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OFFICE OF CITY MAYOR OF PARANAQUE VS EBIO

DECISION

VILLARAMA, JR., J .:

Before us is a petition for review on certiorari under Rule 45 of the 1997 Rules of Civil
Procedure, as amended, assailing the January 31, 2007 Decision
[1]
and June 8, 2007
Resolution
[2]
of the Court of Appeals (CA) in CA-G.R. SP No. 91350 allegedly for being contrary
to law and jurisprudence. The CA had reversed the Order
[3]
of the Regional Trial Court (RTC)
of Paraaque City, Branch 196, issued on April 29, 2005 in Civil Case No. 05-0155.
Below are the facts.
Respondents claim that they are the absolute owners of a parcel of land consisting of 406
square meters, more or less, located at 9781 Vitalez Compound in Barangay Vitalez, Paraaque
City and covered by Tax Declaration Nos. 01027 and 01472 in the name of respondent Mario D.
Ebio. Said land was an accretion of Cut-cut creek. Respondents assert that the original occupant
and possessor of the said parcel of land was their great grandfather, Jose Vitalez. Sometime in
1930, Jose gave the land to his son, Pedro Vitalez. From then on, Pedro continuously and
exclusively occupied and possessed the said lot. In 1966, after executing an affidavit declaring
possession and occupancy,
[4]
Pedro was able to obtain a tax declaration over the said property in
his name.
[5]
Since then, respondents have been religiously paying real property taxes for the said
property.
[6]

Meanwhile, in 1961, respondent Mario Ebio married Pedros daughter, Zenaida. Upon
Pedros advice, the couple established their home on the said lot. In April 1964 and in October
1971, Mario Ebio secured building permits from the Paraaque municipal office for the
construction of their house within the said compound.
[7]
On April 21, 1987, Pedro executed a
notarized Transfer of Rights
[8]
ceding his claim over the entire parcel of land in favor of Mario
Ebio. Subsequently, the tax declarations under Pedros name were cancelled and new ones were
issued in Mario Ebios name.
[9]

On March 30, 1999, the Office of the Sangguniang Barangay of Vitalez passed Resolution
No. 08, series of 1999
[10]
seeking assistance from the City Government of Paraaque for the
construction of an access road along Cut-cut Creek located in the said barangay. The proposed
road, projected to be eight (8) meters wide and sixty (60) meters long, will run from Urma
Drive to the main road of Vitalez Compound
[11]
traversing the lot occupied by the respondents.
When the city government advised all the affected residents to vacate the said area, respondents
immediately registered their opposition thereto. As a result, the road project was temporarily
suspended.
[12]

In January 2003, however, respondents were surprised when several officials from the
barangay and the city planning office proceeded to cut eight (8) coconut trees planted on the said
lot. Respondents filed letter-complaints before the Regional Director of the Bureau of Lands, the
Department of Interior and Local Government and the Office of the Vice Mayor.
[13]
On June 29,
2003, the Sangguniang Barangay of Vitalez held a meeting to discuss the construction of the
proposed road. In the said meeting, respondents asserted their opposition to the proposed project
and their claim of ownership over the affected property.
[14]
On November 14, 2003, respondents
attended another meeting with officials from the city government, but no definite agreement was
reached by and among the parties.
[15]

On March 28, 2005, City Administrator Noli Aldip sent a letter to the respondents ordering
them to vacate the area within the next thirty (30) days, or be physically evicted from the said
property.
[16]
Respondents sent a letter to the Office of the City Administrator asserting, in sum,
their claim over the subject property and expressing intent for a further dialogue.
[17]
The request
remained unheeded.
Threatened of being evicted, respondents went to the RTC of Paraaque City on April 21,
2005 and applied for a writ of preliminary injunction against petitioners.
[18]
In the course of the
proceedings, respondents admitted before the trial court that they have a pending application for
the issuance of a sales patent before the Department of Environment and Natural Resources
(DENR).
[19]

On April 29, 2005, the RTC issued an Order
[20]
denying the petition for lack of merit. The
trial court reasoned that respondents were not able to prove successfully that they have an
established right to the property since they have not instituted an action for confirmation of title
and their application for sales patent has not yet been granted. Additionally, they failed to implead
the Republic of the Philippines, which is an indispensable party.
Respondents moved for reconsideration, but the same was denied.
[21]

Aggrieved, respondents elevated the matter to the Court of Appeals. On January 31, 2007,
the Court of Appeals issued its Decision in favor of the respondents. According to the Court of
Appeals--
The issue ultimately boils down to the question of ownership of the lands
adjoining Cutcut Creek particularly Road Lot No. 8 (hereinafter RL 8) and the
accreted portion beside RL 8.
The evidentiary records of the instant case, shows that RL 8 containing an
area of 291 square meters is owned by Guaranteed Homes, Inc. covered by TCT
No. S-62176. The same RL 8 appears to have been donated by the Guaranteed
Homes to the City Government of Paraaque on 22 March 1966 and which was
accepted by the then Mayor FLORENCIO BERNABE on 5 April 1966. There is
no evidence however, when RL 8 has been intended as a road lot.
On the other hand, the evidentiary records reveal that PEDRO VITALEZ
possessed the accreted property since 1930 per his Affidavit dated 21 March
1966 for the purpose of declaring the said property for taxation purposes. The
property then became the subject of Tax Declaration No. 20134 beginning the
year 1967 and the real property taxes therefor had been paid for the years 1966,
1967, 1968, 1969, 1970, 1972, 1973, 1974, 1978, 1980, 1995, 1996, 1997, 1998,
1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, and 2004. Sometime in 1964 and 1971,
construction permits were issued in favor of Appellant MARIO EBIO for the
subject property. On 21 April 1987, PEDRO VITALEZ transferred his rights in
the accreted property to MARIO EBIO and his successors-in-interest.
Applying [Article 457 of the Civil Code considering] the foregoing
documentary evidence, it could be concluded that Guaranteed Homes is the owner
of the accreted property considering its ownership of the adjoining RL 8 to which
the accretion attached. However, this is without the application of the provisions
of the Civil Code on acquisitive prescription which is likewise applicable in the
instant case.
x x x x
The subject of acquisitive prescription in the instant case is the accreted
portion which [was] duly proven by the Appellants. It is clear that since 1930,
Appellants together with their predecessor-in-interest, PEDRO VITALEZ[,] have
been in exclusive possession of the subject property and starting 1964 had
introduced improvements thereon as evidenced by their construction permits.
Thus, even by extraordinary acquisitive prescription[,] Appellants have acquired
ownership of the property in question since 1930 even if the adjoining RL 8 was
subsequently registered in the name of Guaranteed Homes. x x x.
x x x x
Further, it was only in 1978 that Guaranteed Homes was able to have RL 8
registered in its name, which is almost fifty years from the time PEDRO
VITALEZ occupied the adjoining accreted property in 1930. x x x.
x x x x
We likewise note the continuous payment of real property taxes of
Appellants which bolster their right over the subject property. x x x.
x x x x
In sum, We are fully convinced and so hold that the Appellants [have]
amply proven their right over the property in question.
WHEREFORE, premises considered, the instant appeal is
hereby GRANTED. The challenged Order of the court a quo
is REVERSED and SET ASIDE.
SO ORDERED.
[22]

On June 8, 2007, the appellate court denied petitioners motion for reconsideration. Hence,
this petition raising the following assignment of errors:
I. WHETHER OR NOT THE DECISION AND RESOLUTION OF THE
HONORABLE COURT OF APPEALS THAT RESPONDENTS HAVE A
RIGHT IN ESSE IS IN ACCORD WITH THE LAW AND ESTABLISHED
JURISPRUDENCE[;]

II. WHETHER OR NOT THE DECISION AND RESOLUTION OF THE
HONORABLE COURT OF APPEALS THAT THE SUBJECT LOT IS
AVAILABLE FOR ACQUISITIVE PRESCRIPTION IS IN ACCORD WITH
THE LAW AND ESTABLISHED JURISPRUDENCE[;] AND

III. WHETHER OR NOT THE STATE IS AN INDISPENSABLE PARTY TO
THE COMPLAINT FILED BY RESPONDENTS IN THE LOWER
COURT.
[23]

The issues may be narrowed down into two (2): procedurally, whether the State is an
indispensable party to respondents action for prohibitory injunction; and substantively, whether
the character of respondents possession and occupation of the subject property entitles them to
avail of the relief of prohibitory injunction.
The petition is without merit.
An action for injunction is brought specifically to restrain or command the performance of
an act.
[24]
It is distinct from the ancillary remedy of preliminary injunction, which cannot exist
except only as part or as an incident to an independent action or proceeding. Moreover, in an
action for injunction, the auxiliary remedy of a preliminary prohibitory or mandatory injunction
may issue.
[25]

In the case at bar, respondents filed an action for injunction to prevent the local
government of Paraaque City from proceeding with the construction of an access road that will
traverse through a parcel of land which they claim is owned by them by virtue of acquisitive
prescription.
Petitioners, however, argue that since the creek, being a tributary of the river, is classified
as part of the public domain, any land that may have formed along its banks through time should
also be considered as part of the public domain. And respondents should have included the State
as it is an indispensable party to the action.
We do not agree.
It is an uncontested fact that the subject land was formed from the alluvial deposits that
have gradually settled along the banks of Cut-cut creek. This being the case, the law that governs
ownership over the accreted portion is Article 84 of the Spanish Law of Waters of 1866, which
remains in effect,
[26]
in relation to Article 457 of the Civil Code.
Article 84 of the Spanish Law of Waters of 1866 specifically covers ownership over
alluvial deposits along the banks of a creek. It reads:
ART. 84. Accretions deposited gradually upon lands contiguous to creeks,
streams, rivers, and lakes, by accessions or sediments from the waters thereof,
belong to the owners of such lands.
[27]

Interestingly, Article 457 of the Civil Code states:
Art. 457. To the owners of lands adjoining the banks of rivers belong the
accretion which they gradually receive from the effects of the current of the
waters.
It is therefore explicit from the foregoing provisions that alluvial deposits along the banks
of a creek do not form part of the public domain as the alluvial property automatically belongs to
the owner of the estate to which it may have been added. The only restriction provided for by
law is that the owner of the adjoining property must register the same under the Torrens system;
otherwise, the alluvial property may be subject to acquisition through prescription by third
persons.
[28]

In contrast, properties of public dominion cannot be acquired by prescription. No matter
how long the possession of the properties has been, there can be no prescription against the State
regarding property of public domain.
[29]
Even a city or municipality cannot acquire them by
prescription as against the State.
[30]

Hence, while it is true that a creek is a property of public dominion,
[31]
the land which is
formed by the gradual and imperceptible accumulation of sediments along its banks does not
form part of the public domain by clear provision of law.
Moreover, an indispensable party is one whose interest in the controversy is such that a
final decree would necessarily affect his/her right, so that the court cannot proceed without their
presence.
[32]
In contrast, a necessary party is one whose presence in the proceedings is necessary
to adjudicate the whole controversy but whose interest is separable such that a final decree can
be made in their absence without affecting them.
[33]

In the instant case, the action for prohibition seeks to enjoin the city government of
Paraaque from proceeding with its implementation of the road construction project. The State is
neither a necessary nor an indispensable party to an action where no positive act shall be required
from it or where no obligation shall be imposed upon it, such as in the case at bar. Neither would
it be an indispensable party if none of its properties shall be divested nor any of its rights
infringed.
We also find that the character of possession and ownership by the respondents over the
contested land entitles them to the avails of the action.
A right in esse means a clear and unmistakable right.
[34]
A party seeking to avail of an
injunctive relief must prove that he or she possesses a right in esse or one that is actual or
existing.
[35]
It should not be contingent, abstract, or future rights, or one which may never
arise.
[36]

In the case at bar, respondents assert that their predecessor-in-interest, Pedro Vitalez, had
occupied and possessed the subject lot as early as 1930. In 1964, respondent Mario Ebio secured
a permit from the local government of Paraaque for the construction of their family dwelling on
the said lot. In 1966, Pedro executed an affidavit of possession and occupancy allowing him to
declare the property in his name for taxation purposes. Curiously, it was also in 1966 when
Guaranteed Homes, Inc., the registered owner of Road Lot No. 8 (RL 8) which adjoins the land
occupied by the respondents, donated RL 8 to the local government of Paraaque.
From these findings of fact by both the trial court and the Court of Appeals, only one
conclusion can be made: that for more than thirty (30) years, neither Guaranteed Homes, Inc. nor
the local government of Paraaque in its corporate or private capacity sought to register the
accreted portion. Undoubtedly, respondents are deemed to have acquired ownership over the
subject property through prescription. Respondents can assert such right despite the fact that they
have yet to register their title over the said lot. It must be remembered that the purpose of land
registration is not the acquisition of lands, but only the registration of title which the applicant
already possessed over the land. Registration was never intended as a means of acquiring
ownership.
[37]
A decree of registration merely confirms, but does not confer, ownership.
[38]

Did the filing of a sales patent application by the respondents, which remains pending
before the DENR, estop them from filing an injunction suit?
We answer in the negative.
Confirmation of an imperfect title over a parcel of land may be done either through
judicial proceedings or through administrative process. In the instant case, respondents admitted
that they opted to confirm their title over the property administratively by filing an application
for sales patent.
Respondents application for sales patent, however, should not be used to prejudice or
derogate what may be deemed as their vested right over the subject property. The sales patent
application should instead be considered as a mere superfluity particularly since ownership over
the land, which they seek to buy from the State, is already vested upon them by virtue of
acquisitive prescription. Moreover, the State does not have any authority to convey a property
through the issuance of a grant or a patent if the land is no longer a public land.
[39]

Nemo dat quod dat non habet. No one can give what he does not have. Such principle is
equally applicable even against a sovereign entity that is the State.
WHEREFORE, the petition is DENIED for lack of merit. The January 31,
2007 Decision, as well as the July 8, 2007 Resolution, of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. SP
No. 91350 are hereby AFFIRMED.
With costs against petitioners.
SO ORDERED.
G.R. No. L-43346 March 20, 1991
MARIO C. RONQUILLO, petitioner
vs.
THE COURT OF APPEALS, DIRECTOR OF LANDS, DEVELOPMENT BANK OF
THE PHILIPPINES, ROSENDO DEL ROSARIO, AMPARO DEL ROSARIO and
FLORENCIA DEL ROSARIO, respondents.*
Angara, Abello, Concepcion, Regala & Cruz for petitioner.

REGALADO, J .:p
This petition seeks the review of the decision
1
rendered by respondent Court of Appeals on
September 25, 1975 in CA-G.R. No. 32479-R, entitled "Rosendo del Rosario, et al., Plaintiffs-
Appellees, versus Mario Ronquillo, Defendant-Appellant," affirming in toto the judgment of the
trial court, and its amendatory resolution
2
dated January 28, 1976 the dispositive portion of
which reads:
IN VIEW OF THE FOREGOING, the decision of this Court dated September 25,
1975 is hereby amended in the sense that the first part of the appealed decision is
set aside, except the last portion "declaring the plaintiffs to be the rightful owners
of the dried-up portion of Estero Calubcub which is abutting plaintiffs' property,"
which we affirm, without pronouncement as to costs.
SO ORDERED.
The following facts are culled from the decision of the Court of Appeals:
It appears that plaintiff Rosendo del Rosario was a registered owner of a parcel of
land known as Lot 34, Block 9, Sulucan Subdivision, situated at Sampaloc,
Manila and covered by Transfer Certificate of Title No. 34797 of the Registry of
Deeds of Manila (Exhibit "A"). The other plaintiffs Florencia and Amparo del
Rosario were daughters of said Rosendo del Rosario. Adjoining said lot is a dried-
up portion of the old Estero Calubcub occupied by the defendant since 1945
which is the subject matter of the present action.
Plaintiffs claim that long before the year 1930, when T.C.T. No. 34797 over Lot
No. 34 was issued in the name of Rosendo del Rosario, the latter had been in
possession of said lot including the adjoining dried-up portion of the old Estero
Calubcub having bought the same from Arsenio Arzaga. Sometime in 1935, said
titled lot was occupied by Isabel Roldan with the tolerance and consent of the
plaintiff on condition that the former will make improvements on the adjoining
dried-up portion of the Estero Calubcub. In the early part of 1945 defendant
occupied the eastern portion of said titled lot as well as the dried-up portion of the
old Estero Calubcub which abuts plaintiffs' titled lot. After a relocation survey of
the land in question sometime in 1960, plaintiffs learned that defendant was
occupying a portion of their land and thus demanded defendant to vacate said land
when the latter refused to pay the reasonable rent for its occupancy. However,
despite said demand defendant refused to vacate.
Defendant on the other hand claims that sometime before 1945 he was living with
his sister who was then residing or renting plaintiffs' titled lot. In 1945 he built his
house on the disputed dried-up portion of the Estero Calubcub with a small
portion thereof on the titled lot of plaintiffs. Later in 1961, said house was
destroyed by a fire which prompted him to rebuild the same. However, this time it
was built only on the called up portion of the old Estero Calubcub without
touching any part of plaintiffs titled land. He further claims that said dried-up
portion is a land of public domain.
3

Private respondents Rosendo, Amparo and Florencia, all surnamed del Rosario (Del Rosarios),
lodged a complaint with the Court of First Instance of Manila praying, among others, that they be
declared the rightful owners of the dried-up portion of Estero Calubcub. Petitioner Mario
Ronquillo (Ronquillo) filed a motion to dismiss the complaint on the ground that the trial court
had no jurisdiction over the case since the dried-up portion of Estero Calubcub is public land
and, thus, subject to the disposition of the Director of Lands. The Del Rosarios opposed the
motion arguing that since they are claiming title to the dried-up portion of Estero Calubcub as
riparian owners, the trial court has jurisdiction. The resolution of the motion to dismiss was
deferred until after trial on the merits.
Before trial, the parties submitted the following stipulation of facts:
1. That the plaintiffs are the registered owners of Lot 34, Block 9, Sulucan
Subdivision covered by Transfer Certificate of Title No. 34797;
2. That said property of the plaintiffs abuts and is adjacent to the dried-up river
bed of Estero Calubcub Sampaloc, Manila;
3. That defendant Mario Ronquillo has no property around the premises in
question and is only claiming the dried-up portion of the old Estero Calubcub,
whereon before October 23, 1961, the larger portion of his house was constructed;
4. That before October 23, 1961, a portion of defendant's house stands (sic) on the
above-mentioned lot belonging to the plaintiffs;
5. That the plaintiffs and defendant have both filed with the Bureau of Lands
miscellaneous sales application for the purchase of the abandoned river bed
known as Estero Calubcub and their sales applications, dated August 5, 1958 and
October 13, 1959, respectively, are still pending action before the Bureau of
Lands;
6. That the parties hereby reserve their right to prove such facts as are necessary
to support their case but not covered by this stipulation of facts.
4

On December 26, 1962, the trial court rendered judgment the decretal portion of which provides:
WHEREFORE, judgment is hereby rendered ordering the defendant to deliver to
the plaintiffs the portion of the land covered by Transfer Certificate of title No.
34797 which is occupied by him and to pay for the use and occupation of said
portion of land at the rate of P 5.00 a month from the date of the filing of the
complaint until such time as he surrenders the same to the plaintiffs and declaring
plaintiffs to be the owners of the dried-up portion of estero Calubcub which is
abutting plaintiffs' property.
With costs to the defendant.
SO ORDERED.
5

On appeal, respondent court, in affirming the aforequoted decision of the trial court, declared
that since Estero Calubcub had already dried-up way back in 1930 due to the natural change in
the course of the waters, under Article 370 of the old Civil Code which it considers applicable to
the present case, the abandoned river bed belongs to the Del Rosarios as riparian owners.
Consequently, respondent court opines, the dried-up river bed is private land and does not form
part of the land of the public domain. It stated further that "(e)ven assuming for the sake of
argument that said estero did not change its course but merely dried up or disappeared, said
dried-up estero would still belong to the riparian owner," citing its ruling in the case of Pinzon
vs. Rama.
6

Upon motion of Ronquillo, respondent court modified its decision by setting aside the first
portion of the trial court's decision ordering Ronquillo to surrender to the Del Rosarios that
portion of land covered by Transfer Certificate of Title No. 34797 occupied by the former, based
on the former's representation that he had already vacated the same prior to the commencement
of this case. However, respondent court upheld its declaration that the Del Rosarios are the
rightful owners of the dried-up river bed. Hence, this petition.
On May 17, 1976, this Court issued a resolution
7
requiring the Solicitor General to comment on
the petition in behalf of the Director of Lands as an indispensable party in representation of the
Republic of the Philippines, and who, not having been impleaded, was subsequently considered
impleaded as such in our resolution of September 10, 1976.
8
In his Motion to Admit
Comment,
9
the Solicitor General manifested that pursuant to a request made by this office with
the Bureau of Lands to conduct an investigation, the Chief of the Legal Division of the Bureau
sent a communication informing him that the records of his office "do not show that Mario
Ronquillo, Rosendo del Rosario, Amparo del Rosario or Florencia del Rosario has filed any
public land application covering parcels of land situated at Estero Calubcub Manila as verified
by our Records Division.
The position taken by the Director of Lands in his Comment
10
filed on September 3, 1978,
which was reiterated in the Reply dated May 4, 1989 and again in the Comment dated August
17, 1989, explicates:
5. We do not see our way clear to subscribe to the ruling of the Honorable Court
of Appeals on this point for Article 370 of the Old Civil Code, insofar as
ownership of abandoned river beds by the owners of riparian lands are concerned,
speaks only of a situation where such river beds were abandoned because of a
natural change in the course of the waters. Conversely, we submit that if the
abandonment was for some cause other than the natural change in the course of
the waters, Article 370 is not applicable and the abandoned bed does not lose its
character as a property of public dominion not susceptible to private ownership in
accordance with Article 502 (No. 1) of the New Civil Code. In the present case,
the drying up of the bed, as contended by the petitioner, is clearly caused by
human activity and undeniably not because of the natural change of the course of
the waters (Emphasis in the original text).
In his Comment
11
dated August 17, 1989, the Director of Lands further adds:
8. Petitioner herein and the private respondents, the del Rosarios, claim to have
pending sales application(s) over the portion of the dried up Estero Calubcub, as
stated in pages 4-5, of the Amended Petition.
9. However, as stated in the Reply dated May 4, 1989 of the Director of Lands, all
sales application(s) have been rejected by that office because of the objection
interposed by the Manila City Engineer's Office that they need the dried portion
of the estero for drainage purposes.
10. Furthermore, petitioner and private respondents, the del Rosarios having filed
said sales application(s) are now estopped from claiming title to the Estero
Calubcub (by possession for petitioner and by accretion for respondents del
Rosarios) because for (sic) they have acknowledged that they do not own the land
and that the same is a public land under the administration of the Bureau of Lands
(Director of Lands vs. Santiago, 160 SCRA 186, 194).
In a letter dated June 29, 1979
12
Florencia del Rosario manifested to this Court that Rosendo,
Amparo and Casiano del Rosario have all died, and that she is the only one still alive among the
private respondents in this case.
In a resolution dated January 20, 1988,
13
the Court required petitioner Ronquillo to implead one
Benjamin Diaz pursuant to the former's
manifestation
14
that the land adjacent to the dried up river bed has already been sold to the latter,
and the Solicitor General was also required to inquire into the status of the investigation being
conducted by the Bureau of Lands. In compliance therewith, the Solicitor General presented a
letter from the Director of Lands to the effect that neither of the parties involved in the present
case has filed any public land application.
15

On April 3, 1989, petitioner filed an Amended Petition for Certiorari,
16
this time impleading the
Development Bank of the Philippines (DBP) which subsequently bought the property adjacent to
the dried-up river bed from Benjamin Diaz. In its resolution dated January 10, 1990,
17
the Court
ordered that DBP be impleaded as a party respondent.
In a Comment
18
filed on May 9, 1990, DBP averred that "[c]onsidering the fact that the
petitioner in this case claims/asserts no right over the property sold to Diaz/DBP by the del
Rosarios; and considering, on the contrary, that Diaz and DBP claims/asserts (sic) no right
(direct or indirect) over the property being claimed by Ronquillo (the dried-up portion of Estero
Calubcub), it follows, therefore, that the petitioner Ronquillo has no cause of action against Diaz
or DBP. A fortiorifrom the viewpoint of the classical definition of a cause of action, there is no
legal justification to implead DBP as one of the respondents in this petition." DBP thereafter
prayed that it be dropped in the case as party respondent.
On September 13, 1990, respondent DBP filed a Manifestation/Compliance
19
stating that DBP's
interest over Transfer Certificate of Title No. 139215 issued in its name (formerly Transfer
Certificate of Title No. 34797 of the Del Rosarios and Transfer Certificate of Title No. 135170 of
Benjamin Diaz) has been transferred to Spouses Victoriano and Pacita A. Tolentino pursuant to a
Deed of Sale dated September 11, 1990.
Petitioner Ronquillo avers that respondent Court of Appeals committed an error of law and gross
abuse of discretion, acted arbitrarily and denied petitioner due process of law (a) when it
declared private respondents Del Rosarios the rightful owners of the dried-up portion of Estero
Calubcub by unduly relying upon decisional law in the case of Pinzon vs. Rama, ante, which
case was decided entirely on a set of facts different from that obtaining in this case; and (b) when
it ignored the undisputed facts in the present case and declared the dried-up portion of Estero
Calubcub as a private property.
The main issue posed for resolution in this petition is whether the dried-up portion of Estero
Calubcub being claimed by herein petitioner was caused by a natural change in the course of the
waters; and, corollary thereto, is the issue of the applicability of Article 370 of the old Civil
Code.
Respondent court, in affirming the findings of the trial court that there was a natural change in
the course of Estero Calubcub declared that:
The defendant claims that Article 370 of the old Civil Code is not applicable to
the instant case because said Estero Calubcub did not actually change its course
but simply dried up, hence, the land in dispute is a land of public domain and
subject to the disposition of the Director of Land(s). The contention of defendant
is without merit. As mentioned earlier, said estero as shown by the relocation plan
(Exhibit "D") did not disappear but merely changed its course by a more
southeasternly (sic) direction. As such, "the abandoned river bed belongs to the
plaintiffs-appellees and said land is private and not public in nature. Hence,
further, it is not subject to a Homestead Application by the appellant." (Fabian vs.
Paculan CA-G.R. Nos. 21062-63-64-R, Jan. 25 1962). Even assuming for the sake
of argument that said estero did not change its course but merely dried up or
disappeared, said dried-up estero would still belong to the riparian owner as held
by this Court in the case of Pinzon vs. Rama (CA-G.R. No. 8389, Jan. 8, 1943; 2
O.G. 307).
20

Elementary is the rule that the jurisdiction of the Supreme Court in cases brought to it from the
Court of Appeals in a petition for certiorari under Rule 45 of the Rules of Court is limited to the
review of errors of law, and that said appellate court's finding of fact is conclusive upon this
Court. However, there are certain exceptions, such as (1) when the conclusion is a finding
grounded entirely on speculation, surmises or conjectures; (2) when the inference made is
manifestly absurd, mistaken or impossible; (3) when there is grave abuse of discretion in the
appreciation of facts; (4) when the judgment is premised on a misapprehension of facts; (5) when
the findings of fact are conflicting; and (6) when the Court of Appeals in making its findings
went beyond the issues of the case and the same is contrary to the admissions of both appellant
and
appellee.
21

A careful perusal of the evidence presented by both parties in the case at bar will reveal that the
change in the course of Estero Calubcub was caused, not by natural forces, but due to the
dumping of garbage therein by the people of the surrounding neighborhood. Under the
circumstances, a review of the findings of fact of respondent court thus becomes imperative.
Private respondent Florencia del Rosario, in her testimony, made a categorical statement which
in effect admitted that Estero Calubcub changed its course because of the garbage dumped
therein, by the inhabitants of the locality, thus:
Q When more or less what (sic) the estero fully dried up?
A By 1960 it is (sic) already dried up except for a little rain that accumulates on
the lot when it rains.
Q How or why did the Estero Calubcub dried (sic) up?
A It has been the dumping place of the whole neighborhood. There is no street,
they dumped all the garbage there. It is the dumping place of the whole
community, sir.
22

In addition, the relocation plan (Exhibit "D") which also formed the basis of respondent court's
ruling, merely reflects the change in the course of Estero Calubcub but it is not clear therefrom as
to what actually brought about such change. There is nothing in the testimony of lone witness
Florencia del Rosario nor in said relocation plan which would indicate that the change in the
course of the estero was due to the ebb and flow of the waters. On the contrary, the aforequoted
testimony of the witness belies such fact, while the relocation plan is absolutely silent on the
matter. The inescapable conclusion is that the dried-up portion of Estero Calubcub was
occasioned, not by a natural change in the course of the waters, but through the active
intervention of man.
The foregoing facts and circumstances remove the instant case from the applicability of Article
370 of the old Civil Code which provides:
Art. 370. The beds of rivers, which are abandoned because of a natural change in
the course of the waters, belong to the owners of the riparian lands throughout the
respective length of each. If the abandoned bed divided tenements belonging to
different owners the new dividing line shall be equidistant from one and the other.
The law is clear and unambiguous. It leaves no room for interpretation. Article 370 applies only
if there is a natural change in the course of the waters. The rules on alluvion do not apply to man-
made or artificial accretions
23
nor to accretions to lands that adjoin canals or esteros or artificial
drainage systems.
24
Considering our earlier finding that the dried-up portion of Estero Calubcub
was actually caused by the active intervention of man, it follows that Article 370 does not apply
to the case at bar and, hence, the Del Rosarios cannot be entitled thereto supposedly as riparian
owners.
The dried-up portion of Estero Calubcub should thus be considered as forming part of the land of
the public domain which cannot be subject to acquisition by private ownership. That such is the
case is made more evident in the letter, dated April 28, 1989, of the Chief, Legal Division of the
Bureau of Lands
25
as reported in the Reply of respondent Director of Lands stating that "the
alleged application filed by Ronquillo no longer exists in its records as it must have already been
disposed of as a rejected application for the reason that other applications "covering Estero
Calubcub Sampaloc, Manila for areas other than that contested in the instant case, were all
rejected by our office because of the objection interposed by the City Engineer's office that they
need the same land for drainage purposes". Consequently, since the land is to be used for
drainage purposes the same cannot be the subject of a miscellaneous sales application.
Lastly, the fact that petitioner and herein private respondents filed their sales applications with
the Bureau of Lands covering the subject dried-up portion of Estero Calubcub cannot but be
deemed as outright admissions by them that the same is public land. They are now estopped from
claiming otherwise.
WHEREFORE, the decision appealed from, the remaining effective portion of which declares
private respondents Del Rosarios as riparian owners of the dried-up portion of Estero Calubcub
is hereby REVERSED and SET ASIDE.
SO ORDERED.
Melencio-Herrera, Paras, Padilla and Sarmiento, JJ., concur.

[G.R. No. 118436. March 21, 1997]
HEIRS OF MANUEL A. ROXAS and TRINIDAD DE LEON VDA. DE ROXAS (in
substitution of original petitioner), petitioners, vs. COURT OF APPEALS and
MAGUESUN MANAGEMENT & DEVELOPMENT
CORPORATION, respondents.
D E C I S I O N
ROMERO, J .:
Trinidad de Leon Vda. de Roxas, substituted by her heirs,
[1]
instituted this petition for review
of the Court of Appeals decision dated December 8, 1994 in "Trinidad de Leon Vda. de Roxas v.
Maguesun Management and Development: Corporation," (CA G.R. CV No. 38328), alleging
reversible error committed by respondent appellate court when it affirmed the decision of the
Regional Trial Court of Cavite. The issue presented before us is whether or not private
respondent Maguesun Corporation committed actual fraud in obtaining a decree of registration
over two unregistered parcels of land in Tagaytay City, actual fraud being the only ground to
reopen or review a decree of registration.
The facts of the case are narrated below:
On July 2, 1990, herein private respondent Maguesun Management and Development
Corporation (Maguesun Corporation) filed an Application for Registration of two parcels of
unregistered land located in Barangay Sungay, Tagaytay City (Lot Nos. 7231 and 7239, Cad-
355, Tagaytay Cadastre) with an area of 3,641 and 10,674 square meters respectively. The
original registration case was docketed as Case No. TG-373 before the Regional Trial Court of
Cavite, Branch 18, presided over by Judge Julieto Tabiolo. In support of its application for
registration, Maguesun Corporation presented a Deed of Absolute Sale dated June 10, 1990,
executed by Zenaida Melliza as vendor and indicating the purchase price to be P170,000.00.
Zenaida Melliza in turn, bought the property from the original petitioner herein, Trinidad de
Leon vda. de Roxas for P200,000.00 two and a half months earlier, as evidenced by a Deed of
Sale dated March 26, 1990 and an Affidavit of Self-Adjudication dated March 24, 1990.
Notices of the initial hearing were sent by the Land Registration Authority (the National Land
Titles and Deeds Registration Authority or NALTDRA) to Hilario Luna, Jose Gil and Leon Luna
on the basis of Maguesun Corporation's application for registration. Since Trinidad de Leon vda.
de Roxas was not named as an adjoining owner, occupant or adverse claimant, she was not sent a
notice of the proceedings. Publication was made in the Official Gazette and the Record
Newsweekly.
[2]
After an Order of general default was issued, the trial court proceeded to hear the
land registration case. On October 4, 1990, the Land Registration Authority reported, among
other things, that the subject parcels of land had previously been applied for registration in Land
Registration Case No. 500, GLRO Record No. 55072 at the Court of First Instance of Cavite by
Manuel A. Roxas and Trinidad de Leon but no decision has been rendered thereon.
[3]
Eventually,
on February 13, 1991 the Regional Trial Court granted Maguesun Corporation's application for
registration (Land Registration Case No. TG-373) in a three-page decision with the following
dispositive portion:
[4]

"WHEREFORE, this Court gives imprimatur to the application for registration of said lands
described in plan As-04-000108? Lot Nos. 7231 and 7239, one with an area of 3,641 and the
other with an area of 10,674 square meters, as supported and shown by the corresponding
technical descriptions now forming part of the records, in the name of Maguesun Management
and Development Corporation, with office address at 521 Edsa, Quezon City, free from all liens
and encumbrances and from any other adverse claims of any kind and nature.
Upon finality of this Decision, the same ipso facto becomes executory, upon which eventuality
the corresponding decree of registration may thus be issued.
SO ORDERED."
Consequently, the Regional Trial Court issued the Order for Issuance of the Decree on
March 14, 1991, after the afore-mentioned Decision in LRC No. TG-373 became final
[5]
but not
before it ordered, on February 14, 1991, Land Registration Case No. 500 (GLRO Record No.
55072) applied for by Manuel A Roxas and Trinidad de Leon, dismissed.
It was only when the caretaker of the property was being asked to vacate the land that
petitioner Trinidad de Leon Vda. de Roxas learned of its sale and the registration of the lots in
Maguesun Corporation's name.
Hence, on April 21, 1991, petitioner filed a petition for review before the Regional Trial
Court, docketed as Civil Case No. TG-1183 to set aside the decree of registration on the ground
that Maguesun Corporation committed actual fraud. She alleged that the lots were among the
properties she inherited from her husband, former President Manuel A. Roxas, who died on April
15, 1946 and that her family had been in open, continuous, adverse and uninterrupted possession
of the subject property in the concept of owner for more than thirty years before they applied for
its registration under the Torrens System of land titling. Petitioner further denied that she sold the
lots to Zenaida Melliza whom she had never met before and that her signature was forged in both
the Deed of Sale and the Affidavit of Self-Adjudication. In support of her claims, she also listed
a number of irregularities in the documents to prove actual fraud. In addition, and perhaps more
significantly, she claimed that Maguesun Corporation intentionally omitted her name as an
adverse claimant, occupant or adjoining owner in the application for registration submitted to the
Land Registration Authority such that the latter could not send her a Notice of Initial Hearing. As
result, an order of general default was issued and Maguesun Corporation's application for
registration was granted. She charged Maguesun Corporation with knowledge or authorship of
the fraud owing to the fact that Maguesun Corporation's president, Manolita Guevarra Suntay
after whom the corporation was named, was her niece. Manolita Suntay is the daughter of
Lourdes Guevarra Suntay, a deceased cousin of petitioner Vda. de Roxas who used to help with
the latter's business affairs. Manolita Suntay used to take care of the registration and insurance of
the latter's cars.
[6]

The sole issue of the case, as laid down by the trial court after the pre-trial, was whether or
not Vda. de Roxas' signatures on the Deed of Absolute Sale and the Affidavit of Self-
Adjudication in favor of Zenaida Melliza were forged.
[7]
Petitioner, who was then already 92
years of age, testified in open court on February 11, 1992 that she has never met Zenaida
Melliza, that she did not sell the subject lots and that her signatures on the Deed of Sale and
Affidavit of Self-Adjudication were forged.
[8]
A document examiner from the Philippine
National Police (PNP) concluded that there was no forgery.
[9]
Upon petitioner's motion, the
signatures were re-examined by another expert from the National Bureau of Investigation The
latter testified that the signatures on the questioned and sample documents were not written by
the same person.
[10]
Despite the foregoing testimonies and pronouncements, the trial court
dismissed the petition for review of decree of registration on April 15, 1992.
[11]
Placing greater
weight on the findings and testimony of the PNP document examiner, it concluded that the
questioned documents were not forged and if they were, it was Zenaida Melliza, and not
Maguesun Corporation, who was responsible. Accordingly, Maguesun Corporation did not
commit actual fraud. The court further noted that petitioner Mrs. Trinidad Roxas had not been
paying taxes for several years, which fact "exhibited what appeared to be unmistakeable signs of
not actually owning (the lots) any more," and that her application for registration was
"previously dismissed and abandoned," thus indicating that "petitioner herself is aware that she
had already lost . x x interest, if not actually her rights, over the property in question."
[12]

In a decision dated December 8, 1994,
[13]
respondent court denied the petition for review
and affirmed the findings of the trial court. The Court of Appeals held that petitioner failed to
demonstrate that there was actual or extrinsic fraud, not merely constructive or intrinsic fraud, a
prerequisite for purposes of annuling a judgment or reviewing a decree of registration.
Additionally, respondent court stated that the discrepancies or irregularities in the Deed of Sale
and Affidavit of Self-Adjudication pointed out by petitioner are not patent or obvious, involve
matters that are too trivial, requiring knowledge of the intricacies of the law and are "not
necessarily and exclusively indicia of extrinsic fraud and/or bad faith especially when
considered in the light of circumstances hereinafter discussed." The records also show, according
to the appellate court, that Maguesun Corporation had not concealed from the court either the
existence of petitioner or any interest she may have had in the registration proceedings. Finally,
the Court of Appeals ruled that publication of the initial hearing in the Official Gazette is
sufficient to confer jurisdiction upon the court.
[14]

Hence, the instant petition for review where it is alleged that the Court of Appeals erred in
ruling that Maguesun Corporation did not commit actual fraud warranting the setting aside of the
registration decree and in resolving the appeal on the basis of Maguesun Corporation's good
faith. Petitioners pray that the registration of the subject lots in the name of Maguesun
Corporation be cancelled, that said property be adjudicated in favor of petitioners and that
respondent corporation pay moral damages not less than P100,000.00, exemplary damages not
less thanP36,000.00 and attorney's fees of P60,000.00.
We find the petition for review impressed with merit.
1. Registration of untitled land under the Torrens System is done pursuant to Presidential
Decree No. 1529, the Property Registration Decree which amended and codified laws relative to
registration of property.
[15]
Adjudication of land in a registration (or cadastral) case does not
become final and incontrovertible until the expiration of one year after the entry of the final
decree. Before such time, the decision remains under the control and sound discretion of the
court rendering the decree, which court after hearing, may set aside the decision or decree and
adjudicate the land to another party.
[16]
Absence, minority or other disability of any person
affected, or any proceeding in court for reversing judgments, are not considered grounds to
reopen or revise said decree. However, the right of a person deprived of land or of any estate or
interest therein by adjudication or confirmation of title obtained by actual fraud is recognized
by law (Section 32 of Presidential Decree No. 1529) as a valid and legal basis for reopening and
revising a decree of registration.
[17]
It is further required that a petition for reopening and review
of the decree of registration be filed within one year from the date of entry of said decree, that
the petitioner has a real and dominical right and the property has not yet been transferred to an
innocent purchaser.
[18]

Fraud is of two kinds: actual or constructive. Actual or positive fraud proceeds from an
intentional deception practiced by means of the misrepresentation or concealment of a material
fact.
[19]
Constructive fraud is construed as a fraud because of its detrimental effect upon public
interests and public or private confidence, even though the act is not done or committed with an
actual design to commit positive fraud or injury upon other persons.
[20]

Fraud may also be either extrinsic or intrinsic. Fraud is regarded as intrinsic where the
fraudulent acts pertain to an issue involved in the original action, or where the acts constituting
the fraud were or could have been litigated therein, and is regarded as extrinsic where it prevents
a party from having a trial or from presenting his entire case to the court, or where it operates
upon matters pertaining not to the judgment itself but to the manner in which it is procured, so
that there is not a fair submission of the controversy.
[21]
Extrinsic fraud is also actual fraud, but
collateral to the transaction sued upon.
[22]

The distinctions are significant because only actual fraud or extrinsic fraud has been
accepted as grounds for a judgment to be annulled or, as in this case, a decree of registration
reopened and reviewed.
[23]
In the oft-cited Macabingkil v. People's Homesite and Housing
Corporation case, the Court drew from American jurisprudence stating that "relief has been
granted on the ground that, by some fraud practiced directly upon the party seeking relief against
the judgment or decree, (and) that party has been prevented from presenting all of his case to the
court."
[24]
The "fraud" contemplated by the law in this case (Section 32, P.D. No. 1529) is actual
and extrinsic, which includes, an intentional omission of fact required by law.
[25]
For fraud to
justify a review of a decree, it must be extrinsic or collateral, and the facts upon which it is based
have not been controverted or resolved in the case where the judgment sought to be annulled was
rendered.
[26]
Persons who were fraudulently deprived of their opportunity to be heard in the
original registration case are entitled to a review of a decree of registration.
In Ramirez v. CA,
[27]
this Court adopted the Court of Appeals' ruling that the suppression of
the fact that the applicant spouses possessed the subject ricefield merely as antichretic creditors
and the fraudulent concealment and misrepresentation in the application that no other persons
had any claim or interest in the said land, constitute specific allegations of extrinsic fraud
supported by competent proof. Failure and intentional omission of the applicants to disclose the
fact of actual physical possession by another person constitutes an allegation of actual
fraud.
[28]
Likewise, it is fraud to knowingly omit or conceal a fact, upon which benefit is
obtained to the prejudice of a third person.
[29]

The Court here finds that respondent Maguesun Corporation committed actual fraud in
obtaining the decree of registration sought to be reviewed by petitioner.
Petitioner Vda. de Roxas contended that Maguesun Corporation intentionally omitted their
name, or that of the Roxas family, as having a claim to or as an occupant of the subject property.
In the corporation's application for registration filed with the trial court in LRC No. TG-373, the
following declaration appears:
"6. That the names in full and addresses, as far as known to the undersigned, of the owners of
all adjoining properties; of the persons mentioned in paragraphs 3 and 5 (mortgagors,
encumbrancers, and occupants) and of the person shown on the plan as claimants are as follows:
Hilario Luna, Jose Gil. Leon Luna. Provincial Road all at Tagaytay City (no house No.)"
[30]

The highlighted words are typed in with a different typewriter, with the first five letters of the
word "provincial" typed over correction fluid. Magesun Corporation, however, annexed a
differently-worded application for the petition to review case (Civil Case No. TG-1183,
"Trinidad de Leon Vda. de Roxas v. Maguesun Management and Development Corporation, et
al."). In the copy submitted to the trial court, the answer to the same number is as follows:
Hilario Luna, Jose Gil, Leon Luna, Roxas.
[31]

The discrepancy which is unexplained appears intentional. If the word "Roxas" were indeed
erased and replaced with "Provincial Road all at Tagaytay City (no house No.)" in the original
application submitted in LRC No. TG-373 but the copy with the word "Roxas" was submitted to
the trial court in Civil Case No. TG-1183, it is reasonable to assume that the reason is to mislead
the court into thinking that "Roxas" was placed in the original application as an adjoining owner,
encumbrancer, occupant or claimant, the same application which formed the basis for the Land
Registration Authority in sending out notices of initial hearing. Section 15 of Presidential Decree
No 1529 also requires the applicant for registration to state the full names and addresses of all
occupants of the land and those of adjoining owners, if known and if not known, the extent of the
search made to find them. Respondent corporation likewise failed to comply with this
requirement of law.
The truth is that the Roxas family had been in possession of the property uninterruptedly
through their caretaker, Jose Ramirez.
[32]
Respondent Maguesun Corporation also declared in
number 5 of the same application that the subject land was unoccupied when in truth and in fact,
the Roxas family caretaker resided in the subject property. Respondent corporation is likewise
charged with the knowledge of such possession and occupancy, for its President, who signed the
Deed of Sale over the property, knew fully well that her grandaunt Trinidad de Leon vda.
de Roxas owned the property. It is reasonable to expect her as a buyer to have inspected the
property prior to the sale such that the ascertainment of the current possessors or occupants could
have been made facilely. Respondent corporation's intentional concealment and representation of
petitioner's interest in the subject lots as possessor, occupant and claimant constitutes actual
fraud justifying the reopening and review of the decree of registration. Through such
misfeasance, the Roxas family was kept ignorant of the registration proceedings involving their
property, thus effectively depriving them of their day in court.
2. Respondent Court of Appeals held that Maguesun Corporation had not concealed from
the court either the existence of Trinidad de Leon Vda. de Roxas or any interest she may have in
the registration proceedings for the records are replete with references by Maguesun Corporation
itself to petitioner.
[33]
Mention of the late President's name as well as that of petitioner was made
principally in the Formal Offer of Exhibits for respondent corporation, in a Copy of Plan of Lots
7231 and 7239, tax declarations and as predecessor-in-interest. However, this is not sufficient
compliance with what the law requires to be stated in the application for registration. Disclosure
of petitioner's adverse interest, occupation and possession should be made at the appropriate
time, i.e., at the time of the application for registration, otherwise, the persons concerned will not
be sent notices of the initial hearing and will, therefore, miss the opportunity to present their
opposition or claims.
3. Publication of the Notice of Initial Hearing was made in the Official Gazette and in the
Record Newsweekly, admittedly not a newspaper of general circulation. The Court of Appeals
held that pursuant to Section 23 of Presidential Decree No. 1529, publication in the Official
Gazette is sufficient to confer jurisdiction. Said provision of law expressly states that "the
Commissioner of Land Registration shall cause a notice of initial hearing to be published once in
the Official Gazette and once in a newspaper of general circulation in the Philippines. Provided,
however, that the publication in the Official Gazette shall be sufficient to confer jurisdiction
upon the court. x x x"
While publication of the notice in the Official Gazette is sufficient to confer jurisdiction
upon the court, publication in a newspaper of general circulation remains an indispensable
procedural requirement. Couched in mandatory terms, it is a component of procedural due
process and aimed at giving "as wide publicity as possible" so that all persons having an adverse-
interest in the land subject of the registration proceedings may be notified thereof.
[34]
Although
jurisdiction of the court is not affected, the fact that publication was not made in a newspaper of
general circulation is material and relevant in assessing the applicant's right or title to the land.
4. The allegations of forgery and the discrepancies in the documentary, as well as in the
testimonial evidence regarding this issue which are all crucial to this case, compelled the Court
to undertake a careful review of the facts of the case.
[35]
A close scrutiny of the evidence on
record leads the Court to the irresistible conclusion that forgery was indeed attendant in the case
at bar. Although there is no proof of respondent Maguesun Corporation's direct participation in
the execution and preparation of the forged instruments, there are sufficient indicia which proves
that Maguesun Corporation is not the "innocent purchaser for value" who merits the protection of
the law.
In response to the questions fielded by the trial counsel and by counsel for petitioner, PNP
Document Examiner Zacarias Semacio sought to explain all the differences pointed out in the
questioned signatures and in the sample signatures as having been caused merely by "natural
variation."
[36]
He concluded that the questioned signatures were not forged. In contrast, Chief of
the Questioned Documents Division of the National Bureau of Investigation, Arcadio Ramos
testified with more specificity as befits an expert that the questioned and sample signatures were
not written by one and the same person because of "(t)he manner of execution of strokes the
personalized proportional characteristics of letters; the linking/connecting between letters the
structural pattern of letters and other minute details x x x."
[37]
Moreover, petitioner Trinidad de
Leon vda. de Roxas categorically declared that she has never met Zenaida Melliza and did not
sell the subject property.
[38]
Petitioner, then over ninety years old, has no motive to attest to a
falsehood. Petitioner and her family also own several other pieces of property, some of which are
leased out as restaurants, e.g. Leo's Restaurant and Ma Mon Luk Restaurant.
[39]
This is an
indication that petitioner is not unaware of the value of her properties. Hence, it is unlikely that
she would sell over thirteen thousand square meters of prime property in Tagaytay City to a
stranger for a measly P200,000.00. Finally, even to a layman's eye, the documents, as well as the
enlarged photographic exhibit of the signatures, reveal forgery. The questioned signatures taken
from the Deed of Sale and Affidavit of Self-Adjudication are starkly different from the sample
signatures in several documents executed by petitioner. The questioned signatures are smooth
and rounded, and have none of the jagged and shaky character of petitioner's signatures,
characteristic of the penmanship of elderly persons.
There are also added considerations reflective of the dubious character of the Affidavit of
Self-Adjudication purportedly executed by petitioner.
[40]
In it she declares that she is a resident
of 22 8th Street, New Manila, Quezon City, when she actually lives in 2 Park Road, North
Forbes Park, Makati. She also states that she is the "sole heir of the late Manuel De Roxas who
died sometime on the year 1944 at Manila." Petitioner's husband is President Manuel A. Roxas
and she refers to herself as Trinidad de Leon vda. de Roxas. President Roxas was survived by
petitioner and their two children, Ma. Rosario Roxas and Gerardo Roxas (who predeceased
petitioner). The fact that petitioner was not the sole heir was known to the general public, as well
as the demise of the late President on April 15, 1946 while delivering a speech at Clark Field,
Pampanga. The aforementioned irregularities are too glaring to have been ignored. If petitioner
did in fact execute said Affidavit, there is no reason why she should state facts other than the
unadulterated truth concerning herself and her family.
Additionally, Zenaida Melliza's non-appearance raises doubt as to her existence. Her given
address was Matina, Davao City. How was she related to petitioner and what led her to purchase
the subject property? Respondent corporation could very well have presented her to prove the
legitimacy of their transaction. If petitioner were selling said property, would she not have
offered them first to interested relatives such as Manolita G. Suntay? Would an ordinary person
sell more than thirteen thousand square meters of prime property for P170,000.00 when it was
earlier purchased for P200,000.00? These questions highlight several implausibilities in the
alleged sale of the subject property by herein petitioner. As Maguesun Corporation's President
who is related to petitioner, Manolita G. Suntay should have verified the sale of the subject
property by Zenaida Melliza. Manolita G. Suntay's closeness to petitioner Vda. de Roxas, as one
who even registered the latter's car, suggests acquaintance with the late petitioner's properties as
well as the possibility that she took advantage of such knowledge.
From the foregoing, it is quite clear that respondent corporation cannot tack its possession to
that of petitioner as predecessor-in-interest. Zenaida Melliza conveyed no title over the subject
parcels of land to Maguesun Corporation as she was not the owner thereof.
[41]
Maguesun
Corporation is thus not entitled to the registration decree which the trial court granted in its
decision. Palpably, petitioner has not been interrupted in her more than thirty years of open,
uninterrupted, exclusive and notorious possession in the concept of an owner over the subject
lots by the irregular transaction to Zenaida Melliza. She therefore retains title proper and
sufficient for original registration over the two parcels of land in question pursuant to Section 14
of Presidential Decree No. 1529.
[42]

WHEREFORE, the instant petition is hereby GRANTED. The Decision of the Court of
Appeals in C.A. G.R. CV No. 38328 ("Trinidad de Leon Vda. de Roxas v. Maguesun
Management & Development Corporation, et al.") promulgated on December 8, 1994 is hereby
REVERSED AND SET ASIDE. Accordingly, registration of title over the subject parcels of
land, described in Plan AS-04-000108, Lot Nos. 7231 and 7239, with an area of 3,461 and
10,674 square meters, respectively, as shown and supported by the corresponding technical
descriptions now forming part of the Records of LRC No. TG-373, is awarded to herein
petitioner Trinidad de Leon vda. de Roxas and her heirs, herein substituted as petitioners. Upon
finality of this Decision, the Land Registration Authority is hereby directed to ISSUE with
reasonable dispatch the corresponding decree of registration and certificate of title pursuant to
Section 39 of Presidential Decree No. 1529.
SO ORDERED.
Regalado, (Chairman), Puno, Mendoza, and Torres, Jr., JJ., concur.