest had occupied and possessed the land openly. to wit: xxx xxx xxx (b) those who by themselves or through their predecessor in-interest have been in open. Project No. Classification of the Land To prove that the land in question formed part of the alienable and disposable lands of the public domain. 1945. Sole Issue: Registration of Petitioners’ Titles Section 48 of Commonwealth Act (CA) No. 141. provides for the registration of imperfect titles to lands of the public domain in this wise: "SECTION 48. The following described citizens of the Philippines.C. and the issuance of a certificate of title therefor. continuous. under a bona fide claim of acquisition or ownership.[9] as amended. exclusively. The records show that petitioners failed to establish these two requisites. continuously. as observed by the appellate court. and adversely since June 12.

no matter how long. however. Although petitioners can trace their possession of the land from as far back as 1968 only. flora and fauna. petroleum. Petitioners presented evidence that they had been paying real estate taxes since 1974. Period of Possession Even assuming arguendo that petitioners have been able to prove that the land is alienable. and other mineral oils. Such notation does not constitute a positive government act validly changing the classification of the land in question. which had allegedly belonged to Cirilo Menguito before he donated it to his son Pedro. exclusively and adversely -. 1945. Indeed. minerals. provides: “All lands of the public domain. General statements. When Pedro died in 1978. have also been paying taxes on the land for several years before them. they would tack it to that of their predecessors. the applicant (petitioners in this case) must overcome the presumption that the land sought to be registered forms part of the public domain. since June 12. all forces of potential energy. Verily. the land sought to be registered remains inalienable. coal.[16] However. forests or timber. are unavailing and cannot suffice. The reason is that they have failed to establish possession of the lots in question -. 2623. This proof is not sufficient.) For the original registration of title. cannot ripen into ownership and be registered as a title. they did not present any documents or any other satisfactory proof to substantiate this claim.” appearing on Exhibit “E” (Survey Plan No.openly. fisheries. they claimed. which are mere conclusions of law and not proofs of possession. Article XII of the 1987 Constitution. waters. wildlife. x x x. Section 2.” (Emphasis supplied. petitioners have not sufficiently proven that the land in question has been declared alienable. 1968. Swo-13-000227). In the present the concept of owner for at least 30 years.”[13] To overcome such presumption. incontrovertible evidence must be shown by the applicant. these lots allegedly passed down to petitioners. continuously.[12]Unless public land is shown to have been reclassified or alienated to a private person by the State. By relying solely on the said surveyor’s assertion. a mere surveyor has no authority to reclassify lands of the public domain. certified by the Bureau of Forestry on January 3. [14] Absent such evidence.No. and Cirilo Menguito had declared the land for tax purposes in 1943. who had supposedly been in possession thereof even before the Second World War. There is not enough convincing proof. and other natural resources are owned by the State. petitioners cite a surveyor-geodetic engineer’s notation in Exhibit “E” indicating that the survey was inside alienable and disposable land. to support such claim. their Petition for confirmation of their imperfect titles and registration thereof under the law will still be denied. it remains part of the inalienable public domain. “occupation thereof in the concept of owner. Petitioners do not claim that they are the original possessors of the lots in question.[15] Their predecessors-in-interest. [17] .

the tax declarations (Exhs. we agree with the CA that petitioners have not presented sufficient proof of their compliance with the legal requirements for registration of imperfect titles. she was not presented as a witness. who had tilled the land before petitioners built their houses thereon. the alleged tenant of Cirilo Menguito. Instead. Still. SO ORDERED.[18] but found no reason to modify the assailed CA Decision. “P”. only Pilar Menguito was personally informed of petitioners’ application. Furthermore. “Q” and “R”) presented in evidence are incompetent and insufficient to prove petitioners’ and their predecessors-in-interest’s possession of the lots in question. and “P-1”) and the Municipal Treasurer’s certifications of tax payments (Exhs. (Chairman). “O’1”. concur. serious doubts are cast on petitioners’ claim that their predecessorsin-interest have been in open. In this case. tax receipts (Exhs. Because the factual findings of the trial and the appellate courts were contrary to each other. JJ. they may even have in their possession documents that can adequately support their supposed claim. because they could have substantiated petitioners’ claim that indeed the lots in question had been donated to Pedro Menguito. the assailed . Vitug. “O”. we waded into the records..Cirilo’s six children were not presented as witnesses by petitioners during the hearing of their application for registration of the lots in question. “I” to “N”). Costs against petitioners. Moreover. Melo. our hands are tied by the law’s stringent safeguards against registering imperfect titles. There can be no question that Cirilo’s children were the best witnesses. exclusive and adverse possession and occupation of the land. In fact. Much as we want to conform to the State’s policy of encouraging and promoting the distribution of alienable public lands to spur economic growth and remain true to the ideal of social justice. petitioners presented only Raymunda Bautista. WHEREFORE. of the six children. Because they are of recent vintage. and Gonzaga-Reyes. the Petition is DENIED and Decision AFFIRMED. Neither Cirilo’s children nor the documents that they might have had in their possession were presented. continuous.

judgment is hereby rendered: 1." (Rollo. on the East. et al. p. Bernardino Buenseda and Jovita Montefalcon. v. Assessed at P3. BERNARDINO BUENASEDA and JOVITA MONTEFALCON. more or less.: This is a petition for review on certiorari seeking to reverse the decision* of the respondent appellate court dated March 3. on the other hand. by that of Julio Lopez. Melania Retizos.00 under tax declaration No." affirming the decision of the lower court. 5. No. Containing an area of two hundred seventy seven (277) square meters. CV No. 241. by C. Bounded on the North. Municipality of Nagcarlan. the decretal portion of which reads: : nad "WHEREFORE.R. the property subject of this case is a parcel of land situated in Nagcarlan.320. Lirio Street. and on the West. 15) Said parcel of land is being contested by Juana Albovias. and Leonida-Coronado. Respondents. Ordering the defendants to vacate the subject premises and to surrender possession thereof unto the plaintiff. by property of Epifania Irlandez (formerly Bonifacio Formentera). Laguna. her . Juana Albovias (JUANA. herein private respondent. has no authority to dispose of the same in favor of her codefendants. 78778 : December 3. herein petitioners. 1990. containing 277 square meters. 3. Declaring Leonida Coronado to have no title or interest over the property in question.000. THE COURT OF APPEALS and JUANA BUENO ALBOVIAS. on the one hand. DECISION PARAS..[G. Leonida Coronado. vs. grandfather of JUANA. Ordering the defendants to jointly and severally pay unto the plaintiff the sum of P2. p.] 191 SCRA 814 LEONIDA CORONADO.000. 17) As found by the respondent appellate court..R. hence.00 as attorney's fees and P10. This bigger lot was inherited under that will by JUANA." (Ibid. 2.. Petitioners. Costs against the defendants. more particularly described as follows: : nad "A parcel of land situated in the Poblacion. MELANIA RETIZOS. FELIX BUENO. on the South. for brevity) claims that the property in question is a portion of a bigger lot referred to as Parcel G in the last will and testament executed in 1918 by Melecio Artiaga. 1987 CA-G. Declaring the plaintiff to be the true and legal owner of the subject parcel of land. Declaring the sales executed by Coronado and subsequent transactions involving the same property null and void ab initio. 4. province of Laguna. Felix Bueno. J. 06911 entitled "Juana (Bueno) Albovias et al. premises considered.00 as moral and exemplary damages. by that of Dalmacio Monterola (formerly Domingo Bueno).

sometime in 1974 (Ibid. Lirio Street was created by the Municipality of Nagcarla traversing said Parcel G and thus dividing it into two portions. 7345 (Ibid. 107). 16-17). both surnamed Formentera. 105). As adverted to above (first par. and the other to the east of said street. On appeal. 16) JUANA further claims that sometime in 1925 or 1926. p. the Will was allowed by the then Court of First Instance of Laguna. Parcel G is described as follows: "Isang lagay na lupa na ang bahagi ay walang tanim na halaman at ang bahagi naman ay may tanim na saguing. sa ari cong Testador.. JUANA filed an action for quieting of title. oppositorsappellants" (Ibid.. Coronado. sa Ilaya.. :-cralaw CORONADO raised the following assigned errors: I THE RESPONDENT COURT OF APPEALS SERIOUSLY ERRED IN ARRIVING AT A CONCLUSION WHICH IS CONTRARY TO THE FACTS AND CIRCUMSTANCES OF THE CASE AND IN NOT . the northern portion of which was adjudicated in favor of the Formenteras and the southern portion was given to JUANA and Doming Bueno. Parcel G was divided by the heirs in the following manner. On the other hand. now the present possessors thereof. from the record whether or not said decision has already become final and executory. docketed as Civil Case No. said will was probated under Sp. which were sold by Monterola's successor-in-interest Leonida Coronado (now married to Felix Bueno) to Melania Retizos on April 18. at sa Canloran. and two other grandchildren. Hence. 4). the former getting the northern part adjoining the lot of the Formenteras. the land was divided into two portions. Sta. JUANA claims that her property was included together with the two parcels of land owned by Dalmacio Monterola. and the latter the southern part which adjoins the lot of Perfecto Nanagas (not owned by Dalmacio Monterola). to the spouse Bernardino Buenaseda and Jovita Montefalcon. who was allegedly in possession thereof even before the outbreak of World War II (Ibid. It is not apparent. the lower court rendered judgment in favor of JUANA.). which affirmed the decision appealed from (Ibid. Sta.. : nad Moreover. declaratory relief and damages against CORONADO in the Regional Trial Court of the Fourth Judicial Region. opposed the said probate. Not satisfied with the decision of the lower court. p. Dalmacio Monterola. The southern portion in turn was partitioned between JUANA and Domingo Bueno. Branch XXVI.). Dalmacio Monterola. Lirio St. No. Laguna. No. C. SC-283. said decision was affirmed by the Court of Appeals in CA-G. 40353. p. 1970." (Ibid. p. petitioner (Ibid. JUANA. Parenthetically. entitled "Leonida F.R. Cruz Branch (Ibid. this petition. Leonida Coronado and her co-petitioners (CORONADO. Despite their opposition. together with her husband. p. namely Bonifacio and Herminigildo. The part allocated to Domingo was later sold by him to Dalmacio Monterola. entitled "Testate Estate of the Deceased Monterola Leonida F. however. owner of the adjoining property (Ibid. sa namatay na Perfecto Nanagas. Melania Retizos in turn sold the lots.. CORONADO elevated the case to the Court of Appeals.. tubig na pinamamagatang San Domingo Bueno. one on the west of C. tumatayo sa gawin Canloran ng Calle Avenida Rizal nitong Nagcarlan. Cruz. p. sa cay Enrique Jovellano. 20). petitioner-appellee v. at humahangan sa Ibaba. sa Silangan. however. pp. Proc.. including that one being claimed by JUANA. 106). As a result of the conflicting claims over the property in question. for brevity) claim that the property in question was bequeathed to Leonida Coronado under a Will executed by Dr.). Coronado. Heirs of Dr.

its jurisdiction being limited to reviewing errors of law that might have been committed.. :. (Ibid. Absent. IT THEREFORE COMMITTED GRAVE AND SERIOUS ERROR.. CORONADO assails the respondent appellate court's finding that Dr. 18). 1989). 1989 (Ibid. Citing Art. p. Time and again. p.. There are no convincing reasons in the instant case to depart from this rule. p. (Ibid. JUANA had always been allowed to enter and reap the benefits or produce of the said property. such findings must stand. so that they are so glaringly erroneous as to constitute serious abuse of discretion. September 15. 1116 of the New Civil Code in relation to Section 41 of the Code of Civil Procedure. 108) II THERE IS NO EVIDENCE PRESENTED TO SHOW THAT THE LAND IN QUESTION CLAIMED BY PRIVATE RESPONDENT IS THE SAME PROPERTY ADJUDICATED TO JUANA BUENO UNDER THE WILL OF THE DECEASED MELECIO ARTIAGA. It was only after the death of said Monterola in 1970 that Leonida Coronado prohibited JUANA from entering it (Ibid. for the Supreme Court is not expected or required to examine or contrast the oral and documentary evidence submitted by the parties (Andres v. 1989 (Ibid. As found by the respondent appellate court. p. p. (Ibid. while that of JUANA was filed on October 13. Monterola never claimed ownership over the property in question. one of the deeds of donation executed by Monterola in favor of Leonida Coronado acknowledged that the boundary owner on the property conveyed to her is JUANA. NEITHER IS THERE EVIDENCE TO SHOW THAT SAID WILL HAD BEEN PROBATED. the reason being that Monterola's continued possession of the said property for over ten years since 1934 ripened into full and absolute ownership (Ibid. The argument has no factual basis. 139). p.. 121) As required by this Court. p. 105).nad Even assuming arguendo that Monterola was indeed in continued possession of the said property for over ten years since 1934.. it has been ruled that the jurisdiction of the Supreme Court in cases brought to it from the Court of Appeals is limited to reviewing and revising the errors of law imputed to it.. a showing that the findings complained of are totally devoid of support in the record. The petition is devoid of merit. 114) III PRIVATE RESPONDENT IS IN ESTOPPEL FROM QUESTIONING THE OWNERSHIP OF THE PETITIONER OVER THE LAND IN QUESTION HAVING FAILED TO RAISE THE SAME IN THE ESTATE PROCEEDING IN THE TRIAL COURT AND EVEN ON APPEAL.APPLYING THE APPLICABLE PROVISION OF LAW AND JURISPRUDENCE LAID DOWN BY THIS HONORABLE COURT. said possession is insufficient to constitute the . therefore. (Ibid. 82670. 119) IV THE RESPONDENT COURT OF APPEALS MISAPPRECIATED THE EVIDENCE SUBMITTED AND FACTS ADMITTED ON RECORD. This is precisely the reason why during the lifetime of the late Dalmacio Monterola. Manufacturers Hanover & Trust Corporation. Dalmacio Monterola could not have acquired the subject land by acquisitive prescription. p. CORONADO filed their memorandum on May 8..R. It is not the function of the Supreme Court to analyze or weigh such evidence all over again. 112).. As a matter of fact. its findings of fact being conclusive. CORONADO claims that JUANA had already foreclosed whatever right or legal title she had over the property in question. Under the first assigned error. G.

fundamental basis of the prescription. Possession, under the Civil Code, to constitute the foundation of a prescriptive right, must be possession under claim of title (en concepto de dueno), or to use the common law equivalent of the term, it must be adverse. Acts of possessory character performed by one who holds by mere tolerance of the owner are clearly not en concepto de dueno, and such possessory acts, no matter how long so continued, do not start the running of the period of prescription (Manila Electric Company v. Intermediate Appellate Court, G.R. 71393, June 28, 1989). In this case, Monterola, as found by the respondent appellate court and the lower court, never categorically claimed ownership over the property in question, much less his possession thereof en concepto de dueno. Accordingly, he could not have acquired said property by acquisitive prescription. Anent the contention of CORONADO that Leonida Coronado could tack her possession to that of Monterola, so that claim of legal title or ownership over the subject property, even against the petitioners, the Buenasesas, who are purchasers for value and in good faith, is a foregone or settled issue, the respondent appellate court aptly answered the same in this wise: "It follows that Leonida Coronado could not have derived ownership of the land in question from her predecessor-in-interest Dalmacio Monterola, whether by prescription or by some other title. Neither can she claim acquisitive prescription in her own name. It was only in 1970 after the death of Dalmacio Monterola that she asserted her claim of ownership adverse to that of plaintiff-appellee. Having knowledge that she had no title over the land in question, she must be deemed to have claimed it in bad faith. Under Article 1137 of the Civil Code, ownership and other real rights over immovables prescribe through uninterrupted adverse possession thereof for thirty years, without need of title or good faith. And even granting that she had no notice or defect in her title and was, therefore, in good faith, a period of ten years of possession is necessary for her to acquire the land by ordinary prescription. (Article 1134, Civil Code). But she can claim to have possessed the land only in 1968, the year the Monterola lots were donated to her. The period, however, was interrupted in 1975, or 7 years after, when the complaint below was filed." (Rollo, pp. 18-19) Under the second assigned error, CORONADO claims that the will under which JUANA inherited the property in question from her grandfather, Melecio Artiaga, was never probated; hence, said transfer for ownership was ineffectual considering that under Rule 75, Sec. 1 of the Rules of Court (formerly Sec. 125 of Act No. 190, no will shall pass either real or personal property unless it is proved and allowed in the proper court (Ibid., p. 115). The contention is without merit.
chan robles v irt ual law l ibra ry

While it is true that no will shall pass either real or personal property unless it is proved and allowed in the proper court (Art. 838, Civil Code), the questioned will, however, may be sustained on the basis of Article 1056 of the Civil Code of 1899, which was in force at the time said document was executed by Melecio Artiaga in 1918. The said article read as follows: "Article 1056. If the testator should make a partition of his properties by an act inter vivos, or by will, such partition shall stand in so far as it does not prejudice the legitime of the forced heir." (Mang-Oy v. Court of Appeals, 144 SCRA 33 [1986]) In this case, nowhere was it alleged nor shown that Leonida Coronado is entitled to legitime from Melecio Artiaga. The truth of the matter is that the record is bereft of any showing that Leonida Coronado and the late Melecio Artiaga were related to each other.

Under the third assigned error, CORONADO claims that JUANA is estopped from questioning the ownership of Leonida Coronado over the land in question having failed to raise the same in the estate proceedings in the trial court and even on appeal (Rollo, p. 119). The contention is likewise without merit. Normally, the probate of a will does not look into its intrinsic validity. The authentication of a will decides no other questions than such as touch upon the capacity of the testator and the compliance with those requisites or solemnities which the law prescribes for the validity of the wills. It does not determine nor even by implication prejudge the validity or efficiency of the provisions of the will, thus may be impugned as being vicious or null, notwithstanding its authentication. The question relating to these points remain entirely unaffected, and may be raised even after the will has been authenticated (Maninang, et al., v. Court of Appeals, 114 SCRA 473 [1982]). Consequently, JUANA is not estopped from questioning the ownership of the property in question, notwithstanding her having objected to the probate of the will executed by Monterola under which Leonida Coronado is claiming title to the said property.
:-cralaw :-cralaw

Under the fourth assigned error, it is alleged by CORONADO that JUANA's petition is weak for want of factual and legal support; the weakness of JUANA's position lies in the fact that she did not only fail to identify the subject land, but also failed to explain the discrepancy in the boundary of the property she is claiming to be hers (Rollo, p. 125). The contention is unavailing. The fact that JUANA failed to identify the property in question and to explain the discrepancy in the boundary of said property, assuming they are true, is immaterial, in view of the findings of the lower court as to the identity of the property in question. Moreover, the lower court found sufficient evidence to support the conclusion that the property in question is the same property adjudicated to JUANA under the will of Melecio Artiaga, and that CORONADO has no right whatsoever to said property (Ibid., p. 20). Such findings are conclusive upon this Court (Reynolds Philippine Corporation v. Court of Appeals, 169 SCRA 220 [1989]). PREMISES CONSIDERED, the decision appealed from is hereby AFFIRMED. SO ORDERED. Melencio-Herrera, Padilla, Sarmiento and Regalado, JJ., concur. Endnotes
* Penned by Justices Jose A.R. Melo and concurred in by Justice Esteban M. Lising and Celso L. Magsino.

[G.R. No. 117384. October 21, 1998]


Petitioners seek the reversal of the decision of the Court of Appeals, [1] in CA G.R. No. 25339 dated September 27, 1994 affirming the decision of the Regional Trial Court of Isabela in Civil Case No. 19-219 dated October 9, 1989 which adjudicated lot Nos. 7036-A-10-A, 7036-A-10-B and 7036-A-10-C to herein private respondents.[2] The following facts, concisely related in the petition[3] are not in dispute. On November 20, 1986, petitioners filed an action for reconveyance with damages [4] against private respondents involving a parcel of land situated in Poblacion, San Mateo, Isabela with a total area of 3,277 square meters. In their complaint, petitioners assert that the subject land was bought by their predecessor-in-interest from the private respondents, Madrid brothers, for P4,000.00 in a deed of sale executed on May 18, 1959, and since then they have been in actual, physical, continuous and open possession of the property. However, sometime in October 1986, much to their dismay and surprise, private respondents managed to obtain a Torrens Title over the said land. On the other hand, the Madrids denied having executed the said deed of sale and assuming that said document exists, the same is fictitious and falsified. Moreover, while they admit petitioners’ possession of the land, they assert that this possession is in defiance of their repeated demands that the former relinquish the same. Meanwhile, Pacifico Marquez contends that he is an innocent purchaser for value of the property having bought the same from the Madrid brothers in 1976.[5] During the trial, petitioners were unable to present the original deed of sale since it was lost. Consequently, they were constrained to offer, as Exhibit “A,” a photo copy of the purported original carbon copy of the deed of sale in an effort to prove the transaction. However, in disposing of the case, the trial court ruled that Exhibit “A” was inadmissible in evidence, thus:

“Since at the time of the execution of Teodoro dela Cruz’ affidavit or on June 14, 1966, a duplicate original carbon copy of the alleged sale was still in his possession, the plaintiffs must have to account for it. No proof was adduced that this remaining copy was lost or destroyed. Furthermore, no attempt was done to produce the copies retained by the notary public although there is a possibility that the same still exist

“A” as a mere secondary evidence and that the trial judge did not exclude the same when it was formally offered. It is true that the originals of Exh. Declaring the defendants the lawful owners of the land in question insofar as the portion thereof falling or found in their respective titles are concerned. the defense did not object to its not being the best evidence when it was formally offered. notwithstanding this omission. (3) that they (petitioners) are not entitled to the improvements they had introduced in the land. and 3. thus: “It is therefore evident that defendants-appellees never put in issue the inadmissible nature of Exh. 2. Had the defendants interposed an objection to Exh. the Court of Appeals rendered its judgment which ruled that Exhibit “A” was admissible in evidence for failure of the private respondents to object when it was offered during the trial. occupied by them and to deliver the possession thereof to the defendants. Yet. “A” were never produced or accounted for by plaintiffs.(sic). the Court believes that the ‘xerox copy of a certified true copy’ of the original issued by the notary public cannot be admitted in evidence to prove the conveyance of the land in question. petitioners appealed to the Court of Appeals contending that the trial court erred in holding that: (1) Exhibit “A” was inadmissible in evidence to prove the transaction. to vacate the portions of Lots 7036-A-10-A. the dispositive portion of the decision of which reads: “WHEREFORE. judgment is hereby rendered: 1. as this was a matter resting on their discretion. the trial court dismissed petitioners’ complaint. “A” on the ground of its incompetency for not complying with the best evidence rule. in view of the foregoing considerations. Ordering the plaintiffs.” Evidently aggrieved by the decision. representatives or any person or persons deriving their title. On September 27. only to ultimately exclude it in its decision. 70360A-10-B and 7036-A-10-C. No pronouncement as to costs. it would have been properly excluded by the trial court. (2) there was no valid sale of the land in question.” Accordingly. SO ORDERED. their agents. 1994. ownership or possession from the plaintiffs. Under these (sic) state of facts. Neither was there any proof that the copy sent to the court as required by the notarial law is unavailable.” . Defendants’ omission to object on the proper ground operated as a waiver. Dismissing the complaint.

Atty. It is a well-settled principle that before secondary evidence can be presented. still we are constrained to reverse its decision in view of the circumstances present in this case. “A” does not even contain a reproduction of the alleged signatures of the Madrid brothers for comparison purposes. testified that the document has about five (5) copies. the decision of the trial court dated October 9. the dispositive portion of which reads: “WHEREFORE. Tabangay asserted that he recognized his signature on the copy shown by Teodoro when the loss of the originals was just made known to him. the notary public who notarized the deed of sale. Exh. when Exhibit “A” was presented private respondents failed. petitioners’ victory was shortlived. While we concur with the Court of Appeals’ finding that Exhibit “A” does not prove that the sale of the land indeed occurred. Atty.Unfortunately. Petitioners maintain that even if Exhibit “A” were a mere photo copy of the original carbon copy. Tabangay. Atty. Constantino Balmoja was not presented to corroborate Atty. Second. concluded that the same had no probative value to support the allegation of the petitioners that the disputed land was sold to them in 1959. Sevillano Tabangay. who acknowledged the due execution of the deed of sale. “A” trustworthy as to the actual execution of the alleged deed of sale. records show that none of these five copies was even presented during the trial. the petitioners have filed the present petition. For the Court of Appeals. while ruling that Exhibit “A” was admissible.[7] Hence.[6] First. but even to cross-examine the notary public. IN VIEW OF THE FOREGOING. SO ORDERED. Petitioners’ explanation that these copies were lost or could not be found in the National Archives was not even supported by any certification from the said office.” Hence. all duplicates and/or counterparts must be accounted for. their long possession of the land in question. hinged as the latter was on secondary evidence. the testimony of the notary public. does not render Exh. Tabangay. the Court of Appeals affirmed the trial court’s decision.” Failing in their bid to reconsider the decision. Moreover. and no excuse for the non-production of the original document itself can be regarded as established until all its parts are unavailable. bolstered by the construction of various improvements gives rise to the disputable presumption of ownership. 1989 is hereby AFFIRMED with the modification that the case be remanded to the court a quo to conduct the proper proceedings to determine the value of the useful improvements introduced by appellants for reimbursement by appellees. [8] These petitioners failed to do.: “The lone fact that Atty. regarding . Tabangay’s testimony. it is imperative that all the originals must be accounted for before secondary evidence can be presented. they had presented other substantial evidence during the trial to prove the existence of the sale. To begin with. not only to object. viz.[9] Notwithstanding this procedural lapse. The surviving witness to the alleged execution.

its execution. . during all this time. still. are not without exception. and Marquez. the record is bereft of any documentary evidence that the Madrids sent a written demand to the petitioners ordering them to vacate the land. The Torrens system does not create or vest title. pavements and other buildings . Worse. garage.[15] The principles raised. Tabangay typed Exhibit “A. despite our prescinding discussion. twenty-seven long (27) years after petitioners first took possession of the land. storage house. The records show that the disputed property has been in the possession of the petitioners since 1959.[16] especially considering the fact that both the Madrids and Marquezes obtained their respective TCT’s only in October 1986. the same becomes primary evidence. Furthermore. 167220 and 167256. not one of them protested. the Madrids argue that neither prescription nor laches can operate against them because their title to the property is registered under the Torrens system and therefore imprescriptable. while admittedly correct.[13] A cursory glance will immediately reveal that it was unsigned by any of the parties and undated as to when it was executed. the land was enclosed.” the contents were based on an alleged carbon original which petitioners’ predecessor-ininterest presented to him. It has never been recognized as a mode of acquiring ownership. They have since been introducing several improvements on the land which certainly could not have escaped the attention of the Madrids. Oddly. Atty. However.rice mill. Certificates of Title do not establish ownership. did not operate to vest upon them ownership of the property. [12] As earlier stated. We cannot accept the Madrids’ explanation that they did not demand the petitioners to vacate the land due to the unexplained killings within the area. In other words. All told. Their failure to raise a restraining arm or a shout of dissent to the petitioners’ possession of the subject land in a span of almost thirty (30) years is simply contrary to their claim of ownership.[10]Forthwith. TCT Nos.[17] Even if we were to rule that the Certificates of Title to the private respondents would ripen into ownership of the land. For as earlier mentioned. their remonstration and fears are nothing but pure speculation. all is not lost for the petitioner. To make matters worse. Tabangay’s failure to determine the accuracy of the carbon copy requested by the petitioners’ predecessor-in-interest renders Exhibit “A” unreliable. we agree with the Court of Appeals that its probative value must still meet the various tests by which its reliability is to be determined. and therefore. Its tendency to convince and persuade must be considered for admissibility of evidence should not be confused with its probative value.was undoubtedly a clear exercise of ownership which the Madrids could not ignore. the defense of prescription would be unavailing.[14] Not a single shred of evidence was presented to show that these killings were perpetrated by the petitioners. If the Madrids and Marquezes wished to assert their ownership. when Atty. even if Exhibit “A” is admitted in evidence. The construction of various infrastructure on the land . 167250. upon private respondents’ failure to object to Exhibit “A” when it was presented. they should have filed a judicial action for recovery of possession and not merely to have the land registered under their respective names. thus signifying petitioners’ exclusive claim of ownership.[11] To be sure. The fact that the Madrids were able to secure TCT No. without bothering to check his own files to verify the correctness of the contents of the document he was copying. Next. Exhibit “A” was merely a photocopy lifted from the carbon copy of the alleged deed of sale.

(Quoting Mejia de Lucas v. by the long period of 37 years and by patentee’s inaction and neglect been converted into a stale demand. an equitable one lies in favor of the defendant and that is. without taking any step to reinvindicate the lot from 1944 to 1962. the original owner’s right to recover back the possession of the property and the title thereto from the defendant has. however. but that of the equitable defense of laches. also remained inactive. father of defendant-appellee. possess and enjoy the land in question without protest. we are of the opinion that the judgment in favor of defendant-appellee Florencio Catalino must be sustained. knowingly induce another to spend time. only to spring from ambush and claim title when the possessor’s efforts and the rise of land values offer an opportunity to make easy profit at his expense. their passivity and inaction for more than 34 years (1928-1962) justifies the defendant-appellee in setting up the equitable defense of laches in his own behalf. and the appellants. by their silence. we are constrained to find. paying taxes and making improvements thereon for 30 long years. the vendor Bacaquio suffered the latter to enter. while succeeding the deceased. Echarri[20] stated: “Upon a careful consideration of the facts and circumstances.the petitioners would have acquired title to it by virtue of the equitable principle of laches. As a result. We hold that the defense of prescription or adverse possession in derogation of the title of the registered owner Domingo Mejia does not lie. Courts can not look with favor at parties who. in turn.[18] The above ruling was stressed in the following cases: Miguel v. The Madrids’ long inaction or passivity in asserting their rights over disputed property will preclude them from recovering the same. from 1928 to 1943. x x x. 277).” Pabalete v. 100 Phil. Otherwise stated. when the present suit was commenced in court. that while no legal defense to the action lies. Gamponia. Even granting appellants’ proposition that no prescription lies against their father’s recorded title. delay and inaction. xxx xxx xxx . we hold that while defendant may not be considered as having acquired title by virtue of his and his predecessor’s long continued possession for 37 years. the action of plaintiffs-appellants must be considered barred and the Court below correctly so held. effort and expense in cultivating the land. For despite the invalidity of his sale to Catalino Agyapao. when the seller died. Catalino[19] declared: “Notwithstanding the errors aforementioned in the appealed decision. the equitable defense of laches.

x x x. 1994 in CA .[24] In fact. Where a purchaser was fully aware of another person’s possession of the lot he purchased. one who buys without checking the vendor’s title takes all the risks and losses consequent to such failure.[25] WHEREFORE. No.. C. Instead. in view of the foregoing. but only with whether or not by reason of the plaintiff’s long inaction or inexcusable neglect he should be barred from asserting this claim at all. they should have acted with the diligence of a prudent man in determining the circumstances surrounding the property. petitioners are hereby declared as the legal owners of the subject land.R. he stated that he has been aware that the former were in possession of the land since 1959. Narvasa. In his testimony. This being so. Armed with such information. (Chairman). the law does not give him the benefit afforded to an innocent purchaser for value. Otherwise.. Purisima. both the Madrids and Marquezes talked about the status of the property. and Pardo. [21] Curiously.J. 25339 is hereby REVERSED and SET ASIDE. in his Answer[22] to the complaint filed by the petitioners. No costs.[23] Moreover. he admitted that he knew the land in question.G. . because to allow him to do so would be inequitable and unjust to the defendant. the decision of the Court of Appeals dated September 24. he cannot successfully pretend later to be an innocent purchaser for value. concur. it would have been expected that in the normal course of daily life. SO ORDERED. JJ.This defense is an equitable one and does not concern itself with the character of the defendant’s title. Marquez’ claim that he is a purchaser in good faith and for value does not inspire any merit.” Lastly. Kapunan. it would be difficult to imagine that the latter were not made aware of the petitioner’s possession of the land.

petitioner. DE AGUINALDO and REGISTRAR OF DEEDS OF MARIKINA. liens or encumbrances appeared on the said title. SP No. HELEN LEONTOVICH VDA. 294192 was cancelled and a new one (TCT No. 2001] ROBERTO B.00) from respondent bank some time in December 1977. 296945.00). The antecedent facts of the case as culled from the decision[1] of the CA are as follows: On 29 December 1995. 294192 in the name of respondent Aguinaldo. two (2) months after he bought the property. He died without having paid these loans. 153844 and 151622. the Aguinaldos executed in favor of respondent bank a real estate mortgage over three parcels of land situated in Antipolo and Cainta. respondents. It appears that respondent Aguinaldo and her husband Daniel R. 234903.R. SP No. dated 28 August 1998 and 23 February 1999. TAN. After payment of the agreed purchase price. In January of 1985.[G. 39903.. 137739. of the Court of Appeals in CA-G. DECISION KAPUNAN. On 29 February 1996. Aguinaldo (respondent Aguinaldo) a parcel of land at the Valley Golf Subdivision in Antipolo.R. TCT No.000. 296945) in the name of petitioner was issued. 296945. PHILIPPINE BANKING CORP. petitioner bought from Helen L. Rizal. The lot was then covered by TCT No. the CA directed the Register of Deeds of Marikina to reinstate the Transfer Certificates of Title (TCT) Nos. Rizal covered by TCT Nos. 194096 and 194098 in the name of Philippine Banking Corporation (respondent bank) over the same parcel of land already covered by petitioner’s valid and subsisting TCT No.” It was only then that petitioner learned that the lot he bought from respondent Aguinaldo was subject of legal dispute between her and respondent bank. Aguinaldo obtained a loan in the amount of two hundred thousand pesos (P200. Said petition stated that petitioner was “being sued here as a nominal party as the new registered owner of Transfer Certificate of Title No.: This is a petition for review on certiorari filed by Roberto Tan (petitioner) seeking to reverse and set aside the resolutions. vs. March 26. . J. No. Daniel Aguinaldo obtained three more loans from respondent PBC totalling over five hundred thousand pesos (P500. In the said resolutions.000. 39903.R. To secure the payment of this obligation. petitioner was served a copy of the petition for certiorari filed by respondent bank in CA-G. No claims.

In said proceedings.” On 20 April 1995. and to issue. the trial court rendered its decision the dispositive portion of which reads: WHEREFORE. The plaintiff shall pay to the bank or deposit the amount in trust for the bank within fifteen (15) days from receipt of a copy of this decision the amounts as follows: (a) on the promissory note for P176.623. 1995 executed by the bank in favor of the Terraces Realty & Development Corporation are hereby declared null and void and of no legal force and effect. 1989. 1989 until fully paid.623.24 – The amount of P176. the loans remained unpaid.24 from March 11. as administratrix of the estate of her husband. 1989. Regional Trial Court. 1989. before the expiration of the redemption period of one year. and the deed of sale dated February 1. Rizal. 1985 until March 10. Certificate of Sale dated March 10. Antipolo. In the public auction sale. that they “agree that the decision to be rendered by this Honorable Court [RTC] shall be final and unappealable.24 plus the stipulated 12% interest per annum from January 24. the parties (respondent Aguinaldo and respondent bank) entered into a Joint Partial Stipulation of Facts stating. subject only to the filing within the reglementary period of the usual motion for reconsideration. 275504 in the name of Terraces Realty & Development Corporation. Metro Manila is hereby ordered to cancel Transfer Certificates of Title No. Despite said demand. judgment is hereby rendered as follows: (1) The Notice of Sheriff’s Sale dated February 10. . with Branch 71. new titles in the name of the plaintiff or her successor-in-interest upon proof by the latter of the payment to be made by them to the bank or by similar proof that such amount is deposited by the plaintiff in trust for the bank. (2) The Register of Deeds of Marikina. On 15 February 1990.Upon maturity of these loans. Affidavit of Consolidation executed by the defendant bank.623. respondent Aguinaldo filed a complaint for the nullification of the aforesaid foreclosure proceedings. in lieu thereof. among others. the mortgaged properties were sold to respondent bank as the highest bidder. docketed as Civil Case No. 194096 and 194098 in the name of the bank and Transfer Certificate of Title No. respondent bank sent a demand letter to respondent Aguinaldo. Respondent bank thus initiated extra-judicial foreclosure proceedings on the real estate mortgage. and 12% interest per annum on said amount of P176. 90-1705-A.

denied respondent bank’s prayer for the reinstatement of its TCTs stating that the averments as against petitioner are insufficient to make up a cause of action against the latter. and 12% interest per annum on said amount of P380. 1989 until fully paid.00 from March 11.00 – The amount of P31. the Register of Deeds of Marikina canceled respondent bank’s TCT No.000.00 14% interest per annum from January 24. The presiding judge thereof subsequently denied respondent bank’s motion for reconsideration. In its decision.00 plus 14% interest per annum from January 24.(b) on the promissory note for P380. thus. among others. however.000. The decision was declared final and executory. 1989 until fully paid. 1985 until March 10. 275504 and issued new titles in lieu thereof. all in the name of respondent Aguinaldo. (3) The claim of plaintiff for damages and attorney’s fees is hereby denied.000.000. For his part. No pronouncement as to costs. petitioner filed a motion to cancel notice of lis pendens while respondent Aguinaldo filed a motion for reconsideration. 1989. 194096 and 194098 and Terraces Realty & Development Corporation’s TCT No. the CA issued the assailed resolution of 28 August 1998 the dispositive portion of which reads: . the case was re-raffled to Branch 72. respondent bank moved for the inhibition of the presiding judge.000. 1985 until March 10. give due course to respondent bank’s appeal and elevate the records of the case to the CA for review. and (c) on the promissory note of P31. The CA.00 from March 11.00 – The amount of P380. Pending resolution thereof. dated 27 February 1998. Respondent bank then filed a notice of appeal but the same was denied on the ground that it (respondent bank) already waived its right to appeal pursuant to the joint stipulation. 296945 therefor.[3] Respondent bank thereafter moved for a partial reconsideration of the CA decision insofar as it denied its prayer for the reinstatement of its TCTs. On 6 October 1995. Acting on these motions. She subsequently sold the lot covered by one of these titles to petitioner who was then issued TCT No.[2] Respondent bank filed a motion for reconsideration of the said decision. Respondent bank filed a motion for reconsideration of the decision of the trial court but the same was denied. Upon presentation of the trial court’s decision and certification. The motion for inhibition was granted. the CA substantially granted the reliefs prayed for by respondent bank and directed the trial court to. It then brought the case to the CA by way of certiorari. 1989.000. the Clerk of Court of Branch 72 issued a certification that the decision had become final. and 12% interest per annum of said amount of P31.

Petitioner’s Motion for Partial Reconsideration dated 20 March 1998 is hereby GRANTED and par.WHEREFORE. the Motion to Cancel Notice of Lis Pendens dated 23 March 1998 filed by respondent Roberto B. 296945. 194096 should be reinstated. 194096 (or the issuance of a new one in its place). The first assailed CA resolution (28 August 1998) directing the Register of Deeds of Marikina to reinstate the TCTs of respondent bank had the effect of canceling petitioner’s title over the same parcel of land. The Court of Appeals erred and acted without jurisdiction in deciding upon the question of whether Philbank’s cancelled TCT No. and absent any proper direct action and judgment for reconveyance against him which rescinds or cancels his TCT No. or issue new ones in the event this is not legally feasible in their favor. In fact. the petition filed by respondent CA merely stated that petitioner was being “sued as a nominal party in his capacity as the new registered owner of Transfer Certificate of . 194096 & 194098 in the name of petitioner and Transfer Certificate of Title No. and outside the scope of a certiorari proceeding. The CA clearly committed reversible error in issuing the aforesaid resolution. Petitioner was not even a party to the action between respondent Aguinaldo and respondent bank in the court a quo. petitioner filed the instant petition assigning the following errors: 1. The Court of Appeals erred and committed serious irregularity in directing the “reinstatement” of Philbank’s cancelled TCT No.[4] Petitioner filed a motion for reconsideration but it was denied by the appellate court in its resolution of 23 February 1999. The Court finds the petition meritorious. pending review of the case on appeal. De Aguinaldo dated 23 March 1998 are hereby DENIED. or a new title issued in its place. SO ORDERED. 2.[5] The Court required respondent bank and respondent Aguinaldo to file their respective Comments.(d) of the dispositive portion of our decision promulgated on 27 February 1998 is hereby MODIFIED to read as follows: Directing the Registrar of Deeds to reinstate the cancelled Transfer Certificates of Title Nos. the parties were required to file their respective memoranda. in the fact of an existing TCT in Roberto Tan’s name over the same parcel of land. Thereafter. Tan and the motion for reconsideration filed by respondent Helen Leontovich Vda. 275504 in the name of Terraces Realty & Development Corporation. this being within the exclusive jurisdiction of regional trial courts. Petitioner was impleaded only in the certiorari case filed by respondent bank in the CA. for lack of merit. Hence.

Petitioner relied on the seller’s title. denying respondent bank’s prayer for reinstatement of its canceled titles “without prejudice to the filing of proper action” should thus stand. should be the first to accept the validity of the titles issued thereunder once the conditions laid down by the law are satisfied. P2 Million of which came from a loan directly paid by the lender bank to the seller. modified or cancelled only in a direct proceeding in accordance with law. Tan. The further consequence would be that land conflicts could be even more numerous and complex than they are now and possibly also more abrasive. and the full consideration was fully paid. As the CA held in its main decision: Private respondent Roberto Tan has filed a motion to dismiss on two grounds. If a person purchases a piece of land on the assurance that the seller’s title thereto is valid.[9] .”[6] Other than this averment. correctly denied respondent bank’s prayer to reinstate its canceled TCTs because to do so would effectively cancel petitioner’s title on the same lot. 296945. Under the circumstances obtaining. in its decision. The aforequoted averments as against private respondent Roberto B. It is well settled that a certificate of title cannot be subject to collateral attack and can be altered.[8] Having obtained a valid title over the subject lot. This would not only be unfair to him. there were no allegations to constitute a cause of action against petitioner. What is worse is that if this were permitted. As such. petitioner’s title can only be challenged in a direct action. public confidence in the system would be eroded and land transactions would have to be attended by complicated and not necessarily conclusive investigations and proof of ownership. the prayer under paragraph 3. The CA’s original ruling on the matter. one of which is “x x x the petition states no cause of action against Roberto B. he should not run the risk of being told later that his acquisition was ineffectual after all. recognizing the worthy purposes of the Torrens system.5 cannot be granted. Tan are insufficient to make up a cause of action for the desired relief. as stated in its decision.5 Million). which was then free from any claims. if not even violent. liens or encumbrances appearing thereon.” In his submission to support this ground.[7] The CA. It is more in keeping with the purpose of the adoption of the Torrens system in our country: The Torrens system was adopted in this country because it was believed to be the most effective measure to guarantee the integrity of land titles and to protect their indefeasibility once the claim of ownership is established and recognized.Title No. Tan claims being a buyer in faith and for value (P2. petitioner is entitled to protection against indirect attacks against his title. It must be noted that petitioner’s title was regularly issued after the lot covered by the same was sold to him by respondent Aguinaldo. The Government.

Davide.WHEREFORE.. (Chairman). dated 28 August 1998 and 23 February 1999. Pardo. and Ynares-Santiago. Jr.J. concur. is REINSTATED in toto. Puno. the Resolutions. . SO ORDERED. dated 27 February 1998. JJ. premises considered. Its Decision. of the Court of Appeals are REVERSED and SET ASIDE.. C.

represented by the DIRECTOR OF LANDS. Claimant was allowed to present his evidence. Albay (Branch 12). Branch 12. The lot has not been utilized as a bond in civil or criminal cases or as collateral for a loan in any banking institution. and on the West by Lot 10716. Albay containing an area of 10. Public Park. No.08 under Official Receipt No. claimant acquired ownership of the land by means of deed of absolute sale (Exh. Lot 10739 is one of the uncontested lots. 3-a). 6_A). In due time. There is no pending petition for its registration under Act 496 known as the Land Registration Act or an application for the issuance of free patent with the Community Environment and Natural Resources Office (CENRO). Albay. by the Director of Lands."3 . GONZAGA-REYES.R.775. Oas. The land was surveyed in the name of the previous owner per certification of the CENRO (Exh. the land was owned by Marcial Listana who began possession and occupying the same in the concept of owner. an order of general default against the whole world was issued. Claimant is not legally disqualified from owning disposable property of the public domain. river or stream. Albay is one of the parcels of land subject of these cadastral proceedings. On May 21. He declared the land in his name under Tax Dec. 35 (Exh. 1442 (Exh.: Before us is a petition for review on certiorari under Rule 45 of the Rules of Court which seeks to reverse and set aside the decision of the Court of Appeals dated February 8. Albay (Exh. It is a parcel of Riceland situated at Maramba. Albay. When this case was called for initial hearing. It is not part of a military reservation. All the realty taxes has likewise been paid up to the current year per Official Receipt No. Romeo Divinaflor filed his answer to the petition relative to Lot No. He planted palay and harvested about 60 cavans of palay every harvest season. 50652483 (Exh. He caused the same to be declared in his name under Tax Dec. There are no liens or encumbrances and neither are there persons claiming adverse ownership and possession of the land. 5) and the certification thereof (Exh. vs. CV No. 1). 1994 in CA-G. ClaimantAppelle"1 which affirmed the decision2 of the Regional Trial Court of Ligao. 1âwphi1. 6422679 (Exh. No. 2001 THE PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES. He continued planting on the land and all the products are used for the benefit of his family. as found by the trial court and affirmed by the Court of Appeals. notoriously and exclusively since 1939. No. 3). 10739 with an area of 10. J. as petitioner before the Regional Trial Court of Ligao. COURT OF APPEALS and ROMEO DIVINAFLOR. rendered in favor of private respondent Romeo Divinaflor.G. 4). 5-a). are as follows. Petitioner-Appellant v.R. There was another reassessment under Tax Dec. N-11-lV initiated. continuously.775 square meters situated in Oas.nêt This case stems from Cadastral Case No. "Lot 10739 of the cadastral survey of Oas. adversely. 2). respondents. Whereupon. watershed or the government's forest zone. 6) together with the certification of the Municipal Treasure of Oas. openly. on the East by Lot 10738. 1987 (Exh. Originally. Romeo Divinaflor. claiming ownership of said lot by virtue of possession for over thirty years. 116372 January 18. 29578 entitled "The Director of Lands. The lot does not infringe the public road. The facts. petitioner. on the South by Lot 10716. No. 1973. The cadastral survey costs had been paid in the amount of P72. nobody offered any opposition. pursuant to law.

The Director of Lands appealed to the Court of Appeals alleging that the finding of the trial court that claimant-appellee and his predecessor-in-interest have possessed Lot 10739 since 1939 is not sufficiently supported by the evidence. PROV'L. openly. It ruled: "To our mind. peaceful and adverse possession" which appellee has convincingly established. sir. sir. notoriously and exclusively since 1939 very much earlier to June 12. This land is located at Maramba? Yes. adversely. openly. to present tax declarations and tax receipts of the land in question. and you are referring us to this deed of sale? WITNESS: A Q A Q A Q A Q A Q A Q Yes. in cases of this nature. Thus: ASST. 1945. adversely. Repeatedly." the court ordered the registration and confirmation of Lot 10739 in the name of the Spouses Romeo Divinaflor and Nenita Radan. In what concept was he possessing the land? In the concept of owner. CRISOSTOMO: Q You said that you bought this land from Marcial Listana. it is not necessary. has "satisfactorily possessed and occupied this land in the concept of owner. The Director contended that the earliest tax declaration presented by claimant took effect only in 1980 and the certificate of real estate tax payment is dated 1990. Are there also persons claiming adverse ownership and possession of the land? . together with his predecessor-in-interest. All that the law mandates is proof of "open. What was Marcial Listana doiong on the land? He was planting palay and sometimes corn. No. sir. Do you know whether there are disputes involving the boundaries of the land. continuously. PROS. Since when did Marcial Listana begin possessing this land? Since 1939. notoriously and exclusively. he being the applicant. It was further contended that the testimony of Romeo Divinaflor was largely self-serving. continuously. The Court of Appeals affirmed the judgement appealed from. appellant hammers the fact of possession into the record by appellee's testimony on crossexamination.Finding that the claimant. continuos.

et al. et al. watershed or the government's forest zone? A Q A Q A Q A Q No. he being one of the applicants. 4. 8371-R Aug. public park. Director of Lands."4 "While it is true that tax declarations and tax receipts. That is all. We remind appellant on this score that self-serving evidence comes into play only when such is made by the party . my wife and myself.A Q A No. No. Q A If and when this land will be titled. sir. river or stream? No. PROSECUTOR CRISOSTOMO. it may be valuable in support of one's title by prescription. Vs. Court of Appeals. Agpaoa.. 1952. Finally. See also Director of Lands vs. (Viernes. CA-G. sir.R. 41 Phil. Have you paid all the taxes on the land? Yes. 133 The omission to declare the land in question for taxation purposes at the inception of the tax system in 1901 of this country does not destroy the continuous and adverse possession under claim of ownership of applicant's predecessors in interest. and when taken in connection with possession. the mere payment of taxes does not confer nor prove it. Does the land encroach any road. during summer month I plant corn and harvest about 8 cavans of unhooked corn. 286. sir. appellant asseverates that the testimony of appellee is insufficient to prove possession for being self-serving. Nevertheless. Q Is this part of a military reservation. may be considered as evidence of a claim of ownership. How many cavans of palay for you harvest every agricultural season? A I get 40 cavans of palay every harvest season but sometimes more and sometimes less. sir. in whose name would you like the title to be? In our names. Fontanilla vs. What about the cadastral costs? I also paid the same What do you do with the land now? I planted palay during rainy season.

Petitioner Director of Lands assails the decision of the Court of Appeals on the ground that the law. immediately preceding the filling of the application for confirmation of title. requires that possession of lands of the public domain must be from June 12. has already been amended by Presidential Decree no. 1977. Petitioner argues that Divinaflor failed to adduce sufficient evidence to prove possession of the land in question since June 12. adduced by the parties particularly where the findings of both the trila court and the appellate court on the matter coincide. since June 12. he was only 4 years old."8 Indeed.S. No. 1894.7 While the sole issue as so worded appears to raise an error of law. 141 provided for possession and occupation of lands of the public domain since July 26. 1945 for the following reasons. the Director of Lands has brought the instant petition raising the sole issue ofWHETHER OR NOT THE RESPONDENT HAS AQUIRED REGISTRABLE TITLE OVER THE SUBJECT PROPERTY.. originally. "Section 48(b) of C. testimonial and evidentiary.D."5 Motion for reconsideration of the above-mentioned decision having been denied. except when prevented by wars or force majeure. exclusive and notorious possession and occupation of agricultural lands of the public domain. for the same to be acquired through judicial confirmation of imperfect title.6 It is likewise very basic that only errors of law and not of facts are revisable by this Court in petitions for review on certiorari under Rule 45. It is not the function of the Supreme Court to assess and evaluate all over again the evidence. Workmen's Compensation. which is the very rule relied upon by petitioner.out of court and excludes testimony which a party gives as a witness at the trial. the Court stated in Republic vs. or earlier. and (2) Divinaflor in incompetent to testify on his predecessor's possession since 1939 considering he was born only in 1941." Interpreting the above-quoted provision. et al. 31 C. We find no reversible error in the assailed judgement.J. (1) Divinaflor failed to present sufficient proof that his predecessor-in-interest Marcial Listana has possessed the lot since 1939. the arguments that follow in support thereof pertain to factual issues. approved on January 25. and in 1945. continuous. 194211 which provided for a simple thirty-year prescriptive period of occupation by an applicant for judicial confirmation of imperfect title. Doldol10 that. petitioner would have us analyze or weigh all over again the evidence presented in the courts a quo in complete disregard of the well-settled rule that "the jurisdiction of this Court in cases brought to it from the Court of Appeals is limited to the review and revision of errors of law allegedly committed by the appellate court. (See N. however. In effect. 1073.C. as its findings of fact are deemed conclusive. 1945. 952). as presently phrased.A. 9 This Court has held in Republic vs. vs. Those shall be conclusively presumed to have performed all the conditions to a certificate of title under the provisions of this chapter. 19 SCRA 861. Court of Appeals12 that the Public Land Act requires that the applicant must prove the following: . The same. under a bona fide claim of acquisition or ownership. 1945 or earlier.A. No." As amended Section 48(b) now reads: "(b) Those who by themselves or through their predecessors-in-interest have been in open. This Court is not bound to analyze and weigh all over again the evidence already considered in the proceedings below. Denial of the instant petition I proper in light of the well-entrenched doctrine upholding the factual findings of the trial court when affirmed by the Court of Appeals. This was superseded by R.

the possessor of the land. It is an elementary rule in evidence that: "When a witness is produced. it may be relied upon. a government grant. does not of itself operate to reduce his credit. by operation of law. it must be interposed as soon as it becomes apparent. if shown. if the incompetence appears on the trial."(a) that the land is alienable public land and (b) that his open. both the trial court and the Court of Appeals found Divinaflor's testimony to be convincing. Such factual finding will not be reversed on appeal except for the most compelling reasons. The determination of whether claimants were in open. Divinaflor . indeed. his testimony must be judged on its own merits. None has been adduced in the case at bar. a person is competent to be a witness if (a) he is capable of perceiving at the time of the occurrence of the fact and (b) he can make his perception known.' There is no dispute that the subject lot is alienable and disposable tract of public land.15 Being in a better position to observe the witnesses. 1945 under a bona fide claim of ownership. deserves the highest respect. Petitioner questions the credibility of claimant Divinaflor who testified on the possession of Marcial Listana for the period required by law. is a question of fact14 which was resolved affirmatively by the trial court and the Court of Appeals. acquires a right to a grant. exclusive and notorious possession and occupation of the same must either be since time immemorial or for the period prescribed in the Public Land Act." 18 Simply put. and candor. any objection to the admissibility of evidence should be made at the time such evidence is offered or as soon thereafter as the objection to its admissibility becomes apparent. honesty.13the pivotal issue is whether his predecessor-in-interest Marcial Listana has been in possession of the land since June 12. truthfulness. and if ** (it) is otherwise clear and convincing and not destroyed by other evidence on record. the issue of incompetence of Divinaflor to testify on the possession of his predecessor-in-interest since 1939 in likewise unavailing and must be rejected. exclusive and notorious possession under a bona fide claim of ownership since 1945 as required by law."17 In this case.19 The failure of petitioner to interpose a timely objection to the presentation of Divinaflor's testimony results in the waiver of any objection to the admissibility thereof and he is therefore barred from raising said issue on appeal. indicating the need for caution in considering the witness' testimony.20 True. objection must be made before trial that a witness is incompetent. a finding with which. Since claimant Romeo Divinaflor acquired ownership of Lot 10739 from Marcial Listana by deed of absolute sale dated May 21. continuous.16 Further. otherwise the objection will be considered waived and such evidence will form part of the records of the case as competent and admissible evidence. continuous. A timely objection was never made by petitioner on the ground of incompetence of Divinaflor to testify on this matter at any stage of the proceedings. Be that as it may. In the same vein. it is axiomatic that a witness' "interest in the outcome of a case shall not be ground for disqualification. it is a right and privilege accorded to the adverse party to object to his examination on the ground of incompetence to testify. If a party knows before trial that a witness is incompetent. in 1939. without the necessity of a certificate of title being issued. this Court will not and cannot take issue. The issue on having personally heard the witnesses testify and observed their deportment and manner of testifying. in the premises. while perhaps. the trial court's appreciation of the witness' testimony. 1973. and that such an interest. objection must be made before he has given any testimony. When the conditions set by law are complied with.

residing in Maramba. and that he usually passes by the subject land. Albay.nêt Melo. but in 1945. Petitioner capitalizes on the fact that the earliest tax declaration presented took effect only in 1980 while the certificate of tax payment is dated 1990. The fact that Divinaflor was only a child at the required inception of possession does not render him incompetent to testify on the matter.JJ. it does not necessarily follow that belated declaration of the same for tax purposes negates the fact of possession. and had occasion to see Listana possessing the land. SO ORDERED. Oas. we agree with the Court of Appeals that the belated declaration of the property for tax purposes does not necessarily lead to the conclusion that law not in possession of the land as required the predecessors since 1945. It is not necessary that a witness' knowledge of the fact to which he testifies was obtained in adulthood. and (c) capacity of communication. 1990 granting the registration of little to herein private respondent. There is reason to reject petitioner's claim that Divinaflor is incompetent to testify regarding Listana's possession since it appears undisputed that Divinaflor grew up in Maramba. which knowledge was reinforced through the years up until he testified in court in 1990. claimant did not possess the foregoing qualifications. the petition is hereby DENIED for lack of merit. WHEREFORE.21 The requirements of a child's competence as a witness are: (a) capacity of observation. It is well-established that any child regardless of age.can be a competent witness id he is capable of relating truthfully facts for which he is examined.: . Vitug. 1âw phi 1.22 There is no showing that as a child. Oas.was not born yet. Finally. Panganiban. The Court resolves to AFFIRM the challenged decision of the Court of Appeals dated February 8. (b) capacity of recollection. As his testimony goes. He may have first acquired knowledge of the fact during childhood that is at the age of four. he was four years old. especially in the instant case where there are no other persons claiming any interest in Lot 10739. Albay. While this Court has held in a long line of cases23 that tax declarations or tax receipts are good indicia of possession in the concept of owner. where the subject lot is located. 1994 which sustained the JUDGEMENT of the Regional Trial Court rendered on July 27.. he and Marcial Listana were barrio mates. Sandoval-Gutierrez.

notwithstanding the fact that the mining claimant failed to comply with the strict work requirement under the Philippine Bill of 1902? Petitioner Atok Big Wedge Mining Company appeals from the decision [1] of the Court of Appeals[2] which reversed the decision[3] of the then Court of First Instance of Baguio City[4] in a land registration case. Respondent appellate court found petitioner to have abandoned its mining claim over the said tract of land and.[5] The court a quo denied and correspondingly dismissed the application for registration of title filed by private respondent Tuktukan Saingan. 63528. coffee and .respondents. when he married his daughter. INTERMEDIATE APPELLATE COURT and TUKTUKAN SAINGAN. that at the time of his acquisition. prevail: the mining claimant’s or that of an applicant for land registration? Does the mere recording or location of a mining claim ipso facto and irreversibly convert the land into mineral land. The court a quo made the following findings of fact: “Applicant [private respondent] seeks the registration of a parcel of land with an area of 41. open and continuous possession in concept of an owner of the tract of land applied for by him.. which is shown in survey plan Psu-209851 x x x. No. The evidence for the applicant [private respondent] who was 70 years old at the time he testified shows that he acquired the land from his father-in-law. Dongail. DECISION HERMOSISIMA.R. Benguet. therefore. 1996] ATOK BIG-WEDGE MINING COMPANY. J.: In the face of two sets of divergent rulings of the Supreme Court on the nature of the rights of mining claimants over the land where their claim is located. HON. it was planted with camotes. Itogon. gabi. adjudged private respondent to be the owner thereof by virtue of his having possessed the same under a bona fide claim of ownership for at least thirty (30) years prior to the filing of his land registration application in 1965. the parties herein seek a definitive ruling on the issue: What is actually the right of a locator of a mining claim located and perfected under the Philippine Bill of 1902 over the land where the claim is found? Does he have an absolute right of ownership thereof or does he have the mere right to possess and claim the same? Whose right to the land should. langka.[G. VS. finding no merit in Saingan’s claim of adverse. casava [sic]. that he was then 18 years old. September 9. on the other hand.296 square meters situated in the barrio of Lucnab. JR. PETITIONER. which happened to be claimed by petitioner as part of its mining claim duly recorded by the Mining Recorder of Benguet.

and the land tax under Exh. 2. I. which indicates that all pre-war records of tax declarations and real property receipts of the municipality of Itogon where the property is located were burned and destroyed during the last world war. H. Sally and Evelyn on Jan. However. the former for a rural land and the latter for urban land and improvement therein. all showing that the annual assessment work of these mineral claims were maintained from 1932 to 1967 for Sally and Evelyn and from 1946 to 1967 for Ethel. Reynolds and E. when the land in question was registered in the office of the Mining Recorder in 1921. 10.”[6] The respondent appellate court additionally found that the tract of land in question “according to the evidence. x x x Furthermore. Supporting his oral testimony. Applicant [private respondent] has also submitted Exh. 439 dated Feb. 1931 and Ethel on March 18. oppose [sic] application. and the locators. Evelyn and Ethel x x x Atok Big Wedge Mining Company submitted Exhibits 6.Sally. `C’.avocados. that he lived on the land since his marriage up to the present. 8. The Bureau of Lands and Bureau of Forestry.”[8] Private respondent reiterates this fact in his Comment: “x x x (T)he mining claims have become vested rights and properties of the locators. Reynolds and Harrison. or the PETITIONERS herein. Sally. 1947 which was presented by the Oppositor [petitioner] Atok Big Wedge Mining Company as its Exhibit 14. 7 and 8. 1949 x x x. The receipt showing payment of the taxes on such tax declarations is dated Feb. applicant [private respondent] submitted tax declarations x x x both dated March 20. Evelyn. that he was never disturbed in his possession. Messrs. have never shown that their rights have been preserved or remain vested. 2. 14 was paid by applicant [private respondent] in 1947 x x x. 1948. the mineral claims covering the land in . the locators. represented by the Provincial fiscal. It was likewise shown that these mineral claims were recorded in the mining recorder’s office. and Ethel. Exh. the first two located by one Reynolds in 1931 and the last. 1921 x x x. J. and 1931. that he has been paying the taxes during the Japanese occupation and even before it. Reynolds and Harrison.. The said tax declarations x x x show that they cancel tax declaration No. assuming that there is any relation between Atok Big Wedge Mining Co. The Atok Big Wedge Mining Company came in also as oppositor claiming that the land in question is within its mineral claims . also by Reynolds in 1921”[7] but “Atok x x x has not even been shown how connected with locator Reynolds. respectively. Harrison. covers portion of mineral claims.

The foregoing facts show that the mining company had established its rights long before applicant [private respondent] asserted ownership over the land. x x x”[9] Significantly. the Solicitor General no longer joined petitioner in this ultimate appeal. the Solicitor General later conceding existence of private respondent’s rights. notably about sixteen (16) years before private respondent declared the land in question for taxation purposes and thirty four (34) years before private respondent filed the land registration proceedings in 1965.. J. So the evidence of the applicant [private respondent] cannot prevail over the documentary exhibits of the oppositor Atok Big Wedge Mining Company. opposed private respondent’s application on the ground that the applicant did not have title in fee simple over the questioned land and that he had not exercised continuous.question namely: Sally. apparently impressed the court a quo. The government oppositors adopted the evidence of the mining company. is connected or related to locator Reynolds. No evidence was ever presented as to how Petitioner herein obtained ownership over said claims during the hearing of this case in the Lower Court up to this time. The Director of Lands. Petitioner’s presentation of evidence proving registration of the mining claims of petitioner in the Mining Recorder of Benguet dating back to 1931. Evelyn and Ethel were in the name of the Locators E. Harrison and H. interests and authority to oppose the application for registration filed by private respondent respecting land to which petitioner claims rights but as to which it is not the duly recorded mining locator. Reynolds. The perfection of mining claims over the mineral lands involved segregate [sic] them from . I. It was not even shown how Petitioner herein. it is strange that he did not oppose its survey when the mining company surveyed the area preparatory to its recording in the mining recorder’s office. The conclusion is that he was not yet there when the survey by the mining company was conducted or if he was already there the nature of his occupation was not in the concept of owner for otherwise he could have asserted it at the time. if applicant [private respondent] was already in possession and occupation of the land in the concept of owner. nothing in the subsequent pleadings filed by petitioner rebuts. However. the aforecited issue raised by private respondent with regard to its personality. the court a quo ratiocinating in this wise: “x x x (T)he mining claims were recorded ahead of the time when the applicant [private respondent] declared the land for taxation purposes based on his documentary exhibits. And so it ruled in favor of petitioner as oppositor in the land registration proceedings. exclusive and notorious possession and occupation over the said land for at least thirty (30) years immediately preceding the filing of the application. at the latest. Atok Big Wedge Mining Co. Moreover. disputes or proves otherwise. thru the Office of the Solicitor General. as claimed.

yes. Order 141 of 1 August. Truly. 141[11]. The respondent appellate court. all that Atok has shown as to assessment work is the affidavit thereon. on its part. remained vested. adopted as his own. but tsn. the payment of annual assessment fees is only proof of compliance with the charges imposed by law and does not constitute proof of actual assessment work on the mining land concerned. however.' and here. under Executive Order No. [sic] witness Pelayo of Atok admits that he had not gone over the area x x x in fact he joined the company in 1962 only. but as Ex. points out in his pleadings that: “x x x The APPLICANT [private respondent] constructed various improvements on the land consisting of his 3 residential houses. there had been that assessment work on the claims. payment of annual assessment fees therefor. Respondent court ruled in this connection: “x x x (I)t must be conceded that the same having been located and existing since 1921 and 1931. [sic] 1968 has said: “(W)hat matters is [sic] maintaining and preserving possessory rights to the claims is the continuous performance of the required assessment work.”[12] Private respondent. The Director of Lands.the public domain and the beneficial ownership thereof became vested in the locator. in support of respondent court’s quoted findings. the rights of locator if correspondingly preserved. would not show that in truth and in fact. thru the Solicitor General. private respondent appealed to the respondent court. from 1932 in connection with claim Sally and from 1933 as to Evelyn. the appellee’s brief filed by petitioner. the very fact that applicant has possessed continuously apparently without protest from Atok x x x must disprove the truth that locator or Atok had indeed done assessment work x x x. what has been shown is that affidavits of assessment work had been filed. x x x x x x . to vest in petitioner ownership rights over the land in question. ricefields and other permanent improvements.”[10] The trial court having dismissed private respondent’s application for registration on the ground that petitioners had already acquired a vested right over the subject land. and from 1936 as to claim Ethel. but as this Court also examines the evidence. not the filing of an affidavit which may be disproved by findings of [sic] the ground. albeit religious. [sic] in other words. the mere recording of petitioner’s mining claims in the Mining Recorder of Benguet and the corresponding. correctly considered inadequate. fruit trees.

left to its own by the Director of Lands. Respondent court having reversed the trial court’s decision on the ground that private respondent had.[15] the Director of Lands. It has only paid the minimum annual assessment required by law of P200. by sufficient evidence. 1968 was issued by the President of the Philippines.00 a year. on October 12. 1983. An official certification to that effect by the Bureau of Mines & Geo-Sciences. acknowledged that “the respondent Court’s decision has become final with respect to the Director of Lands. .00 a year but there must be actual continuous assessment work done on the surface of the mineral claims. Thus. PETITIONER mining company is now a mere lessee of the mining claims.On the other hand. whatsoever.00 a year for alleged assessment work is not enough evidence that such assessment work was actually made. No assessment work was shown during the ocular inspection ordered by the Honorable Trial Court neither during the ocular inspection conducted by the Bureau of Forestry.”[14] an allegation which obviously clinches this case in his favor. It is precisely for this reason that Executive Order 141 dated August 1. THIS ritual of paying the uniform sum of P200. 1 of the City of Baguio is hereby attached as Annex `A’ and made integral part hereof. of its alleged `factual’ possession of the property. however. in a Manifestation and Motion. There was no evidence. dated June 21. shown his right to registration over the contested parcel of land. did not join in petitioner’s appeal. Regional Office No. 1978. the PETITIONER Mining company has not shown that it has introduced a single improvement (‘assessment work’) on the property. x x x” [Underscoring supplied by private respondent.”[16] Petitioner. it has no right on the surface rights of such mineral claims. And as such lessee. thru the Solicitor General. private respondent also additionally informs this court that: “x x x PETITIONER Atok Big Wedge Mining Company has.][13] Also. EVELYN and ETHEL) into mining lease only in compliance with Presidential Decree 1214. converted its application on mineral claims in question (SALLY. petitioner elevated its cause to this court. The Director of Lands. x x x. This order made it mandatory that it is not enough to pay P200. cites the following grounds for the grant of the instant petition: “I THAT THE LAND IN QUESTION HAD LONG BEEN SEGREGATED FROM THE PUBLIC DOMAIN AND OWNERSHIP THERETO HAD LONG BECOME VESTED IN HEREIN PETITIONER WHEN ITS MINING CLAIMS IN QUESTION WERE REGISTERED IN THE OFFICE OF THE MINING RECORDER IN 1921 AND 1931 RESPECTIVELY.

when he married his daughter. that he lived on the land since his marriage up to the present. that he has been paying the taxes during the Japanese occupation and even before it. 1969. pertinent transcribed portions of which read as follows: “Upon verification of the extent of the area applied for by the applicant which tallies with the plan on record. casava [sic]. Dongail. that at the time of his acquisition. .II THAT THE COURT OF APPEALS COMMITTED A GRAVE ABUSE OF DISCRETION IN FINDING THAT THE APPLICANT WAS IN CONTINUOUS OPEN AND ADVERSE POSSESSION OF THE LAND IN QUESTION. The land applied for is almost 90% improved with numerous irrigated rice terraces newly planted to palay at the time of the ocular inspection and others planted to vegetables such as potatoes. it was planted with camotes. jackfruits. that he was then 18 years old. 1948. gabi. coffee plants. we find the following improvements.all fruit bearing. coffee and avocados. avocados and citrus . applicant submitted tax declarations x x x both dated March 20. The records bear out that private respondent has been in possession of subject parcel of land in concept of owner for more than thirty (30) years ---------------------------------------------------The court a quo made the following factual findings based on the testimony of private respondent: “The evidence x x x shows that he [private respondent] acquired the land from his father-in-law.”[17] We find these arguments to be devoid of merit. flowering plants and fruit trees such as mangoes. Supporting his oral testimony. that he was never disturbed in his possession. adverse and continuous possession of the subject land for more than thirty (30) years are the observations of the court commissioner during the ocular inspection of the subject land on February 1. banana plants. There are four houses owned by the applicant [private respondent] and his children. langka. Most of the fruit trees such as the mango trees are about one half (1/2) meter in diameter.”[18] Substantiating the aforecited testimonial evidence of private respondent’s actual. the former for a rural land and the latter for urban land and improvement therein.

there are no assessment tunnels or any sign of mining activities. xxx . On the northwestern portion of the land are numerous terraces planted to seasonal vegetable crops. On the eastern slope are also numerous terraces planted to flowering plants and numerous banana plants. On the northwestern ridge are numerous terraces planted to various vegetables and on the edges of the property is a plantation of tiger grass used for brooms. Around the houses are full of fruit trees. On the western portion is a big irrigation canal with plenty of water which serve [sic] as a water supply to irrigate the ricefields which are found around the property. The rest are planted to banana except the small steep portion planted to tiger grass to prevent the land from eroding. On the northern portion are terraces and ricefields and mango tree as well as banana plants. An estimate of around 90 to 120 big and small trees are scattered all over the property.There is a creek traversing the middle portion of the land which serves as irrigation for the numerous rice paddies. southern portion and also on the northern portion. Upon verification of the surrounding area which we did by hiking all the way. It also appears that the surrounding area of the land applied for is also fully cultivated especially on the western portion. xxx There are earthen dikes and fences surrounding the property applied for. The terraces at the time of the ocular inspection is planted to vegetables and flowering plants such as African dishes [sic]. At the northern slope of the land applied for is [sic] fully cultivated with the exception of whatever portions are planted to bananas and tiger grass. There are only two (2) pine trees growing situated on the eastern slope of the land in question.

first. it must be emphasized. The area is estimated to be more than one hectare which is planted to coffee trees and other plants. tax declarations. Dongail and. There is nary a showing in petitioner’s numerous pleadings filed before us that there exists substantial basis for us not to believe petitioner’s claims. Indeed. petitioner did not present any evidence in rebuttal of private respondent’s aforestated claims of having acquired the subject land from his wife’s father and having lived on the land since his marriage at the age of eighteen (18). would rather persuade that applicant [private respondent] had shown quite well that subject property had been in (the) continuous and adverse possession.”[21] Petitioner is deemed to have abandoned his mining claims under E. This concept of jura regalia enshrined in past and present Philippine constitutions. Neither has petitioner taken exception to the aforecited observations of the court commissioner during the ocular inspection of the subject land. pomelos. any cable or anything that would show any mining operation in this area. The orchard is fully planted to coffee trees. jackfruits. offered in evidence in the land registration proceedings before the court a quo. their credibleness and the lack of adequate opposition thereto. No. after the death of the latter. That is why it is more suitable for residential and agricultural purposes. 1949. Nowhere do we find any mining work done. dated March 20. of the Filipino people’s inherent rights to their natural wealth. . 1214 ------------------------------------------All mineral lands. Apacible and Cuisia[20] and the catena of cases subsequent thereto. the abundant resources within our coastal frontiers having in the past filled not just one colonizer’s booty haul.”[19] Private respondent. 141 and P. we agree with respondent Court of Appeals that “a reading of tsn.The mining compound of Itogon is very far from this place and this land is at the boundary of Baguio City and Itogon. papaya. to say the least. there was a time in our history when the mining laws prevailing in this jurisdiction were compromising. and this is understandable.D. as part of the country’s natural resources.O. 1948. has not always been the prevailing principle in this jurisdiction. pineapples. No. of his predecessor-in-interest. years before. however. dated February 8. long before the outbreak of the last war. and tax payment receipts. Considering the aforestated evidence borne out by the records of the instant case. belong to the Philippine State. guava trees and carrots. Significantly. Around the yard of the houses of the applicant are numerous coffee trees. that is. for petitioner largely anchored its cause on its alleged vested rights to its mining claims under the mandate of the Philippine Bill of 1902 and our rulings in McDaniel vs. banana plants. (by respondent) himself.

. to be property belonging to the State.Before the cession of the Philippine Islands to the United States under the Treaty of Paris. the Philippine Bill of 1902]. occupation and purchase of mineral deposits and the land where they may be found. Such regulations reinforced the annual work or labor requirement of not less than one hundred dollars’ worth as provided for in the Philippine Bill of 1902. In the advent of American occupation.[22] Among the principal organic acts of the Philippines was the Act of Congress of July 1. where possible. the open and free exploration. but he may not mine outside the boundary lines of his claim. 1867. governing the location. [26] One of the continuing requirements for the subsistence of the mining claim is performance of not less than one hundred dollars’ worth of labor or undertaking of improvements of the same value every year. or of said Islands x x x. [25] The mine claim locator must have his claim recorded in the mining recorder within thirty (30) days after the location thereof. and amount of work necessary to hold possession of a mining claim x x x.[29] Subsequently. manner of recording. the Philippines was governed by means of organic acts which were in the nature of charters serving as a Constitution of the occupied territory from 1900 to 1935. The Philippine Bill of 1902 contained provisions for. 1903. It declared “all valuable mineral deposits in public lands in the Philippine Islands.” [23] Any qualified person desiring to locate a mineral claim may enter upon the same and locate a plot of ground measuring. 624 passed by the United States Philippine Commission and approved on February 7.e. the Constitution of the Commonwealth took effect. The 1935 Constitution declared all natural resources of the Philippines. . [27] This is a strict requisite. in accordance with Section 36 thereof which limits the power of the United States Philippine Commission to make regulations but “not in conflict with the provision of this Act [i. in as nearly as possible a rectangular form. among many other things. as it turned out. and the land in which they are found to occupation and purchase. occupation. by citizens of the United States. the locator’s failure to comply with which shall operate to open the claim or mine to relocation in the same manner as if no location of the same had even been made. both surveyed and unsurveyed x x x to be free and open to exploration.[28] Unequivocal is the mandatory nature of the work or labor requirement on the mine that the Philippine Bill specifically designates the time when the work or labor required to be done annually on all unpatented mineral claims. the holder of the mineral claim so located is entitled to all the minerals which may lie within his claim. 1902 through which the United States Congress assumed the administration of the Philippine Islands. otherwise. 1935. shall commence. but not exceeding. Said Act prescribed regulations to govern the location and the manner of recording mining claims and the amount of work necessary to hold possession thereof.” On November 15.[24] Under the Philippine Bill of 1902. he will be deemed to have abandoned the same. the prevailing mining law in the colony was the Royal Decree of May. one thousand feet in length by one thousand feet in breadth. including mineral lands and minerals. among a few laws passed amending the Philippine Bill of 1902 was Act No. and purchase. otherwise known as The Spanish Mining Law. [30] However.

lease. were expressly inapplicable to mining claimants who had located and recorded their claims under the Philippine Bill of 1902. continued to be in effect. 1946 and approved by a majority at the elections held on March 11. The nationalism underlying the adoption of the regalian doctrine in the 1935 Constitution was further eroded by the amendment thereto which was adopted by the First Congress on September 18. or concession at the time of the inauguration of the Government established under this Constitution. This amendment which came in the form of an “Ordinance Appended to the Constitution” is what is known as the “Parity Rights” amendment. In the meantime. excepted therefrom were the citizens of the United States and its business enterprises which would have the equal right in the disposition. non-compliance with which resulted in the mine becoming again open to relocation but now subject to the lease provisions of the Mining Act. grant. The filing of affidavits of annual assessment work. 1974. is required only for purposes of proving that there had actually been work or improvements done. and for that matter. The intention for this annual work requirement to be a strict prerequisite to maintenance of a claimant’s rights under the Philippine Bill of 1902 apparently not lost on subsequent legislators. The Philippine Bill of 1902 clearly required the annual performance of work on the mine or the undertaking of improvements thereon in order for the mine claim locator to continue enjoying all the rights accruing to him as such under the said Bill. These provisions of the Mining Act. 1946 to July 3. Those natural resources. the First National Assembly enacted Commonwealth Act No. 1954 as the circumstances then necessitated the same. 1936.” were then considered outside the application of the jura regalia doctrine or at least not unconditionally or totally within the contemplation of said doctrine. In contradistinction with the Philippine Bill of 1902 which was patterned after the United States Federal Mining Acts which rejected the regalian doctrine. the Mining Act granted only lease rights to mining claimants who are proscribed from purchasing the mining claim itself. 1952 to January 1. . among them. 1947. This and nothing short of this was the requirement. Such filing could not have been intended to replace the actual work requirement. Annual performance of labor or undertaking of improvements on the mine remained an annual requirement. otherwise known as the Mining Act. On November 7. It provided that. which procedure is not even provided for in the Philippine Bill of 1902. development and utilization of our natural resources. our mining lands and minerals for the period from July 4. the provisions of the Philippine Bill of 1902 regarding mining claims. Since said Constitution necessarily prohibits the alienation of mining lands. the Mining Act expressly adopted the regalian doctrine following the provisions of the 1935 Constitution. exploitation. they took the same as an absolute prerequisite with grave consequences and believed it necessary to expressly enact a law[31] waiving this requirement during the period from January 1. those mineral lands and minerals with respect to which there already was “any existing right. notwithstanding the adoption in the Constitution of the regalian doctrine and the proscription against aliens participating in the natural wealth of the nation. 137. insofar as the mining lands and mining claims acquired before the effectivity of the 1935 Constitution are concerned.not really all of the Philippines’ natural resources were considered part of the public domain. however.

coal. the possessory rights of mining claim holders under the Philippine Bill of 1902 remained effective for as long as said holders complied with the annual actual work requirement.O.O. 8. 137). 1973. notwithstanding what was appearing to be the practice of mine claim locators of annually filing affidavits of annual assessment but willfully not undertaking actual work or tangible improvement on the mine site. Even under P. 463 which was enacted in 1974. 141.” it also recognizes whatever rights or reservations had already been existing with respect to certain mining lands. inalienably and imprescriptively x x x.A.O. No. and the said locator.” E. not the filing of an affidavit which may be disproved by findings on the ground. No.and nary is there a basis in law to support any conclusion to the contrary. E. 1977. 1214 required all the holders of unpatented mining claims to secure mining lease contracts under P. 1968. which revised the Mining Act (C. Whereas mining claim holders under the Philippine Bill of 1902 “x x x are of the impression that they may hold on to their claims indefinitely by the mere filing of affidavits of annual assessment work x x x. Faced with the grave consequence of forfeiture of .) No. fisheries. On August 1. But on October 14. No. All lands of the public domain. 463. P. all forces of potential energy. waters. It has already been stated that under E. the 1973 Constitution did not expressly qualify the application of the regalian doctrine as being subject to any right granted before the effectivity of the 1935 Constitution or the 1973 Constitution for that matter.”[32] But the conditional application of the regalian doctrine under the 1973 Constitution could be found in Presidential Decree (P. No. enjoyed possessory rights with respect to such mining claim with or without a patent therefor. and other natural resources of the Philippines belong to the State. unpatented mining claims shall be deemed abandoned upon a finding that the holders thereof had not been actually performing any work or labor or undertaking any improvement at the mine site notwithstanding their having religiously filed annual affidavits of assessment. No.D.” Consequently. Under the Philippine Bill of 1902. No. It provided: “SEC.D. enacted on May 17. then President Marcos issued Executive Order (E. 141 precisely declared that “such impression is not correct. the procedure was that a mining claim locator need not apply for a patent soon after locating the mine. 463. 141.[33] apparently alluding to the rights of mining claim holders under the Philippine Bill of 1902.) No. for what matters in maintaining and preserving possessory title to the claim is the continuous performance of the required assessment work. While the said decree declares that “x x x all mineral deposits in public or private lands x x x belong to the State. petroleum and other mineral oils. their declarations of location being accordingly cancelled. On January 17. 1974. x x x. the 1973 Constitution came into force and effect. The patent may come later. as having been abandoned and open for relocation. for as long as he complies with the annual actual work requirement. 141 established the status of such unpatented mining claims which have not complied with the annual work requirement.D.O. wildlife. Unlike the former Charter. minerals.D.

vs.[47] where we stated: “Mere location does not mean absolute ownership over the affected land or mining claim. Inc.[41] Bambao vs. No. we now proceed to resolve the controlling issue in this case: Whether or not the ownership of subject land had long been vested on petitioner after it had allegedly located and recorded its mining claim in accordance with the pertinent provisions of the Philippine Bill of 1902. This issue is certainly not a novel one. such inclusion or reservation does not affect the validity of the former location.[43] Benguet Consolidated. the power of the United States Government to deprive him of the exclusive right to the possession and enjoyment of the located claim was gone. in this jurisdiction. the lands had become mineral lands and they were exempted from lands that could be granted to any other person. and of course. are not absolute or are not strictly of ownership.[44] Republic vs. Apacible and Cuisia.[37] There. Rodriguez (1939). By such location and perfection. there came about thereafter a catena of cases where we declared that the rights of the holder of a mining claim located under the Philippine Bill of 1902. Jr. Leido. 1214 in the 1987 case of Santa Rosa Mining Co.[36] Against the backdrop of the afore-chronicled evolution of the pertinent mining laws.[39] Salacot Mining Company vs. Court of Appeals (1988)[45]and Atok-Big Wedge Mining Co. Abadilla (1939).[34] The filing of such mining lease applications was considered a waiver of the holders’ rights to the issuance of mining patents for their claims. vs.[42] Comilang vs. past and present. Republic (1986).all their rights to their claims. x x x.[40] Salacot Mining Company vs. This declaration was a necessary premise in our affirmation of the constitutionality of P. The reservations of public lands cannot be made so as to include prior mineral perfected located locations. It merely segregates the located land or area from the public domain by barring other would-be locators from locating the same and appropriating for .[46] Notwithstanding our ruling in the aforecited cases. Rodriguez (1938). we stated: “The moment the locator discovered a valuable mineral deposit on the lands located. if a valid mining location is made upon public lands afterward included in a reservation. It has been first ruled upon by this court in the 1922 case of McDaniel vs. however. non-filing of applications for mining lease by the holders thereof within the one-year period would cause the forfeiture of all their rights to their claims. vs. Lednicky (1961). Buendia (1967). Inc. Inc.”[38] We reiterated this ruling in the subsequent cases of Gold Creek Mining vs. and perfected his location in accordance with law.[35] Corollarily. the land located is segregated from the public domain even as against the Government. applying American precedents.. holders of subsisting and valid patentable mining claims located under the Philippine Bill of 1902 were to file mining lease applications therefor within one (1) year from the effectivity of the said decree.D. Court of Appeals (1991)..

It is . and so we shall forthwith resolve the matter at hand once and for all. This. however. a locator of mining claims perfected under the Philippine Bill of 1902 has been held not to have an absolute right of ownership over said claims but merely a possessory right thereto. The earlier chronicle of the evolution of the mining laws. Garcia (1991). was certainly deliberate. does have an absolute right of ownership over his claim being thereby removed from the public domain. Kalahi Investments. Jr. Leido.[50] Poe Mining Association vs. vs. past and present. in this jurisdiction was not without a predetermined purpose.D. Inc. it would have been premature for us to rule on the query. a locator of mining claim perfected under the Philippine Bill of 1902. In Atok-Big Wedge Mining Company. 1214 insofar as the rights of mining claim holders under the said Bill are concerned. Inc. Inc. however. In Director of Lands vs. vs. we cannot approve or sanction because it is contrary to the intention of the lawmaker that the locator should faithfully and consistently comply with the requirements for annual work and improvements in the located mining claim. in all awareness of the precedents.themselves the minerals found therein. and this is that the same are absolute and in the nature of ownership. Inc. resolve these postulations of this court that are perceived to be contradictory. Court of Appeals and Liwan Consi (193 SCRA 71). Court of Appeals. (1989). In the 1994 case of United Paracale Mining Company vs. (169 SCRA 683). The detailing of the provisions of those laws. No. or merely a right to possess and claim?’ Petitioner contends that there are two (2) conflicting rulings made by this Court on the same issue.[49] Zambales Chromite Mining Company. private respondent posits the ultimate question of which between the aforecited seemingly inconsistent rulings is the correct interpretation of the Philippine Bill of 1902 in relation to E. Kalahi Investments.[51] United Paracale Mining Company. the Court has ruled. We noted in that case: "The query of petitioner: ‘What is actually the right of a locator of mining claim located and perfected under the Philippine Bill of 1902. vs. That is not the situation in this present controversy.”[48] And our ruling there was upheld in the tradition of stare decisis in the subsequent cases of Director of Lands vs. (1989). To rule otherwise would imply that location is all that is needed to acquire and maintain rights over a located mining claim. Intermediate Appellate Court (1995). De la Rosa (1993).[52] and Manuel vs.”[55] In that case of United Paracale Mining.[54] posed before us by petitioner therein was the same question that herein private respondent asks us to resolve in the ultimate.O. especially of the Philippine Bill of 1902. 141 and P. Inc. This is not the first time either that we are asked to.[53] While petitioner adamantly insists that there is only one construction of the provisions of the Philippine Bill of 1902 as regards his mining claim rights. Does he have an absolute right of ownership. not all indispensable parties therein having been joined.

upon locating and recording of his claim. could not. has the right to acquire for himself all mineral deposits found within his claim to the exclusion of everyone. the option not at all to secure a patent being available to him in the absence of a deadline or ultimatum therefor. that the process of recording mining claims could not have been intended to be the operative act of classifying lands into mineral lands. especially if we recall that Section 36 of the said Bill itself foretold the subsequent promulgation of regulations regarding mining claims. be expected to have extracted minerals from the mining . Under the Philippine Bill of 1902. did not foreclose a subsequent act on the part of the State to limit the time within which the said patent must be secured under threat of forfeiture of rights provided for under the Philippine Bill of 1902. for even vested rights may be taken away by the State in the exercise of its absolute police power. insofar as his rights are exclusive and no other person may undertake mining activities on a recorded mining claim. Thus. however. this strengthens our holding that the rights of a mining claimant are confined to possessing the land for purposes of extracting therefrom minerals in exclusion of any or all other persons whose claims are subsequent to the original mining locator. unless the same has been abandoned or the works thereon not done. Thus. Insofar as the Philippine Bill of 1902 does not provide a specific time within which the mining claim holder must secure a patent. the land is not mineral land and registration thereof is not precluded by such recorded claim. We also learn from our reading of our past and present mining laws in their proper historical perspectives. The power to classify lands into mineral lands could not have been intended under the Philippine Bill of 1902 to be vested in just anyone who records a mining claim. However. The Philippine Bill of 1902. his rights to exclusive possession and exploitation of his mining claim subsist for as long as he complies with the continuing requirement of annually performing work or undertaking improvements at the mine site. In fact. Thus. notwithstanding the recording of the claim. that is. Such rights are necessarily possessory as they are essentially utilitarian and exploitative. Such rights accruing to the mining claim locator are personal to him in the sense that no conclusion as to the nature of the land may definitively be made based solely on the fact that a mining claim has been recorded as regards a particular land. the mining locator’s rights are also protected against adverse mining claims of third persons. in the case at bench. the mining claim holder. He also has the right to immediately or eventually secure a patent on his mining claim and in the event that he postpones securing a patent. all the more. the Bill itself. who had failed to comply with the annual minimum labor requirement.undeniable at this point that the determination of the rights of a mining claim holder under the said Bill is best undertaken on the basis of the very source of those rights. including the Government. if no minerals are extracted therefrom. in the sense that the rights of a mining claim holder may in the future be curtailed by failure to obtain a patent. The recording of a mining claim only operates to reserve to the registrant exclusive rights to undertake mining activities upon the land subject of the claim. the mining claimant. And any alteration or change in the nature of those rights must be conceded for as long as such is statutorily and constitutionally sanctioned. his rights to possession and use of the mining land appear to be unconditional. such rights cannot also be said to be truly unconditional or absolute.

1214. not only has petitioner failed to sufficiently show compliance with actual annual work requirement on its mining claims but also that credible are the transcribed observations of the trial commissioner that nowhere on the subject land could be found tangible works or improvements of an extent that would have existed had petitioner really complied with the annual work requirement from 1931 when it allegedly first located said mining claims. 1214. by P. 463 in its activities respecting its mining lease. Padilla (Chairman). No. concur. WHEREFORE. in effect. Bellosillo. it has. we find that. private respondent’s adverse possession of the subject land more than thirty (30) years and its use thereof for as many years solely for agricultural purposes..O. No. and (2) that the same rights have been terminated by P. which requirement was correctly identified and declared in E. and Kapunan. Utter lack of proof of even its potential deposits on the part of the petitioner. SO ORDERED. Equally borne out by the records is the fact that petitioner has indeed applied for a mining lease under P. No. there should remain no doubt now that such rights were not.D. with costs against petitioner. a police power enactment. no mining infrastructure or equipment of any sort can be found on the area. In fact. the petition is HEREBY DISMISSED. and neither were they intended to be so. Vitug. does not surprise us at all. considering petitioner’s non-performance of mining works thereon. 141. No. thus.D.D. JJ. In the light of these substantial conditions upon the rights of a mining claim holder under the Philippine Bill of 1902. under which non-application for mining lease amounts to waiver of all rights under the Philippine Bill of 1902 and application for mining lease amounts to waiver of the right under said Bill to apply for patent. For that reason. if private respondent’s claim of adverse and open possession of the subject land for more than 30 years were not established. in the first place. absolute or in the nature of ownership. waived its right to secure a patent and it shall have been governed. Thus. it can be said (1) that the rights under the Philippine Bill of 1902 of a mining claim holder over his claim has been made subject by the said Bill itself to the strict requirement that he actually performs work or undertakes improvements on the mine every year and does not merely file his affidavit of annual assessment. Applying the aforecited ruling to the facts of this case.location. Understandable thus is the action of the Director of Lands not to further appeal from respondent court’s decision. . Director of Lands eventually conceding the subject land to be registrable.

157 sq. 181-S and declared the cemetery site on Lot No.747 sq." Folder of Exhibits. in the name of the deceased Gonzalo Ditching under Tax Declaration No. for private respondents. It was then that she discovered that the parcel of land. 34). NORMA LEUENBERGER and FRANCISCO SOLIVA. respondents. 35036-R (Rollo. more or less 4 ha.R. dated September 24. p. 23 and Exh. 76 containing an area of 208. Simeona J. respondent Norma Leuenberger.G. Soriano. who was then only six months old (TSN. "3. "4. a 27. Negros Occidental. who died in 1928 (TSN. m.2460 ha. meters forms a part of Cadastral Lot No." Folder of Exhibits. He was survived by his widow Simeona Jingeo Vda. Respondent Norma Leuenberger. "A. 7) leaving one off-spring. 3429 of Negros Occidental for the year 1941 (Exh. Victorias. (2) Ordering defendant municipality to pay the plaintiff-appellant the sum of P400. Exh. J. 1969 in CA-G. relocated by a surveyor upon request of lessee Ramon Jover who complained of being prohibited by municipal officials from cultivating the land. THE COURT OF APPEALS. 1964. . (TSN.R. 11) setting aside the decision ** of the Court of First Intance of Negros Occidental. p. 11). July 1. she had the remaining 21 ha. PARAS. No. p. converted into a subdivision. about 3 ha. July 1." Folder of Exhibits. is within her property which is now Identified as Lot 76 and covered by TCT No. In 1963.: This is a Petition for Review on certiorari of the decision * of respondent Court of Appeals promulgated on September 29. p.. Jr. 1964. petitioner. Isabel. or 208. Lot No. 140 from her grandmother. p. 1964 which dismissed the complaint for recovery of possession in Civil Case No. 7-9. 1). The dispositive portion of the questioned decision reads as follows: IN VIEW OF THE FOREGOING. 1987 MUNICIPALITY OF VICTORIAS. used by Petitioner Municipality of Victorias. Madaniog. or 33. In 1952. sugar land located in Bo.m. p. 76 in Victorias as property of the municipality of Victorias (Record on Appeal. vs. L-31189 March 31. 140. p. July 1. as a cemetery from 1934. 34546 (TSN. p. 9). to the municipality for the ground of a certain high school and had 4 ha. pp. 140 (Rollo. the judgment of the lower court is hereby set aside and another is hereby rendered: (1) Ordering the defendant municipality and/or thru its appropriate officials to return and deliver the possession of the portion of Lot 76 used as cemetery or burial site of the plaintiff-appellant. 24). de Ditching (not from her predeceased mother Isabel Ditching). 22).157 sq. Vda. married to Francisco Soliva. Enrique I. Branch I. de Ditching and a daughter. inherited the whole of Lot No. 1964. p. July 1. 1964. No.00 a year from 1963 until the possession of said land is actually delivered. she donated a portion of Lot No.

by holding that non-annotation on the Torrens Certificate of Title could not affect the said land when the possession by the petitioner of the said land for over 30 years and using it as a public cemetery for that length of time are sufficient proof of purchase and transfer of title and non-annotation of the Certificate of Title did not render the sale ineffectual . On motion of counsel for the Respondents (Rollo. pp. demanding payment of past rentals and requesting delivery of the area allegedly illegally occupied by Petitioner (Exh. The Honorable Court of Appeals also erred in ordering the petition petitioner to deliver the possession of the land in question to the respondents Nomia Leuenberger and Francisco Soliva. This petition was filed with the Court on November 6. "G. the Court gave due course to the petition (Rollo. 1970 (Rollo. 1963. On appeal Respondent appellate Court set aside the decision of the lower court (Record on AppeaL p. 110). 88). 1-3). the Record on Appeal on December 19. On July 8. On January 5. Petitioner having failed to file the brief within the period which expired on June 10. 15). p. The lower court decided in favor of the Municipality. 1972 to allow respondent Francisco Soliva to continue the appeal in behalf of the estate of respondent Norma Leuenberger who died on January 25. 104). 1964. 92). 1972. In its answer. 1969 (Rollo. 99). p. 1). 1969 (Rollo. having bought it from Simeona Jingco Vda. petitioner raised the following errors of respondent Court of Appeals: (Brief for the Petitioner. subject of the complaint. for recovery of possession of the parcel of land occupied by the municipal cemetery (Record on Appeal. p. When the Mayor replied that Petitioner bought the land she asked to be shown the papers concerning the sale but was referred by the Mayor to the municipal treasurer who refused to show the same (TSN. 84). In their brief. p. Respondent wrote the Mayor of Victorias regarding her discovery. by way of special defense. 1970. II. p. 9). p. Respondents filed a complaint in the Court of First Instance of Negros Occidental. 80). 1970. 1964. de Ditching sometime in 1934 (Record on Appeal. Respondent Francisco Soliva having been appointed special administrator in Special Proceedings No. the Court resolved on June 30. the Brief for Respondents was filed on May 18. p. 1970 (Rollo. alleged ownership of the lot. July 1. 32-33). p. The Honorable Court of Appeals erred in holding that respondents Norma Leuenberger and Francisco Soliva are the lawful owners of the land in litigation as they are estopped from questioning the possession and ownership of herein petitioner which dates back to more than 30 years. p. the Court resolved to consider the case submitted for decision without Petitioner's Reply Brief. this petition for review on certiorari. Folder of Exhibits. p. hence. p. 7). 84-V of the Court of First Instance of Negros Occidental (Rollo. 1970 (Rollo. I. The Brief for the Petitioner was filed on April 1. p. Branch 1. 2). petitioner Municipality. On January 11.On May 20.

de Ditching . Arnaes Valor: — P750. The pivotal issue in this case is whether or not the secondary evidence presented by the petitioner municipality is sufficient to substantiate its claim that it acquired the disputed land by means of a Deed of Sale. 140-A y 140-B. In lieu of a Deed of Sale. Secondary evidence when original is lost or destroyed. .00 a year from 1963 until possession is actually delivered because under the law. There is merit in the petition. or by a recital of its contents in some authentic document.00 . Victorias.III. the law in point provides: Sec. Under the Best Evidence Rule when the original writing is lost or otherwise unavailable. Aragon with the following entries: Nature of Instrument — Compra venta 2 porciones Terrenos: Lotes Nos. 5116 Jusgado la Instance Neg. Occidental . Ditching Comprador: — Municipio Victorias. Names of-persons Executing/ Acknowledging: Simeona Vda. por su Pres. Occidental causa civil 5116 Vendedora: — Simeona Jingco Vda.. . The Honorable Court of Appeals further erred in ordering the petitioner Municipality of Victories to pay the respondents the sum of P400. Occidental Vendedora .. G. an owner of a piece of land has no obligation to pay rentals as it owns and possesses the same. Neg. . Vease copia correspondiente.Mpal Vicente B. Neg. . Rules of Court). It is undisputed that petitioner failed to present before the Court a Deed of Sale to prove its purchase of the land in question which is included in the Transfer Certificate of Title No. or cannot be produced in court. petitioner presented a certificate issued by the Archives Division of the Bureau of Records Management in Manila. Neg. its contents may be proved by a copy. Abint actuacion especial No. of a page of the 1934 Notarial Register of Vicente D. . — When the original writing has been lost or destroyed. Occidental pago por esso despues aprobacion Jusgado la Instance. (Rule 130. upon proof of its execution and loss or destruction or unavailability. T-34546 in the name of private respondent Norma Leuenberger. administradora Abint. or by the recollection of witnesses. de Ditching Adm. 4.

y B. 16) that a mere entry in the notarial register of a notary public of an alleged sale cannot prove that a particular piece of land was sold by one person to another. Victorias Comprador Witnesses to the Signatures: Esteban Jalandoni Gregorio Elizalde Date: Month 9 Julio 1934 Fees: P2. estan unidos solamente en el original de la escritura. Ananosa. there is no way of telling what particular portion of the property was sold to defendant municipality and how big was the sale of the land conveyed to the defendant municipality. It will be observed that the entries in the notarial register clearly show: (a) the nature of the instrument. p. 140-A and 140-B. (c) the parties of the contract — the vendor Simeona J. Occidental Remarks. — a deed of sale. Vicente B. Arnaes Pres. (b) the subject of the sale — two parcels of land. (d) the consideration P750.00. one of the important requirements being the indication of the area and the technical description of the land being sold. Municipal Mayor of Victorias. 1934. Respondent Court of Appeals was of the view (Rollo. . Lot Nos. 5116 of the Court of First Instance of Negros Occidental and the vendee. Vda. In the present case. Occidental Los annexes A. Municipal. Neg.Vicente B. (e) the names of the witnesses Esteban Jalandoni and Gregoria Elizado. Neg. and the date of the sale on July 9.00 Cedulas: Exenta por susexo F1027880 Enero 26/34 Victories. En Victorias. de Ditching in her capacity as Administrator in Civil Case No. since no deed of sale could be produced.

140. 4-A. 1964. 429 (Ibid. 140-C of the Subdivision West — NW — Lots Nos. Perez & Co. The area is 33. 1222) who negotiated the sale. pp. de Ditching in favor of the aforesaid Municipality and ratified by Notary Public Mr. (Kuenzle & Streiff vs. (Ocejo. vs. since 1932 up to the date of trial on September 14. the principal and most important of which being the conveyance of ownership. 132.. Series of 1934..It is beyond question that the foregoing certificate is an authentic document clearly corroborated and supported by: (a) the testimony of the municipal councilor of Victorias. 37 PhiL 631 [1918]). who personally paid the amount of P750. (Civil Code Art.m." (d) Tax Declaration No. 140-C & 140-B of the Subdivision. Tax Declaration No. Vicente Aragon under Doc. p. 2.747 sq. " (EXIL 4. Delivery produces its natural effects in law. pp. it is expressly provided by law that the thing sold shall be understood as delivered. Where there is no express provision that title shall not pass until payment of the price. Portion of this Lot. p.746 sq. 1964. was sold to Municipality of Victories for Cemetery Site as evidenced by a Deed of Sale executed by Simeona Jingco Vda. (Original TSN Hearing of September 14. de Ditching and used as road leading to the cemetery. Simeona Jingco Vda. title passes from the moment the thing sold is placed in the possession and control of the buyer. The above-mentioned testimonies and documentary evidence sufficiently Identify the land sold by the predecessors-in-interest of private respondent. Original Exhibits. 13 PhiL 26 [1909]).m. 23) in the name of the Municipal Government of Victorias covering the portion occupied as cemetery. and the thing gold has been delivered. At the lowest portion under Memoranda it was explained that — The area under this declaration includes 3. . 1964. 140-C of the Subdivision South — SW — Lot No. (c) Certificate of Settlement (Original Exhibits. 22) which was cancelled and was substituted by Tax Declaration No. p. Occidental Orig. Moreover. (b) the testimony of Emilio Cuesta. 3600 covering the portion of the property unsold (Decision. 3601 shows on its face the boundaries as follows: North — NE — Lot No. (Original TSN Hearing of September 14.000 sq. 1497). Ricardo Suarez. CFI. 2238) the municipal treasurer of said municipality. International Banking Corp. 10. 18672. when it is placed in the control and possession of the vendee. the sale of a portion of the lot to the Municipality of Victorias was clearly explained as follows: Note: The whole Lot No. meters donated by Mrs. Record on Appeal. without prejudice to the right of the vendor to payment of the price. 23). Page No. belongs to Norma Leuenberger as evidenced by a Transfer of Cert. p. 3601 (Ibid. p.00 to Felipe Leuenberger as consideration of the Contract of Sale. At the back Exh. 6) and (e) Tax Declaration No. 20) "as evidence of said payment. of Title No. Book No. Watson & Co. To insist on the technical description of the land in dispute would be to sacrifice substance to form which would undoubtedly result in manifest injustice to the petitioner. (30.. No. Neg.

now Sec. Gonzalo and of their conjugal partnership. And so it is. the purchaser Municipality of Victorias failed to register said Deed of Sale. the inevitable conclusion is that the sale executed in the Notarial Register refers to the disputed lot.) Therefore. Act 496. 11-22). As to the description of the property sold. Foz. the evidence establishes without debate that the property was originally registered in 1916. respondent Norma Leuenberger claimed to have inherited the land in dispute and succeeded in registering said land under the Torrens system. Court of Appeals. 23-28) in the decision of this case by the Court of Appeals. that in 1934. 39. supra) issued by the Register of Deeds of -Negros Occidental on March 11. showing clearly that they are portions of the original big Lot 140. Gatmaitan in his dissenting opinion (Rollo. Plaintiff was born only in 1928 and cannot possibly be the registered owner of the original lot 140 at the time. the execution thereof shall be equivalent to the delivery of the thing which is the object of the contract. (Civil Code Art.A) in question. however. containing an area of 208. . Original Record pp. p. When she applied for registration of the .. if from the deed. 1964. Rollo. 34) while Simeona the grandmother died in 1942. Admittedly. unquestionably the party authorized to dispose of the same. who had already sold the land to the petitioner in 1934.157 square meters. (Decision. adverse and continuous possession of the land for a period of more than thirty years. pp. the fact that a notarial report shows that they are portions of Lot 140 and the property in question occupied by the public cemetery is admittedly a portion of said lot in the absence of evidence that there were other portions of Lot 140 ceded unto the petitioner municipality. according to her own evidence. died in 1928 (TSN Aug. Unfortunately. it was her grandmother. hence. it is undisputed that in the intestate estate of Gonzalo Ditching. Isabel her mother. . 1963 in the name of Norma Leuenberger. as of 1934 when a document of sale was executed by Simeona in favor of the municipality of Victories as indubitably shown in the notarial register (Exhibit 5. she is unquestionably entitled to the protection afforded to a holder of a Torrens Title. respondent Norma Leuenberger admitted that she inherited the land covered by Transfer Certificate of Title No. 13) she became the registered owner only in 1963. 43. Consequently. In the case at bar it is undisputed that petitioner had been in open. public. she is the only person who could legally dispose of by sale this particular fourhectare portion of Lot 140. PD 1529). As registered owner. the presumption must be that she did so upon proper authority of the Court of First Instance. T-34036 from her grandmother. 20 PhiL 388 [1911]). her grand-daughter. Indeed. In the instant case. de Ditching died. In fact. the surviving spouse of Gonzalo who was named judicial administratrix. pp. 12. (Ibid. the contrary does not appear or cannot be clearly inferred. Said land is now covered by Transfer Certificate of Title No. (Florendo v. Simeona was still the administratrix of the properties left by her husband.Similarly. the grandfather of private respondent Norma Leunberger. Simeona. The execution of the public instrument operates as a formal or symbolic delivery of the property sold and authorizes the buyer to use the document as proof of ownership. . T-34036 (Exhibit A. hence. As this conveyance was executed by the judicial administratrix. " (Sec. (Exhibit A. when Simeona Jingco Vda.. Likewise. Simeona Ditching in her capacity as judicial administratrix made and executed the document described in the Report as Lots 140-A and 140-B. shall hold the same free of all encumbrance except those noted on said certificate . As correctly observed by Justice Magno S. according to the municipal treasurer there are over 1000 graves in the cemetery. According to Norma's own testimony. she merely stepped into the shoes of her grandmother and she cannot claim a better right than her predecessor-in-interest. 1498). it is well-settled that under the Torrens System "Every person receiving a certificate of title in pursuance of a decree of registration. when the sale is made through a public instrument. married to Francisco Soliva.

181-S declaring the cemetery site (Exh. the conclusions and findings of fact by the trial court are entitled to great weight on appeal and should not be disturbed unless for strong and cogent reasons because the trial court is in a better position to examine real evidence. L-27843. the lawnevertheless safeguards the rightful party's interest in the titled land from fraud and improper use of technicalities by snowing such party. vs. Escobar vs. T-34036 and to have the corresponding subdivision plan. Buencamino. by force of law. Additionally. PREMISES CONSIDERED. Mariano Gopuyoc et al. the person obtaining it is. 76 in Victories as the property of the municipality of Victorias. et al. (Escobar vs.. notwithstanding the irrevocability of the Torrens title and the trustee and his successors-in-interest are bound to execute the deed of reconveyance." It is intended merely to confirm and register the title which one may already have on the land. 1456. 10.) The Civil Code provides: Art. Locsin. October 11. 505. Judgment for Specific acts. 74 Phil. (Pacheco vs. . it has been held that where the land is decreed in the name of a person through fraud or mistake.. 1977. Thus. If real or personal property is within the Philippines.. such person is by operation of law considered a trustee of an implied trust for the benefit of the persons from whom the property comes. 86). — . E-2) on Lot No.. Branch I-Silay City in Civil Case No. If the property is acquired through mistake or fraud. We hereby order (a) the petitioner to have the disputed land segregated by a licensed surveyor from the rest of Lot No. Finally. et al. Sr. (Pedro Pascua. vs. For a more expeditious disposition of the case at bar. et al. 521. as well as to observe the demeanor of the witnesses while testifying in the case. is hereby REINSTATED. 76 described in Transfer Certificate of Title No. Private respondent is in equity bound to reconvey the subject land to the cestui que trust the Municipality of Victorias. Court of Appeals. vs. she had no legal right to do so as she had no ownership of the land since land registration is not a mode of acquiring ownership but only of confirming ownership of the land. 85 Phil. As the land in dispute is held by private respondents in trust for the Municipality of Victorias. (Torela. vesting title. (Grande. 74 Phil. The beneficiary shag have the right t enforce the trust. the judgment of the respondent appellate court is hereby SET ASIDE and the decision of the Court of First Instance of Negros Occidental.)"The Torrens System was not established as a means for the acquisition of title to private land. to judicially seek reconveyance to him of whatever he has been deprived of as long as the land has not been transferred or conveyed to a purchaser in good faith. 86). it is logical to conclude that the latter can neither be deprived of its possession nor be made to pay rentals thereof. in appropriate cases. Torela. While an inherently defective Torrens title may not ordinarily be cancelled even after proof of its defect. Arro. Rule 39 of the Rules of Court provides: SEC. duly . 115 Phil. the court in lieu of directing a conveyance thereof may enter judgment divesting the title of any party and vesting it in others and such judgment shall have the force and effect of a conveyance executed in due form of law. et al. 1979). considered a trustee of an implied trust for the benefit of the person from whom the property comes. 136 SCRA 365 [1985]). et al.. Locsin...disputed land.. Where the applicant possesses no title or ownership over the parcel of land. L-23197. he cannot acquire one under the Torrens system of Registration. (Chase v. The Torrens system was never calculated to foment betrayal in the performance of a trust.. May 31..

Bidin. in lieu thereof. submitted to the court of origin for approval. Jr. Rules of Court.approved by the Land Registration Commission. one title in the name of the Municipality of Victories for the disputed land and another title in the names of the private respondents Norma Leuenberger and Francisco Soliva for the rest of Lot No.. concur. SO ORDERED. Gutierrez. and (c) the Register of Deeds of Negros Occidental to cancel Transfer Certificate of Title No. Without costs. and Cortes. JJ. Sec.. Padilla. 76. (b) the private respondents Norma Leuenberger and Francisco Soliva to be divested of their title to the disputed land under Rule 39. . 34036 and issue. 10. Fernan (Chairman).

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