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G.R. No. 175343.July 27, 2011.

LORETO LUGA (Deceae!", #u$%&%u%e! $y 'ELER(NA LUGA)Deceae! (*&+e" a,!
'-&l!.e, Na/ely0 1u.&2cac&o, Lu3a45&o,3, El&6a$e%- Lu3a4'a$a7a, Roal&e Lu3a4
Ta,u%a,, Le!&a Lu3a4Guy A$, 8a.&%e Lu3a4G.a9&,o, Ne%o. Lu3a a,! Da9&! Lu3a,
:e%&%&o,e., 9. #1#. ELENA AND ROGEL(O AR'(AGA, .e:o,!e,%.
The suit concerns a 911 square meter parcel of land situated in Davao City, presently
registered in the name of Elena Arciaga, wife of Rogelio Arciaga The land used to form part of
the ! "uru#awa Daliao $lantation which, after %eing turned over to the $hilippine government,
was initially administered %y the &ational A%aca and 'ther "i%ers Corporation (&A"C') and,
later, %y the *oard of +iquidators (*'+), pursuant to RA ,-- as amended A former tenant,
+oreto +uga %ecame a tenant of *'+ and, in said capacity, occupied the su%.ect parcel since
19/-, eventually %uilding a house of light materials thereon 0owever, it appears that an
'ccupant1s A2davit was e3ecuted %y 0onorio Romero, a former employee of &A"C', over a 4/
hectare landholding of which the land in litigation formed part
0onorio E3ecuted a Deed of Transfer of Right over a 566 sq meter portion of said
landholding in favour of Rogelio The former further e3ecuted a similar deed selling in favour of
the latter his interest over an ad.acent 7,6 sq meter of the same landholding 8n receipt of
Elena1s application for patent9title over the su%.ect parcel, the *'+ issued and caused the posting
of the &otice directing person9s a:ected there%y to ma#e #nown their adverse claim9s if any
Elena1s application had %een approved under *oard1s Resolution &o 56 ;pon the
e3ecution of the Deed of A%solute <ale over the parcel, the *'+ favoura%ly indorsed and
requested the issuance of a certi=cate of title in favour of Elena and forwarded to the Davao City
Register of Deeds, and thereafter a Transfer Certi=cate of Title was issued in favour of Elena
+oreto commenced the instant suit with the =ling of his complaint of reconveyance of the
title and damages against spouses Arciaga, claiming that he had %een in possession of the
su%.ect parcel since 19/- +oreto alleged, that he discovered the titling of the same in the name
of Elena only in 1997, and that the latter had fraudulently misled the *'+ into %elieving that she
was the one in possession of the land <pouses Arciaga, contended that they acquired the
dispute parcel from 0onorio, they averred that the possession asserted %y +oreto had %een %y
virtue of their tolerance and consent as well as that of their said predecessor>in>interest
The RTC rendered a decision, =nding that the evidence adduced %y the parties
preponderantly esta%lished that +oreto is entitled to the land in litigation since his possession
thereof preceded that asserted %y the <pouses Arciaga 'n appeal, the CA ruled that +oreto is
not entitled to the reconveyance ordered %y the RTC
?hether or not +uga occupied the land in the concept of an owner
?hether or not the reconveyance is proper
&o, he did not occupy the property in the concept of an owner
The disposition of the land in litigation is governed %y RA ,--, as amended, which
provides that @such lands of the pu%lic domain, e3cept commercial and industrial lots, shall %e
sold %y the *'+ to persons who are quali=ed to acquire pu%lic lands, giving preference =rst to
%ona=de occupants thereof on or %efore 14 Decem%er 19,5 %ut not later than 71 'cto%er 1956
and who shall %e limited to the area they have actually and continuously improved and
+oreto failed to prove that he was %ona=de occupant of the land in litigation +oreto
admitted that he did not =le any application for the land and9or declare the same for ta3ation
purposes %ecause he #new that he was not the owner thereof
<ince possession may %e e3ercised in one1s own name or in that of another and it is not
necessary for theowner or holder of the thing to personally e3ercise his possessory rights,
+oreto1s tolerated occupancy of the land cannot %e said to have ousted the possession claimed
%y Arciaga
An action for reconveyance of a property is, after all, a legal and equita%le remedy
availa%le to a landowner whose property has %een wrongfully or erroneously registered in
another1s name, after one year from the date of the decree of registration and so long as the
property has not passed to an innocent purchaser for value The decree of registration is
respected as incontroverti%le ?here there is wrongful or erroneous registration in another
person1s name, the rightful owner or one with a %etter right can see# reconveyance of the
property and cancellation of title +oreto failed to prove a right that petitioners1 over the land
G.R. No. 1=435=.July 27, 2011.*
<E(R# O; 8ARGAR(TO 1A5AU#, ,a/ely, ;EL('(ANA 1. 8A#A'OTE, 8ERL(NDA 1.
8ORGADO, :e%&%&o,e., 9. <E(R# O; A8ANDA >UT(A8'O, ,a/ely, JO#E;(NA TAN, AND
8O(#E#, ?(RG(N(A, ROGEL(O, ERL(NDA, ANA AND ERNE#TO, all u.,a/e! >UT(A8'O,
<u%.ect of this controversy are three ad.oining parcels of land located in Agusan del &orte,
+ot 1 and +ot 4% are registered in the name of Amanda !utiamco under 'riginal Certi=cate of
Title ('CT) and Transfer Certi=cate of Title (TCT) +ot 499,, $ls> -75 is owned %y Cargarito $a%aus
and covered %y 'CT &o $>D5,9 'CT &o '>16, was issued pursuant to Eudicial Decree which
covered +ots 1 and 4 A separate title was su%sequently issued to Amanda !utiamco for +ot 4,
thus partially cancelling 'CT &o '>16, Ceanwhile, 'CT &o $>D5,9 was issued to Cargarito
$a%aus pursuant to "ree $atent &o (F>4) 164
The heirs of Amanda !utiamco, =led a Complaint for Cancellation of 'CT &o $>D5,9,
Recovery of $ossession and Damages against the heirs of Cargarito $a%aus Respondents alleged
that petitioners illegally entered upon their lands, harvested coconuts therein, and %uilt a house
on the premises, thus encroaching a su%stantial portion of respondents1 property Despite
repeated demands and o%.ection %y Coises !utiamco, petitioners continued to occupy the
encroached portion and harvest the coconutsG petitioners even =led a criminal complaint against
the respondents Respondents averred that 'CT issued to Cargarito $a%aus is invalid and as it
su%stantially includes a land already covered %y another Decree and 'CT in the name of Amnda
!utiamco $etitioners admitted having gathered coconuts and cut trees on the contested
properties, %ut asserted that they did so in the e3ercise of their rights of dominion as holders of
'CT &o $>D5,9
The RTC issued an order which directed the conduct of relocation survey to determine if
the land covered %y petitioners1 title overlaps those in defendants1 title The RTC rendered
.udgment in favour of the respondents 8t gave credence to the =nding in the Relocation <urvey
'n appeal, the CA a2rmed the RTC ruling and emphasiHed that petitioners are %ound %y
the =ndings contained in the Relocation <urvey Report and the Relocation $lan <ince the settled
rule is that a free patent issued iver a private land is null and void and produces no legal e:ects
whatsoever, and with the trial court1s =nding that the properties of respondents and petitioners
overlapped as to certain areas, the CA held that the trial court correctly declared as void the title
of the petitioners
8<<;EB ?hether or not the free patent is null and void
?ith the admission %y Engr Estacia that there were =ve missing corners, there was no
precise and accurate ground veri=cation made on the alleged overlapping Considering that the
claim of overlapping has not %een clearly esta%lished, it is premature to declare the free patent
issued to Cargarito $a%aus null and void 8nstead the Court deems it more appropriate to remand
the case to the trial court for the conduct of a veri=cation9relocation survey under the direction
and supervision of the +C*>DE&R