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Sec. 28 – Partial Judgment.

The court may render partial judgment in cases where only a portion of
the land is contested provided that a subdivision plan showing the contested
and uncontested portions approved by the Director of Lands have been
previously submitted to it.
Sec. 29 – Judgment confirming title.
If the court finds that the applicant or the oppositor has sufficient title
proper for registration, judgment shall be rendered confirming title of the
applicant, or the oppositior, to the land or portions thereof.
Sec. 30 – When judgment becomes final; duty to cause issuance of
decree.
1. Judgment becomes final upon the expiration of 15 days from the
receipt of notice of the judgment (30 days in PD1529 was amended
by BP129 to 15 days).
2. Appeals may be taken as in ordinary civil cases.
3. After judgment becomes final, the court shall order the issuance of the
decree of registration and the certificate of title to the Commissioner.
Sec. 31 – Decree of Registration
1. The Decree of Registration issued by the Commissioner must
a. Bear the date, hour and minute of its entry
b. Be signed by him
c. State civil status of the owner, if married name of spouse;
provided that if the land forms part of the conjugal property
then the decree shall be issued in the name of both spouses
d. State the nature of disability, if the owner is under disability
e. State the age, if the owner is a minor
f. Contain a description of the land as finally determined by the
court
g. Set forth the estate of the owner
h. All encumbrances to which the land or owner’s estate is
subject
2. Decree of Registration shall bind the land and quiet title thereto
subject only to encumbrances provided by law. It is conclusive against
all persons, including the government.
G.R. No. 173289 February 17, 2010
ELAND PHILIPPINES, INC., Petitioner,
vs.
AZUCENA GARCIA, ELINO FAJARDO, AND HEIR OF TIBURCIO
MALABANAN NAMED TERESA MALABANAN, Respondents.
D E C I S I O N
PERALTA, J .:
This is a Petition for Review on Certiorari under Rule 45 of the Rules of Court,
seeking to reverse and set aside the decision
1
dated February 28, 2006 of the
Court of Appeals (CA) in CA-G.R. CV No. 67417, which dismissed the appeal
of petitioner Eland Philippines, Inc. and affirmed the Resolutions dated
November 3, 1999 and June 28, 2006 of Branch 18, Regional Trial Court
(RTC) of Tagaytay City.
The facts of the case, as shown in the records, are the following:
Respondents Azucena Garcia, Elino Fajardo, and Teresa Malabanan, the heir
of Tiburcio Malabanan, filed a Complaint
2
dated March 2, 1998 for Quieting of
Title with Writ of Preliminary Injunction with the RTC, Branch XVIII, Tagaytay
City against petitioner Eland Philippines, Inc. Respondents claimed that they
are the owners, in fee simple title, of a parcel of land identified as Lot 9250
Cad-355, Tagaytay Cadastre, Plan Ap-04-008367, situated in Barangay
Iruhin, Tagaytay City, containing an area of Two Hundred Forty-Four
Thousand One Hundred Twelve (244,112) square meters, by occupation and
possession under the provisions of Sec. 48 (b)
3
of the Public Land Law or
Commonwealth Act No. 141, as amended.
For having been in continuous, public, and adverse possession as owners of
the said lot for at least thirty years, respondents stated that they were not
aware of any person or entity who had a legal or equitable interest or claim on
the same lot until the time they were requesting that the lot be declared for tax
purposes. They found out that the lot was the subject of a land registration
proceeding that had already been decided by the same court
4
where their
complaint was filed. They also found out that Decree No. N-217313, LRC
Record No. N-62686, was already issued on August 20, 1997 to the petitioner
pursuant to the Decision dated June 7, 1994 of the same court. They averred
that they were not notified of the said land registration case; thus, they
claimed the presence of misrepresentation amounting to actual or extrinsic
fraud. Thus, they argued that they were also entitled to a writ of preliminary
injunction in order to restrain or enjoin petitioner, its privies, agents,
representatives, and all other persons acting on its behalf, to refrain from
committing acts of dispossession on the subject lot.
Summons, together with a copy of the complaint, were served on the
petitioner on April 7, 1998. On April 29, 1998, petitioner filed an Entry of
Appearance with Motion for Extension of Time,
5
which the trial court granted
6

for a period of ten (10) days within which to file a responsive pleading.
Petitioner filed a Second Motion for Extension of Time to File Answer
7
dated
April 29, 1998, which the trial court likewise granted.
8

Thereafter, petitioner filed a Motion to Dismiss
9
dated May 9, 1998, stating
that the pleading asserting the claim of respondents stated no cause of action,
and that the latter were not entitled to the issuance of a writ of preliminary
injunction, setting the same for hearing on May 21, 1998. On the date of the
hearing, the trial court issued an Order,
10
which granted the respondents ten
(10) days from that day to file a comment, and set the date of the hearing on
July 23, 1998. Respondents filed a Motion to Admit Comment/Opposition to
Defendant Eland,
11
together with the corresponding Comment/Opposition
12

dated June 8, 1998.
On the scheduled hearing of September 23, 1998, the trial court issued an
Order,
13
considering the Motion to Dismiss submitted for resolution due to the
non-appearance of the parties and their respective counsels. The said motion
was eventually denied by the trial court in an Order
14
dated September 25,
1998, ruling that the allegations in the complaint established a cause of action
and enjoined petitioner Eland to file its answer to the complaint within ten (10)
days from receipt of the same. Petitioner then filed two Motions for Extension
to File an Answer.
15

Petitioner, on November 9, 1998, filed a Motion for Reconsideration
16
of the
trial court's Order dated September 25, 1998, denying the former's Motion to
Dismiss. Again, petitioner filed a Motion for Final Extension of Time to File
Answer
17
dated November 6, 1998. Respondents filed their
Comment/Opposition to Motion for Reconsideration dated November 24,
1998. Subsequently, the trial court denied petitioner's motion for
reconsideration in an Order
18
dated January 11, 1999.
Meanwhile, respondents filed a Motion to Declare Defendant Eland in
Default
19
dated November 17, 1998. On December 4, 1998 Petitioner Eland
filed its Comment (on Plaintiff's Motion to Declare Defendant Eland in
Default)
20
dated December 2, 1998, while respondents filed a Reply to
Comment (on Plaintiff's Motion to Declare Defendant Eland in Default)
21
dated
December 29, 1998. Thereafter, the trial court issued an Order
22
dated
January 11, 1999 declaring the petitioner in default and allowed the
respondents to present evidence ex parte. Petitioner filed a Motion for
Reconsideration (of the Order dated 11 January 1999)
23
dated February 5,
1999 on the trial court's denial of its motion to dismiss and in declaring it in
default. The trial court in an Order
24
dated March 18, 1999, denied the former
and granted the latter. In the same Order, the trial court admitted petitioner's
Answer Ad Cautelam.
Earlier, petitioner filed its Answer Ad Cautelam (With Compulsory
Counterclaim)
25
dated November 12, 1998. Respondents countered by filing a
Motion to Expunge Eland's Answer from the Records
26
dated December 2,
1998. Petitioner filed its Opposition (to Plaintiff's Motion to Expunge Eland's
Answer from the Records)
27
dated December 21, 1998, as well as a Comment
(on Plaintiff's Motion to Expunge Eland's Answer from the Records)
28
dated
January 26, 1999.
Consequently, respondents filed a Motion to Set Presentation of Evidence Ex
Parte
29
dated January 18, 1999, which was granted in an Order
30
dated
January 22, 1999.
On January 28, 1999, respondents presented their evidence before the Clerk
of Court of the trial court which ended on February 3, 1999; and, on February
10, 1999, respondents filed their Formal Offer of Evidence.
31
However,
petitioner filed an Urgent Motion to Suspend Plaintiff's Ex Parte Presentation
of Evidence
32
dated February 8, 1999. In that regard, the trial court issued an
Order
33
dated February 11, 1999 directing the Clerk of Court to suspend the
proceedings.
On May 14, 1999, respondents filed a Motion for Clarification
34
as to whether
or not the evidence presented ex parte was nullified by the admission of
petitioner's Answer Ad Cautelam. Petitioner filed its Comment
35
dated May 13,
1999 on the said motion for clarification.
A pre-trial conference was scheduled on May 27, 1999, wherein the parties
submitted their pre-trial briefs.
36
However, petitioner filed a Motion to Suspend
Proceedings
37
dated May 24, 1999 on the ground that the same petitioner had
filed a petition for certiorari with the CA, asking for the nullification of the Order
dated March 18, 1999 of the trial court and for the affirmation of its earlier
Order denying petitioner's Motion to Dismiss. The petition for certiorari was
subsequently denied; and a copy of the Resolution
38
dated June 14, 1999 was
received by the trial court. Hence, in an Order
39
dated July 7, 1999, the trial
court ruled that the reception of evidence already presented by the
respondents before the Clerk of Court remained as part of the records of the
case, and that the petitioner had the right to cross-examine the witness and to
comment on the documentary exhibits already presented. Consequently,
petitioner filed a Motion for Reconsideration
40
dated July 19, 1999, but it was
denied by the trial court in an Omnibus Order
41
dated September 14, 1999.
Eventually, respondents filed a Motion for Summary Judgment
42
dated August
5, 1999, while petitioner filed its Opposition
43
to the Motion dated August 31,
1999. In its Resolution
44
dated November 3, 1999, the trial court found favor
on the respondents. The dispositive portion of the Resolution reads:
WHEREFORE, premises considered, the motion for summary judgment is
hereby GRANTED and it is hereby adjudged that:
1. Plaintiffs are the absolute owners and rightful possessors of Lot
9250, CAD-355, Tagaytay Cadastre, subject to the rights of
occupancy of the farm workers on the one-third area thereof;
2. The Judgment dated June 7, 1994 in Land Registration Case No.
TG-423 is set aside and the Decree No. N-217313, LRC Record No.
N-62686 dated August 20, 1997 is null and void;
3. The Original Transfer Certificate of Title is ordered to be canceled,
as well as tax declaration covering Lot 9250, Cad-355.
SO ORDERED.
Petitioner appealed the Resolution of the trial court with the CA, which
dismissed it in a Decision dated February 28, 2006, which reads:
WHEREFORE, for lack of merit, the appeal is DISMISSED. The assailed
Resolution dated November 3, 1999, of the RTC, Branch 18, Tagaytay City, in
Civil Case No. TG-1784, is AFFIRMED. No pronouncement as to cost.
SO ORDERED.
Hence, the present petition.
The grounds relied upon by the petitioner are the following:
5.1 THE COURT OF APPEALS ACTED IN A MANNER NOT IN
ACCORD WITH LAW AND WITH THE APPLICABLE DECISIONS OF
THIS HONORABLE COURT WHEN IT RULED THAT
RESPONDENTS' MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT DATED
AUGUST 05, 1999 DID NOT VIOLATE THE TEN (10)-DAY NOTICE
RULE UNDER SECTION 3, RULE 35 OF THE 1997 RULES OF
CIVIL PROCEDURE.
5.2 THE COURT OF APPEALS ACTED IN A MANNER NOT IN
ACCORD WITH LAW AND WITH THE APPLICABLE DECISIONS OF
THIS HONORABLE COURT WHEN IT RULED THAT A MOTION
FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT IS PROPER IN AN ACTION FOR
QUIETING OF TITLE.
5.3 THE COURT OF APPEALS ACTED IN A MANNER NOT IN
ACCORD WITH LAW AND WITH THE APPLICABLE DECISIONS OF
THIS HONORABLE COURT WHEN IT RULED THAT THERE ARE
NO GENUINE FACTUAL AND TRIABLE ISSUES IN CIVIL CASE
NO. TG-1784.
5.4 THE COURT OF APPEALS ACTED IN A MANNER NOT IN
ACCORD WITH LAW AND WITH THE APPLICABLE DECISIONS OF
THIS HONORABLE COURT WHEN IT UPHELD THE RESOLUTION
DATED NOVEMBER 03, 1999 OF THE COURT A QUO, BASED ON
TESTIMONIES OF RESPONDENTS' WITNESSES TAKEN
WITHOUT GRANTING HEREIN PETITIONER THE RIGHT TO
CROSS-EXAMINE AND UPON DOCUMENTARY EXHIBITS
PRESENTED BUT NOT ADMITTED AS EVIDENCE.
5.5 THE COURT OF APPEALS ACTED IN A MANNER NOT IN
ACCORD WITH LAW AND WITH THE APPLICABLE DECISIONS OF
THIS HONORABLE COURT WHEN IT UPHELD THE RESOLUTION
DATED NOVEMBER 03, 1999 OF THE COURT A QUO BASED ON
FALSIFIED "EVIDENCE."
5.6 THE COURT OF APPEALS ACTED IN A MANNER NOT IN
ACCORD WITH LAW AND WITH THE APPLICABLE DECISIONS OF
THIS HONORABLE COURT WHEN IT FAILED TO RULE THAT THE
COURT A QUO PATENTLY DEPRIVED PETITIONER OF ITS
RIGHT TO DUE PROCESS IN RENDERING ITS SUMMARY
JUDGMENT.
5.7 THE COURT OF APPEALS ACTED IN A MANNER NOT IN
ACCORD WITH LAW AND WITH THE APPLICABLE DECISIONS OF
THIS HONORABLE COURT WHEN IT HELD THAT THE COURT A
QUO HAS JURISDICTION TO CANCEL PETITIONER'S ORIGINAL
CERTIFICATE OF TITLE (OCT) NO. 0-660 IN AN ACTION TO
QUIET TITLE.
According to the petitioner, a motion for summary judgment must be served at
least ten (10) days before the date set for hearing thereof, and that a hearing
must be held to hear the parties on the propriety of a summary judgment, per
Sec. 3 of Rule 35 of the Revised Rules of Court, which was not observed
because the petitioner received a copy of the respondents' motion for
summary judgment only on August 20, 1999, or the very same day that the
motion was set for hearing. Petitioner further claims that the trial court never
conducted any hearing on the motion for summary judgment.
Petitioner also argued that a summary judgment is only available to a claimant
seeking to recover upon a claim, counterclaim or cross-claim or to obtain a
declaratory relief, and does not include cases for quieting of title. Furthermore,
petitioner also averred that a summary judgment has no place in a case
where genuine factual and triable issues exist, like in the present case. It
added that the genuine and triable issues were all raised in its Answer Ad
Cautelam.
Another ground relied upon by petitioner is its failure to cross-examine the
witnesses for the respondents without fault on its part. It also stated that the
trial court did not issue any order admitting in evidence the documentary
exhibits presented by the respondents. Hence, according to the petitioner, the
trial court gravely erred in relying upon the testimonies of the witnesses for the
respondents, without having the latter cross-examined; and upon the
documentary exhibits presented but not admitted as evidence.
Petitioner further claimed that the trial court based its Resolution dated
November 3, 1999 on falsified evidence.
Lastly, petitioner raised the issue that by rendering summary judgment, the
trial court deprived the former of its right to due process.
Respondents, in their Comment
45
dated October 16, 2006, countered the first
issue raised by the petitioner, stating that their filing of the motion for summary
judgment fourteen (14) days before the requested hearing of the same motion
was in compliance with Sec. 3, Rule 35 of the Rules of Court.
As to the second and third issues, respondents argued that petitioner had a
constricted perception of the coverage of the Rules of Summary Judgment,
and that the latter's citation of cases decided by this Court showed the diverse
causes of action that could be the subject matters of summary judgment.
Respondents also posited that petitioner's statements in its Answer Ad
Cautelam, although denominated as Specific Denial, were really general
denials that did not comply with the provisions of Section 10, Rule 8 of the
Rules of Court.
Anent the fourth and fifth issues, respondents claimed that despite the
opportunity, or the right allowed in the Order dated July 17, 1999 of the trial
court, for the petitioner to cross-examine respondents' witnesses and to
comment on the documentary evidence presented ex parte after the default
order against the same petitioner, the latter evasively moved to set aside
respondents' evidence in order to suspend further proceedings that were
intended to abort the pre-trial conference. They added that petitioner
neglected to avail itself of, or to comply with, the prescription of the rules
found in Rule 35 of the Rules of Court by opting not to avail itself of the
hearing of its opposition to the summary judgment after receiving the Order
dated August 20, 1999; by failing to serve opposing affidavit, deposition or
admission in the records; and by not objecting to the decretal portion of the
said Order dated August 20, 1999, which stated that the motion for summary
judgment has been submitted for resolution without further argument. With
regard to the contention of the petitioner that the trial court wrongly
appreciated falsified evidence, respondents asserted that petitioner's counsel
failed to study carefully the records of the proceedings for the presentation of
the evidence ex parte to be able to know that it was not only a single-day
proceeding, and that more than one witness had been presented. They further
averred that the trial court did not only rely on the photographs of the houses
of the occupants of the property in question.
Finally, as to the sixth and seventh issues, respondents asseverated that their
complaint alleged joint causes of action for quieting of title under Art. 476 of
the New Civil Code and for the review of the decree of registration pursuant to
Sec. 32 of the Property Registration Decree or P.D. No. 1529, because they
are complimentary with each other.
The petition is impressed with merit.
The basic contention that must be resolved by this Court is the propriety of the
summary judgment in this particular case of quieting of title.
Rule 35 of the 1997 Rules of Civil Procedure provides:
SEC. 1. Summary judgment for claimant. - A party seeking to recover upon a
claim, counterclaim, or cross-claim or to obtain a declaratory relief may, at any
time after the pleading in answer thereto has been served, move with
supporting affidavits for a summary judgment in his favor upon all or any part
thereof
SEC. 3. Motion and proceedings thereon. - The motion shall be served at
least ten (10) days before the time specified for the hearing. The adverse
party prior to the day of hearing may serve opposing affidavits. After the
hearing, the judgment sought shall be rendered forthwith if the pleading,
depositions, and admissions on file together with the affidavits, show that,
except as to the amount of damages, there is no genuine issue as to any
material fact and that the moving party is entitled to a judgment as a matter of
law.
46

In the present case, it was the respondents who moved for a summary
judgment.
Petitioner contended that the ten-day notice rule was violated, because the
copy of the motion for summary judgment was served only on August 20,
1999 or on the same day it was set for hearing. It also added that even if the
petitioner received a copy of the motion only on August 20, 1999, there was
no hearing conducted on that date because the trial court issued an order
giving petitioner 10 days within which to file its comment or opposition.
The above specific contention, however, is misguided. The CA was correct in
its observation that there was substantial compliance with due process. The
CA ruled, as the records show, that the ten-day notice rule was substantially
complied with because when the respondents filed the motion for summary
judgment on August 9, 1999, they furnished petitioner with a copy thereof on
the same day as shown in the registry receipt and that the motion was set for
hearing on August 20, 1999, or 10 days from the date of the filing thereof.
Due process, a constitutional precept, does not, therefore, always and in all
situations a trial-type proceeding. The essence of due process is found in the
reasonable opportunity to be heard and submit one's evidence in support of
his defense. What the law prohibits is not merely the absence of previous
notice, but the absence thereof and the lack of opportunity to be heard.
47

Petitioner further argues that summary judgment is not proper in an action for
quieting of title. This particular argument, however, is misplaced. This Court
has already ruled that any action can be the subject of a summary judgment
with the sole exception of actions for annulment of marriage or declaration of
its nullity or for legal separation.
48

Proceeding to the main issue, this Court finds that the grant of summary
judgment was not proper. A summary judgment is permitted only if there is no
genuine issue as to any material fact and a moving party is entitled to a
judgment as a matter of law. A summary judgment is proper if, while the
pleadings on their face appear to raise issues, the affidavits, depositions, and
admissions presented by the moving party show that such issues are not
genuine.
49

It must be remembered that the non-existence of a genuine issue is the
determining factor in granting a motion for summary judgment, and the
movant has the burden of proving such nonexistence. The trial court found
no genuine issue as to any material fact that would necessitate conducting a
full-blown trial. However, a careful study of the case shows otherwise.
In their motion for summary judgment, the respondents failed to clearly
demonstrate the absence of any genuine issue of fact. They merely reiterated
their averments in the complaint for quieting of title and opposed some issues
raised by the petitioner in its Answer Ad Cautelam, to wit:
Nonetheless, going by the records of the admitted and uncontroverted facts
and facts established there is no more litigious or genuine issue of basic fact
to be the subject of further trial on the merits.
The first defense as to the identity of the subject property, the issue has
already become nil because of not only the lack of seriousness in the
allegations but also because the identity of the subject parcel of land Lot 9250
was proven by the approved plan Ap-04-008367 that was already presented
and offered in evidence as Exhibit "B" for the plaintiffs.
The second defense that plaintiffs' claim of the property is barred by prior
judgment rule is unavailing considering that the vital documentary evidence
they presented in Land Registration Case No. TG-423 before this Honorable
Court the markings and descriptions of such documents are stated in the
Judgment quoted as follows:
(1) Tax Declaration No. 015224-A (Exhibit "Q"; x x x.
(2) Tax Declaration No. 05019-B (Exhibit "R"; x x x.
(3) Tax Declaration No. 01926-B (Exhibit "S"; x x x.
(4) Tax Declaration No. GR-007-0007 (Exhibit "T" x x x.
are the very documentary evidence adopted and relied upon by the plaintiffs
in seeking the review and nullity of the Decree No. 217313 issued on August
20, 1997 under LRC Record No. N-62686 pursuant to the Judgment dated
June 7, 1994 rendered by this Honorable Court penned by the acting
presiding Judge Eleuterio F. Guerrero in said Land Registration Case No. TG-
423.
On the other hand, as to the gravamen of the claims in the complaint, the
plaintiffs have presented clear and convincing evidence as the well-nigh or
almost incontrovertible evidence of a registerable title to the subject land in
the proceedings conducted on the reception of evidence ex-parte for the
plaintiffs establishing in detail the specifications of continuous, open, exclusive
possession as aspects of acquisitive prescription as confirmed in the affidavit
herein attached as Annex "A";
In ruling that there was indeed no genuine issue involved, the trial court
merely stated that:
This Court, going by the records, observed keenly that plaintiffs’ cause of
action for quieting of title on the disputed parcel of land is based on the
alleged fraud in the substitution of their landholdings of Lot 9250, Cad 355,
Tagaytay Cadastre containing only an area of 244,112 square meters with Lot
9121, Cad 335, Tagaytay Cadastre, containing only an area of 19,356 square
meters. While defendant Eland in its answer practically and mainly interposed
the defenses of: (a) the parcel of land being claimed by the plaintiffs is not the
parcel of land subject matter of Land Registration Case No. TG-423; (b) the
claim of the plaintiffs is barred by prior judgment of this Court in said Land
Registration Case; and (c) plaintiffs' complaint is barred by the Statute of
Limitation since Original Certificate of Title No. 0-660 has become
incontrovertible.
Cross-reference of the above-cited Land Registration Case No. TG-423 that
was decided previously by this Court with the case at bench was imperatively
made by this Court. Being minded that the Court has and can take judicial
notice of the said land registration case, this Court observed that there is no
genuine issue of fact to be tried on the merits. Firstly, because the supposed
identity crisis of the controverted parcel of land covered by the Land
Registration Case No. TG-423 with the subject parcel of land is established by
Plan Ap-04-006275 (Exhibit "N") LRC Case No. 423 and by Plan A04 008367
(Exhibit "B" of the plaintiffs) and the Technical Description of Lot 9250, Cad
355 (Exhibit "B-1" of the plaintiffs). Secondly, the prior judgment rule cannot
be availed of by defendant Eland since not only intrinsic fraud but extrinsic
fraud were alleged in and established by the records. (Heirs of Manuel Roxas
v. Court of Appeals, G. R. No. 1184436, pro. March 21, 1997). Thirdly, it is
incontrovertible that the complaint in this case seeking to review the judgment
and annul the decree was filed on March 5, 1998 or within one (1) year from
August 20, 1997 or the date of issuance of Decree No. 217313, LRC Record
No. N-62686, hence, the Original Certificate of Title No. 0-660 issued to
defendant Eland has not attained incontrovertibility. (Heirs of Manuel Roxas v.
Court of Appeals, G.R. No. 118436, prom. March 21, 1997).
Notwithstanding, the issue of possession is a question of fact by the
interaction of the basic pleadings, the observation of this Court is that the
plaintiffs were able to prove by the well-nigh incontrovertible evidence, the
aspects of possession in accordance with Section 48 (b) of Commonwealth
Act 141, as amended, as hereinafter illustrated.
The CA, in affirming the above Resolution of the trial court, propounded thus:
The contention of defendant-appellant is untenable. Summary judgment is not
only limited to solving actions involving money claims. Under Rule 35 of the
1997 Rules of Court, except as to the amount of damages, when there is no
genuine issue as to any material fact and the moving party is entitled to a
judgment as a matter of law, summary judgment may be allowed. The term
"genuine issue" has been defined as an issue of fact which calls for the
presentation of evidence as distinguished from an issue which is sham,
fictitious, contrived, set up in bad faith and patently unsubstantial so as not to
constitute a genuine issue for trial.
Thus, under the aforecited rule, summary judgment is appropriate when there
are no genuine issues of fact, which call for the presentation of evidence in a
full-blown trial. Thus, even if on their face the pleadings appear to raise
issues, but when the affidavits, depositions and admissions show that such
issues are not genuine, then summary judgment as prescribed by the rules
must ensue as a matter of law.
It should be stressed that the court a quo which rendered the assailed
resolution in Civil Case No. TG-1784 was the very court that decided the LRC
Case No. TG-423. Such being the case, the court a quo was privy to all
relevant facts and rulings pertaining to LRC Case No. TG-423 which it
considered and applied to this case. Thus, where all the facts are within the
judicial knowledge of the court, summary judgment may be granted as a
matter of right.
On the contrary, in petitioner's Answer Ad Cautelam, genuine, factual and
triable issues were raised, aside from specifically denying all the allegations in
the complaint, thus:
2. SPECIFIC DENIALS
2.1 Answering defendant specifically denies the allegations contained
in paragraphs 1 and 3 of the Complaint insofar as it alleges the
personal circumstances of the plaintiff and one A. F. Development
Corporation for lack of knowledge or information sufficient to form a
belief as to the truth thereof.
2.2 Answering defendant specifically denies the allegations contained
in paragraphs 4, 5, 6 and 7 of the Complaint for lack of knowledge or
information sufficient to form a belief as to the truth of said allegations.
And if the property referred to in said paragraphs is that parcel of land
which was the subject matter of Land Registration Case No. TG-423
which was previously decided by this Honorable Court with finality,
said allegations are likewise specifically denied for the obvious reason
that the said property had already been adjudged with finality by no
less than this Honorable Court as absolutely owned by herein
answering defendant as will be further discussed hereunder.
2.3 Answering defendant specifically denies the allegations contained
in paragraph 8 of the Complaint insofar as it alleged that "(u)pon
exercise of further circumspection, counsel for the plaintiffs once
followed-up in writing the 1994 request of the plaintiffs to have the
subject parcel of land be declared for taxation purposes" and insofar
as it is made to appear that parcel of land being claimed by the
plaintiffs is the same parcel of land subject matter of Land
Registration Case No. TG-423 for lack of knowledge or information
sufficient to form a belief as to the truth thereof and for the reason that
the names of the herein plaintiffs were never mentioned during the
entire proceedings in said land registration case and by reason of the
Affirmative Allegations contained hereunder.
2.4 Answering defendant specifically denies the allegations contained
in paragraphs 9, 10, 10 (a), 10 (b), 10 (c), 10 (d), 10 (e), 10 (f), 10 (g),
10 (h), and 11 for the reason that there is no showing that the parcel
of land being claimed by the plaintiff is the same parcel of land which
was the subject matter of Land Registration Case No. TG- 423, and in
the remote possibility that the parcel of land being claimed by the
plaintiffs is the same as that parcel of land subject of Land
Registration Case No. TG-423, the allegations contained in said
paragraphs are still specifically denied for the reason that no less than
the Honorable Court had decided with finality that the parcel of land is
absolutely owned by herein defendant to the exclusion of all other
persons as attested to by the subsequent issuance of an Original
Certificate of Title in favor of answering defendant and for reasons
stated in the Affirmative Allegations.
2.5 Answering defendant specifically denies the allegations contained
in paragraph 12 of the Complaint for the obvious reason that it was
the plaintiffs who appear to have been sleeping on their rights
considering that up to the present they still do not have any certificate
of title covering the parcel of land they are claiming in the instant
case, while on the part of herein defendant, no less than the
Honorable Court had adjudged with finality that the parcel of land
subject matter of Land Registration Case No. TG-423 is absolutely
owned by herein defendant.
2.6 Answering defendant specifically denies the allegations contained
in paragraph 13 of the complaint for the reason that defendant has
never ladgrabbed any parcel of land belonging to others, much less
from the plaintiffs, and further, answering defendant specifically
denies the allegations therein that plaintiffs engaged the services of a
lawyer for a fee for lack of knowledge r information sufficient to form a
belief as to the truth thereof.
2.7 Answering defendant specifically denies the allegations contained
in paragraphs 14, 15, 16, 17 and 18 of the Complaint for lack of
knowledge or information sufficient to form a belief as the truth
thereof.
2.8 Answering defendant specifically denies the allegations contained
in paragraphs IV (a) to IV (c) for the reason that, as above-stated, if
the parcel of land being claimed by the plaintiffs is the same as that
parcel of land subject matter of Land Registration Case No. TG-423,
this Honorable Court had already decided with finality that said parcel
of land is absolutely owned by herein answering defendant and
additionally, for those reasons stated in defendant's Motion to
Dismiss.
2.9 Answering defendant specifically denies the allegations contained
in paragraph IV (d) of the Complaint for lack of knowledge or
information sufficient to form a belief as to the truth thereof.
Special and affirmative defenses were also raised in the same
Answer Ad Cautelam, to wit:
x x x x
4.1 The pleading asserting the claim of the plaintiff states no cause of
action as asserted in the Motion To Dismiss filed by herein answering
defendant and for the reason that there is no evidence whatsoever
showing or attesting to the fact that the parcel of land being claimed
by the plaintiffs in the Complaint is the same parcel of land which was
the subject matter of Land Registration Case No. TG-423.
4.2 The complaint was barred by the prior judgment rendered by this
Honorable in Land Registration Case No. TG-423.
4.3 The complaint is barred by the Statute of Limitation in that OCT
No. 0-660 had become incontrovertible by virtue of the Torrens
System of Registration; and to allow plaintiffs to question the validity
of answering defendant's title through the instant complaint would be
a collateral of OCT No. 0-660 which is not permissible under the law.
4.4 Plaintiffs are barred by their own acts and/or omission from filing
the present complaint under the principles of estoppel and laches.
4.5 Plaintiffs does not to the Court with clean hands as they appear to
be well aware of the proceedings in said Land Registration Case No.
TG- 423 and inspite of such knowledge, plaintiffs never bothered to
present their alleged claims in the proceedings.
4.6 Answering defendant has always acted with justice, given
everyone his due, and observed honesty and good faith in his
dealings.
Clearly, the facts pleaded by the respondents in their motion for summary
judgment have been duly disputed and contested by petitioner, raising
genuine issues that must be resolved only after a full-blown trial. When the
facts as pleaded by the parties are disputed or contested, proceedings for
summary judgment cannot take the place of trial.
50
In the present case, the
petitioner was able to point out the genuine issues. A "genuine issue" is an
issue of fact that requires the presentation of evidence as distinguished from a
sham, fictitious, contrived or false claim.
51

It is of utmost importance to remember that petitioner is already the registered
owner (Original Certificate of Title [OCT] No. 0-660 issued by the Register of
Deeds) of the parcel of land in question, pursuant to a decree of registration
(Decree No. N-217313, LRC Record No. 62686) based on the ruling of the
same court that granted the summary judgment for the quieting of title.
Incidentally, the findings of the trial court contained in the disputed summary
judgment were obtained through judicial notice of the facts and rulings
pertaining to that earlier case (LRC Case No. TG-423) wherein the same trial
court ruled in favor of the petitioner. It is, therefore, disorienting that the same
trial court reversed its earlier ruling, which categorically stated that:
x x x There is overwhelming evidence or proof on record that the vendors
listed in Exhibit "HH," with submarkings, are the previous owners of the parcel
of land mentioned in the same deed of sale and aside form the tax
declarations covering the same property (Exhibits "Q" to "T," inclusive), the
uncontroverted testimony of Atty. Ruben Roxas establishes beyond any
shadow of doubt that applicant's (referring to herein defendant-appellant)
sellers/predecessors-in-interest are the grandchildren, great grandchildren
and great great grandchildren of the spouses Lucio Petate and Maria Pobleta
Petate, the former owners of the same property, whose ownership is further
bolstered by tax receipts showing payments of realty taxes (Exhibits "U" to
"GG," inclusive, with submarkings).
x x x
On the basis of the foregoing facts and circumstances, and considering that
applicant is a domestic corporation not otherwise disqualified from owning real
properties in the Philippines, this Court finds that applicant has satisfied all the
conditions/requirements essential to the grant of its application pursuant to the
provisions of the Land Registration Law, as amended, inspite of the opposition
filed by the Heirs of the late Doroteo Miranda. Hence, the grant of applicant's
petition appears to be inevitable.
WHEREFORE, this Court hereby approves the instant petition for land
registration and, thus, places under the operation of Act 141, Act 496 and/or
P.D. 1529, otherwise known as the Property Registration Law, the land
described in Plan Ap-04-006275 and containing an area of Two Hundred
Forty-Two Thousand Seven Hundred Ninety-Four (242,794) square meters,
as supported by its technical description now forming part of the record of this
case, in addition to other proofs adduced in the name of the applicant, ELAND
PHILIPPINES, INC., with principal office at No. 43 E. Rodriguez Ave. (España
Extension), Quezon City, Metro Manila.
Once this decision becomes final and executory, the corresponding decree of
registration shall forthwith issue.
SO ORDERED.
By granting the summary judgment, the trial court has in effect annulled its
former ruling based on a claim of possession and ownership of the same land
for more than thirty years without the benefit of a full-blown trial. The fact that
the respondents seek to nullify the original certificate of title issued to the
petitioner on the claim that the former were in possession of the same land for
a number of years, is already a clear indicium that a genuine issue of a
material fact exists. This, together with the failure of the respondents to show
that there were no genuine issues involved, should have been enough for the
trial court to give the motion for summary judgment, filed by respondents,
scant consideration. Trial courts have limited authority to render summary
judgments and may do so only when there is clearly no genuine issue as to
any material fact.
52

Based on the foregoing, this Court deems it necessary to delve briefly on the
nature of the action of quieting of title as applied in this case. This Court's
ruling in Calacala, et al. v. Republic, et al.
53
is instructive on this matter, thus:
To begin with, it bears emphasis that an action for quieting of title is
essentially a common law remedy grounded on equity. As we held in
Baricuatro, Jr. vs. CA:
54

Regarding the nature of the action filed before the trial court, quieting of title is
a common law remedy for the removal of any cloud upon or doubt or
uncertainty with respect to title to real property. Originating in equity
jurisprudence, its purpose is to secure ‘x x x an adjudication that a claim of
title to or an interest in property, adverse to that of the complainant, is invalid,
so that the complainant and those claiming under him may be forever
afterward free from any danger of hostile claim.’ In an action for quieting of
title, the competent court is tasked to determine the respective rights of the
complainant and other claimants, ‘x x x not only to place things in their proper
place, to make the one who has no rights to said immovable respect and not
disturb the other, but also for the benefit of both, so that he who has the right
would see every cloud of doubt over the property dissipated, and he could
afterwards without fear introduce the improvements he may desire, to use,
and even to abuse the property as he deems best xxx.
Under Article 476 of the New Civil Code, the remedy may be availed of only
when, by reason of any instrument, record, claim, encumbrance or
proceeding, which appears valid but is, in fact, invalid, ineffective, voidable, or
unenforceable, a cloud is thereby cast on the complainant’s title to real
property or any interest therein. The codal provision reads:
Article 476. Whenever there is a cloud on title to real property or any interest
therein, by reason of any instrument, record, claim, encumbrance or
proceeding which is apparently valid or effective but is in truth and in fact
invalid, ineffective, voidable, or unenforceable, and may be prejudicial to said
title, an action may be brought to remove such cloud or to quiet the title.
An action may also be brought to prevent a cloud from being cast upon title to
real property or any interest therein.
In turn, Article 477 of the same Code identifies the party who may bring an
action to quiet title, thus:
Article 477. The plaintiff must have legal or equitable title to, or interest in the
real property which is the subject-matter of the action. He need not be in
possession of said property.
It can thus be seen that for an action for quieting of title to prosper, the plaintiff
must first have a legal, or, at least, an equitable title on the real property
subject of the action and that the alleged cloud on his title must be shown to
be in fact invalid. So it is that in Robles, et al. vs. CA,
55
we ruled:
It is essential for the plaintiff or complainant to have a legal title or an
equitable title to or interest in the real property which is the subject matter of
the action. Also, the deed, claim, encumbrance or proceeding that is being
alleged as a cloud on plaintiff’s title must be shown to be in fact invalid or
inoperative despite its prima facie appearance of validity or legal efficacy.
Verily, for an action to quiet title to prosper, two (2) indispensable requisites
must concur, namely: (1) the plaintiff or complainant has a legal or an
equitable title to or interest in the real property subject of the action; and
(2) the deed, claim, encumbrance, or proceeding claimed to be casting
cloud on his title must be shown to be in fact invalid or inoperative
despite its prima facie appearance of validity or legal efficacy.
Respondents, in their Complaint, claim that they have become the owners in
fee-simple title of the subject land by occupation and possession under the
provisions of Sec. 48 (b) of the Public Land Law or Commonwealth Act No.
141, as amended. Thus, it appears that the first requisite has been satisfied.
Anent the second requisite, respondents enumerated several facts that would
tend to prove the invalidity of the claim of the petitioner. All of these claims,
which would correspond to the two requisites for the quieting of title, are
factual; and, as discussed earlier, the petitioner interposed its objections and
duly disputed the said claims, thus, presenting genuine issues that can only
be resolved through a full-blown trial.
Anent the propriety of the filing of an action for the quieting of title, the
indefeasibility and incontrovertibility of the decree of registration come into
question. Under Sec. 32 of P.D. No. 1529 or the Property Registration
Decree:
Section 32. Review of decree of registration; Innocent purchaser for value.
The decree of registration shall not be reopened or revised by reason of
absence, minority, or other disability of any person adversely affected thereby,
nor by any proceeding in any court for reversing judgments, subject, however,
to the right of any person, including the government and the branches thereof,
deprived of land or of any estate or interest therein by such adjudication or
confirmation of title obtained by actual fraud, to file in the proper Court of First
Instance a petition for reopening and review of the decree of registration not
later than one year from and after the date of the entry of such decree of
registration, but in no case shall such petition be entertained by the court
where an innocent purchaser for value has acquired the land or an interest
therein, whose rights may be prejudiced. Whenever the phrase "innocent
purchaser for value" or an equivalent phrase occurs in this Decree, it shall be
deemed to include an innocent lessee, mortgagee, or other encumbrancer for
value.
Upon the expiration of said period of one year, the decree of registration
and the certificate of title issued shall become incontrovertible. Any
person aggrieved by such decree of registration in any case may pursue his
remedy by action for damages against the applicant or any other persons
responsible for the fraud.
As borne out by the records and undisputed by the parties, OCT No. 0-660 of
petitioner was issued on August 29, 1997 pursuant to a Decree issued on
August 20, 1997, while the complaint for the quieting of title in Civil Case No.
TG-1784 was filed and docketed on March 5, 1998; hence, applying the
above provisions, it would seem that the period of one (1) year from the
issuance of the decree of registration has not elapsed for the review thereof.
However, a closer examination of the above provisions would clearly indicate
that the action filed, which was for quieting of title, was not the proper remedy.
Courts may reopen proceedings already closed by final decision or decree
when an application for review is filed by the party aggrieved within one year
from the issuance of the decree of registration.
56
However, the basis of the
aggrieved party must be anchored solely on actual fraud. Shedding light on
the matter is a discussion presented in one of the recognized textbooks on
property registration,
57
citing decisions of this Court, thus:
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 as a valid and legal basis for reopening and revising a decree of
registration.
58
One of the remedies available to him is a petition for
review. To avail of a petition for review, the following requisites must be
satisfied:
(a) The petitioner must have an estate or interest in the land;
(b) He must show actual fraud in the procurement of the decree of
registration;
(c) The petition must be filed within one year from the issuance of the
decree by the Land Registration Authority; and
(d) The property has not yet passed to an innocent purchaser for
value.
59

A mere claim of ownership is not sufficient to avoid a certificate of title
obtained under the Torrens system. An important feature of a certificate of
title is its finality. The proceedings whereby such a title is obtained are
directed against all persons, known or unknown, whether actually served with
notice or not, and includes all who have an interest in the land. If they do not
appear and oppose the registration of their own estate or interest in the
property in the name of another, judgment is rendered against them by
default, and, in the absence of fraud, such judgment is conclusive. If an
interest in the land will not by itself operate to vacate a decree of registration,
a fortiori, fraud is not alone sufficient to do so.
60

As further pointed out in the same book,
61
the petition for review must be filed
within one year from entry of the decree of registration. As written:
As long as a final decree has not been entered by the Land Registration
Authority and period of one year has not elapsed from the date of entry of
such decree, the title is not finally adjudicated and the decision in the
registration case continues to be under the control and sound discretion of the
registration court.
62
After the lapse of said period, the decree becomes
incontrovertible and no longer subject to reopening or review.
Section 32 provides that a petition for review of the decree of
registration may be filed "not later than one year from and after the date
of entry of such decree of registration." Giving this provision a literal
interpretation, it may at first blush seem that the petition for review cannot be
presented until the final decree has been entered. However, it has been ruled
that the petition may be filed at any time after the rendition of the court's
decision and before the expiration of one year from the entry of the final
decree of registration for, as noted in Rivera v. Moran,
63
there can be no
possible reason requiring the complaining party to wait until the final decree is
entered before urging his claim for fraud.
The one-year period stated in Sec. 32 within which a petition to re-open and
review the decree of registration refers to the decree of registration described
in Section 31, which decree is prepared and issued by the Land Registration
Administrator.
64

The provision of Section 31 that every decree of registration shall bind the
land, quiet title thereto, and be conclusive upon and against all persons,
including the national government, and Sec. 32 that the decree shall not be
reopened or revised by reason of absence, minority or other disability or by
any proceeding in court, save only in cases of actual fraud and then only for
one year from the entry of the decree, must be understood as referring to final
and unappealable decrees of registration. A decision or, as it is sometimes
called after entry, a decree of a registration court, does not become final and
unappealable until fifteen days after the interested parties have been notified
of its entry, and during that period may be set aside by the trial judge on
motion for new trial, upon any of the grounds stated in the Rules of Court.
65

An appeal from the decision of the trial court prevents the judgment from
becoming final until that decree is affirmed by the judgment of the appellate
court.
66

A petition for review under Section 32 is a remedy separate and distinct
from a motion for new trial and the right to the remedy is not affected by
the denial of such a motion irrespective of the grounds upon which it
may have been presented. Thus, where petitioners acquired their interest in
the land before any final decree had been entered, the litigation was therefore
in effect still pending and, in these circumstances, they can hardly be
considered innocent purchasers in good faith.
67
1avvphi1
Where the petition for review of a decree of registration is filed within the one-
year period from entry of the decree, it is error for the court to deny the
petition without hearing the evidence in support of the allegation of actual and
extrinsic fraud upon which the petition is predicated. The petitioner should be
afforded an opportunity to prove such allegation.
68

In the present case, the one-year period before the Torrens title becomes
indefeasible and incontrovertible has not yet expired; thus, a review of the
decree of registration would have been the appropriate remedy.
Based on the above disquisitions, the other issues raised by the petitioner are
necessarily rendered inconsequential.
WHEREFORE, the petition for review on certiorari of petitioner Eland
Philippines, Inc. is hereby GRANTED, and the decision dated February 28,
2006 of the Court of Appeals (CA) in CA-G.R. CV No. 67417, which dismissed
the appeal of petitioner Eland Philippines, Inc. and affirmed the resolutions
dated November 3, 1999 and June 28, 2006 of Branch 18, RTC of Tagaytay
City, is hereby REVERSED and SET ASIDE. Consequently, the resolutions
dated November 3, 1999 and June 28, 2006 of Branch 18, RTC of Tagaytay
City in Civil Case No. TG-1784 are hereby declared NULL and VOID.
SO ORDERED.
G.R. Nos. 162335 & 162605 December 12, 2005
SEVERINO M. MANOTOK IV, FROILAN M. MANOTOK, FERNANDO M.
MANOTOK, FAUSTO MANOTOK III, MA. MAMERTA M. MANOTOK,
PATRICIA L. TIONGSON, PACITA L. GO, ROBERTO LAPERAL III,
MICHAEL MARSHALL V. MANOTOK, MARY ANN MANOTOK, FELISA
MYLENE V. MANOTOK, IGNACIO MANOTOK, JR., MILAGROS V.
MANOTOK, SEVERINO MANOTOK III, ROSA R. MANOTOK, MIGUEL A.B.
SISON, GEORGE M. BOCANEGRA, MA. CRISTINA E. SISON, PHILIPP L.
MANOTOK, JOSE CLEMENTE L. MANOTOK, RAMON SEVERINO L.
MANOTOK, THELMA R. MANOTOK, JOSE MARIA MANOTOK, JESUS
JUDE MANOTOK, JR. and MA. THERESA L. MANOTOK, represented by
their Attorney-in-fact, Rosa R. Manotok, Petitioners,
vs.
HEIRS OF HOMER L. BARQUE, represented by TERESITA BARQUE
HERNANDEZ, Respondents.
D E C I S I O N
YNARES-SANTIAGO, J .:
These consolidated petitions for review assail, in G.R. No. 162335, the
February 24, 2004 Amended Decision
1
of the Third Division of the Court of
Appeals in CA-G.R. SP No. 66642, ordering the Register of Deeds of Quezon
City to cancel petitioners’ TCT No. RT-22481 and directing the Land
Registration Authority (LRA) to reconstitute respondents’ TCT No. 210177;
and in G.R. No. 162605, the November 7, 2003 Amended Decision
2
of the
Special Division of Five of the Former Second Division in CA-G.R. SP No.
66700 directing the Register of Deeds of Quezon City to cancel petitioners’
TCT No. RT-22481, and the LRA to reconstitute respondents’ TCT No. T-
210177 and the March 12, 2004 Resolution
3
denying the motion for
reconsideration.
The facts as found by the Court of Appeals
4
are as follows:
Petitioners, (respondents herein) as the surviving heirs of the late Homer
Barque, filed a petition with the LRA for administrative reconstitution of the
original copy of TCT No. 210177 issued in the name of Homer L. Barque,
which was destroyed in the fire that gutted the Quezon City Hall, including the
Office of the Register of Deeds of Quezon City, sometime in 1988. In support
of the petition, petitioners submitted the owner’s duplicate copy of TCT No.
210177, real estate tax receipts, tax declarations and the Plan FLS 3168 D
covering the property.
Upon being notified of the petition for administrative reconstitution, private
respondents (petitioners herein) filed their opposition thereto claiming that the
lot covered by the title under reconstitution forms part of the land covered by
their reconstituted title TCT No. RT-22481, and alleging that TCT No. 210177
in the name of petitioners’ predecessors-in-interest is spurious.
On June 30, 1997, Atty. Benjamin M. Bustos, as reconstituting officer, denied
the reconstitution of TCT No. 210177
5
on grounds that:
1. Lots 823-A and 823-B, Fls-3168-D, containing areas of 171,473 Sq. Mtrs.
and 171,472 Sq. Mtrs., respectively, covered by TCT No. 210177, appear to
duplicate Lot 823 Piedad Estate, containing an area of 342,945 Sq. Mtrs.,
covered by TCT No. 372302 registered in the name of Severino M. Manotok,
et. al., reconstituted under Adm. Reconstitution No. Q-213 dated February 01,
1991;
2. The submitted plan Fls-3168-D is a spurious document as categorically
stated by Engr. Privadi J.G. Dalire, Chief, Geodetic Surveys Division, Land
Management Bureau, in his letter dated February 19, 1997.
6

Respondents’ motion for reconsideration was denied in an order
7
dated
February 10, 1998 hence they appealed to the LRA.
The LRA ruled that the reconstituting officer should not have required the
submission of documents other than the owner’s duplicate certificate of title as
bases in denying the petition and should have confined himself with the
owner’s duplicate certificate of title.
8
The LRA further declared:
Based on the documents presented, petitioners have established by clear and
convincing evidence that TCT NO. 210177 was, at the time of the destruction
thereof, valid, genuine, authentic and effective. Petitioners duly presented the
original of the owner’s duplicate copy of TCT No. 210177 .... The logbook of
the Register of Deeds of Quezon City lists TCT No. 210177 as among the
titles lost .... The Register of Deeds of Quezon City himself acknowledged the
existence and authenticity of TCT No. 210177 when he issued a certification
to the effect that TCT No. 210177 was one of the titles destroyed and not
salvaged from the fire that gutted the Quezon City Hall on 11 June 1988 ....
It is likewise noteworthy that the technical description and boundaries of the
lot reflected in TCT No. 210177 absolutely conform to the technical
description and boundaries of Lot 823 Piedad Estate ... as indicated in the B.
L. Form No. 28-37-R dated 11-8-94 and B. L. Form No. 31-10 duly issued by
the Bureau of Lands ....
It therefore becomes evident that the existence, validity, authenticity and
effectivity of TCT No. 210177 was established indubitably and irrefutably by
the petitioners. Under such circumstances, the reconstitution thereof should
be given due course and the same is mandatory.
9

….
It would be necessary to underscore that the certified copy of Plan FLS 3168
D was duly issued by the office of Engr. Ernesto Erive, Chief, Surveys Division
LMS-DENR-NCR whose office is the lawful repository of survey plans for lots
situated within the National Capital Region including the property in question.
Said plan was duly signed by the custodian thereof, Carmelito Soriano, Chief
Technical Records and Statistics Section, DENR-NCR. Said plan is likewise
duly supported by Republic of the Philippines Official Receipt No. 2513818 Q
dated 9-23-96 .... Engr. Erive in his letter dated 28 November 1996 addressed
to Atty. Bustos … confirmed that a microfilm copy of Plan FLS 3168D is on file
in the Technical Records and Statistics Section of his office. Engr. Dalire, in
his letter dated 2 January 1997 addressed to Atty. Bustos even confirmed the
existence and authenticity of said plan. …
.…
The claim of Engr. Dalire in his letter dated 19 February 1997 that his office
has no records or information about Plan FLS 3168-D is belied by the certified
copy of the computer print-out duly issued by the Bureau of Lands indicating
therein that FLS 3168D is duly entered into the microfilm records of the
Bureau of Lands and has been assigned Accession Number 410436
appearing on Page 79, Preliminary Report No. 1, List of Locator Cards and
Box Number 0400 and said computer print-out is duly supported by an Offical
Receipt ….
The said Plan FLS 3168D is indeed authentic and valid coming as it does
from the legal repository and duly signed by the custodian thereof. The
documentary evidence presented is much too overwhelming to be simply
brushed aside and be defeated by the fabricated statements and concoctions
made by Engr. Dalire in his 19 February 1997 letter. …
10

Nevertheless, notwithstanding its conclusion that petitioners’ title was
fraudulently reconstituted, the LRA noted that it is only the Regional Trial
Court (RTC) which can declare that the same was indeed fraudulently
reconstituted. It thus opined that respondents’ title may only be reconstituted
after a judicial declaration that petitioners’ title was void and should therefore
be cancelled.
11

The dispositive portion of the LRA’s decision reads:
WHEREFORE, in view of the foregoing, it is hereby ordered that reconstitution
of TCT No. 210177 in the name of Homer L. Barque, Sr. shall be given due
course after cancellation of TCT No. RT-22481 (372302) in the name of
Manotoks upon order of a court of competent jurisdiction.
SO ORDERED.
12

Petitioners’ filed a motion for reconsideration which was opposed by
respondents with a prayer that reconstitution be ordered immediately.
On June 14, 2001, petitioners’ motion for reconsideration and respondents’
prayer for immediate reconstitution were denied.
13

From the foregoing, respondents filed a petition for review
14
with the Court of
Appeals docketed as CA-G.R. SP No. 66700 and praying that the LRA be
directed to immediately reconstitute TCT No. 210177 without being subjected
to the condition that petitioners’ TCT No. RT-22481 [372302] should first be
cancelled by a court of competent jurisdiction.
15
Petitioners likewise filed a
petition for review with the Court of Appeals docketed as CA-G.R. SP No.
66642.
In CA-G.R. SP No. 66700, the Second Division of the Court of Appeals
rendered a Decision
16
on September 13, 2002, the dispositive portion of which
reads:
WHEREFORE, the foregoing premises considered the assailed Resolution of
the LRA dated June 24, 1998 is AFFIRMED in toto and the petition for review
is ordered DISMISSED. No pronouncement as to costs.
SO ORDERED.
17

Respondents moved for reconsideration.
18
On November 7, 2003, the Special
Division of Five of the Former Second Division rendered an Amended
Decision in CA-G.R. SP No. 66700, the dispositive portion of which reads:
WHEREFORE, our decision dated 13 September 2002 is hereby
reconsidered. Accordingly, the Register of Deeds of Quezon City is hereby
directed to cancel TCT No. RT-22481 of private respondents and the LRA is
hereby directed to reconstitute forthwith petitioners’ valid, genuine and
existing Certificate of Title No. T-210177.
No pronouncement as to costs.
SO ORDERED.
19

Petitioners’ motion for reconsideration of the amended decision in CA-G.R.
SP No. 66700 was denied,
20
hence, this petition docketed as G.R. No.
162605.
Meanwhile, in CA-G.R. SP No. 66642, the Third Division of the Court of
Appeals rendered a Decision
21
on October 29, 2003, the dispositive portion of
which reads:
WHEREFORE, the petition is hereby DENIED. The Resolution of the LRA
dated 24 June 1998 is hereby AFFIRMED.
SO ORDERED.
22

In so ruling, the Third Division of the Court of Appeals declared that the LRA
correctly deferred in giving due course to the petition for reconstitution since
there is yet no final judgment upholding or annulling respondents’ title.
23

Respondents’ motion for reconsideration was granted by the Third Division of
the Court of Appeals on February 24, 2004, thus:
WHEREFORE, the Motion for Reconsideration is hereby GRANTED. The
Decision of this Court dated 29 October 2003 is RECONSIDERED and a new
one is entered ordering the Register of Deeds of Quezon City to cancel
petitioners’ TCT No. RT-22481 and directing the LRA to reconstitute forthwith
respondents’ TCT No. T-210177.
SO ORDERED.
24

From the foregoing decisions of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. SP No.
66700 and CA-G.R. SP No. 66642, petitioners filed separate petitions for
review before this Court docketed as G.R. No. 162605 and G.R. No. 162335,
respectively.
In G.R. No. 162605, petitioners argue that:
I
THE MAJORITY JUSTICES ACTED WITHOUT JURISDICTION IN
ORDERING THE CANCELLATION OF PETITIONERS’ EXISTING TITLE,
CONSIDERING THAT:
a. THEY ORDERED THE CANCELLATION OF TITLE DESPITE THE FACT
THAT THE SAME IS NOT PART OF THE RELIEF SOUGHT IN A
RECONSTITUTION PROCEEDINGS.
b. THEY ALLOWED A COLLATERAL ATTACK ON A TORRENS
CERTIFICATE OF TITLE; and
c. THE COURT OF APPEALS, IN RESOLVING AN APPEAL OF THE
DECISION OF THE LAND REGISTRATION AUTHORITY, DOES NOT HAVE
JURISDICTION TO ORDER THE CANCELLATION OF TITLE, SINCE ONLY
A PROPER REGIONAL TRIAL COURT CAN ORDER THE
ANNULMENT/CANCELLATION OF A TORRENS TITLE. BY ALLOWING A
"SHORT CUT", THE MAJORITY JUSTICES DEPRIVED THE PETITIONERS
OF THEIR PROPERTY AND THEIR CONSTITUTIONALLY PROTECTED
RIGHT TO DUE PROCESS OF LAW.
II
THE MAJORITY JUSTICES GRAVELY MISAPPLIED THE RULING OF THIS
HONORABLE COURT IN ORTIGAS V. VELASCO, CONSIDERING THAT:
a. IN THE ORTIGAS CASE, THERE WERE TWO TITLES EXISTING OVER
THE SAME PARCEL OF LAND, AS A RESULT OF THE RECONSTITUTED
TITLE ISSUED IN THE NAME OF MOLINA. IN THE INSTANT CASE, ONLY
PETITIONERS HOLD TITLE TO THE PROPERTY IN QUESTION, AS
RESPONDENTS ARE MERELY TRYING TO HAVE TITLE
RECONSTITUTED IN THEIR NAMES.
b. IN ORTIGAS, THERE WERE SEVERAL DECISIONS OF THE SUPREME
COURT WHICH PREVIOUSLY RESOLVED THE ISSUE OF OWNERSHIP
OF ORTIGAS’ PROPERTY. HENCE, THERE WAS SUFFICIENT GROUND
TO ANNUL MOLINA’S TITLE OUTRIGHT. IN THE INSTANT CASE, THERE
ARE NO SUCH DECISIONS IN FAVOR OF RESPONDENTS WHICH
WOULD JUSTIFY THE CANCELLATION OF THE TITLE OF PETITIONERS
WITHOUT ANY HEARING.
25

In G.R. No. 162335, petitioners raise the following issues:
I. THE HONORABLE COURT OF APPEALS (THIRD DIVISION)
COMMITTED GRAVE ABUSE OF DISCRETION AND GROSS IGNORANCE
OF THE LAW IN ORDERING THE LAND REGISTRATION AUTHORITY TO
CANCEL TCT NO. RT-22481 OF PETITIONERS MANOTOK
NOTWITHSTANDING THE FACT THAT SAID COURT WAS FULLY
COGNIZANT THAT IT HAS NO JURISDICTION TO EXERCISE SUCH
AUTHORITY AND POWER AND THE LAND REGISTRATION AUTHORITY
IS EQUALLY DEVOID OF JURISDICTION ON THE MATTER BECAUSE
UNDER THE JUDICIARY REORGANIZATION ACT OF 1980 SPECIFICALLY
SECTION 19 (2) THEREOF, ONLY THE REGIONAL TRIAL COURTS HAVE
EXCLUSIVE ORIGINAL JURISDICTION OVER CIVIL ACTIONS WHICH
INVOLVES TITLE TO, OR POSSESSION OF, REAL PROPERTY, OR ANY
INTEREST THEREIN.
II. THE HONORABLE COURT OF APPEALS (THIRD DIVISION)
COMMITTED GRAVE ABUSE OF DISCRETION AND GROSS IGNORANCE
OF THE LAW IN INVOKING EQUITABLE CONSIDERATION TO JUSTIFY
ITS CHALLENGED AMENDED DECISION DATED FEBRUARY 24, 2004
DIRECTING LRA TO CANCEL PETITIONERS MANOTOK’S TITLE
NOTWITHSTANDING THE FACT, AS STATED, THE LAW EXPLICITLY
VESTS EXCLUSIVE ORIGINAL JURISDICTION TO THE REGIONAL TRIAL
COURTS OVER CIVIL ACTIONS WHICH INVOLVES TITLE TO, OR
POSSESSION OF, REAL PROPERTY, OR ANY INTEREST THEREIN.
III. THE HONORABLE COURT OF APPEALS COMMITTED GRAVE ABUSE
OF DISCRETION AMOUNTING TO LACK OR IN EXCESS OF
JURISDICTION IN FAILING TO ORDER THE SETTING ASIDE OF THE
CHALLENGED RESOLUTION DATED JUNE 24, 1998 OF RESPONDENT
LAND REGISTRATION AUTHORITY IN LRC ADMIN. CASE NO. Q-547 [97]
VIEWED FROM THE FACT THAT SAID RESOLUTION OF LRA IS
PATENTLY AT WAR WITH LAW AND CONTROLLING JURISPRUDENCE
THAT PROHIBITS RECONSTITUTION OF TITLE BY THIRD PARTY
ALLEGED TO HAVE BEEN LOST OR DESTROYED IF ANOTHER VALID
TITLE IS EXISTING COVERING THE LAND SUBJECT THEREOF.
IV. THE LRA COMMITTED GRAVE ABUSE OF DISCRETION AMOUNTING
TO LACK OR IN EXCESS OF JURISDICTION IN ORDERING THE
RECONSTITUTION OF THE TITLE OF HOMER BARQUE, SR. SUBJECT
ONLY TO THE CONDITION THAT THE TITLE OF PETITIONERS
MANOTOK SHOULD FIRST BE ORDERED CANCELLED BY COURT OF
COMPETENT JURISDICTION IN THE FACE OF THE GLARING FACTS
THAT SAID TITLE IS HIGHLY SUSPECT AND BEARS BADGES OF
FABRICATION AND FALSIFICATION AND THEREFORE NO OTHER
LOGICAL AND CREDIBLE CONCLUSION CAN BE DRAWN EXCEPT THAT
IT IS A FAKE AND SPURIOUS TITLE.
V. THE HONORABLE COURT OF APPEALS COMMITTED GRAVE ABUSE
OF DISCRETION AMOUNTING TO LACK OF IN EXCESS OF
JURISDICTION IN ALLOWING RESPONDENTS’ MOTION FOR
RECONSIDERATION WHICH WAS CLEARLY FILED OUT OF TIME.
26

On August 2, 2004, the petition in G.R. No. 162605 was consolidated with the
petition in G.R. No. 162335.
27

In sum, petitioners contend that (a) the LRA has no authority to annul their
title; (b) the reconstitution of respondents’ Torrens title would be a collateral
attack on petitioners’ existing title; (c) they were not given the opportunity to
be heard, specifically the chance to defend the validity of their Torrens title; (d)
the Court of Appeals, in resolving the appeal from the LRA, has no jurisdiction
to order the cancellation of petitioners’ title; and (e) the ruling in Ortigas was
misapplied.
The petitions must be denied.
The LRA properly ruled that the reconstituting officer should have confined
himself to the owner’s duplicate certificate of title prior to the reconstitution.
Section 3 of Republic Act (RA) No. 26
28
clearly provides:
Section 3. Transfer certificates of title shall be reconstituted from such of the
sources hereunder enumerated as may be available, in the following order:
(a) The owner’s duplicate of the certificate of title;
....
When respondents filed the petition for reconstitution, they submitted in
support thereof the owner’s duplicate certificate of title, real estate tax receipts
and tax declaration. Plainly, the same should have more than sufficed as
sources for the reconstitution pursuant to Section 3 of RA No. 26 which
explicitly mandates that the reconstitution shall be made following the
hierarchy of sources as enumerated by law. In addition, Section 12 of the
same law requires that the petition shall be accompanied with a plan and
technical description of the property only if the source of the reconstitution is
Section 3(f) of RA No. 26. Thus:
Section 12. … Provided, That in case the reconstitution is to be made
exclusively from sources enumerated in section 2(f) or 3(f) of this Act, the
petition shall further be accompanied with a plan and technical description of
the property duly approved by the Chief of the General Land Registration
Office, or with a certified copy of the description taken from a prior certificate
of title covering the same property.
29

Since respondents’ source of reconstitution is the owner’s duplicate certificate
of title, there is no need for the reconstituting officer to require the submission
of the plan, much less deny the petition on the ground that the submitted plan
appears to be spurious. By enumerating the hierarchy of sources to be used
for the reconstitution, it is the intent of the law to give more weight and
preference to the owner’s duplicate certificate of title over the other
enumerated sources.
The factual finding of the LRA that respondents’ title is authentic, genuine,
valid, and existing, while petitioners’ title is sham and spurious, as affirmed by
the two divisions of the Court of Appeals, is conclusive before this Court. It
should remain undisturbed since only questions of law may be raised in a
petition for review under Rule 45 of the Rules of Court.
Findings of fact of administrative bodies are accorded respect, even finality by
this Court and, when affirmed by the Court of Appeals, are no longer
reviewable except only for very compelling reasons. Basic is the rule that
factual findings of agencies exercising quasi-judicial functions … are accorded
not only respect but even finality, aside from the consideration that this Court
is essentially not a trier of facts.
30

Such questions as whether certain items of evidence should be accorded
probative value or weight, or rejected as feeble or spurious, or whether or not
the proofs on one side or the other are clear and convincing and adequate to
establish a proposition in issue, are without doubt questions of fact. Whether
or not the body of proofs presented by a party, weighed and analyzed in
relation to contrary evidence submitted by adverse party, may be said to be
strong, clear and convincing; whether or not certain documents presented by
one side should be accorded full faith and credit in the face of protests as to
their spurious character by the other side; whether or not inconsistencies in
the body of proofs of a party are of such gravity as to justify refusing to give
said proofs weight – all these are issues of fact. Questions like these are not
reviewable by this court which, as a rule, confines its review of cases decided
by the Court of Appeals only to questions of law raised in the petition and
therein distinctly set forth.
31
A petition for review should only cover questions
of law. Questions of fact are not reviewable.
32

In Dolfo v. Register of Deeds for the Province of Cavite,
33
this Court
categorically declared:
Second. Both the trial court and the Court of Appeals made a factual finding
that petitioner’s title to the land is of doubtful authenticity.
Having jurisdiction only to resolve questions of law, this Court is bound by the
factual findings of the trial court and the Court of Appeals....
In view of the foregoing, it is no longer necessary to remand the case to the
RTC for the determination of which title, petitioners' or respondents', is valid or
spurious. This has been ruled upon by the LRA and duly affirmed by the two
divisions of the Court of Appeals.
The LRA has the jurisdiction to act on petitions for administrative
reconstitution. It has the authority to review, revise, reverse, modify or affirm
on appeal the decision of the reconstituting officer. The function is
adjudicatory in nature – it can properly deliberate on the validity of the titles
submitted for reconstitution. Logically, it can declare a title as sham or
spurious, or valid on its face. Otherwise, if it cannot make such declaration,
then there would be no basis for its decision to grant or deny the
reconstitution. The findings of fact of the LRA, when supported by substantial
evidence, as in this case, shall be binding on the Court of Appeals.
34

In the reconstitution proceedings, the LRA is bound to determine from the
evidence submitted which between or among the titles is genuine and existing
to enable it to decide whether to deny or approve the petition. Without such
authority, the LRA would be a mere robotic agency clothed only with
mechanical powers.
The Court of Appeals also properly exercised its appellate jurisdiction over the
judgment of the LRA. Under Sections 1 and 3, Rule 43 of the Rules of Court,
the appellate court has jurisdiction on appeals from judgments or final orders
of the LRA, whether the appeal involves questions of fact, of law, or mixed
questions of fact and law.
Indeed, it would be needlessly circuitous to remand the case to the RTC to
determine anew which of the two titles is sham or spurious and thereafter
appeal the trial court’s ruling to the Court of Appeals. After all, the LRA and
the two divisions of the appellate court have already declared that petitioners’
title is forged. In Mendoza v. Court of Appeals,
35
we ruled that:
Now, technically, the revocation and cancellation of the deed of sale and the
title issued in virtue thereof in de los Santos’ favor should be had in
appropriate proceedings to be initiated at the instance of the Government.
However, since all the facts are now before this Court, and it is not
within de los Santos’ power in any case to alter those facts at any other
proceeding, or the verdict made inevitable by said facts, for this Court to
direct at this time that cancellation proceedings be yet filed to nullify the
sale to de los Santos and his title, would be needlessly circuitous and
would unnecessarily delay the termination of the controversy at bar, ....
This Court will therefore make the adjudication entailed by the facts here
and now, without further proceedings, as it has done in other cases in
similar premises.
No useful purpose will be served if a case or the determination of an issue in a
case is remanded to the trial court only to have its decision raised again to the
Court of Appeals and then to the Supreme Court. The remand of the case or
of an issue to the lower court for further reception of evidence is not
necessary where the Court is in position to resolve the dispute based on the
records before it and particularly where the ends of justice would not be
subserved by the remand thereof.
36

The Register of Deeds, the LRA and the Court of Appeals have jurisdiction to
act on the petition for administrative reconstitution. The doctrine laid down in
Alabang Dev. Corp., et al. v. Hon. Valenzuela, etc., et al.
37
does not apply in
the instant case. In Alabang, the Court stressed that:
… [L]ands already covered by duly issued existing Torrens Titles … cannot
be the subject of petitions for reconstitution of allegedly lost or destroyed titles
filed by third parties without first securing by final judgment the cancellation of
such existing titles. … The courts simply have no jurisdiction over petitions by
such third parties for reconstitution of allegedly lost or destroyed titles over
lands that are already covered by duly issued subsisting titles in the names of
their duly registered owners. The very concept of stability and indefeasibility of
titles covered under the Torrens System of registration rules out as anathema
the issuance of two certificates of title over the same land to two different
holders thereof. …
38

The Alabang ruling was premised on the fact that the existing Torrens title
was duly issued and that there is only one title subsisting at the time the
petition for reconstitution was filed. In the instant case, it cannot be said that
petitioners’ title was duly issued much less could it be presumed valid
considering the findings of the LRA and the Court of Appeals that the same is
sham and spurious.
The Court of Appeals properly applied the doctrine laid down in Ortigas in
refusing to remand the case to the trial court. As expressly declared in Ortigas
& Company Limited Partnership v. Velasco:
39

Ordinarily, the relief indicated by the material facts would be the remand of the
reconstitution case (LRC No. Q-5405) to the Court of origin with instructions
that Ortigas’ and the Solicitor General’s appeals from the judgment rendered
therein, which were wrongly disallowed, be given due course and the records
forthwith transmitted to the appellate tribunal. This, in fact, is a relief
alternatively prayed for by petitioner Ortigas. Considering however the fatal
infirmities afflicting Molina’s theory or cause of action, evident from the
records before this Court, such a remand and subsequent appeal proceedings
would be pointless and unduly circuitous. Upon the facts, it is not possible for
Molina’s cause to prosper. To defer adjudication thereon would be
unwarranted and unjust.
The same rationale should apply in the instant case. As already discussed,
the validity of respondents’ and petitioners’ title have been squarely passed
upon by the LRA and reviewed and affirmed by the Court of Appeals, which
factual findings are no longer reviewable by this Court.
A careful examination of the case of Spouses Cayetano, et al. v. CA, et al.,
40

where this Court, as claimed by petitioners, have affirmed their title over the
disputed property, would reveal that the sole issue resolved therein is whether
or not a tenancy relationship exists between the parties.
41
There was no
adjudication on ownership. In fact, it cannot even be discerned if the property
subject of the Spouses Cayetano case refers to the property subject of the
instant controversy.
There is no basis in the allegation that petitioners were deprived of "their
property" without due process of law when the Court of Appeals ordered the
cancellation of their Torrens title, even without a direct proceeding in the RTC.
As already discussed, there is no need to remand the case to the RTC for a
re-determination on the validity of the titles of respondents and petitioners as
the same has been squarely passed upon by the LRA and affirmed by the
appellate court. By opposing the petition for reconstitution and submitting their
administratively reconstituted title, petitioners acquiesced to the authority and
jurisdiction of the reconstituting officer, the LRA and the Court of Appeals, and
recognized their authority to pass judgment on their title. All the evidence
presented was duly considered by these tribunals. There is thus no basis to
petitioners’ claim that they were deprived of their right to be heard and present
evidence, which is the essence of due process.
As held in Yusingco v. Ong Hing Lian:
42

Therefore, it appearing from the records that in the previous petition for
reconstitution of certificates of title, the parties acquiesced in submitting the
issue of ownership for determination in the said petition, and they were given
the full opportunity to present their respective sides of the issues and
evidence in support thereof, and that the evidence presented was sufficient
and adequate for rendering a proper decision upon the issue, the adjudication
of the issue of ownership was valid and binding.
The reconstitution would not constitute a collateral attack on petitioners’ title
which was irregularly and illegally issued in the first place.
43
As pertinently
held in Dolfo v. Register of Deeds for the Province of Cavite:
44

The rule that a title issued under the Torrens System is presumed valid and,
hence, is the best proof of ownership of a piece of land does not apply where
the certificate itself is faulty as to its purported origin.
In this case, petitioner anchors her arguments on the premise that her title to
the subject property is indefeasible because of the presumption that her
certificate of title is authentic. However, this presumption is overcome by the
evidence presented, consisting of the LRA report … that TCT No. T-320601
was issued without legal basis …
….
Thus, petitioner cannot invoke the indefeasibility of her certificate of title. It
bears emphasis that the Torrens system does not create or vest title but only
confirms and records one already existing and vested. Thus, while it may be
true, as petitioner argues, that a land registration court has no jurisdiction over
parcels of land already covered by a certificate of title, it is equally true that
this rule applies only where there exists no serious controversy as to the
authenticity of the certificate.
Under similar circumstances, this Court has ruled that wrongly reconstituted
certificates of title secured through fraud and misrepresentation cannot be the
source of legitimate rights and benefits.
45

WHEREFORE, the petitions are DENIED. In G.R. No. 162335, the February
24, 2004 Amended Decision of the Third Division of the Court of Appeals in
CA-G.R. SP No. 66642, ordering the Register of Deeds of Quezon City to
cancel petitioners’ TCT No. RT-22481 and directing the Land Registration
Authority to reconstitute respondents’ TCT No. 210177; and in G.R. No.
162605, the November 7, 2003 Amended Decision of the Special Division of
Five of the Former Second Division in CA-G.R. SP No. 66700 directing the
Register of Deeds of Quezon City to cancel petitioners’ TCT No. RT-22481,
and the Land Registration Authority to reconstitute respondents’ TCT No. T-
210177 and the March 12, 2004 Resolution denying the motion for
reconsideration, are AFFIRMED.
SO ORDERED.
G.R. Nos. 162335 & 162605 December 12, 2005
Severino M. Manotok IV, et al., Petitioners,
vs.
Heirs of Homer L. Barque, et al., Respondents.
SEPARATE OPINION
AZCUNA, J .:
From the record it appears undisputed that, as the LRA ruled and the CA
affirmed, petitioners Manotoks’ TCT No. RT-22481 [372302] is sham and
spurious. For one thing, the property is purportedly located in barrio Payong,
Quezon City, whereas no such barrio existed or exists therein. It is, therefore,
in my view, unnecessary to go though the exercise of proving this matter
again in the regular courts, as would ordinarily be required, since the point is
indubitable.
I thus find applicable the ruling of this Court in Ortigas and Company Limited
Partnership v. Veloso,
1
as it would be unjust in the circumstances to require
respondents to undergo a time-consuming and pointless exercise to cancel an
evidently sham and spurious title.
I, therefore, concur with Justice Consuelo Ynares-Santiago and vote to DENY
the petitions.
ADOLFO S. AZCUNA
Associate Justice
G.R. No. 162335 December 12, 2005
SEVERINO M. MANOTOK IV, FROILAN M. MANOTOK, FERNANDO M.
MANOTOK, FAUSTO M. MANOTOK III, MA. MAMERTA M. MANOTOK,
PATRICIA L. TIONGSON, PACITA L. GO, ROBERTO LAPERAL III,
MICHAEL MARSHALL V. MANOTOK, MARY ANN V. MANOTOK, FELISA
MYLENE V. MANOTOK, IGNACIO V. MANOTOK, JR., MILAGROS V.
MANOTOK, SEVERINO MANOTOK III, ROSA R. MANOTOK, MIGUEL A.B.
SISON, GEORGE M. BOCANEGRA, MA. CRISTINA E. SISON, PHILIPP L.
MANOTOK, JOSE CLEMENTE L. MANOTOK, RAMON SEVERINO L.
MANOTOK, THELMA R. MANOTOK, JOSE MARIA MANOTOK, JESUS
JUDE MANOTOK, JR., and MA. THERESA L. MANOTOK, represented by
their Attorney-in-fact, ROSA R. MANOTOK, Petitioners,
vs.
HEIRS OF HOMER L. BARQUE, represented by TERESITA BARQUE-
HERNANDEZ, Respondents.
x- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - x
G.R. No. 162605
SEVERINO M. MANOTOK IV, FROILAN M. MANOTOK, FERNANDO M.
MANOTOK, FAUSTO M. MANOTOK III, MA. MAMERTA M. MANOTOK,
PATRICIA L. TIONGSON, PACITA L. GO, ROBERTO LAPERAL III,
MICHAEL MARSHALL V. MANOTOK, MARY ANN V. MANOTOK, FELISA
MYLENE V. MANOTOK, IGNACIO V. MANOTOK, JR., MILAGROS V.
MANOTOK, SEVERINO MANOTOK III, ROSA R. MANOTOK, MIGUEL A.B.
SISON, GEORGE M. BOCANEGRA, MA. CRISTINA E. SISON, PHILIPP L.
MANOTOK, JOSE CLEMENTE L. MANOTOK, RAMON SEVERINO L.
MANOTOK, THELMA R. MANOTOK, JOSE MARIA MANOTOK, JESUS
JUDE MANOTOK, JR., and MA. THERESA L. MANOTOK, represented by
their Attorney-in-fact, ROSA R. MANOTOK, Petitioners,
vs.
HEIRS OF HOMER L. BARQUE, represented by TERESITA BARQUE-
HERNANDEZ, Respondents.
DISSENTING OPINION
CARPIO, J .:
I dissent because the majority opinion deprives petitioners of their immensely
valuable property — worth billions of pesos — without due process of law.
The majority opinion cancels the Torrens title of petitioners in these cases
which originated from an administrative reconstitution petition filed by
respondents before the Register of Deeds of Quezon City. The majority
opinion patently violates Section 48 of the Property Registration Decree
1

which expressly states that a Torrens title "cannot be x x x cancelled except in
a direct proceeding in accordance with law." Under Section 19 of Batas
Pambansa Blg. 129, "Regional Trial Courts shall exercise exclusive original
jurisdiction x x x in all civil actions, which involve the title to, or possession of,
real property, or any interest therein."
2
Thus, only the proper trial court, in an
action directly attacking the validity of a Torrens title, can cancel a Torrens title
after trial on the merit. Jurisprudence has aptly termed this hornbook
doctrine.
3

In the present cases, there is no such direct attack on the Torrens title of
petitioners. And yet the majority opinion cancels petitioners’ Torrens title,
covering thirty-four hectares of prime land located in Quezon City
conservatively estimated at more than One Billion Seven Hundred Million
Pesos.
The Cases
Before the Court are two petitions for review
4
filed by Severino M. Manotok IV,
Froilan M. Manotok, Fernando M. Manotok, Fausto M. Manotok III, Ma.
Mamerta M. Manotok, Patricia L. Tiongson, Pacita L. Go, Roberto Laperal III,
Michael Marshall V. Manotok, Mary Ann V. Manotok, Felisa Mylene V.
Manotok, Ignacio V. Manotok, Jr., Milagros V. Manotok, Severino Manotok III,
Rosa R. Manotok, Miguel A.B. Sison, George M. Bocanegra, Ma. Cristina E.
Sison, Philipp L. Manotok, Jose Clemente L. Manotok, Ramon Severino L.
Manotok, Thelma R. Manotok, Jose Maria Manotok, Jesus Jude Manotok, Jr.,
and Ma. Theresa L. Manotok ("Manotok, et al."), represented by their
attorney-in-fact, Rosa R. Manotok, against the Heirs of Homer L. Barque
("Heirs of Barque"), represented by Teresita Barque-Hernandez ("Barque-
Hernandez"). The cases were consolidated in the Court’s Resolution of 2
August 2004.
5

In G.R. No. 162335, Manotok, et al. assail the 24 February 2004 Amended
Decision
6
of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. SP No. 66642. The Court of
Appeals ordered the Register of Deeds of Quezon City to cancel the Transfer
Certificate of Title ("TCT") of Manotok, et al. and the Land Registration
Authority ("LRA") to reconstitute the TCT of the Heirs of Barque.
In G.R. No. 162605, Manotok, et al. assail the 7 November 2003 Amended
Decision
7
and the 12 March 2004 Resolution
8
of the Court of Appeals in CA-
G.R. SP No. 66700.
9
The Court of Appeals directed the Register of Deeds of
Quezon City to cancel the TCT of Manotok, et al. and the LRA to reconstitute
the TCT of the Heirs of Barque.
The Antecedent Facts
On 22 October 1996, Homer L. Barque, Sr. ("Barque, Sr.") represented by
Barque-Hernandez filed a petition for administrative reconstitution of the
original copy of TCT No. 210177 of the Registry of Deeds of Quezon City.
TCT No. 210177 was allegedly destroyed when a fire gutted the Quezon City
Hall on 11 June 1988. In support of the petition, Barque, Sr. submitted the
owner’s duplicate certificate of title, Real Estate Tax Receipts and Tax
Declaration.
Atty. Benjamin M. Bustos ("Atty. Bustos"), Reconstituting Officer and Chief of
the Reconstitution Division, LRA, wrote a letter dated 29 October 1996
10

addressed to Engineer Privadi J. Dalire ("Engr. Dalire"), Chief of the Geodetic
Surveys Division of the Lands Management Bureau, Binondo, Manila. In the
29 October 1996 letter, Atty. Bustos requested Engr. Dalire for a certified copy
of Subdivision Plan Fls-3168-D ("Fls-3168-D"). Atty. Bustos wrote a similar but
undated letter addressed to the Chief of the Surveys Division of the Land
Management Services, Department of Environment and Natural Resources,
National Capital Region ("LMS-DENR-NCR").
11

In his reply dated 7 November 1996,
12
Engr. Dalire informed Atty. Bustos that
the Land Management Bureau has no record of Fls-3168-D. In a letter dated
28 November 1996,
13
Engineer Ernesto S. Erive ("Engr. Erive"), Chief of the
Surveys Division of the LMS-DENR-NCR, informed Atty. Bustos that a
microfilm copy of Fls-3168-D is on file in the Technical Records and Statistical
Section of their office.
The letter of Engr. Erive confirming the existence of a microfilm copy of Fls-
3168-D conflicted with the letter of Engr. Dalire that his office has no record of
Fls-3168-D. Thus, Atty. Bustos sent another letter dated 2 December 1996
14

to Engr. Dalire requesting for clarification. In a letter dated 5 December
1996,
15
Engr. Dalire requested the Regional Technical Director of LMS-
DENR-NCR for a copy of Fls-3168-D for evaluation. Engr. Dalire wrote:
In connection with the letter of clarification dated December 2, 1996 of the
Reconstituting Officer and Chief Reconstitution Division of LRA relative to the
certified reproduction plan Fls-3168-D (microfilm) issued by the Chief,
Technical Records & Statistical Section on September 23, 1996 and our letter
dated November 7, 1996 that we have no record of Fls-3168-D. In this
regards (sic), please forward to us the copy on file in that office (DENR-NCR)
from where the Chief of Technical Records and Statistics Section reproduced
a copy he issued to LRA for our evaluation.
In the machine copy of Fls-3168-D (furnished to us by LRA) from the
copy of that office issued to LRA, the said copy on file in your office did
not emanate from this Office. The stamp, particularly, bearing the name
of this office and the Chief of Geodetic Surveys is not the same stamp
we are using.
Please forward to us the said plan for evaluation and comment. (Emphasis
supplied)
A letter dated 2 January 1997,
16
purportedly from Engr. Dalire, addressed to
the LRA Administrator, was handcarried to, and received by the LRA General
Records Section on 7 January 1997. The letter states:
In reply to your letter dated December 2, 1996, please be informed that the
copy of the subject plan was forwarded to this office by the Chief, Technical
Records and Statistical Section of the National Capital Region Lands
Management Sector for our evaluation. As per verification and comparison
made in our microfilm records, it was found out that they are identical and
bore the same stamps and initials used in this office.
In view hereof, it is further informed that in our reply letter dated Nov. 7,
1996 we indicated the status thereof because we failed to verify from our
index cards then for our last result, hence, this case be given due
course for Administrative reconstitution (sic). (Emphasis supplied)
Interestingly, barely three days after his purported letter of 2 June 1997, Engr.
Dalire wrote a letter dated 5 January 1997
17
addressed to the Regional
Technical Director, LMS-DENR-NCR, thus:
This is a follow-up to our previous request dated 05 December 1996 to that
Office in connection with the letter of clarification dated December 2, 1996 of
the Reconstituting Officer and Chief Reconstitution Division of the Land
Registration Authority relative to the certified reproduction of plan Fls-3168-D
(microfilm) issued by that office (signed by Carmelita A. Soriano, Chief of
Technical Records and Statistics Section) on September 23, 1996 to Teresita
Hernandez and our letter dated November 7, 1996 to the LRA that we have
no records of Fls-3168-D.
The Land Registration Authority however, furnished us with machine
copy of Fls-3168-D reproduced from the copy issued by that Office and
we found out that the copy of Fls-3168-D file (sic) in your office did not
emanate from this Office. We reiterate that we have no records (sic) of
Fls-3168-D.
May we request you again to please forward to us the said copy of plan
Fls-3168-D on file in your office for our evaluation and comment.
(Emphasis supplied)
Engr. Dalire sent another letter dated 31 January 1997
18
to the LRA
Administrator. The letter states:
In your letter dated December 2, 1996 (IN RE: Administrative Reconstitution
of the Original Transfer Certificate of Title No. 210177 in the Register of
Deeds of Quezon City, Homer L. Barque, Sr., Represented by Teresita
Barque-Hernandez, Petitioner) you requested us to clarify the fact that the
Regional Office has a microfilm copy of plan Fls-3168-D, while our office does
not have a record of the same. In that letter, you attached for our reference
the following:
1. Xerox copy of a certified true copy of plan Fls-3168-D, issued by the TRSS,
NCR;
2. Reply letter of Engr. Ernesto S. Erive, dated Nov. 28, 1996;
3. Our reply letter dated November 7, 1996 to your letter dated October 29,
1996
In this connection, please be informed that we wrote on December 5, 1996 the
DENR-NCR about your letter dated December 2, 1996 informing them that the
plan Fls-3168-D filed in that Office from where the reproduced copy furnished
to LRA did not emanate from our office. We requested them to forward to us
the said plan for our evaluation and comment. Likewise, on January 5, 1997,
we made a follow-up, reiterating that we have no records (sic) of Fls-3168-D
and requesting them to forward the plan for our evaluation and comment. It is
regretted, they did not respond.
Upon examination of the copy of Fls-3168-D allegedly issued by DENR-NCR,
it is certain that the source of the copy is a spurious plan which may have
been inserted in the file. We requested for the copy in their file last 05
December 1996 and 05 January 1997 but until this writing, NCR has not sent
us the copy for authentication as required by DENR Administrative Order. We
are sure that the copy did not come from this Office. The reasons are:
a. Our inventory of approved plans enrolled in our file, our Microfilm Computer
list of plans available for decentralization all show that we do not have this
plan Fls-3168-D, logically we cannot issue any copy.
b. The copy of the plan Fls-3168-D shows visible signs that it is a spurious
copy.
1) The certification (rubber stamp) serves a two piece stamp. The certification
and the signing official are separate. Ours is one-piece.
2) The alignment of: Lands, GEODETIC, this, Privadi, and Chief in the
syndicates (sic) stamp differ from our stamp. Chief, Geodetic Surveys Division
is our stamp, their (sic) is Survey without the "s" plural.
3) We do not stamp the plan twice as the syndicate did on the copy.
4) The size of the lettering in the rubber stamp "Not for Registration/Titling For
Reference Only" is smaller than our stamp. It is also incomplete as an (sic)
Stamp, in addition to the above is "of _________".
5) The copy bears forged initials of my section officer and myself. I sign
completely certification.
6) The name of the claimant is very visible to have been tampered in the
master copy.
7) Again, it is certified that this Bureau does not have copy of Fls-3168-
D.
In view of the foregoing, the copy of Fls-3168-D furnished your Office as
well as the alleged letter authenticating it should be disregarded or
rejected as they come from spurious sources. This involves the
reconstitution of title allegedly lot 823-A of Fls-3168-D with an area of 171,473
Sq. M. Surely, the use of the spurious copy of Fls-3168-D for the
reconstitution of title will create land problem involving prime lots in that area.
Meanwhile, we requested our Records Division to find out to whom lot 823 (or
portion thereof) Piedad Estate was conveyed. (Emphasis supplied)
In a letter dated 13 February 1997
19
to the LRA Administrator, Engr. Dalire
explained that the 2 January 1997 letter, purportedly written by him, was
forged. Thus:
In reply to your letter dated January 28, 1997 which we received today, please
be informed that as per the inventory of approved surveys which are officially
enrolled in our file, the locator cards, the microfilm, list of plans on file which
were decentralized to our regions, that are on file in this Bureau show that
plan Fls-3168-D is not among the plans in our file. The non-existence of
plan Fls-3168-D in our file, hence there is none to decentralize to our
National Capital Region, is the subject of our reply to you dated 07
November 1996 (copy attached).
With respect to the letter dated 02 January 1997, xerox copy attached to
your letter, this letter definitely did not come from this office; it is a
forged document. The statement that the subject plan was forwarded to
us by the Chief, Technical Records Statistics Section of the NCR-LMS is
not true. Until now the NCR has not turned over the plan they
reproduced in compliance with our urgent requests dated 03 January
1996 and followed up by our letters 03 January 1997 and 06 February
1997 (copies attached).
With respect to the questioned plan of Fls-3168-D, xerox copy attached to
your letter of December 2, 1996, our detailed findings tending to prove it is a
spurious copy have been discussed in our letter-reply dated 31 January 1997.
Meanwhile, we are retrieving the plan allegedly in the file of NCR for
investigation and/or validation under DENR Administrative Order No. 40, s.
1991. (Emphasis supplied)
Finally, in a letter dated 19 February 1997,
20
Engr. Dalire requested Atty.
Bustos to disregard Fls-3168-D for being spurious, thus:
In reply to your query whether or not
a) the copy of plan Fls-3168-D submitted to you involving lot 823, Piedad
Estate as surveyed for Emiliano Setosta;
b) the letter dated 07 November 1996, and
c) the letter dated 02 January 1997
are authentic and really coming from this office.
The letter dated 07 November 1996 (copy attached) stating that this Bureau
has no records of Fls-3168-D is authentic. Our Inventory Record of Approved
Surveys, our computerized list of plans officially filed in this Bureau, the
Locator Cards, and the microfilm all show that we have no records or
information about Plan Fls-3168-D.
The copy of Fls-3168-D attached to your letter dated December 2, 1996 is not
issued by this Office. There are many markings on the copy to prove it did not
come from LMB. Reasons, among others, are:
1) We have no copy of Fls-3168-D on file so how can we issue a copy of plan
that is non-existing?
2) The copy of plan bears two "Certifications" at the top and at lower half. This
is not our practice;
3) The rubber-stamp shows there are two pieces; one for the certification and
another for the signing official. We use one piece rubber stamp. The
alignment of the letters/words of one rubber stamp is different from this
marking on this spurious plan;
4) The plan shows only initial. I sign in full copies of plans with the initials of
my action officers and their codings below my signature. These are not
present in the spurious copy of plan;
5) The letter size of the rubber stamp "NOT FOR REGISTRATION/TITLING,
FOR REFERENCE ONLY" is smaller than our rubber stamp;
6) The spurious copy of plan you furnished us does not carry our rubber
stamp "GOVERNMENT PROPERTY NOT TO BE SOLD: FOR OFFICIAL
USE ONLY OF ___________________ "This is stamped on all microfilm
copies we issue because all microfilm copies are for official use only of our
LMS. We have shown you our rubber stamps to prove that the copy of Fls-
3168-D in your possession is a spurious plan.
I firmly deny having prepared and issued the letter dated 02 January
1997 stating that copy of subject plan (Fls-3168-D) was forwarded to us
by the Chief Technical Records and Statistics Section of the NCR and
that as per verification, the plan is identical to the microfilm and that the
case be given due course for administrative reconstitution. Certainly
this is not true. This is the handiwork of forgers. How can this be when
NCR has never given us the alleged copy in their file for validation. The
forwarding of the copy to us is mandatory under DAO No. 49 for our
validation. This is the subject of our letters to NCR dated 05 December
1996, 03 January 1997 and 06 February 1997 (copies attached). Definitely
this letter was never prepared and issued by this Office. Our record
books and file attest to this. We do not use letterheads for letters
involving this topic.
Apparently our letter of 31 January 1997 (copy attached) was intercepted and
did not reach you.
For all intent and purposes, please disregard the plan Fls-3168-D and the
letter dated 02 January 1997 as they are proven to be spurious documents.
(Emphasis supplied)
On 14 April 1997, Manotok, et al. filed their formal opposition to the petition for
reconstitution upon learning of the petition.
The Ruling of the Reconstituting Officer
In an Order dated 30 June 1997,
21
Atty. Bustos denied the reconstitution of
TCT No. 210177 on the following grounds:
1. Lots 823-A and 823-B, Fls-3168-D, containing areas of 171,473 Sq. Mtrs.
and 171,472 Sq. Mtrs., respectively, covered by TCT No. 210177, appear to
duplicate Lot 823 Piedad Estate, containing an area of 342,945 Sq. Mtrs.,
covered by TCT No. 372302 registered in the name of Severino M. Manotok,
et al., reconstituted under Adm. Reconstitution No. Q-213 dated February 01,
1991;
2. The submitted plan Fls-3168-D is a spurious document as categorically
stated by Engr. Privadi J.G. Dalire, Chief, Geodetic Surveys Division, Land
Management Bureau, in his letter dated February 19, 1997. (Emphasis
supplied)
Barque, Sr. moved for reconsideration of the Order. In an Order dated 10
February 1998,
22
Atty. Bustos denied the motion for lack of merit.
The Heirs of Barque filed an appeal with the LRA, docketed as Admin.
Recons. No. Q-547-A [97].
The Ruling of the Land Registration Authority
In a Resolution dated 24 June 1998,
23
the LRA gave due course to the
appeal. The LRA ruled that under LRA Circular No. 13,
24
only the owner’s or
co-owner’s duplicate of an original or transfer certificate of title could be used
as a source of administrative reconstitution. Hence, the LRA ruled that Atty.
Bustos erred in requiring the submission of documents other than the owner’s
duplicate of the TCT. The LRA further ruled that Engr. Dalire failed to deny or
question the genuineness of his signature in the letter of 2 January 1997. The
LRA held that the 2 January 1997 letter is an official communication from
Engr. Dalire. Finally, the LRA ruled that Manotok, et al.’s TCT No. RT-22481
[372302] is sham and spurious, thus:
It is undisputed that Lot 823 of the Piedad Estate, the property in question, is
located at Barrio Matandang Balara, Quezon City. Several documents
submitted by oppositors particularly the several Deeds of Sale and Unilateral
Deed of Conveyance including the real estate tax receipts would show that
Lot 823 of the Piedad Estate is located at Barrio Payong, and/or Barrio Culiat
[Annexes "2" to "77" inclusive "79", "84" and "85" of Opposition] which is
grossly inaccurate. The map of Quezon City [Annex "N" of Petitioners’
Position Paper] would show that there is no such barrio as Payong. It must
likewise be noted that there is a Barrio Culiat but the same is separate and
distinct from Barrio Matandang Balara and they do not adjoin each other.
Quite perplexing though is the fact that the real estate tax receipts for
payments made after the Quezon City Hall was gutted by fire on 11 June
1988 would show that the property covered thereby is already situated at
Barrio Matandang Balara [Annexes "91" to "104" inclusive of Opposition],
while in other tax payment receipts [Annexes "103" to "114" inclusive of
Opposition], Barrio Capitol is indicated as the location of the property in
question. This is highly questionable and likewise highly irregular. The said
real estate tax receipts also reflect the tax declarations of the property
covered thereby. It is highly irregular that the tax declaration numbers
indicated therein would vary and those tax declarations which appear to have
been canceled would again be revived.
The claim of the oppositors that the property in question per TCT No. RT-
22481 [372302] covers only one [1] lot is also inaccurate and without any
basis. Plan FLS 3168D shows that the property in question indeed consists of
two [2] lots, Lot 823-A and Lot 823-B. The same is being buttressed and
corroborated by the certified copy of the tax map over the property in question
issued by the Quezon City Assessor’s Office [Annex "H" of Petitioners’
Position Paper]. Said tax map shows that similar to TCT No. 210177 and Plan
FLS 3168D, the property in question covers two [2] lots, Lot 823-A and Lot
823-B. Granting arguendo that Lot 823 of the Piedad Estate has not yet been
subdivided into two [2] lots from the date of original survey in 1907, it is highly
irregular that TCT No. RT-22481 [372302] would have Lot 822-A Psd 2498,
Lot 818-A and Lot 818-C Psd 2507 as boundaries when at the time of the
original survey, there were no such Psd’s yet.
Examination of the technical decription and boundaries appearing in TCT No.
RT-22481 [372302] would show that the same do not, in all respects, conform
to the certified technical description and boundaries of Lot 823 of the Piedad
Estate [property in question] which are the B. L. Form No. 28-37-R and B. L.
Form No. 31-10 issued by the Bureau of Lands [Annexes "I" and "J" of
Petitioners’ Position Paper]. There was never any mention of Payatas Estate
nor Tuazon Estate as the boundaries of the lot in question. The lot in question
does not at all adjoin the Payatas Estate which was surveyed only on January
12, 1923 as per certification issued by the LMS-DENR-NCR [Annex "L"
Petitioners’ Position Paper]. As correctly pointed out by petitioners, Lot 822
was mentioned as one of the boundaries of TCT No. RT-22481 [372302]. It
was not, however, indicated whether or not it was Lot 822 of the Piedad
Estate.
25

However, the LRA ruled that TCT No. 210177 could only be reconstituted
after a court of competent jurisdiction has cancelled TCT No. RT-22481
[372302]. The dispositive portion of the LRA Resolution reads:
WHEREFORE, in view of the foregoing, it is hereby ordered that reconstitution
of TCT No. 210177 in the name of Homer L. Barque, Sr. shall be given due
course after cancellation of TCT No. RT-22481 (372302) in the name of [the]
Manotoks upon order of a court of competent jurisdiction.
SO ORDERED.
26

Manotok, et al. filed a motion for reconsideration. In an Order dated 14 June
2001,
27
the LRA denied the motion.
Manotok, et al. filed a petition for review docketed as CA-G.R. SP No. 66642
before the Court of Appeals challenging the 24 June 1998 Resolution and 14
June 2001 Order of the LRA.
The Heirs of Barque filed a petition for review docketed as CA-G.R. SP No.
66700 praying for the modification of the 24 June 1998 Resolution and 14
June 2001 Order of the LRA. The Heirs of Barque prayed for the immediate
reconstitution of TCT No. 210177 without prior cancellation of TCT No. RT-
22481 [372302] by a court of competent jurisdiction.
The Ruling of the Court of Appeals
CA-G.R. SP No. 66642
The Court of Appeals initially dismissed CA-G.R. SP No. 66642 in the
Resolution of 23 October 2001
28
for failure to show that Rosa R. Manotok had
authority to sign the verification and certification against forum shopping in
behalf of the other petitioners. Upon motion for reconsideration filed by
Manotok, et al., the Court of Appeals reinstated the petition in the Resolution
of 27 November 2001.
29

In its Decision of 29 October 2003,
30
the Court of Appeals denied Manotok, et
al.’s petition and affirmed the LRA Resolution of 24 June 1998. However,
upon motion for reconsideration of the Heirs of Barque, the Court of Appeals
promulgated an Amended Decision on 24 February 2004,
31
the dispositive
portion of which reads:
WHEREFORE, the Motion for Reconsideration is hereby GRANTED. The
Decision of this Court dated 29 October 2003 is RECONSIDERED and a new
one is entered ordering the Register of Deeds of Quezon City to cancel
petitioners’ TCT No. RT-22481 and directing the LRA to reconstitute forthwith
respondents’ TCT No. T-210177.
SO ORDERED.
32

Manotok, et al. appealed to this Court for relief. Their petition was docketed as
G.R. No. 162335.
CA-G.R. SP No. 66700
In a Decision promulgated on 13 September 2002,
33
the Court of Appeals
dismissed the Heirs of Barque’s petition and affirmed the LRA Resolution of
24 June 1998. The Heirs of Barque moved for reconsideration of the Decision.
In an Amended Decision promulgated on 7 November 2003,
34
the Court of
Appeals reconsidered its 13 September 2002 Decision, as follows:
WHEREFORE, our decision dated 13 September 2002 is hereby
reconsidered. Accordingly, the Register of Deeds of Quezon City is hereby
directed to cancel TCT No. RT-22481 of private respondents and the LRA is
hereby directed to reconstitute forthwith petitioners’ valid, genuine and
existing Certificate of Title No. T-210177.
No pronouncement as to costs.
SO ORDERED.
35

Manotok, et al. filed a motion for reconsideration of the Amended Decision. In
its Resolution of 12 March 2004,
36
the Court of Appeals denied the motion.
Manotok, et al. filed a petition for review with this Court, docketed as G.R. No.
162605.
The Issues
In their Memoranda,
37
Manotok, et al. raise a number of issues which may be
summarized as follows:
1. Whether the Land Registration Authority has jurisdiction to rule on the
validity of Manotok, et al.’s title.
2. Whether the Court of Appeals may assume equity jurisdiction over the
cases.
3. Whether the Court of Appeals, applying Ortigas & Company Limited
Partnership v. Velasco,
38
may order the cancellation of Manotok, et al.’s title
and the reconstitution of the Heirs of Barque’s title.
Administrative Reconstitution under PD 1529
Section 110 of Presidential Decree No. 1529
39
("PD 1529"), as amended by
Republic Act No. 6732,
40
governs the administrative reconstitution of lost or
destroyed certificates of titles. Section 110 of PD 1529 provides:
SEC. 110. Reconstitution of Lost or Destroyed Original of Torrens Title. –
Original copies of certificate of titles lost or destroyed in the offices of Register
of Deeds as well as liens and encumbrances affecting the lands covered by
such titles shall be reconstituted judicially in accordance with the procedure
prescribed in Republic Act No. 26 insofar as not inconsistent with this Decree.
The procedure relative to administrative reconstitution of lost or destroyed
certificate prescribed in said Act may be availed of only in case of substantial
loss or destruction of land titles due to fire, flood or other force majeure as
determined by the Administrator of the Land Registration Authority: Provided,
That the number of certificates of titles lost or damaged should be at least ten
percent (10%) of the total number in the possession of the Office of the
Register of Deeds: Provided, further, That in no case shall the number of
certificates of titles lost or damaged be less than five hundred (500).
Notice of all hearings of the petition for judicial reconstitution shall be
furnished the Register of Deeds of the place where the land is situated and to
the Administrator of the Land Registration Authority. No order or judgment
ordering the reconstitution of a certificate of title shall become final until the
lapse of fifteen (15) days from receipt by the Register of Deeds and the
Administrator of the Land Registration Authority of a notice of such order or
judgment without any appeal having [been] filed by any such officials.
The LRA, in reversing Atty. Bustos’ Order, ruled that Atty. Bustos blatantly
disregarded LRA Circular No. 13
41
when he required the submission of
documents other than the owner’s duplicate of TCT No. 210177. The LRA
ruled that Atty. Bustos should have confined himself to TCT No. 210177. The
LRA cited paragraph 4 of LRA Circular No. 13, thus:
4. Sources of Reconstitution. – Only the owner’s or co-owner’s duplicate of an
original or transfer certificate of title may be used as a source of administrative
reconstitution.
However, paragraph 4 of LRA Circular No. 13 should be read in conjunction
with its paragraph 8, which states:
8. Order of Reconstitution. – If the Reconstituting Officer or the Register of
Deeds of another registry, after appropriate verification, is convinced that
the certificate of title may be reconstituted, he shall issue an order of
reconstitution. Otherwise, he shall deny the petition, stating his reasons
therefor. The Register of Deeds concerned and the petitioner shall be
furnished with copies of the order. (Emphasis supplied)
When Atty. Bustos requested Engr. Dalire to furnish his office with a copy of
Fls-3168-D, it was part of the verification process prior to reconstitution of the
title. Considering the numerous petitions for reconstitution due to the
destruction of the Quezon City Hall, Atty. Bustos was merely exercising
caution to avoid the reconstitution of spurious titles. Atty. Bustos conducted a
verification of TCT No. 210177 pursuant to paragraph 8 of LRA Circular No.
13. Hence, the LRA erred in ruling that Atty. Bustos should have confined
himself to the owner’s duplicate of TCT No. 210177.
Section 3
42
of Republic Act No. 26
43
("RA 26") enumerates the sources for
reconstitution of transfer certificates of title. For administrative reconstitution of
title, the only source documents are the owner’s duplicate of the certificate of
title and the co-owner’s, mortgagee’s, or lessee’s duplicate of the certificate of
title. Section 12
44
of RA 26 does not apply in the present cases since Section
12 refers to judicial reconstitution of title.
The reconstitution of a certificate of title is far from being a ministerial act. In
an administrative reconstitution, the petitioner must submit the owner’s or co-
owner’s duplicate of the certificate of title as required by Section 3 of RA 26
and paragraph 4 of LRA Circular No. 13.
However, the submission of the source documents does not mean that the
reconstituting officer must forthwith grant the petition for reconstitution. It does
not also mean that the reconstituting officer must confine himself with the
owner’s or co-owner’s duplicate of the certificate of title. In accordance with
paragraph 8 of LRA Circular No. 13, the reconstituting officer or the Register
of Deeds shall issue an order of reconstitution only after appropriate
verification which means that he must be convinced that the certificate of title
is genuine and not spurious. Thus, the reconstituting officer must go beyond
the owner’s or co-owner’s duplicate certificate of title to determine whether the
title is genuine. The process of verification allows the reconstituting officer to
countercheck with other government agencies to determine the validity of the
title to be reconstituted.
When Atty. Bustos requested for a copy of Fls-3168-D, he was not only
exercising caution but more importantly, it was part of the verification process
under paragraph 8 of LRA Circular No. 13. The Heirs of Barque filed the
petition for reconstitution only in 1996, eight years after the alleged destruction
of the original TCT in 1988. The reconstituting officer should not be blamed for
verifying if he should grant the petition for reconstitution. Paragraph 8 of LRA
Circular No. 13 mandates that Atty. Bustos shall issue an order of
reconstitution only after appropriate verification.
The Jurisdiction of the Land Registration Authority
Section 6 of PD 1529 enumerates the general functions of the Land
Registration Commissioner,
45
as follows:
SEC. 6. General Functions –
(1) The Commissioner of Land Registration shall have the following functions:
(a) Issue decrees of registration pursuant to final judgments of the courts in
land registration proceedings and cause the issuance by the Registers of
Deeds of the corresponding certificates of title;
(b) Exercise supervision and control over all Registers of Deeds and other
personnel of the Commission;
(c) Resolve cases elevated en consulta by, or on appeal from decision
of, Registers of Deeds;
(d) Exercise executive supervision over all clerks of court and personnel of the
Court of First Instance throughout the Philippines with respect to the
discharge of their duties and functions in relation to the registration of lands;
(e) Implement all orders, decisions, and decrees promulgated relative to the
registration of lands and issue, subject to the approval of the Secretary of
Justice, all needful rules and regulations therefor;
(f) Verify and approve subdivision, consolidation, and consolidation-
subdivision survey plans of properties titled under Act No. 496 except those
covered by P.D. No. 957. (Emphasis supplied)
The LRA has jurisdiction to review on appeal decisions on petitions for
reconstitution. However, it is not within its powers and functions to declare a
title void. Under Section 19 of Batas Pambansa Blg. 129 ("BP Blg. 129"),
"Regional Trial Courts shall exercise exclusive original jurisdiction xxx in all
civil actions, which involve the title to, or possession of, real property, or any
interest therein." The LRA, in its 24 June 1998 Resolution, recognized that
only the Regional Trial Court ("RTC") could declare a title fraudulently
reconstituted. The LRA declared:
Notwithstanding the foregoing, it is noted that although TCT No. RT-22481
(372302) in the name of the Manotoks is alleged to cover a property with an
"expanded area" and that the same was fraudulently reconstituted, the same
is existing as a reconstituted title at the Office of the Register of Deeds of
Quezon City. It is thus presumed valid until ordered declared null and void by
a court of competent jurisdiction. A title issued under the Torrens system
enjoys the presumption of validity (Ramos vs. Rodriguez, 244 SCRA 418).
Although it is now being claimed that the title of the Manotoks was wrongly
reconstituted, it is only the Regional Trial Court which can declare that the
same was fraudulently reconstituted. Well-settled is the rule that a certificate
of title cannot be altered, modified or cancelled except in a direct proceeding
in accordance with law (Section 48, P.D. 1529; Calalang vs. Register of
Deeds of Quezon City, 231 SCRA 88, 106). xxx
xxx
It must likewise be stressed that questions affecting title to real property fall
within the jurisdiction of the Regional Trial Courts as expressly provided for
under B.P. Blg. 129, particularly Section 19(2) thereof xxx.
46

Clearly, LRA’s jurisdiction to act on petitions for administrative reconstitution
does not include the power to declare a title sham or spurious or to order the
cancellation of a certificate of title.
The settled rule is a certificate of title cannot be subject to collateral attack.
47
A
certificate of title may only be altered, modified or cancelled in a direct
proceeding.
48
Section 48 of PD 1529 provides:
Section 48. Certificate not Subject to Collateral attack. — A certificate of title
shall not be subject to collateral attack. It cannot be altered, modified, or
cancelled except in a direct proceeding in accordance with law.
(Emphasis supplied)
To allow the cancellation of Manotok, et al.’s title in an administrative
reconstitution proceeding will permit an indirect attack on the certificate of title
in violation of Section 48 of PD 1529.
The LRA exceeded its jurisdiction when it declared that Manotok, et al.s’ title
is sham and spurious. The LRA itself acknowledged that only the RTC could
declare a title fraudulently reconstituted. By ruling on the validity of Manotok,
et al.’s title, the LRA assumed the function of the RTC. The LRA also
preempted whatever decision the RTC may render on the matter.
The Register of Deeds, the LRA and the Court of Appeals have no
jurisdiction to act on the petition for reconstitution filed by the Heirs of
Barque in view of the existing Torrens title of Manotok, et al. No court, much
less an administrative body, can entertain a petition for reconstitution of lost or
destroyed title if the land is already covered by a Torrens title in the name of
another party, unless there is a final judgment first cancelling such Torrens
title. The only exception is when the Torrens title has been issued for less
than one year,
49
which is not the situation in the present cases.
To allow such reconstitution is to allow a collateral attack on the existing
Torrens title in violation of Section 48 of PD 1529. Such reconstitution will
result in an anomalous situation where two Torrens title in the name of two
different owners cover one property, a situation anathema to the very concept
of stability and indefeasibility of a Torrens title. In Alabang Development
Corporation v. Valenzuela
50
the Court ruled:
The Court stresses once more that lands already covered by duly issued
existing Torrens Titles (which become incontrovertible upon the expiration of
one year from their issuance under Section 38 of the Land Registration Act)
cannot be the subject of petitions for reconstitution of allegedly lost or
destroyed titles filed by third parties without first securing by final judgment the
cancellation of such existing titles. x x x The courts simply have no
jurisdiction over petitions by such third parties for reconstitution of
allegedly lost or destroyed titles over lands that are already covered by
duly issued subsisting titles in the names of their duly registered
owners. The very concept of stability and indefeasibility of titles covered
under the Torrens System of registration rules out as anathema the issuance
of two certificates of title over the same land to two different holders thereof. A
fortiori, such proceedings for "reconstitution" without actual notice to the duly
registered owners and holders of Torrens Titles to the land are null and void.
Applicants, land officials and judges who disregard these basic and
fundamental principles will be held duly accountable therefor. (Emphasis
supplied)
The Court has repeatedly reiterated this ruling in subsequent cases.
51

By cancelling the TCT of Manotok, et al., and upholding the TCT of the Heirs
of Barque, the Court of Appeals resolved in the administrative reconstitution
case the issue of ownership over the property in dispute. This is grave error
because ownership is never in issue in a petition for reconstitution of title. As
this Court ruled in Alonso v. Cebu Country Club, Inc.
52
:
Respondent relies solely on its reconstituted title which, by itself, does not
determine or resolve the ownership of the land covered by the lost or
destroyed title. The reconstitution of a title is simply the re-issuance of a lost
duplicate certificate of title in its original form and condition. It does not
determine or resolve the ownership of the land covered by the lost or
destroyed title. A reconstituted title , like the original certificate of title, by itself
does not vest ownership of the land or estate covered thereby. (Emphasis in
original)
In a petition for reconstitution of title, the only relief sought is the issuance of a
reconstituted title because the reconstituting officer’s power is limited to
granting or denying a reconstituted title. The reconstituting officer has no
power to decide questions of ownership. A Torrens title, even a reconstituted
title, is "evidence of an indefeasible title to the property in favor of the person
whose name appears therein."
53
Certainly, the reconstituting officer in an
administrative proceeding has no authority to deprive a third party of his
property by cancelling his Torrens title to the property. In a petition for
reconstitution, such third party is not even required to be impleaded as a
respondent.
Equity Jurisdiction of the Court of Appeals
In its original Decision in CA-G.R. SP No. 66642, the Court of Appeals held
that Manotok, et al.’s title is presumed valid until annulled by a court of
competent jurisdiction. In CA-G.R. SP No. 66700, the Court of Appeals
originally ruled that the LRA is without jurisdiction and cannot determine which
of the two titles is valid.
Yet, in the two Amended Decisions, the Court of Appeals sustained as
conclusive the LRA’s finding that the title of the Heirs of Barque is the genuine
and authentic title. Moreover, in the Amended Decisions, the Court of Appeals
ordered the Register of Deeds to cancel Manotok, et al.’s TCT No. RT-22481
even without a direct proceeding before the proper RTC as mandated by
Section 48 of PD 1529 and Section 19 of BP Blg. 129. Clearly, the Court of
Appeals deprived Manotok, et al. of their property without due process of law.
In reversing itself, the Court of Appeals insists that it may decide the cases on
the merits based on the records before it "in the pursuit of expeditious
administration of justice." In other words, the Court of Appeals assumed
equity jurisdiction over the cases.
Equity jurisdiction aims to attain complete justice in cases where a court of law
is unable to render judgment to meet the special circumstances of a case
because of the limitations of its statutory jurisdiction.
54
However, equity follows
the law, and courts exercising equity jurisdiction must still apply the law and
have no discretion to disregard the law.
55
Where the law prescribes a
particular remedy with fixed and limited boundaries, the court cannot, by
exercising equity jurisdiction, extend the boundaries further than the law
allows.
56
Thus, the Court ruled:
As for equity, which has been aptly described as ‘a justice outside legality,’
this is applied only in the absence of, and never against, statutory law
or, as in this case, judicial rules of procedure. Aequetas nunguam
contravenit legis. The pertinent positive rules being present here, they should
pre-empt and prevail over all abstract arguments based only on equity.
57

(Emphasis supplied)
Hence, the Court of Appeals may not extend jurisdiction to the LRA where the
law has not granted such jurisdiction. The Court of Appeals may not also allow
a collateral attack on a Torrens title, either before the LRA or before itself, in
gross violation of Section 48 of PD 1529. The present cases involve a vast
tract of land in a prime district. The property in question contains an area of
342,945 square meters. At a conservative estimate of P5,000 per square
meter, the value of the property amounts to P1,714,725,000. The documents
submitted by the parties are conflicting. The parties question the authenticity
of each other’s documents. Manotok, et al. claim that they and their
predecessors-in-interest have been in possession of the property since 1919
while the Heirs of Barque allegedly have never set foot on the property.
The determination of the authenticity of the documents and veracity of the
claims of both parties requires a trial on the merits. The LRA exceeded its
jurisdiction when it made a conclusive finding on the validity of the titles of the
parties. Such function falls under the "exclusive original jurisdiction" of the
RTC under Section 19 of BP Blg. 129. The Court of Appeals should not have
resolved the factual issues by adopting as its own the LRA’s finding. This
Court accords respect, if not finality, to factual findings of an administrative
body. However, this rule does not apply when the administrative body has no
jurisdiction to make a conclusive factual finding particularly when the findings
might conflict with findings of the tribunal or agency which has jurisdiction on
the matter.
Respondents claim that there is no Barrio Payong in Quezon City.
Respondents point to the 24 June 1998 Resolution of the LRA stating that
Barrio Payong is non-existent. However, the Decision of the Court of Agrarian
Relations, the court of origin in Spouses Tiongson, et al. v. Court Appeals
and Macaya,
58
shows that Lot 823 of the Piedad Estate is located at Barrio
Payong, Old Balara, Quezon City.
59
Indeed, the Court of Agrarian Relations
made an ocular inspection of the property, thus:
On June 20, 1978, the Court issued an Order directing the Clerk of Court to
conduct an ocular inspection of the landholding in question, which is as
follows:
"Conformably with ‘Urgent Motion For An Ocular Inspection’ filed with this
Court on even date and as stated in paragraph 2 thereof, the Clerk of Court is
hereby direct to conduct an ocular inspection of the landholding in question
situated at Payong, Quezon City, which as agreed upon between them is set
on June 23, 1978 at 8:30 o’clock A.M. (sic), wherein the parties shall meet at
the site of said landholding and to determine.
(a) Portions of the property planted to rice (sic) by the plaintiff and/or his
children;
(b) Portions of the property where the rice paddies are located;
(c) Portions of the property planted to (sic) corn and vegetables;
(d) Portions of the property where the houses of the plaintiff and/or his
children are built and located;
(e) Portion of the property which, according to the defendants, had been,
before the filing of the complaint in this case, worked on by Victorino Macaya
and returned by him to the defendants, through Atty. Perpetua Bocanegra,
with an area of more or less one hectare;
(f) Portions burned by the plaintiff."
Upon accomplishment thereof, said Clerk of Court is hereby directed to submit
his report as well as his sketch plan for further disposition of the Court.
On June 27, 1977, the Clerk of Court submitted his "REPORT", which is as
follows:
"In compliance with the Order of the Honorable Court dated June 20, 1978,
undersigned together with Mr. Victor Flores of this Branch, proceeded to
Barrio Payong, Quezon City on June 23, 1978, to conduct an ocular
inspection of the landholding involved in this case. xxx"
60
(Emphasis supplied)
The findings of the LRA that Barrio Payong does not exist is based merely on
LRA’s evaluation of the documents. In contrast, the findings of the Court of
Agrarian Relations that the property of the Spouses Tiongson is located in
Barrio Payong, Quezon City, is based on ocular inspection. The majority
opinion adopts the findings of the LRA. This issue, however, should be
threshed out by the proper trial court in an action directly attacking the validity
of the Torrens title of Manotok, et al.
The Applicability of Ortigas & Company
Limited Partnership v. Velasco________
In ordering the Register of Deeds to cancel Manotok, et al.’s title and the LRA
to reconstitute the title of the Heirs of Barque, the Court of Appeals relied on
Ortigas & Company Limited Partnership v. Velasco.
61
The Court of
Appeals ruled that it would be unjust to the Heirs of Barque to initiate a new
proceeding before the RTC for the sole purpose of seeking the cancellation of
Manotok, et al.’s title.
The Heirs of Barque claim that the pendency of the cases for a long period of
time justifies the application of the Ortigas case in their favor. On the other
hand, Manotok, et al. argue that if ever the Ortigas case is applicable, it will
apply in their favor since this Court in a prior decision
62
involving tenancy
relationship affirmed their right to the property in question.
The Ortigas case is not authority to deprive Manotok, et al. of their right to a
direct proceeding before the proper court concerning the validity of their
Torrens title. In Ortigas, the Court ruled that a remand of the case would be
pointless and unduly circuitous, and that to defer adjudication on the matter
would be unwarranted and unjust. This is because the records showed that
Ortigas’ titles had already been upheld and affirmed in three other cases,
involving either the original registration or direct attacks on the titles, decided
in 1906, 1985 and 1987.
63
The Court ruled that Ortigas’ documents of
ownership have been passed upon, sanctioned and sustained by the Court
more than once. This peculiar circumstance is absent in the cases before us.
However, the Ortigas case, which the Heirs of Barque insist applies to the
present cases, is authority to hold that the Register of Deeds, the LRA and the
Court of Appeals have no jurisdiction to entertain the petition for reconstitution
filed by the Heirs of Barque. The Court held in Ortigas:
64

x x x So, too, this Court has stressed "that lands already covered by duly
issued existing Torrens titles (which become incontrovertible upon the
expiration of one year from their issuance under section 38 of the Land
Registration Act) cannot be the subject of petitions for reconstitution of
allegedly lost or destroyed titles filed by third parties without first
securing by final judgment the cancellation of such existing titles. x x x."
(Emphasis supplied)
This is the specific ruling in Ortigas that applies to the present cases.
In summary, the Heirs of Barque filed before the Register of Deeds an
administrative petition to reconstitute their allegedly destroyed TCT. The
Register of Deeds, as reconstituting officer, denied the petition of the Heirs of
Barque because, based on official records, the property involved is already
registered under the Torrens system in the name of Manotok, et al. The LRA
affirmed the Register of Deeds, stating that only the proper trial court could
cancel the TCT of Manotok, et al. although the LRA believed that the TCT of
Manotok, et al. was a sham. The LRA recognized that in an administrative
reconstitution, the decision of the reconstituting body is either to deny or
approve the reconstitution of the applicant’s title, never to cancel the Torrens
title of a third party. However, on appeal, the Court of Appeals declared the
TCT of Manotok, et al. void and the TCT of the Heirs of Barque valid. Clearly,
the Court of Appeals deprived Manotok, et al. of their property without due
process of law. The Court of Appeals blatantly disregarded Section 48 of PD
1529 and Section 19 of BP Blg. 129 which confer on the proper trial court
exclusive original jurisdiction to cancel a Torrens title in an action directly
attacking the validity of the Torrens title. The Court should not countenance
this gross injustice and patent violation of the law.
Accordingly, I vote to grant the petitions and set aside the 24 February 2004
Amended Decision of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. SP No. 66642 and the
7 November 2003 Amended Decision and the 12 March 2004 Resolution of
the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. SP No. 66700. The Land Registration
Authority must defer its ruling in Admin. Recons. No. Q-547-A [97] until after
the proper Regional Trial Court shall have rendered a final judgment on the
validity of the titles of the parties.
ANTONIO T. CARPIO
Associate Justice
G.R. No. 123346 March 31, 2009
MANOTOK REALTY, INC. and MANOTOK ESTATE CORPORATION,
Petitioners,
vs.
CLT REALTY DEVELOPMENT, CORPORATION, Respondent.
x - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -x
G.R. No. 134385 March 31, 2009
ARANETA INSTITUTE OF AGRI-CULTURE, INC., Petitioner,
vs.
HEIRS OF JOSE B. DIMSON, REPRESENTED BY HIS COMPULSORY
HEIRS: HIS SURVIVING SPOUSE, ROQUETA R. DIMSON AND THEIR
CHILDREN, NORMA AND CELSA TIRADO, ALSON AND VIRGINIA
DIMSON, LINDA AND CARLOS LAGMAN, LERMA AND RENE POLICAR,
AND ESPERANZA R. DIMSON; AND THE REGISTER OF DEEDS OF
MALABON, Respondents.
R E S O L U T I O N
TINGA, J .:
In the Court’s Resolution dated 14 December 2007,
1
the Court constituted a
Special Division of the Court of Appeals to hear the instant case on remand.
The Special Division was composed of three Associate Justices of the Court
of Appeals, with Justice Josefina Guevara-Salonga as Chairperson; Justice
Lucas Bersamin as Senior Member; and Associate Justice Japar B.
Dimaampao as Junior Member. We instructed the Special Division to proceed
as follows:
The Special Division is tasked to hear and receive evidence, conclude the
proceedings and submit to this Court a report on its findings and
recommended conclusions within three (3) months from finality of this
Resolution.
In ascertaining which of the conflicting claims of title should prevail, the
Special Division is directed to make the following determinations based on the
evidence already on record and such other evidence as may be presented at
the proceedings before it, to wit:
i. Which of the contending parties are able to trace back their claims
of title to OCT No. 994 dated 3 May 1917?
ii. Whether the imputed flaws in the titles of the Manotoks and
Araneta, as recounted in the 2005 Decision, are borne by the
evidence? Assuming they are, are such flaws sufficient to defeat the
claims of title of the Manotoks and Araneta?
iii. Whether the factual and legal bases of 1966 Order of Judge
Muñoz-Palma and the 1970 Order of Judge Sayo are true and valid.
Assuming they are, do these orders establish a superior right to the
subject properties in favor of the Dimsons and CLT as opposed to the
claims of Araneta and the Manotoks?
iv. Whether any of the subject properties had been the subject of
expropriation proceedings at any point since the issuance of OCT No.
994 on 3 May 1917, and if so what are those proceedings, what are
the titles acquired by the Government and whether any of the parties
is able to trace its title to the title acquired by the Government through
expropriation.
v. Such other matters necessary and proper in ascertaining which of
the conflicting claims of title should prevail.
WHEREFORE, the instant cases are hereby REMANDED to the Special
Division of the Court of Appeals for further proceedings in accordance with
Parts VI, VII and VIII of this Resolution.
SO ORDERED.
2

The Special Division proceeded to conduct hearings in accordance with the
Resolution. The parties to these cases, namely CLT Realty Development
Corporation (CLT), Manotok Realty Inc. and Manotok Estate Corporation (the
Manotoks), the Heirs of Jose B. Dimson (Heirs of Dimson), and Araneta
Institute of Agriculture, Inc. (Araneta), were directed by the Special Division to
present their respective evidence to the Court of Appeals. Thereafter, the
Special Division rendered a 70-page Report
3
(Report) on 26 November 2008.
The Special Division submitted the sealed Report to this Court.
Before taking action on the Report itself, we dispose of a preliminary matter.
On February 17, 2009, the Manotoks filed a motion beseeching that copies of
the report be furnished the parties "so that they may submit their comments
and objections thereon in accord with the principle contained in Sec. 10, Rule
32 of the Rules of Court." We deny the motion.
It is incorrect to presume that the earlier referral of these cases to the Court of
Appeals for reception of evidence was strictly in accordance with Rule 32.
Notably, Section 1 of said Rule authorizes the referral of the case to a
commissioner "by written consent of both parties," whereas in the cases at
bar, the Court did not endeavor to secure the consent of the parties before
effectuating the remand to the Court of Appeals. Nonetheless, our earlier
advertence to Rule 32 remains proper even if the adopted procedure does not
hew strictly to that Rule, owing to our power under Section 6, Rule 135 to
adopt any suitable process or mode of proceeding which appears
conformable to the spirit of the Rules to carry into effect all auxiliary processes
and other means necessary to carry our jurisdiction into effect.
Moreover, furnishing the parties with copies of the Sealed Report would not
serve any useful purpose. It would only delay the promulgation of the Court’s
action on the Sealed Report and the adjudication of these cases. In any event,
the present Resolution quotes extensively from the sealed Report and
discusses its other substantive segments which are not quoted.
The Report is a commendably exhaustive and pellucid analysis of the issues
referred to the Special Division. It is a more than adequate basis for this Court
to make the following final dispositions in these cases.
I.
We adopt the succeeding recital of operative antecedents made by the
Special Division in its Report.
THE PROCEDURAL ANTECEDENTS
DIMSON v. ARANETA
CA-G.R. CV. NO. 41883 & CA-G.R. SP No. 34819
[SC-G.R. No. 134385]
On 18 December 1979, DIMSON filed with the then Court of First Instance
["CFI"] of Rizal a complaint for Recovery of Possession and Damages against
ARANETA. On 7 May 1980, DIMSON amended his complaint and included
Virgilio L. Enriquez ["ENRIQUEZ"] as his co-plaintiff.
In said Amended Complaint, DIMSON claimed that he is the absolute owner
of a 50-hectare land located in Bo. Potrero, Malabon, Metro Manila covered
by TCT No. R-15169, [Lot 25-A-2] of the Caloocan Registry of Deeds.
Allegedly, DIMSON had transferred the subject property to ENRIQUEZ by
way of an absolute and irrevocable sale on 14 November 1979. Unfortunately
though, DIMSON and ENRIQUEZ discovered that the subject property was
being occupied by ARANETA wherein an "agricultural school house" is
erected and that despite repeated demands, the latter refused to vacate the
parcel of land and remove the improvements thereon.
ARANETA, for its part, refuted said allegations and countered that it is the
absolute owner of the land being claimed by DIMSON and that the real
properties in the Araneta Compound are "properly documented and validly
titled." It maintained that it had been in possession of the subject parcel of
land since 1974. For this reason, the claims of DIMSON and ENRIQUEZ were
allegedly barred by prescription.
During the trial, counsel for ARANETA marked in evidence, among others,
certifications from the Land Registration Commission attesting that TCTs Nos.
13574 and 26538, covering the disputed property, are in the names of
ARANETA and Jose Rato, respectively. ARANETA also offered TCT No. 7784
in evidence to prove that it is the registered owner of the land described
therein.
On 28 May 1993, the trial court rendered a Decision upholding the title of
DIMSON over the disputed property xxx
Undaunted, ARANETA interposed an appeal to the Court of Appeals,
docketed as CA-G.R. CV No. 41883, which was later consolidated with CA-
GR. SP No. 34819 in view of the inter-related issues of the two cases.
In its 30 May 1997 Decision, the Court of Appeals, in CA-G.R. CV No. 41883,
sustained the RTC Decision in favor of DIMSON finding that the title of
ARANETA to the disputed land in a nullity. In CA-GR. SP No. 34819, the
Court of Appeals likewise invalidated the titles of ARANETA, relying on the
Supreme Court ruling in Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System v.
Court of Appeals, which declared null and void the certificates of title derived
from OCT No. 994 registered on 3 may 1917. It was also held that ARANETA
failed to sufficiently show that the Order sought to be nullified was obtained
through extrinsic fraud that would warrant the annulment thereof.
Dissatisfied still, ARANETA filed a Motion for Reconsideration And/Or New
Trial espousing therein as basis for its entreaty the various letters from
different government agencies and Department order No. 137 of the
Department of Justice, among others.
On 16 July 1998, the various Motions of ARANETA were denied by the Court
of Appeals. Nonetheless, the Court ordered DIMSON to maintain status quo
until the finality of the aforesaid judgment.
Consequently, ARANETA filed a petition before the Supreme Court. Refuting
the factual finding of the trial court and the Court of Appeals, ARANETA
contended that there in only one OCT 994 covering the Maysilo Estate issued
on 3 May 1917 pursuant to the Decree No. 36455 issued by the Court of Land
Registration on 19 April 1917 and added that there were subsequent
certifications issued by the government officials, notably from the LRS, the
DOJ Committee Report and the Senate Committees’ Joint Report which
attested that there is only one OCT 994, that which had been issued on 3 May
1917.1avvphi1
CLT v. MANOTOK
CA-G.R. CV. No. 45255
[SC-G.R. No. 123346]
On 10 August 1992, CLT filed with the Regional Trial Court ["RTC"] A
COMPLAINT FOR Annulment of Transfer Certificates of Title, Recovery of
Possession and Damages against the MANOTOKS and the Registry of Deeds
of Metro Manila District II (Calookan City, Metro Manila) ["CALOOCAN RD"].
In its Complaint, CLT alleged that it is the registered owner of Lot 26 of the
Maysilo Estate located in Caloocan City and covered by Transfer Certificate of
Title No. T- 177013, a derivative title of OCT No. 994. As a basis of its
proprietary claim, CLT averred that on 10 December 1988, it had acquired Lot
26 from its former registered owner, Estelita I. Hipolito ["HIPOLITO"], by virtue
of a Deed of Sale with Real Estate Mortgage. HIPOLITO’s title was , in turn, a
direct transfer from DIMSON, the registered owner of TCT No. 15166, the
latter having acquired the same by virtue of a Court Order dated 13 June 1966
issued by the Court of First Instance of Rizal in Civil Case No. 4557.
On the other hand, the MANOTOKS maintained the validity of their titles,
which were all derivatives of OCT No. 994 covering over twenty (20) parcels
of land located over a portion of Lot 26 in the Maysilo Estate. In substance, it
was contented that the title of CLT was an offspring of an ineffective grant of
an alleged undisputed portion of Lot 26 by way of attorney’s fees to its
predecessor-in- interest, Jose B. Dimson. The MANOTOKS, in this
connection, further contended that the portion of Lot 26, subject of the present
controversy, had long been disposed of in favor of Alejandro Ruiz and
Mariano Leuterio and hence, there was nothing more in said portion of Lot 26
that could have been validly conveyed to Dimson.
Tracing the legitimacy of their certificates of titles, the MANOTOKS alleged
that TCT No. 4210, which cancelled OCT No. 994, had been issued in the
names of Alejandro Ruiz and Mariano Leuterio on Sept ember 1918 by virtue
of an Escritura De Venta executed by Don Tomas Arguelles and Don Enrique
Lopes on 21 August 1918. TCT No. 4210 allegedly covered an approximate
area of 19,565.43 square meters of Lot 26. On even date, TCT No. 4211 was
transferred to Francisco Gonzales on the strength of an Escritura de Venta
dated 3 March 1920 for which TCT No. T-5261, covering an area of 871,982
square meters was issued in the name of one Francisco Gonzales, married to
Rufina Narciso.
Thereafter, TCT No. T-35485, canceling TCT No. T-5261, was issued to
Rufina Narcisa Vda. de Gonzales which was later replaced with the names of
Gonzales six (6) children. The property was then subdivided and as a result of
which, seven (7) certificates of titles were issued, six (6),under the names of
each of the children while the remaining title was held by all of them as co-
owners.
Eventually, the properties covered by said seven certificates of title were
expropriated by the Republic of the Philippines. These properties were then
later subdivided by the National Housing Authority ["NHA"], into seventy-
seven (77) lots and thereafter sold to qualified vendees. As it turned out, a
number of said vendees sold nineteen (19) of these lots to Manotok Realty,
Inc. while one (1) lot was purchased by the Manotok Estate Corporation.
During the pre-trial conference, the trial court, upon agreement of the parties,
approved the creation of a commission composed of three commissioners
tasked to resolve the conflict in their respective titles. Accordingly, the created
Commission convened on the matter in dispute.
On 8 October 1993, Ernesto Erive and Avelino San Buenaventura submitted
an exhaustive Joint Final Report ["THE MAJORITY REPORT"] finding that
there were inherent technical infirmities or defects on the face of TCT No.
4211, from which the MANOTOKS derived their titles (also on TCT No. 4210),
TCT No. 5261 and TCT No. 35486. Teodoro Victoriano submitted his
Individual Final Report ["THE MINORITY REPORT"] dated 23 October 1993.
After the conduct of a hearing on these reports, the parties filed their
respective comments/objections thereto. Upon order of the trial court, the
parties filed their respective memoranda.
Adopting the findings contained in the Majority Report, the RTC, on 10 May
1994, rendered a Decision, in favor of CLT and ordered, among others, the
cancellation of the certificates of title issued in the name of the MANOTOKS.
The MANOTOKS elevated the adverse RTC Decision on appeal before the
Court of Appeals. In its Decision dated 28 September 1995, the Court of
Appeals affirmed the RTC Decision, except as to the award of damages which
was deleted. The MANOTOKS then moved for reconsideration, but said
motion was denied by said appellate court in its Resolution dated 8 January
1996. After the denial of their Motion for Reconsideration, the MANOTOKS
filed a Petition for Review before the Supreme Court.
PROCEEDINGS BEFORE THE SUPREME COURT
Before the Supreme Court, the Petitioners for Review, separately filed by the
MANOTOKS, ARANETA and Sto. Niño Kapitbahayan Association, Inc.,
["STO. NIÑO"], were consolidated.
Also submitted for consideration of the Supreme Court were the report of the
Fact Finding Committee dated 28 August 1997 and the Senate Committee
Report No. 1031 dated 25 May 1998 which concluded that there was only one
OCT No. 994 issued, transcribed and registered on 3 May 1917.
THE SUPREME COURT DECISION
In its Decision dated 29 November 2005 ["THE SUPREME COURT 2005
DECISION"], the Supreme Court, through its Third Division, affirmed the RTC
Decision and Resolutions of the Court of Appeals, which declared the titles of
CLT and DIMSON as valid.
In invalidating the respective titles of the MANOTOKS and ARANETA, the
Supreme Court, in turn, relied on the factual and legal findings of the trial
courts, which had heavily hinged on the imputed flaws in said titles.
Considering that these trial court findings had been affirmed by the Court of
Appeals, the Supreme Court highlighted the fact that the same were accorded
the highest degree of respect and, generally, should not be disturbed on
appeal.
Emphasis was also made on the settled rule that because the Supreme Court
was not a trier of facts, it was not within its function to review factual issues
and examine, evaluate or weigh the probative value of the evidence presented
by the parties.
THE SUPEME COURT RESOLUTION
Expectedly, the MANOTOKS and ARANETA filed their respective Motions for
Reconsideration of the Supreme Court 2005 Decision.
Resolving said motions for reconsideration, with the Office of the Solicitor
General ["OSG"] intervening on behalf of the Republic, the Supreme Court, in
its Resolution of 14 December 2007 ["THE SUPREME CCOURT 2007
RESOLUTION"] reversed and nullified its 2005 Decision and categorically
invalidated OCT No. 994 dated 19 April 1917, which was the basis of the
propriety claims of CLT and DIMSON. However, the Supreme Court resolved
to remand the cases to this Special Division of the Court of Appeals for
reception of evidence.
To guide the proceedings before this Special Division of the Court of Appeals,
the Supreme Court made the following binding conclusions:
"First, there is only one OCT 994. As it appears on the record,
that mother title was received for transcription by the Register
of Deeds on 3 May 1917, and that should be the date which
should be reckoned as the ate of registration of the title. It
may also be acknowledged, as appears on the title, that OCT
No. 994 resulted from the issuance of the decree of
registration on (19)* April 1917, although such dated cannot
be considered as the date of the title or the date when the title
took effect.
Second. Any title that traces its source to OCT No. 994 dated
(19) April 1917 is void, for such mother title is inexistent. The
fact that the Dimson and CLT titles made specific reference to
an OCT No. 994 dated (19) April 1917 casts doubt on the
validity of such titles since they refer to an inexistent OCT.
This error alone is, in fact, sufficient to invalidate the Dimson
and CLT claims over the subject property if singular reliance
is placed by them on the dates appearing on their respective
titles.
Third. The decision of this Court in MWSS v. Court of Appeals
and Gonzaga v. Court of Appeals cannot apply to the cases
at bar, especially in regard to their recognition of an OCT No.
994 dated 19 April 1917, a title which we now acknowledge
as inexistent. Neither could the conclusions in MWSS or
Gonzaga with respect to an OCT No. 994 dated 19 April 1917
bind any other case operating under the factual setting the
same as or similar to that at bar.
4

II.
The parties were afforded the opportunity to present their evidence before the
Special Division. The Report names the evidence submitted to the Special
Division for its evaluation:
CLT EVIDENCE
In its Offer of Evidence,
5
CLT adopted the documentary exhibits and
testimonial evidence of witnesses submitted in the case filed by CLT against
STO. NIÑO in Civil Case No. C-15491, ["CLT-STO NIÑO CASE"]. These
pieces of evidence include, among others, the Majority and Minority Reports,
the Formal Offer of Evidence in the presentation of the evidence-in-chief and
rebuttal evidence in the CLT-STO NIÑO CASE consisting of various
certificates of titles, plans by geodetic engineer, tax declarations, chemistry
report, specimen signatures and letters of correspondence.
MANOTOKS EVIDENCE
The MANOTOKS sought admission of the following evidence: Senate and
DOJ Committee Reports; certificates of title issued to them and their
vendees/assignees, i.e., Republic of the Philippines, the Gonzalezes,
Alejandro Ruiz and Mariano Leuterio, Isabel Gil del Sola and Estelita Hipolito;
deeds of absolute sale; contracts to sell; tax declarations and real property tax
receipts; the Formal Officer of Evidence of Philville Development & Housing
Corporation; ["PHILVILLE"], in Civil Case No. 15045; this Court of Appeals’
Decision in CA-G.R. CV. No. 52606 between CLT and PHILVILLE; the Orders
of Judge Palma dated 13 June 1966 and 16 August 1966 in Case No. 4557
and the billing statements of SSHG Law Office. They also submitted in
evidence the Affidavits and Supplemental Affidavits of Rosa R. Manotok and
Luisa T. Padora; Affidavits of Atty. Felix B. Lerio, Atty. Ma. P.G. Ongkiko and
Engineer Jose Marie P. Bernabe; a copy of a photograph of BM No. 9;
certified true copy of coordinates and reference point of L.M. No. 1 and BM
No. 1 to 10 of Piedad Estate and TCT No. 177013 of CLT.
6

DIMSON EVIDENCE
In their Consolidated Formal Offer of Evidence,
7
DIMSON submitted the
previous decisions and resolutions passed relative to these cases, various
certifications of different government agencies, OCT 994, subdivision plan of
Lot 25-A-2, observations of Geodetic Engineer Reggie P. Garcia showing the
relative positions of properties within Lot 25-A; the Novation of Contract/Deed
of Sale and Mortgage dated 15 January 1948 between Rato, Don Salvador
Araneta and Araneta Institute of Agriculture; copies of various certificates of
titles to dispute some of the titles held by ARANETA; several letter-requests
and official receipts.
ARANETA EVIDENCE
ARANETA, in turn, offered in evidence various certificates of title, specifically,
OCT No. 994, TCT No. 8692; TCT No. 21857; TCT No. 26538; TCT No.
26539; TCT No. (7784)-738 and TCT no. 13574. It also marked in evidence
the certified true copies of Decree No. 36577; the DOJ and Senate Reports;
letters of correspondence to the Land Registration Commission and the
Register of Deeds of Malabon City; survey plans of Lot 25-A and TCT r-15169
of Dimson and; the affidavit of Engineer Felino M. Cortez and his curriculum
vitae. ARANETA also offered the certified true copy of TCT No. 6196 in the
name of Victoneta, Inc.; TCT No. 13574 in the name of ARANETA;
certifications issued by Atty. Josephine H. Ponciano, Acting Register of Deeds
of Malabon city-Navotas; certified true copy of Judge Palma’s Order dated 16
August 1966 in Case No. 4557; Circular No. 17 (which pertains to the rules on
reconstitution of titles as of 19 February 1947) and its official receipt and; the
owner’s duplicate copy of OCT No. 994.
89

III.
We now turn to the evaluation of the evidence engaged in by the Special
Division. To repeat, the Special Division was tasked to determine the following
issues based on the evidence:
i. Which of the contending parties are able to trace back their claims
to Original Certificate of Title (OCT) No. 994 dated 3 May 1917:
ii. Whether the respective imputed flaws in the titles of the Manotoks
and Araneta, as recounted in the Supreme Court 2005 Decision, are
borne by the evidence. Assuming they are, are such flaws sufficient to
defeat said claims?
iii. Whether the factual and legal bases of the 1966 Order of Judge
Muñoz-Palma and the 1970 Order of Judge Sayo are true and valid.
Assuming they are, do these orders establish a superior right to the
subject properties in favor of the Dimsons and CLT as opposed to the
claims of the Araneta and the Manotoks?
iv. Whether any of the subject properties had been the subject of
expropriation proceedings at any point since the issuance of OCT No.
994 on 3 May 1917, and if so, what are those proceedings, what are
the titles acquired by the Government, and is any of the parties able
to trace its title acquired by the government through expropriation?
v. Such other matters necessary and proper in ascertaining which of
the conflicting claims of title should prevail.
The ultimate purpose of the inquiry undertaken by the Court of Appeals was to
ascertain which of the four groups of claimants were entitled to claim
ownership over the subject properties to which they claimed title thereto. One
set of properties was disputed between CLT and the Manotoks, while the
other set was disputed between Araneta and the Heirs of Dimson.
As can be gleaned from the Report, Jose Dimson was able to obtain an order
in 1977 issued by Judge Marcelino Sayo of the Court of First Instance (CFI) of
Caloocan City on the basis of which he was able to register in his name
properties belonging to the Maysilo Estate. Judge Sayo’s order in turn was
sourced from a 1966 Order issued by Judge (later Supreme Court Associate
Justice) Cecilia Muñoz-Palma of the CFI of Rizal. Dimson’s titles reflected, as
their mother title, OCT No. 994 dated 19 April 1917.
10
Among these properties
was a fifty (50)-hectare property covered by Transfer Certificate of Title (TCT)
No. 151169, which apparently overlapped with the property of Araneta
covered by TCT No. 13574 and 26538.
11
Araneta was then and still is in
possession of the property. The Araneta titles state, as their mother title, OCT
No. 994 dated 3 May 1917. Consequently, Dimson filed an action for recovery
of possession against Araneta.
Another property in Dimson’s name, apparently taken from Lot 26 of the
Maysilo Estate, was later sold to Estelita Hipolito, who in turn sold the same to
CLT. Said property was registered by CLT under TCT No. T-177013, which
also reflected, as its mother title, OCT No. 994 dated 19 April 1917.
12
Said
property claimed by CLT encroached on property covered by titles in the
name of the Manotoks. The Manotoks traced their titles to TCT Nos. 4210 and
4211, both issued in 1918 and both reflecting, as their mother title, OCT No.
994 dated 3 May 1917.1avvphi1
It is evident that both the Heirs of Dimson and CLT had primarily relied on the
validity of OCT No. 994 dated 19 April 1917 as the basis of their claim of
ownership. However, the Court in its 2007 Resolution held that OCT No. 994
dated 19 April 1917 was inexistent. The proceedings before the Special
Division afforded the Heirs of Dimson and CLT alike the opportunity to prove
the validity of their respective claims to title based on evidence other than
claims to title the inexistent 19 April 1917 OCT No. 994. Just as much was
observed by the Special Division:
Nonetheless, while the respective certificates of title of DIMSON and CLT
refer to OCT 994 issued on 19 April 1917 and that their previous postulations
in the present controversies had been anchored on the supposed validity of
their titles, that which emanated from OCT 994 of 19 April 1917, and
conversely the invalidity of the 3 May 1917 OCT 994, the Supreme Court has
yet again allowed them to substantiate their claims on the basis of other
evidentiary proofs:
Otherwise stated, both DIMSON and CLT bear the onus of proving in this
special proceedings, by way of the evidence already presented before and
such other forms of evidence that are not yet of record, that either there had
only been an error in the course of the transcription or registration of their
derivative titles, or that other factual and legal bases existed to validate or
substantiate their titles aside from the OCT No. 994 issued on 19 April 1917.
13

Were they able to discharge such burden?
A.
We begin with the Heirs of Dimson. The Special Division made it clear that the
Heirs of Dimson were heavily reliant on the OCT No. 994 dated 19 April 1917.
[DIMSON], on the strength of Judge Sayo’s Order dated 18 October dated 18
October 1977, was issued separate certificates of title, i.e., TCT Nos. 15166,
15167, 15168 and 15169, covering portions of the Maysilo Estate. Pertinently,
with respect to TCT No. 15169 of DIMSON, which covers Lot 25-A-2 of the
said estate, the following were inscribed on the face of the instrument.
"IT IS FURTHER CERTIFIED that said land was originally registered on the
19th day of April in the year nineteen hundred and seventeen in the
Registration Book of the Office of the Register of Deeds of Rizal, Volume NA
page NA , as Original Certificate of Title No. 994 pursuant to Decree No.
36455 issued in L.R.C. Case No. 4429 Record No. ______
This Certificate is a transfer from Original Certificate of Title No. 994/NA,
which is cancelled by virtue hereof in so far as the above-described land is
concerned.
14

From the above accounts, it is clear that the mother title of TCT no. 15169, the
certificate of title of DIMSON covering the now disputed Lot 25-A-2, is OCT
No. 994 registered on 19 April 1917. Manifestly, the certificate of title issued to
DIMSON, and as a matter of course, the derivative title later issued to CLT,
should both be voided inasmuch as the OCT which they emanated had
already been declared inexistent.
15

The Special Division noted that the Heirs of Dimson did not offer any
explanation why their titles reflect the erroneous date of 19 April 1917. At the
same time, it rejected CLT’s explanation that the transcription of the
erroneous date was a "typographical error."
As can be gleaned from the records, both DIMSON and their successor-in-
interest CLT, had failed to present evidence before this Court to prove that
there had been a mere typographical error in the transcription of their
respective titles with regard to the date of registration of OCT No. 994. CLT
specifically harps on this assertion that there had only been a typographical
error in the transcription of its title.
16
On the other hand, while DIMSON had
refused to categorically assert that there had been such a typographical error
causing the invalidity of their title, their failure to proffer any reason or
argument which would otherwise justify why their title reflects 19 April 1917
and not 3 May 1917 leads this Court to conclude that they simply had no basis
to support their proprietary claim.
Thus, without proffering any plausible explanation as to what led to the
erroneous entry of the registration dated of OCT 994, DIMSON are left without
any recourse but to substantiate their claim on the basis of other evidence not
presented during the proceedings below, which would effectively prove that
they had a valid proprietary claim over the disputed properties. This is
specifically true because DIMSON had previously placed reliance on the
MWSS doctrine to prove the validity of their title.
17

Absent such explanation, the Heirs of Dimson were particularly constrained to
rely on the 1977 Order of Judge Sayo, which was allegedly sourced from the
1966 Order of Judge Muñoz Palma. On that issue, the Special Division made
the following determinations:
It should be recalled that in their appellee’s brief in CA-G.R.CV No. 41883,
therein appellee Jose Dimson specifically denied the falsity of TCT No. R-
15169 alleging that the contention "is already moot and can be determined by
a controlling decision."
18
Jose Dimson expounded on his reliance as follows:
"In Metropolitan Waterworks & Sewerage System (for brevity MWSS) case,
Jose B. Dimson’s (as private respondent) title TCT No. 15167 issued for Lot
28 on June 8, 1978 derived from OCT No. 994 registered on April 19, 1917, is
overlapping with MWSS title TCT No. 41028 issued on July 29, 1940 derived
from the same OCT 994, registered on May 3, 1917.
(Same facts in the case at bar; Jose B. Dimson’ (plaintiff-appellee) title TCT
No. R-15169 issued for Lot 25-A-2, on June 8, 1978, is overlapping with
defendant-appellant’s title TCT Nos. 13574 and 21343, not derived from OCT
No. 994."
19

So viewed, sans any proof of a mechanical error in the transcription or
annotation on their respective certificates of title, the present inquiry then
hinges on whether the Order dated 13 June 1966 issued by then Judge
Cecilia Muñoz-Palma of the Court of First Instance of Rizal in Civil Case No.
4557 ["PALMA ORDER"] and Judge Sayo’s Order dated 18 October 1977
["SAYOS 18 OCTOBER 1977 ORDER"], can be validated and authenticated.
It is so since the brunt of the proprietary claims of both DIMSON and CLT has
its roots on said Orders.
Perforce, in consideration of the foregoing, this leads Us to the THIRD ISSUE
as presented by the Supreme Court, to wit:
"Whether the factual and legal bases of Palma’s 13 June 1966 Order and
Sayo’s 18 October 1977 Order are true and valid. Assuming they are, do
these orders establish a superior right to the subject properties in favor
of the Dimsons and CLT as opposed to the claims of Araneta and the
Manotoks?"
As it is, in contending that their certificates of title could be validly traced from
the 3 May 1917 OCT No. 994, DIMSON point out that their title was issued
pursuant to a court order issued by Judge Palma in Case No. 4557 and
entered in the memorandum of Encumbrance of OCT No. 994. DIMSON also
insist that TCT Nos. 8692, 21857 and 26538 were mere microfilmed or
certified copies and, therefore, inadmissible. Lastly, DIMSON reiterated the
flaws and irregularities which voided the titles of the ARANETA in the previous
proceedings and focused on the burden of ARANETA to present evidence to
defeat their titles.
The foregoing contentions of DIMSON find to factual and legal basis. As we
see it, Sayo’s 18 October 1977 Order, which apparently confirmed Palma’s 13
June 1966 Order, raised serious questions as to the validity of the manner by
which it was arrived at.
It is worthy to note that as early as 25 August 1981, counsel for the ARANETA
applied for a subpoena duces tecum addressed to the Clerk of Court of CFI
Pasig for the production of the records of LRC Case No. 4557 for purposes of
determining the genuineness and authenticity of the signature of Judge Palma
and also of her Order granting the confirmation. A certain Atty. Contreras,
Officer-in-Charge of the said court, appeared and manifested in open court
that the records pertaining to the petition for Substitution of names of
Bartolome Rivera, et al. could no longer be located inasmuch as they had
passed hands from one court to another.
What is perplexing to this Court is not only the loss of the entire records of
Case No. 4557 but the admission of Judge Sayo that he had not seen the
original of the Palma Order. Neither was the signature of Judge Palma on the
Order duly proven because all that was presented was an unsigned duplicate
copy with a stamped notation of "original signed." Equally perplexing is that
while CFI Pasig had a Case No. 4557 on file, said file pertained not to an LRC
case but to a simple civil case.
20
Thus:
"Atty. Directo:
The purpose of this subpoena duces tecum is to present your Honor the Order
Order (sic) of Judge Palma in order to determine the genuineness and
authenticity of the signature of Judge Palma in this court order and which
order was a basis of a petition in this court to be confirmed. That is the reason
why we want to see the genuineness of the signature of Judge Palma.
COURT:
No signature of Judge Palma was presented in this court. it was a duplicate
copy not signed. There is a stamp only of original signed.
Atty. Directo:
That is the reason why we want to see the original.
Court:
I did not see the original also. When the records of this case was brought
here, I checked the records, there were so many pages missing and the
pages were re-numbered but then I saw the duplicate original and there is a
certification of a woman clerk of Court, Atty. Molo.
Atty. Directo:
That is the reason why we want to see this document, we are surprised why it
is missing.
Court:
We are surprised also. You better ask Judge Muñoz Palma.
Atty. Contreras:
May I make of record that in verifying our records, we found in our original
vault LRC application no. N-4557 but the applications were certain Feliciano
Manuel and Maria Leaño involving Navotas property because I was
wondering why they have the same number. There should be only one.
Atty. Directo:
Aside from that, are there other cases of the same number?
Atty. Contreras:
No, there should be only number for a particular case; that must be a petition
after decree record.
Atty. Ignacio:
This 4557 is not an LRC Case, it is a simple civil case.
x x x x x x
Moreover, both the MANOTOKS and ARANETA insist that Palma’s 13 June
1966 Order had been recalled by a subsequent Order dated 16 August 1966,
["RECALL ORDER"],
21
wherein the trial court dismissed the motion filed by
DIMSON on the court’s findings that " x x x whatever portion of the property
covered by OCT 994 which has not been disposed of by the previous
registered owners have already been assigned and adjudicated to Bartolome
Rivera and his assignees, as a result of which there is no portion that is left to
be given to the herein supposed assignee Jose Dimson."
However, We are reluctant to recognize the existence and due execution of
the Recall Order considering that its original or even a certified true copy
thereof had not been submitted by either of the two parties relying on it
despite having been given numerous opportunities to do so.
Be that as it may, even if We are to consider that no Recall Order was ever
issued by then Judge Palma, the validity of the DIMSON titles over the
properties in the Maysilo Estate becomes doubtful in light of the fact that the
supposed "share" went beyond what was actually due to Jose Dimson under
the Compromise Agreement with Rivera. It should be recalled that Palma’s 13
June 1966 Order approved only the conveyance to Jose Dimson of "25% of
whatever share of Bartolome Rivera has over Lots 25, 26, 27, 28-B and 29 of
OCT 994 x x x subject to availability of undisposed portion of the said lots."
22

In relation to this, We find it significant to note the observations contained in
the Senate Committee Report No. 1031 that, based on the assumption that
the value of the lots were equal, and "(C)onsidering that the share of Maria de
la Concepcion Vidal was only 1-189/1000 percent of the Maysilo Estate, the
Riveras who claimed to be the surviving heirs of Vidal will inherit only 197,
405.26 square meters (16,602,629.53 m2 x 1.1890%) or 19.7 hectares as
their share.
23
Even if we are to base the 25% of Jose Dimson on the 19.7
hectares allotted to the Riveras, it would appear that Jose Dimson would only
be entitled to more or less five (5)hectares of the Maysilo Estate. Obviously,
basing only on TCT No. 15169 of Dimson which covered a land area of 50
hectares (500,000 square meters),
24
it is undisputable that the total properties
eventually transferred to Jose Dimson went over and beyond his supposed
25% share.
What is more, Palma’s 13 June 1966 Order specifically required that "x x x
whatever title is to be issued herein in favor of Jose Dimson, the same shall
be based on a subdivision plan duly certified by the Land Registration
Commission as correct and in accordance with previous orders issued in this
proceedings, said plan to be submitted to this court for final approval.
Interestingly however, despite such requirement, DIMSON did not submit
Survey Plan LRC (GLRO) Rec. No. 4429 SWO-5268 which allegedly was the
basis of the segregation of the lands, if only to prove that the same had been
duly approved and certified correct by the Land Registration Commission.
What was submitted before the RTC and this Court was only the Subdivision
Plan of Lot 25-A-2 which notably does not bear the stamp of approval of the
LRC. Even an inspection of the exhibit for CLT does not bear this Survey
Plan, which could have, at the very least, proven the authenticity of the
DIMSON title.
Indeed, We find the absence of this piece of evidence as crucial in proving the
validity of the titles of DIMSON in view of the allegation of contending parties
that since the survey plan upon which the land titles were based contained the
notation "SWO," meaning that the subdivision plan was only a product of a
"special work order," the same could not have passed the LRC. Neither was it
duly certified by the said office.
25

In addition, the Special Division took note of other irregularities attending
Dimson’s TCT No. R-15169.
[Firstly], OCT No. 994 showed that Lot 25-A of the Maysilo Estate was
originally surveyed on "September 8-27, 1911, October 4-21 and November
17-18, 1911." Yet, in said TCT No. R-15169, the date of the original survey is
reflected as "Sept. 8-27, 1911" and nothing more.
26
The variation in date is
revealing considering that DIMSON’s titles are all direct transfers from OCT
No. 994 and, as such, would have faithfully adopted the mother lot’s data.
Unfortunately, no explanation for the variance was ever offered.
Equally worthy of consideration is the fact that TCT No. 15169 indicates that
not only was the date of original registration inexistent, but the remarks
thereon tend to prove that OCT No. 994 had not been presented prior to the
issuance of the said transfer certificate. This manifest from the notations "NA"
on the face of DIMSON’s title meaning, "not available." It bears emphasizing
that the issuance of a transfer certificate of title to the purchaser without the
production of the owner’s duplicate is illegal (Rodriguez v. Llorente, 49 Phil.
826) and does not confer any right to the purchaser (Philippine National Bank
vs. Fernandez, 61 Phil. 448 [1935]). The Registrar of Deeds must, therefore,
deny registration of any deed or voluntary instrument if the owner’s duplicate
is not presented in connection therewith. (Director of Lands vs. Addison, 40
Phil. 19 [1926]; Hodges vs. Treasurer of the Phil. 50 Phil. 16 [1927].
27

In has also been held that, in cases where transfer certificates of title
emanating from one common original certificate of title were issued on
different dates to different persons or entities covering the same land, it would
be safe to conclude that the transfer certificate issued at an earlier date along
the line should prevail, barring anomaly in the process of registration.
28
Thus,
"(w)here two certificates purport to include the same land, the earlier in date
prevails. X x x. In successive registration, where more than one certificate is
issued in respect of a particular estate or interest in land, the person is
deemed to hold under the prior certificate who is the holder or whose claim is
derived directly from the person who was the holder of the earliest certificate
issued in respect thereof. x x x"
29

xxx
Still another indication of irregularity of the DIMSON title over Lot No. 25-A is
that the issuance of the Sayo Order allegedly confirming the Palma Order was
in itself suspect. Gleaning from the records, DIMSON filed the Motion only on
10 October 1977, or eleven (11) years after obtaining the supposed sanction
for the issuance of titles in this name. Besides, what was lodged by Jose
Dimson before the sala of then Judge Palma was not a simple land
registration case wherein the only purpose of Jose Dimson was to establish
his ownership over the subject parcels of land, but, as reflected in the Palma
Order, the subject of the case was the confirmation of Jose Dimson’s claim
over the purported rights of Rivera in the disputed properties. The case did not
partake of the nature of a registration proceeding and thus, evidently did not
observe the requirements in land registration cases. Unlike in a land
registration case, therefore, Jose Dimson needed to file an action before
Judge Sayo to seek "confirmation" of Palma’s Order dated 13 June 1966.
So viewed the general rule proscribing the application of laches or the statute
of limitations in land registration cases,
30
as well as Section 6, Rule 39 of the
Rules of Court, in relation to its provisions on revival of judgment applies only
to ordinary civil actions and not to other or extraordinary proceedings such as
land registration cases, is clearly not applicable in the present case. The legal
consequences of laches as committed by DIMSON and their failure to
observe the provisions of Rule 39 should, therefore, find application in this
case and thus, the confirmation of DIMSON’s title, if any, should fail.
Parenthetically, the allegations of DIMSON would further show that they
derive the validity of their certificates of title from the decreased Jose
Dimson’s 25% share in the alleged hereditary rights of Bartolome Rivera
["RIVERA"] as an alleged grandson of Maria Concepcion Vidal ["VIDAL"].
However, the records of these cases would somehow negate the rights of
Rivera to claim from Vidal. The Verification Report of the Land Registration
Commission dated 3 August 1981 showed that Rivera was 65 years old on 17
May 1963 (as gathered from the records of Civil Case Nos. 4429 and 4496).
31

It can thus be deduced that, if Rivera was already 65 years old in 1963, then
he must have been born around 1898. On the other hand, Vidal was only nine
(9) years in 1912; hence, she could have been born only on 1905. This alone
creates an unexplained anomalous, if not ridiculous, situation wherein Vidal,
Rivera’s alleged grandmother, was seven (7) years younger than her alleged
grandson. Serious doubts existed as to whether Rivera was in fact an heir of
Vidal, for him to claim a share in the disputed portions of the Maysilo Estate.
32

These findings are consonant with the observations raised by Justice Renato
Corona in his Concurring and Dissenting Opinion on our 2007 Resolution. To
wit:
TCT No. T-177013 covers Lot 26 of the Maysilo Estate with an area of
891,547.43 sq. m. It was a transfer from TCT No. R-17994 issued in the name
of Estelita I. Hipolito. On the other hand, TCT No. R-17994 was a transfer
from TCT No. R-15166 in the name of Jose B. Dimson which, in turn, was
supposedly a direct transfer from OCT No. 994 registered on April 19, 1917.
Annotations at the back of Hipolito's title revealed that Hipolito acquired
ownership by virtue of a court order dated October 18, 1977 approving the
compromise agreement which admitted the sale made by Dimson in her favor
on September 2, 1976. Dimson supposedly acquired ownership by virtue of
the order dated June 13, 1966 of the CFI of Rizal, Branch 1 in Civil Case No.
4557 awarding him, as his attorney's fees, 25% of whatever remained of Lots
25-A, 26, 27, 28 and 29 that were undisposed of in the intestate estate of the
decedent Maria de la Concepcion Vidal, one of the registered owners of the
properties covered by OCT No. 994. This order was confirmed by the CFI of
Caloocan in a decision dated October 13, 1977 and order dated October 18,
1977 in SP Case No. C-732.
However, an examination of the annotation on OCT No. 994, particularly the
following entries, showed:
AP-6665/0-994 — Venta: Queda cancelado el presente Certificado en cuanto
a una extencion superficial de 3,052.93 metros cuadrados y 16,512.50 metros
cuadrados, y descrita en el lote no. 26, vendida a favor de Alejandro Ruiz y
Mariano P Leuterio, el primer casado con Deogracias Quinones el Segundo
con Josefa Garcia y se ha expedido el certificado de Titulo No; 4210, pagina
163 Libro T-22.
Fecha del instrumento — Agosto 29, 1918
Fecha de la inscripcion — September 9, 1918
10.50 AM
AP-6665/0-994 — Venta: — Queda cancelado el presente Certficado el
cuanto a una extencion superficial de 871,982.00 metros cuadrados, descrita
en el lote no. 26, vendida a favor de Alejandro Ruiz y Mariano P. Leuterio, el
primer casado con Deogracias Quinones el segundo con Josefa Garcia y se
ha expedido el certificado de Titulo No 4211, pagina 164, Libro T-22.
Fecha del instrumento — Agosto 25, 1918
Fecha de la inscripcion – September 9, 1918
10:50- AM
Based on the description of Lot No. 26 in OCT No. 994, it has an area of
891,547.43 sq. m. which corresponds to the total area sold in 1918 pursuant
to the above-cited entries. Inasmuch as, at the time the order of the CFI of
Rizal was made on June 13, 1966, no portion of Lot No. 26 remained
undisposed of, there was nothing for the heirs of Maria de la Concepcion Vidal
to convey to Dimson. Consequently, Dimson had nothing to convey to Hipolito
who, by logic, could not transmit anything to CLT.
Moreover, subdivision plan Psd-288152 covering Lot No. 26 of the Maysilo
Estate described in Hipolito's certificate of title was not approved by the chief
of the Registered Land Division as it appeared to be entirely within Pcs-1828,
Psd-5079, Psd-5080 and Psd-15345 of TCT Nos. 4210 and 4211. How
Hipolito was able to secure TCT No. R-17994 was therefore perplexing, to say
the least.
All these significant facts were conveniently brushed aside by the trial and
appellate courts. The circumstances called for the need to preserve and
protect the integrity of the Torrens system. However, the trial and appellate
courts simply disregarded them.
33

The Court thus adopts these findings of the Special Division on the validity of
Jose Dimson’s titles, which he obtained consequent to the 1977 Order of
Judge Sayo. Consequently, we cannot give due legal recognition to any and
all titles supposedly covering the Maysilo Estate obtained by Dimson upon the
authority of either the purported 1966 Order of Judge Muñoz-Palma or the
1977 Order of Judge Sayo.
B.
Indubitably, as between the titles of ARANETA and the MANOTOKS and their
predecessors-in-interest, on one hand, and those of DIMSON, on the other,
the titles held by ARANETA and the MANOTOKS must prevail considering
that their titles were issued much earlier than the titles of the latter.
Our findings regarding the titles of Jose Dimson necessarily affect and even
invalidate the claims of all persons who seek to derive ownership from the
Dimson titles. These include CLT, which acquired the properties they laid
claim on from Estelita Hipolito who in turn acquired the same from Jose
Dimson. Just as much was concluded by the Special Division as it evaluated
CLT’s claims.
For its part, CLT contended that even at the trial court level, it maintained that
there was only one OCT No. 994 from where its claim emanates. It argued
that its case against the MANOTOKS, including that of STO. NIÑO, was never
decided based on the doctrines laid down in Metropolitan Waterworks and
Sewerage System v. Court of Appeals
34
and Heirs of Gonzaga v. Court of
Appeals.
35

Before this Special Division, CLT insists that the MANOTOKS failed to submit
"new" competent evidence and, therefore, dwelling on the alleged flaws of the
MANOTOK’s titles, "the findings and conclusions of the court-appointed
commissioners as adopted by the trial court, then upheld by the Honorable
Court in its Decision dated 28 September 1995 and finally affirmed in the
Supreme Court’s Decision dated 29 November 2005, therefore stand, as there
is no reason to disturb them."
Furthermore, CLT contends that the Orders of Judge Palma and Judge Sayo
are no longer open to attack in view of their finality. Lastly, CLT asserts that
the properties covered by the MANOTOKS’ titles and those covered by the
expropriation proceedings did not property pertain to and were different from
Lot 26 owned by CLT. Thus, it maintains that the MANOTOKS cannot use as
basis for the validity of their titles the expropriation undertaken by the
Government as a means of staking their claims.
To restate, CLT claims the 891,547.43 square meters of land covered by TCT
No. T-177013
36
located in Malabon, Caloocan City and designated as "Lot 26,
Maysilo Estate, LRC Swo-5268." TCT No. T-177013 shows that its mother
titles is OCT No. 994 registered on 19 April 1917. Tracing said claim, Estelita
Hipoloto executed a Deed of Sale with Real Estate Mortgage in favor of CLT
on 10 December 1988. By virtue of this transfer, Hipolito’s TCT No. R-17994
37

was cancelled and in lieu thereof, CLT’s TCT No. 223677/R-17994 of TCT No.
R-17994. Hipolito, on the other hand, was a transferee of the deceased
Dimson who was allegedly the registered owner of the subject land on the
basis of TCT No. 15166.
In view of the foregoing disquisitions, invalidating the titles of DIMSON, the
title of CLT should also be declared a nullity inasmuch as the nullity of the
titles of DIMSON necessarily upended CLT’s propriety claims. As earlier
highlighted, CLT had anchored its claim on the strength of Hipolito’s title and
that of DIMSON’s TCT No. 15166. Remarkably and curiously though, TCT No.
15166 was never presented in evidence for purposes of tracing the validity of
titles of CLT. On this basis alone, the present remand proceedings remain
damning to CLT’s claim of ownership.
Moreover, considering that the land title of CLT carried annotations identical to
those of DIMSON and consequently included the defects in DIMSON’s title,
the fact that whatever typographical errors were not at anytime cured by
subsequent compliance with the administrative requirements or subjected to
administrative correction bolsters the invalidity of the CLT title due to its
complete and sole dependence on the void DIMSON title.
38

IV.
The task of the Special Division was not limited to assessing the claims of the
Heirs of Dimson and CLT. We likewise tasked the Special Division to
ascertain as well the validity of the titles held by the Manotoks and Araneta,
titles which had been annulled by the courts below. Facially, these titles of the
Manotoks and Araneta reflect, as their valid mother title, OCT No. 994 dated 3
May 1917. Nonetheless, particular issues were raised as to the validity of the
Manotok and Araneta titles independent of their reliance on the 3 May 1917
OCT No. 994 vis-à-vis the inexistent 19 April 1917 OCT No. 994.
A.
We begin by evaluating the Araneta titles. The Special Division quoted the
observations of the trial court, which upheld Dimson’s claim over that of
Araneta, citing the following perceived flaws of TCT Nos. 26538 and 26539,
from which Araneta derived its titles, thus:
Let us now examine TCT 26538 and TCT 26539 both in the name of Jose Ma.
Rato from where defendant was said to have acquired TCT 13574 and TCT
7784 now TCT 21343 in the name of Araneta and the other documents
related thereto:
1) Perusal of TCT 26538 shows that its Decree No. and Record No.
are both 4429. In the same vein, TCT 26539 also shows that it has
Decree No. 4429 and Record No. 4429.
However, Decree No. 4429 was issued by the Court of First Instance,
Province of Isabela (Exhibit I) and Record No. 4429, issued for
Ordinary Land Registration Case, was issued on March 31, 1911 in
CLR No. 5898, Laguna (Exhibit 8, 8-A Bartolome Rivera et al.)
How then could TCT No. 26538 and TCT No. 26539 both have
Decree No. 4429 and Record No. 4429, which were issued in Court of
First Instance, Province of Isabela and issued in Laguna, respectively.
2) TCT no. 26538 and TCT No. 26539 in the name of Jose Ma. Rato
are not annotated in the Original Certificate of Title 994, where they
were said to have originated.
3) The Escritura de Incorporacion de Philippine Land Improvement
Company (Exhibit I) executed on April 8, 1925 was only registered
and was stamped received by the Office of the Securities and
Exchange Commission only April 29, 1953 when the Deed of Sale &
Mortgage was executed on August 23, 1947 (Exh. 5 defendant) and
the Novation of Contract, Deed of Sale and Mortgage executed on
November 13, 1947 (Exh. M0. So, that when Philippine Land
Improvement was allegedly given a special power of attorney by Jose
Ma. Rato to represent him in the execution of the said two (2)
documents, the said Philippine Land Improvement Company has not
yet been duly registered.
4) TCT 26538 and 26538 and TCT 26539 both in the name of Jose
Ma. Rato, both cancel 21857 which was never presented in Court if
only to have a clear tracing back of the titles of defendant Araneta.
5) If the subject matter of the Deed of Sale & Mortgage (Exhibit 5
defendant) is TCT 26539, why is it that TCT 13574 of defendant
Araneta cancels TCT 6196 instead of TCT 26539. That was never
explained. TCT 6196 was not even presented in Court.
6) How come TCT 26538 of Jose Ma. Rato with an area of
593,606.90 was cancelled by TCT 7784 with an area of only 390,282
sq.m.
7) How was defendant Araneta able to have TCT 7784 issued in its
name, when the registration of the document entitled Novation of
Contract, Deed of Sale & Mortgage (Exhibit M) was
suspended/denied (Exhibit N) and no title was received by the
Register of Deeds of Pasig at the time the said document was filed in
the said Office on March 4, 1948 (Exhibit N and N-1).
Under Sec. 55 of Land Registration Act (Act No. 496) now Sec. 53 of
Presidential Decree No. 1529, no new certificate of title shall be
entered, no memorandum shall be made upon any certificate of title
by the register of deeds, in pursuance of any deed or other voluntary
instrument, unless the owner’s duplicate certificate is presented for
such endorsement.
8) The sale by Jose Ma. Rato in favor of defendant Araneta is not
reflected on the Memorandum of Encumbrances of TCT 26538
(Exhibit 7-defendant) meaning that TCT 26538 still exists and intact
except for the encumbrances annotated in the Memorandum of
Encumbrances affecting the said title (Exhibits 16, 16-A and 16-N
David & Santos)
9) In the encumbrances annotated at the back of TCT 26539 (Exhibit
4-defendant) there appears under entry No. 450 T 6196 Victoneta,
Incorporated covering parcel of land canceling said title (TCT 26539)
and TCT 6196 was issued ( x x x) which could have referred to the
Deed (sic) of Sale and Mortgage of 8-23-47 (Exhibit 5-defendant)
entered before Entry 5170 T-8692 Convenio Philippine Land
Improvement Company, with Date of Instrument: 1-10-29, and Date of
Inscription: 9-21-29.
In TCT 26838 this Entry 5170 T-8692 Convenio Philippine Land Improvement
Company (Exhibit 16-J-1) appears, but the document, Novation of Contract,
Deed of Sale & Mortgage dated November 13, 1947 (Exhibit M) does not
appear.
Entry marked Exhibit 16-J-1 on TCT 26538 shows only the extent of the value
of P42,000.00 invested by Jose Ma. Rato in the Philippine Land Improvement
Company. Said entry was also entered on TCT 26539.
The Court also wonders why it would seem that all the documents presented
by defendant Araneta are not in possession of said defendant, for according
to witness Zacarias Quintan, the real estate officer of the said defendant
Araneta since 1970, his knowledge of the land now in possession of
defendant Araneta was acquired by him from all its documents marked in
evidence which were obtained only lately when they needed for presentation
before this Court.
3940

The Special Division then proceeded to analyze these factual contentions,
and ultimately concluded that the Araneta claim to title was wholly valid. We
adopt in full the following factual findings of the Special Division, thus:
As for the proprietary claim of ARANETA, it maintains that it has established
by direct evidence that its titles were validly derived from OCT No. 994 dated
3 May 1917. With regard to the imputed flaws, it asseverates that these were
unfounded and thus, labored to refute all of them. ARANETA further
expounded on the nullity of the Palma and Sayo Orders which was the basis
of DIMSON’s titles.
The documentary exhibits it proffered traced its certificates of title to OCT No.
994 registered on 3 May 1917. From the titles submitted, its predecessor-in-
interest was Jose Ma. Rato y Tuazon ["RATO"], one of the co-heirs named in
OCT No. 994, who was allotted the share of nine and five hundred twelve one
thousandths (9-512/1000) percent share of the Maysilo Estate.
41
For this
reason, to ascertain the legitimacy of the derivative title of ARANETA, the
origin and authenticity of the title of RATO need to be reassessed.
Verily, attesting to RATO’s share on the property, Entry No. 12343/O-994 of
the Owner’s Duplicate Copy of OCT no. 994, records the following:
"12343/O-994 – Auto: Jose Rato y Tuason - - - Queda cancelado el presente
seartificado en cuanto a una estension superficial de 1,405,725.90 metro
Cuadrados mas o menos descrita en el Lote No. 25-A-3, an virtud del auto
dictado por el Juzgado de Primera Instancia de Riza, de fecha 28 de Julio de
1924, y que en au lugar se had expedido el Certificados de Titulo No. 8692,
folio 492 del Tomo T-35 del Libro de Certicadads de Transferencia.
Date of Instrument – Julio 28, 1924.
Date of Inscription – Agosto 1, 1024 – 10:19 a.m.
SGD. GLICERIO OPINION, Register of deeds
Agosto 19, 1924
42

In accordance with the decree, RATO was issued on 1 August 1924, TCT No.
8692
43
which covers "Lote No. 25 A-3 del plano del subdivision, parte del Lote
No. 25-A, plano Psu-(not legible), "Hacienda de Maysilo," situado en el
Munisipio de Caloocan, Provincia del Rizal x x x."
44
The parcel of land covers
an approximate area of "UN MILLION CUATROCIENTOS CINCO MIL
SETECIENTOS VEINTICINCO metros cuadrados con NOVENTA decimetros
cuadrados (1,405,725.90) mas o menos." As reflected under Entry No.
14517….T-8692,
45
the parcel of land covered under this certificate of title was
subdivided into five (5) lots under subdivision plan Psd-6599 as per Order of
the court of First Instance of Rizal. Consequently, TCT Nos. 21855, 21856,
21857, 21858 and 21859 were issued.
Focusing on TCT No. 21857 issued on 23 May 1932, this certificate of title
issued in RATO’s name,
46
cancelled TCT No. 8692
47
with respect to the
property it covers. On its face, TCT No. 21857,
48
was a derivative of OCT No.
994 registered on 3 May 1917. It covers Lot No. 25 A-3-C of subdivision plan
Psd-6589, being a portion of Lot No. 25-A-3, G.L.R.O Record No. 4429.
Thereafter, TCT No. 21857 was cancelled by TCT No. 26538
49
and TCT No.
26539
50
which were both issued in the name of Jose Ma. Rato y Tuazon on
17 September 1934.
With respect to TCT No. 26539, the certificate of title showed that it covered a
parcel of land designated as Section No. 2 of the subdivision plan Psd-10114,
being a portion of Lot 25-A-3-C having an approximate area of 581,872
square meters.
51
Thereafter, TCT No. 26539 was cancelled by TCT No.
6196
52
whose registered owner appears to be a certain Victoneta, Inc. This
parcel of land has an area of 581,872 square meters designated as section
No. 2 of subdivision plan Psd-10114, being a portion of Lot 25-A-3-C.
As shown on its face, TCT No. 6196 issued on 18 October 1947 in the name
of Victoneta, Inc. and its mother title were traced from OCT No. 994 registered
on 3 May 1917. Later, TCT No. 6196 was cancelled, and in lieu thereof, TCT
No. 13574 was issued in favor of Araneta Institute of Agriculture on 20 May
1949.
53
It covers a parcel of land designated as section No. 2 of subdivision
plan Psd-10114, being a portion of Lot 25-A-3-C. It has an aggregate area of
581,872 square meters.
On the other hand, appearing under Entry No. 16086/T-No. 13574 of TCT No.
6196 is the following:
"Entry No. 16086/T-No. 13574 – SALE in favor of the ARANETA INSTITUTE
OF AGRICULTURE, vendee: Conveying the property described in this
certificate of title which is hereby cancelled and issuing in lieu thereof Transfer
Certificate of Title No. 13574, page 74, Book T-345 in the name of the
vendee. (Doc. No. 149, page 98, Book II, S. of 1949 of Notary Public for
Manila, Hospicio B. Biñas).
Date of Instrument – May 18, 1949
Date of the Inscription – May 30, 1949 at 11:00 a.m.
54

TCT No. 26538
55
in turn showed on its face that it covers a parcel of land
designated as Section 1 of subdivision plan Psd-10114 being a portion of Lot
25-A-3-C having an area of 592,606.90 square meters.
56

On 4 March 1948, TCT No. 26538 was cancelled by TCT No. 7784, which
was issued in favor of Araneta Institute of Agriculture. TCT No. 7784 covers
four (4) parcels of land with an aggregate area of 390,282 square meters.
57
It
would appear from the records of CA-G.R. SP No. 34819 consolidated with
CA-G.R. CV No. 41883 that TCT No. 7784 was eventually cancelled by TCT
No. 21343.
58
As per attachment of ARANETA in its Answer dated 6 march
1980 filed in Civil Case No. 8050, a mere copy of TCT No. 21343 showed that
it covers a parcel of land designated as Lot 6-B of the subdivision plan Psd-
24962 being a portion of Lot 6, described as plan Psd-21943, G.L.R.O.
Record No. 4429 with an approximate area of 333,377 square meters.
59

However, for reasons unknown, a copy of TCT No. 21343, whether original or
certified true copy thereof, was not submitted before this Court.
In summation, ARANETA had shown that RATO, as one of the co-owners of
the property covered by OCT NO. 994, was assigned Lot No. 25-A-3. His
evidence of ownership is reflected on TCT No. 8692 issued in his name.
RATO held title to these parcels of land even after its subdivision in the
1930’s. Further subdividing the property, RATO was again issued TCT No.
21857, and later TCT Nos. 26538 and 26539, still covering Lot No. 25 A-3-C.
In all his certificates of title, including those that ultimately passed ownership
to ARANETA, the designation of the lot as either belonging to or portions of
Lot 25-A-3 was retained, thereby proving identity of the land.
More importantly, the documentary trail of land titles showed that all of them
were derived from OCT No. 994 registered on 3 May 1917. For purposes of
tracing ARANETA’s titles to Oct No. 994, it would appear that the evidence
presented ultimately shows a direct link of TCT Nos. 7784 and 13574 to said
mother title. Suffice it to state, the origin and legitimacy of the proprietary
claim of ARANETA had been well substantiated by the evidence on record
and on this note, said titles deserve validation.
Under the guidelines set, we shall now proceed to evaluate the imputed flaws
which had been the previous bases of the trial court in invalidating
ARANETA’s titles.
One of the flaws observed on the titles of ARANETA’s predecessor-in-interest
was that TCT No. 26538 and TCT No. 26539 in Rato’s name refer to Decree
No. 4429 and Record No. 4429, as basis of their issuance. This is being
questioned inasmuch as Decree No. 4429 refers to a decree issued by the
CFI of Isabela while Record No. 4429 was issued for ordinary Land
Registration Case No. 31 March 1911 in CLR No. 5898 of Laguna.
Explaining this discrepancy, ARANETA insisted that the same was a mere
typographical error and did not have any effect on the validity of their title. It
further contended that the number "4429" was the case number of Decree No.
36455 and was used interchangeably as the record number.
This Court finds that the incorrect entry with respect to the Decree and Record
Number appearing on the title of ARANETA’s predecessor-in-interest cannot,
by itself, invalidate the titles of ARANETA’s predecessors-in-interest and
ultimately, that of ARANETA. To the mind of this Court, the incorrect entries
alluded to would not have the effect of rendering the previous titles void sans
any strong showing of fraudulent or intentional wrongdoing on the part of the
person making such entries. Fraud is never presumed but must be
established by clear and convincing evidence.
60
The strongest suspicion
cannot sway judgment or overcome the presumption of regularity. The sea of
suspicion has no shore, and the court that embarks upon it is without rudder
or compass.
61

The Supreme Court, in Encinas v. National Bookstore, Inc.
62
acknowledged
that certain defects on a certificate of title, specifically, the interchanging of
numbers, may occur and "it is certainly believable that such variance in the
copying of entries could be merely a typographical or clerical error." In such
cases, citing with approval the decision of the appellate court, the technical
description in the title should prevail over the record number.
63

Thus, what is of utmost importance is that the designation and the technical
description of the land, as stated on the face of the title, had not been shown
to be erroneous or otherwise inconsistent with the source of titles. In
ARANETA’s case, all the titles pertaining to Lot No. 25 had been verified to be
an offshoot of Decree No. 36455 and are all located in Tinajeros, Malabon. At
any rate, despite the incorrect entries on the title, the properties, covered by
the subject certificates of title can still be determined with sufficient certainty.
It was also opined that TCT No. 26538 and TCT No. 26539 in the name of
RATO had not been annotated on OCT No. 994 from which said titles had
supposedly originated. It should be stressed that what partially cancelled OCT
No. 994 with respect to this subject lot were not TCT Nos. 26538 and 26539
but TCT No. 8692 issued on 1 August 1924. In fact, TCT Nos. 26538 and
26539 are not even the immediate predecessors of OCT No. 994 but were
mere derivatives of TCT No. 21857. Logically therefore, these two certificates
of title could not have been annotated on OCT No. 994, they not being the
preceding titles.
In any case, a perusal of OCT No. 994 shows an entry, which pertains to Jose
Ma. Rato but, on account of the physical condition of the copy submitted to
this Court, the entry remains illegible for us to make a definite conclusion.
64

On the other hand, Entry No. 12343/O-994 found on the Owner’s Duplicate
Copy of OCT No. 994 specifically recorded the issuance of TCT No. 8692
over Lot No. 25-A-3.
65

The other flaws noted on ARANETA’s certificates of title pertained to its failure
to present TCT Nos. 21857, 6196 and 21343. As we have discussed,
ARANETA offered in evidence a certified microfilm copy of TCT No. 21857
and a certified true copy of TCT No. 6196 marked as Exhibits 5-A1A and 19-
A1A, respectively. However, it failed to submit a copy of said TCT No. 21343.
Be that as it may, we will not hasten to declare void TCT No. 7784 as a
consequence of such omission, especially so since TCT No. 21343 appears
to be a mere derivative of TCT No. 7784. Given that the validity of TCT No.
7784 had been preponderantly proven in these proceedings, the authenticity
of said title must be sustained. Besides, ARANETA’s failure to submit TCT
No. 21343 had never been put into issue in these proceedings.
With respect to the difference in the area of more than 200,0000 square
meters between TCT No. 7784 and TCT No. 26538, we find that the trial court
failed to consider the several conveyances of portions of TCT No. 26538
before they finally passed on to ARANETA. Thus, on the Memorandum of
Encumbrance of TCT No. 26538, it is apparent that portions of this piece of
land had been sold to various individuals before the same were transferred to
ARANETA on 4 march 1948. Naturally, since the subject land had been
partially cancelled with respect to the portion disposed of, it could not be
expected that the area of TCT No. 26538 will remain the same at the time of
its transfer to ARANETA. Even assuming that the entire area covered by TCT
No. 26538 had been disposed of, this fact alone, cannot lend us to conclude
that the conveyance was irregular. An anomaly exists if the area covered
under the derivative title will be much more than its predecessor-in-interest.
Evidently, this is not so in the case before us.
The trial court, relying on Exhibit "N", further asserted that ARANETA should
not have been issued TCT No. 7784 considering that the registration of the
Novation of Contract, deed of Sale & Mortgage was suspended/denied and no
title was received by the Register of Deeds of Pasig at the time the said
document was filed in the said Office on march 4, 1948. A perusal of Exhibit
"N" submitted before the trial court, shows that the suspension or denial was
merely conditional considering that the person seeking registration had give
days within which to correct the defects before final denial thereof. As we see
it, the Notice merely contained a warning regarding the denial of the
registration of the voluntary deed but, in no way, did it affect the vested rights
of ARANETA to be land. The fact that the title to the land was subsequently
issued free from any notation of the alluded defect creates a reasonable
presumption that ARANETA was in fact able to comply with the condition
imposed. This is especially true since the notice itself contained a note, "Just
Completed," written across the face of the letter.
Records also reveal the RTC’s observation with regard to Araneta’s failure to
disprove the result of the plotting made on the subject land (Exhibit K) to the
effect that TCT 26538 overlaps ½ portion of TCT 15159 and TCT 26539 also
overlaps the other ½ portion of said TCT R-15169. The trial court further noted
that "TCT R-15169 (Jose Dimson) and TCT 26539 (Jose Rato) and TCT
21343 (Araneta) are overlapping each other within Lot 25-A. That portion of
TCT R-15169 (Jose Dimson) along bearing distance points to 17 to 18 to 19
to 20 to 21 to 1 and 2 shaded in yellow color in the Plan is not covered by TCT
21343 (Araneta)."
66

Scrutinizing Exhibit "K," it becomes apparent that the said evidence relied
upon was only a private survey conducted by Geodetic Engineer Reggie P.
Garcia which had not been duly approved by the Bureau of Lands and was
based only on photocopies of relevant land titles.
67
What is more, said
geodetic engineer also failed to adequately explain his observations,
approach and manner of plotting the relative positions of the lots.
68
From all
indications, the conclusions reached by said geodetic engineer were anchored
on unfounded generalizations.
Another defect cited on ARANETA’s title was the absence of any entry on the
Memorandum of Encumbrances of TCT No. 26538 of the alleged sale
between RATO and ARANETA. As pointed out by ARANETA, the copy of
TCT No. 26538 submitted to the trial court contained entries only up to the
year 1947, thus, explaining the (1) lack of entry with regard to the issuance of
TCT No. 7784 in favor of ARANETA considering that the same was issued a
year later and; (2) entry pertaining to Convenio Philippine Land Improvement
Company which was entered way back on 21 August 1929.
Nonetheless, it still cannot be denied that Rato and ARANETA together with
Don Salvador Araneta, entered into a voluntary agreement with the intention
of transferring the ownership of the subject property. Moreover, no conclusion
should have been reached regarding the total cancellation of TCT No. 26538
inasmuch as TCT No. 7784 cancelled the former certificate of title to the
extent only of Three Hundred Ninety Thousand Two Hundred Eighty Two
(390,282) square meters.
Notably also, with the evident intent to discredit and refute the title of
ARANETA, DIMSON submitted TCT Nos. 26538
69
and 21857,
70
which are
both derivatives of OCT No. 994 registered on 3 May 1917 and cover parcels
of land located in Malabon, Rizal. However, these certificates of title reflect
different registered owners and designation of the land covered.
Pertinently, Exhibit "M-Dimson" relating to TCT No. 26538, registered on 12
June 1952, points to one Angela Bautista de Alvarez as the registered owner
of a 240 square meter of land designated as Lot No. 19, Block 14 of the
subdivision plan Psd-5254 being a portion of Lot No. 7-A-1-A. This certificate
of title cancels TCT No. 14112/T-348 and refers to a certain TCT No. 30473
on the inscriptions.
Exhibit "N-Dimson," on the other hand, pertaining to TCT No. 21857 was
issued on 30 March 1951 to one Angela I. Tuason de Perez married to
Antonio Perez. This certificate of Title covers a parcel of land described as Lot
No. 21, Block 16 of the consolidation and subdivision plan Pcs-140, G.L.R.O.
Record No. 4429. It ahs an area of 436 square meters and cancels TCT No.
21856.
Exhibit "Q-Dimson"
71
consisting of TCT No. 8692 covers two parcels of land
designated as Lot Nos. 1 and 2 of Block No. 44 of the consolidation
Subdivision Plan Pcs-188 with a total area of 3,372 square meters. It was
issued to Gregorio Araneta, Incorporated on 7 May 1948. This certificate of
title cancelled TCT No. 46118.
Comparing these titles to those of the ARANETA, it is apparent that no identity
of the land could be found. The Supreme Court, in the case of Alonso v. Cebu
City Country Club, Inc.
72
agreeing with the Court of Appeals’ dissertation in
said case, ruled that there is nothing fraudulent for a certificate of title to bear
the same number as another title to another land. On this score, the Supreme
Court elucidated as follows:
"On the question that TCT No. RT-1310 (T-1151) bears the same number as
another title to another land, we agree with the Court of Appeals that there is
nothing fraudulent with the fact that Cebu Country Club, Inc.’s reconstituted
title bears the same number as the title of another parcel of land. This came
about because under General Land Registration Office (GLRO) Circular No.
17, dated February 19, 1947, and Republic Act No. 26 and Circular No. 6, RD
3, dated August 5, 1946, which were in force at the time the title was
reconstituted on July 26, 1946, the titles issued before the inauguration of the
Philippine Republic were numbered consecutively and the titles issued after
the inauguration were numbered also consecutively starting with No. 1, so that
eventually, the titles issued before the inauguration were duplicated by titles
issued after the inauguration of the Philippine Republic x x x."
Parenthetically, in their Motion for Partial Reconsideration of this Court’s
Resolution dated 30 October 2008, DIMSON objected to the admissibility of
Exhibits 4-A1A to 7-A1A on the ground that ARANETA failed to submit the
original copies of these certificates of title and contended that the "originals"
contain different "contents" from their own Exhibits M, N and Q.
73
The fact that
the entries contained in ARANETA’s pieces of evidence are different from that
of DIMSON’s do not automatically make ARANETA’s exhibits inferior
replications or a confirmation of their falsity. Interestingly, the objection
regarding the non-submission of the "original copy" had not been raised by
DIMSON in their Comments/Objections to Consolidated Formal Offer of
Evidence (Of Araneta Institute of Agriculture, Inc.).
74
In any case, we find the
objections unwarranted considering that certified true copies or certified
microfilm copies of Exhibits 4-A1A to 7-A1A had been submitted by
ARANETA in these proceedings.
Lastly, on the alleged non-registration of Philippine Land Improvement
Company at the time the special power of attorney was executed by Jose Ma.
Rato to represent him in the execution of the deed of conveyances, the same
only proves that Philippine Land Improvement Company was not yet
registered and this does not go as far as proving the existence or non-
existence of the company at which time it was executed. In effect, the
company was not precluded to enter into contracts and be bound by them but
it will do so at the risk of the adverse effects of non-registration under the law.
Ultimately, the question of whether the aforesaid certificates of title constitute
as clouds on ARANETA’s titles are not for this Court to rule upon for purposes
of the present remand. Needless to state, it is not for the Heirs of Dimson to
rely on the weakness of ARANETA’s titles and profit from it. Rather, they
should have focused on the strength of their own titles since it is not within our
office to decide in whose hands the contested lands should go, our task being
merely to trace back the parties’ claims to OCT No. 994 dated 3 May 1917.
75

There is no question that the Araneta titles were derived from OCT No. 994
dated 3 May 1917, particularly from the share of Jose Ma. Rato y Tuazon, one
of the co-heirs named in OCT No. 994. The Special Division correctly
assessed, among others, the reference to Decree No. 4429 and Record No.
4429 in some of the antecedent titles of Araneta
76
as mere clerical errors that
could not have invalidated said titles, "4429" being the case number of Decree
No. 36455, and the designation and the technical description of the land on
those titles not having been shown to be erroneous or variant with the source
title. The Special Division also correctly considered that the trial court had
failed to take into account the several conveyances of TCT No. 26538 before
it was ultimately transferred to Araneta in 1948, which explain the difference in
area between TCT No. 7784 and TCT No. 26538. The imputed overlap of
TCT No. 26538 and TCT No. 26539 with the titles held by Dimson was based
on a private survey which had not been duly approved by the Bureau of
Lands. The alleged absence of any entry on the Memorandum of
Encumbrances of TCT No. 26538 of the sale of the property between Rato
and Araneta did not, according to the Special Division, discount the fact that
Rato and Araneta entered into a voluntary agreement with the intention of
transferring the ownership of the subject property. Finally, the Special Division
noted that the titles derived from OCT No. 994, which Dimson had submitted
as evidence to discredit the Araneta claim, pertain to properties wholly
different from those covered by the Araneta titles.
There is no cause to dispute the factual findings and conclusions of the
Special Division on the validity of the Araneta titles, and we affirm the same.
B.
It appears that the claim to title of the Manotoks is somewhat more
controversial. The Special Division did not discount the fact that there could
have been flaws in some of the intervening titles between the 3 May 1917
OCT No. 994 and the present titles of the Manotoks. However, the significant
event was the expropriation proceedings undertaken by the Republic of the
Philippines sometime in 1947. At least some of the titles in the name of the
Manotoks were sourced from the titles issued to and subsequently distributed
by the Republic. The Special Division explained the milieu in full:
VALIDITY OF THE MANOTOK TITLES
The notation under Entry No. 6655/O-994, found on page 17 of OCT 994 of
the Owner’s Duplicate Copy, shows that Lot No. 26 had been a subject of sale
in favor of Alejandro Ruiz and Mariano P. Leuterio.
77
The notations reads:
"Ap. 6655/O-994 – Venta: Queda Cancelado el presente Certificado en
cuanto a una extension superficial de 3,052.93 Metros cuadrados y 16,512.50
metros Cuadrados y descrita en elLote No. 26 vendida a favor de Alejandro
Ruis y Mariano P. Leuterio, el primar casado con Diogracias Quinones y el
Segundo con Josefa Garcia y se be expedido el Certificado de Titulo No.
4210, Pagina 163, Libro T-22.
Date of the Instrument – Aug. 29, 1918
Date of Inscription – Sept. 9, 1918 – 10:50 a.m.
(GD) L. GARDUNIO, Register of Deeds"
"Ap. 6665/O-994-Venta: Queda Cancelado el presente Cerficiado en cuanto a
una extension superficial de 871,982.00 metros cuadrados, descrita en el
Lote No. 26, vendida a favor de Alejandro Ruiz y Mariano P. Leuterio, el
primar casado con Deogracias Quinones y el Segundo con Josefa Garcia y
se be expedido el Certificado de Titulo No. 4211, Pagina 164, Libro T-No. 22.
Date of Instrument – Aug. 21, 1918
Date of Inscription – Sept. 9, 1918 – 10:50 a.m.
(SGD.) L. GARDUNIO, Register of Deeds"
As a result, TCT No. 4211 was cancelled by TCT No. 5261 which was issued
in the name of Francisco Gonzales. Inscribed on the "Memorandum of the
Incumbrances Affecting the Property Described in this Certificate" was the
sale executed in favor of
Francisco Gonzales dated 3 March 1920. Thus, on 6 April 1920, TCT No.
5261 was issued in the name of Francisco Gonzales.
78

On 22 August 1938, TCT No. 5261 was cancelled by TCT No. 35486 in the
names of Jose Gonzales y Narciso married to Maria P. Gutierrez, Consuelo
Susana Gonzales y Narciso married to Alfonso D. Prescilla; Juana Francisco
Gonzales y Narciso married to Fortunato de Leon; Maria Clara Gonzales y
Narciso married to Delfin Hilario; Francisco Felipe Gonzales y Narciso married
to Pilar Narciso, and Concepcion Andrea Gonzales y Narciso married to
Melquiades M. Virata, Jr.
Appearing on the "Memorandum" of TCT No. 5261 is NOTA: Ap 2111 which
reads as follows:
79

"A/2111 – Adjudicado el torreno descrito en este certificado de titulo, a Rufina
Narciso Vda. de Gonzales, a cuenta de la participacion de osia esta en (not
legible) los tienes de la eseledad de genanciales. Habida entre la misma y el
finado Francisco J. Gonzales, per una orden del Hon. Fernando Jugo, Juez
del Juzgado de Primera Instancia de Manila Sala II, dienada el 20 de
Septiembre de 19 (not legible), en el Expidiente de intestado del nombrado
Francisco J. Gonzales, No. 49034, se cancela el presente certificado de tituto
y se expide otre a hombre decha Rufina Narciso, con (not legible) No. 35486,
folio 86, Tomo T-168 del libro de transferencias, archivando se la copia de
dicha orden da que se ha heche referencia en al Legajo T-No. 35486.
(SGD) TEODORO GONZALES,
Registrado de Titulos."
The property was later subdivided into seven lots in accordance with
subdivision plan Psd-21154.
80
Partitioning the lots among the co-owners, TCT
No. 35486 was eventually cancelled and in lieu thereof six (6) certificates of
titles were individually issued
81
to Francisco Gonzales’s six (6) children,
specifically, TCT Nos. 1368-1373 while TCT No. 1374 was issued in favor of
all the children.
82

As previously mentioned, the properties covered by TCT Nos. 1368-1374
were expropriated by the Republic of the Philippines and were eventually
subdivided and sold to various vendees. Eighteen (18) lots were obtained by
MRI from the years 1965 to 1974, while it acquired the lot covered by TCT No.
165119 in 1988. On the other hand, MEC acquired from PhilVille
Development Housing Corporation Lot No. 19-B by virtue of Deed of
Exchange executed in its favor for which, TCT No. 232568 was issue don 9
May 1991.
The 20 certificates of titles were traced by the MANOTOKS, as follows:
1) TCT No. 7528 registered in the name of MRI covers Lot No. 2 of
consolidation-subdivision plan (LRC) Pcs-1828 which has an area of
4,988 square meters. MRI purchased this lot from one Basilio Caina
who was issued TCT No. 7526 which cancelled TCT Nos. 36657-62
registered in the name of the Republic of the Philippines.
83

2) TCT No. 7762, covering Lot 1-C, was obtained by MRI from one
Narcisa Buenaventura. The Parcel of land has an approximate area of
2,876 square meters. Buenaventura’s ownership was evidenced by
TCT No. 7525,
84
deriving the same from TCT No. 36657-63.
85

3) TCT No. 8012 in the name of MRI covers Lot No. 12-1 having an
area of 20,000 square meters.
86
This certificate of title was traced
from one Filemon Custodio who held TCT No. 7792. Custodio was in
turn a transferee of Guillermo Rivera, the latter having been issued
TCT No. 7760 by virtue of sale between him and then People’s
Homesite and Housing Corporation ["PHHC"]. The latter title
eventually cancelled TCT No. 36557-63 of the Republic.
87

4) TCT No. 9866 issued to MRI covers Lot No. 21 and has an
approximate area of 23,979 square meters. MRI’s certificate of title
was derived from TCT No. 9854 registered in the name of Filemon
Custodio, a transferee of Jose Dionisio, who was issued TCT No.
9853. Dionisio’s title in turn cancelled the Republic’s TCT No. 36657-
63.
88

5) TCT No. 21107 issued to MRI covers Lot 22 with an approximate
area of 2,557 square meters. MRI acquired the same by virtue of sale
between him and Francisco Custodio, holder of TCT No. 21040.
Francisco Custodio was a transferee of Lorenzo Caina, registered
owner of TCT No. 21039 as evidenced by a Deed of Sale between
Caina and the PHHC, the latter’s certificate of title canceling TCT No.
36557-63 of the Republic.
89

6) TCT No. 21485 was issued to MRI by virtue of sale between it and
Francisco Custodio, registered owner of TCT No. 21484. The
certificate of title covers Lot 20 with an approximate area of 25,276
square meters Custodio was in turn a transferee of Lorenzo Caina,
the latter being the registered owner of TCT No. 21013 by reason of
sale between him and PHHC.
90
Under Entry No. 6277/T-21485, it
would appear that portions of the property covered under TCT No.
21485 and TCT No. 232568 had been subject of an expropriation
proceedings to which the Manotok Estate Corporation, et al.
interposed no objections subject to the payment of just
compensation.
91

7) TCT Nos. 26405
92
and 26406,
93
both registered in the name of
MRI, cancelled TCT Nos. 9773 and 9774, respectively. TCT Nos.
9773 and 9774 were registered in the names of Romulo, Rosalina,
Lucila, Felix and Emilia all surnamed Jacinto, [JACINTOS"], before
the same were transferred to MRI by reason of sale in favor of the
latter. The JACINTOS’ certificates of title were in turn derived from
TCT Nos. 8014 and 8015 issued in the name of Filemon Custodio
94

Both TCT Nos. 8014 and 8015 cancelled TCT 7792/T-39. However,
for purposes of tracing TCT No. 7792/T-39 to the Republic’s
certificate of titles, this certificate of title was not submitted in
evidence.
8) TCT No. 26407
95
issued to MRI was traced back to the title of
Lourdes Mercado Cloribel who was the registered owner of TCT No.
8404 by virtue of sale between the two, thereby transferring
ownership to MRI. On the fact of TCT No. 8404, it would show that it
cancelled TCT No. 8013/T41 but there is no showing in whose name
TCT No. 8013 was registered and what certificate of title it cancelled.
9) TCT No. 33904
96
of MRI cancelled TCT No. 8017 of Filemon
Custodio by virtue of sale between the latter and MRI.
97
We note that
TCT No. 8017 cancelled TCT No. 7792/T-39 but there is no showing
whether the same could be traced back to the Republic’s certificates
of title.
10) TCT No. 34255, covering Lot No. 11-Bm, Psd-75797 with an area
of 11,000 square meters, reflects MRI as the registered owner. This
certificate of title cancels TCT No. 36557-63 of the Republic.
98

11) TCT No. 254875
99
bears MRI as the registered owner of Lot 55-A
with an area of approximately 1,910 square meters. This certificate of
title cancelled TCT No. 41956 which covers Lot 55, also registered in
the name of MRI. It would appear that MRI acquired the lot covered
under TCT No. 41956 from one Joaquin Caina who was the
registered owner of TCT No. 25715 being a vendee of PHHC.
100

12) TCT No. 53268 of MRI covered Lot No. 15,
101
which was
purchased by MRI from one Maria V. Villacorta who held TCT No.
53155. Villacorta in turn acquired the same land from one Eufrocina
Mackay whose TCT No. 7827 was eventually cancelled by Villacorta’s
land title.
102
It would appear that TCT No. 7827 cancelled TCT No.
7826/T-40 but there is no trace to whom the latter title was registered
and what certificate of title it cancelled.
13) TCT No. 55897 shows MRI as the registered owner of Lot 3 of the
consolidation-subdivision plan (LRC) Pcs-1828 of the Maysilo Estate
covering an area of more or less 20,531 square meters. This
certificate of title cancelled TCT No. 53122 in the names of MRI
(19,531 square meters) and one Silvestre Domingo (1,000 square
meters). TCT No. 53122 in turn cancelled TCT No. 21347 registered
in the names of Jesus Hipona (19,531 square meters) and Silvestre
Domingo (1,000 square meters). Notably, TCT No. 21347 cancelled
TCT No. 21315/T-107 but there is no indication to whom TCT No.
21315 was registered and what certificate of title it cancelled.
103

14) TCT No. C-17272 reflects MRI as the registered owner of Lot 6-C
which has an approximate area of 27,850 square meters. MRI’s
certificate of title cancelled TCT No. C-17234 registered in the names
of MRI (27,750 square meters), Roberto S. David (3,0000 square
meters) and Jose Madulid (500 square meters). It would appear that
TCT No. C-17234 cancelled TCT No. 53124 registered in the names
of MRI, Spouses Priscila and Antonio Sebastian and Jose Madulid.
104

MRI also submitted in evidence a Deed of Partition between itself,
Roberto David and Madulid thereby subdividing the property into Lots
6-A, 6-B and 6-C as per subdivision plan (LRC) Psd-277091.
105
Again,
we note that TCT No. 53124 cancelled TCT No. 21350/T-107 but the
records are bereft of any indication what certificate of title it cancelled
and to whom the same was registered.
15) TCT No. C-35267, covering Lot 56-B of subdivision plan (LRC)
Psd-292683 with an approximate area of 9,707 square meters, was a
by-product of TCT No. 25146, also registered in the name of MRI,
after the same was subdivided into two lots, namely, Lot Nos. 56-A
and 56-B. TCT No. 25146 cancelled TCT No. 25145 registered in the
name of Quirino Labing-isa by virtue of sale in favor of MRI. In turn,
TCT No. 21545 cancelled TCT Nos. (36557) 12836 to (36563)
12842.
106

16) TCT No. T-121428, registered in the name of MRI covers Lot No.
5-C of subdivision plan (LRC) psd-315272 which has an approximate
area of 4,650 square meters. It was previously registered in the
names of MRI (4,650 square meters), Ricardo Cruz (941 square
meters) and Conchita Umali (1,000 square meters) under TCT No.
53123 by order of the Court of First Instance of Rizal, Caloocan City,
Branch XII and as per agreement of the parties in Civil Case No. C-
424. TCT No. 53123 in turn cancelled TCT No. 21346 whose
registered owners were Conchita Umali (1,000 square meters),
Ricardo Cruz (941 square meters) and Jesus Hipona (4,650 square
meters).
107
Like some of the other titles, TCT No. 21346 cancelled
TCT No. 21316 but there is no trace of this latter certificate of title.
17) TCT No. 163902, registered in the name of MRI, covers Lot No. 4-
B-2 and has an area of more or less 6,354 square meters and a by-
product of TCT No. 9022, also in the name of MRI, after the same
was subdivided under subdivision plan (LRC) Psd-334454. TCT No.
9022, in turn, cancelled TCT No. 8994/T-45 registered in the name of
Filemon S. Custodio whose ownership thereon was transferred to
MRI by virtue of a voluntary sale.
108
TCT No. 8894 cancelled TCT No.
8846/T-45 but this latter certificate of title was not submitted in
evidence for purposes of tracing back to the Republic’s title.
18) TCT No. 165119
109
was issued to MRI by virtue of a Deed of Sale
between Spouses Francisca Labing-isa and Juan Ignacio [SPOUSES
IGNACIO] and MRI, as a result of which, TCT No. C-36960 of the
SPOUSES IGNACIO was cancelled.
110
It would appear that TCT No.
C-39690 cancelled TCT No. 35266/T-173 but TCT No. 35266/T-173
was not submitted in evidence.
19) TCT No. T-232568 of the Manotok Estate Corporation, covering
Lot No. 19-B of subdivision plan Psd-13011152 with an area of
23,206 square meters, was derived from the certificate of title held by
PhiVille Development and Housing Corporation under TCT No.
197357. MEC acquired the subject parcel of land by virtue of Deed of
Exchange between it and PHILVILLE DATED 9 May 1991.
111
TCT No.
197357 cancelled TCT No. 195730/T-974 but there is no trace what
certificate of title the latter title cancelled.
By and large, all the certificates of title submitted by the MANOTOKS,
including their derivative titles, were all traced to OCT No. 994 registered on 3
May 1917. Likewise, they declared all the lots covered by such titles for
taxation purposes. Without doubt, MRI had successfully traced back some of
their certificates of title to the valid OCT No. 994, they having acquired the lots
from some of the vendees of the PHHC after the same were expropriated by
the Republic from the Gonzalezes.
The fact that these lots were subjected to expropriation proceedings sometime
in 1947 under Commonwealth Act No. 539 for resale to tenants is beyond
question, as also enunciated by the Supreme Court in Republic of the
Philippines v. Jose Leon Gonzales, et al. To bolster this fact, paragraph "r" of
the Majority Report noted that the seven properties covered by TCT Nos.
1368 to 1374 were expropriated by the Republic from the Gonzalezes.
The fact that these lots were subjected to expropriation proceedings sometime
in 1947 under Commonwealth Act No. 539 for resale to tenants is beyond
question, as also enunciated by the Supreme Court in Republic of the
Philippines vs. Jose Leon Gonzaels, et al. To bolster this fact, paragraph "r" of
the Majority Report noted that the seven properties covered by TCT Nos.
1368 to 1374 were expropriated by the People’s Homesite and Housing
Corporation which were later consolidated and subdivided into 77 lots for
resale to tenants. No sign of protest was ever raised by CLT on this point.
112

The fact of expropriation is extremely significant, for titles acquired by the
State by way of expropriation are deemed cleansed of whatever previous
flaws may have attended these titles. As Justice Vitug explained in Republic v.
Court of Appeals,
113
and then Associate Justice (now Chief Justice) Puno
reiterated in Reyes v. NHA:
114
"In an rem proceeding, condemnation acts
upon the property. After condemnation, the paramount title is in the public
under a new and independent title; thus, by giving notice to all claimants to a
disputed title, condemnation proceedings provide a judicial process for
securing better title against all the world than may be obtained by voluntary
conveyance."
115
This doctrine was derived from the opinion of then Chief
Judge (now U.S. Supreme Court Justice) Stephen Breyer in Cadorette v.
U.S.,
116
which in turn cited the pronouncement of the U.S. Supreme Court in
U.S. v. Carmack
117
that "[b]y giving notice to all claimants to a disputed title,
condemnation proceedings provide a judicial process for securing better title
against all the world than may be obtained by voluntary conveyance."
118

In annulling the Manotok titles, focus was laid on the alleged defects of TCT
No. 4211 issued in September of 1918. However, TCT No. 4211 was issued
decades before the property was expropriated. Thus, any and all defects that
may have attended that particular title would have been purged when the
property covered by it was subsequently acquired by the State through
eminent domain. The Special Division noted as much:
As it is, the validity of most of MRI’s certificates of title should be upheld
because they were derived from the Republic’s valid certificates of title. In
fact, some of the MANOTOKS’ titles can be traced back to the Government’s
titles as a result of the expropriation in 1947.
Relevantly, the titles of the Republic, as the predecessor-in-interest of the
MANOTOKS, are presumed valid by virtue of their acquisition resulting from
the exercise of its inherent power of eminent domain that need not be granted
even by the fundamental law. Thus, the alleged flaws concerning the
certificates of title issued previous to the exercise of the State of its inherent
power did not affect or render invalid the subsequent transfers after the forced
sale. Indeed, when land has been acquired for public use in fee simple
unconditionally, either by the exercise of eminent domain or by purchase, the
former owner retains no rights in the land, and the public use may be
abandoned, or the land may be devoted to a different use, without any
impairment of the estate or title acquired or any reversion to the former
owner.
119

The Special Division also took exception to the majority report of the
Commissioners (Majority Report) who had been tasked by the trial court to
examine the validity of the Manotok titles. The Majority Report
had arrived at several conclusions with respect to the TCTs from which the
Manotok titles were derived.
120
The Special Division, however, concluded that
such report was in fact tainted by the fact that it was determined "outside the
scope of the issues framed and agreed upon by the parties." To wit:
In meeting the issue, the MANOTOKS disproved the "opinion" with regard to
the alleged defects of their titles inasmuch as the majority report submitted
before the trial court was made outside the scope of the tasks which the trial
court confined them to perform. The MANOTOKS also argued that before this
proceeding on remand, CLT failed to introduce evidence of such flaws neither
were the concerned geodetic engineers presented as witnesses. Moreover,
the MANOTOKS further maintained that CLT failed to submit any factual or
legal bases to prove the authenticity and validity of the Palma and Sayo
Orders. They insisted that the Palma Order was a void one for being
conditional and having resulted to the issuance of "duplicate certificates of
land title."
With respect to the imputed flaws on the MANOTOKS’ titles which were based
on the Majority Report, we find that the bases of the alleged defects
proceeded from unreliable sources thus, tainting the veracity of the said
report.
The records of the case between CLT and the MANOTOKS reveal that the
parties approved the creation of a commission to resolve only these two
issues, to wit:
"x x x
These issues to be resolved by the 3 Commissioners are as follows:
1) Whether or not the property covered by the Transfer Certificates of
Title of defendants pertain to or involve Lot No. 26 of the Maysilo
Estate presently titled in the name of the plaintiff; and
2) Whether or not the property covered by the title of the plaintiff and
the property covered by the titles of the defendants overlap.
121

Scrutinizing the Majority Report upon which the trial court’s conclusions were
based, it would appear that the findings therein were outside the scope of the
issues framed and agreed upon by the parties. Specifically, the deductions
with regard to the technical infirmities and defects of TCT Nos. 4211, 4210,
5261 and 35486 do not involve the question of whether or not the subject
properties were identified as Lot No. 26 of the Maysilo estate or whether there
was overlapping of titles. Records bear out that the MANOTOKS took
exception to the procedure taken citing therein the "ultra vires" acts of the two
Commissioners.
In addition, the majority report focused on the alleged flaws and inherent
technical defects of TCT Nos. 4211, 5261 and 35486, ranging from the
language of the technical descriptions, absence of subdivision plan, lot
number and survey plan. Evidently, these defects go only as far as the
certificates of title issued prior to those of the Republic. Remarkably, no
specific flaw was found on the MANOTOKS’ titles indicating any irregularity on
their issuance. In fact, the Commissioners who signed the majority report
even concluded that only TCT Nos. 4211, 4210, 5261, 35486, 1368 thru 1324
(sic)
122
were irregularly and questionably issued without any reference to the
MANOTOKS’ certificates of title.
123
Otherwise stated, the imputed flaws affect
only those certificates of title issued prior to those registered in the name of
the Republic. No flaw had been specifically identified or established in the
proceedings below, which would taint the titles held by the MANOTOKS in so
far as the regularity of their issuance is concerned.
124

At the same time, the Special Division was not prepared to uphold the validity
of all of the Manotok titles. It took issue with the particular titles which could
not be retraced to the titles acquired by the Republic of the Philippines by way
of expropriation.
Although the MANOTOKS had traced their title from the vendees of PHHC,
there are, however, some certificates of title which could not be traced back to
the titles previously held by the Republic specifically, MRI’s TCT Nos. 26405
and 26406, 26407, 33904, 53268, 55897, C-17272, T-121428, 163903,
165119 and MEC’s TCT No. T-232568. As to these certificates of title, the
MANOTOKS failed to make any specific reference to the preceding
certificates of title which they cancelled and to whose names they were
subsequently transferred and registered. Thus, we find no sufficient basis to
make a conclusion as to their origins.
125

V.
The Special Division supplied the following precise and concise summary of
its conclusions:
In précis, the factual milieu of the present controversy and the evidence on
record clearly establish the failure of DIMSON and CLT to substantiate their
titles and overcome the onus of proving that said titles are derivatives of OCT
994 registered on 3 May 1917, and not 19 April 1917, as what is reflected in
their titles. In contrast, the MANOTOKS and ARANETA, both of which had
consistently anchored their proprietary claims on OCT No. 994 registered on 3
May 1917, have, in this remand proceeding, been able to support their claims
of ownership over the respective portions of the Maysilo Estate. Except in the
case of the MANOTOKS which had failed to substantiate the validity of some
of their certificates of title, the MANOTOKS and ARANETA presented
evidence proving the identity, the extent and the origin of their titles.
Answering the issues assigned by the Supreme Court relative to the tenability
of the respective imputed flaws in the titles of the MANOTOKS and ARANETA
and whether such flaws are sufficient to defeat said claims, this Court finds
that, as discussed above, such flaws are inconsequential and ineffectual in
invalidating the MANOTOKS and ARANETA titles.
Significantly, since the respective certificates of title of herein contending
parties are contradictory to each other and stand to refute the validity of their
opposing titles, it cannot be gainsaid that said certificates of title have
correspondingly been subjected to dispute on the basis of separate and
distinct imputed flaws. Still, the crucial difference between the imputed flaws
allegedly tainting said contending titles, DIMSON and CLT on one hand, and
the MANOTOKS and ARANETA, on the other, is that the imputed flaws
purportedly beleaguering the respective certificates of title of the MANOTOKS
and ARANETA relate to the mechanical and technical aspect of the
transcription of their titles and are therefore inconsequential to the import and
validity thereof. Said imputed flaws do not depart from the fact that the
predecessors-in-interest of the MANOTOKS and ARANETA had been clothed
with the right of ownership over the disputed portions of the Maysilo Estate.
On the other hand, the flaws attending the titles of DIMSON and CLT primarily
stem from infirmities attending or otherwise affecting the very crux of their
claim of ownership. Having derived their titles from RIVERA, whose title is
questionable and dubious to the core, DIMSON and CLT cannot rightly insist
on the validity of their titles. Such flaws are hard to overcome as they delve
into the substance of their proprietary claims. As stated, DIMSON and CLT
miserably failed to overcome their onus and instead opted to hap on the
supposed flaws of the adverse parties. For these reasons, the titles of
DIMSON and CLT should be declared a nullity.
xxx
From the foregoing evaluation and in conformity with the Supreme Court 2007
Resolution, this Court arrived at the following conclusions as to the status of
the original title and its subsequent conveyances:
1. As categorically declared by the Supreme Court, there is only one
OCT 994, the registration date of which had already been decisively
settled as 3 May 1917 and not 19 April 1917. OCT 994 which reflects
the date of 19 April 1917 as its registration date is null and void.
2. In view thereof and in addition to other grounds we have already
discussed, the certificates of title of the deceased Jose Dimson and
his successor-in-interest, CLT, having been traced back to OCT 994
dated 19 April 1917, are NULL and VOID and thus vest no legal right
or claim in favor of DIMSON and CLT.
3. The 13 June 1966 Palma Order and the 18 October 1977 Sayo
Order, on which DIMSON and CLT anchor the validity of their
respective titles, do not substantiate their proprietary claims. While the
existence of said Orders are admitted, the legal import thereof
nonetheless fails to confer a semblance of legality on the titles of
DIMSON and consequently, of CLT, more so, a superior right to
defeat the titles of the MANOTOKS and ARANETA, respectively.
4. Portions of Lot No. 26 pertinent to this controversy, particularly that
being disputed by the MANOTOKs and CLT, were expropriated by the
Republic of the Philippines sometime in 1947 under Commonwealth
Act No. 539 for resale to tenants. The MANOTOKS, thus as
successor-in-interest of the Republic, were able to establish that
some of their certificates of title had indeed originated or were derived
from said expropriated parcels of land.
5. The evidence on record confirm that the certificates of title covering
the land being claimed by ARANETA were derived from OCT NO. 994
registered on 3 May 1917 thereby ultimately showing a direct link of
TCT Nos. 7784 and 13574 to said mother title. By reason of which,
that is either belonging to or portions of Lot 25-A-3 as previously
owned by RATO, had been well substantiated and proven to be
superior to that of DIMSON.
6. For reasons above-stated and in view of the established rights of
ownership of both the MANOTOKS and ARANETA over the contested
properties, we find that the imputed flaws on their titles cannot defeat
the valid claims of the MANOTOKS and ARANETA over the disputed
portions of the Maysilo Estate.
126

Inasmuch as we agree with the factual findings and evaluation of the Special
Division, we likewise adopt the above conclusions. As we earlier stated, it was
incumbent on the Heirs of Dimson and/or CLT to establish their claim to title
for reasons other than the fact that OCT No. 994 dated 19 April 1917 is
extant. They failed to do so. It should be noted that the instant cases arose
from separate actions filed by Jose Dimson and CLT seeking the recovery of
possession and/or annulment of title against Araneta and the Manotok Group.
Thus, the burden of evidence was on Dimson and CLT to establish the
strength of their respective claims of ownership, and not merely to rely upon
whatever weaknesses in the claims of the Manotoks and Araneta for their
causes of action to prosper. The well-settled legal principle in actions for
annulment or reconveyance of title is that a party seeking it should establish
not merely by a preponderance of evidence but by clear and convincing
evidence that the land sought to be reconveyed is his.
127
In an action to
recover, the property must be identified, and the plaintiff must rely on the
strength of his title and not on the weakness of the defendant's claim.
128

We now proceed to tackle the recommendations submitted by the Special
Division. They are as follows:
RECOMMENDATIONS
Apropos to said conclusions, this Court hereby respectfully makes the
following recommendations regarding the validity of the conflicting proprietary
claims as interposed by the herein contending parties:
1. To declare with finality that the certificates of title of
DIMSON and CLT including other derivative titles issued to
their successors-in-interest, if any, are NULL and VOID, thus
invalidating their legal claims over the subject parcels of land.
2. To declare LEGAL and VALID the proprietary claims the
MANOTOKS over the parcels of land covered by the following
certificates of title:
a) TCT No. 7528 registered in the name of MRI
covers Lot No. 2 of consolidation-subdivision plan
(LRC) Pcs-1828 which has an area of 4,988 square
meters.
b) TCT No. 7762 covering Lot 1-C, with an
approximate area of 2,287 square meters.
c) TCT No. 8012 covering Lot No. 12-1 having an
area of 20,000 square meters.
d) TCT No. 9866 covering Lot No. 21 and has an
approximate area of 23,979 square meters.
e) TCT No. 21107 covering Lot 22 with an
approximate area of 2,557 square meters.
f) TCT No. 21485 covering Lot 20 with an
approximate area of 25,276 square meters.
g) TCT No. 34255 covering Lot No. 11-Bm, Psd-
75797 with an area of 11,000 square meters.
h) TCT No. 254875 covering Lot 55-A with an area of
approximately 1,910 square meters.
i) TCT No. C-35267 covering Lot 56-B of subdivision
plan (LRC) Psd-292683 with an approximate area of
9,707 square meters.
With regard to the following certificates of title, namely:
3.A. MANOTOK REALTY INC.
a) TCT No. 26405 covering Lot No. 12-E with an area
of 1,0000 square meters.
b) TCT No. 26406 covering Lot No. 12-F with an area
of 1,000 square meters.
c) TCT No. 26407 covering Lot No. 12-B with an area
of 1,000 square meters.
d) TCT No. 33904 covering Lot No. 12-H with an area
of 1,802 square meters.
e) TCT No. 53268 covering Lot No. 15 purchased by
MRI from one Maria V. Villacorta with an approximate
area of 3,163 square meters.
f) TCT No. 55897 covering Lot 3 of consolidation-
subdivision plan (LRC) Pcs-1828 of the Maysilo
Estate covering an area of more or less 20,531
square meters.
g) TCT No. C-17272 covering Lot 6-C which has an
approximate area of 27,850 square meters.
h) TCT No. T-121428 covering Lot No. 5-C of
subdivision plan (LRC) psd-315278, which has an
approximate area of 4,650 square meters.
i) TCT No. 163902 covering Lot No. 4-B-2 with an
area of more or less 6,354 square meters allegedly a
by-product of TCT No. 9022, which in turn, cancelled
TCT No. 8994/T-45 registered in the name of Filemon
S Custodio.
j) TCT No. 165119 which allegedly cancelled TCT No.
C-36960 of the SPOUSES IGNACIO by virtue of a
Deed of Sale between said Spouses and MRI.
3.B. MANOTOK ESTATE CORPORATION
a) TCT No. T-232568 covering Lot No. 19-B of
subdivision plan Psd-13011152 with an area of
23,206 square meters.
The foregoing certificates of title (3.A and 3.B), failing
to make specific references to the particular
certificates of title which they cancelled and in whose
name they were registered, may be declared NULL
and VOID, or in the alternative, subject the same to
further technical verification.
4. To declare LEGAL and VALID the title of ARANETA
respecting parcels of land covered by the following
certificates of title:
a) TCT No. 13574 covering a parcel of land
designated as Section No. 2 of subdivision plan Psd-
10114, being a portion of Lot 25-A-3-C with an
aggregate area of 581,872 square meters;
b) TCT No. 7784 covering four (4) parcels of land with
an aggregate area of 390,383 square meters.
129

The first, second and fourth recommendations are well taken as they logically
arise from the facts and conclusions, as determined by the Special Division,
which this Court adopts.
The third recommendation – that eleven (11) of the titles held by the Manotoks
be declared null and void or subjected to further technical verification –
warrants some analysis.
The Court has verified that the titles mentioned in the third recommendation
do not, as stated by the Special Division, sufficiently indicate that they could
be traced back to the titles acquired by the Republic when it expropriated
portions of the Maysilo Estate in the 1940s. On the other hand, the Manotok
titles that were affirmed by the Special Division are traceable to the titles of
the Republic and thus have benefited, as they should, from the cleansing
effect the expropriation had on whatever flaws that attached to the previous
titles. However, although the Special Division did not concede the same
benefit to the other Manotok titles named in the third recommendation, at the
same time it did not conclude that such titles were false or fraudulently
acquired. Absent such a finding, we are disinclined to take the ultimate step of
annulling those titles.
Said titles have as their origin what we have acknowledged to be a valid
mother title – OCT No. 994 dated 3 May 1917. This is in stark contrast with
the titles of CLT, the oppositors to the Manotoks, which all advert to an
inexistent mother title. On their face, the Manotok titles do not reflect any error
or fraud, and certainly the Special Division do not point to any such flaw in
these titles. Nothing on the face of the titles gives cause for the Court to annul
the same.
It is worth mentioning that the Special Division refused to adopt the Majority
Report earlier rendered in the case between the Manotoks and CLT, said
report having exhaustively listed the perceived flaws in the antecedent TCTs
from which the Manotoks derived their claim. The Special Division concluded
that such findings had been reached by the Commissioners in excess of their
original mandate and, thus, ultra vires. Assuming that such flaws were extant,
they existed on the titles and anteceded the expropriation of the properties by
the Government. As stated earlier, such expropriation would have cleansed
the titles of the prior flaws. But even if the Manotok titles enumerated in the
third recommendation could not be sourced from the titles acquired by the
Republic through expropriation, still the rejection of the Majority Report
signifies that the flaws adverted to therein could not form the basis for the
annulment of the titles involved. Indeed, the Special Division’s rejection of the
Majority Report further diminishes any ground to annul the Manotok titles
referred to in the third recommendation.
Yet, the Court is cognizant that the inability to trace the Manotok titles
specified in the third recommendation to those titles acquired by the
Government through expropriation puts such titles in doubt somehow. In
addition, the Court is aware that the ground utilized by the Special Division in
rejecting the Majority Report – that the determinations were made outside the
scope of the issues framed and agreed upon by the parties -- does not
categorically refute the technical findings made therein. Those circumstances,
while insufficient for now to annul the Manotoks’ titles listed in the third
recommendation, should be sufficiently made public.
Hence, in lieu of annulling the Manotok titles per the Special Division’s third
recommendation, the Court deems it sufficient to require the Registers of
Deeds concerned to annotate this Resolution on said titles so as to sufficiently
notify the public of their unclear status, more particularly the inability of the
Manotoks to trace the titles without any gap back to OCT No. 994 issued on 3
May 1917. If there should be any cause for the annulment of those titles from
a proper party’s end, then let the proper case be instituted before the
appropriate court.
WHEREFORE, the Court hereby adopts the Report of the Special Division
and issues the following reliefs:
1) The certificates of title of the DIMSONs and CLT including other
derivative titles issued to their successors-in-interest, if any, are
declared NULL and VOID, thus invalidating their legal claims over the
subject parcels of land;
2. The proprietary claims of the MANOTOKS over the parcels of land
covered by the following certificates of title are declared LEGAL and
VALID, to wit:
a) TCT No. 7528 registered in the name of MRI covers Lot
No. 2 of consolidation-subdivision plan (LRC) Pcs-1828 which
has an area of 4,988 square meters.
b) TCT No. 7762 covering Lot 1-C, with an approximate area
of 2,287 square meters.
c) TCT No. 8012 covering Lot No. 12-1 having an area of
20,000 square meters.
d) TCT No. 9866 covering Lot No. 21 and having an
approximate area of 23,979 square meters.
e) TCT No. 21107 covering Lot 22 with an approximate area
of 2,557 square meters.
f) TCT No. 21485 covering Lot 20 with an approximate area
of 25,276 square meters.
g) TCT No. 34255 covering Lot No. 11-Bm, Psd-75797 with
an area of 11,000 square meters.
h) TCT No. 254875 covering Lot 55-A with an area of
approximately 1,910 square meters.
i) TCT No. C-35267 covering Lot 56-B of subdivision plan
(LRC) Psd-292683 with an approximate area of 9,707 square
meters.
3) The following certificates of titles in the name of ARANETA are
hereby declared LEGAL and VALID, to wit:
a) TCT No. 13574 covering a parcel of land designated as
Section No. 2 of subdivision plan Psd-10114, being a portion
of Lot 25-A-3-C with an aggregate area of 581,872 square
meters;
b) TCT No. 7784 covering four (4) parcels of land with an
aggregate area of 390,383 square meters.
4) On the following titles in the name of Manotok Realty, Inc. or
Manotok Estate Corporation, to wit:
a) TCT No. 26405 covering Lot No. 12-E with an area of
1,0000 square meters;
b) TCT No. 26406 covering Lot No. 12-F with an area of
1,000 square meters;
c) TCT No. 26407 covering Lot No. 12-B with an area of
1,000 square meters;
d) TCT No. 33904 covering Lot No. 12-H with an area of
1,802 square meters;
e) TCT No. 53268 covering Lot No. 15 purchased by MRI
from one Maria V. Villacorta with an approximate area of
3,163 square meters;
f) TCT No. 55897 covering Lot 3 of consolidation-subdivision
plan (LRC) Pcs-1828 of the Maysilo Estate covering an area
of more or less 20,531 square meters;
g) TCT No. C-17272 covering Lot 6-C which has an
approximate area of 27,850 square meters;
h) TCT No. T-121428 covering Lot No. 5-C of subdivision
plan (LRC) psd-315278, which has an approximate area of
4,650 square meters;
i) TCT No. 163902 covering Lot No. 4-B-2 with an area of
more or less 6,354 square meters allegedly a by-product of
TCT No. 9022, which in turn, cancelled TCT No. 8994/T-45
registered in the name of Filemon S. Custodio;
j) TCT No. 165119 which allegedly cancelled TCT No. C-
36960 of the SPOUSES IGNACIO by virtue of a Deed of Sale
between said spouses and MRI;
k) TCT No. T-232568 covering Lot No. 19-B of subdivision
plan Psd-13011152 with an area of 23,206 square meters.
the Registers of Deeds concerned are ordered to annotate that as determined
in the foregoing Resolution, the registered owners of the said titles "failed to
make any specific reference to the preceding certificates of title which they
cancelled and to whose names they were subsequently transferred and
registered," thereby leading the Supreme Court "to find no sufficient basis to
make a conclusion as to their origins."
130

Costs against private respondents.
SO ORDERED.
G.R. Nos. 162335 & 162605 --- Severino M. Manotok IV, et al., Petitioners,
versus Heirs of Homer L. Barque, et al., Respondents.
x ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- x
DISSENTING OPINION
YNARES-SANTIAGO, J .:
I maintain that the December 12, 2005 Decision
1
of the Court’s First Division
in G.R. Nos. 162335 & 162605 became final and executory. The same had
been recorded in the Book of Entries of Judgments in a Resolution dated May
2, 2006.
Despite the Entry of Judgment, the Court en banc took cognizance of the
cases when counsel for petitioners, Ret. Justice Florentino P. Feliciano wrote
the Court and prayed for the suspension of the effects of the Entry of
Judgment. Thereafter, the cases were set for Oral Argument.
From the presentations made by the parties and the questions propounded by
the members of the Court during the oral argument held on July 24, 2007, two
main factual issues emerged, to wit: 1) Whether or not Plan Fls-3168-D which
is reflected in the technical description of respondents’ TCT No. 210177 duly
exists in the official records of the Lands Management Bureau (LMB); and 2)
Whether or not Barrio Payong, which is indicated in petitioners’ various
documentary exhibits as location of the property allegedly covered by their
TCT No. RT-22481 (372302) exists as a barrio in Quezon City or Caloocan
City.
Re Plan Fls-3168-D:
During the Oral Argument, the following discussion took place on the issue of
whether Plan Fls-3168-D duly exists, to wit:
JUSTICE CARPIO:
When the Barques filed their petition for reconstitution, on 22
October 1996, they attached a copy of their TCT, TCT
210177 and in TCT 210177 it says there that property is
subdivided into two lots, lot 823A and lot 823B per subdivision
plan FLS-3168-D approved by the Bureau of Lands on 10
January 1941. Okay, so Atty. Bustos of course he knows
how to verify whether this approved plan is genuine or
not because there are two agencies in the government
that would possibly have files of this approved plans and
one of that is the National Office, the Land Management
Bureau, National Office where all approved plans are
stored. It is a repository of all approved plans all over the
country. When the Land Management Bureau
decentralized for NCR they transmitted to the NCR all the
approved plans covering NCR.
RET. JUSTICE FELICIANO:
Yes, Your Honor.
JUSTICE CARPIO:
So, Atty. Bustos wrote the two offices, the national office and
the regional office asking for their comment on whether this
FLS-3168D exist in their files. Now, it looks like Atty. Bustos
was zeroing in on the authenticity of FLS-3168D. Of course,
the national office said, we don’t have this on file. The
regional office said, we have this on file but they could not
give a copy to Atty. Bustos and they refused to answer Atty.
Bustos despite several demands or request for the copy.
They never replied to Atty. Bustos. My question is this, why
did Atty. Bustos think or consider the authenticity of FLS-
3168D important for the purposes of the reconstitution of the
Barques title.
RET. JUSTICE FELICIANO:
Yes, Your Honor. If the division or subdivision of lot 823 were
genuinely and truly, honestly undertaken they should have
applied for two certificates of title, they applied only for one
certificate of title and it is for that reason that Atty. Bustos
wanted to determine the correctness or authenticity of that
subdivision plan because the same piece of land or
substantially the same piece of land was covered only,
constituted only one lot per the title already reconstituted of
the Manotoks. So the …
JUSTICE CARPIO:
Atty. Bustos was of the mind that if FLS-3168-D is not
authentic, is not on file, then there could have been no
subdivision of lot 823 and therefore the title of the Manotoks
specifying only one lot 823 would seem to be in order.
RET. JUSTICE FELICIANO:
Correct, sir.
JUSTICE CARPIO:
But if there is on file FLS-3168-D then it will be the title of
Barque that would seem to be in order rather than the
title of the Manotok because the approved subdivision is
on file, is that correct?
RET. JUSTICE FELICIANO:
I would think so, sir. I would think so.
JUSTICE CARPIO: Okay, thank you.
2

Thereafter, the Court required counsel for respondents to submit a certified
copy of plan Fls-3168-D from the LMB, National Office. This is in addition to
the certified photocopy of the Tracing Cloth plan
3
and certified photocopy
(microfilm) of Plan Fls-3168-D
4
which respondents obtained from the LMB,
Department of Environment and Natural Resources-National Capital Region
(DENR-NCR) and already submitted before the Court.
In compliance with the directive, respondents submitted a copy of a letter
5

furnished them by the LMB, National Office, explaining why it could not issue
a certified copy of Fls-3168-D, thus:
In reply to your letter dated April 24, 2006, please be informed that
according to the verification made by the Survey Records Section,
Records Management Division from their Lists of Transmittal of
Survey Records, plan FLS-3168-D covering parcel/s of land situated
in Caloocan, Rizal was among those survey records already turned-
over/decentralized to DENR-National Capital Region (NCR), Roxas
Boulevard, Manila on April 5, 1979 as recorded in our file no. NCR-
199, for their reference/file purposes.
It is therefore suggested that you address your letter-request to the
Chief, Surveys Division, DENR-National Capital Region (NCR), L & S
Bldg., 1515 Roxas Boulevard, Ermita, Manila, relative to the said plan.
Thus, as expressly mentioned in the above-quoted letter, "plan FLS-3168-D
covering parcel/s of land situated in Caloocan, Rizal was among those survey
records already turned-over/decentralized to DENR-National Capital Region."
Pursuant to Executive Order No. 192
6
dated June 10, 1987, DENR was
reorganized and regional offices of the Bureau of Lands were established in
each of the country’s 13 administrative regions.
7
The functions of a unit in the
national office were transferred to the newly established regional office, which
likewise include the transfer of records to said regional office. Hence, the
reason why respondents could not be furnished by the LMB Head Office with
a certified copy of Plan Fls-3168-D.
However, they were able to obtain a Certification dated June 19, 2007 from
the Records Management Division of DENR Head Office that its Electronic
Data Processing (EDP) Listing includes plan Fls-3168-D, Lot 823 in the name
of Emiliano Setosta.
8
The Certification reads, thus:
This is to certify that according to the verification of the Records
Management Division, Lands Management Bureau, Binondo, Manila,
EDP’s Listing has available record with Fls-3168-D, Lot 823, xerox
copy of which is herewith attached, situated in Caloocan, Rizal (now
Quezon City), in the name of Survey Claimant Emiliano Setosta.
x x x x
The certification by the Records Management Division of the DENR-Head
Office also confirmed the authenticity of the other computer print-outs
submitted by respondents showing Fls-3168-D as among those listed,
namely:
1. A certified true photocopy of a computer print out earlier issued by
the Land Management Bureau, Head Office, showing that Plan Fls-
3168-D is listed in its EDP listing of approved plans and Official
Receipt #8994774 issued in payment for the Certification.
9

2. The same computer print out, as that attached as Annex F, which
shows Fls-3168-D of E. Setosta as one of those listed therein duly
certified by Melchor Magsanoc, Asst. Regional Exec. Director for
Operation, LMB, DENR-NCR.
10

The computer print-outs show that Plan Fls-3168-D is the second plan in said
list, followed by Fls-3169-D of Chua, then Fls-3170-D of Loyola. Said official
list is a credible piece of evidence proving the existence of Setosta’s Plan Fls-
3168-D.
Respondents also furnished the Court photo copies of Plan Fls-3168-D issued
by the Land Management Bureau-National Capital Region (LMB-NCR) and
certified by different officials:
1. A photo copy of Plan Fls-3168-D (microfilm) issued on September
23, 1996 and duly certified by Carmelito A. Soriano for Ernesto S.
Erive, Chief, Regional Technical Director, NCR.
11

2. A photocopy of a File Copy of the Tracing Cloth Plan of Fls-3168-D,
duly certified on July 9, 1999 by Teofilo R. Laguardia, Chief, Technical
Records and Statistics Section, LMB, Regional Office, NCR.
Notwithstanding the above certifications which clearly show the existence of
Plan Fls-3168-D, the Majority Opinion chose to lend credence to petitioners’
claim that Fls-3168-D does not exist in the government files based solely on
Engr. Dalire’s allegations in his February 19, 1997 letter. This is unfortunate
considering that Dalire’s credibility was completely repudiated by the LRA.
Dalire’s claim that the documents presented by the respondents were
forgeries was disregarded as frivolous and baseless, thus:
Based on the documents presented, petitioners (Barques) have
established by clear and convincing evidence that TCT NO.
210177 was, at the time of the destruction thereof, valid, genuine,
authentic and effective. Petitioners duly presented the original of the
owner’s duplicate copy of TCT No. 210177 .... The logbook of the
Register of Deeds of Quezon City lists TCT No. 210177 as among the
titles lost .... The Register of Deeds of Quezon City himself
acknowledged the existence and authenticity of TCT No. 210177
when he issued a certification to the effect that TCT No. 210177 was
one of the titles destroyed and not salvaged from the fire that gutted
the Quezon City Hall on 11 June 1988 ....
It is likewise noteworthy that the technical description and boundaries
of the lot reflected in TCT No. 210177 absolutely conform to the
technical description and boundaries of Lot 823 Piedad Estate ... as
indicated in the B. L. Form No. 28-37-R dated 11-8-94 and B. L. Form
No. 31-10 duly issued by the Bureau of Lands ....
It therefore becomes evident that the existence, validity, authenticity
and effectivity of TCT No. 210177 was established indubitably and
irrefutably by the petitioners. Under such circumstances, the
reconstitution thereof should be given due course and the same is
mandatory.
….
It would be necessary to underscore that the certified copy of
Plan FLS 3168 D was duly issued by the office of Engr. Ernesto
Erive, Chief, Surveys Division LMS-DENR-NCR whose office is
the lawful repository of survey plans for lots situated within the
National Capital Region including the property in question. Said
plan was duly signed by the custodian thereof, Carmelito
Soriano, Chief Technical Records and Statistics Section, DENR-
NCR. Said plan is likewise duly supported by Republic of the
Philippines Official Receipt No. 2513818 Q dated 9-23-96 .... Engr.
Erive in his letter dated 28 November 1996 addressed to Atty.
Bustos … confirmed that a microfilm copy of Plan FLS 3168D is
on file in the Technical Records and Statistics Section of his
office. Engr. Dalire, in his letter dated 2 January 1997 addressed
to Atty. Bustos even confirmed the existence and authenticity of
said plan. …
.…
The claim of Engr. Dalire in his letter dated 19 February 1997 that
his office has no records or information about Plan FLS 3168-D
is belied by the certified copy of the computer print-out duly
issued by the Bureau of Lands indicating therein that FLS 3168D
is duly entered into the microfilm records of the Bureau of Lands
and has been assigned Accession Number 410436 appearing on
Page 79, Preliminary Report No. 1, List of Locator Cards and Box
Number 0400 and said computer print-out is duly supported by
an Offical Receipt ….
The said Plan FLS 3168D is indeed authentic and valid coming as it
does from the legal repository and duly signed by the custodian
thereof. The documentary evidence presented is much too
overwhelming to be simply brushed aside and be defeated by the
fabricated statements and concoctions made by Engr. Dalire in his 19
February 1997 letter. …
12

In his letter dated January 31, 1997, Dalire alleged that plan Fls-3168-D was
not included in the inventory of approved plans enrolled in their file. However,
this allegation was belied upon presentation of a photocopy of the tracing
cloth plan of Fls-3168-D duly certified by Teofilo R. Laguardia, Chief of the
Technical Records and Statistics Section of the LMB-NCR.
Dalire next claimed that plan Fls-3168-D was not included in their computer
list of plans available for decentralization. However, this claim was
categorically debunked by the LRA, thus:
The claim of Engr. Dalire in his letter dated 19 February 1997 that his
office has no records or information about Plan FLS 3168-D is belied
by a certified copy of the computer print-out issued by the
Bureau of Lands indicating therein that FLS 3168D is duly
entered in the microfilm records of the Bureau of Lands and has
been assigned Accession Number 410436 appearing on Page 79,
Preliminary Report No. 1, List of Locator Cards and Box Number
0400 x x x.
In light of the evidence on record, I completely agree with the conclusion
reached by the LRA that the "evidence presented is much too overwhelming
to be simply brushed aside and be defeated by the fabricated statements and
concoctions made by Engr. Dalire in his February 19, 1997 letter."
Therefore, on the issue of due existence of Fls-3168-D, I find no justifiable
basis to disturb the LRA finding that Plan FLS-3168-D indeed exists in the
official files of LMB, DENR. Accordingly, I find respondents’ title, TCT No.
210177, which describes Lot 823 as subdivided into Lots 823-A and 823-B in
accordance with Fls-3168-D, in order.
Moreover, the LRA correctly found that petitioners’ reconstituted title TCT No.
RT-22481 (372302) is spurious, considering petitioners’ failure to prove facts
contrary to the LRA findings. The long-settled rule is that factual findings of an
administrative agency which are not shown to be unsupported by substantial
evidence can be validly sustained and, in fact, are oftentimes binding on the
court,
13
especially when affirmed by the Court of Appeals,
14
as in this case.
Re Location of the Property:
Petitioners’ documentary exhibits simultaneously and/or alternately referred to
Barrio Payong and Barrio Culiat as the location of the property covered by
their title. However, as noted by the LRA, after the fire that burned the records
of the Quezon City Register of Deeds on June 11, 1988, the receipts for realty
taxes of the property covered by petitioners’ title already indicated the location
of the property as Barrio Matandang Balara. However, no basis or
explanation, whether in the form of official documents or otherwise, was
shown or presented by the petitioners before the LRA, the Court of Appeals
and this Court, why the location of the property supposedly covered by their
title was transferred from Barrio Payong and Barrio Culiat to Barrio
Matandang Balara. Significantly, petitioners’ reconstituted title, TCT No. RT-
22481 (372302) does not state the barrio where the property described
therein is located.
Petitioners’ counsel failed to give any explanation for this seemingly
anomalous situation. However, he readily agreed with the possible
rationalization provided during the Oral Argument:
ASSOCIATE JUSTICE CARPIO:
Counsel, can you flash on the screen again the 1940 Tax
Declaration of the Manotoks? It says there, what barrio is that
now?
RET. JUSTICE FELICIANO:
Payong, that’s 1933, Sir.
ASSOCIATE JUSTICE CARPIO:
That’s 1933. The 1940. 1941 is okay. What is the barrio
there?
RET. JUSTICE FELICIANO:
Barrio Culiat.
ASSOCIATE JUSTICE CARPIO:
So, it started as Barrio Payong became Barrio Culiat later on
it became Matandang Balara the present name.
RET. JUSTICE FELICIANO:
Yes, Sir.
ASSOCIATE JUSTICE CARPIO:
Because the themes
15
of barrios changed overtime and we’re
talking of eighty-five (85) years, is that correct?
RET. JUSTICE FELICIANO:
That’s right, Sir.
16

This is pure speculation which deserves no credence at all, especially in the
light of evidence in the form of official certifications from relevant government
offices in Quezon City
17
and Caloocan City
18
that Payong had not existed as a
barrio in Quezon City or in Caloocan City before the property became a part of
Quezon City.
The map of Quezon City,
19
as prepared by NAMRIA, the official mapping
agency of the government, also shows that both Barangay Culiat and
Barangay Matandang Balara are existing Barangays of Quezon City but are
clearly far away from each other. Payong does not exist in the map.
Moreover, Barangays Culiat and Matandang Balara were almost
simultaneously created as barangays. Culiat was created on March 26, 1962
while Matandang Balara was created as a barangay on May 10, 1962. The
simultaneous creation of Culiat and Matandang Balara as barangays thus
showed the fallacy of petitioners’ claim during the Oral Argument that the
disputed property was originally located in Payong, but was later converted
into Barangay Culiat and finally as Barangay Matandang Balara.
Significantly, it also appears from Intervenors Manahans’ Memorandum that
the property covered by their alleged Deed of Conveyance dated October 30,
2000 is likewise located in Barangay Culiat, Quezon City. The relevant portion
of the technical description of Lot 823 of the Piedad Estate in Manahans’
Memorandum
20
which shows Barrio Culiat as the location of the property is
quoted below:
A parcel of land (Lot 823, Piedad Estate, LRC Record No. 5975), situated in
the Barrio of Culiat, Municipality of Caloocan, Metro Manila.
21

Intervenors Manahan also alleged that petitioners Manotoks’ TCT No. RT-
22481 is fake and spurious for not being based on authentic documents.
22

I do not agree with the claim that Spouses Tiongson v. Court of Appeals
23

which mentioned the Agrarian Court’s order to its clerk of court to conduct an
ocular inspection of the landholding in question situated at Payong, Quezon
City, constitutes credible evidence as to the location of the property. There
was no mention at all as to how the said court made the determination of the
location of the property. Moreover, there was nothing in the Agrarian Court’s
Order stating exactly where, in Quezon City, Barrio Payong was located,
which indicates that petitioners themselves may have brought the inspecting
parties to the property they were occupying.
Similarly, the Court in the case of People v. Siguin,
24
did not make a finding as
to the existence and location of Sitio Payong but merely referred to the
Information filed which alleged that the crime was committed in Sitio Payong,
Matandang Balara.
In any event, petitioners are bound by their own documentary evidence and
verbal admission during the Oral Argument that the property is located in
Payong, Culiat or simply Barrio Payong or Barrio Culiat. Since petitioners
presented the said documentary evidence to prove their ownership of the
property and the source of their title, they have thereby judicially admitted that
the location of the property covered by their title, as shown in said exhibits, is
Payong, Culiat, or Barrio Payong, or simply Barrio Culiat, Quezon City. They
are, therefore, bound by said admissions,
25
especially since they have neither
alleged nor proven that said admissions were made through palpable
mistake.
26

It is also important to note that, except for Tax Declarations and realty tax
payments that were issued after the fire that gutted the records of the Register
of Deeds of Quezon City, petitioners did not present any credible evidence
showing that the property they are occupying and covered by their
reconstituted TCT No. RT-22481 (372302) is located in Barrio Matandang
Balara.
Consequently, since the property covered by petitioners’ reconstituted title is
not the property in Matandang Balara that they are occupying as clearly
shown by their own documentary evidence, it necessarily follows that they are
not the owners of such property. The Court’s ruling in Santiago v. Court of
Appeals,
27
is pertinent. Thus:
Documents proving ownership such as transfer and original
certificates of title are the legs on which petitioners’ case stands.
Premised on the relevance of these documents, the trial court ruled in
favor of petitioners. However, the proverbial legs of evidence are
broken. While the titles presented by petitioners show ownership,
such ownership is not of the land claimed, but over the adjoining
parcels of land. The technical descriptions in the titles presented by
petitioners betray them as adjacent and adjoining owners of the land
claimed by MWSS for registration. x x x
The Deed of Sale between Emiliano Setosta and Homer Barque, Sr.:
Petitioners alleged that the deed of sale between Emiliano Setosta and Homer
Barque, Sr. was not a public document because the document does not
appear to be recorded in the Notarial Register Records of Atty. Eliseo Razon.
Granting that the Notarial Register of Atty. Eliseo Razon does not reflect the
said Deed of Sale executed by Emiliano Setosta in favor of Homer Barque,
Sr., nonetheless, applying the presumption that official duty has been
regularly performed, I find that the Deed of Sale was duly notarized as
otherwise the instrument would not have been registrable and the Register of
Deeds of Quezon City would not have issued TCT No. 210177 to Homer
Barque, Sr. on the basis of said Deed of Sale.
Such presumption cannot be overcome by the mere failure, even if true, of
Atty. Razon to record the deed in his Notarial Register since said failure does
not make the notarization less genuine. Neither could the respondents be
faulted for said failure. In any event, respondents submitted a Certification
under oath of Mr. Gregorio B. Faraon
28
attesting to the existence of said Deed
of Sale in the records of the Clerk of Court of the Manila Regional Trial Court.
Jurisdiction of the Court of Appeals to cancel petitioners’ TCT No. RT-
22481.
The Decisions of the two Divisions of the Court of Appeals both affirmed the
LRA findings that petitioners’ reconstituted TCT No. RT-22481 was spurious
and a sham and that respondents’ TCT No. 210177 sought to be reconstituted
is genuine, valid and existing.
The Court of Appeals, being the tribunal to which the appeal was elevated
pursuant to Rule 43 of the Rules of Court, which provides that final Orders or
Resolutions of the LRA may be appealed to the Court of Appeals, has the
corresponding authority and jurisdiction to decide the appealed case on the
basis of the uncontroverted facts and admissions contained in the petition,
comment, reply, rejoinder, and memoranda, filed by the parties,
29
and to apply
the law applicable in administrative reconstitution proceeding which is
Republic Act (R.A.) No. 6732.
30

Section 10, Rule 43 of the Rules of Court specifically mandates that "the
findings of fact of the court or agency concerned, when supported by
substantial evidence, shall be binding on the Court of Appeals." Since
petitioners were not able to show that the LRA findings of fact were
unsupported by evidence,
31
the Court of Appeals committed no error of
jurisdiction when it confirmed such findings.
Moreover, Section 11 of R.A. No. 6732 provides that:
SEC. 11. A reconstituted title obtained by means of fraud, deceit or
other machination is void ab intio as against the party obtaining the
same and all persons having knowledge thereof.
Thus, the Court of Appeals had the authority to order the cancellation of
petitioners’ reconstituted TCT No. RT-22481 after it affirmed the findings of
the LRA that petitioners’ TCT No. RT-22481 is spurious and void ab initio.
Having also affirmed the LRA finding that respondents’ title, TCT No. 210177,
is genuine, valid and existing, the Court of Appeals likewise had the authority
to order its reconstitution since this was the final step in the administrative
reconstitution process.
It must be noted that Section 48 of Presidential Decree (P.D.) No. 1529 (or
The Property Registration Decree) does not expressly provide for the specific
court that can order the cancellation of a certificate of title. On the other
hand, Section 108 thereof clearly provides that only the Court of First Instance
(now RTC) can order an erasure, alteration or amendment in a certificate of
title.
The variance is a clear indication of the intent to distinguish between these
two actions. Thus, under Section 48, courts other than the Regional Trial
Court, such as the Court of Appeals and the Supreme Court, are possessed
with authority and jurisdiction to order the cancellation of a Torrens title which
they confirmed to be spurious, as in this case, when this is necessary in the
disposition of a case elevated before them on appeal.
Moreover, there has been a change in the traditional concept of "original
jurisdiction" on account of Rule 43, Rules of Court, where the Court of
Appeals has the power to take judicial cognizance of a case for the first time
through its review powers. Thus, this Court said in Yamane v. BA Lepanto
Condominium Corporation
32
that:
Original jurisdiction is the power of the Court to take judicial
cognizance of a case instituted for judicial action for the first time
under conditions provided by law. Appellate jurisdiction is the
authority of a Court higher in rank to re-examine the final order or
judgment of a lower court which tried the case now elevated for
review.
x x x x
The stringent concept of original jurisdiction may seemingly be
neutered by Rule 43 of the 1997 Rules of Civil Procedure, Section 1
of which lists a slew of administrative agencies and quasi-judicial
tribunals or their officers whose decisions may be reviewed by the
Court of Appeals in the exercise of its appellate jurisdiction.
However, the basic law of jurisdiction, Batas Pambansa Blg. 129 (B.P.
129), ineluctably confers appellate jurisdiction on the Court of Appeals
over final rulings of quasi-judicial agencies, instrumentalities, boards
or commission, by explicitly using the phrase "appellate jurisdiction." x
x x
Consequently, when an administrative reconstitution proceeding is
appealed to the Court of Appeals under Rule 43, the Court of Appeals would
be acting as a court of original jurisdiction with regard to said appealed cases,
hence, BP 129 would not apply.
In view of the foregoing, the Court of Appeals correctly acted within its
jurisdiction when it ordered the cancellation of TCT No. RT-22481 (372302) of
petitioners after it confirmed the LRA finding that said title is fake and
spurious.
Significantly, the Court has ruled in Rexlon Realty Group, Inc. v. Court of
Appeals
33
that it has jurisdiction to declare the title void even if the appealed
case was not originally filed with the Regional Trial Court for nullification of
title. We held that the Court can rule on the validity or nullity of the title issued
in the name of Paramount in the light of the facts of this case, and that:
[I]n order for a just, speedy and inexpensive disposition of the case,
we must decide on the effect of void duplicate copies of a
certificate of title that served as a basis for the sale of the property it
represents and the eventual issuance of title in the name of
respondent Paramount. To require another proceeding only for the
purpose of annulling the said new titles when the same could be
decided in this very petition would promote judicial bureaucracy,
a practice abhorred by our legal system. As we have ruled in
Gayos v. Gayos, it is a cherished rule of procedure that a court should
always strive to settle the entire controversy in a single proceeding
leaving no root or branch to bear the seeds of future litigation.
34

More pertinently, the Court ruled in Rexlon, thus:
On whether this Court can rule on the validity or nullity of the titles
issued in the name of respondent Paramount in the light of the facts
of this case, we rule in the affirmative.
x x x x
Secondly, respondent Paramount has duly consented to put in
issue the validity of its titles by invoking in this appeal the
reasons espoused by the appellate court and respondent David
for the dismissal of the petition to annul the decision of the trial
court. In its Memorandum and respondent David’s comment that
it adopted, respondent Paramount has not made any
jurisdictional objection as regards its inclusion in the appeal to
the petition for annulment of judgment, and even participated in
the discussion of the merits of the case. Based on the principle
of estoppel, respondent Paramount is barred from raising any
objection over the power of this Court to nullify its titles.
35

Jurisdiction of the Land Registration Authority (LRA) to administratively
reconstitute the allegedly lost TCT No. 210177 in the name of
respondents despite the previously reconstituted TCT No. RT-22481 of
the petitioners over the same property.
To resolve this issue, it is relevant to first consider whether petitioners’ TCT
No. RT-22481, in fact, covers the same property identified and described in
respondents’ TCT No. 210177.
Respondents’ title, TCT No. 210177, indicates Barrio Matandang Balara as
location of the property. On the other hand, the reconstituted title of
petitioners, TCT No. RT-22481, does not indicate the barrio where the
property described therein is located. As shown by petitioners’ documentary
evidence, the property which they claim to be covered by their TCT No. RT-
22481 is located in Barrio Payong, or Barrio Culiat, Quezon City.
More importantly, the technical description in respondents’ title, TCT No.
210177, indicates boundaries totally different from those stated in petitioners’
title, TCT No. RT-22481. Furthermore, the technical description of
respondents’ title shows that it covers two lots while petitioners’ title covers
only one lot.
The claim that the LRA has no authority to pass upon the genuineness of a
certificate of title in an administrative reconstitution proceeding is an absurdity.
Will the LRA just accept any title and order its reconstitution although it is
facially void? Such an absurd interpretation would necessarily result in the
reconstitution of a patently fake and spurious title and the consequent
proliferation of fake titles, a situation that the legislature could not have
contemplated when it enacted R.A. No. 6732 authorizing the administrative
reconstitution of titles.
It is, therefore, misleading and baseless for petitioners to assert that their
previously reconstituted title, TCT No. RT-22481 (372302) covers the same
property as that identified and described in respondents’ TCT No. 210177 so
as to deprive the LRA of jurisdiction over respondents’ petition for
reconstitution.
However, even assuming that both petitioners’ and respondents’ titles cover
the same property, the LRA would still have jurisdiction over respondents’
petition for reconstitution.
As petitioners themselves admit, they caused the administrative reconstitution
of their TCT No. RT 22481 in 1991 under R.A. No. 6732. On the other hand,
respondents’ TCT No. 210177 shows that it was issued on September 24,
1975 by the Register of Deeds of Quezon City. Its existence was likewise
confirmed by the LRA in its Resolution of June 24, 1998 based on the logbook
of the Register of Deeds, which contains the list of titles lost during the fire
that destroyed its records in 1988.
Respondents’ TCT No. 210177 was, therefore, in existence at the time
petitioners filed their petition for reconstitution. In Alipoon v. Court of
Appeals,
36
the Court ruled that:
[I]nasmuch as TCT No. T-17224 has been in existence as early as
March 16, 1933, the issuance in 1989 of a reconstituted original
certificate of title bearing the number OCT No. RO 12890 (N.A.)
over Lot No. 663 in the name of petitioners’ parents Fausto
Alipoon and Silveria Duria is rendered legally doubtful, and the
reconstituted title is void.
It, therefore, follows that petitioners’ reconstituted title, even assuming the
same to have been duly reconstituted, was deemed nullified by the mere
existence of respondents’ title at the time of the administrative reconstitution
of petitioners’ title.
37
Pertinently, the Court held in Alabang Development Corp.
v. Hon. Valenzuela
38
that:
The Court stresses once more that lands already covered by duly
issued existing Torrens Titles (which become incontrovertible upon
the expiration of one year from their issuance under Section 38 of the
Land Registration Act) cannot be the subject of petitions for
reconstitution of allegedly lost or destroyed titles filed by third parties
without first securing by final judgment the cancellation of such
existing titles. x x x
Moreover, since petitioners recognized the jurisdiction of the LRA when they
filed their opposition to respondents’ petition for reconstitution and submitting
evidence therein, they cannot thereafter turn around and impugn such
jurisdiction after the LRA ruled against their prayer for the denial of the petition
for reconstitution. We ruled in Salva v. Court of Appeals:
39

In a long line of decisions, this Court has consistently held that
while an order or decision rendered without jurisdiction is a total nullity
and may be assailed at any stage, a party’s active participation in
the proceedings in the tribunal which rendered the order or
decision will bar such party from attacking its jurisdiction. x x x
In the instant cases, it is undisputed that petitioners actively participated in the
proceedings and submitted evidence in support of their claim. Estoppel does
not apply only as against plaintiffs who sought affirmative reliefs. It equally
applies to defendants who actively participate in the proceedings, thus:
Public policy dictates that this Court must strongly condemn any
double-dealing by parties who are disposed to trifle with the courts by
taking inconsistent positions, in utter disregard of elementary
principles of right dealing and good faith. This applies not only to
parties who are plaintiffs, complainants or others who initiated
the case by actually filing the action, but also to parties who are
defendants or respondents, if the latter fail to timely raise the
jurisdictional issue and instead actively participate in the
proceedings.
40

There is, therefore, no further need to require another proceeding for the
cancellation of petitioners’ reconstituted title before the LRA can proceed to
reconstitute respondents’ TCT No. 210177.
J urisdiction of the LRA to adjudicate on the validity of petitioners’
reconstituted TCT No. RT-22481 (372302) in the administrative
reconstitution case filed by respondents.
In its comment dated March 30, 2007, the Office of the Solicitor General
categorically declared that:
While it is true that the Register of Deeds and the Administrator of
the LRA, in the exercise of their quasi-judicial powers over
petitions for administrative reconstitution, have the authority to
receive evidence, it is limited for the purpose of determining
whether or not the certificates of title sought to be reconstituted
are valid, authentic, genuine and in force at the time they were
lost or destroyed, and to the end of either granting or denying
the prayer of the petition. Also, their jurisdiction to hear
administrative petitions for reconstitution does not encompass any
other title except that which is the subject matter of the petition.
Otherwise, they exceed their jurisdiction.
41

Furthermore, the technical expertise of the LRA with regard to reconstitution
of titles is such that the Court has long directed the lower courts to strictly
observe the LRA circulars on reconstitution and land registration cases. It
said:
In recognition of these developments that have placed under a cloud
the integrity of the once unassailable Torrens Title, spawned the
proliferation of fake land titles and encouraged the mushrooming of
land grabbers and squatters on legitimately-titled lands, Chief Justice
Andres R. Narvasa issued on July 15, this year, Administrative
Circular No. 7-96 addressed to all judges of all court levels and
their Clerks of Court enjoining the strict observance of Land
Registration Authority (LRA) circulars on reconstitution and land
registration cases.
42

Since the LRA had the duty to resolve the petition for reconstitution as well as
petitioners’ opposition thereto, it necessarily had to examine the title of the
parties, using its technical expertise, to determine if the petition for
reconstitution should be given due course, or denied as prayed for by the
petitioners. Thus:
[W]hen an administrative agency or body is conferred quasi-
judicial functions, all controversies relating to the subject matter
pertaining to its specialization are deemed to be included within
the jurisdiction of said administrative agency or body. Split
jurisdiction is not favored.
43

Moreover, even assuming that petitioners are correct in claiming that the LRA
had no jurisdiction to resolve the issue of validity of title in a petition for
reconstitution, nonetheless, since petitioners opposed respondents’ petition
for reconstitution and, in fact, ventilated before the LRA the issue of validity or
genuineness of their title and submitted evidence in support thereof, instead of
going to the courts to enjoin the LRA proceedings on account of their
possession of a purported reconstituted title over the same property covered
by respondents’ TCT No. 210177, petitioners are estopped from raising the
issue of jurisdiction. We ruled in Laxina, Sr. v. Office of the Ombudsman,
44

that:
Petitioner is also estopped from questioning the jurisdiction of the
Ombudsman. A perusal of the records shows that he participated in
the proceedings by filing his counter-affidavit with supporting
evidence. x x x Thus, it has been held that participation in the
administrative proceedings without raising any objection thereto bars
the parties from raising any jurisdictional infirmity after an adverse
decision is rendered against them.
45

Again, even assuming that the Regional Trial Court should have had a first
chance at resolving the issue of validity of the title, nonetheless, under the
circumstances, this Court, upon elevation of the issue before it, had the
unquestionable jurisdiction to declare petitioners’ reconstituted title void and
order its cancellation, under the same rationale relied upon by this Court in
Board of Commissioners (CID) v. Dela Rosa:
46

Ordinarily, the case would then be remanded to the Regional Trial
Court. But not in the case at bar. Considering the voluminous
pleadings submitted by the parties and the evidence presented,
We deem it proper to decide the controversy right at this
instance. And this course of action is not without precedent for "it is a
cherished rule of procedure for this Court to always strive to settle the
entire controversy in a single proceeding leaving no root or branch to
bear the seeds of future litigation. No useful purpose will be served
if this case is remanded to the trial court only to have its
decision raised again to the Court of Appeals and from there to
this Court x x x.
The ruling in Islamic Directorate of the Philippines v. Court of Appeals
47
is
likewise applicable, to wit:
The resolution of the question as to whether or not the SEC had
jurisdiction to declare the subject sale null and void is rendered moot
and academic by the inherent nullity of the highly dubious sale due
to lack of consent of the IDP, owner of the subject property. No end
of substantial justice will be served if we reverse the SEC’s
conclusion on the matter, and remand the case to the regular
courts for further litigation over an issue which is already
determinable based on what we have in the records.
Beyond all that, however, is the unalterable fact that this Court’s First Division
had already resolved in its Decision of December 12, 2005, the jurisdictional
issues raised by petitioners.
J urisdiction of the Court of Appeals or the LRA to decide the ownership
of the disputed property in the administrative reconstitution of title filed
by respondents.
Petitioners raised the issue of ownership before the LRA when they presented
evidence in the form of a Deed of Sale, five (5) Unilateral Deeds of
Conveyance, tax declarations, and realty tax receipts to prove their ownership
of the property allegedly covered by their reconstituted TCT RT No. 22481.
Petitioners supported their claim of genuineness of their reconstituted title with
documentary evidence showing their supposed acquisition of ownership of the
land.
However, the LRA gave no credence to the evidence of ownership submitted
by the petitioners, mainly because the property described therein appears to
be located in a barrio different and far from the barrio where the property in
dispute is actually located.
In their appeal to the Court of Appeals, petitioners again adverted to the same
documentary evidence they presented before the LRA in support of their claim
of ownership of the property covered by their TCT No. RT 22481 and to
buttress their contention that their title is genuine and authentic.
However, the Court of Appeals affirmed in toto the Resolution of the LRA
which found their reconstituted title a sham and spurious and respondents’
title, genuine, authentic and existing. In addition, the Court of Appeals also
ordered the cancellation of petitioners’ TCT No. RT22481 and the
reconstitution of respondents’ TCT No. 210177.
In short, since petitioners themselves laid before the LRA and the Court of
Appeals all their evidence to prove the genuineness of their reconstituted title
and their ownership of the property in dispute, the Court of Appeals had the
corresponding authority and jurisdiction to pass upon these issues.
In Yusingco v. Ong Hing Lian,
48
the Court ruled, thus:
Therefore, it appearing from the records that in the previous petition
for reconstitution of certificates of title, the parties acquiesced in
submitting the issue of ownership for determination in the said
petition, that they were given the full opportunity to present their
respective sides of the issues and evidence in support thereof, and
that the evidence presented was sufficient and adequate for rendering
a proper decision upon the issue, the adjudication of the issue of
ownership was valid and binding. It being a valid judgment, res
judicata applies.
Indeed, petitioners are barred from thereafter impugning the jurisdiction of the
Court of Appeals to rule on these issues. In the leading case of Tijam v.
Sibonghanoy,
49
it was stressed that:
It has been held that a party can not invoke the jurisdiction of a court
to secure affirmative relief against his opponent and, after obtaining or
failing to obtain such relief, repudiate or question the same jurisdiction
x x x.
Furthermore, it has also been held that after voluntarily submitting a
cause and encountering an adverse decision on the merits, it is too
late for the loser to question the jurisdiction or the power of the court.
x x x [I]t is not right for a party who has affirmed and invoked the
jurisdiction of a court in a particular matter to secure an affirmative
relief, to afterwards deny that same jurisdiction to escape a penalty.
x x x [W]e frown upon the "undesirable practice" of a party submitting
his case for decision and then accepting the judgment, only if
favorable, and attacking it for lack of jurisdiction when adverse x x x.
In the light of all the foregoing, I find no compelling reason or overriding
consideration to further require the referral of these cases to the Regional
Trial Court or the Court of Appeals for a re-litigation of the issues already
raised and resolved by the two divisions of the Court of Appeals and affirmed
by the Court’s First Division in its final and executory Decision dated
December 12, 2005.
More importantly, the doctrine of immutability of final and executory decisions
which became part of our legal system almost a century ago and reiterated
time and again by this Court precludes the Court from taking this
unprecedented action.
As held in Anuran v. Aquino and Ortiz,
50
every consideration of expediency
and justice is opposed to the uncontrolled exercise of discretion by the courts
in opening up cases after judgments entered therein have become final.
51
The
interest of the individual, as well as of the community, demands there should
be a definite end to every litigation; and nothing could be more impolitic than
to leave it to the discretion of every court to revise and review and reconsider
its judgments without limit.
52

Furthermore, the question of whether the Court can reopen a final and
executory judgment has constitutional implications since a reopening of the
final and executory December 12, 2005 Decision would violate the prevailing
parties’ right to due process. As the Court said in Insular Bank of Asia and
America Employees’ Union (IBAAEU) v. Inciong:
53

A final judgment vests in the prevailing party a right recognized and
protected by law under the due process clause of the Constitution. x x
x.
Thereafter, in Fortich v. Corona,
54
the Court ruled against a reopening of a
final and executory judgment since this is not a mere question of technicality
but that of substance and merit, thus:
It should be stressed that when the March 2, 1996 OP Decision was
declared final and executory, vested rights were acquired by the
herein petitioners x x x. Thus, we repeat, the issue here is not a
question of technicality but that of substance and merit. x x x
Considering all the foregoing and the fact that these cases do not involve an
issue of transcendental importance, such as life, liberty or the security of the
state, no compelling reason exists to depart from this well-settled doctrine, nor
to ignore the fundamental public policy behind it.
ACCORDINGLY, I vote that these cases be referred back to the Court’s
Special First Division for final disposition in accordance with its Decision of
December 12, 2005.