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[No. 13298. November 19, 1918.

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CORNELIO RAMOS, petitioner and appellant, vs.THE DIRECTOR OF LANDS,
objector and appellee.

1. 1.PROPERTY; LAND;POSSESSION.Actual possession of land consists in the


manifestation of acts of dominion over it of such a nature as a party would
naturally exercise over his own property.

1. 2.ID.; ID.;CONSTRUCTIVE POSSESSION.The possession and cultivation of a


portion of a tract of land, under claim of ownership of all, is a constructive
possession of all, if the remainder is not in the adverse possession of another.

1. 3.ID. ; ID. ; ID.One who has color of title, has acted in good f aith, and has had
open, peaceable, and notorious possession of a portion of the property sufficient to
apprise the community and the world that the land was for his enjoyment, Held: To
be entitled to a title to the entire tract of land for which he asks registration.

1. 4.ID.; CLASSES.The Philippine Bill in sections 13 to 18 recognizes three classes of


land. The first is "Public Land," the second is "Mineral Land,'' and the third is
"Timber Land."

1. 5.ID.; "AGRICULTURAL PUBLIC LAND;"DEFINED.The phrase "agricultural


public lands" as used in Act No. 926 means "those public lands acquired from Spain
which are not timber or mineral lands." (Mapa vs.Insular Government [1908], 10
Phil., 175.) The idea would appear to be to determine, by exclusion, if the land is
forestal or mineral in nature, and if not so found to consider it to be agricultural
land.

1. 6.ID.; "FOREST," DEFINED BY LEXICOGRAPHERS.Lexicographers define


"forest" as "a large tract of land covered with a natural growth of trees and
underbrush; a large wood."

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1 PHILIPPINE
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ANNOTATED
Ramos vs. Director of
Lands.
1. 7.ID. ; ID. ; ID. ; BY LEGAL AUTHORITIES.The authorities say that the word
"forest" has a significant, not an insignificant meaning, and that it does not
embrace land only partly woodland. It is a tract of land covered with trees, usually
of considerable extent.

1. 8.ID. ; ID. ; ID. ; BY FORESTERS.The foresters say that no legal definition of


"forest" is practicable or useful.

1. 9.ID.; ID.; POLICY OF BUREAU OF FORESTRY.The policy of the Bureau of


Forestry of the Philippine Islands is set out in the opinion.

1. 10.ID.; CONSERVATION OF NATURAL, RESOURCES.There should be


conservation of the natural resources of the Philippines. The idea should be "the
control of nature's powers by man for his own good."

1. 11.ID.; PUBLIC POLICY.On the other hand, the presumption should be, in lieu of
contrary proof, that land is agricultural in nature. One very apparent reason is
that it is for the.good of the Philippine Islands to have the large public domain come
under private ownership.

1. 12.ID. ; REMEDIES OF GOVERNMENT AS AGAINST PRIVATE CLAIMANTS.


When the claim of the citizen and the claim of the Government as to a particular
piece of property collide, if the Government desires to demonstrate that the land is
in reality a forest, the Director of Forestry should submit to the court convincing
proof that the land is not more valuable for agricultural than for forest purposes.
Great consideration, it may be stated, should, and undoubtedly will be, paid by the
courts to- the opinion of the technical expert who speaks with authority on forestry
matters.

APPEAL from a judgment of the Court of First Instance of Nueva Ecija.


Nepomuceno, J.
The facts are stated in the opinion of the court.
Basilio Aromin for appellant.
Solicitor-General Paredesfor appellee.

MALCOLM, J..:

This is an appeal by the applicant and appellant from a judgment of the Court of
First Instance of Nueva Ecija, denying the registration of the larger portion of parcel
No. 1 (Exhibit A of the petitioner), marked by the letters A, B, and C on the plan,
Exhibit 1, of the Government.
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VOL. 39, NOVEMBER 177
19, 1918.
Ramos vs. Director of Lands.
One Restituto Romero y Ponce apparently gained possession of a considerable tract
of land located in the munic-ipality of San Jose, Province of Nueva Ecija, in the year
1882. He took advantage of the Royal Decree of February 13, 1894, to obtain a
possessory information title to the land, registered as such on February 8, 1896.
Parcel No. 1, included within the limits of the possessory information title of
Restituto Romero, was sold in February, 1907, to Cornelio Ramos, the instant
petitioner, and his wife Ambrosia Salamanca.
Ramos instituted appropriate proceedings to have his title registered. Opposition
was entered by the Director of Lands on the ground that Ramos had not acquired a
good title from the Spanish government and by the Director of Forestry on the
ground that the first parcel was forest land. The trial court agreed with the
objectors and excluded parcel No. 1 from registration. So much for the facts.
As to the law, the principal argument of the SolicitorGeneral is based on the
provisions of the Spanish Mortgage Law and of the Royal Decree of February 13,
1894, commonly known as the Maura Law. The Solicitor-General would emphasize
that for land to come under the protective gis of the Maura Law, it must have been
shown that the land was cultivated for six years previously, and that it was not land
which pertained to the "zonas forestales." As proof that the land was, even as long
ago as the years 1894 to 1896, forestal and. not agricultural in nature is the fact
that there are yet found thereon trees from 50 to 80 years of age.
We do not stop to decide this contention, although it might be possible, following
the doctrine laid down by the United States Supreme Court with reference to
Mexican and Spanish grants within the United States, where some recital is
claimed to be false, to say that the possessory
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Ramos vs. Director of Lands.
information, apparently having taken cognizance of the requisites for title, should
not now be disturbed. (Hancock vs. McKinney[1851], 7 Tex., 192; Hornsby and
Roland vs. United States [1869], 10 Wall., 224.) It is sufficient, as will later appear,
merely to notice that the predecessor in interest to the petitioner at least held this
tract of land under color of title.
Subsection 6 of section 54, of Act No. 926, entitled The Public Land Law, as
amended by Act No. 1908, reads as follows:
"6. All persons who by themselves or their predecessors in interest have been in
the open, continuous, exclusive, and notorious possession and occupation of
agricultural public lands, as defined by said Act of Congress of July first, nineteen
hundred and two, under a bona fide claim of ownership except as against the
Government, for a period of ten years next preceding the twenty-sixth day of July,
nineteen hundred and four, except when prevented by war orforce majeure, shall be
conclusively presumed to have performed all the conditions essential to a
government grant and to have received the same, and shall be entitled to a
certificate of title to such land under the provisions of this chapter."
There are two parts to the above quoted subsection which must be discussed. The
first relates to the open, continous, exclusive, and notorious possession and
occupation of what, for present purposes, can be conceded to be agricultural public
land, under a bona fide claim of ownership.
Actual possession of land consists in the manifestation of acts of dominion over it
of such a nature as a party would naturally exercise over his own property. Relative
to actuality of possession, it is admitted that the petitioner has cultivated only about
one fourth of the entire tract. This is graphically portrayed by Exhibit 1 of the
Government, following:
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VOL. 39, NOVEMBER 179
19, 1918.
Ramos vs. Director of Lands.

The question at once arises: Is the actual occupancy of a part of the land described
in the instrument giving color of title sufficient to give title to the entire tract of
land?
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ANNOTATED
Ramos vs. Director of
Lands..
The doctrine of. constructive possession indicates the answer. The general rule is
that the possession and cultivation of a portion of a tract under claim of ownership
of all is a constructive possession of all, if the remainder is not in the adverse
possession of another. (Barr vs. Gratz's Heirs [1819], 4 Wheat.,
213;Ellicott vs. Pearl [1836], 10 Pet., 412; Smith vs. Gale[1892], 144 U. S., 509.) Of
course, there are a number of qualifications to the rule, one particularly relating to
the size of the tract in controversy with reference to the portion actually in
possession of the claimant. It is here only necessary to apply the general rule.
The claimant has color of title; he acted in good faith; and he has had open,
peaceable, and notorious possession of a portion of the property, sufficient to apprise
the community and the world that the land was for his enjoyment. (See arts. 446,
448, Civil Code.) Possession in the eyes of the law does not mean that a man has to
have his feet on every square meter of ground before it can be said that he is in
possession. Ramos and his predecessor in interest fulfilled the requirements of the
law on the supposition that the premises consisted of agricultural public land.
The second division of the law requires consideration of the term "agricultural
public land." The law affirms that the phrase is defined by the Act of Congress of
July 1st, ,1902, known as the Philippine Bill. Turning to the Philippine Bill, we find
in sections 13 to 18 thereof that three classes of land are mentioned. The first is
variously denominated "public land" or "public domain," the second "mineral land,"
and the third "timber land." Section 18 of the Act of Congress comes nearest to a
precise definition, when it makes the determination of whether the land is more
valuable for agricultural or for forest uses the test of its character. ,
Although these sections of the Philippine Bill have come before the courts on
numerous occasions, what was said in the case of Jonesvs. Insular
Government([1906], 6
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VOL. 39, NOVEMBER 181
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Ramos vs. Director of Lands.
Phil., 122), is still true, namely: "The meaning of these sections is not clear and it is
difficult to give to them a construction that will be entirely free from objection." In
the case which gave most serious consideration to the subject (Mapa vs. Insular
Government [1908], 10 Phil., 175), it was found. that there does exist in the Act of
Congress a definition of the phrase "agricultural public lands." It was said that the
phrase "agricultural public lands" as used in Act No. 926 means "those public lands
acquired from Spain which are not timber or mineral lands."
The idea would appear to be to determine, by exclusion, if the land is forestal or
mineral in nature and, if not so found, to consider it to be agricultural land. Here,
again, Philippine law is not very helpful. For instance, section 1820 of the
Administrative Code of 1917 provides: "For the purposes of this chapter, 'public
forest' includes, except as otherwise specially indicated, all unreserved public land,
including nipa and mangrove swamps, and all forest reserves of whatever
character." This definition of "public forest," it will be noted, is merely "for the
purposes of this chapter." A little further on, section 1827 provides: "Lands in public
forests, not including forest reserves, upon the certification of the Director of
Forestry that said lands are better adapted and more valuable for agricultural than
for forest purposes and not required by the public interests to be kept under forest,
shall be declared by the Department Head to be agricultural lands." With reference
to the last section, there is no certification of the Director of Forestry in the record,
as to whether this land is better adapted and more valuable for agricultural than for
forest purposes.
The lexicographers define "forest" as "a large tract of land covered with a natural
growth -of trees and underbrush; a large wood." The authorities say that the word
"forest" has a significant, not an insignificant meaning, and that it does not embrace
land only partly woodland.
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Ramos vs. Director of Lands.
It is a tract of land covered with trees, usually of considerable extent.
(Higginsvs. Long Island R. Co.[1908], 114 N. Y. Supp., 262; People vs. Long Island R.
Co. [1908], 110 N. Y. Supp., 512.)
The foresters say that no legal definition of "forest" is practicable or useful. B. H.
Baden-Powell, in his work on Forest Law of India, states as follows:
"Every definition of a forest that can be framed for legal purposes will be found
either to exclude some cases to which the law ought to apply, or on the other hand,
to include some with which the law ought not to interfere. It may be necessary, for
example, to take under the law a tract of perfectly barren land which at present has
neither trees, brushwood, nor grass on it, but which in the course of time it is hoped
will be 'reboise;' but any definition wide enough to take in all such lands, would also
take in much that was not wanted. On the other hand, the definition, if framed with
reference to tree-growth, might (and indeed would be almost sure to) include a
garden, shrubbery, orchard, or vineyard, which it was not designed to deal with."
B. E. Fernow, in his work on the Economics of Forestry, states as f ollows:
"A forest in the sense in which we use the term, as an economic factor, is by no
means a mere collection of trees, but an organic whole in which all parts, although
apparently heterogeneous, jumbled together by accident as it were and apparently
unrelated, bear a close relation to each other and are as interdependent as any other
beings and conditions in nature."
The Director of Forestry of the Philippine Islands has .said:
"During the time of the passage of the Act of Congress of July 1, 1902, this
question of forest and agricultural lands was beginning to receive some attention
and it is clearly shown in section 18 of the above mentioned Act; it leaves to the
Bureau of Forestry the certification as to
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Ramos vs. Director of Lands.
what lands are for agricultural or forest uses. Although the Act states timber lands,
the Bureau has in its administration since the passage of this act construed this
term to mean forest lands in the sense of what was necessary to protect, for the
public good; waste lands without a tree have been declared more suitable for
forestry; in many instances in the past. The term 'timber'. as used in England and
in the United States in the past has been applied to wood suitable for construction
purposes but with the increase in civilization and the application of new methods
every plant producing wood has some useful purpose and the term timber lands is
generally thought of as synonymous with forest lands or lands producing wood, or
able to produce wood, if agricultural crops on the same land will not bring the
financial return that timber will or if the same land is needed for protection
purposes.

* * * * * * *

"The laws in the United States recognize the necessity of technical advice of duly
appointed boards and leave it in the hands of these boards to decide what lands are
more valuable for forestry purposes or for agricultural purposes.
"In the Philippine Islands this policy is followed to as great an extent as
allowable under the law. In many cases, in the opinion of the Bureau of Forestry,
lands without a single tree on them are considered as true forest land. For instance,
mountain sides which are too steep for cultivation under ordinary practice and
which, if cultivated, under ordinary practice would destroy the big natural resource
of the soil, by washing, is considered by this Bureau as forest land and in time
would be reforested. Of course, examples exist in the Mountain Province where
steep hillsides have been terraced and intensive cultivation practiced but even then
the mountain people are very careful not to destroy f orests or other vegetative cover
which they from experience have found protect their water supply. Certain chiefs
have lodged protests with the Govern-
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Ramos vs. Director of Lands.
ment against other tribes on the opposite side of the mountain cultivated by them,
in order to prevent other tribes from cutting timber or destroy cover guarding their
source of water for irrigation.
"Dr. M. S. Shaler, formerly Dean of the Lawrence Scientific School, remarked that
if mankind could not devise and enforce ways dealing with the earth, which will
preserve this source of life 'we must look forward to the time, remote it may be, yet
equally discernible, when our kin having wasted its great inheritance will fade from
the earth because of the ruin it has accomplished.'
"The method employed by the Bureau of Forestry in making inspection of lands,
in order to determine whether they are more adapted for agricultural or forest
purposes, by a technical and duly trained personnel on the different phases of the
conservation of natural resources, is based upon a previously prepared set of
questions in which the different characters of the land under inspection are
discussed, namely:
"Slope of land: Level; moderate; steep; very steep.
"Exposure: North; South; East; West.
"Soil: Clay; sandy loam; sand; rocky; very rocky.
"Character of soil cover:Cultivated, grass land, brush land, brush land and timber
mixed, dense forest.
"If cultivated, state crops being grown and approximate number of hectares
under cultivation. (Indicate on sketch.)
"For growth of what agricultural products is this land suitable ?
"State what portion of the tract is wooded, name of important timber species and
estimate of stand in cubic meters per hectare, diameter and percentage of each
species.
"If the land is covered with timber, state whether there is public land suitable for
agriculture in vicinity, which is not covered with timber.
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VOL. 39, NOVEMBER 185
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"Is this land more valuable for agricultural than for forest purposes? (State reasons
in full.)
"Is this land included or adjoining any proposed or established forest reserve or
communal forest? Description and ownership of improvements.
"If the land is claimed under private ownership, give the name of the claimant,
his place of residence, and state briefly (if necessary on a separate sheet) the
grounds upon which he bases his claim.
"When the inspection is made on a parcel of public land which has been applied
for, the corresponding certificate is forwarded to the Director of Lands; if it is made
on a privately claimed parcel for which the issuance of a title is requested from the
Court of Land Registration, and the inspection shows the land to be more adapted
for forest purposes, then the Director of Forestry requests the AttorneyGeneral to
file an opposition, sending him all data collected during the inspection and offering
him the forest officer as a witness.
"It should be kept in mind that the lack of personnel of this Bureau, the limited
time intervening between the notice for the trial of anexpediente of land and the day
of the trial, and the difficulties in communications as well as the distance of the land
in question greatly hinder the handling of this work.
"In the case of lands claimed as private property, the Director of Forestry, by
means of his delegate the examining officer, submits before the court all evidence
referring to the present forest condition of the land, so that the court may compare
them with the alleged right by the claimant. Undoubtedly,. when the claimant
presents a title issued by the proper authority or evidence of his right to the land
showing that he complied with the requirements of the law, the forest certificate
does not affect him in the least as such' land should not be considered as a part of
the public domain; but when the alleged right is merely that of possession,'
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Ramos vs. Director of Lands.
then the public or private character of the parcel is open to discussion and this
character should be established not simply on the alleged right of the claimant but
on the sylvical condition and soil characteristics ,of the land, and by comparison
between this area, or different previously occupied areas, and those areas which still
preserve their primitive character."
Either way we look at this question we encounter difficulty. Indubitably, there
should be conservation of the natural resources of the Philippines. The prodigality
of the spendthrift who squanders his substance for the pleasure of the fleeting
moment must be restrained f or the less spectacular but surer policy which protects
Nature's wealth for future generations. Such is the wise stand of our Government as
represented by the Director of Forestry who, with the Forester f or the Government
of the United States, believes in "the control of nature's powers by man for his own
good." On the other hand, the presumption should be, in lieu of contrary proof, that
land is agricultural in nature. One very apparent reason is that it is for the good of
the Philippine Islands to have the large public domain come under private
ownership. Such is the natural attitude of the sagacious citizen.
If in this instance, we give judicial sanction to a private claim, let it be noted that
the Government, in the long run of cases, has its remedy. Forest reserves of public
land can be established as provided by law. When the claim of the citizen and the
claim of the Government as to a particular piece of property collide, if the
Government desires to demonstrate that the land is in reality a forest, the Director
of Forestry should submit to the court convincing proof that the land is not more
valuable for agricultural than for forest purposes. Great consideration, it may be
stated, should, and undoubtedly will be, paid by the courts to the opinion of the
technical expert who speaks with authority on forestry matters. But a mere formal
opposition on the part of the Attorney-General for the
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VOL. 39, NOVEMBER 187
19, 1918.
Bacar and Magbanua vs.
Tordecillas.
Director of Forestry, unsupported by satisfactory evidence will not stop the courts
from giving title to the claimant.
We hold that the petitioner and appellant has proved a title to the entire tract of
land for which he asked registration, under the provisions of subsection 6, of section
54, of Act No. 926, as amended by Act No. 1908, with reference to the Philippine Bill
and the Royal Decree of February 13, 1894, and his possessory information.
Judgment is reversed and the lower court shall register in the name of the
applicant the entire tract in parcel No. 1, as described in plan Exhibit A, without
special finding as to costs. So ordered.
Arellano, C. J., Torres,Johnson, Street, and Fisher, JJ., concur.

Judgment reversed.

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