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=]LTD83113 REPUBLIC OF THE PHILIPPINES, petitioner, vs. THE HONORABLE COURT OF APPEALS and CORAZON NAGUIT, respondents.

Facts: Naguit, a Filipino citizen, of legal age and married to Manolito S. Naguit, On January 5, 1993, filed with the MCTC of Ibajay-Nabas, Aklan, a petition for registration of title of a parcel of land situated in Brgy. Union, Nabas, Aklan. The parcel of land is designated as Lot No. 10049, Cad. 758-D, Nabas Cadastre, AP 060414-014779, and contains an area of 31,374 square meters. The application seeks judicial confirmation of respondents imperfect title over the aforesaid land. On February 20, 1995, the court held initial hearing on the application. opposed the petition: The public prosecutor, appearing for the government, and Jose Angeles, representing the heirs of Rustico Angeles, The evidence on record reveals that the subject parcel of land was originally declared for taxation purposes in the name of Ramon Urbano (Urbano) in 1945 under Tax Declaration No. 3888 until 1991.[4] On July 9, 1992, Urbano executed a Deed of Quitclaim in favor of the heirs of Honorato Maming (Maming), wherein he renounced all his rights to the subject property and confirmed the sale made by his father to Maming sometime in 1955 or 1956.[5] Subsequently, the heirs of Maming executed a deed of absolute sale in favor of respondent Naguit who thereupon started occupying the same. She constituted Manuel Blanco, Jr. as her attorney-in-fact and administrator. The administrator introduced improvements, planted trees, such as mahogany, coconut and gemelina trees in addition to existing

coconut trees which were then 50 to 60 years old, and paid the corresponding taxes due on the subject land. At present, there are parcels of land surrounding the subject land which have been issued titles by virtue of judicial decrees. Naguit and her predecessors-in-interest have occupied the land openly and in the concept of owner without any objection from any private person or even the government until she filed her application for registration. MCTC rendered a decision ordering that the subject parcel be brought under the operation of the Property Registration Decree or Presidential Decree (P.D.) No. 1529 and that the title thereto registered and confirmed in the name of Naguit.[6] After the presentation of evidence for Naguit, the public prosecutor manifested that the government did not intend to present any evidence while oppositor Jose Angeles, as representative of the heirs of Rustico Angeles, failed to appear during the trial despite notice. On September 27, 1997, The Republic of the Philippines (Republic), thru the Office of the Solicitor General (OSG), filed a motion for reconsideration. The OSG stressed that the land applied for was declared alienable and disposable only on October 15, 1980, per the certification from Regional Executive Director Raoul T. Geollegue of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources, Region VI.[7] However, the court denied the motion for reconsideration in an order dated February 18, 1998.[8] Thereafter, the Republic appealed the decision and the order of the MCTC to the RTC, Kalibo, Aklan, Branch 8. On February 26, 1999, the RTC rendered its decision, dismissing the appeal.[9] Undaunted, the Republic elevated the case to the Court of Appeals via Rule 42 of the 1997 Rules of Civil Procedure. On July 12, 2000, the appellate court rendered a decision dismissing the petition filed by the Republic and affirmed in toto the assailed decision of the RTC.

Hence, the present petition for review raising a pure question of law was filed by the Republic on September 4, 2000.[10]

The OSG assails the decision of the Court of Appeals contending that the appellate court gravely erred in holding that there is no need for the governments prior release of the subject lot from the public domain before it can be considered alienable or disposable within the meaning of P.D. No. 1529, and that Naguit had been in possession of Lot No. 10049 in the concept of owner for the required period.[11] The OSG invokes our holding in Director of Lands v. Intermediate Appellate Court[12] in arguing that the property which is in open, continuous and exclusive possession must first be alienable. Since the subject land was declared alienable only on October 15, 1980, Naguit could not have maintained a bona fide claim of ownership since June 12, 1945, as required by Section 14 of the Property Registration Decree, since prior to 1980, the land was not alienable or disposable, the OSG argues.

Although tax declarations and realty tax payment of property are not conclusive evidence of ownership, nevertheless, they are good indicia of the possession in the concept of owner for no one in his right mind would be paying taxes for a property that is not in his actual or at least constructive possession. They constitute at least proof that the holder has a claim of title over the property. The voluntary declaration of a piece of property for taxation purposes manifests not only ones sincere and honest desire to obtain title to the property and announces his adverse claim against the State and all other interested parties, but also the intention to contribute needed revenues to the Government. Such an act strengthens ones bona fide claim of acquisition of ownership.[28]

ISSUE: whether is necessary under Section 14(1) of the Property Registration Decree that the subject land be first classified as alienable and disposable before the applicants possession under a bona fide claim of ownership could even start.

THE DIRECTOR OF LANDS, THE DIRECTOR OF FORESTRY, and the ARMED FORCES OF THE PHILIPPINES, petitioners, vs. HON. SALVADOR C. REYES, as Judge of the Court of First Instance of Nueva Ecija, Branch III, PARAAQUE INVESTMENT and DEVELOPMENT CORPORATION, ROMAN C. TAMAYO, THE COMMISIONER OF THE LAND REGISTRATION COMMISSION and the REGISTER OF DEEDS OF NUEVA ECIJA, respondents.

HELD: We find no reason to disturb the conclusion of both the RTC and the Court of Appeals that Naguit had the right to apply for registration owing to the continuous possession by her and her predecessors-in-interest of the land since 1945. The basis of such conclusion is primarily factual, and the Court generally respects the factual findings made by lower courts. Notably, possession since 1945 was established through proof of the existence of 50 to 60-year old trees at the time Naguit purchased the property as well as tax declarations executed by Urbano in 1945.

FACTS: Applicant Alipio Alinsunurin In his application originally filed on February 24, 1964 with the Court of First Instance of Nueva Ecija, claiming ownership in fee simple by inheritance from the late Maria Padilla, sought the registration of title under Act 496, as amended, of a vast tract of land, containing an area of 16,800 hectares, more or less, situated at the municipality of Laur, province of Nueva Ecija, admittedly inside the boundary of the military reservation of Fort Magsaysay. 1

On May 5, 1966, the Director of Lands, Director of Forestry, and the Armed Forces of the Philippines opposed the application, claiming that the applicant was 1. without sufficient title and was not in open, exclusive, continuous and notorious possession and occupation of the land in question for at least thirty (30) years immediately preceding the filing of the application; 2. that approximately 13,957 hectares of said land consist of the military reservation of Fort Magsaysay established under Proclamation No. 237, dated December 10, 1955 of the President. 3. The land is largely uncultivated, mountainous and thickly forested with a heavy growth of timber of commercial quantities. 5 Except for a small area cultivated for vegetation by homesteaders issued patents by the Director of Lands, there were no occupants on the land. On May 10, 1966, the applicant Alipio Alinsunurin filed a motion for substitution of parties, requesting that the Paraaque Investment and Development Corporation be considered as the applicant in his place, it having acquired all his rights, interests, ownership and dominion over the property subject matter of the application. 3The motion was granted by the lower court in its order dated June 10, 1966. 4 It is claimed by the applicant that Melecio Padilla acquired the land by virtue of a possessory information title issued during the Spanish regime on March 5, 1895, and upon his death in 1900, he transmitted the ownership and possession thereof to his daughter and sole heir, Maria Padilla. The latter in turn continued to cultivate the land thru tenants and utilized portions for pasture, until her death sometime in 1944. On November 19, 1966, the lower court rendered decision holding that the parcel of land applied for, described in the technical description Plan II-6752, is adjudicated to and ordered to be registered in favor of (a) Paraaque Investment and Development Corporation, a Philippine corporation wholly owned by Filipino citizens, with

address at Manila, Philippines, two-thirds (2/3) portion, subject to the rights of Ariosto Santos per Joint Manifestation of Alipio Alinsunurin and Encarnacion Caballero-Alinsunurin, Ariosto Santos and Paraaque Investment and Development Corporation dated July 19, 1966 and marked as Exhibit "AA-4 " 7 and (b) Roman C. Tamayo, Filipino citizen, married, resident of Cullit, Lallo, Cagayan, one-third (1/3) portion of the said property. On December 12, 1966, the oppositors Director of Lands, Director of Forestry and the Armed Forces of the Philippines filed a Notice of Appeal from the said decision to the Supreme Court, 8 copy of which notice was furnished counsel for the applicant Paraaque Investment and Development Corporation; however, no copy was furnished to counsel for Roman C. Tamayo, to whom one-third (1/3) portion of the land was adjudicated. On January 18, 1967, within the extended period granted by the court, the oppositors-appellants filed the corresponding Record on Appeal, copy of which was duly served upon appellees Paraaque Investment and Development Corporation and Roman C. Tamayo. On March 11, 1967, the lower court, ruling that its decision of November 19, 1966 had become final as to the share of Roman C. Tamayo, directed the issuance of a decree of registration of the entire land, one-third (1/3)pro-indiviso in favor of Roman C. Tamayo, and two-thirds (2/3) pro indiviso in favor of Paraaque Investment and Development Corporation, subject to the final outcome of the appeal. As the lower court denied reconsideration of the order directing the issuance of a decree of registration, on May 29, 1967, the Director of Lands, Director of Forestry and the Armed Forces of the Philippines instituted before this Court a special civil action for certiorari and mandamus with preliminary injunction (L-27594), seeking to nullify the order dated March 11, 1967, the decree of registration issued pursuant thereto (Decree No. 113485 dated March 14, 1967) and Original Certificate of Title No. 0-3151 of the Register of Deeds for the province of Nueva Ecija, and to command the respondent court to certify the entire proceedings and to allow

appeal to the Supreme Court from its decision in toto in LRC Case No. N-675, LRC Rec. No. N-25545. On June 5, 1967, We issued a writ of preliminary injunction Accordingly, petitioners-appellants caused the entry of a notice of lis pendens to be duly inscribed in the primary entry book of the Registry of Deeds of Nueva Ecija and annotated in the memorandum of encumbrances in Original Certificate of Title No. 03151. In due time, the respondents filed their answers to the petition for certiorari. The parties having filed their respective memoranda, the case is deemed submitted for decision. At the outset, We shall resolve the petition for certiorari and mandamus ISSUE: whether the applicant has a registerable title to the land applied for. HELD: The applicant relies on a purported titulo de informacion posesoria issued in the name of Melecio Padilla (Exhibit "T" pp. 64-68, Exhibits of Applicant). However, neither the original of the said titulo de informacion posesoria, nor a duly authenticated copy thereof, was submitted in evidence, and there are serious flaws on the faces of the alleged copies of the document, as in the circumstances surrounding their execution. Moreover, according to the official records of the Register of Deeds of Nueva Ecija, on the basis of the "List of Possessory Information Titles (Spanish Titles) of Nueva Ecija", the corresponding supporting documents of which are kept in the vault of said office, the name of Melecio Padilla does not appear among those listed as holders of informacion posesoria titles as of the year 1898 covering lands situated in Santor (now Laur) Nueva Ecija. There is another factor which weighs heavily against the claim of the applicant. The alleged informacion posesoria covers an area of "seis mil quiiones, poco mas e menos" or an equivalent of 16,800 hectares. Under the Royal Decrees in force at the time of the

supposed acquisition, no one could acquire public land in excess of 1,000 hectares. Thus, the Royal Decrees of November 25, 1880 and October 26, 1881, prohibited any grant of public land in excess of one thousand (1,000) hectares. the document described in Exhibit "H" is not the titulo de informacion posesoria, because it was merely a certification of possession of Melecio Padilla over the property, and was issued without prejudice to a third party or parties having a better right. 24Under Spanish law, in order that an informacion posesoria may be considered as title of ownership, it must be proven that the holder thereof has complied with the provisions of Article 393 of the Spanish Mortgage Law: "that the applicant has been in open possession of the land; that an application to this effect be filed after the expiration of 20 years from the date of such registration; that such conversion be announced by means of a proclamation in a proper official bulletin; that the Court order the conversion of the registration of possession into a record of ownership; and that the Registrar make the proper record thereof in the Registry." 25 Evidently, Melecio Padilla, having died on February 9, 1900, barely five (5) years after the inscription of the informacion posesoria, could not have converted the same into a record of ownership twenty (20) years after such inscription, pursuant to Article 393 of the Spanish Mortgage Law

Before the military reservation was established, the evidence is inconclusive as to possession, for it is shown by the evidence that the land involved is largely mountainous and forested. As a matter of fact, at the time of the hearing, it was conceded that approximately 13,957 hectares of said land consist of public forest.

During the lifetime of Melecio Padilla, only a small portion thereof was cleared and cultivated under the "kaingin" system, while some portions were used as grazing land. After his death, his daughter, Maria Padilla, caused the planting of vegetables and had about forty (40) tenants for the purpose. 27 During the Japanese occupation, Maria Padilla died. Alipio Alinsunurin and Encarnacion Caballero took possession of the land approximately in 1950, but they had to abandon the place due to the unsettled peace and order conditions in the area. In 1955, entry by them was prevented by the Army. A mere casual cultivation of portions of the land by the claimant, and the raising thereon of cattle, do not constitute possession under claim of ownership. In that sense, possession is not exclusive and notorious so as to give rise to a presumptive grant from the State. 29 While grazing livestock over land is of course to be considered with other acts of dominion to show possession, the mere occupancy of land by grazing livestock upon it, without substantial inclosures or other permanent improvements, is not sufficient to support a claim of title thru acquisitive prescription. 30 The possession of public land, however long the period may have extended, never confers title thereto upon the possessor because the statute of limitations with regard to public land does not operate against the State, unless the occupant can prove possession and occupation of the same under claim of ownership for the required number of years to constitute a grant from the State. Neither applicant Paraaque Investment and Development Corporation nor its predecessor, Alipio Alinsunurin had submitted any tax declaration supporting its/his claim over the property. It is true that tax receipts and declarations of ownership for taxation purposes are not incontrovertible evidence of ownership, but they constitute at least proof that the holder had a claim of title over the property It is obvious that the applicant has failed to submit convincing proof of actual, peaceful and adverse possession in the concept of owner of the entire area in question during the period required by

law. This is especially true in view of the basic presumption that lands of whatever classification belong to the State and evidence of a land grant must be "well-nigh incontrovertible." 32 Even more important, Section 48[b] of CA No. 141, as amended, applies exclusively to public agricultural land. Forest lands or areas covered with forest are excluded. 33 It is well-settled that forest land is incapable of registration; and its inclusion in a title, whether such title be one issued during the Spanish sovereignty or under the present Torrens system of registration, nullifies the title. 34 Finally, the applicant urges that Proclamation No. 237 recognizes the existence of private property within the military reservation. It is true that the proclamation states that the same is subject "to private rights, if any there be", but applicant must prove its private rights over the property, which said party failed to do. 35 For it is well-settled that, unless the applicant has shown by clear and convincing evidence that the property in question was ever acquired by the applicant or his ancestors either by composition title from the Spanish Government or by possessory information title, or any other means for the acquisition of public lands, the property must be held to be part of the public domain. 36 the petition for certiorari is granted, the appealed decision is hereby reversed and set aside, and judgment is rendered dismissing the application for registration.

HEIRS OF SEGUNDA MANINGDING, represented by DELFIN, GIL, EMMA, MANUEL, RACQUEL, ESTER, REMEDIOS and JESSIE, all surnamed PARAYNO, MAXIMA PARAYNO, LEONARDO PARAYNO and FELICISIMA PARAYNO, petitioners, vs. COURT OF APPEALS and ROQUE BAUZON (deceased), represented by his heirs and co-defendants Luis and Eriberta Bauzon; LUIS BAUZON, ERIBERTA BAUZON (deceased), substituted by her husband PLACIDO ZULUETA, and JOSE PARAYNO,respondents. Facts:

This is an action for annulment of documents, accounting and partition of two (2) parcels of land, a riceland and a sugarland, situated in Calasiao, Pangasinan. Petitioners claim that they, together with private respondents Luis and Eriberta Bauzon, own the disputed lots in common and proindiviso. Luis and Eriberta, the latter represented by her husband Placido Zulueta, aver that their father Roque Bauzon was the owner of the subject lots by virtue of a deed of donation propter nuptias. Roque, together with Juan Maningding, Maria Maningding and Segunda Maningding were the surviving children of Ramon Bauzon y Untalan who died intestate in 1948. According to petitioners, Roque Bauzon repudiated the coownership over the sugarland in 1965 and adjudicated it to himself,[1] and that in 1970 Juan and Maria Maningding renounced and quitclaimed their shares over the riceland in favor of Roque Bauzon by virtue of an Affidavit of Quitclaim and Renunciation.[2] Subsequently, Roque Bauzon transferred the riceland to his son Luis Bauzon and the sugarland to his daughter Eriberta Bauzon, both transactions being evidenced by deeds of sale. On the other hand private respondents aver that the Affidavit of Quitclaim and Renunciation over the riceland was executed not only by Juan Maningding and Maria Maningding but also by Segunda Maningding. With regard to the sugarland, Roque Bauzon denied having executed theAffidavit of SelfAdjudication presented by petitioners. He claimed that he acquired ownership over both the sugarland and the riceland by donation propter nuptias from his parents Ramon Bauzon and Sotera Zulueta on 21 April 1926 in consideration of his marriage to Petra Loresco. Since the death of Ramon Bauzon in 1948, Roque had been in open, continuous, notorious, adverse and actual possession of the subject properties. The trial court found that the parcels of land formed part of the estate of Ramon Bauzon and his wife Sotera Zulueta which, upon their death, devolved by right of succession to their

children Segunda Maningding, Maria Maningding, Juan Maningding and Roque Bauzon in equal pro-indiviso shares. The court a quo however awarded both parcels to Segunda Maningding and Roque Bauzon as co-owners in equal shares after finding that Juan Maningding and Maria Maningding had already executed an Affidavit of Quitclaim and Renunciation. It rejected the deed of donation for failure to prove its due execution and authenticity and ruled that the same was negated by the Affidavit of Quitclaim and Renunciation of Juan Maningding and Maria Maningding in favor of Roque Bauzon and nullified the deed of sale by Roque Bauzon in favor of Luis Bauzon as regards the riceland and to Eriberta Bauzon with respect to the sugarland. It concluded that Roque Bauzon could not have validly conveyed both parcels as one-half (1/2) of each parcel rightfully belonged to Segunda Maningding and her heirs The Court of Appeals however ruled that the properties validly pertained to Roque Bauzon by virtue of the donation propter nuptias. Consequently, the transfers made by Roque Bauzon must be given effect. However, upon motion for reconsideration, the same deed of donation was declared null and void by the appellate court for failure to comply with Art. 633 of the old Civil Code, the law then applicable, which required for the validity of the deed of donation to be in a public instrument. Nevertheless, the same court maintained that the properties belonged to Roque Bauzon by virtue of acquisitive prescription.

ISSUE: HELD: We agree with the Court of Appeals. Roque Bauzon acquired ownership over the subject properties by acquisitive prescription. Prescription, in general, is a mode of acquiring (or losing) ownership and other real rights through the lapse of time in the manner and under conditions laid down by law, namely, that the possession should

be in the concept of an owner, public, peaceful, uninterrupted and adverse.[3]Acquisitive prescription is either ordinary or extraordinary.[4] In the instant case, Roque Bauzon possessed the subject parcels of land in the concept of owner by virtue of the donation propter nuptias. The possession was public as it was Roque Bauzon who personally tilled and cultivated the lots. The acts of reaping the benefits of ownership were manifest and visible to all. These acts were made more pronounced and public considering that the parcels of land are located in a municipality wherein ownership and possession are particularly and normally known to the community. Roque peacefully possessed the properties as he was never ousted therefrom nor prevented from enjoying their fruits. His possession was uninterrupted and in good faith because of his wellfounded belief that the donation propter nuptias was properly executed and the grantors were legally allowed to convey their respective shares in his favor. He likewise appropriated to himself the whole produce of the parcels of land to the exclusion of all others. The donation propter nuptias was effected as early as 21 April 1926. It was only in 1986 when the heirs of Segunda Maningding demanded partition of the properties and conveyance of the produce. Sixty (60) years have already elapsed. Even granting that Roque Bauzon possessed the properties only upon the death of his father in 1948, more than thirty (30) years have already passed. In either case, acquisitive prescription has already set in in favor of Roque Bauzon. Prescription, as a rule, does not run in favor of a co-heir or co-owner as long as he expressly or impliedly recognizes the coownership.[11]Co-owners cannot acquire by prescription the share of the other co-owners, absent a clear repudiation of the co-ownership. Therefore while prescription among co-owners cannot take place when the acts of ownership exercised are vague and uncertain, such prescription arises and produces all its effects when

the acts of ownership do not evince any doubt as to the ouster of the rights of the other co-owners.[13] As disclosed by the records, Roque Bauzon and his heirs possessed the property from 1948 to 1986 to the exclusion of petitioners who were never given their shares of the fruits of the properties, for which reason they demanded an accounting of the produce and the conveyance to them of their shares. Unfortunately they slept on their rights and allowed almost thirty-six (36) years to lapse before attempting to assert their right. Perforce, they must suffer the consequence of their inaction. WHEREFORE, the petition is DENIED. The Resolution of the Court of Appeals of 7 July 1995 which modified its Decision of 29 November 1994 and holding that the deceased Roque Bauzon acquired the disputed two (2) parcels of land by acquisitive prescription is AFFIRMED