You are on page 1of 6

LAND TITLE AND DEEDS

PUBLIC LAND ACT (CA NO. 141)


- Administrative proceedings
- DENR
CASES
1. CHAVEZ vs. PUBLIC ESTATE AUTHORITY (Nature of reclaimed lands)
FACTS: From the time of Marcos until Estrada, portions of Manila Bay
were being reclaimed. A law was passed creating the Public Estate
Authority which was granted with the power to transfer reclaimed lands.
Now in this case, PEA entered into a Joint Venture Agreement with
AMARI, a private corporation. Under the Joint Venture Agreement
between AMARI and PEA, several hectares of reclaimed lands
comprising the Freedom Islands and several portions of submerged
areas of Manila Bay were going to be transferred to AMARI .
ISSUE: Whether or not the stipulations in the Amended JVA for the
transfer to AMARI of lands, reclaimed or to be reclaimed, violate the
Constitution
RULING: YES!
Under the Public Land Act (CA 141, as amended), reclaimed lands are
classified as alienable and disposable lands of the public domain
Section 3 of the Constitution: Alienable lands of the public domain shall
be limited to agricultural lands. Private corporations or associations
may not hold such alienable lands of the public domain except by lease
The 157.84 hectares of reclaimed lands comprising the Freedom Islands,
now covered by certificates of title in the name of PEA, are alienable
lands of the public domain. PEA may lease these lands to private
corporations but may not sell or transfer ownership of these lands to
private corporations. PEA may only sell these lands to Philippine
citizens, subject to the ownership limitations in the 1987 Constitution

and existing laws. Clearly, the Amended JVA violates glaringly Sections
2 and 3, Article XII of the 1987 Constitution. Under Article 1409 of the
Civil Code, contracts whose object or purpose is contrary to law, or
whose object is outside the commerce of men, are inexistent and
void from the beginning. The Court must perform its duty to defend
and uphold the Constitution, and therefore declares the Amended JVA
null and void ab initio.
2. HILARIO vs. CITY OF MANILA (River banks)
Facts: Dr. Jose Hilario was the registered owner of a large tract of land
around 49 hectares in area (Barrio Guinayang, San Mateo, Rizal). Upon
his death this property was inherited by his son, Jose Hilario, Jr., to
whom a new certificate of title was issued. During the lifetime of
plaintiffs father, the Hilario estate was bounded on the western side by
the San Mateo River.3 To prevent its entry into the land, a bamboo and
lumber post dike or ditch was constructed on the northwestern side.
This was further fortified by a stonewall built on the northern side. For
years, these safeguards served their purpose. However, in 1937, a great
and extraordinary flood occurred which inundated the entire place
including the neighboring barrios and municipalities. The River
destroyed the dike on the northwest, left its original bed and
meandered into the Hilario estate, segregating from the rest thereof a
lenticular piece of land. The disputed area is on the eastern side of this
lenticular strip which now stands between the old riverbed site and the
new course. In 1945, the US Army opened a sand and gravel plant
within the premises, and started scraping, excavating and extracting
soil, gravel and sand from the nearby areas along the River. The
operations eventually extended northward into the strip of land.
Consequently, a claim for damages was filed with the US War
Department by Luis Hidalgo, the then administrator of Dr. Hilarios
estate. The US Army paid. In 1947, the plant was turned over to herein
defendants-appellants and appellee who took over its operations.

On 22 October 22, 1949, plaintiff filed his complaint for injunction and
damages against the defendants City Engineer of Manila, District
Engineer of Rizal, the Director of Public Works, and Engr. Busuego, the
Engineer-in-charge of the plant. Subsequently, the Bureau of Mines and
Atty. Maximo Calalang were respectively allowed to join the litigation as
intervenors; as per issue of fees and penalties for materials (sand and
gravel) extracted. On 14 March 1954, defendants filed a petition for
injunction against plaintiff and intervenor Calalang in the same case,
alleging that the latter have fenced off the disputed area in
contravention of an agreement had between the latter and the Director
of Public Works wherein the defendants were allowed to continue their
operations but subject to the final outcome of the pending suit. On 13
May 1954, plaintiff amended his complaint and impleaded as
additional defendants the City of Manila, the Provincial Treasurer of
Rizal, and Engr. Eulogio Sese, the new Engineer-in-charge of the plant.
Plaintiff also converted his claim to one purely for damages directed
against the City of Manila and the Director of Public Works, solidarily, in
the amount of P1,000,000.00, as the cost of materials taken since 1949,
as well as those to be extracted therefrom until defendants stop their
operations. On 21 December 1956, the lower court rendered its
decision, ordering the City of Manila and Director of Public Works to
pay Hilario in solidum the sum of P376,989.60 as cost of gravel and
sand extracted from the plaintiffs land, plus costs; and ordering the
Provincial Treasurer of Rizal to reimburse intervenor Calalang of P36.80
representing gravel fees illegally collected. None of the parties litigants
seemed satisfied with this decision and they all sought a
reconsideration of the same. On August 30, 1957, the lower court
resolved the motions to reconsider with an order, holding that the 2/5
portion of the area in controversy to Hilario, and dismissing the case
against the Bureau of Public Works insofar as money claims are
concerned without prejudice to Hilario taking action against proper
party in such claim. Hilario and Calalang filed a second motion for

reconsideration, which the lower court denied. Hence, the appeal. The
Supreme Court set aside the decision and orders appealed from, and
entered another judgment to the effect that the City of Manila and the
Director of Public Works, and his agent and employees, are absolved of
liability from extracting materials from subject property (of public
domain); and the portion within the strip of land question declared not
part of public domain and confirmed as part of Hilarios private
property. No Costs.
Ordinary and extraordinary flood. There are two types of floods in the
area during the rainy season. One is the so-called ordinary flood,
when the river is swollen but the flowing water is kept within the
confines of the primary and secondary banks. This occurs annually,
about three to four times during the period. Then there is the
extraordinary flood, when the waters overflow beyond the said banks,
and even inundate the surrounding areas. However, this flood does not
happen regularly. From 1947 to 1955, there were only three such
floods.
Movement of the river, west bank, from 1945-1955. From 1945 to 1949,
the west bank of the River extended westward up to the secondary
bank line; from 1950 to 1952, this bank had moved, with the River, to
the east, its lateral borders running along a line just 20 meters west of
the camachile tree; and from 1953 to 1955, the extremities of the west
bank further receded eastward beyond the camachile tree, until they
lay just about 20 meters east of said tree.
Floodings not accidental as they are annual; Government v. Colegio de
San Jose does not apply. Evidence shows that the River floods with
annual regularity during the rainy season. These floods can hardly be
called accidental. The Colegio de San Jose case is not exactly in point.
What was mainly considered there was Article 74 of the Law of Waters

relating to lakes, ponds and pools. In the present case, none of these is
involved.
Movement of the river not due to excavation and extraction of
materials. The excavations and extractions of materials, even from the
American period, have been made only on the strip of land west of the
River. Under the following-the nature-of-things argument advanced
by plaintiff, the River should have moved westward, where the level of
the ground had been lowered. But the movement has been in the
opposite direction instead. Therefore, it cannot be attributed to
defendants operations. Moreover, Hilarios own evidence indicates that
the movement eastward was all due to natural causes. The movement
eastward of the channel by as much as 31 meters, from 1950 to 1953,
was due to two typhoons which caused the erosion of the east bank
and the depositing of materials on the west side which increased its
level from as much as .93 to 2 meters.
River of different width; claim of unnatural widening unfounded.
Reliance is made on the finding by the lower court that in 1943, the
river was only 60 meters wide, whereas in 1950, it was already 140
meters wide. Such area sampled shows only the width of the River near
the southwestern boundary of the Hilario estate. It does not indicate
how wide it was in the other parts, especially up north.
Extraction confined on the banks of the river and not beyond limits of
the west bank to invade his private estate; Hilario cannot recover
damages from defendants. From 1947 to the early part of 1949, the
defendants conducted their operations only in the New Accretion Area
along a narrow longitudinal zone contiguous to the watercourse then.
This zone, City Engineer Manila, is about 1 km. long and extends
northward up to pt. 50.35. However, no extractions nor excavations
were undertaken west of this zone, i.e., above the temporary bank

line. This line is located east of the secondary bank line, the lateral
extremity of the west bank then. In the latter part of 1949, plaintiff
prohibited the defendants from extracting along the New Accretion
Area and constructed a fence across the same. This forced the
defendants to go southeast of the Excavated Area. From 1954 to 1955,
defendants area of operation was still farther east of the New
Accretion Area. They were. working within a confined area along the
west waterline, the northern and western boundaries of which were 20
meters away east from the camachile tree. It appears sufficiently
established, therefore, that defendants have not gone beyond the
receding western extremities of the west riverbank. They have confined
their extraction of gravel and sand only from which the banks of the
River, which constitute part of the public domain wherein they had the
right to operate. Plaintiff has not presented sufficient evidence that
defendants have gone beyond the limits of the west bank, as previously
established, and have invaded his private estate. He cannot, therefore,
recover from them.
Plaintiff not denied of property without just compensation. The Court
does not declare that the entire channel, i.e., all that space between the
secondary bank line and the primary bank line, has permanently
become part of the riverbed. What is held is that at the time the
defendants made their extractions, the excavations were within the
confines of the riverbanks then. All that space to the west of said
receding line would still be part of plaintiffs property and also
whatever portion adjoining the river is, at present, no longer reached
by the non-inundating ordinary floods. Further, it is not correct to say
that plaintiff would be deprived of his property without any
compensation at all. Under Article 370 of the old Civil Code, the
abandoned bed of the old river belongs to the riparian owners either
fully or in part with the other riparian owners. And had the change
occurred under the Civil Code of the Philippines, plaintiff would even

be entitled to all of the old bed in proportion to the area he has lost.
Defendants did not unjustly profit at plaintiffs expense as they are not
responsible for the shifting of the river. Defendants cannot be accused
of unjustly profiting at plaintiffs expense. They were not responsible for
the shifting of the river. It was due to natural causes for which no one
can be blamed. Further, defendants were extracting from public
property then, under proper authorization. The government, through
the defendants, may have been enriched by chance, but not unjustly.
3. PANLILIO vs. MERCADO (Bed must be abandoned)
This is a petition for a writ of injunction to restrain the defendants from
entering upon certain lands situated in the municipality of Mexico,
Province of Pampanga, and from disturbing the plaintiffs in their
peaceful possession of the same. The plaintiffs also pray for damages
for trespass on the land. The defendants' answer denies generally the
allegations of the petition. The defendant Reyes and Martinez alleged
by way of special defense that the former is the district engineer; that
the latter is the Commander of the Constabulary of the Province of
Pampanga; that in their relations to the matter in controversy they have
been acting in their official capacity; and that they therefore have no
interest in the litigation. The defendants Mercado and Pimping set up a
counterclaim for P40,000 alleging that the plaintiffs, by placing
bamboo stakes in the River Abacan, caused it to change its course, thus
invading said defendants' lands and causing damages in the sum
mentioned.
The court absolved the defendants from the complaint and the
plaintiffs from the counterclaim, without costs. From this judgment all
of the parties appealed. It appears from the evidence that the plaintiffs
are the owners of various parcels of land in the municipality of Mexico,
Province of Pampanga, more particularly described in plaintiffs'
amended complaint. From 1911 until August, 1919, the parcels of land

belonging to the plaintiffs were divided by a small river known as the


Estero Abacan. The defendants Atilano Mercado and Ciriaco Pimping
are the owners of various parcels of land which, previously to the
months of August, 1919, were situated to the east of the land of the
plaintiffs and were not touched by the Abacan River. In the month
mentioned, a very heavy flood occurred in the Abacan River and when
the flood subsided, the river no longer flowed in the channel through
the lands of the plaintiffs but had opened a new course for itself
through the lands of the defendants where it still continues to flow. This
new course was the course of the river previous to the year 1911. It may
be noted that in the years 1916 and 1917 a cadastral survey was made
of the district where the lands of both the plaintiffs and the defendants
are situated and that upon the plans of that survey the then course of
the river is excluded from the cadaster and set apart as a public stream.
After the termination of the 1919 rainy season and early in the year
1920, a complaint was made to the provincial board of the Province of
Pampanga by various land owners including the defendant Atilano
Mercado and Ciriaco Pimping, setting forth that the new course of the
river was destroying their land and rendering it useless and asking that
the river be returned to its former channel. The complaint was
endorsed to the district engineer and on June 10, 1920, the defendants
Atilano Mercado and Ciriaco Pimping, accompanied by the defendant
district engineer, Manuel Reyes, proceeded to the point where the river
had first begun to change its course, and, after locating this point upon
the cadastral plan, proceeded with laborers of the defendants Atilano
Mercado and Ciriaco Pimping to excavate the old bed of the river for
the purpose of causing the river to return to this bed. As a consequence,
this action was instituted on June 25, 1920.
The facts stated are not disputed and the law of the case presents, in
our opinion, no serious difficulty. Article 370 of the Civil Code reads: Los
cauces be los ros, que quedan abandonados por variar naturalmente el
curso de las aguas, pertenecen a los dueos de los terrenos ribereos

en toda la longitud respectiva a cada uno. Si el cauce abandonado


separaba heredades de distintos dueos, la nueva lnea divisoria
correr equidistante de unas y otras.
Relying on the provisions of this article, the plaintiffs maintain that the
old bed of the river Abacan became ipso facto absolutely abandoned
upon the river varying its course in 1919. Examining the provisions in
question, it is apparent that while the abandonment of the bed may be
the consequence of the riving changing its course, it is not necessarily
the action of the river itself which is the only and final determining
factor in such abandonment. In the case of a public stream, the bed is
of public ownership and the public cannot be considered absolutely
divested of this ownership until there is some indication of an intention
on the part of the Government to acquiesce in the change in the course
of the stream. That the Government is not compelled to stand idly by
and let nature take its course is clearly indicated by article 372 of the
Civil Code. ( See also discussion in Manresa's Commentaries on the Civil
Code, vol. 3, pp. 253, 254.). In the present case the river is a public
stream; its bed is of public ownership and was definitely located and
determined in the cadastral survey. As soon as practicable after the
river changed its course, steps were taken under the direction of the
Government functionaries to bring it back into its old course and work
was continued until interrupted by the present action. This certainly
does not indicated abandonment on the part of the Government. As to
the defendants' claim for damages, we agree with the trial court that
while the evidence undoubtedly shows that the plaintiffs placed
bamboo stakes across the river and that the stakes may have caused an
accumulation of sand or sediment which in turn may have contributed
to the change in the course of the river, such evidence falls short of
showing that this was the primary cause of the change and of the
damage to the defendants' property. The judgment appealed from is
affirmed, without costs in this instance. So ordered.

4. HODGES vs. GARCIA (Rule on ownership by right of accretion)


This is an action filed with the Court of First Instance of Iloilo for the
recovery of the possession of a portion of land designated as Lot No.
908-Q with an area of 5,931 square meters, which is alleged to have
been seperated from plaintiff's lands by the "natural change" in the
course of a river. The case having been decided adversely against the
plaintiff, the latter appealed to the Court of Appeals. The court,
however, certified the caseto this Court on the ground that it was
decided upon a stipulation of facts and for that reason questions of fact
can no longer be raised on appeal. It appears that the land in dispute
was formerly a part of Lot No. 908 of the Cadastral Survey of Jaro, Iloilo,
which lot was acquired by plaintiff C.N. Hodges from Salustiano Mirasol
in January, 1950, and subsequently registered in his name as evidenced
by Transfer Certificate of Title No. T-2504 issued by the Register of
Deeds of Iloilo. This property was bounded on the north by the Salog
River. Adjoining that river on the other side is Lot No. 2290, which was
purchased by defendant Amador D. Garcia from Dr. Manuel Hechanova
on April 15, 1950. On July 12 of that same year, defendant had the land,
which was originally surveyed in 1912 and was then bounded on the SE
and SW by the Salog river, had inreased in area by the river bank, and
that the added area, which bounds the land on the SE and SW, is in turn
bounded on the SE and SW by the Salog river. In due time, defendant
applied for the registration of the additional area under the Land
Registration Act, and on March 22, 1952, the cadastral court rendered a
decision holding that the land sought to be registered is an accretion
to Lot No. 2290 and decreeing that the land be registered in his name.
On June 30, 1952, the corresponding Original Certificate of Title No.
O-229 was issued in favor of the defendant. Plaintiff claims in these
proceedings that the Salog river changed its course and that the land in
dispute which appears to be a portion of the area added to Lot No.

2290 as above mentioned was separated from his Lot No. 908 by the
current of the river, and the separation was abrupt, like in avulsion, so
that under Art. 374 of the Civil Code (Art. 463 of the new) he retains
ownership thereof. No evidence, however, was presented by plaintiff to
show that the change in the course of the river was sudden or that it
occurred through avulsion. In the absence of such evidence, the
presumption is that the change was gradual and caused by accretion
and erosion. (Payatas Estate Improvement Co. vs. Tuason, 53 Phil., 55) In
any event, it was agreed upon by the parties in open court that "from
the year 1917 until the construction of the dike (in 1939) along the
river . . ., the course of the Salog river, starting from the edge of lot
2290, gradually ate up the bank towards the side of the poblacion of

Jaro and at the same time gradually deposited sediments towards the
side of Lot No. 2290;" that "when the defendant bought lot No. 2290

from Dr. Manuel Hechanova in 1950, he found out that there was an
accretion along one side of said lot, as now shown on this plan,
PSU-12743-A;" that "by virtue of such accretion towards lot 2290, the
defendant applied for its registration under the Land Registration Act,
and decision was on March 22, 1950 by the Court of First Instance of
Iloilo;" that "effectively, original certificate of title No. O-229, dated
June 30, 1952, was issued to the defendant;" and that "because of the
gradual deposit of sediments of the Salog River along his land, lot 2290,
the defendant has been in possession of said land since 1950 until now,
while the plaintiff and his predecessors in interest since the gradual loss
of lot No 908-Q, covered by water, has never been in actual possession
of the said lot." The foregoing facts have never been denied or
contradicted by plaintiff, and they clearly show that the increase in area
of Lot No. 2290 by the river bank was due to alluvion or accretions
which it gradually received (from 1917 to 1939, or for a period of 22
years) from the effects of the current of the river.
It should here be stated that in the cadastral proceedings wherein the

land object of this action was sought to be registered by herein


defendant Amador D. Garcia, plaintiff C.N. Hodges did not file any
opposition despite due publication of the notice of the application and
hearing. The record also shows that the land now being claimed by
plaintiff had been litigated in three civil cases. (Exhs. "4", "5" and "6".) In
those cases, herein defendant was recognized as the owner of the land
and held legally entitled to its possession. In fact, the land in question
had been adjudged to be owned by him as an accretion to his lot No.
2290. (See exh. "6" decision of the Court of Appeals in Candelaria Efe,
et al. vs. Amador D. Garcia, CA-G.R. No. 9306-R, October 28, 1952,
Reyes, J.B.L., J., ponente.) It clearly appearing that the land in question
has become part of defendant's estate as a result of accretion, it follows
that said land now belongs to him. The fact that the accretion to his
land used to pertain to plaintiff's estate, which is covered by a Torrens
certificate of title, cannot preclude him (defendant) from being the
owner thereof. Registration does not protect the riparian owner against
the diminution of the area of his land through gradual changes in the
course of the adjoining stream. Accretions which the banks of rivers
may gradually receive from the effect of the current become the
property of the owners of the banks. (Art. 366 of the old Civil Code; art.
457 of the new.) Such accretions are natural incidents to land bordering
on running streams and the provisions of the Civil Code in that respect
are not affected by the Land Registration Act. (Payatas Estate
Improvement Co. vs. Tuason, supra). In view of the foregoing, the
decision appealed from is affirmed, with costs against
plaintiff-appellant.