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LLB 1st Year
Case Digest, PERFAM (Unjust Enrichment)


G.R. No. 163794, November 28, 2008

Petitioners: Republic of the Philippines, represented by Romeo T. Acosta

(formerly Jose D. Malvas), Director of Forest Management Bureau,
Department of Environment and Natural Resources

Respondents: Hon. Normelito J. Ballocanag, Presiding Judge, Branch 41,

regional Trial Court, Pinamalayan, Oriental Mindoro and Danilo Reyes

Ponente: NACHURA, J.

Sometime in 1970, After Danilo Reyes brought a land from Regina Castillo
with OTC of Title No. P-2388, he introduced improvements and planted the
land with fruit bearing trees. Later, the land turned out to be part of the
timberland of Oriental Mindoro which is considered to be an alienable and
disposable area and therefore cannot be subjected to any disposition and
acquisition. The RTC and the CA ruled against Reyes in favor of the Republic
and said that the title of Reyes in the two-hectare land which appears
disposable and alienable is null and void. The SC affirmed the decision. Years
after the finality of the case, Reyes filed a motion to remove improvements
which the RTC granted and CA affirmed. The OSG petitions that the
consideration of the issue is barred by res judicata.


1. Whether or not the motion to remove improvements can be granted

(by the RTC and CA) even if the case has already reach its finality.
2. Whether or not Reyes should be allowed to remove the improvements.


1. Yes. Prior decisions simply ordered the reversion of the property to the
State and did not considered the improvements that Reyes had
introduced on the property or provide him with any remedy relative
thereto. The Court is not precluded from rectifying errors of judgment
if blind and stubborn adherence to the doctrine of immutability of final
judgments would involve the sacrifice of justice for technicality.

2. Article 22 of the Civil Code prohibits unjust enrichment. The requisite

for the application of this doctrine are present in the case. There is
enrichment on the part of the petitioner, as the State would come into
possession of and may technically appropriate the more than one
thousand fruit bearing trees planted by the private respondent. There
is impoverishment on the part of Reyes, because he stands to lose
improvements he had painstakingly planted and invested in. Reyes
introduced the improvement in good faith because he believed that the
land is owned by him having hold of the title. However, to grant his
motion to remove improvement will be against the Agro-Forestry Farm
Lease Agreement (AFFLA), even if Reyes is legally allowed to do so, it
would be risking substantial damage to the land. The only equitable
alternative is to order the Republic to pay Reyes the value of
improvements he introduced.


The SC denied the petition and affirmed the June 4, 2004 decision of
the CA with modification. The RTC of Panimalayan, Oriental Mindoro, Branch
41 is directed to determine the actual improvements introduced, their
current value and amount of expenses spent by Reyes. The Republic through
the Bureau of Forest Development of DENR is directed to pay Reyes in the
value determined by the RTC with the right of subrogation against the lessee
in AFFLA, Atty. Marte.