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G.R. No. 183511, March 25, 2015
1.) Republic versus Lualhati (GR No. 183511, March 25, 2015);
2.) Republic versus Zurbaran Realty GR No. 164408, March 24, REPUBLIC OF THE PHILIPPINES, Petitioner, v. EMETERIA G.
2014; LUALHATI, Respondent.
3.) Homeowners Savings and Loan Bank versus Felonia (GR no.
189477, Feb. 26, 2014); DECISION
4.) Pinausukan Seafood House versus Far East Bank, GR
PERALTA, J.:
No.159926, January 20, 2014;
5.) Phil. Women's Christian Temperance Union Inc versus Before the Court is a petition for review on certiorari under Rule 45 of
Yangco, GR No. 199595, April 2, 2015; the Rules of Court seeking to reverse and set aside the
6.) Heirs of Narvasa versus Imbornal (GR NO. 182908, Aug. 6, Decision1 and Resolution,2 dated March 31, 2008 and June 18,
2008, respectively, of the Court Appeals (CA), which affirmed the
2014);
Decision3 dated October 4, 2005 of the Regional Trial Court (RTC) in
7.) Residents of Lower Atab and Teachers Village et el versus LRC Case No. 04-3340.
Sta Monica Indl and Devt Corp, GR No. 198878, October 15,
2014; The antecedents are:
8.) Zacarias versus Sps Revilla, GR No. 190901, Nov 12, 2014;
On August 12, 2004, respondent Emeteria G. Lualhati filed with the
9.) Banguis-Tambuyat versus Balcom-Tamboyat, GR no. 202805, RTC of Antipolo City an application for original registration covering
March 23, 2015; Lots 1 and 2 described under Plan Psu-162384, situated in C-5 C-6
10.) Manuel jusayan et al versus Jorge Sambilla, GR Mo. 163928, Pasong Palanas, Sitio Sapinit, San Juan (formerly San Isidro),
Antipolo, Rizal, consisting of an area of 169,297 and 79,488 square
Jan 21, 2015; meters, respectively. Respondent essentially maintains that she,
11.) Home Appliances Inc versus CA, GR No. 206599, September together with her deceased husband, Andres Lualhati, and their four
29, 2014; children, namely: Virginia, Ernesto, Felicidad, and Ligaya, have been
12.) Arambulo versus Nolasco, GR No. 189420, March 26, 2014; in possession of the subject lands in the concept of an owner since
1944.4cralawred
13.) Roque versus Aguado, April 7, 2014;
14.) Sps Fortuna versus Republic, GR No. 173423, March 25, In support of her application, respondent submitted the blueprint of
2014. the survey plan and the tracing cloth plan surveyed at the instance of
Andres Lualhati and approved by the Director of Lands in October
As usual, the assigned cases must be digested in your own 1957, the certified true copy of the surveyor’s certificate, the
handwriting. Please understand that i will not tolerate non- technical descriptions of Lots 1 and 2, Tax Declaration No. 26437
issued in the name of Andres Lualhati, which states that the tax on
submission of this assignment.
the properties commenced in 1944, the real property tax register

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evidencing payment of realty taxes on the subject properties from drinking sprees on the properties; that he regularly visited the subject
1949 to 1958, certifications from the Department of Environment and lots from the time he became friends with Andres until his death in
Natural Resources (DENR), Region IV, City Environment and Natural 1982; that the last time he visited was in 2000; and, that the real
Resources Office (CENRO), Antipolo City, that no public land property taxes were paid from 1949-1958.8cralawred
application/land patent covering the subject lots is pending nor are
the lots embraced by any administrative title, and a letter from the Finally, respondent presented another close friend, Remigio Leyble,
Provincial Engineer that the province has no projects which will be who similarly declared that he had been friends with respondent and
affected by the registration.5cralawred her spouse since 1950 and that ever since then, he had known them
to be the owners of the lots in question; that the spouses told him
Moreover, respondent presented several witnesses to prove her that they had been sojourning thereon since 1944; that they were the
claim, the first of which was respondent herself. She testified that ones who planted the fruit-bearing trees as well as constructed the
she and her late husband have been occupying the subject lots since conjugal house thereon; that he would usually join them in planting
1944. Since then, she stated that she and her husband, together said trees; that he was actually present at the time when the lots
with their four children, have tilled the soil, planted fruit-bearing trees, were surveyed in 1957; that the lots were declared for taxation
and constructed their conjugal house on the subject properties, purposes even before the same was surveyed; and, that he does not
where all four of her children grew up until they got married. She know of any other person claiming or owning the subject properties
identified the owners of the adjoining lands and attested that the other than respondent and her family who are constantly managing
subject lots are alienable and disposable.6cralawred and improving the same.9cralawred

Respondent next presented her 65-year old son-in-law, Juanito B. On October 4, 2005, the RTC granted respondent’s application
Allas, who testified that he first visited the subject properties during finding that she had been in open, public, continuous, exclusive,
the time when he was courting respondent’s daughter whose family adverse, and notorious possession and occupation of the lands for
was already in possession thereof; that his subsequent visits were more than 50 years under a bona fide claim of ownership even prior
when he would accompany his father-in-law to the said lots for the to June 12, 1945, as required under Section 14 (1) of Presidential
entire afternoon to plant fruit-bearing trees such as mango, coconut, Decree (PD) No. 1529, otherwise known as the Property Registration
jackfruit; that his parents-in-law cleared the lots and uprooted its Decree.10cralawred
grasses; that he knows the adjoining owners of the subject lots; that
he does not know of any other person with any interest adverse to In its Decision dated March 31, 2008, the CA affirmed the ruling of
that of his in-laws; and that respondent has been in actual the RTC, rejecting petitioner’s contention that respondent failed to
possession of the properties publicly, openly, and in the concept of overcome the burden of proving her possession of the subject lots in
an owner for more than 30 years.7cralawred its entirety, the area being too big for respondent’s family to cultivate
themselves, and that even if they did, such can hardly suffice as
Thereafter, respondent presented her husband’s compadre, Aurelio possession, being a mere casual cultivation. The CA also rejected
Garcia, who attested that he had been friends with Andres Lualhati petitioner’s averment that the tax declarations and realty tax
since 1964; that respondent and Andres planted various fruit-bearing payments are not conclusive evidence of ownership for they
trees such as mango, cashew, coconut, and jackfruit, and erected constitute at least proof that the holder had a claim of title over the
their conjugal house thereon; that he and Andres would usually have property. According to the appellate court, the fact that respondent

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

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public domain under a bona fide claim of ownership since June 12, Natural Resources Office (PENRO) to certify that a certain parcel of
1945, or earlier.cralawlawlibrary land is alienable and disposable, to wit:

Thus, pursuant to the aforequoted provision, applicants for The certifications are not sufficient. DENR Administrative Order
registration of title must prove that: (1) the subject land forms part of (DAO) No. 20,18 dated 30 May 1988, delineated the functions and
the disposable and alienable lands of the public domain; and (2) authorities of the offices within the DENR. Under DAO No. 20, series
they, by themselves or through their predecessors-in-interest, have of 1988, the CENRO issues certificates of land classification status
been in open, continuous, exclusive, and notorious possession and for areas below 50 hectares. The Provincial Environment and Natural
occupation of the same under a bona fide claim of ownership since Resources Offices (PENRO) issues certificate of land classification
June 12, 1945, or earlier.15cralawred status for lands covering over 50 hectares. DAO No. 38, dated 19
April 1990, amended DAO No. 20, series of 1988. DAO No. 38,
Under the Regalian Doctrine, which is embodied in our Constitution, series of 1990 retained the authority of the CENRO to issue
all lands of the public domain belong to the State, which is the certificates of land classification status for areas below 50 hectares,
source of any asserted right to any ownership of land. All lands not as well as the authority of the PENRO to issue certificates of land
appearing to be clearly within private ownership are presumed to classification status for lands covering over 50 hectares. In this case,
belong to the State. Accordingly, public lands not shown to have respondent applied for registration of Lot 10705-B. The area covered
been reclassified or released as alienable agricultural land, or by Lot 10705-B is over 50 hectares (564,007 square meters). The
alienated to a private person by the State, remain part of the CENRO certificate covered the entire Lot 10705 with an area of
inalienable public domain. The burden of proof in overcoming the 596,116 square meters which, as per DAO No. 38, series of 1990, is
presumption of State ownership of the lands of the public domain is beyond the authority of the CENRO to certify as alienable and
on the person applying for registration, who must prove that the land disposable.chanrobleslaw
subject of the application is alienable or disposable. To overcome
this presumption, incontrovertible evidence must be presented to x x x x
establish that the land subject of the application is alienable or
disposable.16cralawred Further, it is not enough for the PENRO or CENRO to certify that
a land is alienable and disposable. The applicant for land
To support her contention that the lands subject of her application is registration must prove that the DENR Secretary had approved
alienable and disposable, respondent submitted certifications from the land classification and released the land of the public
the DENR-CENRO, Region IV, Antipolo City, stating that no public domain as alienable and disposable, and that the land subject of
land application or land patent covering the subject lots is pending the application for registration falls within the approved area per
nor are the lots embraced by any administrative title. verification through survey by the PENRO or CENRO. In
addition, the applicant for land registration must present a copy
Respondent’s reliance on the CENRO certifications is misplaced. of the original classification approved by the DENR Secretary
and certified as a true copy by the legal custodian of the official
In the oft-cited Republic v. T.A.N. Properties,17 it has been held that records. These facts must be established to prove that the land
it is not enough for the CENRO or the Provincial Environment and is alienable and disposable. Respondent failed to do so because
the certifications presented by respondent do not, by

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themselves, prove that the land is alienable and disposable. Antipolo City, stating that no public land application or land patent
covering the subject lots is pending nor are the lots embraced by any
x x x x administrative title. Said CENRO certifications, however, do not
even make any pronouncement as to the alienable character of the
x x x. The CENRO is not the official repository or legal lands in question for they merely recognize the absence of any
custodian of the issuances of the DENR Secretary declaring pending land patent application, administrative title, or government
public lands as alienable and disposable. The CENRO should project being conducted thereon. But even granting that they
have attached an official publication of the DENR Secretary’s expressly declare that the subject lands form part of the alienable
issuance declaring the land alienable and and disposable lands of the public domain, these certifications
disposable.18cralawlawlibrary remain insufficient for purposes of granting respondent’s application
for registration. As constantly held by this Court, it is not enough for
Accordingly, in a number of subsequent rulings,19 this Court the CENRO to certify that a land is alienable and disposable. The
consistently deemed it appropriate to reiterate the pronouncements applicant for land registration must prove that the DENR Secretary
in T.A.N. Properties in denying applications for registration on the had approved the land classification and released the land of the
ground of failure to prove the alienable and disposable nature of the public domain as alienable and disposable, and that the land subject
land subject therein. In said cases, it has been repeatedly ruled that of the application for registration falls within the approved area per
certifications issued by the CENRO, or specialists of the DENR, as verification through survey by the PENRO or CENRO. Unfortunately
well as Survey Plans prepared by the DENR containing annotations for respondent, the evidence submitted clearly falls short of the
that the subject lots are alienable, do not constitute incontrovertible requirements for original registration in order to show the alienable
evidence to overcome the presumption that the property sought to be character of the lands subject herein.
registered belongs to the inalienable public domain. Rather, this
Court stressed the importance of proving alienability by presenting a In similar regard, the evidence on record likewise fail to establish that
copy of the original classification of the land approved by the DENR respondent, by herself or through her predecessors-in-interest, has
Secretary and certified as true copy by the legal custodian of the been in open, continuous, exclusive, and notorious possession and
official records.20cralawred occupation of the properties under a bona fide claim of ownership
since June 12, 1945, or earlier.
Thus, as it now stands, an application for original registration must
be accompanied by: (1) CENRO or PENRO certification; and (2) a The testimonies of respondent and her close friend, Remigio Leyble,
copy of the original classification approved by the DENR Secretary insofar as they allege possession of the subject properties since
and certified as a true copy by the legal custodian of the official 1944, fail to convince. The tax declaration submitted by respondent
records, in order to establish that the land is indeed alienable and dates back only to the year 1947.22 In fact, as the records reveal,
disposable.21cralawred said tax declaration is the oldest piece of documentary evidence
submitted in support of the application. Hence, at best, the same
Here, respondent failed to establish, by the required evidence, that can only prove possession since 1947. Other than the bare
the land sought to be registered has been classified as alienable or allegations of respondent and her witness, as well as the 1947 tax
disposable land of the public domain. The records of this case declaration, respondent did not present any other proof to
merely bear certifications from the DENR-CENRO, Region IV, substantiate her claim of possession beginning in 1944. Neither did

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she provide any explanation as to why, if she has truly been grazing livestock over land is of course to be considered with other
occupying the properties as early as 1994, it was only in 1947 that acts of dominion to show possession, the mere occupancy of land by
she sought to declare the same for purposes of taxation. grazing livestock upon it, without substantial enclosures, or other
permanent improvements, is not sufficient to support a claim of title
In addition to this, the real property tax register presented by thru acquisitive prescription.x x x.26cralawlawlibrary
respondent evidenced payment of realty taxes only from 1949 up to
1958. Consequently, this Court cannot concede to respondent’s To repeat, the law requires open, exclusive, continuous and
assertion that she had been adversely possessing the properties notorious possession by petitioners and their predecessors-in-
beginning in 1944 up until the filing of her complaint in 2004, or for a interest, under a bona fide claim of ownership, since June 12, 1945
duration of sixty full years, when the evidence presented depicts or earlier. Thus, it is imperative for applicants for registration of
payment of taxes for only nine years. Payment of realty taxes for a property to prove, by sufficient evidence, each requisite character
brief and fleeting period simply cannot be considered sufficient proof and period of possession and occupation for the failure to do so will
of ownership. It is clear, therefore, that respondent’s assertion of necessarily prevent the land from being considered ipso
possession before 1945 will not suffice for applicants for registration jure converted into private property even upon the subsequent
must present proof of specific acts of possession and ownership and declaration of the same as alienable and disposable.27cralawred
cannot just offer general statements which are mere conclusions of
law rather than factual evidence of possession. 23cralawred Hence, in view of respondent’s failure in proving that: (1) the subject
property was classified as part of the disposable and alienable land
Furthermore, it bears stressing that tax declarations and receipts are of the public domain; and (2) she and her predecessors-in-interest
not conclusive evidence of ownership or of the right to possess land had been in open, continuous, exclusive, and notorious possession
when not supported by any other evidence. The disputed property and occupation thereof under a bona fide claim of ownership since
may have been declared for taxation purposes in the names of the June 12, 1945 or earlier, this Court is constrained to reverse the
applicants for registration, or of their predecessors-in-interest, but it assailed decisions and deny the application for registration in
does not necessarily prove ownership. They are merely indiciaof a fulfilment of its duty to ensure that ownership of the State is duly
claim of ownership.24cralawred protected by the proper observance by parties of the rules and
requirements on land registration.28cralawred
Moreover, as petitioner aptly points out, respondent failed to provide
any other proof of acts of dominion over the subject land other than WHEREFORE, premises considered, the instant petition
the fact that she, together with her husband and children, planted is GRANTED. The Decision and Resolution dated March 31, 2008
fruit-bearing trees and constructed their home thereon considering and June 18, 2008, respectively, of the Court Appeals which affirmed
the vastness of the same. As enunciated in Republic v. Bacas, et the Decision dated October 4, 2005 of the Regional Trial Court in
al.:25cralawred LRC Case No. 04-3340 are REVERSED and SET ASIDE. The
application for registration of title filed by respondent Emeteria G.
A mere casual cultivation of portions of the land by the claimant, and Lualhati over Lots 1 and 2 consisting of an area of 169,297 and
the raising thereon of cattle, do not constitute possession under 79,488 square meters, respectively, situated in C-5 C-6 Pasong
claim of ownership. In that sense, possession is not exclusive and Palanas, Sitio Sapinit, San Juan, Antipolo, Rizal, is DENIED.
notorious as to give rise to a presumptive grant from the State. While

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for P300,000.00; that the land was declared for taxation purposes in
SO ORDERED. the name of its predecessor-in-interest under Tax Declaration No.
22711; that there was no mortgage or encumbrance of any kind
G.R. No. 164408 March 24, 2014 affecting the land, nor was there any other person or entity having
any interest thereon, legal or equitable, adverse to that of the
applicant; and that the applicant and its predecessors-in-interest had
REPUBLIC OF THE PHILIPPINES, Petitioner, been in open, continuous and exclusive possession and occupation
vs. of the land in the concept of an owner.
ZURBARAN REALTY AND DEVELOPMENT
CORPORATION, Respondent.
Attached to the application were several documents, namely: (1)
tracing cloth plan as approved by the Land Management Division of
DECISION the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR); (2)
blue print copies of the tracing cloth plan; (3) copies of the technical
BERSAMIN, J.: description; (4) copies of Tax Declaration No. 2711; and (5) copies of
the Deed of Sale dated March 9, 1992.
An application for original registration of land of the public domain
under Section 14(2) of Presidential Decree (PD) No. 1529 must The Republic, represented by the Director of Lands, opposed the
show not only that the land has previously been declared alienable application, arguing that the applicant and its predecessors-in-
and disposable, but also that the land has been declared patrimonial interest had not been in open, continuous, exclusive and notorious
property of the State at the onset of the 30-year or 10-year period of possession and occupation of the land since June 12, 1945; that the
possession and occupation required under the law on acquisitive muniments of title and tax declaration presented did not constitute
prescription. Once again, the Court applies this rule-as clarified in competent and sufficient evidence of a bona fide acquisition of the
Heirs of Mario Malabanan v. Republic1 – in reviewing the decision land; and that the land was a portion of the public domain, and,
promulgated on June 10, 2004, whereby the Court of Appeals (CA) therefore, was not subject to private appropriation. 4
granted the petitioner's application for registration of land.
The RTC directed the Land Management Bureau, Manila; the
Antecedents Community Environment and Natural Resources Office (CENRO) of
Los Baños, Laguna; and the Land Management Sector and Forest
On May 28, 1993, respondent Zurbaran Realty and Development Management Bureau, Manila, to submit a status report on the land,
Corporation filed in the Regional Trial Court (RTC) in San Pedro, particularly, on whether the land was covered by a land patent,
Laguna an application for original registration covering a 1,520 whether it was subject of a previously approved isolated survey, and
square meter parcel of land situated in Barrio Banlic, Municipality of whether it was within a forest zone.5
Cabuyao, Province of Laguna, denominated as Lot 8017-A of
Subdivision Plan CSD-04-006985-D, Cad. 455-D, Cabuyao In his memorandum to the DENR, Region IV (Lands Forestry
Cadastre,3 alleging that it had purchased the land on March 9, 1992 Sector), and the Provincial Prosecutor of Laguna, a copy of which
from Jane de Castro Abalos, married to Jose Abalos, was furnished the trial court, CENRO Officer Arnulfo Hernandez

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stated that the land had been "verified to be within the Alienable and the land; and (3) the land did not encroach upon an established
Disposable land under Land Classification Project No. 23-A of watershed, riverbank/bed protection, creek, right-of-way or park site
Cabuyao, Laguna, certified and declared as such pursuant to the or any area devoted to general use or devoted to public service.7
provisions of Presidential Decree No. 705, as amended, under
Forestry Administrative Order No. A-1627 dated September 28, 1981 A certification was issued by the Records Management Division of
per BFD Map LC-3004." Attached to the memorandum was the the Land Management Bureau stating that it had no record of any
inspection report declaring that "the area is surrounded with concrete kind of public land applications/land patents covering the parcel of
fence, three (3) buildings for employees’ residence;" that the land land subject of the application.8
was acquired through sale before the filing of the application; that the
applicant and its predecessors-in-interest had been in "continuous,
The respondent presented Gloria P. Noel, its Vice President and
open and peaceful occupation" of the land, and that "no forestry
Treasurer, who testified that the respondent had purchased the land
interest is adversely affected."6
from Jane de Castro Abalos on March 9, 1992 for P300,000.00; that
the land had been declared for taxation purposes in the name of
CENRO Land Management Inspector/Investigator Rodolfo S. Abalos under Tax Declaration No. 22711; that after the sale, a new
Gonzales reported that: (1) the land was covered by a survey plan Tax Declaration had been issued in the name of the respondent, who
approved by the Regional Land Director/Land Registration Authority had meanwhile taken possession of the land by building a fence
on May 25, 1988 pursuant to PD No. 239 dated July 9, 1975; (2) it around it and introducing improvements thereon; that the respondent
consisted of 22,773 square meters and was located in Barangay had paid the real property taxes thereon since its acquisition; that the
Banlic, Cabuyao, Laguna; (3) the area was entirely within the respondent’s possession had been continuous, open and public; and
alienable and disposable area; (4) it had never been forfeited in favor that the land was free from any lien or encumbrance; and that there
of the government for non-payment of taxes, and had not been was no adverse claimant to the land.9
confiscated in connection with any civil or criminal cases; (5) it was
not within a previously patented property as certified to by the
Engr. Edilberto Tamis attested that he was familiar with the land
Register of Deeds, Calamba, Laguna; and (6) there was no public
because it was a portion of Lot No. 8017 of Subdivision Plan Cad-
land application filed for it by the applicant or any other persons as 455-D of the Cabuyao Cadastre, owned by Corazon Tapalla who
per verification from the records unit of his office. The report further
had acquired it from the Hemedez family; that Tapalla had sold a
stated that a verification at the Office of the Municipal Assessor
portion of Lot No. 8017 to Abalos and the remaining portion to him;
showed that: (1) the land was declared for the first time in 1960
and that he had witnessed the sale of the land to the respondent.10
under Tax Declaration No. 6712 in the name of Enrique Hemedez
with an area of 23,073 square meters; (2) it was now covered by Tax
Declaration No. 2253 issued in the name of the respondent; (3) the The respondent’s final witness was Armando Espela who declared
real property taxes had been paid since 1968; and (4) it had not that he was a retired land overseer residing in Barangay Banlic from
been earmarked for public or quasi-public purposes per information birth; that he was familiar with the land which was part of a bigger
from the District Engineer. parcel of land owned by the Hemedez family; that his father, Toribio
Espela, with his assistance, and one Francisco Capacio worked on
the land since 1960; that the entire landholding had originally been
After inspection, it was also found that (1) the land was residential; sugarland, but was later on subdivided, sold, and resold until it
(2) the respondent was in the actual occupation and possession of

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ceased to be agricultural land; that, in 1982, the land was sold to SO ORDERED.12
Corazon Tapalla who hired him as the overseer; that as the
overseer, he fenced and cleared the area; that he was allowed to Judgment of the CA
use the grassy portion for grazing purposes; that in 1987, Tapalla
sold part of the land to Abalos and the remaining portion to Engr.
The Republic appealed, arguing that the issue of whether the
Tamis; that he continued to oversee the land for the new owners;
applicant and its predecessors-in-interest had possessed the land
that Abalos then sold her portion to the respondent in 1992; that
within the required length of time could not be determined because
since then, the respondent took possession of the land, and he then there was no evidence as to when the land had been declared
ceased to be the overseer; that the possession by the Hemedez alienable and disposable.
family and its successors-in-interest was open, continuous, public
and under claim of ownership; and that he did not know any person
who claimed ownership of the land other than those he and his father On June 10, 2004, the CA promulgated its judgment affirming the
served as overseers.11 RTC, and concluded that the reports made by the concerned
government agencies and the testimonies of those familiar with the
land in question had buttressed the court a quo’s conclusion that the
Decision of the RTC
respondent and its predecessors-in-interest had been in open,
public, peaceful, continuous, exclusive, and adverse possession and
On May 12, 1997, the RTC rendered its decision, holding that the occupation of the land under a bona fide claim of ownership even
respondent and its predecessors-in-interest had been in open, prior to 1960.13
public, peaceful, continuous, exclusive and adverse possession and
occupation of the land under a bona fide claim of ownership even
Issue
prior to 1960 and, accordingly, granted the application for
registration, viz:
Hence, the Republic appeals the adverse judgment of the CA upon
the following ground:
WHEREFORE, taking into consideration the evidence submitted by
the applicant, this Court hereby orders the confirmation and
registration of title of the land described as Lot 8017-A of subdivision THE COURT OF APPEALS GRAVELY ERRED ON A QUESTION
plan Csd-04-006985-D, being a portion of Lot 8017 of subdivision OF LAW WHEN IT AFFIRMED THE TRIAL COURT’S GRANT OF
plan Cad-455-D, Cabuyao Cadastre situated at Barangay Banlic, THE APPLICATION FOR ORIGINAL REGISTRATION DESPITE
Cabuyao, Laguna with an area of 1,520 square meters to be entered THE ABSENCE OF EVIDENCE THAT RESPONDENT AND ITS
under the name of the applicant Zurbaran Realty and Development PREDECESSORS-IN-INTEREST HAVE COMPLIED WITH THE
Corporation, a corporation organized and existing under the laws of PERIOD OF POSSESSION AND OCCUPATION REQUIRED BY
the Philippines with office address at 33 M. Viola St., San Francisco LAW.14
del Monte, Quezon City by the Land Registration Authority. After the
decision shall become final, let an order for the issuance of a decree The Republic contends that the respondent did not establish the time
of title be issued in favor of said applicant. when the land covered by the application for registration became
alienable and disposable;15 that such detail was crucial because the
possession of the respondent and its predecessors-in-interest, for

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the purpose of determining whether it acquired the property by Section 14 of P.D. No. 1529 enumerates those who may file an
prescription, should be reckoned from the time when the land was application for registration of land based on possession and
declared alienable and disposable; and that prior to the declaration occupation of a land of the public domain, thus:
of the land of the public domain as alienable and disposable, it was
not susceptible to private ownership, and any possession or Section 14. Who may apply. The following persons may file in the
occupation at such time could not be counted as part of the period of proper Court of First Instance an application for registration of title to
possession required under the law on prescription.16 land, whether personally or through their duly authorized
representatives:
The respondent counters that whether it established when the
property was declared alienable and disposable and whether it (1) Those who by themselves or through their predecessors-
complied with the 30-year required period of possession should not in-interest have been in open, continuous, exclusive and
be entertained anymore by the Court because: (a) these issues had notorious possession and occupation of alienable and
not been raised in the trial court and were being raised for the first disposable lands of the public domain under a bona fide
time on appeal; and (b) factual findings of the trial court, especially claim of ownership since June 12, 1945, or earlier.
when affirmed by the CA, were binding and conclusive on this Court.
At any rate, the respondent insists that it had been in open, public,
(2) Those who have acquired ownership of private lands by
peaceful, continuous, and adverse possession of the property for the
prescription under the provision of existing laws.
prescribed period of 30 years as evidenced by the fact that the
property had been declared for taxation purposes in 1960 in the
name of its predecessors-in-interest, and that such possession had xxxx
the effect of converting the land into private property and vesting
ownership upon the respondent.17 An application for registration under Section14(1) of P.D. No. 1529
must establish the following requisites, namely: (a) the land is
In reply, the Republic asserts that it duly opposed the respondent’s alienable and disposable property of the public domain; (b) the
application for registration; that it was only able to ascertain the applicant and its predecessors in interest have been in open,
errors committed by the trial court after the latter rendered its continuous, exclusive and notorious possession and occupation of
decision; and that the burden of proof in land registration cases the land under a bona fide claim of ownership; and (c) the applicant
rested on the applicant who must prove its ownership of the property and its predecessors-in-interest have possessed and occupied the
being registered. The Republic maintains that the Court had the land since June 12, 1945, or earlier. The Court has clarified in
authority to review and reverse the factual findings of the lower Malabanan19 that under Section14(1), it is not necessary that the
courts when the conclusion reached was not supported by the land must have been declared alienable and disposable as of June
evidence on record, as in this case.18 12, 1945, or earlier, because the law simply requires the property
sought to be registered to be alienable and disposable at the time
the application for registration of title is filed. The Court has
Ruling explained that a contrary interpretation would absurdly limit the
application of the provision "to the point of virtual inutility."
The petition for review is meritorious.

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The foregoing interpretation highlights the distinction between a An application for registration based on Section 14(2) of P.D. No.
registration proceeding filed under Section 14(1) of P.D. No. 1529 1529 must, therefore, establish the following requisites, to wit: (a) the
and one filed under Section 14(2) of P.D. No. 1529. According to land is an alienable and disposable, and patrimonial property of the
Malabanan: public domain; (b) the applicant and its predecessors-in-interest have
been in possession of the land for at least 10 years, in good faith and
Section 14(1) mandates registration on the basis of possession, with just title, or for at least 30 years, regardless of good faith or just
while Section 14(2) entitles registration on the basis of prescription. title; and (c) the land had already been converted to or declared as
Registration under Section 14(1) is extended under the aegis of the patrimonial property of the State at the beginning of the said 10-year
Property Registration Decree and the Public Land Act while or 30-year period of possession.
registration under Section 14(2) is made available both by the
Property Registration Decree and the Civil Code.20 To properly appreciate the respondent’s case, we must ascertain
under what provision its application for registration was filed. If the
In other words, registration under Section 14(1) of P.D. No. 1529 is application was filed under Section 14(1) of P.D. No. 1529, the
based on possession and occupation of the alienable and disposable determination of the particular date when the property was declared
land of the public domain since June 12, 1945 or earlier, without alienable and disposable would be unnecessary, inasmuch as proof
regard to whether the land was susceptible to private ownership at showing that the land had already been classified as such at the time
that time. The applicant needs only to show that the land had already the application was filed would be enough. If the application was filed
been declared alienable and disposable at any time prior to the filing under Section 14(2) of P.D. No. 1529, the determination of the issue
of the application for registration. would not be crucial for, as earlier clarified, it was not the declaration
of the land as alienable and disposable that would make it
susceptible to private ownership by acquisitive prescription.
On the other hand, an application under Section 14(2) of P.D. No.
Malabanan expounds thereon, thus …Would such lands so declared
1529 is based on acquisitive prescription and must comply with the
alienable and disposable be converted, under the Civil Code, from
law on prescription as provided by the Civil Code. In that regard, only
property of the public dominion into patrimonial property? After all, by
the patrimonial property of the State may be acquired by prescription
pursuant to the Civil Code.21 For acquisitive prescription to set in, connotative definition, alienable and disposable lands may be the
object of the commerce of man; Article 1113 provides that all things
therefore, the land being possessed and occupied must already be
within the commerce of man are susceptible to prescription; and the
classified or declared as patrimonial property of the State. Otherwise,
same provision further provides that patrimonial property of the State
no length of possession would vest any right in the possessor if the
may be acquired by prescription.
property has remained land of the public dominion. Malabanan
stresses that even if the land is later converted to patrimonial
property of the State, possession of it prior to such conversion will Nonetheless, Article 422 of the Civil Code states that "[p]roperty of
not be counted to meet the requisites of acquisitive public dominion, when no longer intended for public use or for public
prescription.22 Thus, registration under Section 14(2) of P.D. No. service, shall form part of the patrimonial property of the State." It is
1529 requires that the land had already been converted to this provision that controls how public dominion property may be
patrimonial property of the State at the onset of the period of converted into patrimonial property susceptible to acquisition by
possession required by the law on prescription. prescription. After all, Article 420 (2) makes clear that those property
"which belong to the State, without being for public use, and are

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intended for some public service or for the development of the With the application of the respondent having been filed under
national wealth" are public dominion property. For as long as the Section 14(2) of P.D. No. 1529, the crucial query is whether the land
property belongs to the State, although already classified as subject of the application had already been converted to patrimonial
alienable or disposable, it remains property of the public dominion if property of the State. In short, has the land been declared by law as
when it is "intended for some public service or for the development of no longer intended for public service or the development of the
the national wealth." national wealth?

Accordingly, there must be an express declaration by the State that The respondent may perhaps object to a determination of this issue
the public dominion property is no longer intended for public service by the Court for the same reason that it objects to the determination
or the development of the national wealth or that the property has of whether it established when the land was declared alienable and
been converted into patrimonial. Without such express declaration, disposable, that is, the issue was not raised in and resolved and by
the property, even if classified as alienable or disposable, remains the trial court. But the objection would be futile because the issue
property of the public dominion, pursuant to Article 420(2), and thus was actually raised in the trial court, as borne out by the Republic's
incapable of acquisition by prescription. It is only when such allegation in its opposition to the application to the effect "that the
alienable and disposable lands are expressly declared by the State land is a portion of the public domain not subject to prescription." In
to be no longer intended for public service or for the development of any case, the interest of justice dictates the consideration and
the national wealth that the period of acquisitive prescription can resolution of an issue that is relevant to another that was specifically
begin to run. Such declaration shall be in the form of a law duly raised. The rule that only theories raised in the initial proceedings
enacted by Congress or a Presidential Proclamation in cases where may be taken up by a party on appeal refers only to independent, not
the President is duly authorized by law. 23 concomitant, matters to support or oppose the cause of action.24

The respondent’s application does not enlighten as to whether it was Here, there is no evidence showing that the land in question was
filed under Section 14(1) or Section 14(2) of P.D. No. 1529. The within an area expressly declared by law either to be the patrimonial
application alleged that the respondent and its predecessors-in- property of the State, or to be no longer intended for public service or
interest had been in open, continuous and exclusive possession and the development of the national wealth. The Court is left with no
occupation of the property in the concept of an owner, but did not alternative but to deny the respondent's application for registration.
state when possession and occupation commenced and the duration
of such possession. At any rate, the evidence presented by the WHEREFORE, the Court GRANTS the petition for review on
respondent and its averments in the other pleadings reveal that the certiorari; REVERSES and SETS ASIDE the decision promulgated
application for registration was filed based on Section 14(2), not on June 10, 2004; and DISMISSES the respondent's application for
Section 14(1) of P.D. No. 1529. The respondent did not make any original registration of Lot 8017-A of Subdivision Plan CSD-04-
allegation in its application that it had been in possession of the 006985-D, Cad. 455-D, of the Cabuyao Cadastre.
property since June 12, 1945, or earlier, nor did it present any
evidence to establish such fact.1âwphi1
No pronouncement on costs of suit.

SO ORDERED.

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G.R. No. 189477 February 26, 2014 On 20 December 1991, Felonia and De Guzman filed an action for
Reformation of Contract (Reformation case), docketed as Civil Case
HOMEOWNERS SAVINGS AND LOAN BANK, Petitioner- No. 91-59654, before the RTC of Manila. On the findings that it is
Appellant, "very apparent that the transaction had between the parties is one of
vs. a mortgage and not a deed of sale with right to repurchase,"5 the
ASUNCION P. FELONIA and LYDIA C. DE GUZMAN, represented RTC, on 21 March 1995 rendered a judgment favorable to Felonia
by MARIBEL FRIAS, Respondents-Appellees. and De Guzman. Thus:
MARIE MICHELLE P. DELGADO, REGISTER OF DEEDS OF LAS
PINAS CITY and RHANDOLFO B. AMANSEC, in his capacity as WHEREFORE, judgment is hereby rendered directing the [Felonia
Clerk of Court Ex-Officio Sheriff, Office of the Clerk of Court, and De Guzman] and the [Delgado] to execute a deed of mortgage
Las Piñas City,Respondents-Defendants. over the property in question taking into account the payments made
and the imposition of the legal interests on the principal loan.
DECISION
On the other hand, the counterclaim is hereby dismissed for lack of
PEREZ, J.: merit.

Assailed in this Petition for Review on Certiorari is the Decision 1 and No pronouncements as to attorney’s fees and damages in both
Resolution2 of the Court of Appeals (CA), in CA-G.R. CV No. 87540, instances as the parties must bear their respective expenses incident
which affirmed with modifications, the Decision3 of the Regional Trial to this suit.6
Court (RTC), reinstating the title of respondents Asuncion Felonia
(Felonia) and Lydia de Guzman (De Guzman) and cancelling the title Aggrieved, Delgado elevated the case to the CA where it was
of Marie Michelle Delgado (Delgado). docketed as CA-G.R. CV No. 49317. The CA affirmed the trial court
decision. On 16 October 2000, the CA decision became final and
The facts as culled from the records are as follows: executory.7

Felonia and De Guzman were the registered owners of a parcel of Inspite of the pendency of the Reformation case in which she was
land consisting of 532 square meters with a five-bedroom house, the defendant, Delgado filed a "Petition for Consolidation of
covered by Transfer of Certificate of Title (TCT) No. T-402 issued by Ownership of Property Sold with an Option to Repurchase and
the register of deeds of Las Piñas City. Issuance of a New Certificate of Title" (Consolidation case) in the
RTC of Las Piñas, on 20 June 1994.8 After an ex-parte hearing, the
RTC ordered the issuance of a new title under Delgado’s name,
Sometime in June 1990, Felonia and De Guzman mortgaged the
property to Delgado to secure the loan in the amount thus:
of P1,655,000.00. However, instead of a real estate mortgage, the
parties executed a Deed of Absolute Sale with an Option to WHEREFORE, judgment is rendered-
Repurchase.4

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1. Declaring [DELGADO] as absolute owner of the subject Date of Instrument – Sept. 11, 1995
parcel of land covered by Transfer Certificate of Title No. T-
402 of the Register of Deeds of Las Piñas, Metro Manila; Date of Inscription – Sept. 14, 1995 at 9:55 a.m.11

2. Ordering the Register of Deeds of Las Piñas, Metro On 20 November1997, HSLB foreclosed the subject property and
Manila to cancel Transfer Certificate of Title No. T-402 and later consolidated ownership in its favor, causing the issuance of a
issue in lieu thereof a new certificate of title and owner’s new title in its name, TCT No. 64668.
duplicate copy thereof in the name of [DELGADO].9
On 27 October 2000, the CA annulled and set aside the decision of
By virtue of the RTC decision, Delgado transferred the title to her the RTC, Las Piñas City in the Consolidation case. The decision of
name. Hence, TCT No. T-402, registered in the names of Felonia the CA, declaring Felonia and De Guzman as the absolute owners of
and De Guzman, was canceled and TCT No. 44848 in the name of the subject property and ordering the cancellation of Delgado’s title,
Delgado, was issued. became final and executory on 1 December 2000.12 Thus:

Aggrieved, Felonia and De Guzman elevated the case to the CA WHEREFORE, the petition is GRANTED and the subject judgment
through a Petition for Annulment of Judgment.10 of the court a quo is ANNULLED and SET ASIDE.13

Meanwhile, on 2 June 1995, Delgado mortgaged the subject On 29 April 2003, Felonia and De Guzman, represented by Maribel
property to Homeowners Savings and Loan Bank (HSLB) using her Frias (Frias), claiming to be the absolute owners of the subject
newly registered title. Three (3) days later, or on 5 June 1995, HSLB property, instituted the instant complaint against Delgado, HSLB,
caused the annotation of the mortgage. Register of Deeds of Las Piñas City and Rhandolfo B. Amansec
before the RTC of Las Piñas City for Nullity of Mortgage and
On 14 September 1995, Felonia and De Guzman caused the Foreclosure Sale, Annulment of Titles of Delgado and HSLB, and
annotation of a Notice of Lis Pendens on Delgado’s title, TCT No. finally, Reconveyance of Possession and Ownership of the subject
44848. The Notice states: property in their favor.

Entry No. 8219/T-44848 – NOTICE OF LIS PENDENS – filed by As defendant, HSLB asserted that Felonia and De Guzman are
Atty. Humberto A. Jambora, Counsel for the Plaintiff, that a case barred from laches as they had slept on their rights to timely
been commenced in the RTC, Branch 38, Manila, entitled annotate, by way of Notice of Lis Pendens, the pendency of the
ASUNCION P. FELONIA and LYDIA DE GUZMAN thru VERONICA Reformation case. HSLB also claimed that it should not be bound by
P. BELMONTE, as Atty-in-fact (Plaintiffs) v.s. MARIE MICHELLE the decisions of the CA in the Reformation and Consolidation cases
DELGADO defendant in Civil Case No. 91-59654 for Reformation of because it was not a party therein.
Instrument.
Finally, HSLB asserted that it was a mortgagee in good faith
Copy on file in this Registry. because the mortgage between Delgado and HSLB was annotated

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on the title on 5 June 1995, whereas the Notice of Lis Pendens was 6. Ordering [Delgado] to pay 20% of the total obligations as
annotated only on 14 September 1995. and by way of attorney’s fees;

After trial, the RTC ruled in favor of Felonia and De Guzman as the 7. Ordering [Delgado] to pay cost of suit.14
absolute owners of the subject property. The dispositive portion of
the RTC decision reads: On appeal, the CA affirmed with modifications the trial court decision.
The dispositive portion of the appealed Decision reads:
WHEREFORE, premises considered, the Court hereby finds for the
[Felonia and De Guzman] with references to the decision of the WHEREFORE, in the light of the foregoing, the decision appealed
Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. CV No. 49317 and CA-G.R. SP No. from is AFFIRMED with the MODIFICATIONS that the awards of
43711 as THESE TWO DECISIONS CANNOT BE IGNORED and actual damages and attorney’s fees are DELETED, moral and
against [Delgado] and [HSLB], Register of Deeds of Las Piñas City exemplary damages are REDUCED to P50,000.00 each, and
ordering the (sic) as follows: Delgado is ordered to pay the appellees P25,000.00 as nominal
damages.15
1. The Register of Deeds of Las Piñas City to cancel
Transfer Certificate of Title Nos. 44848 and T-64668 as null Hence, this petition.
and void and reinstating Transfer Certificate of Title No. T-
402 which shall contain a memorandum of the fact and shall Notably, HSLB does not question the affirmance by the CA of the
in all respect be entitled to like faith and credit as the original
trial court’s ruling that TCT No. 44848, the certificate of title of its
certificate of title and shall, thereafter be regarded as such
mortgagor-vendor, and TCT No. 64668, the certificate of title that
for all intents and purposes under the law;
was secured by virtue of the Sheriff’s sale in its favor, should be
cancelled "as null and void" and that TCT No. T-402 in the name of
2. Declaring the Mortgage Sheriff’s Sale and the Certificate Felonia and De Guzman should be reinstated.
of Sale issued in favor of HSLB null and void, without
prejudice to whatever rights the said Bank may have against
Recognizing the validity of TCT No. T-402 restored in the name of
[Delgado];
Felonia and De Guzman, petitioners pray that the decision of the CA
be modified "to the effect that the mortgage lien in favor of petitioner
3. Ordering [Delgado] to pay [Felonia and De Guzman] the HSLB annotated as entry No. 4708-12 on TCT No. 44848 be
amount of PHP500,000.00 for compensatory damages; [ordered] carried over on TCT No. T-402 after it is reinstated in the
name of [Felonia and De Guzman]."16
4. Ordering [Delgado] to pay [Felonia and De Guzman] the
amount of PHP500,000.00 for exemplary damages; Proceeding from the ruling of the CA that it is a mortgagee in good
faith, HSLB argues that a denial of its prayer would run counter to
5. Ordering [Delgado] to pay [Felonia and De Guzman] the jurisprudence giving protection to a mortgagee in good faith by
amount of PHP500,000.00 for moral damages; reason of public policy.

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We cannot grant the prayer of petitioner. The priorly registered suspicion, has no obligation to undertake further investigation.
mortgage lien of HSLB is now worthless. Hence, even if the mortgagor is not the rightful owner of, or does not
have a valid title to, the mortgaged property, the mortgagee or
Arguably, HSLB was initially a mortgagee in good faith. In Bank of transferee in good faith is nonetheless entitled to protection.
Commerce v. San Pablo, Jr.,17 the doctrine of mortgagee in good
faith was explained: However, the rights of the parties to the present case are defined not
by the determination of whether or not HSLB is a mortgagee in good
There is, however, a situation where, despite the fact that the faith, but of whether or not HSLB is a purchaser in good faith. And,
mortgagor is not the owner of the mortgaged property, his title being HSLB is not such a purchaser.
fraudulent, the mortgage contract and any foreclosure sale arising
there from are given effect by reason of public policy. This is the A purchaser in good faith is defined as one who buys a property
doctrine of "the mortgagee in good faith" based on the rule that all without notice that some other person has a right to, or interest in,
persons dealing with property covered by the Torrens Certificates of the property and pays full and fair price at the time of purchase or
Title, as buyers or mortgagees, are not required to go beyond what before he has notice of the claim or interest of other persons in the
appears on the face of the title. The public interest in upholding property.19
indefeasibility of a certificate of title, as evidence of lawful ownership
of the land or of any encumbrance thereon, protects a buyer or When a prospective buyer is faced with facts and circumstances as
mortgagee who, in good faith, relied upon what appears on the face to arouse his suspicion, he must take precautionary steps to qualify
of the certificate of title. as a purchaser in good faith. In Spouses Mathay v. CA, 20 we
determined the duty of a prospective buyer:
When the property was mortgaged to HSLB, the registered owner of
the subject property was Delgado who had in her name TCT No. Although it is a recognized principle that a person dealing on a
44848. Thus, HSLB cannot be faulted in relying on the face of registered land need not go beyond its certificate of title, it is also a
Delgado’s title. The records indicate that Delgado was at the time of firmly settled rule that where there are circumstances which would
the mortgage in possession of the subject property and Delgado’s put a party on guard and prompt him to investigate or inspect the
title did not contain any annotation that would arouse HSLB’s property being sold to him, such as the presence of
suspicion. HSLB, as a mortgagee, had a right to rely in good faith on occupants/tenants thereon, it is of course, expected from the
Delgado’s title, and in the absence of any sign that might arouse purchaser of a valued piece of land to inquire first into the status or
suspicion, HSLB had no obligation to undertake further investigation. nature of possession of the occupants, i.e., whether or not the
As held by this Court in Cebu International Finance Corp. v. occupants possess the land en concepto de dueño, in the concept of
the owner. As is the common practice in the real estate industry, an
CA:18 ocular inspection of the premises involved is a safeguard a cautious
and prudent purchaser usually takes. Should he find out that the land
The prevailing jurisprudence is that a mortgagee has a right to rely in he intends to buy is occupied by anybody else other than the seller
good faith on the certificate of title of the mortgagor of the property who, as in this case, is not in actual possession, it would then be
given as security and in the absence of any sign that might arouse incumbent upon the purchaser to verify the extent of the occupant’s

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possessory rights. The failure of a prospective buyer to take such itself the risk that the Notice of Lis Pendens leads to.1âwphi1 As
precautionary steps would mean negligence on his part and would correctly found by the CA, "the notice of lis pendens was annotated
thereby preclude him from claiming or invoking the rights of a on 14 September 1995, whereas the foreclosure sale, where the
purchaser in good faith. appellant was declared as the highest bidder, took place sometime in
1997. There is no doubt that at the time appellant purchased the
In the case at bar, HSLB utterly failed to take the necessary subject property, it was aware of the pending litigation concerning
precautions.1âwphi1 At the time the subject property was the same property and thus, the title issued in its favor was subject to
mortgaged, there was yet no annotated Notice of Lis Pendens. the outcome of said litigation."24
However, at the time HSLB purchased the subject property, the
Notice of Lis Pendens was already annotated on the title.21 This ruling is in accord with Rehabilitation Finance Corp. v.
Morales,25 which underscored the significance of a lis pendens, then
Lis pendens is a Latin term which literally means, "a pending suit or a defined in Sec. 24, Rule 7 now Sec. 14 of Rule 13 in relation to a
pending litigation" while a notice of lis pendens is an announcement mortgage priorly annotated on the title covering the property. Thus:
to the whole world that a real property is in litigation, serving as a
warning that anyone who acquires an interest over the property does The notice of lis pendens in question was annotated on the back of
so at his/her own risk, or that he/she gambles on the result of the the certificate of title as a necessary incident of the civil action to
litigation over the property.22 It is a warning to prospective buyers to recover the ownership of the property affected by it. The mortgage
take precautions and investigate the pending litigation. executed in favor of petitioner corporation was annotated on the
same title prior to the annotation of the notice of lis pendens; but
The purpose of a notice of lis pendens is to protect the rights of the when petitioner bought the property as the highest bidder at the
registrant while the case is pending resolution or decision. With the auction sale made as an aftermath of the foreclosure of the
notice of lis pendens duly recorded and remaining uncancelled, the mortgage, the title already bore the notice of lis pendens. Held: While
registrant could rest secure that he/she will not lose the property or the notice of lis pendens cannot affect petitioner’s right as
any part thereof during litigation. mortgagee, because the same was annotated subsequent to the
mortgage, yet the said notice affects its right as purchaser because
notice of lis pendens simply means that a certain property is involved
The doctrine of lis pendens is founded upon reason of public policy
in a litigation and serves as a notice to the whole world that one who
and necessity, the purpose of which is to keep the subject matter of
buys the same does so at his own risk.26
the litigation within the Court’s jurisdiction until the judgment or the
decree have been entered; otherwise, by successive alienations
pending the litigation, its judgment or decree shall be rendered The subject of the lis pendens on the title of HSLB’s vendor,
abortive and impossible of execution.23 Delgado, is the "Reformation case" filed against Delgado by the
herein respondents. The case was decided with finality by the CA in
favor of herein respondents. The contract of sale in favor of Delgado
Indeed, at the time HSLB bought the subject property, HSLB had
actual knowledge of the annotated Notice of Lis Pendens. Instead of was ordered reformed into a contract of mortgage. By final decision
heeding the same, HSLB continued with the purchase knowing the of the CA, HSLB’s vendor, Delgado, is not the property owner but
only a mortgagee. As it turned out, Delgado could not have
legal repercussions a notice of lis pendens entails. HSLB took upon

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constituted a valid mortgage on the property. That the mortgagor be had become final and executory. Its own title, derived from the
the absolute owner of the thing mortgaged is an essential requisite of foreclosure of Delgado's mortgage in its favor, has likewise been
a contract of mortgage. Article 2085 (2) of the Civil Code specifically nullified in the very same decision that restored the certificate of title
says so: in respondents' name. There is absolutely no reason that can
support the prayer of HSLB to have its mortgage lien carried over
Art. 2085. The following requisites are essential to the contracts of and into the restored certificate of title of respondents.
pledge and mortgage:
WHEREFORE, the Petition is DENIED. The Decision of the Court of
xxxx Appeals in CA-G.R. CV No. 87540 is AFFIRMED.

(2) That the pledgor or mortagagor be the absolute owner of the SO ORDERED.
thing pledged or mortgaged.
G.R. No. 159926 January 20, 2014
Succinctly, for a valid mortgage to exist, ownership of the property is
an essential requisite.27 PINAUSUKAN SEAFOOD HOUSE, ROXAS BOULEY ARD,
INC., Petitioner,
Reyes v. De Leon28 cited the case of Philippine National Bank v. vs.
Rocha29 where it was pronounced that "a mortgage of real property FAR EAST BANK & TRUST COMPANY, NOW BANK OF THE
executed by one who is not an owner thereof at the time of the PHILIPPINE ISLANDS AND HECTOR I. GALURA,Respondents.
execution of the mortgage is without legal existence." Such that,
according to DBP v. Prudential Bank,30 there being no valid DECISION
mortgage, there could also be no valid foreclosure or valid auction
sale. BERSAMIN, J.:

We go back to Bank of Commerce v. San Pablo, Jr. 31 where the Extrinsic fraud, as a ground for the annulment of a judgment, must
doctrine of mortgagee in good faith, upon which petitioner relies, was emanate from an act of the adverse party, and the fraud must be of
clarified as "based on the rule that all persons dealing with property such nature as to have deprived the petitioner of its day in court. The
covered by the Torrens Certificate of Title, as buyers or mortgagees, fraud is not extrinsic if the act was committed by the petitioner's own
are not required to go beyond what appears on the face of the title. counsel.
In turn, the rule is based on "x x x public interest in upholding the
indefeasibility of a certificate of title, as evidence of lawful ownership
of the land or of any encumbrance thereon."32 The Case

Insofar as the HSLB is concerned, there is no longer any public This appeal seeks to undo the dismissal by the Court of Appeals
interest in upholding the indefeasibility of the certificate of title of its (CA) of the petitioner's action for annulment of judgment through the
mortgagor, Delgado. Such title has been nullified in a decision that

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assailed resolution promulgated on July 31, 2003, 1 as well as the However, the subsequent hearing dates were reset several times. In
denial of its motion for reconsideration on September 12, 2003.2 August 2002, the parties informed the RTC about their attempts to
settle the case.
Antecedents
The counsels of the parties did not appear in court on the hearing
On various dates in 1993, Bonier de Guzman (Bonier), then the scheduled on September 5, 2002 despite having agreed thereto.
President of petitioner corporation (Pinausukan, for short), executed Accordingly, on October 31, 2002, the RTC dismissed Civil Case No.
four real estate mortgages involving the petitioner’s 517 square 01-0300 for failure to prosecute.8 The order of dismissal attained
meter parcel of land situated in Pasay City3 in favor of Far East Bank finality.9
and Trust Company (now Bank of Philippine Islands), to be referred
to herein as the Bank. The parcel of land was registered in Transfer On June 24, 2003, the sheriff issued a notice of extrajudicial sale
Certificate of Title No. 126636 of the Register of Deeds of Pasay City concerning the property of Pinausukan.10 The notice was received by
under the name of Pinausukan.4 When the unpaid obligation secured Pinausukan a week later.
by the mortgages had ballooned toP15,129,303.67 as of June 2001,
the Bank commenced proceedings for the extrajudicial foreclosure of Claiming surprise over the turn of events, Pinausukan inquired from
the mortgages on August 13, 2001 in the Office of the Ex Officio the RTC and learned that Atty. Michael Dale Villaflor (Atty. Villaflor),
Sheriff, Regional Trial Court (RTC), in Pasay City. 5 Two weeks its counsel of record, had not informed it about the order of dismissal
thereafter, the sheriff issued the notice of sheriff’s sale, setting the issued on October 31, 2002.
public auction on October 8, 2001 at the main entrance of the Hall of
Justice of Pasay City.6
On July 24, 2003, Pinausukan brought the petition for annulment in
the CA seeking the nullification of the order of October 31, 2002
Learning of the impending sale of its property by reason of the dismissing Civil Case No. 01-0300. Its petition, under the verification
foreclosure of the mortgages, Pinausukan, represented by Zsae of Roxanne de Guzman-San Pedro (Roxanne), who was one of its
Carrie de Guzman, brought against the Bank and the sheriff an Directors, and concurrently its Executive Vice President for Finance
action for the annulment of real estate mortgages in the RTC on and Treasurer, stated that its counsel had been guilty of gross and
October 4, 2001 (Civil Case No. 01-0300), averring that Bonier had palpable negligence in failing to keep track of the case he was
obtained the loans only in his personal capacity and had constituted handling, and in failing to apprise Pinausukan of the developments
the mortgages on the corporate asset without Pinausukan’s consent on the case. It further pertinently stated as follows:
through a board resolution. The case was assigned to Branch
108.7 Pinausukan applied for the issuance of a temporary restraining
6. Inquiry from counsel, Atty. Michael Dale T. Villaflor
order or writ of preliminary injunction to enjoin the Bank and the
disclosed that although the Registry Return Receipt
sheriff from proceeding with the extrajudicial foreclosure and the
indicated that he received the Order on November 28, 2002,
public auction.
according to him, as of said date, he no longer holds office at
12th Floor, Ever Gotesco Corporate Center, 1958 C.M.
In the ensuing trial of Civil Case No. 01-0300, Pinausukan presented Recto Avenue, Manila but has transferred to Vecation (sic)
Zsae Carrie de Guzman as its first witness on May 30, 2002. Club, Inc., with office address 10th Floor Rufino Tower,

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Ayala Avenue, Makati City. Petitioner was never notified of The appeals lacks merit.
the change of office and address of its attorney.
1.
7. The palpable negligence of counsel to keep track of the Nature and statutory requirements for an action to annul a judgment
case he was handling constituted professional misconduct or final order
amounting to extrinsic fraud properly warranting the
annulment of the Order dated October 31, 2003 as petitioner The remedy of annulment of judgment has been long authorized and
was unduly deprived of its right to present evidence in Civil sanctioned in the Philippines. In Banco Español-Filipino v.
Case No. 01-0300 through no fault of its own.11 Palanca,14 of 1918 vintage, the Court, through Justice Street,
recognized that there were only two remedies available under the
On July 31, 2003, the CA dismissed the petition for rules of procedure in force at the time to a party aggrieved by a
annulment,12 citing the failure to attach the affidavits of witnesses decision of the Court of First Instance (CFI) that had already attained
attesting to and describing the alleged extrinsic fraud supporting the finality, namely: that under Sec. 113, Code of Civil Procedure, which
cause of action as required by Section 4, Rule 47 of the Rules of was akin to the petition for relief from judgment under Rule 38, Rules
Court; and observing that the verified petition related only to the of Court; and that under Sec. 513, Code of Civil Procedure, which
correctness of its allegations, a requirement entirely different and stipulated that the party aggrieved under a judgment rendered by the
separate from the affidavits of witnesses required under Rule 47 of CFI "upon default" and who had been "deprived of a hearing by
the Rules of Court. fraud, accident, mistake or excusable negligence" and the CFI had
"finally adjourned so that no adequate remedy exists in that court"
On September 12, 2003,13 the CA denied Pinausukan’s motion for could "present his petition to the Supreme Court within sixty days
reconsideration. after he first learns of the rendition of such judgment, and not
thereafter, setting forth the facts and praying to have judgment set
aside."15 It categorically ruled out a mere motion filed for that
Issue
purpose in the same action as a proper remedy.
Pinausukan posits that the requirement for attaching the affidavits of
The jurisdiction over the action for the annulment of judgment had
witnesses to the petition for annulment should be relaxed; that even
been lodged in the CFI as a court of general jurisdiction on the basis
if Roxanne had executed the required affidavit as a witness on the
extrinsic fraud, she would only repeat therein the allegations already that the subject matter of the action was not capable of pecuniary
in the petition, thereby duplicating her allegations under her oath; estimation. Section 56, paragraph 1, of Act No. 136 (An Act providing
for the Organization of Courts in the Philippine Islands), effective on
that the negligence of Atty. Villaflor, in whom it entirely relied upon,
June 11, 1901, vested original jurisdiction in the CFI over "all civil
should not preclude it from obtaining relief; and that it needed a
actions in which the subject of litigations is not capable of pecuniary
chance to prove in the RTC that Bonier had no right to mortgage its
estimation." The CFI retained its jurisdiction under Section 44(a) of
property.
Republic Act No. 296 (The Judiciary Act of 1948), effective on June
17, 1948, which contained a similar provision vesting original
Ruling

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jurisdiction in the CFI over "all civil actions in which the subject of the to violate the existing rule on venue for personal actions but also to
litigation is not capable of pecuniary estimation." limit the opportunity for the application of such rule on venue for
personal actions.20 The Court observed that the doctrine under
In the period under the regimes of Act No. 136 and Republic Act No. Dumara-og, J.M. Tuason & Co., Inc. and Sterling Investment could
296, the issues centered on which CFI, or branch thereof, had the then very well "result in the difficulties precisely sought to be avoided
jurisdiction over the action for the annulment of judgment. It was held by the rules; for it could be that at the time of the filing of the second
in Mas v. Dumara-og16that "the power to open, modify or vacate a action for annulment, neither the plaintiff nor the defendant resides in
judgment is not only possessed by, but is restricted to the court in the same place where either or both of them did when the first action
which the judgment was rendered." In J.M. Tuason & Co., Inc. v. was commenced and tried," thus unduly depriving the parties of the
Torres,17 the Court declared that "the jurisdiction to annul a judgment right expressly given them by the Rules of Court "to change or
of a branch of the Court of First Instance belongs solely to the very transfer venue from one province to another by written agreement –
same branch which rendered the judgment." In Sterling Investment a right conferred upon them for their own convenience and to
Corporation v. Ruiz,18 the Court enjoined a branch of the CFI of Rizal minimize their expenses in the litigation – and renders innocuous the
from taking cognizance of an action filed with it to annul the judgment provision on waiver of improper venue in Section 4 (of Rule 4 of the
of another branch of the same court. Revised Rules of Court)."21 The Court eventually ruled:

In Dulap v. Court of Appeals,19 the Court observed that the Our conclusion must therefore be that a court of first instance or a
philosophy underlying the pronouncements in these cases was the branch thereof has the authority and jurisdiction to take cognizance
policy of judicial stability, as expressed in Dumara-og, to the end that of, and to act in, a suit to annul a final and executory judgment or
the judgment of a court of competent jurisdiction could not be order rendered by another court of first instance or by another
interfered with by any court of concurrent jurisdiction. Seeing that the branch of the same court. The policy of judicial stability, which
pronouncements in Dumara-og, J.M. Tuason & Co., Inc. and Sterling underlies the doctrine laid down in the cases of Dumara-og, J.M.
Investment confining the jurisdiction to annul a judgment to the court Tuason & Co., Inc. and Sterling Investment Corporation, et al.,
or its branch rendering the judgment would "practically amount to supra, should be held subordinate to an orderly administration of
judicial legislation," the Court found the occasion to re-examine the justice based on the existing rules of procedure and the law.22 x x x
pronouncements. Observing that the plaintiff’s cause of action in an
action to annul the judgment of a court "springs from the alleged In 1981, the Legislature enacted Batas Pambansa Blg. 129
nullity of the judgment based on one ground or another, particularly (Judiciary Reorganization Act of 1980).23 Among several innovations
fraud, which fact affords the plaintiff a right to judicial interference in of this legislative enactment was the formal establishment of the
his behalf," and that that the two cases were distinct and separate annulment of a judgment or final order as an action independent
from each other because "the cause of action (to annul judgment) is from the generic classification of litigations in which the subject
entirely different from that in the action which gave rise to the matter was not capable of pecuniary estimation, and expressly
judgment sought to be annulled, for a direct attack against a final and vested the exclusive original jurisdiction over such action in the
executory judgment is not incidental to, but is the main object of, the CA.24 The action in which the subject of the litigation was incapable
proceeding," the Court concluded that "there is no plausible reason of pecuniary estimation continued to be under the exclusive original
why the venue of the action to annul the judgment should necessarily jurisdiction of the RTC, which replaced the CFI as the court of
follow the venue of the previous action" if the outcome was not only general jurisdiction.25 Since then, the RTC no longer had jurisdiction

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over an action to annul the judgment of the RTC, eliminating all the courts exist. As to the first, a judgment that has acquired finality
concerns about judicial stability. To implement this change, the Court becomes immutable and unalterable and is no longer to be modified
introduced a new procedure to govern the action to annul the in any respect even if the modification is meant to correct an
judgment of the RTC in the 1997 revision of the Rules of Court under erroneous conclusion of fact or of law, and whether the modification
Rule 47, directing in Section 2 thereof that "[t]he annulment may be is made by the court that rendered the decision or by the highest
based only on the grounds of extrinsic fraud and lack of court of the land. As to the latter, controversies cannot drag on
jurisdiction."26 indefinitely because fundamental considerations of public policy and
sound practice demand that the rights and obligations of every
The Court has expounded on the nature of the remedy of annulment litigant must not hang in suspense for an indefinite period of time.
of judgment or final order in Dare Adventure Farm Corporation v.
Court of Appeals,27 viz: The objective of the remedy of annulment of judgment or final order
is to undo or set aside the judgment or final order, and thereby grant
A petition for annulment of judgment is a remedy in equity so to the petitioner an opportunity to prosecute his cause or to ventilate
exceptional in nature that it may be availed of only when other his defense. If the ground relied upon is lack of jurisdiction, the entire
remedies are wanting, and only if the judgment, final order or final proceedings are set aside without prejudice to the original action
resolution sought to be annulled was rendered by a court lacking being refiled in the proper court.28 If the judgment or final order or
jurisdiction or through extrinsic fraud. Yet, the remedy, being resolution is set aside on the ground of extrinsic fraud, the CA may
exceptional in character, is not allowed to be so easily and readily on motion order the trial court to try the case as if a timely motion for
abused by parties aggrieved by the final judgments, orders or new trial had been granted therein.29 The remedy is by no means an
resolutions. The Court has thus instituted safeguards by limiting the appeal whereby the correctness of the assailed judgment or final
grounds for the annulment to lack of jurisdiction and extrinsic fraud, order is in issue; hence, the CA is not called upon to address each
and by prescribing in Section 1 of Rule 47 of the Rules of Court that error allegedly committed by the trial court.30
the petitioner should show that the ordinary remedies of new trial,
appeal, petition for relief or other appropriate remedies are no longer Given the extraordinary nature and the objective of the remedy of
available through no fault of the petitioner. A petition for annulment annulment of judgment or final order, Pinausukan must be mindful of
that ignores or disregards any of the safeguards cannot prosper. and should closely comply with the following statutory requirements
for the remedy as set forth in Rule 47 of the Rules of Court.
The attitude of judicial reluctance towards the annulment of a
judgment, final order or final resolution is understandable, for the The first requirement prescribes that the remedy is available only
remedy disregards the time-honored doctrine of immutability and when the petitioner can no longer resort to the ordinary remedies of
unalterability of final judgments, a solid corner stone in the new trial, appeal, petition for relief or other appropriate remedies
dispensation of justice by the courts. The doctrine of immutability and through no fault of the petitioner.31 This means that the remedy,
unalterability serves a two-fold purpose, namely: (a) to avoid delay in although seen as "a last remedy,"32 is not an alternative to the
the administration of justice and thus, procedurally, to make orderly ordinary remedies of new trial, appeal and petition for relief. The
the discharge of judicial business; and (b) to put an end to judicial petition must aver, therefore, that the petitioner failed to move for a
controversies, at the risk of occasional errors, which is precisely why new trial, or to appeal, or to file a petition for relief without fault on his

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part. But this requirement to aver is not imposed when the ground for of his day in court because he can guard against that kind of fraud
the petition is lack of jurisdiction (whether alleged singly or in through so many means, including a thorough trial preparation, a
combination with extrinsic fraud), simply because the judgment or skillful cross-examination, resorting to the modes of discovery, and
final order, being void, may be assailed at any time either collaterally proper scientific or forensic applications. Indeed, forgery of
or by direct action or by resisting such judgment or final order in any documents and evidence for use at the trial and perjury in court
action or proceeding whenever it is invoked, unless the ground of testimony have been regarded as not preventing the participation of
lack of jurisdiction is meanwhile barred by laches.33 any party in the proceedings, and are not, therefore, constitutive of
extrinsic fraud.38
The second requirement limits the ground for the action of annulment
of judgment to either extrinsic fraud or lack of jurisdiction. Lack of jurisdiction on the part of the trial court in rendering the
judgment or final order is either lack of jurisdiction over the subject
Not every kind of fraud justifies the action of annulment of judgment. matter or nature of the action, or lack of jurisdiction over the person
Only extrinsic fraud does.1âwphi1 Fraud is extrinsic, according to of the petitioner. The former is a matter of substantive law because
Cosmic Lumber Corporation v. Court of Appeals,34 "where the statutory law defines the jurisdiction of the courts over the subject
unsuccessful party has been prevented from exhibiting fully his case, matter or nature of the action. The latter is a matter of procedural
by fraud or deception practiced on him by his opponent, as by law, for it involves the service of summons or other process on the
keeping him away from court, a false promise of a compromise; or petitioner. A judgment or final order issued by the trial court without
where the defendant never had knowledge of the suit, being kept in jurisdiction over the subject matter or nature of the action is always
ignorance by the acts of the plaintiff; or where an attorney void, and, in the words of Justice Street in Banco Español-Filipino v.
fraudulently or without authority connives at his defeat; these and Palanca,39 "in this sense it may be said to be a lawless thing, which
similar cases which show that there has never been a real contest in can be treated as an outlaw and slain at sight, or ignored wherever
the trial or hearing of the case are reasons for which a new suit may and whenever it exhibits its head."40 But the defect of lack of
be sustained to set aside and annul the former judgment and open jurisdiction over the person, being a matter of procedural law, may
the case for a new and fair hearing." be waived by the party concerned either expressly or impliedly.

The overriding consideration when extrinsic fraud is alleged is that The third requirement sets the time for the filing of the action. The
the fraudulent scheme of the prevailing litigant prevented the action, if based on extrinsic fraud, must be filed within four years
petitioner from having his day in court.35 Nonetheless, extrinsic fraud from the discovery of the extrinsic fraud; and if based on lack of
shall not be a valid ground if it was availed of, or could have been jurisdiction, must be brought before it is barred by laches or estoppel.
availed of, in a motion for new trial or petition for relief.36
Laches is the failure or neglect for an unreasonable and unexplained
In contrast, intrinsic fraud refers to the acts of a party at a trial that length of time to do that which by exercising due diligence could nor
prevented a fair and just determination of the case, but the difference should have been done earlier; it is negligence or omission to assert
is that the acts or things, like falsification and false testimony, could a right within a reasonable time, warranting a presumption that the
have been litigated and determined at the trial or adjudication of the party entitled to assert it either has abandoned it or declined to
case.37 In other words, intrinsic fraud does not deprive the petitioner assert it.41 Its other name is stale demands, and it is based upon

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grounds of public policy that requires, for the peace of society, the copy of the petition intended for the court and indicated as such by
discouragement of stale claims and, unlike the statute of limitations, the petitioner;48 (b) the affidavits of witnesses or documents
is not a mere question of time but is principally a question of the supporting the cause of action or defense; and (c) the sworn
inequity or unfairness of permitting a right or claim to be enforced or certification that the petitioner has not theretofore commenced any
asserted.42 The existence of four elements must be shown in order to other action involving the same issues in the Supreme Court, the CA
validate laches as a defense, to wit: (a) conduct on the part of the or the different divisions thereof, or any other tribunal or agency; if
defendant, or of one under whom a claim is made, giving rise to a there is such other action or proceeding, he must state the status of
situation for which a complaint is filed and a remedy sought; (b) the same, and if he should thereafter learn that a similar action or
delay in asserting the rights of the complainant, who has knowledge proceeding has been filed or is pending before the Supreme Court,
or notice of the defendant’s conduct and has been afforded an the CA, or different divisions thereof, or any other tribunal or agency,
opportunity to institute a suit; (c) lack of knowledge or notice on the he undertakes to promptly inform the said courts and other tribunal
part of the defendant that the complainant will assert the right on or agency thereof within five days therefrom.49
which the latter has based the suit; and (d) injury or prejudice to the
defendant in the event that the complainant is granted a relief or the The purpose of these requirements of the sworn verification and the
suit is not deemed barred.43 particularization of the allegations of the extrinsic fraud in the
petition, of the submission of the certified true copy of the judgment
Estoppel precludes a person who has admitted or made a or final order or resolution, and of the attachment of the affidavits of
representation about something as true from denying or disproving it witnesses and documents supporting the cause of action or defense
against anyone else relying on his admission or is to forthwith bring all the relevant facts to the CA’s cognizance in
representation.44 Thus, our law on evidence regards estoppel as order to enable the CA to determine whether or not the petition has
conclusive by stating that "whenever a party has, by his own substantial merit. Should it find prima facie merit in the petition, the
declaration, act, or omission, intentionally and deliberately led CA shall give the petition due course and direct the service of
another to believe a particular thing true, and to act upon such belief, summons on the respondent; otherwise, the CA has the discretion to
he cannot, in any litigation arising out of such declaration, act or outrightly dismiss the petition for annulment.50
omission, be permitted to falsify it."45
2.
The fourth requirement demands that the petition should be verified, Pinausukan’s petition for annulment was
and should allege with particularity the facts and the law relied upon substantively and procedurally defective
for annulment, as well as those supporting the petitioner’s good and
substantial cause of action or defense, as the case may be. 46 The A review of the dismissal by the CA readily reveals that Pinausukan’s
need for particularity cannot be dispensed with because averring the petition for annulment suffered from procedural and substantive
circumstances constituting either fraud or mistake with particularity is defects.
a universal requirement in the rules of pleading.47 The petition is to
be filed in seven clearly legible copies, together with sufficient copies
The procedural defect consisted in Pinausukan’s disregard of the
corresponding to the number of respondents, and shall contain fourth requirement mentioned earlier consisting in its failure to submit
essential submissions, specifically: (a) the certified true copy of the together with the petition the affidavits of witnesses or documents
judgment or final order or resolution, to be attached to the original

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supporting the cause of action. It is true that the petition, which Based solely on these allegations, we do not see any basis to give
narrated the facts relied upon, was verified under oath by Roxanne. due course to the petition as these allegations do not speak of the
However, the submission of the affidavits of witnesses together with extrinsic fraud contemplated by Rule 47. Notably, the petition’s own
the petition was not dispensable for that reason. We reiterate with language states that what is involved in this case is mistake and
approval the CA’s emphatic observation in the resolution of July 31, gross negligence of petitioner’s own counsel. The petition even
2003 dismissing the petition for annulment to the effect that suggests that the negligence of counsel may constitute professional
Roxanne’s verification related only "to the correctness of the misconduct (but this is a matter for lawyer and client to resolve).
allegations in the petition" and was "not the same or equivalent to the What is certain, for purposes of the application of Rule 47, is that
affidavit of witnesses that the above-cited Rule requires."51 To us, mistake and gross negligence cannot be equated to the extrinsic
indeed, the true office of the verification is merely to secure an fraud that Rule 47 requires to be the ground for an annulment of
assurance that the allegations of a pleading are true and correct and judgment. By its very nature, extrinsic fraud relates to a cause that is
not the product of the imagination or a matter of speculation, and that collateral in character, i.e., it relates to any fraudulent act of the
the pleading is filed in good faith.52 prevailing party in litigation which is committed outside of the trial of
the case, where the defeated party has been prevented from
Pinausukan’s failure to include the affidavits of witnesses was fatal to presenting fully his side of the cause, by fraud or deception practiced
its petition for annulment. Worthy to reiterate is that the objective of on him by his opponent. Even in the presence of fraud, annulment
the requirements of verification and submission of the affidavits of will not lie unless the fraud is committed by the adverse party, not by
witnesses is to bring all the relevant facts that will enable the CA to one’s own lawyer. In the latter case, the remedy of the client is to
immediately determine whether or not the petition has substantial proceed against his own lawyer and not to re-litigate the case where
merit. In that regard, however, the requirements are separate from judgment had been rendered.54
each other, for only by the affidavits of the witnesses who had
competence about the circumstances constituting the extrinsic fraud We concur with the CA. Verily, such neglect of counsel, even if it was
can the petitioner detail the extrinsic fraud being relied upon as the true, did not amount to extrinsic fraud because it did not emanate
ground for its petition for annulment. This is because extrinsic fraud from any act of FEBTC as the prevailing party, and did not occur
cannot be presumed from the recitals alone of the pleading but outside the trial of the case. Moreover, the failure to be fully aware of
needs to be particularized as to the facts constitutive of it. The the developments in the case was Pinausukan's own responsibility.
distinction between the verification and the affidavits is made more As a litigant, it should not entirely leave the case in the hands of its
pronounced when an issue is based on facts not appearing of counsel, for it had the continuing duty to keep itself abreast of the
record. In that instance, the issue may be heard on affidavits or developments if only to protect its own interest in the litigation. It
depositions presented by the respective parties, subject to the court could have discharged its duty by keeping in regular touch with its
directing that the matter be heard wholly or partly on oral testimony counsel, but it did not. Consequently, it has only itself to blame.
or depositions.53
WHEREFORE, the Court AFFIRMS the assailed resolutions of the
The substantive defect related to the supposed neglect of Atty. Court of Appeals promulgated on July 31, 2003 and September 12,
Villaflor to keep track of the case, and to his failure to apprise 2003; and ORDERS the petitioner to pay the costs of suit.
Pinausukan of the developments in the case, which the CA did not
accept as constituting extrinsic fraud, because –

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SO ORDERED. of a temporary restraining order (TRO) and/or a writ of preliminary
injunction.
G.R. No. 199595 April 2, 2014
The Antecedents
PHILIPPINE WOMAN'S CHRISTIAN TEMPERANCE UNION,
INC., Petitioner, On May 19, 2004, respondent Teodoro R. Yangco (2nd and 3rd
vs. Generation Heirs) Foundation, Inc. (TRY Foundation) filed before the
TEODORO R. YANGCO 2ND AND 3RD GENERATION HEIRS RTC of Quezon City, acting as a Land Registration Court, a Petition
FOUNDATION, INC., Respondent. for the Issuance of New Title in Lieu of Transfer Certificate of Title
(TCT) No. 20970 T-22702 of the Office of the Register of Deeds of
DECISION Quezon City docketed as LRC Case No. Q-18126(04).7

REYES, J.: TRY Foundation alleged that it is composed of the 2nd and 3rd
generation heirs and successors-in-interest to the first generation
testamentary heirs of the late philanthropist Teodoro R. Yangco
This is a petition for certiorari and prohibition1 under Rule 65 of the (Yangco) who donated on May 19, 1934 a 14,073-square meter
Rules of Court seeking the issuance of an order commanding the parcel of land (subject property) located at 21 Boni Serrano Avenue,
Register of Deeds of Quezon City and the Court Sheriff of the Quezon City in the following manner,8 viz:
Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Quezon City, Branch 218, to cease
and desist from implementing the Court Resolutions dated July 21,
20102 and September 15, 20103 in G.R. No. 190193 denying with a) the property shall be used as a site for an institution to be
finality Philippine Woman's Christian Temperance Union, Inc.'s known as the Abierrtas House of Friendship the purpose of
(PWCTUI) petition for review of the Court of Appeals (CA) which shall be to provide a Home for needy and unfortunate
Decision4 dated November 6, 2009 in CA-G.R. CV No. 90763 which women and girls, including children of both sexes and
affirmed the Decision5 dated January 24, 2008 of the RTC in LRC promote, foster all efforts, work and activities looking toward
Case No. Q-18126(04) disposing as follows: their protection from the ravages of all forms of immoralities;

WHEREFORE, the Register of Deeds of Quezon City is hereby b) Should the property herein be used for any other purpose
ordered to cancel TCT No. 20970 T-22702 and issue in lieu thereof a or purposes not herein specified, the present gift shall
new title in the name of Teodoro R. Yangco 2nd and 3rd Generation become ipso facto null and void and property given shall
Heirs Foundation, Inc. free from all liens and encumbrances. automatically revert to the donor, his heirs and assigns, but
any improvement or improvements placed, constructed
and/or maintained on said premises by the Donee, shall
SO ORDERED.6 remain the property of said Donee to be by it removed
there[f]rom (sic) at its expense after reasonable notice from
PWCTUI also prays, as ancillary remedy, for the re-opening of LRC the donor, his heirs and assigns.9
Case No. Q-18126(04) and as provisional remedy, for the issuance

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The property was registered in the name of PWCTUI by virtue of agency and not TRY Foundation or any other private individual can
TCT No. 20970 at the back of which the above-quoted conditions of challenge the corporate life and existence of PCWTUI; (4) TRY
the donation were annotated. PWCTUI is a non-stock, non-profit Foundation and its counsel are guilty of forum shopping because
corporation originally registered with the Securities and Exchange they have already questioned PWCTUI’s corporate personality in a
Commission (SEC) in 1929 under SEC Registration No. PW-959.10 different forum but failed to obtain a favorable relief; (5) TRY
Foundation is guilty of fraud for failing to include PWCTUI as an
PWCTUI’s corporate term expired in September 1979.11 Five years indispensable party and to furnish it with a copy of the petition; and
thereafter, using the same corporate name, PWCTUI obtained SEC (6) the RTC has no jurisdiction over the petition because PWCTUI is
Registration No. 12208812 and forthwith applied for the issuance of a unaware of its publication.17
new owner’s duplicate copy of TCT No. 20970 over the subject
property thru LRC Case No. 22702. The application was granted and In a Resolution dated April 4, 2005, the RTC denied the
PWCTUI was issued a new TCT No. 20970 T-2270213 which, Opposition18 of PWCTUI. According to the trial court, when the
however, bore only the first condition imposed on the donation. corporate life of PWCTUI expired in 1979, the property ceased to be
used for the purpose for which it was intended, hence, it
Recounting the foregoing episodes, TRY Foundation claimed that automatically reverted to Yangco. As such, TRY Foundation, being
the expiration of PWCTUI’s corporate term in 1979 effectively composed of his heirs, is considered "other person in interest" under
rescinded the donation pursuant to the "unwritten resolutory Section 108 of P.D. No. 1529 with a right to file a petition for the
condition" deemed written by Article 1315 of the Civil issuance of title over the property.
Code14 prescribing that the Corporation Code, specifically Section
12215 thereof, be read into the donation. Interestingly the latter Hearings were thereafter held for the reception of evidence of TRY
provision mandates dissolved corporation to wind up their affairs and Foundation. On January 24, 2008, the RTC rendered its
dispose of their assets within three years from the expiration of their Decision19 sustaining TRY Foundation’s petition.
term. Being comprised of the heirs of the donor, TRY Foundation
claimed that it is entitled to petition for the issuance of a new title in The RTC ruled that PWCTUI, with SEC Registration No. PW-959 in
their name pursuant to Section 108 of Presidential Decree (P.D.) No. whose name the property was registered is separate and distinct
1529.16 TRY Foundation prayed for the issuance of a new title in its from oppositor PWCTUI with SEC Registration No. 122088. The
name after the cancellation of PWCTUI’s TCT No. 20970 T-22702. legal personality of PWCTUI (PW-959) ipso facto ended when its
registration expired in September 1979. The new PWCTUI (122088)
PWCTUI opposed the petition arguing that: (1) TRY Foundation has has its own personality separate and distinct from PWCTUI (PW-
no legal personality to bring the action because the donation has 959) hence the latter is not the donee and thus has no claim to the
never been revoked and any right to demand for its revocation property. As such, the reversion clause in the donation came about
already prescribed; (2) although PCWTUI’s corporate term was not and the property must revert to the donor or his heirs, thus:
extended upon its expiration in 1979, it nonetheless registered anew
and continued the operations, affairs and social work of the It is clear that Don Teodoro R. Yangco is the primary reversion
corporation; it also continued to possess the property and exercised owner of the property. He is succeeded as reversion owner by the
rights of ownership over it; (3) only the appropriate government first generation heirs or those testamentary heirs named in his Last

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Will and Testament which will was admitted to probate by the On December 23, 2011, PWCTUI filed the herein petition captioned
Supreme Court in the abovecited case. The second generation heirs as one for "Prohibition & Certiorari and to Re-Open the Case with
are the nieces and nephews of Don Teodoro R. Yangco and the Prayer for Issuance of Temporary Restraining Order (TRO) &/or Writ
sons/daughters of the "strangers" named in the will. The second of Preliminary Injunction."27 PWCTUI prayed for the following reliefs:
generation heirs succeeded the first generation/testamentary heirs in
their own right. x x x.20 (Citations omitted) a.) a TRO and/or a writ of preliminary injunction be issued
preventing and/or enjoining public respondents, Register of
The RTC granted TRY Foundation’s petition by ordering the Deeds of Quezon City and the Sheriff of the RTC of Quezon
cancellation of PWCTUI’s TCT No. 20970 T-22702 and the issuance City, Branch 218 from executing the RTC Decision dated
of a new title in the name of TRY Foundation.21 January 24, 2008;

PWCTUI appealed to the CA, arguing, among others, that it must be b.) to make the injunction permanent by annulling and setting
determined whether the condition imposed in the donation has aside all orders, decisions, resolutions and proceedings
already occurred or deemed fulfilled. The appeal was docketed as issued and taken in relation to LRC Case No. Q-18126(04)
CA-G.R. CV No. 90763. In its Decision22 dated November 6, 2009, before the trial and appellate courts for having been
the CA affirmed the RTC’s findings. The CA added that the promulgated in excess of jurisdiction or with grave abuse of
subsequent re-registration of PWCTUI (122088) did not revive or discretion; and
continue the corporate existence of PWCTUI (PW-959). Hence,
PWCTUI (122088) is not the real donee contemplated in the c.) LRC Case No. Q-18126(04) be re-opened, re-considered
donation made by Yangco and as such any issue on revocation of and re-studied in the interest of true and fair justice.
donation is improper. The CA Decision disposed thus:
In support of its pleas, PWCTUI submitted the following arguments:
WHEREFORE, the appeal is DENIED. The assailed Decision is
AFFIRMED in toto. Costs against [PWCTUI]. a. based on the deed of donation, the expiration of
PWCTUI’s corporate term is not stated as a ground for the
SO ORDERED.23 nullification of the donation and the operation of the
reversion clause;
PWCTUI sought recourse with the Court thru a petition for review on
certiorari docketed as G.R. No. 190193. In a Resolution24 dated July b. the commercial leasing of portions of the donated land did
21, 2010, we denied the petition for failure to sufficiently show any not violate the condition in the donation because the lease
reversible error in the assailed CA decision. PWCTUI moved for contract with Jelby Acres was pursued for the generation of
reconsideration but its motion was denied with finality in another funds in order for PWCTUI to carry on the charitable
Resolution25 dated September 15, 2010. An entry of judgment was purposes of the Abiertas House of Friendship;
thereafter issued stating that the Court Resolution dated July 21,
2010 became final and executory on October 20, 2010.26
c. TRY Foundation has no legal standing or cause of action
to claim the land because its members are not the true heirs

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of Yangco who died single and without descendants. His Hence, it’s application admits the following exceptions: (1) the
only relatives are his half-siblings who are the legitimate correction of clerical errors; (2) the so-called nunc pro tunc entries
children of his mother, Doña Ramona Arguelles Corpus and which cause no prejudice to any party; (3) void judgments; and (4)
her first husband Tomas Corpus, hence, no right of whenever circumstances transpire after the finality of the decision
inheritance ab intestato can take place between them rendering its execution unjust and inequitable. 29
pursuant to Article 992 of the Civil Code; and d. Even
assuming that TRY Foundation has a cause of action for the Here, the third exception is attendant. The nullity of the RTC
revocation of the donation, the same has already prescribed judgment and all subsequent rulings affirming the same, render
because more than 40 years has lapsed from the date the inoperative the doctrine of immutability of judgment, and
donation was made in May 19, 1934. consequently justify the propriety of giving due course to the present
petition.
The Court’s Ruling
To expound, the RTC judgment in LRC Case No. Q-18126(04) and
On its face, it is immediately apparent that the petition merits outright all proceedings taken in relation thereto were void because the RTC
dismissal in view of the doctrine of immutability attached to the did not acquire jurisdiction over the fundamental subject matter of
Court’s final and executory Resolutions dated July 21, 2010 and TRY Foundation’s petition for the issuance of a title which was in
September 15, 2010 in G.R. No. 190193. reality, a complaint for revocation of donation, an ordinary civil action
outside the ambit of Section 108 of P.D. No. 1529.
The doctrine postulates that a decision that has acquired finality
becomes immutable and unalterable, and may no longer be modified The petition filed by TRY
in any respect, even if the modification is meant to correct erroneous Foundation was a disguised
conclusions of fact and law, and whether it is made by the court that complaint for revocation of
rendered it or by the Highest Court of the land. Any act which donation.
violates this principle must immediately be struck down.28
It has been held that the jurisdiction of a court over the subject
A long and intent study, however, of the arguments raised in the matter of a particular action is determined by the plaintiff’s
present recourse vis-à-vis the proceedings taken in LRC Case No. allegations in the complaint and the principal relief he seeks in the
Q-18126(04) disclose that it is necessary, obligatory even, for the light of the law that apportions the jurisdiction of courts. 30 Jurisdiction
Court to accord affirmative consideration to the supplications should be determined by considering not only the status or the
tendered by PWCTUI in the petition at bar. relationship of the parties but also the nature of the issues or
questions that is the subject of the controversy.31
While firmly ingrained as a basic procedural tenet in Philippine
jurisprudence, immutability of final judgments was never meant to be The petition is premised on allegations that the deed of donation
an inflexible tool to excuse and overlook prejudicial circumstances. from whence PWCTUI derived its title was automatically revoked
The doctrine must yield to practicality, logic, fairness and substantial when the latter’s original corporate term expired in 1979.
justice. Consequently, reversion took effect in favor of the donor and/or his

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heirs. As relief, TRY Foundation sought the cancellation of TCT No. As aptly observed by the trial court, the petitory portion of petitioner’s
20970 T-22702 and the issuance of a new title in its name, to wit: complaint in Civil Case No. 98-033 seeks for a judgment declaring
him the absolute owner of the donated property, a plea which
WHEREFORE, in view of all the foregoing, it is respectfully prayed of necessarily includes the revocation of the deed of donation in
the Hon. Court that after due hearing, the Hon. Court render question. Verily, a declaration of petitioner’s absolute ownership
judgment: appears legally possible only when the deed of donation is
contextually declared peremptorily revoked.
Ordering the Register of Deeds of Quezon City to cancel TCT No.
20970 T-22702 and issue in lieu thereof a new title in the name of xxxx
TRY Heirs (2nd and 3rd Generation) Heirs Foundation, Inc. free from
all liens and encumbrances.32 It cannot be overemphasized that respondent barangay traces its
claim of ownership over the disputed property to a valid contract of
The above contentions and plea betray the caption of the petition. donation which is yet to be effectively revoked. Such rightful claim
Observably, TRY Foundation is actually seeking to recover the does not constitute a cloud on the supposed title of petitioner over
possession and ownership of the subject property from PWCTUI and the same property removable by an action to quiet title. Withal, the
not merely the cancellation of PWCTUI’s TCT No. 20970 T-22702. remedy afforded in Article 476 of the Civil Code is unavailing until the
The propriety of pronouncing TRY Foundation as the absolute owner donation shall have first been revoked in due course under Article
of the subject property rests on the resolution of whether or not the 764 or Article 1144 of the Code.34
donation made to PWCTUI has been effectively revoked when its
corporate term expired in 1979. Stated otherwise, no judgment An action which seeks the recovery
proclaiming TRY Foundation as the absolute owner of the property of property is outside the ambit of
can be arrived at without declaring the deed of donation revoked. Section 108 of P.D. No. 1529.

The Court made a similar observation in Dolar v. Barangay Lublub Whether the donation merits revocation and consequently effect
(now P.D. Monfort North), Municipality of Dumangas,33 the facts of reversion of the donated property to the donor and/or his heirs
which bear resemblance to the facts at hand. In Dolar, the petitioner cannot be settled by filing a mere petition for cancellation of title
filed a complaint for quieting of title and recovery of possession with under Section 108 of P.D. No. 1529 which reads:
damages involving a land he had earlier donated to the respondent.
The petitioner claimed that the donation had ceased to be effective Sec. 108. Amendment and alteration of certificates. – No erasure,
when the respondent failed to comply with the conditions of the alteration, or amendment shall be made upon the registration book
donation. As relief, the petitioner prayed that he be declared the after the entry of a certificate of title or of a memorandum thereon
absolute owner of the property. The complaint was dismissed by the and the attestation of the same by the Register of Deeds, except by
trial court on the ground that the petitioner’s cause of action for order of the proper Court of First Instance. A registered owner or
revocation has already prescribed and as such, its claim for quieting other person having interest in the registered property, or, in proper
of title is ineffective notwithstanding that the latter cause of action is cases, the Register of Deeds with the approval of the Commissioner
imprescriptible. In sustaining such dismissal, the Court remarked: of Land Registration, may apply by petition to the court upon the

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ground that the registered interest of any description, whether issuance of a new title in the name of the petitioner therein. The
vested, contingent, expectant or inchoate appearing on the petition was dismissed by the RTC.
certificate, have terminated and ceased; or that new interest not
appearing upon the certificate have arisen or been created; or that The dismissal was affirmed by the CA and eventually by this Court
an omission or an error was made in entering a certificate or any on the following reasons:
memorandum thereon, or on any duplicate certificate: or that the
same or any person in the certificate has been changed or that the
We agree with both the CA and the RTC that the petitioner was in
registered owner has married, or, if registered as married, that the reality seeking the reconveyance of the property covered by OCT
marriage has been terminated and no right or interest of heirs or No. 684, not the cancellation of a certificate of title as contemplated
creditors will thereby be affected; or that a corporation which owned
by Section 108 of P.D. No. 1529. Thus, his petition did not fall under
registered land and has been dissolved has not yet convened the
any of the situations covered by Section 108, and was for that
same within three years after its dissolution; or upon any other
reason rightly dismissed.
reasonable ground; and the court may hear and determine the
petition after notice to all parties in interest, and may order the entry
or cancellation of a new certificate, the entry or cancellation of a Moreover, the filing of the petition would have the effect of reopening
memorandum upon a certificate, or grant any other relief upon such the decree of registration, and could thereby impair the rights of
terms and conditions, requiring security and bond if necessary, as it innocent purchasers in good faith and for value. To reopen the
may consider proper; Provided, however, That this section shall not decree of registration was no longer permissible, considering that the
be construed to give the court authority to reopen the judgment or one-year period to do so had long ago lapsed, and the properties
decree of registration, and that nothing shall be done or ordered by covered by OCT No. 684 had already been subdivided into smaller
the court which shall impair the title or other interest of a purchaser lots whose ownership had passed to third persons. x x x.
holding a certificate for value and in good faith, or his heirs and
assigns without his or their written consent. Where the owner’s xxxx
duplicate certificate is not presented, a similar petition may be filed
as provided in the preceding section. Nor is it subject to dispute that the petition was not a mere
continuation of a previous registration proceeding. Shorn of the thin
All petitions or motions filed under this section as well as any other disguise the petitioner gave to it, the petition was exposed as a
provision of this decree after original registration shall be filed and distinct and independent action to seek the reconveyance of realty
entitled in the original case in which the decree of registration was and to recover damages. Accordingly, he should perform
entered. jurisdictional acts, like paying the correct amount of docket fees for
the filing of an initiatory pleading, causing the service of summons on
A parallel issue was encountered by the Court in Paz v. Republic of the adverse parties in order to vest personal jurisdiction over them in
the Philippines,35 which involved a petition for the cancellation of title the trial court, and attaching a certification against forum shopping
brought under the auspices of Section 108 of P.D. No. 1529. The (as required for all initiatory pleadings). He ought to know that his
petition sought the cancellation of Original Certificate of Title No. 684 taking such required acts for granted was immediately fatal to his
issued thru LRC Case No. 00-059 in favor of the Republic, Filinvest petition, warranting the granting of the respondents’ motion to
Development Corporation and Filinvest Alabang, Inc., and the dismiss.36

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By analogy, the above pronouncements may be applied to the case where the condition supposedly violated by PWCTUI is not
controversy at bar considering that TRY Foundation’s exposed expressly stated in the deed of donation. Thus, it is imperative to
action for revocation of the donation necessarily includes a claim for conduct an exhaustive examination of the factual and legal bases of
the recovery of the subject property. the parties’ respective positions for a complete determination of the
donor’s desires. Certainly, such objective cannot be accomplished by
The circumstances upon which the ruling in Paz was premised are the court through the abbreviated proceedings of Section 108.
attendant in the present case. The petition of TRY Foundation had
the effect of reopening the decree of registration in the earlier LRC In fact, even if it were specifically imposed as a ground for the
Case No. 20970 which granted PWCTUI’s application for the revocation of the donation that will set off the automatic reversion of
issuance of a new owner’s duplicate copy of TCT No. 20970. As the donated property to the donor and/or his heirs, court intervention
such, it breached the caveat in Section 108 that "this section shall is still indispensable.
not be construed to give the court authority to reopen the judgment
or decree of registration." The petition of TRY Foundation also As ruled in Vda. de Delgado v. CA,40 "[a]lthough automatic reversion
violated that portion in Section 108 stating that "all petitions or immediately happens upon a violation of the condition and therefore
motions filed under this section as well as any other provision of this no judicial action is necessary for such purpose, still judicial
decree after original registration shall be filed and entitled in the intervention must be sought by the aggrieved party if only for the
original case in which the decree of registration was entered." The purpose of determining the propriety of the rescission made."41 In
petition of TRY Foundation in LRC Case No. Q-18126(04) was addition, where the donee denies the rescission of the donation or
clearly not a mere continuation of LRC Case No. 20970. challenges the propriety thereof, only the final award of the court can
conclusively settle whether the resolution is proper or not.42 Here,
Further, the petition filed by TRY Foundation is not within the PWCTUI unmistakably refuted the allegation that the expiration of its
province of Section 108 because the relief thereunder can only be corporate term in 1979 rescinded the donation.
granted if there is unanimity among the parties, or that there is no
adverse claim or serious objection on the part of any party in Lastly, the issues embroiled in revocation of donation are litigable in
interest.37 Records show that in its opposition to the petition, an ordinary civil proceeding which demands stricter jurisdictional
PWCTUI maintained that it "remains and continues to be the true requirements than that imposed in a land registration case.
and sole owner in fee simple of the property" and that TRY
Foundation "has no iota of right" thereto.38
Foremost of which is the requirement on the service of summons for
the court to acquire jurisdiction over the persons of the defendants.
More so, the enumerated instances for amendment or alteration of a Without a valid service of summons, the court cannot acquire
certificate of title under Section 108 are non-controversial in nature. jurisdiction over the defendant, unless the defendant voluntarily
They are limited to issues so patently insubstantial as not to be submits to it. Service of summons is a guarantee of one’s right to
genuine issues. The proceedings thereunder are summary in nature, due process in that he is properly apprised of a pending action
contemplating insertions of mistakes which are only clerical, but against him and assured of the opportunity to present his defenses
certainly not controversial issues.39 Undoubtedly, revocation of to the suit.43
donation entails litigious and controversial matters especially in this

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In contrast, jurisdiction in a land registration cases being a cannot use the summary proceedings in Section 108 of P.D. No.
proceeding in rem, is acquired by constructive seizure of the land 1529 to rescind a contract of donation as such action should be
through publication, mailing and posting of the notice of threshed out in ordinary civil proceedings. In the same vein, the RTC
hearing.44 Persons named in the application are not summoned but had no jurisdiction to declare the donation annulled and as a result
merely notified of the date of initial hearing on the petition.45 thereof, order the register of deeds to cancel PWCTUI’s TCT No.
20970 T-22702 and issue a new one in favor of TRY Foundation.
The payment of docket fees is another jurisdictional requirement for
an action for revocation which was absent in the suit filed by TRY The RTC, acting as a land registration court, should have dismissed
Foundation. On the other hand, Section 111 of P.D. No. 1529 merely the land registration case or re-docketed the same as an ordinary
requires the payment of filing fees and not docket fees. civil action and thereafter ordered compliance with stricter
jurisdictional requirements. Since the RTC had no jurisdiction over
Filing fees are intended to take care of court expenses in the the action for revocation of donation disguised as a land registration
handling of cases in terms of cost of supplies, use of equipment, case, the judgment in LRC Case No. Q-18126(04) is null and void.
salaries and fringe benefits of personnel, etc., computed as to man Being void, it cannot be the source of any right or the creator of any
hours used in handling of each case. Docket fees, on the other hand, obligation. It can never become final and any writ of execution based
vest the trial court jurisdiction over the subject matter or nature of on it is likewise void.48 It may even be considered as a lawless thing
action.46 which can be treated as an outlaw and slain at sight, or ignored
wherever and whenever it exhibits its head.49
The absence of the above jurisdictional requirements for ordinary
civil actions thus prevented the RTC, acting as a land registration Resultantly, the appellate proceedings relative to LRC Case No. Q-
court, from acquiring the power to hear and decide the underlying 18126(04) and all issuances made in connection with such review
issue of revocation of donation in LRC Case No. Q-18126(04). Any are likewise of no force and effect. A void judgment cannot
determination made involving such issue had no force and effect; it perpetuate even if affirmed on appeal by the highest court of the
cannot also bind PWCTUI over whom the RTC acquired no land. All acts pursuant to it and all claims emanating from it have no
jurisdiction for lack of service of summons. legal effect.50

"Jurisdiction is the power with which courts are invested for The Court Resolutions dated July
administering justice; that is, for hearing and deciding cases. In order 21, 2010 and September 15, 2010 do
for the court to have authority to dispose of the case on the merits, it not bar the present ruling.
must acquire jurisdiction over the subject matter and the parties." 47
It is worth emphasizing that despite PWCTUI’s incessant averment of
Conclusion the RTC’s lack of jurisdiction over TRY Foundation’s petition, the trial
court shelved the issue, took cognizance of matters beyond those
All told, the RTC, acting as a land registration court, had no enveloped under Section 108 and sorted out, in abridged
proceedings, complex factual issues otherwise determinable in a full-
jurisdiction over the actual subject matter contained in TRY
blown trial appropriate for an ordinary civil action.
Foundation’s petition for issuance of a new title. TRY Foundation

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PWCTUI no longer raised the jurisdiction issue before the CA and The emerging trend in the rulings of this Court is to afford every party
limited its appeal to the factual findings and legal conclusions of the litigant the amplest opportunity for the proper and just determination
RTC on its corporate existence and capacity as the subject of his cause, free from the constraints of technicalities. Time and
property’s uninterrupted owner. The matter reached the Court thru a again, this Court has consistently held that rules must not be applied
petition for review under Rule 45, but with the question of jurisdiction rigidly so as not to override substantial justice.54 (Citation omitted
absent in the appellate pleadings, the Court was constrained to and italics supplied)
review only mistakes of judgment.
Here, the grave error in jurisdiction permeating the proceedings
While PWCTUI could have still challenged the RTC’s jurisdiction taken in LRC Case No. Q-18126(04) deprived PWCTUI of its
even on appeal, its failure to do so cannot work to its disadvantage. property without the very foundation of judicial proceedings – due
The issue of jurisdiction is not lost by waiver or by estoppel; no process. Certainly, the Court cannot let this mistake pass without de
laches will even attach to a judgment rendered without jurisdiction.51 rigueur rectification by suspending the rules of procedure and
permitting the present recourse to access auxiliary review.
Hence, since the Court Resolutions dated July 21, 2010 and
September 15, 2010 in G.R. No. 190193 disposed the case only If the Court, as the head and guardian of the judicial branch, must
insofar as the factual and legal questions brought before the CA continuously merit the force of public trust and confidence — which
were concerned, they cannot operate as a procedural impediment to ultimately is the real source of its sovereign power — and if it must
the present ruling which deals with mistake of jurisdiction.1âwphi1 decisively discharge its sacred duty as the last sanctuary of the
oppressed and the weak, it must, in appropriate cases, pro-actively
This is not to say, however, that a certiorari before the Court is a provide weary litigants with immediate legal and equitable relief, free
remedy against its own final and executory judgment. As made from the delays and legalistic contortions that oftentimes result from
known in certain cases, the Court is invested with the power to applying purely formal and procedural approaches to judicial
suspend the application of the rules of procedure as a necessary dispensations.55
complement of its power to promulgate the same.52 Barnes v. Hon.
Quijano Padilla53 discussed the rationale for this tenet, viz: WHEREFORE, all things studiedly viewed in the correct perspective,
the petition is hereby GRANTED. All proceedings taken, decisions,
Let it be emphasized that the rules of procedure should be viewed as resolutions, orders and other issuances made in LRC Case No. Q-
mere tools designed to facilitate the attainment of justice. Their strict 18126(04), CA-G.R. CV No. 90763 and G.R. No. 190193 are hereby
and rigid application, which would result in technicalities that tend to ANNULLED and SET ASIDE.
frustrate rather than promote substantial justice, must always be
eschewed. Even the Rules of Court reflect this principle. The power The Register of Deeds of Quezon City is hereby ORDERED to
to suspend or even disregard rules can be so pervasive and CANCEL any Transfer Certificate of Title issued in the name of
compelling as to alter even that which this Court itself has already Teodoro R. Yangco 2nd and 3rd Generation Heirs Foundation, Inc.
declared to be final, x x x. as a consequence of the execution of the disposition in LRC Case
No. Q-18126(04), and to REINSTATE Transfer Certificate of Title No.

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20970 T-22702 in the name of Philippine Woman’s Christian Basilia Imbornal+ (Basilia) had four (4) children, namely, Alejandra,
Temperance Union, Inc. Balbina, Catalina, and Pablo.Francisco I. Narvasa, Sr.9 (Francisco)
and Pedro Ferrer (Pedro) were the children10 of Alejandra, while
SO ORDERED. petitioner Petra Imbornal (Petra) was the daughter of
Balbina.11 Petitionersare the heirs and successors-in-interest of
Francisco, Pedro, and Petra (Francisco, et al.). On the other hand,
G.R. No. 182908 August 6, 2014 respondentsEmiliana, Victoriano, Felipe, Mateo, Raymundo, Maria,
and Eduardo, all surnamed Imbornal, are the descendants of
HEIRS OF FRANCISCO I. NARVASA, SR., and HEIRS OF PETRA Pablo.12
IMBORNAL and PEDRO FERRER, represented by their Attorney-
in-Fact, MRS. REMEDIOS B. NARVASA-REGACHO, Petitioners, During her lifetime, Basilia owned a parcel of land situated at
vs. Sabangan, Barangay Nibaliw West, San Fabian, Pangasinan with an
EMILIANA, VICTORIANO, FELIPE, MA TEO, RAYMUNDO, area of 4,144 square meters (sq. m.), more or less (Sabangan
MARIA, and EDUARDO, all surnamed IMBORNAL,Respondents. property), which she conveyed to her three (3) daughters Balbina,
Alejandra, and Catalina (Imbornal sisters) sometime in 1920.13
DECISION
Meanwhile, Catalina’s husband, Ciriaco Abrio (Ciriaco), applied for
PERLAS-BERNABE, J.: and was granted a homestead patent over a 31,367-sq. m. riparian
land (Motherland) adjacent to the Cayanga River in San Fabian,
Assailed in this petition for review on certiorari1 are the Pangasinan.14 He was eventually awarded Homestead Patent No.
Decision2 dated November 28, 2006 and the Resolution3dated May 2499115 therefor, and, on December 5, 1933, OCT No. 1462 was
7, 2008 of the Court of Appeals (CA) in CA-G.R. CV No. 57618 issued in his name. Later, or on May 10, 1973, OCT No. 1462 was
which reversed and set aside the Decision4 dated August 20, 1996 of cancelled, and Transfer Certificate of Title (TCT) No. 10149516 was
the Regional Trial Court of Dagupan City, Branch 44 (RTC) in Civil issued in the name of Ciriaco’s heirs, namely: Margarita Mejia;
Case No. D-6978, declared (a) the descendants of Ciriaco Abrio5 as Rodrigo Abrio, marriedto Rosita Corpuz; Antonio Abrio, married to
the exclusive owners of the Motherland covered by Original Crisenta Corpuz; Remedios Abrio, married to Leopoldo Corpuz;
Certificate of Title (OCT) No. 1462,6 (b) the descendants of Pepito Abrio; Dominador Abrio; Francisca Abrio; Violeta Abrio; and
respondent Victoriano Imbornal (respondent Victoriano) as the Perla Abrio (Heirs of Ciriaco).
exclusive owners of the first accretion (First Accretion) covered by
OCT No. P-318,7 and (c) the descendants of Pablo Imbornal (Pablo) Ciriaco and his heirs had since occupied the northern portion of the
as the exclusive owners of the second accretion (Second Accretion) Motherland, while respondents occupied the southern portion.17
covered by OCT No. 21481,8 and dismissed the complaint and
counterclaim in all other respects for lack of merit. Sometime in 1949, the First Accretion, approximately 59,772 sq. m.
in area, adjoined the southern portion of the Motherland. On August
The Facts 15, 1952, OCT No. P-318 was issued in thename of respondent
Victoriano, married to Esperanza Narvarte, covering the First

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Accretion.18 Decades later, or in 1971, the Second Accretion, which In their Amended Answer dated March 5, 1984,24 respondents
had an area of 32,307 sq. m., more or less, abutted the First contended that: (a) the Amended Complaint stated no cause of
Accretion on its southern portion.19 On November 10, 1978, OCT No. action against them, having failed to clearly and precisely describe
21481 was issued in the names of all the respondents covering the the disputed properties and specify the transgressions they have
Second Accretion. allegedly committed; (b) the action was barred by prescription; and
(c) that the properties sought to be reconveyed and partitioned are
Claiming rights over the entire Motherland, Francisco, et al., as the not the properties of their predecessors-ininterest but, instead, are
children of Alejandra and Balbina, filed on February 27,1984 an covered by Torrens certificates of titles, free from any encumbrance,
Amended Complaint20 for reconveyance, partition,and/or damages and declared for taxation purposes in their names. In this regard,
against respondents, docketed as Civil Case No. D-6978. They respondents prayed that the Amended Complaint be dismissed and
anchored their claim on the allegation that Ciriaco, with the help of that Francisco, et al.be held liable for the payment of moral
his wifeCatalina, urged Balbina and Alejandra to sell the Sabangan damages, attorney’s fees, and costs of suit in their favor.
property, and that Ciriaco used the proceeds therefrom to fund his
then-pending homestead patent application over the Motherland. In During trial, it was established from the testimonies of the parties that
return, Ciriaco agreed that once his homestead patent is approved, the Motherland was eventually sold bythe Heirs of Ciriaco to a
he will be deemed to be holding the Motherland – which now certain Gregorio de Vera (de Vera), and thatsaid heirs and deVera
included both accretions – in trust for the Imbornal sisters.21 were not impleaded as parties in this case.25

Likewise, Francisco, et al. alleged that through deceit, fraud, The RTC Ruling
falsehood, and misrepresentation, respondent Victoriano, with
respect to the First Accretion, and the respondents collectively, with On August 20, 1996, the RTC rendered a Decision26 in favor of
regard to the Second Accretion, had illegally registered the said Francisco, et al. and thereby directed respondents to: (a) reconvey to
accretions in their names, notwithstanding the fact that they were not Francisco, et al. their respective portions in the Motherland and in
the riparian owners (as they did not own the Motherland to which the the accretions thereon, or their pecuniary equivalent; and (b) pay
accretions merely formed adjacent to). In this relation, Francisco, et actual damages in the amount of P100,000.00, moral damages in
al. explained that they did not assert their inheritance claims over the the amount ofP100,000.00, and attorney’s fees in the sum
Motherland and the two (2) accretions because they respected of P10,000.00, as well as costs of suit.
respondents’ rights, until they discovered in 1983 that respondents
have repudiated their (Francisco, et al.’s) shares thereon. 22 Thus, The RTC found that the factual circumstances surrounding the
bewailing that respondents have refused them their rights not only present case showed that an implied trust existed between Ciriaco
with respect to the Motherland, but also to the subsequent
and the Imbornal sisters with respect to the Motherland. 27 It gave
accretions, Francisco, et al. prayed for the reconveyance ofsaid
probative weight to Francisco, et al.’s allegation that the Sabangan
properties, or, in the alternative, the payment of their value, as well
property, inherited by the Imbornal sisters from their mother, Basilia,
as the award of moral damages in the amount of P100,000.00,
was sold in order to help Ciriaco raise funds for his then-pending
actual damages in the amount of P150,000.00, including attorney’s homesteadpatent application. In exchange therefor, Ciriaco agreed
fees and other costs.23 that he shall hold the Motherland in trust for them once his

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homestead patent application had been approved. As Ciriaco was Francisco, et al.being the children of Alejandra and Balbina, who, in
only able to acquire the Motherland subject of the homestead patent turn, are the sisters of Catalina). The CA further observed that the
through the proceeds realized from the sale of the Sabangan homestead patent was not aninheritance of Catalina; instead, it was
property, the Imbornal sisters and, consequently, Francisco, et al. awarded by the government to Ciriaco after having fully satisfied the
(as the children of Alejandra and Balbina) are entitled to their stringent requirements set forth under Commonwealth Act No.
proportionate shares over the Motherland, notwithstanding the 141,30 as amended,31and his title thereto had already become
undisputed possession of respondents over its southern portion indefeasible.32 Consequently, since the entire Motherland was titled
since 1926.28 in Ciriaco’s name, his descendants should be regarded as the
absolute owners thereof.
With respect to the accretions that formed adjacent to the
Motherland, the RTC ruled that the owner of the Motherland is On the other hand, with regard to the disputed accretions, the CA
likewise the owner of the said accretions. Considering that the ruled that respondents – i.e., respondent Victoriano with respect to
Imbornal sisters have become proportionate owners of the the First Accretion, and all the respondents withrespect to the
Motherland by virtue of the implied trust created between them and Second Accretion – need not be the owners of the Motherland in
Ciriaco, they (Imbornal sisters) and their heirs are also entitled to the order to acquire them by acquisitive prescription. Considering that
ownership of said accretions despite the fact that respondents were accretions are not automatically registered in the name of the
able to register them in their names. riparianowner and are, therefore, subject to acquisitive prescription
by third persons, any occupant may apply for their registration. In this
Dissatisfied with the RTC’s ruling, respondents elevated the matter case, the CA found that respondents have acquired title to the
on appeal to the CA. subject accretions by prescription,33 considering that they have been
in continuous possession and enjoyment of the First Accretion in the
concept of an owner since 1949 (when the First Accretion was
The CA Ruling
formed), which resulted in the issuance of a certificate of title in the
name of respondent Victoriano covering the same. Accordingly, they
On November 28, 2006, the CA rendered a Decision 29 reversing and have also become the riparian owners of the Second Accretion, and
setting aside the RTC Decision and entering a new one declaring: (a) given thatthey have caused the issuance of OCT No. 21481 in their
the descendants of Ciriaco as the exclusive owners of the names over the said Accretion, they have also become the absolute
Motherland; (b) the descendants of respondent Victoriano asthe ownersthereof. Since Francisco, et al. took no action to protect their
exclusive owners of the First Accretion; and (c) the descendants of purported interests over the disputed accretions, the respondents’
Pablo (i.e., respondents collectively) as the exclusive owners of the titles over the same had already become indefeasible, to the
Second Accretion. exclusion of Francisco, et al.34

With respect to the Motherland, the CA found that Ciriaco alone was At odds with the CA’s disposition, Francisco et al. filed a motion for
awarded a homestead patent, which later became the basis for the reconsideration which was, however,denied by the CA in a
issuance of a Torrens certificate of title in his name; as such, Resolution35 dated May 7, 2008, hence, this petition taken by the
saidcertificate of title cannot be attacked collaterally through an latter’s heirs as their successors-in-interest.
action for reconveyance filed by his wife’s (Catalina’s) relatives (i.e.,

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The Issue Before the Court trustfor their predecessors-in-interest Alejandra and Balbina upon
issuance of the title in his name. Likewise, they alleged that
The issue to be resolved by the Court is whether or not the CA erred respondents acquired the First and Second Accretions by means of
in declaring that: (a) the descendants of Ciriaco are the exclusive fraudand deceit.
owners of the Motherland; (b) the descendants of respondent
Victoriano are the exclusive owners of the First Accretion; and (c) the When property is registered in another’s name, an implied or
descendants of Pablo (respondents collectively) are the exclusive constructive trust is created by law in favor of the true
owners of the Second Accretion on the basis of the following owner.38 Article 1456 of the Civil Code provides that a person
grounds: (a) prescription of the reconveyance action, which was duly acquiring property through fraud becomes, by operation of law, a
raised as anaffirmative defense in the Amended Answer, and (b) the trustee ofan implied trust for the benefit of the real owner of the
existence of an implied trust between the Imbornal sisters and property. An action for reconveyance based on an implied trust
Ciriaco. prescribes in ten (10) years, reckoned from the date of registration of
the deed or the date ofissuance of the certificate of title over the
The Court’s Ruling property,39 if the plaintiff is not in possession. However, if the plaintiff
is in possession of the property, the action is imprescriptible. As held
in the case of Lasquite v. Victory Hills, Inc.:40
The petition is bereft of merit.

A. Procedural Matter: Issue of Prescription. An action for reconveyance based on an implied trust prescribes in
10 years. The reference point of the 10-yearprescriptive period is the
date of registration of the deed or the issuance of the title. The
At the outset, the Court finds that the causes of action pertaining to prescriptive period applies only if there is an actual need to reconvey
the Motherland and the First Accretion are barred by prescription. the property as when the plaintiff is not in possession of the property.
However, if the plaintiff, as the realowner of the property also
An action for reconveyance is one that seeks to transfer property, remains in possession of the property, the prescriptive period to
wrongfully registered by another, to its rightful and legal recover title and possession of the property does not run against
owner.36 Thus, reconveyance is a remedy granted only tothe owner him. In such a case, an action for reconveyance, if nonetheless filed,
of the property alleged to be erroneously titled in another’s name. 37 would be in the nature of a suit for quieting of title, an action that is
imprescriptible.41 (Emphases supplied)
As the records would show, the Amended Complaint filed by
petitioners’ predecessors-in-interest, Francisco, et al. is for the Based on the foregoing, Francisco, et al. had then a period of ten
reconveyance of their purported shares or portions in the following (10) years from the registration of the respective titles covering the
properties: (a) the Motherland, originally covered by OCT No. 1462 disputed properties within which to file their action for reconveyance,
in the name of Ciriaco; (b) the First Accretion, originally covered by taking into account the fact that they were never in possessionof the
OCT No. P-318 in the name of respondent Victoriano; and (c) the said properties. Hence, with respect tothe Motherland covered by
Second Accretion, covered by OCT No. 21481 in the name of all OCT No. 1462 issued on December 5, 1933 in the name of Ciriaco,
respondents. To recount, Francisco, et al. asserted co-ownership an action for reconveyance therefor should have been filed until
over the Motherland, alleging that Ciriaco agreed to hold the same in

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December 5, 1943; with respect to the First Accretion covered by An implied trust arises, not from any presumed intention of the
OCT No. P-318 issued on August 15, 1952in the name of parties, but by operation of law in order to satisfy the demands of
respondent Victoriano, an action of the same nature should have justice and equity and to protect against unfair dealing or downright
been filed untilAugust 15, 1962; and, finally, with respect to the fraud.44 To reiterate, Article 1456 of the Civil Code states that "[i]f
Second Accretion covered by OCT No. 21481 issued on November property is acquired through mistake or fraud, the person obtaining it
10, 1978in the name of the respondents, a suit for reconveyance is, by force of law, considered a trustee of an implied trust for the
therefor should have been filed until November 10, 1988. benefit of the person from whom the property comes."

A judicious perusal of the records, however, will show that the The burden of proving the existence ofa trust is on the party
Amended Complaint42 covering all three (3) disputed properties was asserting its existence, and such proof must be clear and
filed only on February 27, 1984. As such, it was filed way beyond the satisfactorily show the existence of the trust and its
10-year reglementary period within which to seek the reconveyance elements.45 While implied trusts may be proven by oral evidence, the
of two (2) of these properties, namely, the Motherland and the First evidence must be trustworthy and received by the courts with
Accretion, with only the reconveyance action with respect to the extreme caution, and should not be made to rest on loose, equivocal
Second Accretion having been seasonably filed. Thus, considering or indefinite declarations. Trustworthy evidence is required because
thatrespondents raised prescription as a defense in their Amended oral evidence can easily be fabricated.46
Answer,43 the Amended Complaint with respect to the Motherland
and the First Accretion ought to have beendismissed based on the In this case, it cannot be said, merely on the basis of the oral
said ground, with only the cause of action pertaining to the Second evidence offered by Francisco, et al., that the Motherland had been
Accretion surviving. As will be, however, discussed below, the either mistakenly or fraudulently registered in favor of Ciriaco.
entirety of the Amended Complaint, including the aforesaid surviving Accordingly, it cannot be said either that he was merely a trustee of
cause of action, would falter on its substantive merits since the an implied trust holding the Motherland for the benefit of the Imbornal
existence of the implied trust asserted in this case had not been sisters or their heirs.
established. In effect, the said complaint is completely dismissible.
As the CA had aptly pointed out,47 a homestead patent award
B. Substantive Matter: Existence of an Implied Trust. requires proof that the applicant meets the stringent conditions 48 set
forth under Commonwealth Act No. 141, as amended, which
The main thrust of Francisco, et al.’s Amended Complaint is that an includes actual possession, cultivation, and improvement of the
implied trust had arisen between the Imbornal sisters, on the one homestead. It must be presumed, therefore, that Ciriaco underwent
hand, and Ciriaco, on the other, with respect to the Motherland. This the rigid process and duly satisfied the strict conditions necessary for
implied trust is anchored on their allegation that the proceeds from the grant of his homestead patent application. As such, it is highly
the sale of the Sabangan property – an inheritance of their implausible thatthe Motherland had been acquired and registered by
predecessors, the Imbornal sisters – were used for the then-pending mistake or through fraudas would create an implied trust between
homestead application filed by Ciriaco over the Motherland. As such, the Imbornal sisters and Ciriaco, especially considering the dearth of
Francisco, et al. claim that they are, effectively, coowners of the evidence showing that the Imbornal sisters entered into the
Motherland together with Ciriaco’s heirs. possession of the Motherland, or a portion thereof, orasserted any

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right over the same at any point during their lifetime. Hence, when paragraph 32 of the Lands Administrative Order No. 7-1 dated April
OCT No. 1462 covering the Motherland was issued in his name 30, 1936, in relation to Article 4 of the Spanish Law of Waters of
pursuant to Homestead Patent No. 24991 on December 15, 1933, 1866, as well as related jurisprudence on the matter, elucidated on
Ciriaco’s titleto the Motherland had become indefeasible. It bears to the preferential right of the riparian owner over the land formed by
stress that the proceedings for land registration that led to the accretions, viz.:
issuance of Homestead Patent No. 24991 and eventually, OCT No.
1462 in Ciriaco’s name are presumptively regular and Being the owner of the land adjoining the foreshore area, respondent
proper,49 which presumption has not been overcome by the evidence is the riparian or littoralowner who has preferential right to lease the
presented by Francisco, et al. foreshore area as provided under paragraph 32 of the Lands
Administrative Order No. 7-1, dated 30 April 1936, which reads:
In this light, the Court cannot fully accept and accord evidentiary
value to the oral testimony offered by Francisco, et al. on the alleged 32. Preference of Riparian Owner. – The owner of the property
verbal agreement between their predecessors, the Imbornal sisters, adjoining foreshore lands, marshylands or lands covered with water
and Ciriaco with respect to the Motherland. Weighed against the bordering upon shores or banks of navigable lakes or rivers, shall be
presumed regularity of the award of the homestead patent to Ciriaco given preference to apply for such lands adjoining his property as
and the lack of evidence showing that the same was acquired and may not be needed for the public service, subject to the laws and
registered by mistake or through fraud, the oral evidence of regulations governing lands of this nature, provided that he applies
Francisco, et al.would not effectively establish their claims of therefor within sixty (60) days from the date he receives a
ownership. It has been held that oral testimony as to a certain fact, communication from the Director of Lands advising him of his
depending as it does exclusively on human memory, is not as preferential right.
reliable as written or documentary evidence, 50 especially since the
purported agreement transpired decades ago, or in the 1920s.
The Court explained in Santulan v. The Executive Secretary[170
Hence, with respect to the Motherland, the CA did not err in holding
Phil. 567; 80 SCRA 548 (1977)] the reason for such grant of
that Ciriaco and his heirs are the owners thereof, without prejudice to
preferential right to the riparian or littoral owner, thus:
the rights of any subsequent purchasers for value of the said
property.
Now, then, is there any justification for giving to the littoral owner the
preferential right to lease the foreshore land abutting on his land?
Consequently, as Francisco, et al.failed to prove their ownership
rights over the Motherland, their cause of action with respect to the
First Accretion and, necessarily, the Second Accretion, must likewise That rule in paragraph 32 is in consonance with Article 4 of the
fail. A further exposition is apropos. Spanish Law of Waters of 1866 which provides that, while lands
added to the shore by accretions and alluvial deposits caused by the
action of the sea form part of the public domain, such lands, "when
Article 457 of the Civil Code states the rule on accretion as follows:
they are no longer washed by the waters of the sea and are not
"[t]o the owners of lands adjoining the banks of rivers belong the necessary for purposes of public utility, or for the established [sic] of
accretion which they gradually receive from the effects of the current special industries, or for the coast guard service, "shall be declared
of the waters." Relative thereto, in Cantoja v. Lim,51 the Court, citing

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by the Government "to be the property of the owners of the estates of the fray lie respondents armed with a certificate of title in their
adjacent thereto and as increment thereof." names covering the First and Second Accretions coupled with their
possession thereof, both of which give rise to the superior credibility
In other words, article 4 recognizes the preferential right of the littoral of their own claim. Hence, petitioners' action for reconveyan.ce with
owner (riparian according to paragraph 32) to the foreshore land respect to both accretions must altogether fail.
formed by accretionsor alluvial deposits due to the action of the
sea.1âwphi1 WHEREFORE, the petition is DENIED. The Decision dated
November 28, 2006 and the Resolution dated May 7, 2008 of the
The reason for that preferential right is the same as the justification Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. CV No. 57618 are hereby AFFIRMED,
for giving accretions to the riparianowner, which is that accretion and a new judgment is entered DISMISSING the Amended
compensates the riparian owner for the diminutions which his land Complaint dated February 27, 1984 filed in said case.
suffers by reason of the destructive force of the waters. So, in the
case of littoral lands, he who loses by the encroachments of the sea SO ORDERED.
should gain by its recession.52
G.R. No.198878 October 15, 2014
Accordingly, therefore, alluvial deposits along the banks of a creek or
a river do not form part of the public domain as the alluvial property RESIDENTS OF LOWER ATAB & TEACHERS' VILLAGE, STO.
automatically belongs to the owner of the estate to which it may have TOMAS PROPER BARANGAY, BAGUIO CITY, represented by
been added. The only restriction provided for by law is that the owner BEATRICE T. PULAS, CRISTINA A. LAPP AO. MICHAEL
of the adjoining property must register the same under the Torrens MADIGUID, FLORENCIO MABUDYANG and FERNANDO
system; otherwise, the alluvial property may be subject to acquisition DOSALIN, Petitioners,
through prescription by third persons.53 vs.
STA. MONICA INDUSTRIAL & DEVELOPMENT
In this case, Francisco, et al. and, now, their heirs, i.e., herein CORPORATION, Respondent.
petitioners,. are not the riparian owners of the Motherland to which
the First Accretion had .attached, hence, they cannot assert DECISION
ownership over the First Accretion. Consequently, as the Second
Accretion had merely attached to the First Accretion, they also have
no right over the Second Accretion. Neither were they able to show DEL CASTILLO, J.:
that they acquired these properties through prescription as it was
·not established that they were in possession of any of them. This Petition for Review on Certiorari1 seeks to set aside: 1) the
Therefore, whether through accretion or, independently, through August 5, 2011 Decision2 of the Court of Appeals (CA) in CA-G.R.
prescription, the discernible conclusion is that Francisco et al. and/or CV No. 84561 which affirmed the December 6, 2004 Decision3 of the
petitioners' claim of title over the First and Second Accretions had Regional Trial Court of Baguio City (Baguio RTC), Branch 6 in Civil
not been substantiated, and, as a result, said properties cannot be Case No. 4946-R; and 2) the CA October 3, 2011
reconveyed in their favor. This is especially so since on the other end Resolution 4 denying herein petitioners' Motion for Reconsider.5

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Factual Antecedents In their Pre-Trial Brief13 and Memorandum,14 petitioners
acknowledged that while they declared their respective lots for tax
In May 2001, petitioners – residents of Lower Atab & Teachers’ purposes, they applied for the purchase of the same – through
Village, Sto. Tomas Proper Barangay, Baguio City – filed a civil case Townsite Sales applications – with the Department of Environment
for quieting of title with damages against respondent Sta. Monica and Natural Resources (DENR).
Industrial and DevelopmentCorporation. The case was docketed as
Civil Case No. 4946-R and assigned to Branch 59 of the Baguio Ruling of the Regional Trial Court
RTC.6 The Complaint7 in said case essentially alleged that
petitioners are successors and transferees-in-interest of Torres, the After trial, the Baguio RTC issued a Decision15 dated December 6,
supposed owner of an unregistered parcel of land in Baguio City (the 2004, the dispositive portion of which reads:
subject property, consisting of 177,778 square meters) which Torres
possessed and declared for tax purposes in 1918; that they are in
WHEREFORE, Judgment is hereby rendered in favor of defendant
possession of the subject property in the concept of owner, declared Sta. Monica Industrial and Development Corporation and against the
their respective lots and homes for tax purposes, and paid the real plaintiffs, as follows:
estate taxes thereon; that in May 2000, respondent began to erect a
fence on the subject property, claiming that it is the owner of a large
portion thereof8 by virtue of Transfer Certificate of Title No. T- 1. Dismissing the Complaint for Quieting of Title and
631849 (TCT No. T-63184); that said TCT No. T-63184 is null and Damages with Prayer for a Writ of Preliminary Injunction of
void, as it was derived from Original Certificate of Title No. O-281 plaintiffs;
(OCT No. O-281), which was declared void pursuant to Presidential
Decree No. 127110 (PD 1271) and in the decided case of Republic v. 2. Dismissing likewise the counterclaim for Damages and
Marcos;11 and that TCT No. T-63184 is a cloud upon their title and attorney’s fees of defendant corporation since it has not
interests and should therefore be cancelled. Petitioners thus prayed been shown that the plaintiffs acted in bad faith in filing the
that respondent’s TCT No. T-63184 be surrendered and cancelled; Complaint. Without pronouncement as to costs.
that actual, moral and exemplary damages, attorney’s fees, legal
expenses, and costs be awarded in their favor; and finally, that SO ORDERED.16
injunctive relief be issued against respondent to prevent it from
selling the subject property. The trial court held that Civil Case No. 4946-R constitutes a collateral
attack upon respondent’s TCT No. T-63184, which became
In its Answer with Special Affirmative Defenses and indefeasible after one year from the entry of the decree of
Counterclaim,12 respondent claimed that petitioners have no cause registration thereof. It held that if it is claimed that respondent’s title
of action; that TCT No. T- 63184 is a valid and subsisting title; that is void, then a direct proceeding should have been filed by the State
the case for quieting of title constitutes a collateral attack upon TCT to annul it and to secure reversion of the land; petitioners have no
No. T-63184; and that petitioners have no title to the subject property standing to do so through a quieting of title case. The trial court
and are mere illegal occupants thereof. Thus, it prayed for the added that TCT No. T-63184 is a subsisting title; its validity was
dismissal of Civil Case No. 4946-R and an award of exemplary confirmed through the annotation therein by the Baguio City Register
damages, attorney’s fees, litigation expenses, and costs in its favor. of Deeds – Entry No. 184804-21-15917 – that TCT No. T-27096, from

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which TCT No. T-63184 was derived, was validated by the PD 1271 In the instant case, plaintiffs-appellants cannot find refuge in the tax
Committee in a May 9, 1989 Resolution; that petitioners could not declarations and receipts under their names considering that the
present any title to the subject property upon which to base their same are not incontrovertible evidence of ownership.
case for quieting of title, and have failed to show during trial that they
have a cause of action against respondent. Moreover, plaintiffs-appellants’ act of questioning the validity of the
title of the defendant-appellee21 constitutes a collateral attack and
Petitioners filed a Motion for Reconsideration,18 but the trial court under Section 48 of P.D. 1529, "a certificate of title shall not be
denied the same in a January 17, 2004 Resolution. 19 subject to collateral attack. x x x"

Ruling of the Court of Appeals xxxx

In an appeal to the CA which was docketed as CA-G.R. CV No. Meantime, it is meet to point out that P.D. 127[1] invoked by
84561, petitioners insisted that they have a cause of action against plaintiffsappellants themselves, specifically provides under Section 6
respondent for quieting of title and damages; that Civil Case No. (paragraph 2) thereof that "the Solicitor General shall institute such
4946-R is not a collateral attack upon respondent’s title; that Civil actions or suits as may be necessary to recover possession of lands
Case No. 4946-R is not a case for reversion and annulment of title covered by all void titles not validated under this Decree." Hence, the
which could only be filed by the State; and that the trial court erred in Office of the Solicitor General, being mandated by law, must be the
finding that respondent’s title was validated in accordance with law. proper party to institute actions to recover lands covered by void
titles under the said decree x x x.
On August 5, 2011, the CA issued the assailed Decision affirming
the trial court, thus: xxxx

In this case, plaintiffs-appellants20 are without any title to be cleared As regards the validation of TCT No. T-63184 x x x, no error was
of or to be quieted nor can they be regarded as having equitable title committed by the Court a quo in ruling that the same is in
over the subject property. Ballantine’s Law Dictionary defines an accordance with law. It is important to note that the validation of the
equitable title as follows: subject TCT was never disputed by the Register of Deeds or any
other government agency. Moreover, there is no showing that the
"A title derived through a valid contract or relation, and based on TCT of the defendant-appellee and the OCT wherein it was derived
recognized equitable principles; the right in the party, to whom it were declared null and void by virtue of Pres. Decree No. 1271.
belongs, to have the legal title transferred to him (15 Cyc. 1097; 16 While the TCT of the defendant-appellee was issued under L.R.C.
Id. 90). In order that a plaintiff may draw to himself an equitable title, Case No. 1, Record No. 211, it was validated in accordance with law
he must show that the one from whom he derives his right had in Entry No. 184804-21-159 annotated at the dorsal side of the
himself a right to transfer. x x x" subject title.

xxxx xxxx

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WHEREFORE, premises considered, the Decision dated December Townsite Sales Application of the [p]etitioners by the [DENR]-
6, 2004 of the Regional Trial Court, Branch 6, Baguio City is Cordillera Administrative Region and stop the harassment being
AFFIRMED in toto. done by the Corporation on the [p]etitioners x x x." 25 They argue that
they have equitable title over the subject property, having possessed
SO ORDERED.22 the same for many years and obtained the rights of their predecessor
Torres; that Civil Case No. 4946-R is not a collateral attack upon
TCT No. T-63184, as said title is null and void by virtue of PD 1271
Petitioners moved for reconsideration, but in its October 3, 2011
Resolution, the CA stood its ground. Hence, the instant Petition. and the ruling in Republic v. Marcos; that there is no need to file a
reversion case since TCT No. T-63184 has been effectively declared
void, and respondent is not in possession of the subject property;
Issues and finally, that Entry No. 184804-21-159 cannot have the effect of
validating TCT No. T-63184, because PD 1271 itself states that only
Petitioners raise the following issues in this Petition: certificates of title issued on or before July 31, 1973 are considered
valid.26 Since OCT No. O-281 – the predecessor title of TCT No. T-
1. The Trial Court and the Court of Appeals erred in finding 63184 – was issued only on January 28, 1977, it is thus null and
that the Petitioners x x x have no cause of action. void, and all other titles subsequently issued thereafter, including
TCT No. T-63184, are invalid as well.
2. The Trial Court and the Court of Appeals erred in finding
that the action is a collateral attack on the Torrens Title of Respondent’s Arguments
respondent Corporation.
On the other hand, respondent’s Comment27 simply reiterates the
3. The Trial Court and the Court of Appeals erred in finding pronouncement of the CA. Consequently, it prays for the denial of
that the present action is to annul the title of respondent the instant Petition.
Corporation due to fraud, [thus] it should be the Solicitor
General who should file the case for reversion. Our Ruling

4. The Trial Court and the Court of Appeals erred in finding The Court denies the Petition.
that the validation of TCT No. T-63184 registered in the
name of respondent Corporation was in accordance with For an action to quiet title to prosper, two indispensable requisites
law.23 must be present, namely: "(1) the plaintiff or complainant has a legal
or an equitable title to or interest in the real property subject of the
Petitioners’ Arguments action; and (2) the deed, claim, encumbrance, or proceeding claimed
to be casting cloud on his title must be shown to be in fact invalid or
In their Petition and Reply,24 petitioners seek a reversal of the inoperative despite its prima facie appearance of validity or legal
assailed CA dispositions and the nullification of respondent’s TCT efficacy."28
No. T-63184 so that said title shall not "hinder the approval of the

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"Legal title denotes registered ownership, while equitable title means In short, petitioners recognize that legal and equitable title to the
beneficial ownership."29 subject property lies in the State.1âwphi1 Thus, as to them, quieting
of title is not an available remedy.
Beneficial ownership has been defined as ownership recognized by
law and capable of being enforced in the courts at the suit of the Lands within the Baguio Townsite Reservation are public
beneficial owner. Black’s Law Dictionary indicates that the term is land.31 Laws and decrees such as PD 1271 were passed recognizing
used in two senses: first, to indicate the interest of a beneficiary in ownership acquired by individuals over portions of the Baguio
trust property (also called "equitable ownership"); and second, to Townsite Reservation, but evidently, those who do not fall within the
refer to the power of a corporate shareholder to buy or sell the coverage of said laws and decrees – the petitioners included –
shares, though the shareholder is not registered in the corporation’s cannot claim ownership over property falling within the said
books as the owner. Usually, beneficial ownership is distinguished reservation. This explains why they have pending applications to
from naked ownership, which is the enjoyment of all the benefits and purchase the portions of the subject property which they occupy;
privileges of ownership, as against possession of the bare title to they have no legal or equitable claim to the same, unless ownership
property.30 by acquisitive prescription is specifically authorized with respect to
such lands, in which case they may prove their adverse possession,
Petitioners do not have legal or equitable title to the subject property. if so. As far as this case is concerned, the extent of petitioners’
Evidently, there are no certificates of title in their respective names. possession has not been sufficiently shown, and by their application
And by their own admission in their pleadings, specifically in their to purchase the subject property, it appears that they are not
pre-trial brief and memorandum before the trial court, they claiming the same through acquisitive prescription.
acknowledged that they applied for the purchase of the property from
the government, through townsite sales applications coursed through The trial and appellate courts are correct in dismissing Civil Case No.
the DENR. In their Petition before this Court, they particularly prayed 4946-R; however, they failed to appreciate petitioners’ admission of
that TCT No. T-63184 be nullified in order that the said title would not lack of equitable title which denies them the standing to institute a
hinder the approval of their townsite sales applications pending with case for quieting of title. Nevertheless, they are not precluded from
the DENR.Thus, petitioners admitted that they are not the owners of filing another case – a direct proceeding to question respondent’s
the subject property; the same constitutes state or government land TCT No. T-63184; after all, it appears that their townsite sales
which they would like to acquire by purchase. It would have been applications are still pending and have not been summarily
different if they were directly claiming the property as their own as a dismissed by the government – which could indicate that the subject
result of acquisitive prescription, which would then give them the property is still available for distribution to qualified beneficiaries. If
requisite equitable title. By stating that they were in the process of TCT No. T-63184 is indeed null and void, then such proceeding
applying to purchase the subject property from the government, they would only be proper to nullify the same. It is just that a quieting of
admitted that they had no such equitable title, at the very least, which title case is not an option for petitioners, because in order to maintain
should allow them to prosecute a case for quieting of title. such action, it is primarily required that the plaintiff must have legal
or equitable title to the subject property – a condition which they
could not satisfy.

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With the conclusion arrived at, the Court finds no need to resolve the of land in Silang, Cavite, covered by Tax Declaration No. 7971.4
other issues raised.
In 1983, the Revilla spouses faced financial difficulties in raising
WHEREFORE, the Petition is DENIED. The assailed August 5, 2011 funds for Alfredo Revilla’s travel to Saudi Arabia, so Paz Castillo-
Decision and October 3, 2011 Resolution of the Court of Appeals in Revilla borrowed money from Amada Cotoner-Zacarias (Amada). By
CA-G.R. CV No. 84561 are AFFIRMED. way of security, the parties verbally agreed that Amada would take
physical possession of the property, cultivate it, then use the
earnings from the cultivation to pay the loan and realty taxes. 5 Upon
SO ORDERED.
full payment of the loan, Amada would return the property to the
Revilla spouses.6
G.R. No. 190901, November 12, 2014
Unknown to the Revilla spouses, Amada presented a fictitious
AMADA COTONER-ZACARIAS, Petitioner, v. SPOUSES document entitled “Kasulatan ng Bilihan ng Lupa” before the
ALFREDO REVILLA AND THE HEIRS OF PAZ Provincial Assessor of Cavite. This document was executed on
REVILLA, Respondents. March 19, 1979 with the Revilla spouses as sellers and Amada as
buyer of the property.7
DECISION
Consequently, Tax Declaration No. 7971 in the name of the Revilla
spouses was cancelled, and Tax Declaration No. 19773 in the name
LEONEN, J.:
of Amada was issued.
Well-settled is the rule that “conveyances by virtue of a forged On August 25, 1984, Amada sold the property to the spouses Adolfo
signature. . . are void ab initio [as] [t]he absence of the essential and Elvira Casorla (Casorla spouses) by “Deed of Absolute Sale-
[requisites] of consent and cause or consideration in these cases Unregistered Land.” Tax Declaration No. 30411-A was later issued
rendered the contract inexistent[.]”1 in the name of the Casorla spouses.8
Before us is a petition for review2 filed by Amada Cotoner-Zacarias In turn, the Casorla spouses executed a deed of absolute sale dated
against respondent spouses Alfredo Revilla and Paz Castillo-Revilla, December 16, 1991 in favor of the spouses Rodolfo and Yolanda
praying that this court render a decision “reversing the Decision of Sun (Sun spouses). Tax Declaration Nos. 30852-A and 18584 were
the Regional Trial Court and Court of Appeals and declaring the issued in favor of the Sun spouses.9
transfer of title to the Petitioner and then to her successors-in-
interest as valid and binding as against the respondents.”3 In December 1994, Alfredo Revilla returned from Saudi Arabia. He
asked Amada why she had not returned their tax declaration
The Court of Appeals summarized the facts as follows. considering their full payment of the loan. He then discovered that
the property’s tax declaration was already in the name of the Sun
Alfredo Revilla and Paz Castillo-Revilla (Revilla spouses) are the spouses.10
owners in fee simple of a 15,000-square-meter unregistered parcel

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On February 15, 1995, the Revilla spouses were served a copy of ng Bilihan ng Lupa” to be a fictitious document, and ruled in favor of
the answer11 in the land registration case filed by the Sun spouses the Revilla spouses:
for the property.12 The Revilla spouses then saw a copy of the
“Kasulatan ng Bilihan ng Lupa” and noticed that their signatures as WHEREFORE, premises considered, judgment is hereby rendered
sellers were forged.13 as follows:

They then demanded the cancellation of the “Kasulatan ng Bilihan ng 1. Declaring the sales/transfers from Tax Declaration No. 7971,
Lupa” from Amada and all subsequent transfers of the property, its s. 1980 to Tax Declaration No. 18584, s. 1994 as NULL and
reconveyance, and the restoration of its tax declaration in their VOID, without valid transmission of title and interest from the
name.14 Amada failed to take action. original owners, plaintiffs herein and consequently, entitling
plaintiffs to reinstatement and reconveyance of their title/tax
On November 17, 1995, the Revilla spouses filed a complaint before declaration as well as possession of the subject property;
the Tagaytay Regional Trial Court for the annulment of sales and
transfers of title and reconveyance of the property with damages 2. Ordering defendant Zacarias to pay the
against Amada, the Casorla spouses, the Sun spouses, and the following:chanroblesvirtuallawlibrary
Provincial Assessor of Cavite.15
2.1 To the Plaintiffs:
In her answer, Amada denied that the property was used as a
security for the Revilla spouses’ loan.16 Instead, she claimed that the
Revilla spouses voluntarily executed the “Kasulatan ng Bilihan ng a. P50,000.00 for moral damages;
Lupa” in her favor on March 19, 1979. She added that the Revilla b. P20,000.00 for exemplary damages; and
spouses’ cause of action already prescribed.17 c. P80,000.00 for attorney’s fees.

For their part, the Sun spouses argued good faith belief that Amada
was the real owner of the property as Amada showed them a tax 2.2 To Defendant-Spouses Sun:
declaration in her name and the “Kasulatan ng Bilihan ng Lupa”
allegedly executed by the Revilla spouses. 18 When the Sun spouses d. P467,350.00 for actual damages;
discovered there was another sale with the Casorla spouses, they e. P50,000.00 for moral damages;
were assured by Amada that she had already bought back the f. P20,000.00 for exemplary damages; and
property from the Casorla spouses.19 Subsequently, the Casorla g. P100,000.00 for attorney’s fees.
spouses executed a deed of absolute sale dated December 16, 1991
in favor of the Sun spouses.20 They also argued prescription against SO ORDERED.23
the Revilla spouses, and prayed for damages against Amada by way
of cross-claim.21 Amada appealed the trial court’s decision, while the Sun spouses
partially appealed the decision as to interest and damages.
On August 3, 2006, the Regional Trial Court22 found the “Kasulatan
On August 13, 2009, the Court of Appeals24 dismissed the appeal of

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Amada, and partially granted the appeal of the Sun spouses. The to Amada.29
dispositive portion reads:
On the alleged forgery, petitioner submits that the court misapplied
WHEREFORE, in view of the foregoing premises, judgment is the principle that “he who alleges not he who denies must prove”
hereby rendered by usDISMISSING the appeal filed by defendant- when it stated that she had the burden of proving the due execution
appellant Amada C. Zacarias in this case, and PARTIALLY of the deed of absolute sale. Since the Revilla spouses alleged that
GRANTING the appeal filed by the Spouses Rodolfo and Yolanda the deed was a forged document, they had the burden of proving the
Sun. The Decision dated August 3, 2006 rendered by Branch 18 of forgery.30 She then cites the trial court in that “[a]ccordingly, the
the Regional Trial Court of the Fourth Judicial Region stationed in National Bureau of Investigation was not able to ascertain the
Tagaytay City, Cavite in Civil Case No. TG-1543 isMODIFIED in that genuineness of the signature of plaintiff Paz Revilla because of lack
defendant-appellant Amada C. Zacarias is ordered to pay interest at of sufficient sample signatures. . . .”31
6% per annum on the principal obligation in the amount of
P467,350.00 from February 3, 1995, the date of the first judicial On the prescription argument, the parties live in a very small
demand by the Spouses Sun, until said decision on the principal barangay. While Alfredo Revilla worked in Saudi Arabia, he admitted
obligation became final and executory, and interest at 12% per returning to the Philippines twice a year, while his wife never left
annum on the principal obligation, moral and exemplary damages, as Silang, Cavite,32 and yet the Revilla spouses never questioned the
well as attorney’s fees, from the time said decision became final and activities on the property for more than 16 years.33
executory until full payment of said amounts.
On the proper docket fees, petitioner contends that the Revilla
SO ORDERED.25 spouses paid docket fees based on their prayer for actual damages
of P50,000.00, moral damages of P50,000.00, and attorney’s fee of
The Court of Appeals denied Amada’s motion for reconsideration; P80,000.00, when they should have based it on P12,000,000.00, the
hence, she filed this petition. value of the property they alleged in their supplemental pre-trial
brief.34
Petitioner argues that the antichresis claim of the Revilla spouses
was not reduced into writing, thus, it is void under Article 2134 of the Lastly, petitioner argues that the property is conjugal in nature, but
Civil Code.26 She submits that the allegation of antichresis was only the court never declared that respondent Paz Castillo-Revilla’s
an excuse by the Revilla spouses for their failure to impugn signature was falsified. Thus, the sale over her half of the property
possession of the property by Amada and her successors-in-interest cannot be declared void.35 She adds that the Sun spouses are
for over 16 years.27 buyers in good faith for value, making reinstatement of the property
impossible.36
Petitioner contends that the sale in her favor was established by the
“Kasulatan ng Bilihan ng Lupa,” the delivery of the tax declaration, Respondents Revilla spouses counter that the factual issue of
and the testimony of one Mrs. Rosita Castillo (Rosita).28 Rosita was whether the “Kasulatan ng Bilihan ng Lupa” is a falsified document
the second wife of Felimon Castillo, the previous owner of the was already conclusively resolved by the lower courts and, generally,
property. She testified that respondent Paz Castillo-Revilla admitted factual findings are beyond this court’s power of review.37
to her father, Felimon, that she and Alfredo Revilla sold the property

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On the prescription issue, respondents Revilla spouses argue that an P12,000,000.00; and
action or defense to declare a document null is
imprescriptible.38 Laches also does not apply since they immediately Third, whether the Court of Appeals erred in upholding the
questioned the fraudulent transfers by filing a complaint in November reinstatement and reconveyance of the property in favor of
1995 upon learning of the questionable documents in February 1995, respondents Revilla spouses.
after Alfredo had returned from Saudi Arabia in December 1994. 39
I.
Respondents Revilla spouses contend that they paid the proper
docket fees. The P12,000,000.00 mentioned during pre-trial that On the first issue, petitioner argues that respondents Revilla
petitioner insists should have been the basis of the fees was neither spouses’ claim is barred by laches since they allowed 16 years to
stated in the complaint nor awarded by the court. 40 lapse, with petitioner having possession of the property, before filing
suit.46
Respondents Revilla spouses argue that the court did not err in
ordering reinstatement of the property to them. First, the defense Laches has been defined as “the failure or neglect, for an
that the Sun spouses were buyers in good faith is a personal unreasonable and unexplained length of time, to do that which — by
defense that cannot be raised by petitioner who was not privy to the the exercise of due diligence — could or should have been done
sale between the Casorla spouses and the Sun spouses. 41 Second, earlier.”47
an alternative prayer for damages cannot be interpreted as an
admission that the relief for reinstatement is not viable. 42 Third, the The elements that need to be present and proven before an action is
transaction happened prior to the effectivity of the Family Code; thus, considered barred by laches are the following:
Article 172 of the Civil Code applies such that “[t]he wife cannot bind
the conjugal partnership without the husband’s consent, except in The four basic elements of laches are: (1) conduct on the part of the
cases provided by law.”43 Consequently, the result is the same even defendant, or of one under whom he claims, giving rise to the
if respondent Paz Castillo-Revilla did not testify that the signature is situation of which complaint is made and for which the complaint
not hers, as she cannot bind the entire property without her seeks a remedy; (2) delay in asserting the complainant's rights, the
husband’s consent.44 Lastly, no unjust enrichment exists since they complainant having had knowledge or notice of the defendant’s
were deprived of their property for so long. 45 conduct and having been afforded an opportunity to institute suit; (3)
lack of knowledge or notice on the part of the defendant that the
The issues for this court’s resolution are as follows: complainant would assert the right on which he bases his suit; and,
(4) injury or prejudice to the defendant in the event relief is accorded
First, whether respondents Revilla spouses’ cause of action is barred to the complainant or the suit is not held to be barred.48
by prescription or laches;
There was no delay by respondents Revilla spouses in asserting
Second, whether the trial court acquired jurisdiction when their rights over the property. The lower courts found that
respondents Revilla spouses paid filing fees based on the respondents Revilla spouses first learned of the existence of the
P50,000.00 claim for damages in the complaint but stated in their “Kasulatan ng Bilihan ng Lupa” in February 1995 when they were
supplemental pre-trial brief that the property is valued at served a copy of the pleading in the land registration case instituted

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by the Sun spouses.49 They filed their complaint within the same
year, specifically, on November 17, 1995. The lapse of only nine (9) It is true that “[i]t is not simply the filing of the complaint or
months from the time they learned of the questionable transfers on appropriate initiatory pleading, but the payment of the prescribed
the property cannot be considered as sleeping on their rights. docket fee, that vests a trial court with jurisdiction over the subject
matter or nature of the action.”54
In any case, doctrines of equity such as laches apply only in the
absence of statutory law. The Civil Code clearly provides that “[t]he In Manchester Development Corporation v. Court of Appeals, 55 this
action or defense for the declaration of the inexistence of a contract court “condemned the practice of counsel who in filing the original
does not prescribe.”50 This court has discussed: complaint omitted from the prayer any specification of the amount of
damages although the amount of over ?78 million is alleged in the
Laches is a doctrine in equity and our courts are basically courts of body of the complaint.”56 The court gave the following warning
law and not courts of equity. Equity, which has been aptly described against this unethical practice that serves no other purpose than to
as "justice outside legality," should be applied only in the absence of, avoid paying the correct filing fees:
and never against, statutory law. Aequetas nunguam contravenit
legis. The positive mandate of Art. 1410 of the New Civil Code The Court serves warning that it will take drastic action upon a
conferring imprescriptibility to actions for declaration of the repetition of this unethical practice.
inexistence of a contract should pre-empt and prevail over all
abstract arguments based only on equity. Certainly, lachescannot To put a stop to this irregularity, henceforth all complaints, petitions,
be set up to resist the enforcement of an imprescriptible legal right, answers and other similar pleadings should specify the amount of
and petitioners can validly vindicate their inheritance despite the damages being prayed for not only in the body of the pleading but
lapse of time.51 also in the prayer, and said damages shall be considered in the
assessment of the filing fees in any case. Any pleading that fails to
II. comply with this requirement shall not be accepted nor admitted, or
shall otherwise be expunged from the record.
On the second issue, petitioner argues that respondents Revilla
spouses did not pay the correct docket fees. She submits that The Court acquires jurisdiction over any case only upon the payment
docket fees paid were based on the prayer for actual damages of of the prescribed docket fee. An amendment of the complaint or
P50,000.00, moral damages of P50,000.00, and attorney’s fee of similar pleading will not thereby vest jurisdiction in the Court, much
P80,000.00, when the spouses Revilla should have based it on less the payment of the docket fee based on the amounts sought in
P12,000,000.00, the value of the property they alleged in their the amended pleading. The ruling in the Magaspi case in so far as it
supplemental pre-trial brief.52 Petitioner cites Supreme Court is inconsistent with this pronouncement is overturned and
Circular No. 7 and jurisprudence holding that the payment of proper reversed.57 (Emphasis supplied)
docket fees is crucial in vesting courts with jurisdiction over the
subject matter.53 This ruling was circularized through Supreme Court Circular No.
758 addressed to all lower court judges and the Integrated Bar of the
This court finds that respondents Revilla spouses paid the proper Philippines for dissemination to and guidance for all its members.
docket fees, thus, the trial court acquired jurisdiction.

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The facts of this case differ from Manchester and similar situations P50,000.00,63 while the trial court found that the “Kasulatan ng
envisioned under the circular. The complaint filed by respondents Bilihan ng Lupa” reflected the amount of P20,000.00. 64 Subsequent
Revilla spouses included in its prayer the amount of P50,000.00 as tax declarations in the name of petitioner, the Casorla spouses, and
actual damages, without mention of any other amount in the body of the Sun spouses all provided for land market values lower than
the complaint. No amended complaint was filed to increase this P50,000.00.65 The deed of sale in favor of the Casorla spouses
amount in the prayer. Thus, the Court of Appeals found as follows: states that the assessed value of the property was P1,400.00, and
the consideration for the sale was P50,000.00.66 The subsequent
In the case at bench, the complaint filed by the Spouses Revilla only deed of sale in favor of the Sun spouses provides for the same
asked for actual damages in the amount of P50,000.00. While the amount as consideration.67
Spouses Revilla mentioned the amount of P12,000,000.00 as actual
damages in the pre-trial, said amount was not stated in the complaint None of these documents submitted by petitioner indicate an amount
and neither was it awarded by the lower court in its judgment. Hence, in excess of the P50,000.00 prayed for by respondents Revilla
said amount was not even considered by the court a quo when it spouses as actual damages in their complaint. Thus, the basis for
awarded damages in favor of the Spouses Revilla. Considering that the P12,000,000.00 value raised during pre-trial is unclear. Based
the complaint was not formally amended by the spouses to increase on the complaint, respondents Revilla spouses paid the correct
the amount of actual damages being sought, the trial court was not docket fees computed from the amounts in their prayer.
stripped of its jurisdiction to try the case since the Spouses
Revilla correctly paid the docket fees based merely on what was III.
prayed for in the complaint.Indeed, the mere mentioning by the
Spouses Revilla of the amount of P12,000,000.00 during the pre-trial The third issue involves the reinstatement of respondents Revilla
is inconsequential, as the trial court properly acquired jurisdiction spouses in the property and reconveyance of its tax declaration in
over the action when the Spouses Revilla filed the complaint and their favor.
paid the requisite filing fees based on the amount as prayed for in
the complaint.59 (Emphasis supplied) Petitioner argues that antichresis is a formal contract that must be in
writing in order to be valid.68 Respondents Revilla spouses were not
In Padlan v. Dinglasan,60 this court reiterated that “[w]hat determines able to prove the existence of the alleged antichresis contract. On
the jurisdiction of the court is the nature of the action pleaded as the other hand, the sale of the property to petitioner was established
appearing from the allegations in the complaint [and] [t]he averments by the “Kasulatan ng Bilihan ng Lupa” and the testimony of Rosita
therein and the character of the relief sought are the ones to be Castillo, the second wife of the previous owner, Felimon Castillo. 69
consulted.”61
We affirm the lower courts’ order of reinstatement and reconveyance
Petitioner attached copies of the tax declarations and deeds of sale of the property in favor of respondents Revilla spouses.
over the property to the petition. Tax Declaration No. 7971 in the
name of respondents Revilla spouses provides that the land had a Respondents Revilla spouses’ complaint sought “to annul the sales
market value of P13,500.00, while the mango trees had a market and transfers of title emanating from Tax Declaration No. 7971
value of P3,500.00.62 Petitioner alleged in her petition that registered in their name involving a 15,000-square[-]meter
respondents Revilla spouses offered to sell the property to her for unregistered land . . . with prayer for reconveyance and claims for

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damages.”70 There was no prayer to declare the purported contract principal amount.74
of sale as antichresis.71 Thus, respondents Revilla spouses neither
discussed nor used the term “antichresis” in their comment and The term, antichresis, has a Greek origin with “‘anti’ (against) and
memorandum before this court. They focused on the nature of their ‘chresis’ (use) denoting the action of giving a credit ‘against’ the ‘use’
complaint as one for annulment of titles on the ground of of a property.”75
forgery.72 At most, the trial court’s summary of respondents Revilla
spouses’ evidence described the parties’ agreements as follows: Historically, 15th century B.C. tablets revealed that “antichresis
contracts were commonly employed in the Sumerian and Akkadian
Plaintiffs’ evidence and the testimony of plaintiff Alfredo Revilla tend Mesopotamian cultures.”76 Antichresis contracts were incorporated
to indicate that plaintiffs are the owners in fee simple of a 15,000- in Babylonian law, modifying and combining it with that of mortgage
square[-]meter unregistered land, located at Brgy. Adlas, Silang, pledge.77 Nearing the end of the classical period, antichresis
Cavite. Their ownership being evidenced by Tax Declaration No. contracts entered Roman law that “adopted the convention that the
7971, s. 1980 (Exh. “A”). Sometime in 1981, plaintiffs needed money tenant usufruct had to be exactly compensated by the interest on the
for the travel and deployment of plaintiff Alfredo to Saudi lump sum payment.”78 During the middle ages, canon law banned
Arabia. Plaintiff Paz Revilla sought financial help from defendant antichresis contracts for being a form of usury. 79 These contracts
Cotoner-Zacarias from whom she was able to obtain a loan but only reappeared in the 1804 Napoleonic Code that influenced the
secured with and by way of mortgage of the subject property. The laws of most countries today.80 It had been observed that
parties further agreed that defendant Cotoner-Zacarias would take “antichresis contracts coexist with periodic rent contracts in many
possession of the subject property and cultivate it with the earnings property markets.”81
therefrom to be used to pay-off the loan and the annual realty taxes
on the land. It was their agreement with defendant Cotoner-Zacarias In the Civil Code, antichresis provisions may be found under Title
that the latter will rent the subject property and with that agreement, XVI, together with other security contracts such as pledge and
the lease started sometime in 1981 and plantiffs got from defendant mortgage.
Cotoner-Zacarias the amount of Php3,000.00 as rental for the first
year, 1981, with no specific agreement as to the period covered by Antichresis requires delivery of the property to the antichretic
such rental[.]73 (Emphasis supplied) creditor, but the latter cannot ordinarily acquire this immovable
property in his or her possession by prescription.82
Article 2132 of the Civil Code provides that “[b]y the contract of
antichresis the creditor acquires the right to receive the fruits of an Similar to the prohibition against pactum commissorium83 since
immovable of his debtor, with the obligation to apply them to the creditors cannot “appropriate the things given by way of pledge or
payment of the interest, if owing, and thereafter to the principal of his mortgage, or dispose of them,”84 an antichretic creditor also cannot
credit.” appropriate the real property in his or her favor upon the non-
payment of the debt.85
Thus, antichresis involves an express agreement between parties
such that the creditor will have possession of the debtor’s real Antichresis also requires that the amount of the principal and the
property given as security, and such creditor will apply the fruits of interest be in writing for the contract to be valid.86
the property to the interest owed by the debtor, if any, then to the

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However, the issue before us does not concern the nature of the
relationship between the parties, but the validity of the documents The transaction took place before the effectivity of the Family Code
that caused the subsequent transfers of the property involved. in 2004. Generally, civil laws have no retroactive effect.91 Article 256
of the Family Code provides that “[it] shall have retroactive effect
The reinstatement of the property in favor of respondents Revilla insofar as it does not prejudice or impair vested or acquired rights in
spouses was anchored on the lower courts’ finding that their accordance with the Civil Code or other laws.”
signatures as sellers in the “Kasulatan ng Bilihan ng Lupa” were
forged. Article 165 of the Civil Code states that “[t]he husband is the
administrator of the conjugal partnership.” Article 172 of the Civil
This court has held that the “question of forgery is one of Code provides that “[t]he wife cannot bind the conjugal partnership
fact.”87 Well-settled is the rule that “[f]actual findings of the lower without the husband’s consent, except in cases provided by
courts are entitled great weight and respect on appeal, and in fact law.”92 In any case, the Family Code also provides as follows:
accorded finality when supported by substantial evidence on the
record.”88 Art. 96. The administration and enjoyment of the community
property shall belong to both spouses jointly. In case of
The Court of Appeals agreed with the finding of the trial court that the disagreement, the husband’s decision shall prevail, subject to
signature of Alfredo Revilla in the “Kasulatan ng Bilihan ng Lupa” recourse to the court by the wife for proper remedy, which must be
was forged: availed of within five years from the date of the contract
implementing such decision.
It was convincingly found by the court a quo that the Kasulatan ng
Bilihan ng Lupa or Deed of Sale covering the subject property In the event that one spouse is incapacitated or otherwise unable to
allegedly executed by the Spouses Revilla in favor of Zacarias was participate in the administration of the common properties, the other
spurious, as the trial court, after relying on the report of the spouse may assume sole powers of administration. These powers
handwriting experts of the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) do not include disposition or encumbrance without authority of
saying that “there exist significant differences in handwriting the court or the written consent of the other spouse. In the
characteristics/habits between the questioned and the absence of such authority or consent, the disposition or
standard/sample signatures ‘ALFREDO REVILLA’ such as in the encumbrance shall be void. However, the transaction shall be
manner of execution of strokes, structural pattern of letters/elements, construed as a continuing offer on the part of the consenting spouse
and minute identifying details”, as well as the trial court’s own visual and the third person, and may be perfected as a binding contract
analysis of the document and the sample signatures of plaintiff- upon the acceptance by the other spouse or authorization by the
appellee Alfredo, clearly showed that his signature on the court before the offer is withdrawn by either or both offerors.
said Kasulatan ng Bilihan ng Lupa was indeed forged.89 (Emphasis supplied)

Petitioner contends that the lower courts never declared as falsified Thus, as correctly found by the Court of Appeals,
the signature of Alfredo’s wife, Paz Castillo-Revilla. Since the “assuming arguendo that the signature of plaintiff-appellee Paz on
property is conjugal in nature, the sale as to the one-half share of the Kasulatan ng Bilihan ng Lupa was not forged, her signature
Paz Castillo-Revilla should not be declared as void.90 alone would still not bind the subject property, it being already

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established that the said transaction was made without the consent Public for the Province of Cavite (Exh. “CC” to “CC-2”).95 (Emphasis
of her husband plaintiff-appellee Alfredo.”93 supplied).

Lastly, petitioner argues that she has no obligation to prove the Petitioner contends that the Sun spouses were buyers in good faith
genuineness and due execution of the “Kasulatan ng Bilihan ng for value, thus, the court erred in ordering reinstatement of the
Lupa” considering it is a public document.94 property in favor of respondents Revilla spouses.96

The trial court found otherwise. Atty. Diosdado de Mesa, who This court has held that “the rule in land registration law that the
allegedly notarized the “Kasulatan ng Bilihan ng Lupa,” was not a issue of whether the buyer of realty is in good or bad faith is relevant
commissioned notary public. The trial court discussed as follows: only where the subject of the sale is registered land and the
purchase was made from the registered owner whose title to the land
Furthermore, it was discovered that the notary public who is clean[.]”97 Our laws have adopted the Torrens system to
purportedly notarized the “Kasulatan ng Bilihan ng Lupa” has not strengthen public confidence in land transactions:
been registered notary public in the province of Cavite in 1979 nor at
present. The record bears out various Certifications to prove there is [T]he Torrens system was adopted in this country because it was
no available record on file with the Office of the Clerk of Court, believed to be the most effective measure to guarantee the integrity
Regional Trial Court, Cavite City of a Commission/Order appointing of land titles and to insure their indefeasibility once the claim of
Atty. Diosdado de Mesa, the lawyer who notarized the subject ownership is established and recognized. If a person purchases a
document, as Notary Public for the Province and City of Cavite (Exh. piece of land on the assurance that the seller’s title thereto is valid,
“Y” to “Y-2”); Certification from the Records Management and he should not run the risk of losing his acquisition. If this were
Archives Office, Manila that no copy is on file with the said office of permitted, public confidence in the system would be eroded and land
the Deed of Sale allegedly executed by plaintiffs before Notary transactions would have to be attended by complicated and not
Public Diosdado de Mesa, for and within Imus, Cavite, necessarily conclusive investigations and proof of ownership.98
acknowledged as Doc. No. 432, Page No. 45, Book No. VIII, Series
of 1979 (Exh. “Z” to “Z-1”); Certification issued by Clerk of Court, Necessarily, those who rely in good faith on a clean title issued
Atty. Ana Liza M. Luna, Regional Trial Court, Tagaytay City that under the Torrens system for registered lands must be
there is no available record on file of a Commission/Order appointing protected. On the other hand, those who purchase unregistered
Atty. Diosdado de Mesa as Notary Public for the Province and Cities lands do so at their own peril.99
of Tagaytay, Cavite and Trece Martires in 1979 (Exh. “AA” to “AA-2”);
Certification issued by Clerk of Court, Atty. Jose O, Lagao, Jr., This good faith argument cannot be considered as this case involves
Regional Trial Court, Multiple Sala, Bacoor, Cavite that there is no unregistered land. In any case, as explained by respondents Revilla
available record on file of a Commission/Order appointing Atty. spouses in their memorandum, this is a defense personal to the Sun
Diosdado de Mesa as Notary Public for the Province and City of spouses and cannot be borrowed by petitioner.100 The Sun spouses
Cavite (Exh. “BB” to “BB-2”); and Certification issued by Clerk of no longer raised this argument on appeal, but only made a partial
Court, Atty. Regalado E. Eusebio, Regional Trial Court, Multiple appeal regarding legal interest on the award.101
Sala, Imus, Cavite that there is no available record on file of a
Commission/Order appointing Atty. Diosdado de Mesa as Notary WHEREFORE, this petition is DENIED for lack of merit. The

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decision of the Court of Appeals dated August 13, 2009 TAMBUYAT married to ROSARIO E. BANGUIS.”10
is AFFIRMED.
All this time, petitioner Banguis remained married to Eduardo
SO ORDERED. Nolasco (Nolasco). They were married on October 15, 1975, and at
all times material to this case, Nolasco was alive, and his marriage to
G.R. No. 202805, March 23, 2015 petitioner subsisted and was never annulled.11

On June 7, 1998, Adriano died intestate.12
ROSARIO BANGUIS-TAMBUYAT, Petitioner, v. WENIFREDA
BALCOM-TAMBUYAT, Respondent. On October 18, 1999, Wenifreda filed a Petition for Cancellation 13 of
TCT T-145321, which was docketed as LRC Case No. P-443-99 and
DECISION assigned to Branch 10 of the Regional Trial Court of Malolos,
Bulacan (Malolos RTC). She alleged therein that she was the
DEL CASTILLO, J.: surviving spouse of Adriano; that TCT T-145321 was erroneously
registered and made in the name of “ADRIANO M. TAMBUYAT
This Petition for Review on Certiorari1 seeks to set aside the married to ROSARIO E. BANGUIS;” that per annexed Marriage
February 14, 2012 Decision2 of the Court of Appeals (CA) in CA-G.R. Contract, Banguis was still married to Nolasco; that Banguis could
CV No. 84954 affirming with modification the May 26, 2003 not have been married to Adriano; that the issuance of the title in
Decision3 of the Regional Trial Court of Malolos, Bulacan, Branch 10 Banguis’s name as Adriano’s spouse was due to “an insidious
in LRC Case No. P-443-99, as well as its July 26, 2012 machination by her and the person who brokered the sale of the
Resolution4 denying petitioner’s Motion for Reconsideration5 of the subject property, allegedly a cousin or relative of hers;” 14 and that
herein assailed judgment. consequently, she suffered damages. Thus, Wenifreda prayed that
TCT T-145321 be cancelled; that a new certificate of title be made
Factual Antecedents out in Adriano’s name, with her as the spouse indicated; that
Banguis be ordered to surrender her copy of TCT T-145321; and that
Adriano M. Tambuyat (Adriano) and respondent Wenifreda Balcom- moral and exemplary damages, attorney’s fees, and costs of
Tambuyat (Wenifreda) were married on September 16, litigation be adjudged in her favor.
1965.6 During their marriage, Adriano acquired several real
properties, including a 700-square meter parcel of land located at In her Opposition15 to the petition for cancellation, Banguis denied
Barangay Muzon, San Jose del Monte, Bulacan (the subject specifically that the subject property was acquired by Adriano and
property),7 which was bought on November 17, 1991.8 The deed of Wenifreda during their marriage. She claimed that on the other hand,
sale over the said property was signed by Adriano alone as vendee; she alone bought the subject property using her personal funds; that
one of the signing witnesses to the deed of sale was petitioner she and Adriano were married on September 2, 1988 and thereafter
Rosario Banguis-Tambuyat (Banguis), who signed therein as lived together as a married couple; that their union produced a son,
“Rosario Banguis.”9 When Transfer Certificate of Title No. T- who was born on April 1, 1990; that the trial court has no jurisdiction
145321(M) (TCT T-145321) covering the subject property was over the petition for cancellation, which is merely a summary
issued, however, it was made under the name of “ADRIANO M. proceeding – considering that a thorough determination will have to

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be made as to whether the property is conjugal or exclusive property, 8. Banguis’s résumé on file with Ocean East, reflecting that she
and since she and Adriano have a child whose rights will be was married;23
adversely affected by any judgment in the case; and that Wenifreda
is guilty of forum-shopping in filing LRC Case No. P-443-99, 9. Negative Certification of Marriage issued by the Civil
considering that a prior similar case was already filed by her and Registrar of Bulacan to the effect that the Civil Register does
dismissed on April 22, 1999 by Branch 76 of the Malolos RTC. not have any record of Adriano and Banguis’s marriage
Banguis prayed for the dismissal of LRC Case No. P-443-99 and to which was supposedly solemnized on September 2, 1988;24
be paid moral damages and attorney’s fees by way of counterclaim.
10. Certification dated April 17, 2002 issued by Rev. Fr. Narciso
During the course of the proceedings, the parties presented the Sampana, Parish Priest of St. Joseph Parish, to the effect
following evidence, among others: that the parish never had a parish priest by the name of Fr.
Roberto de Guzman – who is claimed to have solemnized
1. Marriage Contract of Adriano and Wenifreda;16 the alleged marriage between Adriano and Banguis;25

2. Publication of Adriano’s death;17 11. Banguis’s testimony on direct examination that she and
Adriano were married on September 2, 1988; that they had a
3. Social Security System (SSS) data record of Adriano son named Adrian; that Adriano purchased the subject
indicating that Wenifreda is his spouse;18 property on November 17, 1991 per Deed of Sale –
executed in Manila and with Adriano as the purchaser –
4. Barangay Council Certificate indicating that Adriano and entered as “Document No. 173; Page No. 3550; series of
Wenifreda were legally married and residents of No. 13 1990” in the notarial registry of Mr. Julian B. Tubig; that she
Hyacinth Road, Phase V, Pilar Village, Las Piñas City since paid for the same with her own money; and that she stayed
1981;19 at the subject property each Friday night up to Sunday
night;26
5. Marriage Contract of Banguis and Nolasco dated October
15, 1975;20 12. Banguis’s testimony on cross-examination that she is
married to Nolasco, who is still alive; that her marriage to the
6. Banguis’s SSS Member’s Data Change or Addition Report latter is still subsisting and has not been annulled; and that
indicating that Banguis: a) sought to change her name from she knew that Adriano was married to someone else;27
“Rosario E. Banguis” to “Rosario B. Nolasco”; b) listed
Nolasco as her husband; and c) changed her civil status to 13. Photographs depicting Adriano and Banguis as a couple and
“married;”21 with a child, supposedly taken at the subject property. 28

7. Banguis’s correspondence at work – Ocean East Agency
Corporation (Ocean East), which was owned and operated On May 26, 2003, the Malolos RTC rendered its Decision, decreeing
by Adriano – in which she signed as “Rosario B. Nolasco;”22 thus:

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WHEREFORE, premises considered, judgment is hereby authorization is required for any alteration or amendment of a
RENDERED in favor of the petitioner herein, as follows: certificate of title when any error, omission or mistake was made in
entering a certificate or any memorandum thereon, or on any
1. Directing the Register of Deeds of Meycauayan, Bulacan to duplicate certificate, or when there is reasonable ground for the
cancel TCT No. T-145321 (M) and in lieu thereof to issue a amendment or alteration of the title; that it has been established that
new certificate of title in the name of Adriano M. Tambuyat Wenifreda is the surviving spouse of Adriano, and the subject
married to Wenifreda “Winnie” Balcom Tambuyat; property was acquired during their marriage, but it was erroneously
registered in the name of another; that Banguis had a subsisting
2. Directing the defendant Rosario Banguis Nolasco of 1714 marriage with Nolasco when TCT T-145321 was issued with her
Ibarra St., Sampaloc, Manila to surrender to the Register of being erroneously included and referred to therein as Adriano’s
Deeds for Meycauayan, Bulacan, the owner’s duplicate copy spouse; that Adrian’s filiation may not be proved collaterally through
of TCT No. T-145321 (M) within five (5) days from receipt of LRC Case No. P-443-99; that Wenifreda is entitled to an award of
the order, failing which the Register of Deeds should moral and exemplary damages without proof of pecuniary loss, for
proceed with the cancellation of said TCT. the damage caused upon her reputation and social standing caused
by the wanton, fraudulent, malicious and unwarranted inclusion of
3. Directing defendant Rosario Banguis Nolasco to pay Banguis’s name in the title; and that Wenifreda is likewise entitled to
petitioner the sum of P100,000.00 as and by way of moral attorney’s fees as she was compelled to litigate and incur expenses
damages. to protect her interests by reason of Banguis’s unjustified act.

4. Directing defendant Rosario Banguis Nolasco to pay Ruling of the Court of Appeals
petitioner the sum of P100,000.00 as and by way of
exemplary damages; and Petitioner appealed the trial court’s Decision with the CA. Docketed
as CA-G.R. CV No. 84954, the appeal basically revolved around the
5. Directing defendant Rosario Banguis Nolasco to pay thesis that the trial court erred in applying Section 108 of PD 1529;
petitioner attorney’s fees in the amount of P100,000.00, and that with the serious objections raised by Banguis and considering
the cost of suit. that she is the actual owner and possessor of the subject property, a
proper action in a different court exercising general jurisdiction
should be filed, rather than in the current trial court which sits merely
Accordingly, the counterclaim of the oppositor is hereby DISMISSED as a land registration court; that the trial court disregarded Article
for lack of merit. 148 of the Family Code31 which provides for the division of properties
acquired by individuals united in a defective marriage; that the trial
SO ORDERED.29 court erred in awarding damages, attorney’s fees and costs of suit;
that the trial court erred in granting execution pending appeal despite
In arriving at the above pronouncement, the trial court held among the absence of any good or special reasons; and that the denial of
others that under Section 112 of Act No. 496 or the Land her counterclaim was improper.32
Registration Act – now Section 108 of Presidential Decree No. 1529
(PD 1529) or the Property Registration Decree30 – court Meanwhile, on October 30, 2003, Wenifreda moved for execution

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pending appeal. It appears that Banguis failed to oppose the motion; trial court sitting as a land registration court and as a court of general
she did not appear during the scheduled hearings on the motion as jurisdiction has been eliminated with the passage of PD 1529. It held
well. As a result, the trial court issued a March 30, 2004 Order further that, based on the evidence adduced, Adriano and Banguis
directing the issuance of a Writ of Execution. Such writ was thus are not co-owners of the subject property as it has been shown that:
issued on April 14, 2004. TCT T-145321 was cancelled, and a new a) both of them had valid and subsisting marriages when they
title – TCT T-433713(M) – was issued in its place. conducted their adulterous relations; b) Banguis failed to present
even a modicum of evidence that she contributed to the purchase of
On February 14, 2012, the CA issued the assailed Decision the subject property; and c) the deed of sale itself indicated that
containing the following decretal portion: Adriano alone was the vendee. Finally, in denying Wenifreda’s
pecuniary awards and Banguis’s counterclaim, the CA held that the
WHEREFORE, the appeal is PARTIALLY GRANTED. The assailed parties are not entitled thereto as there is no legal and factual basis
Decision dated May 26, 2003 issued by the Regional Trial Court, to grant them.
Branch 10 of Malolos, Bulacan is AFFIRMED with the modification
that the award of moral and exemplary damages, attorney’s fees and Banguis moved for reconsideration, but in a July 26, 2012
cost of the suit in favor of Wenifreda Tambuyat is hereby deleted. Resolution, the CA was unconvinced. Hence, the present Petition.

SO ORDERED.33 Issues

The CA sustained the trial court’s application of Section 108 of PD Banguis cites the following issues for resolution:
1529, noting that Banguis’s name was included in TCT T-145321 by
error or mistake. It held that the evidence adduced proved that I. THE COURT OF APPEALS GROSSLY ERRED IN
Wenifreda – and not Banguis – is the lawful wife of Adriano; that SUSTAINING THE RTC WHICH CANCELLED AND
there is a valid and subsisting marriage between Nolasco and CORRECTED THE QUESTIONED ENTRY IN TCT NO. T-
Banguis, and the latter admitted to such fact during the course of the 145321 (M) FROM “ROSARIO E. BANGUIS” TO
proceedings in the trial court; and that Banguis’s opposition to “WENIFREDA ‘WINNIE’ BALCOM TAMBUYAT” UNDER
Wenifreda’s petition for cancellation of TCT T-145321 is not real and SECTION 108 OF THE PROPERTY REGISTRATION
genuine as to place the latter’s title to the subject property in doubt. 34 DECREE DESPITE THE LACK OF JURISDICTION TO
HEAR THE SAME IN VIEW OF THE SERIOUS AND
The CA added that contrary to Banguis’s position, a separate and WEIGHTY OBJECTIONS OF THE PETITIONER AND THAT
different proceeding is not necessary to resolve her opposition to the THE INSTITUTION OF ESTATE PROCEEDINGS OF THE
petition in LRC Case No. P-443-99, as: 1) she in effect acquiesced LATE ADRIANO M. TAMBUYAT AND THE CONSEQUENT
and freely submitted her issues and concerns to the trial court for APPOINTMENT OF AN EXECUTOR OR ADMINISTRATOR
complete determination, submitting all her relevant documentary and WHICH IS THE PROPER REMEDY WHO CAN GO AFTER
other evidence to the court in order to prove her allegations – HIS PROPERTIES HELD BY OTHER PERSONS.
particularly that she is the lawful spouse of Adriano and that she is
the actual owner and possessor of the subject property; and 2) II. THE COURT OF APPEALS GROSSLY ERRED IN
pursuant to law35 and jurisprudence,36 the distinction between the SUSTAINING THE RTC WHICH CORRECTED AND

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CANCELLED THE QUESTIONED ENTRY IN TCT NO. T- estate which in effect transfers the subject property to Wenifreda and
145321 (M) THROUGH AN ABSOLUTE AND COMPLETE thus divests her and her son Adrian of their rights and interests
DISREGARD OF THE PROOF OF OWNERSHIP AND therein; that based on the evidence she introduced, it should be
POSSESSION BY THE PETITIONER OVER THE SUBJECT concluded that the property belongs to her as it was acquired using
PROPERTY. solely her own funds and money borrowed from her sister, and
because she has been in constant possession thereof, introducing
III. THE COURT OF APPEALS GROSSLY ERRED IN improvements thereon through the years; that the subject property is
SUSTAINING THE RTC WHICH CORRECTED AND owned in common by her and Adriano since it was acquired during
CANCELLED THE QUESTIONED ENTRY IN TCT NO. T- their cohabitation; and that the CA erred in refusing to rule on the
145321 (M) IN CLEAR VIOLATION OF ARTICLE 148 OF propriety of the trial court’s grant of execution pending appeal.
THE FAMILY CODE PROVIDING FOR THE SHARING OF
PROPERTIES ACQUIRED BY PERSONS UNITED IN A Respondent’s Arguments
DEFECTIVE MARRIAGE.
In Wenifreda’s Comment,42 it is stressed that the distinction between
IV. THE COURT OF APPEALS GROSSLY ERRED IN the trial court acting as a land registration court, on one hand, and its
SUSTAINING THE RTC WHICH GRANTED THE acting as a court of general jurisdiction, on the other, has been
IMMEDIATE EXECUTION OF ITS DECISION removed with the effectivity of PD 1529; thus, trial courts are no
NOTWITHSTANDING THE SEASONABLE APPEAL OF longer fettered by their former limited jurisdiction which enabled them
THE PETITIONER AND THE UTTER LACK OF ANY GOOD to grant relief in land registration cases only when there is unanimity
OR SPECIAL REASONS JUSTIFYING THE SAME.37 among the parties, or when none of them raises any adverse claims
or serious objections. It is further argued that Banguis’s claim of
ownership cannot stand, for the evidence fails to indicate that she
Petitioner’s Arguments contributed to the purchase of the subject property, even as the deed
of sale to the property itself shows that Adriano alone is the vendee
In her Petition and Reply38 seeking to reverse and set aside the thereof, and Banguis signed merely as a witness thereto. Finally,
assailed CA dispositions and thus dismiss Wenifreda’s petition for respondent explains that during the proceedings covering the motion
cancellation in LRC Case No. P-443-99, Banguis insists on her for the issuance of a writ of execution pending appeal, Banguis was
original position adopted below that Section 108 of PD 1529 cannot accorded the opportunity to participate, but she did not; as a result,
apply in view of the contentious and controversial nature of her the old title was cancelled and a new one was accordingly issued in
opposition to the petition for cancellation, which can be threshed out its stead.
only in a separate proper proceeding where the court sits not merely
as a land registration court, but as a court of general jurisdiction. She Our Ruling
cites Tagaytay-Taal Tourist Development Corporation v. Court of
Appeals,39Liwag v. Court of Appeals,40 and Vda. de Arceo v. Court of The Court denies the Petition.
Appeals,41 which made pronouncements to such effect.
The trial court in LRC Case No. P-443-99 was not precluded from
Banguis adds that the instant case involved the partition of Adriano’s resolving the objections raised by Banguis in her opposition to the

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petition for cancellation; a separate action need not be filed in a involving her claimed ownership and the hereditary rights of Adrian,
different court exercising general jurisdiction. Banguis should be which she claims to be her son by Adriano. However, apart from the
considered to have acquiesced and freely submitted the case to the fact that evidence of Banguis’s ownership is irrelevant in Wenifreda’s
trial court for complete determination on her opposition, when she petition, the evidence apparently indicates that Banguis could not be
went to trial and adduced and submitted all her relevant evidence to the owner of the subject property, while a resolution of the issue of
the court. “The active participation of the party against whom the succession is irrelevant and unnecessary to the complete
action was brought, coupled with his failure to object to the determination of Wenifreda’s petition. The Court is thus led to the
jurisdiction of the court or quasi-judicial body where the action is conclusion that the Registrar of Deeds of Bulacan simply erred in
pending, is tantamount to an invocation of that jurisdiction and a including Banguis in TCT T-145321 as Adriano’s spouse.
willingness to abide by the resolution of the case and will bar said
party from later on impugning the court or body’s jurisdiction.” 43 As correctly ruled by the appellate court, the preponderance of
evidence points to the fact that Wenifreda is the legitimate spouse of
Under Section 108 of PD 1529, the proceeding for the erasure, Adriano. Documentary evidence – among others, the parties’
alteration, or amendment of a certificate of title may be resorted to in respective marriage contracts, which, together with marriage
seven instances: (1) when registered interests of any description, certificates, are considered the primary evidence of a marital
whether vested, contingent, expectant, or inchoate, have terminated union46 – indicates that Adriano was married to Wenifreda, while
and ceased; (2) when new interests have arisen or been created Banguis was married to Nolasco – and both marriages were
which do not appear upon the certificate; (3) when any error, subsisting at the time of the acquisition of the subject property and
omission or mistake was made in entering a certificate or any issuance of the certificate of title thereto. Thus, it cannot be said that
memorandum thereon or on any duplicate certificate; (4) when the Adriano and Banguis were husband and wife to each other; it cannot
name of any person on the certificate has been changed; (5) when even be said that they have a common-law relationship at all.
the registered owner has been married, or, registered as married, the Consequently, Banguis cannot be included or named in TCT T-
marriage has been terminated and no right or interest of heirs or 145321 as Adriano’s spouse; the right and privilege belonged to
creditors will thereby be affected; (6) when a corporation, which Wenifreda alone.
owned registered land and has been dissolved, has not conveyed
the same within three years after its dissolution; and (7) when there x x x Indeed, Philippine Law does not recognize common law
is reasonable ground for the amendment or alteration of title. 44 The marriages. A man and woman not legally married who cohabit for
present case falls under (3) and (7), where the Registrar of Deeds of many years as husband and wife, who represent themselves to the
Bulacan committed an error in issuing TCT T-145321 in the name of public as husband and wife, and who are reputed to be husband and
“Adriano M. Tambuyat married to Rosario E. Banguis” when, in truth wife in the community where they live may be considered legally
and in fact, respondent Wenifreda – and not Banguis – is Adriano’s married in common law jurisdictions but not in the Philippines.
lawful spouse.
While it is true that our laws do not just brush aside the fact that such
Proceedings under Section 108 are “summary in nature, relationships are present in our society, and that they produce a
contemplating corrections or insertions of mistakes which are only community of properties and interests which is governed by law,
clerical but certainly not controversial issues.”45 Banguis’s opposition authority exists in case law to the effect that such form of co-
to the petition for cancellation ostensibly raised controversial issues ownership requires that the man and woman living together must not

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in any way be incapacitated to contract marriage. In any case, herein x x x. In Lee Tek Sheng v. Court of Appeals, the Court made a clear
petitioner has a subsisting marriage with another woman, a legal distinction between title and the certificate of title:
impediment which disqualified him from even legally marrying The certificate referred to is that document issued by the Register of
Vitaliana. In Santero vs. CFI of Cavite, the Court, thru Mr. Justice Deeds known as the Transfer Certificate of Title (TCT). By title, the
Paras, interpreting Art. 188 of the Civil Code (Support of Surviving law refers to ownership which is represented by that document.
Spouse and Children During Liquidation of Inventoried Property) Petitioner apparently confuses certificate with title. Placing a parcel
stated: “Be it noted however that with respect to ‘spouse’, the same of land under the mantle of the Torrens system does not mean that
must be the legitimate ‘spouse’ (not common-law spouses).” ownership thereof can no longer be disputed. Ownership is different
from a certificate of title. The TCT is only the best proof of ownership
There is a view that under Article 332 of the Revised Penal Code, of a piece of land. Besides, the certificate cannot always be
the term “spouse” embraces common law relation for purposes of considered as conclusive evidence of ownership. Mere issuance of
exemption from criminal liability in cases of theft, swindling and the certificate of title in the name of any person does not foreclose
malicious mischief committed or caused mutually by spouses. The the possibility that the real property may be under co-ownership with
Penal Code article, it is said, makes no distinction between a couple persons not named in the certificate or that the registrant may only
whose cohabitation is sanctioned by a sacrament or legal tie and be a trustee or that other parties may have acquired interest
another who are husband and wife de facto. But this view cannot subsequent to the issuance of the certificate of title. To repeat,
even apply to the facts of the case at bar. We hold that the registration is not the equivalent of title, but is only the best evidence
provisions of the Civil Code, unless expressly providing to the thereof. Title as a concept of ownership should not be confused with
contrary as in Article 144, when referring to a “spouse” the certificate of title as evidence of such ownership although both
contemplate a lawfully wedded spouse. Petitioner vis-a-vis are interchangeably used. x x x.
Vitaliana was not a lawfully-wedded spouse to her; in fact, he was Registration does not vest title; it is merely the evidence of such title.
not legally capacitated to marry her in her lifetime.47 (Emphasis Land registration laws do not give the holder any better title than
supplied) what he actually has.48

The only issue that needed to be resolved in LRC Case No. P-443- Nonetheless, if Banguis felt that she had to go so far as to
99 is – who should be included in the title to the subject property as demonstrate that she is the true owner of the subject property in
Adriano’s spouse, Banguis or Wenifreda? Was there error in placing order to convince the trial court that there is no need to cancel TCT
Banguis’s name in the title as Adriano’s spouse? If Banguis is T-145321, then she was not precluded from presenting evidence to
Adriano’s spouse, then there would be no need to amend or even such effect. Understandably, with the quality of Wenifreda’s
cancel the title. On the other hand, if Wenifreda is Adriano’s spouse, documentary and other evidence, Banguis may have felt obliged to
the inclusion of Banguis would then be erroneous, and TCT T- prove that beyond the certificate of title, she actually owned the
145321 would have to be cancelled. All that is required in resolving property. Unfortunately for her, this Court is not convinced of her
this issue is to determine who between them is Adriano’s spouse; it claimed ownership; the view taken by the CA must be adopted that
was unnecessary for Banguis to prove that she is the actual owner of she and Adriano could not have been co-owners of the subject
the property. Title to the property is different from the certificate of property as she failed to present sufficient proof that she contributed
title to it. to the purchase of the subject property, while the deed of sale
covering the subject property showed that Adriano alone was the

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vendee. This Court is not a trier of facts, so it must rely on the relating to the trial court’s March 30, 2004 Order directing the
findings of facts of the Court of Appeals, which are thus considered issuance of a writ of execution pending appeal, as well as the April
conclusive and binding.49 Moreover, the Court notes that while 14, 2004 Writ of Execution issued, as they have become moot and
Banguis claims that she alone paid for the property using her own academic.
funds and money borrowed from her sister, she nonetheless
acknowledges that Adriano is a co-owner thereof, thus implying that WHEREFORE, the Petition is DENIED. The February 14, 2012
he contributed to its acquisition. Such contradictory statements cast Decision and July 26, 2012 Resolution of the Court of Appeals in CA-
serious doubts on her claim; basically, if she were the sole purchaser G.R. CV No. 84954 are AFFIRMED.
of the property, it would only be logical and natural for her to require
that her name be placed on the deed of sale as the vendee, and not SO ORDERED.
as mere witness – which is what actually occurred in this case. On
the other hand, if Adriano contributed to its purchase, Banguis would G.R. No. 163928, January 21, 2015
have required that her name be placed on the deed as a co-vendee
just the same. Her failure to explain why – despite her claims that
she is the purchaser of the property – she allowed Adriano to be MANUEL JUSAYAN,ALFREDO JUSAYAN, AND MICHAEL
denominated as the sole vendee, renders her claim of ownership JUSAYAN, Petitioners, v. JORGE SOMBILLA, Respondent.
doubtful. “Where a party has the means in his power of rebutting and
explaining the evidence adduced against him, if it does not tend to DECISION
the truth, the omission to do so furnishes a strong inference against
him.”50 One cannot also ignore the principle that “the rules of BERSAMIN, J.:
evidence in the main are based on experience, logic, and common
sense.”51 The Court resolves whether a lease of agricultural land between the
respondent and the predecessor of the petitioners was a civil law
Neither can the Court believe Banguis’s assertion that Wenifreda’s lease or an agricultural lease. The resolution is determinative of
petition for cancellation of TCT T-145321 is in reality a partition of whether or not the Regional Trial Court (RTC) had original exclusive
Adriano’s estate which in effect transfers the subject property to jurisdiction over the action commenced by the predecessor of the
Wenifreda and thus divests Banguis and her son Adrian of their petitioners against the respondent.cralawred
rights and interests therein. LRC Case No. P-443-99 is simply a case
for the correction of the wrongful entry in TCT T-145321; it simply The Case
aims to reflect the truth in the certificate of title – that Adriano is
married to Wenifreda – and nothing else. It would have been a Under review on certiorari is the decision promulgated on October
summary proceeding, but Banguis complicated matters by injecting 20, 2003,1 whereby the Court of Appeals (CA) reversed the judgment
her claims of ownership, which are irrelevant in the first place for, as in favor of the petitioners rendered on April 13, 1999 in CAR Case
earlier stated, registration is not the equivalent of title. No. 17117 entitled Timoteo Jusayan, Manuel Jusayan, Alfredo
Jusayan and Michael Jusayan v. Jorge Sombilla by the RTC, Branch
Finally, with the foregoing disquisition, it becomes unnecessary to 30, in Iloilo City.2chanRoblesvirtualLawlibrary
resolve the other issues raised by the petitioner, particularly those

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Antecedents Judgment of the CA

Wilson Jesena (Wilson) owned four parcels of land situated in New Jorge appealed to the CA.
Lucena, Iloilo. On June 20, 1970, Wilson entered into an agreement
with respondent Jorge Sombilla (Jorge),3 wherein Wilson designated In the judgment promulgated on October 20, 2003,8 the CA reversed
Jorge as his agent to supervise the tilling and farming of his riceland the RTC and dismissed the case, declaring that the contractual
in crop year 1970-1971. On August 20, 1971, before the expiration of relationship between the parties was one of agricultural tenancy; and
the agreement, Wilson sold the four parcels of land to Timoteo that the demand of Timoteo for the delivery of his share in the
Jusayan (Timoteo).4 Jorge and Timoteo verbally agreed that Jorge harvest and the payment of irrigation fees constituted an agrarian
would retain possession of the parcels of land and would deliver 110 dispute that was outside the jurisdiction of the RTC, and well within
cavans of palay annually to Timoteo without need for accounting of the exclusive jurisdiction of the Department of Agriculture (DAR)
the cultivation expenses provided that Jorge would pay the irrigation pursuant to Section 3(d) of Republic Act No. 6657 (Comprehensive
fees. From 1971 to 1983, Timoteo and Jorge followed the Agrarian Reform Law of 1988).cralawred
arrangement. In 1975, the parcels of land were transferred in the
names of Timoteo’s sons, namely; Manuel, Alfredo and Michael Issues
(petitioners). In 1984, Timoteo sent several letters to Jorge
terminating his administration and demanding the return of the The petitioners now appeal upon the following issues,
possession of the parcels of land.5chanRoblesvirtualLawlibrary namely:ChanRoblesVirtualawlibrary
a.) Whether or not the relationship between the petitioners and
Due to the failure of Jorge to render accounting and to return the respondent is that of agency or agricultural leasehold; and
possession of the parcels of land despite demands, Timoteo filed on
b.) Whether or not RTC, Branch 30, Iloilo City as Regional Trial
June 30, 1986 a complaint for recovery of possession and
Court and Court of Agrarian Relations, had jurisdiction over the
accounting against Jorge in the RTC (CAR Case No. 17117).
herein case.9
Following Timoteo’s death on October 4, 1991, the petitioners
substituted him as the plaintiffs.
Ruling of the Court
In hisanswer,6 Jorge asserted that he enjoyed security of tenure as
the agricultural lessee of Timoteo; and that he could not be The petition for review lacks merit.
dispossessed of his landholding without valid cause.cralawred
To properly resolve whether or not the relationship between Timoteo
Ruling of the RTC and Jorge was that of an agency or a tenancy, an analysis of the
concepts of agency and tenancy is in order.
In its decision rendered on April 13, 1999,7 the RTC upheld the
contractual relationship of agency between Timoteo and Jorge; and In agency, the agent binds himself to render some service or to do
ordered Jorge to deliver the possession of the parcels of land to the something in representation or on behalf of the principal, with the
petitioners.cralawred consent or authority of the latter.10 The basis of the civil law
relationship of agency is representation,11 the elements of which are,

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namely: (a) the relationship is established by the parties’ consent, himself to give to another the enjoyment or use of a thing for a price
express or implied; (b) the object is the execution of a juridical act in certain, and for a period that may be definite or indefinite. 17 In the
relation to a third person; (c) the agent acts as representative and agricultural lease, also termed as a leasehold tenancy, the physical
not for himself; and (d) the agent acts within the scope of his possession of the land devoted to agriculture is given by its owner or
authority.12 Whether or not an agency has been created is legal possessor (landholder) to another (tenant) for the purpose of
determined by the fact that one is representing and acting for production through labor of the latter and of the members of his
another.13 The law does not presume agency; hence, proving its immediate farm household, in consideration of which the latter
existence, nature and extent is incumbent upon the person alleging agrees to share the harvest with the landholder, or to pay a price
it.14chanRoblesvirtualLawlibrary certain or ascertainable, either in produce or in money, or in
both.18 Specifically, in Gabriel v. Pangilinan,19 this Court
The claim of Timoteo that Jorge was his agent contradicted the differentiated between a leasehold tenancy and a civil law lease in
verbal agreement he had fashioned with Jorge. By assenting to the following manner, namely: (1) the subject matter of a leasehold
Jorge’s possession of the land sans accounting of the cultivation tenancy is limited to agricultural land, but that of a civil law lease may
expenses and actual produce of the land provided that Jorge be rural or urban property; (2) as to attention and cultivation, the law
annually delivered to him 110 cavans of palay and paid the irrigation requires the leasehold tenant to personally attend to and cultivate the
fees belied the very nature of agency, which was representation. The agricultural land; the civil law lessee need not personally cultivate or
verbal agreement between Timoteo and Jorge left all matters of work the thing leased; (3) as to purpose, the landholding in leasehold
agricultural production to the sole discretion of Jorge and practically tenancy is devoted to agriculture; in civil law lease, the purpose may
divested Timoteo of the right to exercise his authority over the acts to be for any other lawful pursuits; and(4) as to the law that governs,
be performed by Jorge. While in possession of the land, therefore, the civil law lease is governed by the Civil Code, but the leasehold
Jorge was acting for himself instead of for Timoteo. Unlike Jorge, tenancy is governed by special laws.
Timoteo did not benefit whenever the production increased, and did
not suffer whenever the production decreased. Timoteo’s interest The sharing of the harvest in proportion to the respective
was limited to the delivery of the 110 cavans of palay annually contributions of the landholder and tenant, otherwise called share
without any concern about how the cultivation could be improved in tenancy,20 was abolished on August 8, 1963 under Republic Act No.
order to yield more produce. 3844. To date, the only permissible system of agricultural tenancy is
leasehold tenancy,21 a relationship wherein a fixed consideration is
On the other hand, to prove the tenancy relationship, Jorge paid instead of proportionately sharing the harvest as in share
presented handwritten receipts15 indicating that the sacks of palay tenancy.
delivered to and received by one Corazon Jusayan represented
payment of rental. In this regard, rental was the legal term for the In Teodoro v. Macaraeg,22 this Court has synthesized the elements
consideration of the lease.16 Consequently, the receipts substantially of agricultural tenancy to wit: (1) the object of the contract or the
proved that the contractual relationship between Jorge and Timoteo relationship is an agricultural land that is leased or rented for the
was a lease. purpose of agricultural production; (2) the size of the landholding is
such that it is susceptible of personal cultivation by a single person
Yet, the lease of an agricultural land can be either a civil law or an with the assistance of the members of his immediate farm
agricultural lease. In the civil law lease, one of the parties binds household; (3) the tenant-lessee must actually and personally till,

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cultivate or operate the land, solely or with the aid of labor from his a total area of 7.9 hectares involved herein were susceptible of
immediate farm household; and (4) the landlord-lessor, who is either cultivation by a single person with the help of the members of his
the lawful owner or the legal possessor of the land, leases the same immediate farm household. As the Court has already observed, an
to the tenant-lessee for a price certain or ascertainable either in an agricultural land of an area of four hectares,27 or even of an area as
amount of money or produce. large as 17 hectares,28 could be personally cultivated by a tenant by
himself or with help of the members of his farm household.
It can be gleaned that in both civil law lease of an agricultural land
and agricultural lease, the lessor gives to the lessee the use and It is elementary that he who alleges the affirmative of the issue has
possession of the land for a price certain. Although the purpose of the burden of proof.29 Hence, Jorge, as the one claiming to be an
the civil law lease and the agricultural lease may be agricultural agricultural tenant, had to prove all the requisites of his agricultural
cultivation and production, the distinctive attribute that sets a civil law tenancy by substantial evidence.30 In that regard, his knowledge of
lease apart from an agricultural lease is the personal cultivation by and familiarity with the landholding, its production and the instances
the lessee. An agricultural lessee cultivates by himself and with the when the landholding was struck by drought definitely established
aid of those of his immediate farm household. Conversely, even that he personally cultivated the land.31 His ability to farm the seven
when the lessee is in possession of the leased agricultural land and hectares of land despite his regular employment as an Agricultural
paying a consideration for it but is not personally cultivating the land, Technician at the Municipal Agriculture Office32 was not physically
he or she is a civil law lessee. impossible for him to accomplish considering that his daughter, a
member of his immediate farm household, was cultivating one of the
The only issue remaining to be resolved is whether or not Jorge parcels of the land.33 Indeed, the law did not prohibit him as the
personally cultivated the leased agricultural land. agricultural lessee who generally worked the land himself or with the
aid of member of his immediate household from availing himself
Cultivation is not limited to the plowing and harrowing of the land, but occasionally or temporarily of the help of others in specific jobs. 34 In
includes the various phases of farm labor such as the maintenance, short, the claim of the petitioners that the employment of Jorge as an
repair and weeding of dikes, paddies and irrigation canals in the Agricultural Technician at the Municipal Agriculture Office
landholding. Moreover, it covers attending to the care of the growing disqualified him as a tenant lacked factual or legal basis.
plants,23 and grown plants like fruit trees that require watering,
fertilizing, uprooting weeds, turning the soil, fumigating to eliminate Section 7 of Republic Act No. 3844 provides that once there is an
plant pests24 and all other activities designed to promote the growth agricultural tenancy, the agricultural tenant’s right to security of
and care of the plants or trees and husbanding the earth, by general tenure is recognized and protected. The landowner cannot eject the
industry, so that it may bring forth more products or fruits.25 In Tarona agricultural tenant from the land unless authorized by the proper
v. Court of Appeals,26 this Court ruled that a tenant is not required to court for causes provided by law. Section 36 of Republic Act No.
be physically present in the land at all hours of the day and night 3844, as amended by Republic Act No. 6389, enumerates the
provided that he lives close enough to the land to be cultivated to several grounds for the valid dispossession of the tenant.35It is
make it physically possible for him to cultivate it with some degree of underscored, however, that none of such grounds for valid
constancy. dispossession of landholding was attendant in Jorge’s case.

Nor was there any question that the parcels of agricultural land with Although the CA has correctly categorized Jorge’s case as an

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agrarian dispute, it ruled that the RTC lacked jurisdiction over the 680 HOME APPLIANCES, INC., Petitioner, v. THE HONORABLE
case based on Section 50 of Republic Act No. 6657, which vested in COURT OF APPEALS, THE HONORABLE MARYANN E.
the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) the “primary jurisdiction to CORPUS-MAÑALAC, IN HER CAPACITY AS THE PRESIDING
determine and adjudicate agrarian reform matters” and the JUDGE OF THE REGIONAL TRIAL COURT OF MAKATI CITY,
“exclusive original jurisdiction over all matters involving the BRANCH 141, ATTY. ENGRACIO ESCASINAS, JR., IN HIS
implementation of agrarian reform” except disputes falling under the CAPACITY AS THE EX-OFFICIO SHERIFF/CLERK OF COURT VII,
exclusive jurisdiction of the Department of Agriculture and the OFFICE OF THE CLERK OF COURT, REGIONAL TRIAL COURT,
Department of Environment and Natural Resources. MAKATI CITY, FIRST SOVEREIGN ASSET MANAGEMENT (SPV-
AMC), INC. AND ALDANCO MERLMAR, INC., Respondents.
We hold that the CA gravely erred. The rule is settled that the
jurisdiction of a court is determined by the statute in force at the time DECISION
of the commencement of an action.36 In 1980, upon the passage of
Batas Pambansa Blg. 129 (Judiciary Reorganization Act), the Courts
BRION, J.:
of Agrarian Relations were integrated into the Regional Trial Courts
and the jurisdiction of the Courts of Agrarian Relations was vested in
the Regional Trial Courts.37 It was only on August 29, 1987, when We resolve the petition for certiorari1 filed by petitioner 680 Home
Executive Order No. 229 took effect, that the general jurisdiction of Appliances, Inc. (680 Home) under Rule 65 of the Rules of Court.
the Regional Trial Courts to try agrarian reform matters was The petition imputes grave abuse of discretion against the Court of
transferred to the DAR. Therefore, the RTC still had jurisdiction over Appeals (CA) in light of its Decision dated February 13, 2013 2 in CA-
the dispute at the time the complaint was filed in the RTC on June G.R. SP No. 124735. The CA decision affirmed the Orders dated
30, 1986.chanrobleslaw December 20, 20113 and March 23, 20124 of the Regional Trial
Court (RTC) of Makati City, Branch 141, in Land Registration Case
WHEREFORE, the Court GRANTS the petition for review (LRC) No. M-5444.
on certiorari by PARTIALLY AFFIRMING the decision of the Court of
Appeals to the extent that it upheld the tenancy relationship of the THE FACTS
parties; DISMISSES the complaint for recovery of possession and
accounting; and ORDERS the petitioners to pay the costs of suit. The case arose from the extrajudicial foreclosure
proceedings commenced by the creditor of 680 Home, Deutsche
The parties are ordered to comply with their undertakings as Bank AG London,5 after the former defaulted in paying a loan
agricultural lessor and agricultural lessee. secured by a real estate mortgage over its commercial lot and
building.
SO ORDERED.cralawlawlibrary
In the foreclosure sale, the respondent, First Sovereign Asset
Management, Inc. (FSAMI), emerged as the highest bidder of 680
G.R. No. 206599, September 29, 2014 Home’s mortgaged properties. A certificate of sale was issued to
FSAMI on March 13, 2009, which was registered with the Registry of
Deeds of Makati City on March 16, 2009 and annotated on 680

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Home’s Transfer Certificate of Title (TCT) No. 138570. Three months Section 8 of Act No. 3135, a judgment debtor may file a petition
after, or in June 2009, FSAMI consolidated its ownership after for cancellation of the writ of possession within 30
680 Home failed to redeem the property. A new certificate of title days only after the purchaser has obtained possession of the
(TCT No. 227316) was issued in FSAMI’s name. property. Although a writ of possession was issued, the property
remained in the possession of Aldanco as 680 Home’s
On March 20, 2009, 680 Home commenced an action to annul the lessee. Since FSAMI did not obtain possession of the property, the
mortgage and foreclosure with the RTC of Makati City, Branch 137 30-day period to file a petition to cancel the writ under Section 8 of
(docketed as Civil Case No. 09-254). Act No. 3135 has not yet commenced. The CA relied on the Court’s
ruling in Ong v. CA,6 which held that “the purchaser must first be
On October 26, 2010, FSAMI commenced LRC No. M-5444 – placed in possession of the mortgaged property pending
a petition for the ex parte issuance of a writ of possession filed proceedings assailing the issuance of the writ of possession.”
with the RTC of Makati City, Branch 141. 680 Home moved to
intervene and filed an opposition to FSAMI’s application, but the RTC THE PARTIES’ ARGUMENTS
denied the motion in its orders dated March 3, 2011 and May 6,
2011. On July 8, 2011, the RTC granted FSAMI’s application for a 680 Home now seeks the reversal of the CA’s decision through the
writ of possession; the writ, as well as the notice to vacate, were present certiorari petition. It claims that the issuance of the writ of
issued on August 31, 2011. possession in favor of FSAMI cannot be ministerial because of the
adverse claim of a third party – Aldanco; FSAMI, therefore, was
As the current occupant of the property, respondent Aldanco prevented from obtaining possession of the property. “With FSAMI
Merlmar, Inc. (Aldanco) filed a motion to intervene in LRC Case No. having been effectively prevented from terminating [Aldanco’s]
M-5444, claiming that it possessed the property as lessee of 680 possession,”7680 Home should be exempted from the possession
Home. The RTC issued an Order dated September 15, 2011 requirement of Section 8 of Act No. 3135, and should be allowed to
granting Aldanco’s intervention. petition for the cancellation of the writ.

Undeterred, 680 Home filed a petition to cancel the writ of Asked to comment on 680 Home’s petition, both Aldanco and FSAMI
possession, invoking Section 8 of Act No. 3135. It alleged the claim that the petition is procedurally defective, pointing out that 680
nullity of the foreclosure as well the adverse possession of Aldanco Home should have availed of a petition for review on certiorari under
that supposedly barred the ministerial issuance of the writ of Rules 45, instead of petition for certiorari under Rule 65, both of the
possession. Rules of Court.

The RTC, in its order dated December 20, 2011, denied 680 Home’s FSAMI rebuts 680 Home’s claim that a third party’s adverse
petition to cancel the writ; this was affirmed in its order dated March possession of the property constitutes as an exception to the
23, 2012 denying 680 Home’s motion for reconsideration. 680 Home possession requirement imposed by Section 8 of Act No. 3135
thereafter assailed these orders via a certiorari petition with the CA. before a writ of possession may be assailed. It argues that
Aldanco’s possession is not adverse to 680 Home’s claim, since
The CA affirmed the RTC ruling and declared 680 Home’s petition to Aldanco is a lessee of 680 Home.
cancel the writ as prematurely filed. The CA ruled that under

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THE COURT’S RULING the assailed decision on April 24, 2013 to institute
a certiorari proceeding. Although the petition was filed within the 60-
We do not find the petition meritorious. day period to institute acertiorari proceeding, the long delay negates
680 Home’s claimed urgency of its cause and indicates that it
680 Home’s certiorari petition is resorted to the present petition for certiorari as a substitute for its lost
procedurally erroneous because of appeal.
the availability of the remedies of
reconsideration and appeal Ong v. Court Appeals was based on a
unique factual circumstance, i.e., the
Procedurally, we observe that 680 Home availed of the wrong writ of possession was issued during
remedy to question the CA decision before this Court. A petition the redemption period when purchaser
for certiorari under Rule 65 of the Rules of Court is availed of only has yet to consolidate its ownership over
when there is no appeal, or any plain, speedy, and adequate remedy the property
in the ordinary course of law.8 Unfortunately, 680 Home’s resort to
a certiorari petition could not be justified by the unavailability or Even disregarding its procedural defects, the petition still fails. The
insufficiency of other remedies. alleged erroneous interpretation of the law committed by the CA
would not, by itself, amount to grave abuse of discretion that is
A motion for reconsideration is recognized as an adequate remedy correctible by a writ of certiorari. The CA cannot be faulted for its
against a decision, resolution, or order of a lower court, as it provides ruling which only applied existing jurisprudence that, unfortunately,
the court opportunity to correct any error it might have has been extended to cases whose factual circumstances
committed.9 Hence, the filing of a motion for reconsideration was significantly differ from the one originally considered by the Court in
made a pre-requisite to the filing of acertiorari petition. The laying down the rule.
availability of the remedy of reconsideration generally precludes
immediate recourse to a certiorari petition.10 680 Home, however, In declaring 680 Home’s petition for cancellation as prematurely filed,
never moved for the reconsideration of the CA decision, and offered the CA relied on Ong, which held that Section 8 of Act No. 3135
no explanation for its failure to comply with the requirement. allows a judgment debtor to file a petition for cancellation of the writ
of possession within thirty (30) days only after the purchaser
Also, the remedy provided under the Rules of Court from a decision obtained possession of the subject
of the CA is an appeal by certiorariunder its Rule 45.11 Instead of property:chanRoblesvirtualLawlibrary
instituting a certiorari petition, 680 Home should have filed an appeal
under Rule 45, especially considering that the issue raised here is The law is clear that the purchaser must first be placed in
primarily legal in nature.12cralawlawlibrary possession of the mortgaged property pending proceedings
assailing the issuance of the writ of possession.
Indeed, we find 680 Home’s resort to a certiorari petition rather
dubious. After receiving on February 25, 2013 a copy of the CA Aldanco’s continued possession of the property prevented FSAMI
decision, 680 Home filed neither a motion for reconsideration thereof from taking over despite having a writ of possession issued in its
nor an appeal therefrom. Instead, it waited 58 days after receiving favor. Since the writ was not enforced, the CA concluded that 680

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Home could not avail of the remedy under Section 8 of Act No. 3135 the mortgaged real property in an extrajudicial foreclosure;
and petition for its cancellation. proceedings beyond these, i.e., upon the lapse of the redemption
period and the consolidation of the purchaser’s title, are no longer
As the CA correctly pointed out, a debtor may avail of the remedy within its scope. This is apparent from Section 1 of Act No. 3135,
under Section 8 of Act No. 3135 onlyafter the purchaser has which states:chanRoblesvirtualLawlibrary
obtained possession of the property. What it missed, however, is
that this rule is applicable only to a unique factual situation – when Section 1. When a sale is made under a special power inserted in or
the writ of possession sought to be cancelled was issued during the attached to any real-estate mortgage hereafter made as security for
redemption period. In Ong where this rule was laid down, the the payment of money or the fulfillment of any other obligation, the
mortgagors sought the recall of the writ of possession that was provisions of the following [sections] shall govern as to the
issued during the one-year redemption period.13Section 8 of Act manner in which the sale and redemption shall be effected,
No. 3135 finds no application when the redemption period has whether or not provision for the same is made in the power.
expired without the debtor exercising his right, and the [Emphasis ours]
purchaser in the foreclosure sale has already consolidated his
ownership over the property and moved for the issuance of the In fact, the nine (9) sections of Act No. 3135 pertain to proceedings
writ of possession. governing extrajudicial foreclosures, from the conduct of the
foreclosure sale up to the exercise of the right of redemption. Our
The provisions of Act No. 3135 applies reading of Act No. 3135, therefore, should be consistent with the
until the period of redemption; once redemption law’s limited coverage.
lapses and consolidation of the purchaser’s title
ensues, Act No. 3135 finds no application During the redemption period, the purchaser’s title is merely
inchoate.16 The “mere purchase and [issuance of a] certificate of sale
In a number of cases,14 the Court declared that Section 8 of Act No. alone do not confer any right to the possession or beneficial use of
3135 is the available remedy to set aside a writ of possession, the premises [in favor of the purchaser].”17 Nonetheless, the
without considering whether the writ involved in each of these cases purchaser may acquire possession of the property during the
was issued during or after the lapse of the redemption period. Upon redemption period by exercising the privilege granted to him under
reevaluation, we find it necessary to make a distinction and clarify Section 7 of Act No. 3135:chanRoblesvirtualLawlibrary
when the remedy under Section 8 of Act No. 3135 may be availed of.
Sec. 7. In any sale made under the provisions of this Act, the
In extrajudicial foreclosures, a writ of possession may be issued purchaser may petition the Court of First Instance of the province
either (1) within the redemption period or (2) after the lapse of the or place where the property or any part thereof is situated, to give
redemption period.15 The first instance is based on a privilege him possession thereof during the redemption period,
provided under Section 7 of Act No. 3135; the second is based on furnishing bond in an amount equivalent to the use of the property
the purchaser’s right of ownership. The basis of the purchaser’s right for a period of twelve months, to indemnify the debtor in case it be
to possess the property affects the nature of the right. shown that the sale was made without violating the mortgage or
without complying with the requirements of this Act. Such
Act No. 3135 governs only the manner of the sale and redemption of petition shall be made under oath and filed in form of anex

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parte motion in the registration or cadastral proceedings if the
property is registered, or in special proceedings in the case of The writ of possession that the debtor may petition to set aside under
property registered under the Mortgage Law or under section one Section 8 of Act No. 3135 undoubtedly refers to one issued pursuant
hundred and ninety-four of the Administrative Code, or of any other to Section 7 of the same law “during the redemption period.” The
real property encumbered with a mortgage duly registered in the reference to the Section 7 proceeding underscores the position that
office of any register of deeds in accordance with any existing law, the remedy provided in Section 8 is available only against a writ of
and in each case the clerk of the court shall, upon the filing of such possession during the redemption period.
petition, collect the fees specified in paragraph eleven of section one
hundred and fourteen of Act Numbered Four hundred and ninety-six, Further showing Section 7 and 8’s close relation is the bond required
as amended by Act Numbered Twenty-eight hundred and sixty-six, to be filed by the purchaser in Section 7 that the debtor may proceed
and the court shall, upon approval of the bond, order that a writ of against in Section 8. Section 7 states that the petition for the
possession issue, addressed to the sheriff of the province in which issuance of a writ of possession should be accompanied by a bond
the property is situated, who shall execute said order immediately. which, under Section 8, shall “indemnify the debtor in case it be
[Emphases ours] shown that the sale was made without violating the mortgage or
without complying with the requirements of [Act No. 3135].”
The debtor, on the other hand, is provided opportunity to contest the
transfer of possession during the redemption period under Section 8 The requirement and purpose of the bond in Act No. 3135 support
of Act No. 3135, as he remains to be the owner of the foreclosed the position that Section 8 thereof is a remedy available only during
property. The provision states:chanRoblesvirtualLawlibrary the redemption period. A bond is no longer required to be filed in
support of a petition for writ of possession filed after the redemption
Sec. 8. The debtor may, in the proceedings in which possession period has expired without the mortgagor exercising his right of
was requested, but not later than thirty days after the purchaser redemption. At this point, the purchaser’s right over the property is
was given possession, petition that the sale be set aside and consolidated and his right to obtain possession of the property stems
the writ of possession cancelled, specifying the damages suffered from his right of ownership. InPhilippine National Bank v. Sanao
by him, because the mortgage was not violated or the sale was Marketing Corporation,18 the Court ruled that -
not made in accordance with the provisions hereof, and the court
shall take cognizance of this petition in accordance with the A writ of possession may also be issued after consolidation of
summary procedure provided for in section one hundred and twelve ownership of the property in the name of the purchaser. It is settled
of Act Numbered Four hundred and ninety-six; and if it finds the that the buyer in a foreclosure sale becomes the absolute owner
complaint of the debtor justified, it shall dispose in his favor of of the property purchased if it is not redeemed during the period
all or part of the bond furnished by the person who obtained of one year after the registration of sale. As such, he is entitled
possession. Either of the parties may appeal from the order of the to the possession of the property and can demand it any time
judge in accordance with section fourteen of Act Numbered Four following the consolidation of ownership in his name and the
hundred and ninety-six; but the order of possession shall issuance of a new transfer certificate of title. In such a case, the
continue in effect during the pendency of the appeal. [Emphases bond required in Section 7 of Act No. 3135 is no longer
ours] necessary. Possession of the land then becomes an absolute right
of the purchaser as confirmed owner. Upon proper application and

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proof of title, the issuance of the writ of possession becomes a pending actions grounded on the same cause, i.e., the supposed
ministerial duty of the court.19 [Emphases ours] invalidity of the foreclosure proceedings, contrary to the rules against
forum shopping.
If a bond is no longer required to support a writ of possession
issued after the consolidation of the purchaser’s ownership, then no Given the inapplicability of Section 8 of Act No. 3135, it becomes
relief can be extended to the debtor under Section 8 of Act No. 3135. irrelevant to consider the effect of Aldanco’s continued possession of
the property on 680 Home’s opposition to the writ of possession.
As pointed out, the remedy provided under Section 8 of Act No. 3135 That Aldanco’s possession prevented FSAMI from acquiring actual
to the debtor becomes available only after the purchaser possession of the property neither benefited nor harmed 680 Home’s
acquires actual possession of the property. This is required because case which is not dependent on FSAMI’s actual possession.
until then the debtor, as the owner of the property, does not lose his
right to possess. WHEREFORE, we hereby DISMISS the petition. For the reasons
stated above, we UPHOLD the decision dated February 13, 2013 of
However, upon the lapse of the redemption period without the the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. SP No. 124735 insofar as it affirmed
debtor exercising his right of redemption and the purchaser the dismissal of the petitioner 680 Home Appliances, Inc.’s petition
consolidates his title, it becomes unnecessary to require the for cancellation of writ of possession by the Regional Trial Court of
purchaser to assume actual possession thereof before the Makati, Branch 141 in its Orders dated December 20, 2011 and
debtor may contest it. Possession of the land becomes an absolute March 23, 2012.
right of the purchaser, as this is merely an incident of his ownership.
In fact, the issuance of the writ of possession at this point becomes Costs against petitioner 680 Home Appliances, Inc.
ministerial for the court.20 The debtor contesting the purchaser’s
possession may no longer avail of the remedy under Section 8 of Act SO ORDERED.cralawred
No. 3135, but should pursue a separate action e.g., action for
recovery of ownership, for annulment of mortgage and/or annulment G.R. No. 189420, March 26, 2014
of foreclosure. FSAMI’s consolidation of ownership therefore makes
the remedy under Section 8 of Act No. 3135 unavailable for 680
Home. 680 Home cannot assail the writ of possession by filing a RAUL V. ARAMBULO AND TERESITA A. DELA
petition in LRC No. M-5444. CRUZ, Petitioners, v. GENARO NOLASCO AND JEREMY
SPENCER NOLASCO, Respondents.
A further consideration in this case is the rule against forum
shopping, which would be violated if 680 Home’s resort to a Section DECISION
8 remedy is allowed. We note that 680 Home has already
commenced an action for the annulment of the foreclosure before PEREZ, J.:
the RTC of Makati City (docketed as Civil Case No. 09-254) after
FSAMI consolidated its ownership but before it acquired a writ of This is a Petition for Review of the 7 October 2008 Decision 1 and 30
possession. To authorize 680 Home to resort to Section 8 of Act No. July 2009 Resolution2 of the Court of Appeals in CA–G.R. CV No.
3135 to have the sale and the writ set aside would be to allow two 76449, which reversed and set aside the Decision3 of the Regional

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Trial Court (RTC) of Manila, Branch 51, dated 19 September 2002. 2. In the affirmative, whether or not withholding of consent of
sale by the respondents is prejudicial to the petitioners.6
Petitioners Raul V. Arambulo and Teresita A. Dela Cruz, along with
their mother Rosita Vda. De Arambulo, and siblings Primo V.
Arambulo, Ma. Lorenza A. Lopez, Ana Maria V. Arambulo, On 19 September 2002, the trial court ruled in favor of petitioners
Maximiano V. Arambulo, Julio V. Arambulo and Iraida Arambulo and ordered respondents to give their consent to the sale. The
Nolasco (Iraida) are co–owners of two (2) parcels of land located in dispositive portion of the decision reads:chanRoblesvirtualLawlibrary
Tondo, Manila, with an aggregate size of 233 square meters. When
Iraida passed away, she was succeeded by her husband, WHEREFORE, in view of the foregoing, judgment is hereby
respondent Genaro Nolasco and their children, Iris Abegail Nolasco, rendered in favor of the petitioners and against the respondents:
Ingrid Aileen Arambulo and respondent Jeremy Spencer Nolasco.
1. Directing respondents Genaro Nolasco and Jeremy Spencer
On 8 January 1999, petitioners filed a petition for relief under Article
A. Nolasco to give their consent to the sale of their shares on
491 of the Civil Code with the RTC of Manila, alleging that all of the
the subject properties;
co–owners, except for respondents, have authorized petitioners to
2. Allowing the sale of the aforementioned properties;
sell their respective shares to the subject properties; that only
3. Directing the petitioners and the co–owners, including the
respondents are withholding their consent to the sale of their shares;
respondents herein to agree with the price in which the
that in case the sale pushes through, their mother and siblings will
subject properties are to be sold and to whom to be sold;
get their respective 1/9 share of the proceeds of the sale, while
and
respondents will get ¼ share each of the 1/9 share of Iraida; that the
4. Directing the distribution of the proceeds of the sale of the
sale of subject properties constitutes alteration; and that under
aforementioned properties in the following
Article 491 of the Civil Code, if one or more co–owners shall withhold
proportion:chanRoblesvirtualLawlibrary
their consent to the alterations in the thing owned in common, the
courts may afford adequate relief.4
a.) Rosita V. Vda. De Arambulo –1/9
In their Answer, respondents sought the dismissal of the petition for b.) Primo V. Arambulo –1/9
being premature. Respondents averred that they were not aware of c.) Maximiano V. Arambulo –1/9
the intention of petitioners to sell the properties they co–owned
d.) Ana Maria V. Arambulo –1/9
because they were not called to participate in any negotiations
regarding the disposition of the property.5 e.) Ma. Lorenza A. Lopez –1/9
f.) Julio V. Arambulo –1/9
After the pre–trial, two (2) issues were submitted for g.) Raul V. Arambulo –1/9
consideration:chanRoblesvirtualLawlibrary
h.) Teresita A. dela Cruz –1/9
1. Whether or not respondents are withholding their consent in i.) Genaro Nolasco, Jr. –1/4 of 1/9
the sale of the subject properties; and j.) Jeremy Spencer A. Nolasco –1/4 of 1/9
k.) Iris Abegail A. Nolasco –1/4 of 1/9

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l.) Ingrid Aileen Arambulo –1/4 of 1/97 and give respondents their share of the proceeds of the sale.

Going along with petitioners’ reliance on Article 491 of the Civil At the core of this petition is whether respondents, as co–owners,
Code, the trial court found that respondents’ withholding of their can be compelled by the court to give their consent to the sale of
consent to the sale of their shares is prejudicial to the common their shares in the co–owned properties. Until it reached this Court,
interest of the co–owners. the discussion of the issue moved around Article 491 of the Civil
Code. We have to remove the issue out of the coverage of Article
Respondents filed a Notice of Appeal and the trial court gave due 491. It does not apply to the problem arising out of the proposed sale
course to the appeal and the entire records of the case were of the property co–owned by the parties in this case.
elevated to the Court of Appeals.
The Court of Appeals correctly applied the provision of Article 493 of
In a Decision dated 7 October 2008, the Court of Appeals granted the Civil Code, which states:chanRoblesvirtualLawlibrary
the appeal and reversed the trial court’s decision. The Court of
Appeals held that the respondents had the full ownership of their Art. 493. Each co–owner shall have the full ownership of his part and
undivided interest in the subject properties, thus, they cannot be of the fruits and benefits pertaining thereto, and he may therefore
compelled to sell their undivided shares in the properties. It referred alienate, assign or mortgage it, and even substitute another person
to the provisions of Article 493 of the Civil Code. However, the Court in its enjoyment, except when personal rights are involved. But the
of Appeals, implying applicability of Article 491 also observed that effect of the alienation or the mortgage, with respect to the co–
petitioners failed to show how respondents’ withholding of their owners, shall be limited to the portion which may be allotted to him in
consent would prejudice the common interest over the subject the division upon the termination of the co–ownership.
properties.
Upon the other hand, Article 491 states:chanRoblesvirtualLawlibrary
Hence, the instant petition seeking the reversal of the appellate
court’s decision and praying for the affirmance of the trial court’s Art. 491. None of the co–owners shall, without the consent of the
decision that ordered respondents to give their consent to the sale of others, make alterations in the thing owned in common, even though
the subject properties. Petitioners emphasize that under Article 491 benefits for all would result therefrom. However, if the withholding of
of the Civil Code, they may ask the court to afford them adequate the consent by one or more of the co–owners is clearly prejudicial to
relief should respondents refuse to sell their respective shares to the the common interest, the courts may afford adequate relief.
co–owned properties. They refute the appellate court’s finding that
they failed to show how the withholding of consent by respondents As intimated above, the erroneous application of Article 491 is, in this
becomes prejudicial to their common interest. Citing the testimony of case, an innate infirmity. The very initiatory pleading below was
petitioner Teresita A. Dela Cruz, they assert that one of the two captioned Petition For Relief Under Article 491 of the New Civil
subject properties has an area of 122 square meters and if they Code. Petitioners, likewise petitioners before the RTC, filed the case
decide to partition, instead of selling the same, their share would be on the submission that Article 491 covers the petition and grants the
reduced to a measly 30–square meter lot each. The other property relief prayed for, which is to compel the respondent co–owners to
was testified to as measuring only 111 square meters. Petitioners agree to the sale of the co–owned property. The trial court took up all
reiterate that all the other co–owners are willing to sell the property

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that petitioners tendered, and it favored the pleading with the finding not affect the full ownership by the respondents of the part that
that:chanRoblesvirtualLawlibrary belongs to them. Their part which petitioners will sell shall be that
which may be apportioned to them in the division upon the
x x x To this court, the act of respondents of withholding consent to termination of the co–ownership. With the full ownership of the
the sale of the properties is not only prejudicial to the common respondents remaining unaffected by petitioners’ sale of their parts,
interest of the co–owners but is also considered as an alteration the nature of the property, as co–owned, likewise stays. In lieu of the
within the purview of Article 491 of the New Civil Code. x x x. Hence, petitioners, their vendees shall be co–owners with the respondents.
it is deemed just and proper to afford adequate relief to herein The text of Article 493 says so.
petitioners under Article 491 of the New Civil Code.8
2. Our reading of Article 493 as applied to the facts of this case is a
That a sale constitutes an alteration as mentioned in Article 491 is an reiteration of what was pronounced in Bailon–Casilao v. Court of
established jurisprudence. It is settled that alterations include any act Appeals.12 The rights of a co–owner of a certain property are clearly
of strict dominion or ownership and any encumbrance or disposition specified in Article 493 of the Civil Code.
has been held implicitly to be an act of alteration.9 Alienation of the Thus:chanRoblesvirtualLawlibrary
thing by sale of the property is an act of strict dominion. 10 However,
the ruling that alienation is alteration does not mean that a sale of Art. 493. Each co–owner shall have the full ownership of his part and
commonly owned real property is covered by the second paragraph of the fruits and benefits pertaining thereto, and he may
of Article 491, such that if a co–owner withholds consent to the sale, therefore alienate, assign or mortgage it[,] and even substitute
the courts, upon a showing of a clear prejudice to the common another person in its enjoyment, except when personal rights are
interest, may, as adequate relief, order the grant of the withheld involved. But the effect of the alienation or [the] mortgage, with
consent. Such is the conclusion drawn by the trial court, and hinted respect to the co–owners, shall be limited to the portion which may
at, if not relied upon, by the appellate court. be allotted to him in the division upon the termination of the co–
ownership.
Ruling that the trial court erred in its conclusion, the Court of Appeals
correctly relied on Article 493 in support of the finding that As early as 1923, this Court has ruled that even if a co–owner sells
respondents cannot be compelled to agree with the sale. We affirm the whole property as his, the sale will affect only his own share but
the reversal by the Court of Appeals of the judgment of the trial court. not those of the other co–owners who did not consent to the
sale.13 This is because under the aforementioned codal provision,
1. There is co–ownership whenever, as in this case, the ownership of the sale or other disposition affects only his undivided share and the
an undivided thing, belongs to different persons.11 Article 493 of the transferee gets only what would correspond to his grantor in the
Code defines the ownership of the co–owner, clearly establishing partition of the thing owned in common.14Consequently, by virtue of
that each co–owner shall have full ownership of his part and of its the sales made by Rosalia and Gaudencio Bailon which are valid
fruits and benefits. with respect to their proportionate shares, and the subsequent
transfers which culminated in the sale to private respondent
Pertinent to this case, Article 493 dictates that each one of the Celestino Afable, the said Afable thereby became a co–owner of the
parties herein as co–owners with full ownership of their parts can sell disputed parcel of land as correctly held by the lower court since the
their fully owned part. The sale by the petitioners of their parts shall sales produced the effect of substituting the buyers in the enjoyment

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thereof.15 others. Such quantity is equivalent to a credit against the common
thing or right and is the private property of each creditor (co–owner).
From the foregoing, it may be deduced that since a co–owner is The various shares ideally signify as many units of thing or right,
entitled to sell his undivided share, a sale of the entire property by pertaining individually to the different owners; in other words, a unit
one co–owner without the consent of the other co–owners is not null for each owner.19 (Underscoring supplied).
and void. However, only the rights of the co–owner–seller are
transferred, thereby making the buyer a co–owner of the The ultimate authorities in civil law, recognized as such by the Court,
property.16 (Italics theirs). agree that co–owners such as respondents have over their part, the
right of full and absolute ownership. Such right is the same as that of
Nearer to the dispute at hand are the pronouncements in the 1944 individual owners which is not diminished by the fact that the entire
case of Lopez v. Vda. De Cuaycong.17 Citing Manresa on Article 399 property is co–owned with others. That part which ideally belongs to
which is the present Article 493 of the Civil Code, the Court them, or their mental portion, may be disposed of as they please,
said:chanRoblesvirtualLawlibrary independent of the decision of their co–owners. So we rule in this
case. The respondents cannot be ordered to sell their portion of the
x x x Article 399 shows the essential integrity of the right of each co– co–owned properties. In the language of Rodriguez v. Court of First
owner in the mental portion which belongs to him in the ownership or Instance of Rizal,20 “each party is the sole judge of what is good for
community. him.”21

x x x x 3. Indeed, the respected commentaries suggest the conclusion that,
insofar as the sale of co–owned properties is concerned, there is no
To be a co–owner of a property does not mean that one is deprived common interest that may be prejudiced should one or more of the
of every recognition of the disposal of the thing, of the free use of his co–owners refuse to sell the co–owned property, which is exactly the
right within the circumstantial conditions of such judicial status, nor is factual situation in this case. When respondents disagreed to the
it necessary, for the use and enjoyment, or the right of free disposal, sale, they merely asserted their individual ownership rights. Without
that the previous consent of all the interested parties be unanimity, there is no common interest.
obtained.18(Underscoring supplied).
Petitioners who project themselves as prejudiced co–owners may
The Court in Lopez further bring a suit for partition, which is one of the modes of extinguishing
cited Scaevola:chanRoblesvirtualLawlibrary co–ownership. Article 494 of the Civil Code provides that no co–
owner shall be obliged to remain in the co–ownership, and that each
2nd. Absolute right of each co–owner with respect to his part or co–owner may demand at any time partition of the thing owned in
share. – With respect to the latter, each co–owner is the same as common insofar as his share is concerned. Corollary to this rule,
an individual owner. He is a singular owner, with all the rights Article 498 of the Civil Code states that whenever the thing is
inherent in such condition. The share of the co–owner, that is, the essentially indivisible and the co–owners cannot agree that it be
part which ideally belongs to him in the common thing or right and is allotted to one of them who shall indemnify the others, it shall be sold
represented by a certain quantity, is his and he may dispose of the and its proceeds accordingly distributed. This is resorted to (a) when
same as he pleases, because it does not affect the right of the the right to partition the property is invoked by any of the co–owners

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but because of the nature of the property, it cannot be subdivided or vs.
its subdivision would prejudice the interests of the co–owners, and MA. PAMELA P. AGUADO, FRUCTUOSO C. SABUG, JR.,
(b) the co–owners are not in agreement as to who among them shall NATIONAL COUNCIL OF CHURCHES IN THE PHILIPPINES
be allotted or assigned the entire property upon proper (NCCP), represented by its Secretary General SHARON ROSE
reimbursement of the co–owners.22 This is the result obviously aimed JOY RUIZ-DUREMDES, LAND BANK OF THE PHILIPPINES
at by petitioners at the outset. As already shown, this cannot be done (LBP), represented by Branch Manager EVELYN M. MONTERO,
while the co–ownership exists. ATTY. MARIO S.P. DIAZ, in his Official Capacity as Register of
Deeds for Rizal, Morong Branch, and CECILIO U. PULAN, in his
Essentially, a partition proceeding accords all parties the opportunity Official Capacity as Sheriff, Office of the Clerk of Court,
to be heard, the denial of which was raised as a defense by Regional Trial Court, Binangonan, Rizal,Respondents.
respondents for opposing the sale of the subject properties.
DECISION
The necessity of partition could not be more emphasized than
in Rodriguez v. Court of First Instance of Rizal, 23 to PERLAS-BERNABE, J.:
wit:chanRoblesvirtualLawlibrary

x x x That this recourse would entail considerable time, trouble and Assailed in this petition for review on certiorari1 are the
expense, unwarranted by the value of the property from the Decision2 dated May 12, 2010 and the Resolution3 dated September
standpoint of the [respondents], is no legal justification for the 15, 2010 of the Court of Appeals (CA) in CA G.R. CV No. 92113
apportionment of the property not agreeable to any of the co– which affirmed the Decision4 dated July 8, 2008 of the Regional Trial
owners. Disagreements and differences impossible of adjustment by Court of Binangonan, Rizal, Branch 69 (RTC) that dismissed Civil
the parties themselves are bound to arise, and it is precisely with Case Nos. 03-022 and 05-003 for reconveyance, annulment of sale,
such contingency in view that the law on partition was evolved. 24 deed of real estate mortgage, foreclosure and certificate of sale, and
damages.
WHEREFORE, based on the foregoing, the petition
is DENIED without prejudice to the filing of an action for partition. The Facts
The Decision of the Court of Appeals in CA–G.R. CV No. 76449
is AFFIRMED. The property subject of this case is a parcel of land with an area of
20,862 square meters (sq. m.), located in Sitio Tagpos, Barangay
SO ORDERED. Tayuman, Binangonan, Rizal, known as Lot 18089.5

G.R. No. 193787 April 7, 2014 On July 21, 1977, petitioners-spouses Jose C. Roque and Beatriz
dela Cruz Roque (Sps. Roque) and the original owners of the then
SPOUSES JOSE C. ROQUE AND BEATRIZ DELA CRUZ ROQUE, unregistered Lot 18089 – namely, Velia R. Rivero (Rivero),
with deceased Jose C. Roque represented by his substitute heir Magdalena Aguilar, Angela Gonzales, Herminia R. Bernardo,
JOVETTE ROQUE-LIBREA, Petitioners, Antonio Rivero, Araceli R. Victa, Leonor R. Topacio, and Augusto
Rivero (Rivero, et al.) – executed a Deed of Conditional Sale of Real

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Property6 (1977 Deed of Conditional Sale) over a 1,231-sq. m. On June 16, 2003, Sps. Roque filed a complaint15 for reconveyance,
portion of Lot 18089 (subject portion) for a consideration annulment of sale, deed of real estate mortgage, foreclosure, and
of P30,775.00. The parties agreed that Sps. Roque shall make an certificate of sale, and damages before the RTC, docketed as Civil
initial payment of P15,387.50 upon signing, while the remaining Case No. 03-022, against Aguado, Sabug, Jr., NCCP, Land Bank,
balance of the purchase price shall be payable upon the registration the Register of Deeds of Morong, Rizal, and Sheriff Cecilio U. Pulan,
of Lot 18089, as well as the segregation and the concomitant seeking to be declared as the true owners of the subject portion
issuance of a separate title over the subject portion in their names. which had been erroneously included in the sale between Aguado
After the deed’s execution, Sps. Roque took possession and and Sabug, Jr., and, subsequently, the mortgage to Land Bank, both
introduced improvements on the subject portion which they utilized covering Lot 18089 in its entirety.
as a balut factory.7
In defense, NCCP and Sabug, Jr. denied any knowledge of the 1977
On August 12, 1991, Fructuoso Sabug, Jr. (Sabug, Jr.), former Deed of Conditional Sale through which the subject portion had been
Treasurer of the National Council of Churches in the Philippines purportedly conveyed to Sps. Roque.16
(NCCP), applied for a free patent over the entire Lot 18089 and was
eventually issued Original Certificate of Title (OCT) No. M-59558 in For her part, Aguado raised the defense of an innocent purchaser for
his name on October 21, 1991. On June 24, 1993, Sabug, Jr. and value as she allegedly derived her title (through the 1999 Deed of
Rivero, in her personal capacity and in representation of Rivero, et Absolute Sale) from Sabug, Jr., the registered owner in OCT No. M-
al., executed a Joint Affidavit9 (1993 Joint Affidavit), acknowledging 5955, covering Lot 18089, which certificate of title at the time of sale
that the subject portion belongs to Sps. Roque and expressed their was free from any lien and/or encumbrances. She also claimed that
willingness to segregate the same from the entire area of Lot 18089. Sps. Roque’s cause of action had already prescribed because their
adverse claim was made only on April 21, 2003, or four (4) years
On December 8, 1999, however, Sabug, Jr., through a Deed of from the date OCT No. M-5955 was issued in Sabug, Jr.’s name on
Absolute Sale10 (1999 Deed of Absolute Sale), sold Lot 18089 to one December 17, 1999.17
Ma. Pamela P. Aguado (Aguado) for P2,500,000.00, who, in turn,
caused the cancellation of OCT No. M-5955 and the issuance of On the other hand, Land Bank averred that it had no knowledge of
Transfer Certificate of Title (TCT) No. M-96692 dated December 17, Sps. Roque’s claim relative to the subject portion, considering that at
199911 in her name. the time the loan was taken out, Lot 18089 in its entirety was
registered in Aguado’s name and no lien and/or encumbrance was
Thereafter, Aguado obtained an P8,000,000.00 loan from the Land annotated on her certificate of title.18
Bank of the Philippines (Land Bank) secured by a mortgage over Lot
18089.12 When she failed to pay her loan obligation, Land Bank Meanwhile, on January 18, 2005, NCCP filed a separate
commenced extra-judicial foreclosure proceedings and eventually complaint19 also for declaration of nullity of documents and
tendered the highest bid in the auction sale. Upon Aguado’s failure to certificates of title and damages, docketed as Civil Case No. 05-003.
redeem the subject property, Land Bank consolidated its ownership, It claimed to be the real owner of Lot 18089 which it supposedly
and TCT No. M-11589513 was issued in its name on July 21, 2003.14 acquired from Sabug, Jr. through an oral contract of sale 20 in the
early part of 1998, followed by the execution of a Deed of Absolute

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Sale on December 2, 1998 (1998 Deed of Absolute Sale).21 NCCP With respect to Sps. Roque’s complaint, the RTC found that the
also alleged that in October of the same year, it entered into a Joint latter failed to establish their ownership over the subject portion,
Venture Agreement (JVA) with Pilipinas Norin Construction considering the following: (a) the supposed owners-vendors, i.e.,
Development Corporation (PNCDC), a company owned by Aguado’s Rivero, et al., who executed the 1977 Deed of Conditional Sale, had
parents, for the development of its real properties, including Lot no proof of their title over Lot 18089; (b) the 1977 Deed of
18089, into a subdivision project, and as such, turned over its copy Conditional Sale was not registered with the Office of the Register of
of OCT No. M-5955 to PNCDC.22 Upon knowledge of the purported Deeds;29 (c) the 1977 Deed of Conditional Sale is neither a deed of
sale of Lot 18089 to Aguado, Sabug, Jr. denied the transaction and conveyance nor a transfer document, as it only gives the holder the
alleged forgery. Claiming that the Aguados23 and PNCDC conspired right to compel the supposed vendors to execute a deed of absolute
to defraud NCCP, it prayed that PNCDC’s corporate veil be pierced sale upon full payment of the consideration; (d) neither Sps. Roque
and that the Aguados be ordered to pay the amount of nor the alleged owners-vendors, i.e., Rivero, et al., have paid real
₱38,092,002.00 representing the unrealized profit from the property taxes in relation to Lot 18089; and (e) Sps. Roque’s
JVA.24 Moreover, NCCP averred that Land Bank failed to exercise occupation of the subject portion did not ripen into ownership that
the diligence required to ascertain the true owners of Lot 18089. can be considered superior to the ownership of Land
Hence, it further prayed that: (a) all acts of ownership and dominion Bank.30 Moreover, the RTC ruled that Sps. Roque’s action for
over Lot 18089 that the bank might have done or caused to be done reconveyance had already prescribed, having been filed ten (10)
be declared null and void; (b) it be declared the true and real owners years after the issuance of OCT No. M-5955.31
of Lot 18089; and (c) the Register of Deeds of Morong, Rizal be
ordered to cancel any and all certificates of title covering the lot, and On the other hand, regarding NCCP’s complaint, the RTC observed
a new one be issued in its name.25 In its answer, Land Bank that while it anchored its claim of ownership over Lot 18089 on the
reiterated its stance that Lot 18089 was used as collateral for 1998 Deed of Absolute Sale, the said deed was not annotated on
the P8,000,000.00 loan obtained by the Countryside Rural Bank, OCT No. M-5955. Neither was any certificate of title issued in its
Aguado, and one Bella Palasaga. There being no lien and/ or name nor did it take possession of Lot 18089 or paid the real
encumbrance annotated on its certificate of title, i.e., TCT No. M- property taxes therefor. Hence, NCCP’s claim cannot prevail against
115895, it cannot be held liable for NCCP’s claims. Thus, it prayed Land Bank’s title, which was adjudged by the RTC as an innocent
for the dismissal of NCCP’s complaint.26 purchaser for value. Also, the RTC disregarded NCCP’s allegation
that the signature of Sabug, Jr. on the 1999 Deed of Absolute Sale in
On September 7, 2005, Civil Case Nos. 02-022 and 05-003 were favor of Aguado was forged because his signatures on both
ordered consolidated.27 instruments bear semblances of similarity and appear genuine.
Besides, the examiner from the National Bureau of Investigation,
The RTC Ruling who purportedly found that Sabug, Jr.’s signature thereon was
spurious leading to the dismissal of a criminal case against him, was
not presented as a witness in the civil action.32
After due proceedings, the RTC rendered a Decision28 dated July 8,
2008, dismissing the complaints of Sps. Roque and NCCP.
Finally, the RTC denied the parties’ respective claims for damages. 33

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The CA Ruling thereof.42 Being the first purchasers and in actual possession of the
disputed portion, they assert that they have a better right over the
On appeal, the Court of Appeals (CA) affirmed the foregoing RTC 1,231- sq. m. portion of Lot 18089 and, hence, cannot be ousted
findings in a Decision34 dated May 12, 2010. While Land Bank was therefrom by Land Bank, which was adjudged as a
not regarded as a mortgagee/purchaser in good faith with respect to ortgagee/purchaser in bad faith, pursuant to Article 1544 of the Civil
the subject portion considering Sps. Roque’s possession Code.43
thereof,35 the CA did not order its reconveyance or segregation in the
latter’s favor because of Sps. Roque’s failure to pay the remaining In opposition, Land Bank espouses that the instant petition should be
balance of the purchase price. Hence, it only directed Land Bank to dismissed for raising questions of fact, in violation of the proscription
respect Sps. Roque’s possession with the option to appropriate the under Rule 45 of the Rules of Court which allows only pure questions
improvements introduced thereon upon payment of compensation.36 of law to be raised.44 Moreover, it denied that ownership over the
subject portion had been acquired by Sps. Roque who admittedly
As regards NCCP, the CA found that it failed to establish its right failed to pay the remaining balance of the purchase price.45 Besides,
over Lot 18089 for the following reasons: (a) the sale to it of the lot Land Bank points out that Sps. Roque’s action for reconveyance had
by Sabug, Jr. was never registered; and (b) there is no showing that already prescribed.46
it was in possession of Lot 18089 or any portion thereof from 1998.
Thus, as far as NCCP is concerned, Land Bank is a Instead of traversing the arguments of Sps. Roque, NCCP, in its
mortgagee/purchaser in good faith.37 Comment47 dated December 19, 2011, advanced its own case,
arguing that the CA erred in holding that it failed to establish its
Aggrieved, both Sps. Roque38 and NCCP39 moved for claimed ownership over Lot 18089 in its entirety. Incidentally,
reconsideration but were denied by the CA in a Resolution40dated NCCP’s appeal from the CA Decision dated May 12, 2010 was
September 15, 2010, prompting them to seek further recourse before already denied by the Court,48 and hence, will no longer be dealt with
the Court. in this case.

The Issue Before the Court The Court’s Ruling

The central issue in this case is whether or not the CA erred in not The petition lacks merit.
ordering the reconveyance of the subject portion in Sps. Roque’s
favor. The essence of an action for reconveyance is to seek the transfer of
the property which was wrongfully or erroneously registered in
Sps. Roque maintain that the CA erred in not declaring them as the another person’s name to its rightful owner or to one with a better
lawful owners of the subject portion despite having possessed the right.49 Thus, it is incumbent upon the aggrieved party to show that
same since the execution of the 1977 Deed of Conditional Sale, he has a legal claim on the property superior to that of the registered
sufficient for acquisitive prescription to set in in their favor. 41 To owner and that the property has not yet passed to the hands of an
bolster their claim, they also point to the 1993 Joint Affidavit whereby innocent purchaser for value.50
Sabug, Jr. and Rivero acknowledged their ownership

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Sps. Roque claim that the subject portion covered by the 1977 Deed Roque’s belief.52 In this relation, it has been consistently ruled that
of Conditional Sale between them and Rivero, et al. was wrongfully where the seller promises to execute a deed of absolute sale upon
included in the certificates of title covering Lot 18089, and, hence, the completion by the buyer of the payment of the purchase price,
must be segregated therefrom and their ownership thereof be the contract is only a contract to sell even if their agreement is
confirmed. The salient portions of the said deed state: denominated as a Deed of Conditional Sale,53 as in this case. This
treatment stems from the legal characterization of a contract to sell,
DEED OF CONDITIONAL SALE OF REAL PROPERTY that is, a bilateral contract whereby the prospective seller, while
expressly reserving the ownership of the subject property despite
KNOW ALL MEN BY THESE PRESENTS: delivery thereof to the prospective buyer, binds himself to sell the
subject property exclusively to the prospective buyer upon fulfillment
of the condition agreed upon, such as, the full payment of the
xxxx purchase price.54 Elsewise stated, in a contract to sell, ownership is
retained by the vendor and is not to pass to the vendee until full
That for and in consideration of the sum of THIRTY THOUSAND payment of the purchase price.55 Explaining the subject matter
SEVEN HUNDRED SEVENTY FIVE PESOS (P30,775.00), further, the Court, in Ursal v. CA,56 held that:
Philippine Currency, payable in the manner hereinbelow specified,
the VENDORS do hereby sell, transfer and convey unto the [I]n contracts to sell the obligation of the seller to sell becomes
VENDEE, or their heirs, executors, administrators, or assignors, that demandable only upon the happening of the suspensive condition,
unsegregated portion of the above lot, x x x. that is, the full payment of the purchase price by the buyer. It is only
upon the existence of the contract of sale that the seller becomes
That the aforesaid amount shall be paid in two installments, the first obligated to transfer the ownership of the thing sold to the buyer.
installment which is in the amount of __________ (P15,387.50) and Prior to the existence of the contract of sale, the seller is not
the balance in the amount of __________ (P15,387.50), shall be obligated to transfer the ownership to the buyer, even if there is a
paid as soon as the described portion of the property shall have contract to sell between them.
been registered under the Land Registration Act and a Certificate of
Title issued accordingly; Here, it is undisputed that Sps. Roque have not paid the final
installment of the purchase price.57 As such, the condition which
That as soon as the total amount of the property has been paid and would have triggered the parties’ obligation to enter into and thereby
the Certificate of Title has been issued, an absolute deed of sale perfect a contract of sale in order to effectively transfer the
shall be executed accordingly; ownership of the subject portion from the sellers (i.e., Rivero et al.) to
the buyers (Sps. Roque) cannot be deemed to have been fulfilled.
x x x x51 Consequently, the latter cannot validly claim ownership over the
subject portion even if they had made an initial payment and even
Examining its provisions, the Court finds that the stipulation above- took possession of the same.58
highlighted shows that the 1977 Deed of Conditional Sale is actually
in the nature of a contract to sell and not one of sale contrary to Sps.

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The Court further notes that Sps. Roque did not even take any active instance, cannot be deemed a buyer in bad faith and the prospective
steps to protect their claim over the disputed portion. This remains buyer cannot seek the relief of reconveyance of the property.
evident from the following circumstances appearing on record: (a)
the 1977 Deed of Conditional Sale was never registered; (b) they did There is no double sale in such case.1âwphi1 Title to the property
not seek the actual/physical segregation of the disputed portion will transfer to the buyer after registration because there is no defect
despite their knowledge of the fact that, as early as 1993, the entire in the owner-seller’s title per se, but the latter, of course, may be
Lot 18089 was registered in Sabug, Jr.’s name under OCT No. M- sued for damages by the intending buyer. (Emphasis supplied)
5955; and (c) while they signified their willingness to pay the balance
of the purchase price,59Sps. Roque neither compelled Rivero et al., On the matter of double sales, suffice it to state that Sps. Roque’s
and/or Sabug, Jr. to accept the same nor did they consign any
reliance64 on Article 154465 of the Civil Code has been misplaced
amount to the court, the proper application of which would have
since the contract they base their claim of ownership on is, as earlier
effectively fulfilled their obligation to pay the purchase
stated, a contract to sell, and not one of sale. In Cheng v.
price.60 Instead, Sps. Roque waited 26 years, reckoned from the
Genato,66 the Court stated the circumstances which must concur in
execution of the 1977 Deed of Conditional Sale, to institute an action order to determine the applicability of Article 1544, none of which are
for reconveyance (in 2003), and only after Lot 18089 was sold to obtaining in this case, viz.:
Land Bank in the foreclosure sale and title thereto was consolidated
in its name. Thus, in view of the foregoing, Sabug, Jr. – as the
registered owner of Lot 18089 borne by the grant of his free patent (a) The two (or more) sales transactions in issue must
application – could validly convey said property in its entirety to pertain to exactly the same subject matter, and must be valid
Aguado who, in turn, mortgaged the same to Land Bank. Besides, as sales transactions;
aptly observed by the RTC, Sps. Roque failed to establish that the
parties who sold the property to them, i.e., Rivero, et al., were indeed (b) The two (or more) buyers at odds over the rightful
its true and lawful owners.61 In fine, Sps. Roque failed to establish ownership of the subject matter must each represent
any superior right over the subject portion as against the registered conflicting interests; and
owner of Lot 18089, i.e., Land Bank, thereby warranting the
dismissal of their reconveyance action, without prejudice to their right (c) The two (or more) buyers at odds over the rightful
to seek damages against the vendors, i.e., Rivero et al.62 As applied ownership of the subject matter must each have bought from
in the case of Coronel v. CA:63 the same seller.

It is essential to distinguish between a contract to sell and a Finally, regarding Sps. Roque’s claims of acquisitive prescription and
conditional contract of sale specially in cases where the subject reimbursement for the value of the improvements they have
property is sold by the owner not to the party the seller contracted introduced on the subject property,67 it is keenly observed that none
with, but to a third person, as in the case at bench. In a contract to of the arguments therefor were raised before the trial court or the
sell, there being no previous sale of the property, a third person CA.68 Accordingly, the Court applies the well-settled rule that litigants
buying such property despite the fulfilment of the suspensive cannot raise an issue for the first time on appeal as this would
condition such as the full payment of the purchase price, for contravene the basic rules of fair play and justice. In any event, such

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claims appear to involve questions of fact which are generally situated in Bo. Canaoay, San Fernando, La Union. The application
prohibited under a Rule 45 petition.69 was filed with the RTC and docketed as LRC No. 2372.

With the conclusions herein reached, the Court need not belabor on The spouses Fortuna stated that Lot No. 4457 was originally owned
the other points raised by the parties, and ultimately finds it proper to by Pastora Vendiola, upon whose death was succeeded by her
proceed with the denial of the petition. children, Clemente and Emeteria Nones. Through an affidavit of
adjudication dated August 3, 1972, Emeteria renounced all her
WHEREFORE, the petition is DENIED. The Decision dated May 12, interest in Lot No. 4457 in favor of Clemente. Clemente later sold the
2010 and the Resolution dated September 15, 2010 of the Court of lot in favor of Rodolfo Cuenca on May 23, 1975. Rodolfo sold the
Appeals in CAG.R. CV No. 92113 are hereby AFFIRMED. same lot to the spouses Fortuna through a deed of absolute sale
dated May 4, 1984.
SO ORDERED.
The spouses Fortuna claimed that they, through themselves and
their predecessors-in-interest, have been in quiet, peaceful, adverse
G.R. No. 173423 March 5, 2014 and uninterrupted possession of Lot No. 4457 for more than 50
years, and submitted as evidence the lot’s survey plan, technical
SPS. ANTONIO FORTUNA and ERLINDA FORTUNA, Petitioners, description, and certificate of assessment.
vs.
REPUBLIC OF THE PHILIPPINES, Respondent. Although the respondent, Republic of the Philippines (Republic),
opposed the application,5 it did not present any evidence in support
DECISION of its opposition. Since no private opposition to the registration was
filed, the RTC issued an order of general default on November 11,
BRION, J.: 1996 against the whole world, except the Republic.6

Before the Court is a petition for review on certiorari 1 filed by the In its Decision dated May 7, 2001,7 the RTC granted the application
petitioners, spouses Antonio and Erlinda Fortuna, assailing the for registration in favor of the spouses Fortuna. The RTC declared
decision dated May 16, 20052 and the resolution dated June 27, that "[the spouses Fortuna] have established [their] possession,
20063 of the Court of Appeals (CA) in CA-G.R. CV No. 71143. The including that of their predecessors-in-interest of the land sought to
CA reversed and set aside the decision dated May 7, 20014 of the be registered, has been open, continuous, peaceful, adverse against
Regional Trial Court (RTC) of San Fernando, La Union, Branch 66, the whole world and in the concept of an owner since 1948, or for a
in Land Registration Case (LRC) No. 2372. period of over fifty (50) years."8

THE BACKGROUND FACTS The Republic appealed the RTC decision with the CA, arguing that
the spouses Fortuna did not present an official proclamation from the
In December 1994, the spouses Fortuna filed an application for government that the lot has been classified as alienable and
registration of a 2,597-square meter land identified as Lot No. 4457, disposable agricultural land. It also claimed that the spouses

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Fortuna’s evidence – Tax Declaration No. 8366 – showed that basis of the Court’s ruling in Tañada, et al. v. Hon. Tuvera, etc., et
possession over the lot dates back only to 1948, thus, failing to meet al.,13 they allege that PD No. 1073 and the PRD should be deemed
the June 12, 1945 cut-off period provided under Section 14(1) of effective only on May 24, 1977 and January 17, 1979, respectively.
Presidential Decree (PD) No. 1529 or the Property Registration By these dates, they claim to have already satisfied the 30-year
Decree (PRD). requirement under the RA No. 1942 amendment because Pastora’s
possession dates back, at the latest, to 1947.
In its decision dated May 16, 2005,9 the CA reversed and set aside
the RTC decision. Although it found that the spouses Fortuna were They allege that although Tax Declaration No. 8366 was made in
able to establish the alienable and disposable nature of the 1948, this does not contradict that fact that Pastora possessed Lot
land,10 they failed to show that they complied with the length of No. 4457 before 1948. The failure to present documentary evidence
possession that the law requires, i.e., since June 12, 1945. It agreed proving possession earlier than 1948 was explained by Filma
with the Republic’s argument that Tax Declaration No. 8366 only Salazar, Records Officer of the Provincial Assessor’s Office, who
showed that the spouses Fortuna’s predecessor-in-interest, Pastora, testified that the records were lost beyond recovery due to the
proved that she had been in possession of the land only since 1948. outbreak of World War II.

The CA denied the spouses Fortuna’s motion for reconsideration of Notwithstanding the absence of documents executed earlier than
its decision in its resolution dated June 27, 2006.11 1948, the spouses Fortuna contend that evidence exists indicating
that Pastora possessed the lot even before 1948. First, Tax
THE PARTIES’ ARGUMENTS Declaration No. 8366 does not contain a statement that it is a new
tax declaration. Second, the annotation found at the back of Tax
Declaration No. 8366 states that "this declaration cancels Tax Nos.
Through the present petition, the spouses Fortuna seek a review of
10543[.]"14 Since Tax Declaration No. 8366 was issued in 1948, the
the CA rulings.
cancelled Tax Declaration No. 10543 was issued, at the latest, in
1947, indicating that there was already an owner and possessor of
They contend that the applicable law is Section 48(b) of the lot before 1948. Third, they rely on the testimony of one Macaria
Commonwealth Act No. 141 or the Public Land Act (PLA), as Flores in LRC No. 2373. LRC No. 2373 was also commenced by the
amended by Republic Act (RA) No. 1942. RA No. 1942 amended the spouses Fortuna to register Lot Nos. 4462, 27066, and
PLA by requiring 30 years of open, continuous, exclusive, and 27098,15 which were also originally owned by Pastora and are
notorious possession to acquire imperfect title over an agricultural adjacent to the subject Lot No. 4457. Macaria testified that she was
land of the public domain. This 30-year period, however, was born in 1926 and resided in a place a few meters from the three lots.
removed by PD No. 1073 and instead required that the possession She stated that she regularly passed by these lots on her way to
should be since June 12, 1945. The amendment introduced by PD school since 1938. She knew the property was owned by Pastora
No. 1073 was carried in Section 14(1) of the PRD.12 because the latter’s family had constructed a house and planted fruit-
bearing trees thereon; they also cleaned the area. On the basis of
The spouses Fortuna point out that PD No. 1073 was issued on Macaria’s testimony and the other evidence presented in LRC No.
January 25, 1977 and published on May 9, 1977; and the PRD was 2373, the RTC granted the spouses Fortuna’s application for
issued on June 11, 1978 and published on January 2, 1979. On the registration of Lot Nos. 4462, 27066, and 27098 in its decision of

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January 3, 2005.16 The RTC’s decision has lapsed into finality specifically, Sections 11 and 48(b), will find application only from the
unappealed. time that a public land has been classified as agricultural and
declared as alienable and disposable.
The spouses Fortuna claim that Macaria’s testimony in LRC No.
2373 should be considered to prove Pastora’s possession prior to Under Section 6 of the PLA,20 the classification and the
1948. Although LRC No. 2373 is a separate registration proceeding, reclassification of public lands are the prerogative of the Executive
it pertained to lots adjacent to the subject property, Lot No. 4457, Department. The President, through a presidential proclamation or
and belonged to the same predecessor-in-interest. Explaining their executive order, can classify or reclassify a land to be included or
failure to present Macaria in the proceedings before the RTC in LRC excluded from the public domain. The Department of Environment
No. 2372, the spouses Fortuna said "it was only after the reception of and Natural Resources (DENR) Secretary is likewise empowered by
evidence x x x that [they] were able to trace and establish the identity law to approve a land classification and declare such land as
and competency of Macaria[.]"17 alienable and disposable.21

Commenting on the spouses Fortuna’s petition, the Republic relied Accordingly, jurisprudence has required that an applicant for
mostly on the CA’s ruling which denied the registration of title and registration of title acquired through a public land grant must present
prayed for the dismissal of the petition. incontrovertible evidence that the land subject of the application is
alienable or disposable by establishing the existence of a positive act
THE COURT’S RULING of the government, such as a presidential proclamation or an
executive order; an administrative action; investigation reports of
Bureau of Lands investigators; and a legislative act or a statute.
We deny the petition for failure of the spouses Fortuna to sufficiently
prove their compliance with the requisites for the acquisition of title to
alienable lands of the public domain. In this case, the CA declared that the alienable nature of the land
was established by the notation in the survey plan,22 which states:
The nature of Lot No. 4457 as alienable and
disposable public land has not been sufficiently This survey is inside alienable and disposable area as per Project
established No. 13 L.C. Map No. 1395 certified August 7, 1940. It is outside any
civil or military reservation.23
The Constitution declares that all lands of the public domain are
owned by the State.18 Of the four classes of public land, i.e., It also relied on the Certification dated July 19, 1999 from the DENR
agricultural lands, forest or timber lands, mineral lands, and national Community Environment and Natural Resources Office (CENRO)
parks, only agricultural lands may be alienated.19 Public land that has that "there is, per record, neither any public land application filed nor
not been classified as alienable agricultural land remains part of the title previously issued for the subject parcel[.]"24 However, we find
inalienable public domain. Thus, it is essential for any applicant for that neither of the above documents is evidence of a positive act
registration of title to land derived through a public grant to establish from the government reclassifying the lot as alienable and
foremost the alienable and disposable nature of the land. The PLA disposable agricultural land of the public domain.
provisions on the grant and disposition of alienable public lands,

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Mere notations appearing in survey plans are inadequate proof of the Although the above finding that the spouses Fortuna failed to
covered properties’ alienable and disposable character.25 These establish the alienable and disposable character of Lot No. 4457
notations, at the very least, only establish that the land subject of the serves as sufficient ground to deny the petition and terminate the
application for registration falls within the approved alienable and case, we deem it proper to continue to address the other important
disposable area per verification through survey by the proper legal issues raised in the petition.
government office. The applicant, however, must also present a copy
of the original classification of the land into alienable and disposable As mentioned, the PLA is the law that governs the grant and
land, as declared by the DENR Secretary or as proclaimed by the disposition of alienable agricultural lands. Under Section 11 of the
President.26 In Republic v. Heirs of Juan Fabio, 27 the Court ruled that PLA, alienable lands of the public domain may be disposed of,
[t]he applicant for land registration must prove that the DENR among others, by judicial confirmation of imperfect or incomplete
Secretary had approved the land classification and released the land title. This mode of acquisition of title is governed by Section 48(b) of
of the public domain as alienable and disposable, and that the land the PLA, the original version of which states:
subject of the application for registration falls within the approved
area per verification through survey by the PENRO28 or CENRO. In Sec. 48. The following-described citizens of the Philippines,
addition, the applicant must present a copy of the original occupying lands of the public domain or claiming to own any such
classification of the land into alienable and disposable, as declared
lands or an interest therein, but whose titles have not been perfected
by the DENR Secretary, or as proclaimed by the President.
or completed, may apply to the Court of First Instance of the
province where the land is located for confirmation of their claims
The survey plan and the DENR-CENRO certification are not proof and the issuance of a certificate of title therefor, under the Land
that the President or the DENR Secretary has reclassified and Registration Act, to wit:
released the public land as alienable and disposable. The offices that
prepared these documents are not the official repositories or legal
xxxx
custodian of the issuances of the President or the DENR Secretary
declaring the public land as alienable and disposable.29
(b) Those who by themselves or through their predecessors-in-
interest have been in open, continuous, exclusive, and notorious
For failure to present incontrovertible evidence that Lot No. 4457 has
possession and occupation of agricultural lands of the public domain,
been reclassified as alienable and disposable land of the public
under a bona fide claim of acquisition or ownership, except as
domain though a positive act of the Executive Department, the
against the Government, since July twenty-sixth, eighteen hundred
spouses Fortuna’s claim of title through a public land grant under the and ninety- four, except when prevented by war or force majeure.
PLA should be denied. These shall be conclusively presumed to have performed all the
conditions essential to a government grant and shall be entitled to a
In judicial confirmation of imperfect certificate of title under the provisions of this chapter. [emphasis
or incomplete title, the period of supplied]
possession should commence, at the
latest, as of May 9, 1947

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On June 22, 1957, the cut-off date of July 26, 1894 was replaced by January 24, 1947 may apply for judicial confirmation of their
a 30-year period of possession under RA No. 1942. Section 48(b) of imperfect or incomplete title under Sec. 48(b) of the [PLA]." January
the PLA, as amended by RA No. 1942, read: 24, 1947 was considered as the cut-off date as this was exactly 30
years counted backward from January 25, 1977 – the effectivity date
(b) Those who by themselves or through their predecessors in of PD No. 1073.
interest have been in open, continuous, exclusive and notorious
possession and occupation of agricultural lands of the public domain, It appears, however, that January 25, 1977 was the date PD No.
under a bona fide claim of acquisition of ownership, for at least thirty 1073 was enacted; based on the certification from the National
years immediately preceding the filing of the application for Printing Office,31 PD No. 1073 was published in Vol. 73, No. 19 of
confirmation of title, except when prevented by war or force majeure. the Official Gazette, months later than its enactment or on May 9,
[emphasis and underscore ours] 1977. This uncontroverted fact materially affects the cut-off date for
applications for judicial confirmation of incomplete title under Section
On January 25, 1977, PD No. 1073 replaced the 30-year period of 48(b) of the PLA.
possession by requiring possession since June 12, 1945. Section 4
of PD No. 1073 reads: Although Section 6 of PD No. 1073 states that "[the] Decree shall
take effect upon its promulgation," the Court has declared in Tañada,
SEC. 4. The provisions of Section 48(b) and Section 48(c), Chapter et al. v. Hon. Tuvera, etc., et al.32 that the publication of laws is an
VIII of the Public Land Act are hereby amended in the sense that indispensable requirement for its effectivity. "[A]ll statutes, including
these provisions shall apply only to alienable and disposable lands of those of local application and private laws, shall be published as a
the public domain which have been in open, continuous, exclusive condition for their effectivity, which shall begin fifteen days after
and notorious possession and occupation by the applicant himself or publication unless a different effectivity date is fixed by the
thru his predecessor-in-interest, under a bona fide claim of legislature."33 Accordingly, Section 6 of PD No. 1073 should be
acquisition of ownership, since June 12, 1945. [emphasis supplied] understood to mean that the decree took effect only upon its
publication, or on May 9, 1977. This, therefore, moves the cut-off
date for applications for judicial confirmation of imperfect or
Under the PD No. 1073 amendment, possession of at least 32 years
incomplete title under Section 48(b) of the PLA to May 8, 1947. In
– from 1945 up to its enactment in 1977 – is required. This effectively
other words, applicants must prove that they have been in open,
impairs the vested rights of applicants who had complied with the 30-
continuous, exclusive and notorious possession and occupation of
year possession required under the RA No. 1942 amendment, but
whose possession commenced only after the cut-off date of June 12, agricultural lands of the public domain, under a bona fide claim of
1945 was established by the PD No. 1073 amendment. To remedy acquisition of ownership, for at least 30 years, or at least since May
8, 1947.
this, the Court ruled in Abejaron v. Nabasa30that "Filipino citizens
who by themselves or their predecessors-in-interest have been, prior
to the effectivity of P.D. 1073 on January 25, 1977, in open, The spouses Fortuna were unable to prove
continuous, exclusive and notorious possession and occupation of that they possessed Lot No. 4457 since May 8, 1947
agricultural lands of the public domain, under a bona fide claim of
acquisition of ownership, for at least 30 years, or at least since

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Even if the Court assumes that Lot No. 4457 is an alienable and testimony constituted as the "well-nigh incontrovertible evidence"
disposable agricultural land of the public domain, the spouses required in cases of this nature.
Fortuna’s application for registration of title would still not prosper for
failure to sufficiently prove that they possessed the land since May 8, The records disclose that the spouses Fortuna acquired adjoining
1947. parcels of land, all of which are claimed to have previously belonged
to Pastora. These parcels of land were covered by three separate
The spouses Fortuna’s allegation that: (1) the absence of a notation applications for registration, to wit:
that Tax Declaration No. 8366 was a new tax declaration and (2) the
notation stating that Tax Declaration No. 8366 cancels the earlier a. LRC No. N-1278, involving Lot Nos. 1 and 2, with a total
Tax Declaration No. 10543 both indicate that Pastora possessed the area of 2,961 sq. m., commenced by Emeteria;
land prior to 1948 or, at the earliest, in 1947. We also observe that
Tax Declaration No. 8366 contains a sworn statement of the owner
b. LRC No. 2373, involving Lot Nos. 4462, 27066, and
that was subscribed on October 23, 1947.34 While these 27098, with a total area of 4,006 sq. m., commenced by the
circumstances may indeed indicate possession as of 1947, none spouses Fortuna; and
proves that it commenced as of the cut-off date of May 8, 1947. Even
if the tax declaration indicates possession since 1947, it does not
show the nature of Pastora’s possession. Notably, Section 48(b) of c. LRC No. 2372 (the subject case), involving Lot No. 4457,
the PLA speaks of possession and occupation. "Since these words with a total area of 2,597 sq. m.
are separated by the conjunction and, the clear intention of the law is
not to make one synonymous with the other. Possession is broader As these cases involved different but adjoining lots that belonged to
than occupation because it includes constructive possession. When, the same predecessor-in-interest, the spouses Fortuna alleged that
therefore, the law adds the word occupation, it seeks to delimit the all the final rulings in LRC Nos. N-1278 and 2373,37 upholding Pastora’s
encompassing effect of constructive possession. Taken together with ownership, be taken into account in resolving the present case.
the words open, continuous, exclusive and notorious, the word
occupation serves to highlight the fact that for an applicant to qualify, Notably, the total land area of the adjoining lots that are claimed to
his possession must not be a mere fiction."35 Nothing in Tax have previously belonged to Pastora is 9,564 sq. m. This is too big
Declaration No. 8366 shows that Pastora exercised acts of an area for the Court to consider that Pastora’s claimed acts of
possession and occupation such as cultivation of or fencing off the possession and occupation (as testified to by Macaria) encompassed
land. Indeed, the lot was described as "cogonal."36 the entirety of the lots. Given the size of the lots, it is unlikely that
Macaria (age 21 in 1947) could competently assess and declare that
The spouses Fortuna seeks to remedy the defects of Tax its entirety belonged to Pastora because she saw acts of possession
Declaration No. 8366 by relying on Macaria’s testimony in a separate and occupation in what must have been but a limited area. As
land registration proceeding, LRC No. 2373. Macaria alleged that mentioned, Tax Declaration No. 8366 described Lot No. 4457 as
she passed by Pastora’s lots on her way to school, and she saw "cogonal," thus, Macaria could not have also been referring to Lot
Pastora’s family construct a house, plant fruit-bearing trees, and No. 4457 when she said that Pastora planted fruit-bearing trees on
clean the area. However, the Court is not convinced that Macaria’s her properties.

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FULL TEXT LAND TI CASES 2016 (TORREONIC)
COR JESU COLLEGE

The lower courts' final rulings in LRC Nos. N-1278 and 2373,
upholding Pastora's possession, do not tie this Court's hands into
ruling in favor of the spouses Fortuna. Much to our dismay, the
rulings in LRC Nos. N-1278 and 2373 do not even show that the lots
have been officially reclassified as alienable lands of the public
domain or that the nature and duration of Pastora's occupation met
the requirements of the PLA, thus, failing to convince us to either
disregard the rules of evidence or consider their merits. In this
regard, we reiterate our directive in Santiago v. De las Santos:38

Both under the 193 5 and the present Constitutions, the conservation
no less than the utilization of the natural resources is ordained.
There would be a failure to abide by its command if the judiciary
does not scrutinize with care applications to private ownership of real
estate. To be granted, they must be grounded in well-nigh
incontrovertible evidence. Where, as in this case, no such proof
would be forthcoming, there is no justification for viewing such claim
with favor. It is a basic assumption of our polity that lands of
whatever classification belong to the state. Unless alienated in
accordance with law, it retains its rights over the same as do minus.

WHEREFORE, the petition is DENIED. The decision dated May 16,
2005 and the resolution dated June 27, 2006 of the Court of Appeals
in CA-G.R. CV No. 71143 are AFFIRMED insofar as these dismissed
the spouses Antonio and Erlinda Fortuna's application of registration
of title on the basis of the grounds discussed above. Costs against
the spouses Fortuna.

SO ORDERED.

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