You are on page 1of 34

NATURAL RESOURCES NEW CASES (ORAL QUIZ) 1

1. Gonzales v Hechanova and adequate remedy in the ordinary course of law; and that a administrative remedies is not applicable where the question in
2. Ichong V. Hernandez preliminary injunction is necessary for the preservation of the dispute is purely a legal one", 3 or where the controverted act is
3. Tano V. Socrates rights of the parties during the pendency this case and to "patently illegal" or was performed without jurisdiction or in
4. Lee Hong Kok vs. David, 48 SCRA 372. prevent the judgment therein from coming ineffectual. Petitioner excess of jurisdiction,4 or where the respondent is a department
5. Republic vs. Sayo, 191 SCRA 71.
6. Chavez vs. Public Estates Authority, G.R. No. 133250, July 9, 2002 prayed, therefore, that said petition be given due course; that a secretary, whose acts as an alter-ego of the President bear the
7. Seville vs. National Development Authority, G.R. No. 129401, February 2, 2001; writ of preliminary injunction be forthwith issued restraining implied or assumed approval of the latter,5 unless actually
8. Republic vs. Naguiat, G.R. No. 134209, January 24, 2006. respondent their agents or representatives from implementing disapproved by him,6 or where there are circumstances indicating
9. Sunbeam Convenience Food vs. Court of Appeals, G.R. No. L-50464, January 29, 1990 the decision of the Executive Secretary to import the the urgency of judicial intervention. 7 The case at bar fails under
10. Director of Lands and Director of Forest Development vs. Court of Appeals, G.R. aforementioned foreign rice; and that, after due hearing, each one of the foregoing exceptions to the general rule.
11. Republic vs. Ruby Lee Tsai, G.R. No. 168184, June 22, 2009. judgment be rendered making said injunction permanent. Respondents' contention is, therefore, untenable.
12. International Hardwood and Veneer Co. of the Philippines vs. University of the Philippines.
G.R. No. L-52518, August 13, 1991.
13. Republic vs. De Porkan, G.R. No. L-66866, June 18, 1987. Forthwith, respondents were required to file their answer to the III. Merits of petitioner's cause of action.
14. Director of Lands and Director of Forest Development vs. Court of Appeals, G.R. No. L- petition which they did, and petitioner's pray for a writ of
58867, June 22, 1984.
15. Director of Lands vs. Rivas, G.R. No. L-61539, February 14, 1986, preliminary injunction was set for hearing at which both parties
Respondents question the sufficiency of petitioner's cause of
16. Republic vs. Court of Appeals, G.R. No. L-56948, September 30, 1987. appeared and argued orally. Moreover, a memorandum was filed,
action upon the theory that the proposed importation in question
17. Cruz vs. Secretary of DENR, G.R. No. 135385, December 6, 2000 shortly thereafter, by the respondents. Considering, later on, that
is not governed by Republic Acts Nos. 2207 and 3452, but was
G.R. No. L-21897 October 22, 1963 the resolution said incident may require some pronouncements
authorized by the President as Commander-in-Chief "for military
that would be more appropriate in a decision on the merits of the
stock pile purposes" in the exercise of his alleged authority under
case, the same was set for hearing on the merits thereafter. The
RAMON A. GONZALES, petitioner, Section 2 of Commonwealth Act No. 1; 8 that in cases of
parties, however, waived the right to argue orally, although
vs. necessity, the President "or his subordinates may take such
counsel for respondents filed their memoranda.
RUFINO G. HECHANOVA, as Executive Secretary, MACARIO preventive measure for the restoration of good order and
PERALTA, JR., as Secretary of Defense, PEDRO GIMENEZ, maintenance of peace"; and that, as Commander-in-Chief of our
as Auditor General, CORNELIO BALMACEDA, as Secretary I. Sufficiency of petitioner's interest. armed forces, "the President ... is duty-bound to prepare for the
of Commerce and Industry, and SALVADOR MARINO, challenge of threats of war or emergency without waiting for any
Secretary of Justice, respondents. special authority".
Respondents maintain that the status of petitioner as a rice
planter does not give him sufficient interest to file the petition
Ramon A. Gonzales in his own behalf as petitioner. herein and secure the relief therein prayed for. We find no merit Regardless of whether Republic Act No. 3452 repeals Republic
Office of the Solicitor General and Estanislao Fernandez for in this pretense. Apart from prohibiting the importation of rice Act No. 2207, as contended by petitioner herein - on which our
respondents. and corn "by the Rice and Corn Administration or any other view need not be expressed we are unanimously of the
government agency". Republic Act No. 3452 declares, in Section opinion - assuming that said Republic Act No. 2207 is still in force
1 thereof, that "the policy of the Government" is to "engage in that the two Acts are applicable to the proposed importation in
CONCEPCION, J.: the purchase of these basic foods directly from those tenants, question because the language of said laws is such as to include
farmers, growers, producers and landowners in the within the purview thereof all importations of rice and corn into
This is an original action for prohibition with preliminary Philippineswho wish to dispose of their products at a price that the Philippines". Pursuant to Republic Act No. 2207, "it shall be
injunction. will afford them a fair and just return for their labor and capital unlawful for any person, association, corporation orgovernment
investment. ... ." Pursuant to this provision, petitioner, as a agency to import rice and corn into any point in the Philippines",
planter with a rice land of substantial proportion,2 is entitled to a although, by way of exception, it adds, that "the President of the
It is not disputed that on September 22, 1963, respondent chance to sell to the Government the rice it now seeks to buy Philippines may authorize the importation of these commodities
Executive Secretary authorized the importation of 67,000 tons of abroad. Moreover, since the purchase of said commodity will through any government agency that he may designate", is the
foreign rice to be purchased from private sources, and created a have to be effected with public funds mainly raised by taxation, conditions prescribed in Section 2 of said Act are present.
rice procurement committee composed of the other respondents and as a rice producer and landowner petitioner must necessarily Similarly, Republic Act No. 3452 explicitly enjoins "the Rice and
herein1 for the implementation of said proposed importation. be a taxpayer, it follows that he has sufficient personality and Corn Administration or any government agency" from importing
Thereupon, or September 25, 1963, herein petitioner, Ramon A. interest to seek judicial assistance with a view to restraining rice and corn.
Gonzales a rice planter, and president of the Iloilo Palay and what he believes to be an attempt to unlawfully disburse said
Corn Planters Association, whose members are, likewise, funds.
engaged in the production of rice and corn filed the petition Respondents allege, however, that said provisions of Republic Act
herein, averring that, in making or attempting to make said Nos. 2207 and 3452, prohibiting the importation of rice and corn
importation of foreign rice, the aforementioned respondents "are II. Exhaustion of administrative remedies. by any "government agency", do not apply to importations
acting without jurisdiction or in excess of jurisdiction", because "made by the Government itself", because the latter is not a
Republic Act No. 3452 which allegedly repeals or amends "government agency". This theory is devoid of merit. The
Respondents assail petitioner's right to the reliefs prayed for
Republic Act No. 220 explicitly prohibits the importation of rice Department of National Defense and the Armed Forces of the
because he "has not exhausted all administrative remedies
and corn "the Rice and Corn Administration or any other Philippines, as well as respondents herein, and each and every
available to him before coming to court". We have already held,
government agency;" that petitioner has no other plain, speedy officer and employee of our Government, our government
however, that the principle requiring the previous exhaustion of
NATURAL RESOURCES NEW CASES (ORAL QUIZ) 2

agencies and/or agents. The applicability of said laws even to and to domestic entities, subject to the conditions corn are concerned, Republic Acts Nos. 2207 and 3452, and
importations by the Government as such, becomes more hereinbelow specified. (Emphasis supplied.) Commonwealth Act No. 138 are such laws.
apparent when we consider that:
Under this provision, in all purchases by the Government, Respondents cite Corwin in support of their pretense, but in vain.
1. The importation permitted in Republic Act No. 2207 is to be including those made by and/or for the armed forces,preference An examination of the work cited 10 shows that Corwin referred to
authorized by the "President of the Philippines"and, hence, by or shall be given to materials produced in the Philippines. The the powers of the President during "war time" 11 or when he has
on behalf of the Government of the Philippines; importation involved in the case at bar violates this general placed the country or a part thereof under "martial law". 12 Since
policy of our Government, aside from the provisions of Republic neither condition obtains in the case at bar, said work merely
Acts Nos. 2207 and 3452. proves that respondents' theory, if accepted, would, in effect,
2. Immediately after enjoining the Rice and Corn administration
place the Philippines under martial law, without a declaration of
and any other government agency from importing rice and corn,
the Executive to that effect. What is worse, it would keep
Section 10 of Republic Act No. 3452 adds "that the importation of The attempt to justify the proposed importation by invoking
us perpetually under martial law.
rice and corn is left to private parties upon payment of the reasons of national security predicated upon the "worsening
corresponding taxes", thus indicating that only "private parties" situation in Laos and Vietnam", and "the recent tension created
may import rice under its provisions; and by the Malaysia problem" - and the alleged powers of the It has been suggested that even if the proposed importation
President as Commander-in-Chief of all armed forces in the violated Republic Acts Nos. 2207 and 3452, it should,
Philippines, under Section 2 of the National Defense Act nevertheless, be permitted because "it redounds to the benefit of
3. Aside from prescribing a fine not exceeding P10,000.00 and
(Commonwealth Act No. 1), overlooks the fact that the protection the people". Salus populi est suprema lex, it is said.
imprisonment of not more than five (5) years for those who shall
of local planters of rice and corn in a manner that would foster
violate any provision of Republic Act No. 3452 or any rule and
and accelerate self-sufficiency in the local production of said
regulation promulgated pursuant thereto, Section 15 of said Act If there were a local shortage of rice, the argument might
commodities constitutes a factor that is vital to our ability to
provides that "if the offender is a public official and/or have some value. But the respondents, as officials of this
meet possible national emergency. Even if the intent in importing
employees", he shall be subject to the additional penalty Government, have expressly affirmed again and again that there
goods in anticipation of such emergency were to bolster up that
specified therein. A public official is an officer of the Government is no rice shortage. And the importation is avowedly for
ability, the latter would, instead, be impaired if the importation
itself, as distinguished from officers or employees of stockpile of the Army not the civilian population.
were so made as to discourage our farmers from engaging in the
instrumentalities of the Government. Hence, the duly authorized
production of rice.
acts of the former are those of the Government, unlike those of a
But let us follow the respondents' trend of thought. It has a more
government instrumentality which may have a personality of its
serious implication that appears on the surface. It implies that if
own, distinct and separate from that of the Government, as such. Besides, the stockpiling of rice and corn for purpose of national
an executive officer believes that compliance with a certain
The provisions of Republic Act No. 2207 are, in this respect, even security and/or national emergency is within the purview of
statute will not benefit the people, he is at liberty to disregard it.
more explicit. Section 3 thereof provides a similar additional Republic Act No. 3452. Section 3 thereof expressly authorizes the
That idea must be rejected - we still live under a rule of law.
penalty for any "officer or employee of the Government" who Rice and Corn Administration "to accumulate stocks as a national
"violates, abets or tolerates the violation of any provision" of said reserve in such quantities as it may deem proper and necessary
Act. Hence, the intent to apply the same to transactions made by to meet any contingencies". Moreover, it ordains that "the buffer And then, "the people" are either producers or consumers. Now
the very government is patent. stocks held as a national reserve ... be deposited by the as respondents explicitly admit Republic Acts Nos. 2207 and
administration throughout the country under the proper 3452 were approved by the Legislature for the benefit of
dispersal plans ... and may be released only upon the occurrence producers and consumers, i.e., the people, it must follow that the
Indeed, the restrictions imposed in said Republic Acts are
of calamities or emergencies ...". (Emphasis applied.) welfare of the people lies precisely in the compliance with said
merely additional to those prescribed in Commonwealth Act No.
Acts.
138, entitled "An Act to give native products and domestic
entities the preference in the purchase of articles for the Again, the provisions of Section 2 of Commonwealth Act No. 1,
Government." Pursuant to Section 1 thereof: upon which respondents rely so much, are not self-executory. It is not for respondent executive officers now to set their own
They merely outline the general objectives of said legislation. opinions against that of the Legislature, and adopt means or
The means for the attainment of those objectives are subject to ways to set those Acts at naught. Anyway, those laws permit
The Purchase and Equipment Division of
congressional legislation. Thus, the conditions under which the importation but under certain conditions, which have not
the Government of the Philippines and other officers
services of citizens, as indicated in said Section 2, may be been, and should be complied with.
and employees of the municipal and provincial
availed of, are provided for in Sections 3, 4 and 51 to 88 of said
governments and the Government of the Philippines and
Commonwealth Act No. 1. Similarly, Section 5 thereof specifies
of chartered cities, boards, commissions, bureaus, IV. The contracts with Vietnam and Burma
the manner in which resources necessary for our national
departments, offices, agencies, branches, and bodies of
defense may be secured by the Government of the Philippines,
any description, including government-owned
but only "during a national mobilization",9 which does not exist. It is lastly contended that the Government of the Philippines has
companies, authorized to requisition, purchase, or
Inferentially, therefore, in the absence of a national mobilization, already entered into two (2) contracts for the Purchase of rice,
contract or make disbursements for articles, materials,
said resources shall be produced in such manner as Congress one with the Republic of Vietnam, and another with the
and supplies for public use, public buildings, or public
may by other laws provide from time to time. Insofar as rice and Government of Burma; that these contracts constitute valid
works shall give preference to materials ...
executive agreements under international law; that such
produced ... in the Philippines or in the United States,
NATURAL RESOURCES NEW CASES (ORAL QUIZ) 3

agreements became binding effective upon the signing thereof the Supreme Court may not be deprived "of its jurisdiction to ================
by representatives the parties thereto; that in case of conflict review, revise, reverse, modify, or affirm on appeal, certiorari, or ICHONG vs. HERNANDEZ
between Republic Acts Nos. 2207 and 3452 on the one hand, and writ of error as the law or the rules of court may provide, final
aforementioned contracts, on the other, the latter should prevail, judgments and decrees of inferior courts in (1) All cases in Facts: Republic Act No. 1180 is entitled "An Act to Regulate the
because, if a treaty and a statute are inconsistent with each which the constitutionality or validity of any treaty, law, Retail Business." In effect it nationalizes the retail trade business.
other, the conflict must be resolved under the American ordinance, or executive order or regulation is in question". In
jurisprudence in favor of the one which is latest in point of other words, our Constitution authorizes the nullification of a Petitioner attacks the constitutionality of the Act, contending
time; that petitioner herein assails the validity of acts of the treaty, not only when it conflicts with the fundamental law, but, that: (1) it denies to alien residents the equal protection of the
Executive relative to foreign relations in the conduct of which the also, when it runs counter to an act of Congress. laws and deprives of their liberty and property without due
Supreme Court cannot interfere; and the aforementioned process of law ; (2) the subject of the Act is not expressed or
contracts have already been consummated, the Government of comprehended in the title thereof; (3) the Act violates
The alleged consummation of the aforementioned contracts with
the Philippines having already paid the price of the rice involved international and treaty obligations of the Republic of the
Vietnam and Burma does not render this case academic,
therein through irrevocable letters of credit in favor of the sell of Philippines; (4) the provisions of the Act against the transmission
Republic Act No. 2207 enjoins our Government not from entering
the said commodity. We find no merit in this pretense. by aliens of their retail business thru hereditary succession, and
into contracts for the purchase of rice, but from importing rice,
those requiring 100% Filipino capitalization for a corporation or
except under the conditions Prescribed in said Act. Upon the
entity to entitle it to engage in the retail business, violate the
The Court is not satisfied that the status of said tracts as alleged other hand, Republic Act No. 3452 has two (2) main features,
spirit of Sections 1 and 5, Article XIII and Section 8 of Article XIV
executive agreements has been sufficiently established. The namely: (a) it requires the Government to purchase rice and
of the Constitution.
parties to said contracts do not pear to have regarded the same corn directlyfrom our local planters, growers or landowners; and
as executive agreements. But, even assuming that said contracts (b) it prohibits importations of rice by the Government, and
In answer, the Solicitor-General and the Fiscal of the City of
may properly considered as executive agreements, the same are leaves such importations to private parties. The pivotal issue in
Manila contend that: (1) the Act was passed in the valid exercise
unlawful, as well as null and void, from a constitutional this case is whether the proposed importation which has not
of the police power of the State, which exercise is authorized in
viewpoint, said agreements being inconsistent with the been consummated as yet is legally feasible.
the Constitution in the interest of national economic survival; (2)
provisions of Republic Acts Nos. 2207 and 3452. Although the
the Act has only one subject embraced in the title; (3) no treaty
President may, under the American constitutional system enter
Lastly, a judicial declaration of illegality of the proposed or international obligations are infringed; (4) as regards
into executive agreements without previous legislative authority,
importation would not compel our Government to default in the hereditary succession, only the form is affected but the value of
he may not, by executive agreement, enter into a transaction
performance of such obligations as it may have contracted with the property is not impaired, and the institution of inheritance is
which is prohibited by statutes enacted prior thereto. Under the
the sellers of the rice in question, because, aside from the fact only of statutory origin.
Constitution, the main function of the Executive is to enforce
that said obligations may be complied with without importing the
laws enacted by Congress. The former may not interfere in the
commodity into the Philippines, the proposed importation may Issue: Whether the conditions which the disputed law purports
performance of the legislative powers of the latter, except in the
still be legalized by complying with the provisions of the to remedy really or actually exist.
exercise of his veto power. He may not defeat legislative
aforementioned laws.
enactments that have acquired the status of law, by indirectly
Held: Yes. We hold that the disputed law was enacted to remedy
repealing the same through an executive agreement providing
a real actual threat and danger to national economy posed by
for the performance of the very act prohibited by said laws. V. The writ of preliminary injunction.
alien dominance and control of the retail business and free
citizens and country from dominance and control. Such
The American theory to the effect that, in the event of conflict The members of the Court have divergent opinions on the enactment clearly falls within the scope of the police power of
between a treaty and a statute, the one which is latest in point of question whether or not respondents herein should be enjoined the State, thru which and by which it protects its own personality
time shall prevail, is not applicable to the case at bar, for from implementing the aforementioned proposed importation. and insures its security and future. Furthermore, the law does not
respondents not only admit, but, alsoinsist that the contracts However, the majority favors the negative view, for which reason violate the equal protection clause of the Constitution because
adverted to are not treaties. Said theory may be justified upon the injunction prayed for cannot be granted. sufficient grounds exist for the distinction between alien and
the ground that treaties to which the United States is signatory citizen in the exercise of the occupation regulated, nor the due
require the advice and consent of its Senate, and, hence, of a process of law clause, because the law is prospective in
WHEREFORE, judgment is hereby rendered declaring that
branch of the legislative department. No such justification can be operation and recognizes the privilege of aliens already engaged
respondent Executive Secretary had and has no power to
given as regards executive agreements not authorized by in the occupation and reasonably protects their privilege. The
authorize the importation in question; that he exceeded his
previous legislation, without completely upsetting the principle of wisdom and efficacy of the law to carry out its objectives appear
jurisdiction in granting said authority; said importation is not
separation of powers and the system of checks and balances to us to be plainly evident as a matter of fact it seems not only
sanctioned by law and is contrary to its provisions; and that, for
which are fundamental in our constitutional set up and that of appropriate but actually necessary and that in any case such
lack of the requisite majority, the injunction prayed for must be
the United States. matter falls within the prerogative of the Legislature, with whose
and is, accordingly denied. It is so ordered.
power and discretion the Judicial department of the Government
may not interfere. Moreover, the provisions of the law are clearly
As regards the question whether an international agreement may
Bengzon, CJ, Padilla, Labrador, Reyes, J.B.L., Dizon and embraced in the title, and this suffers from no duplicity and has
be invalidated by our courts, suffice it to say that the
Makalintal, JJ., concur. not misled the legislators or the segment of the population
Constitution of the Philippines has clearly settled it in the
Paredes and Regala, JJ., concur in the result. affected; and that it cannot be said to be void for supposed
affirmative, by providing, in Section 2 of Article VIII thereof, that
NATURAL RESOURCES NEW CASES (ORAL QUIZ) 4

conflict with treaty obligations because no treaty has actually Luis General, Jr. for respondent Aniano David. the patent. Thereafter the certificate of title based thereon
been entered into on the subject and the police power may not becomes indefeasible.... In this case the land in question is not a
be curtailed or surrendered by any treaty or any other private property as the Director of Lands and the Secretary of
Office of the Solicitor General for other respondents.
conventional agreement. Agriculture and Natural Resources have always sustained the
============ public character thereof for having been formed by
reclamation.... The only remedy therefore, available to the
TANO vs. SOCRATES appellants is an action for reconveyance on the ground of fraud.
In this case we do not see any fraud committed by defendant-
FERNANDO, J.:p
Facts: The Sangguniang Panlungsod of Puerto Princessa enacted appellant Aniano David in applying for the purchase of the land
ordinance no. 15-92 banning the shipment of live fish and lobster involved through his Miscellaneous Sales Application No. MSA-V-
outside Puerto Princessa City for a period of 5 years. In the same Petitioners 1 in this appeal by certiorari would have us reverse a 26747, entered in the records of the Bureau of Lands
light, the Sangguniang Panlalawigan of Palawan also enacted a decision of respondent Court of Appeals affirming a lower court [Miscellaneous Sales] Entry No. V-9033, because everything was
resolution that prohibits the catching, gathering, buying, selling judgment dismissing their complaint to have the Torrens Title 2 of done in the open. The notices regarding the auction sale of the
and possessing and shipment of live marine coral dwelling respondent Aniano David declared null and void. What makes the land were published, the actual sale and award thereof to Aniano
aquatic organisms for a period of 5 years within the Palawan task for petitioners quite difficult is that their factual support for David were not clandestine but open and public official acts of an
waters. The petitiones Airline Shippers Association of Palawan their pretension to ownership of such disputed lot through officer of the Government. The application was merely a renewal
together with marine merchants were charged for violating the accretion was rejected by respondent Court of Appeals. Without of his deceased wife's application, and the said deceased
above ordinance and resolution by the city and provincial such underpinning, they must perforce rely on a legal theory, occupied the land since 1938." 4
governments. The petitioners now allege that they have the which, to put it mildly, is distinguished by unorthodoxy and is
preferential rights as marginal fishermen granted with privileges therefore far from persuasive. A grant by the government
On such finding of facts, the attempt of petitioners to elicit a
provided in Section 149 of the Local Government Code, invoking through the appropriate public officials 3 exercising the
different conclusion is likely to be attended with frustration. The
the invalidity of the above-stated enactments as violative of their competence duly vested in them by law is not to be set at
first error assigned predicated an accretion having taken place,
preferential rights. naught on the premise, unexpressed but implied, that land not
notwithstanding its rejection by respondent Court of Appeals,
otherwise passing into private ownership may not be disposed of
would seek to disregard what was accepted by respondent Court
Issue: Whether or not the enacted resolutions and ordinances by by the state. Such an assumption is at war with settled principles
as to how the disputed lot came into being, namely by
the local government units violative of the preferential rights of of constitutional law. It cannot receive our assent. We affirm.
reclamation. It does not therefore call for any further
the marginal fishermen ?
consideration. Neither of the other two errors imputed to
The decision of respondent Court of Appeals following that of the respondent Court, as to its holding that authoritative doctrines
Held: No, the enacted resolution and ordinance of the LGU were
lower court makes clear that there is no legal justification for preclude a party other than the government to dispute the
not violative of their preferential rights. The enactment of these
nullifying the right of respondent Aniano David to the disputed lot validity of a grant and the recognition of the indefeasible
laws was a valid exercise of the police power of the LGU to
arising from the grant made in his favor by respondent officials. character of a public land patent after one year, is possessed of
protect public interests and the public right to a balanced and
As noted in the decision under review, he "acquired lawful title merit. Consequently, as set forth at the outset, there is no
healthier ecology. The rights and privileges invoked by the
thereby pursuant to his miscellaneous sales application in justification for reversal.
petitioners are not absolute. The general welfare clause of the
accordance with which an order of award and for issuance of a
local government code mandates for the liberal interpretation in
sales patent was made by the Director of Lands on June 18,
giving the LGUs more power to accelerate economic 1. More specifically, the shaft of criticism was let loose by
1958, covering Lot 2892 containing an area of 226 square
development and to upgrade the life of the people in the petitioner aimed at this legal proposition set forth in the
meters, which is a portion of Lot 2863 of the Naga Cadastre. On
community. The LGUs are endowed with the power to enact exhaustive opinion of then Justice Salvador Esguerra of the Court
the basis of the order of award of the Director of Lands the
fishery laws in its municipal waters which necessarily includes of Appeals, now a member of this Court: "There is, furthermore, a
Undersecretary of Agriculture and Natural Resources issued on
the enactment of ordinances in order to effectively carry out the fatal defect of parties to this action. Only the Government,
August 26, 1959, Miscellaneous Sales Patent No. V-1209
enforcement of fishery laws in their local community represented by the Director of Lands, or the Secretary of
pursuant to which OCT No. 510 was issued by the Register of
Agriculture and Natural Resources, can bring an action to cancel
Deeds of Naga City to defendant-appellee Aniano David on
====== a void certificate of title issued pursuant to a void patent (Lucas
October 21, 1959. According to the Stipulation of Facts, since the
G.R. No. L-30389 December 27, 1972 vs. Durian, 102 Phil. 1157; Director of Lands vs. Heirs of Ciriaco
filing of the sales application of Aniano David and during all the
Carlo, G.R. No. L-12485, July 31, 1959). This was not done by said
proceedings in connection with said application, up to the actual
officers but by private parties like the plaintiffs, who cannot claim
PEDRO LEE HONG HOK, SIMEON LEE HONG HOK, ROSITA issuance of the sales patent in his favor, the plaintiffs-appellants
that the patent and title issued for the land involved are void
LEE HONG HOK and LEONCIO LEE HONG HOK, petitioners, did not put up any opposition or adverse claim thereto. This is
since they are not the registered owners thereof nor had they
vs. fatal to them because after the registration and issuance of the
been declared as owners in the cadastral proceedings of Naga
ANIANO DAVID, THE HON. SECRETARY OF AGRICULTURE certificate and duplicate certificate of title based on a public land
Cadastre after claiming it as their private property. The cases
AND NATURAL RESOURCES, THE DIRECTOR OF LANDS and patent, the land covered thereby automatically comes under the
cited by appellants are not in point as they refer to private
COURT OF APPEALS, respondents. operation of Republic Act 496 subject to all the safeguards
registered lands or public lands over which vested rights have
provided therein.... Under Section 38 of Act 496 any question
been acquired but notwithstanding such fact the Land
concerning the validity of the certificate of title based on fraud
Augusto A. Pardalis for petitioners. Department subsequently granted patents to public land
should be raised within one year from the date of the issuance of
NATURAL RESOURCES NEW CASES (ORAL QUIZ) 5

applicants." 5 Petitioner ought to have known better. The above them more if necessary, all the rest of said lands may remain provisions of Chapter VI of the Public Land Law are the same in
excerpt is invulnerable to attack. It is a restatement of a principle free and unencumbered for us to dispose of as we may wish." 17 that both are against the whole world, both take the nature of
that dates back to Maninang v. Consolacion, 6 a 1908 decision. As judicial proceedings, and for both the decree of registration
was there categorically stated: "The fact that the grant was issued is conclusive and final." 30 Such a view has been followed
It could therefore be affirmed in Montano v. Insular
made by the government is undisputed. Whether the grant was since then. 31 The latest case in point is Cabacug v. Lao. 32 There
Government" 18 that "as to the unappropriated public lands
in conformity with the law or not is a question which the is this revealing excerpt appearing in that decision: "It is said,
constituting the public domain the sole power of legislation is
government may raise, but until it is raised by the government and with reason, that a holder of a land acquired under a free
vested in Congress, ..." 19 They continue to possess that
and set aside, the defendant can not question it. The legality of patent is more favorably situated than that of an owner of
character until severed therefrom by state grant. 20 Where, as in
the grant is a question between the grantee and the registered property. Not only does a free patent have a force and
this case, it was found by the Court of Appeals that the disputed
government." 7 The above citation was repeated ipsissimis effect of a Torrens Title, but in addition the person to whom it is
lot was the result of reclamation, its being correctly categorized
verbis in Salazar v. Court of Appeals. 8 Bereft as petitioners were granted has likewise in his favor the right to repurchase within a
as public land is undeniable. 21 What was held in Heirs of Datu
of the right of ownership in accordance with the findings of the period of five years." 33 It is quite apparent, therefore, that
Pendatun v. Director of Lands 22 finds application. Thus: "There
Court of Appeals, they cannot, in the language of Reyes v. petitioners' stand is legally indefensible.
being no evidence whatever that the property in question was
Rodriguez, 9"question the [title] legally issued." 10 The second
ever acquired by the applicants or their ancestors either by
assignment of error is thus disposed of.
composition title from the Spanish Government or by possessory WHEREFORE, the decision of respondent Court of Appeals of
information title or by any other means for the acquisition of January 31, 1969 and its resolution of March 14, 1969 are
2. As there are overtones indicative of skepticism, if not of public lands, the property must be held to be public affirmed. With costs against petitioners-appellants.
outright rejection, of the well-known distinction in public law domain." 23 For it is well-settled "that no public land can be
between the government authority possessed by the state which acquired by private persons without any grant, express or
=========
is appropriately embraced in the concept of sovereignty, and its implied, from the government." 24 It is indispensable then that
capacity to own or acquire property, it is not inappropriate to there be a showing of a title from the state or any other mode of
G.R. No. L-60413 October 31, 1990
pursue the matter further. The former comes under the heading acquisition recognized by law. 25 The most recent restatement of
of imperium and the latter of dominium. The use of this term is the doctrine, found in an opinion of Justice J.B.L. Reyes,
appropriate with reference to lands held by the state in its follows: 26"The applicant, having failed to establish his right or REPUBLIC OF THE PHILIPPINES, petitioner,
proprietary character. In such capacity, it may provide for the title over the northern portion of Lot No. 463 involved in the vs.
exploitation and use of lands and other natural resources, present controversy, and there being no showing that the same HON. SOFRONIO G. SAYO, Judge, Br. I, C I, Nueva Vizcaya,
including their disposition, except as limited by the Constitution. has been acquired by any private person from the Government, HEIRS OF CASIANO SANDOVAL, HEIRS OF LIBERATO
Dean Pound did speak of the confusion that existed during the either by purchase or by grant, the property is and remains part BAYAUA, JOSE C. REYES, and PHILIPPINE CACAO AND
medieval era between such two concepts, but did note the of the public domain." 27 To repeat, the second assignment of FARM PRODUCTS, INC.,respondents.
existence of res publicae as a corollary to dominium." 11 As far as error is devoid of merit.
the Philippines was concerned, there was a recognition by Justice
Holmes in Cario v. Insular Government, 12 a case of Philippine
3. The last error assigned would take issue with this portion of
origin, that "Spain in its earlier decrees embodied the universal
the opinion of Justice Esguerra: "According to the Stipulation of
feudal theory that all lands were held from the Crown...." 13 That Sought to be annulled and set aside in this special civil action
Facts, since the filing of the sales application of Aniano David and
was a manifestation of the concept of jura regalia, 14 which was of certiorari is the decision of respondent Judge Sofronio G. Sayo
during all the proceedings in connection with said application, up
adopted by the present Constitution, ownership however being rendered on March 5, 1981 in Land Registration Case No. N-109,
to the actual issuance of the sales patent in his favor, the
vested in the state as such rather than the head thereof. What LRC Record No. 20850, confirming, by virtue of a compromise
plaintiffs-appellants did not put up any opposition or adverse
was stated by Holmes served to confirm a much more extensive agreement, the title of the private respondents over a tract of
claim thereto. This is fatal to them because after the registration
discussion of the matter in the leading case of Valenton v. land.
and issuance of the certificate and duplicate certificate of title
Murciano, 15 decided in 1904. One of the royal decrees cited was
based on a public land patent, the land covered thereby
incorporated in the Recopilacion de Leyes de las Indias 16 in
automatically comes under the operation of Republic Act 496 The spouses, Casiano Sandoval and Luz Marquez, filed an original
these words: "We having acquired full sovereignty over the Indies
subject to all the safeguards provided therein ... Under Section application for registration of a tract of land identified as Lot No.
and all lands, territories, and possessions not heretofore ceded
38 of Act 496 any question concerning the validity of the 7454 of the Cadastral Survey of Santiago, BL Cad. 211 (July 17,
away by our royal predecessors, or by us, or in our name, still
certificate of title based on fraud should be raised within one 1961) and having an area of 33,950 hectares. The land was
pertaining to the royal crown and patrimony, it is our will that all
year from the date of the issuance of the patent. Thereafter the formerly part of the Municipality of Santiago, Province of Isabela,
lands which are held without proper and true deeds of grant be
certificate of title based thereon becomes but had been transferred to Nueva Vizcaya in virtue of Republic
restored to us according as they belong to us, in order that after
indefeasible ..." 28 Petitioners cannot reconcile themselves to the Act No. 236.
reserving before all what to us or to our viceroys audiences, and
view that respondent David's title is impressed with the quality of
governors may seem necessary for public squares, ways,
indefeasibility. In thus manifesting such an attitude, they railed to
pastures, and commons in those places which are peopled, Oppositions were filed by the Government, through the Director
accord deference to controlling precedents. As far back as 1919,
taking into consideration not only their present condition, but of Lands and the Director of Forestry, and some others, including
in Aquino v. Director of
also their future and their probable increase, and after the Heirs of Liberato Bayaua. 1 In due course, an order of general
Lands, 29 Justice Malcolm, speaking for the Court, stated: "The
distributing to the natives what may be necessary for tillage and default was thereafter entered on December 11, 1961 against
proceedings under the Land Registration Law and under the
pasturage, confirming them in what they now have and giving the whole world except the oppositors.
NATURAL RESOURCES NEW CASES (ORAL QUIZ) 6

The case dragged on for about twenty (20) years until March 3, 4) that he was not even served with notice of the decision National Library dated August 16, 1932 (already above
1981 when a compromise agreement was entered into by and approving the compromise; it was the Sangguniang Panlalawigan mentioned) to the effect that according to the
among all the parties, assisted by their respective counsel, of Quirino Province that drew his attention to the "patently Government's (Estadistica de Propiedades) of Isabela issued in
namely: the Heirs of Casiano Sandoval (who had since died), the erroneous decision" and requested him to take immediate 1896, the property in question was registered under the Spanish
Bureau of Lands, the Bureau of Forest Development, the Heirs of remedial measures to bring about its annulment. system of land registration as private property of Don Liberato
Liberato Bayaua, and the Philippine Cacao and Farm Products, Bayaua. But, as this Court has already had occasion to rule, that
Inc. Under the compromise agreement, the Heirs of Casiano Spanish document, the (Estadistica de Propiedades,) cannot be
The respondents maintain, on the other hand, that the Solicitor
Sandoval (as applicants) renounced their claims and ceded considered a title to property, it not being one of the grants
General's arguments are premised on the proposition that Lot
made during the Spanish regime, and obviously not constituting
7454 is public land, but it is not. According to them, as pointed
primary evidence of ownership. 6 It is an inefficacious document
1) in favor of the Bureau of Lands, an area of 4,109 hectares; out in the application for registration, the private character of the
on which to base any finding of the private character of the land
land is demonstrated by the following circumstances, to wit:
in question.
2) in favor of the Bureau of Forest Development, 12,341
hectares; 1) the possessory information title of the applicants and their
And, of course, to argue that the initiation of an application for
predecessors-in-interest;
registration of land under the Torrens Act is proof that the land is
3) in favor of the Heirs of Liberato Bayaua, 4,000 hectares; and of private ownership, not pertaining to the public domain, is to
2) the fact that Lot 7454 was never claimed to be public land by beg the question. It is precisely the character of the land as
the Director of Lands in the proper cadastral proceedings; private which the applicant has the obligation of establishing. For
4) in favor of Philippine Cacao & Farm Products, Inc., 8,000
there can be no doubt of the intendment of the Land Registration
hectares.
Act, Act 496, that every applicant show a proper title for
3) the pre-war certification of the National Library dated August
registration; indeed, even in the absence of any adverse claim,
16, 1932 to the effect that the (Estadistica de Propiedades) of
The remaining area of 5,500 hectares was, under the the applicant is not assured of a favorable decree by the Land
Isabela issued in 1896 and appearing in the Bureau of Archives,
compromise agreement, adjudicated to and acknowledged as Registration Court, if he fails to establish a proper title for official
the property in question was registered under the 'Spanish
owned by the Heirs of Casiano Sandoval, but out of this area, recognition.
system of land registration as private property owned by Don
1,500 hectares were assigned by the Casiano Heirs to their
Liberato Bayaua, applicants' predecessors-in-interest;
counsel, Jose C. Reyes, in payment of his attorney's fees. In
It thus appears that the decision of the Registration Court a
consideration of the areas respectively allocated to them, all the
quo is based solely on the compromise agreement of the parties.
parties also mutually waived and renounced all their prior claims 4) the proceeding for registration, brought under Act 496 (the
But that compromise agreement included private persons who
to and over Lot No. 7454 of the Santiago Cadastre. Torrens Act) presupposes that there is already a title to be
had not adduced any competent evidence of their ownership
confirmed by the court, distinguishing it from proceedings under
over the land subject of the registration proceeding. Portions of
the Public Land Act where the presumption is always that the
In a decision rendered on March 5, 1981, the respondent Judge the land in controversy were assigned to persons or entities who
land involved belongs to the State.
approved the compromise agreement and confirmed the title and had presented nothing whatever to prove their ownership of any
ownership of the parties in accordance with its terms. part of the land. What was done was to consider the compromise
Under the Regalian Doctrine 2 all lands not otherwise appearing agreement as proof of title of the parties taking part therein, a
to be clearly within private ownership are presumed to belong to totally unacceptable proposition. The result has been the
The Solicitor General, in behalf of the Republic of the Philippines,
the State. Hence it is that all applicants in land registration adjudication of lands of no little extension to persons who had
has taken the present recourse in a bid to have that decision of
proceedings have the burden of overcoming the presumption not submitted any substantiation at all of their pretensions to
March 5, 1981 annulled as being patently void and rendered in
that the land thus sought to be registered forms part of the ownership, founded on nothing but the agreement among
excess of jurisdiction or with grave abuse of discretion. The
public domain. 3Unless the applicant succeeds in showing by themselves that they had rights and interests over the land.
Solicitor General contends that
clear and convincing evidence that the property involved was
acquired by him or his ancestors either by composition title from
The assent of the Directors of Lands and Forest Development to
1) no evidence whatever was adduced by the parties in support the Spanish Government or by possessory information title, or
the compromise agreement did not and could not supply the
of their petitions for registration; any other means for the proper acquisition of public lands, the
absence of evidence of title required of the private respondents.
property must be held to be part of the public domain . 4 The
applicant must present competent and persuasive proof to
2) neither the Director of Lands nor the Director of Forest
substantiate his claim; he may not rely on general statements, or As to the informacion posesoria invoked by the private
Development had legal authority to enter into the compromise
mere conclusions of law other than factual evidence of respondents, it should be pointed out that under the Spanish
agreement;
possession and title. 5 Mortgage Law, it was considered a mode of acquiring title to
public lands, subject to two (2) conditions: first, the inscription
3) as counsel of the Republic, he should have been but was not thereof in the Registry of Property, and second, actual, public,
In the proceeding at bar, it appears that the principal document
given notice of the compromise agreement or otherwise adverse, and uninterrupted possession of the land for twenty
relied upon and presented by the applicants for registration, to
accorded an opportunity to take part therein; (20) years (later reduced to ten [10] years); but where, as here,
prove the private character of the large tract of land subject of
proof of fulfillment of these conditions is absent, the informacion
their application, was a photocopy of a certification of the
NATURAL RESOURCES NEW CASES (ORAL QUIZ) 7

posesoria cannot be considered as anything more thanprima Officers and Investigations, conducted a joint investigation. not violate a provision of the Constitution intended to safeguard
facie evidence of possession. 7 Among the conclusion are: that the reclaimed lands PEA seeks to the national patrimony. The content of the amended JVA seeks to
transfer to AMARI under the JVA are lands of the public domain transfer title and ownership of reclaimed lands to a single
which the government has not classified as alienable lands and corporation. The court does not hesitate to resolve the legal or
Finally, it was error to disregard the Solicitor General in the
therefore PEA cannot alienate these lands, the certificates of the constitutional issues raised to formulate controlling principles to
execution of the compromise agreement and its submission to
title covering the Freedom Islands are thus void, and the JVA guide the bench, bar and the public.
the Court for approval. It is, after all, the Solicitor General, who is
itself is illegal. On December 5, 1997, President Ramos created a
the principal counsel of the Government; this is the reason for
Legal Task Force to conduct a study on the legality of the JVA.
our holding that "Court orders and decisions sent to the fiscal, The instant case raises constitutional issues of transcendental
acting as agent of the Solicitor General in land registration cases, importance to the public. Court can resolve this case without
are not binding until they are actually received by the Solicitor The Task Force upheld the legality of the JVA, contrary to the determining any factual issue related to the case. The instant
General." 8 conclusions of the Senate Committees. On April 27, 1998, case is a petition for mandamus which falls under the original
Petitioner as taxpayer filed the instant petition for mandamus jurisdiction of the Court. Furthermore, PEA was under a positive
with prayer for the issuance of a writ of preliminary injunction legal duty to disclose to the public the terms and conditions for
It thus appears that the compromise agreement and the
and TRO. the sale of its lands. The principle of exhaustion of administrative
judgment approving it must be, as they are hereby, declared null
remedies does not apply when the issue involved is purely legal
and void, and set aside. Considerations of fairness however
or constitutional question.
indicate the remand of the case to the Registration Court so that Petitioner contends the government stands to lose billions of
the private parties may be afforded an opportunity to establish pesos in the sale by PEA of the reclaimed lands to AMARI.
by competent evidence their respective claims to the property. Petitioner prays that PEA publicly disclose the terms of any The right to information includes official information on on-going
renegotiation of the JVA. Furthermore, petitioner assails the sale negotiations before a final agreement as required by the
to AMARI of lands of the public domains as blatant violation of constitution. The Supreme Court granted the petition. PEA and
WHEREFORE, the decision of the respondent Judge complained of
Sec 3, Art XII of the Constitution prohibiting the sale of alienable Amari Coastal Bay Development Corporation are permanently
is ANNULLED and SET ASIDE. Land Registration Case No. N-109
lands of the public domain to private corporations. Petitioner enjoined from implementing the amended JVA which is hereby
subject of the petition is REMANDED to the court of origin which
assert that he seeks to enjoin the loss of billion of pesos in declared null and void ab initio.
shall conduct further appropriate proceedings therein, receiving
properties of the State that are of public dominion.
the evidence of the parties and thereafter rendering judgment as
such evidence and the law may warrant. No pronouncement as ============
to costs. Issue: Whether or not the petitioner has legal standing to bring
the suit.
[G.R. No. 129401. February 2, 2001]
SO ORDERED.
Ratio Decidendi:
FELIPE SEVILLE in his capacity as judicial administrator of
============ the estate of JOAQUIN ORTEGA and/or FELIPE
The petitioner has standing to bring the taxpayers suit because SEVILLE, EMILIA ESTRADA, MARIA S. TELLDER,
the petition seeks to compel PEA to comply with its constitutional MA. ISABEL SEVILLE, MA. TERESITA LICARDO,
Chavez v Public Estate Authority GR No. 133250, July 9,
duties. This duties are particularly in answer of the right of FRANCISCO SEVILLE, RAMON O. SEVILLE, JOSE
2002
citizens to information on matters of public concern, and of a MARIE SEVILLE, GEMMA ALVAREZ-ASAYAS,
constitutional provision intended to insure the equitable ANNABELLE ALVAREZ-GONZALES, SYLVIA
Facts: On November 20, 1973, the government through the distribution of alienable lands of the public domain among ALVAREZ-LIOK, ADOLFO O. ALVAREZ JR., DIANA
Commissioner of Public Highways signed a contract with the Filipino citizens. Furthermore, the court considered that the ALVAREZ-DABON, MARIA SALVADOR O. POLANCOS
Construction and Development Corporation of the Philippines petition raised matters of transcendental importance tot eh and JOAQUIN ORTEGA II as successors-in-interest
(CDCP) to reclaim certain foreshore and offshore areas of Manila public. of JOAQUIN ORTEGA and his estate, petitioners,
Bay. The contract also included the construction of Phases I and II vs. NATIONAL DEVELOPMENT COMPANY, LEYTE
of the Manila-Cavite Coastal Road. CDCP obligated itself to carry SAB-A BASIN DEVELOPMENT AUTHORITY,
The mere fact that the petitioner is a citizen satisfies the
out all the works in consideration of fifty percent of the total PHILIPPINE ASSOCIATED SMELTING AND REFINING
requirement of personal interest when the proceeding involves
reclaimed land. On April 25, 1995 the PEA entered into a Joint CORPORATION, LEPANTO CONSOLIDATED MINING
the assertion of a public right. Also, ordinary taxpayers have a
Venture Agreement (JVA) with AMARI to develop the Freedom CO., PHILIPPINE PHOSPHATE FERTILIZER
right to initiate and prosecute actions questioning the validity of
Islands. CORPORATION, CALIXTRA YAP and REGISTER OF
acts or orders of government agencies or instrumentalities if the
DEEDS OF LEYTE, respondents.
issues raise are of paramount public interest and if they
immediately affect the social, economic and moral well being of
the people. Unless a public land is shown to have been reclassified as
alienable or actually alienated by the State to a private person,
This JVA was entered into through negotiation without public
that piece of land remains part of the public domain. Hence,
bidding. The Senate Committee on Government Corporations and The amended JVA does not make the issue moot and academic
occupation thereof, however long, cannot ripen into ownership.
Public Enterprises, and the Committee on Accountability of Public since this compels the court to insure the government itself does
NATURAL RESOURCES NEW CASES (ORAL QUIZ) 8
The Case
[Respondents] Philippine Associated Smelting & Refining 7. [Respondents] are also ordered to pay jointly and severally
Corporation (PASAR), Philippine Phosphate Fertilizer Corporation [petitioners] the sum of P250,000.00 as reimbursement for
(PHILPHOS) and Lepanto Consolidated Mining Co., Inc. attorneys fees and the further sum of P50,000.00 as expenses
Before us is a Petition for Review on Certiorari assailing the
(LEPANTO). for litigation;
November 29, 1996 Decision of the Court of Appeals [1] (CA), as
well as the May 19, 1997 CA Resolution [2] denying the Motion for
Reconsideration. The dispositive part of the CA Decision reads as 5. On November 29, 1988, the Estate of Joaquin Ortega 8. Finally, [petitioners] and [respondents] are ordered to sit
follows: represented by judicial administrator Felipe Seville filed with the down together and discuss the possibility of a compromise
Regional Trial Court (Branch 12) of Ormoc City, a complaint for agreement on how the improvements introduced on the
recovery of real property, rentals and damages against the landholding subject of the present suit should be disposed of and
WHEREFORE, the appealed decision is REVERSED and SET
above-named [respondents] which complaint was later on for the parties to submit to this Court a joint manifestation
ASIDE. Another judgment is hereby rendered dismissing the
amended on May 11, 1990. [Respondents] filed their respective relative thereto. In the absence of any such compromise
complaint. The counterclaims of appellants are denied. Costs
Answers. After trial, the trial court rendered judgment the agreement, such improvements shall be disposed of pursuant to
against plaintiffs-appellees.[3]
dispositive portion of which reads as follows: Article 449 of the New Civil Code.
The Facts
WHEREFORE, [a] decision is hereby rendered for [petitioners] Costs against [respondents].
and against [respondents].
The appellate court narrated the undisputed facts in this
SO ORDERED.[4]
manner:
1. The Deed of Sale executed by Calixtra Yap on June 14, 1980
in favor of LSBDA, (Exhibit PP and 25) conveying the subject Ruling of the Court of Appeals
1. By virtue of Presidential Decree No. 625, Leyte Sab-A Basin property to said LSBDA is declared NULL and VOID ab initio;
Development Authority (LSBDA) was created to integrate
government and private sector efforts for a planned Citing the Regalian doctrine that lands not appearing to be
2. The intestate estate of JOAQUIN ORTEGA is declared the
development and balanced growth of the Sab-a Basin in the privately owned are presumed to be part of the public domain,
owner in fee simple of the 735,333 square meters real property
[P]rovince of Leyte, empowered to acquire real property in the the CA held that, first, there was no competent evidence to prove
subject of the present action and defendant NDC is ordered to
successful prosecution of its business. Letter of Instruction No. that the property in question was private in character. Second,
segregate the same area from OCT P-28131 and CONVEY the
962 authorized LSBDA to acquire privately-owned lands possession thereof, no matter how long, would not ripen into
same to the Estate of Joaquin Ortega;
circumscribed in the Leyte Industrial Development Estate (LIDE) ownership, absent any showing that the land had been classified
by way of negotiated sales with the landowners. as alienable. Third, the property had been untitled before the
3. Upon the segregation of the 735,333 square meters from issuance of the Miscellaneous Sales Patent in favor of the
OCT No. P-28131 the Register of Deeds of the Province of Leyte is LSBDA. Fourth, petitioners were guilty of laches, because they
2. On June 14, 1980, [Respondent] Calixtra Yap sold to LSBDA
ordered to issue a new title to the said portion in the name of the had failed to apply for the judicial confirmation of their title, if
Lot No. 057 SWO 08-000047 consisting of 464,920 square
Intestate Estate of Joaquin Ortega; they had any. Fifth, there was no evidence of bad faith on the
meters, located at Barangay Sto. Rosario, Isabel, Leyte, covered
part of LSBDA in dealing with Yap regarding the property.
under Tax Declarations Nos. 3181, 3579, 3425, 1292 and 4251
under the name of said vendor. 4. [Respondents] LSBDA, NDC, PASAR, are ordered to pay jointly
and severally to [petitioners] the sum of FOUR MILLION SEVEN Hence, this Petition.[5]
HUNDRED EIGHTY FOUR THOUSAND EIGHT HUNDRED FORTY SIX
3. On June 1, 1982, appellant LSBDA filed a Miscellaneous Sales
PESOS (P4,784,846.00) as rentals due from 1979 to the present, The Issues
Application with the Bureau of Lands covering said lot together
plus accrued interest pursuant to par. 2 of the Lease Contract
with other lots acquired by LSBDA with an aggregate area of
between NDC and PASAR. (Exhibit 54)
442, 7508 square meters.
In their Memorandum, petitioners submit the following
issues for the consideration of the Court: [6]
5. [Respondents] LSBDA, NDC, and PHILPHOS are also ordered
4. After due notice and investigation conducted by the Bureau
to pay jointly and severally [petitioners] the sum of TWO MILLION
of Lands, Miscellaneous Sales Patent No. 9353 was issued in the
EIGHTY SIX THOUSAND THREE HUNDRED NINETY EIGHT PESOS A. Whether or not the sale by Calixtra Yap of the Estate of the
name of [Respondent] LSBDA on the basis of which Original
AND SIXTY CENTAVOS (P2,086,398.60) as accrued rentals of Late Joaquin Ortega in favor of LSBDA was null and void.
Certificate of Title No. P-28131 was transcribed in the
PHILPHOS from 1979 to present, plus the accrued interest for
Registration Book for the [P]rovince of Leyte on August 12, 1983
non-payment pursuant to paragraph 2 of the same Lease
in the name of [Respondent] LSBDA. On December 14, 1989, B. Whether or not the issuance of a Miscellaneous Sales Patent
Contract cited above;
LSBDA assigned all its rights over the subject property to its [Co- and an Original Certificate of Title in favor of LSBDA was valid.
respondent] National Development Company (NDC) as a result of
which a new Transfer Certificate of Title was issued on March 2, 6. [Respondents] are ordered to pay jointly and severally
C. Whether or not petitioners are guilty of laches.
1990 by the Registry of Deeds for the province of Northern Leyte [petitioners] P200,000.00 as indemnity for the value of the
in the name of NDC. The subject property was leased to ancestral home;
NATURAL RESOURCES NEW CASES (ORAL QUIZ) 9

D. Whether or not petitioners are entitled to the remedy of Under the Regalian doctrine, all the lands of the public by the applicant himself or thru his predecessor-in-interest, under
reconveyance and the damages awarded by the trial court. domain belong to the State, which is the source of any asserted a bona fide claim of acquisition of ownership, since June 12,
right to ownership of land. All lands not otherwise appearing to 1945.
be clearly within private ownership are presumed to belong to
In the main, the Court is called upon to determine the
the State.[8] In Menguito v. Republic,[9] the court held that
validity of LSBDAs title. In resolving this issue, it will also It should be stressed that petitioners had no certificate of
[u]nless public land is shown to have been reclassified or
ascertain whether, before the issuance of the title, the land was title over the disputed property. Although they claim that their
alienated to a private person by the State, it remains part of the
private or public. title was based on acquisitive prescription, they fail to present
inalienable public domain. Indeed, occupation thereof in the
incontrovertible proof that the land had previously been
concept of owner, no matter how long, cannot ripen into
classified as alienable. They simply brush aside the conclusion of
ownership and be registered as a title. To overcome such
the CA on this crucial point by saying that it was without factual
presumption, incontrovertible evidence must be shown by the
basis.[11] Instead, they maintain that the private character of the
The Courts Ruling applicant. Absent such evidence, the land sought to be
land was evidenced by various tax declarations, Deeds of Sale,
registered remains inalienable.
and Decisions of the trial court and even the Supreme Court. [12]
The Petition has no merit.
A person in open, continuous, exclusive an notorious
Petitioners arguments are not convincing. Tax declarations
possession of a public land for more than thirty years acquires an
are not conclusive proofs of ownership, let alone of the private
imperfect title thereto. That title may be the subject of judicial
character of the land. At best, they are merely indicia of
confirmation, pursuant to Section 48 of the Public Land Act,
a claim of ownership.[13] In Spouses Palomo v. CA,[14] the Court
Main Issue: which provides:
also rejected tax declarations as proof of private ownership,
absent any showing that the forest land in question had been
SECTION 48. The following described citizens of the Philippines, reclassified as alienable.
Validity of LSBDAs Title occupying lands of public domain or claiming to own any such
lands or an interest thereon, but whose titles have not been
Moreover, the Deeds of Sale of portions of the disputed
perfected or completed, may apply to the Court of First Instance
property, which Joaquin Ortega and several vendors executed, do
Petitioners argue that LSBDAs title to 73 hectares of the of the province where the land is located for confirmation of their
not prove that the land was private in character. The question
402-hectare Leyte Industrial Development Estate was void, claims, and the issuance of a certificate of title therefore, under
remains: What was the character of the land when Ortega
having allegedly been obtained from Calixtra Yap who had no the Land Registration Act, to wit:
purchased it? Indeed, a vendee acquires only those rights
right to it. They maintain that they acquired title to the disputed
belonging to the vendor. But petitioners failed to show that, at
property by acquisitive prescription, because they and their
xxx xxx xxx the time, the vendors were already its owners, or that the land
predecessors in interest had been in possession of it for more
was already classified as alienable.
than thirty years.[7] Although it was the subject of settlement
proceedings, petitioners further claim that Yap sold the same to (b) those who by themselves or through their predecessor in-
LSBDA without the permission of the trial court. interest have been in open, continuous, exclusive and notorious Also misplaced is petitioners reliance on Ortega v. CA,
[15]
possession and occupation of agricultural lands of the public in which the Supreme Court allegedly recognized the private
domain, under a bona fide claim of acquisition or ownership, for character of the disputed property. In that case, the sole issue
Disputing these contentions, respondents and the appellate
at least thirty years immediately preceding the filing of the was whether the respondent judge xxx acted in excess of
court maintain that petitioners have not shown that the land had
application for confirmation of title except when prevented by jurisdiction when he converted Civil Case No. 1184-O, an action
previously been classified as alienable and disposable. Absent
war or force majeure. They shall be conclusively presumed to for quieting of title, declaration of nullity of sale, and annulment
such classification, they argue that possession of it, no matter
have performed all the conditions essential to a Government of tax declaration of a parcel of land, into an action for the
how long, could not ripen into ownership.
grant and shall he entitled to a certificate of title under the declaration of who is the legal wife, who are the legitimate
provisions of this Chapter. children, if any, and who are the compulsory heirs of the
We agree with respondents and the appellate deceased Joaquin Ortega.[16] The Court did not all make any
court. First. There was no showing that the land had been ruling that the property had been classified as alienable.
Under Section 4 of Presidential Decree (PD) No. 1073,
classified as alienable before the title was issued to LSBDA; [10]
paragraph b of the aforecited provision applies only to
hence, petitioners could not have become owners thereof
alienable and disposable lands of the public domain. The In any event, Ortega arose from a suit for quieting of title,
through acquisitive prescription. Second, petitioners challenge
provision reads: an action quasi in rem that was binding only between the parties.
to LSBDAs title cannot be granted, because it is based on a [17]
The present respondents as well as the Bureau of Lands,
wrong premise and amounts to a collateral attack, which is not
which subsequently declared that the land was public, are not
allowed by law. SEC. 4. The provisions of Section 48 (b) and Section 48 (c),
bound by that ruling, because they were not impleaded therein.
Chapter VIII, of the Public Land Act, are hereby amended in the
Public Character of the Land sense that these provisions shall apply only to alienable and
disposable lands of the public domain which have been in open, While petitioners refer to the trial court proceedings
continuous, exclusive and notorious possession and occupation supposedly recognizing the private character of the disputed
NATURAL RESOURCES NEW CASES (ORAL QUIZ) 10

property, they make no claim that these cases directly involve There is another reason for denying the present instituted by the Solicitor General or the officer acting in his
the classification of the land, or that the Bureau of Lands is a Petition. Petitioners insist that they are not seeking the re- stead, in the proper courts, in the name of the [Republic] of the
party thereto. opening of a decree under the Torrens system. Supposedly, Philippines.
they are only praying for the segregation of 735,333 square
meters of land, or 73 hectares more or less from the OCT No. P-
Clearly, the burden of proof that the land has been Verily, the prayer for reconveyance and, for that matter, the
28131 issued to LSBDA.[21] This disputation is mere quibbling
classified as alienable is on the claimant. [18] In the present case, entire case of petitioners rest on the theory that they have
over the words, plain and simple.
petitioners failed to discharge this burden. Hence, their acquired the property by acquisitive prescription; and that Yap,
possession of the disputed property, however long, cannot ripen without any right or authority, sold the same to LSBDA.
into ownership. Semantics aside, petitioners are effectively seeking the
modification of LSBDAs OCT, which allegedly encompassed even Conclusion

LSBDAs Title a parcel of land allegedly belonging to them. Hence, the present
suit, purportedly filed for the recovery of real property and
damages, is tantamount to a collateral attack not sanctioned by In the light of our earlier disquisition, the theory has no leg
Equally unmeritous is the argument of petitioners that the law. Section 48 of PD 1529, the Property Registration Decree, to stand on. Absent any showing that the land has been
title of LSBDA is void. As earlier stated, they claim that such title expressly provides: classified as alienable, their possession thereof, no matter how
was derived from Calixtra Yap, who was allegedly not the owner lengthy, cannot ripen into ownership. In other words, they have
of the property. Petitioners assume that LSBDA, having acquired not become owners of the disputed property. Moreover, LSBDAs
SEC. 48. Certificate not subject to collateral attack. -- A
the rights of Yap, resorted to a confirmation of her imperfect title title was derived from a Miscellaneous Sales Patent, not from
certificate of title shall not be subject to collateral attack. It
under Section 48 of the Public Land Act. This argument is devoid Yap. Finally, petitioners cannot, by a collateral attack, challenge
cannot be altered, modified, or cancelled except in a direct
of factual or legal basis. a certificate of title that has already become indefeasible and
proceeding in accordance with law.
incontrovertible.
Petitioners fail to consider that the title of LSBDA was
It has been held that a certificate of title, once registered,
based, not on the conveyance made by Yap, but on If petitioners believe that they have been defrauded by Yap,
should not thereafter be impugned, altered, changed, modified,
Miscellaneous Sales Patent No. 9353 issued by the director of the they should seek redress, not in these proceedings, but in a
enlarged or diminished, except in a direct proceeding permitted
Bureau of Lands. In fact, after LSBDA had filed an application for proper action in accordance with law.
by law. Otherwise, the reliance on registered titles would be lost.
patent, the Bureau of Lands conducted an investigation and [22]
found that the land was part of the public domain. After
WHEREFORE, the Petition is hereby DENIED and the
compliance with the notice and publication requirements, LSBDA
assailed Decision AFFIRMED. Costs against petitioners.
acquired the property in a public auction conducted by the Moreover, the title became indefeasible and
Bureau of Lands.[19] incontrovertible after the lapse of one year from the time of its
registration and issuance.[23] Section 32 of PD 1529 provides that SO ORDERED.
[u]pon the expiration of said period of one year, the decree of
Petitioners insist, however, that LSBDA was estopped from
registration and the certificate of title shall become
claiming that the land was public, because the Deed of Sale Melo (Chairman), Gonzaga-Reyes, and Sandoval-Gutierrez,
incontrovertible. Any person aggrieved buy such decree of
executed by Yap in its favor stipulated that the seller is the JJ., concur.
registration in any case may pursue his remedy by action for
absolute owner in fee simple of the xxx described property. [20] It
damages against the applicant or other persons responsible for
is scarcely necessary to address this point. To begin with, the
the fraud. Although LSBDAs title was registered in 1983, Vitug, J., in the result.
power to classify a land as alienable belongs to the State, not to
petitioners filed the amended Complaint only in 1990.
private entities. Hence, the pronouncements of Yap or LSBDA
cannot effect the reclassification of the property. Moreover, the ==============
Reconveyance
assailed misrepresentation was made by Yap as seller. Hence,
objections thereto should be raised not by petitioners but by
LSBDA, the contracting party obviously aggrieved.
Petitioners also claim that the disputed property should be G.R. No. 134209 January 24, 2006
reconveyed to them. This cannot be allowed. Considering that
In any case, the actions of LSBDA after Yaps conveyance the land was public before the Miscellaneous Sales Patent was
REPUBLIC OF THE PHILIPPINES, Petitioner,
demonstrated its position that the disputed land was part of the issued to LSBDA, petitioners have no standing to ask for the
vs.
public domain. That this was so can be inferred from LSBDAs reconveyance of the property to them. The proper remedy is an
CELESTINA NAGUIAT, Respondent.
subsequent application for a Miscellaneous Sales Patent and, in a action for reversion, which may be instituted only by the Office of
public auction, its purchase of the property from the Bureau of the Solicitor General, pursuant to section 101 of the Public Land
Lands. Indeed, Yap merely conveyed a claim, not a title which Act, which reads as follows: DECISION
she did not have.
SEC. 101. All actions for the reversion to the Government of GARCIA, J.:
Collateral Attack
lands of the public domain or improvements thereon shall be
NATURAL RESOURCES NEW CASES (ORAL QUIZ) 11

Before the Court is this petition for review under Rule 45 of the In a decision4 dated September 30, 1991, the trial court rendered domain, are not capable of private appropriation. 5 As to these
Rules of Court seeking the reversal of the Decision 1 dated May judgment for herein respondent Celestina Naguiat, adjudicating assets, the rules on confirmation of imperfect title do not
29, 1998 of the Court of Appeals (CA) in CA-G.R. CV No. unto her the parcels of land in question and decreeing the apply.6 Given this postulate, the principal issue to be addressed
37001 which affirmed an earlier decision2 of the Regional Trial registration thereof in her name, thus: turns on the question of whether or not the areas in question
Court at Iba, Zambales, Branch 69 in Land Registration Case No. have ceased to have the status of forest or other inalienable
N-25-1. lands of the public domain.
WHEREFORE, premises considered, this Court hereby adjudicates
the parcels of land situated in Panan, Botolan, Zambales,
The decision under review recites the factual backdrop, as appearing on Plan AP-03-003447 containing an area of 3,131 Forests, in the context of both the Public Land Act 7 and the
follows: square meters, appearing on Plan AP-03-003446 containing an Constitution8 classifying lands of the public domain into
area of 15,322 containing an area of 15,387 square meters to "agricultural, forest or timber, mineral lands and national
herein applicant Celestina T. Naguiat, of legal age, Filipino citizen, parks," do not necessarily refer to a large tract of wooded land or
This is an application for registration of title to four (4) parcels of
married to Rommel Naguiat and a resident of Angeles City, an expanse covered by dense growth of trees and underbrush.
land located in Panan, Botolan, Zambales, more particularly
Pampanga together with all the improvements existing thereon As we stated in Heirs of Amunategui 9-
described in the amended application filed by Celestina Naguiat
and orders and decrees registration in her name in accordance
on 29 December 1989 with the Regional Trial Court of Zambales,
with Act No. 496, Commonwealth Act No. 14, [should be 141] as
Branch 69. Applicant [herein respondent] alleges, inter alia, that A forested area classified as forest land of the public domain
amended, and Presidential Decree No. 1529. This adjudication,
she is the owner of the said parcels of land having acquired them does not lose such classification simply because loggers or
however, is subject to the various easements/reservations
by purchase from the LID Corporation which likewise acquired settlers have stripped it of its forest cover. Parcels of land
provided for under pertinent laws, presidential decrees and/or
the same from Demetria Calderon, Josefina Moraga and Fausto classified as forest land may actually be covered with grass or
presidential letters of instructions which should be annotated/
Monje and their predecessors-in-interest who have been in planted to crops by kaingin cultivators or other farmers. "Forest
projected on the title to be issued. And once this decision
possession thereof for more than thirty (30) years; and that to lands" do not have to be on mountains or in out of the way
becomes final, let the corresponding decree of registration be
the best of her knowledge, said lots suffer no mortgage or places. xxx. The classification is merely descriptive of its legal
immediately issued. (Words in bracket added)
encumbrance of whatever kind nor is there any person having nature or status and does not have to be descriptive of what the
any interest, legal or equitable, or in possession thereof. land actually looks like. xxx
With its motion for reconsideration having been denied by the
trial court, petitioner Republic went on appeal to the CA in CA-
On 29 June 1990, the Republic of the Philippines [herein Under Section 2, Article XII of the Constitution, 10 which embodies
G.R. CV No. 37001.
petitioner]. . . filed an opposition to the application on the ground the Regalian doctrine, all lands of the public domain belong to
that neither the applicant nor her predecessors-in interest have the State the source of any asserted right to ownership of
been in open, continuous, exclusive and notorious possession As stated at the outset hereof, the CA, in the herein assailed land.11 All lands not appearing to be clearly of private dominion
and occupation of the lands in question since 12 June 1945 or decision of May 29, 1998, affirmed that of the trial court, to wit: presumptively belong to the State.12 Accordingly, public lands not
prior thereto; that the muniments of title and tax payment shown to have been reclassified or released as alienable
receipts of applicant do not constitute competent and sufficient agricultural land or alienated to a private person by the State
WHEREFORE, premises considered, the decision appealed from is
evidence of a bona-fide acquisition of the lands applied for or of remain part of the inalienable public domain.13 Under Section 6 of
hereby AFFIRMED.
his open, continuous, exclusive and notorious possession and the Public Land Act, the prerogative of classifying or reclassifying
occupation thereof in the concept of (an) owner; that the lands of the public domain, i.e., from forest or mineral to
applicants claim of ownership in fee simple on the basis of SO ORDERED. agricultural and vice versa, belongs to the Executive Branch of
Spanish title or grant can no longer be availed of . . .; and that the government and not the court. 14 Needless to stress, the onus
the parcels of land applied for are part of the public domain to overturn, by incontrovertible evidence, the presumption that
Hence, the Republics present recourse on its basic submission
belonging to the Republic of the Philippines not subject to private the land subject of an application for registration is alienable or
that the CAs decision "is not in accordance with law,
appropriation. disposable rests with the applicant.15
jurisprudence and the evidence, since respondent has not
established with the required evidence her title in fee simple or
On 15 October 1990, the lower court issued an order of general imperfect title in respect of the subject lots which would warrant In the present case, the CA assumed that the lands in question
default as against the whole world, with the exception of the their registration under (P.D. 1529 or Public Land Act (C.A.) are already alienable and disposable. Wrote the appellate court:
Office of the Solicitor General, and proceeded with the hearing of 141." In particular, petitioner Republic faults the appellate court
this registration case. on its finding respecting the length of respondents occupation of
The theory of [petitioner] that the properties in question are
the property subject of her application for registration and for not
lands of the public domain cannot be sustained as it is directly
considering the fact that she has not established that the lands
After she had presented and formally offered her evidence . . . against the above doctrine. Said doctrine is a reaffirmation of the
in question have been declassified from forest or timber zone to
applicant rested her case. The Solicitor General, thru the principle established in the earlier cases . . . that open, exclusive
alienable and disposable property.
Provincial Prosecutor, interposed no objection to the admission of and undisputed possession of alienable public land for period
the exhibits. Later . . . the Provincial Prosecutor manifest (sic) prescribed by law creates the legal fiction whereby the land,
that the Government had no evidence to adduce. 3 Public forest lands or forest reserves, unless declassified and upon completion of the requisite period, ipso jure and without the
released by positive act of the Government so that they may need of judicial or other sanction, ceases to be public land and
form part of the disposable agricultural lands of the public
NATURAL RESOURCES NEW CASES (ORAL QUIZ) 12

becomes private property . (Word in bracket and underscoring Registration Case No. N-25-1 of the Regional Trial Court at Iba, Lot 2-Sgs-2409 area 1,401,855 sq. m
added.) Zambales, Branch 69, is DENIED.
(b) On May 3, 1963, the aforesaid Sales Patent was registered
The principal reason for the appellate courts disposition, finding No costs. with the defendant Register of Deeds of Bataan who in turn
a registerable title for respondent, is her and her predecessor-in- issued Original Certificate of Title No. Sp-24 in favor of defendant
interests open, continuous and exclusive occupation of the Sunbeam Convenience Foods, Inc., for the two parcels of land
SO ORDERED.
subject property for more than 30 years. Prescinding from its above-described;
above assumption and finding, the appellate court went on to
conclude, citing Director of Lands vs. Intermediate Appellate
(c) Subsequently, Original Certificate of Title No. Sp-24 was
Court (IAC)16 and Herico vs. DAR,17 among other cases, that, upon ===========
cancelled and in lieu thereof, Transfer Certificate of Title No. T-
the completion of the requisite period of possession, the lands in
12421 was issued over Lot 1, Sgs-2409, while Transfer Certificate
question cease to be public land and become private property.
G.R. No. L-50464 January 29, 1990 of Title No. 12422 was issued over Lot 2, Sgs-2409, both in favor
of defendant Coral Beach Development Corporation I
Director of Lands, Herico and the other cases cited by the CA are
SUNBEAM CONVENIENCE FOODS INC., CORAL BEACH
not, however, winning cards for the respondent, for the simple
DEVELOPMENT CORP., and the REGISTER OF DEEDS OF (d) On May 11, 1976, the Solicitor General in the name of the
reason that, in said cases, the disposable and alienable nature of
BATAAN, petitioners, Republic of the Philippines instituted before the Court of First
the land sought to be registered was established, or, at least, not
vs. Instance of Bataan, an action for reversion docketed as Civil Case
put in issue. And there lies the difference.
HON. COURT OF APPEALS and THE REPUBLIC OF THE No. 4062. 2
PHILIPPINES, respondents.
Here, respondent never presented the required certification from
SUNBEAM and CORAL BEACH filed a Motion to Dismiss on the
the proper government agency or official proclamation
Filoteo T. Banzon for petitioners. following grounds:
reclassifying the land applied for as alienable and disposable.
Matters of land classification or reclassification cannot be
assumed. It calls for proof. 18 Aside from tax receipts, respondent SARMIENTO, J.: 1. The Republic of the Philippines should have exhausted all
submitted in evidence the survey map and technical descriptions administrative remedies before filing the case in court;
of the lands, which, needless to state, provided no information
In this petition for review on certiorari, Convenience Foods
respecting the classification of the property. As the Court has
Corporation (hereafter simply SUNBEAM) and Coral Beach 2. The title issued to SUNBEAM and CORAL BEACH had become
held, however, these documents are not sufficient to overcome
Development Corporation (hereafter simply CORAL BEACH) bring indefeasible and imprescriptible;
the presumption that the land sought to be registered forms part
to our attention the decision rendered by the Court of Appeals in
of the public domain.19
"Republic of the Philippines v. Hon. Pedro T. Santiago, et al.,"
3. The action for reversion was defective, having been initiated
disposing as follows:
by the Solicitor General and not by the Director of Lands. 3 The
It cannot be overemphasized that unwarranted appropriation of
then Court of First Instance of Bataan dismissed the complaint in
public lands has been a notorious practice resorted to in land
the Order of October 7, 1977,4adopting mainly the theory that
registration cases.20 For this reason, the Court has made it a
since the titles sought to be cancelled emanated from the
point to stress, when appropriate, that declassification of forest
administrative act of the Bureau of Lands Director, the latter, not
and mineral lands, as the case may be, and their conversion into WHEREFORE, the writ prayed for is granted. The order of the
the courts, had jurisdiction over the disposition of the land.
alienable and disposable lands need an express and positive act respondent judge dated October 7, 1977, dismissing Civil Case
from the government.21 No. 4062 is set aside, and respondent judge is ordered to require
private respondents to file their answer to the complaint in said The Solicitor General received the copy of the Order on October
Civil Case No. 4062 and thereafter to proceed with the trial of the 11, 1977 and filed a Notice of Appeal dated October 25,
The foregoing considered, the issue of whether or not respondent
case on the merits and to render judgment thereon.' 1977 . 5 The Solicitor General then moved for an extension of
and her predecessor-in-interest have been in open, exclusive and
thirty days within which to file the Record on Appeal and to pay
continuous possession of the parcels of land in question is now of
the docket fee in order to perfect the appeal. This was to be
little moment. For, unclassified land, as here, cannot be acquired The following facts stated by the respondent Court in its decision
followed by another motion for extension filed by the Solicitor
by adverse occupation or possession; occupation thereof in the and restated by the petitioners in their petition are accurate:
General, resulting in the Court of Appeals granting the petitioner
concept of owner, however long, cannot ripen into private
another extension of fifteen days from December 10, 1977.
ownership and be registered as title.22
(a) On April 29, 1963, the Director of Lands caused the issuance Finally before this period of extension lapsed, instead of an
of a Sales Patent in favor of defendant Sunbeam Convenience appeal, a petition for certiorari with the respondent Court of
WHEREFORE, the instant petition is GRANTED and the assailed Foods, Inc., over the parcels of land both situated in Mariveles, Appeals was filed.
decision dated May 29, 1998 of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. Bataan and more particularly described and bounded as follows:
CV No. 37001 is REVERSED and SET ASIDE. Accordingly,
respondents application for original registration of title in Land
Lot 1-Sgs-2409 (area 3,113,695 sq. m )
NATURAL RESOURCES NEW CASES (ORAL QUIZ) 13

According to the Solicitor General, the Court of First Instance to Dismiss the complaint for reversion by SUNBEAM and CORAL advancement of public policy dictate; or when the broader
committed grave abuse of discretion in dismissing the complaint BEACH on the ground of lack of cause of action, necessarily interests of justice so require, or when the writs issued are
and in carried with it the admission, for purposes of the motion, of the null, 16 or when the questioned order amounts to an oppressive
truth of all material facts pleaded in the complaint instituted by exercise of judicial authority. 17
the Republic.
a. Not finding that since the lower court acted in a Motion to
Dismiss, the correctness of its decision must be decided in the We find nothing disagreeable with the action of the Court of
assumed truth and accuracy of the allegations of the complaint. An important factual issue raised in the complaint was the Appeals to give due course to the petition considering that the
The complaint alleges that the lands in question are forest lands; classification of the lands as forest lands. This material allegation issue affected a matter of public concern which is the disposition
hence, inalienable. stated in the Republic's complaint' was never denied of the lands of our matrimony No less than the Constitution
specifically 9 by the defendants (petitioners herein) SUNBEAM protects its policy.
and CORAL BEACH.
b. Finding that Lots I and 2 are alienable and disposable lands of
the public domain under the jurisdiction of the Director of Lands We therefore find no compelling reason to disturb the findings of
despite clear and positive evidence to the contrary. If it is true that the lands are forest lands, then all these the appellate court, in the absence of a clear showing that the
proceedings become moot and academic. Land remains Court of Appeals has decided a question of substance in a
unclassified land until it is released therefrom and rendered open manner inconsistent with jurisprudence, or that the respondent
c. Concluding that the complaint for reversion is defective as it
to disposition. 10 Court has departed from the accepted and usual course of
was not initiated by the Director of Lands.
judicial proceedings. In sum, no reversible error has been
committed by the respondent court. 18
Our adherence to the Regalian doctrine subjects all agricultural,
d. Finding that the complaint for reversion states no cause of
timber, and mineral lands to the dominion of the State. 11 Thus,
action for alleged failure of petitioner to exhaust administrative
before any land may be declassified from the forest group and WHEREFORE, the petition is DENIED and the decision of the Court
remedies. 6
converted into alienable or disposable land for agricultural or of Appeals is affirmed. Costs against the petitioners.
other purposes, there must be a positive act from the
The Court of Appeals gave due course to the petition for government. Even rules on the confirmation of imperfect titles do
SO ORDERED.
certiorari, set aside the Order of Dismissal rendered by the Court not apply unless and until the land classified as forest land is
of First Instance in Civil Case No. 4062, and ordered the presiding released in an official proclamation to that effect so that it may
judge Hon. Pedro T. Santiago to receive the answers of the form part of the disposable agricultural lands of the public
private respondents SUNBEAM and CORAL BEACH in the action domain. 12 =================
for reversion. G.R. No. 83609 October 26, 1989
The mere fact that a title was issued by the Director of Lands
Hence Sunbeam and Coral Beach filed this petition for review. does not confer any validity on such title if the property covered DIRECTOR OF LANDS, petitioner,
by the title or patent is part of the public forest. 13 vs.
COURT OF APPEALS, IBARRA BISNAR and AMELIA
A review is not a matter of right but of sound judicial discretion,
BISNAR, respondents.
and is granted only when there are special and important The only way to resolve this question of fact as to the
reasons therefore. The following, while neither controlling nor classification of the land is by remanding the case to the lower
fully measuring the Court's discretion, enumerates the premises court for a full- dress trial on the issues involved. Ibarra L. Bisnar for himself and for and in behalf of co-private
for granting a review: respondent Amelia Bisnar.
Generally, the rules of procedure must be observed so that the
(a) When the Court of Appeals has decided a question of efficient administration of justice is ensured. However, the rules
substance, not theretofore determined by the Supreme Court or of procedure should be viewed as mere tools designed to
has decided it in a way probably not in accord with law or the facilitate the attainment of justice.14 They must lead to the
GRIO-AQUINO, J.:
applicable decisions of the Supreme Court; and proper and just determination of litigation, without tying the
hands of the law or making it indifferent to realities.
Petitioner Director of Lands, through the Solicitor General, seeks
(b) When the Court of Appeals has so far departed from the
a review of the decision dated May 27, 1988, of the Court of
accepted and usual course of judicial proceedings or so far Certiorari is one such remedy. Considered extraordinary, it is
Appeals in CA-G.R. CV No. 66426, entitled "Ibarra Bisnar, et al.
sanctioned such departure by a lower court as to call for made available only when there is no appeal, nor any plain,
vs. Director of Lands," affirming in toto the decision of the Court
supervision . 7 speedy or adequate remedy in the ordinary course of the
of First Instance of Capiz, granting the private respondents'
law. 15 The long line of decisions denying the petition for
application for confirmation and registration of their title to two
certiorari, either before appeal was availed of or specially in
We agree with the Court of Appeals' granting of the petition filed (2) parcels of land in LRC Cad. Rec. 1256.
instances where the appeal period has lapsed, far outnumbers
by the Republic of the Philippines charging the then Court of First
the instances when certiorari was given due course. The few
Instance with grave abuse of discretion. The filing of the Motion
significant exceptions were: when public welfare and the
NATURAL RESOURCES NEW CASES (ORAL QUIZ) 14

In their joint application for registration of title to two (2) parcels respondents. It found that applicants and their predecessors- in- certified to by the then Director of Forestry, the area is needed
of land filed on July 20,1976, the applicants Ibarra and Amelia interest have been in open, public, continuous, peaceful and for forest purposes. (pp. 21-22, Rollo.)
Bisnar claimed to be the owners in fee simple of Lots 866 and adverse possession of the subject parcels of land under bona
870 of the Pilar Cadastre Plan AP-06-000869, respectively fide claims of ownership for more than eighty (80) years (not
It bears emphasizing that a positive act of the government is
containing an area of 28 hectares (284,424 sq. m.) and 34 only 30) prior to the filing of the application for registration,
needed to declassify land which is classified as forest and to
hectares (345,385 sq. m.) situated in barrio Gen. Hizon, introduced improvements on the lands by planting coconuts,
convert it into alienable or disposable land for agricultural or
Municipality of President Roxas, Province of Capiz (p. 14, Rollo). bamboos and other plants, and converted a part of the land into
other purposes (Republic vs. Animas, 56 SCRA 499). Unless and
The applicants alleged that they inherited those parcels of land productive fishponds (p. 68, Rollo).
until the land classified as forest is released in an official
(p. 41, Rollo) and they had been paying the taxes thereon (p. 40,
proclamation to that effect so that it may form part of the
Rollo).
On appeal, the Appellate Court affirmed the trial court's decision. disposable agricultural lands of the public domain, the rules on
It held that the classification of the lots as timberland by the confirmation of imperfect title do not apply (Amunategui vs.
On December 16,1976, the Director of Lands and the Director of Director of Forestry cannot prevail in the absence of proof that Director of Forestry, 126 SCRA 69; Director of Lands vs. Court of
the Bureau of Forest Development, opposed the application on the said lots are indeed more valuable as forest land than as Appeals, 129 SCRA 689; Director of Lands vs. Court of Appeals,
the grounds that: agricultural land, citing as authority the case of Ankron vs. 133 SCRA 701; Republic vs. Court of Appeals, 148 SCRA 480;
Government of the Philippine Islands (40 Phil. 10). In this Vallarta vs. Intermediate Appellate Court, 151 SCRA 679).
petition, the government alleges that:
1. Neither the applicants nor their predecessors-in-interest
possess sufficient title to acquire ownership in fee simple of the Thus, possession of forest lands, however long, cannot ripen into
land or lots applied for, the same not having been acquired by 1. the classification or reclassification of public lands into private ownership (Vano vs. Government, 41 Phil. 161 [1920];
any of the various types of title issued by the Spanish alienable or disposable agricultural land, mineral land or forest Adorable vs. Director of Forestry, 107 Phil. 401 [1960]). A parcel
Government, such as, (1) 'titulo real' or royal grant, (2) the land is a prerogative of the Executive Department of the of forest land is within the exclusive jurisdiction of the Bureau of
'concession especial' or special grant, (3) the 'composicion con el government and not of the courts; Forestry and beyond the power and jurisdiction of the cadastral
estado titulo' or adjustment title, (4) the 'titulo de compra 'or title court to register under the Torrens System (Republic vs. Court of
by purchase, and (5) the 'informacion possessoria' or possessory Appeals, 89 SCRA 648; Republic vs. Vera, 120 SCRA 210 [1983];
2. that possession of forest lands, no matter how long, cannot
information under the Royal Decree of 13 February 1894, or any Director of Lands vs. Court of Appeals, 129 SCRA 689 [1984]).
ripen into private ownership; and
other recognized mode of acquisition of title over realty under
pertinent applicable laws.
Section 48 (b) of Commonwealth Act No. 141, as amended,
3. that an applicant for registration of title has the burden of
applies exclusively to public agricultural land. Forest lands or
proving that he meets the requirements of Section 48 of Com.
2. Neither the applicants nor their predecessors-in-interest have areas covered with forests are excluded (p. 26, Rollo). We
Act No. 141, as amended. (p. 19, Rollo.)
been in open, continuous, exclusive and notorious possession reiterate our ruling in Amunategui that:
and occupation of the land in question for at least thirty (30)
years immediately preceding the filing of the application. The principal issue in this appeal is whether the lots in question
In confirmation of imperfect title cases, the applicant shoulders
may be registered under Section 48 (b) of CA 141, as amended.
the burden of proving that he meets the requirements of
3. The properties in question are a portion of the public domain Section 48, Commonwealth Act No. 141, as amended by
belonging to the Republic of the Philippines, not subject to The petition is impressed with merit. Republic Act 1942. He must overcome the presumption that the
private appropriation, (pp. 17-19, Record on Appeal). (pp. 14-15, land he is applying for is part of the public domain but that he
Rollo.) has an interest therein sufficient to warrant registration in his
In the case of Bureau of Forestry vs. Court of Appeals, 153 SCRA
name because of an imperfect title such as those derived from
351, we ruled:
old Spanish grants or that he has had continuous, open and
On February 24,1977, the applicants filed an amended
notorious possession and occupation of agricultural lands of the
application, which was approved on March 14, 1977, and
As provided for under Section 6 of Commonwealth Act 141, public domain under a bona fide claim of acquisition of
included the following allegation:
which was lifted from Act 2874, the classification or ownership for at least thirty (30) years preceding the filing of
reclassification of public lands into alienable or disposable, his application. (Heirs of Amunategui vs. Director of Forestry,
Should the Land Registration Act invoked be mineral or forest lands is now a prerogative of the Executive 126 SCRA 69.)
not applicable to the case, they hereby apply Department of the government and not the courts. With these
for the benefits of Chapter 8, Commonwealth rules, there should be no more room for doubt that it is not the
WHEREFORE, the appealed decision is reversed and set aside.
Act 141, as amended, as they and their court which determines the classification of lands of the public
The application for registration in LRC Cad. Rec. 1256 of the
predecessors-in-interest have been in domain into agricultural, forest or mineral but the Executive
former Court of First Instance, is hereby dismissed without costs.
possession of the land as owners for more than Branch of the government, through the Office of the President.
fifty (50) years. (p. 16, Rollo.) Hence, it was grave error and/or abuse of discretion for
respondent court to ignore the uncontroverted facts that (1) SO ORDERED.
the disputed area is within a timberland block, and (2) as
After hearing, the trial court ordered the registration of the title
of the lots in the names of the applicants, herein private =========
NATURAL RESOURCES NEW CASES (ORAL QUIZ) 15

G.R. No. 168184 June 22, 2009 After establishing the jurisdictional facts, respondent presented Tagaytay, containing an area of Eight Hundred Eighty Eight (888)
the following documents to support her application: Square Meters in the name of RUBY LEE TSAI, married to Tsai Yu
Lung, both of legal age and residents of Sun Valley Subdivision,
REPUBLIC OF THE PHILIPPINES, Petitioner,
Sta. Ana Drive, Paraaque, Metro Manila.lawphil.net
vs. 1. Deed of Absolute Sale dated 31 May 1993 between
RUBY LEE TSAI, Respondent. respondent and Carungcong;
Once this Decision becomes final and executory, the
corresponding decree of registration shall forthwith issue.
The Case 2. Tax Declarations corresponding to different years
showing that the subject property has been declared
under the name of Carungcong for tax purposes: Tax SO ORDERED.18
Before the Court is a petition for review 1 assailing the 30 January
Declaration No. 02226-A for the year 1948, Tax
2004 Decision2 and 12 May 2005 Resolution 3of the Court of
Declaration No. 010158-A for the year 1960, Tax
Appeals in CA G.R. CV No. 70006. The 30 January 2004 Decision The Republic appealed to the Court of Appeals on the ground
Declaration No. 013976-A for the year 1965, Tax
affirmed the 21 September 1998 Decision 4 of the Regional Trial that the trial court erred in granting the application for
Declaration No. 07209-B for the year 1974, Tax
Court of Tagaytay City, Branch 18 (trial court) in LRC Case No. registration despite respondents failure to prove open,
Declaration No. 016-0635 for the year 1980, Tax
TG-7885which approved the application of respondent Ruby Lee continuous, exclusive and notorious possession of the subject
Declaration No. GR-016-0735 for the year 1985 and Tax
Tsai for the confirmation and registration of Lot No. 7062, property since 12 June 1945 or earlier. According to the Republic,
Declaration No. GR-016-1610 for the year 1992;13
described in plan Ap-04-010084, Cad-355, Tagaytay Cadastre, it is not sufficient that respondent proved possession of the
with an area of 888 square meters (subject property). The 12 subject property for more than 30 years.
May 2005 Resolution denied the motion for reconsideration of 3. Tax Declaration Nos. GR-016-1776-R and 016-1084
petitioner Republic of the Philippines (Republic). for the year 1994 showing that the subject property has
In the assailed 30 January 2004 Decision, the Court of Appeals
been declared under the name of respondent for tax
affirmed the trial courts decision.
purposes;14
The Facts
The Republic filed a motion for reconsideration. The Court of
4. Official Receipts corresponding to different years
On 3 December 1996, respondent filed an application 6 for the Appeals denied Republics motion.
showing the payment of real property taxes under the
confirmation and registration of the subject property under
name of Carungcong: Official Receipt No. 4641772
Presidential Decree No. 1529 (PD 1529). 7 Respondent alleged
dated 27 May 1991, Official Receipt No. 2326477 dated Hence, this petition.
that she is the owner of the subject property and the
10 December 1992, Official Receipt No. 0535585 dated
improvements thereon. Respondent stated that on 31 May 1993,
10 June 1992, Official Receipt No. 4879666 dated 28
she purchased the subject property from Manolita Gonzales Vda. The Ruling of the Regional Trial Court
May 1993 and Official Receipt No. 4879620 dated 3 June
de Carungcong (Carungcong), through Wendy Mitsuko Sato,
1993;15
Carungcongs daughter and attorney in fact. 8 Respondent
According to the trial court, respondent was able to establish her
declared that she and her predecessors-in-interest have been in
title and interest over the subject property. The trial court found
open, continuous, exclusive and notorious possession and 5. Official Receipts corresponding to different years
that respondent and her predecessors-in-interest have been in
occupation of the subject property for more than 30 years. showing the payment of real property taxes under the
actual possession of the subject property for more than 30 years.
name of respondent: Official Receipt No. 4997840 dated
The trial court also declared that the subject property was
10 January 1994, Official Receipt No. 7304615 dated 15
Except for the Republic, there were no other oppositors to the residential and not within any forest zone or the public domain.
February 1995 and Official Receipt No. 9115050 dated
application. The Republic opposed respondents application on
31 March 1997;16 and
the following grounds: (1) that respondent and her predecessors-
The Ruling of the Court of Appeals
in-interest failed to present sufficient evidence to show that they
have been in open, continuous, exclusive and notorious 6. Certification of the City Treasurer of Tagaytay City
possession and occupation of the subject property since 12 June stating that the real property taxes for the years 1994 The Court of Appeals affirmed the trial courts finding that
1945 or earlier as required by Section 48(b) 9 of Commonwealth to 1997 were paid.17 respondent and her predecessors-in-interest have been in open,
Act No. 141 (CA 141),10 as amended by Presidential Decree No. continuous, exclusive and notorious possession of the subject
1073 (PD 1073);11 (2) that the tax declarations and tax receipt property in the concept of an owner for more than 30 years.
On 21 September 1998, the trial court granted respondents
payments attached to the application do not constitute According to the Court of Appeals, respondent need not prove
application for registration. The dispositive portion states:
competent and sufficient evidence of abona fide acquisition of that she and her predecessors-in-interest have been in
the land applied for or of respondents open, continuous, possession of the subject property since 12 June 1945 or earlier
exclusive and notorious possession and occupation of the subject WHEREFORE, this court hereby approves this application for because Section 48(b) of CA 141 was already superseded by
property in the concept of an owner since 12 June 1945 or registration and thus places under the operation of Act 141, Act Republic Act No. 1942 (RA 1942),19 which provides for a simple
earlier; and (3) that the subject property forms part of the public 496 and/or P.D. 1529, otherwise known as Property Registration 30 year prescriptive period of occupation by an applicant for
domain and is not subject to private appropriation. 12 Law, the land, Lot 7062 described in plan Ap-04-010084, Cad- judicial confirmation of title.
355, Tagaytay Cadastre, situated in the Brgy. of San Jose, City of
NATURAL RESOURCES NEW CASES (ORAL QUIZ) 16

The Issue predecessors-in-interest have been in open, continuous, however, has already been amended by Presidential Decree No.
exclusive and notorious possession and occupation; and (3) that 1073, approved on January 25, 1977. As amended, Section 48(b)
such possession is under a bona fide claim of ownership now reads:
The Republic raises the sole issue of whether the trial court can
since 12 June 1945 or earlier. The right to file the application
grant the application for registration despite the lack of proof of
for registration derives from a bona fide claim of ownership going
respondents open, continuous, exclusive and notorious (b) Those who by themselves or through their predecessors in
back to 12 June 1945 or earlier, by reason of the claimants open,
possession of the subject property since 12 June 1945 or earlier. interest have been in open, continuous, exclusive, and notorious
continuous, exclusive and notorious possession of alienable and
possession and occupation of agricultural lands of the public
disposable land of the public domain.
domain, under a bona fide claim of acquisition of
The Courts Ruling
ownership, since June 12, 1945, or earlier, immediately
A similar right is given under Section 48(b) of CA 141, as preceding the filing of the application for confirmation of title,
The petition has merit. amended by PD 1073, which provides: except when prevented by war or force majeure. These shall be
conclusively presumed to have performed all the conditions
essential to a Government grant and shall be entitled to a
The Republic argues that respondent failed to present sufficient Sec. 48. The following described citizens of the Philippines,
certificate of title under the provisions of this
evidence to show that she and her predecessors-in-interest have occupying lands of the public domain or claiming to own any
chapter.23 (Emphasis supplied)
been in open, continuous, exclusive and notorious possession of such land or an interest therein, but whose titles have not been
the subject property in the concept of an owner since 12 June perfected or completed, may apply to the Court of First Instance
1945 or earlier. According to the Republic, respondent only of the province where the land is located for confirmation of their As the law now stands, a mere showing of possession and
proved possession since 1948, which is in violation of Section claims and the issuance of a certificate of title therefor, under occupation for 30 years or more is not sufficient. Therefore, since
48(b) of CA 141, as amended by PD 1073.20 the Land Registration Act, to wit: the effectivity of PD 1073 on 25 January 1977, it must now be
shown that possession and occupation of the piece of land by the
applicant, by himself or through his predecessors-in-interest,
On the other hand, respondent insists that it is sufficient that she xxx
started on 12June 1945 or earlier. This provision is in total
proved that she and her predecessors-in-interest have been in
conformity with Section 14(1) of PD 1529.24
open, continuous, exclusive and notorious possession and
(b) Those who by themselves or through their predecessors in
occupation of the subject property under a bona fide claim of
interest have been in open, continuous, exclusive, and notorious
ownership for more than 30 years. In this case, respondent failed to comply with the period of
possession and occupation of agricultural lands of the public
possession and occupation of the subject property, as required
domain, under a bona fide claim of acquisition of
by both PD 1529 and CA 141. We agree with the Republic that
The Court notes that in respondents original application before ownership, since June 12, 1945, or earlier, immediately
respondents evidence was not enough to prove that her
the trial court, she claimed that she was entitled to the preceding the filing of the application for confirmation of title,
possession of the subject property started since 12 June 1945 or
confirmation and registration of her title to the subject property except when prevented by war or force majeure. These shall be
earlier because respondents earliest evidence can be traced
under PD 1529. However, respondent did not specify under what conclusively presumed to have performed all the conditions
back to a tax declaration issued in the name of her predecessors-
paragraph of Section 14 of PD 1529 she was filing the essential to a Government grant and shall be entitled to a
in-interest only in the year 1948. In view of the lack of sufficient
application. But going over respondents application and the certificate of title under the provisions of this chapter. (Emphasis
showing that respondent and her predecessors-in-interest
evidence she presented before the trial court, it appears that supplied)
possessed the subject property under a bona fide claim of
respondent filed her application under Section 14(1) of PD 1529,
ownership since 12 June 1945 or earlier, respondents application
which states:
According to the Court of Appeals, respondent need not prove for confirmation and registration of the subject property under
possession of the subject property since 12 June 1945 or earlier PD 1529 and CA 141 should be denied.
SEC. 14. Who may apply. - The following persons may file in the because Section 48(b) of CA 141 was amended by RA 1942,
proper Court of First Instance an application for registration of which provided for a simple 30-year prescriptive period. The
Finally, we note that respondent also failed to prove that the
title to land, whether personally or through their duly authorized Court of Appeals appears to have an erroneous interpretation of
subject property has been declared alienable and disposable by
representatives: Section 48(b) of CA 141.
the President or the Secretary of the Department of Environment
and Natural Resources. InRepublic v. T.A.N. Properties, Inc.,25 the
(1) Those who by themselves or through their predecessors-in- Through the years, Section 48(b) of the CA 141 has been Court said:
interest have been in open, continuous, exclusive and notorious amended several times.21 The Court of Appeals failed to consider
possession and occupation of alienable and disposable lands of the amendment introduced by PD 1073. In Republic v.
[T]he applicant for land registration must prove that the DENR
the public domain under a bona fide claim of ownership since Doldol,22 the Court provided a summary of these amendments:
Secretary had approved the land classification and released the
June 12, 1945, or earlier.(Emphasis supplied)
land of the public domain as alienable and disposable, and that
The original Section 48(b) of C.A. No.141 provided for possession the land subject of the application for registration falls within the
Thus, there are three requisites for the filing of an application for and occupation of lands of the public domainsince July 26, approved area per verification through survey by the PENRO or
registration of title under Section 14(1) of PD 1529: (1) that the 1894. This was superseded by R.A. No. 1942, which provided for CENRO. In addition, the applicant for land registration must
property in question is alienable and disposable land of the a simple thirty-year prescriptive period of occupation by an present a copy of the original classification approved by the
public domain; (2) that the applicant by himself or through his applicant for judicial confirmation of imperfect title. The same, DENR Secretary and certified as a true copy by the legal
NATURAL RESOURCES NEW CASES (ORAL QUIZ) 17

custodian of the official records. These facts must be established respondents appealed to the Court of Appeals. The appeal was 2. Plaintiff is, among others, engaged in the manufacture,
to prove that the land is alienable and disposable.26 docketed as C.A.-G.R. No. 49409-R. processing and exportation of plywood and was, for said purpose,
granted by the Government an exclusive license for a period of
25 years expiring on February 1, 1985, to cut, collect and remove
WHEREFORE, we GRANT the petition. We SET ASIDE the 30 After the parties filed their respective Briefs in 1971, the Court of
timber from that portion of timber land located in the
January 2004 Decision of the Court of Appeals in CA G.R. CV No. Appeals (Sixth Division) promulgated on 28 December 1979 a
Municipalities of Infanta, Mauban and Sampaloc Province of
70006 and the 21 September 1998 Decision of the Regional Trial resolution elevating the case to this Court as the "entire case
Quezon and in the Municipalities of Siniloan, Pangil, Paete, Cavite
Court of Tagaytay City, Branch 18, in LRC Case No. TG-788. hinges on the interpretation and construction of Republic Act
and Calauan, Province of Laguna under License Agreement No.
We DENY respondent Ruby Lee Tsais application for 3990 as it applies to a set of facts which are not disputed by the
27-A (Amendment) issued and promulgated by the Government
confirmation and registration of Lot No. 7062 described in plan parties and therefore, is a legal question. 1
through the Secretary of Agriculture and Natural Resources on
Ap-04-010084, Cad-355, Tagaytay Cadastre.
January 11, 1960. ... ;
Civil Case No. SC-650 was filed by petitioner Hardwood before
SO ORDERED. the trial court on 28 June 1966. 2 Petitioner seeks therein a
3. That aforementioned Timber License No. 27-A (Amendment) is
declaration that respondent University of the Philippines
a renewal of the Timber License Agreement No. 27-A previously
(hereafter referred to as UP) does not have the right to supervise
============= granted by the Government to the plaintiff on June 4, 1953 to
and regulate the cutting and removal of timber and other forest
G.R. No. L-52518 August 13, 1991 February 1, 1963. ... ;
products, to scale, measure and seal the timber cut and/or to
collect forest charges, reforestation fees and royalties from
INTERNATIONAL HARDWOOD AND VENEER COMPANY OF petitioner and/or impose any other duty or burden upon the 4. Plaintiff, since June 4, 1953, continuously up to the present,
THE PHILIPPINES, petitioner-appellee, latter in that portion of its concession, covered by License has been in peaceful possession of said timber concession and
vs. Agreement No. 27-A issued on 1 February 1963, ceded in full had been felling cutting and removing timber therefrom pursuant
UNIVERSITY OF THE PHILIPPINES and JOSE C. CAMPOS, ownership to the UP by Republic Act No. 3990; asks that to the aforementioned Timber License Agreement No. 27-A
JR., respondents-appellants. respondents be enjoined from committing the acts complained of (Amendment) of January 11, 1960;
and prays that respondents be required to pay petitioner the sum
of P100,000.00 as damages and costs of the suit.
Taada, Vivo & Tan for petitioner-appellee. 5. Plaintiff, on the strength of the License Agreement executed
by the Government on June 4,1953 (License Agreement No. 27-A)
Its motion to dismiss on the ground of improper venue having and of the License Agreement No. 27-A (Amendment) of January
been unfavorably acted upon, and pursuant to the order of the 11, 1960, has constructed roads and other improvements and
trial court of 26 August 1967, respondents filed their Answer on installations of the aforementioned area subject to the grant and
DAVIDE, JR., J.:p 13 September 1987, 3 wherein they interpose the affirmative purchased equipment in implementation of the conditions
defenses of, among others, improper venue and that the petition contained in the aforementioned License Agreement and has in
states no cause of action; they further set up a counterclaim for connection therewith spent more than P7,000,000.00 as
From an adverse decision of the then Court of First Instance (now
the payment of it by petitioner of forest charges on the forest follows: ... ;
RTC) Laguna dated 3 June 1968 in a special civil action for
products cut and felled within the area ceded to UP under R.A.
declaratory relief with injunction, Civil Case No. SC-650 entitled
No. 3990 from 18 June 1964, with surcharges and interests as
International Hardwood and Veneer Company of the Philippines 6. Sometime on September 25, 1961, during the effectivity of
provided in the National Internal Revenue Code.
vs. University of the Philippines and Jose Campos, the dispositive License Agreement No. 27-A (Amendment) of January 11, 1960,
portion of which reads: the President of the Philippines issued Executive Proclamation
4
Petitioner filed a Reply and Answer to Counterclaim. No. 791 which reads as follows:
WHEREFORE, the Court hereby renders
judgment in favor of petitioner and against the On 18 October 1967, the parties submitted a Joint Stipulation of xxx xxx xxx
respondents: Facts and Joint Submission of the Case for Judgment, 5 which
reads as follows:
RESERVING FOR THE COLLEGE OF AGRICULTURE, UNIVERSITY
(a) Declaring that Rep. Act No. 3990 does not OF THE PHILIPPINES, AS EXPERIMENT STATION FOR THE
empower the University of the Philippines, in COME NOW the parties in the above entitled PROPOSED DAIRY RESEARCH AND TRAINING INSTITUTE AND
lieu of the Bureau of Internal Revenue and case by the undersigned counsel, and FOR AGRICULTURAL RESEARCH AND PRODUCTION STUDIES OF
Bureau of Forestry, to scale, measure and seal respectfully submit the following JOINT THIS COLLEGE A CERTAIN PARCEL OF LAND OF THE PUBLIC
the timber cut by the petitioner within the tract STIPULATION OF FACTS AND JOINT SUBMISSION DOMAIN, SITUATED PARTLY IN THE MUNICIPALITIES OF PAETE
of land referred to in said Act, and collect the OF THE CASE FOR JUDGMENT, without AND PAKIL ,PROVINCE OF LAGUNA, AND PARTLY IN THE
corresponding forest charges prescribed by the prejudice to the presentation of evidence by MUNICIPALITY OF INFANTA, PROVINCE OF QUEZON, ISLAND OF
National Internal Revenue Code therefor; and either party: LUZON.

(b) Dismissing the respondents' counterclaim. xxx xxx xxx


NATURAL RESOURCES NEW CASES (ORAL QUIZ) 18

Upon the recommendation of the Secretary of Agriculture and Administrative Code, but they failed to convince the Court, not 2. In the event that it be found by this
Natural Resources and pursuant to the authority vested in me only because of the first reason above stated, but also because it Honorable Court that said forest charges are to be paid to the
by law, I, Carlos P. Garcia, President of the Philippines, do clearly appears that such amendment is not intended in Republic University of the Philippines, whether or not the University of the
hereby withdraw from sale or settlement and reserve for the Act No. 3990, which does not contain even a remote allusion Philippines is entitled to supervise, through its duly appointed
College of Agriculture, University of the Philippines, as thereto in its title or a general amendatory provision at the end. In personnel, the logging, felling and removal of timber within the
experiment station for the proposed Dairy Research and the third place, under Republic Act No. 3990, the University of the Central Experiment Station area as described in Republic Act No.
production studies of this College, a certain parcel of land of Philippines cannot legally use the tract of land ceded to it for 3990, and to scale the timber thus felled
the Public domain situated partly in the municipalities of Paete purposes other than those therein expressly provided, namely, 'for
and Pakil province of Laguna, and partly in the municipality of the use of the University of the Philippines in connection with its
These issues bring the matter within the scope of an action for
Infants, Province of Quezon, Island of Luzon, subject to private research and extension functions, particularly by the College of
declaratory relief under Section 1, Rule 64 of the Rules of Court
rights, if any there be, and to the condition that the disposition Agriculture, College of Veterinary Medicine and College of Arts and
and render meaningless the appeal to the rule laid down
of timber and other forest products found therein shall be Sciences.' Hence, upon the expiration of the petitioner's timber
in Sarmiento, et al. vs. Caparas, et al. 6that declaratory relief
subject to the forestry laws and regulations, which parcel of concession, the University of the Philippines cannot even legally
cannot be joined by injunction, because herein petitioner, for all
land is more particularly described as follows, to wit: renew it or grant timber concession over the whole tract of land or
legal intents and purposes, abandoned it by its failure to raise it
over portions thereof to other private individuals and exercise the
in the Stipulation of Facts. Thus, what attains is an amendment
functions of the Bureau of Internal Revenue and Bureau of Forestry
xxx xxx xxx to both pleadings (the complaint and the answer), which is
by scaling and measuring the timber cut within the area and
authorized by Section 5, Rule 10 of the Rules of Court. Said
collecting from them the forest charges prescribed by the National
section pertinently provides:
IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand and caused Internal Revenue Code.
the seal of the Republic of the Philippines to be affixed.
SEC. 5. Amendment to conform to or authorize presentation of
Respondents claim in their Brief that the trial court erred:
evidence. When issues not raised by the pleadings are tried by
Done in the City of Manila this 25th day of
express or implied consent of the parties, they shall be treated in
September, in the year of Our Lord, nineteen
I all respect, as if they had been raised in the pleadings. Such
hundred and sixty-one, and of the
amendment of the pleadings as may be necessary to cause them
Independence of the Philippines, the sixteenth.
to conform to the evidence and to raise these issues may be
... WHEN IT DID NOT DISMISS THE PETITION
made upon motion of any party at any time, even after
FOR DECLARATORY RELIEF WITH INJUNCTION INSPITE OF ITS
Upon the foregoing Stipulation of Facts, the trial court rendered judgment; but failure to so amend does not affect the result of
INHERENT JURISDICTIONAL DEFECTS THAT SHOULD WARRANT A
its judgment on 3 June 1968 in favor of the petitioner, the the trial by these issues. ...
DISMISSAL.
dispositive portion of which is quoted at the beginning of this
decision. In deciding the case against UP, it held:
The stipulation of facts and the agreement as to the issues
II
unquestionably satisfy the requisites for declaratory relief. (a)
... the court finds that the respondents' demand on the petitioner there must be a justiciable controversy; (b) the controversy must
has no legal basis. In the first place, the cession in full ownership ... WHEN IT DECLARED THAT REPUBLIC ACT NO. be between persons whose interests are adverse; (c) the party
of the tract of land referred to in the Act was expressly made 3990 DOES NOT EMPOWER THE RESPONDENT UNIVERSITY OF seeking declaratory relief must have a legal interest in the
'subject to any existing concessions.' Inasmuch as at the time of THE PHILIPPINES, IN LIEU OF THE BUREAU OF INTERNAL controversy; and (d) the issue invoked must be ape for judicial
the enactment of the Act, the petitioner's timber concession over REVENUE AND BUREAU OF FORESTRY, TO SCALE, MEASURE AND determination. 7
the tract of land was existing and would continue to exist until SEAL THE TIMBER CUT BY THE PETITIONER WITHIN THE TRACT OF
February 1, 1985, the University of the Philippines will acquire full LAND REFERRED TO IN SAID ACT, AND COLLECT THE
There is a justiciable controversy where there is an actual
ownership' and exclusive jurisdiction to control and administer the CORRESPONDING FOREST CHARGES PRESCRIBED BY THE
controversy, or the ripening seeds of one existsbetween the
property only after February 1, 1985. The cession of the property NATIONAL INTERNAL REVENUE CODE.
parties, all of whom are sui juris and before the court, and that
to the University of the Philippines is akin to the donation of a
the declaration sought will help in ending the controversy. A
parcel of land, subject to usufruct. The donee acquires full
1. The first assigned error is without merit. In the Joint Stipulation doubt becomes a justiciable controversy when it is translated
ownership thereof only upon the termination of the usufruct. At the
of Facts, the parties jointly move and pray that the trial court into a claim of right which is actually contested. 8
time of the donation, all what the donee acquires is the 'naked'
render judgment granting full and appropriate remedy on the
ownership of the property donated. In the second place, the
following issues:
respondents' demand cannot be valid unless the provisions of 2. On the second assigned error, respondents assert that: (a)
Sees. 262 to 276 of the National Internal Revenue Code regarding Under R.A. No. 3990, the Republic of the Philippines may effect
the measuring of timber cut from the forest and the collection of l. Whether plaintiff, as of the date of present case was filed, collection of forest charges through the University of the
the prescribed forest charges by the Bureau of Internal Revenue should pay forest charges due and payable under its Timber Philippines because the License Agreement does not expressly
and Bureau of Forestry are first amended. In their arguments, the License Agreement No. 27-A (Amendment) as set forth in provide that the forest charges shall be paid to the Bureau of
respondents tried to stretch the scope of the provisions of Republic paragraph 2 hereof, to the Bureau of Internal Revenue, or to the Internal Revenue; in the absence of a specific contractual
Act No. 3990 in order to include therein such amendment of the University of the Philippines; and provision limiting it to a particular agency in collecting forest
provisions of the National Internal Revenue Code and Revised charges owing to it, the Republic may effect such collection
NATURAL RESOURCES NEW CASES (ORAL QUIZ) 19

through another agency. (b) Having been vested with Forestry.9 The supervision and regulation of the use of forest latter the absolute owner thereof, subject only to the existing
administrative jurisdiction over and being the owner of the tract products and of the cutting and removal of forest products are concession. That the law intended a transfer of the absolute
of land in question, the UP acquired full control and benefit of the vested upon the Bureau of Forestry. 10 R.A. No. 3990 does not ownership is unequivocally evidenced by its use of the word "full"
timber and other resources within the area. Timber areas within expressly, or even impliedly, grant the UP any authority to collect to describe it. Full means entire, complete, or possessing all
the ceded property but outside the concession of petitioner can from the holders of timber concessions on the area ceded to it particulars, or not wanting in any essential quality. 11 The proviso
be fully exploited by UP. However, in respect to timber areas forest charges due and payable to the Government under the Tax regarding existing concessions refers to the timber license of
within the ceded property but covered by the concession of Code, or to enforce its provisions relating to charges on forest petitioner. All that it means, however, is that the right of
petitioner, only forest charges (or more appropriately, royalties) products or to supervise the operations of the concessions by the petitioner as a timber licensee must not be affected, impaired or
may be enjoyed by UP until the expiration of petitioner's license. holders thereof; (b) The cession in full ownership of the land in diminished; it must be respected. But, insofar as the Republic of
To deny it such charges would render its "full ownership" empty question was expressly made "subject to any concession, if any", the Philippines is concerned, all its rights as grantor of the
and futile. (c) The UP is clearly entitled to the income derived and that petitioner's concession would continue until 1 February license were effectively assigned, ceded and conveyed to UP as a
from the tract of land ceded to it, for Section 3 of R.A. No. 3990 1985; the UP then would acquire full ownership and exclusive consequence of the above transfer of full ownership. This is
expressly provides: jurisdiction to control and administer the property only after 1 further home out by Section 3 of R.A. No. 3990 which
February 1985. The position of UP is akin to that of a donee of a provides, inter alia, that "any incidental receipts or income
parcel of land subject to usufruct. (c) The rulings of the therefrom shall pertain to the general fund of the University of
All operations and activities carried on in the central experiment
Commissioner of Internal Revenue and the Acting Director of the the Philippines. Having been effectively segregated and removed
station shall be exempt from taxation, local or general, any
Bureau of Forestry are patently incorrect; moreover, said from the public domain or from a public forest and, in effect,
provision of law to the contrary notwithstanding, and any
agencies do not have the power to interpret the law, which is converted into a registered private woodland, the authority and
incidental receipts or income therefrom shall pertain to the
primarily a function of the judiciary. (d) Finally, it has acquired a jurisdiction of the Bureau of Forestry over it were likewise
general fund of the University of the Philippines. (emphasis
vested right to operate the timber concession under the terminated. This is obvious from the fact that the condition in
supplied for emphasis).
supervision and control of the Bureau of Forestry. Proclamation No. 971 to the effect that the disposition of timber
shall be subject to forestry laws and regulations is not
(d) As provided by R.A. No. 3990, the UP is duty bound to operate reproduced iii R.A. No. 3990. The latter does not likewise provide
There is merit in the second assigned error.
and maintain a central experiment station; since this law does that it is subject to the conditions set forth in the proclamation.
not provide for appropriations for such purpose, it is clearly the An owner has the right to enjoy and dispose of a thing without
legislative intention that the establishment and maintenance Under Proclamation No. 791, dated 25 September 1961, a parcel other limitations than those established by law. 12 The right to
thereof must be financed by the earnings or income from the of land of the public domain described therein, with an area of enjoy includes the jus utendi or the right to receive from the
area, which can only come from the timber and the royalties or 3,500 hectares, which is the very parcel of land subject of R.A. thing what it produces, and the jus abutendi or the right to
charges payable therefrom. This is in accordance with the No. 3990, was withdrawn from sale or settlement and was consume the thing by its use. 13 As provided for in Article 441 of
general principle that a grant of authority or jurisdiction extends reserved for the College of Agriculture of the UP as experiment the Civil Code, to the owner belongs the natural fruits, the
to all incidents that may arise in connection with the matter over station for the proposed Dairy Research and Training Institute industrial fruits and the civil fruits. There are, however,
which jurisdiction is exercised. (e) Supervision of the License and for research and production studies of said college, subject exceptions to this rules, as where the property is subject to a
Agreement in favor of petitioner by UP was intended by R.A. No. however to private rights, if any, and to the condition that the usufruct, in which case the usufructuary gets the fruits. 14 In the
3990. (f) Finally, the two government agencies affected by R.A. disposition of timber and other forest products found thereon instant case, that exception is made for the petitioner as licensee
No. 3990 have issued specific rulings recognizing the authority of shall be subject to forestry laws and regulations. or grantee of the concession, which has been given the license to
UP to collect royalties or charges and to supervise petitioner's cut, collect, and remove timber from the area ceded and
logging operations. transferred to UP until I February 1985. However, it has the
The above reservation is within the area covered by petitioner's
correlative duty and obligation to pay the forest charges, or
timber license.
royalties, to the new owner, the UP, at the same rate as provided
Petitioner refutes the foregoing arguments of respondents by
for in the Agreement. The charges should not be paid anymore to
asserting that: (a) The UP has not been granted by R.A. No. 3990
Pursuant, however, to R.A. No. 3990 which establishes a central the Republic of the Philippines through the Bureau of Internal
the authority to collect forest charges or the authority to
experiment station for the use of the UP in connection with its Revenue because of the very nature of the transfer as
supervise the operation by the petitioner of the timber
research and extension functions, particularly by the College of aforestated. Consequently, even the Bureau of Internal Revenue
concession affected by said Act.
Agriculture, College of Veterinary Medicine and College of Arts automatically lost its authority and jurisdiction to measure the
and Sciences, the above "reserved" area was "ceded and timber cut from the subject area and to collect forestry charges
The rule is well-settled that legislative grants must be construed transferred in full ownership to the University of the Philippines and other fees due thereon.
strictly in favor of the public and most strongly against the subject to any existing concessions, if any."
grantee, and nothing will be included in the grant except that
The foregoing disposes of the contention of petitioner that R.A.
which is granted expressly or by clear implication. Under Section
When it ceded and transferred the property to UP, the Republic No. 3990 does not grant the UP the authority to collect forest
262 of the Tax Code, as amended, the duties incident to the
of the Philippines completely removed it from the public domain charges and to supervise the operations of its concession insofar
measuring of forest products and the collection of the charges
and, more specifically, in respect to the areas covered by the as the property of the UP within it is concerned. Its argument that
thereon shall be discharged by the Bureau of Internal Revenue
timber license of petitioner, removed and segregated it from a it has acquired vested rights to operate its concession under the
under the regulations of the Department of Finance. The
public forest; it divested itself of its rights and title thereto and supervision and control of the Bureau of Forestry is preposterous.
reforestation fee shall be collected by the Bureau of
relinquished and conveyed the same to the UP; and made the The grantor, Republic of the Philippines, was by no means bound
NATURAL RESOURCES NEW CASES (ORAL QUIZ) 20

under the License to perpetuate the Bureau as its agent. Neither In this petition for review on certiorari, petitioner, Republic of the (sic) during the cadastral survey of Tagum but the said
is there force to its contention that legislative grants must be Philippines, represented by the Director of Lands, thru the applicant has not filed any application for the land.
construed strictly in favor of the public and most strongly against Solicitor General, seeks the reversal of the decision 1 of the
the grantee. The grant under R.A. No. 3990 is transfer of Intermediate Appellate Court, now Court of Appeals, dated
Fifteen [15] years after, or on November 12, 1968, Medori de
absolute, full and entire ownership which leaves no room for a February 29, 1984, which affirmed the joint decision 2 of the then
Porkan relinquished her rights and interests over Lot No.
strict interpretation against the grantee, the UP. The reservation Court of First Instance of Davao, Branch I [Tagum] dismissing
1099 7 to her daughter, Lolita Macatindog, who thereafter filed
therein made is in favor of the private party pursuant to the petitioner's complaint in Civil Cases Nos. 1247 and 1248 for
her own free patent application 8 on November 14, 1968. The
license, which is nevertheless protected. It is the concession in cancellation of the Homestead Patent of private respondent
Free Patent Application No. V-271162 of Medori de Porkan
favor of the petitioner which should, on the contrary, be bound Minda de Porkan and her successors-in-interest and the Free
covering Lot No. 1099 was thereafter ordered transferred to,
by the rule. Patent of private respondent Lolita Macatindog and her
recorded and given due course in the name of Lolita Macatindog
successors-in-interest, respectively.
in an order dated February 8, 1971. 9 On May 27, 1971, the
It follows then that respondent UP is entitled to supervise, Director of Lands approved the Free Patent Application of Lolita
through its duly appointed personnel, the logging, felling and The undisputed facts appearing on the records are as follows: Macatindog and ordered that the said application be entered in
removal of timber within the area covered by R.A. No. 3990. the records of the Bureau of Lands as Free Patent Entry No.
431343 and that the corresponding Free Patent be issued in her
The family of Sadin de Porkan, father of Medori and Macampon
favor over Lot No. 1099. 10Free Patent No. 488112 was issued to
IN THE LIGHT OF ALL THE FOREGOING, judgment is hereby de Porkan, both native Muslims of La Paz, Carmen, [formerly
Lolita Macatindog on June 7, 1971, and on July 13, 1971, she was
rendered REVERSING the decision of the trial court in Civil Case Panabo] Davao del Norte, had been in actual possession as
issued Original Certificate of Title No. P-9742 11 over said Lot No.
No. C-650, rendered on 3 June 1968; DECLARING that forest owner since the Spanish colonial period of a tract of land planted
1099.
charges due from and payable by petitioner for timber cut with coconuts situated in said municipality. 3 During the Tagum
pursuant to its License Agreement No. 27-A (Amendment) within Cadastral Survey of July 22, 1937, this tract of land, Identified as
the area ceded and transferred to the University of the Philippine Lots Nos. 1099 and 1546 were respectively allocated to Medori On June 6, 1978, or after seven [7] years from the issuance of
pursuant to R.A. No. 3990 shall be paid to the University of the and Macampon de Porkan, the predecessors-in-interest of herein the Free Patent, Lolita Macatindog conveyed 60,000 sq. meters of
Philippines; DECLARING that the University of the Philippines is private respondents. 4 said Lot No. 1099 to Juan Arangali who secured Transfer
entitled to supervise, through its duly appointed personnel, the Certificate of Title No. T-25142 12over said area. Transfer
logging, felling and removal of timber within the aforesaid area Certificate of Title No. T-25143 13 was issued for the remaining
On April 30, 1953, or sixteen [16] years after the Tagum
covered by R.A. No. 3990. 102,983 sq. meters in the name of Lolita Macatindog.
Cadastral Survey, Medori de Porkan filed her Free Patent
Application No. V-27162 5 over Lot No. 1099 containing an area of
Costs against petitioner. 16.2983 hectares. The following day, or on May 1, 1953, Vicente On the other hand, Macampon de Porkan died before he could
J. Villena, Junior Public Lands Inspector, submitted a final file any application and improve Lot No. 1546 containing an area
investigation report 6recommending that the patent be granted of 15.2406 hectares allocated to him. In his stead, the
SO ORDERED.
to Medori de Porkan. The report was subsequently endorsed for Homestead Application No. V-76456 14of Sadin Maraug, who
approval to the Director of Lands on May 30, 1953 by, Juan showed much interest in acquiring said tract of land, was
================ Tapales, Head, Special Investigation Party, Davao, who accepted on May 1, 1953 on the basis of the investigation
recommended that the entry of applicant be favorably confirmed report 15 of Vicente J. Villena, Junior Public Lands Inspector,
and a free patent be issued to Medori de Porkan, thus: dated May 1, 1953, which was favorably endorsed by Juan
G.R. No. L-66866 June 18, 1987
Tapales, Head, Special Investigation Party, Davao, on May 31,
1953. Sadin Maraug's homestead application was subsequently
9. That the said land has been surveyed, and the survey
REPUBLIC OF THE PHILIPPINES, petitioner, approved and recorded as Homestead Entry No. V-68302 16in an
records are known as Tagum Cad Survey No. 25-B. It
vs. order dated January 13, 1954 issued by Zoilo Castrillo, Director of
corresponds to Lots 1099, B.L. Case No. 4, Cadastral Record No.
MINDA DE PORKAN, SADIN MARAUG, GORGONIO Lands.
276 which was allocated to the herein applicant, Medori de
BERMUDEZ, LOLITA MACATINDOG, MEDORI DE PORKAN,
Porkan during the cadastral survey of Tagum.
JUAN ARANGALI, ANTONINA ESTARES, REGISTER OF
On June 1, 1971, or seventeen [17] years after the approval of
DEEDS OF DAVAO DEL NORTE and the INTERMEDIATE
his homestead application, Sadin Maraug sought authority from
APPELLATE COURT [Fourth Civil Cases 10. FURTHER REMARKS: Due to the long possession and
the Director of Lands to transfer his rights over Lot No. 1546, and
Division], respondents. occupation by Medori de Porkan of the land, who also
on June 8, 1971, he executed a transfer of homestead rights in
introduced considerable improvements thereon the
favor of Minda de Porkan. This was approved by Vicente A.
undersigned believed beyond reasonable doubt that she is
Rolando C. Rama for private respondents. Valdellon, Director of Lands, in an order dated December 3,
entitled to a free patent. Information gathered from other
1971, which likewise ordered that the Homestead Application No.
persons, settlers and homesteaders in the vicinity reveals that
V-76456 of Sadin Maraug be recorded in the name of the
no other persons had been allowed to have any interests in,
transferee, Minda de Porkan. 17
rights to, the improvements now existing therein. Records show
that the land applied for was allocated to the herein application
FERNAN, J.:
NATURAL RESOURCES NEW CASES (ORAL QUIZ) 21

Minda de Porkan thereafter filed her Homestead Application No. On March 1, 1968, Viola C. Azurin filed with the Bureau of Lands City], Viola C. Azurin filed with the Bureau of Lands a
V-76456. 18 After she made a final proof on July 8, 1971, she was a sales application 28 over an agricultural land to be used solely complaint 33 for the correction, amendment or cancellation of
issued Homestead Patent No. 135029 approved by the Secretary for agricultural purposes, containing an area of 33.6586 Homestead Patent No. 135029 of Minda de Porkan over Lot No.
of Agriculture and Natural Resources on December 8, 197I. On hectares, bounded on the northeast by Tagum River and on the 1546 and Free Patent No. 488112 of Lolita Macatindog over Lot
March 17, 1972 she was issued original Certificate of Title. No. P- southwest by public land, situated at La Paz, Panabo [now No. 1099 situated at La Paz, Panabo [now Carmen], Davao del
10095 19over Lot No 1546. Carmen], Davao del Norte, for which purpose she stated that she Norte, alleging, among others, that the patentees secured their
would invest the sum of P20,000.00. Prior to the said sales patents and titles through fraud, misrepresentation and illegal
application, she asked the Director of Lands, in a survey request machinations, after which a relocation survey of their lots was
In 1977, or after six [6] years from the issuance of the
dated February 12, 1968, to have a private surveyor, Geodetic made, and on April 24, 1972, Minda de Porkan forcibly entered
homestead patent, Minda de Porkan conveyed 80,000 sq. meters
Engineer Roman F. Joaquin, survey the 33.6586 hectares the northeastern portion of her [Azurin] landholding while Lolita
of Lot No. 1546 to Gorgonio S. Bermudez who secured his
allegedly covered by her sales application, but she agreed that Macatindog likewise forcibly entered the southeastern portion of
Transfer Certificate of Title No. T-23598 20 on September 26,
she would take only such title as may be issued to her by the the same landholding. 34
1977. Transfer Certificate No. T-23599 21 was issued in the name
Director of Lands irrespective of the result of the survey of the
of Minda de Porkan for the remaining 72,406 sq. meters.
area which was allegedly occupied by her under Ordinary
After an investigation, Acting Assistant District Land Officer
Fishpond Permit No. F-5551-V.
Lazaro G. Berania recommended in his findings dated July 9,
Meanwhile, Mrs. Viola C. Azurin, a resident of 629 Sta. Ana
1973 35 that a petition be filed in the proper court for the
Avenue, Davao City, obtained from the then Philippine Fisheries
The sales application of Viola C. Azurin over the alleged 33.6586 amendment of Homestead Patent No. 135029 of Minda de Porkan
Commission on March 4, 1966, Ordinary Fishpond Permit No. F-
hectares was not approved by the Director of Lands. 29 over Lot No. 1546, Cad 276 and Free Patent No. 488112 of Lolita
5551-V 22 Covering an area of 20 hectares situated at La Paz,
Macatindog over Lot No. 1099, Cad 276 in order to exclude
Panabo [now Carmen], Davao del Norte, described and indicated
therefrom the portion of around seven [7] hectares of Viola C.
in the sketch on the sheet 23 attached to permit, subject to the On April 24, 1969, Viola C. Azurin filed Fishpond Application No.
Azurin and that the Land Inspector, Mr. Amer Yusop, be charged
additional rules on the next page 24 and, among others, to the 27257 over 13.6586 hectares allegedly representing the excess
administratively for gross negligence and grave misconduct for
following terms and conditions: area over the 20 hectares under her Fishpond Permit No. F-5551-
submitting false report.
V which, as found by Geodetic Engineer Roman F. Joaquin,
actually covered 33.6586 hectares. Before her application over
4. Upon the expiration of the permit or upon its cancellation, all
the said 13.6586 hectares was filed, a certain Moonyeen Meanwhile, on January 10, 1978, the Director of Fisheries issued
permanent improvements on the area shall pass to the
Rodriguez-Beleno filed on April 20, 1969 a protest with the an order resolving the conflict of the fishpond applications
ownership of the Government without any obligation on the part
Philippine Fisheries Commission against Viola Azurin's fishpond between Viola C. Azurin [FPA No. 27257] and Moonyeen R.
of said Government to indemnify or reimburse the holder of the
permit claiming that the latter had not improved the area under Beleno [FPA No. 27649] over 13.6586 hectares which, for the
permit therefor.
her permit; that it was she [Beleno] who was in actual possession purpose of Identifying the disputed land involved in the instant
and occupation of the area and who had introduced case, We quote, thus:
5. The decision of the Commissioner of Fisheries as to the exact improvements thereon, and that she entered the area in good
location of the boundary lines of the area shall be accepted as faith since the area was heavily forested with mangroves. 30
Considering the actuations of both parties in this case and of the
final.
fact that there is considerable difficulty in distinguishing the
The Philippine Fisheries Commission directed an investigation to excess area from the area of 20.0 hectares granted under Permit
This permit will expire on December 31, 1966 or at an earlier verify the allegations of Moonyeen Rodriguez-Beleno. No. F-5551-V owing to the absence of hearings in the technical
date under the conditions stated in Rules 10, 11 and 12 hereof. descriptions of the area as released by the Bureau of Forestry, it
is only proper, for the sake of justice and equity, that the claims
On September 29, 1969, Moonyeen R. Beleno filed Fishpond
of the parties herein be resolved by taking into consideration the
Thereafter, Viola C. Azurin had the area surveyed by Geodetic Application No. 27649 over 35.5 hectares stated to represent the
actual conditions existing at the time the controversy arose and
Engineer Roman F. Joaquin, a private surveyor, who found out 20 hectares under Viola C. Azurin's Fishpond Permit No. F-5551-V
also to consider the principle that no one shall unjustly enrich
that her fishpond permit actually covered 33.6586 hectares, and and the 13.5 hectares excess of said permit. 31
himself at the expense of another.
not 20.0 hectares. 25 On November 29, 1967, Geodetic Engineer
R.F. Joaquin prepared and submitted for approval by the Director
On November 26, 1969, the Philippine Fisheries Commissioner
of Lands the allegedly corrected plan of the land [fishpond] 26 but Moreover, in a more recent ocular inspection and/or relocation of
ordered the Regional Director at Davao City to investigate the
the same was not approved by the Director of Lands. the area involved in the above-entitled case conducted by
conflict of fishpond applications between Viola C. Azurin and
representatives of this Office based on the sketch plan prepared
Moonyeen R. Beleno over an area reportedly containing 13.6586
by Fortunato I. Javellana, Jr., Geodetic Engineer of Fisheries
On January 17, 1968, the spouses Condi Mama and Cadingaga hectares, entitled "Fishpond Application No. 27649, Beleno,
Regional Office No. XI, Davao City, the three [3] parcels of areas
Mora, both native Muslims of La Paz, Panabo [Carmen], Davao Moonyeen Rodriguez, applicant-Complainant versus Fishpond
appears thereon, thus
del Norte, sold to Viola C. Azurin, their rights and interests over Application No. 27257, Azurin, Viola C. Permittee." 32
all the nipa plants and improvements in the parcel of land
covered by Viola C. Azurin's Fishpond Permit No. F-5551-V for and
On May 26, 1972, while the fishpond conflict case was pending
in consideration of P3,500.00. 27
investigation by the Philippine Fisheries Commission [Davao
NATURAL RESOURCES NEW CASES (ORAL QUIZ) 22

Parcel I consisting of 6.1010 hectares and is bounded on the area of 3.9 hectares, more or less [subject to the result of a final rejecting the Fishpond Application No. 27649 of Moonyeen R.
North by Parcel II and a portion of Parcel III on the East by Tagum survey] was concerned; and the cancellation in Civil Case No. Beleno, and declaring, among others, that the Ordinary Fishpond
River; on the South by the junction of Tagum and Taganay rivers; 1248 of Free Patent No. V-488112 and OCT No. P-8742 in the Permit No. F-5551-V of Viola C. Azurin should cover Parcels I, II
and on the West by portion of Parcel III along the irrigation canal; name of Lolita Macatindog and its derivative titles, TCT Nos. T- and III subject to the final resolution by competent authorities of
25143 and T-25142 in the names of Lolita Macatindog and the the adverse claims of certain Muslim occupants over Parcel III.
spouses Juan Arangali and Antonina Estares, respectively, insofar [Emphasis supplied]
Parcel II consisting of 11.7869 hectares and is bounded on the
as the portion covered by Fishpond Permit No. F-5551-V of Viola
North by Tagum River; on the East by Tagum River; on the South
C. Azurin, with an area of seven [7] hectares, more or less
by Parcel I; and on the West by portion of Parcel III; and On February 29, 1984, the Intermediate Appellate Court, now
[subject to the result of a final survey] was concerned.
Court of Appeals, affirmed the decision of the lower court.
Parcel III consisting of 16.5655 hectares and is bounded on the
The Solicitor General claimed that the disputed portions of land
North by Tagum River; on the East by Parcels I and II; on the The Solicitor General thus elevated the case to this Court by way
in Civil Cases Nos. 1247 and 1248 were actually claimed,
South by Mangrove area; and on the West by Agricultural land. of petition for review on certiorari raising eleven [11] errors
occupied and developed by Viola C. Azurin, a holder of Fishpond
which, in its entirety, seeks to cancel and declare as null and void
Permit No. F-5551-V, which portion the Director of Lands could
the titles of private respondents over Lot No. 1099, Cad 276 and
Said verification further disclose that Parcel I is a developed not dispose of under the Public Land Act 38 hence, the patents
Lot No. 1546, Cad. 276, and their eventual reversion to the State
portion of the fishpond area and is outside of the present and titles issued to Minda de Porkan and Lolita Macatindog and
without prejudice to the claim of Viola C. Azurin to a portion of
conflicts. Parcel II was also found to be developed and is the all derivative titles issued to their successors-in-interest are null
seven [7] hectares of Lot No. 1099 and a portion of 3.9 hectares
portion that Beleno claimed to have introduced her and void insofar as that portion occupied and covered by the
of Lot No. 1546 under her Fishpond Permit No. F-5551-V. 43 In
improvements. Parcel III was found to be undeveloped and is the fishpond permit of Viola C. Azurin.
other words, the Solicitor General seeks to cancel and declare as
subject of the land title claim of the De Porkans. Records also
null and void the titles of private respondents over Lot Nos. 1099
show that the representatives of Viola C. Azurin also informed the
Minda de Porkan, et al. in Civil Case No. 1247 and Lolita and 1546, but he takes exception to the eventual reversion of
investigators that 60 to 70% of the area in Parcel III is presently
Macatindog in Civil Case No. 1248 similarly claimed in their the entire area of the two [2] disputed lots to the State insofar as
involved in the land title conflict with the De Porkans and that
separate answers 39 that they were the ones who first protested, 10.9 hectares, more or less, in favor of the claim of Viola C.
there is a pending case with the Bureau of Lands on this matter.
along with their Muslim relatives, the intrusion of the families of Azurin under Fishpond Permit No. F-5551-V.
However, with respect to Parcel II, the representatives of Mrs.
the Azurins, Rodriguezes, and Belenos into their "ancestral
Azurin assured them that it is outside of the land title conflict
lands," now the site of Barrio La Paz, Carmen [formerly Panabo],
with the De Porkans, hence, resolution on the instant controversy
Davao del Norte, which from time immemorial had been
is believed well-taken.
occupied and cultivated by their ancestors and predecessors-in-
interest.
IN VIEW OF THE FOREGOING, FPA No. 27649 of Moonyeen R.
Beleno be given due course to cover Parcel II as indicated in the
Upon motion of the Solicitor General for consolidation of cases,
sketch plan prepared by Engineer Fortunato P. Javellana covering
Civil Cases Nos. 1247 and 1248 were ordered consolidated in an
11.7869 hectares and wherein her improvements are indicated;
order 40 dated August 19, 1980 issued by the then Court of First
and that the area of Mrs. Viola C. Azurin under OFP No. F-5551-V
Instance, Branch II, Davao del Norte for joint hearing in the Court
shall be confined to Parcel Nos. I and III of said sketch, after the
of First Instance of Davao del Norte, Branch I.
adverse claims of the Muslim claimants shall have been finally
resolved by competent authority. 36
After a joint hearing, the Court of First Instance of Davao del
Norte, Branch [Tagum] rendered its decision 41 on November 18,
The aforequoted order of the Director of Fisheries giving due
1980 dismissing the complaints for cancellation of titles and
course to the Fishpond Application No. 27649 of Moonyeen R.
upholding the validity of the patents/titles of Lolita Macatindog
Beleno over Parcel II covering 11.7869 hectares was appealed by
and Minda de Porkan, as well as the titles of their transferees co-
Viola C. Azurin to the Minister of Natural Resources.
defendants Juan Arangali and Gorgonio Bermudez, who were
adjudged to be innocent purchasers for value and in good faith.
On April 11, 1980, the Republic of the Philippines, represented by
the Director of Lands, thru the Solicitor General, filed two [2]
The Solicitor General appealed the decision of the lower court to
separate complaints 37 with the then Court of First Instance of
the then Intermediate Appellate Court, now Court of Appeals.
Davao del Norte, seeking the cancellation in Civil Case No. 1247
of Homestead Patent No. 135029 of Minda de Porkan and its
derivative titles, TCT No. T-23598 and T-23599, in the names of In the meantime, on March 31, 1981, the Minister of Natural
Minda de Porkan and spouses Gorgonio S. Bermudez and Resources, thru his Acting Assistant Secretary, Jose A. Janolo,
Benecita Duluan Bermudez insofar as the portion covered by the rendered a decision 42 setting aside the order of the Director of
Ordinary Fishpond Permit No. F-5551-V of Viola C. Azurin, with an Fisheries and Aquatic Resources dated January 10, 1978, thereby
NATURAL RESOURCES NEW CASES (ORAL QUIZ) 23

In the main, the cancellation of titles of private respondents over In the case of Mapa vs. Insular Government, 10 Phil. 175, this court publicly since July 26, 1894, with a right to a certificate of title to
the disputed two [2] lots and their eventual reversion to the said that the phrase 'agricultural lands' as used in Act No. 926 said land under the provisions of Chapter VIII of said Act. So that
State primarily rests on the contentions of the Solicitor General means those public lands acquired from Spain which are not when Angela Razon applied for a grant in her favor, Valentin Susi
that Lot Nos. 1099 and 1546 could not be the subject of timber or mineral. Whatever may have been the meaning of the had already acquired by operation of law not only a right to a
disposition under the Homestead [Chapter IV] and Free Patent term 'forestry' under the Spanish law, the Act of Congress of July grant but a grant of the Government, for it is not necessary that
[Chapter VII] provisions of the Public Land Act 44 since they are 1st, 1902, classifies the public lands in the Philippine Islands as a certificate of title should be issued in order that said grant may
marshy and swampy, certified as such as more suitable for timber, mineral or agricultural lands, and all public lands that are be sanctioned by the courts, an application therefor is
fishpond development, disposable only thru lease under Chapter not timber or mineral lands are necessarily agricultural public sufficient, under the provisions of section 47 of Act No. 2874. If
IX of the Public Land, and private respondents' non-compliance lands, whether they are used as nipa swamps, manglares, fisheries by a legal fiction, Valentin Susi had acquired the land in question
with certain statutory requirements of possession and cultivation, or ordinary farm lands. [Emphasis supplied.] by a grant of the State, it had already ceased to be of the public
and the disqualification of applicant Minda de Porkan to apply for domain and had become private property, at least by
a homestead patent, she being a married woman. On the other presumption, of Valentin Susi, beyond the control of the Director
Since the disputed tract of public land is neither timber nor
hand, the argument on retention of 10.9 hectares in favor of the of Lands. Consequently, in selling the land in question to Angela
mineral lands, the same is alienable or open to disposition as
fishpond claim of Viola C. Azurin in the event that the titles of Razon, the Director of Lands disposed of a land over which he
public agricultural lands, under Section 11, C.A. 141 thru
private respondents are declared null and void is predicated on had no longer any title or control, and the sale thus made was
homestead settlement or free patent.
the assumption that Viola C. Azurin's Fishpond Application No. void and of no effect, and Angela Razon did not thereby acquire
27257 filed on April 24, 1969 over the alleged excess area of any right. [Emphasis supplied]
13.6586 hectares over her 20-hectare fishpond under her The basic preliminary issue in resolving the overlapping claims
Fishpond Permit No. F-5551-V was, in fact, granted by the Bureau over the 10.9 hectares is whether or not the predecessors-in-
Where, as in the instant case, the possession of a public land
of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources of the Ministry of Natural interest of private respondents Minda de Porkan, et al. in Civil
later Identified as Lot No. 1099 by Sadin de Porkan, father of
Resources. And on the basis of said assumption, the Solicitor Case No. 1247 and Lolita Macatindog, et al. in Civil Case No.
Medori de Porkan, and their predecessors-in-interest who were
General then contended that despite the presence of other 1248 had acquired valid and registrable titles over Lot No. 1099
native Muslims of la Paz, Panabo [now Carmen], Davao del Norte,
claimants in the area, Amer Yusop, a public land inspector of the and 1546, respectively, by virtue of a grant by the State under
dates back to the time of the Spanish colonial period, such
Bureau of Lands, misled the Director of Lands into erroneously the Public Land Act. 47 We rule in the affirmative.
possession of the said tract of public land has attained the
approving private respondents' application and causing the
character and duration prescribed by law as the equivalent of an
fraudulent issuance of patents in their favor by stating in his
The doctrine established in the 1909 case of Carino vs. Insular express grant from the Government. The mandate of the law
report that "there are no claimants" to the land applied for by
Government, 42 Phil. 935, 944, affirmed in Susi vs. Razon, 48 itself is that the possessors "shall be conclusively presumed to
Minda de Porkan and that the land applied for by Lolita
Phil. 424, and re-affirmed in a number of cases 48 the most recent have performed all the conditions essential to a Government
Macatindog "is claimed by nobody."
of which are the cases of Herico vs. Dar, 95 SCRA 437 grant and shall be entitled to a certificate of title" and by legal
and Director of Lands vs. Intermediate Appellate Court and Acme fiction, the land ceases to be public and thus becomes private
At the outset, it is significant to note that the tract of public land Plywood and Veneer Co., Inc., G.R. No. 73002 [Dec. 29, 1986] land. In the language of Herico vs. Dar, supra, title over the land
then possessed, occupied, developed and planted to coconuts by sustains on all fours the ruling of the trial court that the herein has vested on the possessor so as to segregate the land from the
the family of Sadin de Porkan and his predecessors-in-interest, all private respondent Lolita de Porkan Macatindog and her mass of the public domain. And as stressed in Susi vs. Razon,
native Muslims of La Paz, Carmen [formerly Panabo], Davao del predecessors-in-interest, as early as 1953, had already acquired supra, it is not necessary that a certificate of title should be
Norte, which, by virtue of its being part of the unregistered lands, by operation of law not only a right to a grant over Lot No. 1099, issued in order that said grant may be sustained by the courts,
was included in the Tagum Cadastral Survey of July 22, 1937 and but a grant of the Government over the same alienable land by an application therefor being sufficient.
formed part of the disposable or alienable agricultural lands of virtue of their proven, open, exclusive and undisputed possession
the public domain referred to under Section 6, par. [a] in relation for more than 30 years since the Spanish colonial period.
On the other hand, as regards the homestead patent over Lot No.
to Section 9, par. [a] of the Public Land Act [C.A. 141, as
1546, Cad 276, the ruling in the case ofBalboa vs. Fartales, 51
amended]. The nature and character of said tract of public land,
The case of Susi vs. Razon, supra, in particular, puts the doctrine Phil. 498 [1928], that when a homesteader has complied with all
more particularly Lot No. 1099, as one found inside an
in a clearer and more precise language which militates against the terms and conditions which entitle him to a patent for a
"agricultural zone", and that of Lot No. 1546, as one suitable for
the belated theory of the Solicitor General after a period of 19 particular tract of public land, he acquires a vested interest
rice cultivation, which were categorically stated in the separate
years since 1953 that in view of its being swampy and marshy in therein, and is to be regarded as the equitable owner thereof,
investigation reports in 1953 of Vicente J. Villena, junior public
nature, Lot No. 1099 is still public land which the Director of and once the right to a patent has become vested in a purchaser
land inspector of the Bureau of Lands [Davao] is binding on the
Lands could not dispose of under the Public Land Act, thus: of public lands, it is equivalent to a patent actually issued,
courts inasmuch as it is the exclusive prerogative of the
sustains, the conclusion of the trial court that a tract of public
Executive Department of the Government to classify public
land later Identified as Lot No. 1546 ceased to be part of the
lands . 45 The classification is descriptive of its legal nature or ... In favor of Valentin Susi, there is, moreover, the
public domain and became private land over which the Director
status and does not have to be descriptive of what the land presumption juris et dejure established in paragraph [b] of
of Lands is divested of control and possession when the
actually looks like. 46 This Court, speaking thru Justice Moir, in the section 45 of Act No. 2874, amending Act No. 926, that all the
homestead application of Sadin Maraug was approved and
case of Jocson vs. Director of Forestry, 39 Phil. 560 [1919], necessary requirements for a grant by the Government were
recorded as Homestead Entry No. V-68362 on January 13, 1954
traced the meaning of public agricultural lands, and the same complied with, for he has been in actual and physical possession,
which was later confirmed by the approval of the transfer of
was restated 29 years later inKrivenko vs. Register of Deeds of personally and through his predecessors, of an agricultural land
Manila, 79 Phil. 461 [1948] thus: of the public domain openly, continuously, exclusively and
NATURAL RESOURCES NEW CASES (ORAL QUIZ) 24

homestead rights in favor of Minda de Porkan. The Court stated sufficiency of the title as would be evidenced by the patent and from each other, by the concerned administrative agencies of the
inBalboa vs. Farrales, supra, thus: the Torrens Title to be issued upon the strength of said patent. 50 Government renders untenable the Solicitor General's contention
that in the event Lot No. 1099 and Lot No, 1546 are finally
reverted to the State, the said 13.6586 hectares should be
A party who has complied with all the terms and conditions which There is therefore no equitable justification for the Director of
excluded from the reversion in favor of the fishpond claim of
entitle him to a patent for a particular tract of public land Lands to divest private respondents of their titles by claiming,
Viola C. Azurin under her Fishpond Permit No. F-5551-V.
acquires a vested interest therein, and is to be regarded, as the after 19 years, that the lots in question remain public lands
equitable owner thereof [Wirth vs. Branson, 98 U.S. 118]. Where because the same are swampy and marshy in nature subject to
the right to a patent has once become vested in a purchaser of lease only under Chapter IX of the Public Land Act, and on a First, it must be noted that on January 17, 1968, Viola C. Azurin
public lands, it is equivalent so far as the Government is mere technical objection that Minda de Porkan is disqualified to obtained by purchase and sale from Condi Mama and Cadingaga
concerned, to a patent actually issued. The execution and apply for a homestead patent because she is married. As clearly Mora, both native Muslims of La Paz, Panabo [now Carmen],
delivery of the patent after the right to it has become complete found by the trial court, Viola C. Azurin entered the 20-hectare Davao del Norte, all the rights and interests over all the nipa
are mere ministerial acts of the officers charged with that duty fishpond in 1966 and, admittedly, she excavated and constructed plants and other improvements in the parcel of land covered by
[Simmons vs. Wagner, 101 U.S. 260]. ... A perfected valid dikes in the disputed portion she assertively believed to be within her Fishpond Permit No. F-5551-V. 52 Thereafter, on March 1,
appropriation of public lands operates as a withdrawal of the her 20-hectare fishpond permit. The conversion of the disputed 1968, she filed with the Bureau of Lands a sales
tract from the body of the public domain and, so long as such portion into a fishpond will not change the agricultural nature of application 53 over an agricultural land with an area of 33.6586
appropriation remains valid and subsisting, the land covered the land subject to disposition by the Bureau of Lands as hectares allegedly covered by her 20-hectare fishpond permit.
thereby is deemed private property. A perfected homestead alienable lands of the public domain in accordance with the State But the sales application was not approved by the Director of
under the law, is property in the highest sense, which may be policy of "land for the landless"; and more importantly in line Lands.
sold and conveyed and will pass by descent. ... Even without a with the amendments introduced by Republic Act No. 3872 [June
patent a perfected homestead is a property right in the fullest 18, 1964] to the Public Land Act intended to benefit the
Second, after Viola C. Azurin was granted on March 4, 1966 her
sense, unaffected by the fact that the paramount title to the land members of the national cultural minorities. In fact, the original
Fishpond Permit No. F-5551-V by the Philippine Fisheries
is in the Government. Such land may be conveyed or registered owners of Lot No. 1099 and Lot No. 1546 were issued
Commission, she had the area surveyed by a private land
inherited. [Emphasis supplied] their respective patents pursuant to the 1971 land Patent Drive
surveyor, Roman F. Joaquin, who allegedly found out that her
for Cultural Minorities signed by Vicente A. Valdellon. 51
fishpond permit actually covered 33.6586 hectares, resulting in
Corollary to the ruling in Balboa vs. Farrales, it was held in Diaz an excess of 13.6586 hectares. On November 29, 1967, Roman F.
and Reyes vs. Macalinao, et al, 102 Phil. 999, a 1958 case, that a Inasmuch as Lot No. 1099 and Lot No. 1546 ceased to be part of Joaquin submitted a plan of the land [fishpond], allegedly the
homestead entry having been permitted by the Director of the public domain as early as 1953 and 1954, respectively, We correct plan of the survey, but the Director of Lands did not
Lands, the homestead is segregated from the public domain and need not dwell further on the allegations of fraud advanced by approve the same. So Viola C. Azurin opted to file a fishpond
the Director Lands is divested of the control and possession the Solicitor General in the issuance of the patents of Lolita application [FPA No. 27257] on April 24, 1969 ver the excess area
thereof except if the application is finally disapproved and the Macatindog and Minda de Porkan who were the successors-in- of 13.6586 hectares over her 20-hectare fishpond under her
entry annulled or revoked. In Dauan vs. Secretary of Agriculture interest of Medori de Porkan and Sadin Maraug whose titles to Fishpond Permit No. F-5551-V. A protest over Azurin's application
and Natural Resources, 19 SCRA 223, involving a dispute as to the lots in question become vested by operation of law and by was filed earlier or on April 20, 1969 by a certain Moonyeen
whether a pre-war homestead application was approved by the the equitable application of doctrinal jurisprudence on the land Rodriguez-Beleno which was decided by the Director of Fisheries
Director of Lands, the Court held that where the person had all dispute in the instant case. on January 10, 1978 by giving due course to the fishpond
the qualifications to apply for a homestead and he was in actual application of Moonyeen R. Beleno over Parcel II. However, on
possession of the homestead at the time he transferred his rights March 31, 1981, the Minister of Natural Resources, thru his
The next issue then is whether or not the fishpond claim of Viola
thereto, the presumption is that his application for said Acting Secretary, Jose A. Janolo set aside the order by declaring
C. Azurin over the 13.6586 hectares allegedly representing the
homestead was approved by the Director of Lands. that the Fishpond Permit No. F-5551-V of Viola C. Azurin covers
excess area over her 20-hectare fishpond under her Fishpond
Parcel I, II, and III subject to the final resolution by competent
Permit No. F-5551-V has attained the character of a final grant
authorities of the adverse claim of certain Muslim occupants
In that sense, there is then no legal obstacle for Lolita de Porkan from the Government as would warrant the exclusion of the
over Parcel III. In other words, Viola C. Azurin's claim over Parcel
Macatindog, successor-in-interest of Medori de Porkan, to same from Lot No. 1099 of Lolita Macatindog and Lot No. 1546 of
III has not attained the status of finality unless and until the
complete the imperfect or incomplete title of her predecessor-in- Minda de Porkan.
conflict of land claims, now subject of the instant case, is finally
interest over Lot No. 1099 by means of confirmation of imperfect
resolved by the courts.
or incomplete title by administrative legalization [free patent]
We rule in the negative.
under Section 11 and Section 44 of the Public Land Act, as
amended by R.A. 3872 [June 18, 1964] 49 which she did when she Third, the instant case now before this Court for review is an
filed her free patent application on November 14, 1968; and for A review of the records of the case show that Viola C. Azurin has offshoot of Viola C. Azurin's complaint for correction, amendment
Minda de Porkan to confirm her title over Lot No. 1546 which was not sufficiently established her right to a grant by the or cancellation of the Homestead Patent of Minda de Porkan and
deemed vested on her predecessor-in-interest, Sadin Maraug, as Government under any of the modes of dispossession or Free Patent of Lolita Macatindog filed with the Bureau of Lands on
early as 1954, by filing her homestead application on June 8, concession of public lands authorized under the Public Land Act May 26, 1972 involving the same portion of land subject of the
1971. In both parcels of land, the application for confirmation is a or any special law governing her alleged fishpond claim over the sales application filed on March 1, 1968 and fishpond application
mere formality, the lack of which does not affect the legal disputed lots. The inaction, if not disapproval, of her land claims filed on April 24, 1969 by Viola C. Azurin.
over the disputed lots, thru applications separate and distinct
NATURAL RESOURCES NEW CASES (ORAL QUIZ) 25

Fourth, the Fishpond Permit No. F-5551-V of Viola C. Azurin had Patent of private respondent Lolita Macatindog and her recorded and given due course in the name of Lolita Macatindog
technically expired on December 31, 1966. Obviously, successors-in-interest, respectively. in an order dated February 8, 1971. 9 On May 27, 1971, the
recognizing the extent and limits of her occupation, use and Director of Lands approved the Free Patent Application of Lolita
possession of the fishpond area, she filed the said sales Macatindog and ordered that the said application be entered in
The undisputed facts appearing on the records are as follows:
application over the same area on March 1, 1968, but said the records of the Bureau of Lands as Free Patent Entry No.
application was not approved. 431343 and that the corresponding Free Patent be issued in her
The family of Sadin de Porkan, father of Medori and Macampon favor over Lot No. 1099. 10Free Patent No. 488112 was issued to
de Porkan, both native Muslims of La Paz, Carmen, [formerly Lolita Macatindog on June 7, 1971, and on July 13, 1971, she was
Considering that Viola C. Azurin was not able to legitimize her
Panabo] Davao del Norte, had been in actual possession as issued Original Certificate of Title No. P-9742 11 over said Lot No.
claim over the disputed portion, there is then no justifiable
owner since the Spanish colonial period of a tract of land planted 1099.
reason for the Director of Lands to divest Lolita Macatindog and
with coconuts situated in said municipality. 3 During the Tagum
Minda de Porkan and their successors-in-interest of their titles,
Cadastral Survey of July 22, 1937, this tract of land, Identified as
which had long been vested on their predecessors-in-interest. On June 6, 1978, or after seven [7] years from the issuance of
Lots Nos. 1099 and 1546 were respectively allocated to Medori
the Free Patent, Lolita Macatindog conveyed 60,000 sq. meters of
and Macampon de Porkan, the predecessors-in-interest of herein
said Lot No. 1099 to Juan Arangali who secured Transfer
WHEREFORE, in view of the foregoing, the petition is denied and private respondents. 4
Certificate of Title No. T-25142 12over said area. Transfer
the decision of the Court of Appeals on February 29, 1984 is
Certificate of Title No. T-25143 13 was issued for the remaining
hereby affirmed. No costs.
On April 30, 1953, or sixteen [16] years after the Tagum 102,983 sq. meters in the name of Lolita Macatindog.
Cadastral Survey, Medori de Porkan filed her Free Patent
SO ORDERED. Application No. V-27162 5 over Lot No. 1099 containing an area of
On the other hand, Macampon de Porkan died before he could
16.2983 hectares. The following day, or on May 1, 1953, Vicente
file any application and improve Lot No. 1546 containing an area
J. Villena, Junior Public Lands Inspector, submitted a final
of 15.2406 hectares allocated to him. In his stead, the
investigation report 6recommending that the patent be granted
========= Homestead Application No. V-76456 14of Sadin Maraug, who
to Medori de Porkan. The report was subsequently endorsed for
showed much interest in acquiring said tract of land, was
approval to the Director of Lands on May 30, 1953 by, Juan
accepted on May 1, 1953 on the basis of the investigation
G.R. No. L-66866 June 18, 1987 Tapales, Head, Special Investigation Party, Davao, who
report 15 of Vicente J. Villena, Junior Public Lands Inspector,
recommended that the entry of applicant be favorably confirmed
dated May 1, 1953, which was favorably endorsed by Juan
and a free patent be issued to Medori de Porkan, thus:
REPUBLIC OF THE PHILIPPINES, petitioner, Tapales, Head, Special Investigation Party, Davao, on May 31,
vs. 1953. Sadin Maraug's homestead application was subsequently
MINDA DE PORKAN, SADIN MARAUG, GORGONIO 9. That the said land has been surveyed, and the survey records approved and recorded as Homestead Entry No. V-68302 16in an
BERMUDEZ, LOLITA MACATINDOG, MEDORI DE PORKAN, are known as Tagum Cad Survey No. 25-B. It corresponds to Lots order dated January 13, 1954 issued by Zoilo Castrillo, Director of
JUAN ARANGALI, ANTONINA ESTARES, REGISTER OF 1099, B.L. Case No. 4, Cadastral Record No. 276 which was Lands.
DEEDS OF DAVAO DEL NORTE and the INTERMEDIATE allocated to the herein applicant, Medori de Porkan during the
APPELLATE COURT [Fourth Civil Cases cadastral survey of Tagum.
On June 1, 1971, or seventeen [17] years after the approval of
Division], respondents.
his homestead application, Sadin Maraug sought authority from
10. FURTHER REMARKS: Due to the long possession and the Director of Lands to transfer his rights over Lot No. 1546, and
Rolando C. Rama for private respondents. occupation by Medori de Porkan of the land, who also introduced on June 8, 1971, he executed a transfer of homestead rights in
considerable improvements thereon the undersigned believed favor of Minda de Porkan. This was approved by Vicente A.
beyond reasonable doubt that she is entitled to a free patent. Valdellon, Director of Lands, in an order dated December 3,
Information gathered from other persons, settlers and 1971, which likewise ordered that the Homestead Application No.
homesteaders in the vicinity reveals that no other persons had V-76456 of Sadin Maraug be recorded in the name of the
FERNAN, J.: been allowed to have any interests in, rights to, the transferee, Minda de Porkan. 17
improvements now existing therein. Records show that the land
applied for was allocated to the herein application (sic) during
In this petition for review on certiorari, petitioner, Republic of the Minda de Porkan thereafter filed her Homestead Application No.
the cadastral survey of Tagum but the said applicant has not filed
Philippines, represented by the Director of Lands, thru the V-76456. 18 After she made a final proof on July 8, 1971, she was
any application for the land.
Solicitor General, seeks the reversal of the decision 1 of the issued Homestead Patent No. 135029 approved by the Secretary
Intermediate Appellate Court, now Court of Appeals, dated of Agriculture and Natural Resources on December 8, 197I. On
February 29, 1984, which affirmed the joint decision 2 of the then Fifteen [15] years after, or on November 12, 1968, Medori de March 17, 1972 she was issued original Certificate of Title. No. P-
Court of First Instance of Davao, Branch I [Tagum] dismissing Porkan relinquished her rights and interests over Lot No. 10095 19over Lot No 1546.
petitioner's complaint in Civil Cases Nos. 1247 and 1248 for 1099 7 to her daughter, Lolita Macatindog, who thereafter filed
cancellation of the Homestead Patent of private respondent her own free patent application 8 on November 14, 1968. The
In 1977, or after six [6] years from the issuance of the
Minda de Porkan and her successors-in-interest and the Free Free Patent Application No. V-271162 of Medori de Porkan
homestead patent, Minda de Porkan conveyed 80,000 sq. meters
covering Lot No. 1099 was thereafter ordered transferred to,
of Lot No. 1546 to Gorgonio S. Bermudez who secured his
NATURAL RESOURCES NEW CASES (ORAL QUIZ) 26

Transfer Certificate of Title No. T-23598 20 on September 26, allegedly covered by her sales application, but she agreed that Macatindog likewise forcibly entered the southeastern portion of
1977. Transfer Certificate No. T-23599 21 was issued in the name she would take only such title as may be issued to her by the the same landholding. 34
of Minda de Porkan for the remaining 72,406 sq. meters. Director of Lands irrespective of the result of the survey of the
area which was allegedly occupied by her under Ordinary
After an investigation, Acting Assistant District Land Officer
Fishpond Permit No. F-5551-V.
Meanwhile, Mrs. Viola C. Azurin, a resident of 629 Sta. Ana Lazaro G. Berania recommended in his findings dated July 9,
Avenue, Davao City, obtained from the then Philippine Fisheries 1973 35 that a petition be filed in the proper court for the
Commission on March 4, 1966, Ordinary Fishpond Permit No. F- The sales application of Viola C. Azurin over the alleged 33.6586 amendment of Homestead Patent No. 135029 of Minda de Porkan
5551-V 22 Covering an area of 20 hectares situated at La Paz, hectares was not approved by the Director of Lands. 29 over Lot No. 1546, Cad 276 and Free Patent No. 488112 of Lolita
Panabo [now Carmen], Davao del Norte, described and indicated Macatindog over Lot No. 1099, Cad 276 in order to exclude
in the sketch on the sheet 23 attached to permit, subject to the therefrom the portion of around seven [7] hectares of Viola C.
On April 24, 1969, Viola C. Azurin filed Fishpond Application No.
additional rules on the next page 24 and, among others, to the Azurin and that the Land Inspector, Mr. Amer Yusop, be charged
27257 over 13.6586 hectares allegedly representing the excess
following terms and conditions: administratively for gross negligence and grave misconduct for
area over the 20 hectares under her Fishpond Permit No. F-5551-
submitting false report.
V which, as found by Geodetic Engineer Roman F. Joaquin,
4. Upon the expiration of the permit or upon its cancellation, all actually covered 33.6586 hectares. Before her application over
permanent improvements on the area shall pass to the the said 13.6586 hectares was filed, a certain Moonyeen Meanwhile, on January 10, 1978, the Director of Fisheries issued
ownership of the Government without any obligation on the part Rodriguez-Beleno filed on April 20, 1969 a protest with the an order resolving the conflict of the fishpond applications
of said Government to indemnify or reimburse the holder of the Philippine Fisheries Commission against Viola Azurin's fishpond between Viola C. Azurin [FPA No. 27257] and Moonyeen R.
permit therefor. permit claiming that the latter had not improved the area under Beleno [FPA No. 27649] over 13.6586 hectares which, for the
her permit; that it was she [Beleno] who was in actual possession purpose of Identifying the disputed land involved in the instant
and occupation of the area and who had introduced case, We quote, thus:
5. The decision of the Commissioner of Fisheries as to the exact
improvements thereon, and that she entered the area in good
location of the boundary lines of the area shall be accepted as
faith since the area was heavily forested with mangroves. 30
final. Considering the actuations of both parties in this case and of the
fact that there is considerable difficulty in distinguishing the excess
The Philippine Fisheries Commission directed an investigation to area from the area of 20.0 hectares granted under Permit No. F-
This permit will expire on December 31, 1966 or at an earlier
verify the allegations of Moonyeen Rodriguez-Beleno. 5551-V owing to the absence of hearings in the technical
date under the conditions stated in Rules 10, 11 and 12 hereof.
descriptions of the area as released by the Bureau of Forestry, it is
only proper, for the sake of justice and equity, that the claims of
On September 29, 1969, Moonyeen R. Beleno filed Fishpond
Thereafter, Viola C. Azurin had the area surveyed by Geodetic the parties herein be resolved by taking into consideration the
Application No. 27649 over 35.5 hectares stated to represent the
Engineer Roman F. Joaquin, a private surveyor, who found out actual conditions existing at the time the controversy arose and
20 hectares under Viola C. Azurin's Fishpond Permit No. F-5551-V
that her fishpond permit actually covered 33.6586 hectares, and also to consider the principle that no one shall unjustly enrich
and the 13.5 hectares excess of said permit. 31
not 20.0 hectares. 25 On November 29, 1967, Geodetic Engineer himself at the expense of another.
R.F. Joaquin prepared and submitted for approval by the Director
of Lands the allegedly corrected plan of the land [fishpond] 26 but On November 26, 1969, the Philippine Fisheries Commissioner
Moreover, in a more recent ocular inspection and/or relocation of
the same was not approved by the Director of Lands. ordered the Regional Director at Davao City to investigate the
the area involved in the above-entitled case conducted by
conflict of fishpond applications between Viola C. Azurin and
representatives of this Office based on the sketch plan prepared by
Moonyeen R. Beleno over an area reportedly containing 13.6586
On January 17, 1968, the spouses Condi Mama and Cadingaga Fortunato I. Javellana, Jr., Geodetic Engineer of Fisheries Regional
hectares, entitled "Fishpond Application No. 27649, Beleno,
Mora, both native Muslims of La Paz, Panabo [Carmen], Davao Office No. XI, Davao City, the three [3] parcels of areas appears
Moonyeen Rodriguez, applicant-Complainant versus Fishpond
del Norte, sold to Viola C. Azurin, their rights and interests over thereon, thus
Application No. 27257, Azurin, Viola C. Permittee." 32
all the nipa plants and improvements in the parcel of land
covered by Viola C. Azurin's Fishpond Permit No. F-5551-V for and
IN VIEW OF THE FOREGOING, FPA No. 27649 of Moonyeen R.
in consideration of P3,500.00. 27 On May 26, 1972, while the fishpond conflict case was pending
Beleno be given due course to cover Parcel II as indicated in the
investigation by the Philippine Fisheries Commission [Davao
sketch plan prepared by Engineer Fortunato P. Javellana covering
City], Viola C. Azurin filed with the Bureau of Lands a
On March 1, 1968, Viola C. Azurin filed with the Bureau of Lands 11.7869 hectares and wherein her improvements are indicated;
complaint 33 for the correction, amendment or cancellation of
a sales application 28 over an agricultural land to be used solely and that the area of Mrs. Viola C. Azurin under OFP No. F-5551-V
Homestead Patent No. 135029 of Minda de Porkan over Lot No.
for agricultural purposes, containing an area of 33.6586 shall be confined to Parcel Nos. I and III of said sketch, after the
1546 and Free Patent No. 488112 of Lolita Macatindog over Lot
hectares, bounded on the northeast by Tagum River and on the adverse claims of the Muslim claimants shall have been finally
No. 1099 situated at La Paz, Panabo [now Carmen], Davao del
southwest by public land, situated at La Paz, Panabo [now resolved by competent authority. 36
Norte, alleging, among others, that the patentees secured their
Carmen], Davao del Norte, for which purpose she stated that she
patents and titles through fraud, misrepresentation and illegal
would invest the sum of P20,000.00. Prior to the said sales
machinations, after which a relocation survey of their lots was The aforequoted order of the Director of Fisheries giving due
application, she asked the Director of Lands, in a survey request
made, and on April 24, 1972, Minda de Porkan forcibly entered course to the Fishpond Application No. 27649 of Moonyeen R.
dated February 12, 1968, to have a private surveyor, Geodetic
the northeastern portion of her [Azurin] landholding while Lolita
Engineer Roman F. Joaquin, survey the 33.6586 hectares
NATURAL RESOURCES NEW CASES (ORAL QUIZ) 27

Beleno over Parcel II covering 11.7869 hectares was appealed by and Minda de Porkan, as well as the titles of their transferees co- 27257 filed on April 24, 1969 over the alleged excess area of
Viola C. Azurin to the Minister of Natural Resources. defendants Juan Arangali and Gorgonio Bermudez, who were 13.6586 hectares over her 20-hectare fishpond under her
adjudged to be innocent purchasers for value and in good faith. Fishpond Permit No. F-5551-V was, in fact, granted by the Bureau
of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources of the Ministry of Natural
On April 11, 1980, the Republic of the Philippines, represented by
Resources. And on the basis of said assumption, the Solicitor
the Director of Lands, thru the Solicitor General, filed two [2] The Solicitor General appealed the decision of the lower court to
General then contended that despite the presence of other
separate complaints 37 with the then Court of First Instance of the then Intermediate Appellate Court, now Court of Appeals.
claimants in the area, Amer Yusop, a public land inspector of the
Davao del Norte, seeking the cancellation in Civil Case No. 1247
Bureau of Lands, misled the Director of Lands into erroneously
of Homestead Patent No. 135029 of Minda de Porkan and its
In the meantime, on March 31, 1981, the Minister of Natural approving private respondents' application and causing the
derivative titles, TCT No. T-23598 and T-23599, in the names of
Resources, thru his Acting Assistant Secretary, Jose A. Janolo, fraudulent issuance of patents in their favor by stating in his
Minda de Porkan and spouses Gorgonio S. Bermudez and
rendered a decision 42 setting aside the order of the Director of report that "there are no claimants" to the land applied for by
Benecita Duluan Bermudez insofar as the portion covered by the
Fisheries and Aquatic Resources dated January 10, 1978, thereby Minda de Porkan and that the land applied for by Lolita
Ordinary Fishpond Permit No. F-5551-V of Viola C. Azurin, with an
rejecting the Fishpond Application No. 27649 of Moonyeen R. Macatindog "is claimed by nobody."
area of 3.9 hectares, more or less [subject to the result of a final
Beleno, and declaring, among others, that the Ordinary Fishpond
survey] was concerned; and the cancellation in Civil Case No.
Permit No. F-5551-V of Viola C. Azurin should cover Parcels I, II
1248 of Free Patent No. V-488112 and OCT No. P-8742 in the At the outset, it is significant to note that the tract of public land
and III subject to the final resolution by competent authorities of
name of Lolita Macatindog and its derivative titles, TCT Nos. T- then possessed, occupied, developed and planted to coconuts by
the adverse claims of certain Muslim occupants over Parcel III.
25143 and T-25142 in the names of Lolita Macatindog and the the family of Sadin de Porkan and his predecessors-in-interest, all
[Emphasis supplied]
spouses Juan Arangali and Antonina Estares, respectively, insofar native Muslims of La Paz, Carmen [formerly Panabo], Davao del
as the portion covered by Fishpond Permit No. F-5551-V of Viola Norte, which, by virtue of its being part of the unregistered lands,
C. Azurin, with an area of seven [7] hectares, more or less On February 29, 1984, the Intermediate Appellate Court, now was included in the Tagum Cadastral Survey of July 22, 1937 and
[subject to the result of a final survey] was concerned. Court of Appeals, affirmed the decision of the lower court. formed part of the disposable or alienable agricultural lands of
the public domain referred to under Section 6, par. [a] in relation
to Section 9, par. [a] of the Public Land Act [C.A. 141, as
The Solicitor General claimed that the disputed portions of land The Solicitor General thus elevated the case to this Court by way
amended]. The nature and character of said tract of public land,
in Civil Cases Nos. 1247 and 1248 were actually claimed, of petition for review on certiorari raising eleven [11] errors
more particularly Lot No. 1099, as one found inside an
occupied and developed by Viola C. Azurin, a holder of Fishpond which, in its entirety, seeks to cancel and declare as null and void
"agricultural zone", and that of Lot No. 1546, as one suitable for
Permit No. F-5551-V, which portion the Director of Lands could the titles of private respondents over Lot No. 1099, Cad 276 and
rice cultivation, which were categorically stated in the separate
not dispose of under the Public Land Act 38 hence, the patents Lot No. 1546, Cad. 276, and their eventual reversion to the State
investigation reports in 1953 of Vicente J. Villena, junior public
and titles issued to Minda de Porkan and Lolita Macatindog and without prejudice to the claim of Viola C. Azurin to a portion of
land inspector of the Bureau of Lands [Davao] is binding on the
all derivative titles issued to their successors-in-interest are null seven [7] hectares of Lot No. 1099 and a portion of 3.9 hectares
courts inasmuch as it is the exclusive prerogative of the
and void insofar as that portion occupied and covered by the of Lot No. 1546 under her Fishpond Permit No. F-5551-V. 43 In
Executive Department of the Government to classify public
fishpond permit of Viola C. Azurin. other words, the Solicitor General seeks to cancel and declare as
lands . 45 The classification is descriptive of its legal nature or
null and void the titles of private respondents over Lot Nos. 1099
status and does not have to be descriptive of what the land
and 1546, but he takes exception to the eventual reversion of
Minda de Porkan, et al. in Civil Case No. 1247 and Lolita actually looks like. 46 This Court, speaking thru Justice Moir, in the
the entire area of the two [2] disputed lots to the State insofar as
Macatindog in Civil Case No. 1248 similarly claimed in their case of Jocson vs. Director of Forestry, 39 Phil. 560 [1919],
10.9 hectares, more or less, in favor of the claim of Viola C.
separate answers 39 that they were the ones who first protested, traced the meaning of public agricultural lands, and the same
Azurin under Fishpond Permit No. F-5551-V.
along with their Muslim relatives, the intrusion of the families of was restated 29 years later inKrivenko vs. Register of Deeds of
the Azurins, Rodriguezes, and Belenos into their "ancestral Manila, 79 Phil. 461 [1948] thus:
lands," now the site of Barrio La Paz, Carmen [formerly Panabo], In the main, the cancellation of titles of private respondents over
Davao del Norte, which from time immemorial had been the disputed two [2] lots and their eventual reversion to the
In the case of Mapa vs. Insular Government, 10
occupied and cultivated by their ancestors and predecessors-in- State primarily rests on the contentions of the Solicitor General
Phil. 175, this court said that the phrase
interest. that Lot Nos. 1099 and 1546 could not be the subject of
'agricultural lands' as used in Act No. 926
disposition under the Homestead [Chapter IV] and Free Patent
means those public lands acquired from Spain
[Chapter VII] provisions of the Public Land Act 44 since they are
Upon motion of the Solicitor General for consolidation of cases, which are not timber or mineral. Whatever may
marshy and swampy, certified as such as more suitable for
Civil Cases Nos. 1247 and 1248 were ordered consolidated in an have been the meaning of the term 'forestry'
fishpond development, disposable only thru lease under Chapter
order 40 dated August 19, 1980 issued by the then Court of First under the Spanish law, the Act of Congress of
IX of the Public Land, and private respondents' non-compliance
Instance, Branch II, Davao del Norte for joint hearing in the Court July 1st, 1902, classifies the public lands in the
with certain statutory requirements of possession and cultivation,
of First Instance of Davao del Norte, Branch I. Philippine Islands as timber, mineral or
and the disqualification of applicant Minda de Porkan to apply for
agricultural lands, and all public lands that are
a homestead patent, she being a married woman. On the other
not timber or mineral lands are necessarily
After a joint hearing, the Court of First Instance of Davao del hand, the argument on retention of 10.9 hectares in favor of the
agricultural public lands, whether they are
Norte, Branch [Tagum] rendered its decision 41 on November 18, fishpond claim of Viola C. Azurin in the event that the titles of
used as nipa swamps, manglares, fisheries or
1980 dismissing the complaints for cancellation of titles and private respondents are declared null and void is predicated on
ordinary farm lands. [Emphasis supplied.]
upholding the validity of the patents/titles of Lolita Macatindog the assumption that Viola C. Azurin's Fishpond Application No.
NATURAL RESOURCES NEW CASES (ORAL QUIZ) 28

Since the disputed tract of public land is neither timber nor presumption, of Valentin Susi, beyond the control of the Director [Simmons vs. Wagner, 101 U.S. 260]. ... A perfected valid
mineral lands, the same is alienable or open to disposition as of Lands. Consequently, in selling the land in question to Angela appropriation of public lands operates as a withdrawal of the
public agricultural lands, under Section 11, C.A. 141 thru Razon, the Director of Lands disposed of a land over which he tract from the body of the public domain and, so long as such
homestead settlement or free patent. had no longer any title or control, and the sale thus made was appropriation remains valid and subsisting, the land covered
void and of no effect, and Angela Razon did not thereby acquire thereby is deemed private property. A perfected homestead
any right. [Emphasis supplied] under the law, is property in the highest sense, which may be
The basic preliminary issue in resolving the overlapping claims
sold and conveyed and will pass by descent. ... Even without a
over the 10.9 hectares is whether or not the predecessors-in-
patent a perfected homestead is a property right in the fullest
interest of private respondents Minda de Porkan, et al. in Civil Where, as in the instant case, the possession of a public land
sense, unaffected by the fact that the paramount title to the land
Case No. 1247 and Lolita Macatindog, et al. in Civil Case No. later Identified as Lot No. 1099 by Sadin de Porkan, father of
is in the Government. Such land may be conveyed or
1248 had acquired valid and registrable titles over Lot No. 1099 Medori de Porkan, and their predecessors-in-interest who were
inherited. [Emphasis supplied]
and 1546, respectively, by virtue of a grant by the State under native Muslims of la Paz, Panabo [now Carmen], Davao del Norte,
the Public Land Act. 47 We rule in the affirmative. dates back to the time of the Spanish colonial period, such
possession of the said tract of public land has attained the Corollary to the ruling in Balboa vs. Farrales, it was held in Diaz
character and duration prescribed by law as the equivalent of an and Reyes vs. Macalinao, et al, 102 Phil. 999, a 1958 case, that a
The doctrine established in the 1909 case of Carino vs. Insular
express grant from the Government. The mandate of the law homestead entry having been permitted by the Director of
Government, 42 Phil. 935, 944, affirmed in Susi vs. Razon, 48
itself is that the possessors "shall be conclusively presumed to Lands, the homestead is segregated from the public domain and
Phil. 424, and re-affirmed in a number of cases 48 the most recent
have performed all the conditions essential to a Government the Director Lands is divested of the control and possession
of which are the cases of Herico vs. Dar, 95 SCRA 437
grant and shall be entitled to a certificate of title" and by legal thereof except if the application is finally disapproved and the
and Director of Lands vs. Intermediate Appellate Court and Acme
fiction, the land ceases to be public and thus becomes private entry annulled or revoked. In Dauan vs. Secretary of Agriculture
Plywood and Veneer Co., Inc., G.R. No. 73002 [Dec. 29, 1986]
land. In the language of Herico vs. Dar, supra, title over the land and Natural Resources, 19 SCRA 223, involving a dispute as to
sustains on all fours the ruling of the trial court that the herein
has vested on the possessor so as to segregate the land from the whether a pre-war homestead application was approved by the
private respondent Lolita de Porkan Macatindog and her
mass of the public domain. And as stressed in Susi vs. Razon, Director of Lands, the Court held that where the person had all
predecessors-in-interest, as early as 1953, had already acquired
supra, it is not necessary that a certificate of title should be the qualifications to apply for a homestead and he was in actual
by operation of law not only a right to a grant over Lot No. 1099,
issued in order that said grant may be sustained by the courts, possession of the homestead at the time he transferred his rights
but a grant of the Government over the same alienable land by
an application therefor being sufficient. thereto, the presumption is that his application for said
virtue of their proven, open, exclusive and undisputed possession
homestead was approved by the Director of Lands.
for more than 30 years since the Spanish colonial period.
On the other hand, as regards the homestead patent over Lot No.
1546, Cad 276, the ruling in the case ofBalboa vs. Fartales, 51 In that sense, there is then no legal obstacle for Lolita de Porkan
The case of Susi vs. Razon, supra, in particular, puts the doctrine
Phil. 498 [1928], that when a homesteader has complied with all Macatindog, successor-in-interest of Medori de Porkan, to
in a clearer and more precise language which militates against
the terms and conditions which entitle him to a patent for a complete the imperfect or incomplete title of her predecessor-in-
the belated theory of the Solicitor General after a period of 19
particular tract of public land, he acquires a vested interest interest over Lot No. 1099 by means of confirmation of imperfect
years since 1953 that in view of its being swampy and marshy in
therein, and is to be regarded as the equitable owner thereof, or incomplete title by administrative legalization [free patent]
nature, Lot No. 1099 is still public land which the Director of
and once the right to a patent has become vested in a purchaser under Section 11 and Section 44 of the Public Land Act, as
Lands could not dispose of under the Public Land Act, thus:
of public lands, it is equivalent to a patent actually issued, amended by R.A. 3872 [June 18, 1964] 49 which she did when she
sustains, the conclusion of the trial court that a tract of public filed her free patent application on November 14, 1968; and for
... In favor of Valentin Susi, there is, moreover, land later Identified as Lot No. 1546 ceased to be part of the Minda de Porkan to confirm her title over Lot No. 1546 which was
the presumption juris et dejure established in paragraph [b] of public domain and became private land over which the Director deemed vested on her predecessor-in-interest, Sadin Maraug, as
section 45 of Act No. 2874, amending Act No. 926, that all the of Lands is divested of control and possession when the early as 1954, by filing her homestead application on June 8,
necessary requirements for a grant by the Government were homestead application of Sadin Maraug was approved and 1971. In both parcels of land, the application for confirmation is a
complied with, for he has been in actual and physical possession, recorded as Homestead Entry No. V-68362 on January 13, 1954 mere formality, the lack of which does not affect the legal
personally and through his predecessors, of an agricultural land which was later confirmed by the approval of the transfer of sufficiency of the title as would be evidenced by the patent and
of the public domain openly, continuously, exclusively and homestead rights in favor of Minda de Porkan. The Court stated the Torrens Title to be issued upon the strength of said patent. 50
publicly since July 26, 1894, with a right to a certificate of title to inBalboa vs. Farrales, supra, thus:
said land under the provisions of Chapter VIII of said Act. So that
There is therefore no equitable justification for the Director of
when Angela Razon applied for a grant in her favor, Valentin Susi
A party who has complied with all the terms and conditions which Lands to divest private respondents of their titles by claiming,
had already acquired by operation of law not only a right to a
entitle him to a patent for a particular tract of public land after 19 years, that the lots in question remain public lands
grant but a grant of the Government, for it is not necessary that
acquires a vested interest therein, and is to be regarded, as the because the same are swampy and marshy in nature subject to
a certificate of title should be issued in order that said grant may
equitable owner thereof [Wirth vs. Branson, 98 U.S. 118]. Where lease only under Chapter IX of the Public Land Act, and on a
be sanctioned by the courts, an application therefor is
the right to a patent has once become vested in a purchaser of mere technical objection that Minda de Porkan is disqualified to
sufficient, under the provisions of section 47 of Act No. 2874. If
public lands, it is equivalent so far as the Government is apply for a homestead patent because she is married. As clearly
by a legal fiction, Valentin Susi had acquired the land in question
concerned, to a patent actually issued. The execution and found by the trial court, Viola C. Azurin entered the 20-hectare
by a grant of the State, it had already ceased to be of the public
delivery of the patent after the right to it has become complete fishpond in 1966 and, admittedly, she excavated and constructed
domain and had become private property, at least by
are mere ministerial acts of the officers charged with that duty dikes in the disputed portion she assertively believed to be within
NATURAL RESOURCES NEW CASES (ORAL QUIZ) 29

her 20-hectare fishpond permit. The conversion of the disputed 1968, she filed with the Bureau of Lands a sales WHEREFORE, in view of the foregoing, the petition is denied and
portion into a fishpond will not change the agricultural nature of application 53 over an agricultural land with an area of 33.6586 the decision of the Court of Appeals on February 29, 1984 is
the land subject to disposition by the Bureau of Lands as hectares allegedly covered by her 20-hectare fishpond permit. hereby affirmed. No costs.
alienable lands of the public domain in accordance with the State But the sales application was not approved by the Director of
policy of "land for the landless"; and more importantly in line Lands.
SO ORDERED.
with the amendments introduced by Republic Act No. 3872 [June
18, 1964] to the Public Land Act intended to benefit the
Second, after Viola C. Azurin was granted on March 4, 1966 her
members of the national cultural minorities. In fact, the original
Fishpond Permit No. F-5551-V by the Philippine Fisheries
registered owners of Lot No. 1099 and Lot No. 1546 were issued ========
Commission, she had the area surveyed by a private land
their respective patents pursuant to the 1971 land Patent Drive
surveyor, Roman F. Joaquin, who allegedly found out that her
for Cultural Minorities signed by Vicente A. Valdellon. 51
fishpond permit actually covered 33.6586 hectares, resulting in G.R. No. L-61539 February 14, 1986
an excess of 13.6586 hectares. On November 29, 1967, Roman F.
Inasmuch as Lot No. 1099 and Lot No. 1546 ceased to be part of Joaquin submitted a plan of the land [fishpond], allegedly the
DIRECTOR OF LANDS and DIRECTOR OF FOREST
the public domain as early as 1953 and 1954, respectively, We correct plan of the survey, but the Director of Lands did not
DEVELOPMENT, petitioners,
need not dwell further on the allegations of fraud advanced by approve the same. So Viola C. Azurin opted to file a fishpond
vs.
the Solicitor General in the issuance of the patents of Lolita application [FPA No. 27257] on April 24, 1969 ver the excess area
LOPE GUZMAN RIVAS, PACIFICO V. VIJANDRE, FERNANDO
Macatindog and Minda de Porkan who were the successors-in- of 13.6586 hectares over her 20-hectare fishpond under her
A. PASCUA, and COURT OF APPEALS,respondents.
interest of Medori de Porkan and Sadin Maraug whose titles to Fishpond Permit No. F-5551-V. A protest over Azurin's application
the lots in question become vested by operation of law and by was filed earlier or on April 20, 1969 by a certain Moonyeen
the equitable application of doctrinal jurisprudence on the land Rodriguez-Beleno which was decided by the Director of Fisheries
dispute in the instant case. on January 10, 1978 by giving due course to the fishpond
application of Moonyeen R. Beleno over Parcel II. However, on
AQUINO, C.J.:
March 31, 1981, the Minister of Natural Resources, thru his
The next issue then is whether or not the fishpond claim of Viola
Acting Secretary, Jose A. Janolo set aside the order by declaring
C. Azurin over the 13.6586 hectares allegedly representing the
that the Fishpond Permit No. F-5551-V of Viola C. Azurin covers This is a land registration case involving what the Republic of the
excess area over her 20-hectare fishpond under her Fishpond
Parcel I, II, and III subject to the final resolution by competent Philippines claims to be grazing land, a part of the forest reserve.
Permit No. F-5551-V has attained the character of a final grant
authorities of the adverse claim of certain Muslim occupants
from the Government as would warrant the exclusion of the
over Parcel III. In other words, Viola C. Azurin's claim over Parcel
same from Lot No. 1099 of Lolita Macatindog and Lot No. 1546 of The evidence shows that on March 14, 1873 the Alcalde
III has not attained the status of finality unless and until the
Minda de Porkan. Mayor and judge of the Court of First Instance in Tuguegarao,
conflict of land claims, now subject of the instant case, is finally
Cagayan purportedly granted to Domingo Bunagan a possessory
resolved by the courts.
information title for a tract of land,called Nottab, "3,500 brazas
We rule in the negative.
de largo y 3,000 brazas de ancho", "destinado al pasto de sus
Third, the instant case now before this Court for review is an ganados" y bajo la condicion de sin perjuicio del derecho que el
A review of the records of the case show that Viola C. Azurin has offshoot of Viola C. Azurin's complaint for correction, amendment Estado o otro tercero pudiera tener en referida finca rustica"
not sufficiently established her right to a grant by the or cancellation of the Homestead Patent of Minda de Porkan and (Exh. I and K).
Government under any of the modes of dispossession or Free Patent of Lolita Macatindog filed with the Bureau of Lands on
concession of public lands authorized under the Public Land Act May 26, 1972 involving the same portion of land subject of the
The Gaceta de Manila dated November 3, 1885 mentions
or any special law governing her alleged fishpond claim over the sales application filed on March 1, 1968 and fishpond application
Bunagan as having obtained a "composicion gratuita" for a
disputed lots. The inaction, if not disapproval, of her land claims filed on April 24, 1969 by Viola C. Azurin.
parcel of land in Enrile, Cagayan (Exh. J-1) or a gratuitous
over the disputed lots, thru applications separate and distinct
adjustment title as distinguished from an onerous adjustment
from each other, by the concerned administrative agencies of the
Fourth, the Fishpond Permit No. F-5551-V of Viola C. Azurin had title. **
Government renders untenable the Solicitor General's contention
technically expired on December 31, 1966. Obviously,
that in the event Lot No. 1099 and Lot No, 1546 are finally
recognizing the extent and limits of her occupation, use and
reverted to the State, the said 13.6586 hectares should be What happened to the Nottab land? The conflicting evidence of
possession of the fishpond area, she filed the said sales
excluded from the reversion in favor of the fishpond claim of the oppositor Cagayan Valley Agricultural Corporation (Cavaco)
application over the same area on March 1, 1968, but said
Viola C. Azurin under her Fishpond Permit No. F-5551-V. and petitioner Pacifico Vijandre shows that two persons, the
application was not approved.
brothers Luis Guzman Rivas and Lope Guzman Rivas, sons of
Pablo Guzman, played decisive roles in its disposition.
First, it must be noted that on January 17, 1968, Viola C. Azurin
Considering that Viola C. Azurin was not able to legitimize her
obtained by purchase and sale from Condi Mama and Cadingaga
claim over the disputed portion, there is then no justifiable
Mora, both native Muslims of La Paz, Panabo [now Carmen], The evidence is conflicting because, according to Cavaco's
reason for the Director of Lands to divest Lolita Macatindog and
Davao del Norte, all the rights and interests over all the nipa evidence, the whole land was sold to Luis Guzman Rivas and
Minda de Porkan and their successors-in-interest of their titles,
plants and other improvements in the parcel of land covered by later to Cavaco, whereas, according to Vijandre's evidence, only
which had long been vested on their predecessors-in-interest.
her Fishpond Permit No. F-5551-V. 52 Thereafter, on March 1, a portion was sold to Luis and the remainder was sold to Lope
NATURAL RESOURCES NEW CASES (ORAL QUIZ) 30

Guzman Rivas who in turn sold portions to Vijandre and Fernando Cavaco case the whole land was sold to Luis and, therefore, no concept of owner: (3) in not finding that Domingo Bunagan's
A. Pascua. remainder could have been transferred to Lope. Spanish titles were not authentic and (4) in not finding that the
1960 decision in favor of Cavaco is not res judicata.
The Solicitor General's view is that the whole Nottab land, On the other hand, according to Vijandre's evidence in this case,
whatever its area, is forestal and grazing land, and consequently, on July 26, 1915, Manuela Bunagan, the sole heir of Domingo, On the other hand, lawyer Pascua argues (1) that the disputed
was inalienable land and, therefore, all supposed sales regarding sold to Pablo Guzman for Pl,000 the remainder of the land in land was already private in the hands of Domingo Bunagans (2)
that land were void. Nottab, Enrile, Cagayan, "una parcela de pasto de ganaderia", that portions of said land, 1,222 hectares and 9 hectares, were
covered by Tax Declaration No. 626 (Exh. H). titled in the names of Cavaco and Melardo Agapay (Benjamin V.
Pascua) respectively; (3) that the pasture lease agreements did
According to Cavaco's evidence, after Bunagan's death, his son-
not convert private land into public land and (4) that Bunagan's
in-law, Ceferino Saddul, as apoderado of Bunagan's heirs, sold Pablo Guzman died in 1927. The Nottab land was inherited by his
Spanish titles were authentic and valid.
the land to one Manuel Guzman sometime in 1904 or 1905 or son, petitioner Lope Guzman Rivas, who leased the land for
1908. grazing purposes to other persons. Lope has been residing in
Makati, Metro Manila since 1961 because he has a heart ailment. We hold that the disputed land is inalienable public grazing land,
being a part of the forest reserve. It is part of Timberland Project
The administratrix of Manuel Guzman's estate, with the approval
No. 15-A of Enrile, Cagayan. It is included in the Bureau of
of the probate court, sold the land in 1934 toLuis Guzman In 1958 about 800 hectares of the said land were sold by Lope to
Forestry Map L. C. 2263, comprising the Timberland of the
Rivas who died in 1944. The land passed to his widow, Dolores Ignacio Pascua who in 1962 sold the same portion to his son,
Cagayan Land Classification, containing an area of 8,249
Enriquez, who sold the northern portion of the land to Saturnino Fernando.
hectares, situated in Enrile, Solana and Amulong, Cagayan. It is
Moldero in 1944 and the southern portion to Rafael Gonzales in
non-registerable (Exh. 2-Rep.). It cannot be appropriated by
1951.
Lope Guzman Rivas and Vijandre filed in May, 1968 an private persons. It is not disposable public agricultural land.
application for the registration of two parcels of land located at
Moldero in 1948 sold his northern portion to the spouses Antonio Sitio Nottab, the same Nottab land previously applied for by
Said land is a part of the to forest reserve under Presidential
and Josefa Estrada. In 1951 the Estrada spouses and (Gonzales Cavaco. It is covered by Plan Psu-178846, embracing thirteen
Proclamation No. 159 dated February 13, 1967. It is intended
sold the land to Cavaco (Exh. 12-A to 15Pascua, 242 Joint lots with an area of 1,033 hectares, and Plan Psu-179101
for "wood production watershed soil protection and other forest
Record on Appeal). covering fifteen lots with an area of 890 hectares, or a total of
uses" (Exh. 1-B and 7, Rep.; 63 OG 3364). The reservation was
1,92.7 hectares.
made prior to the instant 1968 application for registration.
The trial court and the Court of Appeals in a land registration
case adjudicated to Cavaco 1,222 hectares of the Nottab land. It Before the application was filed, Lope Guzman Rivas sold to his
Applicant Lope Guzman Rivas and oppositor Pascua and their
is the registered owner of the land. Right or wrong that decision co-petitioner Vijandre l/2 of the entire land at P50 a hectare.
predecessors have always treated the 1,923 hectares as pasture
is the law of the case. (Cagayan Valley Agricultural Corporation Vijandre undertook to finance the registration of the land. Should
land. Portions of the land had been the object of pasture lease
vs. Director of Lands, CA-G.R. No, 24931-32, December 9, 1960). the registration of the land not materialize for causes not
agreements with the Bureau of Forestry. Among the lessees were
imputable to Vijandre, then Lope would return to mall
oppositor Fernando A. Pascua himself, Eliseo Lasam and
scashadvances(9-16, Joint Record on Appeal).
The trial court correctly held that the said adjudication means J.T.Torres, Jr. (Exh. 3 and 4, Rep.).
that the respondent herein cannot use anymore in this case the
supposed 1873 informacion posesoria and the 1885 composicion The learned trial court declared the disputed land public land and
The 1960 and 1968 tax declarations of applicant Lope Guzmian
gratuita as bases of their application for registration. The reason dismissed the applications of Lope Guzman Rivas and Vijandre
Rivas describe the 2,000 hectares of land in question as for
is that said Spanish titles were already used in the Cavaco case. and the claims of Pascua and Cavaco.
"pasture exclusively", meaning it is grazing land (Exh. R and S).
Similarly, the 1960 and 1962 tax declarations submitted in
Under those Spanish titles a land grant could not exceed 1,000 The Appellate Court reversed the trial court's decision. It granted evidence by oppositor Pascua describe 790 or 767 hectares of
hectares (Director of Lands vs, Reves, L-27594, November 28, the application of Lope and Vijandre, except with respect to Lot the land as "pasture land" (Exh. 27 and 28Pascua).
1975, 68 SCRA 177, 191 and other cases). It may be repeated No. 13, which was already covered by OCT No. 0-393. The
that Cavaco obtained more than 1,000 hectares by virtue of the Directors of Lands and Forest Development appealed to this
We have stated that the supposed possessory information title
said Spanish titles. Parenthetically, it may be stated that Court. Lope Guzman Rivas and Vijandre did not file any
issued in 1873 to the original claimant, Domingo Bunagan,
Presidential Decree No. 892 since 1976 discontinued the use of appellees' brief.
describes the land as "una estancia de ganado al terreno"
Spanish titles as evidence in land registration proceedings.
(grazing land), or "un terreno destinado al pasto de sus ganados"
The Solicitor General contends that the Appellate Court erred (1) or la estancia para ganados denominada Nottab".
It is the supposed remainder of Bunagan's land that is now in not declaring that the disputed land is part of a forest
involved in this case, the portion transferred to Lope Guzman reservation; (2) in not finding that Lope Guzman Rivas and
The application for the possessory information title was
Rivas as differentiated from the Cavaco land which came from Vijandre and their predecessors have not been in the open,
approved "bajo la condicion de sin perjuicio determination
Lope's brother Luis. It should be stressed that according to the continuous, uninterrupted, exclusive and notorious possession of
derecho que el Estado o otro tercero pudiera tener en referida
the disputed land and that their possession was not in the
NATURAL RESOURCES NEW CASES (ORAL QUIZ) 31

finca rustica" (Exh. 1). (Note that Exhibit J, the 1885 resolution Trinidad in LRC Case No. N-287, Record No. 37205, the dispositive That the aforementioned parcel of land is a
published in Gaceta de Manila, is not a composition title at all). portion of which reads as follows: portion of the public domain belonging to the
Republic of the Philippines. (pp. 13-14, Rollo)
Manuela Bunagan, the supposed heir to Domingo Bunagan, sold It having been proven convincingly that this
in 1915 the 2,000 hectares in question to Pablo Guzman at fifty land was owned and possessed by the late On April 7, 1970, the Director of Forestry also filed an opposition
centavos a hectare as "una parcela de pasto de ganaderia (Exh. Salming Piraso and later by his successors-in- to the application for registration on the following grounds:
H). Similarly, Ignacio A. Pascua bought from Lope Guzman Rivas interest, who are his children for a period of
the 800 hectares in 1962 as "a parcel of pasture land" (Exh. I more than thirty years up to this date, they
That the whole area applied for registration is
Pascua). have shown to have a registerable title on the
within the Central Cordillera Forest Reserve
property which this Court therefore confirms
established under Proclamation No. 217 dated
and affirms in accordance with the law. Let the
Grazing lands and timber lands are riot alienable under section 1, February 16, 1929;
land so described in the technical description
Article XIII of the 1935 Constitution and sections 8, 10 and 11 of
of the survey made of the same and in
Article XIV of the 1973 Constitution. Section 10
accordance with the corresponding plan be so That the area sought to be registered is neither
distinguishes strictly agricultural lands(disposable) from grazing
registered. (p. 50, Rollo) release for disposition nor alienation; and that
lands (inalienable).
the herein applicant has no registerable title
over the whole parcel of land either in fact or in
On May 9, 1968, respondent Martina S. Carantes for and in
Lands within the forest zone or timber reservation cannot be the law. (p. 14, Rollo)
behalf of the Heirs of Saying Piraso filed with the Court of Firing
object of private ownership (Republic vs. Animas, L- 37682,
Instance of Baguio and Benguet, Land Registration No. N-287,
March 29, 1974, 56 SCRA 499; Director of Forestry vs. Munoz,
covering the following describe property: After trial, a decision was rendered by the land registration court,
132 Phil. 637; Republic vs. Court of Appeals, G.R. No. 56077,
as earlier stated, adjudicating the parcel of land to the
February 28, 1985, 135 SCRA 156 and other cases).
applicants. The motion for reconsideration filed by Government
A parcel of land (as shown on plan PSU-43639)
oppositor's having been denied, an appeal was made to the
situated in the Barrio of Ansagan Municipality
WHEREFORE, the decision of the Appellate Court is reversed and Court of Appeals which affirmed in toto the decision of the land
of Tuba, Mountain Province. Bounded in the,
set aside. The application for registration of Lope Guzman Rivas registration court.
NE., along line 1-2 by property of Sioco Carino
and Pacifico V. Vijandre and the counter-application of lawyer
(PSU-43643, Lot 1); on the SE., and SW., along
Fernando A. Pascua are dismissed. No costs.
lines 2-3-4-5 by public land, on the We, along In this petition, the petitioner assigns the following alleged errors
lines 5-6-1 by property of Tunccalo. Containing of the Court of Appeals:
SO ORDERED. an area of TWO MILLION ONE HUNDRED
NINETY SEVEN THOUSAND EIGHT HUNDRED
A. RESPONDENT COURT ERRED IN NOT DECLARING THAT THE
AND SEVENTY NINE (2,197,879) SQUARE
LAND IN QUESTION IS NOT CAPABLE OF REGISTRATION BEING
METERS. ... (p. 13, Rollo)
============ PART OF THE PUBLIC FORESTS WITHIN THE CENTRAL
G.R. No. L-56948 September 30, 1987 CORDILLERA FOREST RESERVE:
On January 13, 1970, the Director of Lands, through the Solicitor
General, filed an opposition to the application for registration
REPUBLIC OF THE PHILIPPINES, represented by the B. RESPONDENT COURT ERRED IN NOT FINDING THAT THE
stating, among others:
Director of Forest Development and the Director of ALLEGED POSSESSION OF THE LAND BY PRIVATE RESPONDENTS
Lands, petitioner, AND THEIR PREDECESSORSINTEREST WAS NOT IN CONCEPT OF
vs. That neither the applicant nor her OWNER UNDER SECTION 48 of the PUBLIC LAND LAW, THE LAND
THE HONORABLE COURT OF APPEALS, and MARTINA predecessors-in-interest possess sufficient title BEING INALIENABLE;
CARANTES for and in behalf of the Heirs of SALMING to said parcel of land the same not having been
PIRASO, respondents. acquired by them either by composition title
C. RESPONDENT COURT ERRED IN FINDING THAT THE LAND IS
from the Spanish Government or by possessory
AGRICULTURAL BECAUSE THE GOVERNMENT FAILED TO SUBMIT
information title under the Royal Decree of
PROOF THAT THE LAND IS MORE VALUABLE FOR FOREST
February 13, 1894;
PURPOSES;
GUTIERREZ, JR., J.:
That neither the applicant nor her
D. RESPONDENT COURT ERRED IN FINDING THAT THE PROPERTY
predecessors-in-interest have been in open,
BECAME SEGREGATED FROM THE LAND OF THE PUBLIC DOMAIN
This is a petition for review on certiorari to set aside the decision continuous, exclusive, notorious possession
AND ASSUMED THE CHARACTER OF PRIVATE OWNERSHIP UPON
of the Court of Appeals affirming in toto the judgment of the and occupation of the land in question for at
APPROVAL OF ITS SURVEY PLAN BY THE DIRECTOR OF LAND IN
Court of First Instance of Baguio and Benguet, Branch III, at La least thirty years immediately preceding the
1925;
filing of the present application;
NATURAL RESOURCES NEW CASES (ORAL QUIZ) 32

E. ASSUMING THAT PRIVATE RESPONDENTS HAD POSSESSED It is further argued by the petitioner that the private respondents There is an erroneous assumption implicit in the challenged
AND CULTIVATED 10 TO 15 HECTARES OF THE LAND APPLIED or their predecessors-in-interest, Salming Piraso, had not decision of the Court of Appeals which the government
FOR, RESPONDENT COURT ERRED IN RULING THAT THEY HAD acquired ownership over the land prior to its classification as part oppositors also appear to have overlooked. This is the reliance on
ACQUIRED OWNERSHIP THRU CONSTRUCTIVE POSSESSION OVER of the Cordillera Forest Reserve use there is no evidence on Proclamation No. 217 of Governor General Henry L. Stimson as
THE REST OF THE (219.7879) HECTARES APPLIED FOR. (p. 18, record that Salming Piraso had possessed the property for any the operative act which converted the lands covered by the
Rollo) appreciable period prior to 1929 when the land became part of Central Cordillera Forest Reserve into forest lands. This is wrong.
the Cordillera Forest Reserve. The land was not non-forest or agricultural land prior to the 1929
proclamation. It did not ease a classification from non-forest into
The issues raised are:
forest land because of the proclamation. The proclamation
On the other hand, the private respondents assert that the
merely declared a special forest reserve out of already existing
findings of fact of the Court of Appeals show that the land subject
1. Whether or not the land in question is part of forest lands. The land was already forest or timber land even
of application is not within the Central Cordillera Forest Reserve
the public forest within the Central Cordillera before the proclamation. The alleged entry in 1915 of Salming
and the same land applied for registration is disposable and
Forest Reserve; and Piraso and the cultivation of 15 hectares out of a (219.7879)
alienable. The private respondents, as applicants, claim to have
hectares claimed area has no legal significance. A person cannot
sufficiently shown by preponderance of evidence that the land
enter into forest land and by the simple act of cultivating a
2. Whether or not private respondents have being applied for registration had been possessed by Salming
portion of that land, earn credits towards an eventual
established registerable title over the land in Piraso as far back as 1915 when he and his workers planted the
confirmation of imperfect title. The Government must first
question. arable portion of about 15 hectares to rice and other products
declare the forest land to be alienable and disposable agricultural
and raised cows on the other portion suited for pasture. The late
land before the year of entry, cultivation, and exclusive and
Salming Piraso had the land surveyed by private surveyor Jose
It is the stand of the petitioner that the land in question covered adverse possession can be counted for purposes of an imperfect
Castro on April 3-9, 1924 as Plan Psu-43639 which was approved
by the Plan-Psu-43639 is part of the public forests within the title.
by the then Director of Lands, Jorge B. Vargas on March 6, 1925,
Central Cordillera Forest Reserve established under Proclamation
while Proclamation No. 217 was promulgated only on February
No. 217 of Governor General Henry Stimson dated February 16,
16, 1929. They state that the approval of the said survey by the The records positively establish that the land in question is part
1929. On February 27, 1980, an ocular inspection of said
government thru the Director of Lands Jorge B. Vargas can only of the public forest which the Executive formally proclaimed as
property was made by Land Inspector Crisogono Bartolo, Jr., of
mean that said land was no longer included in the overall survey the Central Cordillera Forest Reserve to further preserve its
the Bureau of Lands together with representatives of the Bureau
of the government as it was no longer part of the public land. As integrity and to give it a status which is more special for certain
of Forestry, the Land Registration Court, and the applicants for
applicants, they contend that they have possessed the land purposes than that of ordinary forest lands.
registration. During the ocular inspection, the land was found to
applied for in concept of owner, openly and publicly, adverse
be rolling and stony in nature. Bartolo, Jr., submitted a report on
against the whole world and continuously for more than thirty
April 17, 1970 stating among others, that the land is covered One reason for the respondent court's decision finding a
(30) years before they filed the application over the land which is
with trees, bushes and grasses and being also stony is not registerable title for the private respondents is its observation
agricultural and separate from the public domain.
suitable for agricultural purposes. that the Government failed to show that the disputed land is
more valuable for forest purposes. The court noted a failure to
We find the petition to be meritorious. It is already a settled rule prove that trees are thriving in the land.
The representative of the Bureau of Forestry, Forester Ricardo D.
that forest lands or forest reserves are not capable of private
Zapatero, submitted to the Provincial Fiscal a separate report
appropriation and possession thereof, however long, of convert
dated April 6, 1970 to the effect that the whole area falls within The Court of Appeals finding is based on a wrong concept of what
them into private property (Vano vs. Government of Philippine
the Central Cordillera Forest Reserve and that the same has not is forest land. There is a big difference between "forest" as
Islands, 41 Phil. 161; Adorable v. Director of Forestry, 107 Phil.
been released for agricultural purposes by the Director of defined in a dictionary and "forest or timber land" as a
401; Director of Forestry vs. Muoz, 23 SCRA 1183; Republic vs.
Forestry who had administrative jurisdiction over the same. classification of lands of the public domain in the Constitution.
De la Cruz 67 SCRA 221; Director of Lands vs. Reyes & Azurin vs.
(Section 3, Article XII of the 1987 Constitution, Section 10, Article
Director of Lands, 68 SCRA 177; Republic vs. Court of Appeals, 89
XIV of the 1973 Constitution, as amended; and Section 1, Article
The petitioner states that since the land in question is SCRA 648; and Director of Lands vs. Court of Appeals, 133 SCRA
XIII of the 1935 Constitution).
indubitably part of the public forest and has not been reclassified 701) unless such lands are reclassified and considered
or released from the forest zone, the same can not be the subject disposable and alienable by the Director of Forestry, but even
of registration either under Act 496, otherwise known as the Land then, possession of the land by the applicants prior to the One is descriptive of what appears on the land while the other is
Registration Act, or under Section 48(b) of Commonwealth Act reclassification of the land as disposable and alienable cannot be a legal status a classification for legal purposes.
No. 141, otherwise known as the Public Land Act. The petitioner credited as part of the thirty-year requirement under Section 48
points out that lands within the forest zone or within a duly (b) of the Public Land Act (Director of Lands vs. Court of
The "forest land" started out as a "forest" or vast tracts of
established reservation do not form part of the disposable Appeals, supra). In this case, there is no showing of
wooded land with dense growths of trees and underbush.
portion of the public domain nor can the same be alienated as reclassification by the Director of Forestry that the land in
However, the cutting down of trees and the disappearance of
said lands are not capable of private appropriation or ownership question is disposable or alienable. This is a matter which cannot
virgin forest and not automatically convert the lands of the public
and possession thereof, however long, cannot convert that same be assumed. It calls for proof.
domain from forest or timber land to alienable agricultural land.
into private property.
NATURAL RESOURCES NEW CASES (ORAL QUIZ) 33

As stated by this Court in Heirs of Amunategui v. Director of plan, such approval is nun and void. There must first be a formal On March 22, 1999, the Commission on Human Rights
Forestry (126 SCRA 69, 75); Government declaration that the forest land has been re- (CHR) likewise filed a Motion to Intervene and/or to Appear as
classified into alienable and disposable agricultural land which Amicus Curiae. The CHR asserts that IPRA is an expression of the
may then be acquired by private persons in accordance with the principle of parens patriae and that the State has the
On February 27, 1970, an ocular inspection of the questioned
various modes of acquiring public agricultural lands. responsibility to protect and guarantee the rights of those who
property was conducted by Land Inspector Crisogono Bartolo, Jr.,
are at a serious disadvantage like indigenous peoples. For this
of the Bureau of Lands, together with Forester Ricardo D.
reason it prays that the petition be dismissed.
Zapatero of the Bureau of Forestry, Deputy Clerk of Court WHEREFORE, the petition is hereby GRANTED. The decision of
Roberto Gogoling as representative of the land registration court, the Court of Appeals affirming the decision of the land
Fiscal Navarro and Andres Carantes as representative of the registration court which granted the private respondents' On March 23, 1999, another group, composed of the
applicant. application for registration of the land in question is REVERSED Ikalahan Indigenous People and the Haribon Foundation for the
and SET ASIDE. The application for land registration is Conservation of Natural Resources, Inc. (Haribon, et al.), filed a
DISMISSED. motion to Intervene with attached Comment-in-
Land Inspector Crisogono Bartolo, Jr., submitted his report dated
Intervention. They agree with the NCIP and Flavier, et al. that
April 17, 1970, which states, among others, that the land is
IPRA is consistent with the Constitution and pray that the petition
covered with trees, bushes and grasses and being stony is not SO ORDERED.
for prohibition and mandamus be dismissed.
suitable for agricultural purposes. This negates the claim of the
private respondents that the land has been cultivated since
===================
1915. The motions for intervention of the aforesaid groups and
CRUZ vs. SECRETARY of DENR
organizations were granted.
More important, however, than the appearance of the land is its
Petitioners Isagani Cruz and Cesar Europa brought this suit
status, as stated in the separate report dated April 6, 1970 Oral arguments were heard on April 13, 1999. Thereafter,
for prohibition and mandamus as citizens and taxpayers,
submitted to the Provincial Fiscal of Benguet Province by Forester the parties and intervenors filed their respective memoranda in
assailing the constitutionality of certain provisions of Republic Act
Ricardo D. Zapatero which declares that the whole area applied which they reiterate the arguments adduced in their earlier
No. 8371 (R.A. 8371), otherwise known as the Indigenous Peoples
for by the applicant fails within the Central Cordillera Forest pleadings and during the hearing.
Rights Act of 1997 (IPRA), and its Implementing Rules and
Reserve and that the same has not been released for agricultural
Regulations (Implementing Rules).
purposes by the Director of Forestry who has administrative
Petitioners assail the constitutionality of the following
jurisdiction over the same. This has not been successfully
provisions of the IPRA and its Implementing Rules on the ground
refuted. It has not been proved erroneous. In its resolution of September 29, 1998, the Court required
that they amount to an unlawful deprivation of the States
respondents to comment.[1] In compliance, respondents
ownership over lands of the public domain as well as minerals
Chairperson and Commissioners of the National Commission on
The reports and testimonies of Land Inspector Bartolo and and other natural resources therein, in violation of the regalian
Indigenous Peoples (NCIP), the government agency created
Forester Zapatero support the contention of the petitioner that doctrine embodied in Section 2, Article XII of the Constitution:
under the IPRA to implement its provisions, filed on October 13,
the area applied for by the applicant is forest land within the
1998 their Comment to the Petition, in which they defend the
Central Cordillera Forest Reserve. In the case of Ramos v.
constitutionality of the IPRA and pray that the petition be (1) Section 3(a) which defines the extent and
Director of Lands (39 Phil. 175) we have ousted:
dismissed for lack of merit. coverage of ancestral domains, and Section 3(b)
which, in turn, defines ancestral lands;
Great consideration, it may be stated, should,
On October 19, 1998, respondents Secretary of the
and undoubtedly will be, Paid by the courts to
Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) and (2) Section 5, in relation to section 3(a), which
the opinion of the technical expert who speaks
Secretary of the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) provides that ancestral domains including
with authority on Forestry matters.
filed through the Solicitor General a consolidated Comment. The inalienable public lands, bodies of water, mineral
Solicitor General is of the view that the IPRA is partly and other resources found within ancestral
There is no factual basis for the conclusion of the appellate court unconstitutional on the ground that it grants ownership over domains are private but community property of
that the property in question was no longer part of the public natural resources to indigenous peoples and prays that the the indigenous peoples;
land when the Government through the Director of Lands petition be granted in part.
approved on March 6, 1925, the survey plan (Plan Psu-43639) for
(3) Section 6 in relation to section 3(a) and 3(b)
Salming Piraso. The existence of a sketch plan of real property
On November 10, 1998, a group of intervenors, composed which defines the composition of ancestral
even if approved by the Bureau of Lands is no proof in itself of
of Sen. Juan Flavier, one of the authors of the IPRA, Mr. Ponciano domains and ancestral lands;
ownership of the land covered by the plan. (Gimeno v. Court of
Bennagen, a member of the 1986 Constitutional Commission,
Appeals, 80 SCRA 623). The fact that a claimant or a possessor
and the leaders and members of 112 groups of indigenous
has a sketch plan or a survey map prepared for a parcel of land (4) Section 7 which recognizes and enumerates the
peoples (Flavier, et. al), filed their Motion for Leave to
which forms part of the country's forest reserves does not rights of the indigenous peoples over the ancestral
Intervene. They join the NCIP in defending the constitutionality
convert such land into alienable land, much less private property. domains;
of IPRA and praying for the dismissal of the petition.
Assuming that a public officer erroneously approves the sketch
NATURAL RESOURCES NEW CASES (ORAL QUIZ) 34

(5) Section 8 which recognizes and enumerates the (3) Section 63 which provides the customary law, (5) The issuance of a writ of mandamus commanding
rights of the indigenous peoples over the ancestral traditions and practices of indigenous peoples shall the Secretary of Environment and Natural
lands; be applied first with respect to property rights, Resources to comply with his duty of carrying out
claims of ownership, hereditary succession and the States constitutional mandate to control and
settlement of land disputes, and that any doubt or supervise the exploration, development, utilization
(6) Section 57 which provides for priority rights of the
ambiguity in the interpretation thereof shall be and conservation of Philippine natural
indigenous peoples in the harvesting, extraction,
resolved in favor of the indigenous peoples; resources.[7]
development or exploration of minerals and other
natural resources within the areas claimed to be
their ancestral domains, and the right to enter into (4) Section 65 which states that customary laws and After due deliberation on the petition, the members of the
agreements with nonindigenous peoples for the practices shall be used to resolve disputes Court voted as follows:
development and utilization of natural resources involving indigenous peoples; and
therein for a period not exceeding 25 years,
Seven (7) voted to dismiss the petition. Justice Kapunan
renewable for not more than 25 years; and
(5) Section 66 which vests on the NCIP the filed an opinion, which the Chief Justice and Justices Bellosillo,
jurisdiction over all claims and disputes involving Quisumbing, and Santiago join, sustaining the validity of the
(7) Section 58 which gives the indigenous peoples rights of the indigenous peoples.[5] challenged provisions of R.A. 8371. Justice Puno also filed a
the responsibility to maintain, develop, protect and separate opinion sustaining all challenged provisions of the law
conserve the ancestral domains and portions with the exception of Section 1, Part II, Rule III of NCIP
Finally, petitioners assail the validity of Rule VII, Part II,
thereof which are found to be necessary for critical Administrative Order No. 1, series of 1998, the Rules and
Section 1 of the NCIP Administrative Order No. 1, series of 1998,
watersheds, mangroves, wildlife sanctuaries, Regulations Implementing the IPRA, and Section 57 of the IPRA
which provides that the administrative relationship of the NCIP
wilderness, protected areas, forest cover or which he contends should be interpreted as dealing with the
to the Office of the President is characterized as a lateral but
reforestation.[2] large-scale exploitation of natural resources and should be read
autonomous relationship for purposes of policy and program
in conjunction with Section 2, Article XII of the 1987
coordination. They contend that said Rule infringes upon the
Constitution. On the other hand, Justice Mendoza voted to
Petitioners also content that, by providing for an all- Presidents power of control over executive departments under
dismiss the petition solely on the ground that it does not raise a
encompassing definition of ancestral domains and ancestral Section 17, Article VII of the Constitution.[6]
justiciable controversy and petitioners do not have standing to
lands which might even include private lands found within said
question the constitutionality of R.A. 8371.
areas, Sections 3(a) and 3(b) violate the rights of private
Petitioners pray for the following:
landowners.[3]
Seven (7) other members of the Court voted to grant the
(1) A declaration that Sections 3, 5, 6, 7, 8, 52[I], 57, petition. Justice Panganiban filed a separate opinion expressing
In addition, petitioners question the provisions of the IPRA
58, 59, 63, 65 and 66 and other related provisions the view that Sections 3 (a)(b), 5, 6, 7 (a)(b), 8, and related
defining the powers and jurisdiction of the NCIP and making
of R.A. 8371 are unconstitutional and invalid; provisions of R.A. 8371 are unconstitutional. He reserves
customary law applicable to the settlement of disputes involving
judgment on the constitutionality of Sections 58, 59, 65, and 66
ancestral domains and ancestral lands on the ground that these
of the law, which he believes must await the filing of specific
provisions violate the due process clause of the Constitution.[4] (2) The issuance of a writ of prohibition directing the
cases by those whose rights may have been violated by the
Chairperson and Commissioners of the NCIP to
IPRA. Justice Vitug also filed a separate opinion expressing the
cease and desist from implementing the assailed
These provisions are: view that Sections 3(a), 7, and 57 of R.A. 8371 are
provisions of R.A. 8371 and its Implementing
unconstitutional. Justices Melo, Pardo, Buena, Gonzaga-Reyes,
Rules;
and De Leon join in the separate opinions of Justices Panganiban
(1) sections 51 to 53 and 59 which detail the process
and Vitug.
of delineation and recognition of ancestral
(3) The issuance of a writ of prohibition directing the
domains and which vest on the NCIP the sole
Secretary of the Department of Environment and
authority to delineate ancestral domains and As the votes were equally divided (7 to 7) and the
Natural Resources to cease and desist from
ancestral lands; necessary majority was not obtained, the case was redeliberated
implementing Department of Environment and
upon. However, after redeliberation, the voting remained the
Natural Resources Circular No. 2, series of 1998;
same. Accordingly, pursuant to Rule 56, Section 7 of the Rules of
(2) Section 52[i] which provides that upon
Civil Procedure, the petition is DISMISSED.
certification by the NCIP that a particular area is an
(4) The issuance of a writ of prohibition directing the
ancestral domain and upon notification to the
Secretary of Budget and Management to cease
following officials, namely, the Secretary of Attached hereto and made integral parts thereof are the
and desist from disbursing public funds for the
Environment and Natural Resources, Secretary of separate opinions of Justices Puno, Vitug, Kapunan, Mendoza,
implementation of the assailed provisions of R.A.
Interior and Local Governments, Secretary of and Panganiban.
8371; and
Justice and Commissioner of the National
Development Corporation, the jurisdiction of said
officials over said area terminates;