You are on page 1of 23

G.R. No. L-31346 December 28, 1929 PO SUN TUN, plaintiff-appellant, vs. W. S.

PRICE and THE PROVINCIAL GOVERNMENT OF LEYTE, defendants-appellees. Vicente Sotto for appellant. Kapunan and Kapunan for appellee Price. Attorney-General Jaranilla for the Provincial Government of Leyte.

MALCOLM, J.: The undisputed facts in this case are the following: On November 29, 1921, Gabino Barreto P. Po Ejap was the owner of a certain parcel of land situated in the municipality of Tacloban, Province of Leyte. On the date mentioned, he sold the land to Po Tecsi for the sum of P8,000. On June 21, 1923, Po mortgaged the land to W. S. Price in the amount of P17,000. The mortgage was duly noted in the office of the register of deeds of Leyte on August 18th of the same year. On December 17, 1924, Po executed a deed of sale of the land to Price in consideration of P17,000. This sale was recorded with the register of deeds on January 22, 1925. Price in turn, with the consent of his wife, sold the land on February 16, 1927, to the Province of Leyte for P20,570. In connection with the above facts, it should further be stated that when the Tacloban Cadastral Case was before the courts in 1918, this land was claimed by Gabino Barreto P. Po Ejap acting through his agent, Po Tecsi, but subsequently on motion the names of Mr. and Mrs. Price were substituted as claimants. On March 17, 1927, the original certificate of title was issued in the name of the spouses Price. Later, the proper transfer certificate of title was provided for the Province of Leyte. Returning again to the original date of November 29, 1921, on that date Po Tecsi gave a general power of attorney including the right to sell to Gabino Barreto P. Po Ejap. Acting under this power, Gabino sold the land on November 22, 1923, for P8,000 to Jose H. Katigbak. On this document there appears on the upper right-hand margin the following: "Register of Deeds, Received, Dec. 15, 1923, Province of Leyte." In turn Jose H. Katigbak transferred the property to Po Sun Tun on October 12, 1927, for P8,000. Further explaining the relationship of the parties, it should be taken into consideration that Gabino Barreto P. Po Ejap and Po Tecsi, between whom was the original transaction and between whom was the provision made for the power of attorney, are brothers. Gabino Barreto P. Po Ejap and Po Sun Tun, the first the original vendor, and the latter the person to whom the property eventually returned pursuant to the power of attorney, are father and son. As to the possession of the property, it has been under the control of Price and the Provincial Government of Leyte and has not been under the material control of Po Sun Tun. Predicated on these facts, Po Sun Tun began an action in the Court of First Instance of Leyte to gain the possession of the property and to secure damages in the amount of P3,600. Judge Causing sitting in first instance decided the case on the pleadings and the evidence, absolving the defendants W. S. Prince and the Province of Leyte from the complaint, with costs against the plaintiff. The principal error assigned on appeal by the plaintiff in connection with this judgment is that the trial judge erred in finding that the deed, Exhibit D, in favor of Jose H. Katigbak had not been registered in the corresponding registry of property. The provision of law relied upon by the trial judge as authority for his decision was the second paragraph of article 1473 of the Civil Code, which provides that if the same thing should have been sold to different vendees, "Si fuere inmueble, la propiedad pertenecera al adquirente que antes la haya inscrito en el Registro," or, as translated by Fisher, "Should it be real property, it shall belong to the purchaser who first recorded it in the Registry of Deeds." Recalling that the deed of Po Tecsi to Price was duly registered on January 22, 1925, and that thereafter a Torrens title was obtained in the name of Price, and that the deed of Gabino Barreto P. Po Ejap to Jose H. Katigbak has noted on it "Register of Deeds, Received, Dec. 15, 1923, Province of Leyte," can it be said that within the meaning of the law this latter deed was ever recorded? We are clearly of the opinion that it was not. The law and the authorities are overwhelmingly demonstrative of this statement. The mere presentation to the office of the register of deeds of a document on which acknowledgment of receipt is written is not equivalent to recording or registering the real property. Escriche says that registration, in its juridical

aspect, must be understood as the entry made in a book or public registry of deeds. (See Altavas, Land Registration in the Philippine Islands, 2d ed., p. 151.) Soler and Castello in their Diccionario de Legislacion Hipotecaria y Notarial, vol. II, p. 185, state: Registration in general, as the law uses the word, means any entry made in the books of the Registry, including both registration in its ordinary and strict sense, and cancellation, annotation, and even the marginal notes. In its strick acceptation, it is the entry made in the Registry which records solemnly and permanently the right of ownership and other real rights. The American authorities conform in this respect to the Spanish authorities for the term "To register" it has been said that it means to "enter in a register; to record formally and distinctly; to enroll; to enter in a list" (Reck vs.Phoenix Ins. Co. [1889], 7 N. Y. Suppl., 492; 54 Hun., 637; Harriman vs. Woburn Electric Light Co. [1895], 163 Mass., 85). If any doubt remained on the subject, it would be dispelled by turning to Act No. 2837 amendatory of section 194 of the Administrative Code, and recalling that it is therein provided that "No instrument or deed establishing, transmitting, acknowledging, modifying or extinguishing rights with respect to real estate not registered under the provisions of Act Numbered Four hundred and ninety-six, entitled "The Land Registration," and its amendments, shall be valid, except as between the parties thereto, until such instrument or deed has been registered, in the manner hereinafter prescribed, in the office of the register of deeds for the province or city where the real estate lies." (There follows in the law the requirements regarding the books which it is the duty of the register of deeds to keep and use.) It results as a matter of course since the deed made by Gabino Barreto P. Po Ejap in favor of Jose H. Katigbak was not only not first recorded in the registry of deeds but never legally so recorded, and since the purchaser who did record his deed was Price, who secured a Torrens title and transferred the same to the Province of Leyte, that Po Sun Tun, the holder of a defeasible title, has no legal rights as against Price and the Province of Leyte, the holders of indefeasible titles. Also, if necessary, it could be ruled that within the meaning of section 38 of the Land Registration Law, Price and the Province of Leyte are innocent purchasers for value of the disputed property. Finding the judgment appealed from to be correct from all points of view, it will be affirmed, with the costs of this instance against the appellant. Avancea, C.J., Johnson, Street, Ostrand, Johns, Romualdez and Villa-Real, JJ., concur.

October 2, 1915 G.R. No. L-8936 CONSUELO LEGARDA, with her husband MAURO PRIETO , plaintiffs-appellants, vs. N.M. SALEEBY, defendant-appellee. Singson, Ledesma and Lim for appellants. D.R. Williams for appellee. JOHNSON, J.: From the record the following facts appear: First. That the plaintiffs and the defendant occupy, as owners, adjoining lots in the district of Ermita in the city of Manila. Second. That there exists and has existed a number of years a stone wall between the said lots. Said wall is located on the lot of the plaintiffs. Third. That the plaintiffs, on the 2d day of March, 1906, presented a petition in the Court of Land Registration for the registration of their lot. After a consideration of said petition the court, on the 25th day of October, 1906, decreed that the title of the plaintiffs should be registered and issued to them the original certificate provided for under the Torrens system. Said registration and certificate included the wall. Fourth. Later the predecessor of the defendant presented a petition in the Court of Land Registration for the registration of the lot now occupied by him. On the 25th day of March, 1912, the court decreed the registration of said title and issued the original certificate provided for under the torrens system. The description of the lot given in the petition of the defendant also included said wall. Fifth. Several months later (the 13th day of December, 1912) the plaintiffs discovered that the wall which had been included in the certificate granted to them had also been included in the certificate granted to the defendant. They immediately presented a petition in the Court of Land Registration for an adjustment and correction of the error committed by including said wall in the registered title of each of said parties. The lower court however, without notice to the defendant, denied said petition upon the theory that, during the pendency of the petition for the registration of the defendants land, they failed to make any objection to the registration of said lot, includi ng the wall, in the name of the defendant. Sixth. That the land occupied by t he wall is registered in the name of each of the owners of the adjoining lots. The wall is not a joint wall. Under these facts, who is the owner of the wall and the land occupied by it? The decision of the lower court is based upon the theory that the action for the registration of the lot of the defendant was a judicial proceeding and that the judgment or decree was binding upon all parties who did not appear and oppose it. In other words, by reason of the fact that the plaintiffs had not opposed the registration of that part of the lot on which the wall was situate they had lost it, even though it had been theretofore registered in their name. Granting that theory to be correct one, and granting even that the wall and the land occupied by it, in fact, belonged to the defendant and his predecessors, then the same theory should be applied to the defendant himself. Applying that theory to him, he had already lost whatever right he had therein, by permitting the plaintiffs to have the same registered in their name, more than six years before. Having thus lost hid right, may he be permitted to regain it by simply including it in a petition for registration? The plaintiffs having secured the registration of their lot, including the wall, were they obliged to constantly be on the alert and to watch all the proceedings in the land court to see that some one else was not having all, or a portion of the same, registered? If that question is to be answered in the affirmative, then the whole scheme and purpose of the Torrens system of land registration must fail. The real purpose of that system is to quiet title to land; to put a stop forever to any question of the legality of the title, except claims which were noted at the time of registration, in the certificate, or which may arise subsequent thereto. That being the purpose of the law, it would seem that once a title is registered the owner may rest secure, without the necessity of waiting in the portals of the court, or sitting in the mirador de su casa, to avoid the possibility of losing his land. Of course, it can not be denied that the proceeding for the registration of land under the Torrens system is judicial (Escueta vs. Director of Lands, 16 Phil. Rep., 482). It is clothed with all the forms of an action and the result is final and binding upon all the world. It is an action in rem. (Escueta vs. Director of Lands (supra); Grey Alba vs. De la Cruz, 17 Phil. Rep., 49 Roxas vs. Enriquez, 29 Phil. Rep., 31; Tyler vs. Judges, 175 Mass., 51 American Land Co. vs. Zeiss, 219 U.S., 47.) While the proceeding is judicial, it involves more in its consequences than does an ordinary action. All the world are parties, including the government. After the registration is complete and final and there exists no fraud, there are no innocent third parties who may claim an interest. The rights of all the world are foreclosed by the decree of registration.

The government itself assumes the burden of giving notice to all parties. To permit persons who are parties in the registration proceeding (and they are all the world) to again litigate the same questions, and to again cast doubt upon the validity of the registered title, would destroy the very purpose and intent of the law. The registration, under the torrens system, does not give the owner any better title than he had. If he does not already have a perfect title, he can not have it registered. Fee simple titles only may be registered. The certificate of registration accumulates in open document a precise and correct statement of the exact status of the fee held by its owner. The certificate, in the absence of fraud, is the evidence of title and shows exactly the real interest of its owner. The title once registered, with very few exceptions, should not thereafter be impugned, altered, changed, modified, enlarged, or diminished, except in some direct proceeding permitted by law. Otherwise all security in registered titles would be lost. A registered title can not be altered, modified, enlarged, or diminished in a collateral proceeding and not even by a direct proceeding, after the lapse of the period prescribed by law. For the difficulty involved in the present case the Act (No. 496) providing for the registration of titles under the torrens system affords us no remedy. There is no provision in said Act giving the parties relief under conditions like the present. There is nothing in the Act which indicates who should be the owner of land which has been registered in the name of two different persons. The rule, we think, is well settled that the decree ordering the registration of a particular parcel of land is a bar to future litigation over the same between the same parties. In view of the fact that all the world are parties, it must follow that future litigation over the title is forever barred; there can be no persons who are not parties to the action. This, we think, is the rule, except as to rights which are noted in the certificate or which arise subsequently, and with certain other exceptions which need not be dismissed at present. A title once registered can not be defeated, even by an adverse, open, and notorious possession. Registered title under the Torrens system can not be defeated by prescription (section 46, Act No. 496). The title, once registered, is notice to the world. All persons must take notice. No one can plead ignorance of the registration. The question, who is the owner of land registered in the name of two different persons, has been presented to the courts in other jurisdictions. In some jurisdictions, where the torrens system has been adopted, the difficulty has been settled by express statutory provision. In others it has been settled by the courts. Hogg, in his excellent discussion of the Australia n Torrens System, at page 823, says: The general rule is that in the case of two certificates of title, purporting to include the same land, the earlier in date prevails, whether the land comprised in the latter certificate be wholly, or only in part, comprised in the earlier certificate. (Oelkers vs. Merry, 2 Q.S.C.R., 193; Miller vs. Davy, 7 N.Z.R., 155; Lloyd vs. Myfield, 7 A.L.T. (V.) 48; Stevens vs. Williams, 12 V.L. R., 152; Register of Titles, vs. Esperance Land Co., 1 W.A.R., 118.) Hogg adds however that, if it can be very clearly ascertained by the ordinary rules of construction relating to written documents, that the inclusion of the land in the certificate of title of prior date is a mistake, the mistake may be rectified by holding the latter of the two certificates of title to be conclusive. (See Hogg on the Australian torrens System, supra, and cases cited. See also the excellent work of Niblack in his Analysis of the Torrens System, page 99.) Niblack, in discussing the general question, said: Where two certificates purport to include the same land the earlier in date prevails. In successive registrations, where more than one certificate is issued in respect of a particular estate or interest in land, the person claiming under the prior certificates is entitled to the estate or interest; and that person is deemed to hold under the prior certificate who is the holder of, or whose claim is derived directly or indirectly from the person who was the holder of the earliest certificate issued in respect thereof. While the acts in this country do not expressly cover the case of the issue of two certificates for the same land, they provide that a registered owner shall hold the title, and the effect of this undoubtedly is that where two certificates purport to include the same registered land, the holder of the earlier one continues to hold the title (p. 237). Section 38 of Act No. 496, provides that; It (the decree of registration) shall be conclusive upon and against all persons, including the Insular Government and all the branches thereof, whether mentioned by name in the application, notice, or citation, or included in the general description To all whom it may concern. Such decree shall not be opened by reason of the absence, infancy, or other disability of any person affected thereby, nor by any proceeding in any court for reversing judgments or decrees; subject, however, to the right of any person deprived of land or of any estate or interest therein by decree of registration obtained by fraud to file in the Court of Land Registration a petition for review within one year after entry of the decree (of registration), provided no innocent purchaser for value has acquired an interest. It will be noted, from said section, that the decree of registration shal l not be opened, for any reason, in any court, except for fraud, and not even for fraud, after the lapse of one year. If then the decree of registration can not be opened for any reason, except for fraud, in a direct proceeding for that purpose, may such decree be opened or set aside in a collateral proceeding by including a portion of the land in a subsequent certificate or decree of registration? We do not believe the law contemplated that a person could be deprived of his registered title in that way. We have in this jurisdiction a general statutory provision which governs the right of the ownership of land when the same is registered in the ordinary registry in the name of two persons. Article 1473 of the Civil Code provides, among other things, that when one piece of real property had been sold to two different persons it shall belong to the person acquiring it, who first inscribes it in the registry. This rule, of course, presupposes that each of the vendees or purchasers has

acquired title to the land. The real ownership in such a case depends upon priority of registration. While we do not now decide that the general provisions of the Civil Code are applicable to the Land Registration Act, even though we see no objection thereto, yet we think, in the absence of other express provisions, they should have a persuasive influence in adopting a rule for governing the effect of a double registration under said Act. Adopting the rule which we believe to be more in consonance with the purposes and the real intent of the torrens system, we are of the opinion and so decree that in case land has been registered under the Land Registration Act in the name of two different persons, the earlier in date shall prevail. In reaching the above conclusion, we have not overlooked the forceful argument of the appellee. He says, among other things; When Prieto et al. were served with notice of the application of Teus (the predecessor of the defendant) they became defendants in a proceeding wherein he, Teus, was seeking to foreclose their right, and that of orders, to the parcel of land described in his application. Through their failure to appear and contest his right thereto, and the subsequent entry of a default judgment against them, they became irrevocably bound by the decree adjudicating such land to Teus. They had their day in court and can not set up their own omission as ground for impugning the validity of a judgment duly entered by a court of competent jurisdiction. To decide otherwise would be to hold that lands with torrens titles are above the law and beyond the jurisdiction of the courts. As was said above, the primary and fundamental purpose of the torrens system is to quiet title. If the holder of a certificate cannot rest secure in this registered title then the purpose of the law is defeated. If those dealing with registered land cannot rely upon the certificate, then nothing has been gained by the registration and the expense incurred thereby has been in vain. If the holder may lose a strip of his registered land by the method adopted in the present case, he may lose it all. Suppose within the six years which elapsed after the plaintiff had secured their title, they had mortgaged or sold their right, what would be the position or right of the mortgagee or vendee? That mistakes are bound to occur cannot be denied, and sometimes the damage done thereby is irreparable. It is the duty of the courts to adjust the rights of the parties under such circumstances so as to minimize such damages, taking into consideration all of the conditions and the diligence of the respective parties to avoid them. In the present case, the appellee was the first negligent (granting that he was the real owner, and if he was not the real owner he can not complain) in not opposing the registration in the name of the appellants. He was a party-defendant in an action for the registration of the lot in question, in the name of the appellants, in 1906. Through his failure to appear and to oppose such registration, and the subsequent entry of a de fault judgment against him, he became irrevocably bound by the decree adjudicating such land to the appellants. He had his day in court and should not be permitted to set up his own omissions as the ground for impugning the validity of a judgment duly entered by a court of competent jurisdiction. Granting that he was the owner of the land upon which the wall is located, his failure to oppose the registration of the same in the name of the appellants, in the absence of fraud, forever closes his mouth against impugning the validity of that judgment. There is no more reason why the doctrine invoked by the appellee should be applied to the appellants than to him. We have decided, in case of double registration under the Land Registration Act, that the owner of the earliest certificate is the owner of the land. That is the rule between original parties. May this rule be applied to successive vendees of the owners of such certificates? Suppose that one or the other of the parties, before the error is discovered, transfers his original certificate to an innocent purchaser. The general rule is that the vendee of land has no greater right, title, or interest than his vendor; that he acquires the right which his vendor had, only. Under that rule the vendee of the earlier certificate would be the owner as against the vendee of the owner of the later certificate. We find statutory provisions which, upon first reading, seem to cast some doubt upon the rule that the vendee acquires the interest of the vendor only. Sections 38, 55, and 112 of Act No. 496 indicate that the vendee may acquire rights and be protected against defenses which the vendor would not. Said sections speak of available rights in favor of third parties which are cut off by virtue of the sale of the land to an innocent purchaser. That is to say, persons who had had a right or interest in land wrongfully included in an original certificate would be unable to enforce such rights against an innocent purchaser, by virtue of the provisions of said sections . In the present case Teus had his land, including the wall, registered in his name. He subsequently sold the same to the appellee. Is the appellee an innocent purchaser, as that phrase is used in said sections? May those who have been deprived of their land by reason of a mistake in the original certificate in favor of Teus be deprived of their right to the same, by virtue of the sale by him to the appellee? Suppose the appellants had sold their lot, including the wall, to an innocent purchaser, would such purchaser be included in the phrase innocent purchaser, as the same is used in said sections? Under these examples there would be two innocent purchasers of the same land, is said sections are to be applied .Which of the two innocent purchasers, if they are both to be regarded as innocent purchasers, should be protected under the provisions of said sections? These questions indicate the difficulty with which we are met in giving meaning and effect to the phrase innocent purchaser, in said sections. May the purchaser of land which has been included in a second original certificate ever be regarded as an innocent purchaser, as against the rights or interest of the owner of the first original certificate, his heirs, assigns, or vendee? The first original certificate is recorded in the public registry. It is never issued until it is recorded. The record notice to all the world. All persons are charged with the knowledge of what it contains. All persons dealing with the land so recorded, or any portion of it, must be charged with notice of whatever it contains. The purchaser is charged with notice of every fact

shown by the record and is presumed to know every fact which the record discloses .This rule is so well established that it is scarcely necessary to cite authorities in its support (Northwestern National Bank vs. Freeman, 171 U.S., 620, 629; Delvin on Real Estate, sections 710, 710 [a]). When a conveyance has been properly recorded such record is constructive notice of its contents and all interests, legal and equitable, included therein. (Grandin vs. Anderson, 15 Ohio State, 286, 289; Orvis vs. Newell, 17 Conn., 97; Buchanan vs. Intentional Bank, 78 Ill., 500; Youngs vs. Wilson, 27 N.Y., 351; McCabe vs. Grey, 20 Cal., 509; Montefiore vs. Browne, 7 House of Lords Cases, 341.) Under the rule of notice, it is presumed that the purchaser has examined every instrument of record affecting the title. Such presumption is irrebutable. He is charged with notice of every fact shown by the record and is presumed to know every fact which an examination of the record would have disclosed. This presumption cannot be overcome by proof of innocence or good faith. Otherwise the very purpose and object of the law requiring a record would be destroyed. Such presumption cannot be defeated by proof of want of knowledge of what the record contains any more than one may be permitted to show that he was ignorant of the provisions of the law. The rule that all persons must take notice of the facts which the public record contains is a rule of law. The rule must be absolute. Any variation would lead to endless confusion and useless litigation. While there is no statutory provision in force here requiring that original deeds of conveyance of real property be recorded, yet there is a rule requiring mortgages to be recorded. (Arts. 1875 and 606 of the Civil Code.) The record of a mortgage is indispensable to its validity. (Art .1875.) In the face of that statute would the courts allow a mortgage to be valid which had not been recorded, upon the plea of ignorance of the statutory provision, when third parties were interested? May a purchaser of land, subsequent to the recorded mortgage, plead ignorance of its existence, and by reason of such ignorance have the land released from such lien? Could a purchaser of land, after the recorded mortgage, be relieved from the mortgage lien by the plea that he was a bona fide purchaser? May there be a bona fide purchaser of said land, bona fide in the sense that he had no knowledge of the existence of the mortgage? We believe the rule that all persons must take notice of what the public record contains in just as obligatory upon all persons as the rule that all men must know the law; that no one can plead ignorance of the law. The fact that all men know the law is contrary to the presumption. The conduct of men, at times, shows clearly that they do not know the law. The rule, however, is mandatory and obligatory, notwithstanding. It would be just as logical to allow the defense of ignorance of the existence and contents of a public record. In view, therefore, of the foregoing rules of law, may the purchaser of land from the owner of the second original certificate be an innocent purchaser, when a part or all of such land had theretofore been registered in the name of another, not the vendor? We are of the opinion that said sections 38, 55, and 112 should not be applied to such purchasers. We do not believe that the phrase innocent purchaser should be applied to such a purchaser. He cannot be regarded as an innocent purchaser because of the facts contained in the record of the first original certificate. The rule should not be applied to the purchaser of a parcel of land the vendor of which is not the owner of the original certificate, or his successors. He, in nonsense, can be an innocent purchaser of the portion of the land included in another earlier original certificate. The rule of notice of what the record contains precludes the idea of innocence. By reason of the prior registry there cannot be an innocent purchaser of land included in a prior original certificate and in a name other than that of the vendor, or his successors. In order to minimize the difficulties we think this is the safe rule to establish. We believe the phrase innocent purchaser, used in said sections, should be limited only to cases where unregistered land has been wrongfully included in a certificate under the torrens system. When land is once brought under the torrens system, the record of the original certificate and all subsequent transfers thereof is notice to all the world. That being the rule, could Teus even regarded as the holder in good fifth of that part of the land included in his certificate of the appellants? We think not. Suppose, for example, that Teus had never had his lot registered under the torrens system. Suppose he had sold his lot to the appellee and had included in his deed of transfer the very strip of land now in question. Could his vendee be regarded as an innocent purchaser of said strip? Would his vendee be an innocent purchaser of said strip? Certainly not. The record of the original certificate of the appellants precludes the possibility. Has the appellee gained any right by reason of the registration of the strip of land in the name of his vendor? Applying the rule of notice resulting from the record of the title of the appellants, the question must be answered in the negative. We are of the opinion that these rules are more in harmony with the purpose of Act No. 496 than the rule contended for by the appellee. We believe that the purchaser from the owner of the later certificate, and his successors, should be required to resort to his vendor for damages, in case of a mistake like the present, rather than to molest the holder of the first certificate who has been guilty of no negligence. The holder of the first original certificate and his successors should be permitted to rest secure in their title, against one who had acquired rights in conflict therewith and who had full and complete knowledge of their rights. The purchaser of land included in the second original certificate, by reason of the facts contained in the public record and the knowledge with which he is charged and by reason of his negligence, should suffer the loss, if any, resulting from such purchase, rather than he who has obtained the first certificate and who was innocent of any act of negligence. The foregoing decision does not solve, nor pretend to solve, all the difficulties resulting from double registration under the torrens system and the subsequent transfer of the land. Neither do we now attempt to decide the effect of the former registration in the ordinary registry upon the registration under the torrens system. We are inclined to the view, without

deciding it, that the record under the torrens system, supersede all other registries. If that view is correct then it will be sufficient, in dealing with land registered and recorded alone. Once land is registered and recorded under the torrens system, that record alone can be examined for the purpose of ascertaining the real status of the title to the land. It would be seen to a just and equitable rule, when two persons have acquired equal rights in the same thing, to hold that the one who acquired it first and who has complied with all the requirements of the law should be protected. In view of our conclusions, above stated, the judgment of the lower court should be and is hereby revoked. The record is hereby returned to the court now having and exercising the jurisdiction heretofore exercised by the land court, with direction to make such orders and decrees in the premises as may correct the error heretofore made in including the land in the second original certificate issued in favor of the predecessor of the appellee, as well as in all other duplicate certificates issued. Without any findings as to costs, it is so ordered. Arellano, C.J., Torrens, and Araullo, JJ., concur.

G.R. No. L-24736

January 29, 1926

CONSULTA NO. 441 DE LOS ABOGADOS DE SMITH, BELL AND CO., LTD., BLOCK, JOHNSTON AND GREENBAUM, appellants, vs. THE REGISTER OF DEEDS OF LEYTE, appellee. Block, Johnston and Greenbaum; Ross, Lawrence and Selph and Antonio T. Carrascoso, Jr, for appellant Smith, Bell and Co. Attorney-General Jaranilla for appellee. STATEMENT For a purported consideration of P78,000, Teofilo Mejia and Casilda Martinez de Mejia signed a deed of sale and in favor of Cristina Martinez for four parcels of land in Ormoc, Leyte, and certain personal property. April 26, 1921, the deed was presented for registration under Act No. 2837 to the registrar of deeds of the Province of Leyte, and owing to certain defects in it, registration was refused. June 7, 1921, Teofilo Mejia made an amendatory affidavit of her husband. On August 12 1921, the property was then registered as inscription No. 57 in the register of lands not registered under Act No. 496. Thereafter Smith, Bell and Co. commenced an action, known as civil case No. 4030, in the Court of First Instance of Cebu against Teofilo Mejia and Casilda Martinez de Mejia, defendants., and grantors in the deed, to recover the sum of P14,000, in which a writ of attachment was issued, and on April 18, 1923, it was levied upon the four parcels of land described in the deed of Cristina Martinez. A record of this certificate of attachment appears under paragraph 16 of inscription No. 57 of the deed to Cristina Martinez In the ordinary course of business, judgment was rendered against the defendants, and an order of sale of the four parcels of land, and execution was issued, and on February 15, 1924, the fourth parcel of land described in the deed was levied upon by the sheriff to satisfy the judgment, and that fact was also noted under paragraph 16 of inscription No 57 of the deed. After the levy was made and the property advertised for sale, Cristina Martinez, the vendee in the deed, entered a terceria with the sheriff, claiming that the property advertised for sale was her sole property. The sheriff required Smith, Bell and Co. to give him an indemnity bond in the sum of P150,000 as a condition precedent to the making of the sale. The bond was furnished, and the property sold, and in due course, the sheriff executed and presented a certificate of sale to the registrar for inscription, which was duly inscribed in the registry under inscription No. 57 as follows: The fourth parcel described in this inscription, together with all the improvements thereon, was sold at public auction by the sheriff of Leyte, by order of the Court of First Instance of Cebu (civil case No. 4030), for the best bidder, this property being subject to repurchase by the judgment debtor in the said case within the period of one year from May 21st of this year. All the aforementioned is contained in the certificate of sale dated May 21, 1924, issued by the sheriff of Leyte and presented to this registry at 7. 30 a. m. f May 29, 1924. Tacloban, June 5, 1924. Observing that this notation was not signed by the registrar, and that the certificate of sale was not endorse on its margin, the attorneys for the plaintiff in the writ called upon the registrar of deeds, who then added in parenthesis, following the inscription, the words "no vale." In May, 1925, the sheriff delivered to the plaintiff his original certificate of sale endorsed as follows: The foregoing sheriff's certificate of sale having been presented at 7.30 a.m. on May 29, 1924, its inscription is denied for the reason that the property, with all the improvements described in the said certificate, is registered in the name of a person other than any of the judgment debtors, Teofilo Mejia and Casilda Martinez de Mejia (see the fourth parcel in the inscription No. 57, pp. 57 to 59, of book 1, of inscriptions under Act No. 2837). Tacloban, Leyte, May 7, 1925. A letter setting out the foregoing facts was then addressed to the Chief of the General Land Registration Office, who in turn submitted it to the Judge of the Fourth Branch of the Court of First Instance of Manila, who held, first, that after the filing of the affidavits, there was no error in registering the original deed, and, second, that the registrar had the legal right to refuse to inscribe the sheriff's certificate of sale for property sold at public auction which was not registered in the name of the judgment debtor, but in the name of a third party, and third, refused to order registration of the deed to plaintiff in the writ, which was executed by the sheriff under sections 429 and 466 of Act No. 190. From this ruling, the plaintiff appeals, assigning the following errors: The court erred:

1. In finding that defects in a original conveyance presented for registration under Act No. 2837, (amending Act No. 2711, sec.. 1940, can be cured by affidavit alone. 2. In holding that a registrar of deeds may refuse to register a sheriff's deed of sale, on the ground that the property sold stands inscribed in the registry book for unregistered real estate in the name of some person other than the judgment debtor. 3. In failing to order the registrar of deeds of Leyte (1) to annul inscription No. 57 in his register under Act No. 2837; or (if the inscription be held valid) (2) to require the said registrar to record the sheriff's certificate of sale.

JOHNS, J.: Upon the facts, we are clearly of the opinion that there is no merit in the first assignment of error. As the Attorney-General points out, there was no material defect in the conveyance itself, because the instrument was regular on its face, valid in substance, and had all of the requirements provided for in section 127 of Act No. 496, as amended. Nothing was conveyed by the affidavits which were simply furnished for the purpose of conforming to the requirements of the entries to be made in the registry book. As to the second assignment of error, it will be noted that, although the deed of sale was duly registered on August 12, 1921, that on April 18, 1923, the land therein described was attached as the property of the grantors in the deed. That later judgment was obtained in the attachment proceedings, execution was issued, and that the fourth parcel of land described in the deed was advertised for sale when the grantees notified the sheriff that it was their sole and exclusive property. The sheriff then demanded the indemnity bond from the plaintiff in the writ, which was furnished, and the fourth parcel of land was then sold by the sheriff to Smith, Bell and Co. as purchaser for the sum of P20,000. Later, a certificate of sale was issued and the sale confirmed, and the sheriff's deed was executed. Section 429 of the Code of Civil Procedure provides: Real property, standing upon the records in the name of the defendant or not appearing at all upon the record, shall be attached by filing with the registrar of titles of land, for the province in which the land is situated, a copy of the order of attachment, together with a description of the property attached, and a notice that it is attached, and by leaving a similar copy of the order, description, and notice with an occupant of the property, if there is one. Real property or an interest therein, belonging to the defendant and held by any other person, shall be attached by filing with the registrar of land titles in the province in which the land is situated, a copy of the order of attachment, together with a description of the property, and a notice that such real property and any interest of the defendant therein, held by or standing in the name of such other person (naming him) are attached; and by leaving with the occupant, if any, and with such other person, or his agent, if known and within the province, a copy of the order, description, and notice. The registrar must index statements filed under the first paragraph of this section, in the names, both the plaintiff and of the defendant, and must index attachments filed under the second paragraph of this section, in the names of the plaintiff and of the defendant and of the person by whom the property is held or in whose name it stands on the records. It was under the second paragraph of this section that the property was attached as the property of the grantors in the deed, and attachment indexed by the registrar as therein provided. That portion of the section deals with real property or an interest therein belonging to the defendants in the attachment suit, which may be held by any other person, and section 450 of the Code of Civil Procedure provides: All goods, chattels, moneys, and other property, both real and personal, or ant interest therein of the judgment debtor, not exempt by law, and all property and rights of property seized and held under attachment in the action, shall be liable to execution. Shares and interests in any corporation or company, and debts, credits and all other property, both real and personal, or any interest in either real or personal property, and all other property, not capable of manual delivery, may be attached on execution, in like manner as upon writs of attachment. And section 463 provides:

Upon a sale of real property, the purchaser shall be substituted to, and acquire all the right, interest, title, and claim of the judgment debtor thereto, subject to the right of redemption as hereinafter provided. The officer must give to the purchaser a certificate of sale containing: 1. A particular description of the real property sold; 2. The price paid for each distinct lot or parcel; 3. The whole price by him paid; 4. The date when the right of redemption expires. When the judgment under which the sale has been made is made payable in a specified kind of money or currency, the certificate must also show the kind of money or currency in which such redemption must be made, which must be the same as that specified in the judgment. A duplicate of such certificate must be filed by the officer in the office of the registrar of land titles of the province. Under section 465, if the judgment debtor redeems, he is entitled to a certificate of redemption, which must be filed with the registrar of deeds, but if the property is not redeemed, the sheriff's deed of the property sold must also be registered, for, under the provisions of section 1 of Act No. 2837, if not registered, it would only be valid as between the parties, and hence in the instant case, it would not be of any value to the purchaser at the sheriff's sale. Section 466 of the Code of Civil Procedure provides: If no redemption be made within twelve months after the sale, the purchaser, or his assignee, is entitled to a conveyance; or, if so redeemed, whenever sixty days have elapsed and no other redemption has been made, notice thereof given, and the time for redemption has expired, the last redemptioner, or his assignee, is entitled to a deed from the officer. but in all cases the judgment debtor shall have the entire period of twelve months from the date of the sale to redeem the property. If the judgment debtor redeem, he must make the same payments as are required to effect a redemption by a redemptioner. If the debtor redeem, the effect of the sale is terminated and he is restored to his estate. Upon a redemption by the debtor, the person to whom the payment is made must execute and deliver to him a certificate of redemption acknowledged or approved before an officer authorized to take acknowledgment of conveyances of real property. Such certificate must be filed and recorded in the office of the registrar of land titles of the province in which the property is situated, and the registrar must note the record thereof on the margin of the record of the certificate of sale. The payment mentioned in this section and the preceding one may be made to the purchaser or redemptioner, or for him to the officer who made the sale. When the judgment under which the sale has been made is payable in a specified kind of money or currency, payments must be made in the same kind of money or currency. Of course, if at the time the attachment was levied in the grantors in the deed, the defendants in the attachment proceedings, did not have any right, title, or interest in the property, Smith, Bell and Co. did not acquire any title to the land by the sheriffs deed. But, if it be a fact that at the time the attachment was levied, the grantors in the deed did have an interest in the property at the time the attachment was levied, it follows that Smith, Bell and Co. acquired that interest by and through the sheriff's deed. That is to say, that if at the time attachment was levied Cristina Martinez was in good faith the real owner of the property, Smith, Bell and Co. did not acquire any title, and Cristina Martinez would be and remain the owner of the property, the same as if had never been sold at the sheriff's sale. But Smith, Bell and Co., having attached the property as property of the grantors in the deed at the time the attachment was made, and following the claim of Cristina Martinez, having executed a good and sufficient bond to purchased the property at the sale, and having received the sheriff's deed, is entitled to have the result of such proceedings made a matter of official record, so as to preserve and protect any legal rights it may have acquired in the land as a result of such proceedings, and under the provisions of section 1 of Act No. 2837, those rights, if any, cannot be protected without the registration of the sheriff's deed. Such registration would not legally mean that Smith, Bell and Co. was the owner of the property described in the sheriff's deed, or any interest therein. It would simply mean that by the sheriff's deed, Smith, Bell, and Co. had acquired any right, title or interest which the grantors had in the fourth parcel of land described in the deed at the time the attachment was levied. It might be a cloud on the title of Cristina Martinez, and it might be necessary for her to bring a suit to remove the cloud and to quiet her title. Be that as it may, she would be fully protected from all loss or damage by the sheriff, or after the deed is registered, Smith, Bell and Co., could then maintain a suit to ascertain what rights, if any, it had acquired by the sheriff's deed in and to the fourth parcel of land.

Although in some matters, the registrar may have some quasi-judicial power, yet a suit to quiet a title to ascertain and determine an interest in real property is a matter exclusively within the jurisdiction of the courts. The title, if any, which Smith, Bell and Co. has in the fourth parcel of land by the sheriff's deed was acquired by and through a judicial proceeding, and it has a legal right to have that title settled and determined in the courts, and under the provisions of its sheriff deed, it would in legal effect be deprived of that right. In the registering the actual sheriff's deed, care should be taken to recite the actual facts, the source and chain of title, so as to protect the rights of Smith, Bell and Co., and it should be done so as not to prejudice, injure or impair any rights which Cristina Martinez may have acquired in the land by her deed, thus leaving the respective rights of each party to be settled and determined upon proper pleadings in a judicial proceeding. The judgment of the lower court is reversed, and following this opinion, the writ of mandamus shall issue as prayed for by the petitioner. Neither party to recover costs. So ordered. Avancea, C. J., Street, Malcolm, Villamor, Ostrand, and Villa-Real, JJ., concur.

FIDELA R. ANGELES, Petitioner,

G. R. No. 142549

Present: - versus PUNO, C.J., Chairperson, CARPIO MORALES, LEONARDO-DE CASTRO, BERSAMIN, and VILLARAMA, JR., JJ. Promulgated: March 9, 2010


x---------------------------------------------------- x


LEONARDO-DE CASTRO, J.: The property involved in this case is covered by Original Certificate of Title (OCT) No. 994, which encompasses One Thousand Three Hundred Forty-Two (1,342) hectares of the Maysilo Estate, previously described by this Court En Banc as a vast tract of land [that] stretches over three cities, comprising an area larger than the sovereign states of [1] Monaco and the Vatican. What we have before us now is touted as one of the biggest and most extensive land [2] grabbing incidents in recent history. The existence of several cases already decided by this Court dealing with this infamous estate has made the job of deciding this particular petition easy, on one hand, as there are cases squarely on point and at the outset, applicable; but complicated, on the other hand, as such applicability must be determined with thoroughness and accuracy to come up with a just, equitable, and fair conclusion to a controversy that has now lasted for almost forty-five (45) years. Submitted for Decision is a petition for mandamus seeking respondents Secretary of Justice, the Administrator [3] of the Land Registration Authority (LRA), and the Register of Deeds of Quezon City to comply with the Order dated January 8, 1998issued by the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Caloocan City in Civil Case No. C-424, entitled Bartolome Rivera, et al. v. Isabel Gil de Sola, et al. (the RTC Order), which was issued a Certificate of Finality on March 12, 1998. On May 3, 1965, petitioner, together with other individuals, all of them claiming to be the heirs of a certain Maria de la Concepcion Vidal, and alleging that they are entitled to inherit her proportional share in the parcels of land located in Quezon City and in the municipalities of Caloocan and Malabon, Province of Rizal, commenced a special civil action for partition and accounting of the property otherwise known as Maysilo Estate covered by OCT No. 994, allegedly registered on April 19, 1917with the Registry of Deeds of Caloocan City. This was docketed as Civil Case No. C-424 in the RTC of Caloocan City, Branch 120. Some of said alleged heirs were able to procure Transfer Certificates of Title (TCTs) over portions of the Maysilo Estate. They also had led this Court to believe that OCT No. 994 was registered twice, thus, in Metropolitan Waterworks [4] [5] and Sewerage Systems (MWSS) v. Court of Appeals, reiterated in Heirs of Luis J. Gonzaga v. Court Of Appeals, the Court held that OCT No. 994 dated April 19, 1917, and not May 3, 1917, was the valid title by virtue of the prior registration rule. In the RTC Order sought to be implemented, Judge Jaime D. Discaya granted the partition and accounting prayed for by plaintiffs in that case; directed the respective Registers of Deeds of Caloocan City and Quezon City to issue transfer certificates of title in the names of all the co-owners, including petitioner, for twelve (12) parcels of land with an aggregate area of One Hundred Five Thousand and Nine Hundred Sixty-Nine square meters (105,969 sq. m.), more or less; and ordered that said parcels of land be sold, subject to the confirmation of the Court, and the proceeds be divided among the plaintiffs in proportion to their respective interests in the property.

The dispositive portion of said Order reads as follows: WHEREFORE, premises considered, the recommendation of the Commissioners in their Joint Commissioners Report dated October 21, 1997 and Supplemental Commissioners Report dated December 30, 1997 that the following lots with transfer certificates of title to be issued by the Register of Deeds of Caloocan City in the names of all co-owners be sold and the proceeds thereof divided among themselves in proportion to their respective interest in the property, is approved. The Register of Deeds of Caloocan City and of Quezon City are hereby directed to issue transfer certificates of title in the names of all the co-owners for the following lots, namely: xxxx Any sale of above-mentioned lots shall be subject to confirmation by this Court pursuant to [6] Section 11, Rule 69 of the Rules of Civil Procedure.

Petitioner alleges that the respective Registers of Deeds of Caloocan City and Quezon City refused to comply with the RTC Order because they were still awaiting word from the LRA Administrator before proceeding. Counsel for petitioner then requested the LRA Administrator to direct said Registers of Deeds to comply with the Order. The LRA Administrator, Mr. Alfredo R. Enriquez, sent counsel for petitioner a letter-reply dated March 27, 2000, st [8] st with two attachments: 1) the 1 Indorsement dated September 22, 1997 (the 1 Indorsement) issued by then Department of Justice (DOJ) Secretary Teofisto T. Guingona, Jr. (respondent Guingona), and 2) LRA Circular No. 97[9] 11 issued to all Registers of Deeds. The letter-reply reads in part: We regret to inform you that your request cannot be granted in view of the directive of the st Department of Justice in its 1 Indorsement dated 22 September 1997, copy enclosed, as a result of the inquiry conducted by the Composite Fact-Finding Committee (created under DOJ Department Order No. 137) finding that there is only one OCT No. 994 which was issued by the Rizal Register of Deeds on 3 May 1917 (and not on 19 April 1919) pursuant to Decree No. 36455 in Land Registration Case No. 4429. Pursuant to this DOJ directive, this Authority issued LRA Circular No. 97-11 to all Registers of Deeds, copy attached, stating the following: xxxx In compliance with the DOJ directive, this Authority, in its 1 Indorsement dated 27 March 1998, x x x had recommended to the Office of the Solicitor General the filing of an appropriate pleading relative to the said Order dated 8 January 1998. The findings of the DOJ on OCT No. 994 are in fact sustained by the Senate Committee on Justice and Human Rights and Urban Planning in its Senate Committee Report No. 1031 dated 25 May [10] 1998 x x x. (Emphasis ours.)
st [7]

The LRA Administrator likewise wrote that in Senate Committee Report No. 1031 dated May 25, 1998, the Senate Committees on Justice and Human Rights and Urban Planning came up with the following findings: i. There is only one Original Certificate of Title (OCT) No. 994 and this was issued or registered on May 3, 1917[.] ii. The [OCT] No. 994 dated April 19, 1917 is non-existent. It was a fabrication perpetrated by Mr. Norberto Vasquez, Jr., former Deputy Registrar of Deeds of Caloocan City. iii. The alleged surviving heirs could not have been the true and legal heirs of the late Maria de la Concepcion Vidal as government findings showed the physical and genetic impossibility of such relationship[.] iv. Mr. Norberto Vasquez, Jr., former Deputy Registrar of Deeds of Caloocan City, acted maliciously, fraudulently and in bad faith, by issuing certifications and/or written statements to the effect

that OCT No. 994 was issued or registered on April 19, 1917 when in truth and in fact it was issued or registered on May 3, 1917. v. Atty. Yolanda O. Alfonso, Registrar of Deeds of Caloocan City, likewise acted maliciously, fraudulently and in bad faith, when she signed the TCTs issued in the name of Eleuteria Rivera which bear a wrong date of the registration of OCT No. 994. Malice was evident because she had previously issued certificates of title in the names of other individuals which were derived from OCT No. 994 dated May 3, 1917 and she had in fact questioned the falsity of April 19, 1917 as the correct date of the [11] registration of OCT No. 994. (Underscoring in the original.) The letter-reply further stated that OCT No. 994 was intact and was being kept in the LRA to prevent its alteration and tampering. We quote the last portion of said letter-reply: As found by the Senate Committees, the mess caused by the former Register of Deeds and Deputy Register of Deeds in making it appear that OCT No. 994 was issued in 19 April 1917, thus giving the wrong impression that there were two (2) OCT No. 994, resulted in the double, if not multiple, issuance of transfer certificates of title covering the subdivided portions of the Maysilo Estate, including the parcels of land mentioned in the subject Order dated 8 January 1998. Our Authority, as the protector of the integrity of the Torrens title is mandated to prevent anomalous titling of real properties and put a stop to further erode the confidence of the public in the Torrens system of land registration. With due respect, the Order dated 8 January 1998 which directs the issuance of transfer certificates of title as direct transfer from OCT No. 994, suffers from certain deficiencies, to wit: OCT No. 994 had long been cancelled totally by the issuance of various certificates of title in the names of different persons; and that the plan and descriptions of the lands were not based on a subdivision plan duly approved by the proper government agency but merely sketch plans, in violation of Section 50 of PD 1529. Obviously, compliance with the Order will result to duplication of certificates of title covering land previously registered in the names of other persons. Besides, in MWSS vs. CA, the Supreme Court did not declare the nullity of the certificates of title which emanated from OCT No. 994 issued on 3 May 1917. It merely invalidates the title of MWSS and recognizes as valid the title of Jose B. Dimson. There was no such declaration as to the various transfer certificates of title emanating from OCT No. 994. Under the law, there must be a separate action in court for the declaration of nullity of certificates of title pursuant to the due process clause of the Constitution. As observed by the Supreme Court in Republic vs. Court of Appeals (94 SCRA 874), there are too many fake titles being peddled around and it behooves every official of the government whose functions concern the issuance of legal titles to see to it that this plague that has made a mockery of the Torrens system is eradicated right now through their loyalty, devotion, honesty and integrity, in the [12] interest of our country and people at large.
st [13]

Petitioner avers that respondent Guingona, in issuing the 1 Indorsement, made a substantive modification of the ruling made by this Court in MWSS v. Court of Appeals and Heirs of Luis Gonzaga v. Court of Appeals . She further avers that [n]ot even the Secretary of Justice has the power or authority to set aside or alter an established ruling made by the highest Court of the land. According to petitioner, respondent Guingona claimed to have made his own finding that there is only one OCT No. 994 which was issued by the Register of Deeds of Rizal on May 3, 1917, and not on April 19, 1917, and this finding is a reversal of the decisions of this Court on what is the valid OCT No. 994. Petitioner contends that [t]he rule is well settled that once a decision becomes final[,] the Court can no longer amend, modify, much less set aside the same and that respondent Guingona usurped judicial functions and d id a prohibited act which rendered [14] the Order of no effect. Petitioner claims that respondent Guingona was the one who caused the issuance by the LRA Administrator of Circular No. 97-11 dated October 3, 1997, which had the same legal effect on other cases similarly situated without hearing or notice to the parties-in-interest, and that this was contemptuous and contumacious and calls for condemnation [15] and reproof of the highest degree. Petitioner alleges that compliance with a final judicial order is a purely ministerial duty, that she and her coplaintiffs in Civil Case No. C-424 cannot avail of the benefits granted to them by the Order, and that she has no plain, speedy and adequate remedy in the ordinary course of law, other than this action. In his Comment,

respondent Guingona raises the following grounds for denial of the petition:


Petitioner has no cause of action against respondent Guingona in that the latter is no longer the Secretary of Justice. The issuance of the 1st Indorsement dated September 22, 1997 was pursuant to the report dated August 27, 1997 made by the committee created by Department Order No. 137 dated April 23, 1997 after conducting an independent fact-finding investigation. It did not in any way alter or modify any judgment of this Honorable Court. Petitioner was not denied due process as her rights, if any, under the Order dated January 18, 1998 were not yet in existence at the time the 1st Indorsement was issued. Mandamus is not the appropriate remedy to enforce claims of damages.




Respondent Guingona contends that he was no longer the Secretary of Justice, therefore, he did not anymore possess the mandatory duties being compelled to be performed in this case by way of a writ of mandamus; he had no more duty resulting from the said position and could not perform an act that pertained to said duty, even if he wanted to; and since he did not have the powers and duties of the Secretary of Justice, he was therefore not a real party-in-interest in this case. Respondent Guingona avers that he was prompted to issue DOJ Department Order No. 137 dated April 13, 1997 creating a committee due to several complaints received by the Office of the Secretary of Justice in February 1997. Among others, the complaints prayed for the investigation of certain actions taken by the LRA officials and personnel in connection with transactions involving the Maysilo Estate. According to him, the committee was tasked for the purpose of initiating a fact-finding inquiry: (1) to ascertain the circumstances surrounding the issuance of original Certificate(s) of Title (OCT) No. 994 of the Registry of Deeds of Rizal purporting to cover a mass of land encompassing Malabon, Caloocan City and Quezon City as well as the issuance and regularity of Transfer Certificates of Titles (TCTs) derived therefrom; (2) in the event of a finding of the irregular issuance of any such [TCTs], (a) to determine the involvement of and to recommend the actions to be taken against person(s) and/or officials and employees of this Department or its agencies who may appear to have participated therein, and (b) to recommend the administrative and/or judicial actions, if any, that may directly be undertaken by this Department, the Office of the Solicitor General, the Land Registration Authority, and other units and attached agencies of this Department, with respect to such irregularly issued Transfer Certificates of Title, [18] taking into account the final decisions of the courts affecting the Maysilo Estate.

Respondent Guingona contends that it can be gleaned from the purpose of the creation of the committee that its fact-finding investigation was merely administrative to formulate and recommend policies, procedures and courses of action which the DOJ, the LRA, the Office of the Solicitor General and other agencies of the DOJ can adopt with regard to the problem of the proliferation of fake land titles, including those that relate to the Maysilo Estate. He alleges that based st on this committees report dated August 27, 1997, he issued the subject 1 Indorsement which spelled out the policies, procedures, and courses of action which the LRA, an agency under the DOJ, must follow not only with respect to OCT No. 994 and its derivative titles covering the Maysilo Estate but to all other original or transfer certificates of title as st well. He contends that the 1 Indorsement was merely an administrative issuance of the DOJ; thus, it could not be said that it altered or supplanted any judgment of this Court. Respondent Guingona further states that the 1 Indorsement dated September 22, 1997 was issued long before the Order dated January 18, 1998, thus it could not be said that petitioner was denied due process as her rights and interests were non-existent at that time. Furthermore, respondent Guingona alleges that petitioner was accorded due process when the LRA Administrator gave an opportunity to petitioners counsel to present petitioners case to the LRA legal staff. Respondent Guingona claims that such opportunity to be heard satisfies the requirements of due process, as [19] the essence of due process is simply the opportunity to be heard. With regard to the claim for damages, respondent Guingona argues that it must prove in the course of a trial where petitioners claim for damages can be however, is not a trier of facts. Such being the case, it is inappropriate for for mandamus a claim for damages the amount of which she did not even specify. is a factual issue which the petitioner fully litigated. This Honorable Court, petitioner to include in her petition As it is, such claim should be denied

by this Honorable Court. There is also no showing that petitioner paid the required docket fees for her claims for [20] damages. On this score alone, such a claim should be outrightly dismissed. In her Reply, petitioner contends that former DOJ Secretary Guingona has to be named as private respondent because he was the cause of public respondents failure to comply with their ministerial duty. A private respondent is the person interested in sustaining the proceedings in the court; and it shall be the duty of such private respondent to appear and defend, both in his own behalf and in behalf of the public respondents affected by the proceedings x x x. He is not charged with any improper act, but he is a necessary party as the grant of relief prayed for by petitioner shall require [22] private respondents active participation. Anent private respondents argument that the 1 Indorsement did not in any way alter or modify any judgment of st this Honorable Court, petitioner counters that the 1 Indorsement and pertinent acts of private respondent x x x resulted in the altering or supplanting of a judgment of this Court. The complaints praying that an investigation be conducted on the irregular issuance of titles in the Maysilo Estate were made to the private respondent by parties who held titles derived from OCT No. 994 on May 3, 1917, after the Supreme Court had rendered its decision in MWSS v. Court of Appeals and Heirs of Gonzaga v. Court of Appeals. Petitioner argues that contrary to private respondents claim, she is entitled to file a petition for mandamus as she and her co-plaintiffs in Civil Case No. C-424 has been suffering from damages and losses incapable of quantification, because of the wrongful act of the respondents. Petitioner cites the following provisions of the Rules of Court in support of her argument:
st [21]

RULE 65 xxxx SECTION 9. Service and enforcement of order or judgment. A certified copy of the judgment rendered in accordance with the last preceding section shall be served upon the court, quasi-judicial agency, tribunal, corporation, board, officer or person concerned in such manner as the court may direct, and disobedience thereto shall be punished as contempt. An execution may issue for any damages or costs awarded in accordance with Section 1 of Rule 39.

RULE 39 SECTION 1. Execution upon final judgments or orders. Execution shall issue as a matter of right, on motion, upon a judgment or order that disposes of the action or proceeding upon the expiration of the period to appeal therefrom if no appeal has been duly perfected. If the appeal has been duly perfected and finally resolved, the execution may forthwith be applied for in the court of origin, on motion of the judgment obligee, submitting therewith certified true copies of the judgment or judgments or final order or orders sought to be enforced and of the entry thereof, with notice to the adverse party. The appellate court may, on motion in the same case, when the interest of justice so requires, direct the court of origin to issue the writ of execution.

Petitioner avers that private respondent seemed to assume a function that did not belong to the Executive Department, because he had caused the issuance of an LRA Circular that forbade compliance with a court order that had already become final and executory. Petitioner likewise avers that the doctrine of separation of powers called for each [23] branch of government to be left alone to discharge its functions within its jurisdiction, as it saw fit. Public respondents Secretary of Justice, the Administrator of the Land Registration Authority, and the Register of [24] Deeds of Quezon City filed their Comment on November 16, 2000. Public respondents claim that petitioner and her co-plaintiffs are not the rightful owners of the property subject of said complaint for partition. Their allegation in the complaint that they are the heirs and successors-in-interest of the late Maria de la Concepcion Vidal, co-owner of the parcels of land described in OCT No. 994, and are therefore entitled to the proportionate share, ownership, and possession of the parcels of land described in paragraphs XI to XV of the complaint, is an untrue statement made with intent to deceive. This is because the findings embodied in the Report of the Fact Finding Committee created by the DOJ, which are the result of the joint undertaking of the Department proper, the Office of the Solicitor General, and the LRA,

support the conclusion that petitioner and her co-plaintiffs are not entitled to the issuance of new transfer certificates of [25] title in their names. Public respondents claim the following as facts: The DOJ Report became the subject of [a] Senate investigation. On May 25, 1998, the Honorable Senate of the Tenth Congress of the Republic of the Philippines reached the conclusion that petitioner and her co-plaintiffs are not and cannot be true heirs of the late Maria de la Concepcion Vidal (par. 3, p. 33, Senate Report). x x x. As early as 1917, subject property of the instant case had already been partitioned and divided among the true owners, namely, Gonzalo Tuason y Patino, Jose Rato y Tuason, Luis Vidal y Tuason, Concepcion Vidal y Tuason, Pedro Baos, Maria de la Concepcion Vidal, Trinidad Jurado, Bernardino Hernandez, Esperanza Tuason Chua Jap, Isabel Tuason Chua, Juan Jose Tuason de la Paz, Maria Teresa Tuason y de la Paz, Mariano Severo Tuason y de la Paz, Demetrio Asuncion Tuason y de la Paz, Augusto Hoberto Tuason y de la Paz, Maria Soterrana Tuason y de la Paz, Benito Legarda y de la Paz, Consuelo Legarda y de la Paz, Rita Legarda y de la Paz, Benito Legarda y Tuason, Emilia Tuason y Patio, Maria Rocha de Despujols, Sofia OFarrell y Patio, German Franco y Gonzales, Co ncepcion Franco y Gonzales, Domingo Franco y Gonzales, Guillerma Ferrer y Tuason, Vicente Ferrer y Tuason, Josefa Tuason vda. de Flores, and heirs of Filemon Tuazon in proportion to their respective shares, as evidenced by the document entitled PROYECTO DE PARTICION DE LA HACIENDA DE MAYSILO (PARTITION PLAN OF HACIENDA MAYSILO) consisting of fifty-two (52) pages which is attached as Annex D, and its faithful translation into English consisting of forty-nine (49) pages attached as Annex E, and both made integral parts hereof. As a result of said partition, transfer certificates of titles covering the same subject parcels of land were legally issued in the names of above-enumerated true owners. The Register of Deeds of Quezon City and Caloocan City, through the undersigned counsel, filed the aforestated Motion for Reconsideration of the questioned Order of the lower court. The resolution of said motion and other incidents in related cases pending before the lower court has been held in abeyance to await the resolution by higher courts of other cases involving the Maysilo [26] Estate.

We are thus faced with the issue of whether public respondents unlawfully neglected to perform their duties by their refusal to issue the questioned transfer certificates of title to petitioner and her co-plaintiffs (in Civil Case No. C-424) or have unlawfully excluded petitioner from the use and enjoyment of whatever claimed right, as would warrant the issuance of a writ of mandamus against said public respondents. Considering the factual background and recent jurisprudence related to this controversy as will be discussed below, we find that it was not unlawful for public respondents to refuse compliance with the RTC Order, and the act being requested of them is not their ministerial duty; hence, mandamus does not lie and the petition must be dismissed. Rule 65 of the 1997 Rules of Civil Procedure provides: SECTION 3. Petition for mandamus. When any tribunal, corporation, board, officer or person unlawfully neglects the performance of an act which the law specifically enjoins as a duty resulting from an office, trust, or station, or unlawfully excludes another from the use and enjoyment of a right or office to which such other is entitled, and there is no other plain, speedy and adequate remedy in the ordinary course of law, the person aggrieved thereby may file a verified petition in the proper court, alleging the facts with certainty and praying that judgment be rendered commanding the respondent, immediately or at some other time to be specified by the court, to do the act required to be done to protect the rights of the petitioner, and to pay the damages sustained by the petitioner by reason of the wrongful acts of the respondent.

It is settled that mandamus is employed to compel the performance, when refused, of a ministerial duty, but not to compel the performance of a discretionary duty. Mandamus will not issue to enforce a right which is in substantial dispute [27] or to which a substantial doubt exists. It is nonetheless likewise available to compel action, when refused, in matters

involving judgment and discretion, but not to direct the exercise of judgment or discretion in a particular way or the [28] retraction or reversal of an action already taken in the exercise of either. Therefore, we must look into the alleged right of petitioner and see if compliance with the RTC Order is compellable bymandamus; or, in the alternative, find out if substantial doubt exists to justify public respondents refusal to comply with said Order. Did public respondents have sufficient legal basis to refuse to grant petitioners request? In this regard, we find our discussion in Laburada v. Land Registration Authority

instructive, to wit:

That the LRA hesitates in issuing a decree of registration is understandable. Rather than a sign of negligence or nonfeasance in the performance of its duty, the LRA's reaction is reasonable, even imperative. Considering the probable duplication of titles over the same parcel of land, such issuance may contravene the policy and the purpose, and thereby destroy the integrity, of the Torrens system of registration. xxxx x x x Likewise, the writ of mandamus can be awarded only when the petitioners' legal right to the performance of the particular act which is sought to be compelled is clear and complete. Under Rule 65 of the Rules of Court, a clear legal right is a right which is indubitably granted by law or is inferable as a matter of law. If the right is clear and the case is meritorious, objections raising merely technical questions will be disregarded. But where the right sought to be enforced is in substantial doubt or dispute, as in this [30] case, mandamus cannot issue. (Emphasis ours.) As can be gleaned from the above discussion, the issuance by the LRA officials of a decree of registration is not a purely ministerial duty in cases where they find that such would result to the double titling of the same parcel of land. In the same vein, we find that in this case, which involves the issuance of transfer certificates of title, the Register of Deeds cannot be compelled bymandamus to comply with the RTC Order since there were existing transfer certificates of title covering the subject parcels of land and there was reason to question the rights of those requesting for the issuance of the TCTs. Neither could respondent LRA Administrator be mandated by the Court to require the Register of Deeds to comply with said Order, for we find merit in the explanations of respondent LRA Administrator in his letter-reply that cites st the 1 Indorsement issued by respondent Guingona, LRA Circular No. 97-11, and Senate Committee Report No. 1031, as [31] reasons for his refusal to grant petitioners request. There was, therefore, sufficient basis for public respondents to refuse to comply with the RTC Order, given the finding, contained in the cited documents, that OCT No. 994 dated April 19, 1917, on which petitioner and her co-plaintiffs in the civil case clearly anchored their rights, did not exist. It is important to emphasize at this point that in the recent case resolved by this Court En Banc in 2007, [32] entitled ManotokRealty, Inc. v. CLT Realty Development Corporation (the 2007 Manotok case), as well as the [33] succeeding resolution in the same case dated March 31, 2009 (the 2009 Manotok case), the controversy surrounding the Maysilo Estate and the question of the existence of another OCT No. 994 have been finally laid to rest. All other cases involving said estate and OCT No. 994, such as the case at bar, are bound by the findings and conclusions set forth in said resolutions. As stated earlier, petitioner anchors her claim on previous cases decided by this Court which have held that there are two existing OCT No. 994, dated differently, and the one from which she and her co-plaintiffs (in Civil Case No. C-424) derived their rights was dated earlier, hence, was the superior title. Regrettably, petitioners claim no longer has a leg to stand on. As we held in the 2007 Manotok case: The determinative test to resolve whether the prior decision of this Court should be affirmed or set aside is whether or not the titles invoked by the respondents are valid. If these titles are sourced from the so-called OCT No. 994 dated 17 April 1917, then such titles are void or otherwise should not be recognized by this Court. Since the true basic factual predicate concerning OCT No. 994 which is that there is only one such OCT differs from that expressed in the MWSS and Gonzaga decisions, said rulings have become virtually functus officio except on the basis of the "law of the case" doctrine, and can no [35] longer be relied upon as precedents.

Specifically, petitioner cannot anymore insist that OCT No. 994 allegedly issued on April 19, 1917 validly and actually exists, given the following conclusions made by this Court in the 2007 Manotok case: First, there is only one OCT No. 994. As it appears on the record, that mother title was received for transcription by the Register of Deeds on 3 May 1917, and that should be the date which should

be reckoned as the date of registration of the title. It may also be acknowledged, as appears on the title, that OCT No. 994 resulted from the issuance of the decree of registration on [19] April 1917, although such date cannot be considered as the date of the title or the date when the title took effect. Second. Any title that traces its source to OCT No. 994 dated [19] April 1917 is void, for such mother title is inexistent. The fact that the Dimson and CLT titles made specific reference to an OCT No. 994 dated [19] April 1917 casts doubt on the validity of such titles since they refer to an inexistent OCT. x x x. Third. The decisions of this Court in MWSS v. Court of Appeals and Gonzaga v. Court of Appeals cannot apply to the cases at bar, especially in regard to their recognition of an OCT No. 994 dated 19 April 1917, a title which we now acknowledge as inexistent. Neither could the conclusions in MWSS or Gonzaga with respect to an OCT No. 994 dated 19 April 1917 bind any [36] other case operating under the factual setting the same as or similar to that at bar. (Emphases supplied.)

To be sure, this Court did not merely rely on the DOJ and Senate reports regarding OCT No. 994. In the 2007 Manotok case, this Court constituted a Special Division of the Court of Appeals to hear the cases on remand, declaring as follows: Since this Court is not a trier of fact[s], we are not prepared to adopt the findings made by the DOJ and the Senate, or even consider whether these are admissible as evidence, though such questions may be considered by the Court of Appeals upon the initiative of the parties. x x x The reports cannot conclusively supersede or overturn judicial decisions, but if admissible they may be taken into account as evidence on the same level as the other pieces of evidence submitted by the parties. The fact that they were rendered by the DOJ and the Senate should not, in itself, persuade the courts to accept them without inquiry. The facts and arguments presented in the reports must still undergo judicial scrutiny and analysis, and certainly the courts will have the discretion to accept or reject them. There are many factual questions looming over the properties that could only be threshed out in the remand to the Court of Appeals. x x x. xxxx The Special Division is tasked to hear and receive evidence, conclude the proceedings and submit to this Court a report on its findings and recommended conclusions within three (3) months from [37] finality of this Resolution.

Thus, in the 2009 Manotok case, this Court evaluated the evidence engaged in by said Special Division, and adopted the latters conclusions as to the status of the original titl e and its subsequent conveyances. This case affirmed the earlier finding that there is only one OCT No. 994, the registration date of which had already been decisively settled as 3 May 1917 and not 19 April 1917 and categorically concluded that OCT No. 994 which reflects the date of 19 April 1917 as its registration date is null and void. In the case at bar, petitioner is the last surviving co-plaintiff in Civil Case No. C-424 originally filed on May 3, 1965. The records bear several attempts of different individuals to represent her as counsel, a matter that could be attributed to her advanced age and potential access to a vast sum of money, should she get a favorable decision from this case. It appears, however, that the partition and accounting of a portion of the Maysilo Estate that she and her coplaintiffs prayed for can no longer prosper because of the conclusive findings quoted above that the very basis of their claim, a second, albeit earlier registered, OCT No. 994, does not exist. The requirements under Rule 65 for the issuance of the writ of mandamus not having been proven by petitioner to exist, we dismiss the petition for lack of merit. WHEREFORE, premises considered, the petition is hereby DISMISSED.

G.R. No. 164687

February 12, 2009

SM PRIME HOLDINGS, INC., Petitioner, vs. ANGELA V. MADAYAG, Respondent. DECISION NACHURA, J.: This is a petition for review on certiorari of the Decision of the Court of Appeals (CA) dated March 19, 2004 and Resolution dated July 15, 2004, which set aside the lower courts order to suspend the proceedings on respondents application for land registration. On July 12, 2001, respondent Angela V. Madayag filed with the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Urdaneta, Pangasinan an application for registration of a parcel of land with an area of 1,492 square meters located in Barangay Anonas, Urdaneta 2 City, Pangasinan. Attached to the application was a tracing cloth of Survey Plan Psu-01-008438, approved by the Land Management Services (LMS) of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), Region 1, San Fernando City. On August 20, 2001, petitioner SM Prime Holdings, Inc., through counsel, wrote the Chief, Regional Survey Division, DENR, Region I, demanding the cancellation of the respondents survey plan because the lot encroached on the properties it recently purchased from several lot owners and that, despite being the new owner of the adjoining lots, it was 3 not notified of the survey conducted on June 8, 2001. Petitioner then manifested its opposition to the respondents application for r egistration. The Republic of the Philippines, through the Office of the Solicitor General, and the heirs of Romulo Visperas also filed their respective oppositions. On February 6, 2002, petitioner filed its formal opposition. Petitioner alleged that it had recently bought seven parcels of land in Barangay Anonas, Urdaneta, delineated as Lots B, C, D, E, G, H and I in Consolidation-Subdivision Plan No. (LRC) Pcs-21329, approved by the Land Registration Commission on August 26, 1976, and previously covered by Survey Plan No. Psu-236090 approved by the Bureau of Lands on December 29, 1970. These parcels of land are covered by separate certificates of title, some of which are already in the name of the petitioner while the others are still in the name of the previous owners. On February 20, 2002, the RTC declared a general default, except as to the petitioner, the Republic, and the heirs of Romulo Visperas. Thereafter, respondent commenced the presentation of evidence. Meanwhile, acting on petitioners request for the cancellation of the respondents survey plan, DENR Assistant Regional Executive Director for Legal Services and Public Affairs, Allan V. Barcena, advised the petitioner to file a petition for 4 cancellation in due form so that the DENR could properly act on the same. Accordingly, petitioner formally filed with the 5 DENR a petition for cancellation of the survey plan sometime in March 2002, alleging the following grounds: I. THERE IS NO SUCH THING AS ALIENABLE OR DISPOSABLE PROPERTY WHICH IS THE SUBJECT LOT IN THIS CASE II. NO NOTICE WAS MADE UPON PETITIONER (AS ADJOINING LANDOWNER AND WHO BEARS INTEREST OVER THE SUBJECT LOT) MUCH LESS THE OWNERS OF ADJOINING LANDS. III. THE CIRCUMSTANCES EVIDENTLY SHOW THAT BAD FAITH AND/OR MALICE ATTENDED THE APPROVAL OF 6 (PLAN WITH PSU NO. 01-008438).

On July 17, 2002, petitioner filed an Urgent Motion to Suspend Proceedings in the land registration case, alleging that the court should await the DENR resolution of the petition for the cancellation of the survey plan "as the administrative case is prejudicial to the determination" of the land registration case. On October 8, 2002, the RTC issued an Order granting the motion, thus: WHEREFORE, PREMISES CONSIDERED, the Court hereby GRANTS the instant motion and suspends the proceedings herein. In the meantime, and until receipt by this Court of a copy of the resolution of the petition for cancellation by the DENR, the instant case is hereby ARCHIVED. SO ORDERED.

Emphasizing that a survey plan is one of the mandatory requirements in land registration proceedings, the RTC agreed 9 with the petitioner that the cancellation of the survey plan would be prejudicial to the petition for land registration. On February 13, 2003, the RTC denied the respondents motion for reconsideration of its order. filed a petition for certiorari with the CA assailing the order suspending the proceedings.

Respondent thereafter

On March 19, 2004, finding that the RTC committed grave abuse of discretion in suspending the proceedings, the CA granted the petition for certiorari, thus: WHEREFORE, premises considered, the instant petition is hereby GRANTED. The challenged Orders dated October 8, 2002 and February 13, 2003 of the respondent Court are declared NULL and VOID. The Court a quo is directed to continue the proceedings until its final determination. No pronouncement as to costs. SO ORDERED.

The CA ratiocinated that the survey plan which was duly approved by the DENR should be accorded the presumption of regularity, and that the RTC has the power to hear and determine all questions arising from an application for 12 registration. On July 15, 2004, the CA issued a Resolution denying the petitioners motion for reconsideration. Petitioner was, thus, compelled to file this petition for review, ascribing the following errors to the CA: I. THE COURT OF APPEALS COMMITTED MANIFEST ERROR IN NOT FINDING THAT THE SUSPENSION OF THE PROCEEDINGS IN THE LAND REGISTRATION CASE IS LEGAL AND PROPER PENDING THE DETERMINATION AND RESOLUTION OF THE ADMINISTRATIVE CASE BEFORE THE DEPARTMENT OF ENVIRONMENT AND NATURAL RESOURCES-REGION 1. II. THE COURT OF APPEALS COMMITTED MANIFEST ERROR IN FAILING TO FIND THAT THE ASSAILED ORDERS OF THE LOWER COURT HAVE PROPER AND SUFFICIENT BASES IN FACT AND IN LAW. III. THE COURT OF APPEALS COMMITTED MANIFEST ERROR IN HOLDING THAT THE LOWER COURT HAS ACTED WITH GRAVE ABUSE OF DISCRETION IN SUSPENDING THE PROCEEDINGS AND ARCHIVING THE CASE. IV. THE COURT OF APPEALS COMMITTED MANIFEST ERROR IN FAILING TO FIND THAT THE FILING OF THE PETITION FOR CERTIORARI, UNDER RULE 65 OF THE REVISED RULES OF CIVIL PROCEDURE, IS NOT THE ONLY PLAIN, SPEEDY AND ADEQUATE REMEDY IN THE ORDINARY COURSE OF LAW ON THE PART OF HEREIN 14 RESPONDENT. The petition has no merit. Petitioner contends that, since the respondents cause of action in the land registration case depends heavily on the survey plan, it was only prudent for the RTC to suspend the proceedings therein pending the resolution of the petition for 15 cancellation of the survey plan by the DENR. It, therefore, insists that recourse to a petition for certiorari was not proper 16 considering that respondent was not arbitrarily deprived of her right to prosecute her application for registration.

Undeniably, the power to stay proceedings is an incident to the power inherent in every court to control the disposition of the cases in its dockets, with economy of time and effort for the court, counsel and litigants. But courts should be mindful of the right of every party to a speedy disposition of his case and, thus, should not be too eager to suspend proceedings of the cases before them. Hence, every order suspending proceedings must be guided by the following precepts: it shall be done in order to avoid multiplicity of suits and prevent vexatious litigations, conflicting judgments, confusion between 17 litigants and courts, or when the rights of parties to the second action cannot be properly determined until the questions 18 raised in the first action are settled. Otherwise, the suspension will be regarded as an arbitrary exercise of the courts discretion and can be corrected only by a petition for certiorari. None of the circumstances that would justify the stay of proceedings is present. In fact, to await the resolution of the petition for cancellation would only delay the resolution of the land registration case and undermine the purpose of land registration. The fundamental purpose of the Land Registration Law (Presidential Decree No. 1529) is to finally settle title to real property in order to preempt any question on the legality of the title except claims that were noted on the certificate itself at the time of registration or those that arose subsequent thereto. 1avvphi1 Consequently, once the title is registered under 19 the said law, owners can rest secure on their ownership and possession. Glaringly, the petition for cancellation raises practically the very same issues that the herein petitioner raised in its opposition to the respondents application for registration. Principally, it alleges that the survey plan should be cancelled because it includes portions of the seven properties that it purchased from several landowners, which properties are already covered by existing certificates of title. Petitioner posits that it is the DENR that has the sole authority to decide the validity of the survey plan that was approved 20 by the LMS. It cites Section 4(15), Chapter 1, Title XIV, Administrative Code of 1987 which provides that the DENR shall (15) Exercise (of) exclusive jurisdiction on the management and disposition of all lands of the public domain and serve as the sole agency responsible for classification, sub-classification, surveying and titling of lands in consultation with appropriate agencies. However, respondent argues that the land registration court is clothed with adequate authority to resolve the conflicting claims of the parties, and that even if the DENR cancels her survey plan, the land registration court is not by duty bound 21 to dismiss the application for registration based solely on the cancellation of the survey plan. Without delving into the jurisdiction of the DENR to resolve the petition for cancellation, we hold that, as an incident to its authority to settle all questions over the title of the subject property, the land registration court may resolve the underlying issue of whether the subject property overlaps the petitioners properties without necessarily having to declare the survey plan as void. It is well to note at this point that, in its bid to avoid multiplicity of suits and to promote the expeditious resolution of cases, Presidential Decree (P.D.) No. 1529 eliminated the distinction between the general jurisdiction vested in the RTC and the latters limited jurisdiction when acting merely as a land registration court. Land registration courts, as such, can now hea r 22 and decide even controversial and contentious cases, as well as those involving substantial issues. When the law confers jurisdiction upon a court, the latter is deemed to have all the necessary powers to exercise such jurisdiction to 23 make it effective. It may, therefore, hear and determine all questions that arise from a petition for registration. In view of the nature of a Torrens title, a land registration court has the duty to determine whether the issuance of a new 24 certificate of title will alter a valid and existing certificate of title. An application for registration of an already titled land 25 26 constitutes a collateral attack on the existing title, which is not allowed by law. But the RTC need not wait for the decision of the DENR in the petition to cancel the survey plan in order to determine whether the subject property is already titled or forms part of already titled property. The court may now verify this allegation based on the respondents survey plan vis--vis the certificates of title of the petitioner and its predecessors-in-interest. After all, a survey plan precisely serves to establish the true identity of the land to ensure that it does not overlap a parcel of land or a portion thereof already covered by a previous land registration, and to forestall the possibility that it will be overlapped by a 27 subsequent registration of any adjoining land. Should the court find it difficult to do so, the court may require the filing of additional papers to aid in its determination of the propriety of the application, based on Section 21 of P.D. No. 1529:

SEC. 21. Requirement of additional facts and papers; ocular inspection. The court may require facts to be stated in the application in addition to those prescribed by this Decree not inconsistent therewith and may require the filing of any additional papers. The court may also directly require the DENR and the Land Registration Authority to submit a report on whether the subject property has already been registered and covered by certificates of title, like what the court did in Carvajal v. Court 28 of Appeals. In that case, we commended such move by the land registration court for being "in accordance with the purposes of the Land Registration Law."

WHEREFORE, premises considered, the petition is DENIED. The Court of Appeals Decision dated March 19, 2004 and Resolution dated July 15, 2004 are AFFIRMED. The Regional Trial Court of Urdaneta, Pangasinan is DIRECTED to continue with the proceedings in L.R.C. Case No. U-1134 and to resolve the same with dispatch. SO ORDERED.