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G.R. No.

174626

October 23, 2013

REPUBLIC
OF
THE
vs.
LUIS MIGUEL O. ABOITIZ, Respondent.

PHILIPPINES, Petitioner,

DECISION
MENDOZA, J.:
Before the Court is a petition for review on certiorari under Rule 45 of the Rules of Court
filed by petitioner Republic of the Philippines Republic), represented by the Office of the
Solicitor General OSG), seeking to set aside the December 14 2005 Amended
Decision1 of the Court of Appeals CA), in CA-G.R. CV No. 75032 and its September 12
2006 Resolution2 affirming the February 21 2002 Decision 3 of the Regional Trial . Court
Cebu City Branch 11 RTC), which granted the application for registration of respondent
Luis Miguel O. Aboitiz Aboitiz) in Land Registration Case LRC) No. 1474-N.
The Facts
On September 11, 1998, respondent Aboitiz filed his Application for Registration of Land
Title of a parcel of land with an area of 1,254 square meters, located in Talamban, Cebu
City, and identified as Lot 11193 of the Cebu Cadastre 12 Extension, before the RTC.
After establishing the jurisdiction of the RTC to act on the application for registration of
land title, hearing thereon ensued.
In support of his application, Aboitiz attached the original Tracing Cloth Plan with a
blueprint copy, the technical description of the land, the certificate of the geodetic
engineer surveying the land, and the documents evidencing possession and ownership
of the land.
To prove his claim, Aboitiz presented his witness, Sarah Benemerito (Sarah), his
secretary, who testified that he entrusted to her the subject property and appointed her
as its caretaker; that he purchased the subject property from Irenea Kapuno (Irenea) on
September 5, 1994; that he had been in actual, open, continuous, and exclusive
possession of the subject property in the concept of an owner; that as per record of the
Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), Region VII, the subject
property had been classified as alienable and disposable since 1957; that per
certification of the Community Environment and Natural Resources Office (CENRO),
Cebu City, the subject property was not covered by any subsisting public land
application; and that the subject property had been covered by tax declarations from
1963 to 1994 in Irenea’s name, and from 1994 to present, in his name.
Another witness for Aboitiz, Luz Kapuno (Luz), daughter of Irenea, the original owner of
the subject property, testified that she was one of the instrumental witnesses in the deed
of sale of the subject property and that saw her mother affix her signature on the said

document. She added that her mother was in open, continuous, peaceful, and exclusive
possession of the said property.
Subsequently, the Republic, through Assistant City Prosecutor Edito Y. Enemecio,
manifested that it would not adduce any evidence to oppose the application for
registration of Aboitiz.
On February 21, 2002, the RTC granted Aboitiz’s application for registration of the
subject property. The dispositive portion of the decision states:
WHEREFORE, in view of all the foregoing premises, the Court hereby renders judgment
in this case granting the application filed by the applicant. The Court hereby accordingly
adjudicates the land described on plan RS-07-000856 located in Talamban, Cebu City,
together with all the improvements thereon, as belonging to the applicant, and confirms
his title thereto. The Land Registration Authority is hereby ordered to issue the
corresponding Decree of Registration to confirm the applicant’s title to the said land and
to subject the said land under the operation of the Torrens System of Registration.
Upon this decision becoming final, let a decree of confirmation and registration be
entered and, thereafter, upon payment of the fees required by law, let the corresponding
original certificate of title be issued in the name of the applicant.
Furnish copies of this decision to the Administrator of the LRA, the Director of Lands
and the Director of the Bureau of Forestry, the Office of the Solicitor General and the
Cebu City Prosecutor.
SO ORDERED.4
Not in conformity, the Republic appealed the RTC ruling before the CA.
In its June 7, 2005 Decision,5 the CA reversed the ruling of the RTC and denied Aboitiz’s
application for registration of land title, the decretal portion of which reads:
WHEREFORE, the Decision of the trial court dated February 21, 2002 is hereby
REVERSED and the application for registration of title is accordingly DISMISSED.
SO ORDERED.6
The CA ruled that it was only from the date of declaration of such lands as alienable and
disposable that the period for counting the statutory requirement of possession since
June 12, 1945 or earlier would commence. Possession prior to the date of declaration of
the lands alienability was not included. The CA observed that the subject property was
declared as alienable and disposable only in 1957, and so the application clearly did not
meet the requirements of possession needed under the first requisite of Section 14 (1) 7 of
Presidential Decree (P.D.) No. 1529 which must be since June 12, 1945, or earlier.
Thereafter, Aboitiz moved for reconsideration of the June 7, 2005 Decision of the CA
which dismissed his application for registration of title. Aboitiz asserted, among others,

that although the subject land was classified as alienable and disposable only in 1957,
the tax declarations, from 1963 to 1994, for a period of thirty one (31) years, converted
the land, by way of acquisitive prescription, to private property. He asserted that the
evidence he presented substantially met the requisite nature and character of possession
under P.D. No. 1529.
In its December 14, 2005 Amended Decision, the CA reversed itself and granted the
application for registration of land title of Aboitiz. The pertinent portion of the said
decision reads:
WHEREFORE, in view of the foregoing, the June 7, 2005 Decision of this Court is
hereby REVERSED and the Decision dated February 21, 2002 of the Regional Trial
Court, Branch 11, Cebu City with respect to L.R.C. No. 1474-N is hereby AFFIRMED in
toto.
SO ORDERED.8
In granting the application for registration of land title, the CA relied on Section 14(2) of
P.D. No. 1529.9 It stated that although the application for registration of Aboitiz could
not be granted pursuant to Section 14(1) of P.D. No. 1529 because the possession of his
predecessor-in-interest commenced in 1963 (beyond June 12, 1945), it could prosper by
virtue of acquisitive prescription under Section 14(2) of P.D. No. 1529 upon the lapse of
thirty (30) years. The CA explained that the original owner’s (Irenea’s) possession of the
subject property beginning from 1963 up to 1994, the year Aboitiz purchased the subject
property from Irenea, spanning thirty one (31) years, converted the said property into
private land and, thus, susceptible to registration. The CA also declared that although
tax declarations and real property tax payments were not by themselves conclusive
evidence of ownership of land, they were nevertheless good indicia of possession in the
concept of an owner.
The Republic moved for reconsideration but was denied by the CA on September 12,
2006. Hence, this petition.
ASSIGMENT OF ERROR
THE CA ERRED ON A QUESTION OF LAW IN GRANTING THE APPLICATION FOR
REGISTRATION OF LOT 11193 UNDER PLAN RS-07-000856 BASED ON THE
EVIDENCE IT RELIED UPON EARLIER DISMISSING THE SAID APPLICATION. 10
In his Memorandum,11 Aboitiz contends that the Republic is raising questions of fact
which is beyond the appellate jurisdiction of this Court. Consequently, the findings of
fact by the RTC and affirmed by the CA are final, binding and conclusive upon the Court.
Aboitiz claims that sufficient evidence was presented to establish the nature and
character of his possession of the subject property as required by P.D. No. 1529.
In its Memorandum,12 the Republic, citing Republic v. T.A.N. Properties, Inc., 13 argues
that Aboitiz failed to validly establish the alienability of the subject property because he
only adduced a CENRO certification to that effect, without presenting a copy of the

since June 12. a declaration that the property is alienable and disposable is not sufficient to make it susceptible to acquisitive prescription. No. under the Land Registration Act. under a bona fide claim of acquisition of ownership. Who may apply. The Court’s Ruling The petition is meritorious. occupying lands of the public domain or claiming to own any such lands or an interest therein. immediately preceding the filing of the application for confirmation of title except when prevented by war or force majeure. No. The vital issue to be resolved by the Court is whether Aboitiz is entitled to the registration of land title under Section 14(1) of P.15 as amended by Section 4 of P. exclusive and notorious possession and occupation of alienable and disposable lands of the public domain under a bona fide claim of ownership since June 12.D.original classification approved by the DENR Secretary and certified as a true copy by the legal custodian of the official records. Further. — The following persons may file in the proper Court of First Instance an application for registration of title to land. whether personally or through their duly authorized representatives: (1) Those who by themselves or through their predecessors-in-interest have been in open. exclusive and notorious possession and occupation of agricultural lands of the public domain. 1529 in relation to Section 48(b) of Commonwealth Act No. pursuant to Section 14(2) of P.D. These shall be conclusively presumed to have performed all the conditions essential to a Government . 1529 Section 14(1) of P. continuous. or earlier. 1945. 1529. 1073. 1945. xxxx Section 48.D. to wit: xxxx (b) Those who by themselves or through their predecessors-in-interest have been in open. No. No.D. may apply to the Court of First Instance now Regional Trial Court of the province where the land is located for confirmation of their claims and the issuance of a certificate of title therefor.16 provides: SECTION 14. 141. or earlier. No. Section 14(1) of P. The following described citizens of the Philippines. The Republic asserts that it is only when the property has become patrimonial that the period of acquisitive prescription can commence to run against the State. 1529. or. but whose titles have not been perfected or completed. An express government manifestation that the property is already patrimonial or no longer intended for public use. continuous.D. in the alternative. for public service or for the development for the national wealth pursuant to Article 422 14 of the New Civil Code must also be shown.

(2) that the applicant and his predecessors-in-interest have been in open. and a copy of the original classification approved by the DENR Secretary and certified as a true copy by the legal custodian of the official records. it is incumbent upon the applicant to present a CENRO or Provincial Environment and Natural Resources Office (PENRO) Certification.17 Strangely. Here. The absence of any one requisite renders the application for registration substantially defective.grant and shall be entitled to a certificate of title under the provisions of this chapter. In Republic v. 1529 fell short due to his own omission. Evidently. Section 14(2) of P. or earlier. Anent the first requisite. Hanover Worldwide Trading Corporation. by himself or through his predecessors-in-interest. is not sufficient. Aboitiz likewise failed to satisfy this third requisite. With regard to the third requisite. 1945.19 A mere showing of possession and occupation for 30 years or more. 1529. Thus. No. the earliest that he and his predecessor-in-interest can trace back possession and occupation of the subject land was only in the year 1963. 18 the Court declared that the CENRO is not the official repository or legal custodian of the issuances of the DENR Secretary declaring the alienability and disposability of public lands. except for a CENRO certification submitted by Aboitiz.D.D. exclusive and notorious possession and occupation of the same. the application for registration of Aboitiz should be denied. 1945 or earlier. As the records and pleadings of this case will reveal. the Court cannot find any evidence to show the subject land’s alienable and disposable character. he neglected to present any convincing and persuasive evidence to manifest compliance with the requisite period of possession and occupation since June 12.20 Unfortunately. the CENRO Certification should be accompanied by an official publication of the DENR Secretary’s issuance declaring the land alienable and disposable. [Emphases supplied] Based on the above-quoted provisions. 1945. to authoritatively establish the subject land’s alienable and disposable character. Clearly. continuous. No.D. it must be shown that the possession and occupation of a parcel of land by the applicant. and (3) that it is under a bona fide claim of ownership since June 12. under Section 14(1) of P. 1529. started on June 12.D. applicants for registration of land title must establish and prove: (1) that the subject land forms part of the disposable and alienable lands of the public domain. The foregoing requisites are indispensable for an application for registration of land title. by itself. No. No. 1529 . For this reason. 1945 or earlier. Accordingly. to validly prosper. his application for registration of land title was legally infirm. his attempt to comply with the first requisite of Section 14(1) of P. the reckoning date expressly provided under Section 14(1) of P. his possession of the subject property commenced roughly eighteen (18) years beyond June 12.

D. No.The following persons may file in the proper Court of First Instance an application for registration of title to land. satisfied the requirements of possession for thirty (30) years to acquire title to the subject property via prescription under Section 14(2) of P. Regrettably. and registrable title to. the possessor is entitled to secure judicial confirmation of his title thereto as soon as it is declared alienable and disposable. exclusive. No. such lands based on the length and quality of their possession. 1529. No. Republic. the Court finds Itself unable to subscribe to applicant’s proposition. whether personally or through their duly authorized representatives: xxxx (2) Those who have acquired ownership of private lands by prescription under the provisions of existing laws. . subject to the timeframe imposed by Section 47 22 of the Public Land Act. Section 48(b) of the Public Land Act recognizes and confirms that "those who by themselves or through their predecessors in interest have been in open. 1529. 1529 provides: SEC. 1529. Section 14(2) of P. viz: (1) In connection with Section 14(1) of the Property Registration Decree. nonetheless. (a) Since Section 48(b) merely requires possession since 12 June 1945 and does not require that the lands should have been alienable and disposable during the entire period of possession. and notorious possession and occupation of alienable and disposable lands of the public domain.D. continuous. 1945" have acquired ownership of. under Article 422 of the Civil . Significantly. public domain lands become only patrimonial property not only with a declaration that these are alienable or disposable. under a bona fide claim of acquisition of ownership.D. (2) In complying with Section 14(2) of the Property Registration Decree. since June 12.Notwithstanding his failure to comply with the requirements for registration of land title under Section 14(1) of P. There must also be an express government manifestation that the property is already patrimonial or no longer retained for public service or the development of national wealth. 21 the Court clarified the import of Section 14(1) as distinguished from Section 14(2) of P. Who may apply. However. (b) The right to register granted under Section 48(b) of the Public Land Act is further confirmed by Section 14(1) of the Property Registration Decree.D. In the case of Heirs of Mario Malabanan v. prescription is recognized as a mode of acquiring ownership of patrimonial property. consider that under the Civil Code. No. Aboitiz advances that he has. 14.

expressly declared through either a law enacted by Congress or a proclamation issued. the Court is constrained to reverse the assailed CA Amended Decision and Resolution and to deny the application for registration of land title of Aboitiz. Hence. 1474-N is DENIED. one ordinary and other extraordinary. In fine. in addition to the said classification. a person acquires ownership of a patrimonial property through possession for at least ten (10) years. the Application for Registration of Title of respondent Luis Miguel O. under Section 14(2) of P. Under extraordinary acquisitive prescription. the petition is GRANTED.The person acquires ownership of patrimonial property by prescription under the Civil Code is entitled to secure registration thereof under Section 14(2) of the Property Registration Decree. 2005 Amended Decision and the September 12. denying the motion for reconsideration questioning the decision. 24 in the same case of Malabanan. in CA-G. Accordingly. by the President that the subject land is no longer retained for public service or the development of the national wealth or that the property has been converted into patrimonial. SO ORDERED. the Court En Banc came out with its Resolution. not susceptible to acquisition by virtue of prescription. 1529. regardless of good faith or just title. are hereby REVERSED and SET ASIDE. 179990 October 23. in good faith and with just title. without an express declaration by the State. CV No.R. the Court holds that the ruling of the CA lacks sufficient factual or legal justification." 25 Thus. G. ripens into ownership. the land remains to be a property of public dominion and.R. Under ordinary acquisitive prescription.23 [Emphasis supplied] On September 3. And only when the property has become patrimonial can the prescriptive period for the acquisition of property of the public dominion begin to run. The applicant must be able to show that the State. Consequently.Code. 2013. for acquisitive prescription to commence and operate against the State. (b) There are two kinds of prescription by which patrimonial property may be acquired. No. hence. the classification of ' land as alienable and disposable alone is not sufficient. In the said resolution. 75032. the Court authoritatively stated that x x x the land continues to be ineligible for land registration under Section 14(2) of the Property Registration Decree unless Congress enacts a law or the President issues a proclamation declaring the land as no longer intended for public service or for the development of the national wealth. (a) Patrimonial property is private property of the government. WHEREFORE. 2013 . Aboitiz in Land Registration Case No. a person’s uninterrupted adverse possession of patrimonial property for at least thirty (30) years. No. 2006 Resolution of the Court of Appeals.D. The December 14.

: The present petition is one for review under Rule 45 of the 1997 Rules of Court.40 m. to point of the . Consolacion. bounded and specifically described in Plans Csd072219-004552 and Csd-072219-004551. Island of Cebu. and that it should dismiss Land Registration Commission (LRC) Case No. Both lands were situated in Jugan. Bounded on the NE. affirming the Decision2 of the Regional Trial Court RTC) of Mandaue City.80 m. Csd-072219-004552). 17’E. along line 4-1 by lot 3136. Gielczyk (respondent) for the original registration of title of Lot Nos. 1878. on the SW. 70078. CV No. to point 4. 3135-A and 3136-A of Plans Csd-072219-004552 and Csd-072219004551.. All [sic] of Cad... 70078.69 m. thence N. 59’E. thence S. GIELCZYK.. Csd-072219-004552). DECISION REYES. Beginning at a point marked "1" on plan being S..REPUBLIC OF THE PHILIPPINES. 14’W. The Republic of the Philippines petitioner) challenges the Decision1 dated September 21.69 m.. N-452. 83 deg. 3 Antecedent Facts On July 17. Csd-072219-004552 (Luisa Ceniza) A parcel of land (lot 20047. 2007 of the Court of Appeals CA) in CA-GR.4 to wit: TECHNICAL DESCRIPTIONS Lot 2007. CV No. 3136-A of Plans Csd-072219-004552 and Csd-072219-004551. thence N. 2007 in CA-GR. 3135-A and Lot No. to point 2. N-452 for utter lack of merit. 26’W. on the NW. 58. 26 deg. 1.. the respondent sought the registration under her name of the lands denominated as Lot No. The petitioner prays that the Court annuls the CA Decision dated September 21. Respondent. identical to lot 3135-A. both situated in Jugan. the respondent claimed that she is the owner of the two parcels of land. 1995.545-D. 61 deg. Cebu. which are situated.. Petitioner. Cad. J. DIOSDADA I. Municipality of Consolacion. Cebu. thence S. 23 deg. 20’E. along line 3-4 by lot 3126. being a portion of lot 3135. 38. which granted the application of Diosdada I.02 m. 545-D. situated in the Barrio of Jugan. In her verified application in LRC Case No. Province of Cebu. 545-D (new).. from BLLM No. 57. on the SE. 61 deg. vs. Cebu. identical to lot 3135-A. 40. Consolacion. Consolacion. Branch 56. along line 2-3 by Camino Vicinal Road. Cad. Cad. 545-D (New). to point 3. along line 1-2 by lot 20048 (identical to lot 3135-B.

on the NW.400. Cad. All points referred to are indicated on the plan and are marked on the ground as follows. 15x40 cms. 12. 44. mons 15x60 cms.. 44’E. identical to lot 3136-A. 15x40 cms. 1987. Bearings Grid.39 m. No. more or less. 545-D. mons. Cad.S.S. Abella on November 12. Province of Cebu. 1994. Csd-072219-004551)..55 m.. 545-D (New).L. 1993 and approved on May 24. Csd-072219-004551 (Constancio Ceniza) A parcel of land (lot 20045. 65 deg. and (e) that said land is not occupied. identical to Lot 3136-A. there is no mortgage nor encumbrance of any kind affecting said land. 1987-November 11. 35 deg.M.S.. 1993 and approved on May 26.S.. cyl. conc. along line 1-2 by lot 3135. to point 5. (d) that she acquired title to said land by virtue of the deeds of absolute sale. on the SW. along line 6-1 by lot 20046 (identical to lot 3136-B. 1878. 7 . thence N. 58. 15’W. thence N. to point of the beginning. and that of the subdivision survey executed by Geodetic Engineer Norvic S. 2. situated in the Barrio of Jugan. mons 15x60 cms.5 TECHNICAL DESCRIPTIONS Lot 20045. 46.545-D. (b) that to the best of her knowledge and belief. All [sic] of Cad. more or less.6 The respondent further alleged the following: (a) that the said parcels of land were last assessed for taxation at P2. along line 2-34 by lot 3126. thence S. points 1 and 2 by P. cyl. Containing an area of TWO THOUSAND SIX HUNDRED TEN (2. conc. Island of Cebu. cyl. Consolacion. 1994.69 m. 1987-November 11. along line 6-1 by lot 20046. 23 deg. from B..48 m.. 17’E.285) SQUARE METERS. Beginning at a point marked "1" on plan being S. Abella on November 19. Bearings Grid.beginning. including the possession of her predecessors-in-interest.02 m..610) SQUARE METERS. date of original survey July 14. Cebu. nor any person having interest therein. 20 deg. thence N. on the NE. thence N. 65 deg. 59’W. Containing an area of TWO THOUSAND TWO HUNDRED EIGHTY FIVE (2. cyl. 20 deg.. 10’W. legal or equitable. and the rest are old P. Bounded on the SE.L. (c) that she had been in open. to point 2. complete. 41. 37’E. and that of the subdivision survey executed by Geodetic Engineer Norvic S.. continuous. date of original survey July 14. Csd-072219-004551). and the rest are old P. mons.. conc. 1.79 m.00. and peaceful possession in the concept of an owner over said parcels of land up to the present time for more than 30 years. 1987. 83 deg. 545-D (New). to point 4. Cad. to point 3. Municipality of Consolacion. to point 6: thence S. conc.05 m. points 1 and 6 by P. being a portion of lot 3136. All points referred to are indicated on the plan and are marked on the ground as follows. 43’E.

Municipal Road c/o Municipal Mayor Consolacion.15 and .14 (g) Certifications from the Community Environment and Natural Resources Officer (CENRO). owned by Mr. Cebu East . Consolacion.Lot 3126.Lot 3126 owned by Mr.Lot 3135-B owned by Mrs. Cebu 8 To prove her claim.Lot 3135-A. Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR).10 (c) Certification from the Chief. Consolacion. Central Visayas Lands Management Services in lieu of surveyor’s certificates. Cebu West . Cebu West .Lot 3136-A owned by the applicant.9 (b) Approved technical descriptions of the same lots. owned by Mr. Region 7. Cebu East . Consolacion.Lot 3136-B. South .The respondent. Luisa Ceniza Jugan. as far as known to her. Miguel Hortiguela Jugan.11 (d) Latest tax declarations of the lots. the respondent submitted the following pieces of evidence: (a) Approved plans of Lot Nos.13 (f) Deeds of Sale in favor of the respondent. Pepito Jugan. also alleged that the full names and complete addresses of the owners of all lands adjoining the subject land are the following: ADJOINING OWNERS OF LOT 3135-A: North .12 (e) Latest tax clearance of the same lots. owned by the applicant. owned by Mr. that the lots are alienable and disposable. Rene Pepito Jugan. Cebu South . Consolacion. Technical Services Section. ADJOINING OWNERS OF LOT 3136-A: North . Cebu City. 3135-A and 3136-A. Rogelio M.Lot 3138. Consolacion. Constancio Ceniza Jugan.

and notorious possession and occupation of the land in question since June 12. 1945 or prior thereto. 3136-A for more than 40 years in the concept of an owner. 01670 for the year 1948. 25146 for the year 1973. publicly. exclusive. 3136-A (which is identical to Lot 20045. No. exclusive and notorious possession and occupation thereof in the concept of an owner since June 12. No. 01411 for the year 1974. when the respondent testified in court.23 (3) That the respondent can no longer avail of the claim of ownership in fee simple on the basis of Spanish title or grant since she has failed to file an appropriate application for registration within the period of six months from February 16. Cebu. 20849 for the year 1980. with an area of 2. Tax Dec. and that said muniments of title do not appear to be genuine and the tax declarations and/or tax payment receipts indicate the pretended possession of the respondent to be of recent vintage. 29200 for the year 1981. continuous. 3135-A: Tax Dec.19 (iv) That the respondent and her respective predecessors-in-interest had been in possession of Lot No. or prior thereto. 3135-A and Lot No.18 (iii) That the said parcels of land are alienable and disposable and are not covered by subsisting public land application.20 and (v) That the respondent is a Filipino Citizen and that despite her marriage to an American national. 1976 as required by . 021294 for the year 1968. 1995 to the respondent’s application for registration of title. Tax Dec. 1945. Tax Dec. 13275 for the year 1989. 17 (ii) That the respondent was never delinquent in paying the taxes for the said lots. 3135-A (which is identical to Lot 20047. 012459 for the year 1965. Cebu. she has retained her Filipino citizenship. while the following tax declarations were issued for Lot No.610 sq m). No. No. Tax Dec. Records Section. Region 7. 01258 for the year 1948. Tax Dec. No. and Tax Dec. peacefully. 012931 for the year 1965. Consolacion. No.22 (2) That the muniments of title and/or the tax declarations and tax payment receipts of the respondent attached to or alleged in the application do not constitute competent and sufficient evidence of a bona fide acquisition of the land applied for or of their open. No. and is situated in Jugan. 3136-A: Tax Dec. 04210 for the year 1985. and no other person has claimed ownership over the same land. notoriously and adversely.(h) Certification from the Chief. completely. In fact the following tax declarations were issued for Lot No. with an area of 2. and is situated in Jugan. No. Tax Dec. exclusively. Consolacion. No. No. Tax Dec. 13274 for the year 1989.285 sq m) through purchase from Constancio Ceniza and Luisa Ceniza respectively. and Lot No. Cebu City that the same lots are not subject to public land application. No. No. DENR. continuously. No. alleging among others: 1) That neither the respondent nor her predecessors-in-interest have been in open.16 Furthermore. Tax Dec. Tax Dec. her testimony sought to establish the following: (i) That the respondent acquired Lot No. No. 21 The petitioner filed an opposition dated September 18. 20846 for the year 1980. Tax Dec. Tax Dec. continuous. 04208 for the year 1985.

44 years old.Presidential Decree (P. the RTC rendered its Decision26 in favor of the respondent. 4 Noel St. the Administrator. From the records. Consequently. both situated at Jugan. which was also denied on September 21. NOTORIOUS.24 (4) That the parcel of land applied for is a portion of the public domain belonging to the petitioner and that the said parcel is not subject to private appropriation. as her exclusive paraphernal property. 1995. the appeal is hereby DENIED and the assailed Decision AFFIRMED in its entirety. from all the foregoing undisputed facts supported by oral and documentary evidence. the petitioner further alleged that the instant application was filed on July 7. 39. this Court resolved to dispense with the respondent’s comment and shall decide the instant petition based on available records. UHV.27 Not convinced of the RTC’s decision. Metro Manila. American national. 2011. 892. the petitioner filed the present Petition for Review under Rule 45 of the 1997 Rules of Court. 1999. SO ORDERED. . Land Registration Authority is hereby directed to issue Decree of Registration and Original Certificate of Title to Lots 3135-A and 3136-A [sic]. Thus. let a corresponding decree of registration and original certificate of title be issued to subject lot in accordance with Sec. Consolacion. EXCLUSIVE AND PEACEFUL POSSESSION OVER THE LANDS SUBJECT OF THE APPLICATION FOR ORIGINAL REGISTRATION FOR A PERIOD OF OVER 40 YEARS THROUGH MERE TAX DECLARATIONS AND IN THE ABSENCE OF PROOF WHEN THE SUBJECT LOTS WERE DECLARED ALIENABLE AND DISPOSABLE LANDS OF THE PUBLIC DOMAIN. and the same title is hereby confirmed. Cebu in the name of the applicant DIOSDADA I. Upon finality of this judgment. the dispositive portion of which provides: WHEREFORE. GIELCZYK. the petitioner filed an appeal dated August 5.28 the dispositive portion of which provides: WHEREFORE. raising the sole issue: Issue THE COURT OF APPEALS ERRED ON A QUESTION OF LAW IN UPHOLDING THE RULING OF THE TRIAL COURT THAT RESPONDENT WAS ABLE TO PROVE THAT SHE AND HER PREDECESSORS-IN-INTEREST HAVE BEEN IN OPEN. 2007. resident of No. Paranaque. the Court finds and so holds that the applicant has registrable title over subject lots. 2002 before the CA. COMPLETE.D.30 Our Ruling It must be noted that the respondent did not file any comment on the petition despite efforts to notify her and her counsel of record. in the Resolution31 dated March 30. Filipino. PD 1529. married to Philip James Gielczyk.29 Thus. CONTINUOUS. 25 On November 3.) No..

" A closer scrutiny will show that the questioned decision was based on PD No. 14. 1529. Section 14(1). in the concept of an owner and that applicant has registrable title over same lots in accordance with Sec. 1529 and not on Section 14(1) of the same decree. exclusive and notorious possession and occupation of alienable and disposable lands of the public domain under a bona fide claim of ownership since June 12. No." . No. 14.interest have been in open. complete. a judicious scrutiny of the attendant facts would reveal that the assailed decision of the RTC was based not on PD No. the CA explained that the RTC’s decision was based on Section 14(2) of P. it was ruled that: Did the enactment of the Property Registration Decree and the amendatory P.D. In the assailed decision granting the respondent’s application for registration of title. 1073 preclude the application for registration of alienable lands of the public domain. but under Section 14(2) of said issuance. the Court is convinced that she and her predecessors-in-interest has (sic) been in open. Court of Appeals and Naguit.D. (3) Those who have acquired ownership of private lands or abandoned river beds by right of accession or accretion under the existing laws. considering Section 14(2) of the Property Registration Decree. The respondent failed to completely prove that there was an expressed State declaration that the properties in question are no longer intended for public use. to wit: Sec. 1529 or The Property Registration Decree enumerates the persons who may apply for the registration of title to land. public service. continuous. exclusive and peaceful possession over the lands herein applied for registration of title. Section 14 of P.D. possession over which commenced only after June 12. the development of the national wealth and have been converted into patrimonial property. No. 1945. the Court resolves to grant the petition. which governs and authorizes the application of "those who have acquired ownership of private lands by prescription under the provisions of existing laws. Who may apply. The pertinent portion of the decision is quoted as follows: "From the documentary evidence presented and formally offered by the applicant. In the case of Republic of the Philippines vs.After a thorough study of the records.32 The CA said: However. 1529. 1945? It did not. The following persons may file in the proper Court of First Instance an application for registration of title to land. whether personally or through their duly authorized representatives: (1) Those who by themselves or through their predecessors-in. PD 1529. (2) Those who have acquired ownership of private lands by prescription under the provision of existing laws. for a period of over 40 years. (4) Those who have acquired ownership of land in any other manner provided for by law. and to meet the period of possession and occupation required by law. Section 14(2). or earlier. notorious. continuous.

possession.D. Although tax declarations and realty tax payment of property are not conclusive evidence of ownership. the development of the national wealth or have been converted into patrimonial property. the Court cannot completely agree with the petitioner. stating that patrimonial properties of the State are susceptible of prescription and that there is a rich jurisprudential precedents which rule that properties classified as alienable public land may be converted into private property by reason of open."Prescription is one of the modes of acquiring ownership under the Civil Code. Court of Appeals and Naguit.D. 1529 and the Public Land Act (PLA) while under the second mode is made available both by P. Thus. While . Republic. No. The former refers to registration of title on the basis of possession.D. All told. citing Republic of the Philippines v. No. such acts strengthen one’s bona fide claim of acquisition of ownership. With such conversion. They constitute proof that the holder has a claim of title over the property. 1529 and not on Section 14(1) of the same decree. Moreover. 38 On this point. they are good indicia of the possession in the concept of owner for no one in his right mind would be paying taxes for a property that is not in his actual. No.37 Indeed. then the possessor may have the right to register the land by virtue of Section 14(2) of the Property Registration Decree. Registration under the first mode is extended under the aegis of the P. or at the least constructive. No. an applicant may apply for registration of title through prescription under Section 14(2) of P. As the CA. as amended by Republic Act No. the petitioner argued that the respondent failed to show proof of an expressed State declaration that the properties in question are no longer intended for public use. continuous and exclusive.33 (Citations omitted) The Court agrees with the CA’s finding that the RTC’s grant of the respondent’s application for registration of title was based on Section 14(2) of P. No. Indeed. 1529. and such possession being been [sic] open. However.36 the Court further clarified the difference between Section 14(1) and Section 14(2) of P.D. under Section 48(b) of the PLA. particularly Article 1113 in relation to Article 1137. 1529 and the Civil Code. 1529. continuous and exclusive possession of at least thirty (30) years.D. nevertheless. 34 correctly explained. applicant-appellee was able to present tax declarations dating back from 1948. There is a consistent jurisprudential rule that properties classified as alienable public land may be converted into private property by reason of open. the respondent attempted to show proof as to when the subject lands were declared alienable and disposable. 1945. and thus susceptible to registration by those who have acquired ownership through prescription. 1529. the foregoing jurisprudence clearly shows the basis of the respondent’s application for registration of title. while under Section 14(2) of P. It pointed out that the certification which the respondent submitted did not indicate when the lands applied for were declared alienable and disposable. the 30-year period is in relation to possession without regard to the Civil Code. the 30-year period involves extraordinary prescription under the Civil Code.D." In the instant case. 1472. continuous and exclusive possession of at least 30 years. but it also announces his adverse claim against the State and all other interested parties. not only one’s sincere and honest desire to obtain title to the property. No. even if possession of the alienable public land commenced on a date later than June 12. such property may now fall within the contemplation of "private lands" under Section 14(2). including his intention to contribute to the needed revenues of the Government. while the latter entitles the applicant to the registration of his property on the basis of prescription. The voluntary declaration of a piece of property for taxation purposes manifests.35 In Heirs of Mario Malabanan v. public service.

While the certification refers to Forestry Administrative Order No. which the respondent attached in her Appellee’s brief in the CA. 2545 of Consolacion.A.40 Carreon’s Certification is reproduced here: Republic of the Philippines Department of Environment and Natural Resources COMMUNITY ENVIRONMENT AND NATURAL RESOURCES OFFICE Cebu City 23 September 2004 CENRO. Cebu City. 1997. 4-1063 dated September 1. following our ruling in Republic of the Philippines v. Inting. 39 as a supplement to her earlier submissions. Llegunas a tract of land lots 3135 and 3136.687) square meters[. OIC. particularly Annex "G" and Annex "G-1" or the June 28. CARREON OIC. in the name of substantial justice and equity. 2004 Certification issued and signed by Fedencio P. Cebu as shown and described in the sketch plan at the back hereof as prepared by Geodetic Engineer Aurelio Q. close its eyes to the September 23. Cebu) C E R TI F I C ATI O N TO WHOM IT MAY CONCERN: This is to certify that per projection conducted by Forester Restituto A.N. Properties. (Emphasis Supplied) This is to certify further that the subject area is outside Kotkot-Lusaran Watershed Reservation per Presidential Proclamation No. 28 per L. Community Environment & Natural Resources Officer However. Map No. This certification is issued upon the request of Mr. FEDENCIO P. CENRO. situated at Jugan. the Court cannot. 1995 Certifications issued by Eduardo M. 2. Constancio Ceniza for the purpose of ascertaining the land classification status only and does not entitle him preferential/priority rights of possession until determined by competent authorities. T. Caña for CONSTANCIO CENIZA ET AL was found to be within Alienable and Disposable Block I of Land Classification Project No. Consolacion. Inc. Cebu certified under Forestry Administrative Order No. 4-1063 dated September 1. Cad 545-D(New) containing an area of FIFTEEN THOUSAND SIX HUNDRED EIGHTY SEVEN (15. C. CENRO. 41 this CENRO Certification by itself is insufficient to establish that a public land is alienable and disposable. 1965. the respondent should have submitted a certified true copy thereof to substantiate the alienable ..the RTC and the CA failed to cite the evidence which the respondent submitted. Carreon (Carreon). Lands Verification CONSTANCIO CENIZA ET AL (Consolacion. 1074 dated Sept.] more or less. 1965.

a vested title. the Court agrees with the petitioner’s argument. Here. Granting por arguendo that the respondent and her predecessors-in-interest had possessed and occupied the subject lots since 1948. 2874. It cites Subsection 6 of Section 54 of Act No. public service or the development of national wealth. 46 In the said case. 1965 based on the Certifications of the CENRO. continuous. Indeed. In Naguit. the respondent failed to meet the required period of possession and occupation for purposes of prescription. exclusive and notorious possession and occupation of Lot 138 since 1894 and for many decades thereafter vests ipso jure or by operation of law upon the petitioner a government grant. continuous. the respondent still failed to complete the 30-year period required to grant her application by virtue of prescription. 926 and Subsection b of Section 45 of Act No. the respondent and her predecessors-in-interest had possessed and occupied the said properties for only 29 years and 10 months. to the subject property. Aklan. 42 In Lim v. Aklan v. In Roman Catholic Bishop of Kalibo. the Court clarified what it actually meant when it said "open. notorious and adverse possession in the concept of an owner. continuous.character of the land. short of two months to complete the whole 30-year possession period. the Court does not need to further discuss whether the respondent was able to overcome the burden of proving that the land no longer forms part of the public domain to support her application for original land registration because of other deficiencies in her application. exclusive and notorious possession and occupation of the lot. And only when the property has become patrimonial can the prescriptive period for the acquisition of property of the public dominion begin to run. continuous. continuous." to wit: The petitioner submits that even granting arguendo that the entire Lot 138 was not assigned to it during the Spanish regime or it is not the owner thereof pursuant to the Laws of the Indies. exclusive and notorious possession and occupation. In any case. notorious and adverse possession in the concept of an owner. the Court cannot still tack those years to complete the 30-year possession period since the said lots were only declared alienable and disposable on September 1. Republic. we ruled that for as long as the land was declared alienable and disposable. he must be in open. exclusive. public dominion lands become patrimonial property not only with a declaration that these are alienable or disposable but also with an express government manifestation that the property is already patrimonial or no longer retained for public use. the same is susceptible of prescription for purposes of registration of imperfect title. Municipality of Buruanga. From the time of the declaration on September 1. ." 44 While the subject lots were supposedly declared alienable or disposable on September 1. The respondent failed to present specific acts of ownership to substantiate her claim of open. 45 the Court ruled that for an applicant to ipso jure or by operation of law acquire government grant or vested title to a lot. 1965. 1995. exclusive. exclusive and notorious possession of at least 30 years. 1965 that the properties in question are purportedly alienable and disposable up to the filing of the application of the respondent on July 17. its open. continuous. The petitioner contends that the respondent failed to present specific acts of ownership to substantiate the latter’s claim of open.43 we further clarified that "while a property classified as alienable and disposable public land may be converted into private property by reason of open.

in Lasam v. through then Mr. the law adds the word occupation. 2874.. The phrase "possession and occupation" was explained as follows: It must be underscored that the law speaks of "possession and occupation. is not a mere fiction. visible. exclusive and notorious possession and occupation" of the land by the applicant. Laurel." While. exclusive and notorious possession and occupation of Lot 138-B since 1894 as evidenced by the church structure built thereon. Buruanga community Medicare hospital [sic]. while it may be constructive." possession under paragraph 6 of Section 54 of Act No. notorious and not clandestine. 926. e. When. However. continuous.g. continuous. No single instance of the exercise by the petitioner of proprietary acts or acts of dominion over these lots was established. therefore. 2874 is the "open. But it should be observed that the application of the doctrine of constructive possession in that case is subject to certain qualifications. The mere planting of a sign or symbol of possession cannot justify a Magellan-like claim of dominion over an immense tract of territory. apparent. the record is bereft of any evidence that would tend to show that such possession and occupation extended to Lots 138-A and 138-C beginning the same period. Its unsubstantiated claim that the construction of the municipal building as well as the subsequent improvements thereon. As this Court stated. exclusive and notorious possession and occupation thereon since 1894. Rizal monument and grandstand. as amended by paragraph (b) of Section 45 of Act No. the clear intention of the law is not to make one synonymous with the order [sic]. "possession in the eyes of the law does not mean that a man has to have his feet on every square meter of ground before it can be said that he is in possession. Absent the important requisite of open. Use of land is adverse when it is open and notorious. the word occupation serves to highlight the fact that for one to qualify under paragraph (b) of the aforesaid section. Possession as a means of acquiring ownership. xxxx Possession is open when it is patent. It is continuous when uninterrupted. Director of Lands . is not gained by mere nominal claim. and this court was careful to observe that among these qualifications is "one particularly relating to the size of the tract in controversy with reference to the portion actually in possession of the claimant. Indisputably. 926 and Act No. the petitioner has been in open. exclusive and notorious. was [sic] by its tolerance does not constitute proof of possession and occupation on its (the petitioner’s) part.This contention is likewise not persuasive. Justice Jose P. therefore. The Director of Lands: x x x Counsel for the applicant invokes the doctrine laid down by us in Ramos v. no . and notorious when it is so conspicuous that it is generally known and talked of by the public or the people in the neighborhood. continuous. continuous. the rural health center. basketball court. One of the important requisites for the application of the pertinent provisions of Act No. his possession of the land must not be mere fiction. Possession is broader than occupation because it includes constructive possession. Actual possession of land consists in the manifestation of acts of dominion over it of such a nature as a party would naturally exercise over his own property. x x x. it seeks to delimit the all-encompassing effect of constructive possession. unbroken and not intermittent or occasional." Since these words are separated by the conjunction and. Taken together with the words open. exclusive when the adverse possessor can show exclusive dominion over the land and an appropriation of it to his own use and benefit.

but these tax declarations and receipts are not conclusive evidence of ownership or right of possession over a piece of land. et al. his possession of the property must be patent. it was only the respondent who testified to substantiate her allegations in the application. In other words. 2874. the respondent’s best evidence to prove possession and ownership were tax declarations and receipts issued in her name or the names of her predecessors-in-interest. the respondent failed to show that she or her predecessors-in-interest have exercised acts of dominion over the said parcels of land.interest does not necessarily prove ownership. the respondent failed to specifically show that she and her predecessors-in-interest had exercised acts of dominion over the subject lots. which means generally known and talked of by the public or the people in the neighborhood. The applicant’s possession must not be simply a nominal claim where he only plants a sign or symbol of possession. unbroken and not intermittent or occasional. as amended by paragraph (b) of section 45 of Act No. In fact. "Well settled is the rule that tax declarations and receipts are not conclusive evidence of ownership or of the right to possess land when not supported by any other evidence. it should be uninterrupted. (d) they collected fruits from the fruit-bearing trees planted on the said land. is not gained by mere nominal claim. They are merely indicia of a claim of ownership. (c) they granted permission to those who sought their consent for the construction of a drugstore and a bakery. and it should be conspicuous. visible."51 In the instant case. Possession under paragraph 6 of section 54 of Act No.49 that therein petitioners were able to show clear. The fact that the disputed property may have been declared for taxation purposes in the names of the applicants for registration or of their predecessors-in. a simple claim of "open. 926. (e) they were consulted regarding questions of boundaries between adjoining properties. competent and substantial evidence establishing that they have exercised acts of dominion over the property in question. apparent.48 The Court held in Cruz v. These acts of dominion were the following: (a) they constructed permanent buildings on the questioned lot. Admittedly. exclusive and notorious possession and occupation" does not suffice. 47 (Citations omitted and emphasis supplied) In sum. An applicant for a grant or title over a lot must be able to show that he has exercised acts of dominion over the property in question. in the present petition. and (f) they religiously paid taxes on the property. notorious and not clandestine. She did not present anyone else to support .. Court of Appeals.government grant or title to Lots 138-A and 138-C had vested upon the petitioner ipso jure or by operation of law. it should demonstrate exclusive dominion over the land and an appropriation of it to his own use and benefit. continuous. (b) they collected rentals.50 However.

are you the same Diosdada Gielzcyk. her testimony simply made general declarations without further proof.I do not think.00 per square meters is the assessed value reflected in the document. Your Honor.Do you know if there are other persons who are interested whatsoever over the lots you have mentioned? . Cebu? A . the applicant in this case? A . Gielczyk. Your Honor. exclusive and notorious possession and occupation.It has an area of 2. Germino: Yes.her claim of "open. to wit: DIRECT EXAMINATION: Q . P430. Court: Then the tax declaration would be the best evidence. You can answer in English? You don’t need an interpreter? A .Yes. both of Consolacion.I am the one. Court: Excuse me. Atty.How much is the assessed value of Lot 20047? A . Germino: Who is the owner of these lots? A .Yes. 3135 and 20045. Germino: Q . Q . Atty. Court: Is that reflected in the tax declaration? Atty.How large is 20047? A . Q .286 square meters.Mrs. Q . continuous." Unfortunately.Yes.Are you familiar with Lots No.

Adverse against the whole world.Including my predecessors-in-interest.No sir.Who is in possession of these lots? A .Near my parents’ house.Your Honor. I have my parents and brothers there.I purchased it from Luisa Ceniza. open and uninterrupted. Q . Germino: Q .I am in possession. Q .How long have you been in possession of the lots? A .What is the nature of your possession? A . for over a period of 40 years. Q . Germino: Q .She inherited it from her father Remigio Ceniza. Court: The same property? A .Because my family is living there in Consolacion and I always come home every month. Court: Physically? I thought you are residing in Manila? A . Q .How did you acquire Lot 20047? A . Atty.Do you have a deed of sale in your favor? .Do you know how did Luisa Ceniza acquire the same? A . Atty.No.Are there liens and encumbrances affecting the lots? A . sir. Q . Court: Proceed. continous [sic].A . peaceful.

A - Yes, I have.52
xxxx
Atty. Germino:
Q - You said that includ[i]ng your predecessors-in-interest, your possession including your
predecessors-in-interest has been for over forty (40) years. Do you have the tax declaration of Lot
20047 since 1948 until the present?
A - Yes.
Q - Showing to you tax declaration No. 01670 in the name of the heirs of Remigio Ceniza covering
land in Consolacion for the year 1948, please examine and tell the court whether that is the tax
declaration of Lot 20047 for the year 1948?
A - Yes, this is the one.
xxxx
Atty. Germino:
Q - Showing to you tax declaration No. 012931 in the name of heirs of Remigio Ceniza for the year
1965, please examine the same and tell the Honorable court what relation has that to the tax
declaration of lot 20047 for the year 1965?
A - This is the same.
xxxx
Atty. Germino:
Q - Showing to you tax declaration No. 021294 in the name of Luisa and Constancio Ceniza for the
year 1968, please examine and tell the court whether that is the tax declaration of Lot 20047 for the
year 1968?
A - Yes, this is the same.
xxxx
Atty. Germino:
Q - Showing to you tax declaration No. [no number was indicated in the TSN] in the name of Luisa
Ceniza for the year 1963 tell the court whether that is the tax declaration for the year 1973? A - Yes,
this is the one.53

In the continuance of her testimony, the respondent added no further information for this Court to
conclude that she indeed exercised specific acts of dominion aside from paying taxes. She testified
thus:
xxxx
Atty. Germino:
Q - Mrs. Gielczyk, one of the last lot subject to [sic] your petition is Lot 20045, how large is this lot?
A - 2,610 square meters.
Q - How much is the assess value of this lot?
A - P970.00
Q - Who is in possession of this lot?
A - I am the one.
Q - How long have you been in possession?
A - Including my predecessors-in-interest is [sic] over a period of 40 years.
COURT: (to witness)
Q - Personally, how long have you been in possession of this property?
A - If I remember right, 1985.
ATTY. GERMINO:
Q - How did you acquire lot 20045?
A - I purchased it from Constancio Ceniza.
Q - Do you have a deed of sale in your favor?
A - Yes.
COURT:
We are talking about 3136-A?
ATTY. GERMINO:
Yes, we are through with Lot 3135?

COURT:
This is 3136-A equivalent to Lot 20045. Proceed.
ATTY. GERMINO:
I am showing to you a deed of absolute sale by Constancio Ceniza over lot 3136-A acknowledged
before Notary Public Marino Martillano, as Doc. No. 2637 book 4, series of 1988, please examine
this document and tell the Court if that is the deed of sale?
A - Yes.
xxxx
Q - Are you not delinquent in the payment of taxes for lot 3136-A?
A - No, sir.
Q - Do you have a tax clearances [sic]?
A - Yes, I have.
Q - I am showing to you tax clearance issued by the municipal treasurer of Consolacion, Cebu, is
that the tax clearance you referred to?
A - Yes, sir.
ATTY. GERMINO:
We ask your Honor the tax clearance be marked as double "C".
COURT: Mark it.
xxxx
COURT: (to witness)
Q - You said that including your predecessor-in-interest, your possession of the land applied for is
more than 40 years, do you have a Tax Declaration of lot 3136-A from 1948 until the present? A Yes.
Q - I am showing to you a bunch of Tax Declaration, 6 in all, from the (sic) year 1948, 1965, 1980,
1981, 1985 and 1989, please examine this Tax Declaration and tell us whether these are the Tax
Declarations of Lot 3136-A from 1948 until the present in your name?
A - These are the ones.
ATTY. GERMINO:

Mrs.2 portions. you srarted [sic] possessing the property since 1985. Q. COURT: Proceed. .But you are not in actual occupant [sic] of the property because you are residing in Paranaque? A.I used to go back and forth Cebu and Manila. Q .When was that? A . FISCAL ALBURO: Q .Yes.I purchased it [sic] from Constancio Ceniza.We ask that the Tax Declaration in bunch be marked as Exhibit double "F" and the succeeding Tax Declaration to be marked as double "FF-1" up to double "F-5". Gielczyk. to wit: COURT: Cross-examination? FISCAL ALBURO: May it please the Honorable Court. Q.54 The respondent’s cross-examination further revealed that she and her predecessors-in-interest have not exercised specific acts of dominion over the properties.If I remember right in 1985 or 1986.But I have a cousin in Consolacion. until the present? A. Q.How did you acquire this lot [sic]? A . COURT: Mark it.But you are not residing in Consolacion? A. how many lots are involved in this petition? A . Q .In other words.

Q. it was only in Tax Declaration Nos. 04210 and 13275 where it was declared that a residential building has been built in Lot No. 3136-A. where do you stay often? A . The pieces of documentary evidence.Usually in Manila. the respondent did not exercise acts of dominion over it. Thus. your property is being taken cared of by your brothers? A .Who takes care of the property in Mandaue City? A . and a residential building.My brothers because there are coconut trees and some fruits and he watched it [sic]. For instance. 3136-A. the Court can deduce that. Q . 29200.My brothers. can neither be relied upon because the same revealed no indication of any improvement that would have the Court conclude that the respondent exercised specific acts of dominion. continuous. specifically the tax declarations and the deeds of absolute sale. one (1) mango tree.56 The tax declarations have not shown any indication supporting the respondent’s claim that she exercised specific acts of dominion. GERMINO: No redirect. 3135-A consisted of two (2) coconut trees. 3135-A. 29200. Tax Declaration No. the deed of absolute sale simply said that the improvements on Lot No. COURT: (to witness) By the way. besides intermittently paying the tax dues on Lot No. your Honor. the respondent has not completed the required 30 years of "open. 3136-A. eight (8) jackfruit trees. Q . FISCAL ALBURO: That is all. which was actually possessed by the vendor Constancio Ceniza. Neither can the Court give credence to the respondent’s claim that her predecessors-in-interest had exercised dominion over the property since the respondent failed to present any witness who would substantiate her allegation. where the residential building was first indicated. one (1) caimito tree and one (1) jackfruit tree. there are few coconuts.Who is in charge of your property in Consolacion? A.Yes. ATTY.Just for consumption.Who is using the coconut trees and the fruits? A .55 (Emphasis supplied) From the foregoing testimony of the lone witness (the applicant-respondent herself). your Honor. 58 And based on the records. the period of which consists barely of 14 years. Moreover. is dated 1981. It may be said then that it was only in 1981 when the respondent’s predecessors-in-interest exercised specific acts of dominion over Lot No.In other words. Q ." . the deed of absolute sale showed that there were 14 coconut trees. exclusive and notorious possession and occupation. 57 As to Lot No.

Finally. 1âwphi1 The informal settlement of public lands. discomfiture over the implications of today’s ruling cannot be discounted. and the Court would be abdicating its social responsibility to the Filipino people if we simply levied the law without comment. wish to acquire title to a land that they have bought. the Court can only do as much to bring relief to those who. Judicial confirmation of imperfect title has emerged as the most viable.60 (Citation omitted and emphasis supplied) Indeed. as the law itself considered such lands as property of the public dominion. thus: A final word. and considering that the respondent did not present any other witness to support her claim. The Court is comfortable with the correctness of the legal doctrines established in this decision. There is much to be said about the virtues of according them legitimate states. if not the most attractive means to regularize the informal settlement of alienable or disposable lands of the public domain. Nonetheless. like herein respondent. This paradigm powerfully evokes the disconnect between a legal system and the reality on the ground. One’s sense of security over land rights infuses into every aspect of well-being not only of that individual. have proven unattractive due to limitations imposed on the grantee in the encumbrance or alienation of said properties. by liberalizing the standards for judicial confirmation of imperfect title. and which this Court will interpret and apply as justice requires. They have been regarded for generation by their families and their communities as common law owners. life and livelihood are put on stasis. For. yet even that system. Tinga in the case of Malabanan59.Clearly. is a phenomenon tied to long-standing habit and cultural acquiescence. as revealed in this decision. This could be accomplished. every untitled property that is occupied in the country will be affected by this ruling. It is for the political branches to bring welcome closure to the long pestering problem. from the pieces of documentary and testimonial evidence. has considerable limits. such as through homestead or free patent. Alternative means of acquisition of these public domain lands. . Justice Tinga eloquently put the matter before us. Justice Tinga correctly pointed out the need to review our present law on the distribution of lands to those who have held them for a number of years but have failed to satisfy the requisites in acquiring title to such land. There are millions upon millions of Filipinos who have individually or exclusively held residential lands on which they have lived and raised their families. Once that sense of security is deprived. the Court has no other recourse but to declare that she has not presented the premium of evidence needed to award her title over the two parcels of land. It could only be up to Congress to set forth a new phase of land reform to sensibly regularize and formalize the settlement of such lands which in legal theory are lands of the public domain before the problem becomes insoluble. to cite two examples. and is common among the so-called "Third World" countries. It is for our lawmakers to write the law amending the present ones and addressing the reality on the ground. the Court cannot end this decision without reiterating the final words of former Associate Justice Dante O. but also to the person s family. The social implications cannot be dismissed lightly. whether declared alienable or not. The law so far has been unable to bridge that gap. or amending the Civil Code itself to ease the requisites for the conversion of public dominion property into patrimonial. Many more have tilled and made productive idle lands of the State with their hands. Yet such virtues are not for the Court to translate into positive law.

R. CV No. In an April 10. 2010 Motion for Reconsideration of the July 2. v. 2011 its Compliance 18 and submitted the documents required by the trial court. of the Municipality of Los Baños. 2010. and judgment is hereby rendered confirming the title of the applicants spouses Dante Benigno and Lolita Z. SO ORDERED. After trial. Respondent. collectively) filed with the Regional Trial Court of Calamba. 2010.8 Petitioner filed its notice of appeal9 on January 10. Benigno covered by Tax Declaration No. 2010 Order.WHEREFORE in consideration of the foregoing disquisitions. Los Baños. But in a July 2. 2006.R. 1995. The case was docketed as LRC Case No. J. which denied the herein petitioner’s Omnibus Motion 3 seeking reconsideration of the CA’s October 9. The appeal was docketed as CA-G. Laguna and ordering the registration of said title in the name of the said applicants spouses Dante Benigno and Lolita Z. respondents filed a Motion for Reconsideration17 of the said Order. let an order issued [sic] directing the Land Registration Authority to issue the corresponding decree of registration. Laguna. 2012 Resolution4 denying petitioner’s Motion for Extension5 of time to file its Appellant’s Brief. No. Benigno. 2005 Decision 7 granting respondents’ application for registration. the branch clerk of court was directed to . Cad. 2015 REPUBLIC OF THE PHILIPPINES. stating that it was respondents’ failure to submit certain required documents – the Affidavit of Publication 14 and Certificate of Posting15 – as earlier directed by the court in a March 26. On March 9. In a September 26.11 claiming among others that petitioner has abandoned its appeal. decreeing thus: WHEREFORE. On July 26.13 the Calamba RTC denied both motions.R. the Calamba RTC issued a December 9. respondents filed on September 21. Laguna (Calamba RTC) an Application for Registration 6 of title under Presidential Decree No. Batong Malake. March 11.: This Petition for Review on Certiorari1 seeks to set aside the January 22. DECISION DEL CASTILLO. the petition is GRANTED and the Decision dated September 21. 97995. SPOUSES DANTE AND LOLITA BENIGNO. this Court affirms the Order of general default against the whole world heretofore entered in this case. 1529 or the Property Registration Decree (PD 1529) to a 293-square meter lot in Barangay Batong Malake. thus delaying the appeal proceedings. G. 105-95-C and assigned to Branch 35 of the Calamba RTC. 205492. Without awaiting the resolution of its July 26. 2011 Order19 of the trial court. 2010 Order16 which caused the non-transmittal of the records of the case to the CA. 0284 and designated as Lot 6489. CV No. It also filed a Motion to Resolve12 seeking among others the denial of petitioner’s appeal on the ground of abandonment. 2007 of the Court of Appeals in CA-G. 2010 Order. Factual Antecedents On November 2. respondents filed a Motion to Dismiss the Appeal and Issue a Final Decree of Registration. 2013 Resolution2 of the Court of Appeals (CA) in CA-G. 97995. CV No. Once this decision has become final.R. 70078 is ANNULLED and SET ASIDE. 450 situated in Brgy. SO ORDERED. spouses Dante and Lolita Benigno (respondents. Petitioner. 2006 Order.10 the trial court approved the notice of appeal and directed that the entire records of the case be forwarded to the CA. Lot No.

It sought an extension of 60 days from June 21. petitioner did not file its brief within the period stated in its second motion for extension. Oppositor-appellant should be reminded that the right to appeal is a mere statutory privilege. seeking dismissal thereof on the ground of alleged inaction and failure to prosecute on the part of the petitioner. On June 22. 2011. however. 2012. or until August 20. The statutory nature of the right to appeal requires the one who avails of it to strictly comply with the statutes or rules that are considered indispensable interdictions against needless delays and for an orderly discharge of judicial business. 2010 Order and Motion for Early Resolution of the appeal remained unresolved. on October 9. and should be exercised only in the manner prescribed by law. 2012. the CA issued a Resolution27 stating that with the filing of petitioner’s Opposition. the appeal proceedings should be suspended until the said motions are resolved. thus. Hence.23 the CA directed petitioner to file its appellant’s brief within 45 days from receipt of the notice. within which to file the same. In a Resolution25 dated June 26. respondents filed a Motion for Early Resolution 21 of the appeal. or until September 19. Respondents then filed with the CA a Manifestation and Motion to Suspend Proceedings 22 dated May 8. the entire records of LRC Case No. praying for an extension of 30 days from August 20. within which to file its brief. on its own motion or on that of the appellee. the CA required petitioner to comment on respondents’ Manifestation and Motion to Suspend Proceedings. In an April 26. the instant motion. 2012. 105-95-C to the Calamba Office of the Clerk of Court for transmittal to the CA. 2012 Notice. pursuant to Section 1(e). Rule 50 of the 1997 Rules of Civil Procedure (Rules). However. on the following grounds: xxxx (e) Failure of the appellant to serve and file the required number of copies of his brief or memorandum within the time provided by these Rules. 2012 to file the aforesaid brief. Thus. 2012 within which to file its brief. 2012. 2011. 20 On February 21. We deem it appropriate to dismiss its appeal. It held: For resolution is oppositor-appellant’s motion for extension of time to file the appellant’s brief. petitioner filed a second Motion for Extension 28 of time to file its appellant’s brief. Since oppositor-appellant has not been able to file its brief within the proper period. 2012. Respondents contended that since its Motion for Reconsideration of the Calamba RTC’s July 2. will show the We have already granted oppositor-appellant’s previous motion for extension of time to file its brief. the CA issued another Resolution29 denying petitioner’s second motion for extension and dismissing its appeal pursuant to Section 1(e). The records. . Thus. 2012. Grounds for dismissal of appeal. It likewise granted petitioner’s Motion for Extension. with a prayer that the said manifestation and motion be denied for lack of merit. 2012. which prays that it be granted an additional period of thirty (30) days or until September 19. petitioner filed an Opposition 26 to respondent’s Manifestation and Motion to Suspend Proceedings. oppositor-appellant failed to file its appellant’s brief on or before August 20. the acting branch clerk of court of the Calamba RTC forwarded the entire records of LRC Case No. Rule 50 of the Rules of Civil Procedure. On August 17. on December 21. In our Resolution dated June 26. 2012. We granted oppositor-appellant an additional period of sixty (60) days or until August 20. respondents’ Manifestation and Motion to Suspend Proceedings are deemed submitted for resolution. petitioner filed a Motion for Extension 24 of time to file its brief. viz: “SECTION 1. 105-95-C was received by the CA. On December 21. However. 2012.immediately mark the documents and thereafter forward the records of the case to the CA. On July 16. 2012. – An appeal may be dismissed by the Court of Appeals. 2012. 2012. 2012. 2012. the filing of an appellant’s brief by the petitioner would be premature. On August 13.

2012 Resolution and.36 this Court resolved to give due course to the Petition. Rule 50 of the Rules in order to afford the State an opportunity to present its case fully. due to Our alleged inaction on its Motion for Early Resolution. 2012. Our Resolution dated October 9. SO ORDERED. the CA should instead adopt a relaxed interpretation of Section 1(e).35 Thus. Thus. 105-95-C to the CA. is hereby DENIED. within which to file its appellant’s brief. Rule 50 of the Rules of Civil Procedure. applicants-appellees Manifestation and Motion to Suspend Proceedings. Assailed Ruling of the Court of Appeals On January 22. Issue In an April 23. consequently. 37 Petitioner’s Arguments In its Petition and Reply38 seeking the reversal of the assailed CA Resolution as well as the dismissal of LRC Case No. is hereby declared MOOT. dated August 16. pronouncing thus: A careful reading of oppositor-appellant’s motion. Accordingly. reveals that it does not raise any matter of substance that would justify the reconsideration being sought. 2006. pursuant to Section 1(e). 2012. Considering the foregoing. the admission of its appellant’s brief. therefore. and that consequently. 2013. Apologizing profusely for the fiasco. it can be seen that petitioner lacked diligence in pursuing its appeal. the CA issued the assailed Resolution. 2014 Resolution. SO ORDERED. the CA committed no error in issuing its October 9. 2012 stands. claiming that it cannot be faulted for the delay in the proceedings on appeal. 2012. it begged for the appellate court’s leniency. On November 5. 31 praying for another 20 days from October 19. appellant’s motion for extension of time to file its brief. to enjoy the fruits of their victory. that in the interest of substantial justice.30 On October 18. however. that from its repeated motions for extension. find no compelling reason to disturb Our findings and conclusion in Our aforementioned Resolution. which raises the following sole issue: THE COURT OF APPEALS GRAVELY ERRED ON A QUESTION OF LAW WHEN IT ORDERED THE DISMISSAL OF THE APPEAL ALTHOUGH THE DELAY IN THE FILING OF THE APPELLANT’S BRIEF WAS CAUSED BY THE TRIAL COURT AND THE RESPONDENTS. petitioner reiterates that it should not be faulted for the delay in the proceedings on . 2005 and the court a quo’s Order letting the entire records of the instant case be forwarded to this Court was issued on April 10. We believe that it is high time for the applicants-appellees. petitioner filed its Appellant’s Brief. 2012. WHEREFORE.x x x x” It should also be noted that the appealed Decision was rendered on December 9. as the prevailing party in the court a quo’s Decision. 105-95-C. the instant Petition was filed. Respondents filed their Comment34 arguing that only petitioner should be faulted for its failure to prosecute the appeal. the delay was caused by the failure to transmit the records of LRC Case No. 2012 Resolution. the Omnibus Motion is DENIED. petitioner filed a third Motion for Extension. or until November 8. WHEREFORE. 2012. that in fact.32 It likewise filed an Omnibus Motion33seeking a reconsideration of the CA’s October 9. the instant appeal is DISMISSED. We. for which the respondents and Calamba City Office of the Clerk of Court should be faulted.

We likewise agree with the CA’s application of Section 1(e). that petitioner should not expect that every motion for extension it files will be granted. Rule 50 of the Rules. that the CA’s authority to dismiss an appeal for failure of the appellant to file a brief is a matter of judicial discretion. It claims that the mere testimony of a special investigator of the Community Environment and Natural Resources Office (CENRO) cannot form the basis for the Calamba RTC’s finding that the land applied for is alienable and disposable. illegal acts of government agents do not bind the State. and that with the ruling in Republic v. the State will not be allowed to abdicate its authority over lands of the public domain just . that it was the ministerial duty of the clerk of court to transmit the records of the case to the CA.41 in other words. Vega. It is true. as we have held in numerous cases – particularly Beatingo v. 2005 Decision is void for lack of publication. that the Calamba RTC admitted the said exhibits and in fact mentioned the same in its Decision granting the application. Petitioner further argues. petitioner further points out that the Calamba RTC’s December 9. Respondents add that petitioner’s allegations of fraud and fabrication are not substantiated by the evidence. at this stage of the proceedings. absurd or impossible. an application for registration could nonetheless be approved when there has been substantial compliance with the legal requirements relative to proof that the land applied for is alienable and disposable.48 Certainly. Gasis46 – that the power conferred upon the CA to dismiss an appeal for failure to file an appellant’s brief is discretionary. which is indicative of its failure to prosecute its appeal with reasonable diligence and despite having been given by the CA the opportunity to do so. that petitioner’s failure to file its brief is not attributable to respondents. or when its findings of fact are manifestly mistaken. and that the subsequent submission through its September 21.42 respondents insist that the assailed CA disposition is correct in all respects. Respondents’ Arguments In their Comment. arguing that the State may not be estopped by the mistakes of its officers and agents. let alone irregular. as in this case. more so if they are erroneous. that Section 1244 of Rule 44 of the Rules states that extensions of time for the filing of briefs will not be allowed except for good and sufficient cause. while petitioner.” and “the Government is never estopped from questioning the acts of its officials. 40 In its Reply. Rule 50 of the Rules in order to afford the State an opportunity to present its case fully. that the affidavit of publication and certificate of posting were already presented during the initial hearing and later submitted as part of their formal offer of evidence. Indeed. and that the rules on appeal are not trivial technicalities that petitioner can simply disregard at will. and that when the inference made by the CA is based on a misapprehension of facts. 2005 Decision granting respondents’ application for registration is null and void for lack of the required certification from the Secretary of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) that the land applied for is alienable and disposable land of the public domain. that the Calamba RTC’s December 9. that petitioner filed no less than four motions for extension to file its brief.”47 This principle applies in land registration cases. 43 that the CA exercised its discretion soundly. its erroneous decision may be reviewed by this Court. and that the CA should liberally apply Section 1(e). Our Ruling The Court finds for petitioner. 105-95-C to the CA. Hanover Worldwide Trading Corporation. through the Office of the Solicitor General. petitioner suggests that respondents in fact failed to cause the publication and posting of the notice of initial hearing on its application. and he has no authority to withhold the records on the pretext that certain exhibits were lacking. and taking the demeanor consistent with expecting that each motion for extension of time would be granted. Petitioner justifies the raising of the issue at this late stage. However.45 it can be said that despite the absence of a certified true copy of the DENR original land classification. was admittedly ornery in the prosecution of its case. filing at least three motions for extension of time before finally turning in its appellant’s brief. 2011 Compliance of an Affidavit of Publication and Certificate of Posting of Notice of Initial Hearing was a mere fabrication and fraudulent submission.appeal.39 respondents should have submitted a copy of the original classification approved by the DENR Secretary and certified as a true copy by the legal custodian of the official records. pursuant to the ruling in Republic v. it is nonetheless true that “[a]s a matter of doctrine. as it resulted from the Calamba City Office of the Clerk of Court’s failure to transmit the records of LRC Case No. petitioner took its liberties in the prosecution of its appeal.

It is not even necessary to take any steps to vacate or avoid a void judgment or final order. the presumption that the land subject of an application for registration is alienable and disposable rests with the applicant. We are aware that respondents have come to court at great cost and effort. In contemplation of law. We find no need to resolve the other issues raised by the parties. The only available course of action is to dismiss respondents’ application for registration. Indeed. cannot ripen into ownership and be registered as a title. “the general rule remains: all applications for original registration under the Property Registration Decree must include both (1) a CENRO or PENRO52 certification and (2) a certified true copy of the original classification made by the DENR Secretary.”56 “The well-entrenched rule is that all lands not appearing to be clearly of private dominion presumably belong to the State. it remains part of the inalienable public domain. force or efficacy for any purpose. it may simply be ignored. x x x Accordingly. Respondents do not dispute this. we nevertheless cannot allow respondents’ application for registration since they failed to prove that the land applied for is alienable and disposable public land. WHEREFORE. it “has no legal and binding effect.”59 Therefore. in order to prove that the land subject of the application is alienable and disposable public land. The October 9.”57 “[P]ublic lands remain part of the inalienable land of the public domain unless the State is shown to have reclassified or alienated them to private persons.”51 And. the December 9. a copy of the original classification approved by the DENR Secretary and certified as a true copy by the legal custodian of the official records. the Petition is GRANTED. in fact. even if the Office of the Solicitor General was remiss in the handling of the State’s appeal. Consequently. no matter how long. All acts performed pursuant to it and all claims emanating from it have no legal effect. 2013 Resolutions of the . their efforts will be for naught. It cannot be the source of any right nor of any obligation.”49 Applicants for registration of title under PD 152950 must prove: “(1) that the subject land forms part of the disposable and alienable lands of the public domain. Vega55 precisely to obtain exemption from the requirement on the submission of documentary proof showing that the property applied for constitutes alienable and disposable public land. However.”58 “Unless public land is shown to have been reclassified or alienated to a private person by the State. occupation thereof in the concept of owner. and the State is the source of any asserted right to ownership in land and charged with the conservation of such patrimony. Such judgment or order may be resisted in any action or proceeding whenever it is involved. they sought the application of the exceptional ruling in Republic v. Their Exhibits “A” to “N”54 are bereft of the required documentary proof – particularly. the difficult lesson that must be realized here is that applicants for registration of public land should come to court prepared and complete with the necessary evidence to prove their registrable title. The onus to overturn. As such. and (2) that they have been in open. by incontrovertible evidence. Under the Regalian doctrine. resources and energy in advancing a lost cause. and they would only have wasted precious time. a void judgment is no judgment at all. 2005 Decision of the Calamba RTC is rendered null and void.”53 A perfunctory appraisal of the records indicates that respondents did not present any documentary evidence in LRC Case No. otherwise. exclusive and notorious possession and occupation of the land under a bona fide claim of ownership since 12 June 1945 or earlier. Complete absence of proof is certainly not equivalent to substantial compliance with the required amount of proof. The application for registration was filed way back in 1995. there is complete absence of documentary evidence showing that the land applied for forms part of the alienable and disposable portion of the public domain. 105-95-C to prove that the land applied for is alienable and disposable public land. Vega60to claim substantial compliance with the requirement of proof of alienability. Having disposed of the case in the foregoing manner. 2012 and January 22. continuous. The trial court had no basis in fact and law to grant respondents’ application for registration as there was no proof of alienability adduced. as they have become irrelevant in view of the finding that respondents failed to prove that the land applied for forms part of the alienable and disposable portion of the public domain. Section 14(1) of the law requires that the property sought to be registered is already alienable and disposable at the time the application for registration is filed.because its agents and officers have been negligent in the performance of their duties. “all lands of the public domain belong to the State. and a CENRO or PENRO certification – to show that the 293-square meter land applied for registration is alienable and disposable public land. it is non-existent. Respondents cannot invoke Republic v.

Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. CV No. 97995 are REVERSED AND SET ASIDE. The December 9, 2005
Decision of the Regional Trial Court of Calamba, Laguna, Branch 35 in LRC Case No. 105-95-C is
likewise SET ASIDE, and LRC Case No. 105-95-C is thus ordered DISMISSED.
SO ORDERED.

G.R. No. 179155

April 2, 2014

NICOMEDES J. LOZADA, Petitioner,
vs.
EULALIA BRACEWELL, EDDIE BRACEWELL, ESTELLITA BRACEWELL, JAMES
BRACEWELL, JOHN BRACEWELL, EDWIN BRACEWELL, ERIC BRACEWELL, and HEIRS OF
GEORGE BRACEWELL,Respondents.
DECISION
PERLAS-BERNABE, J.:
Assailed in this petition for review on certiorari are the Decision dated May 23, 2007 and the
Resolution dated August 14, 2007 of the Court of Appeals (CA) in CA-G.R. CV No. 81075, which
affirmed the Decision dated July 31, 2003 of the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Las Pifias City,
Branch 275 in Civil Case No. LP 98-0025, directing the Land Registration Authority (LRA) to set
aside Decree of Registration No. N-217036 (Decree No. N-217036) and Original Certificate of Title
(OCT) No. 0-78 in the name of petitioner Nicomedes J. Lozada (petitioner), and ordering the latter to
cause the amendment of Plan PSU-129514 as well as segregate therefrom Lot 5 of Plan PSU180598.
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2

3

4

The Facts
On December 10, 1976, petitioner filed an application for registration and confirmation of title over a
parcel of land covered by Plan PSU-129514, which was granted on February 23, 1989 by the RTC
of Makati City, Branch 134, acting as a land registration court. Consequently, on July 10, 1997, the
LRA issued Decree No. N-217036 in the name of petitioner, who later obtained OCT No. 0-78
covering the said parcel of land.
5

6

On February 6, 1998, within a year from the issuance of the aforementioned decree, James
Bracewell, Jr. (Bracewell) filed a petition for review of a decree of registration under Section 32 of
Presidential Decree No. (PD) 1529, otherwise known as the "Property Registration Decree," before
the RTC of Las Piñas City, Branch 275 (Las Piñas City-RTC), docketed as Civil Case No. LP 980025, claiming that a portion of Plan PSU-129514, consisting of 3,097 square meters identified as
Lot 5 of Plan PSU-180598 (subject lot) – of which he is the absolute owner and possessor – is
fraudulently included in Decree No. N-217036. He allegedly filed on September 19, 1963 an
application for registration and confirmation of the subject lot, as well as of Lots 1, 2, 3, and 4 of Plan
PSU-180598, situated in Las Piñas City, which was granted by the RTC of Makati City, Branch 58,
on May 3, 1989. He further averred that petitioner deliberately concealed the fact that he
(Bracewell) is one of the adjoining owners, and left him totally ignorant of the registration
proceedings involving the lots covered by Plan PSU-129514. Instead of impleading him, petitioner
listed Bracewell’s grandmother, Maria Cailles, as an adjoining owner, although she had already died
by that time.
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8

9

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In his answer to the foregoing allegations, petitioner called Bracewell a mere interloper with respect
to the subject lot, which the Bureau of Lands had long declared to be part and parcel of Plan PSU129514. He argued that his Plan PSU-129514 was approved way back in 1951 whereas
Bracewell’s Plan PSU-180598 was surveyed only in 1960, and stated that the latter plan, in fact,
contained a footnote that a portion known as Lot 5, i.e., the subject lot, is a portion of the parcel of
land covered by Plan PSU-129514.
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15

The overlapping was confirmed by LRA Director Felino M. Cortez in his 2nd Supplementary Report
dated August 5, 1996, which was submitted to the RTC of Makati City, Branch 134. The report,
which contains a recommendation that petitioner be ordered to cause the amendment of Plan PSU129514 in view of Bracewell’s claims, reads as follows:
16

COMES NOW the Land Registration Authority (LRA) and to the Honorable Court respectfully
submits this report:
1. LRA records show that a decision was rendered by the Honorable Court on February 23,
1989, confirming the title of the herein applicant [petitioner] over the parcel of land covered
by plan PSU-129514;
2. Upon updating of plotting on our Municipal Index Sheet, thru its tie line, it was found to
overlap with plan PSU-180598, Lot 5, applied in LRC Record No. N-24916, which was
referred to the Lands Management Services, El Bldg., Quezon City, for verification and/or
correction in our letter dated January 12, 1996 x x x;
3. In reply, the Regional Technical Director, thru the Chief, Surveys Division, in his letter
dated 20 June 1996, x x x, informed this Authority that after [re-verification] and research of
the plan, they found out that Lot 5, PSU-180598 applied in LRC Record No. N-24916 is a
portion of plan PSU-129514, applied in the instant case;
4. Our records further show that the petition for registration of title to real property pertaining
to Lot 5, PSU-180598 filed by the petitioner James Bracewell, Jr. under Land Reg. Case No.
N-4329, LRC Record No. N-24916 has been granted by the Honorable Court per his
decision dated May 3, 1989.
WHEREFORE, the foregoing is respectfully submitted to the Honorable Court for its information with
the recommendation that the applicant [herein petitioner] in the instant case be ordered to cause for
the amendment of plan PSU-129514, subject of registration, by segregating therefrom the portion of
Lot 5, PSU-180598 also decided in Land Reg. Case No. N-4328. The approved amended plan and
the corresponding certified technical descriptions shall forthwith be submitted to the Honorable Court
for its approval to enable us to comply with the decision of the Court dated May 3, 1989 in the instant
case. (Emphases supplied)
17

The Las Piñas City-RTC Ruling
Finding that petitioner obtained Decree No. N-217036 and OCT No. 0-78 in bad faith, the Las Piñas
City-RTC rendered a Decision on July 31, 2003 in favor of Bracewell, who had died during the
pendency of the case and was substituted by Eulalia Bracewell and his heirs (respondents).
Accordingly, it directed the LRA to set aside Decree No. N-217036 and OCT No. 0-78, and ordered
petitioner (a) to cause the amendment of Plan PSU-129514 and to segregate therefrom the subject
18

lot, and (b) to pay respondents the sum of P100,000.00 as attorney's fees, as well as the cost of
suit.
19

The Las Piñas City-RTC faulted petitioner for deliberately preventing respondents from participating
and objecting to his application for registration when the documentary evidence showed that, as
early as 1962, Bracewell had been paying taxes for the subject lot; and that he (Bracewell) was
recognized as the owner thereof in the records of the Bureau of Lands way back in 1965, as well as
in the City Assessor's Office.
20

Aggrieved, petitioner elevated his case on appeal before the CA, docketed as CA-G.R. CV No.
81075, arguing mainly that the Las Piñas City-RTC had no jurisdiction over a petition for review of a
decree of registration under Section 32 of PD 1529, which should be filed in the same branch of the
court that rendered the decision and ordered the issuance of the decree. He likewise raised (a) the
failure of Bracewell to submit to conciliation proceedings, as well as (b) the commission of forum
shopping, considering that the decision granting Bracewell’s application for registration over Lots 1,
2, 3, 4, and 5 of Plan PSU-180598 was still pending resolution before the Court at the time he filed
Civil Case No. LP 98-0025.
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24

The CA Ruling
In a Decision dated May 23, 2007, the appellate court affirmed the assailed judgment of the RTC,
finding that respondents were able to substantiate their claim of actual fraud in the procurement of
Decree No. N-217036, which is the only ground that may be invoked in a petition for review of a
decree of registration under Section 32 of PD 1529. It held that, since the petition for review was
filed within one (1) year from the issuance of the questioned decree, and considering that the subject
lot is located in Las Piñas City, the RTC of said city had jurisdiction over the case. It further declared
that: (a) there was no need to submit the case a quo for conciliation proceedings because the LRA,
which is an instrumentality of the government, had been impleaded; (b) no forum shopping was
committed because the petition for review of the decree of registration before the Las Piñas CityRTC and the application for land registration then pending before the Court involved different parties
and issues; and (c) the award of attorney’s fees was well within the sound discretion of the RTC.
25

26

27

Petitioner's motion for reconsideration having been denied, he now comes before the Court via the
instant petition for review, challenging primarily the jurisdiction of the Las Piñas City-RTC which set
aside and nullified the judgment rendered by the RTC of Makati City, Branch 134 that had not yet
become final and was still within its exclusive control and discretion because the one (1) year period
within which the decree of registration issued by the LRA could be reviewed has not yet elapsed.
28

29

30

The Issue Before the Court
The core issue raised for the Court’s resolution is whether or not the Las Piñas City-RTC has
jurisdiction over the petition for review of Decree No. N-217036, which was issued as a result of the
judgment rendered by the RTC of Makati City, Branch 134.
The Court’s Ruling
The petition must fail.

– which was the law in force at the time of the commencement by both parties of their respective registration proceedings – jurisdiction over all applications for registration of title was conferred upon the Courts of First Instance (CFIs. and under Section 17 thereof. 3. 2003. Batas Pambansa Bilang (BP) 129.Under Act No. Bracewell sought the review of Decree No. Disagreeing. otherwise known as "The Judiciary Reorganization Act of 1980. arising from applications for original registration of titles to lands and petitions filed after such registration. The court a quo therein dismissed the petition for the reason that since its jurisdiction as a cadastral court was special and limited. or the "Land Registration Act. and 5 of Plan PSU-180598. the Court held that. Branch 134. the cadastral court that had issued the decree. 31 32 33 The land registration laws were updated and codified under PD 1529. the distinction between the general jurisdiction vested in the RTC and the limited jurisdiction conferred upon it as a cadastral court was eliminated. 46 47 48 .e. the RTC of Las Piñas City was established "in or about 1994. it had no authority to pass upon the issues raised. considering that the lot subject of this case is situated in Las Piñas City. 2. RTC) of the province or city where the land is situated. 43 44 45 To be clear. jurisdiction over applications for registration of property situated in Las Piñas City was vested in the RTC of Makati City in view of the fact that there were no RTC branches yet in the Las Piñas City at that time. all situated in Las Piñas City. et al. 37 38 Subsequently. Joson were owners of one-half thereof." Understandably. Branch 58. 4. the decision remains under the control and sound discretion of the court rendering the decree." as amended. petitioner cannot now rely on the Joson pronouncement to advance its theory. Bracewell’s own application over Lots 1. jurisdiction over an application for land registration is still vested on the CFI (now. which court after hearing. 39 40 41 42 Petitioner maintains that the petition for review should have been filed with the RTC of Makati City. was thus granted by the RTC of Makati City. RTCs now have the power to hear and determine all questions. i. having purchased the same from Busuego’s mother. Accordingly. Joson) filed a petition to set aside the decree of registration issued in favor of Teodora Busuego (Busuego) on the ground that the latter misrepresented herself to be the sole owner of the lot when in truth. may even set aside said decision or decree and adjudicate the land to another.. In said case. citing the 1964 case of Amando Joson. Busuego (Joson) among others." was enacted and took effect on August 14. including the RTC of Las Piñas City as part of the National Capital Judicial Region. 496 (Act 496). It should be pointed out. the only issue in Joson was which court should take cognizance of the nullification of the decree. and considering further that the matter of whether the RTC resolves an issue in the exercise of its general jurisdiction or of its limited jurisdiction as a special court is only a matter of procedure and has nothing to do with the question of jurisdiction. 1981. Spouses Amando Joson and Victoria Balmeo (Sps. however. 34 35 36 Worth noting is the explanation proffered by respondents in their comment to the instant petition that when petitioner filed his land registration case in December 1976. even contentious and substantial ones. authorizing the creation of RTCs in different judicial regions. which took effect on January 23. that with the passage of PD 1529. or the competent CFI in the exercise of its general jurisdiction. N217036. As pointed out by the court a quo in its Decision dated July 31. v. in February 1998. which rendered the assailed decision and ordered the issuance of Decree No. now RTCs) of the respective provinces in which the land sought to be registered is situated. N-217036 before the Las Piñas City-RTC. the Sps. as long as the final decree has not been issued and the period of one (1) year within which it may be reviewed has not elapsed. 1979.

1964. which took effect on January 1. and . nor by any proceeding in any court for reversing judgments. lies with the CFI of the province where the property is situated. the Court refers to the fact that the application for original registration in this case was only filed before the RTC of Makati City. such as an application for original registration." viz. deprived of land or of any estate or interest therein by such adjudication or confirmation of title obtained by actual fraud. Las Piñas City had no RTC.: Sec. Innocent purchaser for value. the aforesaid application should not have been filed before the RTC of Makati City. Branch 134 because. shall be commenced and tried in the province where the property or any part thereof lies.Section 32 of PD 1529 provides that the review of a decree of registration falls within the jurisdiction of and. or other disability of any person adversely affected thereby. minority. Be that as it may. the Court must consider the circumstantial milieu in this case that. As the land subject of this case is undeniably situated in Las Piñas City. As such. warrants the filing of the said petition before the Las Piñas City-RTC. Rule 4 of the 1964 Revised Rules of Court. Branch 134 pursuant to the rules on venue prevailing at that time. viz. applying the general rule as above-stated. the proper venue for real actions. and should. be the same court before which a petition for the review of Decree No. but in no case shall such petition be entertained by the court where an innocent purchaser for value has acquired the land or an interest therein. — Actions affecting title to. Venue in Courts of First Instance. 1âwphi1 Upon the expiration of said period of one year. subject. N-217036 is filed. Review of decree of registration. (Emphasis and underscoring supplied) Since the LRA’s issuance of a decree of registration only proceeds from the land registration court’s directive. or for recovery of possession. including the government and the branches thereof. Barring this situation. Under Section 2. N-217036. however. the application for its original registration should have been filed before the Las Piñas City-RTC were it not for the fact that the said court had yet to be created at the time the application was filed. in the interest of orderly procedure. a petition taken under Section 32 of PD 1529 is effectively a review of the land registration court’s ruling.: Section 32." 49 While it is indeed undisputed that it was the RTC of Makati City. i. December 1976. to file in the proper Court of First Instance a petition for reopening and review of the decree of registration not later than one year from and after the date of the entry of such decree of registration. The decree of registration shall not be reopened or revised by reason of absence. real property. should be filed in the "proper Court of First Instance.— (a) Real actions. it shall be deemed to include an innocent lessee. mortgagee. Branch 134 which rendered the decision directing the LRA to issue Decree No. hence. Whenever the phrase "innocent purchaser for value" or an equivalent phrase occurs in this Decree. the decree of registration and the certificate of title issued shall become incontrovertible. or for partition or condemnation of. case law instructs that for "as long as a final decree has not been entered by the [LRA] and the period of one (1) year has not elapsed from the date of entry of such decree. 2. to the right of any person. Particularly. whose rights may be prejudiced. during that time. Any person aggrieved by such decree of registration in any case may pursue his remedy by action for damages against the applicant or any other persons responsible for the fraud. or other encumbrancer for value. the title is not finally adjudicated and the decision in the registration proceeding continues to be under the control and sound discretion of the court rendering it.e.. or foreclosure of mortgage on.

v. located at Barangay Tambac. Petitioner in this case is the Republic of the Philippines.R. SP No. Bounded on the North by Dumlog Creek. New Washington. The Decision dated May 23. on the East by Adriano Melocoton. After all. in her capacity as Superintendent of ANCF. AND CEFERINA S. 157485. and award of attorney's fees. Finally. 1181. 2003. petitioner already had his chance to disqualify the trial judge from further hearing the case. VITA. Aklan. ROSARIO S. holds that the Las Piñas CityRTC has the authority over the petition for the review of Decree No. suffice it to say that the same have been adequately discussed by the appellate court and. SP No. MARIA S. containing an approximate area of FIFTY[–]EIGHT THOUSAND SIX HUNDRED SIX (58. N-217036 filed in this case. Respondents claim that they are the lawful heirs of the late Maxima Lachica Sin who was the owner of a parcel of land situated at Barangay Tambac. Aklan in Civil Case No. the petition is DENIED. 2003 of the RTC of Las Piñas City. but the appellate court dismissed his petition in CA G. ELENITA R. 2007 of the Court of Appeals in CA-G. SIN. and more particularly described as follows: A parcel of cocal. 74187 for lack of merit. represented by ANCF and Dr. more or less. should succumb to the greater interests of the orderly administration of justice. Elenita R.R. Petitioner. hence. the Court. SIN. No. segregating from the Aklan National College of Fisheries (ANCF) reservation the portion of land being claimed by respondents. 50 51 Anent the other ancillary issues raised by petitioner on forum shopping. 2014 REPUBLIC OF THE PHILIPPINES REPRESENTED BY AKLAN NATIONAL COLLEGE OF FISHERIES (ANCF) AND DR. March 26. Aklan. Lopez. Andrade. which was temporarily set back only because of past exigencies. the Court perceives no compelling reason to deviate from applying the rightful procedure. 52 WHEREFORE. 65244 dated February 24. submission to conciliation proceedings. FRANCISCO L. Besides. MANUEL L. venue is only a matter of procedure and. DECISION LEONARDO–DE CASTRO. on the South by Mabilo Creek. need no further elucidation. 81075 are hereby AFFIRMED. and on the West by Amado Cayetano and . Respondents.R. cognizant of the peculiarity of the situation. the Court concurs with the CA in saying that such tirades are not helpful to his cause. IN HER CAPACITY AS ANCF SUPERINTENDENT. hence. Indeed. on the matter of petitioner's objections against the trial judge's "unusual interest" in the case. the filing of the petition for review before the Las Piñas City-RTC was only but a rectificatory implementation of the rules of procedure then-existing. 2007 and the Resolution dated August 14. as per survey by Geodetic Engineer Reynaldo L. SIN. RAMON L. JAIME CARDINAL SIN. In light of the circumstances now prevailing. HEIRS OF MAXIMA LACHICA SIN.: This is a Petition for Review assailing the Decision1 of the Court of Appeals in CA–G. CV No. ANDRADE. SIN. as pointed out in the Decision dated July 31.606) square meters. ENRIQUEZ. which upheld the Decisions of the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Kalibo. Branch 275. Aklan in Civil Case No. YUCHINTAT. G. J. New Washington.considering further that the complication at hand is actually one of venue and not of jurisdiction (given that RTCs do retain jurisdiction over review of registration decree cases pursuant to Section 32 of PD 1529). NAMELY: SALVACION L.R. 6130 and the First Municipal Circuit Trial Court (MCTC) of New Washington and Batan. nipal and swampy land. SO ORDERED.

2074 (Exh. a portion of said land respondents inherited from Maxima Sin was occupied by ANCF and converted into a fishpond for educational purpose. and then developed the same by planting coconut trees. Respondent heirs claim that a 41. Before the MCTC. 1991. The RTC remanded the case to the MCTC of New Washington and Batan. the MCTC rendered its Decision in favor of respondents. mango trees and nipa palms and usufructing the produce of said land until her death in 1945. To prove possession. In the year 1988. 1960 (Exh.231–square meter–portion of the property they inherited had been usurped by ANCF. 10701 (1985) with an assessed value of Php1. Sin (deceased) under Tax Declaration No. in his capacity as Superintendent of ANCF (hereinafter ANCF Superintendent). The disputed area was a swampy land until it was converted into a fishpond by the ANCF. Court of Appeals4 where it was pronounced that: Lands covered by reservation are not subject to entry. LC 2415” was printed on the Map of the Civil Reservation for ANCF established under Proclamation No. The ANCF Superintendent countered that the parcel of land being claimed by respondents was the subject of Proclamation No. 1981. “LL”) shows that the disputed property is an alienable and disposable land of the public domain. indicating that the disputed land is an alienable and disposable land of the public domain.00. The case was docketed as Civil Case No. the earliest of which was in the year 1945. The MCTC observed that the phrase “Block II Alien or Disp. that defendants jointly and severally pay the plaintiffs actual damages for the unearned yearly income from nipa plants uprooted by the defendants [on] the land in question when the same has been converted by the defendants into a fishpond. Respondent heirs of Maxima Sin asserted that they were previously in possession of the disputed land in the concept of an owner. but where the . who retired from the service during the pendency of the case. respondent heirs presented evidence that they inherited a bigger parcel of land from their mother. and no lawful settlement on them can be acquired. then the designated Officer–in–Charge of ANCF. the sketch made by the Court Commissioner in his report (Exh. as civil reservation for educational purposes of ANCF. banana plants. granted under Proclamation No. The MCTC likewise cited a decision of this Court in the 1976 case of Republic v.320. was substituted by Ricardo Andres. and declaration of ownership with damages. and improved a parcel of public land which is later included in a reservation are considered worthy of protection and are usually respected. Aklan.2 On August 26. The ANCF Superintendent furthermore averred that the subject parcel of land is timberland and therefore not susceptible of private ownership. quieting of title. On June 19.0551 hectares of land within the area. 2074 was classified as timberland only on December 22. creating a cloud of doubt with respect to their ownership over the parcel of land they wish to remove from the ANCF reservation. It is finally ordered. that defendants jointly and severally pay the plaintiffs the sum of Php10. Capiz (now Aklan). respondent heirs instituted in the RTC of Kalibo. 1181 (4390). respondents presented several tax declarations. the dispositive portion of which reads: WHEREFORE. Maxima Sin. in view of the enactment of Republic Act No.500. Maxima Sin acquired said bigger parcel of land by virtue of a Deed of Sale (Exhibit “B”). judgment is rendered declaring plaintiffs [respondent heirs herein] the owner and possessor of the land in question in this case and for the defendants to cause the segregation of the same from the Civil Reservation of the Aklan National College of Fisheries. The claims of persons who have settled on.declared for taxation purposes in the name of Maxima L. “6”). 7659 which expanded the jurisdiction of first–level courts.3 According to the MCTC. Marcos allocating 24. “4–D”). in the amount of Php3. Subsequently. 2000. occupied. Aklan a complaint against Lucio Arquisola. Furthermore. It is further ordered. the land covered by Civil Reservation under Proclamation No.000. who died in the year 1945 in New Washington. the complaint was amended to include ANCF as a party defendant and Lucio Arquisola.00 yearly beginning the year 1988 until plaintiffs are fully restored to the possession of the land in question. for recovery of possession.00 for attorney’s fees and costs of this suit. 2074 of then President Ferdinand E. 2074 dated March 31. which included said portion of private respondents’ alleged property.

the possession of the previous owners and that of Maxima Lachica Sin over the disputed property. citations omitted.) Noting that there was no warning in Proclamation No. the Court of Appeals held: Moreover. On May 2. Considering that lands adjoining to that of the private respondents.5 The RTC stressed that Proclamation No. this Petition for Review. In addition to the findings of the MCTC and the RTC.President. premises considered. 2001. elevated the case to the Court of Appeals through a Petition for Review.7 (Citation omitted. 2074 which are deemed segregated from the mass of civil reservation granted to petitioner.R. 2074 recognizes vested rights acquired by private individuals prior to its issuance on March 31. appealed to the RTC of Kalibo. The MCTC thus ruled that the claim of respondent heirs over the disputed land by virtue of their and their predecessors’ open. the MCTC concluded that the reservation was subject to private rights if there are any. absolved the Superintendent of the ANCF from liability as there was no showing on record that he acted with malice or in bad faith in the implementation of Proclamation No. therefore. 2074 requiring all persons to depart from the reservation. it does not tax ones imagination to conclude that the subject property had been privately possessed for more than 30 years before it was declared a timberland. however. II THE COURT OF APPEALS GRAVELY ERRED ON A QUESTION OF LAW IN AFFIRMING THE DECISIONS OF THE REGIONAL TRIAL COURT AND THE MUNICIPAL CIRCUIT TRIAL COURTS RELEASING THE SUBJECT LAND BEING CLAIMED BY RESPONDENTS FROM THE MASS OF PUBLIC DOMAIN AND AWARDING DAMAGES TO THEM. which are also within the reservation area. 6130. this terminates any rights previously acquired in such lands by a person who has settled thereon in order to obtain a preferential right of purchase. Nonetheless. Petitioner. it is our considered opinion that this should come under the meaning of “private rights” under Proclamation No. Andrade. The RTC added that the findings of facts of the MCTC may not be disturbed on appeal unless the court below has overlooked some facts of substance that may alter the results of its findings. and therefore disposable. the RTC rendered its Decision affirming the MCTC judgment with modification: WHEREFORE. 65244. the said possession has ripened into an ownership against the State. the Court of Appeals rendered its Decision dismissing the petition for lack of merit.8 . 1981. This being the case. in her capacity as the new Superintendent of the ANCF. All other details of the appealed decision are affirmed in toto. and warning all persons to depart therefrom. And patents for lands which have been previously granted. (Underscoring from the MCTC. SP No. have been issued original certificates of title. albeit an imperfect one. as authorized by law. exclusive and notorious possession amounts to an imperfect title. Tacking. the assailed decision is modified absolving Appellant Ricardo Andres from the payment of damages and attorney’s fees. before its declaration as a timberland in 1960. petitioner had not shown by competent evidence that the subject land was likewise declared a timberland before its formal classification as such in 1960. It should be noted that Maxima Lachica Sin acquired. continuous. reserved from sale. or 28 years before the said landholding was declared a timberland on December 22. the same affirms the conclusion that the area of the subject land was agricultural. Aklan. through the Solicitor General. The RTC. through purchase and sale. anchored on the following grounds: I THE COURT OF APPEALS GRAVELY ERRED ON A QUESTION OF LAW IN UPHOLDING RESPONDENTS’ CLAIM TO SUPPOSED “PRIVATE RIGHTS” OVER SUBJECT LAND DESPITE THE DENR CERTIFICATION THAT IT IS CLASSIFIED AS TIMBERLAND. represented by the ANCF and Dr. issues a proclamation reserving certain lands.) Hence. 2074. On February 24. 1960. which should be respected and protected. 2003. or appropriated are void. The petition was docketed as CA–G. Elenita R. where the case was docketed as Civil Case No. the subject property from its previous owners spouses Sotera Melocoton and Victor Garcia on January 15. 6 Petitioner Republic. 1932.

under a bona fide claim of acquisition or ownership. which respondents supposedly acquired by possession of the subject property. the courts a quo apparently treated respondents’ complaint for recovery of possession. which is the source of any asserted right to any ownership of land. Accordingly.10 With respect to the second requisite. which is embodied in our Constitution. At the outset. Republic12: Under the Regalian doctrine. we agree with petitioner. exclusive and notorious possession and occupation of alienable and disposable lands of the public domain under a bona fide claim of ownership since June 12. thus preventing the application of the above proclamation thereon. but whose titles have not been perfected or completed. Who may apply. FERDINAND E. As this Court held in the fairly recent case of Valiao v.]9 The MCTC.The central dispute in the case at bar is the interpretation of the first paragraph of Proclamation No. through their predecessors–in–interest. approved by the Minister of Natural Resources and by virtue of the powers vested in me by law. the courts a quo held that the disputed property was alienable and disposable before 1960. as amended by Presidential Decree No. it must be noted that respondents have not filed an application for judicial confirmation of imperfect title under the Public Land Act or the Property Registration Decree. to wit: chanRoble svirtualLawlibrary xxxx (b) Those who by themselves or through their predecessors in interest have been in the open. 1073. x x x [. containing an aggregate area of 24. subject to private rights. The requirements for judicial confirmation of imperfect title are found in Section 48(b) of the Public Land Act. since June 12. the RTC and the Court of Appeals unanimously held that respondents retain private rights to the disputed property. alleging that under the Regalian Doctrine. parcels of land. The private right referred to is an alleged imperfect title. continuous.0551 hectares. do hereby set aside as Civil Reservation for Aklan National College of Fisheries. and notorious possession and occupation of alienable and disposable lands of the public domain. All lands not appearing to be clearly within private ownership are presumed to belong to the State. 2074: Upon recommendation of the Director of Forest Development. This Court has thus held that there are two requisites for judicial confirmation of imperfect or incomplete title under CA No. 141. or earlier. which provides: SECTION 14. namely: (1) open. citing petitioner’s failure to show competent evidence that the subject land was declared a timberland before its formal classification as such on said year. for 30 years before it was declared as a timberland on December 22. Unless public land is shown to have been reclassified as . After a thorough review of the records. designated Parcels I and II on the attached BFD Map CR– 203. Province of Aklan.11 Petitioner emphatically objects. and (2) the classification of the land as alienable and disposable land of the public domain. situated in the Municipality of New Washington. immediately preceding the filing of the application for confirmation of title except when prevented by war or force majeure.— The following persons may file in the proper Court of First Instance an application for registration of title to land. if any there be. and notorious possession and occupation of the subject land by himself or through his predecessors–in–interest under a bona fideclaim of ownership since time immemorial or from June 12. Nevertheless. continuous. 1945. exclusive. An equivalent provision is found in Section 14(1) of the Property Registration Decree. These shall be conclusively presumed to have performed all the conditions essential to a Government grant and shall be entitled to a certificate of title under the provisions of this chapter. occupying lands of the public domain or claiming to own any such lands or an interest therein. under the Land Registration Act. I. or earlier. all lands of the public domain belong to the State. 1945. may apply to the Court of First Instance of the province where the land is located for confirmation of their claims and the issuance of a certificate of title therefor. exclusive. public lands not shown to have been reclassified or released as alienable agricultural land or alienated to a private person by the State remain part of the inalienable public domain. Philippines. all lands of the public domain belong to the State and that lands not appearing to be clearly within private ownership are presumed to belong to the State. whether personally or through their duly authorized representatives: chanRoble svirtualLawlibrary (1) those who by themselves or through their predecessors–in–interest have been in open. MARCOS. 1945. 48. 1960. continuous. The following described citizens of the Philippines. quieting of title and declaration of ownership as such an application and proceeded to determine if respondents complied with the requirements therefor. President of the Philippines. as follows: Sec.

who must prove that the land subject of the application is alienable or disposable. Matters of land classification or reclassification cannot be assumed. exclusive and notorious possession and occupation of their lands in Boracay since June 12. no such proclamation. To overcome this presumption. the Court cannot accept the submission that lands occupied by private claimants were already open to disposition before 2006. Absent such well–nigh incontrovertible evidence. held: A positive act declaring land as alienable and disposable is required. claiming that Proclamation No. On September 3. among other islands. There must be a positive act declaring land of the public domain as alienable and disposable. and a legislative act or a statute. 1801. This petition was consolidated with the petition for review concerning Proclamation No. mandamus and nullification of Proclamation No.) This Court reached the same conclusion in Secretary of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources v. The burden of proof in overcoming the presumption of State ownership of the lands of the public domain is on the person applying for registration (or claiming ownership). 1801 and PTA Circular 3–82. 1945 or earlier since time immemorial. the Court has time and again emphasized that there must be a positive act of the government.14(Emphases in the original.” The burden of proof in overcoming the presumption of State ownership of the lands of the public domain is on the person applying for registration (or claiming ownership).alienable or disposable to a private person by the State. as tourist zones and marine reserves under the administration of the Philippine Tourism Authority (PTA). investigation reports of Bureau of Lands investigators. In the case at bar. To prove that the land subject of an application for registration is alienable. To prove that the land subject of an application for registration is alienable. 1982. (Citations omitted. they have been in open. To overcome this presumption. Yap. citations omitted. report.96) hectares of agricultural land (alienable and disposable). statute. continuous. caves and peninsulas of the Philippines.13 which presents a similar issue with respect to another area of the same province of Aklan. 1978. 1064. an administrative action. incontrovertible evidence must be established that the land subject of the application (or claim) is alienable or disposable. who must prove that the land subject of the application is alienable or disposable. This Court. incontrovertible evidence must be established that the land subject of the application (or claim) is alienable or disposable. Aklan. 2006. an administrative action.) . On May 22. discussing the Regalian Doctrine vis–à–vis the right of the claimants to lands they claim to have possessed since time immemorial. 1801 and PTA Circular 3–82 precluded them from filing an application for judicial confirmation of imperfect title or survey of land for titling purposes. Property of the public domain is beyond the commerce of man and not susceptible of private appropriation and acquisitive prescription. In keeping with the presumption of State ownership. The respondents–claimants in said case filed a petition for declaratory relief with the RTC of Kalibo. executive order. Section 8 of CA No. alleging that it infringed on their “prior vested right” over portions of Boracay which they allege to have possessed since time immemorial. Petitioner–claimants and other landowners in Boracay filed with this Court an original petition for prohibition. The applicant may also secure a certification from the government that the land claimed to have been possessed for the required number of years is alienable and disposable. investigation reports of Bureau of Lands investigators. President Gloria Macapagal–Arroyo issued Proclamation No. PTA Circular 3–82 was issued to implement Proclamation No. Occupation thereof in the concept of owner no matter how long cannot ripen into ownership and be registered as a title. They call for proof. There must still be a positive act declaring land of the public domain as alienable and disposable. or certification was presented to the Court. President Marcos issued Proclamation No. it remains part of the inalienable public domain. On November 10. The respondents claim that through their predecessors–in–interest. the portions of Boracay occupied by private claimants were subject of a government proclamation that the land is alienable and disposable. the applicant must establish the existence of a positive act of the government. declassifying inalienable public land into disposable land for agricultural or other purposes. during the pendency of the petition for review of the above case with this Court. The applicant may also secure a certification from the government that the land claimed to have been possessed for the required number of years is alienable and disposable. such as a presidential proclamation or an executive order. such as an official proclamation. In fact. 141 limits alienable or disposable lands only to those lands which have been “officially delimited and classified. the applicant must establish the existence of a positive act of the government such as a presidential proclamation or an executive order. prior to 2006. 1801 declaring Boracay Island. 1064 classifying Boracay Island into four hundred (400) hectares of reserved forest land (protection purposes) and six hundred twenty–eight and 96/100 (628. and a legislative act or a statute. administrative action. The records are bereft of evidence showing that.

2001. Republic. 2074 as to prevent the application of said proclamation to the subject property.16 In Malabanan. the presumption is that unclassified lands are inalienable public lands. 3068 and 3077.R. (respondent).945 square meters and 20. which upheld the Decisions of the Regional Trial Court of Kalibo. J.15 wherein we held: While it is true that the land classification map does not categorically state that the islands are public forests.Accordingly. Accordingly. Metro Manila.) The requirements for judicial confirmation of imperfect title in Section 48(b) of the Public Land Act. 1945 may be subject to judicial confirmation of imperfect title.. Petitioner. represented by RONNIE P. G. 2003. 1181 (4390) for lack of merit. in the case at bar. Republic. segregating from the Aklan National College of Fisheries reservation the portion of land being claimed by respondents is REVERSED and SET ASIDE. Since respondents failed to do so. SP No. it is therefore the respondents which have the burden to identify a positive act of the government. 1181 (4390). We are thus constrained to reverse the rulings of the courts a quo and grant the prayer of petitioner Republic to dismiss Civil Case No.R. CV No. In the case at bar. Aklan in Civil Case No. citation deleted. however. There was. declassifying inalienable public land into disposable land for agricultural or other purposes.357 sq m. The CA affirmed the Decision dated May 16. 2014 REPUBLIC OF THE PHILIPPINES. WHEREFORE. REMMAN ENTERPRISES. with an area of 29. 90503. Aklan in Civil Case No. 1181 (4390) of the First Municipal Circuit Trial Court of New Washington and Batan. INOCENCIO. 2007 of the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Pasig City. identified as Lot Nos. 199310 February 19. premises considered. 4 . and the equivalent provision in Section 14(1) of the Property Registration Decree was furthermore painstakingly debated upon by the members of this Court in Heirs of Mario Malabanan v. 2011 of the Court of Appeals (CA) in CA-G. Civil Case No. as amended. INC. the land remains unclassified land until released and rendered open to disposition. The Decision of the Court of Appeals in CA–G. filed an application with the RTC for judicial confirmation of title over two parcels of land situated in Barangay Napindan. Palanca and Soterranea Rafols v. Branch 69. respectively. the members of this Court were in disagreement as to whether lands declared alienable or disposable after June 12. in Land Registration Case No. In the absence of the classification as mineral or timber land. vs. Remman Enterprises. the Petition for Review is GRANTED. Mcadm-590-D. (Emphasis supplied. no disagreement that there must be a declaration to that effect. the failure of petitioner Republic to show competent evidence that the subject land was declared a timberland before its formal classification as such in 1960 does not lead to the presumption that said land was alienable and disposable prior to said date.: Before this Court is a petition for review on certiorari under Rule 45 of the Rules of Court seeking to annul and set aside the Decision dated November 10. the alleged possession by them and by their predecessors–in–interest is inconsequential and could never ripen into ownership. the fact that they were unclassified lands leads to the same result. Aklan is hereby DISMISSED. x x x. No. Inc. 65244 dated February 24. On the contrary. 6130 and the First Municipal Circuit Trial Court of New Washington and Batan. respondents cannot be considered to have private rights within the purview of Proclamation No. N-11465. Respondent. 1 2 3 The Facts On December 3. Taguig Cadastre. Taguig. DECISION REYES.R. SO ORDERED. Such was the conclusion of this Court in Heirs of the Late Spouses Pedro S. such as an official proclamation.

the testimonies of the respondent’s witnesses showed that the respondent and its predecessors-in-interest have been in open. 10 On June 4. In support of its application. 3068 and 3077. as well as in a conspicuous place on the bulletin board of the City hall of Taguig. when the RTC called the case for initial hearing. and notorious possession of the subject parcels of land since June 12. Volume 98. the RTC issued the Order finding the respondent’s application for registration sufficient in form and substance and setting it for initial hearing on February 21. 2002. only the Laguna Lake Development Authority (LLDA) appeared as oppositor. the LLDA filed its Opposition to the respondent’s application for registration. 3068 and 3077 from Conrado Salvador (Salvador) and Bella Mijares (Mijares). the LLDA presented the testimonies of Engineers Ramon Magalonga (Engr. 1989 executed by Salvador and Mijares in favor of the respondent. 2002. and notorious possession of the said parcels of land long before June 12. Metro Manila. exclusive. 2002. 5 6 7 8 9 On May 30. 2002. on July 16. likewise filed its Opposition. The Notice of Initial Hearing was likewise posted in a conspicuous place on Lot Nos. the respondent’s corporate secretary. 2002. respectively. in 1989. On the other hand. 3068 and 3077 for 13 15 14 16 . Magalonga) and Christopher A. No. The Notice of Initial Hearing was published in the Official Gazette. the respondent. (2) survey plans of the subject properties. Ronnie Inocencio. inter alia. 2002 issue of People’s Balita. who cultivated and planted different kinds of crops in the said lots. the caretaker of the subject properties since 1957. the RTC issued an order of general default except LLDA. exclusive. Pedrezuela (Engr. The scheduled initial hearing was later reset to May 30. a newspaper of general circulation in the Philippines. The respondent likewise alleged that the subject properties are within the alienable and disposable lands of the public domain. the Republic of the Philippines (petitioner). a geodetic engineer hired by the respondent to conduct a topographic survey of the subject properties. The respondent purchased Lot Nos. Sometime in 1975. since 1943. 11 12 Trial on the merits of the respondent’s application ensued thereafter. through her caretaker and hired farmers. Pedrezuela). The respondent presented four witnesses: Teresita Villaroya. Jaime sold the said parcels of land to Salvador and Mijares. The subject properties were originally owned and possessed by Veronica Jaime (Jaime). (5) tax declarations of Lot Nos. Essentially. alleging that the respondent failed to prove that it and its predecessorsin-interest have been in open. who continued to cultivate the lots until the same were purchased by the respondent in 1989. Flotildes). 1945. who are both geodetic engineers employed by the LLDA. 13. (4) Geodetic Engineer’s Certificate. 2002 issue. as evidenced by the certifications issued by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR). (3) technical descriptions of the subject properties. 1945 or earlier. presented the following documents: (1) Deed of Absolute Sale dated August 28. For its part. Hence. continuous. pages 1631-1633 and in the March 21.On December 13. asserting that Lot Nos. 2001. and Engineer Mariano Flotildes (Engr. continuous. Cenon Cerquena (Cerquena). which was given 15 days to submit its comment/opposition to the respondent’s application for registration. April 1. an employee of the respondent and the one authorized by it to file the application for registration with the RTC. 3068 and 3077 are not part of the alienable and disposable lands of the public domain.

2002. 1966. 3068 and 3077 form part of the alienable and disposable lands of the public domain. which was prepared using an aerial survey conducted by the then Department of National Defense-Bureau of Coast in April 1966.33 m to 11.50 meters are public lands which form part of the bed of the said lake. attesting that Lot Nos. the elevations of the subject properties. The RTC pointed out that LLDA’s claim that the elevation of the subject properties is below 12. it pointed out that pursuant to Section 41(11) of Republic Act No. 17 18 On the other hand. 1966 for purposes of gathering data for the preparation of the topographic map. Further. lands. the RTC rendered a Decision. 4850 (R. Flotildes. who claimed that.357 (Lot 3077) both situated in Brgy. judgment is rendered confirming the title of the applicant Remman Enterprises Incorporated over a parcels of land [sic] consisting of 29. Engr. surrounding the Laguna de Bay.50 m. The RTC opined that the elevations of the subject properties are very much higher than the reglementary elevation of 12. that the elevations of the subject properties may have already changed since 1966 when the supposed aerial survey. and (6) certifications dated December 17.80 m.50 m is hearsay since the same was merely based on the topographic map that was prepared using an aerial survey on March 2.A. 3077 ranges from 12. he found out that the elevations of Lot Nos. Flotildes claimed that Lot No. The RTC Ruling On May 16.50 m. located at and below the reglementary elevation of 12. Magalonga confirmed that the elevations of the subject properties range from 11.77 m. 2007. that nobody was presented to prove that an aerial survey was indeed conducted on March 2. Metro Manila more particularly described in the Technical Descriptions Ap-04-003103 and Swo-00001769 respectively and ordering their registration under the Property Registration Decree in the name of Remman Enterprises Incorporated. based on the topographic map of Taguig. premises considered. Taguig. 3068 and 3077 are below 12. contrary to LLDA’s claim. thus. Engr.2002. are above 12.945 square meters (Lot 3068) and 20. SO ORDERED. No. 3068 has an elevation ranging from 12. Calamno (Calamno). testifying for the oppositor LLDA. which granted the respondent’s application for registration of title to the subject properties. was conducted.60 m to 14. viz: 20 WHEREFORE. That upon actual area verification of the subject properties on September 25. Napindan. Taguig. upon preliminary evaluation of the subject properties. 2002. issued by Corazon D. Senior Forest Management Specialist of the DENR.50 m and. based on the actual topographic survey of the subject properties he conducted upon the request of the respondent. Engr. 4850). the LLDA alleged that the respondent’s application for registration should be denied since the subject parcels of land are not part of the alienable and disposable lands of the public domain.60 m to 15 m while the elevation of Lot No. The RTC . Magalonga. the RTC posited that the elevation of a parcel of land does not always remain the same. not part of the bed of Laguna Lake. 19 On rebuttal. 21 The RTC found that the respondent was able to prove that the subject properties form part of the alienable and disposable lands of the public domain. Particularly. from which the topographic map used by LLDA was based. claimed that. the respondent presented Engr.

which allegedly shows that the subject . by way of the assailed Decision. Appellee’s witness Engr.5 meters. continuous.6 meters and the elevation of its highest portion is 15 meters. The RTC pointed out that the subject properties are more than a kilometer away from the shoreline of Laguna Lake. 2007. The CA Ruling On November 10. said witness suddenly jumped to a conclusion that the elevation was below 12. as claimed by the petitioner. Hence. exclusive.79 meters and after finding that the elevation of the subject lots are lower than the said [benchmark] or reference point. 2011. as amended. in finding that the elevation of the subject lots are below 12. x x x.6 meters and the elevation of its highest portion is 15 meters. In opposing the instant application for registration. ably proved that the elevation of the lowest portion of Lot No. The CA found that the respondent was able to establish that the subject properties are part of the alienable and disposable lands of the public domain.5 meters as provided for under paragraph 11. Said elevations are higher than the reglementary elevation of 12. pointing out that: Further. 3077 is also 12. Moreover. it was found [out] that the elevation of the lowest portion of Lot No. and notorious possession of the subject properties as early as 1943. who conducted an actual area verification of the subject lots. that the same are not part of the bed of Laguna Lake. 1966. the finding of LLDA’s witness was based on hearsay as said witness admitted that it was DPWH or the FF Cruz who determined the elevation of the portion of the lake dike which he used as the [benchmark] or reference point in determining the elevation of the subject lots and that he has no personal knowledge as to how the DPWH and FF Cruz determined the elevation of the said [benchmark] or reference point and he only learn[ed] that its elevation is 12. the elevation of the said portion of the lake dike that was then under the construction by FF Cruz was allegedly 12. Thus: 23 The evidence submitted by the appellee is sufficient to warrant registration of the subject lands in its name. oppositor’s witness merely compared their elevation to the elevation of the particular portion of the lake dike which he used as his [benchmark] or reference point in determining the elevation of the subject lots.5 meters. that they are dry and waterless even when the waters of Laguna Lake is at its maximum level. The RTC held that. the CA. which could not be reached by the lake water. Laguna Lake extends only to those areas that can be covered by the lake water when it is at the average annual maximum lake level of 12. 3068 is 12. Section 41 of R. The RTC likewise found that the respondent was able to prove that it and its predecessors-in-interest have been in open. No. prepared by Commodore Pathfinder. only those parcels of land that are adjacent to and near the shoreline of Laguna Lake form part of its bed and not those that are already far from it. appellant relies merely on the Topographic Map dated March 2. As to the other lot.A.50 m.likewise faulted the method used by Engr. 4850. Also. The petitioner appealed the RTC Decision dated May 16. the RTC opined that the same could not be considered part of the bed of Laguna Lake. the RTC averred.A. affirmed the RTC Decision dated May 16.50 m. No. 2007 to the CA. Magalonga in measuring the elevations of the subject properties. 4850. under Section 41(11) of R. Mariano Flotildes. 22 Even supposing that the elevations of the subject properties are indeed below 12.79 meters from the information he got from FF Cruz.

which this Court. 4850. No. that the subject properties are indeed part of the alienable and disposable lands of the public domain.parcels of land are so situated in the submerge[d] [lake water] of Laguna Lake. x x x. continuous. This Court is not a trier of facts and will not disturb the factual findings of the lower courts unless there are substantial reasons for doing so.50 m and. attesting that the subject properties form part of the alienable and disposable lands of the public domain. While deference is due to the lower courts’ finding that the elevations of the subject properties are above the reglementary level of 12. 1945. that the subject parcels of land are below the 12.50 m and. Ramon Magalonga. which granted the application for registration filed by the respondent. (Citations omitted) 24 The CA likewise pointed out that the respondent was able to present certifications issued by the DENR. however. which is embodied in our Constitution. The CA further ruled that the respondent was able to prove. which is the source of any asserted right to any ownership of land. The Issue The sole issue to be resolved by the Court is whether the CA erred in affirming the RTC Decision dated May 16. all lands of the public domain belong to the State. Hence. It is still incumbent upon the respondent to prove.50 m is a finding of fact by the lower courts. nobody testified on the due execution and authenticity of the said document. 25 That the subject properties are not part of the bed of Laguna Lake. which was not disputed by the petitioner. with well-nigh incontrovertible evidence. The petitioner insists that the elevations of the subject properties are below the reglementary level of 12. However. does not necessarily mean that they already form part of the alienable and disposable lands of the public domain. It is a long-standing policy of this Court that the findings of facts of the RTC which were adopted and affirmed by the CA are generally deemed conclusive and binding.A.5 meter elevation. All lands not . The Court’s Ruling The petition is meritorious. No. and notorious possession of the subject properties prior to June 12. no longer part of the bed of Laguna Lake pursuant to Section 41(11) of R. the instant petition. 2007. that it and its predecessors-in-interest have been in open. exclusive. 4850. hence. As regards the testimony of the witness for LLDA. 1966. the same can be considered inaccurate aside from being hearsay considering his admission that his findings were based merely on the evaluation conducted by DPWH and FF Cruz. The said data was gathered through aerial photography over the area of Taguig conducted on March 2. are considered part of the bed of Laguna Lake. pursuant to Section 41(11) of R. "Under the Regalian Doctrine. That the elevations of the subject properties are above the reglementary level of 12. The petitioner maintains that the lower courts erred in granting the respondent’s application for registration since the subject properties do not form part of the alienable and disposable lands of the public domain. Engr.A. the Court nevertheless finds that the respondent failed to substantiate its entitlement to registration of title to the subject properties. generally may not disregard. through the testimonies of its witnesses.

. Properties. that it is under a bona fide claim of ownership since June 12. 14.D. No. In addition. exclusive.A. applicants for land registration must prove that the DENR Secretary had approved the land classification and released the land of public domain as alienable and disposable. which provides that: 27 Sec. the said certifications presented by the respondent are insufficient to prove that the subject properties are alienable and disposable.N. 28 29 The first requirement was not satisfied in this case. 1529 refers to the judicial confirmation of imperfect or incomplete titles to public land acquired under Section 48(b) of Commonwealth Act (C. approved on January 3. as amended by P. applicants for registration of title must sufficiently establish: first. or alienated to a private person by the State. The burden of proof in overcoming the presumption of State ownership of the lands of the public domain is on the person applying for registration. To overcome this presumption. the applicant for land registration must present a copy of the original classification approved by the DENR Secretary and certified as a true copy by the . incontrovertible evidence must be presented to establish that the land subject of the application is alienable or disposable. 1968.) No. and that the land subject of the application for registration falls within the approved area per verification through survey by the PENRO or CENRO. attesting that Lot Nos. that the subject land forms part of the disposable and alienable lands of the public domain. They must present a copy of the original classification approved by the DENR Secretary and certified as true copy by the legal custodian of the records. who must prove that the land subject of the application is alienable or disposable. second. continuous. No. 1529 . or earlier.D. in addition to the certification issued by the proper government agency that a parcel of land is alienable and disposable.D. continuous. xxxx Section 14(1) of P. 1529. the respondent presented two certifications issued by Calamno. 1945. or the Public Land Act. No. In Republic of the Philippines v. and third. it is not enough for the PENRO or CENRO to certify that a land is alienable and disposable. Who may apply. that the applicant and his predecessors-in-interest have been in open. remain part of the inalienable public domain. and notorious possession and occupation of the same. whether personally or through their duly authorized representatives: (1) Those who by themselves or through their predecessors-in interest have been in open. Thus: 31 Further." 26 The respondent filed its application for registration of title to the subject properties under Section 14(1) of Presidential Decree (P. 141." 30 However.) No. 27-B of Taguig. or earlier. 1945. public lands not shown to have been reclassified or released as alienable agricultural land. 1073. The applicant for land registration must prove that the DENR Secretary had approved the land classification and released the land of the public domain as alienable and disposable. Accordingly. Under Section 14(1) of P. the Court clarified that.A.D. exclusive and notorious possession and occupation of alienable and disposable lands of the public domain under a bona fide claim of ownership since June 12. To prove that the subject property forms part of the alienable and disposable lands of the public domain. 3068 and 3077 form part of the alienable and disposable lands of the public domain "under Project No.appearing to be clearly within private ownership are presumed to belong to the State. Metro Manila as per LC Map 2623. The following persons may file in the proper Court of First Instance an application for registration of title to land. T. Inc.

Properties. pursuant to Article 4 of the Civil Code. the respondent claims. and that it is within the approved area per verification through survey by the CENRO or PENRO. It is elementary that the interpretation of a law by this Court constitutes part of that law from the date it was originally passed. Properties. The Court does not agree. Notwithstanding that the respondent’s application for registration was filed and granted by RTC prior to the Court’s ruling in T. laws shall have no retroactive effect.N. Thus. that it failed to present a copy of the original classification covering the subject properties approved by the DENR Secretary and certified by the legal custodian thereof as a true copy. would not warrant the denial of its application for registration.A. Accordingly. She submitted only the survey map and technical description of the land which bears no information regarding the land’s classification.N. the respondent claims that the Court’s ruling in T. asserting that decisions of this Court form part of the law of the land and. prove that the land is alienable and disposable. Nevertheless. 1529. must be applied prospectively. These facts must be established to prove that the land is alienable and disposable.N. (Citations omitted and emphasis ours) 34 The DENR certifications that were presented by the respondent in support of its application for registration are thus not sufficient to prove that the subject properties are indeed classified by the DENR Secretary as alienable and disposable. viz: 33 Respecting the third requirement. It is still imperative for the respondent to present a copy of the original classification approved by the DENR Secretary. it cannot be said that she complied with all requisites for registration of title under Section 14(1) of P. the Court deemed it appropriate to reiterate the ruling in T. In this connection. by themselves.A. Here. which must be certified by the legal custodian thereof as a true copy. Properties. the lower courts erred in granting the application for registration in spite of the failure of the respondent to prove by well-nigh incontrovertible evidence that the subject properties are alienable and disposable.A.D. 2008.N. since this Court’s construction merely establishes the contemporaneous legislative intent that the interpreted law carried into effect. Roche. Respondent failed to do so because the certifications presented by respondent do not. Further.legal custodian of the official records. Roche did not present evidence that the land she applied for has been classified as alienable or disposable land of the public domain. the pronouncements in that case may be applied to the present case. Accordingly. Properties. The respondent points out that its application for registration of title to the subject properties was filed and was granted by the RTC prior to the Court’s promulgation of its ruling in T. the applicant bears the burden of proving the status of the land. She did not bother to establish the status of the land by any certification from the appropriate government agency. "Such judicial 35 . the Court has held that he must present a certificate of land classification status issued by the Community Environment and Natural Resources Office (CENRO) or the Provincial Environment and Natural Resources Office (PENRO) of the DENR. which was promulgated on June 26. (Emphasis ours) 32 In Republic v. the applicant must present a copy of the original classification approved by the DENR Secretary and certified as true copy by the legal custodian of the official records. These facts must be established by the applicant to prove that the land is alienable and disposable.A. it is not antithetical to the rule of non-retroactivity of laws pursuant to Article 4 of the Civil Code. He must also prove that the DENR Secretary had approved the land classification and released the land as alienable and disposable.

Cerquena testified that the subject properties were originally owned by Jaime who supposedly possessed and cultivated the same since 1943. 2006. but consists merely of a construction or interpretation of a pre-existing one. proof of specific acts of ownership must be presented to substantiate the claim of open. There was no showing as to the number of crops that are planted in the subject properties or to the volume of the produce harvested from the crops supposedly planted thereon. No. The foregoing are but unsubstantiated and self-serving assertions of the possession and occupation of the subject properties by the respondent and its predecessors-in-interest. Properties was applied by the Court in subsequent cases notwithstanding that the applications for registration were filed and granted by the lower courts prior to the promulgation of T. other than the testimony of Cerquena.N.A.N. In Republic v. 1945. 1996 and was granted by the trial court on November 15. To prove that it and its predecessors-in-interest have been in possession and occupation of the subject properties since 1943. sold the same to the respondent in 1989.doctrine does not amount to the passage of a new law. Indeed. Jaime sold the subject properties to Salvador and Mijares who. by planting different crops thereon. exclusive. his testimony is bereft of any specificity as to the nature of such cultivation as to warrant the conclusion that they have been indeed in possession and occupation of the subject properties in the manner required by law. in Republic v. 2002.D. they do not constitute the well-nigh incontrovertible evidence of possession and occupation of the subject properties required by Section 14(1) of P. Properties. Similarly.N. Actual possession consists in the manifestation of acts of dominion over it of such a nature as a party would actually exercise over his own property.A. the Court finds that the respondent failed to present sufficient evidence to prove that it and its predecessors-in-interest have been in open. . the ruling in T. the application for registration of the subject property therein was filed on October 22. Properties and denied the applications for registration on the ground. 1529.A. that sometime in 1975. Properties. the respondent failed to present any other evidence to prove the character of the possession and occupation by it and its predecessors-in-interest of the subject properties. the application for registration of the subject properties therein was filed on October 22.D. In the foregoing cases. continuous. in turn. 37 38 Anent the second and third requirements. or earlier. 2004 and was granted by the trial court on June 21. that the applicants therein failed to present a copy of the original classification approved by the DENR Secretary and certified by the legal custodian thereof as a true copy. Applicants for land registration cannot just offer general statements which are mere conclusions of law rather than factual evidence of possession. notwithstanding that the applications for registration were filed and granted by the trial courts prior to the promulgation of T.A. continuous. 1529. No. Medida. 39 Although Cerquena testified that the respondent and its predecessors-in-interest cultivated the subject properties.N." 36 Verily. the respondent presented the testimony of Cerquena. and notorious possession and occupation of the land subject of the application. inter alia. Jaralve. and notorious possession and occupation of the subject properties since June 12. For purposes of land registration under Section 14(1) of P. exclusive. this Court applied the pronouncements in T.

the Court notes that the tax declarations over the subject properties presented by the respondent were only for 2002. v. never confers title thereto upon the possessor because the statute of limitations with regard to public land does not operate against the state. DECISION PERALTA. assuming ex gratia argumenti that the respondent and its predecessors-in-interest have indeed planted crops on the subject properties. which is not the possession and occupation required by law. SO ORDERED. however long the period thereof may have extended. the respondent's application for registration should be denied. CV No.R. J.R. The Application for Registration of Remman Enterprises. "While tax declarations are not conclusive evidence of ownership.: . 183511. Petitioner. N-11465 is hereby REVERSED and SET ASIDE. and notorious possession and occupation of the same since June 12.Further. they constitute proof of claim of ownership. The possession of public land. 1âwphi1 WHEREFORE. it was only in 2002 that it started to declare the same for purposes of taxation. No. or earlier. 2007 of the Regional Trial Court of Pasig City. "A mere casual cultivation of portions of the land by the claimant does not constitute possession under claim of ownership. in consideration of the foregoing disquisitions. in Land Registration Case No. exclusive. Branch 69. LUALHATI. The Decision dated November 10. 90503. The supposed planting of crops in the subject properties may only have amounted to mere casual cultivation. March 25. continuous. 2011 of the Court of Appeals in CA-G. contrary to Cerquena's testimony." That the subject properties were declared for taxation purposes only in 2002 gives rise to the presumption that the respondent claimed ownership or possession of the subject properties starting that year. EMETERIA G. in Land Registration Case No. Likewise." 40 Further. 2015 REPUBLIC OF THE PHILIPPINES. no improvement or plantings were declared or noted in the said tax declarations. 1945. 41 Having failed to prove that the subject properties form part of the alienable and disposable lands of the public domain and that it and its predecessors-in-interest have been in open. Respondent. it does not necessarily follow that the subject properties have been possessed and occupied by them in the manner contemplated by law. the instant petition is GRANTED. which affirmed the Decision dated May 16. possession is not exclusive and notorious so as to give rise to a presumptive grant from the state. and that its predecessors-in-interest have been in possession of the subject property since 1943. have been in possession and occupation of the subject properties in the manner required by law. unless the occupant can prove possession and occupation of the same under claim of ownership for the required number of years. For him. The respondent failed to explain why. Inc. G. This fact belies the claim that the respondent and its predecessors-in-interest. N-11465 is DENIED for lack of merit. despite its claim that it acquired the subject properties as early as 1989.

2008 and June 18. the RTC granted respondent’s application finding that she had been in open. 2004. that the real property taxes were paid from 1949-1958.7 cralawre d Thereafter. Juanito B. Region IV. that he does not know of any other person with any interest adverse to that of his in-laws. have tilled the soil. openly. that the last time he visited was in 2000.2 dated March 31. the first of which was respondent herself. Sitio Sapinit. 2005. jackfruit. have been in possession of the subject lands in the concept of an owner since 1944. situated in C-5 C-6 Pasong Palanas. respondent presented her husband’s compadre. who similarly declared that he had been friends with respondent and her spouse since 1950 and that ever since then.Before the Court is a petition for review on certiorari under Rule 45 of the Rules of Court seeking to reverse and set aside the Decision1 and Resolution. that his subsequent visits were when he would accompany his father-in-law to the said lots for the entire afternoon to plant fruit-bearing trees such as mango. that the lots were declared for taxation purposes even before the same was surveyed. adverse. that he would usually join them in planting said trees. of the Court Appeals (CA). together with her deceased husband. and notorious possession and occupation of the lands for more than 50 years under a bona fide claim of ownership even prior to June 12. rejecting petitioner’s contention . Allas. who attested that he had been friends with Andres Lualhati since 1964. which affirmed the Decision3 dated October 4. respondent presented several witnesses to prove her claim. Rizal. she stated that she and her husband. otherwise known as the Property Registration Decree. and in the concept of an owner for more than 30 years. and jackfruit. 9 cralawre d On October 4.297 and 79. coconut. and. Andres Lualhati. he had known them to be the owners of the lots in question. 26437 issued in the name of Andres Lualhati. cashew. the CA affirmed the ruling of the RTC. coconut. and that respondent has been in actual possession of the properties publicly. exclusive. public. together with their four children. Aurelio Garcia. that he was actually present at the time when the lots were surveyed in 1957. 2005 of the Regional Trial Court (RTC) in LRC Case No. respectively. that they were the ones who planted the fruit-bearing trees as well as constructed the conjugal house thereon. planted fruit-bearing trees. Remigio Leyble. that respondent and Andres planted various fruit-bearing trees such as mango. respondent submitted the blueprint of the survey plan and the tracing cloth plan surveyed at the instance of Andres Lualhati and approved by the Director of Lands in October 1957. She testified that she and her late husband have been occupying the subject lots since 1944. Tax Declaration No. 1529. 4 cralawred In support of her application. where all four of her children grew up until they got married. Lualhati filed with the RTC of Antipolo City an application for original registration covering Lots 1 and 2 described under Plan Psu-162384. which states that the tax on the properties commenced in 1944. namely: Virginia. consisting of an area of 169. 2008. Respondent essentially maintains that she. continuous. Since then. that he does not know of any other person claiming or owning the subject properties other than respondent and her family who are constantly managing and improving the same. as required under Section 14 (1) of Presidential Decree (PD) No. respectively. who testified that he first visited the subject properties during the time when he was courting respondent’s daughter whose family was already in possession thereof. the real property tax register evidencing payment of realty taxes on the subject properties from 1949 to 1958. Felicidad. the technical descriptions of Lots 1 and 2. 5 cralawre d Moreover. and constructed their conjugal house on the subject properties. She identified the owners of the adjoining lands and attested that the subject lots are alienable and disposable.6 cralawre d Respondent next presented her 65-year old son-in-law. respondent presented another close friend.488 square meters. City Environment and Natural Resources Office (CENRO). 1945. certifications from the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR). San Juan (formerly San Isidro). that the spouses told him that they had been sojourning thereon since 1944. and erected their conjugal house thereon. 2008. The antecedents are: On August 12.8 cralawred Finally. and Ligaya. Antipolo. and. respondent Emeteria G. that he knows the adjoining owners of the subject lots. Ernesto.10 cralawred In its Decision dated March 31. Antipolo City. and a letter from the Provincial Engineer that the province has no projects which will be affected by the registration. the certified true copy of the surveyor’s certificate. 04-3340. that his parentsin-law cleared the lots and uprooted its grasses. that he regularly visited the subject lots from the time he became friends with Andres until his death in 1982. and their four children. that no public land application/land patent covering the subject lots is pending nor are the lots embraced by any administrative title. that he and Andres would usually have drinking sprees on the properties.

that respondent failed to overcome the burden of proving her possession of the subject lots in its entirety. or earlier. Other than planting trees and constructing their home.13 criticizes the probative value of the certifications submitted by respondent from the DENR-CENRO. or when the assailed judgment is based on a misapprehension of facts. in petitions for review on certiorari under Rule 45. and paid real property taxes thereon. . being a mere casual cultivation. Properties. respondent’s planting of fruit-bearing trees. Section 14 (1) of PD 1529. Second. On August 11. by . Region IV. citing our ruling in Republic v. 14 In the instant case.11 cralawlawlibrary Petitioner contends that the appellate court failed to consider certain relevant facts which. the evidence on record do not support the findings made by the courts below on the alienable and disposable character of the lands in question. when the findings of fact are devoid of support by the evidence on record. In its Reply. and (2) they. 1945. constituted a mere casual cultivation of portions of the land which can hardly become sufficient basis for a claim of ownership. petitioner posits that respondent did not present any evidence to show that the land sought to be registered is alienable and disposable land of public domain. petitioner asserts that respondent failed to present sufficient evidence proving her claim of possession and occupation over the entire portion of the subject properties. will justify a different conclusion. the fact that respondent and her family cultivated the subject lands.12 petitioner. otherwise known as the Property Registration Decree provides: chanRoblesvirtualLa wlibrary SEC. at best. RESPONDENT FAILED TO PROVE THE ALIENABLE AND DISPOSABLE CHARACTER OF THE LAND APPLIED FOR REGISTRATION. this Court may revisit the evidence in order to arrive at a decision in conformity with the law and evidence at hand. Contrary to the findings of the courts below. RESPONDENT FAILED TO PROVE POSSESSION OVER THE PROPERTY APPLIED FOR REGISTRATION IN THE CONCEPT AND WITHIN THE PERIOD REQUIRED BY LAW. this Court held that a certification from the CENRO is insufficient to prove the alienability and disposability of lands.The following persons may file in the proper Court of First Instance an application for registration of title to land. While it is true that this Court is limited to reviewing only errors of law. Antipolo City. applicants for registration of title must prove that: (1) the subject land forms part of the disposable and alienable lands of the public domain. 14. whether personally or through their duly authorized representatives: (1) Those who by themselves or through their predecessors-in-interest have been in open. respondent failed to provide any other proof of acts of dominion over the subject land such as enclosing the property or constructing other improvements thereon considering the vastness of the same. pursuant to the aforequoted provision. exclusive and notorious possession and occupation of alienable and disposable lands of the public domain under a bona fide claim of ownership since June 12. cralawla wlibrary Thus. In addition. petitioner filed the instant petition invoking the following arguments: chanRoblesvirtualLa wlibrary I. and not of fact. In said case. chanroblesvirtuallawlibrary II. and that even if they did. erected their conjugal home.N. Who may apply. 2008. that no public land application/land patent covering the subject lots is pending nor are the lots embraced by any administrative title as well as the letter from the Provincial Engineer that the province has no projects which will be affected by the registration. petitioner points out that apart from a single tax declaration.A. the area being too big for respondent’s family to cultivate themselves. The CA also rejected petitioner’s averment that the tax declarations and realty tax payments are not conclusive evidence of ownership for they constitute at least proof that the holder had a claim of title over the property. cannot be construed as a mere casual cultivation but an intention of permanently settling down therein. such can hardly suffice as possession. According to the appellate court. there is nothing in the records which evince respondent’s religious payment of real property taxes. T. First. The petition is meritorious. if properly taken into account. continuous.

In this case. In the oft-cited Republic v. or specialists of the DENR. by themselves. Respondent’s reliance on the CENRO certifications is misplaced.007 square meters). respondent applied for registration of Lot 10705-B. prove that the land is alienable and disposable. dated 19 April 1990. which is embodied in our Constitution. or earlier. incontrovertible evidence must be presented to establish that the land subject of the application is alienable or disposable.17 it has been held that it is not enough for the CENRO or the Provincial Environment and Natural Resources Office (PENRO) to certify that a certain parcel of land is alienable and disposable. it has been repeatedly ruled that certifications issued by the CENRO. exclusive. 38.18 dated 30 May 1988. Respondent failed to do so because the certifications presented by respondent do not. DENR Administrative Order (DAO) No. 38. delineated the functions and authorities of the offices within the DENR. is beyond the authority of the CENRO to certify as alienable and disposable. Under DAO No. series of 1988. to wit: chanRoblesvirtualLa wlibrary The certifications are not sufficient. 38. 20.themselves or through their predecessors-in-interest. The Provincial Environment and Natural Resources Offices (PENRO) issues certificate of land classification status for lands covering over 50 hectares. Properties. in a number of subsequent rulings. 1945. and notorious possession and occupation of the same under a bona fide claim of ownership since June 12. DAO No.19 this Court consistently deemed it appropriate to reiterate the pronouncements in T.18 cralawlawlibrary Accordingly. Region IV. To overcome this presumption. series of 1990 retained the authority of the CENRO to issue certificates of land classification status for areas below 50 hectares. In said cases. DAO No. and that the land subject of the application for registration falls within the approved area per verification through survey by the PENRO or CENRO. stating that no public land application or land patent covering the subject lots is pending nor are the lots embraced by any administrative title. it is not enough for the PENRO or CENRO to certify that a land is alienable and disposable.116 square meters which. These facts must be established to prove that the land is alienable and disposable. series of 1990. who must prove that the land subject of the application is alienable or disposable. have been in open. all lands of the public domain belong to the State. 20. 20. The applicant for land registration must prove that the DENR Secretary had approved the land classification and released the land of the public domain as alienable and disposable.16 cralawre d To support her contention that the lands subject of her application is alienable and disposable. The CENRO should have attached an official publication of the DENR Secretary’s issuance declaring the land alienable and disposable. The CENRO certificate covered the entire Lot 10705 with an area of 596.15 cralawre d Under the Regalian Doctrine. The area covered by Lot 10705-B is over 50 hectares (564. continuous. T. amended DAO No. All lands not appearing to be clearly within private ownership are presumed to belong to the State. The burden of proof in overcoming the presumption of State ownership of the lands of the public domain is on the person applying for registration. public lands not shown to have been reclassified or released as alienable agricultural land. remain part of the inalienable public domain. as per DAO No. the applicant for land registration must present a copy of the original classification approved by the DENR Secretary and certified as a true copy by the legal custodian of the official records. or alienated to a private person by the State. Accordingly. The CENRO is not the official repository or legal custodian of the issuances of the DENR Secretary declaring public lands as alienable and disposable. series of 1988.N. as well as Survey Plans prepared . chanrobleslaw xxxx Further. Properties in denying applications for registration on the ground of failure to prove the alienable and disposable nature of the land subject therein. Antipolo City.A. as well as the authority of the PENRO to issue certificates of land classification status for lands covering over 50 hectares. xxxx x x x. In addition. which is the source of any asserted right to any ownership of land.A. the CENRO issues certificates of land classification status for areas below 50 hectares. respondent submitted certifications from the DENR-CENRO.N.

as petitioner aptly points out. by herself or through her predecessors-in-interest. said tax declaration is the oldest piece of documentary evidence submitted in support of the application. and notorious possession and occupation of the properties under a bona fide claim of ownership since June 12. an application for original registration must be accompanied by: (1) CENRO or PENRO certification. The disputed property may have been declared for taxation purposes in the names of the applicants for registration. fail to convince. but it does not necessarily prove ownership. Hence. Remigio Leyble. respondent did not present any other proof to substantiate her claim of possession beginning in 1944. insofar as they allege possession of the subject properties since 1944. and the raising thereon of cattle. as the records reveal. The applicant for land registration must prove that the DENR Secretary had approved the land classification and released the land of the public domain as alienable and disposable. this Court stressed the importance of proving alienability by presenting a copy of the original classification of the land approved by the DENR Secretary and certified as true copy by the legal custodian of the official records. Said CENRO certifications.20 cralawre d Thus. et al. and (2) a copy of the original classification approved by the DENR Secretary and certified as a true copy by the legal custodian of the official records. 23 cralawre d Furthermore. administrative title. planted fruitbearing trees and constructed their home thereon considering the vastness of the same. possession is not exclusive and notorious as . As enunciated in Republic v. But even granting that they expressly declare that the subject lands form part of the alienable and disposable lands of the public domain. this Court cannot concede to respondent’s assertion that she had been adversely possessing the properties beginning in 1944 up until the filing of her complaint in 2004. exclusive. Consequently. as it now stands. In similar regard. respondent failed to establish. Neither did she provide any explanation as to why. however. Other than the bare allegations of respondent and her witness. continuous.21 cralawred Here. it was only in 1947 that she sought to declare the same for purposes of taxation. In addition to this. stating that no public land application or land patent covering the subject lots is pending nor are the lots embraced by any administrative title. when the evidence presented depicts payment of taxes for only nine years. The records of this case merely bear certifications from the DENR-CENRO. do not constitute possession under claim of ownership.22 In fact. Antipolo City. do not constitute incontrovertible evidence to overcome the presumption that the property sought to be registered belongs to the inalienable public domain. by the required evidence. these certifications remain insufficient for purposes of granting respondent’s application for registration. it bears stressing that tax declarations and receipts are not conclusive evidence of ownership or of the right to possess land when not supported by any other evidence. 1945. or for a duration of sixty full years. Bacas. respondent failed to provide any other proof of acts of dominion over the subject land other than the fact that she. or of their predecessorsin-interest. together with her husband and children. that respondent’s assertion of possession before 1945 will not suffice for applicants for registration must present proof of specific acts of possession and ownership and cannot just offer general statements which are mere conclusions of law rather than factual evidence of possession. therefore. the evidence on record likewise fail to establish that respondent. in order to establish that the land is indeed alienable and disposable. Rather. or government project being conducted thereon.:25 cralawre d A mere casual cultivation of portions of the land by the claimant.24 cralawre d Moreover. Unfortunately for respondent. the same can only prove possession since 1947. and that the land subject of the application for registration falls within the approved area per verification through survey by the PENRO or CENRO. that the land sought to be registered has been classified as alienable or disposable land of the public domain. the real property tax register presented by respondent evidenced payment of realty taxes only from 1949 up to 1958. at best. The tax declaration submitted by respondent dates back only to the year 1947. the evidence submitted clearly falls short of the requirements for original registration in order to show the alienable character of the lands subject herein. if she has truly been occupying the properties as early as 1994. it is not enough for the CENRO to certify that a land is alienable and disposable. Payment of realty taxes for a brief and fleeting period simply cannot be considered sufficient proof of ownership. It is clear. In that sense. do not even make any pronouncement as to the alienable character of the lands in question for they merely recognize the absence of any pending land patent application. Region IV.by the DENR containing annotations that the subject lots are alienable. or earlier. As constantly held by this Court. They are merely indiciaof a claim of ownership. as well as the 1947 tax declaration. The testimonies of respondent and her close friend. has been in open.

QUISUMBING. continuous and notorious possession by petitioners and their predecessors-in-interest.to give rise to a presumptive grant from the State.27 cralawred Hence. 28 cralawre d WHEREFORE. PERALTA.AUSTRIA-MARTINEZ. The application for registration of title filed by respondent Emeteria G. and (2) she and her predecessors-in-interest had been in open. is not sufficient to support a claim of title thru acquisitive prescription. in view of respondent’s failure in proving that: (1) the subject property was classified as part of the disposable and alienable land of the public domain. YNARES-SANTIAGO. exclusive.297 and 79. 26 cralawla wlibrary To repeat. San Juan. this Court is constrained to reverse the assailed decisions and deny the application for registration in fulfilment of its duty to ensure that ownership of the State is duly protected by the proper observance by parties of the rules and requirements on land registration. and Respondent. it is imperative for applicants for registration of property to prove. continuous. JJ. CORONA. Antipolo. SO ORDERED. CARPIO MORALES. BRION. of the Court Appeals which affirmed the Decision dated October 4. JR. and notorious possession and occupation thereof under a bona fideclaim of ownership since June 12. 2008. Rizal. Sitio Sapinit. BERSAMIN. G. The Decision and Resolution dated March 31. 2008 and June 18. the instant petition is GRANTED. Present: PUNO. by sufficient evidence. under a bona fide claim of ownership.488 square meters. or other permanent improvements. the mere occupancy of land by grazing livestock upon it. 04-3340 are REVERSED and SET ASIDE. each requisite character and period of possession and occupation for the failure to do so will necessarily prevent the land from being considered ipso jure converted into private property even upon the subsequent declaration of the same as alienable and disposable. cralawla wlibrary HEIRS OF MARIO MALABANAN. REPUBLIC OF THE PHILIPPINES. respectively. CARPIO. 2005 of the Regional Trial Court in LRC Case No. . the law requires open. is DENIED. TINGA. While grazing livestock over land is of course to be considered with other acts of dominion to show possession..versus .x x x. C. NACHURA. Lualhati over Lots 1 and 2 consisting of an area of 169. VELASCO. 179987 Petitioner. exclusive. No.J. CHICO-NAZARIO. premises considered. 1945 or earlier.R. since June 12. without substantial enclosures. LEONARDO DE CASTRO.. situated in C-5 C-6 Pasong Palanas. . respectively. 1945 or earlier. Thus.

This is a generalized phenomenon in the so-called Third World. 2009 x--------------------------------------------------------------------------. . The informals have their own papers. Even dogs know what private property is all about.x DECISION TINGA. The only one who does not know it is the government. from Indonesia to Peru. xxx The question is: How is it that so many governments. and their own systems of registration. and you walk by field after field--in each field a different dog is going to bark at you. If you take a walk through the countryside. 90 percent of the informal lands are not titled and registered. J. from Suharto's in Indonesia to Fujimori's in Peru. their own forms of agreements. In Peru. The issue is that there exists a "common law" and an "informal law" which the Latin American formal legal system does not know how to recognize.Hernando De Soto[1] .Promulgated: April 29. And it has many consequences. have wanted to title these people and have not been able to do so effectively? One reason is that none of the state systems in Asia or Latin America can gather proof of informal titles. the informals have means of proving property ownership to each other which are not the same means developed by the Spanish legal system. all of which are very clearly stated in the maps which they use for their own informal business transactions.: One main reason why the informal sector has not become formal is that from Indonesia to Brazil.

Aristedes Velazco. to appear on behalf of the State.324 square meters. [2] situated in Barangay Tibig. Jr. Silang Cadastre. while unremarkable as to the facts. Malabanan claimed that he had purchased the property from Eduardo Velazco. as well as the problem of informal settlement it has spawned. Malabanan himself and his witness. Lino Velazco. On 20 February 1998.. Cad-452-D. the Court confronts not only the relevant provisions of the Public Land Act and the Civil Code. Still. was accepted by the Court en banc in order to provide definitive clarity to the applicability and scope of original registration proceedings under Sections 14(1) and 14(2) of the Property Registration Decree. but also the reality on the ground. though our social obligations dissuade us from casting a blind eye on the endemic problems. The countrywide phenomenon of untitled lands. Velazco testified that the property was originally belonged to a twenty-two hectare property owned by his great-grandfather. Jose Velazco. The application was raffled to the Regional Trial Court of (RTC) CaviteTagaytay City. I. Lino had four sons . and continuous adverse and peaceful possession of the land for more than thirty (30) years. Mario Malabanan filed an application for land registration covering a parcel of land identified as Lot 9864-A.This decision inevitably affects all untitled lands currently in possession of persons and entities other than the Philippine government. notorious. and consisting of 71. Silang Cavite. The petition.[3] and that he and his predecessors-in-interest had been in open. testified at the hearing.[4] Apart from presenting documentary evidence. The Office of the Solicitor General (OSG) duly designated the Assistant Provincial Prosecutor of Cavite. the duty on our part is primarily to decide cases before us in accord with the Constitution and the legal principles that have developed our public land law. Branch 18. Yet our current laws are hemmed in by their own circumscriptions in addressing the phenomenon. has unfortunately been treated with benign neglect. In doing so.

Upon Linos death. It was this property that was sold by Eduardo Velazco to Malabanan.324) Square Meters. Act 496 and/or P. Velazco. Filipino. this Court hereby approves this application for registration and thus places under the operation of Act 141. [6] The Republic of the Philippines likewise did not present any evidence to controvert the application. the dispositive portion of which reads: WHEREFORE. Lot 9864-A and containing an area of Seventy One Thousand Three Hundred Twenty Four (71. Magdalena. After the death of Esteban and Magdalena. 1982. as supported by its technical description now forming part of the record of this case.[7] On 3 December 2002. Among the evidence presented by Malabanan during trial was a Certification dated 11 June 2001. Department of Environment and Natural Resources (CENRO-DENR). Gregorio. had become the administrator of all the properties inherited by the Velazco sons from their father. widower. did not cross-examine Aristedes Velazco.D. 20-A and approved as such under FAO 4-1656 on March 15. their son Virgilio succeeded them in administering the properties. Lino. 1529. 3013 established under Project No. who is of legal age. issued by the Community Environment & Natural Resources Office. which originally belonged to his uncle. Silang. Estebans wife. his four sons inherited the property and divided it among themselves. Jr. Cavite. the lands described in Plan Csd04-0173123-D. But by 1966. Eduardo and Estebanthe fourth being Aristedess grandfather.[5] Assistant Provincial Prosecutor Jose Velazco. Eduardo Velazco. He further manifested that he also [knew] the property and I affirm the truth of the testimony given by Mr. including Lot 9864-A. which stated that the subject property was verified to be within the Alienable or Disposable land per Land Classification Map No. . the RTC rendered judgment in favor of Malabanan. otherwise known as Property Registration Law. and with residence at Munting Ilog.Benedicto. in addition to other proofs adduced in the name of MARIO MALABANAN.

SO ORDERED. the Court of Appeals rendered a Decision[8] reversing the RTC and dismissing the application of Malabanan.Once this Decision becomes final and executory. This interpretation of the Court of Appeals of Section 14(1) of the Property Registration Decree was based on the Courts ruling in Republic v. the Velazcos possession prior to that date could not be factored in the computation of the period of possession. On 23 February 2007.[11] which was handed down just four months prior to Herbieto. [10] hence. Naguit. before this Court. rely on our ruling in Republic v. it was his heirs who appealed the decision of the appellate court. The appellate court held that under Section 14(1) of the Property Registration Decree any period of possession prior to the classification of the lots as alienable and disposable was inconsequential and should be excluded from the computation of the period of possession. Petitioners suggest that the discussion in Herbieto cited by the Court of Appeals is actually obiter dictum since the Metropolitan Trial Court therein which had directed the registration of the property had no jurisdiction in the first place since the requisite notice of hearing was published only after the hearing had already begun. Petitioners. the corresponding decree of registration shall forthwith issue. Herbieto. . Thus. The Republic interposed an appeal to the Court of Appeals. and that the RTC had erred in finding that he had been in possession of the property in the manner and for the length of time required by law for confirmation of imperfect title. arguing that Malabanan had failed to prove that the property belonged to the alienable and disposable land of the public domain. Naguit. petitioners argue. the appellate court noted that since the CENRO-DENR certification had verified that the property was declared alienable and disposable only on 15 March 1982.[9] Malabanan died while the case was pending with the Court of Appeals.

[12] and on 11 November 2008. The petition was referred to the Court en banc. May a parcel of land established as agricultural in character either because of its use or because its slope is below that of forest lands be registrable under Section 14(2) of the Property Registration Decree in relation to the provisions of the Civil Code on acquisitive prescription? 4. Therefore. . 1945 or is it sufficient that such classification occur at any time prior to the filing of the applicant for registration provided that it is established that the applicant has been in open. In order that an alienable and disposable land of the public domain may be registered under Section 14(1) of Presidential Decree No. For purposes of Section 14(2) of the Property Registration Decree may a parcel of land classified as alienable and disposable be deemed private land and therefore susceptible to acquisition by prescription in accordance with the Civil Code? 3. especially when the property in question is agricultural land. the case was heard on oral arguments. to wit: 1. 1945 or earlier? 2. the parties formulated their respective positions. continuous.remains the controlling doctrine. The Court formulated the principal issues for the oral arguments. exclusive and notorious possession of the land under a bona fide claim of ownership since June 12. with respect to agricultural lands. Are petitioners entitled to the registration of the subject land in their names under Section 14(1) or Section 14(2) of the Property Registration Decree or both?[13] Based on these issues. 1529. any possession prior to the declaration of the alienable property as disposable may be counted in reckoning the period of possession to perfect title under the Public Land Act and the Property Registration Decree. should the land be classified as alienable and disposable as of June 12. otherwise known as the Property Registration Decree.

thus placing it under the coverage of Section 14(2). petitioners submit that open.[19] The arguments submitted by the OSG with respect to Section 14(2) are more extensive. while Section 14(2) speaks of private lands. [17] as well as the earlier case of Director of Lands v. petitioners cite extensively from our 2008 ruling in Republic v. Court of Appeals. should be considered obiter dictum. the OSG remains insistent that for Section 14(1) to apply. Republic.[18] With respect to Section 14(2). at the time of the application. The OSG notes that under Article 1113 of the Civil Code.[15] Fieldman Agricultural Trading v. the property had already been converted into private property through prescription.A. For its part. According to them. T. The seemingly contradictory pronouncement in Herbieto. exclusive and notorious possession of an alienable land of the public domain for more than 30 years ipso jure converts the land into private property. Bibonia. Petitioners further point out that in Republic v. petitioners reiterate that the analysis of the Court in Naguit is the correct interpretation of the provision. the acquisitive prescription of properties of the State refers to patrimonial property. since the land registration proceedings therein was void ab initio due to lack of publication of the notice of initial hearing. the OSG also cites the subsequent rulings in Buenaventura v. To bolster their argument. Republic[16] and Republic v. and that . It observes that the Court has yet to decide a case that presented Section 14(2) as a ground for application for registration. it is submitted.With respect to Section 14(1).N. the land should have been classified as alienable and disposable as of 12 June 1945. Apart from Herbieto. Properties. the Court applied Naguit and adopted the same observation that the preferred interpretation by the OSG of Section 14(1) was patently absurd. Imperial Credit Corporation. it would not matter whether the land sought to be registered was previously classified as agricultural land of the public domain so long as.[14] promulgated in June of 2007. continuous.

from time to time. and not the concept of prescription under the Civil Code. commercial. assuming that the 30-year prescriptive period can run against public lands. The OSG further submits that. reference has to be made to the Public Land Act. as amended by P. to classify the lands of the public domain into alienable and disposable. industrial. Both sides likewise offer special arguments with respect to the particular factual circumstances surrounding the subject property and the ownership thereof. For a full understanding of the provision. governed the classification and disposition of lands of the public domain. II. . Commonwealth Act No. or for similar productive purposes. First. timber. A. or (d) reservations for town sites and for public and quasi-public uses. said period should be reckoned from the time the public land was declared alienable and disposable. charitable. we discuss Section 14(1) of the Property Registration Decree. has. or mineral lands. since its enactment.D. (b) residential. (c) educational. The President is authorized. 141. also known as the Public Land Act. or other similar purposes. No. [20] Alienable and disposable lands of the public domain are further classified according to their uses into (a) agricultural.[21] May a private person validly seek the registration in his/her name of alienable and disposable lands of the public domain? Section 11 of the Public Land Act acknowledges that public lands suitable for agricultural purposes may be disposed of by confirmation of imperfect or incomplete titles through judicial legalization.[22] Section 48(b) of the Public Land Act.the 30-year possession period refers to the period of possession under Section 48(b) of the Public Land Act.

exclusive. Evidently. but whose titles have not been perfected or completed. No. First. continuous. The OSG submits that this amendment restricted the scope of the lands that may be registered. 1073. Two significant amendments were introduced by P. Section 48(b) of Com. 48. occupying lands of the public domain or claiming to own any such land or an interest therein. the term agricultural lands was changed to alienable and disposable lands of the public domain.D. immediately preceding the filing of the application for confirmation of title except when prevented by war or force majeure. Second. or earlier. Act No. the length of the requisite possession was changed from possession for thirty (30) years immediately preceding the filing of the application to possession since June 12. subject to the requisites stated therein: Sec. to wit: xxx (b) Those who by themselves or through their predecessors in interest have been in open. The Court in Naguit explained: . 141 received its present wording in 1977 when the law was amended by P. These shall be conclusively presumed to have performed all the conditions essential to a Government grant and shall be entitled to a certificate of title under the provisions of this chapter. 1945. alienable and disposable lands of the public domain are a larger class than only agricultural lands.1073. Under Section 9 of the Public Land Act. under a bona fide claim of acquisition of ownership. The following described citizens of the Philippines. supplies the details and unmistakably grants that right. 1945 or earlier. and notorious possession and occupation of alienable and disposable lands of the public domain. may apply to the Court of First Instance of the province where the land is located for confirmation of their claims and the issuance of a certificate of title therefor. under the Land Registration Act. since June 12. agricultural lands are a mere subset of lands of the public domain alienable or open to disposition.D. [23] This is not actually the case. 1073. No.

Then in 1977. or earlier. whether personally or through their duly authorized representatives: (1) those who by themselves or through their predecessors-ininterest have been in open. 1894. The following persons may file in the proper Court of First Instance an application for registration of title to land. No. continuous. However. the period of possession deemed necessary to vest the right to register their title to agricultural lands of the public domain commenced from July 26.A. Act No. . which pegged the reckoning date at June 12. 1945. xxx It bears further observation that Section 48(b) of Com. exclusive and notorious possession and occupation of alienable and disposable lands of the public domain under a bona fide claim of ownership since June 12. 1073. That is not the case. which provided that the bona fide claim of ownership must have been for at least thirty (30) years. or earlier. No. including lands of the public domain. 1945. That circumstance may have led to the impression that one or the other is a redundancy. Said Decree codified the various laws relative to the registration of property. 1942. Notwithstanding the passage of the Property Registration Decree and the inclusion of Section 14(1) therein. 141 is virtually the same as Section 14(1) of the Property Registration Decree. The provision reads: SECTION 14. 1945. this period was amended by R. Section 48(b) of the Public Land Act was again amended. this time by P. or that Section 48(b) of the Public Land Act has somehow been repealed or mooted. the Public Land Act has remained in effect. It is Section 14(1) that operationalizes the registration of such lands of the public domain.D.When the Public Land Act was first promulgated in 1936. Who may apply. exclusive and notorious possession and occupation of alienable and disposable lands of the public domain under a bona fide claim of ownership since June 12. Both laws commonly refer to persons or their predecessors-in-interest who have been in open. continuous.

and . exclusive. to wit: xxx Sec. and notorious possession and occupation of alienable and disposable lands of the public domain. which provides that public lands suitable for agricultural purposes may be disposed of by confirmation of imperfect or incomplete titles. rather than establishing the right itself for the first time. which seems to presume the pre-existence of the right. under a bona fide claim of acquisition of ownership. under the Land Registration Act.The opening clauses of Section 48 of the Public Land Act and Section 14 of the Property Registration Decree warrant comparison: Sec. The following described citizens of the Philippines. whether personally or through their duly authorized representatives: xxx It is clear that Section 48 of the Public Land Act is more descriptive of the nature of the right enjoyed by the possessor than Section 14 of the Property Registration Decree. 1073 effective 25 January 1977. 1945 to perfect or complete his title by applying with the proper court for the confirmation of his ownership claim and the issuance of the corresponding certificate of title. since June 12. as amended by P. 48 [of the Public Land Act]. Who may apply. Section 48 can be viewed in conjunction with the afore-quoted Section 11 of the Public Land Act. that has primarily established the right of a Filipino citizen who has been in open. It is proper to assert that it is the Public Land Act. No. but whose titles have not been perfected or completed. The following persons may file in the proper Court of First Instance an application for registration of title to land.D. may apply to the Court of First Instance of the province where the land is located for confirmation of their claims and the issuance of a certificate of title therefor. 14 [of the Property Registration Decree]. occupying lands of the public domain or claiming to own any such land or an interest therein. continuous.

The persons specified in the next following section are hereby granted time. further. It currently reads thus: Section 47.given the notion that both provisions declare that it is indeed the Public Land Act that primarily establishes the substantive ownership of the possessor who has been in possession of the property since 12 June 1945. In turn. it is not enough that the applicant and his/her predecessors-in-interest be in possession under a bona fide claim of ownership . That this period shall apply only where the area applied for does not exceed twelve (12) hectares: Provided. There is another limitation to the right granted under Section 48(b). Section 14(a) of the Property Registration Decree recognizes the substantive right granted under Section 48(b) of the Public Land Act. Despite the clear text of Section 48(b) of the Public Land Act. as well provides the corresponding original registration procedure for the judicial confirmation of an imperfect or incomplete title. 2020 within which to avail of the benefits of this Chapter: Provided. but this Section shall not be construed as prohibiting any said persons from acting under this Chapter at any time prior to the period fixed by the President. not to extend beyond December 31. the substantive right granted under Section 48(b) may be availed of only until 31 December 2020. The provision has been amended several times. as amended and Section 14(a) of the Property Registration Decree. B.[24] Accordingly under the current state of the law. Act No. most recently by Rep. 9176 in 2002. the OSG has adopted the position that for one to acquire the right to seek registration of an alienable and disposable land of the public domain. Section 47 of the Public Land Act limits the period within which one may exercise the right to seek registration under Section 48. That the several periods of time designated by the President in accordance with Section Forty-Five of this Act shall apply also to the lands comprised in the provisions of this Chapter.

Such interpretation renders paragraph (1) of Section 14 virtually inoperative and even precludes the government from giving it effect even as it decides to reclassify public agricultural lands as alienable and disposable.[25] Ad proximum antecedents fiat relation nisi impediatur sentencia. 1945 would not be susceptible to original registration. Besides. the need to preserve its ownership in the State irrespective of the length of adverse possession even if in good faith. and not those distantly or remotely located. . adopting the OSGs view. at the time the application is made. the rule would be. Since June 12. 1945. However. then there is already an intention on the part of the State to abdicate its exclusive prerogative over the property. if the property has already been classified as alienable and disposable. no matter the length of unchallenged possession by the occupant. the Philippines was not yet even considered an independent state. as used in the provision. Absent a legislative amendment. the presumption is that the government is still reserving the right to utilize the property. Petitioner suggests an interpretation that the alienable and disposable character of the land should have already been established since June 12. The unreasonableness of the situation would even be aggravated considering that before June 12. Following the OSGs approach.since 12 June 1945. The absurdity of such an implication was discussed in Naguit. the alienable and disposable character of the property must have been declared also as of 12 June 1945. 1945 or earlier. This is not borne out by the plain meaning of Section 14(1). hence. qualifies its antecedent phrase under a bonafide claim of ownership. we are mindful of the absurdity that would result if we adopt petitioners position. qualifying words restrict or modify only the words or phrases to which they are immediately associated. all lands certified as alienable and disposable after 12 June 1945 cannot be registered either under Section 14(1) of the Property Registration Decree or Section 48(b) of the Public Land Act as amended. Accordingly. 1945. that all lands of the public domain which were not declared alienable or disposable before June 12. as it is in this case. If the State. Generally speaking. has not yet deemed it proper to release the property for alienation or disposition. the Court in Naguit explained: [T]he more reasonable interpretation of Section 14(1) is that it merely requires the property sought to be registered as already alienable and disposable at the time the application for registration of title is filed.

the passage as cited in Buenaventura should again be considered as obiter. The contrary pronouncement in Herbieto. continuous. their position being . even if the current possessor is able to establish open. Petitioners make the salient observation that the contradictory passages from Herbieto are obiter dicta since the land registration proceedings therein is void ab initio in the first place due to lack of the requisite publication of the notice of initial hearing. in the context of Section 14(1).The Court declares that the correct interpretation of Section 14(1) is that which was adopted in Naguit.[26] the Court. citing Section 14(2). as pointed out in Naguit. is certainly erroneous. absurdly limits the application of the provision to the point of virtual inutility since it would only cover lands actually declared alienable and disposable prior to 12 June 1945. Moreover. It is not even apparent from the decision whether petitioners therein had claimed entitlement to original registration following Section 14(1). thereby precluding the application of Section 14(1). citing Herbieto. The application therein was ultimately granted. as it suffices that the Courts acknowledgment that the particular line of argument used therein concerning Section 14(1) is indeed obiter. exclusive and notorious possession under a bona fide claim of ownership long before that date. It may be noted that in the subsequent case of Buenaventura. Nonetheless. This balancing fact is significant. The evidence submitted by petitioners therein did not establish any mode of possession on their part prior to 1948. the Naguit interpretation allows more possessors under a bona fide claim of ownership to avail of judicial confirmation of their imperfect titles than what would be feasible under Herbieto. There is no need to explicitly overturn Herbieto. especially considering our forthcoming discussion on the scope and reach of Section 14(2) of the Property Registration Decree. again stated that [a]ny period of possession prior to the date when the [s]ubject [property was] classified as alienable and disposable is inconsequential and should be excluded from the computation of the period of possession That statement.

32-A. private respondents presented a certification dated November 25. the esteemed Justice Consuelo Ynares-Santiago. the ratio of Naguit is embedded in Section 14(1). penned the ruling in Republic v. In this case. neither Herbieto nor its principal discipular ruling Buenaventura has any precedental value with respect to Section 14(1). Inting. but not before 12 June 1945. since it precisely involved situation wherein the applicant had been in exclusive possession under a bona fide claim of ownership prior to 12 June 1945. We noted in Naguit that it should be distinguished from Bracewell v. The dissent though pronounces Bracewell as the better rule between the two. the attempt at registration in Cenizashould have failed. 1980. Thus. quoted extensively from it. To prove that the land subject of an application for registration is alienable.that they had been in exclusive possession under a bona fide claim of ownership for over fifty (50) years. and following the mindset of the dissent. Court of Appeals[27] since in the latter. Not so. its ponente. the application for registration had been filed before the land was declared alienable or disposable. On the other hand. Yet two years after Bracewell. an administrative action. 1994. Ceniza. stating that the lots involved were "found to be within the alienable and disposable (sic) Block-I. and a legislative act or a statute." This is sufficient evidence to show . issued by Eduardo M. Land Classification Project No. Ceniza cited Bracewell. Any doubt as to which between Naguit or Herbieto provides the final word of the Court on Section 14(1) is now settled in favor of Naguit. The Courts interpretation of Section 14(1) therein was decisive to the resolution of the case. the Community Environment and Natural Resources Officer in the Department of Environment and Natural Resources Office in Cebu City. an applicant must establish the existence of a positive act of the government such as a presidential proclamation or an executive order. investigation reports of Bureau of Lands investigators.[28] which involved a claim of possession that extended back to 1927 over a public domain land that was declared alienable and disposable only in 1980. per map 2962 4-I555 dated December 9.

the real character of the land subject of private respondents application. the application for registration was filed nearly six (6) years after the land had been declared alienable or disposable.. private respondents were able to prove their open. through the same eminent member who authored Bracewell. continuous. III. Nor is there any showing that the lots in question are forestal land. sanction the registration under Section 48(b) of public domain lands declared alienable or disposable thirty-five (35) years and 180 days after 12 June 1945? The telling difference is that in Ceniza.. As a rule. it did not err in ruling in favor of private respondents as far as the first requirement in Section 48(b) of the Public Land Act is concerned. Although there are exceptions. exclusive and notorious possession of the subject land even before the year 1927.. Further.[29] Why did the Court in Ceniza. the application was filed nine (9) years before the land was declared alienable or disposable. As correctly found by the Court of Appeals. we are bound by the factual findings of the Court of Appeals. Thus. while the Court of Appeals erred in ruling that mere possession of public land for the period required by law would entitle its occupant to a confirmation of imperfect title. petitioner did not show that this is one of them. while in Bracewell. a difference which the dissent seeks to belittle. The provision reads: . which is true in this case. the certification enjoys a presumption of regularity in the absence of contradictory evidence. We next ascertain the correct framework of analysis with respect to Section 14(2). Worth noting also was the observation of the Court of Appeals stating that: [n]o opposition was filed by the Bureaus of Lands and Forestry to contest the application of appellees on the ground that the property still forms part of the public domain. That crucial difference was also stressed in Naguit to contradistinguish it from Bracewell. for they were able to overcome the burden of proving the alienability of the land subject of their application.

D. even if possession of the alienable public land commenced on a date later than June 12. 1945? It did not. Who may apply. and where the evidence definitively establishes their claim of possession only as far back as 1948. to be an obiter dictum. thus: Did the enactment of the Property Registration Decree and the amendatory P. and thus susceptible to registration by those who have acquired ownership through prescription. but we nonetheless refer to it as material for further discussion. 1945. which governs and authorizes the application of those who have acquired ownership of private lands by prescription under the provisions of existing laws. A.[ [31]] With such conversion. such property may now fall within the contemplation of private lands under Section 14(2). unlike in this case where petitioners have based their registration bid primarily on that provision. possession over which commenced only after June 12. Prescription is one of the modes of acquiring ownership under the Civil Code. which we did even then recognize. No. then the possessor may have the right to register the land by virtue of Section 14(2) of the Property Registration Decree. continuous and exclusive possession of at least thirty (30) years. 1073 preclude the application for registration of alienable lands of the public domain. Naguit did not involve the application of Section 14(2). and still do. whether personally or through their duly authorized representatives: xxx (2) Those who have acquired ownership over private lands by prescription under the provisions of existing laws.SECTION 14. The Court in Naguit offered the following discussion concerning Section 14(2). considering Section 14(2) of the Property Registration Decree. It is in this case that we can properly appreciate the nuances of the provision. and such possession being been open. Thus.[[30]] There is a consistent jurisprudential rule that properties classified as alienable public land may be converted into private property by reason of open. . continuous and exclusive. The following persons may file in the proper Court of First Instance an application for registration of title to land.

among the public domain lands that are not susceptible to acquisitive prescription are timber lands and mineral lands.[34]as well as just title.[35] When Section 14(2) of the Property Registration Decree explicitly provides that persons who have acquired ownership over private lands by prescription under the provisions of existing laws. unless otherwise provided. There are in fact several provisions in the Civil Code concerning the acquisition of real property through prescription.[32] or through extraordinary prescription of thirty (30) years. Specifically. it unmistakably refers to the Civil Code as a valid basis for the registration of lands.The obiter in Naguit cited the Civil Code provisions on prescription as the possible basis for application for original registration under Section 14(2). the critical question that needs affirmation is whether Section 14(2) does encompass original registration proceedings over patrimonial property of the State. On the other hand. it is Article 1113 which provides legal foundation for the application. The Civil Code is the only existing law that specifically allows the acquisition by prescription of private lands. Property of the State or any of its subdivisions not patrimonial in character shall not be the object of prescription. they are susceptible to acquisitive prescription. which a private person has acquired through prescription. Ownership of real property may be acquired by ordinary prescription of ten (10) years. It is clear under the Civil Code that where lands of the public domain are patrimonial in character. . The Constitution itself proscribes private ownership of timber or mineral lands. Thus.[33] Ordinary acquisitive prescription requires possession in good faith. It reads: All things which are within the commerce of men are susceptible of prescription. including patrimonial property belonging to the State.

to wit: xxx xxx xxx (b) Those who by themselves or through their predecessors in interest have been in open. which amended Section 48(b) of the Public Land Act by granting the right to seek original registration of alienable public lands through possession in the concept of an owner for at least thirty years. occupying lands of the public domain or claiming to own any such lands or an interest therein. For there are in fact two distinct origins of the thirty (30)-year rule. which made the date 12 June 1945 the reckoning point for the first time. continuous. Nonetheless. 1942. for at least thirty years immediately preceding the filing of the application for confirmation of title. These shall be conclusively presumed to have performed all the conditions essential to a Government grant and shall be entitled to a certificate of title under the provisions of this Chapter.D. under the Land Registration Act. 1073. except when prevented by war or force majeure. continuous and exclusive possession of at least thirty (30) years. may apply to the Court of First Instance of the province where the land is located for confirmation of their claims and the issuance of a certificate of title therefor. additional complexities relating to Section 14(2) and to how exactly it operates would emerge. (emphasis supplied)[37] This provision was repealed in 1977 with the enactment of P. .[36] Yet if we ascertain the source of the thirty-year period. The following-described citizens of the Philippines.The Naguit obiter had adverted to a frequently reiterated jurisprudence holding that properties classified as alienable public land may be converted into private property by reason of open. but whose titles have not been perfected or completed. under a bona fide claim of acquisition of ownership. exclusive and notorious possession and occupation of agricultural lands of the public domain. Act No. enacted in 1957. The first source is Rep.

as it applies the rules on prescription under the Civil Code. the thirty-year possession period as basis for original registration became Section 14(2) of the Property Registration Decree. Act No. as mandated under Section 14(2). under Article 1137. The second source is Section 14(2) of P. Rep. Obviously. 1942. without need of title or of good faith. 1942 had mandated such a requirement. [38] similar to our earlier finding with respect to the present language of Section 48(b). Act No. Section 48(b) of the Public Land Act. as amended by Rep. which. throughout the entire thirty-(30) years. Note that there are two kinds of prescription under the Civil Codeordinary acquisitive prescription and extraordinary acquisitive prescription. with the repeal of Rep.D. 1942 and how it did under the Civil Code. Then. there is a material difference between how the thirty (30)year rule operated under Rep. Act No. without any qualification as to whether the property should be declared alienable at the beginning of. At present. Act No. It merely set forth a requisite thirty-year possession period immediately preceding the application for confirmation of title. which entitled those who have acquired ownership over private lands by . the first source of the thirty (30)-year period rule. 1942.applications for registration filed prior to 1977 could have invoked the 30-year rule introduced by Rep. the only legal basis for the thirty (30)-year period is the law on prescription under the Civil Code. However. did not refer to or call into application the Civil Code provisions on prescription. There is neither statutory nor jurisprudential basis to assert Rep. Act No. and continue as such. 1942. became unavailable after 1977. at least by implication. 1529 itself. 1942. which now sets 12 June 1945 as the point of reference. Act No. particularly Article 1113 in relation to Article 1137. is completed through uninterrupted adverse possession for thirty years.

At the same time. and are intended for some public service or for the development of the national wealth. whether declared alienable . The critical qualification under Article 1113 of the Civil Code is thus: [p]roperty of the State or any of its subdivisions not patrimonial in character shall not be the object of prescription. Art. shores. Accordingly. the thirty-year period is derived from the rule on extraordinary prescription under Article 1137 of the Civil Code. All other property of the State. torrents. Unlike Section 14(1). such as roads. canals. and others of similar character. indeed. as set forth in the Civil Code. 420. The following things are property of public dominion: (1) Those intended for public use. without being for public use. which is not of the character stated in the preceding article. B. ports and bridges constructed by the State. we are impelled to apply the civil law concept of prescription. a fact which does not hold true with respect to Section 14(1). There is no similar demand on our part in the case of Section 14(1). rivers. banks. is patrimonial property It is clear that property of public dominion. Again. (2) Those which belong to the State. The identification what consists of patrimonial property is provided by Articles 420 and 421. cannot be the object of prescription or. Section 14(2) explicitly refers to the principles on prescription under existing laws.[39] Lands of the public domain.prescription under the provisions of existing laws to apply for original registration. in our interpretation of Section 14(2). Section 14(2) puts into operation the entire regime of prescription under the Civil Code. 421. which we quote in full: Art. roadsteads. be subject of the commerce of man. which generally includes property belonging to the State.

without being for public use. even if classified as alienable or disposable. shall form part of the patrimonial property of the State.and disposable or not. Would such lands so declared alienable and disposable be converted. and are intended for some public service or for the development of the national wealth are public dominion property. when no longer intended for public use or for public service. remains property of the public dominion. it remains property of the public dominion if when it is intended for some public service or for the development of the national wealth. After all. For as long as the property belongs to the State. . the property. by connotative definition. alienable and disposable lands may be the object of the commerce of man. Article 420 (2) makes clear that those property which belong to the State. Let us now explore the effects under the Civil Code of a declaration by the President or any duly authorized government officer of alienability and disposability of lands of the public domain. Nonetheless. and the same provision further provides that patrimonial property of the State may be acquired by prescription. Without such express declaration. there must be an express declaration by the State that the public dominion property is no longer intended for public service or the development of the national wealth or that the property has been converted into patrimonial. Accordingly. It is this provision that controls how public dominion property may be converted into patrimonial property susceptible to acquisition by prescription. are property of public dominion and thus insusceptible to acquisition by prescription. Article 422 of the Civil Code states that [p]roperty of public dominion. under the Civil Code. from property of the public dominion into patrimonial property? After all. Article 1113 provides that all things within the commerce of man are susceptible to prescription. although already classified as alienable or disposable.

7227. and thus incapable of acquisition by prescription. For purposes of effecting the sale of the military camps. including Fort Bonifacio and Villamor Air Base. Congress can very well be entreated to amend Section 14(2) of the Property Registration Decree and pertinent provisions of the Civil Code to liberalize the requirements for judicial confirmation of imperfect or incomplete titles. is more commonly known as the BCDA law. Recourse does not lie with this Court in the matter. although declared alienable or disposable. It is only when such alienable and disposable lands are expressly declared by the State to be no longer intended for public service or for the development of the national wealth that the period of acquisitive prescription can begin to run. The duty of the Court is to apply the Constitution and the laws in accordance with their language and intent. entitled An Act Accelerating The Conversion Of Military Reservations Into Other Productive Uses. Such declaration shall be in the form of a law duly enacted by Congress or a Presidential Proclamation in cases where the President is duly authorized by law. which is the province of the legislative branch.. etc. Republic Act No.pursuant to Article 420(2). The operation of the foregoing interpretation can be illustrated by an actual example. The remedy is to change the law. the law mandates the President to transfer such military . Section 2 of the law authorizes the sale of certain military reservations and portions of military camps in Metro Manila. remain as such and ought to be used only by the Government. Yet this interpretation is in accord with the Regalian doctrine and its concomitant assumption that all lands owned by the State. It is comprehensible with ease that this reading of Section 14(2) of the Property Registration Decree limits its scope and reach and thus affects the registrability even of lands already declared alienable and disposable to the detriment of the bona fide possessors or occupants claiming title to the lands.

Possession of public dominion . However.lands to the Bases Conversion Development Authority (BCDA) [40] which in turn is authorized to own. hold and/or administer them.[41] The President is authorized to sell portions of the military camps. Thus. would the period of possession prior to the conversion of such public dominion into patrimonial be reckoned in counting the prescriptive period in favor of the possessors? We rule in the negative. the lands remained property of the public dominion under Article 420(2). [42] Accordingly. said lands did not become patrimonial.[44]Such purpose can be tied to either public service or the development of national wealth under Article 420(2). the BCDA law itself declares that the military lands subject thereof are alienable and disposable pursuant to the provisions of existing laws and regulations governing sales of government properties. as the BCDA law itself expressly makes the reservation that these lands are to be sold in order to raise funds for the conversion of the former American bases at Clark and Subic. notwithstanding their status as alienable and disposable. It is upon their sale as authorized under the BCDA law to a private person or entity that such lands become private property and cease to be property of the public dominion. The limitation imposed by Article 1113 dissuades us from ruling that the period of possession before the public domain land becomes patrimonial may be counted for the purpose of completing the prescriptive period. in whole or in part. Should public domain lands become patrimonial because they are declared as such in a duly enacted law or duly promulgated proclamation that they are no longer intended for public service or for the development of the national wealth. C. at that time.[43] From the moment the BCDA law was enacted the subject military lands have become alienable and disposable.

and the thirty-year period available through Section 14(2) of the Property Registration Decree in relation to Article 1137 of the Civil Code. while the registration under Section 14(2) of the Property Registration Decree is founded on extraordinary prescription under the Civil Code. Are we being inconsistent in applying divergent rules for Section 14(1) and Section 14(2)? There is no inconsistency. Registration under Section 14(1) is extended under the aegis of the Property Registration Decree and the Public Land Act while registration under Section 14(2) is made available both by the Property Registration Decree and the Civil Code. Notwithstanding the vaunted status of the Civil Code. The legislative branch is . It may be asked why the principles of prescription under the Civil Code should not apply as well to Section 14(1). The period under the former speaks of a thirty-year period of possession. 1472. as amended by Rep. 1472 is based on thirty years of possession alone without regard to the Civil Code. Act No. it ultimately is just one of numerous statutes. Section 14(1) mandates registration on the basis of possession.property before it becomes patrimonial cannot be the object of prescription according to the Civil Code. In the same manner. As the application for registration under Section 14(2) falls wholly within the framework of prescription under the Civil Code. neither superior nor inferior to other statutes such as the Property Registration Decree. while Section 14(2) entitles registration on the basis of prescription. Registration under Section 48(b) of the Public Land Act as amended by Rep. there is no way that possession during the time that the land was still classified as public dominion property can be counted to meet the requisites of acquisitive prescription and justify registration. while the period under the latter concerns a thirty-year period of extraordinary prescription. Act No. we can distinguish between the thirty-year period under Section 48(b) of the Public Land Act.

On the other hand. There are two modes of prescription through which immovables may be acquired under the Civil Code. and. the concept of just title requires some clarification. is completed through possession of ten (10) years.not bound to adhere to the framework set forth by the Civil Code when it enacts subsequent legislation. which. requires possession in good faith and with just title. The first is ordinary acquisitive prescription. This is brought about by Article 1113. as well as Article 1127 of the Civil Code. there is just title for the purposes of prescription when the adverse . [45] provisions that more or less speak for themselves. Under Article 1129. Section 14(2) manifests a clear intent to interrelate the registration allowed under that provision with the Civil Code. is one of the modes for acquiring ownership over property. 527. under the Civil Code. At the same time. One of the keys to understanding the framework we set forth today is seeing how our land registration procedures correlate with our law on prescription. The Civil Code makes it clear that patrimonial property of the State may be acquired by private persons through prescription. there are indispensable requisitesgood faith and just title. and 528. The ascertainment of good faith involves the application of Articles 526. under Article 1134. under Article 1117. There is nothing in the Civil Code that bars a person from acquiring patrimonial property of the State through ordinary acquisitive prescription. but no such intent exists with respect to Section 14(1). which states that [a]ll things which are within the commerce of man are susceptible to prescription. IV. nor is there any apparent reason to impose such a rule. which. and that [p]roperty of the State or any of its subdivisions not patrimonial in character shall not be the object of prescription.

exchange. exchange. donation. succession or any other mode of the acquisition of ownership or other real rights. and dacion in payment. and which would have actually transferred ownership if the grantor had been the owner. as the owner and grantor. whether by sale. whether under ordinary prescription or extraordinary prescription. This vice or defect is the one cured by prescription. succession. but the grantor was not the owner or could not transmit any right. two legal events ensue: (1) the patrimonial property is ipso jure converted into private land. Earlier. It should be remembered that registration of . Dr. and (2) the person in possession for the periods prescribed under the Civil Code acquires ownership of the property by operation of the Civil Code. It is evident that once the possessor automatically becomes the owner of the converted patrimonial property. the ideal next step is the registration of the property under the Torrens system. could not transmit ownership to the possessor before the completion of the required period of possession. the period of possession preceding the classification of public dominion lands as patrimonial cannot be counted for the purpose of computing prescription. the period of prescription begins to run in favor of the possessor. Tolentino explains: Just title is an act which has for its purpose the transmission of ownership. we made it clear that. donation. The major premise for the argument is that the State. The grantor is the one from whom the person invoking ordinary acquisitive prescription derived the title. But after the property has been become patrimonial. Once the requisite period has been completed.[46] The OSG submits that the requirement of just title necessarily precludes the applicability of ordinary acquisitive prescription to patrimonial property. Examples: sale with delivery.claimant came into possession of the property through one of the modes recognized by law for the acquisition of ownership or other real rights.[47] It is evident that the OSG erred when it assumed that the grantor referred to in Article 1129 is the State.

property is not a mode of acquisition of ownership, but merely a mode of
confirmation of ownership.[48]
Looking back at the registration regime prior to the adoption of the Property
Registration Decree in 1977, it is apparent that the registration system then did not
fully accommodate the acquisition of ownership of patrimonial property under the
Civil Code. What the system accommodated was the confirmation of imperfect
title brought about by the completion of a period of possession ordained under the
Public Land Act (either 30 years following Rep. Act No. 1942, or since 12 June
1945 following P.D. No. 1073).
The Land Registration Act[49] was noticeably silent on the requisites for
alienable public lands acquired through ordinary prescription under the Civil Code,
though it arguably did not preclude such registration. [50] Still, the gap was
lamentable, considering that the Civil Code, by itself, establishes ownership over
the patrimonial property of persons who have completed the prescriptive periods
ordained therein. The gap was finally closed with the adoption of the Property
Registration Decree in 1977, with Section 14(2) thereof expressly authorizing
original registration in favor of persons who have acquired ownership over private
lands by prescription under the provisions of existing laws, that is, the Civil Code
as of now.
V.
We synthesize the doctrines laid down in this case, as follows:
(1) In connection with Section 14(1) of the Property Registration Decree, Section
48(b) of the Public Land Act recognizes and confirms that those who by
themselves or through their predecessors in interest have been in open, continuous,
exclusive, and notorious possession and occupation of alienable and disposable

lands of the public domain, under a bona fide claim of acquisition of ownership,
since June 12, 1945 have acquired ownership of, and registrable title to, such
lands based on the length and quality of their possession.
(a) Since Section 48(b) merely requires possession since 12 June 1945
and does not require that the lands should have been alienable and
disposable during the entire period of possession, the possessor is entitled to
secure judicial confirmation of his title thereto as soon as it is declared
alienable and disposable, subject to the timeframe imposed by Section 47 of
the Public Land Act.[51]
(b) The right to register granted under Section 48(b) of the Public
Land Act is further confirmed by Section 14(1) of the Property Registration
Decree.
(2) In complying with Section 14(2) of the Property Registration Decree, consider
that under the Civil Code, prescription is recognized as a mode of acquiring
ownership of patrimonial property. However, public domain lands become only
patrimonial property not only with a declaration that these are alienable or
disposable. There must also be an express government manifestation that the
property is already patrimonial or no longer retained for public service or the
development of national wealth, under Article 422 of the Civil Code. And only
when the property has become patrimonial can the prescriptive period for the
acquisition of property of the public dominion begin to run.
(a) Patrimonial property is private property of the government. The
person acquires ownership of patrimonial property by prescription under the
Civil Code is entitled to secure registration thereof under Section 14(2) of
the Property Registration Decree.

(b) There are two kinds of prescription by which patrimonial property
may be acquired, one ordinary and other extraordinary. Under ordinary
acquisitive prescription, a person acquires ownership of a patrimonial
property through possession for at least ten (10) years, in good faith and with
just title. Under extraordinary acquisitive prescription, a persons
uninterrupted adverse possession of patrimonial property for at least thirty
(30) years, regardless of good faith or just title, ripens into ownership.
B.
We now apply the above-stated doctrines to the case at bar.
It is clear that the evidence of petitioners is insufficient to establish that Malabanan
has acquired ownership over the subject property under Section 48(b) of the Public
Land Act. There is no substantive evidence to establish that Malabanan or
petitioners as his predecessors-in-interest have been in possession of the property
since 12 June 1945 or earlier. The earliest that petitioners can date back their
possession, according to their own evidencethe Tax Declarations they presented in
particularis to the year 1948. Thus, they cannot avail themselves of registration
under Section 14(1) of the Property Registration Decree.

Neither can petitioners properly invoke Section 14(2) as basis for registration.
While the subject property was declared as alienable or disposable in 1982, there is
no competent evidence that is no longer intended for public use service or for the
development of the national evidence, conformably with Article 422 of the Civil
Code. The classification of the subject property as alienable and disposable land of
the public domain does not change its status as property of the public dominion
under Article 420(2) of the Civil Code.Thus, it is insusceptible to acquisition by
prescription.

The Court is comfortable with the correctness of the legal doctrines established in this decision. There is much to be said about the virtues of according them . discomfiture over the implications of todays ruling cannot be discounted.VI. as revealed in this decision. There are millions upon millions of Filipinos who have individually or exclusively held residential lands on which they have lived and raised their families. Nonetheless. have proven unattractive due to limitations imposed on the grantee in the encumbrance or alienation of said properties. The law so far has been unable to bridge that gap. such as through homestead or free patent. and is common among the so-called Third World countries. and the Court would be abdicating its social responsibility to the Filipino people if we simply levied the law without comment. if not the most attractive means to regularize the informal settlement of alienable or disposable lands of the public domain. has considerable limits. This paradigm powerfully evokes the disconnect between a legal system and the reality on the ground. The informal settlement of public lands. is a phenomenon tied to long-standing habit and cultural acquiescence. whether declared alienable or not. For. Alternative means of acquisition of these public domain lands.[52] Judicial confirmation of imperfect title has emerged as the most viable. They have been regarded for generation by their families and their communities as common law owners. A final word. yet even that system. every untitled property that is occupied in the country will be affected by this ruling. Many more have tilled and made productive idle lands of the State with their hands. The social implications cannot be dismissed lightly.

SO ORDERED. 179987 Petitioner. Yet such virtues are not for the Court to translate into positive law. QUISUMBING. Present: PUNO.J. Ones sense of security over land rights infuses into every aspect of wellbeing not only of that individual.R.legitimate states. the Petition is DENIED. YNARES-SANTIAGO. CARPIO. Once that sense of security is deprived. . G. The Decision of the Court of Appeals dated 23 February 2007 and Resolution dated 2 October 2007 are AFFIRMED. CARPIO MORALES. life and livelihood are put on stasis. but also to the persons family. TINGA. CORONA.AUSTRIA-MARTINEZ. No. This could be accomplished. or amending the Civil Code itself to ease the requisites for the conversion of public dominion property into patrimonial. CHICO-NAZARIO.versus .. as the law itself considered such lands as property of the public dominion. No pronouncement as to costs. to cite two examples. WHEREFORE. by liberalizing the standards for judicial confirmation of imperfect title. C. It is for the political branches to bring welcome closure to the long pestering problem. HEIRS OF MARIO MALABANAN. . It could only be up to Congress to set forth a new phase of land reform to sensibly regularize and formalize the settlement of such lands which in legal theory are lands of the public domain before the problem becomes insoluble.

from Suharto's in Indonesia to Fujimori's in Peru.. And it has many consequences. and Respondent. have wanted to title these people and have not been able to do so effectively? One reason is that none of the state systems in Asia or Latin America can gather proof of informal titles. and you walk by field after field--in each field a different dog is going to bark at you. J.: One main reason why the informal sector has not become formal is that from Indonesia to Brazil. their own forms of agreements. 90 percent of the informal lands are not titled and registered. JR. The only . BRION. This is a generalized phenomenon in the so-called Third World. JJ.x DECISION TINGA. 2009 x--------------------------------------------------------------------------. xxx The question is: How is it that so many governments. REPUBLIC OF THE PHILIPPINES. The informals have their own papers. LEONARDO DE CASTRO.VELASCO. NACHURA. Promulgated: April 29. Even dogs know what private property is all about. In Peru. BERSAMIN. from Indonesia to Peru. all of which are very clearly stated in the maps which they use for their own informal business transactions. If you take a walk through the countryside. PERALTA. the informals have means of proving property ownership to each other which are not the same means developed by the Spanish legal system. and their own systems of registration.

while unremarkable as to the facts. I. The Office of the Solicitor General (OSG) duly . was accepted by the Court en banc in order to provide definitive clarity to the applicability and scope of original registration proceedings under Sections 14(1) and 14(2) of the Property Registration Decree. In doing so. as well as the problem of informal settlement it has spawned. Still.[3] and that he and his predecessors-in-interest had been in open.324 square meters. has unfortunately been treated with benign neglect. On 20 February 1998. Cad-452-D. [2] situated in Barangay Tibig.Hernando De Soto[1] This decision inevitably affects all untitled lands currently in possession of persons and entities other than the Philippine government. the duty on our part is primarily to decide cases before us in accord with the Constitution and the legal principles that have developed our public land law. Silang Cadastre. The petition. but also the reality on the ground. Mario Malabanan filed an application for land registration covering a parcel of land identified as Lot 9864-A.one who does not know it is the government. Yet our current laws are hemmed in by their own circumscriptions in addressing the phenomenon. Malabanan claimed that he had purchased the property from Eduardo Velazco. the Court confronts not only the relevant provisions of the Public Land Act and the Civil Code. . The issue is that there exists a "common law" and an "informal law" which the Latin American formal legal system does not know how to recognize. Silang Cavite. and continuous adverse and peaceful possession of the land for more than thirty (30) years. The countrywide phenomenon of untitled lands. The application was raffled to the Regional Trial Court of (RTC) CaviteTagaytay City. notorious. and consisting of 71. though our social obligations dissuade us from casting a blind eye on the endemic problems. Branch 18.

Eduardo Velazco. But by 1966. 20-A and approved as such under FAO 4-1656 on March 15. his four sons inherited the property and divided it among themselves. 1982. Jr. Jose Velazco. testified at the hearing. Act 496 and/or P. After the death of Esteban and Magdalena. which originally belonged to his uncle. including Lot 9864-A. Velazco. the RTC rendered judgment in favor of Malabanan.[7] On 3 December 2002. issued by the Community Environment & Natural Resources Office. Malabanan himself and his witness. which stated that the subject property was verified to be within the Alienable or Disposable land per Land Classification Map No. It was this property that was sold by Eduardo Velazco to Malabanan.[4] Apart from presenting documentary evidence. Magdalena. did not cross-examine Aristedes Velazco.. had become the administrator of all the properties inherited by the Velazco sons from their father. Velazco testified that the property was originally belonged to a twenty-two hectare property owned by his great-grandfather. Lino Velazco. Lino had four sons Benedicto. Lino. Upon Linos death. Among the evidence presented by Malabanan during trial was a Certification dated 11 June 2001.D.[5] Assistant Provincial Prosecutor Jose Velazco. Department of Environment and Natural Resources (CENRO-DENR). [6] The Republic of the Philippines likewise did not present any evidence to controvert the application. Estebans wife. the dispositive portion of which reads: WHEREFORE. to appear on behalf of the State. their son Virgilio succeeded them in administering the properties. He further manifested that he also [knew] the property and I affirm the truth of the testimony given by Mr.designated the Assistant Provincial Prosecutor of Cavite. Gregorio. Aristedes Velazco. Jr. Eduardo and Estebanthe fourth being Aristedess grandfather. 1529. 3013 established under Project No. this Court hereby approves this application for registration and thus places under the operation of Act 141. .

Lot 9864-A and containing an area of Seventy One Thousand Three Hundred Twenty Four (71. widower. and that the RTC had erred in finding that he had been in possession of the property in the manner and for the length of time required by law for confirmation of imperfect title. Silang. Cavite. The Republic interposed an appeal to the Court of Appeals.[9] Malabanan died while the case was pending with the Court of Appeals.[11] which . The appellate court held that under Section 14(1) of the Property Registration Decree any period of possession prior to the classification of the lots as alienable and disposable was inconsequential and should be excluded from the computation of the period of possession. [10] hence.otherwise known as Property Registration Law.324) Square Meters. it was his heirs who appealed the decision of the appellate court. On 23 February 2007. the lands described in Plan Csd04-0173123-D. Once this Decision becomes final and executory. Herbieto. the Velazcos possession prior to that date could not be factored in the computation of the period of possession. the appellate court noted that since the CENRO-DENR certification had verified that the property was declared alienable and disposable only on 15 March 1982. Naguit. the Court of Appeals rendered a Decision[8] reversing the RTC and dismissing the application of Malabanan. Filipino. in addition to other proofs adduced in the name of MARIO MALABANAN. Petitioners. the corresponding decree of registration shall forthwith issue. This interpretation of the Court of Appeals of Section 14(1) of the Property Registration Decree was based on the Courts ruling in Republic v. Thus. rely on our ruling in Republic v. who is of legal age. and with residence at Munting Ilog. as supported by its technical description now forming part of the record of this case. before this Court. arguing that Malabanan had failed to prove that the property belonged to the alienable and disposable land of the public domain. SO ORDERED.

exclusive and notorious possession of the land under a bona fide claim of ownership since June 12. continuous. For purposes of Section 14(2) of the Property Registration Decree may a parcel of land classified as alienable and disposable be deemed private land and therefore susceptible to acquisition by prescription in accordance with the Civil Code? 3. Naguit. The Court formulated the principal issues for the oral arguments. any possession prior to the declaration of the alienable property as disposable may be counted in reckoning the period of possession to perfect title under the Public Land Act and the Property Registration Decree. The petition was referred to the Court en banc.was handed down just four months prior to Herbieto. especially when the property in question is agricultural land. 1529. 1945 or is it sufficient that such classification occur at any time prior to the filing of the applicant for registration provided that it is established that the applicant has been in open. to wit: 1. 1945 or earlier? 2. May a parcel of land established as agricultural in character either because of its use or because its slope is below that of forest lands be registrable under Section 14(2) of the Property Registration Decree in relation to the provisions of the Civil Code on acquisitive prescription? . otherwise known as the Property Registration Decree. the case was heard on oral arguments. with respect to agricultural lands. In order that an alienable and disposable land of the public domain may be registered under Section 14(1) of Presidential Decree No. petitioners argue. Petitioners suggest that the discussion in Herbieto cited by the Court of Appeals is actually obiter dictum since the Metropolitan Trial Court therein which had directed the registration of the property had no jurisdiction in the first place since the requisite notice of hearing was published only after the hearing had already begun. Therefore.[12] and on 11 November 2008. remains the controlling doctrine. should the land be classified as alienable and disposable as of June 12.

at the time of the application. thus placing it under the coverage of Section 14(2). the OSG also cites the subsequent rulings in Buenaventura v. since the land registration proceedings therein was void ab initio due to lack of publication of the notice of initial hearing. [17] as well as the earlier case of Director of Lands v.4. continuous. Imperial Credit Corporation. T. Republic. the property had already been converted into private property through prescription. the Court applied Naguit and adopted the same observation that the preferred interpretation by the OSG of Section 14(1) was patently absurd. petitioners reiterate that the analysis of the Court in Naguit is the correct interpretation of the provision. petitioners cite extensively from our 2008 ruling in Republic v.[19] . petitioners submit that open. should be considered obiter dictum. Court of Appeals. Are petitioners entitled to the registration of the subject land in their names under Section 14(1) or Section 14(2) of the Property Registration Decree or both?[13] Based on these issues. To bolster their argument. Petitioners further point out that in Republic v. it would not matter whether the land sought to be registered was previously classified as agricultural land of the public domain so long as. According to them.N. the OSG remains insistent that for Section 14(1) to apply. the land should have been classified as alienable and disposable as of 12 June 1945. With respect to Section 14(1). the parties formulated their respective positions.[18] With respect to Section 14(2).A. For its part.[14] promulgated in June of 2007. Bibonia. exclusive and notorious possession of an alienable land of the public domain for more than 30 years ipso jure converts the land into private property. Properties. Republic[16] and Republic v. it is submitted. Apart from Herbieto.[15] Fieldman Agricultural Trading v. The seemingly contradictory pronouncement in Herbieto.

governed the classification and disposition of lands of the public domain. and not the concept of prescription under the Civil Code. while Section 14(2) speaks of private lands. and that the 30-year possession period refers to the period of possession under Section 48(b) of the Public Land Act. (b) residential. has. First. the acquisitive prescription of properties of the State refers to patrimonial property. A. The President is authorized. also known as the Public Land Act. timber. [20] Alienable and disposable lands of the public domain are further classified according to their uses into (a) agricultural. It observes that the Court has yet to decide a case that presented Section 14(2) as a ground for application for registration. Commonwealth Act No. commercial. or (d) reservations for town sites and for public and quasi-public uses. or for similar productive purposes.The arguments submitted by the OSG with respect to Section 14(2) are more extensive. II. charitable. or other similar purposes.[21] . or mineral lands. industrial. (c) educational. to classify the lands of the public domain into alienable and disposable. The OSG notes that under Article 1113 of the Civil Code. 141. Both sides likewise offer special arguments with respect to the particular factual circumstances surrounding the subject property and the ownership thereof. since its enactment. we discuss Section 14(1) of the Property Registration Decree. For a full understanding of the provision. The OSG further submits that. from time to time. said period should be reckoned from the time the public land was declared alienable and disposable. assuming that the 30-year prescriptive period can run against public lands. reference has to be made to the Public Land Act.

D. 141 received its present wording in 1977 when the law was amended by P. immediately preceding the filing of the application for confirmation of title except when prevented by war or force majeure. 1073. 1073. since June 12. under a bona fide claim of acquisition of ownership. the term agricultural lands was changed to alienable and disposable lands of the public domain. No. 48. No. Under Section 9 of the Public Land Act. 1945. continuous. Act No. [23] This is not actually the case. The OSG submits that this amendment restricted the scope of the lands that may be registered. . 1073. alienable and disposable lands of the public domain are a larger class than only agricultural lands.[22] Section 48(b) of the Public Land Act. occupying lands of the public domain or claiming to own any such land or an interest therein. under the Land Registration Act. as amended by P. supplies the details and unmistakably grants that right. may apply to the Court of First Instance of the province where the land is located for confirmation of their claims and the issuance of a certificate of title therefor. agricultural lands are a mere subset of lands of the public domain alienable or open to disposition.D. and notorious possession and occupation of alienable and disposable lands of the public domain.D. These shall be conclusively presumed to have performed all the conditions essential to a Government grant and shall be entitled to a certificate of title under the provisions of this chapter. No. Evidently. subject to the requisites stated therein: Sec. First.May a private person validly seek the registration in his/her name of alienable and disposable lands of the public domain? Section 11 of the Public Land Act acknowledges that public lands suitable for agricultural purposes may be disposed of by confirmation of imperfect or incomplete titles through judicial legalization. to wit: xxx (b) Those who by themselves or through their predecessors in interest have been in open. The following described citizens of the Philippines. or earlier. but whose titles have not been perfected or completed. Section 48(b) of Com. Two significant amendments were introduced by P. exclusive.

Act No. exclusive and notorious possession and occupation of alienable and disposable lands of the public domain under a bona fide claim of ownership . Section 48(b) of the Public Land Act was again amended. this time by P. The Court in Naguit explained: When the Public Land Act was first promulgated in 1936. xxx It bears further observation that Section 48(b) of Com. or earlier. including lands of the public domain. 1894. exclusive and notorious possession and occupation of alienable and disposable lands of the public domain under a bona fide claim of ownership since June 12. whether personally or through their duly authorized representatives: (1) those who by themselves or through their predecessors-ininterest have been in open.D. 1945. The following persons may file in the proper Court of First Instance an application for registration of title to land. No. No. 1945 or earlier. 1942. 1945. It is Section 14(1) that operationalizes the registration of such lands of the public domain. Notwithstanding the passage of the Property Registration Decree and the inclusion of Section 14(1) therein. Said Decree codified the various laws relative to the registration of property. the period of possession deemed necessary to vest the right to register their title to agricultural lands of the public domain commenced from July 26. the Public Land Act has remained in effect. continuous. which provided that the bona fide claim of ownership must have been for at least thirty (30) years. Then in 1977. 1073. 141 is virtually the same as Section 14(1) of the Property Registration Decree. Who may apply.A. Both laws commonly refer to persons or their predecessors-in-interest who have been in open. the length of the requisite possession was changed from possession for thirty (30) years immediately preceding the filing of the application to possession since June 12.Second. However. The provision reads: SECTION 14. continuous. this period was amended by R. which pegged the reckoning date at June 12.

The opening clauses of Section 48 of the Public Land Act and Section 14 of the Property Registration Decree warrant comparison: Sec. to wit: xxx Sec. occupying lands of the public domain or claiming to own any such land or an interest therein. It is proper to assert that it is the Public Land Act. 14 [of the Property Registration Decree]. but whose titles have not been perfected or completed. .D. No. whether personally or through their duly authorized representatives: xxx It is clear that Section 48 of the Public Land Act is more descriptive of the nature of the right enjoyed by the possessor than Section 14 of the Property Registration Decree. The following persons may file in the proper Court of First Instance an application for registration of title to land. and notorious possession and occupation of alienable and disposable lands of the public domain. The following described citizens of the Philippines. as amended by P. under the Land Registration Act. That circumstance may have led to the impression that one or the other is a redundancy. 48 [of the Public Land Act]. 1945 to perfect or complete his title by applying with the proper court for the confirmation of his ownership claim and the issuance of the corresponding certificate of title. Who may apply. that has primarily established the right of a Filipino citizen who has been in open. exclusive. That is not the case.since June 12. 1945. or earlier. or that Section 48(b) of the Public Land Act has somehow been repealed or mooted. since June 12. continuous. rather than establishing the right itself for the first time. 1073 effective 25 January 1977. may apply to the Court of First Instance of the province where the land is located for confirmation of their claims and the issuance of a certificate of title therefor. which seems to presume the pre-existence of the right. under a bona fide claim of acquisition of ownership.

further. which provides that public lands suitable for agricultural purposes may be disposed of by confirmation of imperfect or incomplete titles. Section 47 of the Public Land Act limits the period within which one may exercise the right to seek registration under Section 48. Section 14(a) of the Property Registration Decree recognizes the substantive right granted under Section 48(b) of the Public Land Act. It currently reads thus: Section 47. Despite the clear text of Section 48(b) of the Public Land Act. 9176 in 2002.Section 48 can be viewed in conjunction with the afore-quoted Section 11 of the Public Land Act. and given the notion that both provisions declare that it is indeed the Public Land Act that primarily establishes the substantive ownership of the possessor who has been in possession of the property since 12 June 1945. 2020 within which to avail of the benefits of this Chapter: Provided. That this period shall apply only where the area applied for does not exceed twelve (12) hectares: Provided. Act No.[24] Accordingly under the current state of the law. but this Section shall not be construed as prohibiting any said persons from acting under this Chapter at any time prior to the period fixed by the President. as well provides the corresponding original registration procedure for the judicial confirmation of an imperfect or incomplete title. The provision has been amended several times. the OSG has adopted the . the substantive right granted under Section 48(b) may be availed of only until 31 December 2020. That the several periods of time designated by the President in accordance with Section Forty-Five of this Act shall apply also to the lands comprised in the provisions of this Chapter. There is another limitation to the right granted under Section 48(b). as amended and Section 14(a) of the Property Registration Decree. In turn. The persons specified in the next following section are hereby granted time. most recently by Rep. B. not to extend beyond December 31.

as . we are mindful of the absurdity that would result if we adopt petitioners position.[25] Ad proximum antecedents fiat relation nisi impediatur sentencia. the rule would be. qualifying words restrict or modify only the words or phrases to which they are immediately associated. 1945. The absurdity of such an implication was discussed in Naguit. the Philippines was not yet even considered an independent state. the alienable and disposable character of the property must have been declared also as of 12 June 1945. it is not enough that the applicant and his/her predecessors-in-interest be in possession under a bona fide claim of ownership since 12 June 1945. hence. If the State. and not those distantly or remotely located. qualifies its antecedent phrase under a bonafide claim of ownership. 1945. Petitioner suggests an interpretation that the alienable and disposable character of the land should have already been established since June 12. all lands certified as alienable and disposable after 12 June 1945 cannot be registered either under Section 14(1) of the Property Registration Decree or Section 48(b) of the Public Land Act as amended. has not yet deemed it proper to release the property for alienation or disposition. the presumption is that the government is still reserving the right to utilize the property. at the time the application is made. no matter the length of unchallenged possession by the occupant. Such interpretation renders paragraph (1) of Section 14 virtually inoperative and even precludes the government from giving it effect even as it decides to reclassify public agricultural lands as alienable and disposable. if the property has already been classified as alienable and disposable. The unreasonableness of the situation would even be aggravated considering that before June 12. However. Since June 12. the need to preserve its ownership in the State irrespective of the length of adverse possession even if in good faith. Besides. 1945 or earlier. Generally speaking. as used in the provision. This is not borne out by the plain meaning of Section 14(1).position that for one to acquire the right to seek registration of an alienable and disposable land of the public domain. Accordingly. Following the OSGs approach. that all lands of the public domain which were not declared alienable or disposable before June 12. the Court in Naguit explained: [T]he more reasonable interpretation of Section 14(1) is that it merely requires the property sought to be registered as already alienable and disposable at the time the application for registration of title is filed. 1945 would not be susceptible to original registration. adopting the OSGs view. Absent a legislative amendment.

the passage as cited in Buenaventura should again be considered as obiter. Petitioners make the salient observation that the contradictory passages from Herbieto are obiter dicta since the land registration proceedings therein is void ab initio in the first place due to lack of the requisite publication of the notice of initial hearing. citing Herbieto. in the context of Section 14(1). is certainly erroneous. It may be noted that in the subsequent case of Buenaventura. The evidence submitted by petitioners therein did not establish any mode of possession . Nonetheless. even if the current possessor is able to establish open.[26] the Court. The Court declares that the correct interpretation of Section 14(1) is that which was adopted in Naguit. the Naguit interpretation allows more possessors under a bona fide claim of ownership to avail of judicial confirmation of their imperfect titles than what would be feasible under Herbieto. as it suffices that the Courts acknowledgment that the particular line of argument used therein concerning Section 14(1) is indeed obiter. exclusive and notorious possession under a bona fide claim of ownership long before that date. Moreover. continuous. as pointed out in Naguit. The contrary pronouncement in Herbieto. again stated that [a]ny period of possession prior to the date when the [s]ubject [property was] classified as alienable and disposable is inconsequential and should be excluded from the computation of the period of possession That statement. citing Section 14(2). absurdly limits the application of the provision to the point of virtual inutility since it would only cover lands actually declared alienable and disposable prior to 12 June 1945.it is in this case. This balancing fact is significant. There is no need to explicitly overturn Herbieto. especially considering our forthcoming discussion on the scope and reach of Section 14(2) of the Property Registration Decree. The application therein was ultimately granted. then there is already an intention on the part of the State to abdicate its exclusive prerogative over the property.

investigation reports of Bureau of Lands investigators. since it precisely involved situation wherein the applicant had been in exclusive possession under a bona fide claim of ownership prior to 12 June 1945. The Courts interpretation of Section 14(1) therein was decisive to the resolution of the case. the Community Environment and Natural . issued by Eduardo M. We noted in Naguit that it should be distinguished from Bracewell v. thereby precluding the application of Section 14(1). Ceniza. 1994.[28] which involved a claim of possession that extended back to 1927 over a public domain land that was declared alienable and disposable only in 1980. the attempt at registration in Cenizashould have failed. private respondents presented a certification dated November 25. To prove that the land subject of an application for registration is alienable. neither Herbieto nor its principal discipular ruling Buenaventura has any precedental value with respect to Section 14(1). It is not even apparent from the decision whether petitioners therein had claimed entitlement to original registration following Section 14(1). Thus. Any doubt as to which between Naguit or Herbieto provides the final word of the Court on Section 14(1) is now settled in favor of Naguit. their position being that they had been in exclusive possession under a bona fide claim of ownership for over fifty (50) years. In this case. penned the ruling in Republic v. and following the mindset of the dissent. Ceniza cited Bracewell. but not before 12 June 1945. The dissent though pronounces Bracewell as the better rule between the two. quoted extensively from it. and a legislative act or a statute.on their part prior to 1948. an applicant must establish the existence of a positive act of the government such as a presidential proclamation or an executive order. its ponente. the esteemed Justice Consuelo Ynares-Santiago. Court of Appeals[27] since in the latter. Yet two years after Bracewell. an administrative action. On the other hand. the ratio of Naguit is embedded in Section 14(1). the application for registration had been filed before the land was declared alienable or disposable. Not so. Inting.

Although there are exceptions. As a rule. Worth noting also was the observation of the Court of Appeals stating that: [n]o opposition was filed by the Bureaus of Lands and Forestry to contest the application of appellees on the ground that the property still forms part of the public domain.. petitioner did not show that this is one of them. As correctly found by the Court of Appeals. which is true in this case. for they were able to overcome the burden of proving the alienability of the land subject of their application. Nor is there any showing that the lots in question are forestal land. the application was filed nine (9) years before the land was declared alienable or disposable. 32-A. while in Bracewell. Further. exclusive and notorious possession of the subject land even before the year 1927. a difference which the dissent seeks to belittle. the application for registration was filed nearly six (6) years after the land had been declared alienable or disposable. That crucial difference was also stressed in Naguit to contradistinguish it from Bracewell. private respondents were able to prove their open. 1980. stating that the lots involved were "found to be within the alienable and disposable (sic) Block-I.Resources Officer in the Department of Environment and Natural Resources Office in Cebu City. through the same eminent member who authored Bracewell. III... continuous. we are bound by the factual findings of the Court of Appeals. Thus.[29] Why did the Court in Ceniza. per map 2962 4-I555 dated December 9. Land Classification Project No. while the Court of Appeals erred in ruling that mere possession of public land for the period required by law would entitle its occupant to a confirmation of imperfect title." This is sufficient evidence to show the real character of the land subject of private respondents application. . it did not err in ruling in favor of private respondents as far as the first requirement in Section 48(b) of the Public Land Act is concerned. the certification enjoys a presumption of regularity in the absence of contradictory evidence. sanction the registration under Section 48(b) of public domain lands declared alienable or disposable thirty-five (35) years and 180 days after 12 June 1945? The telling difference is that in Ceniza.

[30] Naguit did not involve the application of Section 14(2). thus: Did the enactment of the Property Registration Decree and the amendatory P. even if possession of the alienable public land commenced on a date later than June 12. considering Section 14(2) of the Property Registration Decree.We next ascertain the correct framework of analysis with respect to Section 14(2). then the possessor may have the right to register the land by virtue of Section 14(2) of the Property Registration Decree. unlike in this case where petitioners have based their registration bid primarily on that provision. whether personally or through their duly authorized representatives: xxx (2) Those who have acquired ownership over private lands by prescription under the provisions of existing laws. Prescription is one of the modes of acquiring ownership under the Civil Code. to be an obiter dictum.[ ] There is a consistent jurisprudential rule that properties classified as alienable public land may be converted into private property by reason of open. and where . such property may now fall within the contemplation of private lands under Section 14(2). Thus. The Court in Naguit offered the following discussion concerning Section 14(2). which we did even then recognize. No. but we nonetheless refer to it as material for further discussion. 1945? It did not. 1945.D. and thus susceptible to registration by those who have acquired ownership through prescription.[ [31]] With such conversion. and such possession being been open. possession over which commenced only after June 12. The provision reads: SECTION 14. which governs and authorizes the application of those who have acquired ownership of private lands by prescription under the provisions of existing laws. The following persons may file in the proper Court of First Instance an application for registration of title to land. Who may apply. 1073 preclude the application for registration of alienable lands of the public domain. continuous and exclusive. and still do. continuous and exclusive possession of at least thirty (30) years.

it is Article 1113 which provides legal foundation for the application. It is clear under the Civil Code that where lands of the public domain are patrimonial in character. The Constitution itself proscribes private ownership of timber or mineral lands. including .[33] Ordinary acquisitive prescription requires possession in good faith. it unmistakably refers to the Civil Code as a valid basis for the registration of lands. they are susceptible to acquisitive prescription. The Civil Code is the only existing law that specifically allows the acquisition by prescription of private lands. Ownership of real property may be acquired by ordinary prescription of ten (10) years.[32] or through extraordinary prescription of thirty (30) years. There are in fact several provisions in the Civil Code concerning the acquisition of real property through prescription. On the other hand. A. It reads: All things which are within the commerce of men are susceptible of prescription. unless otherwise provided. Property of the State or any of its subdivisions not patrimonial in character shall not be the object of prescription.the evidence definitively establishes their claim of possession only as far back as 1948. Specifically. among the public domain lands that are not susceptible to acquisitive prescription are timber lands and mineral lands.[35] When Section 14(2) of the Property Registration Decree explicitly provides that persons who have acquired ownership over private lands by prescription under the provisions of existing laws.[34]as well as just title. It is in this case that we can properly appreciate the nuances of the provision. The obiter in Naguit cited the Civil Code provisions on prescription as the possible basis for application for original registration under Section 14(2).

These shall be conclusively presumed to have performed all the conditions essential to a Government grant and shall be entitled to a certificate of title under the provisions of this Chapter.[36] Yet if we ascertain the source of the thirty-year period. Thus. The first source is Rep. which a private person has acquired through prescription. but whose titles have not been perfected or completed. enacted in 1957. except when prevented by war or force majeure. 1942. continuous and exclusive possession of at least thirty (30) years. under the Land Registration Act. exclusive and notorious possession and occupation of agricultural lands of the public domain. occupying lands of the public domain or claiming to own any such lands or an interest therein. may apply to the Court of First Instance of the province where the land is located for confirmation of their claims and the issuance of a certificate of title therefor. The Naguit obiter had adverted to a frequently reiterated jurisprudence holding that properties classified as alienable public land may be converted into private property by reason of open. For there are in fact two distinct origins of the thirty (30)-year rule.patrimonial property belonging to the State. additional complexities relating to Section 14(2) and to how exactly it operates would emerge. which amended Section 48(b) of the Public Land Act by granting the right to seek original registration of alienable public lands through possession in the concept of an owner for at least thirty years. The following-described citizens of the Philippines. under a bona fide claim of acquisition of ownership. continuous. the critical question that needs affirmation is whether Section 14(2) does encompass original registration proceedings over patrimonial property of the State. for at least thirty years immediately preceding the filing of the application for confirmation of title. (emphasis supplied)[37] . to wit: xxx xxx xxx (b) Those who by themselves or through their predecessors in interest have been in open. Act No.

became unavailable after 1977. 1073. under Article 1137. It merely set forth a requisite thirty-year possession period immediately preceding the application for confirmation of title. did not refer to or call into application the Civil Code provisions on prescription. 1529 itself. [38] similar to our earlier finding with respect to the present language of Section 48(b). which.This provision was repealed in 1977 with the enactment of P. Act No. as it applies the rules on prescription under the Civil Code. Act No. 1942 had mandated such a requirement. Obviously. throughout the entire thirty-(30) years. Rep. Act No. . which made the date 12 June 1945 the reckoning point for the first time. Section 48(b) of the Public Land Act. 1942.D. The second source is Section 14(2) of P. Nonetheless. Note that there are two kinds of prescription under the Civil Codeordinary acquisitive prescription and extraordinary acquisitive prescription. There is neither statutory nor jurisprudential basis to assert Rep. is completed through uninterrupted adverse possession for thirty years. 1942 and how it did under the Civil Code. as amended by Rep.D. at least by implication. At present. particularly Article 1113 in relation to Article 1137. as mandated under Section 14(2). applications for registration filed prior to 1977 could have invoked the 30-year rule introduced by Rep. 1942. However. which now sets 12 June 1945 as the point of reference. and continue as such. the first source of the thirty (30)-year period rule. Act No. without need of title or of good faith. without any qualification as to whether the property should be declared alienable at the beginning of. Act No. there is a material difference between how the thirty (30)year rule operated under Rep. 1942. the only legal basis for the thirty (30)-year period is the law on prescription under the Civil Code.

rivers. banks. Act No. and are intended for some public service or for the development of the national wealth. the thirty-year possession period as basis for original registration became Section 14(2) of the Property Registration Decree. a fact which does not hold true with respect to Section 14(1). and others of similar character. with the repeal of Rep. Section 14(2) puts into operation the entire regime of prescription under the Civil Code. Section 14(2) explicitly refers to the principles on prescription under existing laws. Unlike Section 14(1). Accordingly. There is no similar demand on our part in the case of Section 14(1). shores. Art. is patrimonial property . Again. All other property of the State. which is not of the character stated in the preceding article. 420. The critical qualification under Article 1113 of the Civil Code is thus: [p]roperty of the State or any of its subdivisions not patrimonial in character shall not be the object of prescription. 1942. torrents. canals. which entitled those who have acquired ownership over private lands by prescription under the provisions of existing laws to apply for original registration. The identification what consists of patrimonial property is provided by Articles 420 and 421. roadsteads. The following things are property of public dominion: (1) Those intended for public use. (2) Those which belong to the State. in our interpretation of Section 14(2). B. At the same time. we are impelled to apply the civil law concept of prescription. as set forth in the Civil Code. ports and bridges constructed by the State. such as roads. 421.Then. the thirty-year period is derived from the rule on extraordinary prescription under Article 1137 of the Civil Code. without being for public use. which we quote in full: Art.

shall form part of the patrimonial property of the State. whether declared alienable and disposable or not. there must be an express declaration by the State that the public dominion property is no longer intended for public service or the . from property of the public dominion into patrimonial property? After all.It is clear that property of public dominion. be subject of the commerce of man. Article 420 (2) makes clear that those property which belong to the State. Let us now explore the effects under the Civil Code of a declaration by the President or any duly authorized government officer of alienability and disposability of lands of the public domain. Would such lands so declared alienable and disposable be converted. indeed. without being for public use. and the same provision further provides that patrimonial property of the State may be acquired by prescription. Accordingly. Article 422 of the Civil Code states that [p]roperty of public dominion. are property of public dominion and thus insusceptible to acquisition by prescription. which generally includes property belonging to the State. cannot be the object of prescription or. although already classified as alienable or disposable. Nonetheless. For as long as the property belongs to the State. Article 1113 provides that all things within the commerce of man are susceptible to prescription.[39] Lands of the public domain. alienable and disposable lands may be the object of the commerce of man. After all. under the Civil Code. when no longer intended for public use or for public service. by connotative definition. and are intended for some public service or for the development of the national wealth are public dominion property. it remains property of the public dominion if when it is intended for some public service or for the development of the national wealth. It is this provision that controls how public dominion property may be converted into patrimonial property susceptible to acquisition by prescription.

although declared alienable or disposable. remain as such and ought to be used only by the Government. Such declaration shall be in the form of a law duly enacted by Congress or a Presidential Proclamation in cases where the President is duly authorized by law. Recourse does not lie with this Court in the matter.development of the national wealth or that the property has been converted into patrimonial. is more commonly known as the BCDA law. remains property of the public dominion. and thus incapable of acquisition by prescription. entitled An Act Accelerating The Conversion Of Military Reservations Into Other Productive Uses. pursuant to Article 420(2). Congress can very well be entreated to amend Section 14(2) of the Property Registration Decree and pertinent provisions of the Civil Code to liberalize the requirements for judicial confirmation of imperfect or incomplete titles. Republic Act No. 7227. even if classified as alienable or disposable. the property. Yet this interpretation is in accord with the Regalian doctrine and its concomitant assumption that all lands owned by the State. It is only when such alienable and disposable lands are expressly declared by the State to be no longer intended for public service or for the development of the national wealth that the period of acquisitive prescription can begin to run. Without such express declaration. It is comprehensible with ease that this reading of Section 14(2) of the Property Registration Decree limits its scope and reach and thus affects the registrability even of lands already declared alienable and disposable to the detriment of the bona fide possessors or occupants claiming title to the lands. The operation of the foregoing interpretation can be illustrated by an actual example.. Section 2 of the law authorizes the sale of certain military . etc. The duty of the Court is to apply the Constitution and the laws in accordance with their language and intent. The remedy is to change the law. which is the province of the legislative branch.

notwithstanding their status as alienable and disposable.[44]Such purpose can be tied to either public service or the development of national wealth under Article 420(2).[41] The President is authorized to sell portions of the military camps. [42] Accordingly. including Fort Bonifacio and Villamor Air Base.reservations and portions of military camps in Metro Manila. C. However. as the BCDA law itself expressly makes the reservation that these lands are to be sold in order to raise funds for the conversion of the former American bases at Clark and Subic. hold and/or administer them. in whole or in part. the law mandates the President to transfer such military lands to the Bases Conversion Development Authority (BCDA) [40] which in turn is authorized to own. at that time. For purposes of effecting the sale of the military camps. the BCDA law itself declares that the military lands subject thereof are alienable and disposable pursuant to the provisions of existing laws and regulations governing sales of government properties. said lands did not become patrimonial. Thus. It is upon their sale as authorized under the BCDA law to a private person or entity that such lands become private property and cease to be property of the public dominion.[43] From the moment the BCDA law was enacted the subject military lands have become alienable and disposable. Should public domain lands become patrimonial because they are declared as such in a duly enacted law or duly promulgated proclamation that they are no longer intended for public service or for the development of the national wealth. would the period of possession prior to the conversion of such public dominion into patrimonial be reckoned in counting the prescriptive period in favor of the possessors? We rule in the negative. . the lands remained property of the public dominion under Article 420(2).

Possession of public dominion property before it becomes patrimonial cannot be the object of prescription according to the Civil Code. The period under the former speaks of a thirty-year period of possession. 1472 is based on thirty years of possession alone without regard to the Civil Code. . Registration under Section 14(1) is extended under the aegis of the Property Registration Decree and the Public Land Act while registration under Section 14(2) is made available both by the Property Registration Decree and the Civil Code. Act No. and the thirty-year period available through Section 14(2) of the Property Registration Decree in relation to Article 1137 of the Civil Code. while Section 14(2) entitles registration on the basis of prescription. there is no way that possession during the time that the land was still classified as public dominion property can be counted to meet the requisites of acquisitive prescription and justify registration.The limitation imposed by Article 1113 dissuades us from ruling that the period of possession before the public domain land becomes patrimonial may be counted for the purpose of completing the prescriptive period. Section 14(1) mandates registration on the basis of possession. we can distinguish between the thirty-year period under Section 48(b) of the Public Land Act. In the same manner. As the application for registration under Section 14(2) falls wholly within the framework of prescription under the Civil Code. Are we being inconsistent in applying divergent rules for Section 14(1) and Section 14(2)? There is no inconsistency. as amended by Rep. while the period under the latter concerns a thirty-year period of extraordinary prescription. Registration under Section 48(b) of the Public Land Act as amended by Rep. while the registration under Section 14(2) of the Property Registration Decree is founded on extraordinary prescription under the Civil Code. Act No. 1472.

which.It may be asked why the principles of prescription under the Civil Code should not apply as well to Section 14(1). under Article 1134. there are indispensable requisitesgood faith and just title. which states that [a]ll things which are within the commerce of man are susceptible to prescription. At the same time. Section 14(2) manifests a clear intent to interrelate the registration allowed under that provision with the Civil Code. One of the keys to understanding the framework we set forth today is seeing how our land registration procedures correlate with our law on prescription. and that [p]roperty of the State or any of its subdivisions not patrimonial in character shall not be the object of prescription. The first is ordinary acquisitive prescription. and. under the Civil Code. nor is there any apparent reason to impose such a rule. but no such intent exists with respect to Section 14(1). This is brought about by Article 1113. The ascertainment of good faith involves the application of Articles . under Article 1117. Notwithstanding the vaunted status of the Civil Code. which. requires possession in good faith and with just title. is one of the modes for acquiring ownership over property. it ultimately is just one of numerous statutes. There is nothing in the Civil Code that bars a person from acquiring patrimonial property of the State through ordinary acquisitive prescription. The legislative branch is not bound to adhere to the framework set forth by the Civil Code when it enacts subsequent legislation. IV. The Civil Code makes it clear that patrimonial property of the State may be acquired by private persons through prescription. There are two modes of prescription through which immovables may be acquired under the Civil Code. is completed through possession of ten (10) years. neither superior nor inferior to other statutes such as the Property Registration Decree.

. there is just title for the purposes of prescription when the adverse claimant came into possession of the property through one of the modes recognized by law for the acquisition of ownership or other real rights. But after the property has been become patrimonial. 527. succession or any other mode of the acquisition of ownership or other real rights. but the grantor was not the owner or could not transmit any right. This vice or defect is the one cured by prescription. Once the requisite period has been completed. as the owner and grantor. and (2) the person in possession for the periods prescribed under the Civil Code acquires ownership of the property by operation of the Civil Code. and which would have actually transferred ownership if the grantor had been the owner. donation. whether under ordinary prescription or extraordinary prescription. and 528. we made it clear that. The grantor is the one from whom the person invoking ordinary acquisitive prescription derived the title. Dr. could not transmit ownership to the possessor before the completion of the required period of possession. donation. two legal events ensue: (1) the patrimonial property is ipso jure converted into private land.526. the period of prescription begins to run in favor of the possessor. and dacion in payment. succession.[47] It is evident that the OSG erred when it assumed that the grantor referred to in Article 1129 is the State. exchange. Examples: sale with delivery. [45] provisions that more or less speak for themselves. The major premise for the argument is that the State.[46] The OSG submits that the requirement of just title necessarily precludes the applicability of ordinary acquisitive prescription to patrimonial property. the period of possession preceding the classification of public dominion lands as patrimonial cannot be counted for the purpose of computing prescription. Earlier. whether by sale. Tolentino explains: Just title is an act which has for its purpose the transmission of ownership. Under Article 1129. as well as Article 1127 of the Civil Code. the concept of just title requires some clarification. exchange. On the other hand.

1942. considering that the Civil Code. 1073). the Civil Code as of now.It is evident that once the possessor automatically becomes the owner of the converted patrimonial property. the gap was lamentable. establishes ownership over the patrimonial property of persons who have completed the prescriptive periods ordained therein. by itself. [50] Still.D. the ideal next step is the registration of the property under the Torrens system. that is. The Land Registration Act[49] was noticeably silent on the requisites for alienable public lands acquired through ordinary prescription under the Civil Code. or since 12 June 1945 following P. What the system accommodated was the confirmation of imperfect title brought about by the completion of a period of possession ordained under the Public Land Act (either 30 years following Rep. We synthesize the doctrines laid down in this case. The gap was finally closed with the adoption of the Property Registration Decree in 1977. though it arguably did not preclude such registration. with Section 14(2) thereof expressly authorizing original registration in favor of persons who have acquired ownership over private lands by prescription under the provisions of existing laws. V. It should be remembered that registration of property is not a mode of acquisition of ownership. as follows: . Act No. but merely a mode of confirmation of ownership. it is apparent that the registration system then did not fully accommodate the acquisition of ownership of patrimonial property under the Civil Code. No.[48] Looking back at the registration regime prior to the adoption of the Property Registration Decree in 1977.

the possessor is entitled to secure judicial confirmation of his title thereto as soon as it is declared alienable and disposable. since June 12.(1) In connection with Section 14(1) of the Property Registration Decree. prescription is recognized as a mode of acquiring ownership of patrimonial property. There must also be an express government manifestation that the property is already patrimonial or no longer retained for public service or the development of national wealth. exclusive. under Article 422 of the Civil Code. (a) Since Section 48(b) merely requires possession since 12 June 1945 and does not require that the lands should have been alienable and disposable during the entire period of possession.[51] (b) The right to register granted under Section 48(b) of the Public Land Act is further confirmed by Section 14(1) of the Property Registration Decree. public domain lands become only patrimonial property not only with a declaration that these are alienable or disposable. . Section 48(b) of the Public Land Act recognizes and confirms that those who by themselves or through their predecessors in interest have been in open. such lands based on the length and quality of their possession. and registrable title to. subject to the timeframe imposed by Section 47 of the Public Land Act. continuous. However. under a bona fide claim of acquisition of ownership. (2) In complying with Section 14(2) of the Property Registration Decree. consider that under the Civil Code. and notorious possession and occupation of alienable and disposable lands of the public domain. And only when the property has become patrimonial can the prescriptive period for the acquisition of property of the public dominion begin to run. 1945 have acquired ownership of.

ripens into ownership. Under ordinary acquisitive prescription. There is no substantive evidence to establish that Malabanan or petitioners as his predecessors-in-interest have been in possession of the property since 12 June 1945 or earlier. Thus. We now apply the above-stated doctrines to the case at bar. they cannot avail themselves of registration under Section 14(1) of the Property Registration Decree. one ordinary and other extraordinary. according to their own evidencethe Tax Declarations they presented in particularis to the year 1948. While the subject property was declared as alienable or disposable in 1982. in good faith and with just title. Neither can petitioners properly invoke Section 14(2) as basis for registration. a person acquires ownership of a patrimonial property through possession for at least ten (10) years. regardless of good faith or just title. The earliest that petitioners can date back their possession. It is clear that the evidence of petitioners is insufficient to establish that Malabanan has acquired ownership over the subject property under Section 48(b) of the Public Land Act. Under extraordinary acquisitive prescription. a persons uninterrupted adverse possession of patrimonial property for at least thirty (30) years. The person acquires ownership of patrimonial property by prescription under the Civil Code is entitled to secure registration thereof under Section 14(2) of the Property Registration Decree. (b) There are two kinds of prescription by which patrimonial property may be acquired. there is no competent evidence that is no longer intended for public use service or for the .(a) Patrimonial property is private property of the government. B.

have proven unattractive due to limitations imposed on the grantee in the encumbrance or alienation of said properties.development of the national evidence. The informal settlement of public lands. every untitled property that is occupied in the country will be affected by this ruling. whether declared alienable or not. This paradigm powerfully evokes the disconnect between a legal system and the reality on the ground. it is insusceptible to acquisition by prescription.[52] Judicial confirmation of imperfect title has emerged as the most viable. Nonetheless. The social implications cannot be dismissed lightly. For. is a phenomenon tied to long-standing habit and cultural acquiescence. conformably with Article 422 of the Civil Code. A final word. discomfiture over the implications of todays ruling cannot be discounted. yet even that system. . and the Court would be abdicating its social responsibility to the Filipino people if we simply levied the law without comment. has considerable limits. The Court is comfortable with the correctness of the legal doctrines established in this decision. if not the most attractive means to regularize the informal settlement of alienable or disposable lands of the public domain. such as through homestead or free patent. The classification of the subject property as alienable and disposable land of the public domain does not change its status as property of the public dominion under Article 420(2) of the Civil Code. as revealed in this decision. and is common among the so-called Third World countries. VI. Alternative means of acquisition of these public domain lands. The law so far has been unable to bridge that gap.Thus.

G. by liberalizing the standards for judicial confirmation of imperfect title. the Petition is DENIED. It could only be up to Congress to set forth a new phase of land reform to sensibly regularize and formalize the settlement of such lands which in legal theory are lands of the public domain before the problem becomes insoluble. No pronouncement as to costs. to cite two examples. There is much to be said about the virtues of according them legitimate states. WHEREFORE. (Represented by Sally A. but also to the persons family. as the law itself considered such lands as property of the public dominion. or amending the Civil Code itself to ease the requisites for the conversion of public dominion property into patrimonial. No. Ones sense of security over land rights infuses into every aspect of wellbeing not only of that individual. Respondent. Yet such virtues are not for the Court to translate into positive law. Once that sense of security is deprived. REPUBLIC OF THE PHILIPPINES.There are millions upon millions of Filipinos who have individually or exclusively held residential lands on which they have lived and raised their families.R. It is for the political branches to bring welcome closure to the long pestering problem. vs. SO ORDERED. This could be accomplished. RESOLUTION . Many more have tilled and made productive idle lands of the State with their hands. life and livelihood are put on stasis. 2013 HEIRS OF MARIO MALABANAN. Malabanan). Petitioners. The Decision of the Court of Appeals dated 23 February 2007 and Resolution dated 2 October 2007 are AFFIRMED. 179987 September 3. They have been regarded for generation by their families and their communities as common law owners.

324-square meters.D. Antecedents The property subject of the application for registration is a parcel of land situated in Barangay Tibig. Silang. Act 496 and/or P. thereby entitling him to the judicial confirmation of his title. in addition to other proofs adduced in the name of MARIO MALABANAN. Silang Cadastre as surveyed for Mr. on December 3. this Court hereby approves this application for registration and thus places under the operation of Act 141. Once this Decision becomes final and executory. disposing thusly: WHEREFORE. 1529.2 After trial. Lot 9864-A and containing an area of Seventy One Thousand Three Hundred Twenty Four (71.734 sq. 1998. otherwise known as Property Registration Law. 2001 issued by the Community Environment and Natural Resources Office (CENRO) of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR). Silang.3 The Office of the Solicitor General (OSG) appealed the judgment to the CA. arguing that Malabanan had failed to prove that the property belonged to the alienable and disposable land of the public domain. Filipino. which reads: This is to certify that the parcel of land designated as Lot No. applicant Mario Malabanan. 2009. who had purchased the property from Eduardo Velazco.: For our consideration and resolution are the motions for reconsideration of the parties who both assail the decision promulgated on April 29. who is of legal age. Virgilio Velasco located at Barangay Tibig. On February 20. more particularly identified as Lot 9864-A. Silang Cavite. whereby we upheld the ruling of the Court of Appeals (CA) denying the application of the petitioners for the registration of a parcel of land situated in Barangay Tibig. 9864 Cad 452-D. . and with residence at Munting Ilog. Cavite. the RTC rendered judgment granting Malabanan’s application for land registration. Malabanan presented during trial a certification dated June 11. Silang. 20-A and approved as such under FAO 4-1656 on March 15. SO ORDERED. Cavite. uninterrupted.324) Square Meters. 3013 established under Project No. continuous.BERSAMIN. and that the RTC erred in finding that he had been in possession of the property in the manner and for the length of time required by law for confirmation of imperfect title. widower. the corresponding decree of registration shall forthwith issue. meters as shown and described on the Plan Ap-04-00952 is verified to be within the Alienable or Disposable land per Land Classification Map No. as supported by its technical description now forming part of the record of this case. filed an application for land registration covering the property in the Regional Trial Court (RTC) in Tagaytay City. Cavite containing an area of 249. and that he and his predecessors-in-interest had been in open. J. 1529 (Property Registration Decree). Cad-452-D. 1982. claiming that the property formed part of the alienable and disposable land of the public domain. with an area of 71. Cavite on the ground that they had not established by sufficient evidence their right to the registration in accordance with either Section 14(1) or Section 14(2) of Presidential Decree No. the lands described in Plan Csd-04-0173123-D. 2002.1 To prove that the property was an alienable and disposable land of the public domain. public and adverse possession and occupation of the land for more than 30 years.

Relying on the rulings in Spouses De Ocampo v.On February 23. 1982 could not be tacked for purposes of computing Malabanan’s period of possession. The petitioners also rely on the ruling in Republic v. we denied the petition for review on certiorari because Malabanan failed to establish by sufficient evidence possession and occupation of the property on his part and on the part of his predecessors-in interest since June 12. in relation to Section 14(2) of the Property Registration Decree. the CA promulgated its decision reversing the RTC and dismissing the application for registration of Malabanan.A. Due to Malabanan’s intervening demise during the appeal in the CA. 2007 to this Court through a petition for review on certiorari. the petitioners submit that the mere classification of the land as alienable or disposable should be deemed sufficient to convert it into patrimonial property of the State. was a mere obiter dictum considering that the land registration proceedings therein were in fact found and declared void ab initio for lack of publication of the notice of initial hearing. the ten-year period prescribed by Article 1134 of the Civil Code. Republic8 and Republic v. or earlier. 4 the CA declared that under Section 14(1) of the Property Registration Decree.7 Menguito v. Arlos. As earlier stated. and that when Malabanan filed the application for registration on February 20. Properties. the time when the land was declared alienable and disposable by the State. that consequently.N. continuous. 1945. what was essential was that the property had been "converted" into private property through prescription at the time of the application without regard to whether the property sought to be registered was previously classified as agricultural land of the public domain. Inc. Naguit ruled that any possession of agricultural land prior to its declaration as alienable and disposable could be counted in the reckoning of the period of possession to perfect title under the Public Land Act (Commonwealth Act No. Inc. T. Petitioners’ Motion for Reconsideration In their motion for reconsideration.A. Properties. 6 to support their argument that the property had been ipso jure converted into private property by reason of the open.9 they argue that the reclassification of the land as alienable or disposable opened it to acquisitive prescription under the Civil Code. his heirs elevated the CA’s decision of February 23.N. 1945 or earlier. 1982. 141) and the Property Registration Decree. any period of possession prior to the classification of the land as alienable and disposable was inconsequential and should be excluded from the computation of the period of possession. that Malabanan had purchased the property from Eduardo Velazco believing in good faith that Velazco and his predecessors-in-interest had been the real owners of the land with the right to validly transmit title and ownership thereof. Court of Appeals and Corazon Naguit 5 (Naguit) remains the controlling doctrine especially if the property involved is agricultural land. applied in their favor. The petitioners assert that the ruling in Republic v. According to them. 2007. In this regard. he had already been in possession of the land for almost 16 years reckoned from 1982. 1998. Herbieto (Herbieto). Velazco’s possession prior to March 15. The Republic’s Motion for Partial Reconsideration . exclusive and notorious possession by their predecessors-in-interest of an alienable land of the public domain for more than 30 years.. Noting that the CENRO-DENR certification stated that the property had been declared alienable and disposable only on March 15. They point out that the ruling in Herbieto. Citing the ruling in Republic v. to the effect that the declaration of the land subject of the application for registration as alienable and disposable should also date back to June 12. T.

all other natural resources may not be.10 may be classified as either of public dominion or of private ownership. we consider to be imperative to discuss the different classifications of land in relation to the existing applicable land registration laws of the Philippines. Under Section 2. a legal concept first introduced into the country from the West by Spain through the Laws of the Indies and the Royal Cedulas. by implication.15This means that the State is the source of any asserted right to ownership of land.16 All lands not appearing to be clearly under private ownership are presumed to belong to the State. . forest or timber. and is intended for some public service or for the development of the national wealth. with the reservation that the law might provide other classifications. residential. In reviewing the assailed decision. Chiefly citing the dissents. specifically. industrial or commercial. which is an immovable property. 22 Based on the foregoing. without being for public use. namely. and is charged with the conservation of such patrimony. timber and mineral. public lands remain part of the inalienable land of the public domain unless the State is shown to have reclassified or alienated them to private persons.21 The identification of lands according to their legal classification is done exclusively by and through a positive act of the Executive Department. timber or forest. or (b) belongs to the State. agricultural. 18 lands of the public domain were classified into three. Ruling We deny the motions for reconsideration. 19 Section 10. the interpretation of Section 14(1) of the Property Registration Decree through judicial legislation. agricultural.17 Classifications of public lands according to alienability Whether or not land of the public domain is alienable and disposable primarily rests on the classification of public lands made under the Constitution. The 1987 Constitution adopted the classification under the 1935 Constitution into agricultural.20 Agricultural lands may be further classified by law according to the uses to which they may be devoted.12 Land belonging to the State that is not of such character. the Constitution places a limit on the type of public land that may be alienated. Classifications of land according to ownership Land.13 Land that is other than part of the patrimonial property of the State. Also. and mineral.11Land is considered of public dominion if it either: (a) is intended for public use.The Republic seeks the partial reconsideration in order to obtain a clarification with reference to the application of the rulings in Naguit and Herbieto. Article XII of the 1987 Constitution. cities and municipalities is of private ownership if it belongs to a private individual. Pursuant to the Regalian Doctrine (Jura Regalia). Article XIV of the 1973 Constitution classified lands of the public domain into seven. and grazing land. mineral. the Republic contends that the decision has enlarged. It reiterates its view that an applicant is entitled to registration only when the land subject of the application had been declared alienable and disposable since June 12. or although of such character but no longer intended for public use or for public service forms part of the patrimonial property of the State. only agricultural lands of the public domain may be alienated. but added national parks. 14 all lands of the public domain belong to the State. 1945 or earlier. resettlement. Under the 1935 Constitution. provinces.

forest or timber. (a) By judicial legalization. and (4) By confirmation of imperfect or incomplete titles. to wit: (a) patrimonial lands of the State. the Regalian Doctrine is applicable. or earlier. The core of the controversy herein lies in the proper interpretation of Section 11(4). a declaration of such conversion must be made in the form of a law duly enacted by Congress or by a Presidential proclamation in cases where the President is duly authorized by law to that effect. and not otherwise: (1) For homestead settlement. Public lands suitable for agricultural purposes can be disposed of only as follows. exclusive. may apply to the Court of First Instance of the province where the land is located for confirmation of their claims and the issuance of a certificate of title thereafter. in relation to Section 48(b) of the Public Land Act. occupying lands of the public domain or claiming to own any such lands or an interest therein. but with the limitation that the lands must only be agricultural.e. however. which expressly requires possession by a Filipino citizen of the land since June 12. (2) By sale.. mineral. lands classified as forest or timber. until the Executive Department exercises its prerogative to classify or reclassify lands. i. continuous.25 and the exclusive prerogative to classify public lands under existing laws is vested in the Executive Department. viz: Section 48. or (b) By administrative legalization (free patent). not in the courts. 141) provides the manner by which alienable and disposable lands of the public domain. Consequently. agricultural lands. thereby effectively removing the land from the ambit of public dominion. 24 A positive act of the Government is necessary to enable such reclassification. or national parks are not susceptible of alienation or disposition unless they are reclassified as agricultural. 26 If. and (b) lands of the public domain. to wit: xxxx (b) Those who by themselves or through their predecessors-in-interest have been in open. public land will be classified as neither agricultural. Disposition of alienable public lands Section 11 of the Public Land Act (CA No.23 without limitation. The following-described citizens of the Philippines. to wit: Section 11. but whose titles have not been perfected or completed. or those classified as lands of private ownership under Article 425 of the Civil Code. under the Land Registration Act. (3) By lease. or until Congress or the President declares that the State no longer intends the land to be used for public service or for the development of national wealth. 27 Thus. mineral or national park. 1945.Alienable and disposable lands of the State fall into two categories. can be disposed of. or when public land is no longer intended for public service or for the development of the national wealth. and notorious possession and occupation of alienable and disposable lands . or the public lands as provided by the Constitution.

the Regalian Doctrine applies. emphasis is placed on the requirement that the classification required by Section 48(b) of the Public Land Act is classification or reclassification of a public land as agricultural. 1945. the applicant must satisfy the following requirements in order for his application to come under Section 14(1) of the Property Registration Decree. or national parks. continuous. However. and 5. are outside the coverage of the Public Land Act. These shall be conclusively presumed to have performed all the conditions essential to a Government grant and shall be entitled to a certificate of title under the provisions of this chapter. We find. by himself or through his predecessor-in-interest. 4. 1945 as the reckoning point of the requisite possession and occupation was the sole prerogative of Congress. 2. The possession and occupation must be under a bona fide claim of acquisition of ownership. i. The use of the descriptive phrase "alienable and disposable" further limits the coverage of Section 48(b) to only the agricultural lands of the public domain as set forth in Article XII. under a bona fide claim of acquisition of ownership. except when prevented by war or force majeure. The property subject of the application must be an agricultural land of the public domain. . it excludes. the Court should interpret only the plain and literal meaning of the law as written by the legislators. 1945. or earlier. and notorious. Thus. It observes that the fixed date of June 12.of the public domain. mineral. (Bold emphasis supplied) Note that Section 48(b) of the Public Land Act used the words "lands of the public domain" or "alienable and disposable lands of the public domain" to clearly signify that lands otherwise classified. and overcomes the presumption that the land is alienable and disposable as laid down in Section 48(b) of the Public Land Act. The possession and occupation must have taken place since June 12. immediately preceding the filing of the applications for confirmation of title. however. Bearing in mind such limitations under the Public Land Act. The possession and occupation must be open. Section 48(b) of the Public Land Act.. because any possession of the land prior to such classification or reclassification produced no legal effects. in relation to Section 14(1) of the Property Registration Decree. or earlier. since June 12. no other legislative intent appears to be associated with the fixing of the date of June 12. Except that said date qualified the period of possession and occupation. that the choice of June 12. 3. Taking into consideration that the Executive Department is vested with the authority to classify lands of the public domain. presupposes that the land subject of the application for registration must have been already classified as agricultural land of the public domain in order for the provision to apply. Section 2 of the 1987 Constitution.e. the determination of which should best be left to the wisdom of the lawmakers. What the law does not include. 1945. and lands of patrimonial or private ownership. Accordingly. 1945 could not be minimized or glossed over by mere judicial interpretation or by judicial social policy concerns. has been in possession and occupation of the property subject of the application. exclusive. absent proof that the land is already classified as agricultural land of the public domain. 1945 or earlier. The dissent stresses that the classification or reclassification of the land as alienable and disposable agricultural land should likewise have been made on June 12. forest or timber. The applicant.28 to wit: 1. and insisted that the full legislative intent be respected.

if a public land is classified as no longer intended for public use or for the development of national wealth by declaration of Congress or the President. namely: (1) As a general rule and pursuant to the Regalian Doctrine. openly. an examination of Section 48(b) of the Public Land Act indicates that Congress prescribed no requirement that the land subject of the registration should have been classified as agricultural since June 12. not the ownership or title over it. when Congress enacted legislation (Republic Act No. we should always bear in mind that such objective still prevails. in conjunction with Section 14(2) of the Property Registration Decree. the applicant’s imperfect or incomplete title is derived only from possession and occupation since June 12. the requirement that the land should have been classified as alienable and disposable agricultural land at the time of the application for registration is necessary only to dispute the presumption that the land is inalienable. then. Where all the necessary requirements for a grant by the Government are complied with through actual physical. as a fairly recent legislative development bears out. The imperfect or incomplete title being confirmed under Section 48(b) of the Public Land Act is title that is acquired by reason of the applicant’s possession and occupation of the alienable and disposable agricultural land of the public domain. corporations may now acquire lands of the public domain for as long as the lands were already converted to private ownership. To be clear. open. prescription can now run against the State. may not be alienated or disposed. .34 On the other hand.Moreover. as a result of satisfying the requisite period of possession prescribed by the Public Land Act. the applicable provision concerning disposition and registration is no longer Section 48(b) of the Public Land Act but the Civil Code. subject to area limitations.30 It is for this reason that the property subject of the application of Malabanan need not be classified as alienable and disposable agricultural land of the public domain for the entire duration of the requisite period of possession. all lands of the public domain belong to the State and are inalienable. To sum up. or earlier. continuously and exclusively during the prescribed statutory period is converted to private property by the mere lapse or completion of the period. because it is not necessary that a certificate of title be issued in order that such a grant be sanctioned by the courts. by virtue of this doctrine. the clear objective of the Public Land Act to adjudicate and quiet titles to unregistered lands in favor of qualified Filipino citizens by reason of their occupation and cultivation thereof for the number of years prescribed by law32 will be defeated. therefore. but a grant by the Government. continuous. As such. particularly residential lands. Lands that are not clearly under private ownership are also presumed to belong to the State and. by operation of law. 35 As such. exclusive and public possession of an alienable and disposable land of the public domain. 29 In fact. thereby converting such land into patrimonial or private land of the State. Indeed. This means that the character of the property subject of the application as alienable and disposable agricultural land of the public domain determines its eligibility for land registration. Alienable public land held by a possessor. 1945. the possessor is deemed to have acquired by operation of law not only a right to a grant. or earlier. 1945. we now observe the following rules relative to the disposition of public land or lands of the public domain.31 If one follows the dissent. either personally or through his predecessors-in-interest. The declaration that land is alienable and disposable also serves to determine the point at which prescription may run against the State. 10023) 33in order to liberalize stringent requirements and procedures in the adjudication of alienable public land to qualified applicants.

1945.37 (b) Lands of the public domain subsequently classified or declared as no longer intended for public use or for the development of national wealth are removed from the sphere of public dominion and are considered converted into patrimonial lands or lands of private ownership that may be alienated or disposed through any of the modes of acquiring ownership under the Civil Code. proof that the land has been already converted to private ownership prior to the requisite acquisitive prescriptive period is a condition sine qua non in observance of the law (Article 1113. and notorious since June 12. exclusive. Thereby. the petitioners failed to present sufficient evidence to establish that they and their predecessors-in-interest had been in possession of the land since June 12. Likewise. Civil Code) that property of the State not patrimonial in character shall not be the object of prescription. the land has already ceased to be part of the public domain and has become private property. the Court DENIES the petitioners' Motion for Reconsideration and the respondent's Partial Motion for Reconsideration for their lack of merit. such that the land has remained ineligible for registration under Section 14(1) of the Property Registration Decree. If the mode of acquisition is prescription. a conclusive presumption that the applicant has performed all the conditions essential to a government grant arises. provided the applicant’s possession and occupation of the land dated back to June 12. 1âwphi1 WHEREFORE. To reiterate. By legal fiction. or earlier . the agricultural land subject of the application needs only to be classified as alienable and disposable as of the time of the application. the land continues to be ineligible for land registration under Section 14(2) of the Property Registration Decree unless Congress enacts a law or the President issues a proclamation declaring the land as no longer intended for public service or for the development of the national wealth. SO ORDERED . whether ordinary or extraordinary. or earlier. If the mode is judicial confirmation of imperfect title under Section 48(b) of the Public Land Act. Prescription never began to run against the State. 1945. Without satisfying the requisite character and period of possession . then.36 and the applicant becomes the owner of the land by virtue of an imperfect or incomplete title.(2) The following are excepted from the general rule. to wit: (a) Agricultural lands of the public domain are rendered alienable and disposable through any of the exclusive modes enumerated under Section 11 of the Public Land Act. 1945.the land cannot be considered ipso jure converted to private property even upon the subsequent declaration of it as alienable and disposable.possession and occupation that is open. continuous.