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TORRENS SYSTEM: INDEFEASIBILITY THIRD DIVISION [G.R. No. 164687. February 12, 2009.] SM PRIME HOLDINGS, INC.

, petitioner, vs. ANGELA V. MADAYAG, respondent. DECISION NACHURA, J p: This is a petition for review on certiorari of the Decision 1 of the Court of Appeals (CA) dated March 19, 2004 and Resolution dated July 15, 2004, which set aside the lower court's order to suspend the proceedings on respondent's 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 City, Pangasinan. 2 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 respondent's 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 not notified of the survey conducted on June 8, 2001. 3 Petitioner then manifested its opposition to the respondent's application for registration. 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 ConsolidationSubdivision 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. aHTEIA 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 petitioner's request for the cancellation of the respondent's survey plan, DENR Assistant Regional Executive Director for Legal Services and Public Affairs, Allan V. Barcena, advised the petitioner to file a petition for cancellation in due form so that the DENR could properly act on the same. 4 Accordingly, petitioner formally filed with the DENR a petition 5 for cancellation of the survey plan sometime in March 2002, alleging the following grounds: aICHEc 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 (PLAN WITH PSU NO. 01-008438). 6 On July 17, 2002, petitioner filed an Urgent Motion to Suspend Proceedings 7 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. 8 Emphasizing that a survey plan is one of the mandatory requirements in land registration proceedings, the RTC agreed with the petitioner that the cancellation of the survey plan would be prejudicial to the petition for land registration. 9 On February 13, 2003, the RTC denied the respondent's motion for reconsideration of its order. 10 Respondent thereafter filed a petition for certiorari with the CA assailing the order suspending the proceedings. 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: SAaTHc 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. 11 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 registration. 12 TEAaDC On July 15, 2004, the CA issued a Resolution 13 denying the petitioner's 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 RESOURCESREGION 1. AIDTSE 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 RESPONDENT. 14 The petition has no merit. Petitioner contends that, since the respondent's 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 cancellation of the survey plan by the DENR. 15 It, therefore, insists that recourse to a petition for certiorari was not proper considering that respondent was not arbitrarily deprived of her right to prosecute her application for registration. 16 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 1

multiplicity of suits and prevent vexatious litigations, conflicting judgments, confusion between litigants and courts, 17 or when the rights of parties to the second action cannot be properly determined until the questions raised in the first action are settled. 18 Otherwise, the suspension will be regarded as an arbitrary exercise of the court's discretion and can be corrected only by a petition for certiorari. AECDHS 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. Consequently, once the title is registered under the said law, owners can rest secure on their ownership and possession. 19 aIcTCS Glaringly, the petition for cancellation raises practically the very same issues that the herein petitioner raised in its opposition to the respondent's 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 by the LMS. 20 It cites Section 4 (15), Chapter 1, Title XIV, Administrative Code of 1987 which provides that the DENR shall: aSCDcH (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 to dismiss the application for registration based solely on the cancellation of the survey plan. 21 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 petitioner's properties without necessarily having to declare the survey plan as void. aAHISE 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 latter's limited jurisdiction when acting merely as a land registration court. Land registration courts, as such, can now hear and decide even controversial and contentious cases, as well as those involving substantial issues. 22 When the law confers jurisdiction upon a court, the latter is deemed to have all the necessary powers to exercise such jurisdiction to make it effective. 23 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 certificate of title will alter a valid and existing certificate of title. 24 An application for registration of an already titled land constitutes a collateral attack on the existing title, 25 which is not allowed by law. 26 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 respondent's 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 subsequent registration of any adjoining land. 27 EISCaD

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. aTIEcA 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 of Appeals. 28 In that case, we commended such move by the land registration court for being "in accordance with the purposes of the Land Registration Law". 29 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. Ynares-Santiago, Austria-Martinez, Chico-Nazario and Peralta, JJ., concur. EN BANC [G.R. No. 14167. August 14, 1919.] THE GOVERNMENT OF THE PHILIPPINE ISLANDS, petitioner and appellee. ANTIPAS VAZQUEZ and BASILIO GAYARES, petitioners-appellants, vs. RUFINA ABURAL ET. AL., objectors-appellees. SYLLABUS 1.LAND REGISTRATION; TORRENS SYSTEM; PURPOSE. The prime purpose of the Torrens System, as established in the Philippine Islands by the Land Registration Law (Act No. 496), is to decree land titles that shall be final, irrevocable, and indisputable. 2.ID.; CADASTRAL SYSTEM; PURPOSE. The purpose of the offspring of the Torrens System here known as the Cadastral System, as established in the Philippine Islands by the Cadastral Act (No. 2259), is, like the purpose of the Torrens System, proper incontestability of title. As stated in Section 1 of the Cadastral Act, the purpose is to serve the public interest, by requiring that the titles to any lands "be settled and adjudicated." 3.ID.; ID.; PROCEEDINGS. Many precautions are taken to guard against injustice. 4.ID.; ID.; ID. After trial in a cadastral case, three actions are taken. The first adjudicates ownership in favor of one of the claimants. This constitutes the decision the judgment the decree of the court. The second action is the declaration by the court that the decree is final and its order for the issuance of the certificates of title by the Chief of the Land Registration Office. Such order is made if within thirty days from the date of receipt of a copy of the decision no appeal is taken from the decision. The third and last action devolves upon the General Land Registration Office. 5.ID.; ID.; ID.; FINALITY OF DECREE. For a decree to exist in legal contemplation, it is not necessary to await the preparation of a so-called decree by the Land Registration Office. 6.ID.; ID.; ID.; ID. Cadastral proceedings commenced. Notice published in the Official Gazette. Trial judge also issued general notice. S asks for the registration in his name of lot No. 1608. Hearing had. On September 21, 1916, the court in a decree awarded the lot to S. On November 23, 1916, the time for an appeal having passed, the court declares the decree final. On July 23, 1917, before the issuance by the Land Registration Office of the so-called technical decree, V and G ask that the case be reopened to receive proof relative to the ownership of the lot. Motion denied by the trial court. Held: That since the judgment of the Court of First Instance of September 21, 1916, has become final, and since no action was taken within the time provided by law for the prosecution of an appeal by bill of exceptions, the Supreme Court is without jurisdiction, and the appeal must be dismissed. 2

7.ID.; ID.; RELIEF FROM JUDGMENT. Whether Sections 113 and 513 of the Code of Civil Procedure apply to cadastral proceedings, quare. 8.GENERAL LAND REGISTRATION OFFICE. The General Land Registration Office has been instituted "for the due effectuation and accomplishment of the laws relative to the registration of land." (Administrative Code of 1917, Sec. 174.) DECISION MALCOLM, J p: The principal question which this appeal presents is When does the registration of title, under the Torrens System of Land Registration, especially under the different Philippine laws establishing the Cadastral System, become final, conclusive, and indisputable ? The supplementary questions are At what stage of the cadastral proceedings does a decree exist in legal contemplation? Does it exist from the moment that the court, after hearing the evidence, adjudicates the land in favor of a person and then, or later decrees the land in favor of this person, or does it exist when the Chief of the Land Registration Office transcribes the adjudication in the prescribed form? STATEMENT OF THE CASE. Cadastral proceedings were commenced in the municipality of Hinigaran, Province of Occidental Negros, upon an application of the Director of Lands, on June 16, 1916. Notice of the proceedings were published in the Official Gazette as provided by law. The trial judge also issued general notice to all interested parties. Among others, Victoriano Siguenza presented an answer asking for registration in his name of lot No. 1608. The instant petitioners, Antipas Vazquez and Basilio Gayares, although said to reside in this municipality, and although said to have participated in other cadastral cases, did not enter any opposition as to this lot. Hearing was had during September, 1916. On September 21 of this year, the court issued the following decree: "It is hereby decreed that, upon a previous declaration of general default, the following lots be adjudged and registered in the names of those persons whose names appear next after the lots, and in accordance with the following conditions: . . . "Lot No. 1608 with the improvements thereon to the conjugal partnership of Victoriano Siguenza and Marcela Guanzon." On November 23 of the same year, the court declared final the foregoing decree in the following language: "The decision rendered by the court in the above-entitled case having become final on September 21, 1916, it is hereby ordered that the Chief of the General Land Registration Office issue the decrees corresponding to the lots adjudged by said decision. "An appeal having however been interposed as to the lots enumerated as follows, the decrees thereon, must be suspended until further order by this court: "Lot No. 521. Eight months later, that is, on July 23, 1917, but before the issuance by the Land Registration Office of the so-called technical decree, Antipas Vazquez and Basilio Gayares, the latter as guardian of the minor Estrella Vazquez, came into the case for the first time. The petitioners, after setting forth their right of ownership in lot No. 1608, and that it was included in their "Hacienda Santa Filomena," and after stating that they were in complete ignorance of the proceedings, asked that the judgment of the court be annulled and that the case be reopened to receive proof relative to the ownership of the lot. Counsel for Victoriano Siguenza answered by counter-motion, asking the court to dismiss the motion presented on behalf of Vazquez and Gayares. The court denied the motion for a new trial on the theory that there being a decree already rendered and no allegation of fraud having been made, the court lacked jurisdiction. It may also be stated parenthetically that counsel for Vazquez and Gayares made an unsuccessful attempt in the Supreme Court, through mandamus, to have the record completed by the taking of evidence. In order that the matter may not be confused, let it again be made clear that counsel for petitioners have not raised the question of fraud as provided for

in Section 38 of the Land Registration Law, nor have they asked to be relieved from a judgment or order, pursuant to Section 113 of the Code of Civil Procedure, because of mistake, inadvertence, surprise, or excusable neglect. As a matter of fact, they could not well claim fraud because all the proceedings were public and free from any suspicion of chicanery. As a matter of fact, also, any special reliance on Section 113 of the Code of Civil Procedure would not get them anywhere because more than six months had elapsed after the issuance of a judgment in this case. The issue fundamentally becomes one of whether or not the Supreme Court has jurisdiction over the appeal, since if the judgment and the supplemental decree issued by the Judge of the Court of First Instance on September 21, 1916, and November 23, 1916, respectively, have become final, petitioners may no bring their appeal before this court, because the time for the filing of their bill of exceptions has expired; while, if the cadastral proceedings did not become final until the formal decree was issued by the Land Registration Office, then it was proper for them to ask for a reopening of the case, and it would, consequently, be just as proper for this court to order the trial court to permit the same. OPINION. The prime purpose of the Torrens System is, as has been repeatedly stated, to decree land titles that shall be final, irrevocable, and indisputable. Incontestability of title is the goal. All due precaution must accordingly be taken to guard against injustice to interested individuals who, for some good reason, may not be able to protect their rights. Nevertheless, even at the cost of possible cruelty which may result in exceptional cases, it does become necessary in the interest of the public weal to enforce registration laws. No stronger words can be found than those appearing in Section 38 of the Land Registration Law (Act No. 496) wherein it is said that: "Every decree of registration shall bind the land, and quiet title thereto. . . . It 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 (Court of First Instance) a petition for review within one year after entry of the decree, provided no innocent purchaser for value has acquired an interest." While such statements can be made of the Torrens System proper, they become even more incisive and peremptory when we come to consider the offspring of this system, here known as the Cadastral System. Under the Torrens System proper, whether action shall or shall not be taken is optional with the solicitant. Under the Cadastral System, pursuant to initiative on the part of the Government, titles for all the land within a stated area, are adjudicated whether or not the people living within this district desire to have titles issued. The purpose, as stated in section one of the Cadastral Act (NO. 2259), is to serve the public interests, by requiring that the titles to any lands "be settled and adjudicated." Admitting that such compulsory registration of land and such excessive interference with private property constitutes due process of law and that the Acts providing for the same are constitutional, a question not here raised, yet a study of the law indicates that many precautions are taken to guard against injustice. The proceedings are initiated by a notice of survey. When the lands have been surveyed and plotted, the Director of Lands, represented by the Attorney General, files a petition in court praying that the titles to the lands named be settled and adjudicated. Notice of the filing of the petition is then published twice in successive issues of the Official Gazette in both the English and Spanish languages. All persons interested are given the benefit of assistance by competent officials and are informed of their rights. A trial is had. "All conflicting interests shall be adjudicated by the court and decrees awarded in favor of the persons entitled to the lands or the various parts thereof, and such decrees, when final, shall be the bases of original certificates of title in favor of said persons." (Act No. 2259, Sec. 11.) Aside from this, the commotion caused by the survey and a trial affecting ordinarily many people, together with the presence of strangers in the community, should serve to put all those affected on their guard. After trial in a cadastral case, three actions are taken. The first adjudicates ownership in favor of one of the claimants. This constitutes the decision the judgment the decree of the court, and speaks in a judicial manner. 3

The second action is the declaration by the court that the decree is final and its order for the issuance of the certificates of title by the Chief of the Land Registration Office. Such order is made if within thirty days from the date of receipt of a copy of the decision no appeal is taken from the decision. This again is judicial action, although to a less degree than the first. The third and last action devolves upon the General Land Registration Office. This office has been instituted "for the due effectuation and accomplishment of the laws relative to the registration of land." (Administrative Code of 1917, Sec. 174.) An official found in the office, known as the chief surveyor, has as one of his duties "to prepare final decrees in all adjudicated cases." (Administrative Code of 1917, Sec. 177.) This latter decree contains the technical description of the land and may not be issued until a considerable time after the promulgation of the judgment. The form for the decree used by the General Land Registration Office concludes with the words: "Witness, the Honorable (name of the judge), on this the (date)." The date that is used as authority for the issuance of the decree is the date when, after hearing the evidence, the trial court decreed the adjudication and registration of the land. The judgment in a cadastral survey, including the rendition of the decree, is a judicial act. As the law says, the judicial decree when final is the base of the certificate of title. The issuance of the decree by the Land Registration Office is ministerial act. The date of the judgment, or more correctly stated, the date on which the defeated party receives a copy of the decision, begins the running of the time for the interposition of a motion for a new trial or for the perfection of an appeal to the Supreme Court. The date of the title prepared by the Chief Surveyor is unimportant, for the adjudication has taken place and all that is left to be performed is the mere formulation of the technical description. If an unknown individual could wait possibly years until the day before a surveyor gets around to transcribing a technical description of a piece of land, the defeated party could just as reasonably expect the same consideration for his appeal. As a matter of fact, the so-called unknown is a party just as much as the known oppositor for notice is to all the world, and the decree binds all the world. Both counsel for petitioners and respondents rely upon the decision of this court in the case of Tambunting vs. Manuel ([1916], 35 Phil.; 699) . That case and the instant case are not the same. In the Tambunting case the contest was really between two parties each claiming to have a Torrens title; here one party has the title and the other is seeking to oust him from his fortress. In the Tambunting case the declaration of ownership but not the decree of registration had issued; here both declaration and decree have issued. The doctrines announced in the decision in Grey Alba vs. De la Cruz ([1910], 17 Phil., 49) relating to general notice and the indefensibility of land titles under the Torrens system are much more applicable and can, with as much reason, be applied to the cadastral system. As a general rule, registration of title under the cadastral system is final, conclusive and indisputable, after the passage of the thirty-day period allowed for an appeal from the date of receipt by the party of a copy of the judgment of the court adjudicating ownership without any step having been taken to perfect an appeal. The prevailing party may then have execution of the judgment as of right and is entitled to the certificate of title issued by the chief of the Land Registration Office. The exception is the special provision providing for fraud. Counsel for appellants and appellees have favored the court with able arguments relative to the applicability of Sections 113 and 513 of the Code of Civil Procedure to cadastral proceedings. The view we take of the case would make unprofitable any discussion of this question. It appearing that the judgment of the Court of First Instance of Occidental Negros of September 21, 1916, has become final, and that no action was taken within the time provided by law for the prosecution of an appeal by bill of exceptions, this court is without jurisdiction. Accordingly the appeal is dismissed with costs against the appellants. So ordered. Arellano, C.J., Torres, Johnson, Street, Avancea and Moir, JJ., concur. FIRST DIVISION [G.R. No. 159310. February 24, 2009.] CAMILO F. BORROMEO, petitioner, vs. ANTONIETTA O. DESCALLAR, respondent.

DECISION PUNO, C.J p: What are the rights of an alien (and his successor-in-interest) who acquired real properties in the country as against his former Filipina girlfriend in whose sole name the properties were registered under the Torrens system? CaAIES The facts are as follows: Wilhelm Jambrich, an Austrian, arrived in the Philippines in 1983 after he was assigned by his employer, Simmering-Graz Panker A.G., an Austrian company, to work at a project in Mindoro. In 1984, he transferred to Cebu and worked at the Naga II Project of the National Power Corporation. There, he met respondent Antonietta Opalla-Descallar, a separated mother of two boys who was working as a waitress at St. Moritz Hotel. Jambrich befriended respondent and asked her to tutor him in English. In dire need of additional income to support her children, respondent agreed. The tutorials were held in Antonietta's residence at a squatters' area in Gorordo Avenue. Jambrich and respondent fell in love and decided to live together in a rented house in Hernan Cortes, Mandaue City. Later, they transferred to their own house and lots at Agro-Macro Subdivision, Cabancalan, Mandaue City. In the Contracts to Sell dated November 18, 1985 1 and March 10, 1986 2 covering the properties, Jambrich and respondent were referred to as the buyers. A Deed of Absolute Sale dated November 16, 1987 3 was likewise issued in their favor. However, when the Deed of Absolute Sale was presented for registration before the Register of Deeds, registration was refused on the ground that Jambrich was an alien and could not acquire alienable lands of the public domain. Consequently, Jambrich's name was erased from the document. But it could be noted that his signature remained on the left hand margin of page 1, beside respondent's signature as buyer on page 3, and at the bottom of page 4 which is the last page. Transfer Certificate of Title (TCT) Nos. 24790, 24791 and 24792 over the properties were issued in respondent's name alone. Jambrich also formally adopted respondent's two sons in Sp. Proc. No. 39MAN, 4 and per Decision of the Regional Trial Court of Mandaue City dated May 5, 1988. 5 However, the idyll lasted only until April 1991. By then, respondent found a new boyfriend while Jambrich began to live with another woman in Danao City. Jambrich supported respondent's sons for only two months after the break up. Jambrich met petitioner Camilo F. Borromeo sometime in 1986. Petitioner was engaged in the real estate business. He also built and repaired speedboats as a hobby. In 1989, Jambrich purchased an engine and some accessories for his boat from petitioner, for which he became indebted to the latter for about P150,000.00. To pay for his debt, he sold his rights and interests in the Agro-Macro properties to petitioner for P250,000, as evidenced by a "Deed of Absolute Sale/Assignment". 6 On July 26, 1991, when petitioner sought to register the deed of assignment, he discovered that titles to the three lots have been transferred in the name of respondent, and that the subject property has already been mortgaged. On August 2, 1991, petitioner filed a complaint against respondent for recovery of real property before the Regional Trial Court of Mandaue City. Petitioner alleged that the Contracts to Sell dated November 18, 1985 and March 10, 1986 and the Deed of Absolute Sale dated November 16, 1987 over the properties which identified both Jambrich and respondent as buyers do not reflect the true agreement of the parties since respondent did not pay a single centavo of the purchase price and was not in fact a buyer; that it was Jambrich alone who paid for the properties using his exclusive funds; that Jambrich was the real and absolute owner of the properties; and, that petitioner acquired absolute ownership by virtue of the Deed of Absolute Sale/Assignment dated July 11, 1991 which Jambrich executed in his favor. IcSEAH In her Answer, respondent belied the allegation that she did not pay a single centavo of the purchase price. On the contrary, she claimed that she "solely and exclusively used her own personal funds to defray and pay for the purchase price of the subject lots in question", and that Jambrich, being an alien, was prohibited to acquire or own real property in the Philippines. 4

At the trial, respondent presented evidence showing her alleged financial capacity to buy the disputed property with money from a supposed copra business. Petitioner, in turn, presented Jambrich as his witness and documentary evidence showing the substantial salaries which Jambrich received while still employed by the Austrian company, Simmering-Graz Panker A.G. In its decision, the court a quo found Evidence on hand clearly show that at the time of the purchase and acquisition of [the] properties under litigation that Wilhelm Jambrich was still working and earning much. This fact of Jambrich earning much is not only supported by documentary evidence but also by the admission made by the defendant Antoniet[t]a Opalla. So that, Jambrich's financial capacity to acquire and purchase the properties . . . is not disputed. 7 xxx xxx xxx On the other hand, evidence . . . clearly show that before defendant met Jambrich sometime in the latter part of 1984, she was only working as a waitress at the St. Moritz Hotel with an income of P1,000.00 a month and was . . . renting and living only in . . . [a] room at . . . [a] squatter area at Gorordo Ave., Cebu City; that Jambrich took pity of her and the situation of her children that he offered her a better life which she readily accepted. In fact, this miserable financial situation of hers and her two children . . . are all stated and reflected in the Child Study Report dated April 20, 1983 (Exhs. "G" and "G-1") which facts she supplied to the Social Worker who prepared the same when she was personally interviewed by her in connection with the adoption of her two children by Wilhelm Jambrich. So that, if such facts were not true because these are now denied by her . . . and if it was also true that during this time she was already earning as much as P8,000.00 to P9,000.00 as profit per month from her copra business, it would be highly unbelievable and impossible for her to be living only in such a miserable condition since it is the observation of this Court that she is not only an extravagant but also an expensive person and not thrifty as she wanted to impress this Court in order to have a big saving as clearly shown by her actuation when she was already cohabiting and living with Jambrich that according to her . . . the allowance given . . . by him in the amount of $500.00 a month is not enough to maintain the education and maintenance of her children. 8 IDAESH This being the case, it is highly improbable and impossible that she could acquire the properties under litigation or could contribute any amount for their acquisition which according to her is worth more than P700,000.00 when while she was working as [a] waitress at St. Moritz Hotel earning P1,000.00 a month as salary and tips of more or less P2,000.00 she could not even provide [for] the daily needs of her family so much so that it is safe to conclude that she was really in financial distress when she met and accepted the offer of Jambrich to come and live with him because that was a big financial opportunity for her and her children who were already abandoned by her husband. 9 xxx xxx xxx The only probable and possible reason why her name appeared and was included in [the contracts to sell dated November 18, 1985 and March 10, 1986 and finally, the deed of absolute sale dated November 16, 1987] as buyer is because as observed by the Court, she being a scheming and exploitive woman, she has taken advantage of the goodness of Jambrich who at that time was still bewitched by her beauty, sweetness, and good attitude shown by her to him since he could still very well provide for everything she needs, he being earning (sic) much yet at that time. In fact, as observed by this Court, the acquisition of these properties under litigation was at the time when their relationship was still going smoothly and harmoniously. 10 [Emphasis supplied.] The dispositive portion of the Decision states: WHEREFORE, . . . Decision is hereby rendered in favor of the plaintiff and against the defendant Antoniet[t]a Opalla by: 1)Declaring plaintiff as the owner in fee simple over the residential house of strong materials and three parcels of land designated as Lot Nos. 1, 3 and 5 which are covered by TCT Nos. 24790, 24791 and 24792 issued by the Register of Deeds of Mandaue City;

2)Declaring as null and void TCT Nos. 24790, 24791 and 24792 issued in the name of defendant Antoniet[t]a Descallar by the Register of Deeds of Mandaue City; 3)Ordering the Register of Deeds of Mandaue City to cancel TCT Nos. 24790, 24791 and 24792 in the name of defendant Antoniet[t]a Descallar and to issue new ones in the name of plaintiff Camilo F. Borromeo; 4)Declaring the contracts now marked as Exhibits "I", "K" and "L" as avoided insofar as they appear to convey rights and interests over the properties in question to the defendant Antoniet[t]a Descallar; ATSIED 5)Ordering the defendant to pay plaintiff attorney's fees in the amount of P25,000.00 and litigation expenses in the amount of P10,000.00; and, 6)To pay the costs. 11 Respondent appealed to the Court of Appeals. In a Decision dated April 10, 2002, 12 the appellate court reversed the decision of the trial court. In ruling for the respondent, the Court of Appeals held: We disagree with the lower court's conclusion. The circumstances involved in the case cited by the lower court and similar cases decided on by the Supreme Court which upheld the validity of the title of the subsequent Filipino purchasers are absent in the case at bar. It should be noted that in said cases, the title to the subject property has been issued in the name of the alien transferee (Godinez et al. vs. Fong Pak Luen et al., 120 SCRA 223 citing Krivenko vs. Register of Deeds of Manila, 79 Phils. 461; United Church Board for World Ministries vs. Sebastian, 159 SCRA 446, citing the case of Sarsosa Vda. De Barsobia vs. Cuenco, 113 SCRA 547; Tejido vs. Zamacoma, 138 SCRA 78). In the case at bar, the title of the subject property is not in the name of Jambrich but in the name of defendant-appellant. Thus, Jambrich could not have transferred a property he has no title thereto. 13

Petitioner's motion for reconsideration was denied. Hence, this petition for review. Petitioner assigns the following errors: I.THE HONORABLE COURT OF APPEALS SERIOUSLY ERRED IN DISREGARDING RESPONDENT'S JUDICIAL ADMISSION AND OTHER OVERWHELMING EVIDENCE ESTABLISHING JAMBRICH'S PARTICIPATION, INTEREST AND OWNERSHIP OF THE PROPERTIES IN QUESTION AS FOUND BY THE HONORABLE TRIAL COURT. II.THE HONORABLE COURT OF APPEALS SERIOUSLY ERRED IN HOLDING THAT JAMBRICH HAS NO TITLE TO THE PROPERTIES IN QUESTION AND MAY NOT THEREFORE TRANSFER AND ASSIGN ANY RIGHTS AND INTERESTS IN FAVOR OF PETITIONER. III.THE HONORABLE COURT OF APPEALS SERIOUSLY ERRED IN REVERSING THE WELL-REASONED DECISION OF THE TRIAL COURT AND IN IMPOSING DOUBLE COSTS AGAINST HEREIN PETITIONER (THEN, PLAINTIFFAPPELLEE). 14 HTScEI First, who purchased the subject properties? The evidence clearly shows, as pointed out by the trial court, who between respondent and Jambrich possesses the financial capacity to acquire the properties in dispute. At the time of the acquisition of the properties in 1985 to 1986, Jambrich was gainfully employed at Simmering-Graz Panker A.G., an Austrian company. He was earning an estimated monthly salary of P50,000.00. Then, Jambrich was assigned to Syria for almost one year where his monthly salary was approximately P90,000.00. On the other hand, respondent was employed as a waitress from 1984 to 1985 with a monthly salary of not more than P1,000.00. In 1986, when the parcels of land were acquired, she was unemployed, as admitted by her during the pre-trial conference. Her allegations of income from a copra business were unsubstantiated. The supposed copra business was actually the business of her mother and their family, with ten siblings. She has no license to sell copra, and had not filed any income tax return. All the motorized bancas of her mother were lost to fire, and the last one left 5

standing was already scrap. Further, the Child Study Report 15 submitted by the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) in the adoption proceedings of respondent's two sons by Jambrich disclosed that: Antonietta tried all types of job to support the children until she was accepted as a waitress at St. Moritz Restaurant in 1984. At first she had no problem with money because most of the customers of St. Moritz are (sic) foreigners and they gave good tips but towards the end of 1984 there were no more foreigners coming because of the situation in the Philippines at that time. Her financial problem started then. She was even renting a small room in a squatters area in Gorordo Ave., Cebu City. It was during her time of great financial distress that she met Wilhelm Jambrich who later offered her a decent place for herself and her children. 16 The DSWD Home Study Report 17 further disclosed that: [Jambrich] was then at the Restaurant of St. Moritz when he saw Antonietta Descallar, one of the waitresses of the said Restaurants. He made friends with the girl and asked her to tutor him in [the] English language. Antonietta accepted the offer because she was in need of additional income to support [her] 2 young children who were abandoned by their father. Their session was agreed to be scheduled every afternoon at the residence of Antonietta in the squatters area in Gorordo Avenue, Cebu City. The Austrian was observing the situation of the family particularly the children who were malnourished. After a few months sessions, Mr. Jambrich offered to transfer the family into a decent place. He told Antonietta that the place is not good for the children. Antonietta who was miserable and financially distressed at that time accepted the offer for the sake of the children. 18 aSTECA Further, the following additional pieces of evidence point to Jambrich as the source of fund used to purchase the three parcels of land, and to construct the house thereon: (1)Respondent Descallar herself affirmed under oath, during her re-direct examination and during the proceedings for the adoption of her minor children, that Jambrich was the owner of the properties in question, but that his name was deleted in the Deed of Absolute Sale because of legal constraints. Nonetheless, his signature remained in the deed of sale, where he signed as buyer. (2)The money used to pay the subject parcels of land in installments was in postdated checks issued by Jambrich. Respondent has never opened any account with any bank. Receipts of the installment payments were also in the name of Jambrich and respondent. (3)In 1986-1987, respondent lived in Syria with Jambrich and her two children for ten months, where she was completely under the support of Jambrich. (4)Jambrich executed a Last Will and Testament, where he, as owner, bequeathed the subject properties to respondent. Thus, Jambrich has all authority to transfer all his rights, interests and participation over the subject properties to petitioner by virtue of the Deed of Assignment he executed on July 11, 1991. Well-settled is the rule that this Court is not a trier of facts. The findings of fact of the trial court are accorded great weight and respect, if not finality by this Court, subject to a number of exceptions. In the instant case, we find no reason to disturb the factual findings of the trial court. Even the appellate court did not controvert the factual findings of the trial court. They differed only in their conclusions of law. Further, the fact that the disputed properties were acquired during the couple's cohabitation also does not help respondent. The rule that coownership applies to a man and a woman living exclusively with each other as husband and wife without the benefit of marriage, but are otherwise capacitated to marry each other, does not apply. 19 In the instant case, respondent was still legally married to another when she and Jambrich lived together. In such an adulterous relationship, no co-ownership exists between the parties. It is necessary for each of the partners to prove his or her actual contribution to the acquisition of property in order to be able to lay claim to any portion of it. Presumptions of co-ownership and equal contribution do not apply. 20 DcaCSE

Second, we dispose of the issue of registration of the properties in the name of respondent alone. Having found that the true buyer of the disputed house and lots was the Austrian Wilhelm Jambrich, what now is the effect of registration of the properties in the name of respondent? It is settled that registration is not a mode of acquiring ownership. 21 It is only a means of confirming the fact of its existence with notice to the world at large. 22 Certificates of title are not a source of right. The mere possession of a title does not make one the true owner of the property. Thus, the mere fact that respondent has the titles of the disputed properties in her name does not necessarily, conclusively and absolutely make her the owner. The rule on indefeasibility of title likewise does not apply to respondent. A certificate of title implies that the title is quiet, 23 and that it is perfect, absolute and indefeasible. 24 However, there are well-defined exceptions to this rule, as when the transferee is not a holder in good faith and did not acquire the subject properties for a valuable consideration. 25 This is the situation in the instant case. Respondent did not contribute a single centavo in the acquisition of the properties. She had no income of her own at that time, nor did she have any savings. She and her two sons were then fully supported by Jambrich. Respondent argued that aliens are prohibited from acquiring private land. This is embodied in Section 7, Article XII of the 1987 Constitution, 26 which is basically a reproduction of Section 5, Article XIII of the 1935 Constitution, 27 and Section 14, Article XIV of the 1973 Constitution. 28 The capacity to acquire private land is dependent on the capacity "to acquire or hold lands of the public domain." Private land may be transferred only to individuals or entities "qualified to acquire or hold lands of the public domain". Only Filipino citizens or corporations at least 60% of the capital of which is owned by Filipinos are qualified to acquire or hold lands of the public domain. Thus, as the rule now stands, the fundamental law explicitly prohibits non-Filipinos from acquiring or holding title to private lands, except only by way of legal succession or if the acquisition was made by a former natural-born citizen. 29 Therefore, in the instant case, the transfer of land from Agro-Macro Development Corporation to Jambrich, who is an Austrian, would have been declared invalid if challenged, had not Jambrich conveyed the properties to petitioner who is a Filipino citizen. In United Church Board for World Ministries v. Sebastian, 30 the Court reiterated the consistent ruling in a number of cases 31 that if land is invalidly transferred to an alien who subsequently becomes a Filipino citizen or transfers it to a Filipino, the flaw in the original transaction is considered cured and the title of the transferee is rendered valid. Applying United Church Board for World Ministries, the trial court ruled in favor of petitioner, viz.: [W]hile the acquisition and the purchase of (sic) Wilhelm Jambrich of the properties under litigation [were] void ab initio since [they were] contrary to the Constitution of the Philippines, he being a foreigner, yet, the acquisition of these properties by plaintiff who is a Filipino citizen from him, has cured the flaw in the original transaction and the title of the transferee is valid. The trial court upheld the sale by Jambrich in favor of petitioner and ordered the cancellation of the TCTs in the name of respondent. It declared petitioner as owner in fee simple of the residential house of strong materials and three parcels of land designated as Lot Nos. 1, 3 and 5, and ordered the Register of Deeds of Mandaue City to issue new certificates of title in his name. The trial court likewise ordered respondent to pay petitioner P25,000 as attorney's fees and P10,000 as litigation expenses, as well as the costs of suit. DScTaC We affirm the Regional Trial Court. The rationale behind the Court's ruling in United Church Board for World Ministries, as reiterated in subsequent cases, 32 is this since the ban on aliens is intended to preserve the nation's land for future generations of Filipinos, that aim is achieved by making lawful the acquisition of real estate by aliens who became Filipino citizens by naturalization or those transfers made by aliens to Filipino citizens. As the property in dispute is already in the hands of a qualified person, a Filipino citizen, there would be no more public policy to be protected. The objective of the constitutional provision to keep our lands in Filipino hands has been achieved. IN VIEW WHEREOF, the petition is GRANTED. The Decision of the Court of Appeals in C.A. G.R. CV No. 42929 dated April 10, 2002 and its Resolution dated July 8, 2003 are REVERSED and SET ASIDE. The Decision of the 6

Regional Trial Court of Mandaue City in Civil Case No. MAN-1148 is REINSTATED. SO ORDERED. Carpio, Corona, Leonardo-de Castro and Brion, JJ., concur. TORRENS SYSTEM: EXCEPTION TO INDEFEASIBILITY (FRAUD) SECOND DIVISION [G.R. No. 119682. January 21, 1999.] FRANCISCO BAGUIO, petitioner, vs. REPUBLIC OF THE PHILIPPINES, RICARDO T. MICHAEL, in his capacity as Heir-Successor of WILLIAM MICHAEL, SR., and as President of MICHAEL SLIPWAYS, INC., and COURT OF APPEALS, respondents. Vicente A. Quibranza and Danilo Pilapil for petitioner. SYNOPSIS Private respondent Ricardo Michael's predecessor-in-interest, William Michael, filed with the Bureau of Lands an application for foreshore lease of the subject land. The application was recommended for approval. By virtue of the permit granted to him by the Bureau of Lands, William Michael made some reclamation and other improvements. On February 25, 1968, Michael filed a miscellaneous sales application covering the reclaimed foreshore land. On November 9, 1976, petitioner Baguio applied to the Bureau of Lands for a free patent covering the same land. In his application, petitioner stated that the land was agricultural land and not claimed or occupied by any other person and that he had been in actual and continuous possession and cultivation of the same. Based on these representations, a free patent was issued to him and on January 10, 1978, Original Certificate of Title No. 015457 was issued in his name by the Register of Deeds of Cebu. Thereafter, petitioner demanded payment of rentals from William Michael for the use of land occupied by Michael Slipways Inc. Petitioner Baguio filed an opposition to Michael's miscellaneous sales application covering the land on the ground that he was the registered owner thereof. William Michael in turn protested the issuance by the Bureau of Lands of a free patent to petitioner. He claimed that he had been in actual possession of the land since 1963 and that he introduced substantial improvements thereon. The government represented by the Bureau of Lands, filed a petition for cancellation of title and/or reversion of land against petitioner Baguio and the Register of Deeds of Cebu. The trial court rendered a decision canceling the free patent and the certificate of title of petitioner Baguio, ordering the reversion of the land to the public domain and declaring private respondent Michael the true and lawful occupant of the land. Petitioner appealed to the Court of Appeals which affirmed the decision of the trial court. Hence, the present petition. The Supreme Court affirmed the decision of the Court of Appeals. The Court ruled that the indefeasibility of a certificate of title cannot be invoked by one who procured the title by means of fraud because public policy demands that one who obtains title to public land through fraud should not be allowed to benefit therefrom. In his free patent application, petitioner declared under oath that the land in question was an agricultural land not claimed or occupied by any other person, that he had continuously possessed and occupied it; and that he had introduced improvements thereon. The Court, however, found these declarations, fraudulent. Petitioner is guilty of making false statements in his application for a free patent thus justifying the annulment of his title. SYLLABUS 1.CIVIL LAW; LAND REGISTRATION; TORRENS CERTIFICATE OF TITLE; INDEFEASIBILITY THEREOF CANNOT BE INVOKED BY ONE WHO PROCURED THE TITLE BY MEANS OF FRAUD. It is true that, once a patent is registered and the corresponding certificate of title is issued, the land covered by them ceases to be part of the public domain and becomes private property, and the Torrens Title issued pursuant to the patent becomes indefeasible upon the expiration of one year from the date of issuance of such patent. However, as held in Director of Lands vs. De Luna, even after the lapse of one year, the State may still bring an action under Section 101 of Commonwealth Act No. 141 for the reversion to the public domain of land which has been fraudulent granted to private individuals. Such action is not barred by prescription, and this is settled law. Indeed, the indefeasibility of a certificate of title cannot be invoked by one who procured the title by means of fraud. Public policy demands that one who obtains title to public land

through fraud should not be allowed to benefit therefrom. Petitioner is guilty of making false statements in his application for a free patent thus justifying the annulment of his title. The indefeasibility of a title does not attach to titles secured by fraud and misrepresentation. The registration of a patent under the Torrens System merely confirms the registrant's title. It does not vest title where there is none because registration under this system is not a mode of acquiring ownership. ATaDHC 2.ID.; ID.; PUBLIC LAND ACT; IN CASE OF DEATH, THE ORIGINAL APPLICANT SHALL BE SUCCEEDED BY HIS LEGAL HEIRS WITH RESPECT TO THE LAND APPLIED FOR OR LEASED. Petitioner assails the trial court's finding, as affirmed by the appellate court, that private respondent Michael is the true and lawful possessor of the subject land. He argues that private respondent, being a mere heir and successor-in-interest of William Michael and not the person who filed the foreshore lease and the miscellaneous sales applications, has no right to the land in dispute. Suffice it to state that it was clearly proven that William Michael had already been in possession of the land under a provisional permit to occupy the same in 1963. Petitioner applied for a free patent only in 1976, thirteen (13) years later. In addition, William Michael had filed a sales application covering the land in 1968, i.e. eight (8) years before petitioner filed his free patent application. The trial court and the Court of Appeals, therefore, correctly held William Michael and private respondent Ricardo Michael to be the true and rightful possessors of the land in question. The fact that private respondent Michael is merely the successor of the original foreshore lease and sales applicant, William Michael, does not make him any less entitled to the possession of the land. Sec. 105 of the Public Land Act provides that, in case of his death, the original applicant shall be succeeded in his rights and obligations by his legal heirs with respect to the land applied for or leased. DECISION MENDOZA, J p: This is a petition for review of the decision of the Court of Appeals 1 affirming the decision of the Regional Trial Court, Branch 28, of Mandaue City, nullifying Free Patent No. 7757 and Original Certificate of Title No. 015457 issued in the name of petitioner Francisco Baguio. LLphil The patent and certificate of title cover a parcel of land, consisting of 5,870 sq. m., in Catarman, Liloan, Cebu. Known as Lot 1426, Case 2, Pls. 823, the land was declared by the government public land in 1963. The evidence shows that, on August 2, 1963, private respondent Ricardo Michael's predecessor-in-interest, William Michael, filed with the Bureau of Lands an application for foreshore lease of the land. The application was recommended for approval by the land investigator who also recommended that the applicant be granted a provisional permit to occupy the land for one year from October 4, 1963 to October 3, 1964. On October 8, 1963, by virtue of a permit granted to him by the Bureau of Lands, William Michael made some reclamation on the land, built a fence around the premises, and constructed a bridge over a portion which was under water. Upon the expiration of the permit on October 4, 1964, the Highways District Engineer recommended to the Director of Lands that the land be leased to Michael. On the other hand, the land investigator recommended granting Michael the authority to survey the foreshore land in view of the completion of the reclamation made by him on the premises. On February 25, 1968, Michael filed a miscellaneous sales application covering the reclaimed foreshore land. On November 9, 1976, petitioner Baguio applied to the Bureau of Lands for a free patent covering the same land. In his application, petitioner stated that the land was agricultural land and not claimed or occupied by any other person and that he had been in actual and continuous possession and cultivation of the same. On the basis of these representations, a free patent was issued to him and, on January 10, 1978, Original Certificate of Title No. 0-15457 was issued in his name by the Register of Deeds of Cebu. On April 6, 1978, petitioner demanded payment of rentals from William Michael for the use of the land occupied by Michael Slipways, Inc.. On August 4, 1981, petitioner filed an opposition to Michael's miscellaneous sales application covering the land on the ground that he was the registered owner thereof. William Michael in turn protested the issuance by the Bureau of Lands of a free patent to petitioner. He claimed that he had been in actual possession of 7

the land since 1963 and that he had introduced substantial improvements thereon. On February 16, 1989, upon the recommendation of the Land Management Bureau of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources, the government, represented by the Director of Lands, filed a petition for cancellation of title and/or reversion of land against petitioner Baguio and the Register of Deeds of Cebu. The case was filed in the Regional Trial Court of Mandaue City which granted private respondent Ricardo Michael leave to intervene as heir and successor-in-interest of William Michael and as president of Michael Slipways, Inc. On July 20, 1992, the trial court rendered a decision canceling the free patent and the certificate of title of petitioner Baguio, ordering the reversion of the land to the public domain, and declaring private respondent Michael the true and lawful occupant of the land. The trial court ruled that the false statements made by petitioner Baguio in his application for free patent had the effect of ipso facto canceling the free patent and the title of petitioner. Petitioner appealed to the Court of Appeals which, on February 28, 1995, affirmed the decision of the trial court. Hence, this petition for review. Petitioner contends that 1.The public respondent erred in not declaring that respondent Republic of the Philippines action was already barred by prescription. 2.Granting arguendo that respondent's action was not barred by prescription, nonetheless, the Regional Trial Court, erred in finding that petitioner "acted in bad faith and procured the issuance of the Free Patent (VII-I)-7757 and the Original Certificate of Title No. 0-15457 through fraud and misrepresentation." 3.Granting arguendo that respondent Republic's action should prosper, nonetheless, the Regional Trial Court erred in "(d)eclaring intervenor (private respondent herein) as the true and lawful possessor and occupant of the land subject of the intervention." 4.The Regional Trial Court erred in finding that the land in question is a foreshore land. We find these contentions to be without merit. First. It is true that, once a patent is registered and the corresponding certificate of title is issued, the land covered by them ceases to be part of the public domain and becomes private property, and the Torrens Title issued pursuant to the patent becomes indefeasible upon the expiration of one year from the date of issuance of such patent. 2 However, as held in Director of Lands v. De Luna, 3 even after the lapse of one year, the State may still bring an action under 101 4 of Commonwealth Act No. 141 for the reversion to the public domain of land which has been fraudulently granted to private individuals. 5 Such action is not barred by prescription, and this is settled law. Indeed, the indefeasibility of a certificate of title cannot be invoked by one who procured the title by means of fraud. 7 Public policy demands that one who obtains title to public land through fraud should not be allowed to benefit therefrom. 8 Second. Petitioner contends that the trial court erred in finding that he was guilty of fraud in procuring the issuance of the free patent and the corresponding certificate of title. He insists that what he stated in his application for free patent (that the subject land is agricultural land not claimed or occupied by persons other than himself and that he had been in actual and continuous possession and cultivation of the same) were all true. He also assails the finding of the trial court that the subject land is foreshore land. Petitioner puts in issue the findings of fact of the trial court. But the only errors which are reviewable by this Court in a petition for review on certiorari of a decision of the Court of Appeals are those allegedly committed by the latter court and not those of the trial court. Petitioner's assignment of errors is thus misplaced, and for this reason, the petition should be dismissed. Furthermore, only questions of law may be raised in a petition for review on certiorari. In the absence of any showing of lack of basis for the conclusions made by the Court of Appeals, this Court will not disturb the factual findings

of the appellate court. 9 In this case, petitioner has not shown that the decision of the Court of Appeals is not supported by substantial evidence so as to justify this Court in departing from the general rule which regards the findings of the appellate court as final. LLjur At any rate, we have decided to consider the issues raised insofar as they are pertinent to the appellate court's decision in order to put them to rest once and for all. In his free patent application, petitioner declared under oath that the land in question was an agricultural land not claimed or occupied by any other person; that he had continuously possessed and occupied it; and that he had introduced improvements thereon. These declarations constitute fraud and misrepresentation. The government has proven that, contrary to these allegations, as early as September 2, 1963, i.e., thirteen (13) years before the alleged entry of petitioner on the land, private respondent's predecessorin-interest, William Michael, had already filed a foreshore lease application over the same; that on February 25, 1968, William Michael filed a miscellaneous sales application over the land; that since 1963 up to the present, private respondent has been continuously in possession of the land on which he has been operating a drydocking service under the style of Michael Slipways, Inc.; and that private respondent Ricardo Michael had made improvements thereon consisting of the reclamation of a portion of the land, the construction of the fence thereon, and the construction of a bridge over a portion under water. In addition, it has been duly established that the land in question is foreshore land, not agricultural. The fact that the land is being used by private respondent Ricardo Michael in his drydocking operations is evidence that the land is foreshore land. Moreover, there would have been no need to reclaim a portion of the land if it had not been under seawater. Petitioner is guilty of making false statements in his application for a free patent thus justifying the annulment of his title. Sec. 91 of C.A. No. 141 (Public Land Act) provides: The statements made in the application shall be considered as essential conditions and parts of any concession, title, or permit issued on the basis of such application, and any false statement therein or omission of facts altering, changing or modifying the consideration of the facts set forth in such statements, and any subsequent modification, alteration, or change of the material facts set forth in the application shall ipso facto produce the cancellation of the concession, title or permit granted. It shall be the duty of the Director of Lands, from time to time and whenever he may deem it advisable, to make the necessary investigations for the purpose of ascertaining whether the material facts set out in the application are true, or whether they continue to exist and are maintained and preserved in good faith, and for the purpose of such investigation, the Director of Lands is hereby empowered to issue subpoenas and subpoenas duces tecum and, if necessary, to obtain compulsory process from the courts. In every investigation made in accordance with this section, the existence of bad faith, fraud, concealment, or fraudulent and illegal modification of essential facts shall be presumed if the grantee or possessor of the land shall refuse or fail to obey a subpoena or subpoena duces tecum lawfully issued by the Director of Land or his authorized delegates or agents, or shall refuse or fail to give direct and specific answers to pertinent questions, and on the basis of such presumption, an order of cancellation may issue without further proceedings. As already stated, the indefeasibility of a title does not attach to titles secured by fraud and misrepresentation. The registration of a patent under the Torrens System merely confirms the registrant's title. It does not vest title where there is none because registration under this system is not a mode of acquiring ownership. 10 Third. Petitioner assails the trial court's finding, as affirmed by the appellate court, that private respondent Michael is the true and lawful possessor of the subject land. He argues that private respondent, being a mere heir and successor-in-interest of William Michael and not the person who filed the foreshore lease and the miscellaneous sales applications, has no right to the land in dispute. Suffice it to state that it was clearly proven that William Michael had already been in possession of the land under a provisional permit to occupy the same in 1963. Petitioner applied for a free patent only in 1976, thirteen (13) years later. In addition, William Michael had filed a sales application covering the land in 1968, i.e., eight (8) years before petitioner filed his free patent application. The trial court and the Court of Appeals, therefore, correctly held 8

William Michael and private respondent Ricardo Michael to be the true and rightful possessors of the land in question. The fact that private respondent Michael is merely the successor of the original foreshore lease and sales applicant, William Michael, does not make him any less entitled to the possession of the land. Sec. 105 of the Public Land Act provides that, in case of his death, the original applicant shall be succeeded in his rights and obligations by his legal heirs with respect to the land applied for or leased. 11 WHEREFORE, the decision of the Court of Appeals is AFFIRMED. LLphil SO ORDERED. Bellosillo, Puno, Quisumbing and Buena, JJ., concur. THIRD DIVISION [G.R. No. 140243. December 14, 2000.] MARILYN C. PASCUA, petitioner, vs. HON. COURT OF APPEALS, THE PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, respondents. Atty. Porfirio Bautista for petitioner. The Solicitor General for respondents. SYNOPSIS Petitioner Marilyn C. Pascua was charged and convicted of twenty six (26) counts of Violation of Batas Pambansa Blg. 22. When the case was called for promulgation, petitioner failed to appear despite due notice so the decision was promulgated in absentia on May 5, 1998. The trial court issued an order forfeiting the cash bond in favor of the government and the issuance of warrant of arrest against petitioner. No motion for reconsideration or notice of appeal was filed by petitioner. On June 8, 1998, petitioner filed an urgent omnibus motion to lift warrant of arrest and confiscation of bail bond, as well as to set anew the promulgation of the subject decision. Petitioner explained her failure to appear before the trial court on the scheduled date of promulgation. The trial court issued an order denying petitioner's urgent omnibus motion and notice of appeal for lack of merit, mentioning that its February 17, 1998 decision had already become final and executory, Petitioner filed a petition for certiorari with the Court of Appeals praying for the nullification of the June 22, 1998 and October 8, 1998 orders of the trial court. The Court of Appeals dismissed the petition. Hence, the present petition. Petitioner contended that the promulgation in absentia of the judgment against petitioner was not made in the manner set out in the last. paragraph of Section 6, Rule 120 of the 1985 Rules on Criminal Procedure which then provided that promulgation in absentia shall consist in the recording of the judgment in the criminal docket and a copy thereof shall be served upon the accused or counsel. The Supreme Court granted the petition. Petitioner has presented evidence sufficient to controvert the presumption of regularity of performance of official duty as regards the procedural requirement of the recording of the judgment in the criminal docket of the court. The Court considered the certification attached to the petition dated October 26, 1998 signed by the Clerk of Court of the Regional Trial Court of Pasig stating that they have not yet been furnished with copies of the decisions in Criminal Cases Nos. 85283306 and 86064-65, entitled People of the Philippines versus Marilyn C. Pascua, which were assigned to Branch 153 of the same court. The Court considered said certification and held that it cannot presume substantial compliance with the requirement of recording a judgment in the criminal docket, and in the absence of such compliance, there can be no valid promulgation. The Court stressed that without the same, the February 17, 1998 decision could not attain finality and become executory and the 15-day period within which to interpose an appeal did not even commence to run. The Court remanded the case to the trial court for proper promulgation of its decision in accordance with Section 6, Rule 120 of the Revised Rules of Criminal Procedure. SYLLABUS 1.REMEDIAL LAW; CRIMINAL PROCEDURE; PROMULGATION OF JUDGMENT IN ABSENTIA, EXPOUNDED; OLD RULE AND NEW RULE DISTINGUISHED. Promulgation of judgment is an official proclamation or announcement of the decision of the court (Jacinto, Sr., Commentaries and Jurisprudence on the Revised Rules of Court [Criminal Procedure], 1994 ed., p. 521). In a criminal

case, promulgation of the decision cannot take place until after the clerk receives it and enters it into the criminal docket. It follows that when the judge mails a decision through the clerk of court, it is not promulgated on the date of mailing but after the clerk of court enters the same in the criminal docket (Ibid., citing People v. Court of Appeals, 52 O.G. 5825 [1956]). According to the first paragraph of Section 6 of the aforesaid Rule (of both the 1985 and 2000 versions), the presence in person of the accused at the promulgation of judgment is mandatory in all cases except where the conviction is for a light offense, in which case the accused may appear through counsel or representative. Under the third paragraph of the former and present Section 6, any accused, regardless of the gravity of the offense charged against him, must be given notice of the promulgation of judgment and the requirement of his presence. He must appear in person or in the case of one facing a conviction for a light offense, through counsel or representative. The present Section 6 adds that if the accused was tried in absentia because he jumped bail or escaped from prison, notice of promulgation shall be served at his last known address. Significantly, both versions of said section set forth the rules that become operative if the accused fails to appear at the promulgation despite due notice: (a) promulgation shall consist in the recording of the judgment in the criminal docket and a copy thereof shall be served upon the accused at his last known address or through his counsel; and (b) if the judgment is for conviction, and the accused's failure to appear was without justifiable cause, the court shall further order the arrest of the accused. Here lies the difference in the two versions of the section. The old rule automatically gives the accused 15 days from notice (of the decision) to him or his counsel within which to appeal. In the new rule, the accused who failed to appear without justifiable cause shall lose the remedies available in the Rules against the judgment. However, within 15 days from promulgation of judgment, the accused may surrender and file a motion for leave of court to avail of these remedies. He shall state in his motion the reasons for his absence at the scheduled promulgation and if he proves that his absence was for a justifiable cause, he shall be allowed to avail of said remedies within 15 days from notice. 2.ID.; ID,; ID., ID.; ID.; PROMULGATION IN ABSENTIA IS ALLOWED BY THE RULES REGARDLESS OF THE GRAVITY OF THE OFFENSE. It appears that the judgment in a criminal case must be promulgated in the presence of the accused, except where it is for a light offense, in which case it may be pronounced in the presence of his counsel or representative (Dimson v. Elepao, 99 Phil. 733 [1956]), and except where the judgment is for acquittal, in which case the presence of the accused is not necessary (Cea, etc., et al. v. Cinco, et al., 96 Phil. 31 [1954]). Notably, one of the conditions of the bail given for the provisional liberty of an accused in a criminal case is that he shall surrender himself (or the bondsman shall surrender the accused) for execution of the final judgment (Section 2[d], Rule 114, Revised Rules of Criminal Procedure). Thus, it follows that it is the responsibility of the accused to make himself available to the court upon promulgation of a judgment of conviction, and such presence is secured by his bail bond. This amplifies the need for the presence of the accused during the promulgation of a judgment of conviction, especially if it is for a grave offense. Obviously, a judgment of conviction cannot be executed and thesentence meted to the accused cannot be servedwithout his presence. Besides, where there is no promulgation of the judgment, the right to appeal does not accrue (People v. ]aranilla, 55 SCRA 565 [1974]). Jurisprudence further dictates that the absence of counsel during the promulgation will not result in a violation of any substantial right of the accused, and will not affect the validity of the promulgation of the judgment (Bernardo v. Abeto, CA-G. R. No. 6076, 31 January 1940; Gonzales v. Judge, 186 SCRA 101 [1990]). In the vintage case of Cea, etc., et al. v. Cinco, et al. (supra), the Court citing U S. v. Beecham, (28 Phil. 258 [1914]), stated the reasons for requiring the attendance of the accused in case of conviction for a grave or less grave offense, to wit: "...The common law required, when any corporal punishment was to be inflicted on the defendant, that he should be personally present before the court at the time of pronouncing the sentence. (1 Chitty's Crim. Law [5th Am. ed.], 693, 696.) Reasons given for this are, that the defendant may be identified by the court as the real party adjudged to be punished (Holt, 399); that the defendant may have a chance to plead or move in arrest of judgment (King vs. Speke, 3 Salk., 358); that he may have an opportunity to say what he can say why judgment should not be given against him (2 Hale's Pleas of the Crown, 401, 402); and that the example of the defendants, who have been guilty of misdemeanors of a gross and public kind, being brought up for the animadversion of the court and the open denunciation of punishment, may tend to deter others from the commission of similar offenses (Chitty's Crim. Law [5th ed.], 693, 696) . . . Nevertheless, as mentioned above, regardless of the gravity of the offense, promulgation of judgment in absentia is allowed 9

under the Rules. The only essential elements for its validity are: (a) that the judgment be recorded in the criminal docket; and (b) that a copy thereof shall be served upon the accused or counsel. 3.ID.; ID.; ID.; PETITIONER'S NON-RECEIPT OF THE NOTICE OF PROMULGATION WAS DUE TO HER OWN FAILURE TO IMMEDIATELY FILE A NOTICE OF CHANGE OF ADDRESS WITH THE TRIAL COURT. Petitioner's first argument that she was not properly notified of the date of promulgation is devoid of merit. In the first place, her non-receipt of the notice of promulgation was due to her own failure to immediately file a notice of change of address with the trial court, which she clearly admitted. Besides, promulgation could be properly done even in her absence, subject to the service of a copy of the decision upon her or her counsel and the recording of the judgment in the criminal docket. 4.ID.; ID.; ID.; OPERATIVE ACT OF RECORDING IN THE CRIMINAL DOCKET NOT COMPLIED WITH MAKING THE PROMULGATION IN ABSENTIA INVALID; AS A CONSEQUENCE THEREOF THE PERIOD OF APPEAL DID NOT BEGIN TO RUN; CASE AT BAR. As held in Florendo vs. Court of Appeals (supra), the rules allow promulgation of judgment in absentiato obviate the situation where juridical process could be subverted by the accused jumping. bail. But the Rules also provide measures to make promulgation in absentia a formal and solemn act so that the absent accused, wherever he may be, can be notified of the judgment rendered against him. As discussed earlier, the sentence imposed by the trial court cannot be served in the absence of the accused. Hence, all means of notification must be done to let the absent accused know of the judgment of the court. And the means provided by the Rules are: (1) the act of giving notice to all persons or the act of recording or registering the judgment in the criminal docket (which Section 6 incidentally mentions first showing its importance; and (2) the act of serving a copy thereof upon the accused (at his last known address) or his counsel. In a scenario where the whereabouts of the accused are unknown (as when he is at large), the recording satisfies the requirement of notifying the accused of the decision wherever he may be. Thus, on May 5, 1998, although the second kind of notification was satisfied when defense counsel Atty. Arias received a copy of the February 17, 1998 decision, the solemn and operative act of recording was not done, making the promulgation in absentia invalid. This being so, the period to appeal did not begin to run. 5.ID.; ID.; ID.; LATER RECEIPT OF THE COPY OF THE DECISION DOES NOT IN ANY WAY CURE AN INVALID PROMULGATION; CASE AT BAR. The next matter we have to consider is the effect of the service of a copy of the judgment upon petitioner, who admits having received a copy thereof on June 17, 1998. Did the 15-day period to appeal begin to run on said date of receipt? We rule in the negative. Petitioner's later receipt of the copy of the decision does not in any way cure an invalid promulgation. And even if said decision be recorded in the criminal docket later, such piece-meal compliance with the Rules will still not validate the May 5, 1998 promulgation which was invalid at the time it was conducted. The express mention in the provision of both requirements for a valid promulgation in absentia clearly means that they indeed must concur. 6.ID.; EVIDENCE; JUDICIAL NOTICE; CERTIFICATION ISSUED BY THE TRIAL COURT THAT PETITIONER HAS NOT YET BEEN FURNISHED WITH COPIES OF THE DECISION IN THE CRIMINAL CASES CONSIDERED BY THE COURT; SAID PIECE OF EVIDENCE IS SUFFICIENT TO CONTROVERT THE PRESUMPTION OF REGULARITY OF PERFORMANCE OF OFFICIAL DUTY AS REGARDS THE PROCEDURAL REQUIREMENT OF THE RECORDING OF THE JUDGMENT IN THE CRIMINAL DOCKET OF THE TRIAL COURT. In line with petitioner's second argument, petitioner has presented evidence sufficient to controvert the presumption of regularity of performance of official duty as regards the procedural requirement of the recording of the judgment in the criminal docket of the court. Attached to the petition is a piece of evidence that cannot be ignored by this Court a certification dated October 26, 1998 signed by the Clerk of Court of the Regional Trial Court of Pasig. We take judicial notice of said certification and hold that in view thereof, we cannot presume substantial compliance with the requirement of recording a judgment in the criminal docket. And in the absence of such compliance, there can be no valid promulgation. Without the same, the February 17, 1998 decision could not attain finality and become executory. This means that the 15-day period within which to interpose an appeal did not even commence. CAaDSI DECISION MELO, J p:

What constitutes a valid promulgation in absentia? In case of such promulgation, when does the accused's right to appeal accrue? Before us is a petition that calls for a ruling on the aforestated issues, particularly seeking the reversal of the decision of the Court of Appeals dated June 17, 1999 and its order dated September 28, 1999 denying reconsideration. The Court of Appeals dismissed the petition for certiorari under Rule 65 filed by petitioner which questioned the legality of the orders dated June 22, 1998 and October 8, 1998 issued by Branch 153 of the Regional Trial Court of the National Capital Judicial Region stationed in Pasig City. The antecedent facts may be briefly chronicled as follows: Petitioner was charged under 26 Informations for violation of Batas Pambansa Blg. 22. The Informations alleged that in 1989, petitioner issued 26 Philippine National Bank (PNB) checks to apply on account or for value in favor of Lucita Lopez, with the knowledge that at the time of issue, petitioner did not have sufficient funds in or credit with the drawee bank for the payment of the face value of the checks in full. Upon presentment of the subject checks, they were dishonored by the drawee bank for having been drawn against insufficient funds and against a closed account. After trial, a judgment of conviction was rendered on February 17, 1998, disposing: WHEREFORE, the Court finds the accused, MARILYN C. PASCUA, GUILTY beyond reasonable doubt of twenty six (26) counts of Violation of Batas Pambansa Bilang 22, and hereby sentences her to suffer ONE (1) YEAR imprisonment in each case and to pay the private complainant, LUCITA LOPEZ in the sum of SIX HUNDRED FIVE THOUSAND PESOS (P605,000.00), Philippine Currency, without subsidiary imprisonment in case of insolvency. SO ORDERED. (p. 41, Rollo.) The judgment was initially scheduled for promulgation on March 31, 1998. However. considering that the presiding judge was on leave, the promulgation was reset to May 5, 1998. When the case was called on May 5, 1998, Public Prosecutor Rogelio C. Sescon and defense counsel Atty. Marcelino Arias appeared and manifested their readiness for the promulgation of judgment, although the latter intimated that petitioner would be late. Hence, the case was set for second call. After the lapse of two hours, petitioner still had not appeared. The trial court again asked the public prosecutor and the defense counsel if they were ready for the promulgation of judgment. Both responded in the affirmative. The dispositive portion of the decision was thus read in open court. Afterwards, the public prosecutor, the defense counsel, and private complainant Lucita Lopez, acknowledged receipt of their respective copies of the subject decision by signing at the back of the original copy of the decision on file with the record of the case. Forthwith, the public prosecutor moved for the forfeiture of the cash bond posted by petitioner as well as for the issuance of a warrant for her arrest. Acting on the motion, the trial court issued, also on May 5, 1998, the following order: When this case was called for the promulgation of judgment, the accused failed to appear despite due notice. Upon motion of the Public Prosecutor, that the cash bond posted for her provisional liberty be forfeited in favor of the government, being well-taken, the same is hereby granted. Likewise, let a warrant of arrest be issued against her. SO ORDERED. (p. 42, Rollo.) No motion for reconsideration or notice of appeal was filed by petitioner within 15 days from May 5, 1998. On June 8, 1998, a notice of change of address was filed by petitioner with the trial court, sent through a private messengerial firm. On the same date, without terminating the services of her counsel of record, Atty. Marcelino Arias, the one who received the copy of the judgment of conviction, petitioner, assisted by another counsel, Atty. Rolando Bernardo, filed an 10

urgent omnibus motion to lift warrant of arrest and confiscation of bail bond, as well as to set anew the promulgation of the subject decision on the following allegations: that petitioner failed to appear before the trial court on the scheduled date of promulgation (May 5, 1998) because she failed to get the notices sent to her former address at No. 21 La Felonila St., Quezon City; that she had no intention of evading the processes of the trial court; that in February 1998, she transferred residence to Olongapo City by reason of an ejectment case filed against her by her landlord concerning her former residence in Quezon City; and that due to the abrupt dislocation of their family life as a result of the transfer of their residence to Olongapo City, there were important matters that she overlooked such as the filing of a notice of change of address to inform the trial court of her new place of residence. cHCaIE The motion was set for hearing on June 11, 1998 but on said date, neither petitioner nor assisting counsel was present. On June 22, 1998, petitioner filed a notice of appeal. The Office of the City Prosecutor of Pasig filed its comment on the motion for reconsideration arguing that: the promulgation of the subject decision was made by the trial court on May 5, 1998 in the presence of the accused's (herein petitioner's) counsel; that the subject decision is already final and executory, there having been no appeal interposed by the accused within the reglementary period; that there is no such thing as repromulgation of a decision; that before the accused could ask for relief from the trial court, she, being a convict, should submit herself first to the lawful order thereof, that is, to surrender to the police authorities. On June 22, 1998, the trial court issued an order denying petitioner's urgent omnibus motion and notice of appeal for lack of merit, mentioning that its February 17, 1998 decision had already become final and executory. Petitioner moved for reconsideration, this time assisted by another lawyer, Atty. Romulo San Juan. The motion was set for hearing on July 8, 1998 but on said hearing date, neither petitioner nor Atty. San Juan appeared. Instead, Atty. Porfirio Bautista appeared as collaborating counsel of Atty. San Juan. When asked if he knew petitioner's counsel of record, Atty. Bautista could not answer. On July 17, 1998, Attys. San Juan and Bautista as counsel for petitioner, filed a motion for inhibition of the presiding judge. The motion was set for hearing on July 28, 1998. Once again, petitioner failed to appear although Atty. Bautista did. On October 8, 1998, the trial court denied petitioner's motion for reconsideration and inhibition. On December 14, 1998, petitioner filed a petition for certiorari under Rule 65 of the 1997 Rules of Civil Procedure with the Court of Appeals praying for the nullification of the June 22, 1998 and October 8, 1998 orders of the trial court. At first, the Court of Appeals issued a resolution dated December 29, 1998 dismissing the petition for certiorari, for failure to contain an explanation why the respondent therein was not personally served a copy of the petition. However, upon reconsideration, said petition was reinstated. After an exchange of pleadings, on June 17, 1999, the Court of Appeals issued the decision assailed herein. Petitioner moved for reconsideration, but to no avail. Hence, the instant petition on the basis of the following grounds: (1) that petitioner was not properly notified of the date of promulgation and therefore, there was no valid promulgation; hence petitioner's period to appeal has not commenced; (2) that the promulgation in absentia of the judgment against petitioner was not made in the manner set out in the last paragraph of Section 6, Rule 120 of the 1985 Rules on Criminal Procedure which then provided that promulgation in absentia shall consist in the recording of the judgment in the criminal docket and a copy thereof shall be served upon the accused or counsel; (3) that the decision of the trial court is contrary to applicable laws and that it disregarded factual evidence and instead resorted to make a conclusion based on conjectures, presumptions, and misapprehension of facts. The resolution of the instant petition is dependent on the proper interpretation of Section 6, Rule 120 of the 1985 Rules on Criminal Procedure, which provides: SECTION 6. Promulgation of judgment. The judgment is promulgated by reading the same in the presence of the accused and any judge of the court in which it was rendered. However, if the conviction is for a light offense, the judgment may be pronounced in the presence of his counsel or representative. When the judge is absent or outside of the province or city, the judgment may be promulgated by the clerk of court.

If the accused is confined or detained in another province or city, the judgment may be promulgated by the executive judge of the Regional Trial Court having jurisdiction over the place of confinement or detention upon request of the court that rendered the judgment. The court promulgating the judgment shall have authority to accept the notice of appeal and to approve the bail bond pending appeal. The proper clerk of court shall give notice to the accused personally or through his bondsman or warden and counsel, requiring him to be present at the promulgation of the decision. In case the accused fails to appear thereat the promulgation shall consist in the recording of the judgment in the criminal docket and a copy thereof shall be served upon the accused or counsel. If the judgment is for conviction, and the accused's failure to appear was without justifiable cause, the court shall further order the arrest of the accused, who may appeal within fifteen (15) days from notice of the decision to him or his counsel. (Italics supplied) Incidentally, Section 6, Rule 120 of the Revised Rules of Criminal Procedure which took effect December 1, 2000 adds more requirements but retains the essence of the former Section 6, to wit: SECTION 6. Promulgation of judgment The judgment is promulgated by reading it in the presence of the accused and any judge of the court in which it was rendered. However, if the conviction is for a light offense the judgment may be pronounced in the presence of his counsel or representative. When the judge is absent or outside the province or city, the judgment may be promulgated by the clerk of court. If the accused is confined or detained in another province or city the judgment may be promulgated by the executive judge of the Regional Trial Court having jurisdiction over the place of confinement or detention upon request of the court which rendered the judgment. The court promulgating the judgment shall have authority to accept the notice of appeal and to approve the bail bond pending appeal; provided, that if the decision of the trial court convicting the accused changed the nature of the offense from non-bailable to bailable, the application for bail can only be filed and resolved by the appellate court. The proper clerk of court shall give notice to the accused personally or through his bondsman or warden and counsel, requiring him to be present at the promulgation of the decision. If the accused was tried in absentia because he jumped bail or escaped from prison, the notice to him shall be served at his last known address. IDCScA In case the accused fails to appear at the scheduled date of promulgation of judgment despite notice, the promulgation shall be made by recording the judgment in the criminal docket and serving him a copy thereof at his last known address or thru his counsel. If the judgment is for conviction and the failure of the accused to appear was without justifiable cause, he shall lose the remedies available in these Rules against the judgment and the court shall order his arrest. Within fifteen (15) days from promulgation of judgment however, the accused may surrender and file a motion for leave of court to avail of these remedies. He shall state the reasons for his absence at the scheduled promulgation and if he proves that his absence was for a justifiable cause, he shall be allowed to avail of said remedies within fifteen (15) days from notice. (italics supplied) Promulgation of judgment is an official proclamation or announcement of the decision of the court (Jacinto, Sr., Commentaries and Jurisprudence on the Revised Rules of Court [Criminal Procedure], 1994 ed., p. 521). In a criminal case, promulgation of the decision cannot take place until after the clerk receives it and enters it into the criminal docket. It follows that when the judge mails a decision through the clerk of court, it is not promulgated on the date of mailing but after the clerk of court enters the same in the criminal docket (Ibid., citing People v. Court of Appeals, 52 O. G. 5825 [1956]). According to the first paragraph of Section 6 of the aforesaid Rule (of both the 1985 and 2000 versions), the presence in person of the accused at the promulgation of judgment is mandatory in all cases except where the conviction is for a light offense, in which case the accused may appear through counsel or representative. Under the third paragraph of the former and present Section 6, any accused, regardless of the gravity of the offense charged against him, must be given notice of the promulgation of judgment 11

and the requirement of his presence. He must appear in person or in the case of one facing a conviction for a light offense, through counsel or representative. The present Section 6 adds that if the accused was tried in absentia because he jumped bail or escaped from prison, notice of promulgation shall be served at his last known address. Significantly, both versions of said section set forth the rules that become operative if the accused fails to appear at the promulgation despite due notice: (a) promulgation shall consist in the recording of the judgment in the criminal docket and a copy thereof shall be served upon the accused at his last known address or through his counsel; and (b) if the judgment is for conviction, and the accused's failure to appear was without justifiable cause, the court shall further order the arrest of the accused. Here lies the difference in the two versions of the section. The old rule automatically gives the accused 15 days from notice (of the decision) to him or his counsel within which to appeal. In the new rule, the accused who failed to appear without justifiable cause shall lose the remedies available in the Rules against the judgment. However, within 15 days from promulgation of judgment, the accused may surrender and file a motion for leave of court to avail of these remedies. He shall state in his motion the reasons for his absence at the scheduled promulgation and if he proves that his absence was for a justifiable cause, he shall be allowed to avail of said remedies within 15 days from notice. It thus appears that the judgment in a criminal case must be promulgated in the presence of the accused, except where it is for a light offense, in which case it may be pronounced in the presence of his counsel or representative (Dimson v. Elepao, 99 Phil. 733 [1956]), and except where the judgment is for acquittal, in which case the presence of the accused is not necessary (Cea, etc., et al. v. Cinco, et al., 96 Phil. 31 [1954]). Notably, one of the conditions of the bail given for the provisional liberty of an accused in a criminal case is that he shall surrender himself (or the bondsman shall surrender the accused) for execution of the final judgment (Section 2[d], Rule 114, Revised Rules of Criminal Procedure). Thus, it follows that it is the responsibility of the accused to make himself available to the court upon promulgation of a judgment of conviction, and such presence is secured by his bail bond. This amplifies the need for the presence of the accused during the promulgation of a judgment of conviction, especially if it is for a grave offense. Obviously, a judgment of conviction cannot be executed and the sentence meted to the accused cannot be served without his presence. Besides, where there is no promulgation of the judgment, the right to appeal does not accrue (People v. Jaranilla, 55 SCRA 565 [1974]). Jurisprudence further dictates that the absence of counsel during the promulgation will not result in a violation of any substantial right of the accused, and will not affect the validity of the promulgation of the judgment (Bernardo v. Abeto, CA-G.R. No. 6076, 31 January 1940; Gonzales v. Judge, 186 SCRA 101 [1990]). In the vintage case of Cea, etc., et al. v. Cinco, et al. (supra), the Court citing U. S. v. Beecham, (28 Phil. 258 [1914]), stated the reasons for requiring the attendance of the accused in case of conviction for a grave or less grave offense, to wit: . . . The common law required, when any corporal punishment was to be inflicted on the defendant, that he should be personally present before the court at the time of pronouncing the sentence. (1 Chitty's Crim. Law [5th Am. ed.], 693, 696.) Reasons given for this are, that the defendant may be identified by the court as the real party adjudged to be punished (Holt, 399); that the defendant may have a chance to plead or move in arrest of judgment (King vs. Speke, 3 Salk., 358); that he may have an opportunity to say what he can say why judgment should not be given against him (2 Hale's Pleas of the Crown, 401, 402); and that the example of the defendants, who have been guilty of misdemeanors of a gross and public kind, being brought up for the animadversion of the court and the open denunciation of punishment, may tend to deter others from the commission of similar offenses (Chitty's Crim. Law [5th ed.], 693, 696) . . ." Nevertheless, as mentioned above, regardless of the gravity of the offense, promulgation of judgment in absentia is allowed under the Rules. The only essential elements for its validity are: (a) that the judgment be recorded in the criminal docket; and (b) that a copy thereof shall be served upon the accused or counsel.

Let us examine the validity of the May 5, 1998 promulgation which took place in the case at bar. The dispositive portion of the decision convicting petitioner was read in open court, after which the public prosecutor, the defense counsel Atty. Marcelino Arias, and private complainant Lucita Lopez, acknowledged receipt of their respective copies of the decision by affixing their signatures at the back of the original of the decision on file with the record of the case. Atty. Arias failed to file a notice of appeal within fifteen days from receipt of the decision. Is it proper to rule that the period within which to file an appeal has lapsed? In Florendo v. Court of Appeals (239 SCRA 325 [1994]), the facts are parallel to those of the instant case. We held In the case at bench, a copy of the judgment was served to the counsel of petitioner on June 15, 1992; therefore, he had only up to June 30, 1992 within which to appeal. The notice of appeal filed on July 6, 1992 was clearly out of time. It is presumed that official duties are regularly performed and that the proceedings are made of record. This serves as a substantial compliance with the procedural requirement of the recording of the judgment in the criminal docket of the court. At any rate, petitioner does not question non-compliance of the requirement of the recording of the judgment in the criminal docket. (At p. 329.) Petitioner's first argument is devoid of merit. In the first place, her nonreceipt of the notice of promulgation was due to her own failure to immediately file a notice of change of address with the trial court, which she clearly admitted. Besides, promulgation could be properly done even in her absence, subject to the service of a copy of the decision upon her or her counsel and the recording of the judgment in the criminal docket. However, in line with petitioner's second argument, petitioner has presented evidence sufficient to controvert the presumption of regularity of performance of official duty as regards the procedural requirement of the recording of the judgment in the criminal docket of the court. Attached to the petition is a piece of evidence that cannot be ignored by this Court a certification dated October 26, 1998 signed by the Clerk of Court of the Regional Trial Court of Pasig, which reads: TO WHOM IT MAY CONCERN: THIS IS TO CERTIFY that this Office has not yet been furnished, as of this date, with copies of the decisions in Criminal Cases Nos. 85283-306 and 86064-65, entitled People of the Philippines versus Marilyn C. Pascua, which were assigned to Branch 153 of this Court. This certification is issued upon request of Romulo D. San Juan and Porfirio Bautista, both counsels for the accused. City of Pasig, October 26, 1998, 1:30 p.m. (Sgd.) GREGORIO P. SUBONG, JR. Administrative Officer I In-Charge Criminal Cases Unit (Sgd.) GRACE S. BELVIS Clerk of Court (p. 61, Record.) We take judicial notice of said certification and hold that in view thereof, we cannot presume substantial compliance with the requirement of recording a judgment in the criminal docket. And in the absence of such compliance, there can be no valid promulgation. Without the same, the February 17, 1998 decision could not attain finality and become executory. This means that the 15-day period within which to interpose an appeal did not even commence. What is the significance of the recording of the judgment with the criminal docket of the court? By analogy, let us apply the principles of civil law on registration. To register is to record or annotate. American and Spanish authorities are unanimous on the meaning of the term "to register" as "to enter in a 12

register; to record formally and distinctly; to enroll; to enter in a list" (Po Sun Tun vs. Prize and Provincial Government of Leyte, 54 Phil. 192 [1929]). In general, registration refers to 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 strict acceptation, it pertains to the entry made in the registry which records solemnly and permanently the right of ownership and other real rights (Ibid). Simply stated, registration is made for the purpose of notification(Paras, Civil Code of the Philippines, Vol. II, 1989 ed., p. 653, citing Bautista vs. Dy Bun Chin, 49 O.G. 179 [1952]). Registration is a mere ministerial act by which a deed, contract, or instrument is sought to be inscribed in the records of the Office of the Register of Deeds and annotated at the back of the certificate of title covering the land subject of the deed, contract, or instrument. Being a ministerial act, it must be performed in any case and, if it is not done, it may be ordered performed by a court of justice (Cruz, The Law of Public Officers, 1997 ed., p. 102). In fact, the public officer having this ministerial duty has no choice but to perform the specific action which is the particular duty imposed by law. Its purpose is to give notice thereof to all persons. It operates as a notice of the deed, contract, or instrument to others, but neither adds to its validity nor converts an invalid instrument into a valid one between the parties. If the purpose of registration is merely to give notice, then questions regarding the effects or invalidity of instruments are expected to be decided after, not before, registration. It must follow as a necessary consequence that registration must first be allowed, and validity or effect of the instruments litigated afterwards (Seron vs. Hon. Rodriguez, etc., and Seron, 110 Phil. 548 [1960]; Gurbax Singh Pabla & Co., et al. vs. Reyes, et al., 92 Phil. 177 [1952]; Register of Deeds of Manila vs. Tinoco Vda. De Cruz, 95 Phil. 818 [1954]; Samanilla vs. Cajucom, et al., 107 Phil. 432 [1960]). EaICAD Applying the above-mentioned principles to the instant case, we are prompted to further examine the provisions on promulgation in absentia. As held in Florendo vs. Court of Appeals (supra), the rules allow promulgation of judgment in absentia to obviate the situation where juridical process could be subverted by the accused jumping bail. But the Rules also provide measures to make promulgation in absentia a formal and solemn act so that the absent accused, wherever he may be, can be notified of the judgment rendered against him. As discussed earlier, the sentence imposed by the trial court cannot be served in the absence of the accused. Hence, all means of notification must be done to let the absent accused know of the judgment of the court. And the means provided by the Rules are: (1) the act of giving notice to all persons or the act of recording or registering the judgment in the criminal docket (which Section 6 incidentally mentions first showing its importance; and (2) the act of serving a copy thereof upon the accused (at his last known address) or his counsel. In a scenario where the whereabouts of the accused are unknown (as when he is at large), the recording satisfies the requirement of notifying the accused of the decision wherever he may be. Thus, on May 5, 1998, although the second kind of notification was satisfied when defense counsel Atty. Arias received a copy of the February 17, 1998 decision, the solemn and operative act of recording was not done, making the promulgation in absentia invalid. This being so, the period to appeal did not begin to run. The next matter we have to consider is the effect of the service of a copy of the judgment upon petitioner, who admits having received a copy thereof on June 17, 1998. Did the 15-day period to appeal begin to run on said date of receipt? We rule in the negative. Petitioner's later receipt of the copy of the decision does not in any way cure an invalid promulgation. And even if said decision be recorded in the criminal docket later, such piece-meal compliance with the Rules will still not validate the May 5, 1998 promulgation which was invalid at the time it was conducted. The express mention in the provision of both requirements for a valid promulgation in absentia clearly means that they indeed must concur. Finally, as regards the third argument, we agree with the Solicitor General that matters of sufficiency of evidence may not be passed upon in the herein proceedings. The instant petition assails the Court of Appeals' decision dated June 17, 1999 and its order dated September 28, 1999 both of which concern the orders of the trial court dated June 22, 1998 and October 8, 1998, in essence ruling that petitioner's notice of appeal dated June 19, 1998 was filed out of time. The petition is not directed against the February 17,

1998 decision of the trial court which convicted petitioner on 26 counts of violation of Batas Pambansa Blg. 22. Hence, this is not the proper time to rule on the merits of Criminal Cases No. 85283-306/86064-65. There is, rather, a need to remand the matter to the trial court for proper promulgation of its decision. Significantly, it is not what petitioner describes as "repromulgation" since promulgation was not validly made, and hence, as if not conducted. The requisites of the remedy of appeal shall then apply from that point. WHEREFORE, the instant petition is hereby GRANTED. The June 17, 1999 decision and the September 28, 1999 order of the Court of Appeals are hereby set aside. The instant case is hereby remanded to the trial court for proper promulgation of its decision in accordance with Section 6, Rule 120 of the Revised Rules of Criminal Procedure. SO ORDERED. Vitug, Panganiban and Gonzaga-Reyes, JJ., concur. SECOND DIVISION [G.R. No. 171008. September 13, 2007.] CARMELITA FUDOT, petitioner, vs. CATTLEYA LAND, INC., respondent. DECISION TINGA, J p: For resolution is a petition that seeks to nullify the Decision 1 and Resolution 2 of the Court of Appeals dated 28 April 2005 and 11 January 2006, respectively, in C.A.-G.R. CV No. 73025 which declared respondent as having a better right over a parcel of land located in Doljo, Panglao, Bohol. The facts, as culled from the records, follow. aSIDCT Sometime in July 1992, Cattleya Land, Inc. (hereinafter referred to as respondent) asked someone to check, on its behalf, the titles of nine (9) lots, the subject land included, which it intended to buy from the spouses Troadio and Asuncion Tecson. Finding no defect on the titles, respondent purchased the nine lots through a Deed of Conditional Sale on 6 November 1992. Subsequently, on 30 August 1993, respondent and the Tecsons executed a Deed of Absolute Sale over the same properties. The Deed of Conditional Sale and the Deed of Absolute Sale were registered with the Register of Deeds on 06 November 1992 and 04 October 1993, respectively. 3 The Register of Deeds, Atty. Narciso dela Serna, refused to actually annotate the deed of sale on the titles because of the existing notice of attachment in connection with Civil Case No. 3399 pending before the Regional Trial Court of Bohol. 4 The attachment was eventually cancelled by virtue of a compromise agreement between the Tecsons and their attaching creditor which was brokered by respondent. Titles to six (6) of the nine (9) lots were issued, but the Register of Deeds refused to issue titles to the remaining three (3) lots, because the titles covering the same were still unaccounted for. On 23 January 1995, petitioner presented for registration before the Register of Deeds the owner's copy of the title of the subject property, together with the deed of sale purportedly executed by the Tecsons in favor of petitioner on 19 December 1986. On the following day, respondent sent a letter of protest/opposition to petitioner's application. Much to its surprise, respondent learned that the Register of Deeds had already registered the deed of sale in favor of petitioner and issued a new title in her name. 5 On 5 May 1995, respondent filed its Complaint 6 for Quieting Of Title &/Or Recovery Of Ownership, Cancellation Of Title With Damages before the Regional Trial Court of Tagbilaran City. 7 On 26 June 1995, Asuncion filed a complaint-in-intervention, claiming that she never signed any deed of sale covering any part of their conjugal property in favor of petitioner. She averred that her signature in petitioner's deed of sale was forged thus, said deed should be declared null and void. 8 She also claimed that she has discovered only recently that there was an amorous relationship between her husband and petitioner. 9 Petitioner, for her part, alleged in her answer 10 that the spouses Tecson had sold to her the subject property for P20,000.00 and delivered to her the owner's copy of the title on 26 December 1986. She claims that she subsequently presented the said title to the Register of Deeds but the latter refused to register the same because the property was still under attachment. EcHTCD 13

On 31 October 2001, the trial court rendered its decision: 11 (i) quieting the title or ownership of the subject land in favor of respondent; (ii) declaring the deed of sale between petitioner and spouses Tecson invalid; (iii) ordering the registration of the subject land in favor of respondent; (iv) dismissing respondent's claim for damages against the Register of Deeds for insufficiency of evidence; (v) dismissing Asuncion's claim for damages against petitioner for lack of factual basis; and (vi) dismissing petitioner's counterclaim for lack of the required preponderance of evidence. 12 According to the trial court, respondent had recorded in good faith the deed of sale in its favor ahead of petitioner. Moreover, based on Asuncion's convincing and unrebutted testimony, the trial court concluded that the purported signature of Asuncion in the deed of sale in favor of petitioner was forged, thereby rendering the sale void. 13 Petitioner sought recourse to the Court of Appeals, arguing in the main that the rule on double sale was applicable to the case. The appellate court, however, dismissed her appeal, holding that there was no double sale because the alleged sale to petitioner was null and void in view of the forgery of Asuncion's purported signature in the deed. The appellate court noted that petitioner failed to rebut Asuncion's testimony despite opportunities to do so. 14 Moreover, even if there was double sale, according to the appellate court, respondent's claim would still prevail since it was able to register the second sale in its favor in good faith, had made inquiries before it purchased the lots, and was informed that the titles were free from encumbrance except the attachment on the property due to Civil Case No. 3399. 15 Petitioner sought reconsideration of the decision but the Court of Appeals denied her motion for reconsideration for lack of merit. 16 Petitioner thus presents before this Court the following issues for resolution: I. BETWEEN 2 BUYERS OF REGISTERED LAND, WHO HAS THE BETTER RIGHTIS IT THE FIRST BUYER WHO WAS GIVEN THE OWNER'S DUPLICATE TCT TOGETHER WITH A DEED OF SALE IN 1986, OR THE SECOND BUYER IN 1992 WITH ONLY A DEED OF SALE. cEDIAa II. IS A BUYER OF REGISTERED LAND WHO DID NOT DEMAND OR REQUIRE THE DELIVERY OF THE OWNER'S DUPLICATE TCT A BUYER IN GOOD FAITH. III. II. IN SUBSEQUENT REGISTRATION OF REGISTERED LANDS, AS BY SALE, WHICH LAW SHALL GOVERN, ARTICLE 1455 * OF CIVIL CODE OR P.D. 1529 OR TORRENS SYSTEM. 17 Petitioner avers that she was the first buyer in good faith and even had in her possession the owner's copy of the title so much so that she was able to register the deed of sale in her favor and caused the issuance of a new title in her name. She argues that the presentation and surrender of the deed of sale and the owner's copy carried with it the "conclusive authority of Asuncion Tecson" which cannot be overturned by the latter's oral deposition. 18 Petitioner claims that respondent did not demand nor require delivery of the owner's duplicate title from the spouses Tecson, neither did it investigate the circumstances surrounding the absence of the title. These indicate respondent's knowledge of a defect in the title of the spouses and, thus, petitioner concludes that respondent was not a buyer in good faith. 19 DCaSHI Finally, petitioner insists that the applicable law in this case is P.D. No. 1529, a special law dealing precisely with the registration of registered lands or any subsequent sale thereof, and not Article 1544 of the Civil Code which deals with immovable property not covered by the Torrens System. 20 Respondent points out, on one hand, that petitioner's first two issues which present an inquiry on who has a better right or which one is a buyer in good faith, are questions of fact not proper in a petition for review. The third issue, on the other hand, is ostensibly a question of law which had been unsuccessfully raised below. 21 TcDIaA Respondent maintains that there is no room to speak of petitioner as a buyer in good faith since she was never a buyer in the first place, as her claim is based on a null and void deed of sale, so the court a quo found. Respondent

also asserts that its status as a buyer in good faith was established and confirmed in the proceedings before the two courts below. 22 Lastly, respondent argues that P.D. No. 1529 finds no application in the instant case. The "production of the owner's duplicate certificate . . . being conclusive authority from the registered owner" is only true as between the registration applicant and the register of deeds concerned, but never to third parties. Such conclusive authority, respondent adds, is "only for the Register of Deeds to enter a new certificate or to make a memorandum of registration in accordance with such instrument." It cannot cure the fatal defect that the instrument from which such registration was effected is null and void ab initio, respondent concludes. 23 IASTDE The petition is bereft of merit. Petitioner's arguments, which rest on the assumption that there was a double sale, must fail. cdasia In the first place, there is no double sale to speak of. Art. 1544 of the Civil Code 24 which provides the rule on double sale, applies only to a situation where the same property is validly sold to different vendees. In this case, there is only one sale to advert to, that between the spouses Tecson and respondent. In Remalante v. Tibe, 25 this Court ruled that the Civil Law provision on double sale is not applicable where there is only one valid sale, the previous sale having been found to be fraudulent. Likewise, in Espiritu and Apostol v. Valerio, 26 where the same parcel of land was purportedly sold to two different parties, the Court held that despite the fact that one deed of sale was registered ahead of the other, Art. 1544 of the Civil Code will not apply where said deed is found to be a forgery, the result of this being that the right of the other vendee should prevail. cHCSDa The trial court declared that the sale between the spouses Tecson and petitioner is invalid, as it bears the forged signature of Asuncion. Said finding is based on the unrebutted testimony of Asuncion and the trial court's visual analysis and comparison of the signatures in her Complaint-in-Intervention and the purported deed of sale. This finding was upheld by the Court of Appeals, as it ruled that the purported sale in petitioner's favor is null and void, taking into account Asuncion's unrefuted deposition. In particular, the Court of Appeals noted petitioner's failure to attend the taking of the oral deposition and to give written interrogatories. In short, she did not take the necessary steps to rebut Asuncion's definitive assertion. The congruence of the wills of the spouses is essential for the valid disposition of conjugal property. 27 Thus, under Article 166 of the Civil Code 28 which was still in effect on 19 December 1986 when the deed of sale was purportedly executed, the husband cannot generally alienate or encumber any real property of the conjugal partnership without the wife's consent. DcCITS In this case, following Article 173 29 of the Civil Code, on 26 June 1995, or eight and a half years (8 1/2) after the purported sale to petitioner, Asuncion filed her Complaint-in-Intervention seeking the nullification thereof, and while her marriage with Troadio was still subsisting. Both the Court of Appeals and the trial court found Asuncion's signature in the deed of sale to have been forged, and consequently, the deed of sale void for lack of marital consent. We find no reason to disturb the findings of the trial court and the Court of Appeals. Findings of fact of lower courts are deemed conclusive and binding upon the Supreme Court subject to certain exceptions, 30 none of which are present in this case. Besides, it has long been recognized in our jurisprudence that a forged deed is a nullity and conveys no title. 31 Petitioner argues she has a better right over the property in question, as the holder of and the first one to present, the owner's copy of the title for the issuance of a new TCT. The Court is not persuaded. SDIaHE The act of registration does not validate petitioner's otherwise void contract. Registration is a mere ministerial act by which a deed, contract, or instrument is sought to be inscribed in the records of the Office of the Register of Deeds and annotated at the back of the certificate of title covering the land subject of the deed, contract, or instrument. While it operates as a notice of the deed, contract, or instrument to others, it does not add to its validity nor converts an invalid instrument into a valid one as between the parties, 32 nor amounts to a declaration by the state that the instrument is a valid and subsisting interest in the land. 33 The registration 14

of petitioner's void deed is not an impediment to a declaration by the courts of its invalidity. Even assuming that there was double sale in this case, petitioner would still not prevail. The pertinent portion of Art. 1544 provides: ISCHET Art. 1544.. . . . Should it be immovable property, the ownership shall belong to the person acquiring it who in good faith first recorded it in the Registry of Property. xxx xxx xxx In interpreting this provision, the Court declared that the governing principle is primus tempore, potior jure (first in time, stronger in right). Knowledge gained by the first buyer of the second sale cannot defeat the first buyer's rights, except where the second buyer registers in good faith the second sale ahead of the first as provided by the aforequoted provision of the Civil Code. Such knowledge of the first buyer does not bar him from availing of his rights under the law, among them to register first his purchase as against the second buyer. However, knowledge gained by the second buyer of the first sale defeats his rights even if he is first to register the second sale, since such knowledge taints his prior registration with bad faith. 34 It is thus essential, to merit the protection of Art. 1544, second paragraph, that the second realty buyer must act in good faith in registering his deed of sale. 35 We agree with the trial court and the Court of Appeals that respondent was a buyer in good faith, having purchased the nine (9) lots, including the subject lot, without any notice of a previous sale, but only a notice of attachment relative to a pending civil case. In fact, in its desire to finally have the title to the properties transferred in its name, it persuaded the parties in the said case to settle the same so that the notice of attachment could be cancelled. TaEIAS Relevant to the discussion are the following provisions of P.D. No. 1529: Sec. 51.Conveyance and other dealings by registered owner. An owner of registered land may convey, mortgage, lease, charge or otherwise deal with the same in accordance with existing laws. He may use such forms of deeds, mortgages, lease or other voluntary instruments as are sufficient in law. But no deed, mortgage, lease or other voluntary instrument, except a will purporting to convey or affect registered land shall take effect as a conveyance or bind the land, but shall operate only as a contract between the parties and as evidence of authority to the Register of Deeds to make Registration. DTAESI The act of registration shall be the operative act to convey or affect the land insofar as third persons are concerned, and in all cases under this Decree, the registration shall be made in the office of the Register of Deeds for the province or city where the land lies. (Emphasis supplied) Sec. 52.Constructive notice upon registration. Every conveyance, mortgage, lease, lien attachment, order, judgment, instrument or entry affecting registered land shall, if registered, filed or entered in the office of the Register of Deeds for the province or city where the land to which it relates lies, be constructive notice to all persons from the time of such registering, filing or entering. IaDTES It has been held that between two transactions concerning the same parcel of land, the registered transaction prevails over the earlier unregistered right. The act of registration operates to convey and affect the registered land so that a bona fide purchaser of such land acquires good title as against a prior transferee, if such prior transfer was unrecorded. 36 As found by the courts a quo, respondent was able to register its purchase ahead of petitioner. It will be recalled that respondent was able to register its Deed of Conditional Sale with the Register of Deeds as early as 6 November 1992, and its Deed of Absolute Sale on 14 October 1993. On the other hand, petitioner was able to present for registration her deed of sale and owner's copy of the title only on 23 January 1995, or almost nine years after the purported sale. Why it took petitioner nine (9) years to present the deed and the owner's copy, she had no credible explanation; but it is clear that when she finally did, she already had constructive notice of the deed of sale in respondent's favor. Without a doubt, respondent had acquired a better title to the property. Finally, anent petitioner's claim that P.D. No. 1529 applies to registered lands or any subsequent sale thereof, while Art. 1544 of the Civil Code applies only

to immovable property not covered by the Torrens System, suffice it to say that this quandary has already been answered by an eminent former member of this Court, Justice Jose Vitug, who explained that the registration contemplated under Art. 1544 has been held to refer to registration under P.D. No. 1529, thus: EcHIAC The registration contemplated under Art. 1544 has been held to refer to registration under Act 496 Land Registration Act (now PD 1529) which considers the act of registration as the operative act that binds the land (see Mediante v. Rosabal, 1 O.G. [12] 900, Garcia v. Rosabal, 73 Phil 694). On lands covered by the Torrens System, the purchaser acquires such rights and interest as they appear in the certificate of title, unaffected by any prior lien or encumbrance not noted therein. The purchaser is not required to explore farther than what the Torrens title, upon its face, indicates. The only exception is where the purchaser has actual knowledge of a flaw or defect in the title of the seller or of such liens or encumbrances which, as to him, is equivalent to registration (see Sec. 39, Act 496; Bernales v. IAC, G.R. 75336, 18 October 1988; Hernandez vs. Sales, 69 Phil 744; Tajonera vs. Court of Appeals, L-26677, 27 March 1981) (Emphasis supplied) 37 WHEREFORE, the petition is DENIED. The assailed decision and resolution of the Court of Appeals are affirmed. Costs against petitioner. SO ORDERED. Quisumbing, Carpio, Carpio-Morales and Velasco, Jr., JJ., concur.

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