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[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.
DECISION
YNARES-SANTIAGO, J p:
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. T210177 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. jurcd06
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
xxx xxx xxx
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. . . .
xxx xxx xxx
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: CcAIDa
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.
2

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:
3

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
4

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: SDHETI
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;
xxx xxx xxx
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.
5

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
6

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 bythird 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. Q5405) 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
7

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 . . .
xxx xxx xxx
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.

Davide, Jr., C.J., concurs.


Quisumbing, J., see dissenting opinion
Carpio, J., see dissenting opinion.
Azcuna, J., I concur in separate opinion.
Separate Opinions
8

QUISUMBING, J p:
I concur in the result reached by Ynares-Santiago, J., in her opinion and I join Davide, Jr., C.J., and Azcuna, J.,
in the majority vote to DENY the petitions.
While at the inception of this controversy, a trial by the Regional Trial Court would have been in order, remand
of this case for trial at this late stage would only be a time-consuming and pointless exercise. Prompt resolution
of the controversy is in order to avoid further delay.
AZCUNA, J p:
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.
CARPIO, J., dissenting:
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 . . . 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 . . . 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 thishornbook 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
9

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-DENRNCR"). 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

10

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: TEcHCA
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.
11

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;
12

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 Fls3168-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:

13

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
14

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 LMSDENR-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: CASIEa
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:

15

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
16

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;
17

(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 . . . 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 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 . . . . 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. AHCTEa
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. 48Section 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:

18

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. . . . 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
19

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: aDHScI
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:
20

"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. . . ." 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. InOrtigas, 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
. . . 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. . . . ." (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
21

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.
||| (Manotok IV v. Heirs of Barque, G.R. Nos. 162335 & 162605, [December 12, 2005])

[G.R. Nos. 162335 & 162605. December 18, 2008.]


SEVERINO M. MANOTOK IV, FROILAN M. MANOTOK, FERNANDO M. 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.
RESOLUTION
TINGA, J p:
The perceived advantages of the Torrens system of registration of land titles have helped stabilize land
ownership in the Philippines. Its underlying principle is security with facility in dealing with land. 1 Its
fundamental purpose is to quiet title to land, to perpetually enjoin any question in the legality of the
title, 2 hence, the titles issued under the system are indefeasible. Yet the Torrens system is imperfect in that it
remains susceptible to fraud, either in the original registration proceedings or in subsequent transactions. 3
These petitions feature apparently fraudulent practices relating to the attempts at registration of the subject
property. Necessarily, they call for the correct application of entrenched principles in land registration. At the
same time, they afford this Court the opportunity to again defend the Torrens system against unscrupulous
elements who use its formalities to actualize the theft of property, and to exert judicial might in ensuring that
fraud does not prevail in the end.
These petitions were referred to the Court en banc by the Special First Division which had initially ruled on them,
most comprehensively in a Decision dated 12 December 2005. 4 They were accepted by the Court en banc in a
Resolution dated 26 July 2006. Subsequently, the parties presented their various contentions before the Court in
an oral argument held on 24 July 2007, followed by the submission of their respective memoranda. While the
cases were under consideration of the Court en banc, the participation of the Office of the Solicitor General was
required, 5 and a set of new parties was allowed leave to intervene. 6
The antecedent facts are stated in full in our 2005 Decision, but are summarized herein for convenience.
On 11 June 1988, a fire gutted portions of the Quezon City Hall, immolating, among others, records stored in the
Office of the Register of Deeds of Quezon City. That fire has attained notoriety due to the numerous certificates
of title on file with that office, which were destroyed as a consequence. The resulting effects of that blaze on
22

specific property registration controversies have been dealt with by the Court in a number of cases since
then. 7 These petitions are perhaps the most heated, if not the most contentious of those cases thus far.
Respondents Heirs of Homer Barque (the Barques) filed a petition 8 with the Land Registration Authority (LRA)
for administrative reconstitution of the original of Transfer Certificate of Title (TCT) No. 210177 (the Barque title)
issued in the name of Homer Barque. They alleged that the Barque title was among the records destroyed by the
1988 fire. In support of their petition, the Barques submitted copies of the alleged owner's duplicate of the
Barque title, real estate tax receipts, tax declarations and a Plan FLS 3168-D covering the property.
Learning of the Barques' petition, Severino M. Manotok IV, et al. (the Manotoks) filed their opposition thereto.
The Manotoks claimed that the lot covered by the Barque title formed part of the land covered by their
reconstituted title TCT No. RT-22481 [372302] (the Manotok title) in the name of Severino Manotok, et al. They
further alleged that the Barque title was spurious.
A brief description of the property involved is in order. Both the Barques' and the Manotoks' titles advert to land
belonging to Lot No. 823 of the Piedad Estate situated in the then Municipality of Caloocan, Province of Rizal.
The Barque title actually involves two parcels of land as part of Lot No. 823 of the Piedad Estate, with an
aggregate area of 342,945 square meters, while the Manotok title concerns only one parcel of land, but with a
similar area of 342,945 square meters.
On 30 June 1997, Atty. Benjamin M. Bustos, as reconstituting officer of the LRA, denied 9 the petition for
reconstitution of the Barque title, declaring that:
xxx xxx xxx
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. CAaDSI
xxx xxx xxx
The Barques' motion for reconsideration was denied by Atty. Bustos in an Order 10 dated 10 February 1998;
hence, the Barques appealed to the LRA.
The LRA reversed Atty. Bustos on appeal. It ruled that the reconstituting officer should not have required the
submission of documents other than the owner's duplicate certificate of title as basis for denying the petition and
should have confined himself to the owner's duplicate certificate of title. The LRA further found anomalies in the
Manotoks' title. It observed that:
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 . . . .

23

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 . . . . CacEIS
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. . . .
xxx xxx xxx
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 Official 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. . . .
Notwithstanding its conclusion that the Manotok title was fraudulently reconstituted, the LRA noted that only the
Regional Trial Court (RTC) could cancel the Manotok title as a Torrens title. It thus ruled, 11 that:
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.
The Manotoks filed a motion for reconsideration, which was opposed by the Barques with a prayer that the
reconstitution be ordered immediately. The LRA denied 12the Manotoks' motion for reconsideration and the
Barques' prayer for immediate reconstitution.
Both the Manotoks and the Barques appealed the LRA decision to the Court of Appeals (CA). The Barques'
petition for review 13 was docketed as CA-G.R. SP No. 66700, while the Manotoks' petition for review 14 was
docketed as CA-G.R. SP No. 66642. The Barques prayed that the LRA be directed to immediately reconstitute the
Barque title without being subjected to the condition that the Manotok title should first be cancelled by a court of
competent jurisdiction. On the other hand, the Manotoks argued in their own petition that the LRA erred in
imputing that the Manotok title was spurious and fake.

Meanwhile, in CA-G.R. SP No. 66700, Felicitas Manahan filed a motion for leave to intervene. 15 She sought the
dismissal of the cases in CA-G.R. SP No. 66700 and CA-G.R. SP No. 66642 and claimed ownership over the
subject property. CTacSE
On 13 September 2002, the Second Division of the Court of Appeals rendered a Decision 16 in CA-G.R. SP No.
66700, denying the Barques' petition and affirming the LRA Resolution. The Barques filed a motion for
reconsideration. 17 Subsequently, the Special Division of Five of the Former Second Division rendered an
Amended Decision18 dated 7 November 2003 wherein it held that:
24

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. 19
The Manotoks filed a motion for the reconsideration of the amended decision in CA-G.R. SP No. 66700, but this
was denied. 20
On the other hand, as to the Manotoks' petition, CA-G.R. SP No. 66642, the Third Division of the Court of
Appeals rendered a Decision 21 on 29 October 2003 which affirmed the resolution of the LRA. 22 The appellate
court held that the LRA correctly deferred in giving due course to the Barques' petition for reconstitution, since
there was as yet no final judgment upholding or annulling the Barque title. The Barques filed a motion for
reconsideration of this ruling. 23 As had occurred with the Barques' petition, the Third Division of the Court of
Appeals granted the Barques' motion for reconsideration and on 24 February 2004, promulgated its Amended
Decision 24wherein it held that:
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.
Aggrieved with the twin decisions of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. SP No. 66700 and CA-G.R. SP No. 66642,
both ordering the cancellation of the Manotok title, the Manotoks filed separate petitions for review before this
Court docketed as G.R. No. 162605 and G.R. No. 162335, respectively. On 2 August 2004, the Court ordered the
consolidation of G.R. No. 162605 with G.R. No. 162335. 25
On 12 December 2005, the Court's First Division rendered its Decision 26 affirming the two decisions of the
Court of Appeals. 27 The Manotoks filed a motion for reconsideration, which the Court's First Division denied in
a Resolution dated 19 April 2006. 28 Thereafter, the Manotoks filed a Motion for Leave to File a Second Motion
for Reconsideration, with their Motion for Reconsideration attached. The Court denied the same in a Resolution
dated 19 June 2006, and the Court further ordered that entry of judgment be made. 29 Thus on 2 May 2006,
entry of judgment was made in the Book of Entries of Judgment. 30
The Barques filed multiple motions with the Court's First Division concerning the execution of the judgment,
including a Motion for Issuance of Writ of Possession or For Execution. 31 In response, the Manotoks filed an
Urgent Motion to Refer Motion for Possession to the Supreme Court En Banc (with prayer to set motion for oral
argument). In a Resolution dated 19 July 2006, the Special First Division referred these cases to the Court en
banc, and on 26 July 2006, the Court en banc promulgated a Resolution accepting the cases. 32
On 7 September 2006, Felicitas Manahan and Rosendo Manahan filed a motion to intervene, to which was
attached their petition in intervention. 33 Movants alleged that the property subject of the petition in G.R.
No. 162335 and G.R. No. 162605 was owned by them. They claimed that their predecessor-in-interest, Vicente
Manahan, was issued Sales Certificate No. 511 which covered lot 823 of the Piedad Estate. Moreover, they
attached to their petition the findings of the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) that the documents of the
Manotoks were not as old as they were purported to be. 34 The Director of the Legal Division of the Land
Management Bureau (LMB) recommended to the Director of the LMB that:
. . . steps be taken in the proper court for the cancellation of TCT No. RT-22481(372302) and all its derivative
titles so that the land covered may be reverted to the State.35
Ultimately, the Court found it necessary to involve the Office of the Solicitor General (OSG) in these cases,
directing the OSG to file its Comment. The OSG filed its Comment on 04 April 2007. Oral arguments were
eventually held on 24 July 2007. TDSICH
After the oral arguments, the Court required the parties, the intervenors, and the Solicitor General to submit
their respective memoranda.
25

I
As can be gleaned from the foregoing statement of facts, these petitions are attended by a few procedural
unorthodoxies, such as, for example, the Court en banc's move on the Special First Division's referral for reevaluation of these petitions when an entry of judgment had already been made in favor of the Barques. Yet the
prevailing consensus within the Court en banc was to proceed with the re-evaluation of these cases on a pro hac
vice basis. There are good reasons for the Court to act in such rare manner in these cases. Most urgently, the
Court had felt that the previous rulings by the First Division and the Special First Division warranted either
affirmation or modification by the Court acting en banc.
It is a constitutional principle that "no doctrine or principle of law laid down by the [C]ourt in a decision
rendered en banc or in division may be modified or reversed except by the court sitting en banc". It has been
argued that the 2005 Decision of the First Division is inconsistent with precedents of the Court, and leaving that
decision alone without the imprimatur of the Court en banc would lead to undue confusion within the bar and
bench, with lawyers, academics and judges quibbling over whether the earlier ruling of the Division constitutes
the current standard with respect to administrative reconstitution of titles. Our land registration system is too
vital to be stymied by such esoteric wrangling, and the administrators and courts which implement that system
do not deserve needless hassle.
The Office of the Solicitor General correctly pointed out that this Court before had sanctioned the recall entries of
judgment. 36 The power to suspend or even disregard rules of procedure can be so pervasive and compelling as
to alter even that which this Court itself has already declared to be final. 37 The militating concern for the
Court en banc in accepting these cases is not so much the particular fate of the parties, but the stability of the
Torrens system of registration by ensuring clarity of jurisprudence on the field.
It is beyond contention, even by the parties, that since the Court en banc resolved to accept these petitions in
2006, we have effectively been reviewing the 12 December 2005 Decision of the Court's First Division, as well as
the Resolutions dated 19 April and 19 June 2006 of that same Division. This Resolution is the result of that
review. As earlier stated, we have opted to do so on a pro hac vice basis to lend much needed jurisprudential
clarity as only the Court en banc can constitutionally provide.
II
In the context of an administrative reconstitution proceeding before the LRA, the Barques have sought that the
LRA exercise the power to cancel the Manotok title and forthwith cause the reconstitution of their own title. The
LRA refused to do so, although it did rule that the Manotok title was spurious and thus subject to cancellation
through the proper judicial proceeding. Upon appellate review of that LRA decision, the Court of Appeals initially
upheld the LRA's position, but ultimately, upon motion for reconsideration, directed the cancellation of the
Manotok title and the reconstitution of the Barque title.
Our succeeding discussion centers on the ordered mechanism for the cancellation of Torrens titles in the
Philippines.
To recall, both assailed Amended Decisions of the Court of Appeals notably directed the cancellation of the
Manotok title even as it mandated the reconstitution of the Barque title. The obvious question is whether the
Court of Appeals was empowered to direct the annulment of the Manotok title through the petitions raised
before it by the Barques and the Manotoks. It could not.
Section 48 of Presidential Decree No. 1529, also known as the Property Registration Decree, provides that "[a]
certificate of title shall not be subject to collateral attack [. . . and] cannot be altered, modified, or cancelled
except in a direct proceeding in accordance with law". 38 Clearly, the cancellation of the Manotok title cannot
arise incidentally from the administrative proceeding for reconstitution of the Barque title even if the evidence
from that proceeding revealed the Manotok title as fake. Nor could it have emerged incidentally in the appellate
review of the LRA's administrative proceeding.
26

There is no doubt that the Court of Appeals does not have original jurisdiction to annul Torrens titles or to
otherwise adjudicate questions over ownership of property. Its exclusive original jurisdiction is determined by
law, particularly by Batas Pambansa (B.P. 129). Section 9 of that law restricts the exclusive original jurisdiction
of the Court of Appeals to special civil actions and to actions for annulment of judgments of the regional trial
court. 39 Still, the Court of Appeals did acquire jurisdiction over the Barques' and the Manotoks' petitions, albeit
in the exercise of its exclusive appellate jurisdiction 40 over the ruling of the LRA, also pursuant to Section 9
of B.P. Blg. 129, as amended. Thus, for the appellate court to be able to direct the cancellation of a Torrens title
in the course of reviewing a decision of the LRA, the LRA itself must have statutory authority to cancel a Torrens
title in the first place.

Note that the Office of the Solicitor General, which acts as counsel for the government and its agencies including
the LRA, refutes the contention that the LRA has jurisdiction to cancel the Manotok title, much less jurisdiction to
rule on the validity of a certificate of title. It invokes the exclusive original jurisdiction of the RTC under
Paragraph 2, Section 19 of B.P. Blg. 129, conferring jurisdiction on the RTC over "all civil actions which involve
the title to or possession of real property, or any interest therein . . . ." That the RTC has "exclusive original
jurisdiction" over actions seeking the cancellation of title to real property is so cardinal in our remedial law that it
is reflected in hundreds if not thousands of examples in jurisprudence.
Nonetheless, we may inquire whether, notwithstanding the statutory delineation of "exclusive original jurisdiction
of the RTC", there is statutory basis for the LRA to exercise jurisdiction over the cancellation of Torrens titles. If
there is, we can perhaps assess such law separately from B.P. Blg. 129.
Section 6 of P.D. No. 1529 enumerates the general functions of the Land Registration Commissioner, 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 byP.D. No. 957.
Nowhere in the aforecited provision is it stated that the LRA has the power to cancel titles. Indeed, the Barques
are unable to point to any basis in law that confirms the power of the LRA to effect such cancellation, even
under Republic Act (R.A.) No. 26 as amended by Rep. Act No. 6732, which authorizes the administrative
reconstitution of titles in limited cases. In fact, as we shall see shortly such laws take great care to ensure that a
petition for administrative reconstitution of title will not disturb existing Torrens titles.
It is thus clear that neither the Court of Appeals nor the LRA had jurisdiction to cancel the Manotok title. The
next matter of inquiry is whether the LRA had acted correctly in ordering, conditional as it may have been, the
administrative reconstitution of the Barque title.

27

Under Rep. Act No. 26 as amended by Rep. Act No. 6732, administrative reconstitution of titles is permitted
where the certificates of titles have been lost due to "flood, fire and other force majeure". The petitioner in such
a case is required to execute an affidavit, containing the following averments: AEIHaS
(1) That no deed or other instrument affecting the property had been presented for registration, or, if there be
any, the nature thereof, the date of its presentation, as well as the names of the parties, and whether the
registration of such deed or instrument is still pending accomplishment;
(2) That the owner's duplicate certificate or co-owner's duplicate is in due form without any apparent intentional
alterations or erasures;
(3) That the certificate of title is not the subject of litigation or investigation, administrative or
judicial, regarding its genuineness or due execution or issuance;
(4) That the certificate of title was in full force and effect at the time it was lost or destroyed;
(5) That the certificate of title is covered by a tax declaration regularly issued by the Assessor's Office; and
(6) That real estate taxes have been fully paid up to at least two (2) years prior to the filing of the petition for
reconstitution. 41
Section 19 of Rep. Act No. 26, as amended by Rep. Act No. 6732, further provides:
Sec. 19. If the certificate of title considered lost or destroyed, and subsequently found or recovered, is not in the
name of the same person in whose favor the reconstituted certificate of title has been issued, the Register of
Deeds or the party concerned should bring the matter to the attention of the proper regional trial court, which,
after due notice and hearing, shall order the cancellation of the reconstituted certificate of title and render, with
respect to the memoranda of new liens and encumbrances, if any, made in the reconstituted certificate of title,
after its reconstitution, such judgment as justice and equity may require: Provided, however, That if the
reconstituted certificate of title has been cancelled by virtue of any deed or instrument, whether voluntary or
involuntary, or by an order of the court, and a new certificate of title has been issued, the procedure prescribed
above, with respect to the memorandum of new liens and encumbrances made on the reconstituted certificate
of title, after its reconstitution, shall be followed with respect to the new certificate of title, and to such new liens
and encumbrances, if any, as may have been on the latter, after the issuance thereof. 42
Rep. Act No. 6732 itself also states:
Section 11. A reconstituted title obtained by means of fraud, deceit or other machination is void ab initio as
against the party obtaining the same and all persons having knowledge thereof.
Section 12. Any person who by means of fraud, deceit or other machination obtains or attempts to obtain a
reconstituted title shall be subject to criminal prosecution and, upon conviction, shall be liable for imprisonment
for a period of not less than two years but not exceeding five years or the payment of a fine of not less than
Twenty thousand pesos but not exceeding Two hundred thousand pesos or both at the discretion of the court.
Any public officer or employee who knowingly approves or assists in securing a decision allowing reconstitution
in favor of any person not entitled thereto shall be subject to criminal prosecution and, upon conviction, shall be
liable for imprisonment of not less than five years but not exceeding ten years or payment of a fine of not less
than Fifty thousand pesos but not exceeding One hundred thousand pesos or both at the discretion of the court
and perpetual disqualification from holding public office. 43
These provisions indubitably establish that the administrative reconstitution of Torrens titles is intended for noncontroversial cases, or especially where the subject property is not covered by an existing title in favor of a
person other than the applicant. Such an implication is consonant with the rule that the reconstitution
proceedings are not the venue for confirmation or adjudication of title, but merely a means by which a
previously adjudicated title whose original has been lost or destroyed may be reissued to its owner. 44
28

The Solicitor General pertinently cites the rule in Alabang Development Corporation v. Valenzuela, 45 which we
held that "[t]he 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". 46 That such doctrine was established for cases of judicial reconstitution does
not bar its application to cases of administrative reconstitution. None of the provisions pertaining to
administrative reconstitution in Rep. Act No. 26 or 6732 extraordinarily empowers the LRA to exercise jurisdiction
over a petition for reconstitution, where the property is already covered by a Torrens title. After all, the LRA in
such case is powerless to void the previous title or to diminish its legal effect. Even assuming that the previously
issued title is obviously fraudulent or attended by flaws and as such cannot be countenanced by the legal
system, the corrective recourse lies with the courts, and not with the LRA.
If a petition for administrative reconstitution is filed with the LRA, and it appears from the official records that
the subject property is already covered by an existing Torrens title in the name of another person, there is
nothing further the LRA can do but to dismiss the petition. The dismissal of such petition is subject to judicial
review, but the only relevant inquiry in such appellate proceeding is on whether or not there is a previously
existing title covering that property. Neither the LRA nor the Court of Appeals at that point may inquire into the
validity of the title or the competing claims over the property. The only remedy is an action before the RTC for
the cancellation of the existing title, whether by the competing claimant or by the OSG on behalf of the
Republic. cSTDIC

III
The 2005 Decision placed heavy reliance on Ortigas & Company Limited Partnership v. Velasco, 47 where in the
course of reviewing an action for judicial reconstitution of title, the Court opted not to remand the reconstitution
case filed by Molina to the court of origin in order to permit the appeals of Ortigas and the Solicitor General,
which had been improvidently disallowed by the trial court. Instead, owing to the "fatal infirmities" of Molina's
cause of action, the Court itself nullified the reconstituted titles issued by the trial court. Ortigas had been cited
by the Court of Appeals and also by the 2005 Decision, in ruling on the Barques' petition.

The unusual "shortcut" that occurred in Ortigas had become necessary because in that case the trial court had
denied or stricken out the notices of appeal respectively filed by Ortigas and the Solicitor General from the order
for reconstitution of Molina's titles. Had these notices of appeal been allowed, the Court of Appeals would have
then reviewed the trial court's decision on appeal, with the ultimately correct resolution which was the
annulment of Molina's titles. Ortigas was forced to institute a special civil action of certiorari and mandamus with
this Court, praying for either of these alternative results the more prudent recourse of directing the trial court
to act on the notices of appeal and to forward the case records to the Court of Appeals, or the more immediate
remedy of bypassing the appellate process and the Court itself by directly annulling Molina's titles.
The Court of Appeals herein could not have equated its annulment of the Manotok title with that undertaken by
the Court in Ortigas since, unlike in Ortigas, the Court of Appeals was not endowed with the proper appellate
jurisdiction to annul the Manotok title. As earlier pointed out, since the LRA had no original jurisdiction to cancel
the Manotok title, it follows that the Court of Appeals had no jurisdictional competence to extend the same relief,
even while reviewing the LRA's ruling. Clearly, Ortigascannot be applied as a binding precedent to these cases.
The fundamental jurisdictional defects that attended the actions of both Divisions of the Court of Appeals have
effectively diminished Ortigas as a persuasive authority.

IV
The 2005 Decision accepted the findings of the LRA and the Court of Appeals that the Manotok title was spurious
and accordingly sanctioned its cancellation, even though no direct attack on the title had been initiated before a
trial court. That the 2005 Decision erred in that regard is a necessary consequence following our earlier
29

explanation of why the mere existence of the Manotok title necessarily barred the LRA from inquiring into the
validity of that title. ASIDTa
Moreover, it would have been pointless for the LRA or the Court of Appeals to have ruled definitively on the
validity of the Barques' claim to title. After all, since neither the LRA nor the Court of Appeals could cause the
cancellation of the Manotok title, any declaration that the Barque claim was valid would be inutile and
inoperable. Still, in order to effectively review and reverse the assailed rulings, it would be best for this Court
to test the premises under which the LRA and the Court of Appeals had concluded that the Barques
had a valid claim to title. The available record before the Court is comprehensive enough to allow us to
engage in that task.
The Barque title, or TCT No. 210177, under which the Barques assert title to Lot 823 of the Piedad Estate, states
that it was transferred from TCT No. 13900. 48 The Barques assert that they bought the subject property from a
certain Setosta. Thus, it could be deduced that TCT No. 13900 should have been registered under the name of
Setosta. However, it was not. TCT No. 13900 was registered under the name of Manotok Realty, Inc. 49 This
detracts from the Barques' claim that the Manotoks do not have title to the property, as in fact the Barque title
was a transfer from a title registered under the name of the Manotoks. The Barques have failed to explain the
anomaly.
The Barques hinge their claim on a purported subdivision plan, FLS-3168-D, made in favor of Setosta. However,
based on the records, it appears that there is a conflict as to its actual existence in the files of the government.
Revelatory is the exchange of correspondence between the LMB and the LRA. The LMB did not have any copy of
FLS-3168-D in the EDP listing, 50 nor did the LMB have a record of the plan. 51 However, a microfilm copy of
FLS-3168-D was on file in the Technical Records and Statistical Section of the Department of Environment and
Natural Resources Capital Region (DENR-NCR). 52 The copy with the Technical Records and Statistical Section,
which bore the stamp of the LMB, was denied by the LMB as having emanated from its office. 53
Further, the letter dated 2 January 1997 from the LMB stated that the copy of FLS-3168-D as verified from its
microfilm file was the same as the copy sent by the Technical Records and Statistics Section of the National
Capital Region Lands Management Sector. 54 The LMB, however, denied issuing such letter and stated that it
was a forged document. 55 To amplify the forged nature of the document, the LMB sent a detailed explanation
to prove that it did not come from its office. 56 In a letter to the administrator of the LRA, the hearing officer
concluded that "it is evident that there is an attempt to mislead us into favorable action by submitting forged
documents, hence it is recommended that this case [be] referred to the PARAC for investigation and filing of
charges against perpetrators as envisioned by this office under your administration". 57 IEaCDH
There are significant differences between the technical description of Lot 823 of the Piedad Estate as stated in
FLS-3168-D, the subdivision plan relied on by the Barques, and the technical description provided by the
DENR. 58 The DENR-confirmed technical description reads:
Bounded on the E., along line-2 by Payatas Estate; on the SE., by Tuazon Estate; along line 3-4 by Lot 824;
along line 4-5 by Lot 818; and on the N., along line 5-1 by Lot 822, all of Piedad Estate. 59
However, if we examine the subdivision plan, there are critical changes with respect to the boundaries named
therein. In effect, the boundaries as described in the subdivision plan would read:
Bounded on the E., along line-2 by Diez Francisco; on the SE., by Diez Francisco; along line 3-4 by Lot 824;
along line 4-5 by Lot 826; and on the N., along line 5-1 by Lot 822, all of Piedad Estate. 60
The Barques offered no credible explanation for the discrepancy between the subdivision plan it relies on and
the DENR record. They also do not contradict the finding of the National Archives that there is no copy in its files
of the deed of sale allegedly executed between Setosta and Barque. 61
Lastly, in the 1st indorsement issued by the Land Projection Section of the LRA dated 23 August 2006, that
Section stated that upon examination it was found out that the land as described in the Barque title "when
30

plotted thru its tie line falls outside Quezon City". This is material, since Lot 823 of the Piedad Estate is within the
boundaries of Quezon City. 62 A similar finding was made by the Land Management Bureau (LMB). It attested
that the line or directional azimuth of Lot No. 823 per the Barque title locates it at 5,889 meters away from point
1 of Lot No. 823 of the Piedad Estate. 63
These discrepancies highlight the error of the LRA and the Court of Appeals in acknowledging the right of the
Barques to seek reconstitution of their purported Barque title. Even assuming that the petition for reconstitution
should not have been dismissed due to the Manotok title, it is apparent that the Barques' claim of ownership is
exceedingly weak.

V
In the course of fully reevaluating these cases, the Court could not turn a blind eye on the evidence and points
raised against the Manotok title. The apparent flaws in the Manotoks claim are considerable and disturbing
enough. The Court, as the ultimate citadel of justice and legitimacy, is a guardian of the integrity of the land
registration system of the Philippines. We will be derelict in our duty if we remain silent on the apparent defects
of the Manotok title, reflective as they are of a scourge this Court is dedicated to eliminate.
Many of these flaws have especially emerged through the petition-for-intervention of Felicitas and Rosendo
Manahan, whom we have allowed to intervene in these cases. The Manahans had filed a petition with the OSG
seeking that it initiate cancellation/reversion proceedings against the Manotok title. That petition was referred by
the OSG to the LMB of the DENR, which duly investigated the claim of the Manahans. The Chief of the Legal
Division of the LMB recommended that the appropriate proceedings be taken in the proper court for the
cancellation of the Manotok title, through a Memorandum dated 17 April 2000. 64
Around the same time, the LMB referred to the DENR Undersecretary for Legal Affairs Roseller S. dela Pea a
query on whether a deed of conveyance could be issued to Felicitas Manahan. The DENR Undersecretary, in
answering that query through a Memorandum dated 6 July 2000, pointed out that the titles of the Manotoks
could not have been derived from OCT No. 614, the mother title of Lot 823 of the Piedad Estate. 65 The chain
of transfers leading from OCT No. 614 to the Manotok title was a TCT No. 22813, purportedly issued by the
Office of the Register of Deeds for the Province of Rizal. The copy of said TCT No. 22813 submitted to the Court
is truncated in the upper half, to the point that it is not visually discernible what year the same was issued. More
crucially, a certification was issued by the Register of Deeds of Rizal dated 7 January 2000 stating thus:
After a thorough verification from the files of this Office, it appears that the documents leading to the issuance
of TCT No. 22813, Blk. T-92 cannot be found from the files of this Office. 66
These findings were twice verified with due diligence and reconfirmed by the DENR, according to Undersecretary
dela Pea. 67 TIADCc
The DENR also requested the assistance of the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) in conducting the said
investigation. The NBI examined various sales certificates and assignment of sales certificates in the names of
the purported predecessors-in-interest of the Manotoks Regina Geronimo, Modesto Zacarias, and Felicisimo
Villanueva certificates that were all dated prior to 1930. In its Chemistry Report No. C-99-152 dated 10 June
1999, the Forensic Chemistry Division of the NBI concluded that the said documents "could not be as old as it
(sic) purports to be". 68

According to the Manahans, the LMB did eventually forward to the Office of the Register of Deeds of Quezon City
a Deed of Conveyance for registration and mandatory issuance of title to Felicitas Manahan as grantee, pursuant
to Section 122 of the Land Registration Act. The registration of said Deed of Conveyance was referred to the
Administrator of the Land Registration Authority en consulta in 2001.

31

Also on record 69 is an Investigation Report on Lot No. 823 of the Piedad Estate dated 5 July 1989, authored by
Evelyn C. dela Rosa, Land Investigator of the Community Environment and Natural Resources Office (CENRO),
NCR-North Sector and addressed to the CENRO Officer, North CENRO. It was narrated therein that Lot No. 823
had actually been in the possession of a Valentin Manahan beginning in 1908. In 1939, Valentin Manahan
applied for the purchase of the land, and he was issued Sales Certificate No. 511. The Investigation Report
stated:
Records show that the Sale Certificate No. 511 covering Lot 823, Piedad Estate, was issued to Valentin Manahan
as purchaser and transferred to Hilaria de Guzman Manahan as (Assignee) and sold to Felicitas Manahan by way
of Deed of Absolute Sale dated August 23, 1974. Based on my research at the Land Management Bureau (LMB),
Central Office, it appears that original claimant of lot 823 was Valentin Manahan. 70
All told, these apparent problems with the Manotoks' claim dissuade us from being simply content in reflexively
dismissing the administrative petition for reconstitution filed by the Barques. Indeed, we have to take further
action.

VI
The most formidable impediment to the Court reacting to the problems apparent in the Manotok title is the fact
that we are not engaged in the review of an original action for the cancellation of such title. If, as in Ortigas, the
validity of the questionable title were now properly at issue, the Court would without hesitancy rule on such
question. Because it is not, the matter of how next to proceed warrants more deliberation.
The conservative approach would be to still affirm the continuing validity of the Manotok title until the proper
case for its cancellation is filed with the regional trial court. Within that context, it would also be a plausible
recourse for us is to direct the Solicitor General to duly investigate the circumstances behind the transmission of
Lot No. 823, formerly a Friar Land, to private persons. Thereafter, the Solicitor General can file the appropriate
proceedings for cancellation if warranted. However, it is already apparent, following the evaluation of these
cases, that there is evidence unrefuted thus far indicating that the Manotoks' claim to title is just as flawed
as that of the Barques.
Can the Court declare the Manotok title void? In the 2002 decision in Alonso v. Cebu Country Club, 71 the
subject property therein had originally formed part of the Banilad Friar Lands. Cebu Country Club had
undertaken the administrative reconstitution of the title to the property, leading Alonso to file a complaint for
nullification of such title in order to vindicate his own claims to the property. Alonso's complaint was dismissed
by the trial court and the Court of Appeals. While the case was pending with this Court, the Solicitor General was
required to comment on the validity of Cebu Country Club's administratively reconstituted title. Ultimately, the
Court concluded that Cebu Country Club had not been able to establish a clear title over the contested estate,
and in the dispositive portion of its decision declared "that Lot No. 727 D-2 of the Banilad Friar Lands Estate
covered by Original Certificate of Title Nos. 251, 232, and 253 legally belongs to the Government of the
Philippines".
The following year, the Court, acting on the motions for reconsideration in Alonso, 72 extensively discussed why
it had taken that extraordinary step even though the Republic of the Philippines, through the Solicitor General,
had not participated or intervened in that case before the lower courts.
It must be borne in mind that the disputed property is part of the "Friar Lands" over which the Government
holds title and are not public lands but private or patrimonial property of the Government and can be alienated
only upon proper compliance with the requirements of Act No. 1120 or the Friar Lands Act.
xxx xxx xxx
It was thus primordial for the respondent to prove its acquisition of its title by clear and convincing evidence in
view of the nature of the land. In fact, it is essential for both respondent and petitioners to establish that it had
32

become private property. Both parties failed to do so. As we have held earlier, petitioners have not succeeded to
prove their claim of ownership over the subject property.
xxx xxx xxx
Neither may the rewards of prescription be successfully invoked by respondent, as it is an iron-clad dictum that
prescription can never lie against the Government. Since respondent failed to present the paper trail of the
property's conversion to private property, the lengthy possession and occupation of the disputed land by
respondent cannot be counted in its favor, as the subject property being a friar land, remained part of the
patrimonial property of the Government. Possession of patrimonial property of the Government, whether
spanning decades or centuries, can not ipso facto ripen into ownership. Moreover, the rule that statutes of
limitation do not run against the State, unless therein expressly provided, is founded on "the great principle of
public policy, applicable to all governments alike, which forbids that the public interests should be prejudiced by
the negligence of the officers or agents to whose care they are confided." DEAaIS
xxx xxx xxx
Finally, our declaration that Lot 727-D-2 of the Banilad Friar Lands Estate legally belongs to the Government
does not amount to reversion without due process of law insofar as both parties are concerned. The disputed
property is a Friar Land and both parties failed to show that it had ceased to belong to the patrimonial property
of the State or that it had become private property. 73
The Alonso approach especially appeals to us because, as in this case, the subject property therein was a Friar
Land which under the Friar Lands Law (Act No. 1120) may be disposed of by the Government only under that
law. Thus, there is greater concern on the part of this Court to secure its proper transmission to private hands, if
at all.
At the same time, the Court recognizes that there is not yet any sufficient evidence for us to warrant the
annulment of the Manotok title. All that the record indicates thus far is evidence not yet refuted by clear and
convincing proof that the Manotoks' claim to title is flawed. To arrive at an ultimate determination, the formal
reception of evidence is in order. This Court is not a trier of fact or otherwise structurally capacitated to receive
and evaluate evidence de novo. However, the Court of Appeals is sufficiently able to undertake such function.
The remand of cases pending with this Court to the Court of Appeals for reception of further evidence is not a
novel idea. It has been undertaken before in Republic v. Court of Appeals 74 and more recently in our 2007
Resolution in Manotok v. Court of Appeals. 75 Our following explanation in Manotok equally applies to this case:
Under Section 6 of Rule 46, which is applicable to original cases for certiorari, the Court may, whenever
necessary to resolve factual issues, delegate the reception of the evidence on such issues to any of its members
or to an appropriate court, agency or office. 80 The delegate need not be the body that rendered the assailed
decision.
The Court of Appeals generally has the authority to review findings of fact. Its conclusions as to findings of fact
are generally accorded great respect by this Court. It is a body that is fully capacitated and has a surfeit of
experience in appreciating factual matters, including documentary evidence.
In fact, the Court had actually resorted to referring a factual matter pending before it to the Court of Appeals.
In Republic v. Court of Appeals, this Court commissioned the former Thirteenth Division of the Court of Appeals
to hear and receive evidence on the controversy, more particularly to determine "the actual area reclaimed by
the Republic Real Estate Corporation, and the areas of the Cultural Center Complex which are 'open spaces'
and/or 'areas reserved for certain purposes,' determining in the process the validity of such postulates and the
respective measurements of the areas referred to." The Court of Appeals therein received the evidence of the
parties and rendered a "Commissioner's Report" shortly thereafter. Thus, resort to the Court of Appeals is not a
deviant procedure.
33

The provisions of Rule 32 should also be considered as governing the grant of authority to the Court of Appeals
to receive evidence in the present case. Under Section 2, Rule 32 of the Rules of Court, a court may, motu
proprio, direct a reference to a commissioner when a question of fact, other than upon the pleadings, arises
upon motion or otherwise, in any stage of a case, or for carrying a judgment or order into effect. The order of
reference can be limited exclusively to receive and report evidence only, and the commissioner may likewise rule
upon the admissibility of evidence. The commissioner is likewise mandated to submit a report in writing to the
court upon the matters submitted to him by the order of reference. In Republic, the commissioner's report
formed the basis of the final adjudication by the Court on the matter. The same result can obtain herein. 76
The primary focus for the Court of Appeals, as an agent of this Court, in receiving and evaluating evidence
should be whether the Manotoks can trace their claim of title to a valid alienation by the Government of Lot No.
823 of the Piedad Estate, which was a Friar Land. On that evidence, this Court may ultimately decide whether
annulment of the Manotok title is warranted, similar to the annulment of the Cebu Country Club title
in Alonso. At the same time, the Court recognizes that the respective claims to title by other parties such as the
Barques and the Manahans, and the evidence they may submit on their behalf, may have an impact on the
correct determination of the status of the Manotok title. It would thus be prudent, in assuring the accurate
evaluation of the question, to allow said parties, along with the OSG, to participate in the proceedings before the
Court of Appeals. If the final evidence on record definitively reveals the proper claimant to the subject property,
the Court would take such fact into consideration as it adjudicates final relief.

For the purposes above-stated, the Court of Appeals 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 notice of this Resolution.
To assist the Court of Appeals in its evaluation of the factual record, the Office of the Solicitor General is directed
to secure all the pertinent relevant records from the Land Management Bureau and the Department of
Environment and Natural Resources and submit the same to the Court of Appeals.
WHEREFORE, the Decision dated 12 June 2005, and the Resolutions dated 19 April and 19 June 2006 of the
Court's First Division are hereby SET ASIDE, and the Entry of Judgment recorded on 2 May 2006 is RECALLED.
The Amended Decision dated 24 February 2004 in CA-G.R. SP No. 66642, the Amended Decision dated 7
November 2003 and the Resolution dated 12 March 2004 in CA-G.R. SP No. 66700, and the Resolutions of the
Land Registration Authority dated 24 June 1998 and 14 June 1998 in Admin. Recons. No. Q-547-A[97] are all
REVERSED and SET ASIDE. TcSICH
The instant cases are hereby REMANDED to the Court of Appeals for further proceedings in accordance with this
Resolution. The Court of Appeals is directed to raffle these remanded cases immediately upon receipt of this
Resolution.
This Resolution is immediately executory.

Puno, C.J., Austria-Martinez, Velasco, Jr. and Brion, JJ., concur.


Quisumbing, J., joins in the dissent of J. Santiago.
Ynares-Santiago, J., please see Dissenting Opinion.
Carpio, J., see separate concurring opinion.
Corona, J., please see Separate Opinion.
Carpio-Morales, J., also concurs with J. Carpio's Separate Opinion.
Azcuna, J., joins the dissent of Justice Consuelo Ynares-Santiago.
34

Chico-Nazario, J., joins the dissent of Justice Consuelo Santiago in addition to her dissenting opinion.
Nachura, J., related to one of the counsel. Took no part.
Reyes, J., joins the dissent of J. Santiago.
Leonardo-de Castro, J., joins the dissent of Justice Santiago.
Separate Opinions
CARPIO, J., concurring:
The Antecedents
On 22 October 1996, Homer L. Barque, Sr. (Barque, Sr.) represented by Teresita 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, Land
Registration Authority (LRA) wrote a letter dated 29 October 1996, 1 addressed to Engineer Privadi J. Dalire
(Engineer Dalire), Chief of the Geodetic Surveys Division of the Lands Management Bureau, Binondo, Manila.
Atty. Bustos requested Engineer Dalire to furnish him with a certified copy of Subdivision Plan Fls-3168-D (Fls3168-D). Atty. Bustos wrote a similar but undated letter addressed to the Chief of the Surveys Division of the
Lands Management Services, Department of Environment and Natural Resources, National Capital Region (LMSDENR-NCR). 2
In his reply dated 7 November 1996, 3 Engineer Dalire informed Atty. Bustos that the Lands Management
Bureau has no record of Fls-3168-D. In a letter dated 28 November 1996, 4 Engineer Ernesto S. Erive (Engineer
Erive), Chief of the Surveys Division of the LMS-DENR-NCR, informed Atty. Bustos that a microfilm copy of Fls3168-D is on file in the Technical Records and Statistical Section of their office.
The letter of Engineer Erive confirming the existence of a microfilm copy of Fls-3168-D conflicted with the letter
of Engineer Dalire that his office has no record of Fls-3168-D. Thus, Atty. Bustos sent another letter dated 2
December 1996 5 to Engineer Dalire requesting for clarification. In a letter dated 5 December 1996, 6 Engineer
Dalire requested the Regional Technical Director of LMS-DENR-NCR for a copy of Fls-3168-D for evaluation.
Engineer 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 Statistical 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.
A letter dated 2 January 1997, 7 purportedly from Engineer Dalire, addressed to the LRA Administrator, was
handcarried to, and received by the LRA General Records Section on 7 January 1997. The letter states: TcDAHS
SUBJECT: Copy of Plan FLS-3168-D
Caloocan, M.M.
35

02 January 1997
The Administrator
Attn: The Reconstituting Officer &
Chief, Reconstitution Division
Land Registration Authority
East Avenue, Quezon City
Sir:
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).
Very truly yours,
For the Director,
Lands Management Bureau
(SGD.)
PRIVADI J. G. DALIRE
Chief, Geodetic Surveys Division
Interestingly, Engineer Dalire wrote another letter dated 5 January 1997 8 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.
Engineer Dalire sent another letter dated 31 January 1997 9 to the LRA Administrator. The letter states:
31 January 1997
The Administrator
Attn: The Reconstituting Officer
and Chief, Reconstitution Division
Land Registration Authority
East Avenue, Diliman, Quezon City
Sir:
36

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 Engineer 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. ADCTac
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 action 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.
37

Very truly yours,


For the Director,
Lands Management Bureau:
(SGD.)
PRIVADI J.G. DALIRE
Chief, Geodetic Surveys Division
In a letter dated 13 February 1997 10 to the LRA Administrator, Engineer Dalire explained that the 2 January
1997 letter was forged. Thus:
13 February 1997
The Administrator
Land Registration Authority
East Avenue, NIA Road
Quezon City
ATTN: Atty. Benjamin M. Bustos
Reconstituting Officer
Sir:
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. HCISED
Very truly yours,
(SGD.)
PRIVADI J.G. DALIRE
Chief, Geodetic Surveys Division
Finally, in a letter dated 19 February 1997, 11 Engineer Dalire requested Atty. Bustos to disregard Fls-3168-D
for being spurious, thus:
19 February 1997
Atty. Benjamin M. Bustos
Reconstituting Officer
38

Land Registration Authority


East Avenue, Quezon City
Dear Atty. Bustos:
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 Fls3168-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. HcISTE
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.
39

Very truly yours,


For the Director of Lands:
(SGD.)
PRIVADI J.G. DALIRE
Chief, Geodetic Surveys Division
The Ruling of the Reconstituting Officer
In an Order dated 30 June 1997, 12 Atty. Bustos denied the petition for administrative 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,
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 Engineer
Privadi J.G. Dalire, Chief, Geodetic Surveys Division, Lands Management Bureau, in his letter dated February
19, 1997. 13 (Boldfacing and underscoring supplied)
Barque, Sr. moved for reconsideration of the Order. In an Order dated 10 February 1998, 14 Atty. Bustos denied
the motion for lack of merit.
The Heirs of Barque (Barques) 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, 15 the LRA gave due course to the appeal. The LRA ruled that under LRA
Circular No. 13, 16 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. Hence, Atty. Bustos erred in requiring the submission of
documents other than the owner's duplicate TCT. The LRA further ruled that Engineer 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 Engineer Dalire. The LRA Administrator personally opined that the
Manotoks' 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 declaration
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. STHAaD
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
40

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 description 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 LMSDENR-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. 17
However, the LRA ruled that TCT No. 210177 may only be reconstituted after a court of competent
jurisdiction cancelled TCT No. RT-22481 (372302) in the name of the Manotoks. 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. 18 (Emphasis supplied)
The Manotoks filed a motion for reconsideration. In an Order dated 14 June 2001, 19 the LRA denied the
motion.
The Manotoks 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 Barques filed a petition for review docketed as CA-G.R. SP No. 66700 praying for the modification of 24 June
1998 Resolution and 14 June 2001 Order of the LRA. The Barques prayed for the immediate reconstitution of
TCT No. 210177 without prior cancellation of TCT No. RT-22481 (372302) by a court of competent
jurisdiction.aHTcDA
The Ruling of the Court of Appeals

CA-G.R. No. 66642


CA-G.R. No. 66642 was initially dismissed in the Resolution of 23 October 2001 20 for failure to show that Rosa
Manotok was authorized to sign the verification and certification against forum shopping in behalf of the other
petitioners. Upon motion for reconsideration filed by the Manotoks, the petition was reinstated in the Resolution
of 27 November 2001. 21
In its Decision of 29 October 2003, 22 the Court of Appeals denied the Manotoks' petition and affirmed the LRA
Resolution of 24 June 1998. However, upon motion for reconsideration of the Barques, the Court of Appeals
promulgated an Amended Decision on 24 February 2004, 23 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. 24
41

The Manotoks came 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, 25 the Court of Appeals dismissed the Barques' petition and
affirmed the LRA Resolution of 24 June 1998. The Barques moved for reconsideration of the Decision.
In an Amended Decision promulgated on 7 November 2003, 26 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. 27
The Manotoks filed a motion for reconsideration of the Amended Decision. In its Resolution of 12 March
2004, 28 the Court of Appeals denied the motion.
The Manotoks filed a petition for review with this Court, docketed as G.R. No. 162605.
The cases were consolidated in the Court's Resolution of 2 August 2004.
In a Decision dated 12 December 2005, 29 the First Division of this Court denied the petitions and affirmed the
Amended Decisions of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. SP No. 66642 and CA-G.R. SP No. 66700. In its 19 April
2006 Resolution, 30 the Special First Division of this Court denied the Manotoks' motion for reconsideration. No
proceeding of any kind took place before any trial court assailing the validity of the Torrens title of
the Manotoks. Yet, as the final resolution of the Barques' simple petition for administrative reconstitution, the
First Division of this Court cancelled the Torrens title of the Manotoks and declared the title of the Barques not
only reconstituted, but also valid.
In a Resolution dated 12 September 2006, this Court, among others, granted the Motion for Leave to Intervene
filed by Felicitas B. Manahan and Rosendo Manahan (Manahans).
In a Resolution dated 19 July 2006, the Special First Division of this Court referred the cases to the Court en
banc. In its 26 July 2006 Resolution, the Court en bancaccepted the cases. In the Oral Argument on 24 July
2007, the Court en banc considered the following issues:
1. Does the Court of Appeals have jurisdiction to cancel petitioners' TCT No. RT-22481 without a trial before the
proper regional trial court in a proceeding directly assailing the validity of petitioners' title?
2. Does the LRA have jurisdiction 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?
3. Does the LRA have jurisdiction to adjudicate on the validity of petitioners' TCT No. RT-22481 in the
administrative reconstitution case filed by respondents with the LRA?
4. Does the Court of Appeals or the LRA have jurisdiction to decide the ownership of the disputed property in the
administrative reconstitution of title filed by respondents?
The Ruling of This Court
We set aside the 12 December 2005 Decision of the First Division of this Court. cDTSHE

First, the 12 December 2005 Decision of the First Division of this Court overturns well-entrenched doctrines
of this Court, such as the decision in Sps. Antonio and Genoveva Balanon-Anicete, et al. v. Pedro
42

Balanon. 31 Second, the LRA has no jurisdiction to reconstitute the Barques' title because of the pre-existing
Torrens title of the Manotoks. Third, a Torrens title can only be cancelled if a direct proceeding assailing its
validity is filed before the proper Regional Trial Court. Fourth, the Barques submitted patently forged
documents in the administrative reconstitution of their title, and even in the attachments to their Memorandum
of 23 August 2007.
FOUR FIRSTS IN PHILIPPINE JURISPRUDENCE
The 12 December 2005 Decision of the First Division made four "firsts". First, it is the first decision in
Philippine jurisprudence where an administrative reconstitution of title resulted in the cancellation of the
Torrens title of another person without a direct attack of the cancelled title in any trial court. Second, it is
the first decision in Philippine jurisprudence authorizing the LRA to reconstitute administratively a Torrens title
despite the existence of a previously issued Torrens title over the same property in the name of another
person. Third, it is the first decision in Philippine jurisprudence where the issue of ownership of land is decided
with finality in a petition for administrative reconstitution of title. And fourth, it is the first decision in
Philippine jurisprudence where the petitioner in an administrative petition praying for a simple reconstitution of
title received an unexpected and undeserved windfall the declaration of validity of his reconstituted title and
the cancellation of a previously issued Torrens title in the name of another person over the same property.
LANDMARK DOCTRINES OVERTURNED
The Decision of the First Division overturns three doctrines firmly established in numerous decisions of this
Court, both en banc and in division, many of them landmark rulings. To name a few of these decisions starting
in the year 1915: Legarda and Prieto v. Saleeby, 32 Magay, etc. v. Estiandan, 33 Republic v. Court of
Appeals,34 Alabang Development Corporation, et al. v. Valenzuela, etc., et al., 35 MWSS v. Hon. Sison, etc., et
al., 36 Liwag v. Court of Appeals, 37 Ybaez v. Intermediate Appellate Court, 38 Serra Serra v. Court of
Appeals, 39 Ortigas & Company Limited Partnership v. Velasco, 40 Heirs of Santiago v. Heirs of
Santiago, 41 and Alonso v. Cebu Country Club, Inc. 42
The three well-established doctrines that the Decision of the First Division has overturned are:
1. A Torrens title can be cancelled only in a proceeding directly attacking the title's validity before the proper
regional trial court. 43 This is the bedrock principle that provides enduring stability to Torrens titles.
2. A reconstitution of Torrens title, whether judicial or administrative, cannot proceed once it is shown that
another Torrens title has already been issued to another person over the same property. The reconstituting body
or court has no jurisdiction to issue another Torrens title over the same property to the petitioner. 44 The
existence of a prior title ipso facto nullifies the reconstitution proceedings. 45 The proper recourse is to assail
directly in a proceeding before the regional trial court the validity of the Torrens title already issued to the other
person.

3. The reconstituting officer or court has no jurisdiction to decide the issue of ownership over the property or the
validity of the title. 46 The purpose of reconstitution is solely to replace a certificate of title that was lost or
destroyed in the same legal status it existed at the time of the loss or destruction. The validity of a Torrens title,
reconstituted or not, is a separate issue from the reconstitution of title.
DOCTRINE OF IMMUTABILITY NOT APPLICABLE
The dissenting opinion asserts that the 12 December 2005 Decision of the First Division has already become final
and executory, and thus has become immutable and unalterable. The dissenting opinion states that there is no
compelling reason to depart from the doctrine of immutability and unalterability of decisions.
On the contrary, the 12 December 2005 Decision never became final and executory. The doctrine of immutability
and unalterability of decisions necessarily applies only to final and executory decisions. If the decision
43

never became final and executory, the doctrine of immutability and unalterability of decisions has no application.
Before finality of a decision, a court has "plenary power to alter, modify or even set aside, its own decisions, and
even order a new trial, at any time before the decision becomes final." 47
There are two compelling jurisdictional reasons why the 12 December 2005 Decision of the First Division
never became final and executory. First, the First Division has no jurisdiction to overturn a doctrine laid down by
the Court en banc or in division. The Court en banc has ruled in Group Commander, Intelligence and Security
Group, Philippine Army v. Dr. Malvar 48 that a decision of a division is void if it overturns a doctrine established
by the en banc or another division. There, the Court held:
Section 4, sub-paragraph (3), Article VIII of the 1987 Constitution, provides:
". . . no doctrine or principle of law laid down by the (Supreme) Court en banc or its Divisions may be modified
or reversed except by the Court sitting en banc."
A Decision rendered by a Division of this Court in violation of the above constitutional provision
would be in excess of jurisdiction and, therefore, invalid. 49(Emphasis supplied)
A void decision vests no right, creates no obligation, grants no title, and settles no issue. A void decision protects
no one and is subject to attack, directly or collaterally,50 at any time. A void decision has no existence in law.
Therefore, a void decision cannot become final and executory against, or in favor of, any one. ETDHaC
Second, the doctrine of immutability and unalterability of decisions applies only if the trial court or hearing officer
has jurisdiction over the subject matter. A decision rendered by a trial court or hearing officer without jurisdiction
over the subject matter is void and cannot become final and executory. Such decision cannot even become res
judicata because there can be no conclusiveness of judgment if the trial court or hearing officer has no
jurisdiction over the subject matter. 51
In these cases, the LRA has no jurisdiction to reconstitute administratively the title of the Barques because such
reconstitution constitutes an indirect or collateral attack on the pre-existing Torrens title of the Manotoks over
the same property. Section 48 of the Property Registration Decree 52 states that a "certificate of title
shall not be subject to a collateral attack". The LRA, or even any court for that matter, has no jurisdiction
to entertain a collateral attack 53 on a Torrens title. The Manotoks' prior title must be deemed valid and
subsisting as it cannot be assailed through collateral attack in the reconstitution proceedings. 54
THE MANOTOKS' PRIOR TITLE NULLIFIES RECONSTITUTION PROCEEDINGS OF BARQUES
In fact, the existence of a prior Torrens title over the same property in the name of another person ipso
facto nullifies the reconstitution proceedings and renders the reconstituted title void. 55 Demetriou v. Court of
Appeals, 56 penned by Justice Vicente V. Mendoza, is instructive and summarizes the law on this matter:
But a judgment otherwise final may be annulled not only on the ground of extrinsic fraud but also because of
lack of jurisdiction of the court which rendered it. In Serra Serra v. Court of Appeals, on facts analogous to those
involved in this case, this Court already held that if a certificate of title has not been lost but is in fact
in the possession of another person, the reconstituted title is void and the court rendering the
decision has not acquired jurisdiction. Consequently, the decision may be attacked any
time. Indeed, Rep. Act No. 26, 18 provides that "in case a certificate of title, considered lost or destroyed be
found or recovered, the same shall prevail over the reconstituted certificate of title". It was, therefore, error for
the Court of Appeals to dismiss the petition for annulment of judgment of the petitioners. 57 (Emphasis
supplied)
Even before Demetriou, this Court had already ruled in Republic v. Court of Appeals 58 that the existence of a
prior Torrens title ipso facto nullifies the reconstitution proceedings, thus:
The existence of the two titles of the Government for Lots Nos. 915 and 918 ipso facto nullified the
reconstitution proceedings and signified that the evidence in the said proceedings as to the alleged
44

ownership of Laborada and Bombasi cannot be given any credence. The two proceedings were sham and
deceitful and were filed in bad faith. Such humbuggery or imposture cannot be countenanced and cannot be the
source of legitimate rights and benefits.
Republic Act No. 26 provides for a special procedure for the reconstitution of Torrens certificates of title that are
missing and not fictitious titles or titles which are existing. It is a patent absurdity to reconstitute existing
certificates of title that are on file and available in the registry of deeds.
The reconstitution proceedings in Civil Cases Nos. C-677 and C-763 are void because they are
contrary to Republic Act No. 26 and beyond the purview of that law since the titles reconstituted
are actually subsisting in the registry of deeds and do not require reconstitution at all. As a rule, acts
executed against the provisions of mandatory laws are void (Art. 5, Civil Code).
To sustain the validity of the reconstituted titles in these cases would be to allow Republic Act No.
26 to be utilized as an instrument for landgrabbing (See Republic vs. Court of Appeals, Ocampo and
Anglo, L-31303-04, May 31, 1978, 83 SCRA 453, 480, per J. G.S. Santos) or to sanction fraudulent
machinations for depriving a registered owner of his land, to undermine the stability and security
of Torrens titles and to impair the Torrens system of registration. 59(Emphasis supplied)
These rulings of the Court are so essential in providing stability to land titles that overturning them now would
be catastrophic to our Torrens system of land registration.
A TORRENS TITLE CAN ONLY BE CANCELLED IN A DIRECT ACTION ASSAILING ITS VALIDITY
BEFORE THE REGIONAL TRIAL COURT
The LRA has also no jurisdiction to cancel the Torrens title of the Manotoks because the exclusive original
jurisdiction to cancel a Torrens title belongs to the Regional Trial Court. The LRA, moreover, has no jurisdiction
to decide the ownership dispute over a parcel of land 60 between the Barques and the Manotoks because
jurisdiction to adjudicate ownership of disputed real properties belongs to courts of justice.
Two specific provisions of law confer exclusive original jurisdiction on Regional Trial Courts to cancel a Torrens
title. Section 48 of the Property Registration Decreeprovides: cTACIa
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)
Section 19 of the Judiciary Act 61 provides that the "Regional Trial Court shall exercise exclusive original
jurisdiction . . . in all civil actions, which involve the title to . . . real property".
That the proper Regional Trial Court has exclusive original jurisdiction to entertain any action to cancel a
Torrens title is reinforced by Section 108 of the Property Registration Decree. Section 108 states that "no
erasure, alteration or amendment shall be made upon the registration book after the entry of a certificate of title
. . .,except by order of the proper Court of First Instance (now the Regional Trial Court)."
LRA DECISION ON RECONSTITUTION DOES NOT BECOME FINAL AND EXECUTORY
The doctrine of immutability and unalterability of decisions applies only to decisions that are capable of
becoming final and executory. Decisions of the LRA on administrative reconstitutions of title never become final
and executory. An administrative reconstitution of title is merely a restoration or replacement of a lost or
destroyed title in its original form at the time of the loss or destruction. 62 The issuance of a reconstituted title
vests no new rights and determines no ownership issues.63 At any time, the LRA can revoke its issuance
of a reconstituted title if the lost or destroyed title is subsequently found. 64 The issuance by the LRA
of a reconstituted title is an executive function, not a judicial or quasi-judicial function. Only judicial or quasijudicial decisions can become res judicata. This Court stated in A.G. Development Corp. v. Court of
45

Appeals: 65 "[T]he doctrine of res judicata applies only to judicial or quasi-judicial proceedings and
not to the exercise of administrative powers or to legislative, executive or ministerial determination". 66
The 12 December 2005 Decision of the First Division grants to the Barques much more than what the Barques
prayed for in their petition for administrative reconstitution of title. In their petition before the LRA, the Barques
only prayed for the reconstitution of their allegedly destroyed title. The Decision of the First Division grants the
reconstitution, declares the reconstituted title valid, awards ownership over the disputed property to the
Barques, and cancels the Torrens title of the Manotoks. This violates the "cardinal principle that (a court) cannot
grant anything more than what is prayed for" 67 in the petition.

A SURFEIT OF FORGERIES AND BADGES OF FRAUD


Equally disturbing, there are patent forgeries, badges of fraud, and other dubious circumstances that
the First Division inexplicably brushed aside in its Decision. These forgeries alone are more than sufficient
grounds to deny the reconstitution of the Barques' title. These forgeries provide compelling reasons for this
Court to require compliance with Section 48 of the Property Registration Decree in determining the validity of the
Manotoks' title. Section 48 requires a proceeding before the proper Regional Trial Court directly assailing the
validity of the Torrens title before such title can be cancelled.

First: Forged Plan Fls-3168-D


The Barques submitted to the LRA reconstituting officer patently forged documents in support of their
petition. On 31 January 1997, Engineer Dalire wrote the LRA reconstituting officer that the copy of the Barques'
plan Fls-3168-D submitted to the LRA "bears forged initials of my section officer and myself", 68 and
that the Lands Management Bureau National Office "does not have copy of Fls-3168-D." 69 Engineer Dalire
urged the LRA that plan Fls-3168-D and the accompanying authentication letter "be disregarded or rejected
as they come from spurious sources". 70
Plan Fls-3168-D is vital in establishing the authenticity of the Barques' Torrens title, which contains two lots as
subdivided by plan Fls-3168-D from the original Lot 823. The Manotoks' title covers only one lot, Lot 823,
without subdivision. Both the Manotoks and the Barques claim the same original Lot 823. If there is no record in
the Lands Management Bureau National Office of plan Fls-3168-D showing the subdivision of Lot 823 into two
lots, then the Barques' title is spurious.
During the oral argument of these cases, counsel for the Barques was asked if the Barques have ever secured a
copy of plan Fls-3168-D as certified by the Lands Management Bureau National Office. Counsel for the
Barques showed the Court a copy of what purported to be plan Fls-3168-D but on closer examination the copy
was certified not by the Lands Management Bureau National Office but by the NCR Regional Office. What
counsel for the Barques showed was the same copy of plan Fls-3168-D that Engineer Privadi Dalire, Chief of the
Geodetic Surveys Division of the Lands Management Bureau National Office, had rejected as a forgery in his 31
January 1997 and 19 February 1997 letters to Atty. Bustos. In his letters, Engineer Dalire stated that there is no
plan Fls-3168-D in the files of the Lands Management Bureau National Office.

Second: Forged 2 January 1997 Letter


On 13 February 1997, Engineer Privadi J. Dalire, Chief of the Geodetic Surveys Division of the Lands
Management Bureau National Office, wrote the LRA reconstituting officer that the 2 January 1997 letter,
purportedly coming from Engineer Dalire, "definitely did not come from this office; it is a forged
document". 71
In his 19 February 1997 letter, Engineer Dalire also informed the LRA reconstituting officer that the 2 January
1997 letter purportedly coming from him was the"handiwork of forgers". 72 In the questioned 2 January
1997 letter 73 addressed to the LRA reconstituting officer, Engineer Dalire allegedly stated that the Chief of the
46

Technical Records and Statistics of the National Capital Region-Lands Management Bureau (NCR Regional Office)
had forwarded a copy of Fls-3168-D to Engineer Dalire's office. Engineer Dalire has repeatedly denounced
this 2 January 1997 letter as a forgery, not only because he never signed this letter, but also
because his office never received a copy of Fls-3168-D from the NCR Regional Office. AcHCED

Third: Plan Fls-3168-D Is Void Unless Validated by the Geodetic Surveys Division
During the oral argument, counsel for the Barques then undertook to present to the Court a copy of plan Fls3168-D as certified by the Lands Management Bureau National Office. In their Memorandum dated 6 September
2007, counsel for the Barques explained why they could not present a copy of plan Fls-3168-D as certified by
the Lands Management Bureau National Office:
Following the order of the Honorable Justice Carpio for respondents to secure a certified true copy of Fls-3168-D
from the Land Management Bureau, National Office, they went to said National Office to secure said certified
true copy of Fls-33168-D but were instead given a copy of a form letter (Annex "J") issued in reply to a prior
request for transmittal of Plan FLS-3168-D with the information that records of said plan had already been
turned over to the National Capital Region.
The form letter (Annex "J") from the Records Management Division of the Lands Management Bureau National
Office, that the Barques attached to their Memorandum, states
. . . plan FLS-3168-D covering parcel/s of and 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.
The form letter bears the printed name of Rainier D. Balbuena, OIC, Records Management Division, Lands
Management Bureau National Office although someone whose signature is not legible signed for Rainier D.
Balbuena.
The Barques also submitted a Certification dated 19 June 2007 (Annex "E-I") signed by Rainier D. Balbuena,
OIC, Records Management Division, Lands Management Bureau National Office, stating:
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.
In sharp contrast, the Manotoks attached to their Memorandum dated 23 August 2007 a certification signed by
three persons from the Lands Management Bureau National Office, namely, Bienvenido F. Cruz, Chief,
Geodetic Surveys Division; Rodel Collantes, Chief, Technical Services & Survey Records Documentation
Section; and Teodoro A. de Castro, researcher. This certification, dated 2 August 2007, states:
August 2, 2007
LUISA T. PADORA
2830 Juan Luna St. Tondo
Manila
S i r /M a d a m:
This is in connection with your request on the verification of survey plan. As per our inventory we found out the
following:
Survey No. Accession No.
Location
Fls-3168-D Not listed in EDP listing.
47

Verified By:
(Sgd)
RODEL COLLANTES
Chief, Technical Services & Survey
Records Documentation Section
Researched by:
(Sgd)
TEODORO A. DE CASTRO
Very truly yours,
(Sgd)
BIENVENIDO F. CRUZ
Chief, Geodetic Surveys Division
OR#: 3041650
Date: 08/02/07
Amt. Php 40.00
The certification of the Chief, Geodetic Surveys Division prevails over the certification of the OIC, Records
Management Division. Under paragraph 2.4 of Lands Memorandum Order No. 368-92 dated 17 August
1992, "no copies of white print, blue prints or photographic copies of plans shall be issued unless
said secondary copies have been validated by the Geodetic Surveys Division". The same paragraph
2.4 further states that unless validated by the Geodetic Surveys Divisions, copies of such plans "should be
temporarily expunged from the records of the Records Division until they are validated and
returned for official file". SEDaAH
Thus, no secondary copies of plans, like the Barques' Fls-3168-D plan, can have any evidentiary value unless
validated by the Geodetics Surveys Division of the Lands Management Bureau National Office. More importantly,
copies of plans, like the Barques' Fls-3168-D plan, which have not been validated by the Geodetic Surveys
Division, are deemed "expunged from the Records of the Records Division". The inescapable conclusion is
that the form letter (Annex "J") issued by the Records Management Division of the Lands
Management Bureau National Office, and the Certification dated 19 June 2007 (Annex "E-I")
signed by Rainier D. Balbuena, OIC, Records Management Division, Lands Management Bureau
National Office, both of which refer to the existence of the Barques' Fls-3168-D plan, are absolutely
worthless and are mere scraps of paper.
The Barques' explanation is further belied by the 19 February 1997 letter of Engineer Dalire, Chief of the
Geodetic Surveys Division of the Lands Management Bureau National Office, that:
. . . 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.
xxx xxx xxx
. . . 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). . . . . 74 (Emphasis
supplied)
As pointed out by Engineer Dalire, under DENR Administrative Order No. 49, series of 1991, the copy of plan
Fls-3168-D must be forwarded by the NCR Regional Office for validation by the Geodetic Surveys
Division of the Lands Management Bureau National Office. No copy of the survey plan can be issued by
48

the NCR Regional Office without the validation of the Geodetic Surveys Division. Sections 4.3 and 4.5 of
DENR Administrative Order No. 49 states:
Section 4. Preparation of Certified True Copies of Approved Plans. The following considerations on the
preparation of Certified True Copies of Approved Plans shall be observed:
xxx xxx xxx
4.3 Decentralized whiteprints or photographic copies of plans especially those marked "SGD" (i.e. SIGNED) shall
not be used for the issuance of patent or certified true copy or titling purposes, EXCEPT, upon or prior
authentication by the Lands Management Bureau (LMB) after diligent comparison with the records of the
Land Registration Authority (LRA) and other depository of surveys records.

xxx xxx xxx


4.5 The Chief of the Regional Surveys Division of the Lands Management Service in the concerned Regional
Office shall certify all copies for land registration and for other purposes as true, correct and exact replica of the
original plan. (Emphasis supplied)
The requirement of validation by the Geodetic Surveys Division is reiterated and amplified in Lands Memorandum
Order No. 368-92 dated 17 August 1992, thus:
2.4 No copies of white print, blue prints or photographic copies of plans shall be issued unless said
secondary copies have been validated by the Geodetic Surveys Division (see paragraph 4.3, DENR
A.O. 49, s-1991). The Survey Records Section shall turn over all print (white, blue, xerox) copies and
photographic copies in its file to the Geodetic Surveys Division for examination, investigation and/or
validation. These copies should temporarily be expunged from the records of the Records Division
until they are validated and returned for official file. (Boldfacing and underscoring supplied)
Unless validated by the Geodetic Surveys Division of the Lands Management Bureau National Office, secondary
copies of survey plans, such as the Barques' plan Fls-3168-D, have no evidentiary value because they are
"temporarily . . . expunged from the records of the Records Division".
The Geodetic Surveys Division validates the survey plans based on the "back-up file in the Central Records
Office". Despite the decentralization of the records of survey plans, the Lands Management Bureau National
Office retained "back-up files" of the decentralized records. Lands Memorandum Order No. 368-92 states:
1. General Policy
1.1 It is the general policy that all isolated survey plans and other survey records be decentralized immediately
to the Lands Management Sector for their reference and file after establishing a back-up file in the Central office
for records preservation. The latter can be done thru microfilming or reproduction of the original records.
(Emphasis supplied)
The NCR Regional Office failed to submit to the Geodetics Survey Division a copy of plan Fls-3168-D despite
repeated requests from Engineer Dalire. In his 31 January 1997 letter to the reconstituting officer, Atty. Bustos,
Engineer Dalire stated:
. . . 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 (sic) 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. 75 (Emphasis supplied) TcADCI
49

This repeated and manifest failure by the NCR Regional Office is echoed by the glaring failure of the Barques to
submit, as they had promised to the Court during the oral argument, a copy of plan Fls-3168-D as certified by
the Lands Management Bureau National Office.
This Court has already recognized that copies of survey plans are void unless validated by the Geodetic Surveys
Division in accordance with DENR Administrative Order No. 49, series of 1991. In Fil-Estate Golf and
Development, Inc. v. Court of Appeals, 76 the Court held:
Finally, private respondents' cause of action against petitioner is defeated by the findings of Mr.
Privadi Dalire, Chief of the Geodetic Surveys Division of the Bureau of Lands, contained in his letters to
the Regional Technical Director of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), Region IV
dated 12 November 1992 and 15 December 1992, respectively:
12 November 1992
xxx
MEMORANDUM:
15 December 1992
FOR: The Regional Technical Director of Lands
The Chief, Regional Surveys Division
DENR, Region IV
L & S Building, Roxas Boulevard
Manila
FROM: LMB
SUBJECT: Psu-201
Records show that the region furnished us a white print copy certified by Engineer Robert Pangyarihan to have
been "prepared from a tracing cloth plan on file in the NCR" for validation. We returned the white print plan
prepared by Engineer Pangyarihan because we should examine the "tracing cloth plan" and it is the tracing cloth
plan, white prints and photographic copies sent by the Central Records Division to be returned to LMB for
validation by this Division.
In the letter dated 27 November 1992, Engineer Pangyarihan explained that he prepared the copy which he
certified from a white print plan on file in the region as the applicant claims to have lost the tracing cloth. While
the explanation may be considered, yet the preparation of the plan is not yet in accordance with
Sections 1.3 and 4.3 of DENR Administrative Order No. 49, s-1991 which requires that the white
prints or photographic print of the plan other than the original plan which have been decentralized
must first be authenticated by this Bureau before a certified true copy is issued by the region. It is
evident therefore that the issuance of a certified true copy of Psu-201 from a white print is
premature, and considered void ab initio.
Consider also that if the record of the Bureau is different from the print copy is subjected to field ocular
inspection of the land and on the basis of the findings, the region may reconstruct the plan to be approved as
usual. Certified copies may now be issued based on the reconstructed and approved plan. The white print of
Psu-201 should therefore be subjected to ocular inspection.
Our records of inventory of approved plans show Psu-201 as a survey of J. Reed covering a piece of land in
Malate, Manila. That plan was heavily damaged and its reconstruction was not finalized. This should be included
in the investigation.
For the Director of Lands:
(SGD.) PRIVADI J.G. DALIRE
Chief, Geodetic Surveys Division. 77 (Emphasis supplied)
50

Clearly, in the present cases the copy of the Barques' plan Fls-3168-D issued by the NCR Regional Office is
likewise void unless validated by the Geodetic Surveys Division in accordance with DENR Administrative Order
No. 49, series of 1991, as amplified in Lands Memorandum Order No. 368-92. Up to this time, the Barques
have failed to submit a copy of their plan Fls-3168-D as certified by the Geodetic Surveys Division.
The inescapable conclusion is that the Barques' plan Fls-3168-D is void ab initio.
In their Memorandum dated 6 September 2007, the Barques submitted to the Court a copy of plan Fls-3168D, certified by the NCR Regional Office, to support the authenticity of the plan Fls-3168-D that the Barques
had earlier submitted to the reconstituting officer, Atty. Bustos, thus:
c. Photo Copy of Plan FLS-3168 (microfilm) duly certified by Carmelito A. Soriano for the Chief, Regional
Technical Director, NCR, Annex "H" hereof. This microfilm copy is exactly the same as the Tracing Cloth Plan
copy, Annex G.

First, there does not appear in Annex "H" a signature over the printed name Carmelito A. Soriano, Chief,
Regional Technical Director, NCR National Office.

Second, Annex "H" is not certified by the Chief of the Regional Surveys Division, Lands Management Service of
the NCR Regional Office as required by Section 4.5 of DENR Administrative Order No. 49.

Third, Annex "H" is the same copy of Fls-3168-D that purportedly originated from the office of
Engineer Privadi Dalire, Chief of the Geodetic Surveys Division of the Lands Management
Bureau. Annex "H" is also the same copy of plan Fls-3168-D that counsel for the Barques showed to the Court
during the oral argument.Engineer Privadi Dalire has categorically declared this copy of Fls-3168-D as
"spurious" in his 19 February 1997 letter to Atty. Bustos, thus: HETDAC
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. 78 (Emphasis supplied)
Engineer Dalire ended his letter by advising Atty. Bustos to "disregard the plan Fls-3168-D and the letter
dated 02 January 1997 as they are proven to be spurious documents". 79
Again, in his 31 January 1997 letter to Atty. Bustos, Engineer Dalire reiterated that plan Fls-3168-D, which
purportedly was certified by him, did not come from his office. Engineer Dalire stated in his 31 January 1997
letter:
. . . We are sure that the copy did not come from this Office. The reasons are:
51

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 action 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. 80 (Emphasis supplied)
The Barques have the temerity to foist on this Court their copy of plan Fls-3168-D which has been repeatedly
denounced as a forgery by Engineer Dalire, the very person whom the Barques claim certified their
copy of Fls-3168-D. Engineer Dalire is the best person to determine the authenticity of Fls-3168-D not only
because he allegedly signed it as claimed by the Barques, but also because he is the Chief of the Geodetic
Surveys Division of the Lands Management Bureau National Office, the office that has the "inventory of approved
plans . . . (and) Microfilm Computer list of plans available for decentralization". aESIDH

Fourth: The Barques Submitted a Tampered Copy of Administrative Reconstitution Order No. Q-535(96)
On 7 February 1997, the Barques had written the LRA Administrator complaining against the LRA reconstituting
officer's alleged "pattern of effort to delay the administrative reconstitution". 81 The Barques attached to their 7
February 1997 letter an alleged order of reconstitution signed by Atty. Bustos approving the
reconstitution of the Barques' TCT No. 210177. In his 14 February 1997 reply to the LRA Administrator,
Atty. Bustos exposed the alleged order of reconstitution submitted by the Barques as a "tampered
document".
The Barques also informed the LRA Administrator that there was a "recommendation dated
January 2, 1997 by the Chief, Geodetic Surveys, Lands Management Bureau, DENR, Manila, to give
due course to the said reconstitution". However, in his 13 February 1997 letter 82 to the LRA reconstituting
officer,Engineer Dalire, the Chief, Geodetic Surveys, Lands Management Bureau, disowned this 2 January
1997 letter as a forgery.
On 14 February 1997, the LRA reconstituting officer wrote the LRA Administrator that: 83
1. There is no effort to delay the administrative reconstitution of the aforesaid title. What we are doing is a
thorough check of the authenticity of the submitted documents;
52

2. The order of reconstitution containing TCT No. 210177 and the name of Homer L. Barque,
attached to the aforesaid letter is a tampered document. For your comparison, herewith is a copy
of the genuine order of reconstitution, marked as annex "A";
3. The alleged letter-recommendation dated January 2, 1997, by the Chief, Geodetic Surveys
Division, LMB-DENR, is also a forged document. Attached for your reference is a copy of the letter which is
self-explanatory, together with its enclosures, directly received by the undersigned from Engineer Privadi J.G.
Dalire, Chief, Geodetic Surveys Division, LMB-DENR, marked as annex "B";
4. Lots 823-A & 823-B, Fls-3168-D, containing areas of 171,473 Sq. m. & 171, 472 Sq. m.,
respectively, purportedly covered by TCT No. 210177, appear to duplicate Lot 823, Piedad Estate,
containing an area of 342,945 Sq. m. covered by TCT No. 372302, registered in the name of
Severino M. Manotok, et al., copy of which is hereto attached as annex "C". (Boldfacing and
underscoring supplied)
In his 14 February 1997 letter, the LRA reconstituting officer complained to the LRA Administrator that "there is
an attempt to mislead us into favorable action by submitting forged documents".
The tampering refers to the insertion of (1) the name of "Homer L. Barque", and (2) the title
number "210177" in Administrative Reconstitution No. Q-535(96). The Barques justified the authenticity of the
copy they presented by claiming that their copy was "initialed in each and every page." 84 However, the
Barques' copy of Administrative Reconstitution No. Q-535(96) differed from the original of Administrative
Reconstitution No. Q-535(96) that the LRA reconstituting officer himself signed on 27 January 1997. To repeat,
the original of Administrative Reconstitution No. Q-535(96) was an order issued and signed by the
LRA reconstituting officer, Atty. Bustos. Indeed, the Barques' copy 85 of Administrative Reconstitution No.
Q-535(96) shows that it was signed by the same LRA reconstituting officer, Atty. Bustos, handling the Barques'
then pending petition for administrative reconstitution.
The Barques also failed to explain why they still pursued their petition for administrative reconstitution of their
title if indeed they had already obtained an approved reconstitution on 27 January 1997 under their copy of
Administrative Reconstitution Order No. Q-535(96). On 13 August 1998, the LRA reconstituting officer filed
before the LRA Administrator the following Comment:
2. That we maintain our position denying the reconstitution of TCT No. 210177, on the grounds stated in our
Order dated June 30, 1997, and on the following additional grounds, to wit:
2.1 If the late Homer L. Barque, really purchased the subject property in the year 1975, why did he not take
possession of it upon purchase, and up to now his descendants, the Petitioners, are not in possession of the
property, but the Oppositors?;
2.2 Why was the property declared, and realty taxes were paid in the name of Barque, only in the year 1996?
Whereas, the Oppositors and their predecessors have been paying realty taxes on the property since the year
1965;
2.3 Why did the Petitioner try to mislead us by submitting a tampered copy of Adm. Reconstitution
Order No. Q-535(96)? 86 (Emphasis supplied)
The LRA reconstituting officer ended his Comment by urging the LRA Administrator that "this case be referred
to the Presidential Anti-Organized Crime Commission for investigation".
In their Memorandum dated 6 September 2007, the Barques explained the circumstances of the order of
reconstitution they submitted to the LRA in this manner:
The said resolution was issued on January 27, 1997 when there was, as yet, no opposition from anyone to the
Barques' petition for reconstitution and after the Barque had already submitted their Owner's Duplicate Copy of
53

TCT No. 210177 which entitled them, like the several other petitioners listed in Mr. Bustos' aforesaid Resolution,
to a reconstitution thereof under R.A. 6732.
In his letter, Atty. Turgano surmised that:
"The animosity and bias of Mr. Bustos against petitioners may be explained by the fact that he was responsible
in giving due course and approving with dispatch the administrative reconstitution of the Manotok title which is
TCT No. RT-22481 (372302).
Mr. Bustos' bias was likewise shown when he alerted the Manotoks of the Barques' Petition for Reconstitution
which prompted them to file their opposition to the Barques' petition on April 14, 1997. He, therefore,
apparently had the motive to delete the title and name of the Barques from his resolution.
At any rate, said resolution of Bustos was completely irrelevant to the LRA proceedings since it is his Order
denying Barques' petition for reconstitution that was raised on appeal before the LRA Administrator. (Emphasis
supplied)
In short, the Barques represent to this Court that their copy of Administrative Reconstitution No. Q-535(96),
listing their TCT No. 210177 in the name of Homer L. Barque, Sr. as one of the titles approved for reconstitution
by Atty. Bustos, is authentic, genuine and untampered. This is contrary to the categorical declaration of Atty.
Bustos that the copy of Administrative Reconstitution No. Q-535(96) submitted by the Barques is a "tampered
document", and that the original Administrative Reconstitution No. Q-535(96) that Atty. Bustos
himself signed, which original is on file in his office in the LRA, does not include TCT No. 210177 in
the name of Homer L. Barque, Sr.
Ironically, the Barques put the blame on Atty. Bustos for "delet(ing) the title and name of the Barques
from the resolution". The Barques are now accusing Atty. Bustos of falsification by deleting the Barques'
name and title in Administrative Reconstitution No. Q-535(96). Before such deletion, the Barques insist that
Administrative Reconstitution No. Q-535(96) included the Barques' name and title, which is the copy that the
Barques submitted to the LRA Administrator.
In the first place, there was no reason whatsoever for Atty. Bustos to include the Barques' title and name in
Administrative Reconstitution No. Q-535(96). When Atty. Bustos signed the order on 27 January 1997, he was
still corresponding with Engineer Dalire on the forgery found in the Barques plan Fls-3168-D. The last letter of
Engineer Dalire to Atty. Bustos was on 31 January 1997. On 14 February 1997, Atty. Bustos even wrote the LRA
Administrator about the "attempt to mislead us (LRA) into favorable action by submitting forged documents".
Clearly, Atty. Bustos could not have included the Barques' title and name in Administrative Reconstitution No. Q535(96).

In their Memorandum dated 6 September 2007, the Barques gave the lame excuse that Administrative
Reconstitution No. Q-535(96) is now "completely irrelevant" because what was raised on appeal to the LRA was
the order of Atty. Bustos denying the Barques' petition for reconstitution. If their copy of Administrative
Reconstitution Order No. Q-535(96) is truly authentic and untampered, the Barques should insist that their
petition for administrative reconstitution was in fact approved by the reconstituting officer Atty. Bustos. The
Barques do not claim or even mention this now, instead they agree that Atty. Bustos denied their petition,
contrary to their claim that Atty. Bustos granted their petition by including the Barques' title and name in
Administrative Reconstitution No. Q-535(96).
The Barques cannot simply brush aside their submission of tampered or forged documents. These patent
forgeries are grounds to render the Barques' reconstituted title void ab initio. Section 11 of Republic Act No.
6732 (RA 6732), 87 the law allowing administrative reconstitution of titles, provides:

54

SEC. 11. A reconstituted title obtained by means of fraud, deceit or other machination is void ab initio as
against the party obtaining the same and all persons having knowledge thereof. (Emphasis supplied)
This Court would never countenance these blatant and glaring forgeries. The present cases involve 34 hectares
of prime land located beside the Ayala Heights Subdivision in Quezon City. Its value is estimated
conservatively at P1.7 billion. CIcTAE

Fifth: The Barques Title Surfaced Eight Years after the Quezon City Hall Fire
The Barques filed their petition for administrative reconstitution on 22 October 1996, eight years after the
original of their Torrens title was allegedly burned in the 11 June 1988 fire that destroyed the records of the
Quezon City Register of Deeds. In contrast, the Manotoks administratively reconstituted their Torrens title on 1
February 1991, three years after the fire and just one year after the effectivity on 17 July 1989 of RA
6732 allowing again administrative reconstitution of titles under certain circumstances.

Sixth: The Barques Cannot Explain Erasure of Notation on their Tax Declarations
The Manotoks claim that the Barques erased the following notation in the tax declarations they submitted to the
LRA reconstituting officer: "Memo: This property appear (sic) to duplicate the property of Manotok
Realty, Inc., declared under TD No. B-067-02136 with area of 343,945 sq.m./P.I. no. 214202." 88 In their Petition For Review dated 30 March 2004, the Manotoks submitted certified true copies of
the Barques' Tax Declarations 06892 89 and 06895 90 containing this notation. In their Memorandum of 23
August 2007, the Manotoks again submitted copies of the Barques' tax declarations containing the same
notation.
During the oral argument, counsel for the Barques denied the erasure of the notation on the Barques' tax
declarations. However, counsel for the Barques admitted that he has not seen the original tax declarations on
file with the Assessor's Office, thus:
Justice Carpio:
. . . The Manotoks are claiming that the Barques erased, removed annotation in the tax declaration of the
Barques that in the tax declaration on file with the Assessor's Office the tax declaration of the Barques is
supposed to contain annotation that this property appears to be registered in the name of Manotok Realty Inc.,
is that correct?
Atty. Flaminiano:
Well, that is a serious accusation, Your honor and I have no knowledge about that.
Justice Carpio:
But does the tax declaration of the Barques contain that notation?
Atty. Flaminiano:
There is none that I know, Your Honor.
Justice Carpio:
How about the tax declaration on file with the Assessor's Office?
Atty. Flaminiano:
I have not seen those, Your Honor.
Justice Carpio:
You have not seen those?
55

Atty. Flaminiano:
I have not seen those. 91
In their Memorandum dated 6 September 2007, the Barques ignored completely the Manotoks' claim that the
Barques erased the notation.

Seventh: The Barques Paid Realty Tax only for 1987 to 1996
The Barques first paid real estate tax on the property only in 1996, 92 for realty taxes for the years
1987 to 1996, because the Barques were required to pay the current and preceding years realty
taxes before they could file their petition for administrative reconstitution. The Barques have not
paid any realty tax after 1996, or before 1987. 93 In contrast, the LRA reconstituting officer found that
the Manotoks have been paying realty taxes on the property since 1965. In their Memorandum dated 23 August
2007, the Manotoks claim that they paid their realty taxes on the property from 1933 until the present, attaching
to their Memorandum representative copies of their realty tax payments.

Eighth: The Barques Have Never Set Foot on the Property


The Barques have never set foot on the property since the time Homer L. Barque, Sr. allegedly purchased the
property in 1975. Counsel for the Barques admitted this when he stated during the oral argument that the
Barques merely "went around" the walled property. On the other hand, the Manotoks assert that the property
is publicly known in their neighborhood as the Manotok Compound. The Manotoks further claim:
[A]s owners of said Lot 823, oppositors (Manotoks) had introduced substantial improvements, amounting to
several millions, thereon consisting of, among others, high wall hollow block fence; their respective houses,
apartments; offices and employees quarters, as early as in 1960, photographs of which are hereto
attached as Annexes "115" to "134"; 94 (Emphasis supplied)
During the oral argument, the Manotoks showed on the projector screen the pictures of the various houses,
buildings and concrete perimeter fence that the Manotoks constructed on the property since 1960.

Ninth: LRA Administrator Relied only on Map Submitted by Barques


In calling the Manotoks' title "sham and spurious", the LRA Administrator cited the non-existence of Barrio
Payong in Quezon City. The LRA Administrator stated: "The map of Quezon City [Annex "N" of Petitioners'
Position paper] would show that there is no such barrio as Payong". 95 This is a finding of fact that is
based not only on self-serving and suspect evidence, but also on a patently erroneous claim.
The LRA Administrator relied on Annex "N" of "Petitioners", that is, the map of the Barques who were the
petitioners before the LRA Administrator assailing the LRA reconstituting officer's denial of their reconstitution on
the ground of pre-existence of the Manotoks' title and the submission of a spurious document by the Barques.
Obviously, this Court should not rely on the LRA Administrator's findings which were admittedly based on the
map of the Barques, who had earlier submitted forged documents to the LRA reconstituting officer.
The existence of Barrio Payong in Quezon City has been judicially acknowledged almost three
decades ago in the Decision of the Court of Agrarian Relations, the court of origin in Spouses Tiongson, et al.
v. Court of Appeals and Macaya, 96 involving the same property under dispute in these cases. In Spouses
Tiongson, the Court of Agrarian Relations made an ocular inspection of Barrio Payong in Quezon City,
thus: CADacT
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 directed to conduct an ocular inspection of the landholding in
56

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, 197[8], 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 toBarrio Payong, Quezon City on June 23, 1978, to
conduct an ocular inspection of the landholding involved in this case. . . . 97 (Boldfacing and
underscoring supplied)
The recognition of the Court of Agrarian Relations that Barrio Payong exists in Quezon City is based on the
ocular inspection conducted on 23 June 1978 by the Clerk of Court of the Court of Agrarian Relations. In
contrast, the statement of the LRA Administrator that there is no Barrio Payong in Quezon City is based merely
on the map that the Barques submitted in their petition for administrative reconstitution, which was
filed only on 22 October 1996.
In Spouses Tiongson, there were 28 petitioners. 98 Of these 28 petitioners, at least sixteen are petitioners
composing part of the Manotoks in these cases. Of these sixteen petitioners, eight Miguel A.B. Sison, Ma.
Cristina E. Sison, George M. Bocanegra, Philipp Manotok, Maria Theresa Manotok, Ramon Severino Manotok,
Jesus Jude Manotok, Jr., and Jose Maria Manotok were then minors at the time of Spouses Tiongson and
were thus represented by judicial guardians. These eight are now of age in these cases.

Tenth: The Barques Bought the Property Knowing the Manotoks Had Constructed Buildings and Perimeter Wall
on the Property
During the oral argument, the Manotoks showed on the projector screen a picture of the 34-hectare Manotok
compound completely surrounded by a high concrete perimeter wall. When counsel for the Barques was
asked if his clients made an ocular inspection of the property at the time his clients purchased it in 1975,
Barques' counsel answered as follows:
Justice Velasco:
Did your client prior to buying the lot from Mr. Setosta go to the land to investigate the ownership of Mr.
Setosta?
Atty. Flaminiano:
The one who bought the property was the father of Barques now.
Justice Velasco:
57

Would you know if the father of respondent visit and inspect and investigate the ownership of Mr. Setosta?
Atty. Flaminiano:
I was told that he visited the property because the father of the Barques used to work for Mr. Antonio Florendo.
I think he was the manager of one of the businesses of Mr. Florendo in Davao City having to do with accessory
parts of cars and trucks and he was at one time also the operator of a public transportation company.
Justice Velasco:
Okay. Did the father of Mr. Barque find any building or structures on the land now subject of this dispute?
Atty. Flaminiano:
We would not know because Mr. Barque died already, Your Honor. 99
xxx xxx xxx
Justice Carpio:
Now, when did they take possession of the property since Mr. Homer L. Barque purchased it in 1975, when did
he take possession of the property?
Atty. Flaminiano:
The reason why they could not take really possession of the property because they were trying to get some
papers from an Aunt of Mr. Barque to whom the property was mortgaged before he died. I understand that the
property was mortgaged for something like One Million to Two Million Pesos.
Justice Carpio:
So, from 1975 to the present they have not taken possession of the property?
Atty. Flaminiano:
There were attempts to take possession, Your Honor.
Justice Carpio:
What kind of attempts, did they file ejectment suit?
Atty. Flaminiano:
In fact Your Honor I understand that some of the Barque girls even went around the property. AEHTIC
Justice Carpio:
Went around the property (interrupted)
Atty. Flaminiano:
Went around the property to take a look at the property but after that they left for the United States and for
one reason or another they have not been able to take the proper steps (interrupted)
Justice Carpio:
So, they never filed any suit to recover possession of the property, is that right?
Atty. Flaminiano:
None that I know, Your Honor.
Justice Carpio:
58

Did they send any demand letter to the Manotoks to vacate the property since they were the owners?
Atty. Flaminiano:
None that I know, Your Honor.
Clearly, the Barques have never set foot on the property from 1975 up to the present. The Barques
merely "went around" the fully fenced property. The Barques never sent a demand letter to the Manotoks to
vacate the property. The Barques never filed an ejectment or any action to recover possession of the property.

Eleventh: The Barques' Chain of Title Stops in 1975


The Manotoks can trace their Torrens title to the purchase by their predecessors-in-interest of the
property from the Government in 1919. In their Memorandum dated 23 August 2007, the Manotoks state:
9.5 The Manotok chain of titles began with the purchase by Zacarias Modesto, Regina Geronimo and Feliciano
Villanueva of Lot 823 from the Philippine government on March 10, 1919. Attached hereto as Annex E is a Land
Management Bureau-certified xerox copy of Sale Certificate No. 1054 issued by the Friar Lands Division, Bureau
of Lands, to Modesto, Geronimo and Villanueva. Ownership over Lot 823 was later consolidated in Modesto, who
in 1920 assigned his interests thereon to M. Teodoro and Severino Manotok. Attached hereto as Annexes F and
G are Land Management Bureau-certified xerox copies of Assignments of Certificate of Sale No. 1054 dated
March 11, 1919 and June 7, 1920.
9.6 In 1923, M. Teodoro assigned his share and interests over Lot 823 to Severino Manotok, making him the
sole and exclusive owner of Lot 823. A certified xerox copy of Assignment of Certificate of Sale No. 1054 dated
May 4, 1923 is attached hereto as Annex H.
9.7 Through a series of transfers within the Manotok family and the Manotok Realty, Inc., a company owned by
petitioners, Lot 823 was titled under TCT No. 372302 on October 16, 1987 in the names of all of the Manotoks.
The Manotok's chain of titles to the property, with deeds of conveyances, are attached hereto as Annex I, with
sub-annexes.
9.8 Fire gutted the Quezon City ROD on June 11, 1988, and shortly thereafter (i.e., on August 31, 1988) the
Manotoks filed reconstitution proceedings before the LRA, and were issued a reconstituted certificate of title,
TCT No. RT-22841 (372302), by the ROD of Quezon city in 1991. A xerox copy of the petition for reconstitution
filed by the Manotoks with the ROD, with attachments, is attached hereto as Annex J, while a certified true copy
of TCT No. 372302 (the title sought to be reconstituted in this petition) is attached hereto as Annex J-1.
On the other hand, the Barques can trace their chain of title only up to 1975 when Homer Barque, Sr. purchased
the property from Emiliano Setosta, who the Barques claim bought the property directly from the Government in
the 1940s. The Barques have not presented the deed of conveyance by the Government to
Setosta.The claim of the Barques that Setosta purchased the property directly from the Government in the
1940s is belied by the 1927 Annual Report of the Director of Lands, stating that:
With the exception of the estates of Calamba, Imus, Isabela, Lolomboy, Naic, San Francisco de Malabon, Santa
Cruz de Malabon, Santa Maria de Pandi, and Talisay-Minglanilla, where there are still some vacant lands, all the
others of the 23 Friar land estates had already been entirely disposed of. . . . 100 (Emphasis supplied)
At the end of 1927, the Government had already sold all of the Piedad Estate, a Friar land. Thus, the
Government could not have sold directly to Setosta the disputed property in the 1940s.

Twelfth: Lands Management Bureau Relocation Survey Shows Barques' Property Located 5.6 Kilometers from
Piedad Estate
Intervenors Felicitas and Rosendo Manahan (Manahans) have submitted a relocation survey made by the
Lands Management Bureau NCR Regional Office of the Barques' plan Fls-3168-D showing that the Barques'
property is located "some 5.6 kilometers away from Lot No. 823 of the Piedad Estate, outside of
59

Quezon City".101 The relocation survey plan is signed by Ludivina L. Aromin, Chief of the Technical Services
Division, and Engineer III Evelyn G. Celzo. In their Memorandum dated 22 August 2007, the Manahans attached
as Annex "M" a copy of the Lands Management Bureau relocation survey of plan Fls-3168-D. SHaIDE
A DULY ISSUED TORRENS TITLE IS ONE ISSUED BY THE REGISTER OF DEEDS IN THE REGULAR
PERFORMANCE OF HIS DUTIES
This Court ruled in Alabang Development Corporation, et al. v. Valenzuela, etc., et al. 102 that courts have no
jurisdiction over petitions for reconstitution of title involving a property already covered by an existing Torrens
title in the name of another person. The dissenting opinion claims that the Barques' title was already existing at
the time of the reconstitution of the Manotoks' title in 1991. This is an egregious error. When the Manotoks title
was reconstituted in 1991, the Barques' title had not been reconstituted, and even up to now the reconstitution
of the Barques' title is still pending resolution in the instant case. In contrast, when the Barques filed their
reconstitution in 1996, the Manotoks' title had already been finally reconstituted and existing. Clearly, it is the
Barques' still pending reconstitution that can no longer proceed because of the existing title of the Manotoks.
In Alabang, the Court held that a "duly issued existing Torrens title . . . cannot be the subject of
petitions for reconstitution of allegedly lost or destroyed titles by third parties without first
securing by final judgment the cancellation of such existing titles". The phrase "duly issued existing
Torrens title" simply means a title verifiably issued by the proper Register of Deeds. The validity or
invalidity of the title is not material at that point. What is material is whether the Register of Deeds actually
issued the title as part of his regular functions.
Clearly, at the time of the reconstitution of the Manotoks' title, the Barques had no "duly issued existing Torrens
title" from the Register of Deeds of Quezon City. When the Barques filed the reconstitution of their title, the
Manotoks already had a prior title, which was the only "duly issued existing Torrens title" over the property
issued by the Register of Deeds of Quezon City. The Manotoks' title could be verified against the reconstituted
original title on file with the Register of Deeds. In fact, the LRA Administrator has admitted that the Manotoks'
title "is existing as a reconstituted title at the Office of the Register of Deeds." 103
The Barques could not produce even up to now a "duly issued existing Torrens title" from the Register of Deeds
of Quezon City. The Barques' owner's duplicate certificate of title could not be verified with the Register of Deeds
of Quezon City because the Barques' title has no corresponding original title, whether reconstituted or not, on
file with the Register of Deeds. Thus, the reconstitution of the Barques' title, which is still pending in this case,
can no longer proceed.
Once the reconstituting court or officer establishes that the Register of Deeds has in fact issued an existing title
in the name of another person, the proper step is to file an action before the Regional Trial Court to annul such
title. It is in such proceeding before the regional trial court that the validity or invalidity of the title
is determined. In such proceeding, any party may introduce in evidence the LRA Administrator or the NBI's
findings. In the meantime, no reconstitution proceeding can prosper until after the cancellation by
final judgment of such existing title.

The Alabang ruling necessarily involves a situation where there is an existing title issued by the Register of
Deeds at the time of filing of a petition to reconstituteanother title over the same property in the name of
another person. The Alabang ruling states that in such a situation the reconstituting authority has no jurisdiction
to proceed with the reconstitution until a final judgment cancels the other title. This is clear from the Court's
ruling in Alabang:
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
60

such existing titles. (And as the Court reiterated in the recent case of Silvestre vs. Court of Appeals, "in cases
of annulment and/or reconveyance of title, 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".) 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. 104 (Emphasis supplied)
The Decision of the First Division misapplies the Alabang ruling by holding that the LRA Administrator can
adjudicate on the validity of a Torrens title by a finding that the title was not "duly issued". Even the Register of
Deeds, who physically issues a Torrens title as part of his regular functions, cannot adjudicate on the validity of
a title. The Decision states that the "function of the (LRA) is adjudicatory in nature it can properly deliberate
on the validity of the titles submitted for reconstitution". This is grave error. DHIaTS
Time and again, this Court has ruled that reconstitution, even judicial reconstitution, does not
confirm or adjudicate ownership over a property. 105Reconstitution merely restores a missing certificate
of title in the same condition that it was when lost or destroyed, nothing more. If the original title had a legal
defect at the time of the loss or destruction, as when the land covered is part of the public forest, 106 the
reconstituted title does not cure such defect. As this Court held inDirector of Lands v. Gan Tan: 107
But the lower court claims that petitioner, even if he complied with all the requirements of the law, is not
entitled to have his title reconstituted for the reason that, being an alien, he is not qualified to
acquire the land covered by said title under our Constitution. However, we find this claim
untenable in the light of the theory that a Torrens title cannot be collaterally attacked. The rule on
this matter is that this issue can only be raised in an action expressly instituted for that
purpose (Legarda vs. Saleeby, 31 Phil., 590). Moreover, it is a well known doctrine that a Torrens title, as a
rule, is irrevocable and indefeasible (Bachrach Motor Co. vs. Kane, 61 Phil., 504), and our duty is to see to it
that this title is maintained and respected unless challenged in a direct proceeding.
To our mind, the only issue here is whether there is a title to be reconstituted. That is the only purpose of the
law (Rep. Act No. 26). If there is, then it is the duty of the court to comply with its mandate. Whether the
petitioner has the right to acquire the land or not, is beyond the province of this proceeding. That
should be threshed out in a proper action. The two proceedings are distinct and should not be
confused. 108 (Boldfacing and underscoring supplied)
The fallacy in the dissenting opinion's argument is that it assumes that the LRA Administrator
can adjudicate on the validity of a Torrens title. The original jurisdiction to adjudicate or to decide the validity
of a Torrens title is vested by law exclusively in the Regional Trial Court pursuant to Section 48 of the Property
Registration Decree. Section 19 of the Judiciary Act vests in the Regional Trial Court the "exclusive original
jurisdiction" to decide factual and legal issues "which involve the title to . . . real property". This means
the Regional Trial Court first decides the validity of the Torrens title, and this power to first decide is to the
exclusion of all other organs of the State. Not even the Court of Appeals or the Supreme Court can usurp this
exclusive original power of the Regional Trial Court. Any judgment resulting from such usurpation is void.
What the LRA Administrator or agencies like the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) can issue
are administrative, non-adjudicatory findings on whether a Torrens title is spurious or authentic.
These findings are mere evidences that must be submitted to the Regional Trial Court, which alone
has the power to adjudicate whether the title is void. Findings by the LRA or the NBI that a title is
spurious are merely administrative opinions, not a judicial determination that settles rights and
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obligations between parties over a disputed property. These findings are merely evidences, not the
judgment itself of validity or invalidity which can only come from the Regional Trial Court. These
findings do not become res judicata, while the judgment of the Regional Trial Court can
become res judicata.
Clearly, the grant of a reconstituted title is not an adjudication of the title's validity. The Barques
received an undeserved windfall when the First Division declared their reconstituted title valid when the only
relief they sought in the administrative reconstitution was the restoration of their title in its condition at the time
of the alleged loss or destruction. This Court has ruled in Alonso v. Cebu Country Club, Inc.: 109
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. 110 (Emphasis in original)
Thus, the LRA has no jurisdiction, in administrative reconstitution proceedings, to rule which between two titles
over the same property is valid, or who between two claimants over the same property is the lawful owner.
Section 19 of the Judiciary Act vests in courts of justice the "exclusive original jurisdiction" to decide factual
and legal issues involving "the title to . . . real property".
EQUITY JURISDICTION DOES NOT APPLY
The dissenting opinion further argues that the Manotoks are estopped from questioning the jurisdiction of the
LRA Administrator or the LRA reconstituting officer. The dissenting opinion asserts that the Manotoks failed to
question in the proceedings before these LRA officials their jurisdiction to reconstitute administratively the
Barques' title. This invocation of equity jurisdiction in favor of the LRA Administrator and the LRA reconstituting
officer for the benefit of the Barques is grossly erroneous.

First, the settled doctrine is "he who seeks equity must come to court with clean hands". 111 The
Barques have submitted patently forged documents to the LRA reconstituting officer. In the development of
equity jurisdiction through the ages, the constant principle from which there was no deviation was that equity
could never be used to reward those who commit fraud. This Court should not depart from the noble intention
that motivated the development and use of equity jurisdiction. As this Court aptly stated in Pagasa Industrial
Corporation v. Court of Appeals, et al.: 112
Pagasa cannot rely on equity because he who comes into equity must come with clean hands. Equity refuses
to lend its aid in any manner to one seeking its active interposition who has been guilty of unlawful
or inequitable conduct in the matter with relation to which he seeks relief 113 (30 C.J.S. 1009).
(Emphasis supplied) aSCHIT

Second, the principle of jurisdiction by estoppel applies only to those who have sought affirmative relief in the
wrong court, lost there, and then assail the adverse decision of that court. This estoppel applies against a
party "who has invoked the jurisdiction of a court in a particular matter to secure an affirmative
relief, to afterwards deny that same jurisdiction to escape an adverse decision". 114 However, it was
the Barques, not the Manotoks, who sought the affirmative relief of a reconstituted title. In their
Opposition 115 before the LRA reconstituting officer, the Manotoks sought a defensive, negative relief that
the Barques' petition "be dismissed for lack of merit". It was also the Barques, not the Manotoks, who invoked
the jurisdiction of the LRA, which had no jurisdiction over the Barques' petition because of the pre-existing title
of the Manotoks. Moreover, it was the Barques, not the Manotoks, who lost before the LRA reconstituting officer
and who assailed the adverse decision before the LRA Administrator. The Barques even lost before the LRA
Administrator who refused to reconstitute the Barques' title without the intervention of a "court of competent
jurisdiction". Clearly, jurisdiction by estoppel cannot apply to the Manotoks.
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Third, the LRA Administrator and the LRA reconstituting officer refused to assume jurisdiction to reconstitute
administratively the Barques' title. The LRA Administrator denied the Barques' petition because of the existence
of the Manotoks' title, which in the words of the LRA Administrator must first be cancelled by "a court of
competent jurisdiction" before the Barques' petition may be given due course. The LRA reconstituting officer
also denied the Barques' petition because of the existence of the Manotoks' title which the LRA had already
reconstituted. In short, these LRA officials admitted that they had no jurisdiction over the Barques'
petition. Since these LRA officials refused to assume jurisdiction, there was no assumption of equity jurisdiction
that the Manotoks could have questioned. For the same reason, there is no assumption of jurisdiction that this
Court can now recognize and validate through equity principles.

Fourth, the principle of equity jurisdiction arising from estoppel or any other reason applies only to courts
of justice. The jurisdiction of courts of justice arises from either statute or equity, or both. In legal systems
which recognize equity jurisdiction, equity is an inherent power of courts by virtue of their duty to dispense
justice to the full extent possible. Equity jurisdiction is a judicial power. Administrative agencies or officers
exercising administrative, executive, or ministerial functions cannot assume equity jurisdiction because they do
not exercise judicial functions. Thus, it is gross error to invest on the LRA Administrator and the LRA
reconstituting officer equity jurisdiction because these LRA officers perform administrative or executive functions
in petitions for administrative reconstitution of titles.

Fifth, the Manotoks did in fact raise the issue of the LRA Administrator's jurisdiction in relation to the LRA
Administrator's opinion that the Manotoks' title was "sham and spurious". In their Motion for Reconsideration
dated 27 August 1998 before the LRA Administrator, 116 the Manotoks stated:
Moreover, it is not disputed that herein oppositors are the holder of an existing valid and effective TCT No. RT22481 (372302) covering the same land embraced by TCT No. 210177 in question found which, as stated, is
non-existing and spurious. Given said fact, no administrative reconstitution of TCT No. 210177 should
proceed.As held by the Supreme Court, to wit:
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". (Ortigas & Company Limited Partnership vs. Velasco, 234 SCRA 458 [1994]) 117 (Emphasis supplied)

Sixth, the principle of estoppel applies only if the LRA had in fact jurisdiction to rule on the validity of
the Torrens title of the Manotoks, so as to bar the Manotoks, who previously claimed that the LRA had no
jurisdiction, from later taking a contrary position. Thus, the Court declared in People v. Casiano: 118
4. The operation of the principle of estoppel on the question of jurisdiction seemingly depends upon whether the
lower court actually had jurisdiction or not. If it had no jurisdiction, but the case was tried and decided
upon the theory that it had jurisdiction, the parties are not barred, on appeal, from assailing such
jurisdiction, for the same "must exist as a matter of law, and may not be conferred by consent of
the parties or by estoppel" (5 C.J.S., 861-863). However, if the lower court had jurisdiction, and the
case was heard and decided upon a given theory, such, for instance, as that the court had no
jurisdiction, the party who induced it to adopt such theory will not be permitted, on appeal, to
assume an inconsistent position that the lower court had jurisdiction. Here, the principle of
estoppel applies. . . . 119 (Emphasis supplied)
The LRA never had jurisdiction to rule on the validity of the Torrens title of the Manotoks. Jurisdiction, as ruled
in People v. Casiano, "must exist as a matter of law, and may not be conferred by consent of the
parties or by estoppel". It is axiomatic that only the law can confer jurisdiction. No amount of estoppel can
vest jurisdiction on an officer or court that the law has not conferred jurisdiction.

63

The LRA Administrator expressly admitted that only the proper Regional Trial Court has the jurisdiction to cancel
the Torrens title of the Manotoks. Only the Barques insist that the LRA has jurisdiction to cancel a Torrens title of
a third party in an administrative reconstitution proceedings filed by another party, a contention that is patently
baseless. SaIHDA

Seventh, and most important of all, equity jurisdiction can never be used to violate the law. 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. 120 However, equity follows
the law, and courts exercising equity jurisdiction must still apply the law and have no discretion to
disregard the law. 121 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. 122 Thus, this
Court has 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
nunquam contravenit legis. The pertinent positive rules being present here, they should pre-empt and prevail
over all abstract arguments based only on equity. 123 (Emphasis supplied)
Hence, no court can extend equity jurisdiction to the LRA where the law has expressly reserved
exclusive original jurisdiction to the Regional Trial Court. No court, invoking equity jurisdiction, can
also allow a collateral attack on a Torrens title, either before the LRA or before itself, in gross
violation of Section 48 of the Property Registration Decree expressly prohibiting collateral
attacks on Torrens titles.
This rule has special application to Section 48 of the Property Registration Decree, enacted specifically to
foreclose any possible collateral attack on a Torrens title, as well as any possible cancellation or
modification of a Torrens title without a proceeding in the Regional Trial Court directly assailing
the validity of the title. Strict compliance with Section 48 is what gives Torrens titles enduring stability,
preventing confusion and fraud in land ownership. To extend equity jurisdiction to LRA officers to allow them to
entertain collateral attacks on a Torrens title is a gross and blatant violation of the clear and express command
of a positive law. Any extension of equity jurisdiction that operates to negate Section 48 will destroy the most
basic safeguard in the Property Registration Decree. Certainly, equity jurisdiction cannot be used for this
purpose.
WHETHER ASSAILED AS FRAUDULENTLY ISSUED OR NOT, A TORRENS TITLE CAN ONLY BE
CANCELLED IN ACCORDANCE WITH SECTION 48 OF THE PROPERTY REGISTRATION DECREE
In cancelling the Manotoks' Torrens title without any trial before any court, the First Division of this Court
completely disregarded Section 48 of the Property Registration Decree and Section 19 of the Judiciary Act.
Section 48 of the Property Registration Decree provides that a Torrens title "cannot be altered, modified, or
cancelled except in a direct proceeding in accordance with law".
That law is Section 19 of the Judiciary Act which states that the "Regional Trial Court shall exercise
exclusive original jurisdiction . . . in all civil actions, which involve the title to . . . real
property". These two provisions mandate that no Torrens title can be cancelled unless there is a proceeding in
the proper Regional Trial Court directly assailing the validity of such title.
Thus, the Court of Appeals committed a gross violation of Section 48 of the Property Registration Decree and
Section 19 of the Judiciary Act when it ordered the cancellation of the Torrens title of the Manotoks without a
prior proceeding before the proper Regional Trial Court directly assailing the validity of the Manotoks' title.
Likewise, the First Division of this Court committed the same violation totally disregarding Section 48 of
the Property Registration Decree and Section 19 of the Judiciary Act, and in the process overturning wellentrenched doctrines of this Court.
64

The validity of a Torrens title, whether fraudulently issued or not, can be assailed only in a direct
proceeding before the proper Regional Trial Court in accordance with Section 48. In Ladignon v. Court of
Appeals, 124 the Court declared:
What is worse, in ordering the cancellation of Transfer Certificate of Title No. 383675, respondent Court of
Appeals acted without jurisdiction. After all, it is hornbook law that a torrens title cannot be collaterally
attacked. The issue of validity of a torrens title, whether fraudulently issued or not, may be posed
only in an action brought to impugn or annul it. Unmistakable, and cannot be ignored, is the
germane provision of Section 48 of Presidential Decree No. 1529, that a certificate of title can
never be the subject of a collateral attack. It cannot be altered, modified, or cancelled except in a direct
proceeding instituted in accordance with law. . . . 125 (Emphasis supplied)
The LRA Administrator has admitted that the Torrens title of the Manotoks "is thus presumed valid". 126 The
law recognizes that the Manotoks' Torrens title is "evidence of an indefeasible title to the property in favor of the
person whose name appears therein". 127 Even assuming, for the sake of argument, that the prior title of the
Manotoks is spurious, still under Ladignon v. Court of Appeals, 128 such title can only cancelled by the proper
Regional Trial Court in a direct proceeding assailing its validity.

The dissenting opinion cites Rexlon Realty Group, Inc. v. Court of Appeals, et al. 129 as authority that the Court
of Appeals and this Court "have jurisdiction to declare the title void even if the appealed case was not originally
filed with the Regional Trial Court for nullification of title" under Section 48 of the Property Registration Decree.
The ponente has obviously misread Rexlon Realty. Rexlon Realty was a petition filed with the Court of Appeals
for annulment of judgment of the Regional Trial Court on the ground that the trial court had no jurisdiction to
grant the reconstitution of lost owner's duplicates of titles to respondent Alex David. Rexlon Realty proved that
the titles were not lost but were in its possession as the first buyer of the properties from Alex David who had
later sold again the properties to Paramount Development Corporation. Rexlon Realty also proved that Alex
David delivered the titles to Rexlon Realty pursuant to the sale. ECTSDa

Rexlon Realty does not involve two conflicting titles over the same property, which is the situation in the present
case. In Rexlon Realty, the opposing parties agreed that there was only one set of titles covering the same
properties. The only issue in Rexlon Realty was whether the titles were lost, and if so, the trial court had
jurisdiction to grant the reconstitution of the titles; but if the titles were not lost, then the trial court had no
jurisdiction to grant the reconstitution of titles.
Rexlon Realty did not question the validity of the titles of Alex David, which covered properties that Rexlon
Realty had purchased from Alex David. Rexlon Realty's obvious interest was to maintain the validity of
the titles to the properties it had purchased, the titles to which were in Rexlon Realty's
possession. Thus, Rexlon Realty did not invoke Section 48 of the Property Registration Decree, the law
requiring a direct proceeding in the proper regional trial court in any attack assailing the validity of a Torrens
title. To reiterate, the validity of a Torrens title, which is at issue in direct proceedings under
Section 48, is a separate and distinct issue from the propriety of a reconstitution of title.
What Rexlon Realty questioned was the jurisdiction of the trial court in issuing replacement titles to the
properties in the name of Alex David who claimed that he lost the titles. In assailing as void the trial court's
judgment, Rexlon Realty invoked, as stated by the Court, "Section 2, of Rule 47 of the 1997 Revised Rules of
Civil Procedure", which provides "the grounds to annul a judgment of a lower court . . . [based on] fraud and
lack of jurisdiction". Thus, the Court in Rexlon Realty ruled:
. . . In the Strait Times case and in Demetriou v. Court of Appeals, also on facts analogous to those involved in
this case, we held that if an owner's duplicate copy of a certificate of title has not been lost but is in
fact in the possession of another person, the reconstituted title is void and the court rendering the
decision has not acquired jurisdiction. Consequently, the decision may be attacked any time. In the case at
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bar, the authenticity and genuineness of the owner's duplicate of TCT Nos. T-52537 and T-52538 in the
possession of petitioner Rexlon and the Absolute Deed of Sale in its favor have not been disputed. As there is no
proof to support actual loss of the said owner's duplicate copies of said certificates of title, the trial court did not
acquire jurisdiction and the new titles issued in replacement thereof are void.
xxx xxx xxx
In this case at bar, we simply annulled the decision of the RTC, acting as a land registration court in L.R.C.
Record No. 8843, to issue new owner's duplicate copies of TCT Nos. T-52537 and T-52538, for lack of
jurisdiction. The dispute between petitioner Rexlon and respondent David regarding ownership over
the parcels of land will have to be threshed out or determined in a more appropriate proceeding. In
a petition for the issuance of a new owner's duplicate copy of a certificate of title in lieu of one
allegedly lost, the RTC, acting only as a land registration court, has no jurisdiction to pass upon the
question of actual ownership of the land covered by the lost owners duplicate copy of the
certificate of title. Possession of a lost owners duplicate copy of a certificate of title is not
necessarily equivalent to ownership of the land covered by it. The certificate of title, by itself, does
not vest ownership; it is merely an evidence of title over a particular property. 130 (Emphasis
supplied)
Indeed, Rexlon Realty supports the Manotoks' contention that once it is shown that there is a pre-existing title
duly issued by the Register of Deeds over the same property which is the subject of reconstitution proceedings,
the reconstitution cannot proceed for either of two reasons. First, the reconstituting officer or court has no
jurisdiction to reconstitute a title that has never been lost or destroyed. Second, the reconstituting officer or
court has no authority to decide which of two conflicting titles is valid. Thus, Rexlon Realty categorically ruled
that in reconstitution proceedings, whether administrative or judicial, the reconstituting officer or court has no
jurisdiction "to pass upon the question of actual ownership of the land" covered by the lost title because the
"certificate of title, by itself, does not vest ownership".
GUARANTY OF STABILITY OF THE TORRENS SYSTEM
Section 48 of the Property Registration Decree is the cornerstone of our land registration system providing
stability to land titles. Without Section 48, our land registration system will crumble. Section 48 guarantees every
landowner with a Torrens title that his title can never be cancelled unless the validity of his title is first directly
assailed in court where he can adduce evidence in his favor. The Decision of the First Division erases this
guarantee. In one stroke, the Decision of the First Division has overturned over a century of jurisprudence
fortifying a guarantee essential to the stability of our land registration system.
In 1915, after the introduction in 1903 131 of the Torrens system in this country, this Court waxed poetic
in Legarda and Prieto v. Saleeby 132 in describing the cornerstone of the then new system of land registration.
Declared the Court:
. . . The real purpose of that system is to quiet title to land; to put a stop forever to any question of the legality
of the title, except claims which were noted at the time of registration, in the certificate, or which may arise
subsequent thereto. That being the purpose of the law, it would seem that once a title is registered the
owner may rest secure, without the necessity of waiting in the portals of the court, or sitting in
the "mirador de su casa", to avoid the possibility of losing his land. . . .
. . . The title once registered, with very few exceptions, should not thereafter be impugned, altered,
changed, modified, enlarged, or diminished, except in some direct proceeding permitted by law.
Otherwise, all security in registered titles would be lost. . . . 133 (Boldfacing and underscoring supplied)
This Court has reiterated the doctrine in Legarda and Prieto v. Saleeby, now embodied in Section 48 of
the Property Registration Decree, in innumerable decisions. In the 2003 case of Heirs of Santiago v. Heirs of
Santiago, 134 a decision penned by Justice Consuelo Ynares-Santiago, this Court declared: DcCITS
66

Section 48 of P.D. 1529, the Property Registration Decree, provides that a certificate of title shall not be
subject to collateral attack and can not be altered, modified, or canceled except in a direct
proceeding. An action is an attack on a title when the object of the action is to nullify the title, and thus
challenge the judgment or proceeding pursuant to which the title was decreed. The attack is direct when the
object of an action is to annul or set aside such judgment, or enjoin its enforcement. On the other
hand, the attack is indirect or collateral when, in an action to obtain a different relief, an attack on
the judgment or proceeding is nevertheless made as an incident thereof. 135 (Emphasis supplied)
The Decision of the First Division cancels a Torrens title without any proceeding in a trial court directly attacking
the title as required by law. What this Court warned against in Legarda and Prieto v. Saleeby is now before us
a situation where "all security in registered titles [is] lost". Every landowner holding a Torrens title will now
have to camp in the corridors of the courts, or constantly watch in the balcony of his house, just to avoid losing
his titled land. The Decision of the First Division, by destroying the stability of land titles, will usher in an era of
land disputes, which before the advent of the Torrens system were often violent and bloody.
The Decision of the First Division denies to the Manotoks a basic guarantee under the Constitution that no
person shall be deprived of his property without due process of law. 136 The Decision deprives the Manotoks of
their P1.7 billion property without any trial in any court contrary to the clear and express mandate of
Section 48 of the Property Registration Decree. This Court should never allow such blatant, gross and
shocking violation of a fundamental constitutional right.
A FINAL WORD ON RECONSTITUTION OF TITLES
This Court has often warned of the pitfalls of reconstitutions of titles, which have resulted in innocent
landowners losing their titled lands to crime syndicates specializing in forged titles and documents.
The patently forged documents presented in these cases remind us of what this Court stated in Heirs of Pedro
Pinote v. Dulay: 137

There is no gainsaying the need for courts to proceed with extreme caution in proceedings for reconstitution
of titles to land under R.A. 26. Experience has shown that this proceeding has many times been misused as a
means of divesting a property owner of the title to his property. Through fraudulent reconstitution
proceedings, he wakes up one day to discover that his certificate of title has been cancelled and
replaced by a reconstituted title in someone else's name. 138 (Emphasis supplied)

Accordingly, I vote to (1) GRANT petitioners' letter motion for reconsideration dated 19 July 2006, (2) REVERSE
the Court's First Division Decision dated 12 December 2005 and Resolution dated 19 April 2006, (3) RECALL the
Entry of Judgment dated 2 May 2006, and (4) DENY the petition for administrative reconstitution of TCT No.
210177 filed by respondents Heirs of Homer L. Barque, Sr.
CORONA, J p:
The integrity of the Torrens system of land registration should be zealously guarded. Otherwise, transactions
involving registered lands will be utterly confusing and public faith in the Torrens system and the value of
certificates of titles may be seriously impaired. 1 It is therefore the duty of courts, specially this Court, to tread
carefully and cautiously in cases where its adjudication will allow or tend to allow doubts on the integrity of the
Torrens system to linger. With this in mind, I respectfully submit the following opinion.
The Court of Appeals May, in Proper
Instances, Order the Cancellation of a
Certificate of Title in an Appeal of the
Land Registration Authority's Decision
in an Administrative Reconstitution
Proceeding
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In resolving controversies, this Courts duty is to apply or interpret the law. It cannot make or amend the law
without treading the perilous waters of judicial legislation. It is not within the Courts power to enlarge or abridge
laws; otherwise, the Court will be guilty of usurping the exclusive prerogative of Congress.
Jurisdiction over the subject matter of a case is conferred by law. 2 It cannot be (1) granted by the agreement
of the parties; (2) acquired, waived, enlarged or diminished by any act or omission of the parties or (3)
conferred by the acquiescence of the courts. 3
I submit that the First Division, in its December 12, 2005 decision, enlarged the scope of the authority of the
Land Registration Authority (LRA) in administrative reconstitution proceedings when it recognized the authority
of the LRA to rule that petitioners' certificate of title was a sham, spurious and not duly issued.
Section 6 of PD 4 1529 5 limits the LRAs functions to the following:
SEC. 6. General Functions.
(1) The Commissioner of Land Registration shall have the following functions: HESAIT
(a) Issue decrees of registration pursuant to final judgments of the courts in land registration proceedings and
cause the issuance by the Register of Deeds of the corresponding certificate of title;
(b) Exercise supervision and control over all Register of Deeds and other personnel of the Commission;
(c) Resolve cases elevated en consulta by, or on appeal from decision of, Register of Deeds;
(d) Exercise executive supervision over all clerks of court and personnel of the [RTCs] 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 therefore;
(f) Verify and approve subdivision, consolidation, and consolidation-subdivision survey plans of properties titled
under Act No. 496 except those covered byPD No. 957.
(2) The [LRA] shall have the following functions:
(a) Extend speedy and effective assistance to the Department of Agrarian Reform, the Land Bank, and other
agencies in the implementation of the land reform program of the government;
(b) Extend assistance to courts in ordinary and cadastral land registration proceedings; and
(c) Be the central repository of records relative to original registration of lands titled under the Torrens system,
including subdivision and consolidation plans of titled lands.
Thus, under PD 1529, the LRA has no authority to rule on the authenticity and validity of a certificate of title.
While Section 9 6 of RA 7 6732 vested the LRA with the quasi-judicial 8 power to "review, revise, reverse,
modify or affirm any decision of the reconstituting officer or Register of Deeds" on appeal in administrative
reconstitution proceedings, the LRA nonetheless did not acquire any authority to declare a certificate of title
void. Such power properly and exclusively pertains to the Regional Trial Court (RTC). 9
Indeed, the separate opinions on the December 12, 2005 decision recognized that these cases should have been
tried by the RTC. 10 However, the said opinions stated that to remand these cases for trial at this stage would
only be "a time-consuming and pointless exercise". With due respect, justice should not be sacrificed for
expediency. After all, more important than anything else is that this Court be right. 11
Nonetheless, while the LRA cannot rule on the authenticity and validity of a certificate of title, the Court of
Appeals possesses such power when presented with an appeal of the decision of the LRA in a case such as this
where the validity and authenticity of a certificate of title covering a particular property is challenged in the
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course of and in connection with the administrative reconstitution of another certificate of title purportedly
covering the same property.
In this connection, it is noteworthy that while Section 48 12 of PD 1529 provides that a certificate of title
"cannot be altered, modified, or cancelled except in a direct proceeding in accordance with law", it is silent as
to the specific court where the petition for cancellation of a certificate of title should be instituted. In contrast,
Section 108 13 of PD 1529 expressly states that petitions for amendment or alteration of a certificate of title
covering a particular property after original registration of that property should be filed in the then Court of First
Instance, now the RTC. This difference in the treatment between cancellation of a certificate of title and the
alteration or amendment/modification thereof shows the legislative intent to distinguish between these actions.
Thus, courts other than the RTC, such as the Court of Appeals, have the authority and jurisdiction to
order the cancellation of a certificate of title which may be found to be false or fraudulent when
this is necessary in the adjudication of a controversy brought before them.
Specifically, the Court of Appeals is vested under Section 9 (3) of BP 129 (in connection with RA 5434) with
exclusive appellate jurisdiction over all final judgments, decisions, resolutions, orders or awards of the LRA in the
exercise of its quasi-judicial functions. This is reflected in Section 1, Rule 43 of the Rules of Court. However,
while its jurisdiction to review the judgment, decision, resolution or award of the LRA is designated under BP
129 as "appellate", the Court of Appeals actually exercises original jurisdiction (in its traditional sense) as it is the
first time that the said case becomes the subject of a judicial action. 14 This is the proper character of the
authority exercised by the Court of Appeals in an appeal of the judgment, decision, resolution, order or award of
the LRA in an administrative reconstitution proceeding. This also supports the view that the Court of Appeals has
the power to pass upon the authenticity and validity of a certificate of title covering a particular property (and to
order its cancellation) when the same is put in issue in connection with the reconstitution of another certificate
of title covering the same property.
This neither runs counter to nor encroaches on the power of the RTC under Section 19 (2) of BP 129, as
amended, to exercise exclusive original jurisdiction "[i]n all civil actions which involve the title to, or possession
of, real property or any interest therein". In so canceling a certificate of title, the Court of Appeals does
not resolve a civil action involving title to real property. "Title" to real property is not the same as the
"certificate of title"; the certificate of title is distinct from the title itself. The certificate of title may get lost,
burned or destroyed and later on reconstituted but the title subsists all the while and remains unaffected unless
transferred or conveyed to another or subjected to a lien or encumbrance. CSTEHI
Title is the "union of all the elements (as ownership, possession and custody) constituting the legal right to
control and dispose of property". 15 It is the "legal link between a person who owns property and the property
itself". 16
Though employed in various ways, title is generally used to describe either the manner in which a right to real
property is acquired, or the right itself. In the first sense, it refers to the conditions necessary to acquire a valid
claim to land; in the second, it refers to the legal consequences of such conditions. These two senses are not
only interrelated, but inseparable: given the requisite conditions, the legal consequences or rights follow as of
course; given the rights, conditions necessary for the creation of those rights must have been satisfied. Thus,
when the word 'title' is used in one sense, the other sense is necessarily implied. 17
On the other hand, a Torrens certificate of title is the certificate of ownership issued under the Torrens system of
registration by the government thru the Register of Deeds naming and declaring the owner in fee simple of the
real property described therein, free from all liens and encumbrances except such as may be expressly noted
thereon or otherwise reserved by law. 18 Legally defined, a certificate of title is the transcript of the decree of
registration made by the Registrar of Deeds in the registry. 19
Whereas title is the claim, right or interest in land, a certificate of title is the document evidencing that right. The
issuance of a certificate of title does not give the owner any better title than what he actually has. He secures his
certificate of title by virtue of the fact that he has a fee simple title. 20 To reiterate, the loss or destruction and
69

subsequent reconstitution of a certificate of title does not affect the subsistence of the title unless it (the title) is
transferred or conveyed to another or subjected to a lien or encumbrance.

These Cases Should Be Remanded


to the Court of Appeals for Consideration
of Contentious Factual Issues
Having affirmed the authority of the Court of Appeals to order the cancellation of a certificate of title in this
instance, does it follow that this Court should uphold the December 12, 2005 decision of the First Division? I do
not believe so.
Considering the serious and grave imputations against the respective certificates of titles of the contending
parties, it would be precipitate as well as imprudent for the Court to simply adopt the findings of the Court of
Appeals in CA G.R. SP Nos. 66642 and 66700. A "surfeit of forgeries, badges of fraud and other dubious
circumstances" 21 is alleged to have attended respondents' administrative petition for reconstitution of their TCT
No. T-210177. Similarly, significant irregularities and fatal defects 22 have been cast on petitioners'
reconstituted TCT No. RT-22481. Indeed, the parties trade serious accusations of fraud and deceit. Similarly,
both parties invoke Section 11 of RA 6732 in support of their respective positions:
SEC. 11. A reconstituted title obtained by means of fraud, deceit or other machination is void ab initio as against
the party obtaining the same and all persons having knowledge thereof.
Any decision in favor of one party at this moment will be a declaration (express or implied) that there is prima
facie evidence that the other party obtained or sought to obtain his certificate of title by means of fraud, deceit
or other machination. Such statement will give this Court no legal option but to order the criminal
prosecution of the losing party pursuant to Section 12 of RA 6732:
SEC. 12. Any person who by means of fraud, deceit or other machination obtains or attempts to obtain a
reconstituted title shall be subject to criminal prosecution and, upon conviction, shall be liable for imprisonment
for a period of not less than two years but not exceeding five years or the payment of a fine of not less than
Twenty thousand pesos but not exceeding Two hundred thousand pesos or both at the discretion of the court.
Any public officer or employee who knowingly approves or assists in securing a decision allowing reconstitution
in favor of any person not entitled thereto shall be subject to criminal prosecution and, upon conviction, shall be
liable for imprisonment of not less than five years but not exceeding ten years or payment of a fine of not less
than Fifty thousand pesos but not exceeding One hundred thousand pesos or both at the discretion of the court
and perpetual disqualification from holding public office.
Since any declaration of fraud or deceit on the part of one party will expose that party to criminal prosecution,
this Court should refrain from making any such declaration until and unless the complicated and contentious
maze of factual matters is clearly resolved. While these matters have been brought to the attention of the Court
of Appeals in CA G.R. SP Nos. 66642 and 66700, the Court of Appeals at that time was not able to exhaustively
evaluate and analyze them.
The controversial factual matters were, however, brought to light extensively and in great detail during the oral
arguments of these cases as well as in the respective memoranda submitted by the parties and by Office of the
Solicitor General after the oral arguments.
To reiterate, what is crucial and critical in these cases is the complete determination of contentious factual
issues.
However, the investigation and appreciation of facts is beyond the province of this Court as it is neither a trier of
fact nor capacitated to appreciate evidence at the first instance. 23 On the other hand, the Court of Appeals has
70

the competence to perform that task. Indeed, we stated in Manotok Realty, Inc. v. CLT Realty Development
Corporation: 24
Under Section 6 of Rule 46, which is applicable to original cases for certiorari, the Court may, whenever
necessary to resolve factual issues, delegate the reception of the evidence on such issues to any of its members
or to an appropriate court, agency or office. The delegate need not be the body that rendered the assailed
decision.DcCIAa
The Court of Appeals generally has the authority to review findings of fact. Its conclusions as to findings of fact
are generally accorded great respect by this Court. It is a body that is fully capacitated and has a surfeit of
experience in appreciating factual matters, including documentary evidence.
There are indeed many factual questions looming over the respective certificates of title of the contending
parties. These can only be threshed out in a remand to the Court of Appeals. Hence, I respectfully submit that
the proper and prudent course now is for the Court to constitute a special division of the Court of Appeals to be
composed of three associate justices to be designated by us for the purpose of hearing these cases on remand.
The special division will hear and receive evidence, conclude the proceedings and submit to this Court a report
on its findings and recommended conclusions within three months from finality of the Courts resolution in this
case.
Accordingly, I vote that these cases be REMANDED to a special division of the Court of Appeals for further
proceedings.
YNARES-SANTIAGO, J., dissenting:
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 Fls3168-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. RT22481 (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.
71

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. aSHAIC
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
72

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.
xxx xxx xxx
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, DENRNCR. 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
Stetson's Plan Fls-3168-D.
Respondents also furnished the Court photo copies of Plan Fls-3168-D issued by the Land Management BureauNational 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. Dalires allegations in his February 19, 1997 letter. This is unfortunate considering that Dalire's
credibility was completely repudiated by the LRA. Dalires claim that the documents presented by the
respondents were forgeries was disregarded as frivolous and baseless, thus: ECaTDc
73

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.
xxx xxx xxx
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. . . .
xxx xxx xxx
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 Official 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
74

and has been assigned Accession Number 410436 appearing on Page 79, Preliminary Report No. 1,
List of Locator Cards and Box Number 0400 . . . .
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. HSTaEC

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.
75

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 Courts 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. SaTAED
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.
76

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. . . .

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.

77

Thus, the Court of Appeals had the authority to order the cancellation of petitioners' reconstituted TCT No. RT22481 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
anerasure, alteration or amendment in a certificate of title. AECcTS
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.
xxx xxx xxx
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 ofadministrative 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". . . .
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
78

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.
xxx xxx xxx
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 Davids 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. TCHEDA
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.

79

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 38that:
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. . . .
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. . . .
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.

Jurisdiction 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
80

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: DHIcET
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. . . . 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 . . . .
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
81

the IDP, owner of the subject property. No end of substantial justice will be served if we reverse the SECs
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.

Jurisdiction 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. AHTICD
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, 49it 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 . . . .
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. . . . [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.

82

. . . [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 . . . .
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. . . ..
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 . . . .Thus, we repeat, the issue
here is not a question of technicality but that of substance and merit. . . .

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.
CHICO-NAZARIO, J., dissenting:
This is to express my dissent in the majority opinion which set aside the final and executory Decision dated 12
December 2005 of the First Division of this Court, recalled the Entry of Judgment recorded on 2 May 2006 in the
present cases, and remanded the same to the Court of Appeals for reception of further evidence.
I emphatically call attention to the fact that the Decision, dated 12 December 2005, the fallo of which reads
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[,] AIcECS
83

had become FINAL AND EXECUTORY. The two Motions for Reconsideration of the petitioners were both denied
in Resolutions dated 19 April 2006 and 19 June 2006. The Entry of Judgment was already made on 2 May 2006.
Nothing is more settled in law than that when a final judgment is executory, it thereby becomes immutable and
unalterable. The judgment may no longer be modified in any respect, even if the modification is meant to correct
what is perceived to be an erroneous conclusion of fact or law, and regardless of whether the modification is
attempted to be made by the court rendering it or by the highest Court of the land. The doctrine is founded on
considerations of public policy and sound practice that, at the risk of occasional errors, judgments must become
final at some definite point in time. 1
Litigation must at some time be terminated, even at the risk of occasional errors. Public policy dictates that once
a judgment becomes final, executory and unappealable, the prevailing party should not be denied the fruits of
his victory by some subterfuge devised by the losing party. Unjustified delay in the enforcement of a judgment
sets at naught the role of courts in disposing justiciable controversies with finality. 2
Apparent from the foregoing are the two-fold purposes for the doctrine of the immutability and inalterability of a
final judgment: first, to avoid delay in the administration of justice and thus, procedurally, to make orderly the
discharge of judicial business; and, second, to put an end to judicial controversies, at the risk of occasional
errors, which is precisely why courts exist. Obviously, the first purpose is in line with the dictum that justice
delayed is justice denied. But said dictumpresupposes that the court properly appreciates the facts and the
applicable law to arrive at a judicious decision. The end should always be the meting out of justice. As to the
second purpose, controversies cannot drag on indefinitely. The rights and obligations of every litigant must not
hang in suspense for an indefinite period of time. It must be adjudicated properly and seasonably to better serve
the ends of justice and to place everything in proper perspective. In the process, the possibility that errors may
be committed in the rendition of a decision cannot be discounted. 3
The only recognized exceptions to the foregoing doctrine are the corrections of clerical errors or the making of
the so-called nunc pro tunc entries, which cause no prejudice to any party, and, where the judgment is
void. 4 Void judgments may be classified into two groups: those rendered by a court without jurisdiction to do
so and those obtained by fraud or collusion. 5 Petitioners assert, and the majority opinion effectively sustains,
that the Decision dated 12 December 2005 of the First Division of this Court, affirming the decisions of the Court
of Appeals and the LRA rendered without jurisdiction, may be set aside for belonging to the first group of void
judgments. I cannot subscribe to such a view.
It is argued that the Land Registration Authority (LRA) has no jurisdiction to reconstitute administratively the
respondents' title because such reconstitution supposedly constitutes an indirect or collateral attack on the
petitioners' pre-existing Torrens title over the same property.
It is worthy to note that the LRA itself, despite finding clear and convincing evidence that respondents' title was
valid, genuine, authentic, and effective, while concluding that petitioners' title was fraudulently reconstituted,
held back from actually canceling the petitioners' title. According to the dispositive portion of the LRA Decision
WHEREFORE, in view of the foregoing, it is hereby ordered that reconstitution of TCT No. 210177 in the name of
[herein respondents' predecessor] Homer L. Barque, Sr. shall be given due course after cancellation of TCT No.
RT-22481 (372302) in the name of [herein petitioners] Manotoks upon order of a court of competent
jurisdiction.
From the said LRA Decision, the parties filed separate appeals with the Court of Appeals.
Respondents' petition for review was docketed as CA-G.R. SP No. 66700, which the Special Division of Five of
the Former Second Division of the Court of Appeals, in its Amended Decision, dated 7 November 2003, resolved
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 [herein petitioners] and the LRA is hereby
84

directed to reconstitute forthwith [herein respondents'] valid, genuine and existing Certificate of Title No. T210177.
Petitioners' petition for review, on the other hand, was docketed as CA-G.R. SP No. 66642, disposed by the Third
Division of the Court of Appeals in its Amended Decision, dated 24 February 2004, in the following manner
WHEREFORE, the Motion for Reconsideration is hereby GRANTED. The Decision of this Court dated 29 October
2003 is RECONSIDERED and a new one entered ordering the Register of Deeds of Quezon City to cancel [herein
petitioners'] TCT No. RT-22481 and directing the LRA to reconstitute forthwith [herein respondents'] TCT No. T210177. ICESTA
It was not the LRA which ordered the cancellation of petitioners' title but the two Divisions of the Court of
Appeals which separately decided CA-G.R. SP No. 66700 and CA-G.R. SP No. 66642. Petitioners contend,
however, that even the Court of Appeals had no jurisdiction to order the cancellation of their title. They maintain
that their title can only be attacked in a direct action before the Regional Trial Court (RTC). The Decision, dated
12 December 2005, of the First Division of the Court already addressed the said arguments, thus
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 courts 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. . . .
xxx xxx xxx
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 a 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.
While the Court, when it finds that a lower court or quasi-judicial body is in error, may simply and conveniently
nullify the challenged decision, resolution or order and remand the case thereto for further appropriate action, it
is well within the conscientious exercise of its broad review powers to refrain from doing so and instead choose
to render judgment on the merits when all material facts have been duly laid before it as would buttress its
ultimate conclusion, in the public interest and for the expeditious administration of justice, such as where the
ends of justice would not be subserved by the remand of the case. 6
Such a 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." 7 Sound practice seeks to accommodate the
theory which avoids waste of time, effort and expense, both to the parties and the government, not to speak of
delay in the disposal of the case. A marked characteristic of the judicial set-up in this country is that where the
dictates of justice so demand, the Supreme Court should act, and act with finality. 8
The decisions of the LRA, the two Divisions of the Court of Appeals, as well as the First Division of the Court,
consistently finding that it is respondents' title to the land which is authentic and genuine, and that of the
petitioners is false and fraudulent, are sufficiently supported by the evidence on record. Petitioners' evidence to
prove their title to the land was already considered and weighed by the LRA and the courts as against the
respondents' evidence. There is no showing that petitioners had any other significant evidence that they can
only present before the RTC in another proceeding directly attacking their title. Thus, although the proceedings
canceling petitioners' title to the land did not follow the ordinary course, which should have been initiated with
the RTC, the Court of Appeals and the First Division of the Court had all the material facts before them and
evidence on record to already render judgment on the merits in the instant cases.

85

Moreover, when petitioners opposed respondents' petition for reconstitution of title, on the basis of their prior
existing title to the same piece of land, petitioners submitted their title to the scrutiny of the LRA. The LRA could
not dismiss respondents' petition for reconstitution of title on the mere presentation by petitioners of their
supposed title. It was still incumbent upon the LRA to determine the existence, genuineness and authenticity of
petitioners' title, so as to preclude the reconstitution of respondents' title over the same piece of land. To make
such a determination, the LRA had to examine and weigh the evidence of both the respondents and the
petitioners in support of their own respective titles; and as a result thereof, the LRA came to the conclusion that
petitioners' title was fraudulently reconstituted.
Given the foregoing, it cannot be simply said that the issuance by the LRA of reconstituted titles is a purely
executive function. Before the LRA can issue a decision, either granting or denying petitions for reconstitution of
title, it must consider and weigh the arguments and evidence presented by those seeking and those opposing
the reconstitution; irrefragably, a quasi-judicial function. An act by an executive agency or officer becomes
quasi-judicial in nature when the parties involved are given the opportunity to be heard and to produce
evidence, and such evidence is weighed before a decision is rendered thereon. 9 The fact that the LRA is a
quasi-judicial agency exercising quasi-judicial function becomes incontestable especially considering that its
decisions are among those explicitly identified in the Supreme Court Revised Administrative Circular No. 1-95 as
appealable to the Court of Appeals. 10
Again, it must be stressed that, despite its finding that petitioners' title was fraudulent, the LRA left the
cancellation of their title to a court of competent jurisdiction. While under ordinary circumstances, such a court
of competent jurisdiction would have been the RTC, the First Division of the Court properly found, in accordance
with public policy and the dictates of justice, that the instant cases need no longer be remanded to the RTC for
further proceedings. The two Divisions of the Court of Appeals, in promulgating their respective Amended
Decisions, already had all the material facts and evidence before it to render judgment on the validity of
petitioners' title. Hence, the Decision, dated 12 December 2005, of the First Division of the Court, declining to
remand the instant cases to the RTC and affirming the Amended Decisions of the Court of Appeals therein, is a
valid decision which could and had, in fact, attained finality. cDSaEH
It is time that the Court finally put an end to the controversies between petitioners and respondents in these
cases, and thwart further attempts by any party to still prolong the same. Unfortunately, the Resolution of the
majority opinion has the contrary effect. It not only protracts the litigation, but also complicates the same by
giving undue consideration to the evidence and points raised by Felicitas and Resendo Manahan (Manahans) in
their much delayed petition-in-intervention.
When the Court en banc reopened the present cases, it expressly delineated the four issues to be resolved and
upon which the parties were to be heard in the oral arguments. These issues were:
1. Does the Court of Appeals have jurisdiction to cancel petitioners' TCT No. RT-22481 without a trial before the
proper Regional Trial Court in the proceeding directly assailing the validity of petitioners' title?
2. Does the Land Registration Authority [LRA] have jurisdiction 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?
3. Does the LRA have jurisdiction to adjudicate on the validity of petitioners' TCT No. RT-22481 in the
administrative reconstitution case filed by respondents with the LRA?
4. Does the Court of Appeals or the LRA have jurisdiction to decide the ownership of the disputed property in the
administrative reconstitution of title filed by respondents?
Even just a cursory reading of the foregoing issues would readily reveal that these are mainly legal and
jurisdictional issues. The parties, namely, the petitioners and the respondents, have the right to rely on the
adherence by the Court en banc to the said issues in its determination of whether or not to still subject the said
parties to more litigation proceedings. For the Court en banc to consider and rule upon issues which are outside
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of the four afore-stated and on which the parties were heard during the oral arguments is a denial of due
process.
The matter of whether or not the factual issues in the instant cases should again be relitigated cannot be
anchored on the factual allegations of the parties, moreso, when such allegations were made by the Manahans.
The Manahans were not even allowed to intervene in the oral arguments nor submit issues for the oral
arguments. Thus, the majority opinion palpably erred in remanding the cases to the Court of Appeals for further
reception of evidence on the basis of the assertions of the Manahans, which contradict the claims of both the
petitioners and the respondents, the original parties in the cases at bar. The courts are bound to look no further
than the record and cannot even consider contrary evidence to determine where the preponderance thereof
lies. 11 These cases must be resolved upon the evidence submitted to the LRA, since a judicial review of
executive decisions does not import a trial de novo, but only an ascertainment of whether the executive findings
are not in violation of the Constitution or of the laws, and are free from fraud or imposition, and whether they
find reasonable support in the evidence. 12 Further proceedings before the Court of Appeals following the
remand of the instant cases thereto, would undoubtedly be tantamount to a new trial and investigation.
Wherefore, I vote to DENY all motions and prayers of the petitioners for the setting aside of the Decision dated
12 December 2005 of the First Division of this Court and the remand of the present cases to the Court of
Appeals for the reception of further evidence, in my firm belief that the said Decision must stand and be honored
for already being final and executory. I also vote to GRANT the motions for execution and possession filed by the
respondents pursuant to the same Decision.
||| (Manotok IV v. Heirs of Barque, G.R. Nos. 162335 & 162605, [December 18, 2008], 595 PHIL 87-264)

[G.R. Nos. 162335 & 162605. August 24, 2010.]


SEVERINO M. MANOTOK IV, FROILAN M. MANOTOK, FERNANDO M. MANOTOK III, MA. MAMERTA
M. MANOTOK, PATRICIA L. TIONGSON, PACITA L. GO, ROBERTO LAPERAL III, MICHAEL MARSHALL
V. MANOTOK, MARYANN 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.
DECISION
VILLARAMA, JR., J p:
In our Resolution 1 promulgated on December 18, 2008, we set aside the Decision 2 dated December 12, 2005
rendered by the First Division; recalled the Entry of Judgment recorded on May 2, 2006; reversed and set aside
the Amended Decisions dated November 7, 2003 and March 12, 2004 in CA-G.R. SP Nos. 66700 and 66642,
respectively; and remanded to the Court of Appeals (CA) for further proceedings these cases which shall be
raffled immediately. EAcTDH
The CA was specifically directed to receive evidence with primary focus on whether the Manotoks can trace their
claim of title to a valid alienation by the Government of Lot No. 823 of the Piedad Estate, which was a Friar
Land. On that evidence, this Court may ultimately decide whether annulment of the Manotok title is warranted,
similar to the annulment of the Cebu Country Club title in Alonso v. Cebu Country Club, Inc. 3 The Barques and
Manahans were likewise allowed to present evidence on their respective claims "which may have an impact on
the correct determination of the status of the Manotok title." On the other hand, the Office of the Solicitor
General (OSG) was directed to secure all the relevant records from the Land Management Bureau (LMB) and the
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Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR). If the final evidence on record "definitively reveals
the proper claimant to the subject property, the Court would take such fact into consideration as it adjudicates
final relief." 4
After concluding the proceedings in which all the parties participated and presented testimonial and
documentary evidence, as well as memoranda setting forth their respective arguments, the CA's Special Former
First Division rendered a Commissioners' Report 5 consisting of 219 pages on April 12, 2010. Upon receipt of the
sealed Report submitted to this Court, the parties were no longer furnished copies thereof in order not to delay
the promulgation of the Court's action and the adjudication of these cases, and pursuant to our power under
Section 6, Rule 135 of the Rules of Court 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." 6
The evidence adduced by the parties before the CA, which are exhaustively discussed in the Commissioners'
Report, including the judicial affidavits and testimonies presented during the hearings conducted by the CA's
Special Former First Division, are herein summarized. But first, a brief restatement of the antecedents set forth
in our Resolution.

Antecedents
Lot No. 823 is a part of the Piedad Estate, Quezon City, a Friar Land acquired by the Philippine Government from
the Philippine Sugar Estates Development Company, Ltd., La Sociedad Agricola de Ultramar, the British-Manila
Estate Company, Ltd., and the Recoleto Order of the Philippine Islands on December 23, 1903, as indicated inAct
No. 1120 (Friar Lands Act) enacted on April 26, 1904. The Piedad Estate has been titled in the name of the
Government under Original Certificate of Title (OCT) No. 614 and was placed under the administration of the
Director of Lands. 7
Controversy arising from conflicting claims over Lot 823 began to surface after a fire gutted portions of the
Quezon City Hall on June 11, 1988 which destroyed records stored in the Office of the Register of Deeds of
Quezon City. That fire has attained notoriety due to the numerous certificates of title on file with that office,
which were destroyed as a consequence. The resulting effects of that blaze on specific property registration
controversies have been dealt with by the Court in a number of cases since then. The present petitions are
perhaps the most heated, if not the most contentious of those cases thus far. 8
Sometime in 1990, a petition for administrative reconstitution 9 of Transfer Certificate of Title (TCT) No. 372302
in the name of the Manotoks covering Lot No. 823 with an area of 342,945 square meters was filed by the
Manotoks with the Land Registration Authority (LRA) which granted the same, resulting in the issuance of TCT
No. RT-22481 (372302) in 1991. In 1996, eight (8) years after the fire which razed the Quezon City Hall
building, the Barques filed a petition with the LRA for administrative reconstitution of the original of TCT No.
210177 in the name of Homer Barque and covering Lot 823 of the Piedad Estate, Quezon City, alleged to be
among those titles destroyed in the fire. In support of their petition, the Barques submitted copies of the alleged
owner's duplicate of TCT No. 210177, real estate tax receipts, tax declarations and a Plan Fls 3168-D covering
the property. 10
Learning of the Barques' petition, the Manotoks filed their opposition thereto, alleging that TCT No. 210177 was
spurious. Although both titles of the Manotoks and the Barques refer to land belonging to Lot No. 823 of the
Piedad Estate situated in the then Municipality of Caloocan, Province of Rizal, TCT No. 210177 actually involves
two (2) parcels with an aggregate area of 342,945 square meters, while TCT No. RT-22481 (372302) pertains
only to a single parcel of land, with a similar area of 342,945 square meters. 11
On June 30, 1997, Atty. Benjamin M. Bustos, the reconstituting officer, denied Barques' petition declaring that
Lot No. 823 is already registered in the name of the Manotoks and covered by TCT No. 372302 which was
reconstituted under Adm. Reconstitution No. Q-213 dated February 1, 1991, and that the submitted plan Fls
3168-D is a spurious document as categorically declared by Engr. Privadi J.G. Dalire, Chief, Geodetic Surveys
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Division of the LMB. The Barques' motion for reconsideration having been denied, they appealed to the
LRA. 12 EcICDT
The LRA reversed the ruling of Atty. Bustos and declared that the Manotok title was fraudulently reconstituted. It
ordered that reconstitution of TCT No. 210177 in the name of Homer L. Barque shall be given due course after
cancellation of TCT No. RT-22481 (372302) in the name of the Manotoks upon order of a competent court of
jurisdiction. The LRA denied the Manotoks' motion for reconsideration and the Barques' prayer for immediate
reconstitution. Both the Manotoks and the Barques appealed the LRA decision to the CA. 13
In the petition for review filed by the Barques (CA-G.R. SP No. 66700), Felicitas Manahan filed a motion to
intervene and sought the dismissal of the cases in CA-G.R. SP No. 66700 and CA-G.R. SP No. 66642 as she
claimed ownership of the subject property. 14
By Decision of September 13, 2002, the CA's Second Division denied the petition in CA-G.R. SP No. 66700 and
affirmed the LRA Resolution. Subsequently, in an Amended Decision 15 dated November 7, 2003, the Special
Division of Five of the Former Second Division reconsidered its Decision dated September 13, 2002 and directed
the Register of Deeds of Quezon City to cancel TCT No. RT-22481 (372302) in the name of the Manotoks and to
reconstitute the Barques' "valid, genuine and existing" TCT No. 210177. The Manotoks filed a motion for
reconsideration but this was denied. 16
As to Manotoks' petition (CA-G.R. SP No. 66642), the CA's Third Division rendered a Decision 17 on October 29,
2003 which affirmed the resolution of the LRA. The Barques filed a motion for reconsideration. As what
happened in CA-G.R. SP No. 66700, the CA's Third Division granted the Barques' motion for reconsideration and
on February 24, 2004, promulgated its Amended Decision wherein it reconsidered the decision dated October 29,
2003, and ordered the Register of Deeds of Quezon City to cancel TCT No. RT-22481 (372302) in the name of
the Manotoks and the LRA to reconstitute the Barques' TCT No. 210177. 18
Aggrieved by the outcome of the two (2) cases in the CA, the Manotoks filed the present separate petitions (G.R.
Nos. 162605 and 162335) which were ordered consolidated on August 2, 2004. On December 12, 2005, this
Court's First Division rendered its Decision affirming the two (2) decisions of the CA. The Manotoks filed a motion
for reconsideration, which the Court's First Division denied in a Resolution dated April 19, 2006. Thereafter, the
Manotoks filed a Motion for Leave to File a Second Motion for Reconsideration, with their Motion for
Reconsideration attached. The Court denied the same in a Resolution dated June 19, 2006 and eventually entry
of judgment was made in the Book of Entries of Judgment on May 2, 2006. In the meantime, the Barques filed
multiple motions with the First Division for execution of the judgment, while the Manotoks filed an Urgent Motion
to Refer Motion for Possession to the Supreme Court En Banc (with prayer to set motion for oral arguments). In
a Resolution dated July 19, 2006, the Special First Division referred these cases to the Court en banc, and on
July 26, 2006, the Court en banc promulgated a Resolution accepting the cases. 19
On September 7, 2006, Felicitas Manahan and Rosendo Manahan filed a motion to intervene, to which was
attached their petition in intervention. They alleged that their predecessor-in-interest, Valentin Manahan, was
issued Sale Certificate No. 511 covering Lot No. 823 of the Piedad Estate and attached to their petition the
findings of the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) that the documents of the Manotoks were not as old as
they were purported to be. Consequently, the Director of the Legal Division of the LMB recommended to the
Director of the LMB that "steps be taken in the proper court for the cancellation of TCT No. RT-22481 (372302)
and all its derivative titles so that the land covered may be reverted to the State." In compliance with the
directive of this Court, the OSG filed its Comment and oral arguments were held on July 24, 2007. Thereafter,
the Court required the parties, the intervenors and the Solicitor General to submit their respective memoranda.
As already mentioned, the December 12, 2005 Decision of the Court's First Division was set aside, entry of
judgment recalled and the CA's Amended Decisions in CA-G.R. SP Nos. 66642 and 66700 were reversed and set
aside, pursuant to our Resolution promulgated on December 18, 2008 wherein we ordered the remand of the
cases to the CA for further proceedings.
89

Evidence Submitted to the CA


A.OSG
Engr. Judith Poblete, Records Custodian of DENR-NCR, brought the original copy of the Lot Description of Lot
No. 823 of the Piedad Estate, a certified copy of which was marked as Exhibit 28-OSG [DENR]. She also
identified Land Use Map (1978), Exhibit 32-OSG [DENR], showing the location of Lot No. 823 of Piedad Estate at
Matandang Balara, Quezon City. 20
Engr. Evelyn G. Celzo, Geodetic Engineer III of the Technical Services Section of DENR-NCR, identified her
signature in Technical Descriptions (Lot No. 823, Piedad Estate) marked as Exhibit 29-OSG [DENR], 21 which is
on file at the Technical Services Section. She explained that there is no discrepancy because the lot description
"64.45" appearing in Exhibit 28-OSG should read "644.5" (as reflected in Exhibit 29-OSG [DENR]) and they used
this computation as otherwise the polygon will not close. Sketch/Special Plans (Exhibits 30 and 31-OSG [DENR])
were prepared for Felicitas Manahan after she had purchased Lot No. 823 of Piedad Estate. As land investigator,
she made a thorough research of the property and she was able to see only the sale certificate of the Manahans
(Exhibit 2-OSG [LMB]) but not those of the Manotoks and the Barques. She admitted that she does not have the
record of the field notes of the survey conducted in 1907. 22 TaHDAS
Atty. Fe T. Tuanda, Officer-in-Charge (OIC) of the Records Management Division (RMD), LMB, testified that
she was designated OIC on January 13, 2009. She identified the following documents on file at their office,
certified copies of previously certified copies which were marked as OSG exhibits: (a) Survey Card for BL Survey
No. Fls-3164 in the name of Valentin Manahan (Exh. 1-OSG [LMB]); (b) Assignment of Sale Certificate No. 511
dated June 24, 1939 in the name of Valentin Manahan, assignor, and Hilaria de Guzman, assignee (Exh. 2-OSG
[LMB]); (c) Deed of Absolute Sale dated August 23, 1974 executed by Hilaria de Guzman in favor of Felicitas
Manahan covering Lot 823, Fls-3164, Piedad Estate (Exh. 3-OSG [LMB]); (d) Technical Description of Lot No.
823, Piedad Estate dated May 27, 1983 (Exh. 4-OSG [LMB]); (e) Investigation Report on Lot No. 823, Piedad
Estate dated July 5, 1989 prepared by Evelyn C. dela Rosa, Land Investigator, North CENRO (Exh. 5-OSG
[LMB]); (f) Petition for cancellation/reversion of TCT No. RT-22481 (372302) in the name of Severino Manotok,
et al. dated November 25, 1998 filed by Felicitas Manahan before the OSG (Exh. 6-OSG [LMB]); (g) Letter dated
December 3, 1998 of Assistant Solicitor General Cecilio O. Estoesta referring the petition filed by Felicitas
Manahan to the LMB for investigation and/or appropriate action (Exh. 7-OSG [LMB]); (h) LMB Special Order No.
98-135 dated December 18, 1998 designating investigators for the petition filed by Felicitas Manahan (Exh. 8OSG [LMB]); (i) 1st Indorsement dated February 23, 1999 and 2nd Indorsement dated March 26, 1999 issued by
DENR Lands Sector Regional Technical Director Mamerto L. Infante forwarding documents pertaining to Lot No.
823, Fls-3164, Piedad Estate, Quezon City to the Director of LMB (Exhs. 9 and 10-OSG [LMB]); (j) Chemistry
Report No. C-99-152 dated June 10, 1999 issued by the NBI Forensic Chemistry Division (Exh. 11-OSG [LMB]);
(k) Office Memorandum dated October 2000 from LMB Land Administration and Utilization Division Chief Arthus
T. Tenazas forwarding records of Lot No. 823, Piedad Estate to the LMB-RMD for numbering and notarization of
the Deed of Conveyance (Exh. 12-OSG [LMB]); (l) Memorandum dated April 17, 2000 issued by the Chief of the
Legal Division of the LMB to the OIC-Director of the LMB regarding the petition filed by Felicitas Manahan (Exh.
13-OSG [LMB]); (m) Memorandum dated July 6, 2000 issued by the DENR Undersecretary for Legal Affairs to
the Director of the LMB on the issue of whether a Deed of Conveyance may be issued to Felicitas Manahan by
virtue of Sale Certificate No. 511 covering Lot No. 823 of Piedad Estate (Exh. 14-OSG [LMB]); (n) Order dated
October 16, 2000 issued by the LMB transferring Sale Certificate No. 511 in the name of Valentin Manahan and
ordering the issuance of Deed of Conveyance in favor of Felicitas Manahan (Exh. 15-OSG [LMB]); (o) Deed No.
V-200022 dated October 30, 2000 issued by the LMB and signed by the OIC Director of Lands Management, in
favor of Felicitas Manahan covering Lot No. 823 of Piedad Estate (Exh. 16-OSG [LMB]); (p) Letter dated
November 24, 2004 from LRA Deputy Administrator Ofelia E. Abueg-Sta. Maria addressed to then DENR
Secretary Michael T. Defensor referring to the latter Deed No. V-200022 for verification as to its authenticity
(Exh. 17-OSG [LMB]); (q) Letter dated January 3, 2005 of DENR Secretary Defensor addressed to LRA Deputy
Administrator Abueg-Sta. Maria acknowledging receipt of the latter's letter dated November 24, 2004 (Exh. 18OSG [LMB]); (r) Memorandum dated January 3, 2005 from DENR Secretary Defensor to the Director of LMB
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requiring the latter to take immediate appropriate action on the letter dated November 24, 2004 of LRA Deputy
Administrator Abueg-Sta. Maria (Exh. 19-OSG [LMB]); (s) Office Memorandum dated January 19, 2005 from LMB
OIC Assistant Director Alberto R. Ricalde to the LMB-RMD referring to the latter the Memorandum dated January
3, 2005 issued by DENR Secretary Defensor (Exh. 20-OSG [LMB]); (t) Memorandum dated January 20, 2005
from LMB-RMD OIC Leonido V. Bordeos to LMB OIC Assistant Director Ricalde stating the results of their records
verification conducted pursuant to Office Memorandum dated January 19, 2005 (Exh. 21-OSG [LMB]); (u) Letter
dated January 21, 2005 from LMB Director Concordio D. Zuiga addressed to LRA Deputy Administrator AbuegSta. Maria indicating the results of their records verification on Deed No. V-200022 (Exh. 22-OSG [LMB]); (v)
Inventory of Claims/Conflicts Cases involving the Piedad Estate (Exh. 23-OSG [LMB]); (w) Memorandum dated
November 23, 2007 from LMB Land Administration and Utilization Division, Friar Lands Unit Chief Ariel F. Reyes
to LMB Legal Division OIC Manuel B. Tacorda providing a history of OCT No. 614, Piedad Estate, as well as its
metes and bounds (Exh. 24-OSG [LMB]); (x) Memorandum dated November 9, 2007 from DENR Undersecretary
for Administration, Finance and Legal Atty. Mary Ann Lucille L. Sering addressed to the Regional Executive
Director and Regional Technical Director for Lands of the DENR-NCR, the Director and Handling Officer of the
LMB, the Executive Director of Land Administration and Management Project, calling for a conference regarding
the launching of a project called "Operation 614" (Exh. 25-OSG [LMB]); (y) Memorandum dated November 26,
2007 from Legal Division OIC Tacorda to the LMB Director regarding the conference for the launching of
"Operation 614" (Exh. 26-OSG [LMB]); and (z) Memorandum dated November 28, 2007 from LMB OIC Director
Gerino A. Tolentino, Jr. to the DENR Secretary regarding the launching of "Operation 614" (Exh. 27-OSG
[LMB]). 23
On cross-examination, Atty. Tuanda said that while all documents received by the RMD are stamped received,
there were no such stamp mark on Exhibits 1-OSG, 2-OSG, 3-OSG, 9-OSG, 10-OSG, 13-OSG, 14-OSG, 19-OSG
and 25-OSG; Exh. 17-OSG had stamp received by the Office of the Assistant Director of LMB. When asked why
the pagination in Exh. 13-OSG is not consecutive, Atty. Tuanda said she was not the one (1) who placed the
page numbers on the documents. 24
Engr. Ludivina L. Aromin, Chief of the Technical Services Section, DENR-NCR, identified the Sketch/Special
Plans prepared for the Manahans for reference purposes (Exhs. 30 and 31-OSG [DENR] 25 ), based on the
technical description of Lot No. 823 taken from results of the original survey conducted in 1907. These were
signed by Engr. Ignacio R. Almira, Jr., Chief of Surveys Division, and noted by Atty. Crisalde Barcelo, Regional
Technical Director of DENR-NCR. She had verified the metes and bounds of Lot No. 823, explaining that if the
distance used between points 2 and 3 is "64.45", and not "644.5", the area of Lot No. 823 would not be
"342,945 square meters" and the Special Plans would not have been approved by the LMB. She clarified that the
sale certificate in the name of Valentin Manahan she was referring to is actually the Assignment of Sale
Certificate No. 511 (Exh. 2-OSG). 26
On November 17, 2009, the OSG submitted the following certified true copies of documents contained in Volume
2 of the records pertaining to Lot No. 823, Piedad Estate, on file with the LMB: (a) Assignment of Sale Certificate
No. 1054 dated March 11, 1919 executed by Regina Geronima and Zacarias Modesto, assignors, and Felicisimo
Villanueva as assignee (Exh. 33-OSG [LMB]); (b) Assignment of Sale Certificate No. 1054 dated May 4, 1923
executed by M. Teodoro and Severino Manotok as assignors, and Severino Manotok as assignee (Exh. 34-OSG
[LMB]); (c) Assignment of Sale Certificate No. 651 dated April 19, 1930 executed by Ambrosio Berones as
assignor, and Andres C. Berones as assignee (Exh. 35-OSG [LMB]); and (d) Sale Certificate No. 651 issued by
the Government of the Philippine Islands in favor of Ambrosio Berones (Exh. 36-OSG [LMB]). 27 cEHITA
Recalled to the witness stand, Atty. Tuanda testified that the allegation of the Manotoks in their Tender of
Excluded Evidence with Proffer of Proof that she suppressed the release of LMB records to Luisa Padora is
misleading, as she was merely complying with DENR Administrative Order No. 97-24 dated July 30, 1997 on the
release and disclosure of information. As ordered by the court on July 28, 2009, she allowed the Manotoks to
photocopy all the records pertaining to Lot No. 823. She asserted that Volume 2 of the records of Lot No. 823 is
not missing, as in fact she produced it in court. Volume 2 contained the following documents: (a) Assignment of
Sale Certificate No. 651 dated April 19, 1930 covering Lot 823 of the Piedad Estate executed by Ambrosio
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Berones as assignor, in favor of Andres C. Berones as assignee; (b) Assignment of Sale Certificate No. 1054
dated March 11, 1919 executed by Regina Geronimo and Zacarias Modesto; (c) Assignment of Sale Certificate
No. 1054 dated May 4, 1923 executed by Teodoro and Severino Manotok covering Lot No. 823; and the NBI
Chemistry Report (Exh. 11-OSG [LMB]). 28
On cross-examination, Atty. Tuanda said that she assumed office only on January 16, 2009. Volume 2 contains
only four (4) thin documents and she personally supervised its pagination; she cannot answer for the pagination
of Volumes 1, 3 and 4. She cannot recall if there are other papers in the RMD involving Lot No. 823, there is no
indication when the documents in Volume 2 were received for filing but their index cards will show those dates.
The documents in Volume 2 were borrowed by the NBI and were inadvertently inserted in Volume 1 when it was
returned by the NBI. She cannot remember if there was a Deed of Conveyance either in favor of the Manotoks
or the Barques. They have in their records not the Sale Certificate No. 511 dated June 24, 1939 but only the
Assignment of Sale Certificate No. 511. 29
Nemesio Antaran, Assistant Chief of the RMD, and concurrently Chief of the General Public Land Records
Section, LMB, brought to the court original copy of Assignment of Sale Certificate No. 511 dated June 24, 1939
in the name of Valentin Manahan, assignor, and Hilaria de Guzman, assignee (Exh. 2-OSG [LMB]). 30 On crossexamination, he said that such document was included in the Indorsement dated February 23, 1999 signed by
Mamerto L. Infante, Regional Technical Director, Lands Sector, DENR-NCR. He cannot ascertain when Exh. 2OSG was filed or received by the DENR. He saw in the record sale certificate in the name of the Manotoks but
did not see sale Certificate No. V-321 and Deed of Conveyance No. 4562 in the name of the Barques. Exhibits I
to VI, X to XXII are faithful reproduction of the originals on file with the RMD, but he is not sure whether their
Exhibits VII, XXVI to XXXIV are on file with the RMD. 31 On re-direct examination, he said that the Indorsement
dated February 23, 1999 (Exh. 9-OSG [LMB]) was addressed to the Director, LMB and not to the OSG. He
further explained that the DENR-NCR has documents pertaining to Lot 823 of the Piedad Estate because the
application to purchase friar land begins with or emanates from the NCR office. After the requirements are
completed, these applications are forwarded to the Office of the Director, LMB for processing. 32
The OSG formally offered Exhibits 1-OSG [LMB] to 27-OSG [LMB], and 28-OSG [DENR] to 32-OSG-DENR. cdrep
B.Manotoks
Jose Marie P. Bernabe, a geodetic engineer who had worked in both public and private sectors and was hired
as consultant in cases involving disputed lots, examined the survey plans and titles covering Lot No. 823 of the
Piedad Estate. Using coordinate geometry and/or computer aided design, he plotted the technical descriptions of
Lot No. 823 based on the technical descriptions appearing in OCT No. 614, Manotoks' TCT No. RT-22481 and
Barques' TCT No. 210177. He found that although both titles indicate that Lot No. 823 was originally registered
under OCT No. 614, they contain significantly different technical descriptions of the same property. The
Manotoks' title indicates an unsubdivided Lot No. 823 with the following boundaries: on the East by Payatas
Estate, on the Southeast by the Tuazon Estate, and on the West by Lots 824-A, 818-A and 818-C. On the other
hand, the Barques' title describes Lot 823 as subdivided into Lots 823-A and 823-B bounded on the Northeast
and Southeast by the property of Diez Francisco, on the Southwest by Lot 824, and on the Northwest by Lot
826. However, the southeast and northeast boundaries of Lot No. 823 as indicated in the Barques' title are not
mentioned in OCT No. 614. Using Google Earth, Lot 826 is actually located far north of Lot 823 based on the Lot
Description Sheet (Exh. 43 33 ) certified correct and reconstructed on December 17, 1979 by the Director of
Lands. Lot 818 is the correct lot to the west of Lot 823 together with Lot 824, as shown in the various approved
survey plans in the area (such as Psd-16296, Psd-16489, Psd-6737, Psd-22842 and Psd-291211), but as shown
in the Barques' title, Lots 824 and 826 are cited as adjacent lots to the west of Lot 823. He found some unusual
irregularities in the Barques' Subdivision Plan Fls-3168-D dated June 21, 1940 (Exh. 45 34 ), prepared for
Emiliano Setosta. When he compared Subdivision Plan Fls-3004-D dated February 16, 1941, the lot he surveyed
covering Lot 290-B which is a portion of Lot 290 of the Piedad Estate covered by TCT No. RT-120665, he noticed
that Fls-3168-D dated June 21, 1940 is more than six (6) months ahead of the date of survey on February 16,
1941 for Fls-3004-D. It is highly irregular that a survey executed at a later date would have a lower plan number
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since the plan numbers are issued consecutively by the Bureau of Lands. He likewise found that the errors and
discrepancies pertaining to Fls-3168-D show that the regular procedures and requirements for preparing
subdivision plans were not followed. 35
Engr. Bernabe pointed out that his examination of Survey Plan for Lot 824-A done in 1947 (Exh. 46 36 ) showed
that to the east of Lot 824-A is undivided Lot 823 (Exh. 46-A 37 ); the Survey Plan for Lot 822-A (Exh. 47 38 ),
which is located north of Lot 823, prepared in 1991 and approved in 1992, shows that Lot 823 is
an undivided piece of property (Exh. 47-A 39 ); and Survey Plan for Lot 818-A-New (Exh. 48 40 ) shows Lots
818-New-A, 818-New-B and 818-C the western boundaries of Lot 823, which is consistent with the description in
Manotoks' title. Thus, based on the totality of the documents he examined, Lot 823 of the Piedad Estate is an
undivided piece of land with an area of 342,945 square meters, bounded on the East by Payatas Estate, on the
Southeast by the Tuazon Estate and on the West by Lots 824-A, 818-A and 818-C, consistent with the technical
descriptions appearing in the nine (9) certificates of title of the Manotoks. Based on his research, and as shown
in the Report signed by Engr. Privadi Dalire, Chief of Geodetic Surveys Division, LMB (Exh. 49 41 ) and the
latter's Affidavit dated November 18, 2006 (Exh. 50 42 ), no record of Subdivision Plan Fls-3168-D exists in the
LMB and LMS-DENR-NCR, and the machine copy of Fls-3168-D purportedly issued by the LMS-DENR-NCR is
spurious and did not emanate from LMB. 43
Luisa Padora, employed as legal assistant in the various corporations of the Manotoks whose responsibilities
include securing, preparing and safekeeping of all documents such as titles, conveyances, tax declarations, tax
payment receipts, etc. pertaining to the properties of the Manotoks, identified the documents marked as Exhibits
1 to 13, 26 to 27-EEEEEEE. 44
Milagros Manotok-Dormido declared that Lot 823 of the Piedad Estate where she also resides was acquired
by their grandfather Severino Manotok from the Government. They have since built several houses and
structures on the property where they live up to the present. The property was fenced with concrete walls to
secure it from outsiders and bar the entry of trespassers. As a result of the lengthy ownership of the Manotoks
and their occupancy, Lot 823 became publicly known and referred to as the Manotok Compound. Severino
Manotok bought Lot 823 in the 1920s and "obtained a transfer certificate of title under a direct transfer from the
Government"; they have declared it for real property tax purposes and religiously paid the taxes since 1933.
Tracing the acquisition of ownership by the Manotoks of Lot 823, the witness said she has in her possession
copies of the following documents: cTDaEH
1.OCT No. 614 issued on March 12, 1912 in the name of "Gobierno de las Islas Filipinas" covering the Piedad
Estate, including Lot 823 (Exh. 9);
2.Sale Certificate No. 1054 dated March 10, 1919 issued by the Bureau of Lands to Regina Geronimo, Zacarias
Modesto and Felicisimo Villanueva covering Lot 823 (Exh. 10);
3.Assignment of Sale Certificate No. 1054 dated March 11, 1919 entered into between Regina Geronimo,
Zacarias Modesto and Felicisimo Villanueva as assignors, and Zacarias Modesto as assignee, covering Lot 823
(Exh. 11);
4.Assignment of Sale Certificate No. 1054 dated June 7, 1920 entered into between Zacarias Modesto as
assignor, and M. Teodoro and Severino Manotok as assignees, covering Lot 823 (Exh. 12);
5.Assignment of Sale Certificate No. 1054 dated May 4, 1923 entered into between M. Teodoro and Severino
Manotok as assignors, and Severino Manotok as assignee, covering Lot 823 (Exh. 13);
6.Relocation Plan No. FLR67-D for Lot 823 as surveyed for Severino Manotok on April 18, 1928 by Deputy Public
Land Surveyor A. Manahan and approved by the Bureau of Lands on August 27, 1928 (Exh. 20);
7.Description of Relocation Plan for Lot 823 prepared by Deputy Public Land Surveyor A. Manahan for Severino
Manotok with accompanying receipt (Exhs. 21 and 21-A);
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8.TCT No. 22813 of the Registry of Deeds for the Province of Rizal indicating Lot 823, its area and boundaries,
the lower half of this document is torn (Exh. 8);
9.Deed of Donation dated August 23, 1946 executed by Severino Manotok in favor of his children (Purificacion,
Elisa, Rosa, Perpetua, Filomena, Severino, Jr., Jesus and Rahula Ignacio) and grandsons Severino III and
Fausto, Jr., covering Lot 823 (Exh. 7-A);
10.Page of the Notarial Register of Notary Public Angel del Rosario for the year 1946 issued by the National
Archives reflecting the Deed of Donation executed by Severino Manotok (Exh. 7-B);
11.TCT No. 534 of the Registry of Deeds for the Province of Rizal issued on September 4, 1946 in the name of
the Manotok children and grandchildren (Exh. 7);
12.Deed of Assignment dated August 25, 1950 executed by the Manotok children and grandchildren in favor of
Manotok Realty, Inc. (Exh. 6-A);
13.TCT No. 13900 of the Registry of Deeds for Quezon City issued on August 31, 1950 in the name of Manotok
Realty, Inc. (Exh. 6);
14.Unilateral Deed of Conveyance dated January 31, 1974 executed by Manotok Realty, Inc. in favor of the
Manotok children and grandchildren, covering Lot 823 (Exh. 5-A);
15.TCT No. 198833 of the Registry of Deeds for Quezon City issued on May 27, 1974 in the name of the
Manotoks (Exh. 5);
16.Deeds of Absolute Sale separately executed on May 8, 1976 by Purificacion Laperal Rosa R. Manotok,
Perpetua M. Bocanegra, Severino Manotok, Jr. and Jesus R. Manotok (Exhs. 4-A to 4-E);
17.TCT No. 221559 of the Registry of Deeds for Quezon City issued on August 9, 1976 in the name of the
Manotoks (Exh. 4);
18.Deed of Sale executed by Perpetua M. Bocanegra in 1984 covering the remaining 1/2 of her 1/9 undivided
interest in Lot 823 in favor of her son George M. Bocanegra;
19.TCT No. 330376 issued in the name of the Manotok children and grandchildren in 1984 as a result of the
Deed of Sale executed by Perpetua M. Bocanegra, covering Lot 823;
20.Unilateral Deed of Absolute Sale dated December 22, 1986 executed by Ignacio R. Manotok covering his 1/9
undivided interest in Lot No. 823 in favor of his children Michael Marshall, Mary Ann, Felisa Mylene, Ignacio, Jr.
and Milagros (Exh. 3-A);
21.TCT No. 354241 issued in the name of the Manotok children and grandchildren as a result of the Unilateral
Deed of Absolute Sale dated December 22, 1986 executed by Ignacio R. Manotok, covering Lot No. 823; aCSTDc
22.Deed of Absolute Sale dated October 8, 1987 executed by Fausto Manotok covering his 1/18 undivided
interest in Lot No. 823 in favor of his children (Exh. 2-A);
23.TCT No. 372302 of the Registry of Deeds for Quezon City issued on October 17, 1987 in the name of the
Manotok children and grandchildren as a result of the October 8, 1987 Deed of Absolute Sale executed by Fausto
Manotok (Exh. 2);
24.TCT No. RT-22481 (372302) of the Registry of Deeds for Quezon City issued in the name of the Manotok
children and grandchildren in 1991 upon their application for reconstitution of TCT No. 372302 after the same
was destroyed by a fire that razed the Quezon City Registry of Deeds office on June 11, 1988 (Exh. 1).
Milagros Manotok-Dormido also identified those documentary exhibits attached to their pre-trial brief, several
declarations of Real Property covering Lot No. 823 (Exhs. 26 to 26-N), numerous Real Property Tax Bills and
Real Property Tax Receipts from 1933 to the present (Exhs. 27 to 27-EEEEEEE, 27-YYYYYY), photographs of the
94

perimeter walls surrounding Lot No. 823 (Exhs. 35-A to 35-UUU), photographs of the houses and structures built
by the Manotoks on the property over the years (Exhs. 35 to 35-YY), some letters from government offices
recognizing their grandfather as the owner of the property (Exhs. 15, 16, 17, 18 and 25), and Metro Manila
Street Map (2003 ed.) identifying Lot No. 823 as "Manotoc Compound" (Exh. 34). She had secured a copy
of Deed of Conveyance No. 29204 dated December 7, 1932 (Exh. 51-A45 ) from the National Archives of the
Philippines. 46
On cross-examination, the witness declared that she is testifying in lieu of Rosa Manotok; her affidavit is the
same as the affidavit of Rosa Manotok, the daughter of Severino Manotok. She asserted that Severino Manotok
acquired Lot No. 823 of the Piedad Estate by direct transfer from the Government. After the Bureau of Lands
issued the Assignment of Sale Certificate No. 1054 on June 7, 1920, her grandfather Severino Manotok fully paid
the installments and was able to obtain a title (TCT No. 22183) after a deed of conveyance was issued on
December 7, 1932. Sale Certificate No. 1054 was not annotated on OCT No. 614. Relocation Plan of Lot No. 823
(Exh. 21) indicated its location at Barrio Payong, Municipality of Caloocan, Province of Rizal. The changes of
location of the property in the tax declarations and tax receipts from Barrio Payong, then to Barrio Culiat, and
later to Barangay Matandang Balara was caused by the City Assessor (the Manotok Compound and Barrio Culiat
are two [2] distinct locations). 47 As a layman, she considered as sales certificate the Assignment of Sale
Certificate No. 1054. They asked for a certified true copy of Deed of Conveyance No. 29204 from the National
Archives; she believes that it is an internal document of the Bureau of Lands. Despite a diligent search, they
were not able to secure a copy of Deed of Conveyance No. 29204 from the Bureau of Lands, LMB, LRA and the
Registry of Deeds offices of Quezon City, Caloocan and Rizal. When confronted with TCT No. 22813 supposedly
dated August 1928 while the Deed of Conveyance was issued later in 1932, the witness said that the title must
have been issued in 1933. The Manahans never demanded from the Manotoks nor sued the latter for the return
of Lot 283, Piedad Estate which they were also claiming. 48
When asked who is the registered owner under TCT No. 22813, Milagros Manotok Dormido said she cannot
answer it because said document they recovered is truncated and cut under. But the Manotoks were the
recognized owners under TCT No. 22813 by the Provincial Assessor. As to the notation "cancelled by TCT No.
634" she said that she has not seen that title; it could be a human error somewhere in that document. She also
had no knowledge that TCT No. 634 covers a lot in Cavite with an area of about 500 square meters registered in
the name of Mamahay Development Corporation. 49
Susana M. Cuilao, longtime employee of the Manotoks, testified that she assisted Elisa R. Manotok in filling the
application for reconstitution of TCT No. 372302 covering Lot No. 823 after it was destroyed in a fire which razed
the Quezon City Registry of Deeds on June 11, 1988. She identified the documents they submitted in their
application. After several follow-ups, in February 1991, Elisa R. Manotok received a copy of the Order dated
February 1, 1991 (Exh. 36) signed by the Reconstituting Officer Benjamin Bustos granting her application for
reconstitution. In December 1993, she received original duplicate copy of TCT No. RT-22481 (372302) from the
Quezon City Registry of Deeds. 50
One (1) of the rebuttal witnesses for the Manotoks, Luisa Padora, in her Judicial Affidavit dated December 9,
2009, obtained from the National Archives certifications (signed by an archivist) stating that said office
has no copy on its file of the following: Sale Certificate No. 511 executed by Valentin Manahan in favor of Hilaria
de Guzman (Exh. 28 51 ); the Deed of Absolute Sale between Hilaria de Guzman Manahan and Felicitas B.
Manahan (Exh. 29 52 ) supposedly notarized by Santiago R. Reyes on August 23, 1974 (Exh. 119 53 ) as Doc.
No. 1515, Page 98, Book No. VI, series of 1974 entered in the notarial register is a Memorandum of Agreement,
Promissory Note and Payment Receipt executed by Reynaldo Cornejo on August 23, 1974; and the Deed of
Absolute Sale between Emiliano Setosta and Homer K. Barque (Exh. 30 54) as certified true copies of pages 84
and 85 (Exhs. 120 and 121 55 ) of the notarial register of Atty. Eliseo Razon shows that neither Document Nos.
415 nor 416 was the supposed Deed of Sale dated September 24, 1975 between Emiliano Setosta and Homer K.
Barque but a Deed of Absolute Sale executed by Magdalena Reyes and a Special Power of Attorney executed by
Victorio Savellano, respectively. 56
95

Luisa Padora further declared that sometime in 1999, she located two (2) old documents, among others, at the
Manotok's warehouse in the compound: a 1929 certified copy of Assignment of Sale Certificate No. 1054 dated
May 4, 1923 (Exh. 13-A 57 ) between M. Teodoro and Severino Manotok (assignors) and Severino Manotok
(assignee) covering Lot No. 823, which was certified by the Chief Clerk of the Bureau of Lands, and the original
Official Receipt dated February 20, 1929 (Exh. 14 58 ) issued by the Government of the Philippines Islands for
the cost of the certified copy of the Assignment of Sale Certificate No. 1054. With respect to the documents
relating to Lot No. 823 which were in the LMB, Luisa Padora stated that she brought the letter-request (Exh.
122 59 ) dated July 9, 2009 requesting for copies of all LMB documents pertaining to Lot No. 823. When she
went to the Friar Lands Division of the LMB, and went through the folders marked Volumes I, III and IV, she
noticed that there was no Volume II, and that out of the 1000 pages of available records of Lot No. 823, only
416 pages were released to her upon orders from the OIC of the RMD, Atty. Tuanda. Atty. Tuanda released all
the withheld documents (only 416 pages out of 1000 pages of available records of Lot No. 823) only after she
was ordered by the Court to provide the Manotoks with copies of the documents. She noticed there was no
Volume II. The LMB released some of the requested documents after her first affidavit was submitted before the
court on July 20, 2009. 60 CcTIDH
As to the statement of Atty. Tuanda during the November 10, 2009 hearing that Volume II of the records of Lot
No. 823 was not missing and is available, Luisa Padora stated that she received a letter-reply dated October 15,
2007 addressed to the Manotoks (Exh. 117 61 ) from Mr. Rainier D. Balbuena, OIC of the RMD, which states
that out of all the records pertaining to Lot 823, Piedad Estate, only Volumes I, III and IV were officially
returned/received by the RMD on October 5, 2006 and that Volume II was not returned to the RMD. As
additional proof, she presented LMB Office Memorandum (Exh. 118 62 ) dated September 19, 2007 which
contains a note at the bottom left hand corner which states "Volume II not yet returned as of this writing
(charged to Office of the Asst. Director and rec'd by Charie Sale on 12.21.00)." 63
Dr. Mely F. Sorra, Document Examiner V and presently the Chief of Questioned Documents Division, Philippine
National Police (PNP), testified that the LMB submitted for examination on December 1, 2009 three (3)
questioned documents: "Q-1" Assignment of Sale Certificate No. 1054 dated March 11, 1919 executed by
Regina Geronimo, Modesto Zacarias and Felicisimo Villanueva; "Q-2" Assignment of Sale Certificate No. 1054
dated May 4, 1923; and "Q-3" Assignment of Sale Certificate No. 511 dated June 24, 1939 (transmittal letter
marked as Exh. 139 signed by Atty. Fe T. Tuanda, OIC, RMD). Her laboratory report (Exh. 138 64 ) contains the
findings of the microscopic, ultraviolet (UV) transmitted light and physical examinations, and photographic
procedure she performed on the questioned documents. She also went to the National Archives for comparison
of the appearance of documents dated 1919, 1923 and 1932 with "Q-1", "Q-2" and "Q-3." She found the three
(3) documents authentic being old and because of their discoloration and tattered condition, but she admitted
that she cannot tell the age of said documents, nor the age of the paper used. She merely determined the age
through the browning and discoloration, tears or tattered condition of the paper. In this case, she concluded that
the documents were old because they are attested/notarized and because of their physical appearance, such as
the ink used in the signatures was already fading and had evaporated/oxidized. Because of age, the ink of the
signatures appearing on the documents had evaporated and the color is brownish; the particular ink which
evaporates refers to a fountain pen ink. The entries that were in ballpoint pen ink were the written entries on
the stamp pad bearing the words "Department of Environment and Natural Resources, Land Management
Bureau-RMD Manila." When the documents were subjected under ultraviolet light examination, they gave a dull
fluorescence reaction as opposed to a very bright fluorescence reaction of a new coupon bond. 65
On cross-examination, Dr. Sorra said that at the National Archives she saw the duplicates of the originals of
documents "Q-1" and "Q-2" and had examined and photographed them; they appeared newer than those copies
submitted by the LMB because of good storage. She did not examine contemporaneous documents in the
records of the LMB because she believes that the National Archives is the repository of all the documents in the
Philippines and because the three (3) questioned documents came from the LMB, and she presumed that the
record-keeping facilities at the LMB are not as good as that of the National Archives based on the difference in
the appearance of the documents from these offices. However, she was not able to see how the documents are
96

being stored at the LMB as she was not able to visit said office. Based on her findings, the questioned
documents are old; she had seen documents dated 1919 and 1923 on file with the National Archives. Documents
"Q-1 and Q-2" were from 1919 based on their copies at the National Archives and her examination thereof. She
explained that her conclusion that the document is authentic does not mean that the signatures are also
authentic because she had no basis for comparison, and that she would not be able to determine the age of a
document when there was an artificial aging. 66
Dr. Sorra admitted that she did not conduct a chemical examination of the questioned documents because the
PNP Crime Laboratory has no scientific equipment for chemical analysis, and that she did not refer the said
documents to the Chemistry Division of the PNP because the carbon dating equipment is with the Department of
Science and Technology (DOST); she also did not refer the documents to the DOST. She agreed that the best
and more accurate way of determining the age of a paper or a document is through carbon dating, and
explained that through microscopic and physical examination she will be able to tell whether the document is old
but not its exact age. 67
In her Rebuttal Judicial Affidavit, 68 Milagros Manotok-Dormido declared that the completion of Severino
Manotok's installment payments was evidenced by official receipts (Exhs. 112-115 69 ) and acknowledged by
the Deed of Conveyance No. 29204 (Exh. 51-A) validly certified by the National Archives (Exhs. 84 and 85 70 ),
which also certified page 97 of the Notarial Register for the year 1932 that on December 20, 1932, Jose P. Dans
appeared and acknowledged the due execution of this Deed of Conveyance (Exh. 83 71 ). Said Deed of
Conveyance is genuine as shown by the certified copies of Deeds of Conveyance issued on the same date and
which contain deed numbers immediately preceding and succeeding the Deed of Conveyance No. 29204 (Exhs.
86-98 72 ). On January 29, 1946 (August 23, 1946 73 ), Severino Manotok executed a Deed of Donation
conveying Lot No. 823 covered by TCT No. 22813 to his children and grandchildren. The Manotok's ownership of
the property is further evidenced by tax declarations in the name of Severino Manotok and later his children and
grandchildren as co-owners (Exhs. 25 to 27-YYYYYY), tax payment receipts, building permits secured by Elisa
Manotok for the construction of buildings and structures on the land (Exhs. 64 to 78 74 ), and succeeding
transfer certificates of titles. 75aIcDCH
With respect to the claim of the Barques, the witness presented the following documents: (a) Certification issued
on February 10, 2009 by the National Archives stating that it has no copy on file of the Deed of Absolute Sale
allegedly executed between Emiliano Setosta and Homer K. Barque ratified on September 24, 1975 before
Notary Public Eliseo A. Razon (Exh. 80 76 ); (b) Property Identification issued by the Quezon City Assessor's
Office showing that Lot No. 823 of the Piedad Estate remains unsubdivided (Exh. 79 77 ); (c) Letter dated
August 7, 2007 addressed to Engr. Privadi J.G. Dalire (former Chief of Geodetic Surveys Division) from Chief of
Geodetic Surveys Division, Engr. Bienvenido F. Cruz, attesting that Fls-3168-D is not recorded in the Inventory
Book of Fls Plans (Exh. 99 78 ), also shown by a certified copy of page 351 of the Inventory Book of Plans (Exh.
82 79 ); and (d) Letter dated August 6, 2009 from the Quezon City Assistant Assessor confirming that Property
Index No. 21-22020 which was submitted by the Barques marked as Exh. 35, does not pertain to Lot 823 of the
Piedad Estate but to a property located at Miller St. cor. Don Vicente St., Filinvest II Subdivision, Bagong
Silangan, Quezon City (Exh. 100 80 ). 81
As to the claim of Manahans, the witness submitted the following documents: (a) the same Letter from the
Quezon City Assistant Assessor, it was confirmed that Tax Declaration No. C-138-06951, submitted by the
Manahans as Exh. 1, does not pertain to Lot No. 823 of the Piedad Estate but to a property located at Don
Wilfredo St., Don Enrique Subdivision, Barangay Holy Spirit, Quezon City (Exh. 100 82 ); (b) Certifications from
the National Archives that it has no copy on file of Sale Certificate No. 511, Assignment of Sale Certificate No.
511 and Deed of Sale between Hilaria de Guzman-Manahan and Felicitas Manahan (Exhs. 28, 83 104 and
105 84 ); (c) Certification dated October 14, 2009 issued by Jose M.B. Cabatu, Chief, Reconstitution DivisionLRA, stating that an administrative petition for reconstitution of the purported original of TCT No. 250215 of the
Registry of Deeds for Quezon City was filed by a certain Felicitas Manahan and transmitted to the LRA on or
about January 7, 1998 but the petition and other documents transmitted therewith could not be located, and
that it has no record of any order directing the reconstitution of said title (Exh. 106 85 ); (d) Certificates of
97

Death issued by the Parish of Our Lady of Mt. Carmel in Malolos City, Bulacan stating that Valentin Manahan died
on September 21, 1931, thus refuting the claim that Valentin Manahan caused the property survey of Lot No.
823, the preparation and approval of survey plan Fls-3164 and executed the Assignment of Sale Certificate No.
511 in favor of Hilaria de Guzman on June 24, 1939 (Exhs. 102, 61, 62 86 ); (e) Negative Certification of Death
issued by the Office of the City Civil Registrar of Malolos stating that the records of deaths during the period
January 1931 to December 1931 were all destroyed by natural cause and for that reason it cannot issue a true
transcription from the Register of Deaths relative to Valentin Manahan who is alleged to have died on September
21, 1931 in Malolos City (Exh. 10387 ); (e) Documents obtained from the Parish of Our Lady of Mt. Carmel, the
Office of the Civil Registrar of Malolos City and the National Statistics Office (NSO), and also Liber Defunctorum
5-Entry No. 10, showing that Rosendo Manahan died on July 30, 1963 at the age of 20, thus refuting the claim
of Rosendo Manahan that he is the son of Lucio Manahan and Hilaria de Guzman-Manahan (Exhs. 107, 108, 109
and 57 88 ). 89
Milagros Manotok-Dormido further declared that the building permits applied for by her aunt refer to the houses
appearing in the photographs attached to her Judicial Affidavit. Based on the index cards (Exhs. 64 to 69 90 ),
the location of the properties described therein is Capitol Golf Club, Capitol; at that time, the location of the
property subject of the building permits in Exhs. 67, 68 and 69 is Capitol Golf Club, Capitol. They did not apply to
build residences inside a golf club and there is no golf course inside the Manotok Compound. 91 She went to
Malolos about four (4) times to confirm the story of the Manahans. At the Parish of Our Lady of Mt. Carmel, the
custodian of the records, Teodora Dinio, referred her to a man she knew as "Mang Atoy" who showed her the
Book of Deads. She borrowed three (3) books and returned them right away after xeroxing. She asked "Mang
Atoy" where the Catholic cemetery is and he pointed to the back of the church. There she saw (for a brief time)
the tombstone of Lucio Manahan; she did not see that of Valentin Manahan. When asked why she did not go to
the LMB or other government office instead of the National Archives to secure a certification in the records
concerning Sale Certificate No. 511, the witness said it was because that was a notarized document. The
certifications she obtained were not signed by the Executive Director but only by an archivist who was
authorized to sign in behalf of Dr. Teresita Ignacio, Chief of the Archives Collection and Access Division. As to
the lack of signature of the Secretary of Agriculture and Natural Resources in the certified copy of Deed of
Conveyance No. 29204 from the National Archives, she asserted that it is still a complete document being just a
copy of the duplicate original, which must have been signed by the Secretary of Agriculture and Natural
Resources; she was sure of this, as in fact they were issued TCT No. 22813 dated 1933 (not August 1928 as
erroneously reflected in the title because the Deed of Conveyance was issued in 1932 and her grandfather was
notified by the Provincial Assessor of Rizal that he can start paying his tax on August 9, 1933). 92
The Manotoks also presented as witness Msgr. Angelito Santiago, Parish Priest of Our Lady of Mt. Carmel in
Barasoain, Malolos, Bulacan. Said witness testified that based on their record book, Hilaria de Guzman who was
living in Bulihan was the wife of Lucio Manahan who died on August 19, 1955, while in Book 7, Hilaria de
Guzman who died on June 19, 1989 was living in San Gabriel and the husband was Jose Cruz; "Hilaria de
Guzman" appearing in Book 7 is different from Hilaria de Guzman found in Book 5. He further declared that the
Certificate of Death of Valentin Manahan married to Francisca Lucas (Exh. 61 93 ) does not cover the death of
Valentin Manahan married to Placida Figueroa. He could not explain why Folio Nos. 145, 146, 148, 149 are intact
while page or Folio 147 of Book 4 covering the record of deaths in the month of February 1955 is missing. 94
Other documentary evidence formally offered by the Manotoks are the following: (a) Exh. 7 95 a photocopy
of TCT No. 534 covering Lot No. 823, Piedad Estate in the name of the Manotok children, which is offered to
prove that said title is a transfer from TCT No. 22813 which was cancelled by TCT No. 534; (b) Exh. 19 96
certified copy of a Certification dated November 18, 1950 issued by Register of Deeds for Pasig Gregorio
Velazquez that the original of TCT No. 534 issued in the name of Purificacion Manotok, et al. was forwarded to
the Register of Deeds for Quezon City; (c) Exh. 119 97 certified copy of page 98 of the Notarial Register of
Atty. Santiago Reyes which shows that document no. 1515 is a Memorandum of Agreement-Promissory Note &
Payment Receipt executed by one (1) Mr. Cornejo on August 23, 1974, and not the alleged Deed of Sale
between Hilaria de Guzman and Felicitas Manahan; (d) Exh. 120 98 certified copy of page 84 of the Notarial
98

Register of Atty. Eliseo Razon for 1975 which shows that doc. no. 415 is not the supposed Deed of Sale dated
September 24, 1975 between Homer Barque and Emiliano Setosta, but a Deed of Absolute Sale executed by
Magdalena Reyes; (e) Exh. 121 99 certified copy of page 85 of the Notarial Register of Atty. Eliseo Razon for
1975 which shows that doc. no. 416 is not the supposed Deed of Sale dated September 24, 1975 between
Homer Barque and Emiliano Setosta, but a Special Power of Attorney executed by Victorino Savellano. cCSDaI
As part of their rebuttal evidence, the Manotoks also formally offered the following: Exh. 142 Certified copy
issued by the National Archives of Assignment of Sale Certificate No. 1054 dated March 11, 1919 between
Zacarias Modesto, Regina Geronimo and Felicisimo Villanueva (assignors) and Zacarias Modesto (assignee),
covering Lot 823 of Piedad Estate; 100 Exh. 143 Certified copy issued by the National Archives of Assignment
of Sale Certificate No. 1054 dated June 7, 1920 between Zacarias Modesto (assignor) and M. Teodoro and
Severino Manotok (assignees) covering Lot 823 of Piedad Estate; 101 and Exh. 144 Certified copy issued by
the National Archives of Assignment of Sale Certificate No. 1054 dated May 4, 1923 between M. Teodoro and
Severino Manotok (assignors) and Severino Manotok (assignee), covering Lot 823 of Piedad Estate. 102
C.Barques
Teresita Barque-Hernandez identified and affirmed the contents of her Judicial Affidavit declaring that she
caused the filing of an application for administrative reconstitution of TCT No. 210177 before the LRA because
the original copy thereof was among those titles destroyed in a fire which struck the Quezon City Hall in 1988.
As proof that her father Homer Barque owned Lot No. 823 of the Piedad Estate, she presented copies of various
Tax Declarations from 1986 up to 1996 and Plan of Lots 823-A and 823-B, Fls-3168-D dated April 24, 1998. Her
father acquired the property from Emiliano P. Setosta pursuant to a Deed of Absolute Sale dated September 24,
1975 (Exh. 14 103 ). Emiliano P. Setosta was issued TCT No. 13900 but despite diligent efforts she could no
longer locate it. She was able to obtain the following documents from the LRA and Bureau of Lands: (a) Certified
true copy of the approved Subdivision Plan of Lot 823 of the Piedad Estate for Emiliano Setosta dated June 21,
1940, containing an area of 342,945 square meters (Exh. 3 104 ); (b) Certified true copy of the File Copy from
the Bureau of Lands of said Subdivision Plan now bearing the typewritten notation "VALIDATION DENR A.O. No.
49 1991" (Exh. 4 105 ); (c) Certification dated April 11, 1996 from the LRA issued by Felino M. Cortez, Chief,
Ordinary and Cadastral Decree Division stating that "as per Record Book of Decrees for Ordinary Land
Registration Cases, (OLD) CLR Record No. 5975, Rizal was issued Decree No. 6667 on March 8, 1912", which
appears in TCT No. 210177 in the name of Homer L. Barque, Sr. (Exh. 5 106 ); (d) Certified true copy of the
survey plan (microfilm enlargement of Fls-3168-D with the signatures of Privadi J.G. Dalire and Carmelito
Soriano, which she got from the Bureau of Lands (Exh. 6 107 ); (e) Certified photocopy of BL From 31-10
showing the technical descriptions of Lots 822, 823, 824 and 826 (Exh. 7 108 ); and (f) BL Form No. 28-37-R
dated 11-8-94 which shows the lot boundaries, also obtained from the Bureau of Lands (Exh. 12 109 ). 110
On cross-examination, the witness said that she is engaged in selling subdivision lots and many attempted to sell
Lot 823 but nobody buys it. Emiliano Setosta was introduced to her by her father in 1974 or 1975 when she was
in her 30s. Her father did not discuss with the family his transaction with Emiliano Setosta and she learned about
it when her father was sick and dying in 1989. When asked why it was only in 1989 that she discovered that her
father purchased thirty four (34) hectares of land from Emiliano Setosta, she answered it was wayback in 1985.
Asked again as to when she learned for the first time of the purchase of the subject lot by her father, she replied
that it was sometime in 1989 after the fire which gutted the Register of Deeds in 1988. In 1985, when her
mother was sick of cervical cancer, her father borrowed money from her Lola Felisa to purchase the subject lot.
When asked about such money borrowed by her father in 1985, she said that her father bought the property in
1975 and the money borrowed by her father was used for the hospitalization of her mother. Her father left the
title of the subject lot to her Lola Felisa before his death in 1991. After her father's death, her sister found a tax
declaration covering Lot 823 which was burned by her sister along with other belongings of their father. In filing
a petition for administrative reconstitution, she applied for the issuance of a tax declaration; the tax declaration
she secured was "new" and the property "undeclared". When asked why, she said that the lawyer of her father
who is 89 years old told them how to do it because "we do not have tax declaration". When asked again why the
property is "undeclared", she replied that the OIC of the Assessor's Office in the person of Mr. Viloria told her
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that the tax declaration of her father was lost because of "saksak-bunot". In the early part of 1999, a certain
Atty. Quilala of the Register of Deeds told her that another person filed a petition for reconstitution; he gave her
copies of a tax declaration and title in the name of Felicitas Manahan married to Rosendo Manahan. 111
As for the title of the Manotoks, nobody told her about it when she was securing a new tax declaration. Before
1979, she had visited the property which had no fence then. She was not actually interested, she just went there
for a visit with her friends to boast that her father bought something that is big. She only learned there was
somebody occupying their land after she had paid the taxes and submitted documents which were transmitted
to the LRA; it was the reconstituting officer who told her that the title has been reconstituted already. She had
not seen before any structure inside the property. The reconstituting officer made it hard for her to have
administrative reconstitution of her title, verifying if she had an approved plan. She admitted that as shown in
the Deed of Conveyance No. 4562 dated May 4, 1937 (Exh. 1 112 ), the lot was paid in Japanese war notes
despite the fact that the war started only on December 8, 1941. She was not able to bring with her the original
copy of TCT No. 210177 because it was mortgaged on June 15, 2007 and the same is in the possession of
Cedric Lee (president of Isumo Corporation) from whom she received P10,000,000.00; Mr. Cedric Lee will buy
the property. Her sister was to be operated at that time and she was forced to borrow money. Mr. Lee wanted
to be ahead of Ayala, Megaworld, and others, in offering to buy the property. She admitted that they never tried
to occupy Lot No. 823 after learning that her father owned it in 1985. They were then employed and had a bus
line (Mariposa Express); her father bought other properties but she was not privy to this. Exhibits 34, 35, 35-A
and 35-B 113 pertaining to the claim of Manahans were given to him not by Atty. Quilala but by Atty. Bragado.
She never saw the title of Emiliano Setosta as her father transferred immediately the title in his name (TCT No.
210177). 114 aIcDCT
As to the Sale Certificate and Deed of Conveyance in the name of Emiliano Setosta, she did not yet know its
number or date when she asked for a copy in the LMB (she went there accompanied by Castor Viernes), they
just located it. After two (2) days she returned and the person in-charge gave her a certified xerox copy of Deed
of Conveyance No. 4562 and Sale Certificate No. V-321 (Exh. 1), which documents were later authenticated by
the LMB. The caption of this document dated May 4, 1937 reads: "Republic of the Philippines, Department of
Agriculture and Commerce, Office of the Secretary": she agrees though that the Republic of the Philippines was
not yet established at the time the document was executed. It also mentioned the "Civil Code of the Philippines"
and the purchase price being fully paid with Japanese war notes in July 1942. Together with Engr. Castor
Viernes, she got a Certification dated June 8, 2009 from Mr. Ignacio R. Almira which states that his office has
available record of Deed of Conveyance No. 4562 (Exh. 1 115 ) and Sale Certificate No. V-321 (Exh. 2 116 ).
She also secured the Certification dated April 13, 2009 issued by Ignacio R. Almira, stating that "according to our
Registry Book upon verification that Lot No. 823, Piedad Estate under Sales Certificate No. 511 in favor of
Valentin Manahan as assignor and Hilaria de Guzman Manahan . . . had no available record in this Office" (Exh.
30 117 ). She later clarified that Ignacio R. Almira is not the custodian of the records of the LMB but Chief of the
Regional Surveys Division certifying documents with the DENR; neither is Ignacio R. Almira the custodian of the
records of the DENR.118
Engr. Castor C. Viernes, a former employee of the Bureau of Lands (1961-1972), identified in court the
following documents he obtained through his research: (a) Certification dated June 19, 2007 issued by Rainier D.
Balbuena, OIC, RMD, LMB, Binondo, Manila stating that according to verification of their records, "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" (Exh. 10 119 ); (b) Certification
dated June 19, 2007 issued by LMB-RMD OIC Rainier D. Balbuena stating that "according to verification of their
records, the office has no available record of F-30510 and F-87330, situated in Piedad Estate, Rizal, in the name
of M. Teodoro as Assignor, and Severino Manotok as Assignee, as per attached xerox copies of the Assignment
of Sale Certificate No. 1054, according to the general index card" (Exh. 24 120 ); (c) Certification issued by
Ernesto S. Erive, Chief, Surveys Division, DENR-NCR stating that "plan Flr-67-D is not among those existing
records on file in the Technical Records and Statistics Section of this Office. However, further verification should
be made from Land Management Bureau, Binondo, Manila" (Exh. 26 121 ); (d) Letter dated January 10, 2003
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from Bienvenido F. Cruz, OIC, Geodetic Surveys Division, LMB, stating that Flr-67-D is not listed in the EDP
listing (Exh. 27 122 ); (e) Plan of Lot 823, Piedad Estate prepared by Geodetic Engineer Teresita D. Sontillanosa
on April 23, 1998 (Exh. 28 123 ); (f) TCT No. RT-22481 (372302) in the name of Severino Manotok IV, et al.
indicating Payatas Estate as a boundary in the survey made in 1912 when Payatas Estate did not exist until 1923
(Exh. 29 124 ); (g) Certification dated April 13, 2009 issued by Ignacio R. Almira, Chief, Regional Director
Surveys Division, confirming the absence of any record in the DENR of Sale Certificate No. 511 issued to Valentin
Manahan (Exh. 30 125 ); (h) Certification dated August 27, 2002 issued by Bienvenido F. Cruz, OIC, Geodetic
Surveys Division, LMB stating that Fls-3164 is not listed in the EDP Listing (Exh. 31 126 ); (i) Letter dated March
12, 2003 from Atty. Crizaldy M. Barcelo, Assistant Regional Executive Director for Technical Services, DENR-NCR
stating that their office has no record on file of Sale Certificate No. 511 in the name of Valentin Manahan and
Sale Certificate No. 1054 in the name of Modesto Zacarias, Regina Geronimo and Felicisimo Villanueva, covering
Lot 823, Piedad Estate, and advising Mr. Viernes to make a similar request with the LMB which has jurisdiction
over friar lands (Exh. 32 127 ); (j) Copy of TCT No. 250215 in the name of Felicitas Manahan, married to
Rosendo Manahan issued on May 25, 1979 covering Lot 823, Piedad Estate with an area of 342,945 square
meters given to Felicitas Manahan by the Register of Deeds of Quezon City (Exh. 34 128 ); (k) Tax Declaration
No. D-138-07070 in the name of Felicitas Manahan indicating that Lot 823, Piedad Estate is situated at Old
Balara, Holy Spirit/Capitol, Quezon City for the year 1996, with tax receipt and certification (Exhs. 35, 35-A and
35-B 129 ); (l) Letter dated February 21, 2003 from Emelyne Villanueva-Talabis, Special Assistant to the LMB
Director informing Mr. Viernes that his letter requesting for a certified copy of Sales Certificate Nos. 511 and
1054 was forwarded to the RMD on February 21, 2003 (Exh. 36 130 ); and (m) Letter dated February 27, 2003
from Leonardo V. Bordeos, OIC of LMB-RMD informing Mr. Viernes that the latter's request cannot be granted
because "the said records are still not in the custody of this Division" and suggesting that a similar request be
made with the DENR-NCR (Exh. 37 131 ). 132
Engr. Viernes asserted that the subject property is not bounded by the Payatas Estate considering that when the
Piedad Estate was surveyed in 1907, the Payatas Estate was not yet existing because it was surveyed only in
1923. The computation made by Engr. Barikwa (sic) and report made by Engr. Evelyn Celzo, and also the
plotting of Marco Castro seems to be erroneous. The other parties claimed that the property described in TCT
No. 210177 (Barques' title) is not located in Quezon City allegedly because when plotted to its tie line it appears
to be 5,637.50 meters away from Lot 823. In the submitted title of the Barques, Lot 823-A of Fls-3168-D as
described in the title is not readable; it seems to be 9,000 kilometers and not 4,000 kilometers. That is why
when they plotted the tie line of Lot 823-A using the 9,786.6 meters from monument 16, it falls away from the
map of Quezon City, something like more than five (5) kilometers away from the plotting using the tie line of the
original Lot 823 of the Piedad Estate of 4,097.4 meters from monument 16. The witness said he showed his
computation to his officemate, Geodetic Engineer Teresita Sontillanosa who agreed with his computation. He
identified Comparative Report on TCT No. RT-22481 and TCT No. 210177 (Exh. 41), the Sketch Plans for Lots
823-A and 823-B (Exhs. 39 and 41 133 ). 134
Engr. Viernes denied that he was employed by the Barques for a fee. It was Mr. Gregorio Que, a friend of Mrs.
Hernandez, the son of his client Mr. Domingo Que, who asked him to help verify the authenticity of the Barques'
title. He obtained copies of TCT No. 250215 and tax declaration of the Manahans from Engr. Mariano Flotildes.
As to the Barques' Exh. 1, he denied having a hand in securing said document but admitted he was with Teresita
B. Hernandez when it was handed to her. Mrs. Hernandez presented a document to Mrs. Teresita J. Reyes for
authentication, but he did not see the latter sign the certification because he was at the ground floor of the LMB
talking to a friend; the document was already signed when it was handed to Mrs. Hernandez. He also did not see
Ignacio R. Almira sign the Certification dated June 8, 2009 (Exh. 2). When he was still in the Bureau of Lands
from 1961 to 1972, he was holding the position of Computer II in-charge of the verification of cadastral survey
returns; he was not then involved in the actual survey of lots because he was a Civil Engineer and not a
Geodetic Engineer. He admitted that he was not able to conduct an actual survey of Lots 823-A and 823-B of the
Piedad Estate. 135 SETaHC

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The Barques presented as witnesses in rebuttal Engr. Castor Viernes, Teresita Barque-Hernandez, Dante M.
Villoria and Engr. Mariano Flotildes.
Engr. Viernes declared that Mrs. Hernandez had told him that it appeared during her cross-examination in court
that the alleged Deed of Conveyance No. 4562 is spurious. A copy of said deed of conveyance (Exh. 44) was
given to him by the LMB sometime in March 1997 which he in turn submitted to Mr. Que. Mr. Que had asked
him to verify Lot 823 because Mrs. Teresita Barque Hernandez wanted to borrow money from him on the title of
said lot. When asked why he did not include Deed of Conveyance No. 4562 among the fourteen (14) documents
he found pertaining to the property of Homer L. Barque, Sr. despite his earlier testimony that he got a copy
thereof from the LMB on March 14, 1997, Engr. Viernes explained that the Deed of Conveyance was not among
those he would be testifying and was not mentioned in the previous affidavit that he had signed. When asked
why Deed of Conveyance No. 4562 marked as Exh. 1 is dated January 25, 1938 while the Deed of Conveyance
No. 4562 marked as Exh. 44 is dated May 4, 1937, he answered that he does not know; neither was he aware
that the name and address mentioned in the two (2) documents are also different (in Exh. 44 it is Emiliano T.
Setosta who was resident of 2800 Santolan St., Sampaloc, while in Exh. 1 it stated that Jose Setosta who was
named therein was a resident of Bustillos, Sampaloc. Mrs. Hernandez was claiming the lot which she said is
located in Culiat, but based on the maps it is situated in Matandang Balara. If the name of the place where the
property is located is incorrect, the technical description should be corrected to conform to the lot's actual
location. 136
Teresita Barque-Hernandez testified that she did some research on the alleged practice among employees of the
Bureau of Lands of issuing fake documents and was dismayed to discover that Atty. Fe T. Tuanda, a highranking official of the LMB, was suspended from the practice of law, and her credibility is in question after having
been charged with violation of B.P. Blg. 22. She described the practice of "saksak-bunot" wherein documents are
inserted in the records of the LMB, and people submit documents from their own personal file after which they
would ask for certification or a certified copy thereof. She admitted that Exh. 1 which was presented by her
lawyer was a falsified document, and that she was fooled by somebody from the Bureau. However, she was sure
of the authenticity of Exh. 44, 137 as it came from Mr. Que. When confronted with Exh. 44 which stated that
the price of Lot 823 was P2,850.45 but only 50% thereof was paid allegedly by Emiliano Setosta, she lamented
that she was not yet born at the time of the transaction January 25, 1938 and did not know what really
happened. She denied asking for re-authentication after the conduct of her cross-examination which tended to
show that her Exh. 1 was a forgery and after Teresita Reyes testified that the latter's signatures thereon were
forged. She affirmed that she went to Mr. Que in the early part of 1997 to borrow money in order to redeem the
property covered by TCT No. 210177, which was mortgaged by her father to the sister of her lola in 1985. She
received a total of P2,000,000.00 from Mr. Que; thereafter, she went to another lender, Mr. Jesus Lim, from
whom she secured a loan of the same amount. She paid the loan to Mr. Lim with the proceeds of yet another
loan from Mr. Cedric Lee. 138
Dante M. Villoria, retired City Assessor of Quezon City, declared in his Judicial Affidavit that Lot 823 is located
in Barangay Matandang Balara, which has existed as a separate barangay from Barangay Culiat even before they
were transferred from Caloocan City to Quezon City in 1939. 139 He testified that it is the technical description
of the property that determines its identity, regardless of the name of its location. He was shown Tax
Declaration No. 06895 in the name of the Barques (Exh. 123 140 Manotoks) which contains a memo on the
lower left hand portion which reads "this property appear[s] to duplicate the property of Manotok Realty, Inc.,
declared under [Tax Declaration Number] D-067-02136 with area of 342,945 sq.m./P.I. No. 21-4202", and was
asked if that meant that the tax declaration in the name of Manotok Realty Inc. existed before the tax
declaration in favor of the Barques. Upon the objection of his counsel, the witness vacillated and said he is not
certain as he has to see first the tax declaration of the Manotoks to determine which came ahead. However, he
affirmed that if such memo is written on a tax declaration, it means that the information stated in the memo was
already available on the date of the tax declaration. As to the statement on the reverse side of Exh. 124 141
Manotoks on the portion indicating the tax declaration cancelled there is an entry "new" ("undeclared"), witness
explained that it means that there was no tax declaration for the same property in the name of the Barques prior
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to the said tax declaration. He then clarified by saying that while there is an existing tax declaration, they still
issued another tax declaration because the documents presented as basis therefor were legal and binding. He
admitted that their office will issue several tax declarations covering the same property even with the knowledge
that the tax declaration can be used as evidence for ownership because the main concern is to collect more
taxes. 142
Engr. Mariano Flotildes declared in his Judicial Affidavit that Rosendo Manahan engaged his services in 1998
and gave him a relocation plan, photocopy of TCT No. 250215 in the name of Felicitas Manahan, field notes
cover of the survey returns, complete lot survey data, traverse computation and azimuth computation. After
signing the relocation plan in March 1998, Mr. Manahan submitted the Relocation Survey and the related
documents to DENR-NCR, Surveys Division. Thereafter, Relocation Survey Number Rel-00-000822 was issued in
favor of Felicitas Manahan. 143 He testified that he was commissioned by Rosendo Manahan sometime in 1998
to conduct a relocation survey of a property owned by his wife, Felicitas Manahan, covered by TCT No. 250215.
His findings coincided with the technical description of said title, duly certified by the Register of Deeds of
Quezon City, which was shown to him together with the full print survey returns, tax declaration, field notes
cover (Exh. 45 144 ), plot data computation, traverse computation (Exh. 47 145 ) and azimuth computation
(Exh. 48 146 ) and the plan itself. However, the relocation plan for the Manahans was not approved by the
Bureau of Lands. It was Rosendo Manahan who gave him a copy of TCT No. 250215 (Exh. 34), from which was
derived the information found in the plot data of Lot No. 823 (Exh. 46 147 ); these were not based on
documents from the Bureau of Lands. 148 AIDSTE
Other documentary evidence formally offered by the Barques are the following: Exh. 8 "Certified copy of
Logbook Entries of Destroyed and Salvaged Documents" in the fire which razed the office of the Register of
Deeds of Quezon City on June 11, 1988; 149 Exh. 9 "Certified Copy of the Bureau of Lands' Computer
Printout of the List of Locator Cards by Box Number as of February 4, 1982" to prove that Fls-3168-D has been
duly entered in the microfilm records of the Bureau of Lands and assigned with Accession No. 410436 appearing
on page 79, Preliminary Report No. 1, List of Locator Cards by Box Number, as of February 4, 1984, copy of EDP
Listing certified by Teresita J. Reyes, OIC, LMB-RMD; 150 Exh. 11 Certified Xerox Copy of the Tax Map of
Quezon City dated April 21, 1998 issued by the Tax Mapping Division, City Assessor's Office, Quezon City to
prove the veracity of the subdivision of Lot No. 823 Piedad Estate into Lots No. 823-A and 823-B; 151 Exh. 13
Certification dated 27 September 1996 issued by the Register of Deeds of Quezon City attesting that "based
on the List of Salvaged Titles prepared by the Land Registration Authority, TCT No. 210177 was not included as
among those saved from the fire of June 11, 1988"; 152 Exh. 15 Acknowledgment Receipt dated September
24, 1975 issued by Emiliano Setosta, confirming the payment given to him by Homer L. Barque, Sr. in the
amount of P350,000.00 for the purchase of Lots 823-A and 823-B, located in Matandang Balara, Quezon
City; 153 Exh. 16 Certification dated August 13, 1997 issued by the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Manila
stating that an instrument entitled "Deed of Absolute Sale" between Emiliano P. Setosta (vendor) and Homer L.
Barque, Sr. (vendee) was notarized by Atty. Eliseo Razon on September 24, 1975 and entered in his Notarial
Register, under Doc. 416, Page No. 85, Book No. VIII, Series of 1975; 154 Exh. 18 Certified True Copy of the
Owner's Duplicate Copy of TCT No. 210177 in the name of Homer L. Barque, Sr.; 155 Exhs. 19 to 19-H Tax
Declaration Nos. 06893 (1996) and 06892 (1987) in the name of Homer L. Barque, Sr. m/to Matilde Reyes and
Real Property Tax Bills/Receipts; 156 Exh. 20 Certification issued by Nestor D. Karim, Kagawad/Official-OnDuty of Bgy. Culiat, Area XII, District II, Quezon City, attesting that there is no Payong Street or place in the
barangay; 157 Exh. 21 Letter dated April 14, 1998 from Dante M. Villoria, Assistant City Assessor of Quezon
City addressed to the Law Division, LRA affirming that "[a]s per our record, there is no Barrio Payong in Quezon
City"; 158 Exh. 22 Certification dated August 10, 2007 issued by the City Assessor, Quezon City stating that
"there is no Barangay or Barrio Payong in Quezon City as per office record"; 159 Exhs. 23 to 23-L Barangay
Profile of Matandang Balara, District III, Area 15 as of May 2000 (NSO) issued by the Office of the City Mayor,
Quezon City, which shows that Bgy. Matandang Balara was created on May 10, 1962 pursuant to Ordinance No.
5068 and describes the barangay's boundaries, and thus prove that TCT No. RT-22481 (372302) in the name of
Severino Manotok IV, et al. and Sales Certificate No. 511 in the name of Felicitas Manahan are fake and
spurious; 160 Exh. 25 Certification dated July 19, 2007 issued by Rainier D. Balbuena, OIC of LMB-RMD
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stating that according to their records, there is no available record of a Deed of Sale No. 1054 allegedly in the
name of M. Teodoro and/or Severino Manotok covering the property situated in Piedad Estate, Caloocan,
Rizal; 161 Exh. 32 Letter dated March 12, 2003 from Atty. Crizaldy M. Barcelo, Assistant Regional Executive
Director for Technical Services, DENR-NCR stating that they have no record on file of Sale Certificate No. 511 in
the name of Valentin Manahan and Sale Certificate No. 1054 in the name of Modesto Zacarias, Regina Geronimo
and Felicisimo Villanueva covering Lot 823 of the Piedad Estate; 162Exh. 33 Copy of Sale
Certificate/Assignment of Sale Certificate No. 511 in the name of Valentin Manahan (assignor) and Hilaria de
Guzman (assignee), with same date as Sale Certificate No. 511 June 24, 1939 showing the "Department of
the Interior, Bureau of Lands" when in fact the Department of the Interior was abolished pursuant to Act No.
2666 on November 18, 1916 and its transfer and functions were transferred to the Department of Agriculture
and Natural Resources (DANR), and in 1932 another reorganization act was passed providing, among others, for
renaming of the DANR to Department of Agriculture and Commerce (DAC); 163 Exh. 33-A Deed of
Conveyance in the name of Felicitas Manahan, married to Rosendo Manahan purportedly issued on December 3,
2000 by the Director of Lands, Office of the Secretary, DANR despite the fact that said department was renamed
Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) pursuant to Executive Order No. 192issued on June
10, 1987; 164 Exh. 37 Certified true copy of the Property Identification Map of Barangay Matandang Balara
issued by the City Assessor of Quezon City to prove that the records of the Bureau of Lands conform to and
confirm the metes and bounds contained in the full technical description of Lot 823, Piedad Estate embodied in
TCT No. 13900 in the name of Emiliano Setosta and TCT No. 210177 in the name of Homer L. Barque, Sr., and
which also shows Lots 823-A and 823-B subdivided lots; 165 Exh. 38 Certification dated May 12, 1998 issued
by Ernesto S. Erive, Chief, Surveys Division, DENR-NCR for the Regional Technical Director, with approval
recommended by Veronica S. Ardina Remolar, Chief, Technical Records and Statistics Section, stating that "plan
Psu-32606, as surveyed for the Payatas Estate IMP Co., situated in Montalban and San Mateo, Rizal, with an
area of 36,512.952 sq.m. and originally approved on Jan. 12, 1923 is among those existing reconstructed
records on file in the Technical Records and Statistics Section of this Office", to prove that the Payatas Estate
could have been claimed by the Manotoks as a boundary of Lot 823, Piedad Estate since Payatas Estate was
created only on June 12, 1923; 166 Exh. 42 Certification dated August 24, 2007 issued by Gregorio Faraon of
the RTC of Manila stating that the document entitled "Deed of Absolute Sale" executed between Emiliano P.
Setosta (vendor) and Homer L. Barque, Sr. (vendee) exists in the notarial files and was among the documents
notarized, reported and submitted by Atty. Eliseo A. Razon, in his notarial book for the month of September
1975, under Doc. No. 416, Page No. 85, Book No. VII, series of 1975; 167 Exh. 43 Certification dated March
14, 1997 issued by Amando Bangayan stating that "the only available record on file in this Office is the Deed of
Conveyance/Sales Certificate issued to Emiliano Setosta covering Lot No. 823, Piedad Estate, Caloocan,
Rizal" 168 with attached copy of Deed of Conveyance No. 4562 dated January 25, 1938 (Exh. 44); Exh. 49
Certification dated November 23, 2009 issued by Atty. Ma. Cristina B. Layusa, Deputy Clerk of Court & Bar
Confidant, Supreme Court, stating that "Atty. Fe T. Tuanda has been suspended from the practice of law as
imposed in a Decision of the Court of Appeals dated 17 October 1988 in CA-G.R. Cr # 05093; 169 and Exh. 51
Certified Microfilm Copy of the Articles of Incorporation of Manotok Realty, Inc. issued by the Securities and
Exchange Commission (SEC) showing its date of incorporation as of September 11, 1950, which was after the
issuance of TCT No. 13900 in the name of said corporation on August 31, 1950. 170
Exhibits 1 (certified copy of Deed of Conveyance Record No. 4562 with Sale Certificate No. V-321 in the name of
Emiliano Setosta, and 2 (Certification dated June 8, 2009 issued by Ignacio R. Almira, Chief, Regional Surveys
Division, DENR), marked during the pre-trial were not formally offered by the Barques.
C.Manahans
Rosendo Manahan declared in his Judicial Affidavit that Lot 823 of the Piedad Estate belongs to his wife by
virtue of Deed of Conveyance No. V-2000-22 dated October 30, 2000 issued to her by the LMB. However, his
wife has no certificate of title because the LRA Administrator declared that her deed of conveyance is nonregistrable at this time because there are two (2) other claimants to the lot Severino Manotok IV, et al. and
the Heirs of Homer L. Barque, Sr. Thus, his wife filed a petition formandamus with the CA to compel the LRA to
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allow the registration of Deed of Conveyance No. V-2000-22 and issuance of the corresponding title in the name
of Felicitas Manahan. However, the CA denied the petition, and they filed a petition for review with the Supreme
Court where the case is still pending. He had assisted his wife in working for the issuance of a certificate of title
and did a lot of record searching. The Manotoks have no valid claim over Lot 823 as their documents have been
found to be spurious and not authentic by the NBI and LMB. As to the Barques who claimed that their plan has
accession number, the witness asserted that Accession No. 410436 is in the name of Nicolas Apo, et al. as
shown in Exh. XXXII. 171 Moreover, the technical description of the lot being claimed by the Barques when
verified and plotted by DENR-NCR, LRA and private surveyor Jose R. Baricua, is outside Quezon City and 5.8
kilometers away from Lot 823 as shown in Exhs. XXVIII, XXIX, XXX and XXXI. 172
Rosendo Manahan testified that the documents relied upon by the Manotoks were submitted for verification by
the LMB to the NBI and found to be fake and spurious. A very thorough search of documents covering Lot 823
by the LMB and DENR yielded only documents in the name of the Manahans but no genuine document in the
name of the Manotoks. The claim of the Barques that they own Lot 823 is likewise false considering that the files
of the LMB and DENR do not have Sale Certificate No. V-321 and Deed of Conveyance No. 4562. The technical
description of the lot claimed by the Barques, when plotted by the private prosecutor Jose Baricua and the
DENR-NCR as well as LRA, showed that it is outside Quezon City and 5.8 kilometers away from Lot 823 of the
Piedad Estate (Exhs. XXVIII, XXIX, XXX and XXXI 173 ). The Deed of Conveyance No. 29204 of the Manotoks
had no signature of the Secretary of Agriculture and Commerce, and he had not seen any copy thereof in the
records of the LMB. 174 TcHCIS
On cross-examination, Rosendo Manahan testified that his father Lucio Manahan and mother Hilaria de Guzman
were born in Malolos, Bulacan; he was also born and lived there almost his life. In 1945 or 1946 when he was
about seven (7) years old, his grandfather Valentin Manahan brought him to Lot 823. His grandfather died in
1948, his grandmother died later at the age of 93. His wife Felicitas bought Lot 823 for P350,000.00 because his
other siblings had no money to buy the property. He met Evelyn Celzo when he accompanied his wife to the
regional Office; they had no intervention in the preparation of her report. He cannot recall if Evelyn Celzo asked
his wife about Valentin Manahan's application and assignment of Lot 823, nor of the death of Lucio Manahan,
Felicitas told Celzo that Hilaria de Guzman went to the property but she was denied entry by heavily armed men.
When he was about eight (8) years old, his father would take him from Malolos to Quezon City to see Lot 823,
and his parents took over Lot 823 when his grandparents Valentin Manahan and Placida Figueroa after 1939
went back to Malolos, specifically Barrio Pulilan. 175
Rosendo Manahan asserted that Sale Certificate No. 511 (Exh. XXXVII 176 ) was issued as early as 1913; he
had verified its existence in the records of the LMB. However, he had sent letters the last being in 1998
asking for a certification, to no avail; despite a thorough search for the document in the LMB and DENR, it could
not be found. He did not think of obtaining copy of the document from the National Archives because as far as
his layman's understanding, the main purpose of the National Archives is to keep and preserve documents of
historical and cultural value. Sometime in 1974, he obtained a xerox copy of Sale Certificate No. 511 from his
mother in Malolos and furnished the LMB with a copy thereof as reference. When he verified with the LMB in
1997, he actually saw an assignment of sale certificate, not the sale certificate itself. He had knowledge of the
tax declarations that his wife filed for Lot 823 in 1997. The tax declarations submitted by the Barques caught
them by surprise; these were not the same as those filed by his wife but he did not bother about it as they were
spurious. He and his wife secured tax declarations in 1997 upon the advice of people who were helping them
pursue their case with the LMB. His wife secured a special plan, not a relocation plan but he could not recall who
prepared it. 177
On redirect examination, the witness declared that he is claiming, Lot 823, Piedad Estate, as described in the
technical description, regardless of what the place it is located is called. Based on his study, Culiat was just a
part of Matandang Balara before it was split into several barangays. He denied having filed a reconstitution
proceeding; it was the Manotoks who filed for administrative reconstitution of their alleged title. When she read
the report of Evelyn dela Rosa Celzo, he noticed in the penultimate paragraph stating "Documentary evidence
hereto attached: [1] Sale Certificate No. 511", and so he tried to get a copy from the LMB but they could not
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show him any sale certificate, what they showed him was an assignment of sale certificate. He also tried to ask a
copy of Fls-3164 but they only showed him the index card. When he learned about the 2nd Indorsement dated
March 26 from Mamerto L. Infante, Regional Technical Director, Land Sector of DENR-NCR (Exh. XIV 178 ),
stating that a photocopy of the sale certificate was transmitted to the LMB, he was able to get a photocopy of
Sale Certificate No. 511 and also Index card of Fls-3164. He discovered later that there was no more original or
certified copy of Sale Certificate No. 511 with the LMB. As to TCT No. 250215 in the name of Felicitas Manahan,
married to Rosendo Manahan, Tax Declaration of Real Property No. D-138-07070, and tax Bill Receipt No.
183999 which were secured by the Barques, the witness denied having anything to do with those
documents. 179
Felicitas B. Manahan declared in her Judicial Affidavit that her grandfather-in-law Valentin Manahan occupied
and cultivated Lot 823, and had it surveyed on November 16, 1938. On December 13, 1939, survey plan Fls3164 prepared in his name was approved by the Director of Lands. Valentin Manahan's application to purchase
Lot 823 was approved and after paying in full the purchase price of P2,140.00, he was issued Sale Certificate No.
511. Valentin Manahan assigned his rights over Lot 823 to his daughter-in-law Hilaria de Guzman, wife of his son
Lucio Manahan and mother of her husband Rosendo Manahan (Exh. III 180 ). With the aid of caretakers, Hilaria
de Guzman and Lucio Manahan occupied Lot 823. However, in the middle of 1950s, a group of armed men
ousted Hilaria de Guzman's caretaker on the lot. To protect her rights, Hilaria de Guzman declared the property
for taxation purposes under TD No. 17624 effective 1959 and TD No. 1751 effective 1965. On August 23, 1974,
Hilaria de Guzman sold her rights to Lot 823 in her favor, under Deed of Absolute Sale (Exh. X) believing that
she could take effective measures in recovering the property. She then paid the real property tax and after
making follow-up with the LMB and Malacaang thru then First Lady Imelda Marcos and LRA, Deed of
Conveyance No. V-200022 was issued in her name by the LMB on October 30, 2000 (Exh. IV 181 ). Deed of
Conveyance No. V-200022 was forwarded to the Register of Deeds of Quezon City for registration and issuance
of the corresponding title (Exh. XX 182 ), letter of the LMB Director to the Register of Deeds of Quezon City),
but in a "Consulta," the LRA Administrator declared that it is not registerable because of the existence of the
titles of the Manotoks and the Barques. Hence, she filed a petition for mandamus,docketed as CA-G.R. SP No.
99177, to compel the LRA to allow the registration of Deed of Conveyance No. V-200022. However, the CA
denied her petition, prompting her to file a petition for review with the Supreme Court (G.R. No. 184748) where
the case is pending for decision. The documents on which the Manotoks base their claim is "false and untrue"
because after conducting a "chemistry test" on those documents submitted by the LMB, the NBI concluded that
they were not old as they purport to be (Exh. XXV 183 ). The LMB, as repository of all records of all friar lands,
conducted a thorough search of its files for documents covering Lot 823, but it found only documents issued to
the Manahans and no genuine document covering Lot 823 in the name of Severino Manotok or his alleged
predecessors-in-interest. The DENR likewise conducted an investigation confirming the findings of the LMB
embodied in its report (Exh. XVI 184 ) that the documents of the Manotoks were spurious. The lot being
claimed by the Barques, on the other hand, based on their technical description, as plotted by private surveyor
Jose Baricua and the DENR-NCR as well as LRA, is outside Quezon City and 5.8 kilometers away from Lot 823 of
the Piedad Estate (Exhs. XXVIII, XXIX, XXX and XXXI). 185 TIAEac
Felicitas Manahan identified the following documents in court: (a) Letter dated July 10, 2009 of Teresita J. Reyes
stating that "Deed of Conveyance No. V-4562 was issued on June 28, 1955 in favor of PAULINO DIGALBAL
covering a parcel of land situated in Naic, Cavite identified as Lot No. 1540-N, Naic Friar Land Estate containing
an area of 1.1396 hectares, and that the same was transmitted to the Register of Deeds of Cavite on July 13,
1955" and that further verification disclosed that "this Office has no record/copy of the alleged Deed of
Conveyance No. 4562 (Sale Certificate No. V-321) purportedly issued in the name of EMILIANO SETOSTA
supposedly covering a parcel of land identified as Lot No. 823, Piedad Friar Land Estate, situated in Quezon City"
(Exh. XXXVIII 186 ); (b) Letter dated August 27, 2009 of Atty. Fe T. Tuanda, OIC Chief, LMB-RMD stating that
"this Office has no record of the alleged Deed of Conveyance No. 29204 purportedly issued on December 7,
1932 supposedly covering a parcel of land situated in Caloocan, Rizal, now Quezon City, identified as Lot No.
823, Piedad Friar Lands Estate (Exh. XXXIX 187 ); and (c) xerox copy of Sale Certificate No. 511 dated June 24,
1913 (Exh. XXXVII 188 ) which was given to her by her mother-in-law when the latter signed the deed of sale.
106

The witness explained that they did not attach a copy of Sale Certificate No. 511 because the CA ordered that
only certified copies are to be attached to the pre-trial brief, and also said that she tried to secure a certified
copy of Sale Certificate No. 511 but the LMB and DENR could not give her the same. 189
On cross-examination, Felicitas Manahan testified that her mother-in-law was living in Malolos, Bulacan but
occupied Lot 823 in 1939 by hiring caretakers to till the land. After the assignment of Lot 823 from Valentin
Manahan to Hilaria de Guzman, her father-in-law Lucio Manahan frequently visited Lot 823 to oversee the
caretakers. Since 1976, she and her husband resided in Manila where they rented a house. In 1974, Hilaria de
Guzman told her she wanted to sell Lot 823 and after Hilaria had signed the deed of sale and was paid in cash
P350,000.00, she obtained from Hilaria the sale certificate, assignment of sale certificate and a sketch plan.
However, when she visited the land in 1981, she was told by an elderly man not to return and aspire to recover
the land because it belonged to Imee Manotok. When she went there in 1979, the property was not fenced and
it seemed to her there were no occupants. She met Evelyn dela Rosa in March 1979 and again in the year 2000
at the DENR. Evelyn dela Rosa asked questions about the property and her grandfather-in-law Valentin
Manahan. Despite having seen Lot 823 vacant in 1979, 1981 and in 1989, she and her husband continued to live
in Levytown. She had seen the original copy of Sale Certificate No. 511 mentioned in the 1st Indorsement dated
February 23, 1999 of Mamerto L. Infante, Regional Technical Director of DENR-NCR's Lands Sector (Exh.
XIII 190 ). She gave the owner's duplicate copy of Sale Certificate No. 511 which she got from Hilaria to DENRNCR Director Pelayo in March 1989 without asking for a receipt. Director Pelayo, however, lost it. The witness
clarified that the original copy of Sale Certificate No. 511 mentioned in Exh. XIII refers to the assignment of sale
certificate. When Atty. Rogelio Mandar accompanied her for a site inspection of Lot 823 in 1997 or 1998, she
saw men with firearms. On that occasion, she tagged along Policeman Fernandez from Paraaque as bodyguard
because she knew of the presence of armed men in the property. However, she did not report the matter to the
Quezon City Police. 191
Atty. Roseller S. de la Pea, former Undersecretary for Legal Affairs of DENR and now Dean of the College of
Law of Polytechnic University of the Philippines, declared in his Judicial Affidavit that in June 2000, he received a
query from LMB Director Ernesto D. Adobo, Jr. on whether a deed of conveyance for Lot 823 of the Piedad
Estate may be issued to Felicitas B. Manahan by virtue of Sale Certificate No. 511 issued to Valentin Manahan. In
response to this query, he issued a Memorandum dated July 6, 2000 (Exh. XVII 192 ) recommending the
issuance of a deed of conveyance to Felicitas Manahan, as per verification with the LMB and the DENR-NCR,
except for the subsisting records of Sale Certificate No. 511 in the name of Valentin Manahan, there is no record
in said offices to show that the Manotoks filed an application for the property; there was no such sale certificate
issued in the name of the Manotoks. Sale Certificate No. V-321 and Deed of Conveyance No. 4562 are also not
found in the records of the LMB and DENR. He affirmed the comments and recommendations contained in Exh.
XVII. In accordance with his recommendation, the LMB issued to Felicitas B. Manahan Deed of Conveyance No.
V-200022 on October 30, 2000. The signing of deed of conveyance had been delegated effective 1997 to the
Director of the LMB by means of General Memorandum Order No. 1, Series of 1997 issued by the DENR
Secretary. A bona fide settler can acquire a friar land only through conveyance by the LMB which is the agency
authorized under Act 1120 to administer and dispose friar lands. 193 EHcaDT
Atty. Rogelio Mandar, Chief of the Claims and Conflicts Section, Legal Division, LMB, declared that he,
together with Atty. Manuel B. Tacorda, Assistant Chief, Legal Division of LMB, were authorized by the LMB
Director under Special Order No. 98-135 dated December 18, 1998 to conduct an investigation regarding Lot 823
of the Piedad Estate. It appears that on November 25, 1998, Felicitas Manahan filed a petition with the OSG for
the cancellation/reversion proceedings against TCT No. RT-22481 (372302) issued in the name of Severino
Manotok IV, et al., which was referred by the OSG to the LMB for investigation and/or appropriate action. Thus,
they collated all the pertinent available records and referred these to the NBI on April 21, 1999 for determination
of the age of the documents; they also scheduled an ocular inspection of the land on July 15, 1999 and set the
petition for hearing on December 13, 1999. The documents sent to the NBI were the following: (1) Sale
Certificate No. 1054 in the name of Regina Geronimo, Modesto Zacarias and Felicisimo Villanueva (Exh. 10Manotoks); (2) Assignment of Sale Certificate No. 1054 dated March 11, 1919 (Exh. 11-Manotoks); (3)
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Assignment of Sale Certificate No. 1054 dated June 7, 1920 (Exh. 12-Manotoks); (4) Assignment of Sale
Certificate No. 1054 dated May 4, 1923 (Exh. 13-Manotoks); (5) Sale Certificate No. 651 in the name of
Ambrosio Berones; (6) Assignment of Sale Certificate No. 651 dated April 19, 1930 in favor of Andres Berones
who is the alleged predecessor-in-interest of Severino Manotok; and (7) Assignment of Sale Certificate No. 511
dated June 24, 1939 in the name of Valentin Manahan, the predecessor-in-interest of Felicitas Manahan (Exh.
III-Manahans). The NBI submitted its Chemistry Report No. C-99-152 (Exh. XXV-Manahans) dated June 10, 1999
stating that the first six documents "could not be as old as it [sic] purports to be", while the seventh document,
the Assignment of Sale Certificate No. 511 dated June 24, 1939 showed "natural aging and discoloration of
paper; it also exhibited a "water mark" which is distinct under transmitted light; the adhesive tapes were
attached along creases and tears, and the paper did not exhibit the characteristics which were observed on the
questioned documents. 194
Atty. Mandar further declared that they were not able to conduct the ocular inspection of Lot 823 because armed
men prevented them. There was a hearing held wherein the Manahans and the Manotoks agreed to submit the
case for resolution on the basis of memoranda with supporting documents. Thus, a written report was submitted
to the Legal Division Chief Atty. Alberto R. Recalde which served as the basis of the latter's Memorandum dated
April 17, 2000 (Exh. XVI 195 ), who held that TCT No. RT-22481 (372302) has no legal and factual basis, and
therefore void ab initio; that records pertaining to Sale Certificate No. 511 in the name of Valentin Manahan
Assignment of Sale Certificate No. 511 dated June 24, 1939 had been authenticated by both the report of
investigation of Land Investigator Evelyn dela Rosa and NBI Chemistry Report No. C-99-152; and that Sale
Certificate No. 651 in the name of Ambrosio Berones is unauthenticated. Their recommendation that steps be
taken in the proper court for the cancellation of the Manotoks' title was approved by the LMB Director and sent
to the DENR. LMB OIC-Director Ernesto D. Adobo, Jr. then issued an Order dated October 16, 2000 (Exh.
XVIII 196 ) which was forwarded to the Office of the Register of Deeds of Quezon City on December 13, 2000
for registration and issuance of corresponding title. 197
Evelyn G. Celzo, nee Evelyn C. dela Rosa, Land Investigator/Geodetic Engineer of DENR-NCR declared that she
conducted an investigation of Lot 823, Piedad Estate, pursuant to Travel Order dated May 15, 1989 issued by
North CENRO, Quezon City. She conducted an ocular inspection of the land and interviewed witnesses. She
prepared a written Investigation Report dated July 5, 1989 (Exh. XV 198 ). She confirmed the truth of her
findings contained in said report. She made a very thorough search of the records of LMB Central Office but
found no sale certificate covering Lot 823 other than that issued to Valentin Manahan. Lot 823 is covered by Fls3164 in the name of Valentin Manahan. She categorically stated that there was no Sale Certificate No. 1054,
Deed of Conveyance (Sale Certificate No. V-321) in the name of Emiliano Setosta and Fls-3168-D in the name of
Emiliano Setosta existing in the records of the LMB Central Office. 199
On cross-examination, Evelyn Celzo testified that she is not acquainted with Hilaria de Guzman but she knew her
to be one (1) of the heirs of Lot 823, a property she owned and given by Valentin Manahan. During her
investigation, she met and talked to Rosendo and Felicitas Manahan in her office. Mrs. Manahan did not supply
all the information contained in her report. The information that Lot 823 was an agricultural land when Valentin
Manahan took possession thereof as a farmer in 1908 came from the people she personally interviewed in the
adjoining lots; she did not record the names of the persons she interviewed. However, she had no more notes of
the interview she conducted. She had not referred the results of her interview nor the statements in her report
to Felicitas. She admitted that she did not see the application for the purchase of the land stated in her report
nor the Sale Certificate issued to Valentin Manahan; she also could not recall the name of the record officer
whom she asked about the application of Valentin Manahan. After the assignment of the sale certificate, Hilaria
de Guzman and her husband Lucio Manahan were not able to enter Lot 823 because they were prevented by
some people. Neighbors told her that Hilaria only visited the land. There was an old man in his 60s, whose name
she cannot remember, told her that Lucio and Hilaria lived in Malolos, Bulacan. As to the requirements of an
investigation report, these are provided in the Surveying Manual. She maintained that if one (1) already has a
sale certificate given by the government, no other individual can claim that property. A report from the field to
determine the location of the land is required for the issuance of a deed of conveyance. As to Valentin
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Manahan's survey plan, Fls-3164, it was approved on December 13, 1939, after which he applied for the
purchase of Lot 823. After paying the sum of P2,140.00, Valentin Manahan was issued a sale certificate. She did
not conduct another survey of Lot 823 because she is an investigator. Lot 823 was not fenced in 1989; she in
fact walked around the property consisting of about thirty four (34) hectares. She cannot anymore remember
the number of persons she had interviewed. She pointed out that the technical description appearing in TCT No.
250215 dated May 25, 1979 (Exh. 34-Barques) in the name of Felicitas Manahan married to Rosendo Manahan,
is different from the technical description of Lot 823 appearing on Manahan's Exhibit VII 200 (Technical
Descriptions of Lot 823). In their conversation, Felicitas Manahan never told her that she had a transfer
certificate of title over Lot 823 as early as 1979. 201
On redirect examination, Evelyn Celzo corrected a typographical error in the last paragraph of her report, in
which the word "no" should be inserted between the words "since" and "deed" to read: "In this regard, since no
deed of conveyance has been issued to the above applicant, it is hereby recommended that appropriate action
be issued." She also identified her signature and the signature of Engr. Ludivina Aromin appearing on the sketch
plan (Exh. XL 202 ) showing that the land claimed by the Barques is 5639.59 meters from the lot claimed by the
Manahans based on the tie line; the tie line of Lot 823 of the Manahans is only 4,097.40, while the tie line of the
Barques is 9,736.60. 203
When confronted with the discrepancy in her computation based on the tie lines of Lot 823-A and Lot 823-B
appearing on the technical description on TCT No. 210177, Evelyn Celzo said that they have copies of titles in
their office and she could not make a decision whether it is the same title being shown to her by counsel (Atty.
Carao, Jr.). Responding to clarificatory questions from the court, Evelyn Celzo admitted that she was not able to
obtain information as to whether there are other claimants over Lot 823 aside from the Manahans and her
investigation report was based on her ocular inspection of Lot 823 and research at the LMB. From her research
in the LMB, she was not able to obtain information on whether or not there are other claimants of Lot 823 of the
Piedad Estate. 204
Teresita J. Reyes, who retired on July 14, 2009, was formerly OIC-Assistant Chief, RMD, LMB declared in her
Judicial Affidavit that Exh. 1 of the Barques is not in the records of the LMB and that no Deed of Conveyance No.
V-4562 and Sale Certificate No. V-321 issued to Emiliano Setosta mentioned in Exh. 1 is on file in the records of
the LMB. These documents were instead issued to Paulino Bagalbal covering a parcel of land with an area of
1.1396 hectares, identified as Lot No. 1540-N of the Naic Friar Land Estate, located at Naic, Cavite, and
forwarded to the Office of the Register of Deeds of Naic, Cavite, for registration and issuance of title. Her
signature on the document (Deed of Conveyance No. 4562 in the name of Emiliano Setosta covering Lot 823) is
a forgery. She identified her signature on the letter dated July 10, 2009 (Exh. XXXVIII 205 ) addressed to
Felicitas Manahan and confirmed the truth of its contents. 206 caSEAH
On cross-examination, Teresita Reyes testified that a party requesting for a certified true copy of the records in
the LMB had to file a written request which will be forwarded to the unit concerned and then to the Division.
With respect to the records pertaining to friar lands, the sales registry books were decentralized to the regional
offices of the bureau pursuant to Executive Order No. 292 issued in 1987. She did not know for sure what
records were decentralized because she was assigned to the RMD only in 1997. She had been requested to
authenticate or certify copies of records of Lot 823, Piedad Estate. However, she categorically denied that the
signatures appearing on the certifications/authentications of documents presented by the Barques (Exhs. 9, 10
and 25 207 ), were her signature. The signature appearing in her affidavit is her genuine signature. The sales
registry books in the regional office are copies of appropriate pages of the sales registry books in the main RMD.
It is a very big and heavy book and is turned over to the regional offices. The RMD-LMB has an inventory of
deeded books or lots subject of deeds of conveyance.As for sales registry book, they no longer have it at the
RMD. Sales registry books contain the names of the claimants, the respective lot numbers and area, but the sale
certificate itself would still be with the RMD in the file folders of particular lot number. Lot 823 of the Piedad
Estate had several folders in the RMD. They also have a logbook listing the lots. If there is already a deed of
conveyance, the records would be in a folder. These deeds of conveyance are not bound separately but are
inside the folder of the particular lot number. 208
109

Atty. Romeo C. Dela Cruz, counsel for the Manahans, testified in court and identified the letter dated July 4,
2009 (Exh. XXXV 209 ) of Ignacio R. Almira Jr. addressed to him informing that the signatures appearing in Exh.
2 (Certification dated June 8, 2009 attesting that Deed of Conveyance record No. 4562 and Sale Certificate No.
V-321 covering Lot 823 in the name of Emiliano Setosta has available record in this office) and Exh. 30
(Certification dated April 13, 2009 attesting that Sale Certificate No. 511 in favor of Valentin Manahan (assignor)
and Hilaria de Guzman (assignee) had no available record in this office) of the Barques are not his
signatures. 210
Aida R. Viloria-Magsipoc, NBI Forensic Chemist III, testified that the documents examined were submitted to
the Forensic Chemistry Division from the LMB by Evelyn Celzo and the requesting party was Atty. Manuel
Tacorda, Assistant Chief, Legal Division, LMB. She explained her findings in Chemistry Report No. C-99-152 (Exh.
XXV 211) on the following specimen documents: (1) Sale Certificate No. 1054 in the name of Regina Geronimo,
Modesto Zacarias and Felicisimo Villanueva (Exh. XXV-A, front 212and Exh. XXV-B, 213 back); (2) Assignment
of Sale Certificate No. 1054 dated March 11, 1919 (Exh. XXV-F, 214 front and Exh. XXV-G, 215 back); (3)
Assignment of Sale Certificate No. 1054 dated June 7, 1920 (Exh. XXV-J, 216 front and Exh. XXV-K, 217 back);
(4) Assignment of Sale Certificate No. 1054 dated May 4, 1923 (Exh. XXV-N, 218 front and Exh. XXVO, 219 back); (5) Sale Certificate No. 651 in the name of Ambrosio Berones (Exh. XXV-R, 220 front and Exh.
XXV-S, 221 back); and (6) Assignment of Sale Certificate No. 651 dated April 19, 1930 (Exh. XXV-T, 222 front
and Exh. XXV-U, 223 back). The seventh document (Assignment of Sale Certificate No. 511 dated June 24,
1939) was used as the standard (Exh. XXV-V, 224 front and Exh. XXV-W, 225 back). 226
Explaining the word "examinations" in her report, the witness said that first, they did an ocular examination.
Visualization includes photography, viewing the documents under direct light, under UV light, under infrared (IR)
light using the stereoscope; and then chemical examinations to determine the kind of paper or reaction of the
paper, and the reaction of the ink strokes that are on the questioned documents. A stereoscope enables one (1)
to view the whole sheet of paper by just tilting the mouse (macro viewing), whereas for the microscope, you
could view just a very small portion. After examination over UV, IR and direct light examinations, chemical
examination is done on a paper wherein punch holes are taken from the pieces or sides of the document. Only
these physical and chemical examinations were done on the questioned documents. 227 CEDScA
The following photographs taken of the questioned documents were also presented: Exh. XXV-C, 228 the front
close-up of the tear on top of the page of Sale Certificate No. 1054; Exh. XXV-D, 229 front close-up of uneven
browning and discoloration of paper (Sale Certificate No. 1054); Exh. XXV-E, 230 front page browning and
discoloration of tears and creases along the edges of document (Sale Certificate No. 1054); Exh. XXVF, 231 front of the Assignment of Sale Certificate No. 1054 dated March 11, 1919; Exh. XXV-G, 232 back
portion of Assignment of Sale Certificate dated March 11, 1919; Exh. XXV-H, 233 showing the staple wire marks
that are clear and firm (Assignment of Sale Certificate No. 1054 dated March 11, 1919); Exh. XXVI, 234 showing the aniline (violet) stamp pad ink entries that are clear and distinct (Assignment of Sale
Certificate No. 1054 dated March 11, 1919); Exh. XXV-L, 235 showing the aniline (violet) stamp pad ink entries
that are clear and distinct with handwritten entries and signatures in blue, blue-black, black ballpoint pen
ink and sign pen ink (Assignment of Sale Certificate No. 1054 dated June 7, 1920); Exh. XXV-M, 236 showing
the aniline (violet) stamp pad ink entries that are clear and distinct with handwritten entries and signatures in
black ballpoint pen ink, sign pen ink (Assignment of Sale Certificate No. 1054 dated June 7, 1920); Exh. XXVP, 237 showing the adhesive tape used to hold tears or cuts, uneven brown discoloration (Assignment of Sale
Certificate No. 1054 dated May 4, 1923); Exh. XXV-Q, 238 showing the sharply cut line along letter/s and a
distinct scratch/tear along the loop of the signature (Assignment of Sale Certificate No. 1054 dated May 4,
1923); Exh. XXV-X, 239 showing close-up portions of Assignment of Sale Certificate No. 511 dated June 24,
1939; Exh. XXV-Y, 240 standard brown even discoloration of Assignment of Sale Certificate No. 511 dated June
24, 1939; Exh. XXV-Z, 241 standard brown even discoloration of Assignment of Sale Certificate No. 511 dated
June 24, 1939; Exh. XXV-AA, 242 water mark on Assignment of Sale Certificate No. 511 dated June 24, 1939;
and Exh. XXV-BB, 243 water mark on Assignment of Sale Certificate No. 511 dated June 24, 1939.
110

On the particular findings in her report, 244 the witness testified that "printed entries on all the documents
showed similarities but differ in font size." The font size would indicate if there were insertions or corrections
that have been made on the typewritten entries on the document. Next, the typescript entries are
clear/distinct/uniform especially on specimens 5 (Sale Certificate No. 651 dated January 8, 1913) and 6
(Assignment of Sale Certificate No. 651 dated April 19, 1930), which indicates that both documents could have
been done at the same time. Finding No. 3 states that "Folds on specimens 1 to 4 are irregular and inconsistent
while on specimen 5 and 6 folds across show whiteness in color indicating that they are recent." The irregular
folds on the first four (4) documents would indicate that these documents could not be that old. Finding No. 5
states that "Adhesive tapes used to hold tear/s or cut/s are placed on areas even without apparent tear but only
a fold or a crease", from which it can be concluded that the tape was just placed over to show that the
document is old, even if it is not so. Finding No. 6 refers to "punch holes and staple wire marks are clean and
firm which could be attributed to its being recent," which are found in Exhs. XXV-C, XXV-H, XXV-U, XXV-T, XXV-S
and XXV-R. If the documents were bound by staple wires, they could have aged and there should already be
iron residue that adhered to the paper. On Finding No. 7, it states that "Aniline (violet) stamp pad ink entries are
clear/distinct with handwritten entries in Blue/ Blue-Black BALLPOINT PEN INK and SIGN PEN INK. Age of
BALLPOINT PEN INK could not be determined." The witness pointed out that ball point pen inks were
commercially manufactured after World War II, around 1945. In 1919, 1920, 1923 and 1930, there were no ball
point pens yet at the time. This fact indicates the documents could have been executed after 1945. Finding No.
8 states that "The notarial dry seal of the notary public is clear and firm on specimen 2, 5 and 6," which pertains
to Assignment of Sale Certificate No. 1054 dated March 11, 1919, Sale Certificate No. 651 in the name of
Ambrosio Berones and Assignment of Sale Certificate No. 651. Under Finding No. 9, it was observed that "[T]he
browning and discoloration of the documents are uneven and whitening are very prominent even on its
sides/areas which are supposedly exposed during storage." This is notably shown on the close-up photo of Exh.
XXV-C wherein the edge, the uppermost edge of the document is very very white and clear, and even on the
tear that was allegedly torn because of age, it is even clearer than in the inner portion of the document. Uneven
discoloration from the edges to the center of the document would indicate that they are not as old as they
purport to be; hence they are spurious. Finding No. 10 refers to specimen 2 (Assignment of Sale Certificate No.
1054 dated March 11, 1919) and specimen 3 (Assignment of Sale Certificate No. 1054 dated June 7, 1920) "A
signature of an assignor/assignee on specimen number 2 showed a sharply cut line along the letter/s and
distinct 'scratch/tear' appear along the loop of the signature of one (1) witness on specimen 3 with an adhesive
attached to make it firm." The witness noted there are cuts along the line of the ink entries of the signature
(Exhs. XXV-I, XXV-J), which are mechanical in nature; a sharp instrument was used to cut a portion of the ink in
the signature, to make an impression that the document has aged already. Finding No. 11 states that "[I]nsect
bites/tears are superficial in nature especially on specimen 5 (Sale Certificate No. 651 in the name of Ambrosio
Berones) and 6 (Assignment of Sale Certificate No. 651 dated April 19, 1930). The witness explained that as
paper ages, even in storages, its edges would have insects or mites, insect bites or cuts; in this case, those
appear to have been artificially placed on the edges. Finally, on Finding No. 12, it was noted that
"[A]ttached/adhering torn sheet/s at the center/topmost portion/back of specimen 2 and on the upper left hand
corner of specimen 3 are lighter in color than the document itself." Again, an indication that the documents are
not as old as they purport to be and therefore spurious. 245 IDcAHT
In contrast, the standard document (Assignment of Sale Certificate No. 511 dated June 24, 1939) was found to
have "showed natural aging and discoloration of paper"; it also exhibited a "water mark which is distinct under
transmitted light"; "the adhesive tapes were attached along creases and tears"; and "the paper did not exhibit
the characteristics which were observed on the questioned documents." The witness thus concluded that Exhs.
XXV-V and XXV-W is authentic and as old as the date indicated therein. The witness denied having been
influenced by anybody in arriving at these findings. 246
On cross-examination, Ms. Viloria-Magsipoc admitted that while she had attended a training course for
questioned documents, she has not done any work under the Questioned Documents Division. This case was
assigned to her by the Chief of the Forensic Chemistry Division and it took her about thirty (30) working days to
finish the work. Regarding handwritten entries in ballpoint pen ink, she had read an article in the New
111

Encyclopedia Britannica stating that ballpoint pens came in the late 19th century, and that commercial models
appeared in 1895. There is no known method in chemistry to determine the age of ballpen writing. Paper
chromatography and thin layer chromatography methods were used only in determining whether the ink was
ballpen ink, fountain pen, sign pen and other ink entries. The LMB chose specimen No. 7 (Assignment of Sale
Certificate No. 511 dated June 24, 1939) as the reference standard, while specimens 1 to 6 are the questioned
documents. She did a comparative analysis of papers and went to the National Library to look at documents
which are 5 to 10 years prior to a particular date and 5 to 10 years after said date.247
The witness declared that when she went to the National Archives, she did not see a copy of the following
documents: Sale Certificate No. 1054; Assignment of Sale Certificate No. 1054 dated March 11, 1919;
Assignment of Sale Certificate No. 1054 dated June 7, 1920; Assignment of Sale Certificate No. 1054 dated May
4, 1923; Sale Certificate No. 651 in the name of Ambrosio Berones; and Assignment of Sale Certificate No. 651
dated April 19, 1930. Chromatologic analysis was used in this case to determine whether the entries in the
questioned documents were written in ballpoint pen ink. She opined that it was possible that tears and creases
along the edges of the subject documents are mechanical in nature. As to punch holes and staple wires, these
are used to determine the characteristic of paper so that if the marks and holes are clean and clear, they were
made recently, regardless of whether the paper is old or new. The marks of staple wire or puncher on a recent
document are different from those on an old document. A recently stapled or punched paper has a "very, very
firm" impression while an old document would have some tear or a reaction of the mechanical impression, or the
hair fiber would be flaky already because of the brittleness of the paper. However, the preservation of paper
may be affected by storage conditions and a very old paper can be well-preserved, such that even if created in
1911, it could survive without any insect bites. As to the quality of the impression made by dry seals, it depends
on the quality of the seals, the force exerted on the seal lever when the seal is being pressed on paper, and the
quality of the paper itself. The discoloration of documents is caused by the reaction of paper to air, as well as to
dust and exposure to strong light. It is possible that the torn portions of the document, which were lighter in
color than the document itself, were separated or folded in such a way that they were less exposed than the rest
of the documents before they were re-attached. Specimen No. 7 does not bear any stamp mark of the LMBRMD. 248
On redirect examination, Ms. Viloria-Magsipoc pointed out that ball point pens were commercially used in the
Philippines in 1953; sign pens came later in the early 60s. She had used paper and thin layer chromatography of
the questioned documents in determining the ink entries. Ink strokes are taken from the handwritten entries and
they are spotted on a chromatographic plate both in paper and thin layer of silica gel. It is allowed to be diluted
to a solvent system and the results would be a chromatogram that would indicate what dyes or what kind of ink
is on the ink stroke that is being analyzed. After the chemical examination, she found that the handwritten
entries in the questioned documents were all in ballpoint pen ink and sign pen ink. Ballpoint pens and sign pens
were not yet commercially used at the time the documents were supposedly executed. She affirmed the findings
contained in her Chemistry Report No. C-99-152 (Exh. XXV) and also her conclusion that the questioned
documents were not as old as they purport to be. No water marks were found on the documents presented by
the Manotoks which she had examined. 249
Responding to clarificatory questions from the court, the witness declared that water marks on documents would
indicate the possible manufacturing date of the paper. Water mark that is on the manufacturer of the paper is
different from the water mark being placed on those government paper for official use only. In determining the
possible age of the paper, she had used both physical and chemical examination. Because of their
characteristics, she was able to conclude that the questioned documents are of recent paper and they could not
have possibly been executed on the dates indicated. As to carbon dating, the witness declared that the NBI does
not have carbon dating. Recent document means 10 years or less. As to type of paper, she said that bond paper
was used in the questioned documents; she does not know the exact date when bond paper was introduced in
the Philippines. 250
As sur-rebuttal evidence, the Manahans presented the affidavit/deposition of Rosendo Manahan, Atty. Richie Q.
Caranto, Jacinto Ramos de Guzman and Felix S. Javier.HAECID
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Rosendo Manahan in his Judicial Affidavit dated January 5, 2010, declared that the statement made by
Milagros Manotok-Dormido in her Rebuttal Judicial Affidavit that Valentin Manahan could not have caused the
survey of Lot 823 in 1938 and executed the Deed of Assignment of Sale Certificate No. 511 in favor of Hilaria de
Guzman on June 24, 1939 because Valentin Manahan died on September 21, 1931 is not correct. He asserted
that Valentin Manahan died on February 5, 1955 as shown by the Certification dated December 11, 2009 issued
by the Office of the Civil Registrar of Malolos City, Bulacan (Exh. XLIV 251 ). On the certificates of death
submitted by Milagros Manotok-Dormido, he explained that the Valentin Manahan mentioned in those
documents is not the same Valentin Manahan who was his grandfather, but just a namesake. His grandfather
Valentin Manahan was born on May 21, 1890 whose parents were Luis Manahan and Rita Giron. These facts are
shown by the certifiedPartida de Bautismo issued by Rev. Fr. Arsenio C. Reyes, Parish Priest of the Barasoain
Parish dated June 24, 1949 (Exh. XLV). 252 Valentin Manahan's residence at the time he died was Bulihan,
Malolos, Bulacan. He was married to Placida Figueroa as shown by the certified Partida de Bautismo of his son
Lucio Manahan issued on November 5, 1945 by the Parish Priest of the Iglesia Catolica Apostolica Romana in
Barasoain, Malolos, Bulacan (Exh. XLVI 253 ). The Valentin Manahan subject of the Certificates of Death (Exhs.
61 and 102) was married to Francisca Lucas and was residing at Guinhawa, Malolos, Bulacan at the time of his
death as shown in Manotoks' Exhs. 61/102. 254
Rosendo Manahan said that he tried to get a certificate of death from the Parish of Our Lady of Mt. Carmel but
half-page of pages 147 and 148, Book IV of their Liber Defunctorum in which the death of his grandfather is
supposedly entered/recorded, were torn off and missing after Milagros Manotok-Dormido borrowed it. This was
the information relayed to him by the custodian of the parish records, Felix Javier. Felix Javier told him he was
surprised when Milagros, who borrowed the book as she wanted to photocopy some pages thereof, returned it
with the half of pages 147 and 148 already missing. The missing pages cover deaths during the period January
26 to February 16, 1955, as evident in the remaining half-pages 147 and 148 (Exhs. XLVII, XLVII-A and XLVIIB 255 ). He also went to the Roman Catholic Cemetery of Malolos City to look at the tombstone (lapida) of his
grandfather Valentin Manahan and see the date of his death inscribed thereon. However, the tombstone was
freshly vandalized; the date of his death and middle initial of his wife Placida Figueroa Manahan were chiselled
off, which he had photographed (Exhs. XLII and XLIII 256 ). It was Milagros Manotok-Dormido and her brother
who went to Felix Javier, the parish records custodian, and Emilio V. Pangindian, Jr. the sepulturero of the
Roman Catholic Cemetery of Malolos City and inquired about the tomb of the Manahan family. Emilio V.
Pangindian, Jr. executed an Affidavit (Exh. XLVIII 257 ) in support of this fact. As to the certificate of death
(Exhs. 108 and 109) showing that he died on July 30, 1963 at age 20, he declared that it was a mistake since it
was his brother Clodualdo de Guzman who died on July 30, 1963 at age 20 but his uncle, Jacinto de Guzman,
erred in reporting the matter to the Local Civil Registrar as shown by his Affidavit (Exh. XLIX 258 ). To prove
that he is still alive, he submitted copies of his Philippine passport issued to him on December 12, 2006 (Exh.
L 259 ), US Visa issued to him on February 20, 2007 (Exh. LI 260 ), BIR Tax Identification Card (Exh.
LII 261 ), Driver's License issued by the Land Transportation Office to expire on March 1, 2011 (Exh. LIII 262),
and Firearm License Card issued on April 2, 2009 by the PNP Firearm Explosives Unit (Exh. LIV 263 ). 264
Rosendo Manahan further declared that the claim of Milagros Manotok-Dormido that she was able to obtain a
copy of Sale Certificate No. 1054 from the LMB is contradicted by the testimonies of former DENR
Undersecretary Roseller dela Pea, Evelyn dela Rosa Celzo and Atty. Fe T. Tuanda. As to Deed of Conveyance
No. 4562 (Exh. 44-Barques), it is a spurious document like Deed of Conveyance No. 4562 marked as Exh. 1 in
the Barques' Pre-Trial Brief, for the simple reason that the documents have the same number but different dates
and varying details issued by the Bureau of Lands for the same lot and in favor of the same party (Emiliano
Setosta). Upon verification with LMB, said office replied to her wife that they do not have Exh. 44 on their files
and that Deed of Conveyance No. 4562 was issued to Paulino Bigalbal on June 28, 1955 covering a 1.1396hectare land identified as Lot No. 1540-N of the Naic Friar Land Estate (Exhs. LV and LVI 265 ). He denied
having commissioned Engr. Mariano V. Flotildes (rebuttal witness of the Barques) to conduct a relocation survey
for him and his wife. Contrary to the assertions of Milagros Manotok-Dormido, his wife has not secured a tax
declaration and title over Lot 823 nor filed a petition for reconstitution of title. 266
113

Jacinto Ramos de Guzman identified Rosendo Manahan as his nephew during the taking of deposition and his
Judicial Affidavit dated December 14, 2009 wherein he declared that Hilaria de Guzman who is now deceased, is
his sister and the wife of Lucio Manahan who is also now deceased. His sister is not married to Jose Cruz.
Rosendo Manahan who is still alive is the son of his sister Hilaria de Guzman and Lucio Manahan. The children of
his sister other than Maria are, namely: Clodualdo, Flaviana and Leonarda (all deceased). Rosendo Manahan is
married to Felicitas B. Manahan. He explained the mistake in the Certificate of Death (Exh 56-Manotoks) saying
he was dizzy for lack of sleep attending to the wake of Clodualdo and he was confused about the names of his
nephews that he committed an honest mistake in reporting that Rosendo de Guzman died on July 30, 1963
instead of Clodualdo. 267 On cross-examination, he said that Clodualdo had been ill for more or less one (1)
year (tuberculosis) and he took care of him before his death. Clodualdo was buried the following day after his
death. 268
Atty. Richie Q. Caranto, in his Judicial Affidavit declared that at about 2:15 in the afternoon of December 10,
2009, he stepped out of the hearing room to call their office messenger. A few minutes later, Atty. Roberto San
Juan, counsel of the Manotoks, came out and the latter did not notice him because his view was blocked by the
Court Security. He then overheard Atty. San Juan who called a person whose name sounded like "Din." Atty. San
Juan and the person he called talked about documents; Atty. San Juan told "Din" that the findings should be that
the writings in the documents were written in fountain pen ink and not ballpoint pen ink. Atty. San Juan told
"Din" not to make a categorical statement in the report but just state therein that ballpoint pen was already
existing for commercial use as early as 1895. When Atty. San Juan saw him, he noticed that he toned down his
voice and told "Din" to state his findings and recommendations in the report. He was five (5) meters away from
Atty. San Juan during the incident and thereafter, he went inside the hearing room and relayed what he heard to
Solicitor Omar Diaz who was sitting in the last row near the door. 269
Felix S. Javier, undersecretary of Parish of Our Lady of Mt. Carmel residing at Barasoain Church, Malolos,
Bulacan, identified Milagros Manotok-Dormido during the taking of the deposition. He also identified two (2)
pictures shown to him by Mr. Manahan taken of the tombstone that was vandalized (Exhs. XLII and XLIII). He
admitted that he has no knowledge as to whether it is the same Valentin who died in 1931; that is recorded in
the books of the parish. 270 SEIcAD
Other documents formally offered by the Manahans are the following: Exh. I Certified copy of the Petition
dated November 25, 1998 for the cancellation of Manotoks' TCT No. RT-22481 (372302) filed by Felicitas B.
Manahan with the OSG; 271 Exh. II Certified photocopy of the letter dated December 3, 1998 of Cecilio O.
Estoesta, Assistant Solicitor General, to the Director of LMB referring the petition filed by Felicitas Manahan for
investigation, report and recommendation; 272 Exh. V Letter dated January 21, 2005 of Concordia D. Zuiga,
Director, LMB to LRA Deputy Administrator Ofelia E. Abueg-Sta. Maria attesting to the authenticity of Deed of
Conveyance No. V-200022 covering Lot 823 issued in favor of Felicitas Manahan on October 30, 2000, and
further stating that "[t]he subject deed of conveyance does not contain the signature of then DENR Secretary
Antonio Cerilles, because during the incumbency of Director Ernesto Adobo, Jr., the Director of Lands was the
one (1) approving the issuance of deed of conveyance over friar lands pursuant to General Memorandum Order
No. 1, series of 1977"; 273 Exh. IX Certified photocopy of the original of Real Property Tax Bill Receipt No. GNo. 712650 issued to Felicitas Manahan in 1989 by the Office of the Treasurer of Quezon City for payment of
property tax covering Lot 823 for the year 1990-1991; 274 Exh. XII Certified photocopy of letter-reply dated
November 16, 1998 of Director Manuel D. Gerochi, LMB, to Felicitas Manahan stating that per verification of their
records, Lot 823 of Piedad Estate is not available in their file but which verification "must not be construed as a
confirmation that the said lot is still vacant or open for disposition/sale to any person as title thereto might have
already been obtained" and further advising that "a verification be made to the DENR-CENR Office and to the
Register of Deeds concerned to avoid any confusion as to the present status of the said lot"; 275 Exh. XIII
Certified copy of 1st Indorsement dated February 23, 1999 from Mamerto L. Infante, Regional Technical
Director, Lands Sector, DENR-NCR forwarding to the LMB Director "the only available records in our office of Lot
823, Fls-3164, Piedad Estate"; 276 Exh. XIV Certified photocopy of the 2nd Indorsement dated March 26,
1999 from Mamerto L. Infante, Regional Technical Director, Lands Sector, DENR-NCR to the Director of LMB
114

transmitting additional documents in connection with the investigation by Engr. Evelyn Celzo of Lot 823, Piedad
Estate; 277 Exh. XX Certified photocopy of the letter dated December 13, 2000 of Ernesto D. Adobo, Jr., OICDirector, LMB to the Register of Deeds of Quezon City, forwarding Deed of Conveyance No. V-200022 in the
name of Felicitas Manahan for registration and issuance of certificate of title to Felicitas Manahan covering Lot
823 of Piedad Estate; 278 Exh. XXII Certified true copy of truncated TCT No. 22813 issued by the Register of
Deeds, Province of Rizal with notation "Cancelled See TCT No. 634"; 279 Exh. XXIII Certified true copy of
TCT No. 634 dated September 17, 1946 which is offered to prove that TCT No. 634 is in the name of Enrique
Miguel, married to Rosario Tech and covers a land in Pasig with an area of 428 square meters; 280 Exh. XXIV
Original of Certification dated January 10, 2000 issued by Atty. Roberto B. Salcedo, Deputy Register of Deeds of
Rizal stating that "after a thorough verification from the files of this office, it appears that the document/s
leading to the issuance of TCT No. 22813, Book T-92 (Pre-War Title) can no longer be found from the files of
this office as of this date"; 281 Exh. XXX photocopy of 1st Indorsement dated August 23, 2006 of Marco A.
Castro, Acting Chief, LRA Land Projection Section referring to the Chief, Legal Division, LRA, Deed of Conveyance
No. V-200022 of Felicitas Manahan and TCT No. 210177, and stating that the deed of conveyance is covered by
Consulta No. 2282, and that "when said Deed of Conveyance was plotted in our Municipal Index Map thru its tie
line, was found to be previously plotted under TCT No. 372302, while TCT No. 210177 when plotted thru its tie
line falls outside Quezon City"; 282 Exh. XXXII photocopy of the Bureau of Lands' transmittal of Survey
Records (decentralizing of records) showing that Accession No. 410436 which the Barques claimed as the
accession number of their Fls-3168-D is in the name of Nicolas Apo, et al.; 283 Exh. XXXIII Original of the
letter dated October 3, 2005 of DENR-NCR OIC Regional Technical Director, Land Management Services
informing that copy of approved Fls-3168-D is not on file in the Technical Records Section, Land Management
Services, DENR-NCR, and what is on file is only a photocopy of Plan Fls-3168-D covering Lot 823 of the Piedad
Estate which is not a duly certified one (1); 284 Exh. XXXV Letter dated July 4, 2009 of Ignacio R. Almira, Jr.,
Chief, Regional Surveys Division stating that the Certifications dated June 8, 2009 and April 13, 2009 stating that
DENR-NCR has available record of Deed of Conveyance Record No. 4562 and Sale Certificate No. V-321 and no
available record of Sale Certificate No. 511 in the name of Valentin Manahan (assignor) and Hilaria de Guzman
(assignee) were not issued by the LMB and the signatures appearing thereon are not the signatures of Ignacio
R. Almira, Jr.; 285 Exh. XXXVI Letter dated June 22, 2009 of Engr. Fernando R. Verbo, OIC-Chief, Geodetic
Survey Division, LMB, to Atty. Manuel Abrogar, stating that Fls-3168-D is not listed in the EDP listing; 286 and
Exh. XXXVII Photocopy of Sale Certificate No. 511 dated June 24, 1913 offered as secondary evidence to
prove that Valentin Manahan was issued Sale Certificate No. 511 covering Lot 823 of the Piedad Estate on June
24, 1913.287
CA Findings
Examining the entire evidence on record, the CA found that none of the parties were able to prove a valid
alienation of Lot 823 of Piedad Estate from the government in accordance with the provisions of Act No.
1120 otherwise known as the "Friar Lands Act". Notably lacking in the deed of conveyance of the Manotoks is
the approval of the Secretary of Agriculture and Commerce as required by Section 18 of the said law. Upon close
scrutiny, the factual allegations and voluminous documentary exhibits relating to the purchase of Lot 823 by the
predecessors-in-interest of the claimants revealed badges of fraud and irregularity.

Manotoks' Claim
In our Resolution promulgated on December 18, 2008, the Court already made initial observations when we reevaluated the points raised against the Manotok title and found these to be serious enough, thus:
. . . The apparent flaws in the Manotoks' claim are considerable and disturbing enough. The Court, as the
ultimate citadel of justice and legitimacy, is a guardian of the integrity of the land registration system of the
Philippines. We will be derelict in our duty if we remain silent on the apparent defects of the Manotok title,
reflective as they are of a scourge this Court is dedicated to eliminate.

115

Many of these flaws have especially emerged through the petition-for-intervention of Felicitas and Rosendo
Manahan, whom we have allowed to intervene in these cases. The Manahans had filed a petition with the OSG
seeking that it initiate cancellation/reversion proceedings against the Manotok title. That petition was referred by
the OSG to the LMB of the DENR, which duly investigated the claim of the Manahans. The Chief of the Legal
Division of the LMB recommended that the appropriate proceedings be taken in the proper court for the
cancellation of the Manotok title, through a Memorandum dated 17 April 2000.
Around the same time, the LMB referred to the DENR Undersecretary for Legal Affairs Roseller S. dela Pea a
query on whether a deed of conveyance could be issued to Felicitas Manahan. The DENR Undersecretary, in
answering that query through a Memorandum dated 6 July 2000, pointed out that the titles of the Manotoks
could not have been derived from OCT No. 614, the mother title of Lot 823 of the Piedad Estate. The
chain of transfers leading from OCT No. 614 to the Manotok title was a TCT No. 22813, purportedly issued by
the Office of the Register of Deeds for the Province of Rizal. The copy of said TCT No. 22813 submitted to
the Court is truncated in the upper half, to the point that it is not visually discernible what year the
same was issued. More crucially, a certification was issued by the Register of Deeds of Rizal dated
7 January 2000 stating thus:
"After a thorough verification from the files of this Office, it appears that the documents leading to the issuance
of TCT No. 22813, Blk. T-92 cannot be found from the files of this Office." aDSHCc
These findings were twice verified with due diligence and reconfirmed by the DENR, according to Undersecretary
Dela Pea.
The DENR also requested the assistance of the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) in conducting the said
investigation. The NBI examined various sales certificates and assignment of sales certificates in the names of
the purported predecessors-in-interest of the Manotoks Regina Geronimo, Modesto Zacarias, and Felicisimo
Villanueva certificates that were all dated prior to 1930. In its Chemistry Report No. C-99-152 dated 10 June
1999, the Forensic Chemistry Division of the NBI concluded that the said documents "could not be as old as it
(sic) purports to be."
xxx xxx xxx
Also on record is an Investigation Report on Lot No. 823 of the Piedad Estate dated 5 July 1989, authored by
Evelyn C. dela Rosa, Land Investigator of the Community Environment and Natural Resources Office (CENRO),
NCR-North Sector and addressed to the CENRO Officer, North CENRO. It was narrated therein that Lot No. 823
had actually been in the possession of a Valentin Manahan beginning in 1908. In 1939, Valentin Manahan
applied for the purchase of the land, and he was issued Sales Certificate No. 511. The Investigation Report
stated:
"Records show that the Sale Certificate No. 511 covering Lot 823, Piedad Estate, was issued to Valentin
Manahan as purchaser and transferred to Hilaria de Guzman Manahan as (Assignee) and sold to Felicitas
Manahan by way of Deed of Absolute Sale dated August 23, 1974. Based on my research at the Land

Management Bureau (LMB), Central Office, it appears that original claimant of lot 823 was Valentin Manahan."
All told, these apparent problems with the Manotoks' claim dissuade us from being simply content in reflexively
dismissing the administrative petition for reconstitution filed by the Barques. Indeed, we have to take further
action. 288
But since the Court recognized there was yet no sufficient evidence to warrant the annulment of the Manotok
title, the case had to be remanded to the CA for further reception of evidence for the Manotoks, as well as the
Barques and Manahans, to prove a valid acquisition from the Government of Lot No. 823.
Evaluating the documentary and testimonial evidence adduced by the Manotoks, the CA concluded that they still
failed to establish a valid claim over Lot 823. It cited the finding of the NBI Forensic Chemistry Division that the
result of the chemical analysis of the documents of Assignment of Sale Certificate No. 1054 dated March 11,
116

1919, June 7, 1920, May 4, 1923 and April 19, 1930 executed by the original claimants of Lot 823 in favor of
Severino Manotok showed they were not really as old as they purport to be considering that (1) the handwritten
entries were found to be made in ballpoint pen and sign pen inks, which were not yet commercially available in
the Philippines until 1953 and 1965; and (2) the physical signs in the paper itself such as the uneven
discoloration, artificial tears on the edges to make the document appear much older, and other tell-tale marks on
the punch and staple wire holes. To contradict the findings of NBI Chemist Magsipoc, the Manotoks presented
Dr. Sorra of the PNP Crime Laboratory who testified that she examined the questioned documents of the
Manotoks and found them to be genuine and authentic. The CA, however, found Dr. Sorra's opinion of less
probative value as it was based merely on the physical appearance of the questioned documents, and she did
not subject these to chemical analysis or other more reliable procedures. 289
The most fatal defect stressed by the CA in its Commissioners' Report is the lack of signature of the Chief of the
Bureau of Public Lands (now Director of Lands) on Sale Certificate No. 1054 and approval by the Secretary of
Interior/Agriculture and Commerce on the Manotoks' Sale Certificate No. 1054 and Deed of Conveyance No.
29204, as required under Act No. 1120. For being null and void ab initio, Sale Certificate No. 1054 cannot thus
be the source of any legal right over Lot 823 and no valid transfer or assignment could have been made by the
original claimants in favor of Severino Manotok. The CA found that the Manotoks' documentary evidence even
showed a discrepancy since the Assignment of Sale Certificate No. 1054 marked as Exhs. 11, 12 and 13 showed
a signature at the dorsal portion above the printed words "Director of Lands", but such signature is absent in the
supposedly certified true copies obtained from the National Archives (Supplemental offer of Rebuttal Evidence,
Exhs. 142, 143 and 144). 290 As to Manotoks' longtime possession evidenced by tax declarations, tax receipts
and buildings constructed on the land as early as 1933, the CA considered these immaterial, the property being
friar land which forms part of the State's patrimonial property.

Barques' Claim
With the admission made by Teresita Barque-Hernandez that their Exh. 1 291 (certified true copy of Deed of
Conveyance Record No. 4562 with Sale Certificate No. V-321) is a fake and spurious document, no legal right
was acquired over Lot 823 by their predecessor-in-interest Emiliano Setosta who allegedly sold the lot to her
father, Homer L. Barque. The CA noted that on its face, this document dated May 6, 1937 is spurious
considering that while its heading indicated "Republic of the Philippines Department of Agriculture and
Commerce" and the consideration for the conveyance in Japanese war notes, it is of judicial notice that the
Republic of the Philippines was established only on July 4, 1946, and the identified owner of Piedad Estate
should be "Gobierno de las Islas Filipinas" as stated in OCT No. 614. Moreover, Teresita J. Reyes, whose name
appears in Exh. 1 as the officer who certified and verified the documents in the records of the LMB, denied that
the signature appearing above her printed name was her signature. 292
The Barques themselves realized their mistake in presenting Exh. l and so they submitted another document, a
photocopy of Deed of Conveyance No. 4562 dated January 25, 1938 (Exh. 44) with accompanying Certification
dated 14 March 1997 (Exh. 43) of Amando V. Bangayan, Chief, LMB-RMD stating that the only available record
on file with their office is the said Deed of Conveyance No. 4562 issued to Emiliano Setosta covering Lot 823 of
Piedad Estate, Caloocan, Rizal. 293 The CA, however, gave scant weight to the aforesaid documents,
particularly as the Deed of Conveyance No. 4562 lacks the approval of the Secretary of Agriculture and
Commerce, thus: DTAHEC
. . . The veracity of the certification is seriously contradicted by the reply letter of Atty. Fe Tuanda (Exhibit LVI,
Manahans) to the letter of Felicitas B. Manahan (Exhibit LV, Manahans). In her reply, Atty. Fe Tuanda, OIC,
Records Management Division, LMB categorically declared that ". . . please be informed that according to our
verification, this Office has no record/copy of the alleged Deed of Conveyance No. 4562 purportedly issued in the
name of EMILIANO P. SETOSTA supposedly covering a parcel of land identified as Lot No. 823, Piedad Estate,
Quezon City." Atty. Fe Tuanda further declared that "(F)urther verification of our records shows that the Deed of

Conveyance No. V-4562 was issued on June 28, 1955 in favor of PAULINO BIGALBAL covering a parcel of land
situated in Naic, Cavite identified as Lot No. 1540-N, Naic Friar Land Estate containing an area of 1.1396
117

hectares, and the same was transmitted to the Register of Deeds of Cavite on July 13, 1955." In his Judicial
Affidavit dated July 17, 2009, former DENR Undersecretary Roseller de la Pea declared that Deed of
Conveyance Record No. 4562 and Sales Certificate No. V-321 are not in the records of the LMB and DENR. Also,
DENR-NCR Land Investigator Evelyn G. Celzo, declared in her Judicial Affidavit dated July 15, 2009, that she
made a thorough research in the files of the Central Office of the LMB but did not find Sales Certificate No. V321 and a Deed of Conveyance in the name of Emiliano Setosta. With the foregoing evidence seriously
controverting the veracity of Exhibit 43, the BARQUES should have presented Amando Bangayan as a witness in
Court to confirm the veracity of her certification. The accuracy of the certification should be confirmed by
Amando Bangayan on the witness stand wherein the other parties would be given the opportunity to crossexamine him on the veracity of his certification. Also, it must be pointed out that the attachment to Exhibit 43
marked and offered as Exhibit 44 is a mere photocopy of the so-called "DEED No. 4562" which has no probative
value. The Barques has not accounted for the original copy for them to be allowed to present a photocopy as
secondary evidence. Curiously, Exhibit 44 refers to a photocopy of "DEED NO. 4562" which also appeared as
"Deed No. 4562" in the left upper portion of the spurious document pre-marked as Exhibit 1 for the Barques and
offered as Exhibit XLI for the Manahans. At any rate, even if Exhibit 44 will be considered as a secondary

evidence, the same is null and void ab initio for the same lacks the approval of the Secretary of Agriculture and
Commerce as explicitly required by law. . . . 294 (Italics supplied.)
Aside from the absence of a valid deed of conveyance and/or sale certificate in the name of the Barques'
predecessor-in-interest, Emiliano Setosta, the basis for the issuance of TCT No. 210177 in the name of Homer L.
Barque is further put seriously in doubt in view of the Barques' failure to prove the existence of Subdivision Plan
Fls-3168-D duly authenticated by the Geodetic Surveys Division, LMB National Office. TCT No. 210177,
purportedly a transfer from TCT No. 13900 295 which title until now the Barques said they could no longer
find a copy despite diligent search is itself questionable, considering that TCT No. 13900 was not issued in the
name of Emiliano Setosta but Manotok Realty, Inc. 296 We recall that the evidence of the Barques in support of
their claim over Lot 823 was found by this Court to be "exceedingly weak", but which nonetheless was
erroneously accorded credence by the First Division in its December 12, 2005 Decision. We quote from our
Resolution dated December 18, 2008:
The Barque title, or TCT No. 210177, under which the Barques assert title to Lot 823 of the Piedad Estate, states
that it was transferred from TCT No. 13900. The Barques assert that they bought the subject property from a
certain Setosta. Thus, it could be deduced that TCT No. 13900 should have been registered under the name of
Setosta. However, it was not. TCT No. 13900 was registered under the name of Manotok Realty, Inc. This
detracts from the Barques' claim that the Manotoks do not have title to the property, as in fact the Barque title
was a transfer from a title registered under the name of the Manotoks. The Barques have failed to explain the
anomaly.
The Barques hinge their claim on a purported subdivision plan, FLS-3168-D, made in favor of Setosta. However,
based on the records, it appears that there is a conflict as to its actual existence in the files of the government.
Revelatory is the exchange of correspondence between the LMB and the LRA. The LMB did not have any copy of
FLS-3168-D in the EDP listing, nor did the LMB have a record of the plan. However, a microfilm copy of FLS3168-D was on file in the Technical Records and Statistical Section of the Department of Environment and
Natural Resources National Capital Region (DENR-NCR). The copy with the Technical Records and

Statistical Section, which bore the stamp of the LMB, was denied by the LMB as having emanated from its office.
Further, the letter dated 2 January 1997 from the LMB stated that the copy of FLS-3168-D as verified from its
microfilm file was the same as the copy sent by the Technical Records and Statistics Section of the National
Capital Region Lands Management Sector. The LMB, however, denied issuing such letter and stated that it was a
forged document. To amplify the forged nature of the document, the LMB sent a detailed explanation to prove
that it did not come from its office. In a letter to the administrator of the LRA, the hearing officer concluded that
"it is evident that there is an attempt to mislead us into favorable action by submitting forged documents, hence
it is recommended that this case [be] referred to the PARAC for investigation and filing of charges against
perpetrators as envisioned by this office under your administration."
118

There are significant differences between the technical description of Lot 823 of the Piedad Estate as stated in
FLS-3168-D, the subdivision plan relied on by the Barques, and the technical description provided by the DENR. .
..
xxx xxx xxx
The Barques offered no credible explanation for the discrepancy. . . They also do not contradict the finding of
the National Archives that there is no copy in its files of the deed of sale allegedly executed between Setosta and

Barque. ScTIAH
Lastly, in the 1st Indorsement issued by the Land Projection Section of the LRA dated 23 August 2006, that
Section stated that upon examination it was found out thatthe land as described in the Barque title "when
plotted thru its tie line falls outside Quezon City." This is material, since Lot 823 of the Piedad Estate is within the
boundaries of Quezon City. A similar finding was made by the Land Management Bureau (LMB). It attested that
the line or directional azimuth of Lot No. 823 per the Barque title locates it at 5,889 meters away from point 1 of
Lot No. 823 of the Piedad Estate.
These discrepancies highlight the error of the LRA and the Court of Appeals in acknowledging the right of the
Barques to seek reconstitution of their purported Barque title. Even assuming that the petition for reconstitution
should not have been dismissed due to the Manotok title, it is apparent that the Barques' claim of ownership is
exceedingly weak. 297
The Barques' Exh. 6, Fls-3168-D dated June 21, 1940, contained a certification dated September 23, 1996
prepared by Romy A. Felipe that it is allegedly "the Microfilm enlargement of Fls-3168-D" with the signatures of
Privadi J.G. Dalire and Carmelito Soriano. 298 However, Engr. Dalire, who served as Chief of the Geodetic
Surveys Division of the LMB, DENR from 1988 to 1998, had earlier prepared a Report 299 and also executed an
Affidavit dated November 18, 2006 300 setting forth the exchange of correspondence with the LRA relative to
Fls-3168-D, and attesting that after having scrutinized all records while he was still Chief of the Geodetic Surveys
Division, he found that no such Fls-3168-D exists. The pertinent portions of Engr. Dalire's affidavit stated:
xxx xxx xxx
Sometime in October 1996, when I was still Chief of the Geodetic Surveys Division of the LMB, I received a letter
requesting a certified true copy of Subdivision Plan Fls-3168-D ("Fls-3168-D") in connection with the
examination/verification of a petition for administrative reconstitution of TCT No. 210177 allegedly registered in
the name of Homer L. Barque, Sr.
The letter came from Atty. Benjamin M. Bustos, who was then the Reconstituting Officer and Chief of the
Reconstitution Division of the Land Registration Authority ("LRA").
A copy of Atty. Bustos's October 29, 2006 letter is attached as Annex A.
2.In my reply, I informed Atty. Bustos that the LMB has no record of Fls-3168-D.
A copy of my November 7, 1996 reply-letter is attached as Annex B.
Atty. Bustos later wrote me again, seeking clarification as to why the Land Management Services, DENR-National
Capital Region ("LMS-DENR-NCR") apparently had a microfilm copy of Fls-3168-D while the LMB does not have a
record of the same. ScAHTI
Atty. Bustos' letter (dated December 2, 1996) is attached as Annex C.
I then wrote the Regional Technical Director of the LMS-DENR-NCR, stating that the LMB had no record of Fls3168-D and requesting a copy of the alleged Fls-3168-D on file with the LMS-DENR-NCR for LMB's evaluation.
A copy of my letter (dated December 5, 1996) to the LMS-DENR-NCR is attached as Annex D.
119

3.LMS-DENR-NCR did not respond to my letter, Annex D, so I wrote them again on January 5, 1997 repeating
my request for a copy of their alleged Fls-3168-D.
A copy of the letter dated January 5, 1997 is attached as Annex E.
4.On January 31, 1997, I wrote the LRA Administrator stating that despite repeated requests, LMS-DENR-NCR
had not furnished the LMB a copy of Fls-3168-D which had been alleged to be in their files.
In the same letter, I advised the LRA Administrator that, based on the LMB's examination of the machine copy of

Fls-3168-D (which was attached to Atty. Bustos' letter of December 2, 1996), "it is certain that the source of the
copy [of Fls-3168-D] is a spurious plan which may have been inserted in the file[s]." I also stated that "until this
writing, NCR [referring to LMS-DENR-NCR] has not sent to us the copy [of Fls-3168-D] for authentication as
required by DENR Administrative Order." I likewise confirmed that the copy of Fls-3168-D, which I received from
Atty. Bustos, did not emanate from the LMB for the following reasons:
"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 __________'. aAHTDS
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."
A copy of my letter dated January 31, 1997 is attached as Annex F.
5.On February 13, 1997, I received a letter from Atty. Bustos, requesting that I authenticate an enclosed letter
dated January 2, 1997, purporting to have been written by me to him.
The January 2, 1997 "letter" states that LMS-DENR-NCR has forwarded a copy of Fls-3168-D to the LMB and that
this copy is identical with that contained in the LMB's microfilm records.
Copies of Atty. Bustos' letter dated January 28, 1997 and my alleged letter of January 2, 1997 are attached as
Annexes G and H, respectively.

I replied to Atty. Bustos, reiterating that Fls-3168-D does not exist in the files of LMB. I also stressed that the
letter dated January 2, 1997, which I allegedly wrote, is a forged document. I stated that LMS-DENR-NCR had
not forwarded any copy of Fls-3168-D to the LMB.
A copy of my letter (dated February 13, 1997) is attached as Annex I.
6.On February 19, 1997, I again wrote Atty. Bustos, reiterating that I did not prepare or issue the letter dated
January 2, 1997. I also explained that the copy of Fls-3168-D, which was attached to Atty. Bustos' December 2,
1996 letter, did not emanate from the LMB for the following reasons:
120

"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; HcISTE
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."
A copy of my February 19, 1997 letter to Atty. Bustos is attached as Annex J.
7.I hereby affirm under oath that I did not prepare, write, sign and/or send the January 2, 1997 letter to Atty.
Bustos. The signature appearing in that letter is not my signature. I also confirm that the LMB did not, and until
now does not, have any copy of Fls-3168-D, and that any representation purporting to produce a copy of it from
the LMB files is false.
8.The LMB's Geodetic Surveys Division is the depositary of vital records containing information on survey plans.
These records consist of, inter alia, (1) the Logbooks for Psu, Psd, Fls, and survey plans containing the survey
number, the location, the surveyor, the condition of all plans salvaged after World War II; (2) the Locator Card
prepared for each plan contained in the Logbooks (The Locator Card indicates the location of the land, the
Survey Number and the Accession Number. The Accession Number stamped on the Locator Card is also stamped
on the survey plan before microfilming so that authentic microfilm copies of plans should indicate an Accession
Number); (3) the Microfilms of microfilmed survey plans; and (4) the EDP Listing of plans which were salvaged,
inventoried, accession numbered and microfilmed (The EDP listing was made before the decentralization of the
survey plans to the various offices of the LMS. Hence, if a particular survey plan is not included in the EDP

Listing, it simply means that no such plan was decentralized/forwarded to the LMS.)
9.All these records, which I have thoroughly scrutinized while I was Chief of the Geodetic Surveys Division,
revealed that no such Fls-3168-D exists. The Logbook of Fls surveys, more specifically page 351 thereof
(attached as Annex K), shows that the portion for Fls-3168-D was left blank. This simply means no Fls-3168-D
was salvaged, inventoried and microfilmed by the LMB after World War II. Consequently, no such Fls-3168-D

could have been decentralized/forwarded by the LMB to LMS-DENR-NCR and therefore, it is impossible for LMSDENR-NCR to have a microfilmed copy thereof. Moreover, the deck of Locator Cards does not contain a Locator
Card pertaining to Fls-3168-D. Again, this shows that Fls-3168-D was not salvaged after World War II. It should
be emphasized that the Locator Card indicates the Accession Number for a particular survey plan so that without
the Locator Card, the roll of microfilm containing the survey plan cannot be located.
10.Previously, I prepared a report which discusses in greater detail why the LMB and the LMS-DENR-NCR did not
have, and until now could not have, any genuine microfilm copy or any other genuine copy of Fls-3168-D. A
copy of this report is attached as Annex L and forms an integral part of this affidavit. I hereby confirm the
truthfulness of the contents of the report.
xxx xxx xxx 301
As pointed out by Engr. Dalire, the forwarding of the copy of Fls-3168-D to their office for validation is
mandatory under DENR Administrative Order No. 49, series of 1991, and for the repeated failure of LMS-DENR121

NCR to comply with the request of Engr. Dalire to forward to the Geodetic Surveys Division their purported copy
of Fls-3168-D, the inescapable conclusion is that said plan is spurious and void. 302 cSDIHT
To cure this anomaly, the Barques presented before the CA another purported copy of Fls-3168-D containing an
alleged certification of more recent date (Exhs. 3 and 4303 ). But still, the CA found no probative value in their
additional evidence, further noting that the Barques, since their filing of a petition for administrative
reconstitution on October 22, 1996, have failed to submit an authenticated and validated copy of Fls-3168-D.
Also, in a desperate attempt to cure the absence of a certified true copy of Subdivision Plan Fls-3168-D validated
by the Chief of the Geodetic Surveys Division, the BARQUES offered as their Exhibits 3 and 4 an alleged copy of
Subdivision Plan Fls-3168-D covering Lot 823 of the Piedad Estate, allegedly surveyed on June 21, 1940 by
Deputy Public Land Surveyor Tomas Colmenar and approved on January 30, 1941 by the Director of Lands Jose
P. Dans, purportedly authenticated on June 8, 2009 by Ignacio G. Almira, Chief, Regional Surveys Division. A

visual comparison of Exhibits 3 and 4 will readily show that both are reproduction of the same Subdivision
Plan.Although, it appears to be an exact reproduction of the same Subdivision Plan, nonetheless, it is perplexing
to note the existence of different notations on the same Subdivision Plan.
In Exhibit 4, below the stamp "FOR OFFICIAL USE", marked as Exhibit 4-A, is the date June 8, 2009 and the
"VALIDATION DENR A.O. NO. 49, 1991" and above the signature over the same "Ignacio G. Almira" is the
notation which reads:
"This print copy of FLS-3168-D is cross-checked with other records and the microfilm of the original and it is
found the same."
Exhibit "3", on the other hand, below the stamp "FOR OFFICIAL USE", marked as Exhibit "3-A" is the
"CERTIFICATION" which reads:
"This is to certify that this is a true and correct reproduction of plan Fls-3168-D(W P),
Claimant:Emiliano Setosta
Location:Caloocan City
Area/Nos.:342945 sq.m.
Requested by:Castor Viernes
Address:55 Quirino Hi Way Talipapa, Novaliches, Q. City
Purpose:Reference
Date issued:10-13-98
O.R.# 6437394-A
(Sgd.)
Prepared by: Norma C. trs
(Sgd.)
MAMERTO L. INFANTE
OIC, Regional Technical Director"
Under it, marked as Exhibit 3-B, are the following notations, "AUTHENTICATE" June 8, 2009: ADTEaI
"Sir:
According to the verification of FLS-3168-D, situated in Caloocan City dated October 13, 1998. Has available
record and files, to National Capital Region. Signing(sic) of Engr. Mamerto L. Infante

122

(Sgd.)
IGNACIO G. ALMIRA
Chief, Regional Surveys Division"
The mere existence of different notations on the same Subdivision Plan creates serious doubt on the existence
and veracity of the said Subdivision Plan. On record, from the testimonies of Teresita Barque Hernandez and
Engr. Castor Viernes, no explanation was offered in their Judicial Affidavits and when they testified in Court on
the above divergent notations on the same Subdivision Plan. As such, without an acceptable explanation, the

only logical conclusion is that the different notations on the same Subdivision Plan was a result of tampering of
documents. This is so because common experience will tell us that if one and the same document is reproduced
several times, even a million times, it would still reflect or replicate the same notations. Certainly, the tampering
of documents not only affect the probative value thereof, but also subject the malefactor to criminal liability.
xxx xxx xxx 304
The CA observed that the Barques should have presented Mamerto L. Infante and Ignacio G. Almira to identify
their signatures on Exhs. 3 and 4. Such failure on their part to present said witnesses, according to the appellate
court, could be considered eloquent evidence of the absence of Fls-3168-D in the name of Emiliano Setosta duly
approved by the Director of Lands and authenticated by the Chief of the Geodetic Surveys Division of the LMB.
Lastly, the CA cited the following letter-reply dated 03 October 2005 of Samson G. De Leon, OIC Regional
Technical Director, LMS-DENR-NCR addressed to Felicitas B. Manahan (Exh. XXXIII), categorically denying that a
copy of approved plan Fls-3168-D exists in their files, thus:
This pertains to your letter dated 22 September 2005 requesting for a duly certified copy of the original
approved plan Fls-3168-D which, as per letter dated 08 August 2005 of the Regional Technical Director for Land
Management Services, Atty. Crizaldy M. Barcelo was verified to be on file in the Technical Records Section, Land
Management Sector of the DENR-National Capital Region.
In connection thereto, may we inform you that, contrary to the claim of Atty. Crizaldy M. Barcelo in his letter of
08 August 2005, copy of approved plan Fls-3168-D is not on-file in Technical Records Section, Land Management
Services, DENR-NCR. At present, what is on file is ONLY a PHOTOCOPY of Plan Fls-3168-D covering Lot
823, Piedad Estate which is not a duly certified one.
In addition, Lot 823, Piedad Estate is covered by approved plans Sp-00-000360 and Sp-00-000779 are likewise
on-file in the Technical Records Section, Land Surveys Division, certified on 28 November 2000 by then Chief,
Regional Surveys Division and on 04 June 2005 by then Regional Technical Director for Lands Management
Services, NCR, Atty. Crizaldy M. Barcelo, respectively. Further, verification revealed that there is no
record of receipt of the original copy of plan Fls-3168-D. In view thereof, we regret to inform you that
your request cannot be granted.
xxx xxx xxx 305 (Emphasis supplied.) DEICaA
The Barques' claim being anchored on a spurious, fake and non-existent sale certificate or deed of conveyance,
the CA concluded that no valid transfer or assignment can be used by them as basis for the reconstitution of title
over the subject lot. And in the absence of a duly approved subdivision plan, the Barques' title, TCT No. 210177,
is also null and void.

Manahans' Claim
From the existing records in the DENR and LMB, it appears that the original claimant/applicant over Lot 823 of
Piedad Estate was Valentin Manahan who supposedly had the lot surveyed on November 10, 1938, with the plan
designated as Fls-3164 approved by the Director of Lands on December 13, 1939, and Sale Certificate No. 511 in
the name of Valentin Manahan subsequently issued. However, the CA seriously doubted the existence of Sale
Certificate No. 511, as well as the veracity of their claim of actual possession before armed men allegedly barred
their caretakers from the premises in the 1950s, thus:
123

. . . There is no competent evidence showing that Felicitas Manahan and/or her predecessor-in-interest have
ever been in actual possession of the subject lot. The Investigation Report of Land Investigator Evelyn de la
Rosa (Evelyn G. Celzo) that Valentin Manahan, as a farmer, took possession of the subject lot in 1908 is not
supported by credible evidence. Evelyn de la Rosa conducted the ocular inspection only on May 15, 1989 and her
Investigation Report dated July 5, 1989 (Exhibit XV, Manahan) did not mention nor identify the person who
allegedly gave her the above information when she conducted an ocular inspection of the subject lot. A closer
examination of her Investigation Report narrating specific events in 1948 like the lingering illness of Lucio
Manahan who died in 1955 and the alleged reports of caretakers of heavily armed men taking the subject lot by
force are tell-tale evidence of a scripted report of Land Investigator Evelyn de la Rosa. Indubitably, the
Investigation Report is dovetailed to portray actual possession of the predecessor-in-interest of Felicitas
Manahan. It is no coincidence that the Investigation Report is practically a replica or summation of Felicitas
Manahan's allegations embodied in her petition (Exhibit "1", Manahans, Rollo, pp. 991-995) for
cancellation/reversion of TCT No. RT-22481 in the name of Severino Manotok she filed before the OSG and
forwarded to the LMB. cEaSHC
xxx xxx xxx
. . . the claim of actual possession in 1908 up to about 1948 when allegedly armed men forcibly wrested
possession from the caretakers of Lucio Manahan is negated by the absence of tax declarations and receipts
showing that the MANAHANS who claimed to be owners of the subject lot declared the subject lot for taxation
and paid the real property tax during the said period. One who claim to be the owner of a parcel of land should
declare it and pay the corresponding real property tax. Possession of a tax declaration and payment of real
property tax will certainly bolster the claim of possession and ownership over a parcel of land. No evidence was

even formally offered by the MANAHANS showing that they declared the subject lot for taxation purposes in
1948. The only documentary evidence offered by the MANAHANS is Real Property Tax Bill Receipt No. 712650
(Exhibit IX, Manahans) showing payment of real property tax only for the taxable year 1990-1991 in the sum of
P102,319.22. On the other hand, Severino Manotok declared the subject lot for taxation, as shown in various tax
declarations (Exhibits 26-A to 26-N, Manotoks), the earliest of which was dated July 28, 1933 per Tax
Declaration No. 12265 (Exhibit 26, Manotoks) and paid the real property tax as evidenced by tax bill receipts
(Exhibits 27 to 27-KKKKKKK, Manotoks). Thirdly, the Court entertains serious doubt on the existence of "Sale
Certificate No. 511" allegedly issued to Valentin Manahan after paying the purchase price of P2,140.00 stated in
the Investigation Report of Evelyn de la Rosa. Although, Sale Certificate No. 511 was mentioned as one of the
documents attached to the Investigation Report, nonetheless, no certified copy of Sale Certificate No. 511 issued
to Valentin Manahan was presented and formally offered as evidence in Court. As a matter of fact, Sale
Certificate No. 511 was not among the documents secured from the LMB and DENR by the OSG and formally
offered as evidence in Court. Also, Rosendo Manahan declared in Court that he tried on several occasions, after
reading the Investigation Report, to secure a certified true copy of Sale Certificate No. 511, but despite a
thorough search for the said document, no original or certified true copy is on file in the records of the LMB and
DENR (TSN, November 19, 2009, pp. 25-26). Sans a copy of Sale Certificate No. 511 in the files of the LMB and

DENR, it is quite perplexing to note where and how Hilaria de Guzman secured a photocopy of Sale Certificate
No. 511 dated June 24, 1913 (Exhibit XXXVII, Manahans). No explanation was offered by Felicitas Manahan and
Rosendo Manahan when they testified in Court. Therefore, We cannot accord probative value on the said
photocopy of Sale Certificate No. 511 dated June 24, 1913 as secondary evidence for the simple reason that it is
of questionable existence and of dubious origin. . . . 306 (Italics supplied.)
The CA thus assailed the adoption by Attys. Rogelio Mandar and Manuel Tacorda of the unsubstantiated findings
of Evelyn dela Rosa regarding the claim of the Manahans in their Memorandum dated April 3,
2000 307 addressed to the Chief of the Legal Division Alberto R. Recalde, who in turn adopted the same
unsupported findings in his Memorandum dated April 17, 2000 308 addressed to the LMB OIC-Director. On the
basis of Memorandum dated July 6, 2000 309 issued by then DENR Undersecretary Roseller de la Pea, who
also relied on the Investigation Report of Evelyn dela Rosa, LMB OIC-Director Ernesto Adobo, Jr. issued an Order
124

dated October 16, 2000 310 for the issuance of Deed of Conveyance No. V-200022 dated October 30, 2000 in
favor of Felicitas Manahan. 311
As to the Deed of Conveyance No. V-200022 dated October 30, 2000, the CA held that its validity cannot be
sustained considering that it lacked the approval of the Secretary of Agriculture and Natural Resources (now
Secretary of Environment and Natural Resources) and was signed only by LMB OIC-Director Ernesto Adobo, Jr.
In any event, according to the appellate court, Sale Certificate No. 511 in the name of Valentin Manahan would
be considered stale at the time of issuance of Deed of Conveyance No. V-200022 as more than eighty six (86)
years had passed from the execution of Assignment of Sale Certificate No. 511 dated June 24, 1939. Clearly,
OIC-Director Ernesto Adobo, Jr. committed grave abuse of discretion in issuing said deed of conveyance. EcSaHA
As to DENR Memorandum Order No. 16-05 issued by then Secretary Michael T. Defensor, the CA ruled that the
Manahans, just like the Manotoks, may not invoke it to cure the lack of approval by the Secretary of Agriculture
and Commerce in their respective sale certificate/deed of conveyance, the same being inconsistent with Act No.
1120.
The Court's Ruling
The core issue presented is whether the absence of approval of the Secretary of the Interior/Agriculture and
Natural Resources in Sale Certificate No. 1054 and Deed of Conveyance No. 29204 warrants the annulment of
the Manotok title.
From the proceedings in the CA, it was established that while records of the DENR-LMB indicate the original
claimant/applicant of Lot 823 as a certain Valentin Manahan, only the Manotoks were able to produce a sale
certificate in the name of their predecessors-in-interest, certified by the LMB Records Management Division (Exh.
10). In addition, the Manotoks submitted photocopies of original documents entitled Assignment of Sale
Certificate dated March 11, 1919, June 7, 1920 and May 4, 1923 (Exhs. 11, 12 and 13). On the other hand, only
two (2) of these documents were submitted by the OSG certified as available in the files of LMB: Assignment of
Sale Certificate dated March 11, 1919 and May 4, 1923 (Exhs. 33 and 34-OSG-LMB). IaCHTS
Sale Certificate No. 1054 dated March 10, 1919 (Exh. 10) was not signed by the Director of Lands nor approved
by the Secretary of the Interior. Exhibits 33 and 34-OSG-LMB contained only the signature of the Director of
Lands. The Manotoks belatedly secured from the National Archives a certified copy of Deed of Conveyance No.
29204 dated December 7, 1932 (Exh. 51-A) which likewise lacks the approval of the Secretary of Agriculture and
Natural Resources as it was signed only by the Director of Lands.
Section 18 of Act No. 1120 provides:
SECTION 18.No lease or sale made by Chief of the Bureau of Public Lands under the provisions of this Act shall
be valid until approved by the Secretary of the Interior. (Emphasis supplied.)
It is clear from the foregoing provision that the sale of friar lands shall be valid only if approved by the Secretary
of the Interior (later the Secretary of Agriculture and Commerce). In Solid State Multi-Products Corporation v.
Court of Appeals, 312 this Court categorically declared that the approval by the Secretary of Agriculture and
Commerce is indispensable for the validity of the sale of friar lands. This was reiterated in Liao v. Court of
Appeals, 313 where sales certificates issued by the Director of Lands in 1913 were held to be void in the
absence of approval by the Secretary of Agriculture and Natural Resources.
In their Memorandum, the Manotoks pointed out that their photocopy of the original Deed of Conveyance No.
29204 (Exh. 51-A), sourced from the National Archives, shows on the second page a poorly imprinted
typewritten name over the words "Secretary of Agriculture and Natural Resources", which name is illegible, and
above it an even more poorly imprinted impression of what may be a stamp of the Secretary's approval.
Considering that the particular copy of said deed of conveyance on which the transfer certificate of title was
issued by the Register of Deeds in the name of the buyer Severino Manotok is required by law to be filed with
and retained in the custody of the Register of Deeds in accordance with Sec. 56 of Act No. 496 and Sec. 56
125

of P.D. No. 1529, the Manotoks contend that "we can assume that the Manotok deed of conveyance was in fact
approved by the Department Secretary because the register of deeds did issue TCT No. 22813 in the name of
the buyer Severino Manotok." It is also argued that since the Bureau of Lands was required by law to transmit
the deed of conveyance directly to the Register of Deeds, said office is legally presumed to have observed the
law's requirements for issuing that deed. The presumption of regularity therefore stands as uncontradicted
proof, in this case, that "all . . . requirements for the issuance of" that deed of conveyance had been obeyed. In
any event, the Manotoks assert that even if we were to ignore the presumption of validity in the performance of
official duty, Department Memorandum Order No. 16-05 issued on October 27, 2005 by then DENR Secretary
Michael T. Defensor, supplies the omission of approval by the Secretary of Agriculture and Natural Resources in
deeds of conveyances over friar lands. EcHIAC
These arguments fail.
Applying the rule laid down in Solid State Multi-Products Corporation v. Court of Appeals and Liao v. Court of
Appeals, we held in Alonso v. Cebu Country Club, Inc., 314that the absence of approval by the Secretary of
Agriculture and Commerce in the sale certificate and assignment of sale certificate made the sale null and void
ab initio.Necessarily, there can be no valid titles issued on the basis of such sale or assignment. The Manotoks'
reliance on the presumption of regularity in the statutorily prescribed transmittal by the Bureau of Lands to the
Register of Deeds of their deed of conveyance is untenable. In our Resolution 315 denying the motion for
reconsideration filed by petitioners in Alonso v. Cebu Country Club, Inc., we underscored
the mandatory requirement in Section 18, as follows:
Section 18 of Act No. 1120 or the Friar Lands Act unequivocally provides: "No lease or sale made by the Chief of
the Bureau of Public Lands (now the Director of Lands) under the provisions of this Act shall be valid until
approved by the Secretary of the Interior (now, the Secretary of Natural Resources). Thus, petitioners' claim of
ownership must fail in the absence of positive evidence showing the approval of the Secretary of
Interior. Approval of the Secretary of the Interior cannot simply be presumed or inferred from
certain acts since the law is explicit in its mandate. This is the settled rule as enunciated in Solid State
Multi-Products Corporation vs. Court of Appeals and reiterated in Liao vs. Court of Appeals. Petitioners have not
offered any cogent reason that would justify a deviation from this rule.
xxx xxx xxx 316
DENR Memorandum Order No. 16, 317 invoked by both the Manotoks and the Manahans, states:
WHEREAS, it appears that there are uncertainties in the title of the land disposed of by the Government under
Act 1120 or the Friar Lands Act due to the lack of the signature of the Secretary on the Deeds of Conveyance;
WHEREAS, said Deeds of Conveyance were only issued by the then Bureau of Lands (now the Land Management
Bureau) after full payment had been made by the applicants thereon subject to the approval of the Secretary of
the then Department of Interior, then Department of Agriculture and Natural Resources, and presently the
Department of Environment and Natural Resources, in accordance with Act 1120;
WHEREAS, some of these Deeds of Conveyance on record in the field offices of the Department and the Land
Management Bureau do not bear the signature of the Secretary despite full payment by the friar land applicant
as can be gleaned in the Friar Lands Registry Book;
WHEREAS, it is only a ministerial duty on the part of the Secretary to sign the Deed of Conveyance once the
applicant had already made full payment on the purchase price of the land; HSDaTC
WHEREFORE, for and in consideration of the above premises, and in order to remove all clouds of doubt
regarding the validity of these instruments, it is hereby declared that all Deeds of Conveyance that do
not bear the signature of the Secretary are deemed signed or otherwise ratified by this
Memorandum Order, provided, however, that full payment of the purchase price of the land and compliance
126

with all the other requirements for the issuance of the Deed of Conveyance under Act 1120 have been
accomplished by the applicant;
This Memorandum Order, however, does not modify, alter or otherwise affect any subsequent assignments,
transfers and/or transactions made by the applicant or his successors-in-interest or any rights arising therefrom
after the issuance of a Transfer Certificate of Title by the concerned Registry of Deeds.
The CA opined that the Manotoks cannot benefit from the above department issuance because it makes
reference only to those deeds of conveyance on file with the records of the DENR field offices. The Manotoks'
copy of the alleged Deed of Conveyance No. 29204 issued in 1932, was sourced from the National Archives.
Apparently, for the Manotoks, Memorandum Order No. 16 provides the remedy for an inequitable situation
where a deed of conveyance "unsigned" by the Department Secretary could defeat their right to the subject
lot after having fully paid for it. They point out that the Friar Lands Act itself states that the Government ceases
reservation of its title once the buyer had fully paid the price.
The first paragraph of Section 15 states:
SECTION 15.The Government hereby reserves the title to each and every parcel of land sold under the
provisions of this Act until the full payment of all installments or purchase money and interest by the
purchaser has been made, and any sale or encumbrance made by him shall be invalid as against the
Government of the Philippine Islands and shall be in all respects subordinate to its prior claim.
xxx xxx xxx (Emphasis supplied.)
Indeed, in the early case of Director of Lands v. Rizal, 318 this Court ruled that in the sale of friar lands
under Act No. 1120, "the purchaser, even before the payment of the full price and before the execution of the
final deed of conveyance is considered by the law as the actual owner of the lot purchased, under obligation to
pay in full the purchase price, the role or position of the Government being that of a mere lien holder or
mortgagee." Subsequently, in Pugeda v. Trias, 319 we declared that "the conveyance executed in favor of a
buyer or purchaser, or the so-called certificate of sale, is a conveyance of the ownership of the property,
subject only to the resolutory condition that the sale may be cancelled if the price agreed upon is not paid for in
full.
In Dela Torre v. Court of Appeals, 320 we held: SICaDA
This is well-supported in jurisprudence, which has consistently held that under Act No. 1120, the equitable
and beneficial title to the land passes to the purchaser the moment the first installment is paid and
a certificate of sale is issued. Furthermore, when the purchaser finally pays the final installment on the
purchase price and is given a deed of conveyance and a certificate of title, the title, at least in equity, retroacts
to the time he first occupied the land, paid the first installment and was issued the corresponding certificate of
sale.
All told, notwithstanding the failure of the government to issue the proper instrument of
conveyance in favor of Mamerto or his heirs, the latter still acquired ownership over the subject
land. 321 (Emphasis supplied.)
Clearly, it is the execution of the contract to sell and delivery of the certificate of sale that vests title and
ownership to the purchaser of friar land. 322 Such certificate of sale must, of course, be signed by the Secretary
of Agriculture and Natural Resources, as evident from Sections 11, 12 and the second paragraph of Section 15,
in relation to Section 18, of Act No. 1120:
SECTION 11.Should any person who is the actual and bona fide settler upon, and occupant of, any portion of
said lands at the time the same is conveyed to the Government of the Philippine Islands desire to purchase the
land so occupied by him, he shall be entitled to do so at the actual cost thereof to the Government, and shall be

127

granted fifteen years from the date of the purchase in which to pay for the same in equal annual installments,
should he so desire paying interest at the rate of four per centum per annum on all deferred payments.
. . . The terms of purchase shall be agreed upon between the purchaser and the Director of
Lands, subject to the approval of the Secretary of Agriculture and Natural Resources.
SECTION 12.. . . When the cost thereof shall have been thus ascertained, the Chief of the Bureau of Public
Lands shall give the said settler and occupant a certificate which shall set forth in detail that the
Government has agreed to sell to such settler and occupant the amount of land so held by him, at
the price so fixed, payable as provided in this Act . . . and that upon the payment of the final installment
together with all accrued interest the Government will convey to such settler and occupant the said land so held
by him by proper instrument of conveyance, which shall be issued and become effective in the manner provided
in section one hundred and twenty-two of the Land Registration Act. . . .
SECTION 15.. . .
The right of possession and purchase acquired by certificates of sale signed under the provisions
hereof by purchasers of friar lands, pending final payment and the issuance of title, shall be considered as
personal property for the purposes of serving as security for mortgages, and shall be considered as such in
judicial proceedings relative to such security. (Emphasis supplied.) TSaEcH
In the light of the foregoing, we hold that the Manotoks could not have acquired ownership of the subject lot as
they had no valid certificate of sale issued to them by the Government in the first place. Sale Certificate No.
1054 dated March 10, 1919 (Exh. 10) purportedly on file with the DENR-LMB, conspicuously lacks the signature
of the Director of Lands and the Secretary of Agriculture and Natural Resources. In fact, Exh. 10 was not
included among those official documents submitted by the OSG to the CA. We underscore anew that friar lands
can be alienated only upon proper compliance with the requirements of Sections 11, 12 and 18 of Act No. 1120.
It was thus primordial for the Manotoks to prove their acquisition of its title by clear and convincing
evidence. 323 This they failed to do. Accordingly, this Court has no alternative but to declare the Manotok title
null and void ab initio, and Lot 823 of the Piedad Estate as still part of the Government's patrimonial property, as
recommended by the CA.
The decades-long occupation by the Manotoks of Lot 823, their payment of real property taxes and construction
of buildings, are of no moment. It must be noted that the Manotoks miserably failed to prove the existence of
the title allegedly issued in the name of Severino Manotok after the latter had paid in full the purchase price. The
Manotoks did not offer any explanation as to why the only copy of TCT No. 22813 was torn in half and no record
of documents leading to its issuance can be found in the registry of deeds. As to the certification issued by the
Register of Deeds of Caloocan, it simply described the copy presented (Exh. 5-A) as "DILAPIDATED" without
stating if the original copy of TCT No. 22813 actually existed in their records, nor any information on the year of
issuance and name of registered owner. While TCT No. 22813 was mentioned in certain documents such as the
deed of donation executed in 1946 by Severino Manotok in favor of his children and the first tax declaration
(Exh. 26), these do not stand as secondary evidence of an alleged transfer from OCT No. 614. This hiatus in the
evidence of the Manotoks further cast doubts on the veracity of their claim.
As we stressed in Alonso:
Neither may the rewards of prescription be successfully invoked by respondent, as it is an iron-clad dictum that
prescription can never lie against the Government. Since respondent failed to present the paper trail of the
property's conversion to private property, the lengthy possession and occupation of the disputed land by
respondent cannot be counted in its favor, as the subject property being a friar land, remained part of the
patrimonial property of the Government. Possession of patrimonial property of the Government,
whether spanning decades or centuries, can not ipso facto ripen into ownership. Moreover, the rule
that statutes of limitation do not run against the State, unless therein expressly provided, is founded on the "the
great principle of public policy, applicable to all governments alike, which forbids that the public interests should
128

be prejudiced by the negligence of the officers or agents to whose care they are confided." 324 (Emphasis
supplied.)
With respect to the claim of the Manahans, we concur with the finding of the CA that no copy of the alleged Sale
Certificate No. 511 can be found in the records of either the DENR-NCR, LMB or National Archives. Although the
OSG submitted a certified copy of Assignment of Sale Certificate No. 511 allegedly executed by Valentin
Manahan in favor of Hilaria de Guzman, there is no competent evidence to show that the claimant Valentin
Manahan or his successors-in-interest actually occupied Lot 823, declared the land for tax purposes, or paid the
taxes due thereon. HISAET
Even assuming arguendo the existence and validity of the alleged Sale Certificate No. 511 and Assignment of
Sale Certificate No. 511 presented by the Manahans, the CA correctly observed that the claim had become stale
after the lapse of eighty six (86) years from the date of its alleged issuance. As this Court held in Liao v. Court of
Appeals, "the certificates of sale . . . became stale after ten (10) years from its issuance" and hence "can not be
the source documents for issuance of title more than seventy (70) years later." 325
Considering that none of the parties has established a valid acquisition under the provisions of Act No. 1120, as
amended, we therefore adopt the recommendation of the CA declaring the Manotok title as null and void ab
initio, and Lot 823 of the Piedad Estate as still part of the patrimonial property of the Government.
WHEREFORE, the petitions filed by the Manotoks under Rule 45 of the 1997 Rules of Civil Procedure, as
amended, as well as the petition-in-intervention of the Manahans, are DENIED. The petition for reconstitution
of title filed by the Barques is likewise DENIED. TCT No. RT-22481 (372302) in the name of Severino Manotok
IV, et al., TCT No. 210177 in the name of Homer L. Barque and Deed of Conveyance No. V-200022 issued to
Felicitas B. Manahan, are all hereby declared NULL and VOID. The Register of Deeds of Caloocan City and/or
Quezon City are hereby ordered to CANCEL the said titles. The Court hereby DECLARESthat Lot 823 of the
Piedad Estate, Quezon City, legally belongs to the NATIONAL GOVERNMENT OF THE REPUBLIC OF THE
PHILIPPINES, without prejudice to the institution of REVERSION proceedings by the State through the Office of
the Solicitor General.
With costs against the petitioners.
SO ORDERED.

Corona, C.J., Leonardo-de Castro, Peralta, Bersamin, Del Castillo, Abad, Perez and Mendoza, JJ., concur.
Carpio, J., see dissenting opinion.
Carpio Morales, J., please see my concurring and dissenting opinion.
Velasco, Jr. and Brion, JJ., join the dissent of J. Carpio.
Nachura, J., took no part.
Sereno, J., I dissent, and observe my right to issue a separate opinion.
Separate Opinions
CARPIO, J., dissenting:
In its 18 December 2008 Resolution, this Court remanded these cases to the Court of Appeals, with the following
directive:
The primary focus for the Court of Appeals, as an agent of this Court, in receiving and evaluating evidence
should be whether the Manotoks can trace their claim of title to a valid alienation by the Government of Lot No.
823 of the Piedad Estate, which was a Friar Land. On that evidence, this Court may ultimately decide whether
annulment of the Manotok title is warranted, similar to the annulment of the Cebu Country Club title in Alonso.
At the same time, the court recognizes that the respective claims to title by other parties such as the Barques
129

and the Manahans, and the evidence they may submit on their behalf, may have an impact on the correct
determination of the status of the Manotok title. It would thus be prudent, in assuring the accurate evaluation of
the question, to allow said parties, along with the OSG, to participate in the proceedings before the Court of
Appeals. If the final evidence on record definitely reveals the proper claimant to the subject property, the Court
would take such fact into consideration as it adjudicates final relief.
For the purposes above-stated, the Court of Appeals 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 notice of this Resolution. cCSTHA
To assist the Court of Appeals in its evaluation of the factual record, the Office of the Solicitor General is directed
to secure all the pertinent relevant records from the Land Management Bureau and the Department of
Environment and Natural Resources and submit the same to the Court of Appeals.
After a series of hearings and after evaluating the documentary evidence submitted by the parties, the Court of
Appeals submitted its Commissioners' Report recommending the following:
WHEREFORE, premises considered, it is respectfully recommended to the Honorable Supreme Court En Banc:
1.To deny the reconstitution of the title of Homer L. Barque and to declare TCT No. 210177 null and void ab
initio;
2.To declare reconstituted title TCT No. RT-22481 (372302) in the names of the Manotok children and
grandchildren as well as all other derivative titles null and void ab initio. As such, the Register of Deeds of
Quezon be directed to cancel TCT No. RT-22481 (372302) and all its derivative titles;
3.To declare null and void the Deed of Conveyance No. V-200022 dated October 30, 2000 issued to Felicitas B.
Manahan;
4.To declare Lot 823 of the Piedad Estate as still part of the patrimonial property of the National Government
and for the Solicitor General to take appropriate action to recover the subject lot from the MANOTOKS.
Respectfully submitted. 1
Acting on the Commissioners' Report, the Court in its majority opinion denies the petitions of the Manotoks and
the interventions of the Manahans, and declares void TCT No. RT-22481 (372302) in the name of Severino
Manotok IV, et al. The dispositive portion of the majority opinion states:
WHEREFORE, the petitions filed by the Manotoks under Rule 45 of the 1997 Rules of Civil Procedure, as
amended, as well as the petition-in-intervention of the Manahans, are DENIED. TCT No. RT-22481 (372302) in
the name of Severino Manotok IV, et al. is hereby declared NULL and VOID, and the Register of Deeds of
Caloocan City is hereby ordered to CANCEL the same. Lot 823 of the Piedad Estate, Quezon City, legally belongs
to the NATIONAL GOVERNMENT OF THE REPUBLIC OF THE PHILIPPINES, without prejudice to the institution of
REVERSION proceedings by the State through the Office of the Solicitor General. DcHaET
With costs against petitioners.
SO ORDERED.
I dissent from the opinion of the majority insofar as it declares that the absence of approval by the Secretary of
the Interior/Agriculture and Natural Resources of Sale Certificate No. 1054 and Deed of Conveyance No. 29204
warrants the annulment of the Manotoks' title.
The majority opinion is premised on Section 18 of Act No. 1120, 2 which provides:
Section 18.No lease or sale made by Chief of the Bureau of Public Lands under the provisions of this Act shall be
valid until approved by the Secretary of the Interior.
130

Under Section 18, any sale of friar land by the Chief of the Bureau of Public Lands (now Director of Lands) shall
not be valid until approved by the Secretary. This means that the Secretary, under Section 18, approves the sale
and thus signs the Deed of Conveyance upon full payment of the purchase price. However, under Section 12
ofAct No. 1120, the Director of Lands signs the Sales Certificate upon payment of the first installment. 3 Section
12 of Act No. 1120 provides:
Section 12.It shall be the duty of the Chief of the Bureau of Public Lands by proper investigation to ascertain
what is the actual value of the parcel of land held by each settler and occupant, taking into consideration the
location and quality of each holding of land, and any other circumstances giving its value. The basis of valuation
shall likewise be, so far as practicable, such that the aggregate of the values of all the holdings included in each
particular tract shall be equal to the cost to the Government to the entire tract, including the cost of surveys,
administration and interest upon the purchase money to the time of sale. When the cost thereof shall have
been thus ascertained, the Chief of the Bureau of Public Lands shall give the said settler and
occupant a certificate which shall set forth in detail that the Government has agreed to sell to such
settler and occupant the amount of land so held by him, at the price so fixed, payable as provided
in this Act at the office of the Chief of Bureau of Public Lands, in gold coin of the United States or
its equivalent in Philippine currency, and that upon the payment of the final installment together
with all accrued interest the Government will convey to such settler and occupant the said land so
held by him by proper instrument of conveyance, which shall be issued and become effective in the
manner provided in section one hundred and twenty-two of the Land Registration Act. The Chief of
the Bureau of Public Lands shall, in each instance where a certificate is given to the settler and occupant of any
holding, take his formal receipt showing the delivery of such certificate, signed by said settler and
occupant. 4 (Boldfacing and italicization supplied) cEaDTA
Under Section 12, it is only the Director of Land who signs the Sales Certificate. The Sales Certificate operates as
a contract to sell which, under the law, the Director of Lands is authorized to sign and thus bind the Government
as seller of the friar land. This transaction is a sale of private property because friar lands are patrimonial
properties of the Government. 5 In short, the law expressly authorizes the Director of Lands to sell private or
patrimonial property of Government under a contract to sell. On the other hand, under Section 18, the Secretary
signs the Deed of Conveyance because the Secretary must approve the sale made initially by the Director of
Lands. The Deed of Conveyance operates as a deed of absolute sale which the Secretary signs upon full
payment of the purchase price. The Deed of Conveyance, when presented, is authority for the Register of Deeds
to issue a new title to the buyer as provided in Section 122 of the Land Registration Act.
The majority cite the ruling in Alonso v. Cebu Country Club, Inc. 6 and other cases 7 which held that the
approval of the Secretary of Agriculture and Commerce is indispensable for the validity of the sale of friar lands.
Following the ruling in these cases, the majority hold that Sale Certificate No. 1054 and Deed of Conveyance No.
29204 are void.

Alonso categorically held that "(a)pproval by the Secretary of Agriculture and Commerce is indispensable for the
validity of the sale." 8 The majority further cite the resolution of the motion for reconsideration in Alonso, thus:
Section 18 of Act No. 1120 or the Friar Lands Act unequivocally provides: 'No lease or sale made by the Chief of
the Bureau of Public Lands (now Director of Lands) under the provisions of this Act shall be valid until approved
by the Secretary of Interior (now, the Secretary of Natural Resources).' Thus, petitioners' claim of ownership
must fail in the absence of positive evidence showing the approval of the Secretary of Interior. Approval of the
Secretary of the Interior cannot simply be presumed or inferred from certain acts since the law is explicit in its
mandate. This is the settled rule as enunciated in Solid State Multi-Products Corporation vs. Court of Appeals and
reiterated in Liao vs. Court of Appeals. Petitioners have not offered any cogent reason that would justify a
deviation from this rule. 9

131

However, the ruling in Alonso was superseded with the issuance by then Department of Environment and
Natural Resources (DENR) Secretary Michael T. Defensor of DENR Memorandum Order No. 16-05, 10 which
provides:
WHEREAS, it appears that there are uncertainties in the title of the land disposed by the Government under Act
1120 or the Friar Lands Act due to the lack of the signature of the Secretary on the Deeds of
Conveyance; SACTIH
WHEREAS, said Deeds of Conveyance were only issued by the then Bureau of Lands (now the Land Management
Bureau) after full payment had been made by the applicants thereon subject to the approval of the Secretary of
the then Department of Interior, then Department of Agriculture and Natural Resources and presently, the
Department of Environment and Natural Resources, in accordance with Act 1120;
WHEREAS, some of these Deeds of Conveyance on record in the field offices of the Department and
the Land Management Bureau do not bear the signature of the Secretary despite full payment by
the friar land applicant as can be gleaned in the Friar Lands Registry Book;
WHEREAS, it is only a ministerial duty on the part of the Secretary to sign the Deed of Conveyance
once the applicant had already made full payment on the purchase price of the land;
WHEREFORE, for and in consideration of the above premises, and in order to remove all clouds of doubt
regarding the validity of these instruments, it is hereby declared that all Deeds of Conveyance that
do not bear the signature of the Secretary are deemed signed or otherwise ratified by this
Memorandum Orderprovided, however, that full payment of the purchase price of the land and compliance
with all the other requirements for the issuance of the Deed of Conveyance under Act 1120 have been
accomplished by the applicant;
This Memorandum Order, however, does not modify, alter or otherwise affect any subsequent assignments,
transfers and/or transactions made by the applicant or his successors-in-interest or any rights arising therefrom
after the issuance of a Transfer Certificate of Title by the concerned Registry of Deeds. (Italicization and
boldfacing supplied)
Despite the issuance of DENR Memorandum Order No. 16-05, the majority still hold that the memorandum order
does not apply to the Manotoks' title. The majority assert that the Manotoks could not benefit from
DENR Memorandum Order No. 16-05 because the memorandum order refers only to deeds of conveyance on file
with the records of DENR "field offices."
I find the majority's limited application of DENR Memorandum Order No. 16-05 erroneous. aHATDI
While the third WHEREAS clause of DENR Memorandum Order No. 16-05 refers to Deeds of Conveyance on
record in the "field offices" of the DENR, the dispositive portion categorically states that "all Deeds of
Conveyance that do not bear the signature of the Secretary are deemed signed or otherwise
ratified" by the Memorandum Order. The word "all" means everything, without exception. DENR Memorandum
Order No. 16-05 should apply to all Deeds of Conveyance, as declared in its dispositive portion, and should
not be limited to those on file in DENR "field offices."
Assuming, however, that only records on file in the DENR "field offices" are covered by DENR Memorandum
Order No. 16-05, the DENR has a "field office" in Manila 11for land titles in the National Capital
Region (NCR) region. This "field office" in Manila is the DENR's Regional Office for the NCR, which
is one of the country's 17 administrative regions. In fact, there is no city or municipality in the
Philippines that is not under a "field office" of the DENR. Executive Order No. 192 12provides:
Section 20.Field Offices of the Department.
The field offices of the Department are the Environment and Natural Resources Regional Offices in
the thirteen (13) [now seventeen (17)] administrative regions of the country, the Environment and
132

Natural Resources Provincial Office in every province and the Community Office in municipalities
whenever deemed necessary. 13 The regional offices of the Bureau of Forest Development, Bureau of Mines
and Geo-sciences, and Bureau of Lands in each of the thirteen (13) administrative regions and the research
centers of the Forest Research Institute are hereby integrated into the Department-wide Regional Environment
and Natural Resources Office of the Department, in accordance with Section 24(e) hereof. A Regional Office shall
be headed by a Regional Executive Director (with the rank of Regional Director) and shall be assisted by five (5)
Regional Technical Directors (with the rank of Assistant Regional Director) each for Forestry, Land Management,
Mines and Geo-sciences, Environmental Management, and Ecosystems Research. The Regional Executive
Directors and Regional Technical Directors shall be Career Executive Service Officers. (Boldfacing and italicization
supplied)
Clearly, as expressly stated in Section 20 of Executive Order No. 192, all DENR Regional Offices, including the
Regional Office in NCR, are "field offices" of the DENR.
Quezon City, where the land in question is situated, is under DENR's NCR "field office." In 1919, when the
Government sold the subject friar land to the Manotoks' predecessors-in-interest, the land was
part of the province of Rizal, 14 which also has a "field office." Indisputably, DENR Memorandum Order
No. 16-05 applies to all Deeds of Conveyance of friar lands anywhere in the Philippines without exception. Thus,
conveyances of land within the NCR, including the conveyance to the Manotoks, are covered by
DENR Memorandum Order No. 16-05.
The first WHEREAS clause clearly states that what DENR Memorandum Order No. 16-05 seeks to cure
are the "uncertainties in the title of the land disposed by the Government under Act 1120 or the
Friar Lands Act due to the lack of signature of the Secretary on the Deeds of Conveyance." If we
apply DENRMemorandum Order No. 16-05 only to Deeds of Conveyance on record in the "field offices" outside
of NCR, the purpose of the issuance of DENR Memorandum Order No. 16-05 will not be fully accomplished.
The total number of areas covered by friar lands is 396,690.20 acres 15 divided as follows: SCHATc

EstateArea (in acres)


Banilad4,812.50
Binagbag736.88
Bian9,147.50
Calamba34,182.50
Dampol2,322.33
Guiguinto2,364.21
Imus45,607.50
Isabela49,727.50
Lolomboy12,943.73
Malinta8,935.00
Matamo29.50
Muntinlupa7,067.50
Naic19,060.00
Orion2,290.00
133

Piedad9,650.00
San Francisco de Malabon28,622.50
San Jose58,165.00
San Marcos218.55
Santa Cruz de Malabon24,487.50
Santa Maria de Pandi25,855.00
Santa Rosa13,675.00
Tala16,740.00
Talisay-Minglanilla20,050.00 16

Total396,690.20
=========
The total area of friar lands in NCR, specifically in Muntinlupa, Piedad, San Francisco de Malabon,
Santa Cruz de Malabon, and Tala is 86,567.50 acres or35,032.624 hectares. If DENR Memorandum
Order No. 16-05 will not be applied to these areas, the Court will be disquieting the titles held by generations of
landowners since the passage in 1904 of Act No. 1120. Thousands, if not hundreds of thousands, of landowners
could be dispossessed of their lands in these areas.
The majority opinion's limited application of DENR Memorandum Order No. 16-05 is violative of the equal
protection clause of the Constitution which requires, for valid classification, the following:
(1)It must be based upon substantial distinctions;
(2)It must be germane to the purposes of the law;
(3)It must not be limited to existing conditions only; and
(4)It must apply equally to all members of the class. 17
The groupings must be characterized by substantial distinctions that make for real differences so that one class
may be treated and regulated differently from another. 18 To limit the application of DENR Memorandum Order
No. 16-05 to Deeds of Conveyance in the "field offices" outside of NCR would be discriminatory as there is no
substantial distinction between the files on record in the DENR "field offices" outside of NCR and the files on
record in the DENR "field office" in NCR.

More importantly, the Manotoks became owners of the land upon their full payment of the purchase price to
the Government on 7 December 1932. Upon such full payment, the Manotoks had the right to demand
conveyance of the land and issuance of the corresponding title to them. This is the law and jurisprudence on
friar lands. CaAIES
Thus, the Court has held that in cases of sale of friar lands, the only recognized resolutory condition is nonpayment of the full purchase price. 19 Pursuant to Section 12 of Act No. 1120, "upon payment of the last
installment together with all accrued interest[,] the Government will convey to [the] settler and
occupant the said land so held by him by proper instrument of conveyance, which shall be issued
and become effective in the manner provided in section one hundred and twenty-two of the Land
Registration Act." Once it is shown that the full purchase price had been paid, the issuance of the proper
134

certificate of conveyance necessarily follows. There is nothing more that is required to be done as the title
already passes to the purchaser.
The Court has ruled that equitable and beneficial title to the friar land passes to the purchaser from the time the
first installment is paid and a certificate of sale is issued. 20 When the purchaser finally pays the final
installment on the purchase price and is given a deed of conveyance and a certificate of title, the title, at least in
equity, retroacts to the time he first occupied the land, paid the first installment and was issued the
corresponding certificate of sale. 21 The sequence then is that a certificate of sale is issued upon payment of
the first installment. Upon payment of the final installment, the deed of conveyance is issued. DASEac
It is the Deed of Conveyance that must bear the signature of the Secretary of Interior/Agriculture
because it is only when the final installment is paid that the Secretary can approve the sale, the
purchase price having been fully paid. This is why DENR Memorandum Order No. 16-05 refers only to the
Deed of Conveyance, and not to the Sale Certificate, as the document that is "deemed signed" by the
Secretary. In short, Section 18 of Act No. 1120 which states that "(n)o . . . sale . . . shall be valid
until approved by the Secretary of Interior" refers to the approval by the Secretary of the Deed of
Conveyance.
DENR Memorandum Order No. 16-05 expressly acknowledges that "it is only a ministerial duty on the part
of the Secretary to sign the Deed of Conveyance once the applicant had already made full payment
on the purchase price of the land." The majority expressly admit in their Reply to the Dissenting
Opinion thatMemorandum Order No. 16-05:
. . . correctly stated that it is only a ministerial duty on the part of the Secretary to sign the Deed of
Conveyance once the applicant had made full payment on the purchase price of the land.
Jurisprudence teaches us that notwithstanding the failure of the government to issue the proper
instrument of conveyance when the purchaser finally pays the final installment of the purchase
price, the purchaser of friar land still acquired ownership over the subject land. (Italicization supplied)
To repeat, the majority expressly admit that it is the ministerial duty of the Secretary to sign the Deed of
Conveyance once the purchaser of friar land, like the Manotoks, pays in full the purchase price. The majority
also expressly admit that upon such full payment the purchaser acquires ownership of the
land"notwithstanding the failure" of the Secretary to sign the Deed of Conveyance.
The Manotoks proved beyond any doubt that they purchased, and paid for in full, the land. Deed of Conveyance
No. 29204, dated 7 December 1932, on its face expressly acknowledged receipt by the Government of the
amount of P2,363.00 in consideration for Lot 823 granted and conveyed to Severino Manotok. 22 Thus, Deed of
Conveyance No. 29204 states: cDCHaS
I, the Acting DIRECTOR OF LANDS, acting for an on behalf of the GOVERNMENT OF THE PHILIPPINE ISLANDS,
in consideration of TWO THOUSAND THREE HUNDRED SIXTY THREE AND 00/100 pesos (P2,363.00), receipt
whereof is acknowledged, do hereby grant and convey to SEVERINO MANOTOK, Filipino, of legal age,
married to Maria Ramos, residing at 2318 J. Luna, Tondo, Manila in the City of Manila and his heirs and assigns,
Lot No. 823 of the PIEDAD Friar Lands Estate, situated in the Municipality of Caloocan, Province of Rizal,
Philippine Islands, containing 34 hectares, 29 ares and 45 centares, according to subdivision plan No. A-6 as
approved by the Court of Land Registration on the 25th day of July, 1913 and described on the back hereof of
which land the government OF THE PHILIPPINE ISLANDS is the registered owner in accordance with the
provisions of the Land Registration Act, title thereto being evidenced by Certificate No. 614 of the land records of
the province. 23(Emphasis supplied)
To repeat, Deed of Conveyance No. 29204 expressly and unequivocally acknowledged that Severino Manotok
had fully paid the purchase price to the Government.Since the majority expressly admit that upon full
payment of the purchase price it becomes the ministerial duty of the Secretary to approve the sale,
then the majority must also necessarily admit that the approval of the Secretary is a mere
135

formality that has been complied with by the issuance ofMemorandum Order No. 16-05. Since the
majority further expressly admit that upon full payment of the purchase price ownership of the
friar land passes to the purchaser, despite the failure of the Secretary to sign the Deed of
Conveyance, then the majority must also necessarily admit that the Manotoks became the absolute
owners of the land upon their full payment of the purchase price on 7 December 1932.
In short, the majority categorically admit that upon full payment of the purchase price, the buyer ipso
facto becomes the absolute owner of the friar land, and it becomes the ministerial duty of the Secretary, who
cannot otherwise refuse, to sign the Deed of Conveyance. As absolute owners of the land who have fully paid
the purchase price to the Government, and whose ownership retroacted to 10 March 1919, 24 the Manotoks
have the right to compel the Secretary, and the Secretary has the ministerial duty, to sign Deed of Conveyance
No. 29204. In fact, the Manotoks have been paying the real estate taxes on the land since at least 1933. The
Office of the Provincial Assessor declared the title in Severino Manotok's name for tax purposes on 9 August
1933 25 and assessed Severino Manotok "beginning with the year 1933."
Indisputably, upon full payment of the purchase price, full and absolute ownership passes to the purchaser of
friar land. In the case of the Manotoks' title, the Deed of Conveyance was issued except that it lacked the
signature of the Secretary which the majority erroneously hold is still indispensable pursuant to Alonso.
However,Alonso should not be applied to the Manotoks' title because DENR Memorandum Order No. 16-05 was
not yet issued when the Court decided Alonso. The absence of the Secretary's signature in the Deed of
Conveyance in Alonso was never cured and hence the Court in Alonso voided the Deed of Conveyance. Besides,
in Alonso the corresponding torrens title was never issued even after a lapse of 66 years from the date of the
Deed of Conveyance. 26 In sharp contrast, here the lack of the Secretary's signature in the Manotoks' Deed of
Conveyance No. 29204 was cured by the issuance of DENR Memorandum Order No. 16-05, which expressly
states that "all Deeds of Conveyance that do not bear the signature of the Secretary are deemed
signed or ratified . . . ." Moreover, the Manotoks have been issued their torrens title way back in 1933.
Section 122 of Act No. 496 27 states that "[i]t shall be the duty of the official issuing the instrument of
alienation, grant, or conveyance in behalf of the Government to cause such instrument, before its delivery to the
grantee, to be filed with the register of deeds for the province where the land lies and to be there registered like
other deeds and conveyances, whereupon a certificate shall be entered as in other cases of registered land, and
an owner's duplicate certificate issued to the grantee." TCT No. 22813 would not have been issued in the name
of Severino Manotok if Deed of Conveyance No. 29204 had not been delivered to the Register of Deeds of the
Province of Rizal to which the land covered by the Manotoks' title then belonged. The Manotoks should not be
punished if the documents leading to the issuance of TCT No. 22813 could no longer be found in the files of the
government office, considering that these were pre-war documents and considering further the lack of proper
preservation of documents in some government agencies.
The fact remains that the Manotoks were able to present a certified true copy of Deed of
Conveyance No. 29204 secured from the National Archives which is the official repository of
government and public documents. This Deed of Conveyance No. 29204 was signed by the Director
of Lands and lacked only the signature of the Secretary of Interior/Agriculture. Memorandum
Order No. 16-05 speaks of "all Deeds of Conveyance that do not bear the signature of the
Secretary" and thus includes Deed of Conveyance No. 29204. Under Memorandum Order No. 16-05,
such Deeds of Conveyance "are deemed signed" by the Secretary. Clearly, Memorandum Order No.
16-05 applies squarely to the Manotoks' title for two reasons. First, Deed of Conveyance No. 29204
was signed by the Director of Lands but lacked only the signature of the Secretary. Second, the
purchase price for the land subject of Deed of Conveyance No. 29204 had been fully paid on 7
December 1932, more than 77 years ago.
The majority argue that Memorandum Order No. 16-05 cannot supersede or amend Section 18 of Act 1120. The
majority likewise state that administrative issuances such as Memorandum Order No. 16-05 must conform to and
must not contravene existing laws. HICATc
136

There is no conflict between Memorandum Order No. 16-05 and Section 18 of Act No. 1120. Memorandum Order
No. 16-05 recognizes the formality of the signature of the Secretary of Interior/Agriculture on Deeds on
Conveyances. Memorandum Order No. 16-05 complies with Section 18 of Act No. 1120 by ratifying the Deeds of
Conveyances that were not signed, for one reason or another, by the Secretary. Memorandum Order No. 1605 only supplies a formality because as the majority expressly admit, the signature of the Secretary is merely a
ministerial act upon full payment of the purchase price. Memorandum Order No. 16-05 does not dispense with
the Secretary's signature bur rather cures the absence of such signature by stating that "all Deeds of
Conveyance that do not bear the signature of the Secretary are deemed signed." It is as if the DENR Secretary
signed each and every Deed of Conveyance that lacked the signature of the Secretary, provided of course that
the purchase price had been fully paid. To repeat, Memorandum Order No. 16-05 applies to Deed of Conveyance
No. 29204 because the land was already fully paid and the Deed of Conveyance was signed by the Director of
Lands but only lacked the signature of the Secretary of Interior/Agriculture.
The majority assert that Section 18 of Act No. 1120 should be read in conjunction with Section 15 and that
"[w]here there is no valid certificate of sale in the first place, the purchaser does not acquire any right of
possession and purchase." The majority state that "the existence of a valid certificate of sale must first be
established with clear and convincing evidence before a purchaser is deemed to have acquired ownership over a
friar land notwithstanding the non-issuance by the Government, for some reason or another, of a
deed of conveyance after completing the installment payments." The majority grossly misappreciate the
facts. Here, the Government issued Deed of Conveyance No. 29204 to the Manotoks, the existence of which the
Government does not dispute. Moreover, the existence of the Manotoks' Sale Certificate No. 1054 has been
established beyond any doubt by the existence of three succeeding Deeds of Assignment of Sale Certificate No.
1054.
While the Land Management Bureau (LMB) has no copy of the original Sale Certificate No. 1054 dated 10 March
1919 in the names of Regina Geronimo, Modesto Zacarias and Felicisimo Villanueva (the original
grantees), 28 the LMB has on its file the original of Assignment of Sale Certificate No. 1054 between
Regina Geronimo, Zacarias Modesto and Felicisimo Villanueva as assignors and Zacarias Modesto
as assignee, dated 11 March 1919, 29 and approved by the Director of Lands on 22 March
1919. 30 The National Archives has a copy of the Assignment of Sale Certificate No. 1054 dated 7
June 1920 31 between Zacarias Modesto as assignor and Severino Manotok and M. Teodoro as
assignees. The LMB also has on its file the original of Assignment of Sale Certificate No. 1054 dated
4 May 1923 32 between M. Teodoro and Severino Manotok as assignors and Severino Manotok as
assignee and approved on 23 June 1923 by the Acting Director of Lands. 33
The Assignment of Sale Certificate, which is an official form document of the Bureau of Lands, Friar Lands
Division, states:
Department of Agriculture and Natural Resources
Bureau of Lands
Friar Lands Division
PIEDAD ESTATE }
RIZAL PROVINCE} ASSIGNMENT OF SALE CERTIFICATE 1054
This Assignment, made in duplicate, between M. Teodoro and Severino Manotok as ASSIGNOR, and SEVERINO
MANOTOK as ASSIGNEE. TCaEAD
Witnesseth: That the Assignor, for and in consideration of the sum P receipt whereof is acknowledged, hereby
sells, assigns and transfers to the said ASSIGNEE all right, title, and interest in and to lot 823 of the said Estate,
acquired under and by the terms of sale certificate numbered 1054 dated March 10, 1919, together with all
buildings and improvements on the said lot belonging to the said ASSIGNOR.
137

The said ASSIGNEE hereby accepts the said assignment and transfer and expressly agrees to be bound by and
to keep and perform all the covenants and conditions expressed in the said sale certificate to be kept and
performed by the VENDEE therein.
In Testimony Whereof, we hereunto set our hands.
Manila Manila Province, May 4, 1923.
(Sgd.) M. Teodoro
(Sgd.) Severino Manotok
Assignor
Manila Manila Province, May 4, 1923.
(Sgd.) Severino Manotok
Assignee
Signed in the presence of:
(Sgd.) no printed name
(Sgd.) no printed name
PHILIPPINE ISLANDS}
Province of Manila} ss. May 5, 1923
Before me, on the date and at the place above written, personally appeared the ASSIGNOR executing the
foregoing instrument, who acknowledged it to be his free act and deed and exhibited his certificate of
registration numbered F-87330 & F-30510 issued at Manila, & Manila, and dated March 12, 1923 & Feb. 28,
1923.
(Sgd.) no printed name
Register No. 1001Notary Public, City of Manila
Page 34.Commission expires on Dec. 31, 1924
PHILIPPINE ISLANDS}
Province of Manila} ss. May 5, 1923
Before me, on the date and at the place above written, personally appeared the ASSIGNEE executing the
foregoing instrument, who acknowledged it to be his free act and deed and exhibited his certificate of
registration numbered F-30510 issued at Manila, and dated February 28, 1923. AcTHCE
(Sgd.) no printed name
Register No. 1001Notary Public, City of Manila
Page 34.Commission expires on Dec. 31, 1924
APPROVED: JUN 23 1923
(Sgd.) no printed name
Acting Director of Lands 34

138

The original of Assignment of Sale Certificate No. 1054 dated 4 May 1923 to Severino Manotok is on
file with the Land Management Bureau as confirmed in the letter dated 1 December 2009 of Atty. Fe T. Tuanda,
OIC of the Records Management Division. 35
The Manotoks also submitted the original of Official Receipt No. 675257 dated 20 February 1929 36 issued by
the Special Collecting Officer/Friar Lands Agent to Severino Manotok "For certified copy of Assignment of S. C.
No. 1054 for lot no. 823." These documents indubitably show that, contrary to the majority's view, the Manotoks
proved beyond any doubt the existence of Sale Certificate No. 1054 and the valid alienation by the Government
of Lot No. 823.
The majority state that after the ruling of this Court in Alonso, Congress passed Republic Act No. 9443 37 (RA
9443) which provides:
Section 1.All existing Transfer Certificates of Title and Reconstituted Certificates of Title duly issued by the
Register of Deeds of Cebu Province and/or Cebu City covering any portions of the Banilad Friar Lands Estate,
notwithstanding the lack of signatures and/or approval of the then Secretary of the Interior (later Secretary of
Agriculture and Natural Resources) and/or the then Chief of the Bureau of Public Lands (later Director of Public
Lands) in the copies of the duly executed Sale Certificates and Assignments of Sales Certificates, as the case
may be, now on file with the Community Environment and Natural Resources (CENRO), Cebu City, are hereby
confirmed and declared as valid titles and the registered owners recognized as absolute owners thereof.
This confirmation and declaration of validity shall in all respects be entitled to like effect and credit as a decree
of registration, binding the land and quieting the title thereto and shall be conclusive upon and against all
persons, including the national government and all branches thereof; except when, in a given case involving a
certificate of title or reconstituted certificate of title, there is clear evidence that such certificate of title or
reconstituted certificate of title was obtained through fraud, in which case the solicitor general or his duly
designated representative shall institute the necessary judicial proceeding to cancel the certificate of title or
reconstituted certificate of title as the case may be, obtained through such fraud. DcITHE
The majority declare that "[t]he enactment of RA 9443 signifies the legislature's recognition of the statutory
basis of the Alonso ruling to the effect that in the absence of signature and/or approval of the Secretary of
Interior/Natural Resources in the Certificates of Sale on file with the CENRO, the sale is not valid and the
purchaser has not acquired ownership of the friar land. Indeed, Congress found it imperative to pass a new law
in order to exempt the already titled portions of the Banilad Friar Lands Estate from the operation of Sec. 18."
While RA 9443 refers only to the Banilad Friar Lands Estate, to limit its application solely to the Banilad Friar
Lands Estate will result in class legislation. RA 9443 should be extended to lands similarly situated. In Central
Bank Employees Assoc., Inc. v. Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas, 38 the Court ruled that the grant of a privilege to
rank-and-file employees of seven government financial institutions and its denial to BSP rank-and-file employees
breached the latter's equal protection. In that case, the Court stated that "[a]likes are being treated as unalikes
without any rational basis." 39 That is the situation in the present case if RA 9443 shall apply only to the Banilad
Friar Lands Estate. There is no substantial distinction between the sale of friar lands in Banilad and the sale of
friar lands in other places except for their location. The Court further stated in Central Bank Employees Assoc.,
Inc.:
[I]t must be emphasized that the equal protection clause does not demand absolute equality but it requires that

all persons shall be treated alike, under like circumstances and conditions both as to privileges conferred and
liabilities enforced. Favoritism and undue preference cannot be allowed. For the principles is that equal
protection and security shall be given to every person under circumstances which, if not identical, are analogous.
If law be looked upon in terms of burden or charges, those that fall within a class should be treated in the same
fashion; whatever restrictions cast on some in the group is equally binding on the rest. 40
As such, if the lack of signatures and approval of the Secretary of Interior/Agriculture and the Director of Lands
were cured with the passage of RA 9443, the benefits of the law should apply to other lands similarly situated.
139

Accordingly, I vote to (1) sustain the validity of Deed of Conveyance No. 29204, and DECLARE the Manotoks'
title, namely, TCT No. RT-22481 (372302), VALID; (2) DENYthe reconstitution of the title of Homer L. Barque
and DECLARE TCT No. 210177 VOID; and (3) DECLARE Deed of Conveyance No. V-20022 issued to Felicitas
B. ManahanVOID. CADSHI
CARPIO MORALES, J., concurring and dissenting:
DENR Memorandum Order No. 16-05 of October 27, 2005 (Order 16-05) is significant in resolving the
issue of validity of titles over friar lands. Its relevance cannot be ignored.
Previous pronouncements state that all lots in the Piedad Estate have been disposed of even before the Second
World War. 1 In the present case, three sets of claimants over Lot 823 of the Piedad Estate submitted their
respective evidence. After sifting through the evidence and rejecting spurious and stale documents,
the ponencia finds that petitioners were able to produce 1) a sale certificate in the name of their predecessorsin-interest as certified by the Records Management Division of the Land Management Bureau, and 2) a deed of
conveyance signed by the Director of Lands.
The core issue, as defined by the ponencia, is whether the absence of approval of the Secretary of the
Interior/Agriculture and Natural Resources (Department Secretary) in petitioners' Sale Certificate No.
1054 and Deed of Conveyance No. 29204 issued in 1919 and 1932, respectively, warrants the annulment of their
title. 2
It does, says the ponencia.
It does not, I submit.
There is no absence of approval to speak of, since petitioners' Deed of Conveyance is, pursuant to Order 1605, deemed signedby the Department Secretary, and there is no legal basis for requiring another
signature of the Department Secretary on the Sale Certificate.
On the purportedly limited applicability of Order 16-05 to instruments "on file with the records of the DENR field
offices," the ponencia concedes that it merely mentions in passing the appellate court's observation that the
Deed of Conveyance was secured from the National Archives, and not from the DENR. Whether the source or
remaining repository of the document is material for the applicability of Order 16-05, the ponencia does not
clearly declare, as it briefly states:
The CA opined that the Manotoks cannot benefit from the above department issuance [-Order 16-05] because it
makes reference only to those deeds of conveyance on file with the records of the DENR field offices. The
Manotoks' copy of the alleged Deed of Conveyance No. 29204 issued in 1932, was sourced from the National
Archives. . . . 3 (underscoring supplied)
The ponencia thereafter digresses to the effect of a deed of conveyance "unsigned" by the Department
Secretary. It does not uphold the appellate court's reasoning denying, on the basis of the source of the
document, the applicability of Order 16-05, since it (the ponencia), by the ponente's admission, merely
"underscored" 4 such observation. It does not, however, ascribe any legal consequence to it. Simply put, the
confusion stems from the immediately-quoted two barren sentences of theponencia.
An examination of Order 16-05 vis- -vis the Friar Lands Act (Act No. 1120) enacted in 1904 is in order. Order
16-05 disposes:
WHEREFORE, for and in consideration of the above premises, and in order to remove all clouds of doubt
regarding the validity of these instruments, it is hereby declared that all Deeds of Conveyance that do not bear
the signature of the Secretary are deemed signed or otherwise ratified by this Memorandum
Order,provided, however, that full payment of the purchase price of the land and compliance with all the other
requirements for the issuance of the Deed of Conveyance under Act No. 1120 have been accomplished by the
applicant[.] (emphasis, italics and underscoring supplied)
140

Contrary to the ponencia's position, Order 16-05 does not contravene Act No. 1120. Order 16-05 did not
dispense with the requirement of the Department Secretary's approval. It recognizes that the approval of the
Secretary is still required, the grant or ratification of which is made subject only to certain conditions, precisely
"to remove all clouds of doubt regarding the validity of these instruments" which do not bear his
signature. 5 The fulfillment of the conditions must be proven to be extant in every case.
The grant of approval under Order 16-05 is premised on two conditions: (1) full payment of the purchase price
of the land; and (2) compliance with all the other requirements for the issuance of the Deed of Conveyance.
There is no dispute as to the manner of determining full payment of the purchase price. The variance lies in
determining "compliance with all other requirements for the issuance of the Deed of Conveyance" under Act No.
1120. 6
The ponencia maintains that one still needs to present a Sale Certificate that bears the signature of the
Department Secretary, since Order 16-05 refers only to a Deed of Conveyance, 7 citing Section 15 of Act No.
1120 which reads:
SECTION 15.The Government hereby reserves the title to each and every parcel of land sold under the
provisions of this Act until full payment of all installments or purchase money and interest by the purchaser has
been made, and any sale or encumbrance made by him shall be invalid as against the Government of the
Philippine Islands and shall be in all respects subordinate to its prior claim.
The right of possession and purchase acquired by certificates of sale signed under the provisions hereof by
purchasers of friar lands, pending final payment and the issuance of title, shall be considered as personal
property for the purposes of serving as security for mortgages and shall be considered as such in judicial
proceedings relative to such security. (emphasis and underscoring supplied)
As to what provisions under Act No. 1120 require the signing by the Department Secretary of the Certificate of
Sale, the ponencia 8 points to Section 11. But the "approval" mentioned in the second paragraph of Section 11
refers to sales contracted prior to the enactment in 1904 of Act No. 1120. Thus Section 11 reads:
SECTION 11.Should any person who is the actual and bona fide settler upon, and occupant of, any portion of
said lands at the time the same is conveyed to the Government of the Philippine Islands desire to purchase the
land so occupied by him, he shall be entitled to do so at the actual cost thereof to the Government, and shall be
granted fifteen years from the date of the purchase in which to pay for the same in equal annual installments,
should he so desire paying interest at the rate of four per centum per annum on all deferred payments.
And the contracts of sale made prior to the approval of this Act may be extended, in the discretion of the
Director of Lands, for a period of not more than ten years from the date on which said contracts must expire
under the provisions of Act Numbered Eleven hundred and twenty. The terms of purchase shall be agreed upon
between the purchaser and the Director of Lands, subject to the approval of the Secretary of Agriculture
and Natural Resources.
Both in case of lease and of sale of vacant lands under the provisions of section nine of this Act, the Director of
Lands shall notify the municipal president or municipal presidents of the municipality or municipalities in which
said lands lie of said lease or sale before the same takes place. Upon receipt of such notification by said
municipal president or municipal presidents the latter shall publish the same for three consecutive days, by
bandillos, in the poblacion and barrio or barrios affected, and shall certify all these acts to the Director of Lands
who shall then, and not before, execute a lease or proceed to make the said sale with preference, other
conditions being equal, to the purchaser who has been a tenant or bona fide occupant at any time of the said
lands or part thereof, and if there has been more than one occupant to the last tenant or occupant: Provided,
however, That no lease or sale of vacant lands made in accordance with this section shall be valid nor of any
effect without the requisite as to publication by bandillos, above provided: Provided, further, that the provisions
of this paragraph shall not apply to leases or sales made to any provincial or municipal government or any
subdivision, branch, or entity of the Government. (emphasis, italics and underscoring supplied)
141

The ponencia 9 also points to Section 12. But the signature referred to therein is that of the "settler" or
"occupant," to be affixed on the delivery "receipt" (not on the Certificate of Sale), as confirmed by Section 13.
SECTION 12.It shall be the duty of the Chief of the Bureau of Public Lands by proper investigation to ascertain
what is the actual value of the parcel of land held by each settler and occupant, taking into consideration the
location and quality of each holding of land, and any other circumstances giving its value. The basis of valuation
shall likewise be, so far as practicable, such that the aggregate of the values of all the holdings included in each
particular tract shall be equal to the cost to the Government to the entire tract, including the cost of surveys,
administration and interest upon the purchase money to the time of sale. When the cost thereof shall have been
thus ascertained, the Chief of the Bureau of Public Lands shall give the said settler and occupant a certificate
which shall set forth in detail that the Government has agreed to sell to such settler and occupant the amount of
land so held by him, at the price so fixed, payable as provided in this Act at the office of the Chief of Bureau of
Public Lands, in gold coin of the United States or its equivalent in Philippine currency, and that upon the
payment of the final installment together with all accrued interest the Government will convey to such settler
and occupant the said land so held by him by proper instrument of conveyance, which shall be issued and
become effective in the manner provided in section one hundred and twenty-two of the Land Registration
Act. The Chief of the Bureau of Public Lands shall, in each instance where a certificate is given to the settler
and occupant of any holding, take his formal receipt showing the delivery of such certificate, signed by said
settler and occupant.
SECTION 13.The acceptance by the settler and occupant of such certificate shall be considered as an agreement
by him to pay the purchase price so fixed and in the installments and at the interest specified in the certificate,
and he shall from such acceptance become a debtor to the Government in the amount together with all accrued
interest. In the event that any such settler and occupant may desire to pay for his holding of said lands in cash,
or within a shorter period of time than that above specified, he shall be allowed to do so, and if payment be
made in cash the lands shall at once be conveyed to him as above provided. But if purchase is made by
installments, the certificate shall so state in accordance with the facts of the transaction; Provided, however,
That every settler and occupant who desires to purchase his holding must enter into the agreement to purchase
such holding by accepting the said certificate and executing the said receipt whenever called on to do so
by the Chief of the Bureau of Public Lands, and a failure on the part of the settler and occupant to comply with
this requirement shall be considered as a refusal to purchase, and he shall be ousted as above provided and
thereafter his holding may be leased or sold as in case of unoccupied lands: And provided further, That the Chief
of the Bureau of Public Lands in this discretion may require to any settler and occupant so desiring to purchase
that, pending the investigation requisite to fix the precise extent of his holding and its cost he shall attorn to the
Government as its tenant and pay a reasonable rent for the use of his holding; but no such lease shall be for a
longer term that three years, and refusal on the part of any settler and occupant so desiring to purchase to
execute a lease pending such investigation shall be treated as a refusal either to lease or to purchase, and the
Chief of the Bureau of Public Lands shall proceed to oust him as in this Act provided. (emphasis, italics and
underscoring supplied)
IN FINE, there is no statutory basis for the requirement of the Department Secretary's signature on the
Certificate of Sale, apart from a strained deduction of Section 18.
A deeper consideration of the operative act of compliance with the requirement in Section 18 that "[n]o lease or
sale made by Chief of the Bureau Public Lands under the provisions of this Act shall be valid until approved by
the Secretary" is in order. 10
The general proposition is that a petitioner's claim of ownership must fail in the absence of positive evidence
showing the Department Secretary's approval, which cannot simply be presumed or inferred from certain
acts. 11
Jurisprudential review is gainful only insofar as settling that the "approval" by the Department Secretary is
indispensable to the validity of the sale. Case law does notcategorically state that the required
142

"approval" must be in the form of a signature on the Certificate of Sale. Alonso v. Cebu Country Club,
Inc. 12 merely declared that the "deed of sale" was "not approved" by the Department Secretary. 13 Solid State
Multi-Products Corp. v. Court of Appeals 14 simply found that the Department Secretary "approv[ed] th[e] sale
without auction" and returned or referred the "application" to the Director of Lands. 15 In Liao v. Court of
Appeals, 16 the sale certificates were "approved" by a different 17 Department Secretary. Dela Torre v. Court of
Appeals 18 mentioned nothing about the signature of the Department Secretary, as the instrument of
conveyance was yet to be issued.
What then is the positive evidence of "approval" to lend validity to the sale of friar lands?
The ponencia 19 concludes, as a matter of course on the strength of Sections 11, 12 and 15, that the certificate
of sale must be signed by the Department Secretary for the sale to be valid. As discussed earlier, these three
Sections neither support the theory that such signing is required in the sale certificate nor shed light to the
specifics of approval.
I submit that the Department Secretary's signature on the certificate of sale is not one of the "requirements for
the issuance of the Deed of Conveyance under Act No. 1120." To require another signature of the Department
Secretary on the Certificate of Sale, on top of that deemed placed by Order 16-05 on the Deed of Conveyance, is
to impose a redundant requirement and render irrelevant the spirit of said Order.
IN FINE, petitioners having complied with the conditions for the applicability of Order 16-05, their Deed of
Conveyance is "deemed signed or otherwise ratified" by said Order.
It bears emphasis that Order 16-05 is a positive act on the part of the Department Secretary to remedy the
situation where, all other conditions having been establishedby competent evidence, the signature of the
Department Secretary is lacking. The Order aims to rectify a previous governmental inaction on an otherwise
legally valid claim, or affirm an earlier approval shown to be apparent and consistent by a credible paper trail.
Obviously, the incumbent Department Secretary can no longer probe into the deep recesses of his deceased
predecessors, or unearth irretrievably tattered documents at a time when the country and its records had long
been torn by war, just to satisfy himself with an explanation in the withholding of the signature. The meat of
Order 16-05 contemplates such bone of contention as in the present case.
The cloud of doubt regarding the validity of the conveyance to petitioners' predecessors-in-interest having been
removed by Order No. 16-05, petitioners' title over Lot 823 of the Piedad Estate is, I submit, valid.
WHEREFORE, I VOTE to declare the Manotoks' Transfer Certificate of Title No. RT-22481 (372302) VALID.
I CONCUR with the denial of the Barqueses' petition for reconstitution of title, and the declaration of nullity of
Felicitas B. Manahan's Deed of Conveyance No. V-200022.
SERENO, J., dissenting:
The function of law in modern societies is to allow a people to forge its common destiny and uphold its shared
values in a predictable and orderly manner. Except in authoritarian regimes where the consent of the governed
is immaterial from the point of view of the ruler and where illegitimate force compels obeisance, aspiring modern
democracies collectively assign to the State the function of keeping order, not only in the streets, but in a more
fundamental way in meeting expectations that have been spelled out in the legal system. The function of
courts, especially that of the Philippine Supreme Court within the State apparatus, is to issue judicial edicts that
consistently uphold legitimate expectations to promote stability and not chaos. Thus a decision that introduces
instability without an overweening legal reason that has emanated from the people themselves or from the
legislature should instinctively be avoided by the Supreme Court. This the majority failed to do.
The Majority Decision accomplished only the following: (1) it introduced a stale, formalistic technical requirement
into the system of acquisition of friar lands that trumps satisfaction of all the other elements of lawful, effective
possession and ownership thereof; (2) it imbued a rigid meaning into the term "approval" by the Secretary of
143

Agrarian and Natural Resources that ignores the wealth of jurisprudence in administrative law including the
notion of operative facts and tacit approval; (3) it enabled forgers of documents to land to take advantage of the
antiquity of a land system, or the fact that the land system had endured massive destruction of its records due
to fire, to attack land titles made vulnerable by these circumstances; (4) it encouraged a microscopic scrutiny of
all the technical requirements 106 years after the system of disposition of friar lands was set up, thus
endangering the property rights of all title holders to friar lands; and (5) it left open to attack the established
legal principles on sales and perfection of contracts. Contrary to the presumed intent of the majority of my
brethren, their opinion has not succeeded in clarifying the legal regime on friar lands but has instead created
dangers for the system of property rights in the Philippines.
Thus, I lend my voice to the Dissenting Opinions of Justices Carpio and Carpio Morales. The majority should
have considered the reasoning and objectives behind the Carpio and Carpio Morales Dissenting Opinions as
promotive of property rights. Without stability of property rights, the country's economic development process
and the pursuit of each man's right to happiness will in the long run be negated. This in turn up-ends
expectations on the part of the body politic that transactions between property right holders and transferees of
such rights will be respected. This respect for the sanctity of such transactions is supposed in turn to create a
virtuous cycle of commerce, the end result being that of a prosperous wealth-creating system. What the Majority
Decision did is exactly opposite the intent of our Constitution, when, in various provisions, it makes a stable
market mechanism equivalent to economic due process. In Article II, section 5 of the Constitution, the protection
of property is deemed essential for the enjoyment by all the people of the blessings of democracy. The just and
dynamic social order described in Section 9 of the same Article envisions a market system where transactions
validly entered upon are upheld by courts. Article II, section 1 in effect guarantees that the possession of all the
requisites for title-holding by persons not be disturbed save by superior legal bases.
Should the legal system fail to promote the stability of property rights, there will be an increase in the
uncertainty surrounding economic outcomes. If stability cannot be ensured and there is a lack of credible
commitment on the part of the ruling body to safeguard the rights of the right-bearers (i.e., the holders of rights
to property), the value of property is undermined by risk and there is far less incentive for investment. The
choices economic entities make will be severely limited, being hampered by these disincentives, and as a result,
economic growth will drop. Unpredictability and uncertainty with regard to future values, as well as the
inefficiencies of outcomes brought about by an uneven application of distributive arrangements of property
rights, will assail the very foundations of our economic system. The Majority Decision throws into disarray the
functional order of property laws.
When the Court in effect says that the following features of the Manotoks' claims are trumped by the lack of
affixation of a signature which the law in any case pronounces as but ministerial and thus superfluous it in
effect contradicts the logic of the Torrens system and the property rights system on which it is based. For one, it
conveys a message to the public that 77-year possession, payment of realty taxes, and a plethora of
documentary evidence are not enough to overturn a single technical detail which should have been in the first
place supplied by the Government, not by the Manotoks. Secondly, it is simply wrong for the Court to ignore the
remedial intent of DENR Memorandum Order No. 16-05, when the Order tries to supply a legal solution to the
problems created by the failure of the Secretary of the Interior/Agriculture and Natural Resources to affix his
signature to Deeds of Conveyance of friar lands.
While the private parties are expected to seek reconsideration of the Majority Decision, the Government is faced
with a choice created by the unexpected windfall this Court has granted it in the form of the reverted land
whether to live with and profit by the Majority Decision, or to seek its reconsideration because of the over-all
danger that the decision poses to the system of property rights. It can assert that DENR Memorandum Order No.
16-05 is the State's remedial measure intended to set to rest whatever doubts may have lingered regarding the
legal requirements on friar lands. It must carefully and correctly assess the situation arisen from the Majority
Decision that now confronts the State. After all, it will be the Government that will need to face the economic
fall-out from an unstable property rights regime.
144

||| (Manotok IV v. Heirs of Barque, G.R. Nos. 162335 & 162605, [August 24, 2010])

[G.R. Nos. 162335 & 162605. March 6, 2012.]


SEVERINO M. MANOTOK IV, FROILAN M. MANOTOK, FERNANDO M. MANOTOK III, MA. MAMERTA
M. MANOTOK, PATRICIA L. TIONGSON, PACITA L. GO, ROBERTO LAPERAL III, MICHAEL MARSHALL
V. MANOTOK, MARYANN 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.
RESOLUTION
VILLARAMA, JR., J p:
At bar are the motions for reconsideration separately filed by the Manotoks, Barques and Manahans of our
Decision promulgated on August 24, 2010, the dispositive portion of which reads:
WHEREFORE, the petitions filed by the Manotoks under Rule 45 of the 1997 Rules of Civil Procedure, as
amended, as well as the petition-in-intervention of the Manahans, are DENIED. The petition for reconstitution of
title filed by the Barques is likewise DENIED. TCT No. RT-22481 (372302) in the name of Severino Manotok IV,
et al., TCT No. 210177 in the name of Homer L. Barque and Deed of Conveyance No. V-200022 issued to
Felicitas B. Manahan, are all hereby declared NULL and VOID. The Register of Deeds of Caloocan City and/or
Quezon City are hereby ordered to CANCEL the said titles. The Court hereby DECLARES that Lot 823 of the
Piedad Estate, Quezon City legally belongs to the NATIONAL GOVERNMENT OF THE REPUBLIC OF THE
PHILIPPINES, without prejudice to the institution of REVERSION proceedings by the State through the Office of
the Solicitor General.
With costs against the petitioners.
SO ORDERED.
The Manotoks raised the following grounds in their motion for reconsideration with motion for oral arguments:
1.It is unjust and oppressive to deprive the Manotoks of property they have long held and acquired from the
State, on consideration fully paid and received, and under registered title issued by the State itself, on nothing
more than the assumed failure of the State's agents to inscribe a ministerial "approval" on the transaction deeds.
2.The annulment of Friar Land sales, simply because physical evidence of the Secretary's ministerial approval
can no longer be found, may void transactions involving thousands of hectares of land, and affect possibly
millions of people to whom the lands may have since been parceled out, sold and resold. IACDaS
3.The Manotoks were given no due notice of the issue of reversion, which this case on appeal did not include,
and which was thrust upon the Manotoks only in the final resolution disposing of the appeal.
It would be error for the Honorable Court to let this matter go without a serious and full re-examination. This
can be accomplished, among others, by allowing this motion for reconsideration to be heard on oral argument,
to try to permit all pertinent considerations to be aired before the Court and taken into account.
4.These G.R. Nos. 162335 and 162605 were an appeal from administrative reconstitution proceedings before
LRA Reconstitution officer Benjamin Bustos. But the Resolution dated 18 December 2008 which finally reversed
the CA's rulings, affirmed the denial by Bustos of the application for administrative reconstitution of the Barques'
145

purported transfer certificate of title, and terminated the appeal introduced a new "case" on the Manotok
property. It ordered evidence-taking at the CA, on which the Supreme Court proposed itself to decide, in the first
instance, an alleged ownership controversy over the Manotok property.
5.The Manotoks objected to the "remand" on jurisdictional and due process grounds. The original and exclusive
jurisdiction over the subject matter of the case is vested by law on the regional trial courts.
6.The Honorable Court erred in proceeding to judgment divesting the Manotoks of their title to Lot 823 of the
Piedad Estate, without a trial in the courts of original and exclusive jurisdiction, and in disregard of process

which the law accords to all owners-in-possession.


7.The Honorable Court erred in concluding that the Manotoks, despite being owners in possession under a
registered title, may be compelled to produce the deeds by which the Government had transferred the property
to them, and "failing" which can be divested of their ownership in favor of the Government, even if the latter has
not demanded a reversion or brought suit for that purpose.
8.The Honorable Court erred in imposing on the Manotoks, contrary to Art. 541 of the Civil Code, the obligation
to prove their ownership of the subject property, and in awarding their title to the Government who has not
even sued to contest that ownership.
9.The Honorable Court erred in finding that Sale Certificate No. 1054, which Severino Manotok acquired by
assignment in 1923, was not approved by the Director of Lands and the Secretary of Agriculture and Natural
Resources, and in finding that a Sale Certificate without the Secretary's approval is void.
10.The Honorable Court erred in concluding that the Manotoks had no valid Deed of Conveyance of Lot 823 from
the Government. The original of Deed of Conveyance No. 29204 gave the register of deeds the authority to issue
the transfer certificate of title in the name of the buyer Severino Manotok, which is required by law to be filed
with and retained in the custody of the register of deeds. We presume that the copy thereof actually transmitted
to and received by the register of deeds did contain the Secretary's signature because he in fact issued the
TCT. And we rely on this presumption because the document itself can no longer be found.
11.Assuming arguendo that the original Deed of Conveyance No. 29204 the register of deeds received did not
bear the Department Secretary's signature, DENRMemorandum Order No. 16-05 dated October 27, 2005 cured
the defect. To deny the Manotoks the benefit of ratification under said MO, on the erroneous interpretation that
it covered only those found in the records of the "field offices" of the DENR and LMB, would be discriminatory.
The Department Secretary's (assumed) failure to affix his signature on the deed of conveyance could not defeat
the Manotoks' right to the lot after they had fully paid for it.
Republic Act No. 9443 must be applied, mutatis mutandis, to the Manotoks and the Piedad Estate.
12.The Honorable Court erred in denying their right to be informed of the CA's report and be heard thereon prior
to judgment, as basic requirements of due process.
The Barques anchor their motion for reconsideration on the following:
I
THE HONORABLE SUPREME COURT GRAVELY ERRED IN DENYING THE PETITION FOR RECONSTITUTION FILED
BY RESPONDENTS HEIRS OF BARQUE WITHOUT STATING THE GROUNDS FOR SUCH DENIAL. THIAaD
II
THE HONORABLE SUPREME COURT GRAVELY ERRED IN INSTANTLY DECLARING IN THE DISPOSITIVE
PORTION OF THE DECISION THAT ALONG WITH FELICITAS B. MANAHAN'S TITLE, RESPONDENTS HEIRS OF
BARQUE'S TITLE TCT NO. 210177 IS LIKEWISE NULL AND VOID, WITHOUT STATING A CLEAR AND DEFINITE
BASIS THEREFOR.
146

III
THE HONORABLE SUPREME COURT GRAVELY ERRED IN DECLARING TRANSFER CERTIFICATE OF TITLE NO.
210177 IN THE NAME OF HOMER L. BARQUE NULL AND VOID.
IV
THE HONORABLE COURT OF APPEALS' FACTUAL FINDINGS, ADOPTED BY THE HONORABLE SUPREME COURT
IN THE DECISION DATED 24 AUGUST 2010, ARE CONTRARY TO THE EVIDENCE PRESENTED.
V
THE HONORABLE SUPREME COURT'S FINDINGS IN THE DECISION DATED 24 AUGUST 2010 ARE CONTRARY
TO LAW.
As to the Manahans, they seek a partial reconsideration and to allow further reception of evidence, stating the
following grounds:
I.As the original of Sale Certificate No. 511 could not be found in the files of the LMB or the DENR-NCR at the
time of the hearings before the Commissioners, the existence of the certificate was proven by secondary
evidence. The Commissioners erred in ignoring secondary evidence of the contents of Sale Certificate No. 511
because of mere doubt and suspicion as to its authenticity and in the absence of contradicting evidence.
II.The OSG which has been tasked by the Honorable Court to obtain documents from the LMB and DENR-NCR
relative to the conveyance of Lot 823, Piedad Estate, furnished intevenors with a certified true copy of Sale
Certificate No. 511 which it obtained from the DENR-NCR on September 11, 2010, together with the explanation
of DENR-NCR why the document is available only now. (Certified true copy of Sale Certificate No. 511 and Sworn
Explanation of Evelyn G. Celzo attached as Annexes "I" and "II".
III.When Valentin Manahan offered to purchase Lot 823, Piedad Estate, being the "actual settler and occupant"
who under the law enjoyed preference to buy the lot, his status as "actual settler and occupant" must have been
verified by the Bureau of Public Lands because the presumption is that official duty has been regularly
performed. The administrative determination of the status of Valentin Manahan as "actual settler and occupant"
can not now be reviewed after the lapse of about eight (8) decades when parties, witnesses, documents and
other evidence are hardly or no longer available.
IV.Abundant evidence was submitted by intervenors that they and their predecessors-in-interest occupied and
possessed Lot 823 up to 1948 when they were dispossessed by armed men. It was error for the Commissioners
to ignore the evidence of the intervenors, there being no contradicting proof.
V.The Commissioners committed palpable error in not according evidentiary value to the Investigation Report of
Evelyn dela Rosa because it is allegedly "practically a replica or summation of Felicitas B. Manahan's allegations
embodied in her petition." Examination of the dates of the documents will show that the Investigation Report
preceded the Petition. The Petition, therefore, is based on the Investigation Report, and not the other way
around. DTcACa
VI.The pronouncement of the Commissioners that Sale Certificate No. 511 is stale is incorrect. Intervenors made
continuing efforts to secure a deed of conveyance based on Sale Certificate No. 511. Defense of staleness or
laches belongs to the party against whom the claim is asserted; it is only that party who can raise it. It can also
be waived, as in this case when the LMB which had the sole authority under Act No. 1120 to convey friar lands,
issued to intervenor Felicitas B. Manahan Deed of Conveyance No. V-2000-22.
VII.The requirement of Act No. 1120 that a deed of conveyance of friar land must be signed by the Secretary of
Interior was dispensed with pursuant to law and Presidential issuances which have the force of law.
VIII.Deeds of conveyance lacking the signature of the Department Secretary were ratified by President Joseph
Estrada and DENR Secretary Michael T. Defensor.
147

The motions are bereft of merit.


Upon the theory that this Court had no power to cancel their certificate of title over Lot 823, Piedad Estate in the
resolution of the present controversy, the Manotoks contend that our Resolution of December 18, 2008
terminated the appeal from the Land Registration Authority (LRA) administrative reconstitution proceedings by
reversing the CA's rulings and affirming the denial by LRA Reconstitution Officer Benjamin M. Bustos of the
application for administrative reconstitution of the Barques' Transfer Certificate of Title (TCT) No. 210177. The
appeal having been terminated, the Manotoks argued that the remand to the CA for evidence-taking had
introduced a new "case" in which this Court will decide, in the first instance, an "alleged" ownership issue over
the property. Such action is legally infirm since the law has vested exclusive original jurisdiction over civil actions
involving title to real property on the trial courts.
The argument is untenable.
In our December 18, 2008 Resolution, we set aside the December 12, 2005 Decision rendered by the First
Division and recalled the entry of judgment. We ruled that neither the CA nor the LRA had jurisdiction to cancel
the Manotok title, a relief sought by the Barques in the administrative reconstitution proceedings. The Court En
Banc proceeded with the reevaluation of the cases on a pro hac vice basis. During the oral arguments, there
were controversial factual matters which emerged as the parties fully ventilated their respective claims, in the
course of which the Barques' claim of ownership was found to be exceedingly weak. Indeed, both the LRA and
CA erred in ruling that the Barques had the right to seek reconstitution of their purported title. Reevaluation of
the evidence on record likewise indicated that the Manotoks' claim to title is just as flawed as that of the
Barques. Following the approach in Alonso v. Cebu Country Club, Inc. 1 also involving a Friar Land, Republic v.
Court of Appeals 2 and Manotok Realty, Inc. v. CLT Realty Development Corporation, 3 the majority resolved to
remand this case for reception of evidence on the parties' competing claims of ownership over Lot 823 of the
Piedad Estate. Given the contentious factual issues, it was necessary for this Court to resolve the same for the
complete determination of the present controversy involving a huge tract of friar land. It was thus not the first
time the Court had actually resorted to referring a factual matter pending before it to the CA.
Maintaining their objection to the order for reception of evidence on remand, the Manotoks argue that as owners
in possession, they had no further duty to defend their title pursuant to Article 541 of the Civil Code which states
that: "[a] possessor in the concept of owner has in his favor the legal presumption that he possesses with a just
title and he cannot be obliged to show or prove it." But such presumption is prima facie, and therefore it
prevails until the contrary is proved. 4 In the light of serious flaws in the title of Severino Manotok which were
brought to light during the reconstitution proceedings, the Court deemed it proper to give all the parties full
opportunity to adduce further evidence, and in particular, for the Manotoks to prove their presumed just
title over the property also claimed by the Barques and the Manahans. As it turned out, none of the parties were
able to establish by clear and convincing evidence a valid alienation from the Government of the subject friar
land. The declaration of ownership in favor of the Government was but the logical consequence of such
finding. EDSHcT
We have ruled that the existence of Sale Certificate No. 1054 in the records of the DENR-LMB was not duly
established. No officer of the DENR-NCR or LMB having official custody of sale certificates covering friar lands
testified as to the issuance and authenticity of Exh. 10 submitted by the Manotoks. And even assuming that Exh.
10 was actually sourced from the DENR-LMB, there was no showing that it was duly issued by the Director of
Lands and approved by the Secretary of Agriculture and Natural Resources (DENR). On this point, the Manotoks
hinted that the LMB's certifying the document (Exh. 10) at the Manotoks' request was a deliberate fraud in order
to give them either a false document, the usual unsigned copy of the signed original, or a fake copy.
The Manotoks further assert that this would imply that the LMB either did not produce the genuine article, or
could not produce it. This could only mean that the document which the NBI "found" to be fake or spurious, if
this Court accepts that finding, was "planted evidence" or evidence inserted in the LMB files to discredit the
Manotok title. Nonetheless, the Manotoks insist there were independent evidence which supposedly established
148

the prior existence of Sale Certificate No. 1054. These documents are: (a) photocopy of Assignment of Sale
Certificate No. 1054 dated 1929; (b) official receipt of payment for said certified copy; (c) photocopies of the
other assignment deeds dated 1923; (d) official receipts of installment payments on Lot 823 issued to Severino
Manotok; (e) file copies in the National Archives of the Deed of Conveyance No. 29204; and (f) the notarial
registers in which the said Deed of Conveyance, as well as the assignment documents, were entered.
The contentions have no merit, and at best speculative. As this Court categorically ruled in Alonso v. Cebu
Country Club, Inc., 5 "approval by the Secretary of Agriculture and Commerce of the sale of friar lands is
indispensable for its validity, hence, the absence of such approval made the sale null and void ab initio." In that
case, the majority declared that no valid titles can be issued on the basis of the sale or assignment made in
favor of petitioner's father due to the absence of signature of the Director of Lands and the Secretary of the
Interior, and the approval of the Secretary of Natural Resources in the Sale Certificate and Assignment of Sale
Certificate. Applying the Alonso ruling to these cases, we thus held that no legal right over the subject friar land
can be recognized in favor of the Manotoks under the assignment documents in the absence of the certificate of
sale duly signed by the Director of Lands and approved by the Secretary of Agriculture and Natural Resources.
That a valid certificate of sale was issued to Severino Manotok's assignors cannot simply be presumed from the
execution of assignment documents in his favor. Neither can it be deduced from the alleged issuance of the halftorn TCT No. 22813, itself a doubtful document as its authenticity was not established, much less the veracity of
its recitals because the name of the registered owner and date of issuance do not appear at all. The Manotoks
until now has not offered any explanation as to such condition of the alleged title of Severino Manotok; they
assert that it is the Register of Deeds himself "who should be in a position to explain that condition of the TCT in
his custody." But then, no Register of Deeds had testified and attested to the fact that the original of TCT No.
22813 was under his/her custody, nor that said certificate of title in the name of Severino Manotok existed in the
files of the Registry of Deeds of Caloocan or Quezon City. The Manotoks consistently evaded having to explain
the circumstances as to how and where TCT No. 22813 came about. Instead, they urge this Court to validate
their alleged title on the basis of the disputable presumption of regularity in the performance of official duty.
Such stance hardly satisfies the standard of clear and convincing evidence in these cases. Even the existence of
the official receipts showing payment of the price to the land by Severino Manotok does not prove that the land
was legally conveyed to him without any contract of sale having been executed by the government in his favor.
Neither did the alleged issuance of TCT No. 22183 in his favor vest ownership upon him over the land nor did it
validate the alleged purchase of Lot 283, which is null and void. The absence of the Secretary's approval in
Certificate of Sale No. 1054 made the supposed sale null and void ab initio. 6
In the light of the foregoing, the claim of the Barques who, just like the Manahans, were unable to produce an
authentic and genuine sale certificate, must likewise fail. The Decision discussed extensively the findings of the
CA that the Barques' documentary evidence were either spurious or irregularly procured, which even buttressed
the earlier findings mentioned in the December 18, 2008 Resolution. The CA's findings and recommendations
with respect to the claims of all parties, have been fully adopted by this Court, as evident in our disquisitions on
the indispensable requirement of a validly issued Certificate of Sale over Lot 823, Piedad Estate. IADaSE
As to the motion of the Manahans to admit an alleged certified true copy of Sale Certificate No. 511 dated June
23, 1913 in the name of Valentin Manahan which, as alleged in the attached Sworn Explanation of Evelyn G.
Celzo, the latter had inadvertently failed to attach to her Investigation Report forwarded to the CENRO, this
Court cannot grant said motion.
This belatedly submitted copy of Sale Certificate No. 511 was not among those official documents which the
Office of the Solicitor General (OSG) offered as evidence, as in fact no copy thereof can be found in the records
of either the DENR-NCR or LMB. Moreover, the sudden emergence of this unauthenticated document is
suspicious, considering that Celzo who testified, as witness for both the OSG and the Manahans, categorically
admitted that she never actually saw the application to purchase and alleged Sale Certificate No. 511 of the
Manahans. The relevant portions of the transcript of stenographic notes of the cross-examination of said witness
during the hearing before the CA are herein quoted:
149

ATTY. SAN JUAN:


How about this part concerning Valentin Manahan having applied for the purchase of the land? Did you get this
from the neighbors or from Felicitas Manahan?
xxx xxx xxx
WITNESS:
No, sir. Only the Records Section, sir, that Valentin Manahan applied, sir.
ATTY. SAN JUAN:
You did not see Valentin Manahan's application but only the Records Section saw it?
WITNESS:
Yes, sir.
ATTY. SAN JUAN:
Did they tell you that they saw the application?
WITNESS:
I did not go further, sir.
xxx xxx xxx
ATTY. SAN JUAN:
And this report of yours says that Valentin Manahan was issued Sale Certificate No. 511 after completing the
payment of the price of P2,140?
WITNESS:
Yes, sir.
ATTY. SAN JUAN:
You also got this from the records of the LMB, is that correct?
WITNESS:
Yes, sir.
ATTY. SAN JUAN:
You actually saw the sale certificate that was issued to Valentin Manahan after he paid the price of
P2,140?
WITNESS:
No, sir. I did not go further.
ATTY. SAN JUAN:
You did not see the sale certificate?
WITNESS:
Yes, Sir, but I asked only.
150

ATTY. SAN JUAN: cDaEAS


Who did you ask?
WITNESS:
The records officer, sir.
ATTY. SAN JUAN:
Whose name you can no longer recall, correct?
WITNESS:
I can no longer recall, sir.
ATTY. SAN JUAN:
And the information to you was the Sale Certificate No. 511 was issued after the price was fully paid?
WITNESS:
Yes, sir.
ATTY. SAN JUAN:
And it was only after he applied for the purchase of the lot sometime after the survey of 1939 that he was
issued Sale Certificate No. 511?
WITNESS:
I am not aware of the issuance of sale certificate. I am aware only of the deed of assignment, Sir.
xxx xxx xxx 7 (Emphasis supplied.)
In view of the above admission, Celzo's explanation that the copy of Sale Certificate No. 511 signed by the
Director of Lands and Secretary of the Interior was originally attached to her Investigation Report, cannot be
given credence. Even her testimony regarding the conduct of her investigation of Lot 823, Piedad Estate and the
Investigation Report she submitted thereafter, failed to impress the CA on the validity of the Manahans' claim.
Indeed, records showed that Celzo's findings in her report were merely based on what Felicitas Manahan told
her about the alleged occupation and possession by Valentin Manahan of the subject land.
In their Offer of Additional Evidence, the Manahans submitted a photocopy of a letter dated December 21, 2010
allegedly sent by Atty. Allan V. Barcena (OIC, Director) to their counsel, Atty. Romeo C. dela Cruz, which reads:
This has reference to your letter dated August 20, 2010 addressed to the Secretary of the Department of
Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) requesting that Deed of Conveyance No. V-200022 issued on
October 30, 2000 over Lot 823 of the Piedad Estate in favor of Felicitas B. Manahan be ratified or confirmed for
reasons stated therein. The Office of the DENR Secretary in turn referred the letter to us for appropriate action.
Records of this Office on Lot 823 of the Piedad Estate, show that the Deed of Conveyance No. V200022 covering said lot in favor of Felicitas Manahan was issued by then Director of the Land
Management Bureau (LMB), now Undersecretary Ernesto D. Adobo, Jr., on October 30, 2000. The
Deed was issued based on General Memorandum Order (GMO) No. 1 issued by then Secretary Jose J. Leido, Jr.
of the Department of Natural Resources on January 17, 1977, which authorized the Director of Lands, now
Director of LMB, to approve contracts of sale and deeds of conveyance affecting Friar Lands.
It is stressed that the confirmation of the Deed by this office is only as to the execution and issuance based on
the authority of LMB Director under GMO No. 1. This is without prejudice to the final decision of the Supreme
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Court as to its validity in the case of "Severino Manotok IV, et al. versus Heirs of Homer L. Barque" (G.R.
No.162335 & 162605).
Please be guided accordingly. 8 (Emphasis supplied.)
However, in the absence of a valid certificate of sale duly signed by the Secretary of Interior or Agriculture and
Natural Resources, such alleged confirmation of the execution and issuance by the DENR-LMB of Deed of
Conveyance No. V-00022 in favor of Felicitas Manahan on October 30, 2000 is still insufficient to prove the
Manahans' claim over the subject land. HICcSA
In a Supplemental Manifestation dated November 18, 2010, the Manotoks submitted an affidavit supposedly
executed on November 11, 2010 by former DENR Secretary Michael T. Defensor ("Defensor Affidavit") clarifying
that MO 16-05 applies to all Deeds of Conveyance that do not bear the signature of the Secretary of Natural
Resources, contrary to the CA and this Court's statement that said issuance refers only to those deeds of
conveyance on file with the records of the DENR field offices.
By its express terms, however, MO 16-05 covered only deeds of conveyances and not unsigned certificates of
sale. The explanation of Secretary Defensor stated the avowed purpose behind the issuance, which is "to
remove doubts or dispel objections as to the validity of all Torrens transfer certificates of title issued over friar
lands" thereby "ratifying the deeds of conveyance to the friar land buyers who have fully paid the purchase
price, and are otherwise not shown to have committed any wrong or illegality in acquiring such lands."
The Manahans propounded the same theory that contracts of sale over friar lands without the approval of the
Secretary of Natural Resources may be subsequently ratified, but pointed out that unlike the Manotoks' Deed of
Conveyance No. 29204 (1932), their Deed of Conveyance No. V-2000-22 (2000) was issued and approved by the
Director of Lands upon prior authority granted by the Secretary.
In their Consolidated Memorandum dated December 19, 2010, the Manahans reiterated their earlier argument
that the LMB Director himself had the authority toapprove contracts of sale and deeds of conveyance over friar
lands on the basis of General Memorandum Order No. 1 issued in 1977 by then Secretary of Natural Resources
Jose J. Leido, Jr. delegating such function to the Director of Lands. This delegated power can also be gleaned
from Sec. 15, Chapter 1, Title XIV of theAdministrative Code of 1987 which provides that the Director of Lands
shall "perform such other functions as may be provided by law or assigned by the Secretary." Moreover, former
President Corazon C. Aquino issued Executive Order No. 131 dated January 20, 1987 reorganizing the LMB and
providing that the LMB Director shall, among others, perform other functions as may be assigned by the Minister
of Natural Resources.
On the basis of Art. 1317 9 of the Civil Code, the Manahans contend that deeds of conveyance not bearing the
signature of the Secretary can also be ratified. Further, they cite Proclamation No. 172 issued by former
President Joseph Ejercito Estrada which declared that there should be no legal impediment for the LMB to issue
such deeds of conveyance since the applicants/purchasers have already paid the purchase price of the lot, and
as sellers in good faith, it is the obligation of the Government to deliver to said applicants/purchasers the friar
lands sold free of any lien or encumbrance whatsoever. Eventually, when MO 16-05 was issued by Secretary
Defensor, all these deeds of conveyance lacking the signature of the Secretary of Natural Resources are thus
deemed signed or otherwise ratified. The CA accordingly erred in holding that MO 16-05 cannot override Act No.
1120 which requires that a deed of conveyance must be signed by the Secretary, considering that MO 16-05 is
based on law and presidential issuances, particularly EO 131, which have the force of law.
Meanwhile, in compliance with our directive, the Solicitor General filed his Comment on the Defensor Affidavit
submitted by the Manotoks. The Solicitor General contends that said document is hearsay evidence, hence
inadmissible and without probative value. He points out that former DENR Secretary Defensor was not presented
as a witness during the hearings at the CA, thus depriving the parties including the government of the right to
cross-examine him regarding his allegations therein. And even assuming arguendo that such affidavit is
admissible as evidence, the Solicitor General is of the view that the Manotoks, Barques and Manahans still
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cannot benefit from the remedial effect of MO 16-05 in view of the decision rendered by this Court which ruled
that none of the parties in this case has established a valid alienation from the Government of Lot 823 of the
Piedad Estate, and also because the curative effect of MO 16-05 is intended only for friar land buyers whose
deeds of conveyance lack the signature of the Secretary of the Interior or Agriculture and Natural Resources,
have fully paid the purchase price and are otherwise not shown to have committed any wrong or illegality in
acquiring the friar lands. He then emphasizes that this Court has ruled that it is not only the deed of conveyance
which must be signed by the Secretary but also the certificate of sale itself. Since none of the parties has shown
a valid disposition to any of them of Lot 823 of the Piedad Estate, this Court therefore correctly held that said
friar land is still part of the patrimonial property of the national government. ASTIED
The Court is not persuaded by the "ratification theory" espoused by the Manotoks and Manahans.
The argument that the Director of Lands had delegated authority to approve contracts of sale and deeds of
conveyances over friar lands ignores the consistent ruling of this Court in controversies involving friar lands. The
aforementioned presidential/executive issuances notwithstanding, this Court held in Solid State MultiProducts Corporation v. CA, 10 Liao v. Court of Appeals, 11 and Alonso v. Cebu Country Club 12 that approval
of the Secretary of Agriculture and Commerce (later the Natural Resources) is indispensable to the validity of
sale of friar land pursuant to Sec. 18 of Act No. 1120 and that the procedure laid down by said law must be
strictly complied with.
As to the applicability of Art. 1317 of the Civil Code, we maintain that contracts of sale lacking the approval of
the Secretary fall under the class of void and inexistent contracts enumerated in Art. 1409 13 which cannot be
ratified. Section 18 of Act No. 1120 mandated the approval by the Secretary for a sale of friar land to be valid.
In his dissenting opinion, Justice Antonio T. Carpio disagreed with the majority's interpretation of Section 18
of Act No. 1120, and proposed that based on Section 12 of the same Act, it is the Deed of Conveyance that must
bear the signature of the Secretary of Interior/Agriculture and Natural Resources "because it is only when the
final installment is paid that the Secretary can approve the sale, the purchase price having been fully paid." It
was pointed out that the majority itself expressly admit that "it is only a ministerial duty on the part of the
Secretary to sign the Deed of Conveyance once the applicant had made full payment on the purchase price of
the land", citing jurisprudence to the effect that "notwithstanding the failure of the government to issue the
proper instrument of conveyance when the purchaser finally pays the final installment of the purchase price, the
purchase of the friar land still acquired ownership.
We are unable to agree with the view that it is only the Director of Lands who signs the Certificate of Sale.
The official document denominated as "Sale Certificate" clearly required both the signatures of the Director of
Lands who issued such sale certificate to an applicant settler/occupant and the Secretary of the
Interior/Agriculture and Natural Resources indicating his approval of the sale. These forms had been prepared
and issued by the Chief of the Bureau of Public Lands under the supervision of the Secretary of the Interior,
consistent with Act No. 1120 "as may be necessary . . . to carry into effect all the provisions [thereof] that are to
be administered by or under [his] direction, and for the conduct of all proceedings arising under such
provisions." 14
We reiterate that Section 18 of Act No. 1120, as amended, is plain and categorical in stating that:
SECTION 18.No lease or sale made by the Chief of the Bureau of Public Lands under the provisions of this Act
shall be valid until approved by the Secretary of the Interior.
Section 12 did not mention the requirement of signature or approval of the Secretary in the sale certificate and
deed of conveyance.
SECTION 12.It shall be the duty of the Chief of the Bureau of Public Lands by proper investigation to ascertain
what is the actual value of the parcel of land held by each settler and occupant, taking into consideration the
location and quality of each holding of land, and any other circumstances giving [it] value. The basis of valuation
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shall likewise be, so far as practicable, such [as] the aggregate of the values of all the holdings included in each
particular tract shall be equal to the cost to the Government to the entire tract, including the cost of surveys,
administration and interest upon the purchase money to the time of sale. When the cost thereof shall have been
thus ascertained, the Chief of the Bureau of Public Lands shall give the said settler and occupant a certificate
which shall set forth in detail that the Government has agreed to sell to such settler and occupant the amount of
land so held by him, at the price so fixed, payable as provided in this Act at the office of the Chief of Bureau of
Public Lands, in gold coin of the United States or its equivalent in Philippine currency, and that upon the
payment of the final installment together with [the] accrued interest the Government will convey to such settler
and occupant the said land so held by him by proper instrument of conveyance, which shall be issued and
become effective in the manner provided in section one hundred and twenty-two of the Land Registration Act.
The Chief of the Bureau of Public Lands shall, in each instance where a certificate is given to the settler and
occupant of any holding, take his formal receipt showing the delivery of such certificate, signed by said settler
and occupant. DCAHcT
On the other hand, the first paragraph of Section 15 provides for the reservation of title in the Government only
for the purpose of ensuring payment of the purchase price, which means that the sale was subject only to the
resolutory condition of non-payment, while the second paragraph states that the purchaser thereby acquires
"the right of possession and purchase" by virtue of a certificate of sale "signed under the provisions
[thereof]." The certificate of sale evidences the meeting of the minds between the Government and the
applicant regarding the price, the specific parcel of friar land, and terms of payment. In Dela Torre v. Court of
Appeals, 15 we explained that the non-payment of the full purchase price is the only recognized resolutory
condition in the case of sale of friar lands. We have also held that it is the execution of the contract to sell and
delivery of the certificate of sale that vests title and ownership to the purchaser of friar land. 16 Where there is
no certificate of sale issued, the purchaser does not acquire any right of possession and purchase, as implied
from Section 15. By the mandatory language of Section 18, the absence of approval of the Secretary of
Interior/Agriculture and Natural Resources in the lease or sale of friar land would invalidate the sale. These
provisions read together indicate that the approval of the Secretary is required in both the certificate of sale and
deed of conveyance, although the lack of signature of the Secretary in the latter may not defeat the rights of the
applicant who had fully paid the purchase price.
Justice Conchita Carpio Morales' dissent asserted that case law does not categorically state that the required
"approval" must be in the form of a signature on the Certificate of Sale, and that there is no statutory basis for
the requirement of the Secretary's signature on the Certificate of Sale "apart from a strained deduction of
Section 18."
As already stated, the official forms being used by the Government for this purpose clearly show that the
Director of Lands signs every certificate of sale issued covering a specific parcel of friar land in favor of the
applicant/purchaser while the Secretary of Interior/Natural Resources signs the document indicating that the sale
wasapproved by him. To approve is to be satisfied with; to confirm, ratify, sanction, or consent to some act or
thing done by another; to sanction officially. 17 The Secretary of Interior/Natural Resources signs and approves
the Certificate of Sale to confirm and officially sanction the conveyance of friar lands executed by the Chief of
the Bureau of Public Lands (later Director of Lands). It is worth mentioning that Sale Certificate No. 651 in the
name of one Ambrosio Berones dated June 23, 1913, 18 also covering Lot 823 of the Piedad Estate and forming
part of the official documents on file with the DENR-LMB which was formally offered by the OSG as part of the
official records on file with the DENR and LMB pertaining to Lot 823, contains the signature of both the Director
of Lands and Secretary of the Interior. The Assignment of Sale Certificate No. 651 dated April 19, 1930 was also
signed by the Director of Lands. 19
Following the dissent's interpretation that the Secretary is not required to sign the certificate of sale while his
signature in the Deed of Conveyance may also appear although merely a ministerial act, it would result in the
absurd situation wherein the certificate of sale and deed of conveyance both lacked the signature and approval
of the Secretary, and yet the purchaser's ownership is ratified, courtesy of DENR Memorandum Order (MO) No.
16-05. It is also not farfetched that greater chaos will arise from conflicting claims over friar lands, which could
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not be definitively settled until the genuine and official manifestation of the Secretary's approval of the sale is
discerned from the records and documents presented. This state of things is simply not envisioned under the
orderly and proper distribution of friar lands to bona fideoccupants and settlers whom the Chief of the Bureau of
Public Lands was tasked to identify. 20
The existence of a valid certificate of sale therefore must first be established with clear and convincing evidence
before a purchaser is deemed to have acquired ownership over a friar land notwithstanding the non-issuance by
the Government, for some reason or another, of a deed of conveyance after completing the installment
payments. In the absence of such certificate of sale duly signed by the Secretary, no right can be recognized in
favor of the applicant. Neither would any assignee or transferee acquire any right over the subject land. EaISDC
In Alonso v. Cebu Country Club, Inc., 21 the Court categorically ruled that the absence of approval by the
Secretary of Agriculture and Commerce in the sale certificate and assignment of sale certificate made the sale
null and void ab initio. Necessarily, there can be no valid titles issued on the basis of such sale or
assignment. 22
Justice Carpio, however, opined that the ruling in Alonso "was superseded with the issuance by then Department
of [Environment] and Natural Resources (DENR) Secretary Michael T. Defensor of DENR Memorandum Order No.
16-05." It was argued that the majority had construed a "limited application" when it declared that the Manotoks
could not benefit from said memorandum order because the latter refers only to deeds of conveyance "on file
with the records of the DENR field offices".
We disagree with the view that Alonso is no longer applicable to this controversy after the issuance of DENR MO
No. 16-05 which supposedly cured the defect in the Manotoks' title.

First, DENR MO No. 16-05 explicitly makes reference only to Deeds of Conveyances, not to Sale Certificates by
which, under the express language of Section 15, the purchaser of friar land acquires the right of possession and
purchase pending final payment and the issuance of title, such certificate being duly signed under the provisions
of Act No. 1120. Although the whereas clause of MO No. 16-05 correctly stated that it was only a ministerial duty
on the part of the Secretary to sign the Deed of Conveyance once the applicant had made full payment on the
purchase price of the land, it must be stressed that in those instances where the formality of the Secretary's
approval and signature is dispensed with, there was a valid certificate of sale issued to the purchaser or
transferor. In this case, there is no indication in the records that a certificate of sale was actually issued to the
assignors of Severino Manotok, allegedly the original claimants of Lot 823, Piedad Estate. DacASC

Second, it is basic that an administrative issuance like DENR Memorandum Order No. 16-05 must conform to and
not contravene existing laws. In the interpretation and construction of the statutes entrusted to them for
implementation, administrative agencies may not make rules and regulations which are inconsistent with the
statute it is administering, or which are in derogation of, or defeat its purpose. In case of conflict between a
statute and an administrative order, the former must prevail. 23DENR Memorandum Order No. 16-05 cannot
supersede or amend the clear mandate of Section 18, Act No. 1120 as to dispense with the requirement of
approval by the Secretary of the Interior/Agriculture and Natural Resources of every lease or sale of friar lands.
But what is worse, as the dissent suggests, is that MO 16-05 would apply even to those deeds of
conveyances not found in the records of DENR or its field offices, such as the Manotoks' Deed of Conveyance
No. 29204 sourced from the National Archives. It would then cover cases of claimants who have not been issued
any certificate of sale but were able to produce a deed of conveyance in their names. The Bureau of Lands was
originally charged with the administration of all laws relative to friar lands, pursuant to Act No. 2657 and Act No.
2711. Under Executive Order No. 192, 24 the functions and powers previously held by the Bureau of Lands were
absorbed by the Lands Management Bureau (LMB) of the DENR, while those functions and powers not absorbed
by the LMB were transferred to the regional field offices. 25 As pointed out by the Solicitor General in the
Memorandum submitted to the CA, since the LMB and DENR-NCR exercise sole authority over friar lands, they
are naturally the "sole repository of documents and records relative to Lot No. 823 of the Piedad Estate." 26
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Third, the perceived disquieting effects on titles over friar lands long held by generations of landowners cannot
be invoked as justification for legitimizing any claim or acquisition of these lands obtained through fraud or
without strict compliance with the procedure laid down in Act No. 1120. This Court, in denying with finality the
motion for reconsideration filed by petitioner in Alonso v. Cebu Country Club, Inc. 27 reiterated the settled rule
that "[a]pproval by the Secretary of the Interior cannot simply be presumed or inferred from certain acts since
the law is explicit in its mandate." 28 Petitioners failed to discharge their burden of proving their acquisition of
title by clear and convincing evidence, considering the nature of the land involved.
As consistently held by this Court, friar lands can be alienated only upon proper compliance with the
requirements of Act No. 1120. The issuance of a valid certificate of sale is a condition sine qua non for
acquisition of ownership under the Friar Lands Act. Otherwise, DENR Memorandum Order No. 16-05 would serve
as administrativeimprimatur to holders of deeds of conveyance whose acquisition may have been obtained
through irregularity or fraud.
Contrary to the dissent of Justice Maria Lourdes P. A. Sereno that our decision has "created dangers for the
system of property rights in the Philippines", the Court simply adhered strictly to the letter and spirit of the Friar
Lands Act and jurisprudence interpreting its provisions. Such imagined scenario of instability and chaos in the
established property regime, suggesting several other owners of lands formerly comprising the Piedad Estate
who are supposedly similarly situated, remains in the realm of speculation. Apart from their bare allegations,
petitioners (Manotoks) failed to demonstrate how the awardees or present owners of around more than 2,000
hectares of land in the Piedad Estate can be embroiled in legal disputes arising from unsigned certificates of sale.
On the other hand, this Court must take on the task of scrutinizing even certificates of title held for decades
involving lands of the public domain and those lands which form part of the Government's patrimonial property,
whenever necessary in the complete adjudication of the controversy before it or where apparent irregularities
and anomalies are shown by the evidence on record. There is nothing sacrosanct about the landholdings in the
Piedad Estate as even prior to the years when Lot 823 could have been possibly "sold" or disposed by the
Bureau of Lands, there were already reported anomalies in the distribution of friar lands in general. 29
Significantly, subsequent to the promulgation of our decision in Alonso, Republic Act No. (RA) 9443 was passed
by Congress confirming and declaring, subject to certain exceptions, the validity of existing TCTs and
reconstituted certificates of title covering the Banilad Friar Lands Estate situated in Cebu. Alonso involved a friar
land already titled but without a sale certificate, and upon that ground we declared the registered owner as not
having acquired ownership of the land. RA 9443 validated the titles "notwithstanding the lack of signatures
and/or approval of the then Secretary of Interior (later Secretary of Agriculture and Natural Resources) and/or
the then Chief of the Bureau of Public lands (later Director of Public Lands) in the copies of the duly executed
Sale Certificate and Assignments of Sale Certificates, as the case may be, now on file with the Community
Environment and Natural Resources Office (CENRO), Cebu City". IECcAT
The enactment of RA 9443 signifies the legislature's recognition of the statutory basis of the Alonso ruling to the
effect that in the absence of signature and/or approval of the Secretary of Interior/Natural Resources in
the Certificates of Sale on file with the CENRO, the sale is not valid and the purchaser has not acquired
ownership of the friar land. Indeed, Congress found it imperative to pass a new law in order to exempt the
already titled portions of the Banilad Friar Lands Estate from the operation of Section 18. This runs counter to
the dissent's main thesis that a mere administrative issuance (DENR MO No. 16-05) would be sufficient to cure
the lack of signature and approval by the Secretary in Certificate of Sale No. 1054 covering Lot 823 of the Piedad
Estate.
In any event, the Manotoks now seek the application of RA 9443 to the Piedad Estate, arguing that for said law
to be constitutionally valid, its continued operation must be interpreted in a manner that does not collide with
the equal protection clause. Considering that the facts in Alonso from which RA 9443 sprung are similar to those
in this case, it is contended that there is no reason to exclude the Piedad Estate from the ambit of RA 9443.

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Justice Carpio's dissent concurs with this view, stating that to limit its application to the Banilad Friar Lands
Estate will result in class legislation. RA 9443 supposedly should be extended to lands similarly situated, citing
the case of Central Bank Employees Association, Inc. v. Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas. 30
In the aforesaid case, the Court extended the benefits of subsequent laws exempting all rank-and-file employees
of other government financing institutions (GFIs) from the Salary Standardization Law (SSL) to the rank-and-file
employees of the BSP. We upheld the position of petitioner association that the continued operation of Section
15 (c), Article II of RA 7653 (the New Central Bank Act), which provides that the compensation and wage
structure of employees whose position fall under salary grade 19 and below shall be in accordance with the rates
prescribed under RA 6758 (SSL), constitutes "invidious discrimination on the 2,994 rank-and-file employees of
the [BSP]". Thus, as regards the exemption from the SSL, we declared that there were no characteristics
peculiar only to the seven GFIs or their rank-and-file so as to justify the exemption from the SSL which BSP
rank-and-file employees were denied. The distinction made by the law is superficial, arbitrary and not based on
substantial distinctions that make real differences between BSP rank-and-file and the seven other
GFIs. 31 TIaCAc
We are of the opinion that the provisions of RA 9443 may not be applied to the present case as to cure the lack
of signature of the Director of Lands and approval by the Secretary of Agriculture and Natural Resources in Sale
Certificate No. 1054.
The Court has explained the nature of equal protection guarantee in this manner:
The equal protection of the law clause is against undue favor and individual or class privilege, as well as hostile
discrimination or the oppression of inequality. It is not intended to prohibit legislation which is limited
either in the object to which it is directed or by territory within which it is to operate. It does not
demand absolute equality among residents; it merely requires that all persons shall be treated
alike, under like circumstances and conditions both as to privileges conferred and liabilities
enforced. The equal protection clause is not infringed by legislation which applies only to those persons falling
within a specified class, if it applies alike to all persons within such class, and reasonable grounds exist for
making a distinction between those who fall within such class and those who do not. 32(Emphasis and
underscoring supplied.)
Section 1 of RA 9443 provides:
Section 1.All existing Transfer Certificates of Title and Reconstituted Certificates of Title duly issued
by the Register of Deeds of Cebu Province and/or Cebu City covering any portion of the Banilad Friar Lands
Estate, notwithstanding the lack of signatures and/or approval of the then Secretary of the Interior (later
Secretary of Agriculture and Natural Resources) and/or the then Chief of the Bureau of Public Lands (later
Director of Public Lands) in the copies of the duly executed Sale Certificates and Assignments of Sales
Certificates, as the case may be, now on file with the Community Environment and Natural
Resources Office (CENRO), Cebu City, are hereby confirmed and declared as valid titles and the registered
owners recognized as absolute owners thereof.
This confirmation and declaration of validity shall in all respects be entitled to like effect and credit as a decree
of registration, binding the land and quieting the title thereto and shall be conclusive upon and against all
persons, including the national government and all branches thereof; except when, in a given case
involving a certificate of title or a reconstituted certificate of title, there is clear evidence that such
certificate of title or reconstituted certificate of title was obtained through fraud, in which case the
solicitor general or his duly designated representative shall institute the necessary judicial proceeding to cancel
the certificate of title or reconstituted certificate of title as the case may be, obtained through such fraud.
(Emphasis supplied.)
Without ruling on the issue of violation of equal protection guarantee if the curative effect of RA 9443 is not
made applicable to all titled lands of the Piedad Estate, it is clear that the Manotoks cannot invoke this law to
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"confirm" and validate their alleged title over Lot 823. It must be stressed that the existence and due issuance of
TCT No. 22813 in the name of Severino Manotok was not established by the evidence on record. There is
likewise no copy of a "duly executed certificate of sale" "on file" with the DENR regional office. In the absence of
an existing certificate of title in the name of the predecessor-in-interest of the Manotoks and certificate of sale
on file with the DENR/CENRO, there is nothing to confirm and validate through the application of RA 9443.
Moreover, RA 9443 expressly excludes from its coverage those cases involving certificates of title which were
shown to have been fraudulently or irregularly issued. As the reconstitution and remand proceedings in these
cases revealed, the Manotoks' title to the subject friar land, just like the Barques and Manahans, is seriously
flawed. The Court cannot allow them now to invoke the benefit of confirmation and validation of ownership of
friar lands under duly executed documents, which they never had in the first place. Strict application by the
courts of the mandatory provisions of the Friar Lands Act is justified by the laudable policy behind its enactment
to ensure that the lands acquired by the government would go to the actual occupants and settlers who were
given preference in their distribution. 33 CTHDcE
The dissent reiterates that the existence of Sale Certificate No. 1054 was clearly and convincingly established by
the original of Assignment of Sale Certificate No. 1054 dated May 4, 1923 between M. Teodoro and Severino
Manotok as assignors and Severino Manotok as assignee (approved by the Director of Lands on June 23, 1923),
which is on file with the LMB, as well as the Deed of Conveyance No. 29204 secured from the National Archives
which is the repository of government and official documents, the original of Official Receipt No. 675257 dated
20 February 1920 for certified copy of Assignment of Sale Certificate No. 1054 on Lot 823 and the original of the
Provincial Assessor's declaration of title in Severino Manotok's name for tax purposes on August 9, 1933
assessing him beginning with the year 1933. The dissent further listed some of those alleged sale certificates,
assignment deeds and deeds of conveyance either signed by the Director of Lands only or unsigned by both
Director of Lands and Secretary of Interior/Natural Resources, gathered by the Manotoks from the LMB. It was
stressed that if MO 16-05 is not applied to these huge tracts of land within and outside Metro Manila,
"[H]undreds of thousands, if not millions, of landowners would surely be dispossessed of their lands in these
areas," "a blow to the integrity of our Torrens system and the stability of land titles in this country."
The Court has thoroughly examined the evidence on record and exhaustively discussed the merits of the
Manotoks' ownership claim over Lot 823, in the light of established precedents interpreting the provisions of
the Friar Lands Act. The dissent even accused the majority of mistakenly denigrating the records of the National
Archives which, under R.A. No. 9470 enacted on May 21, 2007, is mandated to store and preserve "any public
archive transferred to the National Archives" and tasked with issuing certified true copies or certifications on
public archives and for extracts thereof.
The Friar Lands Act mandated a system of recording all sale contracts to be implemented by the Director of
Lands, which has come to be known as the Friar Lands Sales Registry.
SEC. 6.The title, deeds and instruments of conveyance pertaining to the lands in each province, when executed
and delivered by said grantors to the Government and placed in the keeping of the Chief of the Bureau of Public
Lands, as above provided, shall be by him transmitted to the register of deeds of each province in which any
part of said lands lies, for registration in accordance with law. But before transmitting the title, deeds, and
instruments of conveyance in this section mentioned to the register of deeds of each province for
registration, the Chief of the Bureau of Public Lands shall record all such deeds and instruments at
length in one or more books to be provided by him for that purpose and retained in the Bureau of
Public Lands, when duly certified by him shall be received in all courts of the Philippine Islands as sufficient
evidence of the contents of the instrument so recorded whenever it is not practicable to produce the originals in
court. (Section 1, Act No. 1287).
It is thus the primary duty of the Chief of the Bureau of Public Lands to record all these deeds and instruments
in sales registry books which shall be retained in the Bureau of Public Lands. Unfortunately, the LMB failed to
produce the sales registry book in court, which could have clearly shown the names of claimants, the particular
158

lots and areas applied for, the sale certificates issued and other pertinent information on the sale of friar lands
within the Piedad Estate. Witness Teresita J. Reyes, a retired Assistant Chief of the Records Management
Division (RMD), LMB who was presented by the Manahans, testified that when the LMB was decentralized, the
sales registry books pertaining to friar lands were supposedly turned over to the regional offices. These
consisted of copies of the appropriate pages of the sales registry books in the LMB RMD main office which has
an inventory of lots subject of deeds of conveyance and sales certificates. However, Reyes said that the sales
registry book itself is no longer with the RMD. On the other hand, the alleged affidavit of Secretary Defensor
dated November 11, 2010 states that MO 16-05 was intended to address situations when deeds of conveyance
lacked the signature of the Secretary of Agriculture and Commerce, or such deeds or records from which the
Secretary's signature or approval may be verified were lost or unavailable.
Whether the friar lands registry book is still available in the LMB or properly turned over to the regional offices
remains unclear. With the statutorily prescribed record-keeping of sales of friar lands apparently in disarray, it
behooves on the courts to be more judicious in settling conflicting claims over friar lands. Titles with serious
flaws must still be carefully scrutinized in each case. Thus, we find that the approach in Alonso remains as the
more rational and prudent course than the wholesale ratification introduced by MO 16-05.
The prospect of litigants losing friar lands they have possessed for years or decades had never deterred courts
from upholding the stringent requirements of the law for a valid acquisition of these lands. The court's duty is to
apply the law. Petitioners' concern for other landowners which may be similarly affected by our ruling is, without
doubt, a legitimate one. The remedy though lies elsewhere in the legislature, as what R.A. 9443 sought to
rectify. TDcCIS
WHEREFORE, the present motions for reconsideration are all hereby DENIED with FINALITY. The motions
for oral arguments and further reception of evidence are likewise DENIED.
Let entry of judgment be made in due course.
SO ORDERED.

Corona, C.J., Leonardo-de Castro, Peralta, Bersamin, Perez and Mendoza, JJ., concur.
Carpio, J., See Dissenting Opinion.
Velasco, Jr., Brion, Abad, Sereno, Reyes and Perlas-Bernabe, JJ., join the Dissent of J. Carpio.
Del Castillo, J., I certify that J. Del Castillo sent his vote concurring with Justice Villarama.
Separate Opinions
CARPIO, J., dissenting:
In its 24 August 2010 Decision, the Court held:
WHEREFORE, the petitions filed by the Manotoks under Rule 45 of the 1997 Rules of Civil Procedure, as
amended, as well as the petition-in-intervention of the Manahans, are DENIED. The petition for reconstitution of
title filed by the Barques are likewise DENIED. TCT No. RT-22481 (372302) in the name of Severino Manotok IV,
et al., TCT No. 210177 in the name of Homer L. Barque and Deed of Conveyance No. V-200022 issued to
Felicitas B. Manahan, are all hereby declared NULL and VOID. The Register of Deeds of Caloocan City and/or
Quezon City are hereby ordered to CANCEL the said titles. The Court hereby DECLARES that Lot 823 of the
Piedad Estate, Quezon City legally belongs to the NATIONAL GOVERNMENT OF THE REPUBLIC OF THE
PHILIPPINES, without prejudice to the institution of REVERSION proceedings by the State through the Office of
the Solicitor General.
With costs against the petitioners.
SO ORDERED.
159

The Manotoks, the Barques and the Manahans filed their respective motions for reconsideration of the Decision.
I reiterate my dissent to the majority opinion.
In their motion for reconsideration, the Manotoks submitted the Affidavit, dated 11 November 2010, of former
DENR Secretary Michael T. Defensor who issued DENRMemorandum Order No. 16-05. 1 The Affidavit states:
REPUBLIC OF THE PHILIPPINES)
CITY OF MAKATI ) s.s.
AFFIDAVIT
I, MICHAEL T. DEFENSOR, Filipino, of legal age, with residence at 10 Ifugao St., La Vista Subdivision, Quezon
City, after having been sworn in accordance with law, hereby depose and state:
1.I was the Secretary of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources ("DENR") from July 2004 to
February 2006.
2.Sometime in the third quarter of 2005, His Eminence Ricardo J. Cardinal Vidal, Archbishop of Cebu, brought to
the attention of the DENR that several land owners whose properties formed part of the friar lands sold by the
government pursuant to Act No. 1120 or the Friar Lands Act including a property of the Roman Catholic
Church, situated in the Banilad Estates have raised concerns on the continuing validity of their Torrens titles
over these lots in view of the Supreme Court's resolution in Alonso v. Cebu Country Club, G.R. No. 130876,
December 5, 2003, which held that: HDITCS
Section 18 of Act No. 1120 or the Friar Lands Act unequivocally provides: "No lease or sale made by the Chief of
the Bureau of Public Lands (now Director of Lands) under the provisions of this Act shall be valid until approved
by the Secretary of Interior (now, the Secretary of Natural Resources). Thus, petitioners' claim of ownership
must fail in the absence of positive evidence showing the approval of the Secretary of Interior. Approval of the
Secretary of the Interior cannot simply be presumed or inferred from certain acts since the law is explicit in its
mandate.
3.Cardinal Vidal, together with several land owners whose properties were contiguous to the disputed parcel of
land in Alonso, informed the DENR that available copies of the Government's deeds of conveyance over the friar
lots sold to them lacked the signature of the Secretary of the Interior or the Secretary of Agriculture and Natural
Resources, as the case may be. These title holders expressed concern about the effect of the Alonso decision on
their ownership of those lots.
4.I then ordered the personnel of the Land Management Bureau ("LMB") to look into these
concerns, and, in particular, to examine the records on file with the LMB, CENRO or National
Archives and verify if the deeds of conveyance of friar lands in their custody bear the signature of
the Secretary. It was determined that all of the deeds they examined did not have the signature of

the Secretary.
5.In view of these, and of the implications of the Alonso decision on the Torrens titles issued to buyers of friar
lands, for which the full purchase price had already been acknowledged received by the
government, the DENR, on October 27, 2005, issued Memorandum Order No. 16-05, which declared that:
"[A]ll Deeds of Conveyance that do not bear the signature of the Secretary are deemed signed or otherwise
ratified by Memorandum Order [No. 16-05,] provided, however, that full payment of the purchase price of the
land and compliance with all the other requirements for the issuance of the Deed of Conveyance under Act 1120
have been accomplished by the applicant." ECHSDc
6.DENR Memorandum Order No. 16-05 was intended to remove doubts or dispel objections as to the validity of
all Torrens transfer certificates of title issued over friar lands, where such doubts or objections arise either from
the lack of signature of then Secretary of Interior or then Secretary of Agriculture and Natural Resources on the
160

deeds of conveyance that have led to the issuance of the said titles, or because of the loss or unavailability of
such deeds or of the records from which the Secretary's signature or approval may be verified.
7.DENR Memorandum Order No. 16-05 was intended to preserve the integrity of the Torrens
system and affirm the Government's obligation as seller, by ratifying the deeds of conveyance to
the friar land buyers who have fully paid the purchase price, and are otherwise not shown to have
committed any wrong or illegality in acquiring such lands.
Further I say none.
I hereby attest to the truth of the foregoing and hereunto set my hand this [11th] day of November 2010.
MICHAEL T. DEFENSOR
Affiant 2
In short, the former DENR Secretary states in his Affidavit that all the deeds examined by LMB
personnel on file with the LMB, CENRO and the National Archives do not have the signature of the
Secretary of the Interior or the Secretary of Agriculture and Natural Resources. To repeat, former

DENR Secretary Defensor states that upon examination, all deeds of conveyance involving friar
lands did not have the signature of the Secretary.
Hence, DENR Memorandum Order No. 16-05 was issued precisely to "remove doubts or dispel objections as to
the validity of all Torrens transfer certificates of title issued over friar lands, where such doubts or objections
arise either from the lack of signature of then Secretary of the Interior or the Secretary of Agriculture and
Natural Resources on the deed of conveyance that have led to the issuance of said titles, or because of the loss
or unavailability of such deeds or of the records from which the Secretary's signature or approval may be
verified." DENR Memorandum Order No. 16-05 was not limited to the Banilad Estate but applied to
all friar lands in the Philippines because all deeds of conveyance, regardless of where located, did
not have the signature of the Secretary.
In the motion for reconsideration and subsequent manifestations they submitted, the Manotoks also submitted
to the Court some of the Sale Certificates which similarly do not bear the signature of the Director of Lands or
the Secretary of Interior. Thus:
1.Sales Certificates involving friar lands from LMB records which do not bear the signatures of the
Director of Lands and the Secretary of Interior:

Sale Certificate No.Name of Vendee Estate/Province


909Placido MendozaLolomboy/Bulacan
1228Mario MateoLolomboy/Bulacan 3
2.Sale Certificates involving friar lands obtained from the National Archives which do not bear the
signatures of the Director of Lands and the Secretary of Interior:

Sale Certificate No.Name of Vendee Estate/Province


5411[Illegible] CruzLolomboy/Bulacan
5412Pedro CruzLolomboy/Bulacan
5413[Illegible] HaliliLolomboy/Bulacan
5414Monica UrrutiaLolomboy/Bulacan
5415Emiliano LorenzoLolomboy/Bulacan 4

161

3.Sale Certificates from the LMB and the National Archives that do not bear the signatures of both the
Director of Lands and the Secretary of Agriculture and Natural Resources/Interior: CAaSHI

Sale Certificate No.Name of Vendee Estate/Province


83Juan J. ClementeTala/Rizal
52Mariano de la CruzTala/Rizal
144Sotero GalganaPiedad/Rizal
704Ignacio SamsonPiedad/Rizal
1065Felisa Santos de GuiaPiedad/Rizal
811Pascual MateoLolomboy/Bulacan
910Placido MendozaLolomboy/Bulacan
1723Calixto MendozaLolomboy/Bulacan
1724Calixto MendozaLolomboy/Bulacan
Assignment dated 25-sameJune 1912
Assignment dated 10-sameNovember 1924
5310Isabel MarquezLolomboy/Bulacan 5
4.Sales Certificates to Friar Lands obtained from the LMB that do do bear the signatures of both the
Director of Lands and the Secretary of the Agriculture and Natural Resources/Interior: HAaDcS

Sale Cert. No.Name of VendeeEstate/Province


386Enrique MatosPiedad/Rizal
Assignment dated-same16 December 1914
4595Matea FranciscoLolomboy/Bulacan
Assignment dated 1-sameAugust 1917
Assignment dated 6-sameFebruary 1920
Assignment dated 1-sameNovember 1926
Assignment dated 6-sameJanuary 1931
387Francisco DiazLolomboy/Bulacan
908Placido MendozaLolomboy/Bulacan
1220Maria del CastilloLolomboy/Bulacan 6
162

5.Sale Certificates from the LMB that do not bear the signatures of the Director of Lands and Secretary
of Agriculture and Natural Resources/Interior:

Sale Certificate No.Name of VendeeEstate/Province


294Arcadio PlacidoBinagbag/Bulacan
324Guillermo de la CruzBinagbag/Bulacan
333Pablo MamosBinagbag/Bulacan
310Agustin PlacidoBinagbag/Bulacan
2492Engracio RojasToro-Lolomboy/
Bulacan 7
6.Sale Certificates and Assignments of Sale Certificates that do not bear the signatures of the Director of
Lands and Department Secretary:

Sale Cert. No.Name of VendeeEstate/Province


636 (old)Francisco ZacariasPasolo-Lolomboy
Assignment dated-sameJanuary 6, 1933
186Assignment datedPiedad/Rizal
December 29, 1919
284Assignment datedPiedad/Rizal
December 29, 1919
5309Celedonia DilagLolomboy/Bulacan
3340Felicidad M. De BagtasS.C. De Malabon/
Cavite 8
7.Sales Certificates and Assigment of Sale Certificates that do not bear the signatures of the Director of
Lands and Department Secretary:

Sale Cert. No.Name of VendeeEstate/Province


728Assignment datedNaic/Cavite
December 29, 1919
1308Assignment datedMalinta/Bulacan 9
December 29, 1919
8.Deeds of Conveyance in the records of the National Archives that bear the signature of the Director of
Lands but not that of the Secretary of Interior: CSEHIa

Deed of ConveyanceName of VendeeEstate/Province


No.
5800Gabriel LazaroTala/Rizal
5865The Roman CatholicMuntinlupa/Rizal
Archbishop
26345Juan Arciaga EstoleMuntinlupa/Rizal
163

27648Salud A. YatcoMuntinlupa/Rizal
28779Juan ClaridadMuntinlupa/Rizal
29164Juliana BarizoImus/Cavite
29163Rufina JoseImus/Cavite
29162Luisa SabaterImus/Cavite
29161Lina OctavoImus/Cavite
29212Gregoria AlcantaraImus/Cavite
29225Alejandro VasquezNaic/Cavite
29226Alejandra MerlanNaic/Cavite
29227Jovita ManalaysayNaic/Cavite
29228Alejandra PobleteNaic/Cavite
29229Marcela GarciaNaic/Cavite
29230Andres FortunoS.F. De Malabon/
Cavite
29180Mariano ParadinaBian/Laguna
29179Pascual MarquinaBian/Laguna
29178Sps. BelisarioBian/Laguna
29177Julio CasamataBian/Laguna
29176Sps. BelisarioBian/Laguna
29175Macario PresbiteroBian/Laguna
29213Felicidad LuzadaMalinta/Bulacan
19308Agustin PlacidoBinagbag/Bulacan
8906Pablo RamosBinagbag/Bulacan
7616Guillermo de la CruzBinagbag/Bulacan
29211Adriano de GuzmanBinagbag/Bulacan
25110Andres AvendaoLolomboy/Bulacan
34305Francisco MendozaLolomboy/Bulacan
34473Antonio Mendoza, et al.Lolomboy/Bulacan
34569Clotilde MendozaLolomboy/Bulacan
34374Pedro Mendoza, et al.Lolomboy/Bulacan
34484Exequiel MendozaLolomboy/Bulacan
34485Matias AlbertoLolomboy/Bulacan
29214Apolonio YamcoLolomboy/Bulacan 10
164

9.Deed of Conveyance from the National Archives that bears the signature of the Director of Lands but
not of the Secretary of Interior:

Deed of ConveyanceName of VendeeEstate/Province


No.
5867The Roman CatholicMuntinlupa/Rizal 11
Archbishop
10.Deeds of Conveyance that bear the signature of the Director of Lands but not the Department Secretary:

Deed of ConveyanceName of VendeeEstate/Province


No.
5864Filomena YatcoBian/Laguna
5866The Roman CatholicMuntinlupa/Rizal
Archbishop
5868Faustino ArciagaMuntinlupa/Rizal
5869Faustino ArciagaMuntinlupa/Rizal
5870G. ChalmersMuntinlupa/Rizal
5871G. ChalmersMuntinlupa/Rizal
5872Juana DuqueTala/Rizal
5873Vicente PascualTala/Rizal
5874Primo SusanoTala/Rizal
5875Eustaquio BordadorTala/Rizal
5876Gregorio MauricioTala/Rizal
5883Eusebio EvangelistaTala/Rizal
5884Anastasia UnabiaTalisay-Minglanilla/
Cebu
5885Andres VelezTalisay-Minglanilla/
Cebu
5886Epifanio V. CaaresTalisay-Minglanilla/
Cebu
5887Lope ZafraTalisay-Minglanilla/
Cebu
7140Cornelio LazaroPiedad/Rizal
7141Fabian FrancoPiedad/Rizal
7142Manuel de GuiaPiedad/Rizal
7613Evaristo de la CruzBinagbag/Bulacan
7614Jose IllescasBinagbag/Bulacan
7615Doroteo MarceloBinagbag/Bulacan
165

7617Cosme FiloteoBinagbag/Bulacan
19307Agustin PlacidoBinagbag/Bulacan
19309Petra SombilloBinagbag/Bulacan
19310Emiterio S. CruzaBinagbag/Bulacan
19311Alfonso MarceloBinagbag/Bulacan
24865Leoncio SenecaS.C. De
Malabon/Cavite
26341Leoncio LantacaCalamba/Laguna
26342Susana T. de GanaCalamba/Laguna
26343Vicente Q. GanaBian/Laguna
26344Vicente Q. GanaBian/Laguna
26346Juan Arciaga EstoleMuntinlupa/Rizal
27585Maria DiasMuntinlupa/Rizal
27646Vicente TensuanMuntinlupa/Rizal
27647Legal Heirs of LeonciaMuntinlupa/Rizal
Gaurico
27649Mariano GauricoMuntinlupa/Rizal
27650Esteban AquinoS.C. De Malabon/
Cavite
27721Engracia Claudel, et al.Muntinlupa/Rizal
27750Bartola RamosS.M. De Pandi/Bulacan
28511Basilio NifuenteMuntinlupa/Rizal
28780Teodoro Almera, et al.Santa Rosa/Laguna
28681Francisco RubioBanilad/Cebu
28682Felipa del MarBanilad/Cebu
28683Ines JoseImus/Cavite
28774Benita DisongloBian/Laguna
28891Rufina de Mesa, et al.Muntinlupa/Rizal
34306Luis FernandoLolomboy/Bulacan
34307Dionisio VillanuevaLolomboy/Bulacan
34308Legal Heirs of AnacletaSta. Rosa/Laguna
Zambra
34309Legal Heirs of FrancisoSta. Rosa/Laguna
Arambulo
166

34372Miguel Lim-AcoBian/Laguna
34373Miguel Lim-AcoBian/Laguna
34375Candido BintolNaic/Cavite
34376Luis dela CruzS.M. de Pandi/
Bulacan
34471P.A. Roldan, et al.Isabela
34472Oliva ManelaImus/Cavite
34486Legal Heirs of JustoLolomboy/Bulacan
Herrera
34487Gonzalo P. DaneLolomboy/Bulacan
34488Ambrocio TrinidadLolomboy/Bulacan
34565Diego Bartolome, et al.Lolomboy/Bulacan
34567Juana LorenzoLolomboy/Bulacan
34568Marcelino de JesusLolomboy/Bulacan
34645Maxima GarciaMuntinlupa/Rizal 12
11.Deeds of Conveyance that bear the signature of the Director of Lands but not the Department
Secretary: CITcSH

Deed of ConveyanceName of VendeeEstate/Province


No.
7143Jose de la CruzPiedad Estate/Rizal
23407Marcelino SalcedoNaic/Cavite
23408Juan de OcampoS.C. de Malabon/Cavite
24862Buenaventura AlarcaS.C. de Malabon/Cavite
24863Rufino P. GarciaS.C. de Malabon/Cavite
24864Santiago ResusS.C. de Malabon/Cavite
27748Nemecio PrincipeS.M. de Pandi/Bulacan
28775Leon GuicoBian/Laguna
28776Guido YaptinchayBian/Laguna
28777Diego AlunasBian/Cavite
28778Lazaro GonzalesBian/Laguna
29165Maximiana MonzonImus/Cavite
34566Juana LorenzoLolomboy/Bulacan
5882Gabriel LazaroTala/Rizal 13

167

These are only some of the titles that could also be declared void under the majority decision. The Manotoks
are still examining the other records of the LMB and the National Archives.
The total area of friar lands in NCR, specifically in Muntinlupa, Piedad, San Francisco de Malabon, Santa Cruz de
Malabon, and Tala is 86,567.50 acres or 35,032.624 hectares. For comparison, Makati City has an area of 2,736
hectares, 14 and the entire Metro Manila has an area of 63,600 hectares. 15 Thus, in terms of area, the
former friar lands in Metro Manila comprise more than one-half of Metro Manila. If we do not apply
DENR Memorandum Order No. 16-05 to these areas, the Court will be disquieting titles held by generations of
landowners since the passage in 1904 of Act No. 1120. Hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of landowners
would surely be dispossessed of their lands in these areas. This is a disaster waiting to happen a blow to the
integrity of our Torrens system and the stability of land titles in this country.
The majority stated that subsequent to the promulgation of the Court decision in Alonso v. Cebu Country Club,
Inc., 16 Congress passed Republic Act No. 9443"confirming and declaring, subject to certain exceptions, the
validity of existing TCTs and reconstituted certificates of title covering the Banilad Friar Lands Estate situated in
Cebu." The majority added that "[t]he enactment of RA 9443 signifies the Legislature's recognition of the
statutory basis of the Alonso ruling to the effect that in the absence of signature and/or approval of the
Secretary of Interior/Natural Resources in the Certificates of Sale on file with the CENRO, the sale is not valid
and the purchaser has not acquired ownership of the friar lands."
While RA 9443 refers only to the Banilad Estate, to limit its application solely to the Banilad Estate will result in
class legislation. RA 9443 should be extended to lands similarly situated; otherwise, there will be violation of the
equal protection clause of the Constitution. In Central Bank Employees Assoc., Inc. v. Bangko Sentral ng
Pilipinas, 17 the Court ruled that the grant of a privilege to rank-and-file employees of seven government
financial institutions and its denial to BSP rank-and-file employees breached the latter's right to equal protection.
In that case, the Court stated that "[a]likes are being treated as unalikes without any rational basis." 18 That is
the situation in the present case if RA 9443 will apply only to the Banilad Estate. There is no substantial
distinction between the lands in the Banilad Estate and the other friar lands all over the country except for their
location. The Court further stated in the BSP case: ASHaDT
[I]t must be emphasized that the equal protection clause does not demand absolute equality but it requires that

all persons shall be treated alike, under like circumstances and conditions both as to privileges conferred and
liabilities enforced. Favoritism and undue preference cannot be allowed. For the principle is that equal protection
and security shall be given to every person under circumstances which, if not identical, are analogous. If law be
looked upon in terms of burden or charges, those that fall within a class should be treated in the same fashion;
whatever restrictions cast on some in the group is equally binding on the rest. 19
Since the lack of signatures and absence of approval by the Secretary of Interior/Agriculture and the Director of
Lands were cured with the passage of RA 9443, the benefits of the law should also apply to other lands
similarly situated.

Significantly, in BSP, the Court did not annul the provisions in the charters of Land Bank of the
Philippines, Development Bank of the Philippines, Social Security System, and Government Service
Insurance System, Home Guaranty Corporation and Small Business Guarantee, Finance
Corporation, and Philippine Deposit Insurance Corporation exempting their employees from
the Salary Standardization Law but extended the same exemption to the Bangko Sentral
employees to place them in equal footing with employees of other government financial
institutions even if they did not question the law. In the present case, the Court should similarly extend
the benefits of RA 9443 to all conveyances of friar lands all over the country.
In denying the motion for reconsideration filed by the Manotoks, the majority also maintain that the existence of
Sale Certificate No. 1054 in the records of the DENR-LMB was not duly established.

168

It is unfortunate that the LMB no longer has a copy of the original Sale Certificate No. 1054, dated 10 March
1919, in the names of Regina Geronimo, Modesto Zacarias and Felicisimo Villanueva, the original grantees.
However, the Manotoks presented three incontrovertible documents to establish the existence of Sale
Certificate No. 1054. First, the original Assignment of Sale Certificate No. 1054 dated 11 March 1919 between
Regina Geronimo, Zacarias Modesto and Felicisimo Villanueva as assignors and Zacarias Modesto as assignee,
which is on file with the LMB, 20 showing that the Assignment was approved by the Director of
Lands on 22 March 1919; 21 second, a copy of the Assignment of Sale Certificate No. 1054 dated 7 June
1920 between Zacarias Modesto as assignor and Severino Manotok and M. Teodoro as assignees which is on
file with the National Archives; 22 and third, the original of the Assignment of Sale Certificate No. 1054
dated 4 May 1923 between M. Teodoro and Severino Manotok as assignors and Severino Manotok as
assignee 23 and approved by the Acting Director of Lands on 23 June 1923, which is on file with the
LMB. 24 The existence of Assignment of Sale Certificate No. 1054 dated 4 May 1923 on file with the LMB
was confirmed by Atty. Fe T. Tuanda, OIC of the LMB Records Management Division, in a letter
dated 1 December 2009. 25
The majority assert that the dissent suggests that Memorandum Order No. 16-05 "would apply even to those
deeds of conveyance not found in the records of DENR or its field offices, such as the Manotoks' Deed of
Conveyance No. 29204 sourced from the National Archives. It would then cover cases of claimants who have not
been issued any certificate of sale but were able to produce a deed of conveyance in their names."
The majority mistakenly denigrate the records of the National Archives. It cannot be disputed that the
National Archives is the official repository of government and public documents. Republic Act No.
9470 (RA 9470), 26 which seeks to strengthen and establish the National Archives of the Philippines, covers "all
public records with archival value, held by either government offices or private collections, and shall also cover
archival and records management programs and activities in all branches of government, whether national or
local, constitutional offices, GOCCs, government financial institutions, state universities and colleges, Philippine
embassies, consulate and other Philippine offices abroad." RA 9470 mandates the National Archives to "[a]ccept,
store, preserve and conserve any public archive transferred to the National Archives." 27 RA 9470 also
mandates the National Archives to "[o]btain, recover, transfer and have custody and management of all the
public archives not in the custody of the National Archives." 28 Section 6 (8) of RA 9470 specifies, as one of the
functions of the National Archives, that it shall "[i]ssue, transmit and authenticate reproduced copies, certified
true copies or certifications on public archives and for extracts thereof." cTDaEH
Jurisprudence is replete with cases showing that the Court gives great weight to the presence or absence of
documents in the National Archives. In Department of Education, Culture & Sports v. Del Rosario, 29 the Court
held that petitioner failed to prove the due execution or existence of the Deed of Donation because there was no
evidence that petitioner looked for a copy of the Deed of Donation from the Clerk of Court concerned or from
the National Archives. In Fernandez v. Fernandez, 30 the Court ruled that filiation was not proved citing a
certification from the Records Management and Archives Office of the non-availability of information about
petitioner's birth certificate because the Register of Births was not on file with the National Archives. In Heirs of
Dela Cruz v. CA, 31 the Court rejected the claim that copies of a deed of sale were lost or could not be found in
the National Archives due to lack of certification from the said office. In Premier Development Bank v. Court of
Appeals, 32 the Court cited the trial court's finding based on a certification from the Bureau of National Archives
that there was no notarial records of Atty. Armando Pulgado in Manila.In short, the Court recognizes that
documents from the National Archives have the same evidentiary value as public documents from
government offices which, after all, are the source of the archived documents.
The records of the National Archives on the existence of Sale Certificate No. 1054 are supported and confirmed
by the records of the LMB. The LMB has on its file the original of Assignment of Sale Certificate No.
1054 dated 4 May 1923 between M. Teodoro and Severino Manotok as assignors and Severino Manotok as
assignee and approved on 23 June 1923 by the Acting Director of Lands. 33 The LMB has also on its file the
other documents mentioned above that prove the existence of the succeeding Certificates of Sale except that the
169

Certificate of Sale to the original assignors is not on file with the LMB for reasons that could not be attributed to
the Manotoks' fault.
In addition, the Manotoks were able to present certified true copies of the following: (1) the Deed of
Conveyance No. 29204 secured from the National Archives which is the repository of government and official
documents; (2) the original of Official Receipt No. 675257 dated 20 February 1929 34 issued by the Special
Collecting Office/Friar Lands Agent to Severino Manotok "For certified copy of Assignment of C.S. No. 1054 for
lot no. 823;" and (3) the original of the Provincial Assessor's declaration of title in Severino Manotok's name for
tax purposes on 9 August 1933 35 assessing Severino Manotok beginning with the year 1933.
Contrary to the majority opinion, the Manotoks' incontrovertible proof of existence of the three Assignments of
Sale Certificate, as well as the existence of the other supporting documents, clearly and convincingly
establishes beyond any doubt the existence of Sale Certificate No. 1054.
I further reiterate that it is the Deed of Conveyance that must bear the signature of the Secretary of
Interior/Agriculture because it is only when the final installment is paid that the Secretary can approve the sale,
the purchase price having been fully paid. Under Section 18 of Act No. 1120, 36 any sale of friar land by the
Chief of the Bureau of Public Lands (now Director of Lands) shall not be valid until approved by the Secretary.
This means that the Secretary, under Section 18, approves the sale and thus signs the Deed of Conveyance
upon full payment of the purchase price. However, under Section 12 of Act No. 1120, only the Director of Lands
signs the Sales Certificate upon payment of the first installment. 37 Section 12 of Act No. 1120 provides:
Section 12.It shall be the duty of the Chief of the Bureau of Public Lands by proper investigation to ascertain
what is the actual value of the parcel of land held by each settler and occupant, taking into consideration the
location and quality of each holding of land, and any other circumstances giving its value. The basis of valuation
shall likewise be, so far as practicable, such that the aggregate of the values of all the holdings included in each
particular tract shall be equal to the cost to the Government to the entire tract, including the cost of surveys,
administration and interest upon the purchase money to the time of sale. When the cost thereof shall have
been thus ascertained, the Chief of the Bureau of Public Lands shall give the said settler and
occupant a certificate which shall set forth in detail that the Government has agreed to sell to such
settler and occupant the amount of land so held by him, at the price so fixed, payable as provided
in this Act at the office of the Chief of Bureau of Public Lands, in gold coin of the United States or
its equivalent in Philippine currency, and that upon the payment of the final installment together
with all accrued interest the Government will convey to such settler and occupant the said land so
held by him by proper instrument of conveyance, which shall be issued and become effective in the
manner provided in section one hundred and twenty-two of the Land Registration Act. The Chief of
the Bureau of Public Lands shall, in each instance where a certificate is given to the settler and occupant of any
holding, take his formal receipt showing the delivery of such certificate, signed by said settler and
occupant. 38 (Boldfacing and italicization supplied) caADSE
Under Section 12, it is only the Director of Lands who signs the Sales Certificate. The Sales Certificate operates
as a contract to sell which, under the law, the Director of Lands is authorized to sign and thus bind the
Government as seller of the friar land. This transaction is a sale of private property because friar lands are
patrimonial properties of the Government. 39 The law expressly authorizes the Director of Lands to sell private
or patrimonial property of the Government under a contract to sell. Under Section 18, the Secretary signs the
Deed of Conveyance because the Secretary must verify if full payment has been made, and if so, must approve
the sale initially made by the Director of Lands. The Deed of Conveyance operates as a deed of absolute sale
which the Secretary signs upon full payment of the purchase price. The Deed of Conveyance, when presented, is
authority for the Register of Deeds to issue a new title to the buyer as provided in Section 122 of the Land
Registration Act.
The majority insist that where there is no certificate of sale issued, the purchaser does not acquire any right of
possession and purchase.
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Section 12 of Act No. 1120 provided that "upon payment of the last installment together with all accrued
interest[,], the Government will convey to [the] settler and occupant the said land so held by him by proper
instrument of conveyance, which shall be issued and become effective in the manner provided in section one
hundred and twenty-two of the Land Registration Act." The Manotoks paid the full purchase price to the
Government on 7 December 1932. Deed of Conveyance No. 29204, dated 7 December 1932, on its
face acknowledged receipt by the Government of the amount of P2,362 in consideration for Lot
823 granted and conveyed to Severino Manotok. 40 Thus, the Manotoks had already acquired ownership
of Lot 823. The only resolutory condition, which is the non-payment of the full purchase price 41 which results
in the cancellation of the contract to sell, can no longer happen because the full purchase price had already been
paid. Once it is shown that the full purchase price had been paid, the issuance of the proper certificate of
conveyance necessarily follows. There is nothing more that is required to be done as the title already passes to
the purchaser.
The majority cite the ruling in Alonso 42 that approval by the Secretary of Agriculture and Commerce of the sale
of friar lands is indispensable for its validity. However, DENR Memorandum Order No. 16-05 superseded
the Alonso ruling. DENR Memorandum Order No. 16-05 declared that "all Deeds of Conveyance that do not bear
the signature of the Secretary are deemed signed or otherwise ratified by this Memorandum Order provided,
however, that full payment of the purchase price of the land and compliance with all the other requirements for
the issuance of the Deed of Conveyance under Act 1120 have been accomplished by the applicant[.]"
DENRMemorandum Order No. 16-05 acknowledges that "it is only a ministerial duty on the part of the Secretary
to sign the Deed of Conveyance once the applicant had already made full payment of the purchase price of the
land."
The majority in their Reply to the Dissenting Opinion expressly admit that Memorandum Order No. 16-05
. . . correctly stated that it is only a ministerial duty on the part of the Secretary to sign the Deed of Conveyance
once the applicant had made full payment on the purchase price of the land. Jurisprudence teaches us that

notwithstanding the failure of the government to issue the proper instrument of conveyance when the purchaser
finally pays the final installment of the purchase price, the purchaser of friar land still acquired ownership over
the subject land. (Italicization supplied)
The majority expressly admit that it is the ministerial duty of the Secretary to sign the Deed of Conveyance once
the purchaser of the friar land pays in full the purchase price. This is the situation of the Manotoks. The majority
also expressly admit that upon such full payment the purchaser acquires ownership of the land "notwithstanding
the failure" of the Secretary to sign the Deed of Conveyance. Since the majority expressly admit that upon full
payment of the purchase price it becomes the ministerial duty of the Secretary to approve the sale, then the
majority must also necessarily admit that the approval by the Secretary is a mere formality that has been
complied with by the issuance of Memorandum Order No. 16-05. Since the majority further expressly
admit that upon full payment of the purchase price ownership of the friar land passes to the
purchaser, despite the failure of the Secretary to sign the Deed of Conveyance, then the majority
must also necessarily admit that the Manotoks became the absolute owners of the land upon their
full payment of the purchase price on 7 December 1932.
The majority states that it is the primary duty of the Chief of the Bureau of Public Lands to record all deeds and
instruments in a sales registry books which shall be retained in the Bureau of Public Lands. However, the LMB
could no longer produce the sales registry book because it was no longer with the Records Management Division
of the LMB. The majority states: TEcCHD
It is thus the primary duty of the Chief of the Bureau of Public Lands to record all these deeds and instruments
in sales registry books which shall be retained in the Bureau of Public Lands. Unfortunately, the LMB failed to
produce the sales registry book in court, which could have clearly shown the names of the claimants, the
particular lots and areas applied for, the sale certificates issued and other pertinent information on the sale of
friar lands within the Piedad Estate. Witness Teresita J. Reyes, a retired Assistant Chief of the Records
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Management Division (RMD), LMB who was presented by the Manahans, testified that when the LMB was
decentralized, the sales registry books pertaining to friar lands were supposedly turned over to the regional
offices. These consisted of copies of the appropriate pages of the sales registry books in the LMB RMD main
office which has an inventory of lots subject of deeds of conveyance and sales certificates. However, Reyes said
that the sales registry book itself is no longer with the RMD. On the other hand, the alleged affidavit of Secretary
Defensor dated November 11, 2010 states that MO 16-05 was intended to address situations when deeds of
conveyance lack the signature of the Secretary of Agriculture and Commerce or such deed or records from
which the Secretary's signature or approval may be verified were lost or unavailable.
Whether the friar lands registry book is still available in the LMB or properly turned over to the regional offices
remains unclear. With the statutorily prescribed record-keeping of sales of friar lands apparently in disarray, it
behooves on the courts to be more judicious in settling conflicting claims over friar lands. Titles with serious
flaws must still be carefully scrutinized in each case. Thus, we find that the approach in Alonso remains as the
more rational and prudent course than the wholesale ratification introduced by MO 16-05.
I reiterate that the Manotoks should not be punished if the documents leading to the issuance of TCT No. 22813
could no longer be found in the files of the government office, considering that these were pre-war documents
and considering further the lack of proper preservation of documents in some government offices. The
Certificate of Sale to the original assignors is not on file with the LMB for reasons that could not be attributed to
the Manotoks' fault. While the Court must exercise prudence in settling claims over friar lands, it should not set
aside documents which establish the existence of Sale Certificate No. 1054 considering that these documents
were sourced from the National Archives and, as earlier stated, these documents have the same evidentiary
value as public documents from government offices. Again, more than half of Metro Manila used to be part of
friar lands. If the torrens titles to these former friar lands are declared void because their current owners could
not present the original certificates of sale, or because the original certificates of sale or deeds of conveyance do
not bear the signature of the Secretary, then hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of landowners would be
rendered homeless or propertyless by the majority decision.
Further, the Court could not insist on the presentation of the original sale certificate from the Manotoks. The
safekeeping of the original sale certificates is the responsibility of the government. It is only optional for the
landowners to keep them. How many landowners can present copies of their original sale certificates? These
landowners should not be blamed if the government fails to properly preserve these documents. As long as
landowners can show other evidence to prove their ownership, they should not be dispossessed of their titles.
Here, the Manotoks were able to present copies of the Assignments of Sale Certificate No. 1054, which are
government-issued documents, from the records of the National Archives and the LMB itself. There would be
nothing to assign if the original Sale Certificate No. 1054 was not conveyed by the government to the original
assignors. The Manotoks were able to prove full payment of the purchase price and they thus acquired full
ownership of Lot No. 823 from the time of full payment. Deed of Conveyance No. 29204 on its face
acknowledges this. The title to Lot No. 823 already passed to the Manotoks who became the absolute owners of
the land on 7 December 1932, the date the Manotoks fully paid Lot No. 823.
Accordingly, I vote to GRANT the motion for reconsideration of the Manotoks, sustain the validity of Deed of
Conveyance No. 29204, and DECLARE the Manotoks' title, namely TCT No. RT-22481 (372302), VALID.
||| (Manotok, IV v. Heirs of Barque, G.R. Nos. 162335 & 162605, [March 6, 2012], 513 PHIL 455-511)

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