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Krivenko v.

The Register of Deeds, City of Manila

GR L-630
November 15, 1947
Moran, C.J.:
PRINCIPLE: Citizenship requirement; Individuals; Alien

Alexander A. Krivenko, an alien, bought a residential lot from the Magdalena Estate, Inc., in
December of 1941, the registration of which was interrupted by the war. In May, 1945, he sought to
accomplish said registration but was denied by the register of deeds of Manila on the ground that, being an
alien, he cannot acquire land in this jurisdiction. Krivenko then brought the case to the Court of First
Instance of Manila and rendered judgment sustaining the refusal of the register of deeds, from which
Krivenko appealed to this Court.


Whether Krivenko, an alien, may acquire residential land here in the Philippines.

Held: (Note: This case was decided under 1935 Constitution)

The SC decided the case under the Constitution (rather than the Public Land Act) which is more
comprehend and more absolute in the sense that it prohibits the transfer to alien of nay private
agricultural land including residential whatever its origin might have.
Under Article XII, Section 1, it states that:
All agricultural, timber, and mineral lands of the public domain, water, minerals, coal, petroleum, and
other mineral oils, all forces of potential energy, and other natural resources of the Philippines belong to the
State, and their disposition, exploitation, development, or utilization shall be limited to citizens of
the Philippines, xxx Natural resources, with the exception of public agricultural land, shall not be alienated,
and no license, concession, or lease for the exploitation, development, or utilization of any of the natural
resources shall be granted for a period exceeding twenty-five years, renewable for another twenty-five years,
except as to water rights for irrigation, water supply, fisheries, or industrial uses other than the development of
water "power" in which cases beneficial use may be the measure and the limit of the grant.

The exclusion of aliens from the privilege of acquiring public agricultural lands and of owning real estate is
a necessary part of the Public Land Laws of the Philippines to keep pace with the idea of preserving the
Philippines for the Filipinos.

Xxx that lands, minerals, forests, and other natural resources constitute the exclusive heritage of the
Filipino nation. They should, therefore, be preserved for those under the sovereign authority of that nation
and for their posterity.
According to Montilla, a delegate of the Constitution said:
"With the complete nationalization of our lands and natural resources it is to be understood that our
God-given birthright should be one hundred per cent in Filipino hands . . .. Lands and natural resources are
immovables and as such can be compared to the vital organs of a person's body, the lack of possession of
which may cause instant death or the shortening of life. If we do not completely nationalize these two of our
most important belongings, I am afraid that the time will come when we shall be sorry for the time we were
born. Our independence will be just a mockery, for what kind of independence are we going to have if a part of
our country is not in our hands but in those of foreigners?

(additional) Regarding whether the issue whether public agricultural land includes residential
lands, the court stated that since they are neither mineral nor timber lands, of necessity they must be
classified as agricultural.
Hence, any parcel of land or building lot is susceptible of cultivation, and may be converted
into a field, and planted with all kinds of vegetation; for this reason, where land is not mining or
forestall in its nature, it must necessarily be included within the classification of agricultural land, not
because it is actually used for the purposes of agriculture, but because it was originally agricultural
and may again become so under other circumstances; besides, the Act of Congress contains only three
classification, and makes no special provision with respect to building lots or urban lands that have
ceased to be agricultural land.

In short, the Court ruled that in determining whether a parcel of land is agricultural, the test is not only
whether it is actually agricultural, but also its susceptibility to cultivation for agricultural purposes.
Section 9 of said CA No. 141, "alienable or disposable public lands" which are the same "public agriculture
lands" under the Constitution, are classified into agricultural, residential, commercial, industrial and for
other purposes. This simply means that the term "public agricultural lands" has both a broad and a
particular meaning. Under its broad or general meaning, as used in the Constitution, it embraces all lands
that are neither timber nor mineral.
If the term "private agricultural lands" is to be construed as not including residential lots or
lands not strictly agricultural, the result would be that "aliens may freely acquire and possess not only
residential lots and houses for themselves but entire subdivisions, and whole towns and cities," and
that "they may validly buy and hold in their names lands of any area for building homes, factories,
industrial plants, fisheries, hatcheries, schools, health and vacation resorts, markets, golf courses,
playgrounds, airfields, and a host of other uses and purposes that are not, in appellant's words, strictly
agricultural." (Solicitor General's Brief, p. 6.) That this is obnoxious to the conservative spirit of the
Constitution is beyond question.

Specifically under CA No. 141 , the right of aliens to acquire public agricultural kind of lands is completely
stricken out, undoubtedly in pursuance of the constitutional limitation, and such land may only be leased,
but not sold, to aliens, and the lease granted shall only be valid while the land is used for the purposes
referred to. The exclusion of sale in the new Act is undoubtedly in pursuance of the constitutional
limitation, and this again is another legislative construction that the term "public agricultural land" includes
land for residence purposes.
Aliens are not completely excluded by the Constitution from the use of lands for residential purposes. Since
their residence in the Philippines is temporary, they may be granted temporary rights such as a lease
contract which is not forbidden by the Constitution. Should they desire to remain here forever and share
our fortunes and misfortunes, Filipino citizenship is not impossible to acquire.


Court held that under the Constitution aliens may not acquire private or
public agricultural lands, including residential lands, and, accordingly, judgment is affirmed, without costs.