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G.R. No. L-36731
January 27, 1983
VICENTE GODINEZ, ET AL., plaintiffs-appellants, vs. FONG PAK LUEN ET AL., defendants, TRINIDAD S. NAVATA, defendant-appellee.
Dominador Sobrevinas for plaintiffs-appellants.
Muss S. Inquerto for defendant-appellee
GUTIERREZ, JR., J.:
The plaintiffs filed this case to recover a parcel of land sold by their father, now deceased, to Fong Pak Luen, an alien, on the ground that the sale was null and void ab initio since it violates applicable provisions of the Constitution and the Civil Code. The order of the Court of First Instance of Sulu dismissing the complaint was appealed to the Court of Appeals but the latter court certified the appeal to us since only pure questions of law were raised by the appellants. The facts of the case were summarized by the Court of Appeals as follows: On September 30, 1966, the plaintiffs filed a complaint in the Court of First Instance of Sulu alleging among others that they are the heirs of Jose Godinez who was married to Martina Alvarez Godinez sometime in 1910; that during the marriage of their parents the said parents acquired a parcel of land lot No. 94 of Jolo townsite with an area of 3,665 square meters as evidenced by Original Certificate of Title No. 179 (D -155) in the name of Jose Godinez; that their mother died sometime in 1938 leaving the plaintiffs as their sole surviving heirs; that on November 27, 1941, without the knowledge of the plaintiffs, the said Jose Godinez, for valuable consideration, sold the aforesaid parcel of land to the defendant Fong Pak Luen, a Chinese citizen, which transaction is contrary to law and in violation of the Civil Code because the latter being an alien who is inhibited by law to purchase real property; that Transfer Certificate Title No. 884 was then issued by the Register of Deeds to the said defendant, which is null and void ab initio since the transaction constituted a non-existent contract; that on January 11, 1963, said defendant Fong Pak Luen executed a power of attorney in favor of his co-defendant Kwan Pun Ming, also an alien, who conveyed and sold the above described parcel of land to
who is aware of and with full knowledge that Fong Pak Luen is a Chinese citizen as well as Kwan Pun Ming. the plaintiffs filed an answer to the affirmative defenses and counter-claim. that the torrens title in the name of defendant Navata is indefeasible who acquired the property from defendant Fong Pak Luen who had been in possession of the property since 1941 and thereafter defendant Navata had possessed the same for the last 25 years including the possession of Fong Pak Luen. 1966. so much so that the alleged attorneyin-fact. that under Article 1144 (1) of the Civil Code.ñët The plaintiffs thus pray that they be adjudged as the owners of the parcel of land in question and that Transfer Certificate of Title RT-90 (T-884) issued in the name of defendant Fong Pak Luen be declared null and void ab initio. that the right of action accrued on November 27.00. as well as Transfer Certificate of Title No. that defendant Fong Pak Luen has not acquired any title or interest in said parcel of land as the purported contract of sale executed by Jose Godinez alone was contrary to law and considered non.00. No answer has been filed by said defendants. that it was only the ministerial duty of his office to issue the title in favor of the defendant Navata once he was determined the registerability of the documents presented to his office.000. and that they were constrained to engage the services of counsel in the sum of P2. 1941 but the complaint was filed only on September 30. the defendant Navata filed her answer with the affirmative defenses and counterclaim alleging among others that the complaint does not state a cause of action since it appears from the allegation that the property is registered in the name of Jose Godinez so that as his sole property he may dispose of the same.1äwphï1. On December 2.00 for attorney's fees and P500. 1966.00 expenses of litigation. 1941. which was issued by the Register of Deeds in favor of the latter is null and void ab initio. an action based upon a written contract must be brought within 10 years from the time the right of action accrues. P2.existent. 1966. Navata. said defendant prays that the complaint be dismissed and that her counterclaim be granted. As the defendants Fong Pak Luen and Kwan Pun Ming are residing outside the Philippines. the court issued an order as follows: Both parties having agreed to the suggestion of the Court that they submit their supplemental pleadings to support both motion and opposition and after submittal of the same the said motion to dismiss which is an affirmative defense alleged in the complaint is deemed submitted. the defendant Register of Deeds filed an answer claiming that he was not yet the register of deeds then. and that the power of attorney issued in the name of Kwan Pun Ming. Jose Godinez could -not have legally conveyed the entire property. with costs against defendants. with costs against the plaintiffs. who under the law are prohibited and disqualified to acquire real property in this jurisdiction. conveyed the property to defendant Fong Pak Luen as a result of which a title was issued to said defendant. On November 24.co-defendant Trinidad S. On October 20. beyond the 10 year period provided for by law. the Court will resolve the case. 1967. 1967. 1322. Failure of both parties or either party to submit their supplemental pleadings on or about December 9. . that the cause of action has been barred by the statute of limitations as the alleged document of sale executed by Jose Godinez on November 27.000. 196 7..that since one-half of the said property is conjugal property inherited by the plaintiffs from their mother. On August 18. that notwithstanding repeated demands on said defendant to surrender to plaintiffs the said property she refused and still refuses to do so to the great damage and prejudice of the plaintiffs. the trial court upon motion issued an order of April 17. for the service of summons on said defendants by publication. defendant Kwan Pun Ming had not conveyed any title or interest over said property and defendant Navata had not acquired anything from said grantor and as a consequence Transfer Certificate of Title No. 'L322 issued in the name of defendant Navata be likewise declared null and void. that the complaint is intended to harass the defendant as a civic leader and respectable member of the community as a result of which she suffered moral damages of P100.500. hence.
37). or associations qualified to acquire or hold lands of the public domain in the Philippines. 45. prescription may never be invoked to defend that which the Constitution prohibits. 2874 and Commonwealth Act No. including residential lands" is a declaration of an imperative constitutional policy. The trial court erred in denying plaintiffs-appellants' motion for reconsideration of the order of dismissal. 141. the real question before us is whether or not the heirs of a person who sold a parcel of land to an alien in violation of a constitutional prohibition may recover the property if it had. Navata's affirmative defense of prescription in her answer treated as a motion to dismiss. 38. 461) which also detailed the evolution of the provision in the public land laws. Save in cases of hereditary succession. pp. 31." The appellants contend that the lower court erred in dismissing the complaint on the ground that their cause of action has prescribed. no private agricultural land will be transferred or assigned except to individuals. But neither can the vendor or his heirs rely on an argument based on imprescriptibility because the land sold in 1941 is now in the hands of a . Register of Deeds of Manila (79 Phil. prescription is unavailing. a Chinese citizen residing in Hongkong. However. we see no necessity from the facts of this case to pass upon the nature of the contract of sale executed by Jose Godinez and Fong Pak Luen whether void ab initio. The Krivenko ruling that "under the Constitution aliens may not acquire private or agricultural lands. Consequently. A motion for reconsideration of this order was filed by the plaintiffs on December 12. pp. illegal per se or merely proexhibited. (Rec. There can be no dispute that the sale in 1941 by Jose Godinez of his residential lot acquired from the Bureau of Lands as part of the Jolo townsite to Fong Pak Luen. The question is not a novel one. 1144 (1) New Civil Code on the basis of defendant Trinidad S. 1969. 1968. II.On November 29. (Record on Appeal. Judicial precedents indicate fairly clearly how the question should be resolved. corporations. The meaning of the above provision was fully discussed in Krivenko v. the trial court issued an order missing the complaint without pronouncement as to costs. Act No. The plaintiffs now interpose this appeal with the following assignments of errors: I. The trial court erred in dismissing plaintiffs-appellants' complaint on the ground of prescription of action. Article XIII of the 1935 Constitution which provided: Sec. on Appeal. 5. which was denied by the trial court in an order of July 11. While the issue raised appears to be only the applicability of the law governing prescription. 43. been conveyed to a Filipino citizen qualified to own and possess it. applying Art. III. in the meantime. 47).** It is enough to stress that insofar as the vendee is concerned. 196F. The trial court erred in not ordering this case to be tried on the merits. was violative of Section 5.
) It is very likely that the majority of this Court proceeded upon that theory when it applied the in pari delicto rule referred to above. 332.. 505. Cross vs. the State is deemed to have waived its right to escheat the real property and the title of the alien thereto becomes lawful and valid as of the date of its conveyance or transfer to him. Baldwin. 698. Houston.. Makiki Bautista us. it does not necessarily follow that the appellants may be allowed to recover the property sold to an alien. ed. Ed. Pembroke vs. supra. 515. 532. 4 Law. Talento vs. 44 Off. 447). Book 11. Craig vs. 18 Law. Gaz.. Fioerella vs. [U. 3 Wheat. 5360. Go Bio). Del Valle. p. Leslie et al. Commentarios al Codigo Civil Espanol Vol. Mr. Title II. Yu Chiao Talento vs. 6 Law.S. 11 Wheat. Manuel vs. (Mr. based on a defect in the contract which invalidates it independently of such lesion or damages. VIII. Uy. a Filipino citizen qualified to acquire real property. Go Bio. in affirming a judgment dismissing the complaint to rescind the sale of real property to the defendant Li Seng Giap on January 22. the majority of this Court has ruled that in sales of real estate to aliens incapable of holding title thereto by virtue of the provisions of the Constitution (Section 5.] 513. Gaw Chee and Mercado vs. on the ground that the vendee was an alien and under the Constitution incapable to own and hold title to lands. Navata. 88 Pac. (Manresa. Li Seng Giap and Li Seng Giap & Sons (96 Phil. Governeur vs. 152 U. Justice Pablo. old Civil Code. Reyes and the writer. Ed.) However. In Vasquez v. (Osterman vs. 460.. 79. In the United States the rule is that in a sale of real estate to an alien disqualified to hold title thereto the vendor divests himself of the title to such real estate and has no recourse against the vendee despite the latter's disability on account of alienage to hold title to such real estate and the vendee may hold it against the whole world except as against the State. Rellosa vs.. The action is not of rescission because it is not postulated upon any of the grounds provided for in Article 1291 of the old Civil Code and because the action of rescission involves lesion or damage and seeks to repair it. 4th ed. 563. 4345 and Mercado vs. 589590. Article XIII Krivenko vs.Filipino citizen against whom the constitutional prescription was never intended to apply. held: In Caoile vs. Article 1411. Fong Pak Luen. It is only the State that is entitled by proceedings in the nature of office found to have a forfeiture or escheat declared against the vendee who is incapable of holding title to the real estate sold and conveyed to him. As earlier mentioned.. 17 Law. 1940. Gaz. 49 Off. SW 470.. Gaz. Register of Deeds. Justice Alex. Gaz. 4321.S. where the alien vendee later sold the property to a Filipino corporation. 327. 4331. Abrams vs. 471) both the vendor and the vendee are deemed to have committed the constitutional violation and being thus in pari delicto the courts will not afford protection to either party. It is an action for annulment under Chapter VI. Gaz. 38 Law. 259 SW 782. See Caoile vs. Uy 49 Off. 730. . 488.. the disqualified alien vendee later sold the same property to Trinidad S. Ed. State. Makiki 49 Off. if the State does not commence such proceedings and in the meantime the alien becomes naturalized citizen. new Civil Code) From this ruling three Justices dissented. From the fact that prescription may not be used to defend a contract which the Constitution prohibits. (Article 1305. Yu Chiao 49 Qff Gaz. Gaw Chee 49 Off. 1 Wall. Bautista vs. ed. Wulff. this Court. 4336. Rellosa vs.. on nullity of contracts. Jones. Robertson. The lower court erred in treating the case as one involving simply the application of the statute of limitations. 6 Wall. 116.
had no rights of ownership to transmit. Luy Kim Guan (SCRA 406) reiterated the above ruling by declaring that where land is sold to a Chinese citizen. however.67 per cent of its capital stock being owned by Filipinos. Article 1302 of the old Civil Code provides: . It is no longer owned by a disqualified vendee. must also be valid. The title to the parcel of land of the vendee. being valid that of the domestic corporation to which the parcel of land has been transferred.The rule in the United States that in a sale of real estate to an alien disqualified to hold title thereto. is also the rule under the Civil Code. it is likewise in escapable that petitioner Epifania had slept on her rights for 26 years from 1936 to 1962. 96. While. Giap & Sons: (. that aim or purpose would not be thwarted but achieved by making lawful the acquisition of real estate by aliens who became Filipino citizens by naturalization. who later sold it to a Filipino. Herrera v... also urban lands. Ong King Po. Cuenco (113 SCRA 547) we had occasion to pass upon a factual situation substantially similar to the one in the instant case.. is to preserve the nation's land for future generations of Filipinos. the sale to the latter cannot be impugned. as a naturalized citizen. The litigated property is now in the hands of a naturalized Filipino. . By her long inaction or . Lui She (21 SCRA 52) which relaxed the pari delicto doctrine to allow the heirs or successors-in-interest. Applying by analogy the ruling of this Court in Vasquez vs. that aim or purpose would not be thwarted but achieved by making lawful the acquisition of real estate by aliens who became Filipino citizens by naturalization. the vendor divests himself of the title to such real estate and is not permitted to sue for the annulment Of his Contract. was constitutionally qualified to own the subject property.. in Sarsosa vda. Only recently. a naturalized Filipino citizen. . The appellants cannot find solace from Philippine Banking Corporation v. as construed by this Court in the Krivenko case. private respondent's vendor... 447 ) . (I)f the ban on aliens from acquiring not only agricultural but. strictly speaking.. in appropriate cases. . Persons sui juris cannot..96 Phil. avail themselves of the incapacity of those with whom they contracted. as construed by this Court in the Krivenko case. xxx xxx xxx . if the ban on aliens from acquiring not only agricultural but also urban lands. We ruled: But the factual set-up has changed. There would be no more public policy to be served in allowing petitioner Epifania to recover the land as it is already in the hands of a qualified person. . to recover that which their predecessors sold to aliens. de Barsobia v. is to preserve the nation's lands for future generations of Filipinos. Respondent.
1409 [71. it is negligence or ommission to assert a right within a reasonable time. must be declared to be the rightful owner of the property. . which refers to agreements not illegal se but merely prohibited. the titled owner of the property is declared the rightful owner. et al. Sibonghanoy.' (Cited in Sotto vs. vs. therefore. to justify the exception to the rule on pari delicto. which is an expression of public policy to conserve lands for the Filipinos. Melencio-Herrera." In Philippine Banking Corporation v. 1968. WHEREFORE. the instant appeal is hereby denied. however. Teehankee (Chairman). Vasquez and Relova. for an unreasonable and unexplained length of time. 35). No. applied Article 1416 of the Civil Code. JJ. Civil Code) because it was a contract executed against the mandatory provision of the 1935 Constitution. L-21450.. to do that which by exercising due diligence could or should have been done earlier. Footnotes ** Under the facts in Sarsosa vda. In the light of the above considerations. Teves. she should be held barred from asserting her claim to the litigated property (Sotto vs. Teves. Respondent. 86 SCRA 154 ). Plana. Respondent Navata. 23 SCRA 29. SO ORDERED. warranting a presumption that the party entitled to assert it either has abandoned it or declined to assert it. 86 SCRA 157 ) Laches has been defined as the failure or neglect.. April 15. de Barsobia v. Cuenco (113 SCRA 547). we find the second and third assignments of errors without merit. concur. this Court stated that "(t)here should be no question that the sale of the land in question in 1936 by Epifania Sarsosa to Ong King Po was non-existent and void from the beginning (Art. The orders dismissing the complaint and denying the motion for reconsideration are affirmed.inexcusable neglect. et al. Lui She (21 SCRA 52) the Court. (Tijam.
m REPUBLIC OF THE PHILIPPINES thru the OFFICE OF THE SOLICITOR GENERAL. represented by JOSE DE LUZURIAGA. JR. HEIRS OF THE LATE REMEDIOS DE LUZURIAGA-VALERO. and THE LATE NORMA DE LUZURIAGA DIANON... x-------------------------------------------x HEIRS OF THE LATE JOSE DE LUZURIAGA.versus - REPUBLIC OF THE PHILIPPINES thru the OFFICE OF THE SOLICITOR GENERAL. represented by JOSE DE LUZURIAGA. . JR. . DE LUZURIAGA.versus Ji. . Respondent. Petitioners.Republic of the Philippines SUPREME COURT Manila THIRD DIVISION HEIRS OF THE LATE JOSE DE LUZURIAGA. and HEIRS OF THE LATE REMEDIOS DE LUZURIAGA-VALERO AND THE LATE NORMA DE LUZURIAGA-DIANON. Petitioners. HEIRS OF MANUEL R. Respondent.
while the second is styled Supplemental Petition and docketed as G.G.. 2001 and October 24.R. No. 75321. 2004 Decision and May 25. VELASCO. G. 169019. JR. Chairperson.R. 169019 Promulgated: June 30.. JR. Branch 51 in Bacolod City. 2009 x-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------x DECISION VELASCO. 168848.R. CHICO-NAZARIO. JJ. The assailed CA decision and resolution reversed and set aside the Orders dated August 31. J. No. 1524 of the Bacolod Cadastre. particularly described as follows: . assailing the November 26. 2002 in Cadastral Case No.R.R. 97-583 of the Regional Trial Court (RTC). The first is a Verified Petition for Review on Certiorari under G.: Before us are two petitions under Rule 45 interposed by the heirs of the late Jose De Luzuriaga. The Facts Subject of the instant controversy is Lot No. and PERALTA. 2005 Resolution of the Court of Appeals (CA) in CA-G. SP No. No. No. NACHURA. 168848 Present: YNARES-SANTIAGO.. J.
Sr. Sr. 1524 of Bacolod Cadastre in accordance with law. 1997. premises considered. the order of general default previously entered is ratified and JUDGMENT is hereby rendered confirming the title of the late Jose R. 440. more or less. [De] Luzuriaga. and the technical description of the subject lot. conducted by Geodetic Engineer Eluminado E. Iloilo City. 1998. In it. 22752 covering Lot No. De Luzuriaga. the subject lot was specifically identified as Lot No. were submitted to the RTC. prepared by the Office of the Regional Technical Director. Land Management Services.. 22752 covering Lot No. and NE. The fallo reads: WHEREFORE. Sr. De Luzuriaga. the trial court ratified its order of general default and judicially confirmed the incomplete title of the late De Luzuriaga. 1524. and duly approved on May 17. in turn. Nessia. 97-583 before the RTC. 1524 of Bacolod Cadastre. by Creeks x x x. thus: “x x x that the parcel of land in question be ordered registered and that an original Certificate of Title be issued in the name of the late Jose R. let an Original Certificate of Title be issued in the name of the late Jose R. docketed as Cad. Jr. 1524. situated in the Municipality of Bacolod. designated Bacolod Assistant City Prosecutor Abraham Bayona to represent the OSG at the trial.. Region VI. As soon as this decision becomes final. which entered its due appearance through the Office of the Solicitor General (OSG) which. petitioners filed an Application for the Registration of Title. 1524 of the Cadastral Survey of Bacolod). DENR. the application was amended to state. 1524 pursuant to Decree No. 22752. 39. “M”) and technically described in the Technical Description (Exh. 1916 (Exh. Cad. over Lot No. The survey plan. by the Sapa Mamlot. 22752 dated October 7.772) square meters]. SO ORDERED. 1916. Sr. Case No. “K” & “L”) identified in the approved Survey Plan (Exh.” Subsequently. with the improvements thereon. . by the Lupit or Magsungay Pequeño River. Among the evidence petitioners adduced during the hearings was a copy of Decree No. Bacolod Cadastre. AP-06-005774. pursuant to Decree No. on the SE. “N”). Iloilo City.. 22752 dated October 7. 442 and 441. Island of Negros. and on the W. on the SW. pursuant to Decree No. Bounded on the N. On May 16.A parcel of land (Lot No. situated in the City of Bacolod. 1524 of Bacolod Cadastre under Decree No. RTC Decision Granting Application for Registration of Lot 1524 By Decision dated May 24. De Luzuriaga full ownership of Lot No. by Calle Araneta and Lots Nos. 1999. over Lot No. the RTC issued an Order of general default except as against respondent Republic of the Philippines. issued by the General Land Registration Office (GLRO) pursuant to the decision in the cadastral case confirming and granting unto the late Jose R.. On May 12. containing an area of [TWO HUNDRED SIXTY EIGHT THOUSAND SEVEN HUNDRED AND SEVENTY TWO (268. 1997 by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) Regional Office.
97-583. Rec. the Republic through the OSG. lawful. Court of Appeals. 1939. De Luzuriaga. Pursuant to the above decision the Bacolod Registry issued Original Certificate of Title (OCT) No. Annulment and Cancellation of [OCT] No. which requires the simultaneous issuance of the decree of registration and the corresponding certificate of title. Lizares. 22752. was the registered. DAALCO claimed that its predecessor-in-interest. and absolute owner of Lot No. DAALCO Sues for Quieting of Title Meanwhile. sought the annulment thereof via an unverified Petition for Relief from Judgment filed before the same RTC which rendered the above decision in Cad. RO-58. p. Dr.The OSG. No. i. Third. 2765 in the name of Lizares–– was a reconstituted title. To buttress its case.e. et al. first. Said TCT served to replace OCT No. GLRO Cad. Sr. DAALCO pointed to the fact that the RD.. for the Republic. the Republic alleged. To support its prayer for annulment. 1524 as evidenced by a Transfer Certificate of Title (TCT) No. RO-58 in the name of De Luzuriaga. 10. (PD) 1529. did not issue an OCT in the name of De Luzuriaga. Sr. The Petition for Relief from Judgment by the Republic On November 24.. Antonio A. 55 as early as November 14. In gist. (DAALCO) v. III. Lizares Co. (DAALCO) filed a Complaint against petitioners before the RTC for Quieting of Title. docketed as Civil Case No. in September 1999. received a copy of the Decision on June 22. 22752 as basis for the application of land registration as said decree effectively barred said application. As argued. Jose R. 99-10924 and entitled Dr. but opted not to file an appeal. Sr. It invited attention to Section 39 of Presidential Decree No. OCT No. again citing jurisprudence. the Republic. the Republic maintained that the applicant. or six months after the RTC rendered its Decision. Finally. 1999. Second. the policy of simultaneous issuance prescribed in the decree has not been followed in the instant case. even if entitled to registration by force of Decree No. Case No. open. the Republic asserted that petitioners cannot use Decree No. 22752. RO-58 with prayer for injunctive relief and damages. 2765 in the name of Lizares and was issued pursuant to Decree No. What the RD instead issued––owing to the issuance in 1916 of OCT No. 1999.. at Vol. and continuous possession as registered owner of the subject lot. 1916 and registered in the registration book of the Office of the RD of Negros Occidental. as prayed for in the application of petitioners and as ordered by the cadastral court. Inc.. that petitioners failed to indicate in their application all the heirs of the late De Luzuriaga. the same registration decree having been issued 83 long years ago . Inc. 2765 in the name of Lizares. DAALCO maintained having been in actual. Antonio A. relying on Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System v. Co. after the finality of the May 24. 283. 1999 RTC Decision. contended that no new title over the subject lot can be issued in favor of the applicant. the same lot being already covered by a title. Fourth. however.. is already barred by laches. 190-R (T-247 [T-19890]) issued by the Register of Deeds (RD) of Bacolod City on February 8. specifically OCT No. and their corresponding authorization for the application in their behalf. Antonio Lizares.
Court of Appeals and Nery v. Subsequently. Branch 51 in Bacolod City. 1999 RTC Decision. 1998 was not published and a copy of which the Republic was not served. the RTC. Aggrieved. The RTC denied the Republic’s motion for reconsideration through an Order of October 24. 22752 as basis for the application of land registration in view of the implementation of Sec. ratiocinated that a judge who succeeds another has no reviewing and appellate authority and jurisdiction over his predecessor’s final judgment on the merits of a case. citing Miranda v. in which the Court held that the merits of the substantive aspects of the case are deemed a special circumstance or compelling reason for the reinstatement of its petition and prayed for the relaxation of the Rules. Chua replaced retired Judge Ramon B. Specifically. The Republic later filed a Supplement (To Motion for Reconsideration) reiterating the merits of its case. 39 of PD 1529. the Republic moved for reconsideration of the above denial order arguing that its procedural lapses are not fatal to its case. SP No. the RTC found the Republic’s petition to be unverified and filed beyond the 60th day from receipt on June 22.” denied the petition. with the appellate court.In the meantime. the OSG alleged that the RTC did not acquire jurisdiction over Cadastral Case No. 97-583 inasmuch as the corresponding amended application for registration dated May 5. Judge Anita G. over Lot 1524 will result in a double titling of the subject lot. Judge Chua. the trial court observed that the Republic is actually asking the present presiding judge to review the decision of her predecessor. It cited Uy v. Docketed as CA-G. and to annul the same decision. the Republic raised anew the argument on the unavailability of Decree No. In the same order. The Ruling of the RTC By Order dated August 31. Posadas as presiding judge of the RTC. such authority residing. on the finding that the “petition for relief from judgment is not sufficient in form and substance and having been filed out of time. in the ordinary course of things. as it does. Land Bank of the Philippines.R. the Republic elevated the case before the CA through a Petition for Certiorari under Rule 65. The fallo of the CA’s d ecision reads: . Leyson. Finally. Moreover. Judge Posadas. the appellate court rendered the assailed decision granting certiorari and ordered the remand of the instant case to the trial court for reception of evidence to determine whether the RTC’s Decision confirming the title of the late Luzuriaga. 75321. the petition raised the sole issue of whether the RTC gravely abused its discretion in denying its petition for relief from judgment. 1999 of a copy of the May 24. Pursuing the point. Sr. 2002. The Ruling of the CA On November 26. 2001. 2004.
62 O. De Luzuriaga. WITH ALL DUE RESPECT. COURT OF APPEALS. i. over Lot No. not verified and filed out of time. with the supplemental petition filed on July 28. we have these petitions. the case is remanded to the court a quo for reception of evidence in order to resolve the issue of whether or not the Decision dated May 24. . 2005 Resolution. MIRANDA VS. the instant petition for certiorari is GRANTED. which explains the lower docket number of the former. AS HELD BY THE SUPREME COURT IN HACBANG V. 2005. LEYSON. Sr. 2001 showing that Lot No.. Aug. The CA predicated its ruling on the following factors: (1) the merits of the petition for relief from judgment far outweigh the procedural technicalities that obstruct it. 169019 the following issues and assignment of errors: A.WHEREFORE. 339 SCRA 23. No. AND NERY VS.G. VIOLATING THE WELL-KNOWN PRINCIPLE THAT CERTIORARI IS NOT PROPER WHERE THERE IS NO GRAVE ABUSE OF DISCRETION. The Issues Petitioners raise as ground for review in G. and an OCT already issued in. premises considered. LEYTE AUTOBUS CO. AND WHEN THERE ARE UNSETTLED FACTUAL CONTROVERSIES IN THE CASE. the CA denied petitioners’ motion for reconsideration. to rule on the merits of the petition for relief from judgment. another man’s name. 1.e. 1524 was already registered under. THE HONORABLE [CA] SERIOUSLY ERRED IN GRANTING THE PETITION FOR CERTIORARI OF THE SOLICITOR GENERAL’S OFFICE. SO ORDERED. while the main petition for review on certiorari was filed on August 11.” supported by a Letter/Report issued by the Bacolod City RD on December 7.R. 1966. and (2) the Republic was able to make out a prima facie case of “double titling. 1524 of Bacolod Cadastre really resulted to “double titling” and thereafter. B. Hence. Accordingly. WITH ALL DUE RESPECT. 31. 1999 confirming the title of the late Jose R. COMMITTED BY THE LOWER COURT. AND THE RULE THAT NO SUCCEEDING JUDGE CAN REVIEW A DECISION OF THE PREVIOUS PRESIDING JUDGE. Through the equally assailed May 25. INC. THE HONORABLE [CA] IN ITS HEREIN CONTESTED DECISION x x x DIRECTLY VIOLATED THE LONG-HELD PRINCIPLE OF “JUDICIAL STABILITY” THAT HOLDS THAT NO REVIEW CAN BE HAD BY ONE COURT OF A DECISION OF ANOTHER COURT OF CONCURRENT JURISDICTION. WITHOUT MAKING A DEFINITE FINDING OF ACTUAL PRESENCE OF GRAVE ABUSE OF DISCRETION.. 2005. 71 SCRA 295.
168848. petitioners raise the sole issue in their Supplemental Petition of: WHETHER OR NOT THE RESOLUTION DATED NOVEMBER 26. WITH ALL DUE RESPECT. BRANCH 46. WHICH RESORT OR DEVISE IS THOROUGHLY FROWNED UPON IN OUR JURISDICTION.] 99-10924. and (2) the issue of double titling having been raised in DAALCO’s complaint in Civil Case No. The Court’s Ruling The core issue in these petitions is whether the appellate court gravely abused its discretion in granting the Republic’s petition for relief from judgment despite: (1) the May 24. 97-583 having become final and executory. 99 10924 for quieting of title and cancellation of OCT No. THE HONORABLE [CA] GRIEVOUSLY ERRED IN GRANTING THE OSG’S PETITION FOR CERTIORARI UNDER RULE 65. WITH ALL DUE RESPECT. WHEN THERE IS ALREADY A SIMILAR CASE INVOLVING PRINCIPALLY THE SAME ISSUE OF ALLEGED “DOUBLE TITLING” IN ANOTHER BRANCH OF THE [RTC] OF NEGROS OCCIDENTAL NAMELY. MOST IMPORTANTLY: F. THE HONORABLE [CA]. THE SUBJECT DECISION OF THE HONORABLE [CA] VIOLATED THE PRINCIPLE OF RES JUDICATA OR FINALITY OF JUDGMENT. 2005. THERE IS NONE. apprising the Court of. 1999 Decision in Cadastral Case No. IN THE CASE A QUO. No. LUZURIAGA. DAALCO filed a Motion for Leave to Intervene. IN REMANDING THE CASE FOR FURTHER PROCEEDINGS TO THE COURT A QUO. ET AL. OR PETITION FOR RELIEF FROM JUDGMENT OF THE ORDER OR OF THE DECISION OF THE HONORABLE COURT. IN THE CASE ENTITLED DAALCO VS. A POTENTIAL FOR SERIOUS CONFLICT OF DECISIONS HAS BEEN CREATED BY THE ORDER OF THE HONORABLE [CA] WITH ALL DUE RESPECT. WHEN IN TRUTH AND IN FACT. 2005 WERE CONTRARY TO LAW AND/OR JURISPRUDENCE OF THE SUPREME COURT In the meantime. FOR QUIETING OF TITLE. D. In G. on September 12. WHICH WAS CLEARLY RESORTED TO FOR THE FAILURE OF THE SOLICITOR GENERAL TO SEASONABLY FILE A MOTION FOR RECONSIDERATION. . NOTICE OF APPEAL.C. 99-10924. Branch 46 in Bacolod City.R. WITH CIVIL CASE [NO. E. WITH ALL DUE RESPECT. 2004 AND RESOLUTION DATED MAY 25. the pendency of its complaint docketed as Civil Case No. among other things. GRIEVOUSLY ERRED IN FINDING THAT THERE IS AN “EXCEPTIONAL CASE” IN THIS ABOVE-ENTITLED CASE WHICH JUSTIFIES THE GRANT OF THE PETITION. RTC BRANCH 51. RO-58 before the RTC.
due course to the Republic’s petition for relief from judgment and remanding the case to the trial court for reception of evidence. belatedly filed its petition only on November 24. 1999 Decision on June 22. under the factual premises and for reasons set out in the assailed decision. for the Republic. While the reglementary periods fixed under the rules for relief from judgment are mandatory in character. or other proceedings. 1999. But. as thing turned out. Since rules of procedure are mere tools designed to facilitate the attainment of justice. or except a particular case from the rules’ operation when their rigid application tends to frustrate rather than promote the ends of justice. order. in the interest of substantial justice. the OSG admits receiving the May 24. and (b) six (6) months from entry of such judgment. The Republic ascribes its failure to file a timely notice of appeal or a petition for relief from judgment on the negligence of the OSG person––in charge of receiving all pleadings assigned to Asst. they are not to be applied with severity and rigidity when such application would clearly defeat the very rationale for their existence. Solicitor Josefina C. The CA acted within its sound discretion in giving. and would not render the pleading fatally defective. 1999. A pleading required by the Rules of Court to be verified may be . be relaxed. the OSG. Apropos the matter of verification which the OSG failed to observe. it cannot be over-emphasized that the requirement on verification is simply a condition affecting the form of pleadings. 1999 Decision. we agree with the appellate court’s holding that the RTC committed grave abuse of discretion in dismissing the petition for relief from the May 24. Foremost of these is the fact that the Republic had properly made out a prima facie case of double titling over the subject lot. Thus. when it did not file a notice of appeal of said decision within the 15-day reglementary period for filing an appeal. meriting a ventilation of the factual and legal issues relative to that case. 1 and 3 of Rule 38 of the Rules of Court. procedural rules of the most mandatory character in terms of compliance may. Such a petition must be filed within: (a) sixty (60) days from knowledge of judgment. The peculiarities of the instant case impel us to do so now. Castillo––who belatedly gave the copy of the RTC Decision to the latter due to oversight. Procedural Issue: Relaxation of the Rules to Promote Substantial Justice We can concede that the unverified petition for relief from judgment of the OSG was filed out of time. Non-compliance with it is not jurisdictional. Under the peculiar facts and circumstances of the case. the OSG was left with the remaining remedy of relief from judgment subject to the conditions provided under Secs. or more than five months from receipt or knowledge of the May 24. In line with this postulate. or other proceedings to be set aside. 1999 RTC Decision. order. And the Republic prays for the relaxation of the rigid application of the Rules based on the merits of its petition for relief from judgment. the Court can and will relax or altogether suspend the application of the rules.The petitions are bereft of merit. In the case at bar.
never contested or assailed the title issuance to Lizares. make for an exceptional case for allowing relief from judgment. provides a reasonable ground to believe that a case of double titling would result should another title issue for the same lot in the name of De Luzuriaga. as shall be set forth below. Rec. 97-583 for judicial confirmation of imperfect title over subject Lot No. not to De Luzuriaga. the ownership issue would be best litigated in Civil Case No. OCT already issued for subject lot Second. Branch 46 in Bacolod City tends to show that DAALCO’s predecessor -in-interest. In the instant case. In any case. Case No. Case No. Sr. 2001. and the certificate was issued to Lizares.” an eventuality that will undermine the Torrens system of land registration. 22752. Decree No. 2765 in the name of Lizares over Lot No.given due course even without a verification if the circumstances warrant the suspension of the rules in the interest of justice. GLRO Cad. both parties anchor in a way their ownership claim on Decree No. certain attending facts and circumstances. it is allowed only in exceptional cases where there is no other available or adequate remedy. was issued OCT No. Ownership of subject lot best ventilated in civil case Third. 99-10924 for quieting of title filed by DAALCO before the RTC. one and the same decree cannot serve as basis for a valid grant of separate titles in fee simple over the same lot to two different persons. Lizares. . there exists a compelling need for another hard look at Cad. Civil Case No. Thus. Sr. 99-10924 filed by DAALCO for quieting of title. 22752 was rendered. 2765 in 1916 ostensibly pursuant to Decree No. No. It ought to be stressed. The prior issuance on November 14. for purposes of Cad. 22752 is the same decree petitioners relied upon in Cad. however. Since petitioners and DAALCO separately claim owning Lot No. De Luzuriaga. So it must be here. Substantive Issue: Prima Facie Case of Double Titling Relief from judgment is an equitable remedy. This is confirmed by the adverted Letter/Report.. Obviously. 22752. during his lifetime. Case No. 55. And its determination rests with the court. Lest it be overlooked. suggesting the possibility of a lawful transfer of ownership from one to the other during the period material. 1524 and the subsequent issuance of an OCT in the name of another person. ineluctably indicating the registration of subject Lot No. 1916 of OCT No. 1524 persuasively buttresses a prima facie case on the issue of double titling. Sr. that an OCT was issued several months after Decree No. The Letter/Report issued by the Bacolod City RD on December 7. 97-583 and for the trial court to address the likelihood of duplication of titles or “double titling. Register of Deeds report shows doubling titling when another OCT is issued for subject lot First. 1524. 1524.
1524 to De Luzuriaga. petitioners argue that they can rightfully bank on Decree No.. Cad. Be that as it may. Sr. Case No. instead of issuing an OCT in the name of De Luzuriaga. how a registration decree adjudicating Lot No. an execution is void if it does not strictly conform to every essential particulars of the judgment rendered. who thereafter transferred the title to his heirs or .. DAALCO basically seeks to nullify the issuance of OCT No. while the Republic’s petition assails the grant of ownership to De Luzuriaga. Sr. not in a cadastral proceeding for judicial confirmation of imperfect title over unregistered property. the Court has ruled that “the failure on the part of the administrative authorities to do their part in the issuance of the decree of registration cannot oust the prevailing party from ownership of the land. The second paragraph of the fallo of the May 24. RO-58 in the name of the De Luzuriaga heirs. 97-583 and the suit for quieting of title in Civil Case No. pursuant to Decree No. ought to be litigated against the successors-in-interest of Lizares to put a final rest to their clashing claims over Lot No. De Luzuriaga clearly ordered. perforce. Petitioners’ contention that a petition for relief from judgment and the special civil action for quieting of title cannot proceed separately is without solid basis. De Luzuriaga. 22752 covering Lot No. OCT No. the issuance of the reconstituted title is rendered moot and ineffective by the grant of relief from judgment. Nothing on the records adequately explains. 99-10924 each involves different concerns and can proceed independently. over a parcel of land duly registered under OCT No. Case No. 22752 to defeat the claim of DAALCO. Not lost on the Court is the fact that a reconstituted title is ordered issued in an ordinary civil case.” Following these doctrinal pronouncements. whatever rights petitioners might have over the subject lot as heirs of De Luzuriaga. 1524 of Bacolod Cadastre in accordance with law. 1999 RTC Decision granting and confirming ownership of subject Lot No. let an Original Certificate of Title be issued in the name of the late Jose R. 97-583. Cadastral Case and Quieting of Title Case can proceed independently Fifth. as directed by the court––issued a reconstituted title over Lot No.  In line with this doctrine of the inapplicability of prescription and laches on registration cases. As has been consistently held. Sr. Logically. Yet the Court notes that the title issuance went beyond the scope of the judgment sought to be executed. foreclose the issuance of another OCT for the same lot. Sr. neither prescription nor laches may render inefficacious a decision in a land registration case. became the very medium for the issuance of a certificate of title in favor of Lizares. 1524.97-583. Consequently. Sr. 1524 in the name of the heirs of De Luzuriaga. 2765 in the name of Lizares. as in the instant case. thus: As soon as this decision becomes final. nor do petitioners attempt to do so. Sr. the fact that an OCT was already issued for the subject lot would. of OCT No. From another perspective. The cause of action of the Republic’s petition for relief from judgment of “double titling” of the subject lot is different from DAALCO’s quest for quieting of title. But the RD of Bacolod City––in grave abuse of discretion. Petitioners’ above posture may be given cogency but for the issuance. pursuant to the same decree. RO-58 was issued by the RD of Bacolod City purportedly in execution of the final and executory decision in Cad. Issuance of reconstituted title beyond the judgment in the cadastral case Fourth. Basic is the rule that execution must conform to what the decision dispositively decrees. 2765 in the name of Lizares. 1524 unto the late Jose R.
A petition for relief is in effect a second opportunity for an aggrieved party to ask for a new trial. a new publication is not needed. The required survey plan. 99-10924 pending before the RTC. and are governed by the usual rules of practice. the final judgment whence relief is sought is deemed set aside and the case shall stand as if such judgment had never been rendered. and Sec. Anent DAALCO’s motion to intervene and interest over the subject lot. after participating in the proceedings below. 1524. the annulling act having been taken by the CA. As it were. he would have duly protested and assailed the same. its identity and area. Case No. are in rem. Hence. to acquire jurisdiction. both actions may proceed independently. “the court shall then proceed to hear and determine the case as if a timely motion for new trial or reconsideration had been granted by it. Case No. Prosecutor Bayona obviously found the cadastral proceedings to have been in order. and original tracing cloth have been duly presented and submitted as evidence. Sec. drawing attention to the non-publication of the amended application for registration during the trial of Cad. through Prosecutor Bayona. where DAALCO can properly ventilate its ownership claim as against that of petitioners. otherwise known as the Land Registration Decree. provide for the publication of the application for registration and the schedule of the initial hearing. In fine. And any additional territory or change in the area of the claim cannot be included by amendment of the plan or application without new publication. procedure. Consequently. Once granted either by the trial court or the appellate court. the Republic. albeit a consolidation of both cases would be ideal to obviate multiplicity of suits. there is no dispute that due publication was made for Lot No. has raised the issue of jurisdiction. otherwise the cadastral court does not acquire jurisdiction over the additional or amended claim. technical description. We hardly can subscribe to the Republic’s argument that the publication of the amendment in petitioners’ application is a condition sine qua non for the RTC. Besides. the Republic could not plausibly argue that it was deprived of its day in court.” Here. it may address its motion to the lower court. the presiding judge of the RTC. as there is nothing for the presiding judge to nullify in the first place. incidentally. who. Thus. The RTC Had Jurisdiction in Cadastral Case The Republic. otherwise known as the Cadastral Act. 35 of PD 1529. Due publication is required to give notice to all interested parties of the claim and identity of the property that will be surveyed. else. the trial court’s . This is so since judicial cadastral proceedings. The Court cannot see its way clear to the jurisdictional challenge posed by the Republic. 97-583. Case No. Branch 46 in Bacolod City.assigns. 7 of Act No. But where the identity and area of the claimed property are not the subjects of amendment but other collateral matters. The petitioners in that case appeared to have complied with the essential jurisdictional requirement of publication. In such a case. has been duly notified of such amendment. The amendment in petitioners’ application in the relief portion neither altered the area and identity of the subject lot nor added any territory. by the remand to the court of Cad. 93-857. Branch 51 in Bacolod City. 2259. In the case at bar. like ordinary administrative registration. no new publication is required. acting as cadastral court. is not asked to review and/or annul a final judgment of his or her predecessor or of another RTC. are impleaded in said case as respondents/defendants A final consideration. and evidence. 97-583 represented by prosecutor Bayona. although intervention may no longer be necessary in the light of Civil Case No. the Republic entered its appearance in Cad.
WHEREFORE. the CA’s November 26. In view of the first reason. the Verified Petition for Review on Certiorari and Supplemental Petition are hereby DENIED for lack of merit. however. held that a trial court is without jurisdiction to annul a final judgment of a co-equal court. . cast against a different factual and legal milieu. is off-tangent. it is true. as seconded by petitioners. SO ORDERED. Nery. of the teachings of Nery. Suffice it to state for the nonce that Nery involved a final judgment of the RTC against which no petition for relief has been interposed.R. Costs against petitioners.invocation. 2005 Resolution in CA-G. 75321 are hereby AFFIRMED. the final judgment was not effectively set aside. SP No. Accordingly. unlike here. Nery was. 2004 Decision and May 25.
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