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The title in question TCT No. 2574 of the Registry of Deeds of Camarines Sur
was issued sometime in 1959 in the name of Gregorio Venturanza. The
governments negotiation committee assigned a deputy clerk of the Land
Registration Commission (LRC) to verify the true copies of TCT No. 2574 in the
name of Gregorio Venturanza. Upon verification, it was discovered that the title
covers only a parcel of land with an area of 451 square meters and not
23,944,635 square meters. The Republic of the Philippines, through the OSG, filed
a complaint for the Cancellation of Transfer Certificate of Title No. 2574 and the
Reversion of the Land Described Therein to the Republic of the Philippines. The
trial court came out with its decision ordering the annulment and cancellation of
the Venturanzas TCT. The trial court principally anchored its judgment on the
ground that the reconstituted title issued in the name of Florencio Mora could
have been fraudulently secured, hence, does not legally exist. On appeal, the
Venturanzas argued that Moras reconstituted title from where their TCT No. 2574
was derived is already indefeasible on the ground that upon the lapse of one (1)
year, the decision granting reconstitution of Moras title becomes final. The CA
affirmed the trial courts ruling.
Whether or not the TCT of the Venturanzas is valid
We DENY. Petitioners are wrong. Clearly, the provisions relied upon refer to
original decrees of registration and not to orders of reconstitution. As it is,
petitioners cannot even seek refuge in the Land Registration Act because the
land covered by TCT No. 2574 had never been brought within the operation of
said law. As a necessary consequence, no court could have ever acquired
jurisdiction to order the reconstitution of Moras TCT over the land which has
never been originally registered.
Petitioners also claim that they are protected by law considering that they were
buyers in good faith.
Again, this assertion is without basis considering that Moras reconstituted TCT,
from where petitioners TCT was derived, is void. The only way by which Mora
could have acquired ownership over the subject parcels of land and validly
transfer that ownership to the petitioners was for Mora to apply for their
registration in his own name.
What makes petitioners cause doubly undeserving of merit is the finding of the
two courts below that the land subject matter of this case is part timberland. A
certificate of title covering inalienable lands of the public domain is void and can
be cancelled in whosever hand said title may be found. Thus, we have ruled that
a certificate of title is void when it covers property of the public domain
classified as forest or timber and mineral lands. And any title issued on nondisposable lands even if in the hands of alleged innocent purchaser for value,
shall be cancelled.

Republic vs. Catarroja

Respondents Apolinario Catarroja, Reynaldo Catarroja, and Rosita
Catarroja (the Catarrojas) filed a petition for the reconstitution of lost original
certificate of title covering two lots in Zapang, Ternate, Cavite. One lot covered
an area of 269,695 sq meters while the other lot with an area of 546,239 sq
meters. The Catarrojas claimed that they inherited these lands from their
parents, Fermin and Sancha who applied for their registration with the Court of
First Instance of Cavite sometime before World War II.
On August 3, 1988, the Land Registration Authority issued a
certification, and on February 4, 2002, a report, confirming that the land
registration court issued Decree 749932 on May 21 1941 covering the said lots.
However, a copy of this decree was no longer available in the records of the LRA.
The Catarrojas alleged that pursuant to the decree, the Register of
Deeds of Cavite issued an original certificate of title to their parents. However,
according to a certification from the LRA, the original on file was lost in the fire
that gutted the old Cavite capitol building on June 7, 1959. The Catarrojas
claimed on the other hand that the owners duplicate copy of the title had been
lost while with their parents.

On June 27, 2003, the RTC of Cavite issued an Order granting for the
reconstitution of title.
On appeal, the CA reversed the decision of the RTC holding that the
Catarrojas failed to establish any of the sources for reconstitution under Sec 2 of
reconsideration, the CA rendered an amended decision setting aside its previous
decision and finding sufficient evidence to allow reconstitution of the title.
Issue: Whether the CA erred in finding sufficient evidence to grant the petition
for reconstitution of title.
Held: Yes.
Section 2 of R.A. 26 enumerates the following sources for the
reconstitution of such titles such as: (a) The owner's duplicate of the certificate of
title; (b) The co-owner's, mortgagee's, or lessee's duplicate of the certificate of
title; (c) A certified copy of the certificate of title, previously issued by the
register of deeds or by a legal custodian thereof; (d) An authenticated copy of
the decree of registration or patent, as the case may be, pursuant to which the
original certificate of title was issued; (e) A document, on file in the registry of
deeds, by which the property, the description of which is given in said document,
is mortgaged, leased or encumbered, or an authenticated copy of said document
showing that its original had been registered; and (f) Any other document which,
in the judgment of the court, is sufficient and proper basis for reconstituting the
lost or destroyed certificate of title.
The Catarrojas were unable to present any documents mentioned in
paragraphs (a) to (e) of RA 26. The only documentary evidence of the
respondents could produce as possible sources for the reconstitution of the lost
title are the other documents described in paragraph (f) which included among
others: (1)The Microfilm printouts of the Official Gazette dated February 25,
1941, Vol. 39, No. 24, Pages 542-543, showing a notice of hearing in LRC 482,
GLRO Record 54798, respecting their parents application for registration and
confirmation of their title to the subject lots ; (2)A certification issued by the LRA
dated August 3, 1998, stating that, based on official records, GLRO Record
54798, Cavite, had been issued Decree 749932 on May 21, 1941; and, (3)The
Report of the LRA dated February 4, 2002, stating that based on their record book
of decrees, Decree 749932 had been issued on May 21, 1941 covering the
subject lots under GLRO Record 54798. The report also verified as correct the
plans (Psu-111787 and Psu-111788) and technical descriptions of the subject lots
and approved under LRA PR-19042 and LRA PR-19043; (4) A certification from the
Register of Deeds of Cavite dated July 3, 1999, stating that it cannot ascertain
whether the land covered by Decree 749932 and GLRO Record 54798 had been
issued a certificate of title because its titles were arranged numerically and not
by lot numbers, location, or names of registered owners. The Register of Deeds
also certified that all their records were lost in the June 7, 1959 fire, and; (5) An
Affidavit of Loss dated December 14, 2011, stating that the duplicate certificate
of title covering the subject lots had been lost.
The Supreme Court was not convinced that the above documents of
the respondents fall in the same class as those enumerated in paragraphs (a) to
(e). None of them proves that a certificate of title had been in fact been issued in
the name of their parents. In Republic v. Tuastumban, the Court ruled that the
documents must come from official sources which recognize the ownership of the
owner and his predecessors-in-interest. None of the documents presented fit
such description.
The Catarrojas failed to show that they exerted efforts to look for and
avail of the sources in paragraphs (a) to (e) before availing themselves of the
sources in paragraph (f). In Republic v. Holazo that the documents referred to in
Sec. 2 (f) may be resorted to only in the absence of the preceding documents on
the list. Further, in Republic vs. Tuastumban, the Court enumerated what needs
to be shown before the issuance of an order for reconstitution (a) that the
certificate of title had been lost or destroyed; (b) that the documents presented
by petitioner are sufficient and proper to warrant reconstitution of the lost or
destroyed certificate of title; (c) that the petitioner is the registered owner of the
property or had an interest therein; (d) that the certificate of title was in force at
the time it was lost or destroyed; and (e) that the description, area and
boundaries of the property are substantially the same as those contained in the
lost or destroyed certificate of title. No such documents were presented by the
respondents to support their claim.


This case involves the conflicting titles to the same parcels of land (subject lots)
of petitioner Barstowe Philippines Corporation (BPC) and the respondent Republic
of the Philippines (Republic). Due to the fire that gutted the Office of the Quezon
City Register of Deeds on 11 June 1988 and destroyed many certificates of title
kept therein, Antonio sought the administrative reconstitution of the original
copies and owners duplicate copies of 2 TCTs. The Republic applied for
administrative reconstitution of the same with the LRA. It was then that the
Republic came to know that another party had applied for reconstitution which
also covered the same lots. The RTC rendered judgment declaring both BPC and
Republic as buyers in good faith. But it upheld BPCs rights over the republic
since it was registered earlier. The Ca ruled for the Republic.
Who between BPC and the Republic has a better title over the subject lots?
Ultimately, this Court is called upon to determine which party now has superior
title to the subject lots: the Republic, BPC, the intervenors Abesamis, NicolasAgbulos, and spouses Santiago, or Servandos heirs?
BPC, the intervenors Abesamis, Nicolas-Agbulos, spouses Santiago, and
Servandos heirs derived their title to the subject lots from Servandos TCTs No.
200629 and 200630. This Court then is compelled to look into the validity,
authenticity, and existence of these two TCTs.
However, there is an absolute dearth of information and proof as to how
Servando acquired ownership and came into possession of the subject lots.
Relying on the findings of the LRA, it was established that TCTs No. 200629 and
200630 were forged and spurious, their reconstitution was also attended with
grave irregularities. BPC was unable to attack the authenticity and validity of the
titles of the Republic to the subject lots, and could only interpose the defense
that it was a buyer in good faith. It points out that it purchased the subject lots
from Servando and registered the same , way before the titles of Servando were
declared null by the RTC. Under Section 55 of the Land Registration Act, as
amended by Section 53 of Presidential Decree No. 1529, an original owner of
registered land may seek the annulment of a transfer thereof on the ground of
fraud. However, such a remedy is without prejudice to the rights of any innocent
holder for value with a certificate of title.
A purchaser in good faith and for value is one who buys the property of another,
without notice that some other person has a right to or interest in such property,
and pays a full and fair price for the same at the time of such purchase or before
he has notice of the claim or interest of some other person in the property.
It has been consistently ruled that a forged deed can legally be the root of a valid
title when an innocent purchaser for value intervenes. A deed of sale executed by
an impostor without the authority of the owner of the land sold is a nullity, and
registration will not validate what otherwise is an invalid document. However,
where the certificate of title was already transferred from the name of the true
owner to the forger and, while it remained that way, the land was subsequently
sold to an innocent purchaser, the vendee had the right to rely upon what
appeared in the certificate and, in the absence of anything to excite suspicion,
was under no obligation to look beyond the certificate and investigate the title of
the vendor appearing on the face of said certificate.
Now the question is whether BPC qualifies as an innocent purchaser for value
which acquired valid titles to the subject lots, despite the fact that the titles of its
predecessor-in-interest were found to be forged and spurious.
This Court finds in the negative.
BPC cannot really claim that it was a purchaser in good faith which relied upon
the face of Servandos titles. It should be recalled that the Quezon City Register
of Deeds caught fire on 11 June 1988. Presumably, the original copies of TCTs

were burnt in the said fire. Servandos heirs sought the administrative
reconstitution of the TCTs. If BPC bought the subject lots after TCTs were
destroyed when the Quezon City Register of Deeds burned down, but before the
said certificates were reconstituted, then on the face of what titles did BPC rely
on before deciding to proceed with the purchase of the subject lots? There was
no showing that there were surviving owners duplicate copies of TCTs.
Without the original copies and owners duplicate copies of TCTs, BPC had to rely
on the reconstituted certificates. Under section 7 of Republic Act No. 26, 57
"Reconstituted titles shall have the same validity and legal effect as the originals
thereof" unless the reconstitution was made extrajudicially. 58 In this case, TCTs
were reconstituted administratively, hence, extrajudicially. In contrast to the
judicial reconstitution of a lost certificate of title which is in rem, the
administrative reconstitution is essentially ex-parte and without notice.59 The
reconstituted certificates of title do not share the same indefeasible character of
the original certificates of title for the following reason
x x x The nature of a reconstituted Transfer Certificate Of Title of registered land
is similar to that of a second Owner's Duplicate Transfer Certificate Of Title. Both
are issued, after the proper proceedings, on the representation of the registered

owner that the original of the said TCT or the original of the Owner's Duplicate
TCT, respectively, was lost and could not be located or found despite diligent
efforts exerted for that purpose. Both, therefore, are subsequent copies of the
originals thereof. A cursory examination of these subsequent copies would show
that they are not the originals. Anyone dealing with such copies are put on notice
of such fact and thus warned to be extra-careful. x x x. 60
The fact that the TCTs were reconstituted should have alerted BPC and its officers
to conduct an inquiry or investigation as might be necessary to acquaint
themselves with the defects in the titles of Servando. This Court cannot declare
BPC an innocent purchaser for value, and it acquired no better titles to the
subject lots than its predecessors-in-interest, Servando and Antonio.
The general rule is that the State cannot be put in estoppel by the mistakes or
errors of its officials or agents. However, like all general rules, this is also subject
to exceptions, viz:
"Estoppels against the public are little favored. They should not be invoked
except in rare and unusual circumstances, and may not be invoked where they
would operate to defeat the effective operation of a policy adopted to protect the

public. They must be applied with circumspection and should be applied only in
those special cases where the interests of justice clearly require it. Nevertheless,
the government must not be allowed to deal dishonorably or capriciously with its
citizens, and must not play an ignoble part or do a shabby thing; and subject to
limitations x x x the doctrine of equitable estoppel may be invoked against public
authorities as well as against private individuals."
Significantly, the other private respondents Spouses Santos, Spouses
Calaguian, Dela Fuente and Madaya bought such "expanded" lots in good faith,
relying on the clean certificates of St. Jude, which had no notice of any flaw in
them either. It is only fair and reasonable to apply the equitable principle of
estoppel by laches against the government to avoid an injustice to the innocent
purchasers for value.