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G.R. No.

L-56077 February 28, 1985

GONZALES, ROGELIO AQUINO, Minor represented by his father, Manuel Aquino, and ALEJANDRO,
CONSOLACION, respondents.
Silvestre Loreria, Jr. for respondent spouses Prudencio Maxino and Tarciana Morales.

This case is about the validity of the registration of 885 hectares of public forestal land located in Mulanay,
In Land Registration Case No. 81-G of the Court of First Instance at Gumaca, Quezon, Judge Vicente del
Rosario on March 21, 1961 rendered a decision, ordering the registration of said land, Lot 1, allegedly located
at Barrio Cambuga (Anonang), Mulanay, in the names of the spouses Prudencio Maxino and Tarciana
Morales, less 200 hectares which should be registered in the names of the Heirs of Lorenzo Consolacion (72,
Record on Appeal). The decision became final and executory. A decree and an original certificate of title were
More than eight years later, or on June 20, 1969, the Republic of the Philippines filed with the Gumaca court
an amended petition to annul the decision, decree and title on the ground that they are void because the land
in question was still a part of the unclassified public forest. Moreover, the possessory information title relied
upon by the Maxino spouses covered only 29 hectares of land and not 885 hectares. The petition was verified
by the Acting Director of Forestry.
The Maxinos opposed the petition. After a hearing on the merits, Judge Agana denied the petition in his order
of September 8, 1970. That order was served upon the assistant provincial fiscal on September 16, 1970 and
on the special counsel, Jaime Dispo of the Bureau of Forestry, on November 26, 1970.
A copy of the order was transmitted by the fiscal to the Solicitor General's Office only on September 2,
1971 or nearly one year from the issuance of the order. Twenty-two days thereafter or on September 24 the
Solicitor General appealed from that order and filed a motion for extension of time within which to submit a
record on appeal. The appeal was given due course.
In its decision dated October 24, 1980 the Appellate Court through Justices Asuncion, Porfirio V. Sison and
Sundiam dismissed the petition because the 1970 order had allegedly long become final and unappealable.
The Solicitor General appealed to this Court.
That is the issue to be resolved first: whether the appeal of the State from the trial court's 1970 order of denial
was seasonably made. The Appellate Court held that the service of the order on Dispo, as special attorney,
was binding on the Solicitor General's Office. Consequently, the record on appeal, which was filed after thirty
days from the service of the order upon Dispo, was filed out of time.
We hold that the reglementary thirty-day period for appeal should be reckoned from the time the Solicitor
General's Office was apprised of the 1970 order of denial and not from the time the special counsel or the
fiscal was served with that order. These representatives of the Solicitor General had no power to decide
whether an appeal should be made. They should have referred the matter to the Solicitor General.
In the designation of Dispo as special counsel by Solicitor General Barredo, approved by Secretary of Justice
Teehankee, it was specified that he should consult the Solicitor General on all questions, legal and factual,
regarding the case. The question of whether an appeal should be made could only be decided by the Solicitor
General's Office.
The 1969 petition to annul the decision, decree and titles was filed by Solicitor General Felix V. Makasiar,
Assistant Solicitor General Antonio A. Torres and Solicitor Alicia Sempio-Diy. Consequently, the Solicitor
General's Office should be served with the final order disposing of the petition and should not be bound by the
service on his surrogates, the special counsel and the fiscal (Republic vs. Polo, L-49247, March 13, 1979, 89
SCRA 33; Republic vs. Mendoza, L-49891, October 31, 1983, 125 SCRA 539).
The fact that after the record on appeal was filed on time, the Solicitor General's Office was late in filing the
amendments to it is of no moment. In exceptional cases, like the instant case, the interest of justice may
warrant waiver of the rules (Republic vs. Court of Appeals, L-31303-04, May 31, 1978, 83 SCRA 453).
In this case, where it is contended that the registration is void allegedly because public forestal land was
registered and the State sought to declare the decision void, the Government should not be estopped by the
mistakes or errors of its agents (Gov't. of the U. S. vs. Judge of 1st Inst. of Pampanga, 50 Phil. 975, 980;
Bachrach Motor Co. vs. Unson, 50 Phil. 981, 990; Go Tian An vs. Republic, 124 Phil. 472, 475; Republic vs.
Aquino, L-33983, January 27, 1983, 120 SCRA 186, 191-192).
Now, as to the merits of the case. It is incontestable that Lot 1, the 885-hectare area registered by the
Maxinos, is within the public forest, not alienable and disposable nor susceptible of private appropriation. Its
inclusion in the public forest was certified by Director of Forestry Florencio Tamesis on July 6, 1940, as per
Land Classification Map No. 1386, Tayabas Project No. 16-E of Mulanay, Exhibit C-Annulment, and as shown
in the report and testimony of Lorenzo R. Tria, a forest station warden (Exh. B-Annulment; 7, 10-15 tsn March
5, 1970). Tria recommended that the title of the Maxino spouses be annulled (Exh. B-Annulment).
The certification was reiterated by the Director of Forestry on May 20, 1948 as per Land Classification Map
No. 1516, No. 16-E of Mulanay, Quezon, Exhibit 1-A-Director of Forestry, and as shown in paragraph 6 of the
report of Forester Emerson B. Abraham who recommended that the opposition to the registration entered by
the Director be sustained (Exh. 1-Director of Forestry; Exh. Q, Report of Land Investigator Serapion Bauzon).
The basis of the claim of the Maxinos is a Spanish title, Exhibit G, a gratuitous composition title or adjustment
title issued on July 30, 1888 to Prudencio Tesalona pursuant to the Royal Decree of December 26, 1884 for
29 hectares of pasture land (pasto de animales) allegedly bounded by the Yamay and Campalacio Creeks. *
There is a monstrous and bewildering discrepancy between the area of 29 hectares and the actual area of the
land bounded by the Yamay and Campalacio Creeks which is 970 hectares as surveyed in 1959 (Exh. D). We
have no hesitation in saying that the composition title erred in stating the boundaries. The trial court grievously
erred in applying to this case the rule that the area comprised in the boundaries should prevail over that
stated in the moniments of title.
Tria averred in his report and testimony that the Yamay and Campalacio Creeks mentioned in the composition
title really refer to the Banguian and Mamba creeks. This would mean that the actual area claimed by Maxino
was only 371 hectares, not 970 (Exh. B-Annulment; 27-30 tsn March 5, 1970).
That would also explain why in the document, Exhibit H, presented by the Maxinos, mention is made of
"paligawang 'Manba' ".
The unreliability or dubiousness of the composition title is evident from the sale executed by the heirs of
Prudencio Tesalona in favor of Tarciana Morales-Maxino (Exh. F).
Prudencio Tesalona died in 1905. He was survived by his two children Maria and Lucila. On September 24,
1935 the two heirs, without executing an extrajudicial settlement of Prudencio's estate and adjudicating the
said 29-hectare land to themselves, executed an " absolute sale" of the land in favor of Tarciana Morales-
Maxino (Exh. F), the wife of applicant Prudencio Maxino who was Maria's son and the grandson of Prudencio
That curious document is not a sale at all. It is a "quit-claim". It is stated therein that in consideration
of P200 the Tesalona sisters "releases and forever quitclaim unto the said Vendee" the 29-hectare land
described in the composition title (Exh. F).
As an indication that the Tesalona "vendors" were not certain that their title was good, it was stipulated as an
"express condition" that the said vendors had no obligation of warranty for "the premises hereby sold by them,
the Vendee hereby expressly releasing the Vendor(s) from all duty of defending the Vendee against all
persons now claiming, or who may hereafter claim, to have a better right and title thereto, and assuming all
the risk of eviction by superior title" (Exh. F).
It was further stipulated "that in the event that any third person shall succeed in establishing right or title to
said premises or to any portion thereof superior to that of the grantor and in lawfully dispossessing the
Vendee therefrom the Vendee shall not be entitled to reimbursement from the Vendor of the sum of TWO
HUNDRED PESOS which constitutes the consideration for these presents, or of any part thereof, or to
damages" (Exh. F).
The Maxinos contend that Tesalona's gratuitous adjustment or composition title (as distinguished from
an onerousadjustment title) should prevail in determining the Identity of the disputed land. This assertion is
untenable in the light of the notorious discrepancy between the area of 29 hectares stated in the title and the
970 hectares now claimed as the real area (885 hectares for Lot 1 and 84 hectares for Lot 2 which is not
involved in this case).
The most that can be said for Tesalona is that his gratuitous adjustment title granted him possessory
rights over pasture land with an area of 29 hectares but not ownership over 970 hectares of grazing land. As
to the requirements for an adjustment proceeding under the Royal Decree of December 26, 1884, where the
area in hectares, not the boundaries, is important, see Ventura, Land Registration and Mortgages, pp. 1719.
The Maxinos have the burden of proving that the title justified the considerable increase in area. They have
not shown that a title for 29 hectares could be a valid title for 970 hectares. The boundaries and areas stated
in Tesalona's tax declarations reveal that a different land was covered thereby. The title states that the 29-
hectare land was located in Barrio Yamay. In his tax declarations it is stated that the land was located in
Barrio Cambuga, now Anonang.
His 1906 tax declaration is for a parcel of land whose boundaries are not the Yamay and Campalacio Creeks
but it was bounded by the Yamay Creek and the lands of Maximo Tesalona, Emiterio Tesalona and Felix
Aguilles, with an area of 120 hectares (Exh. I). On the other hand, his 1919 and 1921 tax declarations are for
land with the same boundaries but with an area of 36 hectares only (Exh. I-2 and I-3).
The 1948, 1958 and 1961 tax declarations use the boundaries Campalacio and Yamay Creeks but the area of
the pasture land is 100 hectares only, a far cry from the 970 hectares as surveyed (Exh. I-4, I-5 and I-6).
It is axiomatic that public forestal land is not registerable. Its inclusion in a title, whether the title be issued
during the Spanish regime or under the Torrens system, nullifies the title (Director of Lands vs. Reyes, L-
27594 and Alinsunurin vs. Director of Lands, L-28144, November 28, 1975, 68 SCRA 177, 194-5; Director of
Lands vs. Salazar, G. R. No. 50340, December 26, 1984).
Possession of public forestal lands, however long, cannot ripen into private ownership (Director of Forestry vs.
Munoz, L-24796, June 28, 1968, 23 SCRA 1183, 1199; Director of Lands vs. Salazar, supra).
The oral evidence does not bolster the case at all for the applicants. Applicant Prudencio Maxino testified that
the lot he was seeking to register has an area of more than seventy hectares (8 tsn Jan. 11, 1961). He
purchased the lot from his aunt and mother, as shown in the deed of September 24, 1935, Exhibit F (9).
He testified that the Mamba Creek is also known as Yamay Creek (13). The land was grazing or pasture land
(15). Thirty-one squatters occupied the land (5 tsn March 6, 1961). He did not know that the land had an area
of 29 hectares in 1935 when he bought it (6). He came to know the area of the land when it was surveyed. He
was not present when it was surveyed (6).
Another witness, Fortunato Naadiego, 76, testified that the land was possessed during the Spanish regime
by his stepfather, Pedro Tesalona, the owner, not Prudencio Tesalona, the holder of the adjustment title (11).
Spanish titles are not indefeasible (Director of Forestry vs. Munoz, supra, p. 1198). The instant case bears
similarities to Ramirez and Bayot de Ramirez vs. Director of Lands, 60 Phil. 114, where an adjustment title
issued in 1896 was held to be void because it was fraudulent and it covered public forestal land not subject to
registration. As to void composition or patent issued in 1898, see Testagorda vs. Commanding General, 6
Phil. 573.
Incidentally, it may be mentioned that Presidential Decree No. 892 effective February 16, 1976 discontinued
the use of Spanish titles as evidence in land registration proceedings.
WHEREFORE, the order of Judge Agana, the decision of the Appellate Court and the decision of Judge Del
Rosario dated March 21, 1961 are reversed and set aside. The application for registration of Lot 1, Psu-
175880 is dismissed. No costs.

G.R. No. L-61539 February 14, 1986

This is a land registration case involving what the Republic of the Philippines claims to be grazing land, a part
of the forest reserve.
The evidence shows that on March 14, 1873 the Alcalde Mayor and judge of the Court of First Instance in
Tuguegarao, Cagayan purportedly granted to Domingo Bunagan a possessory information title for a tract of
land,called Nottab, "3,500 brazas de largo y 3,000 brazas de ancho", "destinado al pasto de sus ganados" y
bajo la condicion de sin perjuicio del derecho que el Estado o otro tercero pudiera tener en referida finca
rustica" (Exh. I and K).
The Gaceta de Manila dated November 3, 1885 mentions Bunagan as having obtained a "composicion
gratuita" for a parcel of land in Enrile, Cagayan (Exh. J-1) or a gratuitous adjustment title as distinguished
from an onerous adjustment title. **
What happened to the Nottab land? The conflicting evidence of the oppositor Cagayan Valley Agricultural
Corporation (Cavaco) and petitioner Pacifico Vijandre shows that two persons, the brothers Luis Guzman
Rivas and Lope Guzman Rivas, sons of Pablo Guzman, played decisive roles in its disposition.
The evidence is conflicting because, according to Cavaco's evidence, the whole land was sold to Luis
Guzman Rivas and later to Cavaco, whereas, according to Vijandre's evidence, only a portion was sold to
Luis and the remainder was sold to Lope Guzman Rivas who in turn sold portions to Vijandre and Fernando
A. Pascua.
The Solicitor General's view is that the whole Nottab land, whatever its area, is forestal and grazing land, and
consequently, was inalienable land and, therefore, all supposed sales regarding that land were void.
According to Cavaco's evidence, after Bunagan's death, his son-in-law, Ceferino Saddul, as apoderado of
Bunagan's heirs, sold the land to one Manuel Guzman sometime in 1904 or 1905 or 1908.
The administratrix of Manuel Guzman's estate, with the approval of the probate court, sold the land in 1934
to Luis Guzman Rivas who died in 1944. The land passed to his widow, Dolores Enriquez, who sold the
northern portion of the land to Saturnino Moldero in 1944 and the southern portion to Rafael Gonzales in
Moldero in 1948 sold his northern portion to the spouses Antonio and Josefa Estrada. In 1951 the Estrada
spouses and (Gonzales sold the land to Cavaco (Exh. 12-A to 15Pascua, 242 Joint Record on Appeal).
The trial court and the Court of Appeals in a land registration case adjudicated to Cavaco 1,222 hectares of
the Nottab land. It is the registered owner of the land. Right or wrong that decision is the law of the case.
(Cagayan Valley Agricultural Corporation vs. Director of Lands, CA-G.R. No, 24931-32, December 9, 1960).
The trial court correctly held that the said adjudication means that the respondent herein cannot use anymore
in this case the supposed 1873 informacion posesoria and the 1885 composicion gratuita as bases of their
application for registration. The reason is that said Spanish titles were already used in the Cavaco case.
Under those Spanish titles a land grant could not exceed 1,000 hectares (Director of Lands vs, Reves, L-
27594, November 28, 1975, 68 SCRA 177, 191 and other cases). It may be repeated that Cavaco obtained
more than 1,000 hectares by virtue of the said Spanish titles. Parenthetically, it may be stated that
Presidential Decree No. 892 since 1976 discontinued the use of Spanish titles as evidence in land registration
It is the supposed remainder of Bunagan's land that is now involved in this case, the portion transferred to
Lope Guzman Rivas as differentiated from the Cavaco land which came from Lope's brother Luis. It should be
stressed that according to the Cavaco case the whole land was sold to Luis and, therefore, no remainder
could have been transferred to Lope.
On the other hand, according to Vijandre's evidence in this case, on July 26, 1915, Manuela Bunagan, the
sole heir of Domingo, sold to Pablo Guzman for Pl,000 the remainder of the land in Nottab, Enrile, Cagayan,
"una parcela de pasto de ganaderia", covered by Tax Declaration No. 626 (Exh. H).
Pablo Guzman died in 1927. The Nottab land was inherited by his son, petitioner Lope Guzman Rivas, who
leased the land for grazing purposes to other persons. Lope has been residing in Makati, Metro Manila since
1961 because he has a heart ailment.
In 1958 about 800 hectares of the said land were sold by Lope to Ignacio Pascua who in 1962 sold the same
portion to his son, Fernando.
Lope Guzman Rivas and Vijandre filed in May, 1968 an application for the registration of two parcels of land
located at Sitio Nottab, the same Nottab land previously applied for by Cavaco. It is covered by Plan Psu-
178846, embracing thirteen lots with an area of 1,033 hectares, and Plan Psu-179101 covering fifteen lots
with an area of 890 hectares, or a total of 1,92.7 hectares.
Before the application was filed, Lope Guzman Rivas sold to his co-petitioner Vijandre l/2 of the entire land at
P50 a hectare. Vijandre undertook to finance the registration of the land. Should the registration of the land
not materialize for causes not imputable to Vijandre, then Lope would return to mall scashadvances(9-16,
Joint Record on Appeal).
The learned trial court declared the disputed land public land and dismissed the applications of Lope Guzman
Rivas and Vijandre and the claims of Pascua and Cavaco.
The Appellate Court reversed the trial court's decision. It granted the application of Lope and Vijandre, except
with respect to Lot No. 13, which was already covered by OCT No. 0-393. The Directors of Lands and Forest
Development appealed to this Court. Lope Guzman Rivas and Vijandre did not file any appellees' brief.
The Solicitor General contends that the Appellate Court erred (1) in not declaring that the disputed land is part
of a forest reservation; (2) in not finding that Lope Guzman Rivas and Vijandre and their predecessors have
not been in the open, continuous, uninterrupted, exclusive and notorious possession of the disputed land and
that their possession was not in the concept of owner: (3) in not finding that Domingo Bunagan's Spanish titles
were not authentic and (4) in not finding that the 1960 decision in favor of Cavaco is not res judicata.
On the other hand, lawyer Pascua argues (1) that the disputed land was already private in the hands of
Domingo Bunagans (2) that portions of said land, 1,222 hectares and 9 hectares, were titled in the names of
Cavaco and Melardo Agapay (Benjamin V. Pascua) respectively; (3) that the pasture lease agreements did
not convert private land into public land and (4) that Bunagan's Spanish titles were authentic and valid.
We hold that the disputed land is inalienable public grazing land, being a part of the forest reserve. It is part of
Timberland Project No. 15-A of Enrile, Cagayan. It is included in the Bureau of Forestry Map L. C. 2263,
comprising the Timberland of the Cagayan Land Classification, containing an area of 8,249 hectares, situated
in Enrile, Solana and Amulong, Cagayan. It is non-registerable (Exh. 2-Rep.). It cannot be appropriated by
private persons. It is not disposable public agricultural land.
Said land is a part of the to forest reserve under Presidential Proclamation No. 159 dated February 13, 1967.
It is intended for "wood production watershed soil protection and other forest uses" (Exh. 1-B and 7, Rep.; 63
OG 3364). The reservation was made prior to the instant 1968 application for registration.
Applicant Lope Guzman Rivas and oppositor Pascua and their predecessors have always treated the 1,923
hectares as pasture land. Portions of the land had been the object of pasture lease agreements with the
Bureau of Forestry. Among the lessees were oppositor Fernando A. Pascua himself, Eliseo Lasam and
J.T.Torres, Jr. (Exh. 3 and 4, Rep.).
The 1960 and 1968 tax declarations of applicant Lope Guzmian Rivas describe the 2,000 hectares of land in
question as for "pasture exclusively", meaning it is grazing land (Exh. R and S). Similarly, the 1960 and 1962
tax declarations submitted in evidence by oppositor Pascua describe 790 or 767 hectares of the land as
"pasture land" (Exh. 27 and 28Pascua).
We have stated that the supposed possessory information title issued in 1873 to the original claimant,
Domingo Bunagan, describes the land as "una estancia de ganado al terreno" (grazing land), or "un terreno
destinado al pasto de sus ganados" or la estancia para ganados denominada Nottab".
The application for the possessory information title was approved "bajo la condicion de sin perjuicio
determination derecho que el Estado o otro tercero pudiera tener en referida finca rustica" (Exh. 1). (Note that
Exhibit J, the 1885 resolution published in Gaceta de Manila, is not a composition title at all).
Manuela Bunagan, the supposed heir to Domingo Bunagan, sold in 1915 the 2,000 hectares in question to
Pablo Guzman at fifty centavos a hectare as "una parcela de pasto de ganaderia (Exh. H). Similarly, Ignacio
A. Pascua bought from Lope Guzman Rivas the 800 hectares in 1962 as "a parcel of pasture land" (Exh. I
Grazing lands and timber lands are riot alienable under section 1, Article XIII of the 1935 Constitution and
sections 8, 10 and 11 of Article XIV of the 1973 Constitution. Section 10 distinguishes strictly agricultural
lands (disposable) from grazing lands (inalienable).
Lands within the forest zone or timber reservation cannot be the object of private ownership (Republic vs.
Animas, L- 37682, March 29, 1974, 56 SCRA 499; Director of Forestry vs. Munoz, 132 Phil. 637; Republic vs.
Court of Appeals, G.R. No. 56077, February 28, 1985, 135 SCRA 156 and other cases).
WHEREFORE, the decision of the Appellate Court is reversed and set aside. The application for registration
of Lope Guzman Rivas and Pacifico V. Vijandre and the counter-application of lawyer Fernando A. Pascua
are dismissed. No costs.