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G.R. No.

L-27059

February 14, 1928

BUENAVENTURA BALBOA, plaintiff-appellant,


vs.
CECILIO L. FARRALES, defendant-appellant.
Ernesto Zaragoza for plaintiff-appellant.
Alejo Labrador for defendant-appellant.
JOHNSON, J.:
The material facts in this case, as disclosed by the record, may be briefly stated as follows.
(1) Sometime in the year 1913, the plaintiff Buenaventura Balboa filled with the Bureau of Lands an
application for homestead, No. 10619, under the provisions of Act No. 926, covering a tract of land
situated in the barrio of Culis, municipality of Hermosa, Province of Bataan, containing 14 hectares,
49 ares and 77 centares.
(2) Five years thereafter, or in 1918, Balboa submitted proof, showing his residence upon, and
cultivation of said land, as well as his compliance with all of the other requirements of section 3 of
said Act No. 926, which final proof was approved by the Director of Lands on February 15, 1918
(Exhibit 3). On July 1, 1919, said Act No. 926 was repealed by Act No. 2874.
(3) On September 10, 1920, or over a year after Act No. 2874 had gone into effect, the homestead
patent for said land, otherwise known as certificate of title No. 91 (Exhibit A) was issued n favor of
Buenventura Balboa by the Governor-General of the Philippine Islands.
(4) On August 11, 1924, said Buenaventura Balboa, for and in consideration of the sum of P950,
sold said land to the defendant Cecilio L. Farrales (Exhibit 2); and on October 16, 1924, the latter
secured in his name transfer certificate of title No. 650 of said land (Exhibit B).
On March 6, 1926, the plaintiff commenced the present action for the purpose of having said sale
declared null and void on the ground of lack of consent on his part and fraud on the part of the
defendant, and on the further ground that said sale was contrary to, and in violation of the provisions
of section 116 of Act No. 2874.
After a careful consideration of the evidence adduced during the trial of the cause the Honorable
Leopoldo Rovira, judge, arrived at the conclusion that the deed of sale in question (Exhibit 2) had
been duly executed by the plaintiff. He held, however, that said deed was null and void, in view of
the fact that it was executed before the lapse of five years from the date of the issuance of the
certificate of title in favor of Buenventura Balboa, in violation of the prohibition contained in section
116 of Act No. 2874.
The pertinent parts of the decision read as follows:
Como cuestion basica, se discute en el presente asunto la validez del documento Exhibit 2,
o sea el traspaso hecho por el demandante al demandado referente al terreno en cuestion.
El demandante sostiene que, bajo el articulo 116 de la Ley 2874, el traspaso el nulo por
cuanto tuvo lugar el 11 de agosto de 1924, esto es sin haber transcurrido todavia los cinco
anos siguientas a la fecha en que fue expedidol el certificado de titulo No. 91 que lo fue el 10
de septiembre de 1920; el demandado, por el contrario, sostiene, como punto de discusion

legal, que el documento de traspaso exhibit 2 no cae bajo las disposiciones de la Ley No.
2874, sino dentro de las disposiciones de la Ley No. 926 y que bajo esta Ley no existia tal
limitacion de venta dentro de los cinco aos siguientes a la fecha de la expedicion del titulo
dehomestead, y que habiendo sido la solicitud de homestead aprobada 15 de febrero de
1918, aun contado los cinco anos siguientes, resultaria que desde el 15 de febrero de 1918
hasta el 11 de agosto de 1924 han transcurrido mas de cinco aos.
xxx

xxx

xxx

De lo expuesto, el Juzgado Ilega a la conclusion de que el Exhibit 2 es nulo e ineficaz, por


cuanto que la venta fue otorgada fuera de lo prescrito en el articulo 116 de la Ley No. 2874,
que procede declarar nulo dicho documento Exhibit 21, y, consiguintemente, el certificado
de transferencia de titulo 650.
In accordance with the foregoing conclusion the trial judge rendered a judgment in favor of the
plaintiff and against the defendant, ordering the latter to return to the plaintiff the land in question,
and the plaintiff to return to the defendant the price received for said land, aggregating P652.69, with
interest at the rate of 12 per cent. From the judgment both parties appealed.
The principal question raised in this appeal is whether the validity of the sale of the land in question
should be determined under the provisions of Act No. 926 or under those of Act No. 2874. In other
words, which of the two Acts 926 and 2874 shall be applied in determining whether the sale in
question is valid or not?
The land in question was acquired by Buenventura Balboa as homestead under the provisions and
pursuant to the requirements of Act No. 926. He filed his application and complied with all of the
requisites to the acquisition of said homestead, in conformity with the provisions of said Act No. 926.
In 1918 and prior to the repeal of said Act he submitted his final proof, showing his residence upon,
and cultivation of the land, as well as his compliance with all of the other requirements of the law,
and said final proof was approved by the Director of Lands on February 15, 1918. In other words,
Buenaventura Balboa, had shown, to the satisfaction of the Government, that he had performed all
of the acts required of an applicant for homestead, and, under the provisions of section 3 of Act no.
926, he became entitled to a homestead patent or certificate of title to the land covered by his
application.
Section 3 of Act No. 926 provides, inter alia, that upon the filing of final proof by the applicant and
the approval thereof by the Director of Lands, "he (the applicant) shall be entitled to a patent" or
certificate of title. Therefore, on February 15, 1918, after Buenaventura Balboa had submitted his
final proof and after the same had been approved by the Government, and while Act No. 926 was
still in force, he became the owner of the land and "entitled to a patent." At least on that date his right
to the land, as owner, ripened into a vested right. It was no longer expectant as depending on the
continuance of existing circumstances, or contingent as depending on some events or the
performance of some conditions.
Rights are vested when the right to enjoyment, present or prospective, has become the
property of some particular person or persons as a present interest. (12 C. J., sec. 485, p.
955.)
Vested right "is some right or interest in property which has become fixed and established and is no
longer open to doubt or controversy." (Downs vs. Blount, 170 Fed. Rep., 15, 20.)

The fact the homestead patent or certificate of title No. 91 was issued on September 10, 1920, after
the repeal of Act No. 926, and under the provisions of section 116 of the repealing Act No. 2874,
cannot prejudice the vested right acquired by Buenventura Balboa under the provisions of the former
Act. The issuance of the certificate of title was a mere ministerial act, and the certificate, an outward
symbol of his vested right to the land, of which he was virtually recognized as owner by the
Government on February 15, 1918.
In the case of United States vs. Freyberg (32 Fed. Rep., 195), where the right of a homesteader was
involved, it was held that where the right to a patent for land has become vested in a purchaser the
Government holds the legal title in trust for the purchaser until the patent is issued. Again in the case
of Stark vs. Starr (6 Wallace [U. S.], 402), the Supreme Court of the United States held that where
the right to a patent is once vested, it is treated by the Government, when dealing with public lands,
as equivalent to a patent issued.
A party who was has complied with all the terms and conditions which entitle him to a patent
for a particular tract of public land acquires a vested interest therein, and is to be regarded as
the equitable owner thereof. (Wirth vs. Branson, 98 U. S. 118.)
Where the right to a patent has once become vested in a purchaser of public lands, it is
equivalent so far as the Government is concerned, to a patent actually issued. The execution
and delivery of the patent after the right to it has become complete are the mere ministerial
acts of the officers charged with that duty. (Simmons vs. Wagner 101 U. S., 260.)
The moment the plaintiff had received a certificate from the Government and had done all that was
necessary under the law to secure his patent, his right had become vested before the patent was
issued. His right had already vested prior to the issuance of the patent, and his rights to the land
cannot be affected by a subsequent law or by a subsequent grant by the Government to any other
person. (Herron vs. Dater, 120 U. S., 464.)
The delay in the issuance of the patent cannot affect the vested right of the homesteader. (Murphy
vs. Packer, 152 U. S., 398; Belk vs. Meagher, 104 U. S., 279; Sullivan vs. Iron Silver Mining Co., 143
U. S., 431; McDaniel vs. Apacible and Cuisia, 42 Phil., 749.)
A perfected valid appropriation of public land operates as a withdraw of the tract from the body of the
public domain and, so long as such appropriation remains valid and subsisting the land covered
thereby is deemed private property. A perfected homestead, under the law, is property in the highest
sense, which may be sold and conveyed and will pass by descent. It has the effect of a grant of the
right to present and exclusive possession of said land. A valid and subsisting perfected homestead,
made and kept up in accordance with the provisions of the statute, has the effect of a grant of the
present and exclusive possession of the land. Even without a patent, a perfected homestead is a
property right in the fullest sense, unaffected by the fact that the paramount title to the land is in the
Government. Such land may be conveyed or inherited.
In the United States and in each and every State of the Union vested rights are safeguarded by the
4th Amendment to the Federal Constitution, which provides that no State "shall deprive any person
of life, liberty or property without due process of law."
The state has no power to divest or to impair vested rights, whether such an attempt to do so
be made by legislative enactment, by municipal ordinance, or by a change in the constitution
of the estate. This result follows from prohibitions contained in the constitution or particularly
all the states. Before the adoption of the fourteenth amendment there was no prohibition in
the Constitution of the United States which would prevent the states from passing laws

divesting vested rights, unless these laws also impaired the obligation of contact, or were ex
post facto laws; but vested property rights are now protected against state action by the
provision of the fourteenth amendment that no state "shall deprive any person of life, liberty
or property without due process of law." (12 C. J., sec. 486, pp. 956, 957.)
Section 3, paragragh 1, of the Jones Law provides:
"That no law shall be enacted in said Islands which shall deprive any person of life, liberty, or
property without due process of law, etc." Thus, in this jurisdiction, vested rights are also protected
from impairment by express constitutional provision. Therefore, the right vested in Buenaventura
Balboa by Act No. 926 cannot be divested, impaired or restricted by section 116 of Act No. 2874.
Said right should be governed entirely and exclusively by the provisions of Act No. 926, which it was
acquired.
Now, the vested right of Buenaventura Balboa to his homestead land necessarily carries with it the
right to alienate and dispose of the same. The only prohibition contained in Act No. 926 against
alienation of homestead acquired under said law, appears in section 4 thereof, which reads as
follows: "No lands acquired under the provisions of this chapter shall in any event become liable to
the satisfaction of any debt contracted prior to the issuance of a patent therefor." It follows, therefore
that the sale of the land in question by the plaintiff Buenventura Balboa to the defendant Cecilio L.
Farrales does not infringe said prohibition, and consequently said sale is valid and binding, and
should be given full force and effect.
Section 116 of Act No. 2874, which prohibits the sale of homestead land during the period of five
years subsequent to the issuance of the patent or certificate of title upon which rests the decision of
the court a quo, cannot be invoked to annul the sale in question. Said prohibition, if applied in the
present case, would impair and diminish the vested rights acquired under Act No. 926, contrary to
the uniform doctrine followed in the United States, and in violation of the express provisions of
section 3 of the Jones Law.
The right, title and interest of the appellant having become vested under the provisions of Act No.
926, his rights cannot be affected by any law passed subsequent thereto. The provisions of Act No.
2874 cannot be invoked for the purpose of defeating the vested right acquired by the appellant
before its adoption.
For all of the foregoing reasons, the judgment appealed from should be and is hereby reversed, and
it is hereby ordered and decreed that the defendant be absolved from all liability under the
complaint, with costs against the plaintiff-appellant. So ordered.
Malcolm, Villamor, Ostrand and Villa-Real, JJ., concur.

Separate Opinions
STREET, J., concurring:
I concur and wish to point out the difference between the present case and that of Beach vs. Pacific
Commercial Co. and Sheriff of Nueva Ecija (49 Phil., 365), which turned upon the interpretation of

the same provisions of law as those that are decisive of the present case, namely, section 4 of Act
No. 926 and section 116 of Act No. 2874.
The difference is that in the Beach case an attempt was made to seize the property under process of
law to satisfy an obligation created within five years after the issuance of a patent; and we held that,
under section 116 of Act No. 2874, the property was attempt. In the case before us the owner of the
land, in the exercise of his power as such, had voluntarily alienated the property; and the court now
holds that the act of alienation was effective notwithstanding the immunity conferred by section 116
of Act No. 2874. Though the distinction thus involved may appear to be somewhat refined, I believe
it to be sound, and I have no hesitation in giving my adherence to the present decision, especially in
view of the fact hat soon after Act No. 2874 was passed the Attorney-General ruled that a voluntary
alienation of a homestead, under the conditions involved in this case, would be valid. A ruling
contrary to that now made by us would have the been acquired in good faith by purchasers relying
upon the interpretation thus placed upon the law by the Attorney-General.
In the opinion in Beach vs. Pacific Commercial Co. and Sheriff of Nueva Ecija, supra, we used the
following language in calling attention to the difference between the situation then before and the
court and that presented in the case now before us:
The error underlying the contention of the appellee possibly has its origin in a failure to
distinguish between two entirely different ideas expressed in section 116 of Act No. 2874.
The first has reference to the power of the homesteader to encumber or alienate to the
homestead by his voluntary act, while the second has reference to the subjection of the
property to the satisfaction of debts against the will of the homesteader. There might possibly
be something in the contention of the appellee that the homesteader's right became vested
when he submitted his final proof if the case were one where he had attempted to alienate
the property by voluntary exercise of the power of an owner; but we are not called upon to
pass upon this point. We are here concerned exclusively with power of the creditor to seize
the property of the owner against his will. That the property cannot be so taken follows in our
opinion necessarily from the language of section 116.
Our present decision recognizes the validity of this distinction suggested in the paragraph above
quoted, and it with thus be seen that there is no inconsistency between the decision now made and
the conclusion reached in the case cited.
G.R. No. L-17652

June 30, 1962

IGNACIO GRANDE, ET AL., petitioners,


vs.
HON. COURT OF APPEALS, DOMINGO CALALUNG, and ESTEBAN CALALUNG, respondents.
Bartolome Guirao and Antonio M. Orara for petitioners.
Gonzales and Fernandez for respondents.
BARRERA, J.:
This is an appeal taken by petitioners Ignacio, Eulogia, Alfonso, Eulalia, and Sofia Grande, from the
decision of the Court of Appeals (CA-G.R. No. 25169-R) reversing that of the Court of First Instance
of Isabela (Civil Case No. 1171), and dismissing petitioners' action against respondents Domingo
and Esteban Calalung, to quiet title to and recover possession of a parcel of land allegedly occupied
by the latter without petitioners' consent.

The facts of the case, which are undisputed, briefly are: Petitioners are the owners of a parcel of
land, with an area of 3.5032 hectares, located at barrio Ragan, municipality of Magsaysay (formerly
Tumauini), province of Isabela, by inheritance from their deceased mother Patricia Angui (who
inherited it from her parents Isidro Angui and Ana Lopez, in whose name said land appears
registered, as shown by Original Certificate of Title No. 2982, issued on June 9, 1934). Said property
is identified as Lot No. 1, Plan PSU-83342. When it was surveyed for purposes of registration
sometime in 1930, its northeastern boundary was the Cagayan River (the same boundary stated in
the title). Since then, and for many years thereafter, a gradual accretion on the northeastern side
took place, by action of the current of the Cagayan River, so much so, that by 1958, the bank thereof
had receded to a distance of about 105 meters from its original site, and an alluvial deposit of 19,964
square meters (1.9964 hectares), more or less, had been added to the registered area (Exh. C-1).
On January 25, 1958, petitioners instituted the present action in the Court of First Instance of Isabela
against respondents, to quiet title to said portion (19,964 square meters) formed by accretion,
alleging in their complaint (docketed as Civil Case No. 1171) that they and their predecessors-ininterest, were formerly in peaceful and continuous possession thereof, until September, 1948, when
respondents entered upon the land under claim of ownership. Petitioners also asked for damages
corresponding to the value of the fruits of the land as well as attorney's fees and costs. In their
answer (dated February 18, 1958), respondents claim ownership in themselves, asserting that they
have been in continuous, open, and undisturbed possession of said portion, since prior to the year
1933 to the present.
After trial, the Court of First Instance of Isabela, on May 4, 1959, rendered a decision adjudging the
ownership of the portion in question to petitioners, and ordering respondents to vacate the premises
and deliver possession thereof to petitioners, and to pay to the latter P250.00 as damages and
costs. Said decision, in part, reads:
It is admitted by the parties that the land involved in this action was formed by the gradual
deposit of alluvium brought about by the action of the Cagayan River, a navigable river. We
are inclined to believe that the accretion was formed on the northeastern side of the land
covered by Original Certificate of Title No. 2982 after the survey of the registered land in
1931, because the surveyors found out that the northeastern boundary of the land surveyed
by them was the Cagayan River, and not the land in question. Which is indicative of the fact
that the accretion has not yet started or begun in 1931. And, as declared by Pedro Laman,
defendant witness and the boundary owner on the northwest of the registered land of the
plaintiffs, the accretion was a little more than one hectare, including the stony portion, in
1940 or 1941. Therefore, the declarations of the defendant Domingo Calalung and his
witness, Vicente C. Bacani, to the effect that the land in question was formed by accretion
since 1933 do not only contradict the testimony of defendants' witness Pedro Laman, but
could not overthrow the incontestable fact that the accretion with an area of 4 hectare more
or less, was formed in 1948, reason for which, it was only declared in that same year for
taxation purposes by the defendants under Tax Dec. No. 257 (Exh. "2") when they entered
upon the land. We could not give credence to defendants' assertion that Tax Dec. No. 257
(Exh. "2") cancelled Tax Dee. No. 28226 (Exh. "1"), because Exh. "2" says that "tax under
this declaration begins with the year 1948. But, the fact that defendants declared the land for
taxation purposes since 1948, does not mean that they become the owner of the land by
mere occupancy, for it is a new provision of the New Civil Code that ownership of a piece of
land cannot be acquired by occupation (Art. 714, New Civil Code). The land in question
being an accretion to the mother or registered land of the plaintiffs, the accretion belongs to
the plaintiffs (Art. 457, New Civil Code; Art. 366, Old Civil Code). Assuming arguendo, that
the accretion has been occupied by the defendants since 1948, or earlier, is of no moment,
because the law does not require any act of possession on the part of the owner of the
riparian owner, from the moment the deposit becomes manifest (Roxas v. Tuason, 9 Phil.

408; Cortez v. City of Manila, 10 Phil. 567). Further, no act of appropriation on the part of the
reparian owner is necessary, in order to acquire ownership of the alluvial formation, as the
law does not require the same (3 Manresa, C.C., pp. 321-326).
This brings us now to the determination of whether the defendants, granting that they have
been in possession of the alluvium since 1948, could have acquired the property by
prescription. Assuming that they occupied the land in September, 1948, but considering that
the action was commenced on January 25, 1958, they have not been in possession of the
land for ten (10) years; hence, they could not have acquired the land by ordinary prescription
(Arts. 1134 and 1138, New Civil Code). Moreover, as the alluvium is, by law, part and parcel
of the registered property, the same may be considered as registered property, within the
meaning of Section 46 of Act No. 496: and, therefore, it could not be acquired by prescription
or adverse possession by another person.
Unsatisfied, respondents appealed to the Court of Appeals, which rendered, on September 14,
1960, the decision adverted to at the beginning of this opinion, partly stating:
That the area in controversy has been formed through a gradual process of alluvium, which
started in the early thirties, is a fact conclusively established by the evidence for both parties.
By law, therefore, unless some superior title has supervened, it should properly belong to the
riparian owners, specifically in accordance with the rule of natural accession in Article 366 of
the old Civil Code (now Article 457), which provides that "to the owner of lands adjoining the
banks of rivers, belongs the accretion which they gradually receive from the effects of the
current of the waters." The defendants, however, contend that they have acquired ownership
through prescription. This contention poses the real issue in this case. The Courta quo, has
resolved it in favor of the plaintiffs, on two grounds: First, since by accession, the land in
question pertains to the original estate, and since in this instance the original estate is
registered, the accretion, consequently, falls within the purview of Section 46 of Act No. 496,
which states that "no title to registered land in derogation to that of the registered owner shall
be acquired by prescription or adverse possession"; and, second, the adverse possession of
the defendant began only in the month of September, 1948, or less than the 10-year period
required for prescription before the present action was instituted.
As a legal proposition, the first ground relied upon by the trial court, is not quite correct. An
accretion to registered land, while declared by specific provision of the Civil Code to belong
to the owner of the land as a natural accession thereof, does not ipso jure become entitled to
the protection of the rule of imprescriptibility of title established by the Land Registration Act.
Such protection does not extend beyond the area given and described in the certificate. To
hold otherwise, would be productive of confusion. It would virtually deprive the title, and the
technical description of the land given therein, of their character of conclusiveness as to the
identity and area of the land that is registered. Just as the Supreme Court, albeit in a
negative manner, has stated that registration does not protect the riparian owner against the
erosion of the area of his land through gradual changes in the course of the adjoining stream
(Payatas Estate Development Co. v. Tuason, 53 Phil. 55), so registration does not entitle him
to all the rights conferred by Land Registration Act, in so far as the area added by accretion
is concerned. What rights he has, are declared not by said Act, but by the provisions of the
Civil Code on accession: and these provisions do not preclude acquisition of the addition
area by another person through prescription. This Court has held as much in the case
of Galindez, et al. v. Baguisa, et al., CA-G.R. No. 19249-R, July 17, 1959.
We now proposed to review the second ground relied upon by the trial court, regarding the
length of time that the defendants have been in possession. Domingo Calalung testified that

he occupied the land in question for the first time in 1934, not in 1948 as claimed by the
plaintiffs. The area under occupancy gradually increased as the years went by. In 1946, he
declared the land for purposes of taxation (Exhibit 1). This tax declaration was superseded in
1948 by another (Exhibit 2), after the name of the municipality wherein it is located was
changed from Tumauini to Magsaysay. Calalung's testimony is corroborated by two
witnesses, both owners of properties nearby. Pedro Laman, 72 years of age, who was
Municipal president of Tumauini for three terms, said that the land in question adjoins his
own on the south, and that since 1940 or 1951, he has always known it to be in the peaceful
possession of the defendants. Vicente C. Bacani testified to the same effect, although, he
said that the defendants' possession started sometime in 1933 or 1934. The area thereof, he
said, was then less than one hectare.
We find the testimony of the said witnesses entitled to much greater weight and credence
than that of the plaintiff Pedro Grande and his lone witness, Laureana Rodriguez. The first
stated that the defendants occupied the land in question only in 1948; that he called the
latter's attention to the fact that the land was his, but the defendants, in turn, claimed that
they were the owners, that the plaintiffs did not file an action until 1958, because it was only
then that they were able to obtain the certificate of title from the surveyor, Domingo Parlan;
and that they never declared the land in question for taxation purposes or paid the taxes
thereon. Pedro Grande admitted that the defendants had the said land surveyed in April,
1958, and that he tried to stop it, not because he claimed the accretion for himself and his
co-plaintiffs, but because the survey included a portion of the property covered by their title.
This last fact is conceded by the defendants who, accordingly, relinquished their possession
to the part thus included, containing an area of some 458 square meters.
1wph1.t

The oral evidence for the defendants concerning the period of their possession from 1933
to 1958 is not only preponderant in itself, but is, moreover, supported by the fact that it is
they and not the plaintiffs who declared the disputed property for taxation, and by the
additional circumstance that if the plaintiff had really been in prior possession and were
deprived thereof in 1948, they would have immediately taken steps to recover the same. The
excuse they gave for not doing so, namely, that they did not receive their copy of the
certificate of title to their property until 1958 for lack of funds to pay the fees of the surveyor
Domingo Parlan, is too flimsy to merit any serious consideration. The payment of the
surveyor's fees had nothing to do with their right to obtain a copy of the certificate. Besides, it
was not necessary for them to have it in their hands, in order to file an action to recover the
land which was legally theirs by accession and of which, as they allege, they had been
illegally deprived by the defendants. We are convinced, upon consideration of the evidence,
that the latter, were really in possession since 1934, immediately after the process of alluvion
started, and that the plaintiffs woke up to their rights only when they received their copy of
the title in 1958. By then, however, prescription had already supervened in favor of the
defendants.
It is this decision of the Court of Appeals which petitioners seek to be reviewed by us.
The sole issue for resolution in this case is whether respondents have acquired the alluvial property
in question through prescription.
There can be no dispute that both under Article 457 of the New Civil Code and Article 366 of the old,
petitioners are the lawful owners of said alluvial property, as they are the registered owners of the
land which it adjoins. The question is whether the accretion becomes automatically registered land
just because the lot which receives it is covered by a Torrens title thereby making the alluvial
property imprescriptible. We agree with the Court of Appeals that it does not, just as an unregistered

land purchased by the registered owner of the adjoining land does not, by extension, become ipso
facto registered land. Ownership of a piece of land is one thing, and registration under the Torrens
system of that ownership is quite another. Ownership over the accretion received by the land
adjoining a river is governed by the Civil Code. Imprescriptibility of registered land is provided in the
registration law. Registration under the Land Registration and Cadastral Acts does not vest or give
title to the land, but merely confirms and thereafter protects the title already possessed by the owner,
making it imprescriptible by occupation of third parties. But to obtain this protection, the land must be
placed under the operation of the registration laws wherein certain judicial procedures have been
provided. The fact remain, however, that petitioners never sought registration of said alluvial
property (which was formed sometime after petitioners' property covered by Original Certificate of
Title No. 2982 was registered on June 9, 1934) up to the time they instituted the present action in the
Court of First Instance of Isabela in 1958. The increment, therefore, never became registered
property, and hence is not entitled or subject to the protection of imprescriptibility enjoyed by
registered property under the Torrens system. Consequently, it was subject to acquisition through
prescription by third persons.
The next issue is, did respondents acquire said alluvial property through acquisitive prescription?
This is a question which requires determination of facts: physical possession and dates or duration
of such possession. The Court of Appeals, after analyzing the evidence, found that respondentsappellees were in possession of the alluvial lot since 1933 or 1934, openly, continuously and
adversely, under a claim of ownership up to the filing of the action in 1958. This finding of the
existence of these facts, arrived at by the Court of Appeals after an examination of the evidence
presented by the parties, is conclusive as to them and can not be reviewed by us.
The law on prescription applicable to the case is that provided in Act 190 and not the provisions of
the Civil Code, since the possession started in 1933 or 1934 when the pertinent articles of the old
Civil Code were not in force and before the effectivity of the new Civil Code in 1950. Hence, the
conclusion of the Court of Appeals that the respondents acquired alluvial lot in question by
acquisitive prescription is in accordance with law.
The decision of the Court of Appeals under review is hereby affirmed, with costs against the
petitioners. So ordered.
Bengzon, C.J., Padilla, Bautista Angelo, Labrador, Concepcion, Paredes and Dizon, JJ., concur.
Reyes, J.B.L., Regala and Makalintal, JJ., took no part.
G.R. No. L-10182

December 24, 1957

JOSE GEUKEKO, petitioner-appellant,


vs.
HON. SALVADOR ARANETA, Secretary of Agriculture and Natural Resources,
etc., respondent-appellee.
Miguel T. Santos and Benjamin T. de Peralta for appellant.
Office of the Solicitor General Ambrosio Padilla and Assistant Solicitor General Antonio A. Torres for
appellee.

FELIX, J.:

Jose Geukeko appears to be the registered lessee of Lot No. 18, Block 20 of the Tambobong Estate,
with an area of 2,890 square meters, formerly owned by the Roman Catholic Archbishop of Manila, a
portion of which he sub-leased to Elena Jacinto, Hilarion Encarnacion, Leonila Rocal, Mercedes
Veles, Francisco Simeon and Onofre Enriquez. When the Republic of the Philippines acquired the
Tambobong Estate by purchase in 1947, pursuant to Commonwealth Act. No. 539, Jose Geukeko
filed an application with the Director of Lands, who was entrusted with sale and disposition of said
estate, to purchase the lot leased by him, but the sub-leases registered opposition thereto and
likewise filed applications to purchase the respective portions actually occupied by them. This
controversy was docketed in the Bureau of Lands as B.L. Conflict No. 41 (N) D.L.E. Conflict No. 2.
On June 12, 1952, the Director of Lands recognizing Jose Geukeko as the bona fide tenant of Lot
No. 18, Block 20, rendered decision giving due course to his application and dismissing the protests
and counter-application of the sub-leases. Whereupon, the parties adversely affected by said
decision instituted Civil Cases Nos. 1826 and 1865 on August 4 and September 8, 1952,
respectively, in the Court of First Instance of Rizal seeking to annul the same and praying for the
approval of their applications to purchase the portion of the lot occupied by them. Two years later, or
on October 11, 1954, the Court issued an order holding that as therein plaintiffs had not exhausted
all the administrative remedies available to them, it appearing that they failed to appeal to the
Secretary of Agriculture and Natural Resources before going to Court, an action
for mandamus could not be entertained and thus dismissed the 2 civil cases filed therein.
The sub-lessees then brought the matter on appeal to the Secretary of Agriculture and Natural
Resources on October 23, 1954, (DANR Case No. 987) who required the sub-leases to pay the
corresponding docketing fee and ordered the parties to submit their respective memoranda. Jose
Geukeko interposed an objection to the institution of this appeal and correspondingly filed with the
Court of First Instance of Rizal (Civil Case No. 3453) a petition for mandamus and prohibition
praying that the Secretary of Agriculture and Natural Resources be restrained from taking
cognizance of DANR Case No. 987 and from taking further action in said appeal; that said official be
ordered to certify the decision of the Director of Lands in B. L. Conflict No. 41 (N), D. L. E. Conflict
No. 2 was final and the corresponding deed of sale of Lot No. 18, Block 20 of the Tambobong Estate
be executed in his favor. He alleged as ground for the petition that the period to appeal had already
prescribed; that the filing of the Civil Cases Nos. 1826 and 1865 amounted to a waiver of appellants'
right to appeal to the Secretary of Agriculture and Natural Resources; that the Court's order
dismissing said civil cases was an adjudication on the merit; and that the Secretary of Agriculture
and Natural Resources had lost jurisdiction to entertain the appeal because the decision of the
Director of Lands was already final and executory.
The Secretary of Agriculture and Natural Resources filed an answer contending that he could
lawfully take cognizance of the appeal filed in DANR Case No. 987 because the filing of Civil Cases
Nos. 1826 and 1865 with the Court of First Instance of Rizal suspended the running of the Director
of Lands, as provided for by Land Administrative Order No. 6; that the decision of the Director of
Lands had not become final; that the Court had no jurisdiction over the subject matter of the action;
and that the petition did not allege facts sufficient to constitute a cause of action. It was thus prayed
that the petition be dismissed with costs against petitioner.
After due hearing and submission by the parties of their respective memoranda the Court rendered
decision dated July 12, 1955, holding that in the view of the existence of the policy of the
Department of Agriculture and Natural Resources of considering the filing of a civil action in Court as
having the effect of suspending the running of the prescriptive period within which appeal could be
interposed to the Department Secretary, a policy that was reasonable and sound, the Secretary of
Agriculture and Natural Resources did not abuse his discretion in taking cognizance of the appeal
after Civil Cases Nos. 1829 and 1865 of the Court of First Instance of Rizal were dismissed. The
lower Court also observed that the records showed that the protestants or sublessees never

intended to waive or abandon their rights to appeal from the decision of the Director of Lands. As the
motion for the reconsideration of said decision filed by therein petitioner was denied for lack of merit,
the matter was brought to Us on appeal, appellant maintaining that the lower Court erred:
1. In holding that the respondent Secretary of Agriculture and Natural Resources did not act
without or in excess of jurisdiction or with grave abuse of jurisdiction in entertaining and
taking cognizance of DANR Case No. 987 which seeks for the review of the decision of the
Director of Lands dated June 12, 1952; and .
2. In dismissing and in not issuing the writ of prohibition and mandamus prayed for by
petitioner therein.
The main question at issue hinges in the interpretation of Section 2 of the Land Administrative Order
No. 6, promulgated by the Secretary of Agricultural and Commerce on May 1, 1934, providing for the
filing of appeals from decisions or orders of the Director of Lands to the said Department Secretary,
which reads as follows:
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SEC 2. APPEAL FROM DECISION OR ORDER OF THE DIRECTOR OF LANDS, MOTION


FOR RECONSIDERATION.An appeal shall lie from a decision of the Director of Lands to
the Secretary of Agriculture and Commerce within a period of sixty (60) days to be counted
from the date the interested party received notice thereof unless a motion for reconsideration
is filed within the said period, in which case, appeal shall be made within sixty (60) days from
his receipt of notice of the order or decision of the Director of Lands disposing of the motion
for reconsideration. . .
This Lands Administrative Order No. 6 governing the promulgation of decisions and orders of the
Director of Lands and providing for the prescriptive period within which appeals may be interposed
was issued pursuant to the provisions of section 79(b) of the Revised Administrative Code, section 5
of Act No. 2874 and Act No. 3038.
Although the exact date when the sub-lessees received copies of the decision of the Director of
Lands does not appear on record, the parties admit that the action filed by the former with the Court
of First Instance of Rizal (Civil Cases Nos. 1826 and 1865) on August 4 and September 8, 1952,
respectively, were instituted within 60 days. There is likewise no controversy that the order of
dismissal in said cases was promulgated on December 11, 1954, thus when the matter was brought
on appeal to the Secretary of Agriculture and Natural Resources on October 23, 1954, more than 2
years from the date of their receipt of the decision of the Director of Lands had elapsed. Despite this
fact, the Secretary of Agriculture and Natural Resources took cognizance of the appeal,
notwithstanding which appellant does not raise in this case any question against the appeal of the
sub-lessees from the decision of the Director of Lands to the Secretary of Agriculture and Natural
Resources for being interposed beyond the 60-day period provided by section 2 of Lands
Administrative Order No. 6, if the period lapsed between the filing of the action in the court on
August 4, and September 8, 1952, and the date to receipt by said sub-lessees, of notice of the order
of the Court dismissing their action, (which does not appear of record), is considered interrupted.
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In justification of his attitude in taking cognizance of the sub-lessees' appeal, the Secretary of
Agriculture and Natural Resources refers to his Department's policy of considering the running of the
prescriptive period for purposes of appeal from decisions of the Director of Lands, as suspended by
the institution of a civil action in the Court. It is interesting to note at his juncture that the order of the
lower Court dismissing Civil Cases Nos. 1826 and 1865 was predicated on the ground that the sublessees failed to exhaust the administrative remedies available to them, and therefore, held that said
actions could not be entertained by the court, citing the case of Miguel vs. Reyes, 93 Phil., 542. But

in the subsequent rulings in other cases involving lots in said Tambobong Estate, this Court qualified
its stand by confining the application of the principle of exhaustion of administrative remedies as a
condition precedent to the filing of a judicial action to controversies arising out of the disposition
ofdisposable public lands and not to cases involving private lands acquired by the Government by
purchase (See Marukot vs. Jacinto, 98 Phil., 128; Santiago vs. Cruz, 98 Phil., 168).
At any rate, and looking at the question at issue in this case independently of the aforecited
authorities, it may be asked; After the civil cases filed by the sub-lessees were thrown out of the
court, could they still invoke administrative relief by appealing to the Secretary of Agriculture and
Natural Resources? Said Administrative official answers in the affirmative, maintaining that the
period of 60 days provided for by section 2 of the Lands Administrative order No. 6 aforequoted has
not yet prescribed, it being the adopted policy of their office to consider the filling of civil actions in
court as suspending the running of said period. It must be remembered that Lands Administrative
Order No. 6 is in the nature of procedural rules promulgated by the Secretary of Agriculture and
Natural Resources pursuant to the power bestowed on said administrative agency to promulgate
rules and regulations necessary for the proper discharge and management of the functions imposed
by law upon said office. The necessity for vesting Administrative Authorities with power to make
rules and regulations because of the impracticability of the lawmakers to provide general regulations
for various and varying details of management, has been recognized by the courts and upheld
against various particular objections (42 Am. Jur. 329). Recognizing the existence of such rule
making authority, what is the weight of an interpretation given by an administrative agency to its own
rules or regulations? Authorities sustain the doctrine that the interpretation given to a rule or
regulation by those charged with its execution is entitled to the greatest weight by the Court
construing such rule or regulation, and such interpretation will be followed unless it appears to be
clearly unreasonable or arbitrary (42 Am. Jur. 431). It also been said that:
An Administrative body has power to interpret its own rules which have the force and effect
of law, and such an interpretation becomes part of the rule (Foley vs. Benedict, 122 Tex 193,
55 SW [2d] 805, 86 ALR 477).
Rules, regulations, and general orders enacted by administrative authorities pursuant to the
powers delegated to them have the force and effect of law (Columbia Broadcasting System
vs. United States, 87, L. Ed. [Adv. 1066]).
The contemporaneous construction of statute (and similarly of rules and regulations) by the
executive officers of the government whose duty it is to execute it is entitled to great respect,
and should ordinarily control the construction of the statute by the courts (United States vs.
Philrock, 120 U.S. 52, 30 L Ed. 559).
Courts are reluctant to disregard a settled practice of an executive department where they
are not satisfied that it is contrary to law, and are satisfied that it is in accordance with justice
and good faith (Grant vs. Raymond, 8 L Ed. 376).
From the foregoing it may be seen, that under the law and the jurisprudence on the matter appellees
had two courses to follow, and inasmuch as their resort to the courts failed for non-exhaustion of
administrative remedies, could they be deprived of taking the other course left to them, i.e., the
remedy of appeal to the Secretary of Agriculture and Natural Resources agency and its
acknowledged policy, that relief could still be availed of by the aggrieved parties" Taking into
consideration all the factors involved in the controversy, We are of the opinion and thus hold that the
dismissal of the actions in courts does not constitute an impediment to the filing of the appeal before
the Secretary of Agriculture and Natural Resources. The only requisite in such a case would be that
the period within which said remedy may be invoked has not yet prescribed. In this connection, We

can also say that the interpretation given by the Department of Agriculture and Natural Resources to
the provisions of section 2 of Lands Administrative Order No. 6 appears to be reasonable for it
merely reflects the intent of the law in placing the disposition of lands within the Tambobong Estate
in the hands of the official as of the Land Department (Executive Order No. 376; Commonwealth No.
539; Lands Administrative Order No. R-3). The underlying idea seems to be that those officials are
considered in a better position to decide controversies regarding the disposition of said Estate.
Wherefore, the decision appealed from and the order denying the motion for reconsideration thereof
are barely affirmed, with cost against appellant. It is so ordered.
Bengzon, Padilla, A., Bautista Angelo, Concepcion, Reyes, J.B.L., and Endencia, JJ., concur.