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162335, the February 24, 2004 Amended Decision of the Third Division of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. SP No. 66642, ordering the Register of Deeds of Quezon City to cancel petitioners’ TCT No. RT -22481 and directing the Land Registration Authority (LRA) to reconstitute respondents’ TCT No. 210177; and in G.R. No. 162605, the November 7, 2003 Amended Decision of the Special Division of Five of the Former Second Division in CA-G.R. SP No. 66700 directing the Register of Deeds of Quezon City to cancel petitioners’ TCT No. RT -22481, and the LRA to reconstitute respondents’ TCT No. T -210177 and theMarch 12, 2004 Resolution denying the motion for reconsideration. The facts as found by the Court of Appeals are as follows: Petitioners, (respondents herein) as the surviving heirs of the late Homer Barque, filed a petition with the LRA for administrative reconstitution of the original copy of TCT No. 210177 issued in the name of Homer L. Barque, which was destroyed in the fire that gutted the Quezon City Hall, including the Office of the Register of Deeds of Quezon City, sometime in 1988. In support of the petition, petitioners submitted the owner’s duplicate copy of TCT No. 210177, real estate tax receipts, tax declarations and the Plan FLS 3168 D covering the property. Upon being notified of the petition for administrative reconstitution, private respondents (petitioners herein) filed their opposition thereto claiming that the lot covered by the title under reconstitution forms part of the land covered by their reconstituted title TCT No. RT-22481, and alleging that TCT No. 210177 in the name of petitioners’ predecessors-in-interest is spurious. On June 30, 1997, Atty. Benjamin M. Bustos, as reconstituting officer, denied the reconstitution of TCT No. 210177 on grounds that: 1. Lots 823-A and 823-B, Fls-3168-D, containing areas of 171,473 Sq. Mtrs. and 171,472 Sq. Mtrs., respectively, covered by TCT No. 210177, appear to duplicate Lot 823 Piedad Estate, containing an area of 342,945 Sq. Mtrs., covered by TCT No. 372302 registered in the name of Severino M. Manotok, et. al., reconstituted under Adm. Reconstitution No. Q-213 dated February 01, 1991; 2. The submitted plan Fls-3168-D is a spurious document as categorically stated by Engr. Privadi J.G. Dalire, Chief, Geodetic Surveys Division, Land Management Bureau, in his letter dated February 19, 1997. Respondents’ motion for reconsideration was denied in an order dated February 10, 1998 hence they appealed to the LRA. The LRA ruled that the reconstituting officer should not have required the submission of documents other than the owner’s dup licate certificate of title as bases in denying the petition and should have confined himself with the owner’s duplicate certificate of title. The LRA further declared: Based on the documents presented, petitioners have established by clear and convincing evidence that TCT NO. 210177 was, at the time of the destruction thereof, valid, genuine, authentic and effective. Petitioners duly presented the original of the owner’s duplicate copy of TCT No. 210177 .... The logbook of the Register of Deeds of Quezon City lists TCT No. 210177 as among the titles lost .... The Register of Deeds of Quezon City himself acknowledged the existence and authenticity of TCT No. 210177 when he issued a certification to the effect that TCT No. 210177 was one of the titles destroyed and not salvaged from the fire that gutted the Quezon City Hall on 11 June 1988 .... It is likewise noteworthy that the technical description and boundaries of the lot reflected in TCT No. 210177 absolutely conform to the technical description and boundaries of Lot 823 Piedad Estate ... as indicated in the B. L. Form No. 28-37-R dated 11-8-94 and B. L. Form No. 31-10 duly issued by the Bureau of Lands .... It therefore becomes evident that the existence, validity, authenticity and effectivity of TCT No. 210177 was established indubitably and irrefutably by the petitioners. Under such circumstances, the reconstitution thereof should be given due course and the same is mandatory. …. It would be necessary to underscore that the certified copy of Plan FLS 3168 D was duly issued by the office of Engr. Ernesto Erive, Chief, Surveys Division LMS-DENR-NCR whose office is the lawful repository of survey plans for lots situated within the National Capital Region including the property in question. Said plan was duly signed by the custodian thereof, Carmelito Soriano, Chief Technical Records and Statistics Section, DENR-NCR. Said plan is likewise duly supported by Republic of the Philippines Official Receipt No. 2513818 Q dated 9-23-96 .... Engr. Erive in his letter dated 28 November 1996 addressed to Atty. Bustos … confirmed that a microfilm copy of Plan FLS 3168D is on file in the Technical Records and Statistics Section of his office. Engr. Dalire, in his letter dated 2 January 1997 addressed to Atty. Bustos even confirmed the existence and authenticity of said plan. … .… The claim of Engr. Dalire in his letter dated 19 February 1997 that his office has no records or information about Plan FLS 3168-D is belied by the certified copy of the computer print-out duly issued by the Bureau of Lands indicating therein that FLS 3168D is duly entered into the microfilm records of the Bureau of Lands and has been assigned Accession Number 410436 appearing on Page 79, Preliminary Report No. 1, List of Locator Cards and Box Number 0400 and said computer print-out is duly supported by an Offical Receipt …. The said Plan FLS 3168D is indeed authentic and valid coming as it does from the legal repository and duly signed by the custodian thereof. The documentary evidence presented is much too overwhelming to be simply brushed aside and be defeated by the fabricated statements and concoctions made by Engr. Dalire in his 19 February 1997 letter. …
Nevertheless, notwithstanding its conclusion that petitioners’ title was fraudulently reconstituted, the LRA noted that it is only the Regional Trial Court (RT C) which can declare that the same was indeed fraudulently reconstituted. It thus opined that respondents’ title may only be reconstituted after a judicial declaration that petitioners’ title was void and should therefore be cancelled. The dispositive portion of the LRA’s decision reads:
Barque. 1998 is AFFIRMED in toto and the petition for review is ordered DISMISSED. Petitioners’ filed a motion for reconsideration which was opposed by respondents with a prayer that reconstitution be ordered immediately. No pronouncement as to costs. Petitioners likewise filed a petition for review with the Court of Appeals docketed as CA-G. petitioners’ motion for reconsideration and respondents’ prayer for immediate reconstitution were denied. RT -22481  should first be cancelled by a court of competent jurisdiction. SO ORDERED. . In CA-G. 210177 in the name of Homer L. 66700. the foregoing premises considered the assailed Resolution of the LRA dated June 24. SO ORDERED.R.WHEREFORE. 66642. 2001. it is hereby ordered that reconstitution of TCT No. Sr. the Second Division of the Court of Appeals rendered a Decision on September 13.R. in view of the foregoing. On June 14. RT-22481 (372302) in the name of Manotoks upon order of a court of competent jurisdiction. respondents filed a petition for review with the Court of Appeals docketed as CA-G. shall be given due course after cancellation of TCT No. 2002. 210177 without being subjected to the condition that petitioners’ TCT No. SP No.R. SP No. the dispositive portion of which reads: WHEREFORE. 66700 and praying that the LRA be directed to immediately reconstitute TCT No. From the foregoing. SP No.
No. thus: WHEREFORE. VELASCO. OR ANY INTEREST THEREIN. 2004 DIRECTING LRA TO CANCEL PETITIONERS MANOTOK’S TITLE NOTWITHSTANDING THE FACT. SO ORDERED. THE HONORABLE COURT OF APPEALS (THIRD DIVISION) COMMITTED GRAVE ABUSE OF DISCRETION AND GROSS IGNORANCE OF THE LAW IN INVOKING EQUITABLE CONSIDERATION TO JUSTIFY ITS CHALLENGED AMENDED DECISION DATED FEBRUARY 24. II THE MAJORITY JUSTICES GRAVELY MISAPPLIED THE RULING OF THIS HONORABLE COURT IN ORTIGAS V. AS RESPONDENTS ARE MERELY TRYING TO HAVE TITLE RECONSTITUTED IN THEIR NAMES. HENCE. the Motion for Reconsideration is hereby GRANTED. In G. Respondents’ motion for reconsideration was granted by the Third Division of the Court of Appeals on February 24. . in CA-G. SP No. THE HONORABLE COURT OF APPEALS (THIRD DIVISION) COMMITTED GRAVE ABUSE OF DISCRETION AND GROSS IGNORANCE OF THE LAW IN ORDERING THE LAND REGISTRATION AUTHORITY TO CANCEL TCT NO. 66642. IN ORTIGAS. 2003. the Third Division of the Court of Appeals declared that the LRA correctly deferred in giving due course to the petition for reconstitution since there is yet no final judgment upholding or annulling respondents’ title. IN THE ORTIGAS CASE. II. OR POSSESSION OF.R.R. Meanwhile. No. From the foregoing decisions of the Court of Appeals in CA-G. 162605 and G. The Decision of this Court dated 29 October 2003 is RECONSIDERED and a new one is entered ordering the Register of Deeds of Quezon City to cancel petitioners’ TCT No. SP No.R.R. 66700. BY ALLOWING A “SHORT CUT”. SO ORDERED. 162605. CONSIDERING THAT: a.  b. 66700 and CA-G.R. hence. No. petitioners raise the following issues: I. 162335. CONSIDERING THAT: a. RT-22481 of private respondents and the LRA is hereb y directed to reconstitute forthwith petitioners’ valid. the petition is hereby DENIED. and THE COURT OF APPEALS. THE MAJORITY JUSTICES DEPRIVED THE PETITIONERS OF THEIR PROPERTY AND THEIR CONSTITUTIONALLY PROTECTED RIGHT TO DUE PROCESS OF LAW. IN RESOLVING AN APPEAL OF THE DECISION OF THE LAND REGISTRATION AUTHORITY. Petitioners’ motion for reconsideration of the amended decision in CA-G. IN THE INSTANT CASE. the Register of Deeds of Quezon City is hereby directed to cancel TCT No.R. IN THE INSTANT CASE. No. SO ORDERED. ONLY PETITIONERS HOLD TITLE TO THE PROPERTY IN QUESTION. b. On November 7. REAL PROPERTY.R. RT-22481 OF PETITIONERS MANOTOK NOTWITHSTANDING THE FACT THAT SAID COURT WAS FULLY COGNIZANT THAT IT HAS NO JURISDICTION TO EXERCISE SUCH AUTHORITY AND POWER AND THE LAND REGISTRATION AUTHORITY IS EQUALLY DEVOID OF JURISDICTION ON THE MATTER BECAUSE UNDER THE JUDICIARY REORGANIZATION ACT OF 1980 SPECIFICALLY SECTION 19 (2) THEREOF. THE LAW EXPLICITLY VESTS EXCLUSIVE ORIGINAL JURISDICTION TO THE REGIONAL TRIAL COURTS OVER CIVIL ACTIONS WHICH INVOLVES TITLE TO. THERE WERE TWO TITLES EXISTING OVER THE SAME PARCEL OF LAND. AS A RESULT OF THE RECONSTITUTED TITLE ISSUED IN THE NAME OF MOLINA. 162605. RT -22481 and directing the LRA to reconstitute forthwith respondents’ TCT No. the Special Division of Five of the Former Second Division rendered an Amended Decision in CAG. respectively. 66642. the dispositive portion of which reads: WHEREFORE. OR ANY INTEREST THEREIN. THERE ARE NO SUCH DECISIONS IN FAVOR OF RESPONDENTS WHICH WOULD JUSTIFY THE CANCELLATION OF THE TITLE OF PETITIONERS WITHOUT ANY HEARING. petitioners argue that: I THE MAJORITY JUSTICES ACTED WITHOUT JURISDICTION IN ORDERING THE CANCELLATION OF PETITIONERS’ EXISTING TITLE. c. The Resolution of the LRA dated 24 June 1998 is hereby AFFIRMED. 66700 was denied. T-210177.R. DOES NOT HAVE JURISDICTION TO ORDER THE CANCELLATION OF TITLE.R. the dispositive portion of which reads: WHEREFORE. genuine and existing Certificate of Title No. THEY ALLOWED A COLLATERAL ATTACK ON A TORRENS CERTIFICATE OF TITLE. No. ONLY THE REGIONAL TRIAL COURTS HAVE EXCLUSIVE ORIGINAL JURISDICTION OVER CIVIL ACTIONS WHICH INVOLVES TITLE TO. SP No. THEY ORDERED THE CANCELLATION OF TITLE DESPITE THE FACT THAT THE SAME IS NOT PART OF THE RELIEF SOUGHT IN A RECONSTITUTION PROCEEDINGS. THERE WERE SEVERAL DECISIONS OF THE SUPREME COURT WHICH PREVIOUSLY RESOLVED THE ISSUE OF OWNERSHIP O F ORTIGAS’ PROPERTY. 2003. 162335. SP No. REAL PROPERTY.R. THERE WAS SUFFICIENT GROUND TO ANNUL MOLINA’S TITLE OUTRIGHT. the Third Division of the Court of Appeals rendered a Decision on October 29. In so ruling. AS STATED. SP No. our decision dated 13 September 2002 is hereby reconsidered. 2004.Respondents moved for reconsideration. SINCE ONLY A PROPER REGIONAL TRIAL COURT CAN ORDER THE ANNULMENT/CANCELLATION OF A TORRENS TITLE. OR POSSESSION OF. petitioners filed separate petitions for review before this Court docketed as G. In G. T-210177. Accordingly. No pronouncement as to costs. this petition docketed as G.
may be said to be strong. THE LRA COMMITTED GRAVE ABUSE OF DISCRETION AMOUNTING TO LACK OR IN EXCESS OF JURISDICTION IN ORDERING THE RECONSTITUTION OF THE TITLE OF HOMER BARQUE. when affirmed by the Court of Appeals. real estate tax receipts and tax declaration.. it is no longer necessary to remand the case to the RTC for the determination of which title. 1998 OF RESPONDENT LAND REGISTRATION AUTHORITY IN LRC ADMIN. genuine. CASE NO.. then there would be no basis for its decision to grant or deny the reconstitution. By enumerating the hierarchy of sources to be used for the reconstitution.R. Such questions as whether certain items of evidence should be accorded probative value or weight. Questions like these are not reviewable by this court which. Both the trial court and the Court of Appeals made a factual finding that petitioner’s title to the land is of doubtful authe nticity. IV. Whether or not the body of proofs presented by a party. is conclusive before this Court. Since respondents’ source of reconstitution is the owner’s duplicate certificate of title. The LRA properly ruled that the reconstituting officer should have confined himself to the owner’s duplicate certificate of title prior to the reconstitution. the same should have more than sufficed as sources for the reconstitution pursuant to Section 3 of RA No. has no jurisdiction to order the cancellation of petitioners’ title.  On August 2. much less deny the petition on the ground that the submitted plan appears to be spurious. No. it is the intent of the law to give more weight and preference to the owner’s duplicate certificate of title over the other enumerated sources. (c) they were not given the opportunity to be heard. the petition shall further be accompanied with a plan and technical description of the property duly approved by the Chief of the General Land Registration Office. if it cannot make such declaration. This has been ruled upon by the LRA and duly affirmed by the two divisions of the Court of Appeals. or rejected as feeble or spurious. whether or not certain documents presented by one side should be accorded full faith and credit in the face of protests as to their spurious character by the other side. 26 clearly provides: Section 3.. this Court is bound by the factual findings of the trial court and the Court of Appeals. and existing. The petitions must be denied. Thus: Section 12. petitioners contend that (a) the LRA has no authority to annul their title. in resolving the appeal from the LRA. No. aside from the consideration that this Court is essentially not a trier of facts. THE HONORABLE COURT OF APPEALS COMMITTED GRAVE ABUSE OF DISCRETION AMOUNTING TO LACK OF IN EXCESS OF JURISDICTION IN ALLOWING RESPONDENTS’ MOTION FOR RECONSIDERATION WHICH WAS CLEARLY FILED OUT OF TIME. there is no need for the reconstituting officer to require the submission of the plan. Questions of fact are not reviewable. modify or affirm on appeal the decision of the reconstituting officer. confines its review of cases decided by the Court of Appeals only to questions of law raised in the petition and therein distinctly set forth. whether or not inconsistencies in the body of proofs of a party are of such gravity as to justify refusing to give said proofs weight – all these are issues of fact. … Provided. Basic is the rule that factual findings of agencies exercising quasi-judicial functions … are accorded not only respect but even finality. (d) the Court of Appeals.. are no longer reviewable except only for very compelling reasons. the petition in G. V. Transfer certificates of title shall be reconstituted from such of the sources hereunder enumerated as may be available. (b) the reconstitution of respondents’ Torrens title would be a collateral attack on petitioners’ existing title. In sum. In view of the foregoing. It should remain undisturbed since only questions of law may be raised in a petition for review under Rule 45 of the Rules of Court. as affirmed by the two divisions of the Court of Appeals. Q-547  VIEWED FROM THE FACT THAT SAID RESOLUTION OF LRA IS PATENTLY AT WAR WITH LAW AND CONTROLLING JURISPRUDENCE THAT PROHIBITS RECONSTITUTION OF TITLE BY THIRD PARTY ALLEGED TO HAVE BEEN LOST OR DESTROYED IF ANOTHER VALID TITLE IS EXISTING COVERING THE LAND SUBJECT THEREOF. A petition for review should only cover questions of law. this Court categorically declared: Second. specifically the chance to defend the validity of their Torrens title. THE HONORABLE COURT OF APPEALS COMMITTED GRAVE ABUSE OF DISCRETION AMOUNTING TO LACK OR IN EXCESS OF JURISDICTION IN FAILING TO ORDER THE SETTING ASIDE OF THE CHALLENGED RESOLUTION DATED JUNE 24. or whether or not the proofs on one side or the other are clear and convincing and adequate to establish a proposition in issue.. Plainly. are without doubt questions of fact. . valid. petitioners' or respondents'.R. 162605 was consolidated with the petition in G. as in this case. Logically. Section 12 of the same law requires that the petition shall be accompanied with a plan and technical description of the property only if the source of the reconstitution is Section 3(f) of RA No. they submitted in support thereof the owner’s duplicate certificate o f title. or with a certified copy of the description taken from a prior certificate of title covering the same property. shall be binding on the Court of Appeals. The LRA has the jurisdiction to act on petitions for administrative reconstitution. Having jurisdiction only to resolve questions of law. It has the authority to review. it can declare a title as sham or spurious. 162335. The factual finding of the LRA that respondents’ title is authentic. SUBJECT ONLY TO THE CONDITION THAT THE TITLE OF PETITIONERS MANOTOK SHOULD FIRST BE ORDERED CANCELLED BY COURT OF COMPETENT JURISDICTION IN THE FACE OF THE GLARING FACTS THAT SAID TITLE IS HIGHLY SUSPECT AND BEARS BADGES OF FABRICATION AND FALSIFICATION AND THEREFORE NO OTHER LOGICAL AND CREDIBLE CONCLUSION CAN BE DRAWN EXCEPT THAT IT IS A FAKE AND SPURIOUS TITLE. In addition. 26 which explicitly mandates that the reconstitution shall be made following the hierarchy of sources as enumerated by law. in the following order: (a) . is valid or spurious. while petitioners’ title is sham and spurious. clear and convincing. Otherwise. when supported by substantial evidence.III. weighed and analyzed in relation to contrary evidence submitted by adverse party. The owner’s duplicate of the certificate of title. Findings of fact of administrative bodies are accorded respect. That in case the reconstitution is to be made exclusively from sources enumerated in section 2(f) or 3(f) of this Act. 2004. The findings of fact of the LRA. and (e) the ruling in Ortigas was misapplied. as a rule.. The function is adjudicatory in nature – it can properly deliberate on the validity of the titles submitted for reconstitution. even finality by this Court and. or valid on its face. 26. When respondents filed the petition for reconstitution. reverse. Register of Deeds for the Province of Cavite. Section 3 of Republic Act (RA) No. In Dolfo v. revise. SR.
 where this Court. it cannot even be discerned if the property subject of the Spouses Cayetano case refers to the property subject of the instant controversy. or mixed questions of fact and law. the LRA would be a mere robotic agency clothed only with mechanical powers. it is not possible for Molina’s cause to prosper. v. This. and that the evidence presented was sufficient and adequate for rendering a proper decision upon the issue. and recognized their authority to pass judgment on their title. have affirmed their title over the disputed property. Register of Deeds for the Province of Cavite: The rule that a title issued under the Torrens System is presumed valid and. In the instant case. Hon. the validity of respondents’ and petitioners’ title have been squarely passed upon by the LRA and reviewed and affirmed by the Court of Appeals. Valenzuela.. hence. As already discussed.. for this Court to direct at this time that cancellation proceedings be yet filed to nullify the sale to de los Santos and his title. it would be needlessly circuitous to remand the case to the RTC to determine anew which of the two titles is sham or spurious and thereafter appeal the trial court’s ruling to the Court of Appeals. et al. The Register of Deeds. CA. By opposing the petition for reconstitution and submitting their administratively reconstituted title. T 320601 was issued without legal basis … …. petitioner anchors her arguments on the premise that her title to the subject property is indefeasible because of the presumption that her certificate of title is authentic. This Court will therefore make the adjudication entailed by the facts here and now. it appearing from the records that in the previous petition for reconstitution of certificates of title. The reconstitution would not constitute a collateral attack on petitioners’ title which was irregularly and illegally issued in the first place. There was no adjudication on ownership. since all the facts are now before this Court.. Q-5405) to the Court of origin with instructions that Ortigas’ and the Solicitor General’s appeals from the judgment rendered therein. of law. even without a direct proceeding in the RTC. petitioners acquiesced to the authority and jurisdiction of the reconstituting officer. A careful examination of the case of Spouses Cayetano. this presumption is overcome by the evidence presented. or the verdict made inevitable by said facts. as claimed by petitioners. the revocation and cancellation of the deed of sale and the title issued in virtue thereof in de los Santos ’ favor should be had in appropriate proceedings to be initiated at the instance of the Government. The very concept of stability and indefeasibility of titles covered under the Torrens System of registration rules out as anathema the issuance of two certificates of title over the same land to two different holders thereof. v. . etc. As expressly declared in Ortigas & Company Limited Partnership v. without further proceedings. in fact. the LRA and the Court of Appeals. et al. After all. Corp. the LRA and the Court of Appeals have jurisdiction to act on the petition for administrative reconstitution. However. is a relief alternatively prayed for by petitioner Ortigas. The Court of Appeals properly applied the doctrine laid down in Ortigas in refusing to remand the case to the trial court... As held in Yusingco v. the LRA is bound to determine from the evidence submitted which between or among the titles is genuine and existing to enable it to decide whether to deny or approve the petition. does not apply in the instant case. However. … The Alabang ruling was premised on the fact that the existing Torrens title was duly issued and that there is only one title subsisting at the time the petition for reconstitution was filed. as it has done in other cases in similar premises. In this case. the adjudication of the issue of ownership was valid and binding. consisting of the LRA report … that TCT No. Ong Hing Lian: Therefore. the parties acquiesced in submitting the issue of ownership for determination in the said petition. et al. The same rationale should apply in the instant case. The Court of Appeals also properly exercised its appellate jurisdiction over the judgment of the LRA. … The courts simply have no jurisdiction over petitions by such third parties for reconstitution of allegedly lost or destroyed titles over lands that are already covered by duly issued subsisting titles in the names of their duly registered owners. Without such authority.In the reconstitution proceedings. Under Sections 1 and 3. which were wrongly disallo wed. whether the appeal involves questions of fact. which is the essence of due process. we ruled that: Now. and it is not within de los Santos’ power in any case to alter those facts at any other proceeding. Indeed. it cannot be said that petitioners’ title was duly issued much less could it be presumed valid considering the findings of the LRA and the Court of Appeals that the same is sham and spurious. be given due course and the records forthwith transmitted to the appellate tribunal. the relief indicated by the material facts would be the remand of the reconstitution case (LRC No. Court of Appeals. which factual findings are no longer reviewable by this Court. and they were given the full opportunity to present their respective sides of the issues and evidence in support thereof. is the best proof of ownership of a piece of land does not apply where the certificate itself is faulty as to its purported origin. . such a reman d and subsequent appeal proceedings would be pointless and unduly circuitous. There is no basis in the allegation that petitioners were deprived of “their property” without due process of law when the Co urt of Appeals ordered the cancellation of theirTorrens title. the appellate court has jurisdiction on appeals from judgments or final orders of the LRA. All the evidence presented was duly considered by these tribunals. There is thus no basis to petitioners’ claim that they were deprived of their right to be heard and present evidence. The remand of the case or of an issue to the lower court for further reception of evidence is not necessary where the Court is in position to resolve the dispute based on the records before it and particularly where the ends of justice would not be subserved by the remand thereof. evident from the records before this Court. Rule 43 of the Rules of Court. there is no need to remand the case to the RTC for a re-determination on the validity of the titles of respondents and petitioners as the same has been squarely passed upon by the LRA and affirmed by the appellate court. As pertinently held in Dolfo v. technically. Velasco: Ordinarily.. To defer adjudication thereon would be unwarranted and unjust. As already discussed. Upon the facts. In fact. would be needlessly circuitous and would unnecessarily delay the termination of the controversy at bar. The doctrine laid down in Alabang Dev. would reveal that the sole issue resolved therein is whether or not a tenancy relationship exists between the parties. the LRA and the two divisions of the appellate court have already declared that petitioners’ title is forged. In Mendoza v. et al. the Court stressed that: … *L+ands already covered by duly issued existing Torrens Titles … cannot be the subject of petitions for reconstitution of allegedly lost or destroyed titles filed by third parties without first securing by final judgment the cancellation of such existing titles. Considering however the fatal infirmities afflicting Molina’s theory or cause of action. No useful purpose will be served if a case or the determination of an issue in a case is remanded to the trial court only to have its decision raised again to the Court of Appeals and then to the Supreme Court. In Alabang.
210177 . petitioner cannot invoke the indefeasibility of her certificate of title. BARQUE 2008 RESOLUTION TINGA. records stored in the Office of the Register of Deeds of Quezon City. The submitted plan Fls-3168-D is a spurious document as categorically stated by Engr.. 372302 registered in the name of Severino M. RT-22481 and directing the Land Registration Authority to reconstitute respondents’ TCT No. Geodetic Surveys Division. followed by the submission of their respective memoranda. Atty. . to perpetually enjoin any question in the legality of the title. appear to duplicate Lot 823 Piedad Estate.. while the Manotok title concerns only one parcel of land. On 30 June 1997. tax declarations and a Plan FLS 3168-D covering the property. These petitions were referred to the Court en banc by the Special First Division which had initially ruled on them... at the time of the destruction thereof. if not the most contentious of those cases thus far. Bustos. r eal estate tax receipts. genuine. covered by TCT No. the February 24. Thus. they afford this Court the opportunity to again defend the Torrens system against unscrupulous elements who use its formalities to actualize the theft of property. covered by TCT No. Its fundamental purpose is to quiet title to land. al. Learning of the Barques’ petition. Dalire. 210177. At the same time. are AFFIRMED. petitioners have established by clear and convincing evidence that TCT NO. Under similar circumstances.G. the parties presented their various contentions before the Court in an oral argument held on 24 July 2007.. Its underlying principle is security with facility in dealing with land. et. the petitions are DENIED. a fire gutted portions of the Quezon City Hall. the Barques appealed to the LRA. 210177 (the Barque title) issued in the name of Homer Barque. reconstituted under Adm. The antecedent facts are stated in full in our 2005 Decision. et. most comprehensively in a Decision dated 12 December 2005. and in G.: The perceived advantages of the Torrens system of registration of land titles have helped stabilize land ownership in the Philippines. Yet the Torrens system is imperfect in that it remains susceptible to fraud. and the Land Registration Authority to reconstitute respondents’ TCT No. SP No. ordering the Register of Deeds of Quezon City to cancel petitioners’ TCT No. The Manotoks claimed that the lot covered by the Barque title formed part of the land covered by their reconstituted title TCT No. 210177 was. MANOTOK V. but are summarized herein for convenience.. In support of their petition. 66642. 2004 Resolution denying the motion for reconsideration. Mtrs. while it may be true. as petitioner argues. hence. Mtrs. Mtrs.  These petitions are perhaps the most heated. It bears emphasis that the Torrens system does not create or vest title but only confirms and records one already existing and vested.. 66700 directing the Register of Deeds of Quezon City to cancel petitioners’ TCT No. Manotok. among others. 823 of the Piedad Estate. The LRA further found anomalies in the Manotoks’ title.945 square meters.R. in his letter dated February 19. Province of Rizal.472 Sq.945 square meters. Respondents Heirs of Homer Barque (the Barques) filed a petition with the Land Registration Authority (LRA) for administrative reconstitution of the original of Transfer Certificate of Title (TCT) No. While the cases were under consideration of the Court en banc. 210177. 2. as reconstituting officer of the LRA. No. Chief. It ruled that the reconstituting officer should not have required the submission of documents other than the owner’s duplicate certificate of title as basis for denying the petition and should have confined himself to the owner’s duplicate certificate of title. declaring that: xxx 1. It observed that: Based on the documents presented. and to exert judicial might in ensuring that fraud does not prevail in the end. the Barques submitted copies of the alleged owner’s duplicate of the Barque title. valid. Benjamin M. but with a similar area of 342. 162335. they call for the correct application of entrenched principles in land registration.. Lots 823-A and 823-B. authentic and effective. Severino M. 2003 Amended Decision of the Special Division of Five of the Former Second Division in CA-G. et al. A brief description of the property involved is in order. They were accepted by the Court en banc in a Resolution dated 26 July 2006. No. Petitioners duly presented the original of the owner’s duplicate copy of TCT No.  hence. Reconstitution No. and 171. They alleged that the Barque title was among the records destroyed by the 1988 fire. denied the petition for reconstitution of the Barque title. The Barque title actually involves two parcels of land as part of Lot No. SO ORDERED.945 Sq. Subsequently. The LRA reversed Atty. 823 of the Piedad Estate situated in the then Municipality of Caloocan. Land Management Bureau. the November 7. Bustos on appeal.473 Sq. that a land registration court has no jurisdiction over parcels of land already covered by a certificate of title. and a set of new parties was allowed leave to intervene. containing areas of 171. this Court has ruled that wrongly reconstituted certificates of title secured through fraud and misrepresentation cannot be the source of legitimate rights and benefits.. it is equally true that this rule applies only where there exists no serious controversy as to the authenticity of the certificate. Bustos in an Order dated 10 February 1998.R. The resulting effects of that blaze on specific property registration controversies have been dealt with by the Court in a number of cases since then. T -210177 and the March 12. the titles issued under the system are indefeasible. The Register of Deeds of Quezon City himself acknowledged the existence and authenticity of TCT No. That fire has attained notoriety due to the numerous certificates of title on file with that office. 1997. J. Privadi J.. RT -22481. which were destroyed as a consequence. Bo th the Barques’ and the Manotoks’ titles advert to land belonging to Lot No. On 11 June 1988.. 210177 when he issued a certification to the effect that TCT No. The logbook of the Register of Deeds of Quezon City lists TCT No. These petitions feature apparently fraudulent practices relating to the attempts at registration of the subject property. (the Manotoks) filed their opposition thereto. Necessarily. In G. immolating. al.Thus. Q-213 dated February 01.. 210177 as among the titles lost . 1991. 2004 Amended Decision of the Third Division of the Court of Appeals in CA-G. 162605. xxx The Barques’ motion for reconsideration was denied by Atty. respectively. WHEREFORE. either in the original registration proceedings or in subsequent transactions. They further alleged that the Barque title was spurious. Manotok IV. 210177 was one of the titles destroyed and not salvaged from the fire that gutted the Quezon City Hall on 11 June 1988 . RT-22481  (the Manotok title) in the name of Severino Manotok. containing an area of 342.R. Fls-3168-D.R. with an aggregate area of 342. SP No. the participation of the Office of the Solicitor General was required.
T-210177.R. SP No. 66700 and CA-G. The Court denied the same in a Resolution dated 19 June 2006. both ordering the cancellation of the Manotok title. 66700.. Meanwhile.It is likewise noteworthy that the technical description and boundaries of the lot reflected in TCT No. it is hereby ordered that reconstitution of TCT No. Thereafter. 66642 and claimed ownership over the subject property. CA-G. Aggrieved with the twin decisions of the Court of Appeals in CA-G. The Barques filed a motion for reconsideration. 162605 was owned by them. in view of the foregoing. RT-22481 of private respondents and the LRA is hereby directed to reconstitute forthwith petitioners’ valid. Said plan is likewise duly supported by Republic of the Philippines Official Receipt No. Carmelito Soriano. T-210177. the LRA noted that only the Regional Trial Court (RTC) could cancel the Manotok title as a Torrens title. genuine and existing Certificate of Title No. SO ORDERED. Under such circumstances.. Accordingly.R. Felicitas Manahan filed a motion for leave to intervene. It thus ruled.R. In a Resolution dated 19 July 2006. The LRA denied the Manotoks’ motion for reconsideration and the Barques’ prayer for immediate reconstitution. the Court ordered the consolidation of G. the reconstitution thereof should be given due course and the same is mandatory…. in his letter dated 2 January 1997 addressed to Atty.. the Second Division of the Court of Appeals rendered a Decision in CA-G. while the Manotoks’ petition for review was docketed as CA-G.. as to the Manotoks’ petition. shall be given due course after cancellation of TCT No.R. SP No. with their Motion for Reconsideration attached. No.R.R. in CA-G.R. 66700. 66700. promulgated its Amended Decision wherein it held that: WHEREFORE. … .R.… The claim of Engr. the Manotoks’ filed a Motion for Leave to File a Second Motion for Reconsideration. Surveys Division LMS-DENR-NCR whose office is the lawful repository of survey plans for lots situated within the National Capital Region including the property in question. SP No. 66642.R. Form No.R. SP No.R. In response. Dalire.. the Manotoks filed separate petitions for review before this Court docketed as G. The Barques filed a motion for reconsideration of this ruling.R. the Special First Division referred these cases to the Court en banc. SP No. the Court en banc promulgated a Resolution accepting the cases. List of Locator Cards and Box Number 0400 and said computer print-out is duly supported by an Offical Receipt …. 210177 in the name of Homer L. to which was attached their petition in intervention. 162335. the Court’s First Division rendered its Decision affirming the two decisions of the Court of Appeals. On 12 December 2005. 162605 with G. They claimed that their predecessor-in-interest. Dalire in his 19 February 1997 letter. Moreover. 66700 and CA-G. Engr. the Manotoks filed an Urgent Motion to Refer Motion for Possession to the Supreme Court En Banc (with prayer to set motion for oral argument). authenticity and effectivity of TCT No. RT-22481 and directing the LRA to reconstitute forthwith respondents’ TCT No. the Motion for Reconsideration is hereby GRANTED. denying the Barques’ petition and affirming the LRA Resolution.. On 13 September 2002. Said plan was duly signed by the custodian thereof. The Manotoks filed a motion for reconsideration.R. On 2 August 2004. including a Motion for Issuance of Writ of Possession or For Execution.R. It would be necessary to underscore that the certified copy of Plan FLS 3168 D was duly issued by the office of Engr. respectively. 162335 and G. 66642. the Special Division of Five of the Former Second Division rendered an Amended Decision dated 7 November 2003 wherein it held that: WHEREFORE. SP No. 2513818 Q dated 9-23-96 . entry of judgment was made in the Book of Entries of Judgment. the Third Division of the Court of Appeals granted the Barques’ motion for reconsideration and on 24 February 2004. 66700. Preliminary Report No. No. si nce there was as yet no final judgment upholding or annulling the Barque title. It therefore becomes evident that the existence. The Barques’ petition for review was docketed as CAG. No. SP No. they attached to their petition the findings of the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) that the documents of the Manotoks were not as old as they were purported to be. Dalire in his letter dated 19 February 1997 that his office has no records or information about Plan FLS 3168-D is belied by the certified copy of the computer print-out duly issued by the Bureau of Lands indicating therein that FLS 3168D is duly entered into the microfilm records of the Bureau of Lands and has been assigned Accession Number 410436 appearing on Page 79. 28-37-R dated 11-8-94 and B. as indicated in the B. On the other hand. Erive in his letter dated 28 November 1996 addressed to Atty. The Decision of this Court dated 29 October 2003 is RECONSIDERED and a new one is entered ordering the Register of Deeds of Quezon City to cancel petitioners’ TCT No. 511 which covered lot 823 of the Piedad Estate. Vicente Manahan. 1. No. The appellate court held that the LRA correctly deferred in giving due course to the Barques’ petition for reconstitution. Form No. … Notwithstanding its conclusion that the Manotok title was fraudulently reconstituted. No. L.. 210177 absolutely conform to the technical description and boundaries of Lot 823 Piedad Estate .R. As had occurred with the Barques’ petition. On 7 September 2006. 31-10 duly issued by the Bureau of Lands . our decision dated 13 September 2002 is hereby reconsidered. Both the Manotoks and the Barques appealed the LRA decision to the Court of Appeals (CA). 210177 was established indubitably and irrefutably by the petitioners. The said Plan FLS 3168D is indeed authentic and valid coming as it does from the legal repository and duly signed by the custodian thereof. Chief Technical Records and Statistics Section. The documentary evidence presented is much too overwhelming to be simply brushed aside and be defeated by the fabricated statements and concoctions made by Engr. 162605 and G. Movants alleged that the property subject of the petition in G.. that: WHEREFORE. The Barques filed multiple motions with the Court’s First Division concerning the execution of the judgment. Bustos … confirmed that a microfilm copy of Plan FLS 3168D is on file in the Technical Recor ds and Statistics Section of his office. and on 26 July 2006. SP No. Sr. On the other hand. Engr. The Manotoks filed a motion for reconsideration. L. The Manotoks filed a motion for the reconsideration of the amended decision in CA-G. which the Court’s First Division denied in a Resolution dated 19 April 2006. the Register of Deeds of Quezon City is hereby directed to cancel TCT No. She sought the dismissal of the cases in CA-G. Felicitas Manahan and Rosendo Manahan filed a motion to intervene.R. the Manotoks argued in their own petition that the LRA erred in imputing that the Manotok title was spurious and fake. but this was denied. Thus on 2 May 2006. Chief. The Director of the Legal Division of the Land Management Bureau (LMB) recommended to the Director of the LMB that: . was issued Sales Certificate No. SP No. 162335. Subsequently. SP No. which was opposed by the Barques with a prayer that the reconstitution be ordered immediately. the Third Division of the Court of Appeals rendered a Decision on 29 October 2003 which affirmed the resolution of the LRA. Bustos even confirmed the existence and authenticity of said plan. The Barques prayed that the LRA be directed to immediately reconstitute the Barque title without being subjected to the condition that the Manotok title should first be cancelled by a court of competent jurisdiction. Barque. Ernesto Erive. No. DENR-NCR. validity. RT-22481 (372302) in the name of Manotoks upon order of a court of competent jurisdiction. and the Court further ordered that entry of judgment be made. 66642.
Section 48 of Presidential Decree No. To recall. Our succeeding discussion centers on the ordered mechanism for the cancellation of Torrens titles in the Philippines. General Functions — (1) The Commissioner of Land Registration shall have the following functions: (a) (b) (c) (d) Issue decrees of registration pursuant to final judgments of the courts in land registration proceedings and cause the issuance by the Registers of Deeds of the corresponding certificates of title. RT -22481(372302) and all its derivative titles so that the land covered may be reverted to the State. I As can be gleaned from the foregoing statement of facts. provides that “*a+ certificate of title shall not be subject to collateral attack *…and+ cannot be altered. No. As earlier stated. Section 9 of that law restricts the exclusive original jurisdiction of the Court of Appeals to special civil actions and to actions for annulment of judgments of the regional trial court. 129.P.D. Still. 1529 enumerates the general functions of the Land Registration Commissioner. as amended. the LRA itself must have statutory authority to cancel a Torrens title in the first place. which acts as counsel for the government and its agencies including the LRA.P. It is beyond contention. II In the context of an administrative reconstitution proceeding before the LRA. 129. Our land registration system is too vital to be stymied by such esoteric wrangling. we can perhaps assess such law separately from B. If there is. these petitions are attended by a few procedural unorthodoxies. upon motion for reconsideration. conferring jurisdiction on the RTC over “all civil actions which involve the title to or possession of real property. notwithstanding the statutory delineation of “exclusive original jurisdiction of the RTC. There are good reasons for the Court to act in such rare manner in these cases. the Court of Appeals did acquire jurisdiction over the Barques’ and the Manotoks’ petitions. . we may inquire whether. Note that the Office of the Solicitor General. After the oral arguments. The obvious question is whether the Court of Appeals was empowered to direct the annulment of the Manotok title through the petitions raised before it by the Barques and the Manotoks. Section 19 of B. 129. albeit in the exercise of its exclusive appellate jurisdiction over the ruling of the LRA. Blg. as well as the Resolutions dated 19 April and 19 June 2006 of that same Division. or on appeal from decision of. although it did rule that the Manotok title was spurious and thus subject to cancellation through the proper judicial proceeding.P. refutes the contention that the LRA has jurisdiction to cancel the Manotok title. particularly by Batas Pambansa (B.  The power to suspend or even disregard rules of procedure can be so pervasive and compelling as to alter even that which this Court itself has already declared to be final. It could not.…steps be taken in the proper court for the cancellation of TCT No. The OSG filed its Comment on 04 April 2007. Upon appellate review of that LRA decision. 1529. as follows: SEC.” Clearly. and the administrators and courts which implement that system do not deserve needless hassle. Blg. Yet the prevailing consensus within the Court en banc was to proceed with the reevaluation of these cases on a pro hac vice basis. 129). Registers of Deeds.” It has been argued that the 2005 Decision of the First Division is inconsistent with precedents of the Court.” there is statutory basis for the LRA to exercise jurisdiction over the cancellation of Torrens titles. Resolve cases elevated en consulta by. Exercise supervision and control over all Registers of Deeds and other personnel of the Commission. directing the OSG to file its Comment. and leaving that decision alone without the imprimatur of the Court en banc would lead to undue confusion within the bar and bench. for the appellate court to be able to direct the cancellation of a Torrens title in the course of reviewing a decision of the LRA. directed the cancellation of the Manotok title and the reconstitution of the Barque title. for example. Section 6 of P.  The militating concern for the Court en banc in accepting these cases is not so much the particular fate of the parties.P. modified. such as. much less jurisdiction to rule on the validity of a certificate of title. and the Solicitor General to submit their respective memoranda. It is a constitutional principle that “no doctrine or principle of law laid down by the *C ]ourt in a decision rendered en banc or in division may be modified or reversed except by the court sitting en banc. the cancellation of the Manotok title cannot arise incidentally from the administrative proceeding for reconstitution of the Barque title even if the evidence from that proceeding revealed the Manotok title as fake. Ultimately. Oral arguments were eventually held on 24 July 2007. Nor could it have emerged incidentally in the appellate review of the LRA’s administrative proceeding. Exercise executive supervision over all clerks of court and personnel of the Court of First Instance throughout the Philippines with respect to the discharge of their duties and functions in relation to the registration of lands. The Office of the Solicitor General correctly pointed out that this Court before had sanctioned the recall entries of judgment. the Court required the parties.” That the RTC has “exclusive original jurisdiction” over actions seeking the cancellation of title to real property is so cardinal in our remedi al law that it is reflected in hundreds if not thousands of examples in jurisprudence. the intervenors. the Court en bancs move on the Special First Division’s referral for reevaluation of these petitions when an entry of judgment had already been made in favor of the Barques. also pursuant to Section 9 of B. 6. the Barques have sought that the LRA exercise the power to cancel the Manotok title and forthwith cause the reconstitution of their own title. that since the Court en banc resolved to accept these petitions in 2006. even by the parties. or cancelled except in a direct proceeding in accordance with law. also known as the Property Registration Decree. but the stability of the Torrens system of registration by ensuring clarity of jurisprudence on the field. This Resolution is the result of that review. but ultimately. the Court had felt that the previous rulings by the First Division and the Special First Division warranted either affirmation or modification by the Court acting en banc. both assailed Amended Decisions of the Court of Appeals notably directed the cancellation of the Manotok title even as it mandated the reconstitution of the Barque title. academics and judges quibbling over whether the earlier ruling of the Division constitutes the current standard with respect to administrative reconstitution of titles. with lawyers. we have opted to do so on a pro hac vice basis to lend much needed jurisprudential clarity as only the Court en banc can constitutionally provide. The LRA refused to do so. Its exclusive original jurisdiction is determined by law. There is no doubt that the Court of Appeals does not have original jurisdiction to annul Torrens titles or to otherwise adjudicate questions over ownership of property. the Court of Appeals initially upheld the LRA’s position. we have effectively been reviewing the 12 December 2005 Decision of the Court’s First Division. Most urgently. the Court found it necessary to involve the Office of the Solicitor General (OSG) in these cases. Nonetheless. or any interest therein x x x. Thus. It invokes the exclusive original jurisdiction of the RTC under Paragraph 2. Blg.
Neither the LRA nor the Court of Appeals at that point may inquire into the validity of the title or the competing claims over the property. deceit or other machination is void ab initio as against the party obtaining the same and all persons having knowledge thereof. Act No. which we held that “*t+he courts simply have no jurisdiction over petitions by such third parties for reconstitution of allegedly lost or destroyed titles over lands that are already covered by duly issued subsisting titles in the names of their duly registered owners. subject to the approval of the Secretary of Justice. the administrative reconstitution of the Barque title. if any. These provisions indubitably establish that the administrative reconstitution of Torrens titles is intended for non-controversial cases. and to such new liens and encumbrances. (5) That the certificate of title is covered by a tax declaration regularly issued by the Assessor's Office. or especially where the subject property is not covered by an existing title in favor of a person other than the applicant. Act No. is not in the name of the same person in whose favor the reconstituted certificate of title has been issued. fire and other force majeure. The Solicitor General pertinently cites the rule in Alabang Development Corporation v. Such an implication is consonant with the rule that the reconstitution proceedings are not the venue for confirmation or adjudication of title. After all. Section 19 of Rep. even under Republic Act (R. but merely a means by which a previously adjudicated title whose original has been lost or destroyed may be reissued to its owner. with respect to the memorandum of new liens and encumbrances made on the reconstituted certificate of title. if any. which. 26 as amended by Rep. after due notice and hearing. If a petition for administrative reconstitution is filed with the LRA. all needful rules and regulations therefor. which authorizes the administrative reconstitution of titles in limited cases. the nature thereof. A reconstituted title obtained by means of fraud. as amended by Rep. Velasco. conditional as it may have been. Valenzuela. Act No. 26.” The petitioner in such a case is required to execute an affidavit. such judgment as justice and equity may require: Provided.(e) (f) Implement all orders. shall be liable for imprisonment of not less than five years but not exceeding ten years or payment of a fine of not less than Fifty thousand pesos but not exceeding One hundred thousand pesos or both at the discretion of the court and perpetual disqualification from holding public office. Indeed. and (6) That real estate taxes have been fully paid up to at least two (2) years prior to the filing of the petition for reconstitution. containing the following averments: (1) That no deed or other instrument affecting the property had been presented for registration. Section 12. Act No.A. and consolidation-subdivision survey plans of properties titled under Act No.) No. after its reconstitution. and not with the LRA. administrative or judicial. further provides: Sec. 6732 itself also states: Section 11. where in the course of reviewing an action for judicial reconstitution of title. after the issuance thereof. That if the reconstituted certificate of title has been cancelled by virtue of any deed or instrument. whether voluntary or involuntary. and it appears from the official records that the subject property is already covered by an existing Torrenstitle in the name of another person. as well as the names of the parties. It is thus clear that neither the Court of Appeals nor the LRA had jurisdiction to cancel the Manotok title. shall be liable for imprisonment for a period of not less than two years but not exceeding five years or the payment of a fine of not less than Twenty thousand pesos but not exceeding Two hundred thousand pesos or both at the discretion of the court. 496 except those covered by P. Act No. with respect to the memoranda of new liens and encumbrances. the procedure prescribed above. (3) That the certificate of title is not the subject of litigation or investigation. Rep. and subsequently found or recovered. Nowhere in the aforecited provision is it stated that the LRA has the power to cancel titles. shall order the cancellation of the reconstituted certificate of title and render.D. Verify and approve subdivision. Under Rep. 6732. where the property is already covered by a Torrens title. made in the reconstituted certificate of title. as we shall see shortly such laws take great care to ensure that a petition for administrative reconstitution of title will not disturb existing Torrenstitles. (4) That the certificate of title was in full force and effect at the time it was lost or destroyed. 6732. the Court opted not to remand the reconstitution case filed by Molina to the court of origin in order to permit the appeals of Ortigas and the Solicitor General. if there be any. 19. upon conviction. however. No. upon conviction. The next matter of inquiry is whether the LRA had acted correctly in ordering. after its reconstitution. 957. regarding its genuineness or due execution or issuance. the Register of Deeds or the party concerned should bring the matter to the attention of the proper regional trial court. The dismissal of such petition is subject to judicial review. and decrees promulgated relative to the registration of lands and issue. Even assuming that the previously issued title is obviously fraudulent or attended by flaws and as such cannot be countenanced by the legal system. and a new certificate of title has been issued. consolidation. the LRA in such case is powerless to void the previous title or to diminish its legal effect. or. If the certificate of title considered lost or destroyed. The only remedy is an action before the RTC for the cancellation of the existing title. None of the provisions pertaining to administrative reconstitution in Rep. Any public officer or employee who knowingly approves or assists in securing a decision allowing reconstitution in favor of any person not entitled thereto shall be subject to criminal prosecution and. but the only relevant inquiry in such appellate proceeding is on whether or not there is a previously existing title covering that property. shall be followed with respect to the new certificate of title. the date of its presentation. III The 2005 Decision placed heavy reliance on Ortigas & Company Limited Partnership v. decisions. deceit or other machination obtains or attempts to obtain a reconstituted title shall be subject to criminal prosecution and. Any person who by means of fraud.” That such doctrine was established for cases of judicial reconstitution does not bar its application to cases of administrative reconstitution. or by an order of the court. Act No. the corrective recourse lies with the courts. Act No. In fact. 26 as amended by Rep. 26 or 6732 extraordinarily empowers the LRA to exercise jurisdiction over a petition for reconstitution. there is nothing further the LRA can do but to dismiss the petition. 6732. as may have been on the latter. (2) That the owner's duplicate certificate or co-owner's duplicate is in due form without any apparent intentional alterations or erasures. which had . administrative reconstitution of titles is permitted where the certifi cates of titles have been lost due to “flood. whether by the competing claimant or by the OSG on behalf of the Republic. the Barques are unable to point to any basis in law that confirms the power of the LRA to effect such cancellation. and whether the registration of such deed or instrument is still pending accomplishment.
 These discrepancies highlight the error of the LRA and the Court of Appeals in acknowledging the right of the Barques to seek reconstitution of their purported Barque title.” This is material. made in favor of Setosta. Moreover. praying for either of these alternative results —the more prudent recourse of directing the trial court to act on the notices of appeal and to forward the case records to the Court of Appeals. As earlier pointed out. or the more immediate remedy of bypassing the appellate process and the Court itself by directly annulling Molina’s titles. however. The available record before the Court is comprehensive enough to allow us to engage in that task. along line 4-5 by Lot 818. the Court of A ppeals would have then reviewed the trial court’s decision on appeal. under which the Barques assert title to Lot 823 of the Piedad Estate. This detracts from the Barques’ claim that the Manotoks do not have title to the property. Instead. Ortigas was forced to institute a special civil action of certiorari and mandamus with this Court. along line 4-5 by Lot 826. is a guardian of the integrity of the land registration system of the Philippines. based on the records. 823 per the Barque title locates it at 5.  The LMB. However. in the 1st indorsement issued by the Land Projection Section of the LRA dated 23 August 2006. IV The 2005 Decision accepted the findings of the LRA and the Court of Appeals that the Manotok title was spurious and accordingly sanctioned its cancellation. V In the course of fully reevaluating these cases. and on the N. if we examine the subdivision plan. In effect.. A similar finding was made by the Land Management Bureau (LMB). That petition was referred by the . on the SE.. which bore the stamp of the LMB. the Court itself nullified the reconstituted titles issued by the trial court. The Barques have failed to explain the anomaly. the boundaries as described in the subdivision plan would read: Bounded on the E. Thus. even while re viewing the LRA’s ruling. However. FLS-3168-D. Still. reflective as they are of a scourge this Court is dedicated to eliminate. Lastly. since the LRA had no original jurisdiction to cancel the Manotok title. 823 of the Piedad Estate. it would be best for this Court to test the premises under which the LRA and the Court of Appeals had concluded that the Barques had a valid claim to title. it would have been pointless for the LRA or the Court of Appeals to have ruled definitively on the validity of the Barques’ claim to title. They also do not contradict the finding of the National Archives that there is no copy in its files of the deed of sale allegedly executed between Setosta and Barque.” The Barques offered no credible explanation for the discrepancy between the subdivision plan it relies on and the DENR record.been improvidently disallowed by the trial court. it was not. Revelatory is the exchange of correspondence between the LMB and the LRA.889 meters away from point 1 of Lot No. The Court. Ortigas cannot be applied as a binding precedent to these cases. The apparent flaws in the Manotoks’ claim are considerable and disturbing enough. We will be derelict in our duty if we remain silent on the apparent defects of the Manotok title. The fundamental jurisdictional defects that attended the actions of both Divisions of the Court of Appeals have effectively diminished Ortigas as a persuasive authority. in ruling on the Barques’ petition.” There are significant differences between the technical description of Lot 823 of the Piedad Estate as stated in FLS-3168-D. Many of these flaws have especially emerged through the petition-for-intervention of Felicitas and Rosendo Manahan. on the SE. any declaration that the Barque claim was valid would be inutile and inoperable. 13900 was registered under the name of Manotok Realty. hence it is recommended that this case [be] referred to the PARAC for investigation and filing of charges against perpetrators as envisioned by this office under your administration. along line 5-1 by Lot 822. However. since neither the LRA nor the Court of Appeals could cause the cancellation of the Manotok title. it could be deduced that TCT No. The LMB did not have any copy of FLS-3168D in the EDP listing. The copy with the Technical Records and Statistical Section. denied issuing such letter and stated that it was a forged document. the hearing officer concluded that “it is evident that there is an attempt to mislead us into favorable action by submitting forged documents. The unusual “shortcut” that occurred in Ortigas had become necessary because in that case the trial court had denied or stricken out the notices of appeal respectively filed by Ortigas and the Solicitor General from the order for reconstitution of Molina’s titles.. a microfilm copy of FLS-3168-D was on file in the Technical Records and Statistical Section of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources Capital Region (DENR-NCR).. or TCT No. all of Piedad Estate. It attested that the line or directional azimuth of Lot No. all of Piedad Estate. Clearly. with the ultimately correct resolution which was the annulment of Molina’s titles. After all. and on the N. owing to the “fatal infirmities” of Molina’s cause of action. by Tuazon Estate. Ortigas had been cited by the Court of Appeals and also by the 2005 Decision. 210177. unlike in Ortigas. along line 3-4 by Lot 824. The DENR-confirmed technical description reads: Bounded on the E. Inc. TCT No. In a letter to the administrator of the LRA.. 13900. the subdivision plan relied on by the Barques. states that it was transferred from TCT No. However. along line 5-1 by Lot 822. by Diez Francisco. the letter dated 2 January 1997 from the LMB stated that the copy of FLS-3168-D as verified from its microfilm file was the same as the copy sent by the Technical Records and Statistics Section of the National Capital Region Lands Management Sector. Further. the Court could not turn a blind eye on the evidence and points raised against the Manotok title. as in fact the Barque title was a transfer from a title registered under the name of the Manotoks. The Court of Appeals herein could not have equated its annulment of the Manotok title with that undertaken by the Court in Ortigas since. 13900 should have been registered under the name of Setosta. along line-2 by Payatas Estate. there are critical changes with respect to the boundaries named therein. The Barques assert that they bought the subject property from a certain Setosta. Even assuming that the petition for reconstitution should not have been dismissed due to the Manotok title. The Barques hinge their claim on a purported subdivision plan. That the 2005 Decision erred in that regard is a necessary consequence following our earlier explanation of why the mere existence of the Manotok title necessarily barred the LRA from inquiring into the validity of that title. along line 3-4 by Lot 824. The Barque title. in order to effectively review and reverse the assailed rulings. since Lot 823 of the Piedad Estate is within the boundaries ofQuezon City. the Court of Appeals was not endowed with the proper appellate jurisdiction to annul the Manotok title. whom we have allowed to intervene in these cases. it follows that the Court of Appeals had no jurisdictional competence to extend the same relief. even though no direct attack on the title had been initiated before a trial court. along line-2 by Diez Francisco. it is apparent th at the Barques’ claim of ownership is exceedingly weak. and the technical description provided by the DENR. Had these notices of appeal been allowed.. it appears that there is a conflict as to its actual existence in the files of the government. nor did the LMB have a record of the plan. To amplify the forged nature of the document. was denied by the LMB as having emanated from its office. The Manahans had filed a petition with the OSG seeking that it initiate cancellation/reversion proceedings against the Manotok title. as the ultimate citadel of justice and legitimacy. that Section stated that upon examination it was found out that the land as described in the Barque title “when plotted thru its tie line falls outside Quezon City. the LMB sent a detailed explanation to prove that it did not come from its office.
22813. Also on record is an Investigation Report on Lot No. the validity of the questionable title were now properly at issue. 232. The Chief of the Legal Division of the LMB recommended that the appropriate proceedings be taken in the proper court for the cancellation of the Manotok title.” According to the Manahans. Both parties failed to do so. is founded on "the great principle of public policy. we have to take further action. as it is an iron-clad dictum that prescription can never lie against the Government. it is already apparent. dela Rosa. and Felicisimo Villanueva— certificates that were all dated prior to 1930. to private persons. remained part of the patrimonial property of the Government. The copy of said TCT No. the mother title of Lot 823 of the Piedad Estate. dela Peña a query on whether a deed of conveyance could be issued to Felicitas Manahan. it appears that the documents leading to the issuance of TCT No. 511 covering Lot 823. through a Memorandum dated 17 April 2000. had not participated or intervened in that case before the lower courts." . authored by Evelyn C. applicable to all governments alike. Cebu Country Club had undertaken the administrative reconstitution of the title to the property. The DENR Undersecretary. It was narrated therein that Lot No. Modesto Zacarias. The conservative approach would be to still affirm the continuing validity of the Manotok title until the proper case for its cancellation is filed with the regional trial court. a certification was issued by the Register of Deeds of Rizal dated 7 January 2000 stating thus: After a thorough verification from the files of this Office. the Solicitor General can file the appropriate proceedings for cancellation if warranted. and in the dispositive portion of its decision declared “that Lot No. Within that context. which forbids that the public interests should be prejudiced by the negligence of the officers or agents to whose care they are confided. 823 had actually been in the possession of a Valentin Manahan beginning in 1908. 22813. Around the same time. While the case was pending with this Court. Central Office. Piedad Estate. the Forensic Chemistry Division of the NBI concluded that the said documents “could not be as old as it (sic) purports to be. In fact. 727 D-2 of the Banilad Friar Lands Estate covered by Original Certificate of Title Nos. it would also be a plausible recourse for us is to direct the Solicitor General to duly investigate the circumstances behind the transmission of Lot No. the rule that statutes of limitation do not run against the State. The DENR also requested the assistance of the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) in conducting the said investigation. Can the Court declare the Manotok title void? In the 2002 decision in Alonso v. Thereafter. In its Chemistry Report No. 511. 614. Possession of patrimonial property of the Government. the lengthy possession and occupation of the disputed land by respondent cannot be counted in its favor. The Investigation Report stated: Records show that the Sale Certificate No. it is essential for both respondent and petitioners to establish that it had become private property. However. As we have held earlier. If. More crucially. Moreover. through the Solicitor General. the Court concluded that Cebu Country Club had not been able to establish a clear title over the contested estate. It must be borne in mind that the disputed property is part of the "Friar Lands" over which the Government holds title and are not public lands but private or patrimonial property of the Government and can be alienated only upon proper compliance with the requirements of Act No. Cebu Country Club. was issued to Valentin Manahan as purchaser and transferred to Hilaria de Guzman Manahan as (Assignee) and sold to Felicitas Manahan by way of Deed of Absolute Sale dated August 23. the matter of how next to proceed warrants more deliberation. NCR-North Sector and addressed to the CENRO Officer.OSG to the LMB of the DENR. acting on the motions for reconsideration in Alonso. and he was issued Sales Certificate No. xxx It was thus primordial for the respondent to prove its acquisition of its title by clear and convincing evidence in view of the nature of the land. the subject property therein had originally formed part of the Banilad Friar Lands. and 253 legally belongs to the Government of the Philippines. as the subject property being a friar land. formerly a Friar Land. the LMB referred to the DENR Undersecretary for Legal Affairs Roseller S. xxx Neither may the rewards of prescription be successfully invoked by respondent. extensively discussed why it had taken that extraordinary step even though the Republic of the Philippines. 22813 submitted to the Court is truncated in the upper half. These findings were twice verified with due diligence and reconfirmed by the DENR.” The following year. 1120 or the Friar Lands Act. it appears that original claimant of lot 823 was Valentin Manahan. 823. T-92 cannot be found from the files of this Office. purportedly issued by the Office of the Register of Deeds for the Province of Rizal. In 1939. the LMB did eventually forward to the Office of the Register of Deeds of Quezon City a Deed of Conveyance for registration and mandatory issuance of title to Felicitas Manahan as grantee. the Court. The chain of transfers leading from OCT No. Since respondent failed to present the paper trail of the property's conversion to private property. petitioners have not succeeded to prove their claim of ownership over the subject property. VI The most formidable impediment to the Court reacting to the problems apparent in the Manotok title is the fact that we are not engaged in the review of an original action for the cancellation of such title. C-99-152 dated 10 June 1999. Blk. pointed out that the titles of the Manotoks could not have been derived from OCT No. The registration of said Deed of Conveyance was referred to the Administrator of the Land Registration Authority en consulta in 2001. Indeed. 823 of the Piedad Estate dated 5 July 1989. unless therein expressly provided. to the point that it is not visually discernible what year the same was issued. North CENRO. The NBI examined various sales certificates and assignment of sales certificates in the names of the purported predecessors-in-interest of the Manotoks Regina Geronimo. following the evaluation of these cases. the Court would without hesitancy rule on such question. leading Alonso to file a complaint for nullification of such title in order to vindicate his own claims to the property. Land Investigator of the Community Environment and Natural Resources Office (CENRO). Valentin Manahan applied for the purchase of the land. 614 to the Manotok title was a TCT No. whether spanning decades or centuries. the Solicitor General was required to comment on the validity of Cebu Country Club’s administratively reconstituted title. Based on my research at the Land Management Bureau (LMB). 251. All told. pursuant to Section 122 of the Land Registration Act. according to Undersecretary Dela Peña. which duly investigated the claim of the Manahans. Ultima tely. in answering that query through a Memorandum dated 6 July 2000. 1974. Because it is not. these apparent problems with the Manotoks’ claim dissuade us from being simply content in reflexively dismissing th e administrative petition for reconstitution filed by the Barques. that there is evidence—unrefuted thus far—indicating that the Manotoks’ claim to title is just as flawed as that of the Barques. Alonso’s complaint was dismissed by the trial court and the Court of Appea ls. as in Ortigas. can not ipso facto ripen into ownership.
R. this Court may ultimately decide whether annulment of the Manotok title is warranted. In fact. For the purposes above-stated. there is greater concern on the part of this Court to secure its proper transmission to private hands.R. Thus. Rule 32 of the Rules of Court. Recons. All that the record indicates thus far is evidence not yet refuted by clear and convincing proof that the Manotoks’ claim to title is flawed. Our following explanation in Manotok equally applies to this case: Under Section 6 of Rule 46. similar to the annulment of the Cebu Country Club title in Alonso. along with the OSG. in any stage of a case. The remand of cases pending with this Court to the Court of Appeals for reception of further evidence is not a novel idea. conclude the proceedings and submit to this Court a report on its findings and recommended conclusions within three (3) months from notice of this Resolution. other than upon the pleadings. Court of Appeals. arises upon motion or otherwise. The instant cases are hereby REMANDED to the Court of Appeals for further proceedings in accordance with this Resolution. delegate the reception of the evidence on such issues to any of its members or to an appropriate court. At the same time. 66642. and the commissioner may likewise rule upon the admissibility of evidence. 823 of the Piedad Estate. Q-547-A are all REVERSED and SET ASIDE. On that evidence. as in this case. the Court recognizes that the respective claims to title by other parties such as the Barques and the Manahans. In Republic. the Court of Appeals is sufficiently able to undertake such function. Under Section 2. motu proprio. which is applicable to original cases for certiorari. and the Entry of Judgment recorded on 2 May 2006 is RECALLED. The primary focus for the Court of Appeals. this Court commissioned the former Thirteenth Division of the Court of Appeals to hear and receive evidence on the controversy. in assuring the accurate evaluation of the question. WHEREFORE. This Resolution is immediately executory. The Court of Appeals generally has the authority to review findings of fact. and the areas of the Cultural Center Complex which are 'open spaces' and/or ‘areas reserved for certain purposes. At the same time. It has been undertaken before – in Republic v. a court may. It is a body that is fully capacitated and has a surfeit of experience in appreciating factual matters. the Court would take such fact into consideration as it adjudicates final relief. in receiving and evaluating evidence should be whether the Manotoks can trace their claim of title to a valid alienation by the Government of Lot No. and the Resolutions dated 19 April and 19 June 2006 of the Court’s First Division are hereby SET ASIDE. the Court had actually resorted to referring a factual matter pending before it to the Court of Appeals. The disputed property is a Friar Land and both parties failed to show that it had ceased to belong to the patrimonial property of the State or that it had become private property." The Court of Appeals therein received the evidence of the parties and rendered a "Commissioner's Report" shortly thereafter. If the final evidence on record definitively reveals the proper claimant to the subject property. The commissioner is likewise mandated to submit a report in writing to the court upon the matters submitted to him by the order of reference. the commissioner's report formed the basis of the final adjudication by the Court on the matter. more particularly to determine "the actual area reclaimed by the Republic Real Estate Corporation. The Court of Appeals is directed to raffle these remanded cases immediately upon receipt of this Resolution. and the evidence they may submit on their behalf. Court of Appeals and more recently in our 2007 Resolution in Manotok v. To arrive at an ul timate determination. the Amended Decision dated 7 November 2003 and the Resolution dated 12 March 2004 in CA-G. SP No. In Republic v. as an agent of this Court. including documentary evidence. The order of reference can be limited exclusively to receive and report evidence only. the formal reception of evidence is in order. and the Resolutions of the Land Registration Authority dated 24 June 1998 and 14 June 1998 in Admin.xxx Finally. the Court of Appeals is tasked to hear and receive evidence. the subject property therein was a Friar Land which under the Friar Lands Law (Act No. our declaration that Lot 727-D-2 of the Banilad Friar Lands Estate legally belongs to the Government does not amount to reversion without due process of law insofar as both parties are concerned. This Court is not a trier of fact or otherwise structurally capacitated to receive and evaluate evidence de novo. may have an impact on the correct determination of the status of the Manotok title. No. which was a Friar Land. 66700. However. Its conclusions as to findings of fact are generally accorded great respect by this Court. 1120) may be disposed of by the Government only under that law. The Alonso approach especially appeals to us because. The same result can obtain herein. It would thus be prudent. The provisions of Rule 32 should also be considered as governing the grant of authority to the Court of Appeals to receive evidence in the present case. . agency or office. whenever necessary to resolve factual issues. Court of Appeals. if at all. to participate in the proceedings before the Court of Appeals. SP No. Thus. To assist the Court of Appeals in its evaluation of the factual record. direct a reference to a commissioner when a question of fact. to allow said parties. the Court recognizes that there is not yet any sufficient evidence for us to warrant the annulment of the Manotok title. The Amended Decision dated 24 February 2004 in CA-G. the Decision dated 12 June 2005. 80 The delegate need not be the body that rendered the assailed decision. the Office of the Solicitor General is directed to secure all the pertinent relevant records from the Land Management Bureau and the Department of Environment and Natural Resources and submit the same to the Court of Appeals. the Court may. or for carrying a judgment or order into effect.' determining in the process the validity of such postulates and the respective measurem ents of the areas referred to. resort to the Court of Appeals is not a deviant procedure.
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