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Dir. of Lds vs.

CA and abistado

THIRD DIVISION

[G.R. No. 102858. July 28, 1997]

THE DIRECTOR OF LANDS, petitioner, vs. COURT OF APPEALS and


TEODORO ABISTADO, substituted by MARGARITA, MARISSA,
MARIBEL, ARNOLD and MARY ANN, all surnamed
ABISTADO, respondents.
DECISION
PANGANIBAN, J.:

Is newspaper publication of the notice of initial hearing in an original land


registration case mandatory or directory?
Statement of the Case
The Court of Appeals ruled that it was merely procedural and that the failure to
cause such publication did not deprive the trial court of its authority to grant the
application. But the Solicitor General disagreed and thus filed this petition to set aside
the Decision promulgated on July 3, 1991 and the subsequent Resolution promulgated
on November 19, 1991 by Respondent Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. CV No.
23719. The dispositive portion of the challenged Decision reads:
[1]

[2]

[3]

[4]

"WHEREFORE, premises considered, the judgment of dismissal appealed from is


hereby set aside, and a new one entered confirming the registration and title of
applicant, Teodoro Abistado, Filipino, a resident of Barangay 7, Poblacion Mamburao,
Occidental Mindoro, now deceased and substituted by Margarita, Marissa, Maribel,
Arnold and Mary Ann, all surnamed Abistado, represented by their aunt, Miss Josefa
Abistado, Filipinos, residents of Poblacion Mamburao, Occidental Mindoro, to the
parcel of land covered under MSI (IV-A-8) 315-D located in Poblacion Mamburao,
Occidental Mindoro.
The oppositions filed by the Republic of the Philippines and private oppositor are
hereby dismissed for want of evidence.

Upon the finality of this decision and payment of the corresponding taxes due on this
land, let an order for the issuance of a decree be issued."
The Facts
On December 8, 1986, Private Respondent Teodoro Abistado filed a petition for
original registration of his title over 648 square meters of land under Presidential Decree
(PD) No. 1529. The application was docketed as Land Registration Case (LRC) No. 86
and assigned to Branch 44 of the Regional Trial Court of Mamburao, Occidental
Mindoro. However, during the pendency of his petition, applicant died. Hence, his heirs
-- Margarita, Marissa, Maribel, Arnold and Mary Ann, all surnamed Abistado -represented by their aunt Josefa Abistado, who was appointed their guardian ad litem,
were substituted as applicants.
[5]

[6]

The land registration court in its decision dated June 13, 1989 dismissed the petition
for want of jurisdiction. However, it found that the applicants through their predecessorsin-interest had been in open, continuous, exclusive and peaceful possession of the
subject land since 1938.
In dismissing the petition, the trial court reasoned:

[7]

"x x x. However, the Court noted that applicants failed to comply with the provisions
of Section 23 (1) of PD 1529, requiring the Applicants to publish the notice of Initial
Hearing (Exh. `E') in a newspaper of general circulation in the Philippines. Exhibit `E'
was only published in the Official Gazette (Exhibits `F' and `G'). Consequently, the
Court is of the well considered view that it has not legally acquired jurisdiction over
the instant application for want of compliance with the mandatory provision requiring
publication of the notice of initial hearing in a newspaper of general circulation."
The trial court also cited Ministry of Justice Opinion No. 48, Series of 1982, which in
its pertinent portion provides:
[8]

It bears emphasis that the publication requirement under Section 23 [of PD 1529] has
a two-fold purpose; the first, which is mentioned in the provision of the aforequoted
provision refers to publication in the Official Gazette, and is jurisdictional; while the
second, which is mentioned in the opening clause of the same paragraph, refers to
publication not only in the Official Gazette but also in a newspaper of general
circulation, and is procedural. Neither one nor the other is dispensable. As to the first,
publication in the Official Gazette is indispensably necessary because without it, the
court would be powerless to assume jurisdiction over a particular land registration
case. As to the second, publication of the notice of initial hearing also in a newspaper
of general circulation is indispensably necessary as a requirement of procedural due

process; otherwise, any decision that the court may promulgate in the case would be
legally infirm.
Unsatisfied, private respondents appealed to Respondent Court of Appeals which,
as earlier explained, set aside the decision of the trial court and ordered the registration
of the title in the name of Teodoro Abistado.
The subsequent motion for reconsideration was denied in the challenged CA
Resolution dated November 19, 1991.
The Director of Lands represented by the Solicitor General thus elevated this
recourse to us. This Court notes that the petitioners counsel anchored his petition on
Rule 65. This is an error. His remedy should be based on Rule 45 because he is
appealing a final disposition of the Court of Appeals. Hence, we shall treat his petition
as one for review under Rule 45, and not for certiorari under Rule 65.
[9]

The Issue
Petitioner alleges that Respondent Court of Appeals committed grave abuse of
discretion in holding
[10]

x x x that publication of the petition for registration of title in LRC Case No. 86 need
not be published in a newspaper of general circulation, and in not dismissing LRC
Case No. 86 for want of such publication.
Petitioner points out that under Section 23 of PD 1529, the notice of initial hearing
shall be published both in the Official Gazette and in a newspaper of general
circulation. According to petitioner, publication in the Official Gazette is necessary to
confer jurisdiction upon the trial court, and xxx in xxx a newspaper of general circulation
to comply with the notice requirement of due process.
[11]

Private respondents, on the other hand, contend that failure to comply with the
requirement of publication in a newspaper of general circulation is a mere procedural
defect. They add that publication in the Official Gazette is sufficient to confer jurisdiction.
[12]

In reversing the decision of the trial court, Respondent Court of Appeals ruled:

[13]

x x x although the requirement of publication in the Official Gazette and in a


newspaper of general circulation is couched in mandatory terms, it cannot be gainsaid
that the law also mandates with equal force that publication in the Official
Gazette shall be sufficient to confer jurisdiction upon the court.
Further, Respondent Court found that the oppositors were afforded the opportunity
to explain matters fully and present their side. Thus, it justified its disposition in this
wise:
[14]

x x x We do not see how the lack of compliance with the required procedure
prejudiced them in any way. Moreover, the other requirements of: publication in the
Official Gazette, personal notice by mailing, and posting at the site and other
conspicuous places, were complied with and these are sufficient to notify any party
who is minded to make any objection of the application for registration.
The Courts Ruling
We find for petitioner.
Newspaper Publication Mandatory
The pertinent part of Section 23 of Presidential Decree No. 1529 requiring
publication of the notice of initial hearing reads as follows:

Sec. 23. Notice of initial hearing, publication, etc. -- The court shall, within five days
from filing of the application, issue an order setting the date and hour of the initial
hearing which shall not be earlier than forty-five days nor later than ninety days from
the date of the order.
The public shall be given notice of initial hearing of the application for land
registration by means of (1) publication; (2) mailing; and (3) posting.
1. By publication. --

Upon receipt of the order of the court setting the time for initial hearing, the
Commissioner of Land Registration shall cause a notice of initial hearing to be
published once in the Official Gazette and once in a newspaper of general circulation
in the Philippines: Provided, however, that the publication in the Official Gazette shall
be sufficient to confer jurisdiction upon the court. Said notice shall be addressed to all
persons appearing to have an interest in the land involved including the adjoining
owners so far as known, and `to all whom it may concern.' Said notice shall also
require all persons concerned to appear in court at a certain date and time to show
cause why the prayer of said application shall not be granted.
xxx xxx xxx
Admittedly, the above provision provides in clear and categorical terms that
publication in the Official Gazette suffices to confer jurisdiction upon the land registration
court. However, the question boils down to whether, absent any publication in a

newspaper of general circulation, the land registration court can validly confirm and
register the title of private respondents.
We answer this query in the negative. This answer is impelled by the demands of
statutory construction and the due process rationale behind the publication requirement.
The law used the term shall in prescribing the work to be done by the Commissioner
of Land Registration upon the latters receipt of the court order setting the time for initial
hearing. The said word denotes an imperative and thus indicates the mandatory
character of a statute. While concededly such literal mandate is not an absolute rule in
statutory construction, as its import ultimately depends upon its context in the entire
provision, we hold that in the present case the term must be understood in its normal
mandatory meaning. In Republic vs. Marasigan, the Court through Mr. Justice Hilario
G. Davide, Jr. held that Section 23 of PD 1529 requires notice of the initial hearing by
means of (1) publication, (2) mailing and (3) posting, all of which must be complied
with. If the intention of the law were otherwise, said section would not have stressed in
detail the requirements of mailing of notices to all persons named in the petition who,
per Section 15 of the Decree, include owners of adjoining properties, and occupants of
the land. Indeed, if mailing of notices is essential, then by parity of reasoning,
publication in a newspaper of general circulation is likewise imperative since the law
included such requirement in its detailed provision.
[15]

[16]

It should be noted further that land registration is a proceeding in rem. Being in


rem, such proceeding requires constructive seizure of the land as against allpersons,
including the state, who have rights to or interests in the property. An in rem proceeding
is validated essentially through publication. This being so, the process must strictly be
complied with. Otherwise, persons who may be interested or whose rights may be
adversely affected would be barred from contesting an application which they had no
knowledge of. As has been ruled, a party as an owner seeking the inscription of realty in
the land registration court must prove by satisfactory and conclusive evidence not only
his ownership thereof but the identity of the same, for he is in the same situation as one
who institutes an action for recovery of realty. He must prove his title against the whole
world. This task, which rests upon the applicant, can best be achieved when all persons
concerned -- nay, the whole world -- who have rights to or interests in the subject
property are notified and effectively invited to come to court and show cause why the
application should not be granted. The elementary norms of due process require that
before the claimed property is taken from concerned parties and registered in the name
of the applicant, said parties must be given notice and opportunity to oppose.
[17]

[18]

It may be asked why publication in a newspaper of general circulation should be


deemed mandatory when the law already requires notice by publication in the Official
Gazette as well as by mailing and posting, all of which have already been complied with
in the case at hand. The reason is due process and the reality that the Official Gazette
is not as widely read and circulated as newspapers and is oftentimes delayed in its
circulation, such that the notices published therein may not reach the interested parties
on time, if at all. Additionally, such parties may not be owners of neighboring properties,
and may in fact not own any other real estate. In sum, the all-encompassing in
rem nature of land registration cases, the consequences of default orders issued

against the whole world and the objective of disseminating the notice in as wide a
manner as possible demand a mandatory construction of the requirements for
publication, mailing and posting.
Admittedly, there was failure to comply with the explicit publication requirement of
the law. Private respondents did not proffer any excuse; even if they had, it would not
have mattered because the statute itself allows no excuses. Ineludibly, this Court has no
authority to dispense with such mandatory requirement. The law is unambiguous and its
rationale clear. Time and again, this Court has declared that where the law speaks in
clear and categorical language, there is no room for interpretation, vacillation or
equivocation; there is room only for application. There is no alternative. Thus, the
application for land registration filed by private respondents must be dismissed without
prejudice to reapplication in the future, after all the legal requisites shall have been duly
complied with.
[19]

WHEREFORE, the petition is GRANTED and the assailed Decision and Resolution
are REVERSED and SET ASIDE. The application of private respondent for land
registration is DISMISSED without prejudice. No costs.
SO ORDERED.
Davide, Jr., Melo, and Francisco, JJ., concur.
Narvasa, C.J., (Chairman), on leave.

[1]

Rollo, pp. 29-36.

[2]

Ibid., p. 37.

[3]

Seventh Division composed of Justice Celso L. Magsino, ponente, and Justices Serafin E. Camilon,
Chairman, and Artemon D. Luna, concurring.

[4]

Ibid., p. 35.

[5]

Known as the Property Registration Decree.

[6]

Presided by Judge Niovady M. Marin.

[7]

Rollo, p. 41.

[8]

Ibid., pp. 41-42.

[9]

The Solicitor General asked for and was granted an extension of 30 days within which to file a petition
for review on certiorari. It is thus strange why the OSG described its petition as one
for certiorari under Rule 65 of the Rules of Court. In any event, the Court, in its Resolution dated
March 9, 1992 admitted the OSGs petition for review on certiorari, clearly ruling that the petition
was one for review, and not one for certiorari.

[10]

Ibid., p. 21. This should really read reversible error since as already explained, the petition should be
treated as one for review under Rule 45.

[11]

Ibid., pp. 22-23.

[12]

Ibid., pp. 56-57.

[13]

Ibid., p. 34; Decision, p. 6.

[14]

Ibid.

[15]

Bersabal vs. Salvador, 84 SCRA 176, 179-180, July 21, 1978, citing Dizon vs. Encarnacion, 9 SCRA
714, 716-717, December 24, 1963.

[16]

198 SCRA 219, 227-228, June 6, 1991.

[17]

Grey Alba vs. De la Cruz, 17 Phil. 49, September 16, 1910.

[18]

Archbishop of Manila vs. Arnedo, 30 Phil. 593, March 31, 1915.

[19]

Cebu Portland Cement Company vs. Municipality of Naga, Cebu, 24 SCRA 708, 712, August 22, 1968
citing Lizarraga Hermanos vs. Yap Tico, 24 Phil. 504, 1913; People vs. Mapa, L-22301, August
30, 1967; Pacific Oxygen and Acetylene Co. vs. Central Bank, L-21881, March 1, 1968;
Dequito vs. Lopez, L-27757, March 28, 1968.

Republic vs. Marasigan


Republic of the Philippines
SUPREME COURT
Manila
THIRD DIVISION
G.R. No. 85515

June 6, 1991

REPUBLIC OF THE PHILIPPINES, petitioner,


vs.
FLORENCIA MARASIGAN, and HON. COURT OF APPEALS, respondent
The Solicitor General for petitioner
J. Renato V. Leviste for private respondent.

DAVIDE, JR., J.:


This is an appeal by certiorari under Rule 45 of the Rules of Court to set aside the Decision of 29
August 1988 of the Court of Appeals in C.A.-G.R. CV No. 15163 and its Resolution of 18 October
1988 which, respectively, affirmed the Order of Branch 39 of the Regional Trial Court of Oriental
Mindoro, Fourth Judicial Region, of 17 June 1987 granting the petition of private respondent for the
reconstitution of the original and the owner's duplicate copies of a transfer certificate of title despite
lack of service of notices to adjoining owners and the actual occupants of the land, and denied
petitioner's motion for the reconsideration of the Decision.
1

The issue in this petition is whether notices to adjoining owners and the actual occupants of the land
are mandatory and jurisdictional in judicial reconstitution of certificates of title.
On 4 November 1986 private respondent, claiming to be one of the heirs of Epifania Alcano,
registered owner of a parcel of land located in Canubing, Calapan, Oriental Mindoro, containing an
area of 33,294 square meters, and covered by Transfer Certificate of Title No. T-66062 in the

Registry of Deeds of Calapan, Oriental Mindoro, filed a petition for the reconstitution of "the original
and duplicate copy (sic)" of the said Transfer Certificate of Title on the basis of the owner's duplicate
copy. She alleged therein that she is in possession "of the title subject matter of" the petition but
she, however, did not allege the reason why she asked for the reconstitution.
6

In its Order of 4 November 1986 the trial court set the petition for hearing and required its publication
in the Official Gazette, which was done. Required notices, except to the adjoining owners and the
actual occupants of the land,were given.
Upon prior authority of the trial court, reception of private respondent's evidence was made by the
OIC-Branch Clerk of Court. Thereafter, on 17 June 1987, the trial court handed down an
Order which made the following findings of facts:
7

From the evidence adduced by the petitioner, it appears that she is one of the vendees of a
certain parcel of land situated in Malamig, Calapan, Oriental Mindoro, containing an area of
33,294 square meters, embraced in and covered by Transfer Certificate of Title No. T-66062
and registered in the name of Epifania Alcano (Exh. "B") as evidenced by a document of sale
executed by the registered owner (Exh. "I"). The original copy of said title which was usually
kept in the Office of the Register of Deeds of this province was destroyed by reason of the
fire which razed to the ground the entire Capitol Building then housing said office on August
12, 1977 (Exh. "C"). It appears further that there are no co-owner's, mortgagee's, lessee's
duplicate copy of said certificate of title which had been previously issued by the Register of
Deeds of this province; that the petitioner is in actual possession of the area of 16,647
square meters which was sold to her and that she is benefiting from the produce of the
improvements existing on the area belonging to her.
and disquisition:
Accordingly, finding the instant petition to be well-founded and there being no opposition to
its approval, same is hereby granted. The Register of Deeds of this province is hereby
directed to reconstitute the original and the owner's duplicate copies of Transfer Certificate of
Title No. T-66062 in the name of the registered owners (sic) thirty days after receipt of this
Order by the Register of Deeds of this province and the Commissioner of the Land
Registration Commission, on the basis of the existing owner's duplicate copy thereof.
Petitioner herein, through the Office of the Solicitor General, appealed from said Order to the Court
of Appeals and made the following assignment of errors:
I THE TRIAL COURT ERRED IN ACQUIRING JURISDICTION OVER THE INSTANT
PETITION FOR RECONSTITUTION OF THE ORIGINAL AND THE OWNER'S DUPLICATE
COPIES OF TCT NO. T-66062 WITHOUT THE REQUISITE SERVICE OF NOTICE OF
HEARING TO THE ADJOINING OWNERS AND ACTUAL OCCUPANTS OF THE LAND AS
REQUIRED BY SECTION 13 OF REPUBLIC ACT NO. 26.
II THE TRIAL COURT ERRED IN GRANTING THE PETITION FOR RECONSTITUTION.

The appeal was docketed as C.A.-G.R. CV No. 15163.


In support of the first assigned error, petitioner maintained that the requirement of Section 13 of R.A.
No. 26 is not only mandatory but jurisdictional as held in MWSS vs. Sison, et al., 124 SCRA 394.

In its Decision of 29 August 1988 respondent Court of Appeals brushed aside the arguments of
petitioner and held that:
9

1) Section 13 of R.A. No. 26 which "requires the sending out of notices to the adjoining owners and
actual occupants to vest jurisdiction," appears to have been "at least impliedly amended by
Presidential Decree No. 1529" because it is inconsistent with Section 23 of said Decree which
provides that in original registration cases publication of notices of initial hearing in the Official
Gazette is sufficient to confer jurisdiction on the court. Section 110 of said Decree provides:
Sec. 110. Reconstitution of lost or destroyed original of Torrens Title. Original copies of
certificates of title lost or destroyed in offices of Register of Deeds as well as liens and
encumbrances affecting such titles shall be reconstituted judicially in accordance with the
procedure prescribed in Republic Act No. 26 insofar as not inconsistent with this
Decree. (emphasis supplied)
2) The MWSS vs. Sison case is not on all fours with the instant case for in the former both the
original and the owner's duplicate copies of the certificate of title were claimed to be lost, unlike in
the instant case where the duplicate copy is intact; it was not shown that the original copy in the
custody of the Register of Deeds was destroyed; the copies of the titles alleged to have been lost
were later found intact in the names of other persons; and, more importantly, the Petition was not
published in the Official Gazette but in the Manila Daily Bulletin, unlike in the instant case.
3) The duty to send notices to adjoining owners and actual occupants is imposed upon the court, not
the party filing the petition for reconstitution (herein private respondent); any lapse in regard thereto
should not prejudice or injure the latter.
4) Finally, in the instant case, the private respondent cannot be blamed for the loss of the original
copy of the transfer certificate of title; it was lost by reason of the burning of the Capitol Building; she
should not, therefore, be put to trouble, anxiety and expenses.
Petitioner's motion to reconsider the Decision having been denied by the Court of Appeals in its
Resolution of 18 October 1988, petitioner filed the instant petition on 22 December 1988 alleging
therein that:
a. The respondent Honorable Court of Appeals acted contrary to law when it did not consider
that the trial court is without jurisdiction over the instant petition for reconstitution of the
original owners (sic) duplicate copies of TCT No. 66062 as there is no requisite service of
notice of hearing to the adjoining owners and actual occupants of the land as required by
Section 13 of R.A. No. 26;
b. The respondent Honorable Court of Appeals acted contrary to law in granting the petition
for reconstitution of the original and duplicate copies of TCT No. 66062.
In Our resolution of 16 January 1989, We required the respondents to comment on the petition.
Private respondent filed her comment on 10 February 1989. She practically copied therein the
questioned decision of respondent Court of Appeals.
10

11

In Our resolution of 15 March 1989 We gave due course to the petition and required the parties to
submit simultaneously their respective memoranda, which petitioner complied with on 3 July
1989 and private respondent on 10 June 1989.
12

13

The petition is impressed with merit.


The questioned Decision of 29 August 1988 and the Resolution of 18 October 1988 of respondent
Court of Appeals, as well as the Order of Branch 39 of the Regional Trial Court of Oriental Mindoro
of 17 June 1987, must be set aside.
Section 13 of R.A. No. 26 has not been altered, modified or amended. Since the requirement
therein of service of notice of the initial hearing to the adjoining owners and the actual occupants of
the land was not complied with in this case, the court below did not, therefore, acquire jurisdiction
over the petition for the reconstitution of Transfer Certificate of Title No. 66062. Accordingly, the
respondent Court of Appeals gravely erred in affirming the Order of the trial court granting the
petition and in holding that said Section 13 has been "at least impliedly amended" by Section 23 in
relation to Section 110 of P.D. No. 1529 which took effect on 11 June 1978.
1wphi1

In Director of Lands vs. Court of Appeals, et al., We ruled that the requirements of Section 12 and
Section 13 of R.A. No. 26 reading as follows:
14

Sec. 12. Petitions for reconstitution from sources enumerated in sections 2 (c), 2 (d), 2 (e), 2
(f), 3 (c), 3 (e) and/or 3 (f) of this Act, shall be filed with the proper Court of First Instance, by
the registered owner, his assigns, or any person having an interest in the property. The
petition shall state or contain, among other things, the following: (a) that the owner's
duplicate of the certificate of title had been lost or destroyed; (b) that no co-owner's
mortgagee's or lessee's duplicate had been issued, or, if any had been issued, the same had
been lost or destroyed; (c) the location, area and boundaries of the property; (d) the nature
and description of the buildings or improvements, if any, which do not belong to the owner of
the land, and the names and addresses of the owners of such buildings or improvements; (e)
the names and addresses of the occupants or persons in possession of the property, of the
owners of the adjoining properties and of all persons who may have any interest in the
property; (f) a detailed description of the encumbrances, if any, affecting the property; and (g)
a statement that no deeds or other instruments affecting the property have been presented
for registration, or, if there be any, the registration thereof has not been accomplished, as yet.
All the documents, or authenticated copies thereof, to be introduced in evidence in support of
the petition for reconstitution shall be attached thereto and filed with the same: Provided,
That in case the reconstitution is to be made exclusively from sources enumerated in section
2 (f) or 3 (f) of this Act, the petition shall be further accompanied with a plan and technical
description of the property duly approved by the Chief of the General Land Registration
Office, or with a certified copy of the description taken from a prior certificate of title covering
the same property.
Sec. 13. The court shall cause a notice of petition, filed under the preceding section, to be
published, at the expense of the petition, twice in successive issues of the Official Gazette,
and to be posted on the main entrance of the provincial building and of the municipal building
of the municipality or city in which the land is situated, at least thirty days prior to the date of
hearing. The court shall likewise cause a copy of the notice to be sent, by registered mail or
otherwise, at the expense of the petitioner, to every person named therein whose address is
known, at least thirty days prior to the date of hearing. Said notice shall state, among other
things, the number of the lost or destroyed certificates of title, if known, the name of the
registered owner, the name of the occupants or person in possession of the property, the
owner of the adjoining properties and all other interested parties, the location, area and
boundaries of the property, and the date on which all persons having any interest therein
must appear and file their claim or objection to the petition. The petitioner shall, at the

hearing, submit proof of the publication, posting and service of the notice as directed by the
court.
are mandatory and jurisdictional and non-compliance therewith would render all proceedings utterly
null and void. We reiterated this rule in Tahanan Development Corp. vs. Court of Appeals, et
al. where, in respect particularly to the required notice to an adjoining owner, We categorically
declared:
15

The failure or omission to notify Tahanan as the owner, possessor or occupant of property
adjacent to Lot 2 or as claimant or person having interest, title or claim to a substantial
portion (about 9 hectares more or less) of Lot 2, as well as the failure or omission to post
copies of the Notice of Hearing on the main entrance of the municipality (sic) on which the
land is situated, at the provincial building and at the municipal building thereat, are fatal to
the acquisition and exercise of jurisdiction by the trial court.
In MWSS vs. Sison et al., supra., We further re-affirmed the foregoing doctrine:
The publication of the petition in two successive issues of the Official Gazette, the service of
the notice of hearing to the adjoining owners and actual occupants of the land, as well as the
posting of the notices in the main entrance of the provincial and municipal buildings where
the property lies at least 30 days prior to the date of the hearing, as prescribed by Section 13
of the law, are mandatory and jurisdictional requisites.
This re-affirmation is clear enough as to leave no room for any convoluted logic to support a
sophistic distinction between said case and the instant case and an implausible interpretation of the
law.
We further find to be totally unfounded the view of the Court of Appeals that Section 13 of R.A. No.
26 "appears to have been at least impliedly amended by Presidential Decree No. 1529." There is
absolutely nothing in P.D. No. 1529 which intimates or suggests, indirectly or even remotely, an
intention to amend said Section 13. The Court of Appeals either misapprehended or read out of
context that portion of Section 23 of P.D. No. 1529 reading as follows:
. . . that the publication in the Official Gazette shall be sufficient to confer jurisdiction upon
the court.
Worse, it committed a serious blunder when it used this clause to support its proposition of implied
amendment of Section 13 of R.A. No. 26 by virtue of Section 110 of the Decree.
Section 23 of P.D. No. 1529 is entitled Notice of initial hearing, publication, etc. and provides, inter
alia, that:
The public shall be given notice of initial hearing of the application for land registration by
means of (1) publication; (2) mailing; and (3) posting.
As regards publication, it specifically provides:
Upon receipt of the order of the court setting the time for initial hearing, the Commissioner of
Land Registration shall cause a notice of initial hearing to be published once in the Official
Gazette and once in a newspaper of general circulation in the Philippines: Provided,

however, that the publication in the Official Gazette shall be sufficient to confer jurisdiction
upon the court . . .
This proviso was never meant to dispense with the requirement of notice by mailing and
by posting. What it simply means is that in so far as publication is concerned, there is sufficient
compliance if the notice is published in the Official Gazette, although the law mandates that it be
published "once in the Official Gazette and once in a newspaper of general circulation in the
Philippines." However, publication in the latter alone would not suffice. This is to accord primacy to
the official publication.
1wphi1

That such proviso was never meant to dispense with the other modes of giving notice, which remain
mandatory and jurisdictional, is obvious from Section 23 itself. If the intention of the law were
otherwise, said section would not have stressed in detail the requirements of mailing of notices to all
persons named in the petition who, per Section 15 of the Decree, include owners of adjoining
properties, and occupants of the land.
The above view of the Court of Appeals negates one of the principal purposes of the Decree, which
is clearly expressed in its exordium, namely, to strengthen the Torrens System through safeguards to
prevent anomalous titling of real property. It opens wide the doors to fraud and irregularities in land
registration proceedings and in proceedings for the reconstitution of certificates of title. Judicial
notice may be taken of the fact that only very few have access to or could read the Official Gazette,
which comes out in few copies only per issue. If publication in the Official Gazette of the notice of
hearing in both proceedings would be sufficient to confer jurisdiction upon the court, owners of both
unregistered and registered lands may someday painfully find out that others have certificates of title
to their land because scheming parties had caused their registration, or secured reconstituted
certificates of title thereto and sold the property to third parties.
The belabored argument of respondent Court of Appeals that it would be unfair to impose upon the
private respondent the duty to comply with the requirement of service of notice because it was not
through her fault that the original copy of the Transfer Certificate of Title was lost is unacceptable
since the law does not make any exception or exemptions; besides, it is, to say the least, a ludicrous
proposition. Equally unacceptable is the opinion of said Court that it was the duty of the trial court to
serve the required notices and private respondent should not be prejudiced if it failed to do so. It
suggests, quite unfortunately, and gives the wrong impression that mandatory requirements of
notices may be dispensed with if the failure to comply with them is attributable to the court. It
likewise negates the principles of responsibility, integrity, loyalty and efficiency which the Constitution
directs public officials and employees to faithfully observe. We should stress here that lapses on the
part of courts or their personnel cannot be made a reason or justification for non-observance of laws.
By the very nature of their functions, they should be the first to obey the laws.
IN THE LIGHT OF THE FOREGOING, judgment is hereby rendered GRANTING the instant petition
and SETTING ASIDE the Decision of 29 August 1988 and the Resolution of 18 October 1988 of
respondent Court of Appeals in C.A.-G.R. CV No. 15163 and the Order of Branch No. 39 of the
Regional Trial Court of Oriental Mindoro, Fourth Judicial Region in Petition No. 11,456.
Costs against private respondent.
SO ORDERED.
Fernan, C.J., Gutierrez, Jr., Feliciano and Bidin, JJ., concur.

Footnotes
Third Division, per Justice Melo, concurred in by Justices Marigomen and Imperial; Annex
"B" of Petition;Rollo, 25-30.
1

Entitled Florencia M. Marasigan, petitioner-appellee, vs. Republic of the Philippines,


oppositor-appellant.
2

Annex "C" of Petition; Id., 31.

Annex "A" of Petition; Id., 22-23.

Annex "F" of Petition; Rollo, 47-53.

Annex "D" of Petition; Id., 34-36.

Annex "A" of Petition.

Annex "E" of Petition (Brief for Oppositor-Appellant); Rollo, 39-46.

Annex "B" of Petition; Id., 24-30.

10

Rollo, 54.

11

Id., 55-58.

12

Rollo, 78-87.

13

Id., 67-71.

14

102 SCRA 370, 434 (1981).

15

118 SCRA 273 (1982).