You are on page 1of 31

PROPERTY- QUIETING OF TITLE

G.R. No. 148748 January 14, 2015 subdivision. x x x midiendo una extension superficial de DOS paying the real property taxes over the subject land since
MIL OCHOCIENTOS TREINTA Y CINCO METROS 1949.8
IMELDA, LEONARDO, FIDELINO, AZUCENA, JOSEFINA, CUADRADOS CON TREINTA DECIMETROS CUADRADOS
ANITA and SISA, all surnamed SYJUCO, Petitioners, (2, 835), mas o menos. x x x la fecha de la medicion original 8 Among the annotations on TCT No. T-108530 are two
REPUBLIC OF THE PHILIPPINES, Petitioner-Intervenor, al 27 de Septiembre, 4 al 21 de Octubre y 17-18 de Noviembre encumbrances constituted by petitioners and/or their
vs. de 1911 y la de la subdivision, 29 de Diciembre de 1924. predecessors-in-interest on the subject land, particularly: (1) a
FELISA D. BONIFACIO and VSD REALTY & (Consta la descripcion decinica en el Certificado de lease agreement dated September 24, 1963, in favor of
DEVELOPMENT CORPORATION, Respondents. Transferencia de Titulo No. 10301) Manufacturers Bank and Trust Company (Manufacturers
Bank), over a portion of the subject land, with the condition
DECISION xxxx that the buildings which the lessee had constructed thereon
shall become the property of the lessor/s after the expiration of
LEONARDO-DE CASTRO, J.: is registered in accordance with the provisions of the Land the lease agreement; and (2) another lease agreement dated
Registration Act in the name of IMELDA G. SYJUCO; December 20, 1971, in favor of a certain Chan Heng, over the
For review on certiorari under Rule 45 of the Rules of Court is LEONARDO G. SYJUCO; FIDELINO G. SYJUCO; AZUCENA remaining portion of the subject land.9
the Decision1 dated February 23, 2001 and Resolution2 dated G. SYJUCO; JOSEFINA G. SYJUCO; ANITA G. SYJUCO;
June 26, 2001 of the Court Appeals in CA-G.R. CV. No. SISA G. SYJUCO, all of legal age, single, Filipinos, - - Sometime in 1994, however, petitioners learned that a broker
57777, which affirmed in toto the Decision3 dated January 9, named Exequiel Fajardo, through a Letter10 dated March 9,
1998 of the Regional Trial Court (RTC), Branch 126 of as owner thereof in fee simple, subject to such of the 1994,offered for sale the subject land along with the
Caloocan City in Civil Case No. C-366. encumbrances mentioned in Section 39 of said Act as may be improvements thereon to a certain Luis Ong, giving the
subsisting, and to the provisions of Sec. 4, Rule 74 of the following description of the property and terms of the offer:
The present controversy involves a parcel of land, measuring Rules of Court with respect to the inheritance left by the
around 2,835 square meters, which originally formed part of a deceased Monica Galauran and Mariano Mesina. (From T.C.T.
wider tract of land, dubbed as the Maysilo Estate (subject AREA: 2,835.30 square meters
No. 12370)
land). The factual antecedents, as culled from the records, are Lot No. 23-A-4-B-2A-3B, PSD 706, TCT
as follows: Petitioners have been in open, continuous, and uninterrupted 265778,
possession of the subject land, by themselves or through their Register of Deeds, Kalookan City
Petitioners Imelda, Leonardo, Fidelino, Azucena, Anita, and predecessors-in-interest, since 1926. Petitioners traced back
Sisa, all surnamed Syjuco (collectively referred to as their title over the subject land to TCT No. 10301 issued on Location: Kalookan City (beside LRT Station)
petitioners) are the registered co-owners of the subject land, February 26, 1926 to Monica Jacinto Galauran. Thereafter,
located in the then Barrio of Balintawak, Municipality of TCT No. 10301 was replaced by TCT No. 8685 under the
Caloocan, Province of Rizal, under Transfer Certificate of Title names of Avelina Baello, Felisa Baello, Dolores Baello, Owner: Felisa D. Bonifacio
(TCT) No. T-1085304 issued by the Register of Deeds of Eduardo Mesina, and Fausto Galauran (Avelina Baello, et al.).
Caloocan City on March 26, 1984. The subject land is TCT No. 8685 was then replaced by TCT No. 12370 under the
particularly described under petitioners certificate of title as The terms of this offer are as follows:
names of the brothers Martin V. Syjuco (Martin) and Manuel V.
follows: Syjuco (Manuel) pursuant to a Deed of Sale of Real
Estate5dated February 7, 1949 executed by Avelina Baello, et Price: P35,000.00 per square meter
It is hereby certified that certain land situated in the Caloocan, al. in favor of the siblings Martin and Manuel. TCT No. 12370
Metro Manila, Philippines, bound and described as follows: was, in turn, replaced by TCT No. 48566 issued on July 1,
1964 in Martins name alone in accordance with a Partition Payment 50% downpayment;
Un terreno (Lote No. 3-B del plano de subdivision Psd-706, Terms: Balance subject to negotiation
Agreement7 executed by the brothers on June 16, 1964. Upon
parte del Lote No. 23-A, plano original Psu-2345 de la
Martins death, petitioners inherited the subject land, and
Hacienda de Maysilo), situado en el Barrio de Balintawak,
following the extrajudicial partition they executed on June 27, Petitioners found out that the purported owner of the subject
Municipio de Caloocan, Provincia de Rizal. Linda por el NE.
1976, they registered said land in their names, as co-owners, land, respondent Felisa D. Bonifacio (Bonifacio), was the sub-
con el Lote No. 3-D del plano de subdivision; por el SE., con el
under TCT No. T-108530 issued on March 26, 1984. lessee of Kalayaan Development Corporation, which, in turn,
Lote No. 3-C del plano de subdivision; por el SO. con el Lote
Petitioners and their predecessors-in-interest have been was the sub-lessee of Manufacturers Bank, which was the
No. 7; y por el No. con el Lote No. 3-A del plano de
1
PROPERTY- QUIETING OF TITLE
direct lessee of petitioners. Petitioners also learned that From the evidence presented, the Court finds that in Case Rizal in favor of the herein petitioner. Upon the finality of this
respondent Bonifacio was able to register the subject land in No. 4557 for Petition for Substitution of Names, in the then order and the payment of the prescribed fees if any and
her name under TCT No. 265778, which was issued on March Court of First Instance of Rizal, Branch 1, the then presentation of the clearances of said lots, the Register of
29, 1993 by the Register of Deeds of Caloocan City. Presiding Judge Cecilia Muoz Palma, issued an Order Deeds of Caloocan City is ordered to issue a new transfer
Respondent Bonifacios certificate of title described the subject dated May 25, 1962 (EXHIBIT "N") substituting Maria de la certificate of title in the name of herein petitioner Felisa D.
land as follows: Concepcion Vidal as one of the registered owners of Bonifacio over Lots 23-A-4-B-2-A-3-A and 23-A-4-B-2-A-3-
several parcels of landforming the Maysilo Estate and Bboth on Psd-[706] of O.C.T. 994 of the Register of Deeds of
It is hereby certified that certain land situated in the Caloocan covered by, among others, Original Certificate of Title No. Rizal.13
City, Philippines, bounded and described as follows: 994 of the Register of Deeds of Rizal with among others
Eleuteria Rivera Bonifacio to the extent of 1/6 of 1- For unexplained reasons, the Register of Deeds of Caloocan
A parcel of land (Lot 23-A-4-B-2-A-3-B of the subd. plan, Psd- 189/1000 per cent of the entire Maysilo Estate. On January City issued TCT No. 265778 to respondent Bonifacio on March
706, L.R.C. Rec.No. ), situated in Balintawak, Caloocan Rizal, 29, 1991, Eleuteria Rivera Bonifacio executed in favor of 29, 1993 even before RTC-Branch 125 declared its Order
Bounded of the E., along line 1-2 by Lot 23-A-4-B-2-A-3-D,on Felisa D. Bonifacio, herein petitioner, a Deed of dated October 8, 1992, granting respondent Bonifacios
the SE., along line 2-3 by lot 23-A-4-B-2-A-3-C; both of the Assignment (EXHIBIT "M") assigning all her rights and petition for segregation, final and executory on April 6, 1993.14
subd. plan on the SW., along line 3-4 by lot 23-A-4-B-2-A-6; interests over Lot 23-A-4-B-2-A-3-A, Psd-706 and Lot 23-A-
and on the NW., along line 4-1 by Lot 23-A-4-B-2-A-3-A of the 4-B-2-A-3-B, Psd-706, both lots being covered by O.C.T. Civil Case No. C-366 before
subd. plan. Beginning at a point marked "1" on plan, being N. 994 of the Register of Deeds of Rizal. That even prior to the RTC-Branch 126
71 deg. 17E., 1,285.85 m. from BLLN No. 1, Caloocan thence; execution of the Deed of Assignment but while negotiations
S. 01 deg. 46W., 27.70 m. to point 2; S 64 deg. 30W., 105.15 with Eleuteria Rivera Bonifacio were going on, petitioner To protect their rights and interest over the subject land,
m. to point 3; N 23 deg. 12 W., 26.39 m. to point 4; N. 65 deg. already requestedthe Lands Management Sector, Department petitioners lodged a Petition15 on July 28, 1994, docketed as
22E., 116.78 m. to pt. of beginning, containing an area of of Environment and Natural Resources, National Capital Civil Case No. C-366 before RTC-Branch 126, Kalookan City,
TWO THOUSAND EIGHT HUNDRED THIRTY FIVE SQ. Region, to prepare and issue the Technical Descriptions of the praying for the declaration of nullity and cancellation of
METERS AND THIRTY SQ. DECIMETERS (2,835.30). All pts. two lots subject of this petition. As requested by petitioner, respondent Bonifacios TCT No. 265778 over the subject land
referred to are indicated on the plan and are marked on the Elpidio T. de Lara, Chief, Technical Services Section, Lands in view of petitioners subsisting TCT No. T-108530 over the
ground by old pts. Bearings true; date of original survey, Date Management Sector, DENR-NCR, issued on June 20, 1990, very same property. In an Order16 dated July 28, 1994, RTC-
of subd. survey, Dec. 29, 1922, is registered in accordance two technical descriptions (EXHIBITS "J" and "K") covering the Branch 126 deemed Civil Case No. C-366 as a special civil
with the provisions of the Property Registration Decree in the two lots. After the issuance of the technical descriptions, the action for quieting of title and not an ordinary civil action for
name of FELISA D. BONIFACIO, of legal age, Filipino, widow, petitioner requested Geodetic Engineer Jose R. Rodriguez to recovery of ownership of land.
- prepare a sketch plan of the two lots subject of this petition. As
Subsequently, petitioners discovered that respondent
requested, Engr. Rodriguez prepared a sketch plan (EXHIBIT
as owner thereof in fee simple, subject to such of the Bonifacio sold the subject land in favor of respondent VSD
"L") based from Exhibits "J" and "K" which was submitted to
encumbrances mentioned in Section 44 of said Decree as may Realty & Development Corporation (VSD Realty), and that
the Lands Management Services, formerly Bureau of Lands,
be subsisting[.] x x x.11 TCT No. 265778 in the name of respondent Bonifacio had
for verification and checking. That Mr. Benjamin V. Roque,
already been cancelled and replaced by TCT No. 28531317 in
Chief, Topographic and Special Map Section, Land
Respondent Bonifacios TCT No. 265778 was issued pursuant the name of respondent VSD Realty on September 12, 1994.
Management Services, formerly Bureau of Lands, certified on
to an Order12 dated October 8, 1992 of the RTC of Caloocan As a result, petitioners filed on April 25, 1995 an Amended
July 31, 1992 that the sketch plan (EXHIBIT "L") is a true and
City, Branch 125, in L.R.C. Case No. C-3288, entitled In the Petition,18 impleading respondent VSD Realty in Civil Case No.
correct plan of Lots 23-A-4-B-2-A-3-A and 23-A-4-B-2-A-3-B,
Matter of Petition for Authority to Segregate an Area of 5,680.1 C-366.
both on Psd-[706]. (Emphasis supplied.)
Square Meters from Lot 23-A-4-B-2-A-3-B, PSD-706 (PSU-
2345) of Maysilo Estate and Issuance of Separate Certificate Petitioners contended before RTC-Branch 126 that although
Hence, RTC-Branch 125 decreed in the same Order:
of Title in the Name of Felisa D. Bonifacio. RTC-Branch 125 TCT No. T-108530 of petitioners, on one hand, and TCT No.
granted respondent Bonifacios petition for segregation WHEREFORE, in view of all the foregoing, the Court hereby 265778 of respondent Bonifacio and TCT No. 285313 of
because: GRANTS the petition and orders the segregation of Lots 23-A- respondent VSD Realty, on the other hand, contained different
4-B-2-A-3-A and 23-A-4-B-2-A-3-B both on Psd-[706] from technical descriptions, said certificates of title actually
Original Certificate of Title No. 994 of the Register of Deeds of pertained to one and the same property. According to

2
PROPERTY- QUIETING OF TITLE
petitioners, respondents certificates of title over the subject 2. That the respondent is never in possession of the lot in as there can be no segregation of a property that was
land could have only been obtained fraudulently given that: question. previously segregated. Witness admits having executed a
lease in favor of a certain John Hay. He likewise admitted that
a) No subsequent survey of the Lot could have been obtained, ISSUES: the technical description appearing on the property lease to
approved by the Director of Lands, and presented by the John Hay is not the same as the technical description
respondent as there exists an original isolated survey thereto 1. Whether or not the Technical Description is one and the appearing on Exh. "A." He claims that when they inherited the
for which Transfer Certificate of Title No. 10301 covering the same as appearing on both titles; and property, the technical description was already recorded
said land was issued as early as 26 February 1926 in the thereon and it was the Registry of Deeds who placed the same
name of Monica Jacinto Galauran, married to Mariano Mesina. 2. Whether or not the TCT No. 265778 of the respondent is a on the property.
valid title.
b) TCT No. 265778 was issued in the name of the respondent Renato T. Malindog, an examiner of the Register of Deeds of
Felisa Bonifacio on [29] March 1993 before the issuance on 6 Thereafter, trial ensued. Kalookan City, testified that prior to the issuance of TCT No.
April 1993 by the Branch Clerk of Court (RTC Branch 125 in 265778, derivative documents were filed before their office
L.R.C. No. C-3288) of a Certificate of Finality of the aforesaid Petitioners presented several documentary exhibits23 and the
such as the Court Order dated October 8, 1992 in L.R.C. Case
Order dated 8 October 1992. testimonies of Leonardo de Guzman Syjuco, one of the
No. C-3288; the Certificate of Finality to said Order dated April
petitioners;24 Renato T. Malindog, Land Registration Examiner
6,1993; the subdivision plan to Lot 23-A-4-B-2-A-3-A and Lot
c) TCT No. 265778 was issued to Felisa Bonifacio on 29 of the Caloocan City Registry of Deeds;25 and Engineer (Engr.)
23-A-4-B-2-A-3-B also PSD-706 with Plan No. SK-007501-
March 1993 without the Register of Deeds of Kalookan City Elpidio T.de Lara (De Lara), Chief of Technical Services
00024-D and annexed to said documents were the technical
requiring the presentation of the owners duplicate copy of Section, Land Management Sector(LMS), DENR. 26 In its
description for Lot 23-A-4-B-2-A-3-A, PSD-706 and the
O.C.T. No. 994.19 Order27 dated November 29, 1995, RTC-Branch 126 admitted
technical description for Lot 23-A-4-B-2-A-3-B also of PSD-
all the evidence presented by petitioners.
706. Based on their record, documents were [received]
Respondent Bonifacio filed her Answer with Compulsory regarding the order of finality but there was no showing that
Counterclaim20 on October 11, 1994. She denied knowledge of RTC-Branch 126 summarized petitioners evidence as follows:
the tax clearance [was] registered in their office. Likewise,
petitioners TCT No. T-108530 and maintained that the based on the document presented to them, the office who
technical description of the land covered by petitioners TCT Leonardo Syjuco testified that he, together with the other
petitioners in this case, inherited the subject property from their issued the technical description was from the Department of
No. T-108530 is different from that in her TCT No. 265778. Environment and Natural Resources, Land Management
Respondent Bonifacio also averred that the technical late father, Martin Syjuco, as shown in Entry No. 15033/T-No.
108530 annotated in TCT No. T-108530 (Exhibit "A"). His Sector, and one Teodoro E. Mundo, Jr. is the Chief Survey
description of the land covered by her TCT No. 265778 had Division of said office.
been verified and approved by the Land Management Services father and his uncle, Manuel Syjuco, in turn acquired the same
of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources from the Baello Family through a Deed of Real Estate (Exhibit
"H"). Thereafter, Martin and Manuel executed a deed of Elpidio T. de Lara, Chief of the Technical Services Section of
(DENR); that she acquired a valid title, TCT No. 265778, over the Department of Agrarian and Natural Resources, affirms to
the subject land pursuant to a court order in a land registration partition (Exhibit "I") and their father was issued TCT No. 4856
(Exhibit "G") over the subject property. He has been paying the having certified to the technical description [o]n July 9, 1990,
case; and that Civil Case No. C-366 was a collateral attack on referred to as Lot 23-A-4-B-2-A-3-B of subdivision plan PSD
the validity of her TCT No. 265778. Respondent VSD Realty, tax declaration on said property as evidenced by tax receipts
(Exhibits "J" to "J-14"). They then leased the property to 706, based on a request by Felisa Bonifacio. He made the
in its Manifestation21 filed on June 31, 1995, adopted "Note: Subject for field survey" on Exhibit "M" so that the
respondent Bonifacios aforementioned Answer. Manufacturers Bank who was the one who built the
improvements on the same with stipulation that they will corresponding technical description be identified in the plan.
become the owners of these improvements after the expiration Before issuing the technical description for the subject lot, he
In the Pre-Trial Order22 dated February 23, 1995 of RTC- complied with the processes of having the technical
Branch 126, the parties agreed on the following stipulation of of the lease. They also subleased the property to Kalayaan
Development Corporation (KDC, for short) and respondent description researched from their records. From their record,
facts and issues: he had not issued a technical description for the subject lot
Bonifacio is a lessee of KDC. One of their tenants informed
him that their property was being offered for sale and so he and they have no record in their office of such. The
STIPULATION OF FACTS:
instituted measures to protect their interest. He also corresponding B-37 technical description attached to the letter
1. That the petitioners are in possession of the lot in question; discovered the existence of TCT No. T-265778 (Exhibit "C") in request came from the Land Management Bureau, which is
and the name of respondent Bonifacio which he claims to be void the survey of the technical description. At the time the request
was made until the time the certification was issued, he did not
3
PROPERTY- QUIETING OF TITLE
meet Felisa Bonifacio and said request was filed in their office of Lands in Binondo but there were no available record. Macaros testimony was not included in the foregoing prcis of
and sent to the technical services department.28 Neither was there any record about the original owner. When respondents evidence by RTC-Branch 126.Macaro affirmed
the certified copy of TCT No. 265778 was given to her, there before RTC Branch 126 the existence of respondent
Respondents, in turn, presented documentary exhibits 29 and were no annotations of adverse claims and so she did not Bonifacios TCT No. 265778. Macaro further testified that the
called to the witness stand Geodetic Engr. Evelyn G. Celzo anymore inquire from the Registry of Deeds whether there standard operating procedure at the Caloocan City Registry of
(Celzo) of the Land Management Services, DENR;30 Fernando were new annotations made thereon. Deeds was to require the presentation of the certification
D. Macaro (Macaro), Land Registration Examiner of the stating that the court order directing issuance of the certificate
Caloocan City Register of Deeds;31 and Attorney (Atty.) Atty. Kaulayao V. Faylona, a director and Corporate Secretary of title had already become final and executory, before actually
Kaulayao V. Faylona, Director and Corporate Secretary of of VSD Realty Corporation, testified that a real estate broker issuing said certificate of title; but he was unable to explain
respondent VSD Realty.32 offered for sale to VSD two (2) lots along Avenida and how in this case respondent
occupied by Fairmart and Uniwide Sales, Inc. Among the
RTC-Branch 126 summed-up respondents evidence as documents shown to him by the seller were the Order of Judge Bonifacios TCT No. 265778 was issued on March 29, 1993,
follows: Geronimo S. Mangay, of the Regional Trial Court of Kalookan before the Certificate of Finality of the Order dated October 8,
City, Branch 125 (Exhibit "2"), as well as the Transcript of 1992 in Civil Case No. C-3288 was issued by RTC-Branch 125
Evelyn G. Celzo, a geodetic engineer from the Land Case No. C-3288 (Exh. "3"). While he found the issuance of on April 6, 1993.
Management Services, testified that she was ordered to said Order by the Court regular, he also requested for a
conduct a verification survey of Lot 23-A-4-B-2-A-3-B of PSD verification survey from the sellers group in order to make On January 9, 1998, RTC-Branch 126 rendered its Decision in
706 by their Regional Technical Director, Roquesa de Castro. sure that the lot appearing in the technical description is also Civil Case No. C-366, the dispositive portion of which reads:
The survey was conducted on August 23, 1994 and its result the lot actually being occupied by the buildings already
[was] contained in a report dated April 17, 1995 (Exhibit "4") mentioned thereon. The actual verification survey was WHEREFORE, in the light of the foregoing considerations,
which she prepared and submitted. She and her team conducted by the DENR through Engr. E. Celzo as evidenced judgment is hereby rendered as follows:
personally went to the place and found out that two (2) stores, by a report (Exh. "4") submitted for the purpose. Moreover, a
namely, Fairy Mart and Zenco Footstep were the present verification plan (Exh. "7") approved by the DENR was likewise 1) Dismissing the petition of the petitioners;
occupants of the lot. They likewise informed the adjoining lots prepared in connection with the verification survey. He even
that they were going to execute a verification survey. BPM 119 2) Declaring that the technical description described in TCT
personally went to the sala of Judge Mangay and verified from
in Kalookan Cadastre was the reference point to determine No. 108530 by the petitioners is not the same as the technical
the then Deputy Branch Clerk of Court, the authenticity of the
whether the lot was really in that place. BPM 153, Kalookan description on [respondent] Bonifacios title (TCT No. 265778,
transcript that was given to him which the said Branch Clerk of
Cadastre were used as common points to identify the technical now TCT No. 285313);
Court confirmed as having been issued by said court. He did
description in Felisas lot. However, insofar as Exhibit "A" is not however go over the petition filed by Felisa Bonifacio since
concerned, the technical description of said property did not 3) Declaring that TCT No. 265778 is a valid title and
what was important was that the title was issued in the land considering that respondent VSDs title, T-285313, replaced
contain these common points. The DENR, NCR, has record of registration proceedings. He knew that Felisa was not in
all technical descriptions approved and verified in said office. the former title, VSD is hereby declared the owner of the land
possession of the said property as it was being occupied by in question, that is, Lot 23-A-4-B-2-A-3-B of PSD 706;
She points out that only one (1) technical description is business establishments who were all not owners of the lot. As
allowed for a particular lot. In conducting the survey to payments of realty taxes due on the property, he claims that 4) For petitioners to pay attorneys fees and the costs of this
verification, the certified TCT was furnished to them by Felisa the title would not have been issued in the first place [and] the suit.34
Bonifacio, together with the relocation survey filed at the taxes [would] not [have] been previously paid. Insofar as VSD
Technical Reference Section. As to the adjoining lots, they is concerned, the corporation was up-to-date in its payment of Comparing the technical descriptions in petitioners TCT No. T-
secured the map of the Maysilo Estate Plan, under the realty taxes over their property. He stresses that there is no 108530 and respondents TCT Nos. 265778 and 285313,
relocation survey, they found out that the lot belonged to Felisa other owner of the lot in question except Felisa Bonifacio RTC-Branch 126 noted the bare differences in the land areas
Bonifacio and the technical description is the same as the because there was only one(1) lot with that technical and lot numbers contained therein, and concluded that said
technical description submitted to her. Her verification survey description. The said approved technical description appearing technical descriptions were not one and the same and that
was approved as reflected in the original plan from the Bureau on Felisas lot was issued by the DENR which is actually the petitioners TCT No. T-108530 did not pertain to the same
of Land Verification Survey (Exhibit "7"). She also stated that custodian of the technical descriptions of lands under the Land parcel of land described in respondent Bonifacios TCT No.
before the survey, she conducted a research as to the origin of Registration System, which was confirmed by Mr. Elpidio T. de 265778. RTC Branch 126 also pointed out that petitioners own
the technical description from her office and from the Bureau Lara, complainants witness.33 witness, Engr. De Lara, testified that his office, Technical
4
PROPERTY- QUIETING OF TITLE
Services Section of the DENR, had not previously issued the THE LOWER COURT ERRED IN NOT ANNUL[L]ING (1) Civil Case No. C-3288, respondent Bonifacios Petition for
technical description appearing on respondent Bonifacios TCT [RESPONDENTS] TITLES WHICH OVERLAP THE Segregation, is rooted in a Deed of Assignment of the subject
No. 265778. Engr. De Laras certification of the technical EXISTING TITLE IN THE NAMES OFTHE PETITIONERS.37 land purportedly executed on January 29, 1991 by Eleuteria
description of respondent Bonifacios property was issued for Rivera Bonifacio in favor of respondent Bonifacio, but said
the first time on July 9, 1990 only "after complying with all the Petitioners asserted that the technical description of the land in Deed merely copied the technical description of the land
legal processes necessary for the purpose, such as, among their TCT No. T-108530 and that in respondents TCT Nos. issued and certified on June 19, 1990 upon the request of
other things, conducting a research from their office records 265778 and 285313 pertain to one and the same land. respondent Bonifacio herself.
which showed that no such technical description on the subject Petitioners argue that RTC-Branch 126 failed to appreciate the
property was previously issued and further stating that the B- probative value of Engr. De Laras testimony on this particular (2) Respondent Bonifacio merely attached to her Petition for
37 technical description came from the Land Management issue. According to petitioners, Engr. De Laras certification Segregation in Civil Case No. C-3288 a sketch plan of the
Bureau which was the survey of the technical dated July 9, 1990 on the correctness of the technical subject land, not an approved survey or subdivision plan.
description."35 RTC-Branch 126 further cited the testimony of description of Lot 23-A-4-B-2-A-3-B, PSD 706, was based
Engr. Celzo of Land Management Services who conducted the merely on the "B-37 survey" attached to respondent (3) Respondent Bonifacio stated in her Petition for Segregation
verification survey during which it was revealed that "while Bonifacios letter-request, hence, Engr. De Laras certification in Civil Case No. C-3288 that her and her transferors
common points were used in identifying the technical included a notation "[s]ubject for field survey" since he did not possession of the subject land was "open, public, and
description in TCT No. 265778, no such common points know the location of the land referred to by the technical notorious without any known claimants[,]"40 but she later
existed in the technical description appearing on petitioners[] description. The "B-37 survey" or the subdivision plan of PSD admitted that she had never been in possession of the said
title." RTC-Branch 126 saw no reason to doubt the testimonies 706 was neither presented before RTC-Branch 126 in this property.
of Engrs. De Lara and Celzo consistent with the rule that case nor before RTC-Branch 125 in Civil Case No. C-3288
government officials are presumed to perform their functions (respondent Bonifacios Petition for Segregation38 ); thus, (4) Respondent Bonifacio attached to her Petition for
with regularity and strong evidence is necessary to rebut this petitioners contended that there was no evidence as to "when Segregation a real property tax computation sheet for the
presumption. the survey was made, under whose name the survey was subject property which was in the name of Martin V. Syjuco,
made, and as to whether or not the said survey had the who was petitioners predecessor-in-interest.41
RTC-Branch 126 also categorically upheld the validity of requisite government approval."39 Petitioners added that it was
respondent Bonifacios TCT No. 265778 as it was issued incorrect for RTC-Branch 126 to conclude that Engr. De Laras (5) Respondent Bonifacio obtained TCT No. 265778 over the
pursuant to the Order dated October 8, 1992 of the Caloocan office had never issued any technical description pertaining to subject property on March 29, 1993 whereas the order
City RTC-Branch 125. RTC-Branch 126 said that it could not the subject land prior to July 9, 1990, and what Engr. De Lara authorizing the issuance of said certificate of title became final
question the order of a co-equal court and brushed aside actually said was that there was no record in his office of the and executory only on April 6, 1993.
petitioners claim of continuous possession of the subject technical description of the subject land as appearing in
(6) The Register of Deeds issued TCT No. 265778 to
property because such fact alone could not defeat petitioners TCT No. T-108530.Petitioners also maintained that
respondent Bonifacio without requiring the presentation of
respondents title over said property registered under the the Survey Order dated August 22, 1994 and the Verification
Original Certificate of Title (OCT) No. 994,which covered the
Torrens system. Absent any showing by clear and convincing Plan of Lot 23-A-4-B-2-A-3-B, PSD 706, dated April 28, 1995
vast land from whence respondent Bonifacios property was
proof that TCT No. 265778 of respondent Bonifacio, now TCT had no probative value as (1) said Survey Order was not
purportedly segregated, and the requisite tax clearance in
No. 285313 of respondent VSD Realty, was irregularly issued, authenticated; (2) said Survey Order was incomplete and
respondent Bonifacios name.
RTC-Branch 126 accorded said titles the conclusive uncertain as it did not specify the lot to be surveyed, its
presumption of validity. location, and its technical description; and (3) the verification Respondents asseverated that the technical descriptions
survey was conducted only on August 23, 1994, after contained in their TCT Nos. 265778 and 285313, on one hand,
CA-G.R. CV. No. 57777 before the respondent Bonifacios TCT No. 265778 was issued on March and in petitioners TCT No. T-108530, on the other, do not
Court of Appeals 29, 1993, consequently, said survey could not validate the pertain to the same land; that respondent Bonifacios TCT No.
irregular issuance of TCT No. 265778. 265778 was issued pursuant to a valid court order by RTC-
Petitioners filed an appeal36 before the Court of Appeals,
docketed as CA-G.R. CV. No. 57777, with the following sole Branch 125 in Civil Case No. C-3288; and that petitioners Civil
Additionally, petitioners alleged the following irregularities in
Case No. C-366 before RTC-Branch 126 was a collateral
assignment of error: the issuance of respondent Bonifacios TCT No. 265778:
attack on the validity of respondents titles.

5
PROPERTY- QUIETING OF TITLE
In its Decision dated February 23, 2001, the Court of Appeals While we recognize the fact that the [petitioners] have been in pursuant to Decree No. 36455 originally registered on May 3,
dismissed petitioners appeal and affirmed in toto the Decision 44 years of continuous possession, still, we should not lose 1917.
dated January 9, 1998 of RTC-Branch 126 in Civil Case No. C- sight of the fact that [respondent] Bonifacio is an owner of an
366. Aside from essentially adopting the ratiocination in the earlier issued title. The imprescriptibility of Bonifacios title In their Comment, respondents stand by the propriety of the
appealed judgment of RTC-Branch 126, the Court of Appeals cannot be defeated by the [petitioners] continuous possession Decision dated February 23, 2001 of the Court of Appeals in
also espoused respondents argument that Civil Case No. C- of the questioned lot. To hold otherwise, the efficacy of the CA-G.R. CV. No. 57777 and the Decision dated January 9,
366, instituted by petitioners before RTC-Branch 126, was a conclusiveness of the certificate of title, which the Torrens 1998 of RTC-Branch 126 in Civil Case No. C-366.
collateral attack on the validity of respondent Bonifacios TCT System seeks to insure, would be futile and Respondents also exhort this Court not to take judicial notice
No. 265778, in violation of Section 48 of Presidential Decree nugatory.43 (Citations omitted.) of the DOJ and Senate committee reports because those are
No. 1529, otherwise known as the Property Registration irrelevant to the present case as the true date of registration of
Decree. The appellate court, comparing the parties respective The Court of Appeals concluded that since respondent OCT No. 994 has never been an issue herein. At any rate,
certificates of title, further ruled that: Bonifacio is the owner of the subject land, validly registered in respondents insinuate that there was a mistake in the
her name, she is within her rights in selling said property to indication in the title of respondent Bonifacio that it originated
[A] careful scrutiny of TCT Nos.108530 and 265778 revealed respondent VSD Realty, making the latters TCT No. 285313 from OCT No. 994 registered in 1912, claiming that the same
relevant similarities. Both TCTs originate from OCT No. 994 also valid. "must have been [caused by either] a clerical error or a
pursuant to Decree No. 36455, Record No. 4429. TCT No. mental lapse."
108530 was first originally registered on May 03, 1917, in Hence, the present petition for review.
contrast to Bonifacios title (TCT No. 265778) which was RULING
[registered] in 1912. Petitioners reiterate their position that their TCT No. T-108530
and respondents TCT Nos. 265778 and 285313 pertain to one The petition is meritorious.
In view of this, we quote the ruling enunciated by the court in and the same land, and that the latter titles have been
Metropolitan Waterworks Sewerage System v. Court of fraudulently obtained. Petitioners also aver that their On the propriety of petitioners
Appeals and reiterated in the cases of Heirs of Luis J. undisturbed possession of the subject property gives them a action to quiet title over the subject
Gonzaga v. Court of Appeals and Mascarias v. Court of continuing right to seek the aid of a court to ascertain and land.
Appeals. determine the nature and effect of respondents adverse claim
on the subject land. The Court, at the outset, finds untenable the contention that
"Where two certificates (of title) purport to include the same the action instituted by petitioners is a prohibited collateral
land, the earlier in date prevails. x x x. In successive In addition, petitioners pray for this Court to take judicial notice attack on the certificate of title of respondents over the subject
registrations, where more than one certificate is issued in of supervening events relative to the indiscriminate issuance or land. Section 48 of Presidential Decree No. 152944 states:
respect of a particular estate or interest in land, the person proliferation of fake titles derived from OCT No. 994 covering
claiming under the prior certificate is entitled to the estate or the Maysilo Estate. They point out that the Department of Sec. 48. Certificate not subject to collateral attack. - A
interest; and the person is deemed to hold under the prior Justice (DOJ) and the Senate Committees on Justice and certificate of title shall not be subject to collateral attack. It
certificate who is the holder of, or whose claim is derived Human Rights, Urban Planning, and Housing and cannot be altered, modified, or canceled except in a direct
directly or indirectly from the person who was the holder of the Resettlement, already conducted separate investigations of proceeding in accordance with law.
earliest certificate issued in respect thereof." this serious land title anomaly and had submitted their
respective reports on the matter. The DOJ Committee Report To determine whether an attack on a certificate of title is direct
Hence, in point of priority in issuance, the title of Bonifacio dated August 28, 1997 and Senate Committee Report No. or indirect, the relevance of the object of the action instituted
prevails over that of the [petitioners]. Since, the land in 1031 dated May 25, 1998 validated OCT No. 994 registered and the relief sought therein must be examined. The rule was
question has already been registered under OCT 994, in the on May 3, 1917; declared OCT No. 994 registered on April 19, explained in Catores v. Afidchao45 as follows:
year 1912, the subsequent registration of the same land on 1917 as nonexistent; and recommended the cancellation of all
When is an action an attack on a title? It is when the object of
May 03, 1917 is null and void.42 (Citations omitted.) titles derived from OCT No. 994 registered on April 19, 1917.
the action or proceeding is to nullify the title, and thus
Petitioners, thus, argue that respondent Bonifacios title, which
The Court of Appeals lastly pointed out that petitioners challenge the judgment pursuant to which the title was
originated from OCT No. 994 registered in 1912, is null and
possession of the subject land cannot defeat respondent decreed. The attack is direct when the object of an action or
void as the only authentic OCT No. 994 is the one issued
Bonifacios title thereto: proceeding is to annul or set aside such judgment, or enjoin its
enforcement. On the other hand, the attack is indirect or
6
PROPERTY- QUIETING OF TITLE
collateral when, in an action to obtain a different relief, an Upon the expiration of said period of one year, the decree of titled owner any valid legal title to the land covered by it; and
attack on the judgment is nevertheless made as an incident registration and the certificate of title issued shall become the person in whose name the title was issued cannot transmit
thereof. (Emphasis supplied, citation omitted.) incontrovertible. Any person aggrieved by such decree of the same, for he has no true title thereto. This ruling is a mere
registration in any case may pursue his remedy by action for affirmation of the recognized principle that a certificate is not
The instituted action in this case is clearly a direct attack on a damages against the applicant or any other persons conclusive evidence of title if it is shown that the same land
certificate of title to real property. In their complaint for quieting responsible for the fraud. (Emphases added.) had already been registered and that an earlier certificate for
of title, petitioners specifically pray for the declaration of nullity the same land is in existence.48
and/or cancellation of respondents TCT Nos. 265778 and The above-quoted rule has well-settled exceptions.
285313 over the subject land. The relief sought by petitioners Accordingly, petitioners filing of an action to quiet title over the
is certainly feasible since the objective of an action to quiet It is an established doctrine in land ownership disputes that the subject land is in order.
title, as provided under Article 476 of the Civil Code of the filing of an action to quiet title is imprescriptible if the disputed
Philippines, is precisely to quiet, remove, invalidate, annul, real property is in the possession of the plaintiff. One who is in On the propriety of remanding this
and/or nullify" a cloud on title to real property or any interest actual possession of a piece of land claiming to be owner case for further proceedings before
therein by reason of any instrument, record, claim, thereof may wait until his possession is disturbed or his title is the Court of Appeals.
encumbrance or proceeding which is apparently valid or attacked before taking steps to vindicate his right, the reason
effective but is in truth and in fact invalid, ineffective, voidable, for the rule being that his undisturbed possession gives him a In VSD Realty & Development Corporation v. Uniwide Sales,
or unenforceable, and may be prejudicial to said title." continuing right to seek the aid of a court of equity to ascertain Inc.,49 this Court remanded the case before the Court of
and determine the nature of the adverse claim of a third party Appeals, citing Manotok Realty, Inc. v. CLT Realty
The Court also finds bereft of merit the contentions that and its effect on his own title, which right can be claimed only Development Corporation,50 and held:
petitioners action to quiet title had already prescribed and/or by one who is in possession.46
that the titles of respondents over the subject land have In the main, respondent Baello contends that the Court erred
already become incontrovertible and indefeasible based on In this case, petitioners have duly established during the trial in not declaring petitioner VSDs TCT No. T-285312 as null
Section 32 of Presidential Decree No. 1529. Section 32 of that they and/or their predecessors-in-interest have been in and void, considering that it is derived from Felisa Bonifacios
Presidential Decree No. 1529 states: uninterrupted possession of the subject land since 1926 and TCT No.
that it was only in 1994 when they found out that respondent
Section 32. Review of decree of registration; Innocent Bonifacio was able to register the said property in her name in 265777/T-1325, which, in turn, is derived from the false and
purchaser for value.- The decree of registration shall not be another title. It was also only in 1995 when petitioners learned fictitious OCT No. 994 dated April 19, 1917. The records of this
reopened or revised by reason of absence, minority, or other that respondent Bonifacio was able to sell and transfer her title case, however, show that Felisa Bonifacios TCT No.
disability of any person adversely affected thereby, nor by any over the subject land in favor of respondent VSD Realty. 265777/T-1325 and VSDs TCT No. T-285312 are derived
proceeding in any court for reversing judgments, subject, from the legitimate OCT No. 994 registered on May 3, 1917,
however, to the right of any person, including the government Moreover, the rule on the incontrovertibility or indefeasibility of which date has been held as the correct date of registration of
and the branches thereof, deprived of land or of any estate or title has no application in this case given the fact that the the said OCT in Manotok Realty, Inc. v. CLT Realty
interest therein by such adjudication or confirmation of title contending parties claim ownership over the subject land Development Corporation. In her Motion for Leave and Time to
obtained by actual fraud, to file in the proper Court of First based on their respective certificates of title thereon which File Judicial Affidavit of Mr. Felino Cortez and Supplemental
Instance a petition for reopening and review of the decree of originated from different sources. Certainly, there cannot be Motion for Reconsideration, which the Court granted,
registration not later than one year from and after the date of two or even several certificates of title on the same parcel of respondent Baello contends that she has additional evidence
the entry of such decree of registration, but in no case shall real property because "a land registration court has no showing that the copy of Felisa Bonifacios TCT No. 265777/T-
such petition be entertained by the court where an innocent jurisdiction to order the registration of land already decreed in 1325 that was presented to the Register of Deeds of
purchaser for value has acquired the land or an interest the name of another in an earlier land registration case" and "a Caloocan, for the purpose of the issuance of petitioner VSDs
therein, whose rights may be prejudiced. Whenever the phrase second decree for the same land would be null and void, since TCT No. T-285312, was tampered with to fraudulently reflect
"innocent purchaser for value" or an equivalent phrase occurs the principle behind original registration is to register a parcel that it was derived from the legitimate and authentic OCT No.
in this Decree, it shall be deemed to include an innocent of land only once."47 The indefeasibility of a title under the 994 dated May 3, 1917. It is alleged that the original microfilm
lessee, mortgagee, or other encumbrancer for value. Torrens system could be claimed only if a previous valid title to copy retained by the LRA shows that Felisa Bonifacios TCT
the same parcel of land does not exist. Where the issuance of No. 265777/T-1325 did not originate from the legitimate and
the title was attended by fraud, the same cannot vest in the authentic OCT No. 994 dated May 3, 1917, but was instead

7
PROPERTY- QUIETING OF TITLE
derived from OCT No. 994 dated April 19, 1912. Baello cited In fact, the Court had actually resorted to referring a factual seventeen, in the Registration Book of the Office of the
Manotok Realty, Inc. v. CLT Realty Development Corporation, matter pending before it to the Court of Appeals. In Republic v. Register of Deeds of Rizal, Volume A-9, page 226, as Original
which allowed the presentation of evidence before a Special Court of Appeals, this Court commissioned the former Certificate of Title No. 994, pursuant to Decree
Division of the Court of Appeals to ascertain which of the Thirteenth Division of the Court of Appeals to hear and receive
conflicting claims of title should prevail, even though the case evidence on the controversy, more particularly to determine No. 36455, issued in L.R.C. ___ Record No. 4429.
had already been decided; and the additional evidence was "the actual area reclaimed by the Republic Real Estate
presented in connection with a motion for reconsideration of Corporation, and the areas of the Cultural Center Complex This certificate is a transfer from Transfer Certificate of Title
this Courts decision. which are open spaces and/or areas reserved for certain No. 4856/T-25, which is cancelled by virtue hereof in so far as
purposes, determining in the process the validity of such the above-described land is concerned.52 (Emphasis added.)
The Court notes that in Manotok Realty, Inc. v. CLT Realty postulates and the respective measurements of the areas
Development Corporation, the Court pronounced that there is referred to." The Court of Appeals therein received the On the other hand, the title of respondent Bonifacio, the one
only one OCT No. 994, which is correctly registered on May 3, evidence of the parties and rendered a "Commissioners presented during the trial, shows that it likewise originated
1917, and that any title that traces its source to OCT No. 994 Report" shortly thereafter. Thus, resort to the Court of Appeals from OCT No. 994, but such mother title states only the day
dated April 17, 1917 is void, for such mother title is inexistent. is not a deviant procedure. and the year of its original registration as follows:

The Court recognizes the importance of protecting the The provisions of Rule 32 should also be considered as It is further certified that said land was originally registered on
countrys Torrens system from fake land titles and deeds. governing the grant of authority to the Court of Appeals to the 19th day of ___, in the year nineteen hundred and twelve,
Considering that there is an issue on the validity of the title of receive evidence in the present case. Under Section 2, Rule in the Registration Book of the Office of the Register of Deeds
petitioner VSD, which title is alleged to be traceable to OCT 32 of the Rules of Court, a court may, motu proprio, direct a of Manila, Volume ___, Page ___, as Original Certificate of
No. 994 registered on April 19, 1917, which mother title was reference to a commissioner when a question of fact, other Title No. 994, pursuant to Decree No. 36455 issued in L.R.C.
held to be inexistent in Manotok Realty, Inc. v. CLT Realty than upon the pleadings, arises upon motion or otherwise, in ___, Record No. 4423, in the name of ___.
Development Corporation, in the interest of justice, and to any stage of a case, or for carrying a judgment or order into
safeguard the correct titling of properties, a remand is proper This certificate is a transfer from Original Certificate of Title No.
effect. The order of reference can be limited exclusively to
to determine which of the parties derived valid title from the 994, which is cancelled by virtue hereof in so far as the above-
receive and report evidence only, and the commissioner may
legitimate OCT No. 994 registered on May 3, 1917. Since this described land is concerned.53 (Emphasis added.)
likewise rule upon the admissibility of evidence. The
Court is not a trier of facts and not capacitated to appreciate commissioner is likewise mandated to submit a report in Curiously, the title of respondent VSD Realty is supposed to
evidence of the first instance, the Court may remand this case writing to the court upon the matters submitted to him by the be a direct transfer from the title of respondent Bonifacio, yet,
to the Court of Appeals for further proceedings, as it has been order of reference. In Republic, the commissioners report the certification as to the original registration of its mother title
similarly tasked in Manotok Realty, Inc. v. CLT Realty formed the basis of the final adjudication by the Court on the OCT No. 994 provides the registration date of May 3,
Development Corporation on these bases: matter. The same result can obtain herein."51 (Emphases 1917, thus:
added.)
Under Section 6 of Rule 46, which is applicable to original
IT IS FURTHER CERTIFIED that said land was originally
cases for certiorari, the Court may, whenever necessary to The Court notes, however, that several matters have already registered on the 3rd day of May, in the year nineteen hundred
resolve factual issues, delegate the reception of the evidence transpired during the pendency of this case that bear and seventeen in the Registration Book of the Office of the
on such issues to any of its members or to an appropriate considerable relation in the resolution of the main question of Register of Deeds of Rizal, Volume A-9-A, Page 226, as
court, agency or office. The delegate need not be the body that which of the respective titles of the parties over the subject Original Certificate of Title No. 994, pursuant to Decree No.
rendered the assailed decision. land is valid. 36455 issued in L.R.C. ___ Record No. 4429 in the name of
The Court of Appeals generally has the authority to review ___.
Firstly, the Court observes that the certification as indicated in
findings of fact. Its conclusions as to findings of fact are petitioners title, which the latter submitted during the trial, This certificate is a transfer from Transfer Certificate of Title
generally accorded great respect by this Court. It is a body that shows that it originated from OCT No. 994 registered on May No. 265778/T-1325 which is cancelled by virtue hereof in so
is fully capacitated and has a surfeit of experience in 3, 1917, thus: far as the above-described land is concerned.
appreciating factual matters, including documentary evidence.
It is further certified that said land was originally registered on Entered at the City of Kalookan,
the 3rd day of May, in the year nineteen hundred and Philippines, on the 12th day of September in
8
PROPERTY- QUIETING OF TITLE
the year nineteen hundred and ninety-four at Petition of the Republic was admitted in the Courts (the 2009 Manotok case), the controversy surrounding the
1:23 p.m.54 (Emphases added.) Resolution58 dated December 8, 2004. Maysilo Estate and the question of the existence of another
OCT No. 994 have been finally laid to rest. All other cases
Furthermore, a certified true copy of respondent Bonifacios The OSG manifests, among others, that petitioners TCT No. involving said estate and OCT No. 994, such as the case at
title, which petitioners have obtained just prior to the filing of T-108530, in reliance to the conclusions of the DOJ and bar, are bound by the findings and conclusions set forth in said
the Petition at bar and attached to their Reply dated December Senate committees, is the valid certificate of title covering the resolutions.
12, 2001, now shows that the date of the original registration of subject land as it could be traced back to the authentic OCT
respondent Bonifacios mother title - OCT No. 994 - has No. 994 registered on May 3, 1917; conversely, respondents As stated earlier, petitioner anchors her claim on previous
changed from the 19th day of an unspecified month55 in 1912 TCT Nos. 265778 and 285313 are null and void as these cases decided by this Court which have held that there are two
to May 3, 1917, and the place of registration from Manila to originated from the spurious OCT No. 994 registered in 1912. existing OCT No. 994, dated differently, and the one from
Rizal. Aside from these changes, the portions that were left which she and her co-plaintiffs (in Civil Case No. C-424)
blank in the earlier copy of respondent Bonifacios title have Respondents filed their Comment [to the Republics derived their rights was dated earlier, hence, was the superior
already been filled-up in the latest copy of the same, thus: intervention]59 on June 1, 2005. Interestingly, respondents now title. Regrettably, petitioners claim no longer has a leg to stand
contend that their TCT Nos. 265778 and 285313 are on. As we held in the 2007 Manotok case:
IT IS FURTHER CERTIFIED that said land was originally derivatives of OCT No. 994 registered on April 19, 1917,
registered on the 3rd day of May, in the year nineteen hundred hence, they capitalize on the rulings of this Court in The determinative test to resolve whether the prior decision of
and seventeen in the Registration Book of the Office of the Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage Systems (MWSS) v. this Court should be affirmed or set aside is whether or not the
Register of Deeds of Rizal, Volume A-9-A, Page 226, as Court of Appeals60 and Heirs of Luis J. Gonzaga v. Court of titles invoked by the respondents are valid. If these titles are
Original Certificate of Title No. 994, pursuant to Decree No. Appeals61 that those titles derived from OCT No. 994 sourced from the so-called OCT No. 994 dated 17 April 1917,
36455 issued in L.R.C. ___ Record No. 4429 in the name of registered on April 19, 1917 prevail over those titles derived then such titles are void or otherwise should not be recognized
___. from OCT No. 994 registered on May 3, 1917 considering the by this Court. Since the true basic factual predicate concerning
priority of the date of registration. OCT No. 994 which is that there is only one such OCT differs
This certificate is a transfer from Original Certificate of Title No. from that expressed in the MWSS and Gonzaga decisions,
994 which is cancelled by virtue hereof in so far as the above- Thirdly, the Court reiterates that the validity of OCT No. 994 said rulings have become virtually functus officio except on the
described land is concerned. registered on May 3, 1917, and the non-existence of a basis of the "law of the case" doctrine, and can no longer be
purported OCT No. 994 registered on April 19, 1917, have relied upon as precedents. Specifically, petitioner cannot
Entered at Caloocan City, already been exhaustively passed upon and settled with anymore insist that OCT No. 994 allegedly issued on April 19,
Philippines, on the 29th day of March in the finality in the Resolution[s] dated December 14, 2007 and 1917 validly and actually exists, given the following
year nineteen hundred and ninety-three at March 31, 2009 in Manotok Realty, Inc. v. CLT Realty conclusions made by this Court in the 2007 Manotok case:
3:20 a.m.56 (Emphases added.) Development Corporation.62
First, there is only one OCT No. 994. As it appears on the
Secondly, the Court notes that the Republic, represented by In Angeles v. The Secretary of Justice,63 this Court reiterated record, that mother title was received for transcription by the
the Office of the Solicitor General (OSG), filed herein a Motion its pronouncements in Manotok Realty, Inc. v. CLT Realty Register of Deeds on 3 May 1917, and that should be the date
for Intervention with attached Petition-in-Intervention, pursuant Development Corporation64 that the true and valid OCT No. which should be reckoned as the date of registration of the
to the recommendation in the Report dated May 25, 1998 of 994 was registered on May 3, 1917, not on April 19, 1917, and title. It may also be acknowledged, as appears on the title, that
the Senate Committees on Justice, Human Rights, Housing, that any title that traces its source to the latter date is deemed OCT No. 994 resulted from the issuance of the decree of
and Urban Planning and Resettlement, that the OSG be void and inexistent. The Court was also explicit that the cases registration on [19] April 1917, although such date cannot be
mandated "to intervene in land disputes before the court, on of MWSS v. Court of Appeals and Gonzaga v. Court of considered as the date of the title or the date when the title
cases whether pertaining to government or private lands as Appeals had already been rendered functus officio, thus, these took effect.
the OSG may determine, involving fake titles, duplication of cases can no longer be cited as precedents. The Court
titles or similar anomalies, to guide the court on the position of expounded as follows: It is important to emphasize at this point Second. Any title that traces its source to OCT No. 994 dated
the government and to involve the concerned government that in the recent case resolved by this Court En Bancin 2007, [19] April 1917 is void, for such mother title is
entities particularly the Land Registration Authority in a entitled Manotok Realty, Inc. v. CLT Realty Development inexistent.1wphi1 The fact that the Dimson and CLT titles
concerted effort to protect the integrity of the Torrens system Corporation(the 2007 Manotok case), as well as the made specific reference to an OCT No. 994 dated [19] April
of land title registration."57 The motion was granted and the succeeding resolution in the same case dated March 31, 2009
9
PROPERTY- QUIETING OF TITLE
1917 casts doubt on the validity of such titles since they refer latters conclusions as to the status of the original title and its The same is true in this case. The Death Certificate of
to an inexistent OCT. x x x. subsequent conveyances. This case affirmed the earlier Eleuteria Rivera reveals that she was 96 years old when she
finding that "there is only one OCT No. 994, the registration died on February 22, 1997. That means that she must have
Third. The decisions of this Court in MWSS v. Court of Appeals date of which had already been decisively settled as 3 May been born in 1901. That makes Rivera two years older than
and Gonzaga v. Court of Appeals cannot apply to the cases at 1917 and not 19 April 1917" and categorically concluded that her alleged grandmother Maria de la Concepcion Vidal who
bar, especially in regard to their recognition of an OCT No. 994 "OCT No. 994 which reflects the date of 19 April 1917 as its was born in 1903. Hence, it was physically impossible for
dated 19 April 1917, a title which we now acknowledge as registration date is null and void."65 (Emphases added.) Eleuteria Rivera to be an heir of Maria de la Concepcion Vidal.
inexistent. Neither could the conclusions in MWSSor Gonzaga (Emphases supplied, citations omitted.) Considering all of the
with respect to an OCT No. 994 dated 19 April 1917 bind any In Phil-Ville Development and Housing Corporation v. above matters, especially the fact that respondents claim that
other case operating under the factual setting the same as or Bonifacio,66 this Court upheld the validity of the titles to a their respective titles, TCT Nos. 265778 and 285313, are
similar to that at bar. portion of land which originally formed part of the Maysilo derivatives of OCT No. 994 registered on April 19, 1917, which
Estate which were sourced from OCT No. 994 registered on this Court had already repeatedly declared to be a non-
To be sure, this Court did not merely rely on the DOJ and May 3, 1917, and declared as null and void a title purportedly existent and invalid title, the Court rules in favor of petitioners.
Senate reports regarding OCT No. 994. In the 2007 Manotok overlapping the said land which traced its roots from OCT No. As held in Manotok, "[a]ny title that traces its source to OC'f
case, this Court constituted a Special Division of the Court of 994 registered on April 19, 1917. The Court found that it was No. 994 dated [19) April 1917 is void, for such mother title is
Appeals to hear the cases on remand, declaring as follows: physically impossible for Eleuteria Rivera, the person whom inexistent."67 WHEREFORE, in view of all the foregoing, the
respondent Bonifacio claims to be her predecessor-in-interest, petition is hereby GRANTED. The Decision dated February 23,
Since this Court is not a trier of fact[s], we are not prepared to to be an heir of Maria de la Concepcion Vidal because it would 2001, as well as the Resolution dated June 26, 2001 of the
adopt the findings made by the DOJ and the Senate, or even turn out that Eleuteria Rivera was older than her alleged Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. CV. No. 57777 which affirmed in
consider whether these are admissible as evidence, though grandmother Maria de la Concepcion Vidal, to wit: toto the Decision dated January 9, 1998 of Branch 126 of the
such questions may be considered by the Court of Appeals RTC of the City of Caloocan in Civil Case No. C-366, are
upon the initiative of the parties. x x x. The reports cannot Eventually, on March 31, 2009, the Supreme Court issued a REVERSED and SET ASIDE. TCT No. 265778 in the name of
conclusively supersede or overturn judicial decisions, but if Resolution reversing its Decision of November 29, 2005 and Felisa D. Bonifacio and TCT No. 285313 in the name of VSD
admissible they may be taken into account as evidence on the declaring certain titles in the names of Araneta and Manotok Realty & Development Corporation are declared NULL and
same level as the other pieces of evidence submitted by the valid. In the course of discussing the flaws of Jose Dimsons VOID. The Registry of Deeds of Caloocan City is DIRECTED
parties. The fact that they were rendered by the DOJ and the title based on his alleged 25% share in the hereditary rights of to CANCEL the said certificates of title.
Senate should not, in itself, persuade the courts to accept Bartolome Rivera, Eleuteria Riveras co-petitioner in LRC No.
them without inquiry. The facts and arguments presented in 4557, the Court noted: SO ORDERED.
the reports must still undergo judicial scrutiny and analysis,
and certainly the courts will have the discretion to accept or . . . However, the records of these cases would somehow
reject them. negate the rights of Rivera to claim from Vidal. The Verification
Report of the Land Registration Commission dated 3 August G.R. No. 205867, February 23, 2015
There are many factual questions looming over the properties 1981 showed that Rivera was 65 years old on 17 May 1963
that could only be threshed out in the remand to the Court of (as gathered from the records of Civil Case Nos. 4429 and MARIFLOR T. HORTIZUELA, REPRESENTED BY JOVIER
Appeals. x x x. 4496). It can thus be deduced that, if Rivera was already 65 TAGUFA, Petitioner, v. GREGORIA TAGUFA, ROBERTO
years old in 1963, then he must have been born around 1898. TAGUFA AND ROGELIO LUMABAN, Respondents.
xxxx On the other hand, Vidal was only nine (9) years in 1912;
hence, she could have been born only on [1903]. This alone DECISION
The Special Division is tasked to hear and receive evidence, creates an unexplained anomalous, if not ridiculous, situation
conclude the proceedings and submit to this Court a report on wherein Vidal, Rivera's alleged Grandmother, was seven (7) MENDOZA, J.:
its findings and recommended conclusions within three (3) years younger than her alleged grandson. Serious doubts
months from finality of this Resolution. This is a petition for review on certiorari under Rule 45 of the
existed as to whether Rivera was in fact an heir of Vidal, for
Rules of Court assailing the September 13, 2012
him to claim a share in the disputed portions of the Maysilo
Thus, in the 2009 Manotok case, this Court evaluated the Decision1 and the January 25, 2013 Resolution2 of the Court of
Estate.
evidence engaged in by said Special Division, and adopted the Appeals (CA) in CA- G.R. SP No. 122648 which reversed and

10
PROPERTY- QUIETING OF TITLE
set aside the July 1, 2011 Decision3 of the Regional Trial Investigating further, plaintiff discovered that Gregoria Tagufa
Court, Branch 22, Cabagan, Isabela (RTC), in an action for was able to title the said property by virtue of a free patent Respondents filed a motion for reconsideration, but it was
reconveyance and recovery of possession. application before the Department of Environment and Natural denied by the RTC.
Resources (DENR) and the execution of a Deed of
The Facts: Extrajudicial Settlement of the Estate of the late Spouses The reversal being unacceptable to them, respondents filed a
Leandro Tagufa and Remedios Talosig dated May 9, 2003 petition for review before the CA questioning the RTC
The undisputed facts were succinctly summarized in the xxx. Plaintiff now seeks to recover possession of the said decision. This time, the case was disposed in their favor.
August 31, 2010 Decision4 of the 3rd Municipal Circuit Trial property which is presently occupied by Gregoria Tagufa and According to the CA, although Hortizuela filed with the MCTC
Court, Tumauini-Delfin Albano, Tumauini, Isabela (MCTC) her co-defendants and have the same be reconveyed unto a complaint for reconveyance and recovery of possession of
before which a complaint5 for Reconveyance and Recovery of them.6 the subject lot, she was also questioning the validity of the
Possession with Damages was filed by petitioner Mariflor Torrens title, Original Certificate of Title (OCT) No. P-
Tagufa Hortizuela (Hortizuela) represented by Jovier Tagufa 846609. 9 The CA pointed out that this was in contravention of
against respondents Gregoria Tagufa, Roberto Tagufa and In its Order, dated May 5, 2010, the MCTC granted the motion Section 48 of Presidential Decree (P.D.) No. 1529 which
Rogelio Lumaban (respondents). As quoted by the CA, said to declare defendants in default and allowed Hortizuela to provides:
undisputed facts are: present her evidence ex parte. Thereafter, on August 31,
2010, the MCTC dismissed the complaint for lack of merit Sec. 48. Certificate not subject to collateral attack.- A
Gleaned from the joint testimonies of R[u]nsted Tagufa xxx ruling that in the judicious analysis by this court, plaintiffs have certificate of title shall not be subject to collateral attack. It
and Jovier Tagufa xxx are the following facts: resorted to a wrong cause of action.7cralawlawlibrary cannot be altered, modified, or cancelled except in a direct
proceeding in accordance with law
The property involved in this case is a parcel of land located at Not in conformity, Hortizuela appealed to the RTC. In its July
District IV, Tumauini, Isabela containing an area of 539 square 1, 2011 Decision, the RTC reversed the MCTC ruling. The
meters, more or less, and covered by OCT No. P-84609 of the decretal portion of the RTC decision reads as follows: It cited the well-settled rule that a Torrens title could not be
Registry of Deeds of Isabela. By virtue of the special power of collaterally attacked; that the issue of whether or not the title
attorney xxx executed by Mariflor Tagufa Hortizuela, Jovier WHEREFORE, premises considered, the appeal is hereby was fraudulently issued, could only be raised in an action
Tagufa instituted this case against herein defendants praying granted and the Decision dated August 31, 2010, is expressly instituted for that purpose; and that an action for
for the peaceful surrender of the above-described property hereby REVERSED and judgment is hereby rendered as reconveyance and recovery of possession was not the direct
unto them and further ordering defendant Gregoria Tagufa to follows: action contemplated by law.10 Hence, the dispositive portion of
reconvey in plaintiffs favor the same property which was titled the CA decision reads in this wise:
under her name via fraud. 1. Ordering the defendant Gregorio Tagufa to reconvey
to the plaintiff Mariflor Tagufa Hortizuela the land WHEREFORE, premises considered, the Decision dated July
Before it was titled in the name of Defendant Tagufa, said described in paragraph 4 of the complaint; 1, 2011 rendered by the Regional Trial Court of Cabagan,
property was originally owned by plaintiffs parents, Spouses Isabela, is hereby REVERSED and SET ASIDE. The present
Epifanio Tagufa and Godofreda Jimenez. Although untitled, 2. Ordering the defendants to vacate the same land and Complaint for reconveyance and recovery of possession with
the spouses mortgaged the property with the Development to surrender the peaceful possession thereof to the damages is DISMISSED.
Bank of the Philippines (DBP, for brevity). For failure to plaintiff;
redeem the property, DBP foreclosed the same and sold it to SO ORDERED.11
3. Ordering the defendants to pay to the plaintiff the
Atty. Romulo Marquez xxx who, in turn, sold it back to Runsted
following amounts, jointly and severally:
Tagufa, husband of defendant Gregoria Tagufa, on April 4,
cralawred Hortizuela filed a motion for reconsideration, but it was denied
2002 xxx using the fund sent by plaintiff Hortizuela who was in
America and with the agreement that Runsted will reconvey in a Resolution,12 dated January 25, 2013.
a) Fifty Thousand (P50,000.00) Pesos as Moral Damages;
the said property to her sister when demanded. b) Twenty Thousand (P20,000.00) Pesos as Attorneys Fees. Hence, this petition.
However, plaintiff discovered that the same unregistered SO DECIDED.8 ISSUE
property was titled in the name of Gregoria Tagufa under OCT
No. P-84609 of the Registry of Deeds of Isabela xxx.
11
PROPERTY- QUIETING OF TITLE
WHETHER OR NOT AN ACTION FOR RECONVEYANCE Hortizuela, by her own admission, is an American citizen who property when she applied for it.
AND RECOVERY OF POSSESSION CONSTITUTES AN has been residing in Las Vegas, Nevada.
INDIRECT OR COLLATERAL ATTACK ON THE VALIDITY All in all, plaintiff argued, Gregoria Tagufa never acquired any
OF THE SUBJECT CERTIFICATE OF TITLE WHICH IS The Courts Ruling valid right or legal title over the property.
PROSCRIBED BY LAW.
Studying the merits of this case and removing all its
The Court finds the petition meritorious. superfluities, plaintiffs plainly question the title generated in the
Hortizuela claims that respondent Gregoria Tagufa (Gregoria), name of defendant Gregoria Tagufa having been obtained by
being the wife of Runsted, was certainly aware that the subject The Court is not unmindful of the principle of indefeasibility of a fraud and misrepresentation. However, in the judicious
land was actually sold by Atty. Romulo Marquez (Atty. Torrens title and Section 48 of P.D. No. 1528 where it is analysis by this court, plaintiffs have resorted to a wrong cause
Marquez) to her (Hortizuela). Runsted, only acted as attorney- provided that a certificate of title shall not be subject to of action.16
in-fact in the sale transaction. Thus, the action for collateral attack.14 A Torrens title cannot be altered, modified
reconveyance was not a collateral attack on the said title or cancelled except in a direct proceeding in accordance with
because Hortizuela was not seeking the nullification of the title, law. When the Court says direct attack, it means that the From the foregoing, it can be deduced that the MCTC was
but rather the reconveyance of the property, covered by the object of an action is to annul or set aside such judgment, or convinced that fraud was attendant in the registration of the
said title, which Gregoria was holding in trust for her benefit as enjoin its enforcement. On the other hand, the attack is indirect land but was not convinced that reconveyance was an
the real owner. Gregoria should, therefore, reconvey the or collateral when, in an action to obtain a different relief, an accepted remedy.
property and its title to her, being the rightful owner. attack on the judgment or proceeding is nevertheless made as
an incident thereof.15 In its decision, the MCTC wrote: Contrary to the pronouncements of the MCTC and the CA,
Position of Respondents however, the complaint of Hortizuela was not a collateral
Obviously, the bone of contention in this case are the deed of attack on the title warranting dismissal. As a matter of fact, an
Respondents counter that although Hortizuelas complaint was sale by and between Romulo Marquez and Runsted Tagufa, action for reconveyance is a recognized remedy, an action in
denominated as one for reconveyance and recovery of the estranged husband of defendant Gregoria Tagufa, and personam, available to a person whose property has been
possession, its main objective was to nullify the title held by OCT No. P-84609 registered in the name of Gregoria Tagufa wrongfully registered under the Torrens system in anothers
Gregoria over the subject property. For said reason, the who, according to the plaintiff, fraudulently caused the titling of name. In an action for reconveyance, the decree is not sought
complaint would amount to a collateral attack on the title which the same. to be set aside. It does not seek to set aside the decree but,
was proscribed under the principle of indefeasibility of a respecting it as incontrovertible and no longer open to review,
Torrens title. To rule that the action for reconveyance was not In their lamentations, plaintiff pointed out the seeks to transfer or reconvey the land from the registered
a collateral one would result in the nullity of the decree of following indicia of fraud committed by Gregoria Tagufa that owner to the rightful owner. Reconveyance is always available
registration. would allegedly justify reconveyance: as long as the property has not passed to an innocent third
person for value.17cralawlawlibrary
Another argument that respondents want this Court to consider First, Gregoria Tagufa made it appear in the extrajudicial
in resolving the subject petition is the fact that the overriding settlement of the estate of spouses Leandro Tagufa and There is no quibble that a certificate of title, like in the case at
reason why Hortizuela chose to file a complaint for Remedios Talosig that she is an heir when, in truth, she is only bench, can only be questioned through a direct proceeding.
reconveyance and recovery of possession was that she failed a grand daughter-in-law, The MCTC and the CA, however, failed to take into account
to avail of the remedy provided under Section 3813 of Act 496 that in a complaint for reconveyance, the decree of registration
within the prescribed period of one (1) year, counted from the Second, she already knew when she applied for free patent is respected as incontrovertible and is not being questioned.
issuance of the free patent by the government. that plaintiff was already the owner of the land she was What is being sought is the transfer of the property wrongfully
applying for; or erroneously registered in another's name to its rightful
Finally, granting that the title over the property would be owner or to the one with a better right. If the registration of the
nullified and the property be reconveyed to Hortizuela, still the Third, she already knew that when she applied for free patent land is fraudulent, the person in whose name the land is
latter would be ineligible to own the same pursuant to Batas that plaintiffs parents were not anymore the owners of the land registered holds it as a mere trustee, and the real owner is
Pambansa (B.P.) Blg. 223 which requires, among others, that as the same was mortgaged with the DBP; and entitled to file an action for reconveyance of the
an applicant for a free patent must be a Filipino citizen. property.18cralawlawlibrary
Fourth, defendant has never been in actual possession of the
12
PROPERTY- QUIETING OF TITLE
The fact that Gregoria was able to secure a title in her name x x x It is to the public interest that one who succeeds in annul the title but to have it conveyed to plaintiffs. Fraudulent
does not operate to vest ownership upon her of the subject fraudulently acquiring title to a public land should not be statements were made in the application for the patent and no
land. Registration of a piece of land under the Torrens System allowed to benefit therefrom, and the State should, therefore, notice thereof was given to plaintiffs, nor knowledge of the
does not create or vest title, because it is not a mode of have an even existing authority, thru its duly-authorized petition known to the actual possessors and occupants of the
acquiring ownership. A certificate of title is merely an evidence officers, to inquire into the circumstances surrounding the property. The action is one based on fraud and under the law,
of ownership or title over the particular property described issuance of any such title, to the end that the Republic, thru it can be instituted within four years from the discovery of the
therein. It cannot be used to protect a usurper from the true the Solicitor General or any other officer who may be fraud. (Art. 1146, Civil Code, as based on Section 3,
owner; nor can it be used as a shield for the commission of authorized by law, may file the corresponding action for the paragraph 43 of Act No. 190.) It is to be noted that as the
fraud; neither does it permit one to enrich himself at the reversion of the land involved to the public domain, subject patent here has already been issued, the land has the
expense of others. Its issuance in favor of a particular person thereafter to disposal to other qualified persons in accordance character of registered property in accordance with the
does not foreclose the possibility that the real property may be with law. In other words, the indefeasibility of a title over land provisions of Section 122 of Act No. 496, as amended by Act
co-owned with persons not named in the certificate, or that it previously public is not a bar to an investigation by the Director No. 2332, and the remedy of the party who has been injured
may be held in trust for another person by the registered of Lands as to how such title has been acquired, if the purpose by the fraudulent registration is an action for reconveyance.
owner.19cralawlawlibrary of such investigation is to determine whether or not fraud had (Director of Lands vs. Registered of Deeds, 92 Phil., 826; 49
been committed in securing such title in order that the Off. Gaz. 3 935; Section 55 of Act No. 496.)
Furthermore, respondents argument that the overriding appropriate action for reversion may be filed by the
reason why Hortizuela chose to file a complaint for Government.23
reconveyance and recovery of possession was that she failed In the same vein, in Quiiano, et al. v. Court of Appeals, et
to avail of the remedy provided under Section 38 of Act 496 al., we stressed that:
within the prescribed period of one (1) year, counted from the An action for reconveyance is proper
issuance of the patent by the government, is weak. As was The controlling legal norm was set forth in succinct language
similarly held in Cervantes v. CA,20 with the land obtained by The foregoing rule is, however, not without exception. A by Justice Tuason in a 1953 decision, Director of Lands v.
respondent Gregoria through fraudulent machinations by recognized exception is that situation where plaintiff-claimant Register of Deeds of Rizal. Thus: The sole remedy of the land
means of which a free patent and a title were issued in her seeks direct reconveyance from defendant of public land owner whose property has been wrongfully or erroneously
name, she was deemed to have held it in trust for the benefit unlawfully and in breach of trust titled by him, on the principle registered in another's name is, after one year from the date of
of Hortizuela who was prejudiced by her actions. Article 1456 of enforcement of a constructive trust. This was the ruling the decree, not to set aside the decree, as was done in the
provides: in Larzano v. Tabayag, Jr.,24 where it was written: instant case, but, respecting the decree as incontrovertible and
no longer open to review, to bring an ordinary action in the
ARTICLE 1456. If property is acquired through mistake or A private individual may bring an action for reconveyance of a ordinary court of justice for reconveyance or, if the property
fraud, the person obtaining it is, by force of law, considered a parcel of land even if the title thereof was issued through a free has passed into the hands of an innocent purchaser for value,
trustee of an implied trust for the benefit of the person from patent since such action does not aim or purport to re-open the for damages." Such a doctrine goes back to the 1919
whom the property comes. registration proceeding and set aside the decree of landmark decision of Cabanos v. Register of Deeds of Laguna.
registration, but only to show that the person who secured the If it were otherwise the institution of registration would, to
registration of the questioned property is not the real owner quote from Justice Torres, serve "as a protecting mantle to
The remedy of reconveyance, based on Section 53 of P.D. No. thereof. cover and shelter bad faith ...." In the language of the then
1529 and Article 1456, prescribes in ten (10) years from the Justice, later Chief Justice, Bengzon: "A different view would
issuance of the Torrens title over the property. In Roco, et al. v. Gimeda, we stated that if a patent had encourage fraud and permit one person unjustly to enrich
already been issued through fraud or mistake and has been himself at the expense of another." It would indeed be a signal
The Court is not unaware of the rule that a fraudulently registered, the remedy of a party who has been injured by the failing of any legal system if under the circumstances
acquired free patent may only be assailed by the government fraudulent registration is an action for reconveyance, thus: disclosed, the aggrieved party is considered as having lost his
in an action for reversion pursuant to Section 101 of the Public cralawred right to a property to which he is entitled. It is one thing to
Land Act.21 In Sherwill Development Corporation v. Sitio Sto. protect an innocent third party; it is entirely a different matter,
Nio Residents Association, Inc.,22 this Court pointed out that: It is to be noted that the petition does not seek for a and one devoid of justification, if [deceit] would be rewarded by
reconsideration of the granting of the patent or of the decree allowing the perpetrator to enjoy the fruits of his nefarious
issued in the registration proceeding. The purpose is not to deed. As clearly revealed by the undeviating line of decisions
13
PROPERTY- QUIETING OF TITLE
coming from this Court, such an undesirable eventuality is WHEREFORE, the petition is GRANTED. The September 13, VELASCO, JR., J.:
precisely sought to be guarded against. So it has been before; 2012 Decision and the January 25, 2013 Resolution of the
so it should continue to be. (Citations omitted) Court of Appeals in CA- G.R. SP No. 122648 are The Case
hereby REVERSED and SET ASIDE. The July 1, 2011
Decision of the Regional Trial Court, Branch 22, Cabagan, Before the Court is a Petition for Review on Certiorari filed
In this case, in filing the complaint for reconveyance and Isabela, is hereby REINSTATED. under Rule 45 challenging the Decision1 and Resolution2 of the
recovery of possession, Hortizuela was not seeking a Court of Appeals (CA) in CA-G.R. CV No. 98919 dated July 8,
reconsideration of the granting of the patent or the decree SO ORDERED. 2013 and November 22, 2013, respectively. The challenged
issued in the registration proceedings. What she was seeking rulings affirmed the May 7, 2012 Decision3 of the Regional
was the reconveyance of the subject property on account of Trial Court (RTC), Branch 68 in Camiling, Tarlac that
the fraud committed by respondent Gregoria. An action for petitioners and respondents are co-owners of the subject
reconveyance is a legal and equitable remedy granted to the property, which should be partitioned as per the subdivision
rightful landowner, whose land was wrongfully or erroneously plan submitted by respondent spouses Recto and Rosemarie
registered in the name of another, to compel the registered Candelario.
owner to transfer or reconvey the land to him.25 Thus, the RTC
did not err in upholding the right of Hortizuela to ask for the The Facts
reconveyance of the subject property. To hold otherwise would
be to make the Torrens system a shield for the commission of As culled from the records, the facts of the case are as follows:
fraud. To reiterate,
Petitioners Vilma Quintos, Florencia Dancel, and Catalino
The fact that petitioner was able to secure a title in her name Ibarra, and respondents Pelagia Nicolas, Noli Ibarra, Santiago
did not operate to vest ownership upon her of the subject land. Ibarra, Pedro Ibarra, David Ibarra, Gilberto Ibarra, and the late
Registration of a piece of land under the Torrens System does Augusto Ibarra are siblings. Their parents, Bienvenido and
not create or vest title, because it is not a mode of acquiring Escolastica Ibarra, were the owners of the subject property, a
ownership. A certificate of title is merely an evidence of 281 sqm. parcel of land situated along Quezon Ave.,
ownership or title over the particular property described Poblacion C, Camiling, Tarlac, covered by Transfer Certificate
therein. It cannot be used to protect a usurper from the true Title (TCT) No. 318717.
owner; nor can it be used as a shield for the commission of
G.R. No. 210252 June 16, 2014 By 1999, both Bienvenido and Escolastica had already passed
fraud; neither does it permit one to enrich himself at the
away, leaving to their ten (10) children ownership over the
expense of others. Its issuance in favor of a particular person
VILMA QUINTOS, represented by her Attorney-in-Fact subject property. Subsequently, sometime in 2002, respondent
does not foreclose the possibility that the real property may be
FIDEL I. QUINTOS, JR.; FLORENCIA I. DANCEL, siblings brought an action for partition against petitioners. The
co-owned with persons not named in the certificate, or that it
represented by her Attorney-in-Fact FLOVY I. DANCEL; case was docketed as Civil Case No. 02-52 and was raffled to
may be held in trust for another person by the registered
and CATALINO L. IBARRA, Petitioners, the RTC, Branch 68, Camiling, Tarlac. However, in an
owner.26
vs. Order4 dated March 22, 2004, the trial court dismissed the
PELAGIA I. NICOLAS, NOLI L. IBARRA, SANTIAGO L. case disposing as follows:
Finally, respondents supposition that Hortizuela was ineligible IBARRA, PEDRO L. IBARRA, DAVID L. IBARRA,
GILBERTO L. IBARRA, HEIRS OF AUGUSTO L. IBARRA, For failure of the parties, as well as their counsels, to appear
to own the subject property pursuant to B.P. Blg. 223 because
namely CONCHITA R., IBARRA, APOLONIO IBARRA, and despite due notice, this case is hereby DISMISSED.
she was no longer a Filipino citizen cannot be considered for
having been raised only for the first time on appeal. It must be NARCISO IBARRA, and the spouses RECTO
SO ORDERED.
noted that points of law, theories, issues, and arguments not CANDELARIO and ROSEMARIE
brought to the attention of the trial court ought not to be CANDELARIO,Respondents. As neither set of parties appealed, the ruling of the trial court
considered by a reviewing court, as these cannot be raised for became final, as evidenced by a Certificate of Finality5 it
the first time on appeal.27 The reason therefor is due process. DECISION
eventually issued on August 22, 2008.

14
PROPERTY- QUIETING OF TITLE
Having failed to secure a favorable decision for partition, Docketed as Civil Case No. 09-15 of the RTC of Camiling, considered, the Decision dated May 7, 2012 of the Regional
respondent siblings instead resorted to executing a Deed of Tarlac, the quieting of title case was eventually raffled to Trial Court of Camiling, Tarlac, Branch 68, in Civil Case No.
Adjudication6 on September 21, 2004 to transfer the property Branch 68 of the court, the same trial court that dismissed Civil 09-15, is hereby AFFIRMED.
in favor of the ten (10) siblings. As a result, TCT No. 318717 Case No. 02-52. During pre-trial, respondents, or defendants a
was canceled and in lieu thereof, TCT No. 390484 was issued quo, admitted having filed an action for partition, that SO ORDERED.
in its place by the Registry of Deeds of Tarlac in the names of petitioners did not participate in the Deed of Adjudication that
the ten (10) heirs of the Ibarra spouses. served as the basis for the issuance of TCT No. 390484, and Similar to the trial court, the court a quo found no evidence on
that the Agreement of Subdivision that led to the issuance of record to support petitioners claim that the subject property
Subsequently, respondent siblings sold their 7/10 undivided TCT No. 434304 in favor of respondent spouses Candelario was specifically bequeathed by Bienvenido and Escolastica
share over the property in favor of their co-respondents, the was falsified.9 Despite the admissions of respondents, Ibarra in their favor as their share in their parents estate. It
spouses Recto and Rosemarie Candelario. By virtue of a Deed however, the RTC, through its May 27, 2012 Decision, also did not consider petitioners possession of the property as
of Absolute Sale7 dated April 17, 2007 executed in favor of the dismissed petitioners complaint. The court did not find merit in one that is in the concept of an owner. Ultimately, the appellate
spouses Candelario and an Agreement of petitioners asseverations that they have acquired title over the court upheld the finding that petitioners and respondent
Subdivision8 purportedly executed by them and petitioners, property through acquisitive prescription and noted that there spouses Candelario co-own the property, 30-70 in favor of the
TCT No. 390484 was partially canceled and TCT No. 434304 was no document evidencing that their parents bequeathed to respondent spouses.
was issued in the name of the Candelarios, covering the them the subject property. Finding that respondent siblings
7/10portion. were entitled to their respective shares in the property as As regards the issue of partition, the CA added:
descendants of Bienvenido and Escolastica Ibarra and as co-
On June 1, 2009, petitioners filed a complaint for Quieting of x x x Since it was conceded that the subject lot is now co-
heirs of petitioners, the subsequent transfer of their interest in
Title and Damages against respondents wherein they alleged owned by the plaintiffs-appellants, (with 3/10 undivided
favor of respondent spouses Candelario was then upheld by
that during their parents lifetime, the couple distributed their interest) and defendants-appellees Spouses Candelarios (with
the trial court. The dispositive portion of the Decision reads:
real and personal properties in favor of their ten (10) children. 7/10 undivided interest) and considering that plaintiffs-
Upon distribution, petitioners alleged that they received the WHEREFORE, premises considered, the above-entitled case appellants had already constructed a 3-storey building at the
subject property and the house constructed thereon as their is hereby Dismissed. back portion of the property, then partition, in accordance with
share. They likewise averred that they have been in adverse, the subdivision plan (records, p. 378) undertaken by
open, continuous, and uninterrupted possession of the Also, defendants-spouses Rosemarie Candelario and Recto defendants-appellants [sic] spouses, is in order.10
property for over four (4) decades and are, thus, entitled to Candelario are hereby declared as the absolute owners of the
equitable title thereto. They also deny any participation in the 7/10 portion of the subject lot. On November 22, 2013, petitioners Motion for
execution of the aforementioned Deed of Adjudication dated Reconsideration was denied. Hence, the instant petition.
September 21, 2004 and the Agreement of Subdivision. Likewise, the court hereby orders the partition of the subject
Issues
Respondents countered that petitioners cause of action was lots between the herein plaintiffs and the defendants-spouses
already barred by estoppel when sometime in 2006, one of Candelarios.
In the present petition, the following errors were raised:
petitioners offered to buy the 7/10 undivided share of the
respondent siblings. They point out that this is an admission on SO ORDERED.
I. THE COURT OF APPEALS MANIFESTLY OVERLOOKED
the part of petitioners that the property is not entirely theirs. In RELEVANT AND UNDISPUTED FACTS WHICH, IF
addition, they claimed that Bienvenido and Escolastica Ibarra Aggrieved, petitioners appealed the trial courts Decision to the
CA, pleading the same allegations they averred in their PROPERLY CONSIDERED, WOULD JUSTIFY
mortgaged the property but because of financial constraints, PETITIONERS CLAIM OF EQUITABLE TITLE.
respondent spouses Candelario had to redeem the property in underlying complaint for quieting of title. However, they added
their behalf. Not having been repaid by Bienvenido and that the partition should no longer be allowed since it is already
II. THE COURT OF APPEALS ERRED WHEN IT AFFIRMED
Escolastica, the Candelarios accepted from their co- barred by res judicata, respondent siblings having already filed
THE ORDER OF PARTITION DESPITE THE FACT THAT
respondents their share in the subject property as payment. a case for partition that was dismissed with finality, as admitted
THE COUNTERCLAIM FOR PARTITION, BASED ON THE
Lastly, respondents sought, by way of counterclaim, the by respondents themselves during pre-trial.
DEED OF ABSOLUTE SALE EXECUTED IN 2007, IS
partition of the property. BARRED BY LACHES.
On July 8, 2013, the CA issued the assailed Decision denying
the appeal. The fallo reads: WHEREFORE, premises

15
PROPERTY- QUIETING OF TITLE
III. THE COURT OF APPEALS RENDERED A cause of action must necessarily fail mainly in view of the The counterclaim for partition is not barred by prior judgment
SUBSTANTIALLY FLAWED JUDGMENT WHEN IT absence of the first requisite.
NEGLECTED TO RULE ON PETITIONERS CONTENTION This brings us to the issue of partition as raised by
THAT THE COUNTERCLAIM FOR PARTITION IS ALSO At the outset, it must be emphasized that the determination of respondents in their counterclaim. In their answer to the
BARRED BY PRIOR JUDGMENT, DESPITE ITS HAVING whether or not petitioners sufficiently proved their claim of counterclaim, petitioners countered that the action for partition
BEEN SPECIFICALLY ASSIGNED AS ERROR AND ownership or equitable title is substantially a factual issue that has already been barred by res judicata.
PROPERLY ARGUED IN THEIR BRIEF, AND WHICH, IF is generally improper for Us to delve into. Section 1, Rule 45 of
PROPERLY CONSIDERED, WOULD JUSTIFY THE the Rules of Court explicitly states that the petition for review The doctrine of res judicata provides that the judgment in a
DISMISSAL OF THE COUNTERCLAIM. on certiorari "shall raise only questions of law, which must be first case is final as to the claim or demand in controversy,
distinctly set forth." In appeals by certiorari, therefore, only between the parties and those privy with them, not only as to
IV. THE COURT OF APPEALS ERRED WHEN IT ORDERED questions of law may be raised, because this Court is not a every matter which was offered and received to sustain or
PARTITION IN ACCORDANCE WITH THE SUBDIVISION trier of facts and does not normally undertake the re- defeat the claim or demand, but as to any other admissible
PLAN MENTIONED IN ITS DECISION, IN CONTRAVENTION examination of the evidence presented by the contending matter which must have been offered for that purpose and all
OF THE PROCEDURE ESTABLISHED IN RULE 69 OF THE parties during the trial.14 Although there are exceptions 15 to this matters that could have been adjudged in that case.19 It
RULES OF CIVIL PROCEDURE.11 general rule as eloquently enunciated in jurisprudence, none of precludes parties from relitigating issues actually litigated and
the circumstances calling for their application obtains in the determined by a prior and final judgment.20 As held in
To simplify, the pertinent issues in this case are as follows: case at bar. Thus, We are constrained to respect and uphold Yusingco v. Ong Hing Lian:21
the findings of fact arrived at by both the RTC and the CA.
1. Whether or not the petitioners were able to prove ownership It is a rule pervading every well-regulated system of
over the property; In any event, a perusal of the records would readily show that jurisprudence, and is put upon two grounds embodied in
petitioners, as aptly observed by the courts below, indeed, various maxims of the common law; the one, public policy and
2. Whether or not the respondents counterclaim for partition is failed to substantiate their claim. Their alleged open, necessity, which makes it to the interest of the state that there
already barred by laches or res judicata; and continuous, exclusive, and uninterrupted possession of the should be an end to litigation republicae ut sit finis litium;
subject property is belied by the fact that respondent siblings, the other, the hardship on the individual that he should be
3. Whether or not the CA was correct in approving the in 2005, entered into a Contract of Lease with the Avico vexed twice for the same cause nemo debet bis vexari et
subdivision agreement as basis for the partition of the Lending Investor Co. over the subject lot without any objection eadem causa. A contrary doctrine would subject the public
property. from the petitioners.16 Petitioners inability to offer evidence peace and quiet to the will and neglect of individuals and
tending to prove that Bienvenido and Escolastica Ibarra prefer the gratitude identification of a litigious disposition on
The Courts Ruling the part of suitors to the preservation of the public tranquility
transferred the ownership over the property in favor of
petitioners is likewise fatal to the latters claim. On the and happiness.22
The petition is meritorious in part.
contrary, on May 28, 1998, Escolastica Ibarra executed a
Deed of Sale covering half of the subject property in favor of all The rationale for this principle is that a party should not be
Petitioners were not able to prove equitable title or ownership
her 10 children, not in favor of petitioners alone.17 vexed twice concerning the same cause. Indeed, res judicata
over the property
is a fundamental concept in the organization of every jural
Quieting of title is a common law remedy for the removal of The cardinal rule is that bare allegation of title does not suffice. society, for not only does it ward off endless litigation, it
any cloud, doubt, or uncertainty affecting title to real The burden of proof is on the plaintiff to establish his or her ensures the stability of judgment and guards against
property.12 For an action to quiet title to prosper, two case by preponderance of evidence.18 Regrettably, petitioners, inconsistent decisions on the same set of facts.23
indispensable requisites must concur, namely: (1) the plaintiff as such plaintiff, in this case failed to discharge the said
burden imposed upon them in proving legal or equitable title There is res judicata when the following requisites are present:
or complainant has a legal or equitable title to or interest in the
over the parcel of land in issue. As such, there is no reason to (1) the formal judgment or order must be final; (2) it must be a
real property subject of the action; and (2) the deed, claim,
disturb the finding of the RTC that all 10 siblings inherited the judgment or order on the merits, that is, it was rendered after a
encumbrance, or proceeding claimed to be casting cloud on
subject property from Bienvenido and Escolastica Ibarra, and consideration of the evidence or stipulations submitted by the
the title must be shown to be in fact invalid or inoperative
after the respondent siblings sold their aliquot share to the parties at the trial of the case; (3) it must have been rendered
despite its prima facie appearance of validity or efficacy. 13 In
spouses Candelario, petitioners and respondent spouses by a court having jurisdiction over the subject matter and the
the case at bar, the CA correctly observed that petitioners
became co-owners of the same. parties; and (4) there must be, between the first and second

16
PROPERTY- QUIETING OF TITLE
actions, identity of parties, of subject matter and of cause of the merits, and is necessarily understood to be with prejudice Between dismissal with prejudice under Rule 17, Sec. 3 and
action.24 to the filing of another action, unless otherwise provided in the the right granted to co-owners under Art. 494 of the Civil Code,
order of dismissal. Stated differently, the general rule is that the latter must prevail. To construe otherwise would diminish
In the case at bar, respondent siblings admit that they filed an dismissal of a case for failure to prosecute is to be regarded as the substantive right of a co-owner through the promulgation of
action for partition docketed as Civil Case No. 02-52, which the an adjudication on the merits and with prejudice to the filing of procedural rules. Such a construction is not sanctioned by the
RTC dismissed through an Order dated March 22, 2004 for the another action, and the only exception is when the order of principle, which is too well settled to require citation, that a
failure of the parties to attend the scheduled hearings. dismissal expressly contains a qualification that the dismissal substantive law cannot be amended by a procedural
Respondents likewise admitted that since they no longer is without prejudice.26 In the case at bar, petitioners claim that rule.28 This further finds support in Art. 496 of the New Civil
appealed the dismissal, the ruling attained finality. Moreover, it the Order does not in any language say that the dismissal is Code, viz:
cannot be disputed that the subject property in Civil Case No. without prejudice and, thus, the requirement that the dismissal
02-52 and in the present controversy are one and the same, be on the merits is present. Article 496.Partition may be made by agreement between the
and that in both cases, respondents raise the same action for parties or by judicial proceedings.1wphi1 Partition shall be
partition. And lastly, although respondent spouses Candelario Truly, We have had the occasion to rule that dismissal with governed by the Rules of Court insofar as they are consistent
were not party-litigants in the earlier case for partition, there is prejudice under the above-cited rule amply satisfies one of the with this Code.
identity of parties not only when the parties in the case are the elements of res judicata.27 It is, thus, understandable why
same, but also between those in privity with them, such as petitioners would allege res judicata to bolster their claim. Thus, for the Rules to be consistent with statutory provisions,
between their successors-in-interest.25 However, dismissal with prejudice under Rule 17, Sec. 3 of the We hold that Art. 494, as cited, is an exception to Rule 17,
Rules of Court cannot defeat the right of a co-owner to ask for Sec. 3 of the Rules of Court to the effect that even if the order
With all the other elements present, what is left to be partition at any time, provided that there is no actual of dismissal for failure to prosecute is silent on whether or not
determined now is whether or not the dismissal of Civil case adjudication of ownership of shares yet. Pertinent hereto is it is with prejudice, it shall be deemed to be without prejudice.
No. 02-52 operated as a dismissal on the merits that would Article 494 of the Civil Code, which reads:
complete the requirements of res judicata. This is not to say, however, that the action for partition will
Article 494. No co-owner shall be obliged to remain in the co- never be barred by res judicata. There can still be res judicata
In advancing their claim, petitioners cite Rule 17, Sec. 3 of the ownership. Each co-owner may demand at any time the in partition cases concerning the same parties and the same
Rules of Court, to wit: partition of the thing owned in common, insofar as his share is subject matter once the respective shares of the co-owners
concerned. have been determined with finality by a competent court with
Section 3. Dismissal due to fault of plaintiff. If, for no jurisdiction or if the court determines that partition is improper
justifiable cause, the plaintiff fails to appear on the date of the Nevertheless, an agreement to keep the thing undivided for a for co-ownership does not or no longer exists.
presentation of his evidence in chief on the complaint, or to certain period of time, not exceeding ten years, shall be valid.
prosecute his action for an unreasonable length of time, or to This term may be extended by a new agreement. So it was that in Rizal v. Naredo,29 We ruled in the following
comply with these Rules or any order of the court, the wise:
complaint may be dismissed upon motion of the defendant or A donor or testator may prohibit partition for a period which
upon the courts own motion, without prejudice to the right of shall not exceed twenty years. Neither shall there be any Article 484 of the New Civil Code provides that there is co-
the defendant to prosecute his counterclaim in the same or in partition when it is prohibited by law. No prescription shall run ownership whenever the ownership of an undivided thing or
a separate action. This dismissal shall have the effect of an in favor of a co-owner or co-heir against his co-owners or co- right belongs to different persons. Thus, on the one hand, a
adjudication upon the merits, unless otherwise declared by the heirs so long as he expressly or impliedly recognizes the co- co-owner of an undivided parcel of land is an owner of the
court. ownership. (emphasis supplied) whole, and over the whole he exercises the right of dominion,
but he is at the same time the owner of a portion which is truly
The afore-quoted provision enumerates the instances when a From the above-quoted provision, it can be gleaned that the abstract. On the other hand, there is no co-ownership when
complaint may be dismissed due to the plaintiff's fault: (1) if he law generally does not favor the retention of co-ownership as a the different portions owned by different people are already
fails to appear on the date for the presentation of his evidence property relation, and is interested instead in ascertaining the concretely determined and separately identifiable, even if not
in chief on the complaint; (2) if he fails to prosecute his action co-owners specific shares so as to prevent the allocation of yet technically described.
for an unreasonable length of time; or (3) if he fails to comply portions to remain perpetually in limbo. Thus, the law provides
with the Rules or any order of the court. The dismissal of a that each co-owner may demand at any time the partition of Pursuant to Article 494 of the Civil Code, no co-owner is
case for failure to prosecute has the effect of adjudication on the thing owned in common. obliged to remain in the co-ownership, and his proper remedy

17
PROPERTY- QUIETING OF TITLE
is an action for partition under Rule 69 of the Rules of Court, subsisting 30-70 in favor of respondent spouses Candelario. subject property is evidence that they are exercising rights of
which he may bring at anytime in so far as his share is Consequently, there is no legal bar preventing herein ownership over the same.
concerned. Article 1079 of the Civil Code defines partition as respondents from praying for the partition of the property
the separation, division and assignment of a thing held in through counterclaim. The CA erred in approving the Agreement for Subdivision
common among those to whom it may belong. It has been held
that the fact that the agreement of partition lacks the technical The counterclaim for partition is not barred by laches There is merit, however, in petitioners contention that the CA
description of the parties respective portions or that the erred in approving the proposal for partition submitted by
subject property was then still embraced by the same We now proceed to petitioners second line of attack. respondent spouses. Art. 496, as earlier cited, provides that
certificate of title could not legally prevent a partition, where According to petitioners, the claim for partition is already partition shall either be by agreement of the parties or in
the different portions allotted to each were determined and barred by laches since by 1999, both Bienvenido and accordance with the Rules of Court. In this case, the
became separately identifiable. Escolastica Ibarra had already died and yet the respondent Agreement of Subdivision allegedly executed by respondent
siblings only belatedly filed the action for partition, Civil Case spouses Candelario and petitioners cannot serve as basis for
The partition of Lot No. 252 was the result of the approved No. 02-52, in 2002. And since laches has allegedly already set partition, for, as stated in the pre-trial order, herein
Compromise Agreement in Civil Case No. 36-C, which was in against respondent siblings, so too should respondent respondents admitted that the agreement was a falsity and
immediately final and executory. Absent any showing that said spouses Candelario be barred from claiming the same for they that petitioners never took part in preparing the same. The
Compromise Agreement was vitiated by fraud, mistake or could not have acquired a better right than their predecessors- "agreement" was crafted without any consultation whatsoever
duress, the court cannot set aside a judgment based on in-interest. or any attempt to arrive at mutually acceptable terms with
compromise. It is axiomatic that a compromise agreement petitioners. It, therefore, lacked the essential requisite of
once approved by the court settles the rights of the parties and The argument fails to persuade. consent. Thus, to approve the agreement in spite of this fact
has the force of res judicata. It cannot be disturbed except on would be tantamount to allowing respondent spouses to divide
the ground of vice of consent or forgery. Laches is the failure or neglect, for an unreasonable and unilaterally the property among the co-owners based on their
unexplained length of time, to do that whichby the exercise own whims and caprices. Such a result could not be
Of equal significance is the fact that the compromise judgment of due diligencecould or should have been done earlier. It is countenanced.
in Civil Case No. 36-C settled as well the question of which the negligence or omission to assert a right within a
specific portions of Lot No. 252 accrued to the parties reasonable period, warranting the presumption that the party To rectify this with dispatch, the case must be remanded to the
separately as their proportionate shares therein. Through their entitled to assert it has either abandoned or declined to assert court of origin, which shall proceed to partition the property in
subdivision survey plan, marked as Annex "A" of the it.30 The principle is a creation of equity which, as such, is accordance with the procedure outlined in Rule 69 of the Rules
Compromise Agreement and made an integral part thereof, the applied not really to penalize neglect or sleeping upon ones of Court.
parties segregated and separately assigned to themselves right, but rather to avoid recognizing a right when to do so
distinct portions of Lot No. 252. The partition was immediately would result in a clearly inequitable situation. As an equitable WHEREFORE, premises considered, the petition is hereby
executory, having been accomplished and completed on defense, laches does not concern itself with the character of PARTLY GRANTED. The assailed Decision and Resolution of
December 1, 1971 when judgment was rendered approving the petitioners title, but only with whether or not by reason of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. CV No. 98919 dated July 8,
the same. The CA was correct when it stated that no co- the respondents long inaction or inexcusable neglect, they 2013 and November 22, 2013, respectively, are hereby
ownership exist when the different portions owned by different should be barred from asserting this claim at all, because to AFFIRMED with MODIFICATION. The case is hereby
people are already concretely determined and separately allow them to do so would be inequitable and unjust to REMANDED to the RTC, Branch 68 in Camiling, Tarlac for
identifiable, even if not yet technically described. (emphasis petitioners.31 purposes of partitioning the subject property in accordance
supplied) with Rule 69 of the Rules of Court.
As correctly appreciated by the lower courts, respondents
In the quoted case, We have held that res judicata applied cannot be said to have neglected to assert their right over the SO ORDERED.
because after the parties executed a compromise agreement subject property. They cannot be considered to have
that was duly approved by the court, the different portions of abandoned their right given that they filed an action for
the owners have already been ascertained. Thus, there was partition sometime in 2002, even though it was later dismissed.
no longer a co-ownership and there was nothing left to Furthermore, the fact that respondent siblings entered into a
partition. This is in contrast with the case at bar wherein the Contract of Lease with Avico Lending Investor Co. over the
co-ownership, as determined by the trial court, is still
18
PROPERTY- QUIETING OF TITLE
hereby entered ordering the dismissal of the plaintiffs- hut on the land. The plaintiffs entrusted the payment of the
appellees['] second amended complaint. land taxes to their co-heir and half-brother, Hilario Robles.

Earlier, the trial court had disposed as follows: In 1962, for unknown reasons, the tax declaration of the parcel
of land in the, name of Silvino Robles was canceled and
WHEREFORE, premises considered, judgment is hereby transferred to one Exequiel Ballena (Exh. "19"), father of
rendered as follows: Andrea Robles who is the wife of defendant Hilario Robles.
Thereafter, Exequiel Ballena secured a loan from the Antipolo
1. Declaring free patent Title No. IV-1-010021 issued by the Rural Bank, using the tax declaration as security. Somehow,
Bureau of Lands as null and void; the tax declaration was transferred [to] the name of Antipolo
G.R. No. 123509 March 14, 2000
Rural Bank (Exh. "17") and later on, was transferred [to] the
2. Ordering the defendant spouses Vergel Santos and Ruth name of defendant Hilario Robles and his wife (Exh. "16").
LUCIO ROBLES, EMETERIA ROBLES, ALUDIA ROBLES Santos to deliver the property subject of this case to the
and EMILIO ROBLES, petitioners, plaintiff; and In 1996, Andrea Robles secured a loan from the Cadona Rural
vs.
Bank, Inc., using the tax declaration as security. Andrea
COURT OF APPEALS, Spouses VIRGILIO SANTOS and 3. Declaring the heirs of Silvino Robles as the absolute owner Robles testified without contradiction that somebody else, not
BABY RUTH CRUZ, RURAL BANK OF CARDONA, Inc., of the land in controversy. her husband Hilario Robles, signed the loan papers because
HILARIO ROBLES, ALBERTO PALAD JR. in his capacity
Hilario Robles was working in Marinduque at that time as a
as Director of Lands, and JOSE MAULEON in his capacity The January 15, 1996 CA Resolution denied petitioners'
carpenter.
as District Land Officer of the Bureau Of Motion for Reconsideration.
Lands, respondents. For failure to pay the mortgage debt, foreclosure proceedings
The Facts
were had and defendant Rural Bank emerged as the highest
PANGANIBAN, J.:
The present Petition is rooted in a case for quieting of title bidder during the auction sale in October 1968.
To be entitled to the remedy of quieting of title, petitioners before the Regional Trial Court of Morong, Rizal, filed on
The spouses Hilario Robles failed to redeem the property and
must show that they have title to the real property at issue, and March 14, 1988, 4 by Petitioners Lucio Robles, Emeteria
so the tax declaration was transferred in the name of
that some deed or proceeding beclouds its validity or efficacy. Robles, Aludia. Robles and Emilio Robles. The facts were
defendant Rural Bank. On September 25, 1987, defendant
Buyers of unregistered real property, especially banks, must narrated by the trial court in this wise:
Rural Bank sold the same to the Spouses Vergel Santos and
exert due diligence in ascertaining the titles of mortgagors and
There seems to be no dispute that Leon Robles primitively Ruth Santos.
sellers, lest some innocent parties be prejudiced. Failure to
observe such diligence may amount to bad faith and may owned the land situated in Kay Taga, Lagundi, Morong, Rizal
In September 1987, plaintiff discovered the mortgage and
result in the nullity of the mortgage, as well as of the with an area of 9,985 square meters. He occupied the same
attempted to redeem the property, but was unsuccessful. On
subsequent foreclosure and/or auction sale. Unless the co- openly and adversely. He also declared the same in his name
May 10, 1988, defendant spouses Santos took possession of
ownership is clearly repudiated, a co-owner cannot, by for taxation purposes as early as 1916 covered by Tax
the property in question and was able to secure Free Patent
prescription, acquire title to the share of the other co-owners. Declaration No. 17865 (Exh. "I") and paid the corresponding
No. IV-1-010021 in their names. 5
taxes thereon (Exh. "B"). When Leon Robles died, his son
The Case Silvino Robles inherited the land, who took possession of the On the other hand, the Court of Appeals summarized the facts
land, declared it in his name for taxation purposes and paid the of the case as follows:
Before us is a Petition for Review under Rule 45, assailing the taxes thereon.1wphi1.nt
June 15, 1995 Decision and the January 15, 1996 Resolution The instant action for quieting of title concerns the parcel of
of the Court of Appeals 1 (CA) in CA-GR CV No. 34213.2 In its Upon the death of Silvino Robles in 1942, his widow Maria de land bounded and more particularly described as follows:
Decision, the CA ruled: 3 la Cruz and his children inherited the property. They took
adverse possession of said property and paid taxes thereon. A parcel of land located at Kay Taga, Lagundi, Morong, Rizal.
WHEREFORE, the trial court's June 17, 1991 decision is The task of cultivat[ing] the land was assigned to plaintiff Lucio Bounded [i]n the north by the property of Venancio Ablay y
REVERSED and SET ASIDE, and in lieu thereof a new one is Robles who planted trees and other crops. He also built a nipa Simeon Ablay; [i]n the east by the property of Veronica Tulak y
Dionisio Ablay; [i]n the south by the property of Simeon Ablay
19
PROPERTY- QUIETING OF TITLE
y Dionisio Ablay; and [i]n the west by the property of Dionisio challenged June 17, 1991 decision upon the following findings G.R. No. 75042, November 29, 1988) The land in question has
Ablay y Simeon Ablay, with an area of 9,985 square meters, and conclusions: become private land.
more or less, assessed in the year 1935 at P60.00 under Tax
Declaration No. 23219. The real estate, mortgage allegedly executed by Hilario Robles Consequently, the issuance of [a] free patent title to the
is not valid because his signature in the mortgage deed was Spouses Vergel Santos and Ruth C. Santos is not valid
As the heirs of Silvino Robles who, likewise inherited the forged. This fact, which remains unrebutted, was admitted by because at the time the property subject of this case was
above-described parcel from Leon Robles, the siblings Lucio, Andrea Robles. already private land, the Bureau of Lands having no
Emeteria, Aludia and Emilio, all surnamed Robles, jurisdiction to dispose of the same. (pp. 257-259, orig. rec.)
commenced the instant suit with the filing of their March 14, Inasmuch as the real estate mortgage executed allegedly by
1988 complaint against Spouses Virgilio and Ruth Santos, as Hilario Robles in favor of the defendant Cardona Rural Bank, Dissatisfied with the foregoing decision, the Santos spouses
well as the Rural Bank of Cardona, Inc. Contending that they Inc. was not valid, it stands to reason that the foreclosure and the defendant Rural Bank jointly filed their July 6, 1991
had been in possession of the land since 1942, the plaintiff proceedings therein were likewise not valid. Therefore, the Notice of Appeal (p. 260, orig. rec.) . . . . 6
alleged, among other matters, that it was only in September of defendant bank did not acquire any right arising out of the
1987 that they came to know of the foreclosure of the real foreclosure proceedings. Consequently, defendant bank could Ruling of the Court of Appeals
estate mortgage constituted thereon by the half-brother, Hilario not have transferred any right to the spouses Santos.
Robles, in favor of defendant Rural Bank; and that they In reversing the trial court, the Court of Appeals held that
likewise learned upon further inquiry, that the latter had The fact that the land was covered by a free patent will not petitioners no longer had any title to the subject property at the
already sold the self-same parcel in favor of the Santos help the defendant Santos any. time they instituted the Complaint for quieting of title. The CA
spouses (pp. 1-3, orig, rec.). Twice amended to implead Hilario ratiocinated as follows:
Robles (pp. 76-80, orig. rec) and, upon subsequent discovery There can be no question that the subject [property was held]
in the concept of owner by Leon Robles since 1916. Likewise, As correctly urged by the appellants, the plaintiff-appellees no
of the issuance of Free Patent No. IV-I-010021 in favor of the
his successor-in-interest, Silvino Robles, his wife Maria de la longer had any title to the property at the time of the institution
defendant spouses, the Director of Land as parties-defendants
Cruz and the plaintiffs occupied the property openly, of the instant complaint. (pp. 25-27, rec.) The latter's claim of
(pp. 117-121, orig. rec). The plaintiffs' complaint sought the
continuously and exclusively until they were ousted from their continuous possession notwithstanding (pp. 3-5, TSN, July 5,
following reliefs on the theory that the encumbrance of their
possession in 1988 by the spouses Vergel and Ruth Santos. 1990; p. 12, TSN, July 12, 1990), the aforesaid loss of title is
half-brother, constituted on the land, as well as all proceedings
amply evidenced by the subsequent declaration of the subject
taken subsequent thereto, were null and void, to wit:
Under the circumstances, therefore, and considering that realty for taxation purposes not only in the name of Exequiel
Wherefore, it is respectfully prayed that (a) a preliminary "open, exclusive and undisputed possession of alienable Ballena (Exhibits "1" and "2", pp. 23-24, orig, rec.) but also in
mandatory injunction be issued forthwith restoring plaintiffs to public lands for the period prescribed by law (30 years), the name of the Rural Bank of Antipolo (Exhibit 17, vol. II orig.
their possession of said parcel of land; (b) an order be issued creates the legal fiction whereby the land, upon completion of rec). On the theory that tax declarations can be evincive of the
annulling said Free Patent No. IV-I-010021 in the name of the requisite period, ipso jure and without the need of judicial transfer of a parcel of land or a portion thereof (Gacos v. Court
defendants spouses Vergel Santos and Ruth C. Santos, the or other action, ceases to be public land and becomes private of Appeals, 212 SCRA 214), the court a quo clearly erred in
deed of sale aforementioned and any tax declaration which property. Possession of public land . . . which is [of] the simply brushing aside the apparent transfers [which] the land
have been issued in the name of defendants; and (c) ordering character and duration prescribed by the statute is the in litigation had undergone. Whether legal or equitable, it
defendants jointly and severally, to pay plaintiffs the sum of equivalent of an express grant from the State, considering the cannot, under the circumstances, be gainsaid that the plaintiff-
P10,000.00 as attorney's fees. dictum of the statute itself[:]; "The . . . shall be conclusively appellees no longer had any title to speak of when Exequiel
presumed to have performed all the conditions essential to a Ballena executed the November 7, 1966 Deed of Absolute
Plaintiffs pray for other relief as [may be] just and equitable government grant and shall be entitled to a certificate of title . . Sale transferring the land in favor of the spouses Hilario and
under the premises. (pp. 120-121, orig. rec.) ." No proof is admissible to overcome a conclusive Andrea Robles (Exhibit "3", p. 25, orig. rec.)
presumption[,] and confirmation proceedings would be a little
xxx xxx xxx more than a formality, at the most limited to ascertaining Even on the theory that the plaintiffs-appellees and their half-
whether the possession claimed is of the required character brother, Hilario Robles, are co-owners of the land left behind
With the termination of the pre-trial stage upon the parties- and length of time. Registration thereunder would not confer by their common father, Silvino Robles, such title would still be
litigants' agreement (p. 203, orig. rec.) the trial court proceeded title, but simply recognize a title already vested. (Cruz v. IAC, effectively discounted by what could well serve as the latter's
to try the case on the merits. It thereafter rendered the acts of repudiation of the co-ownership, i.e., his possession (p.

20
PROPERTY- QUIETING OF TITLE
22, TSN, November 15, 1990) and declaration thereof for 3. The complaint filed against herein answering defendant has Respondent Court of Appeals grievously erred in ruling that
taxation purposes in his own name (Exhibit "4", p. 26, orig. no legal basis considering that as the lawful owner of the with the transfers of the tax declaration over the parcel of land
rec.). In view of the plaintiffs-appellees' inaction for more than subject real property, defendant Hilario Robles has the right to in question from Silvino Robles to Exequiel Ballena, then to the
twenty (20) years from the time the subject realty was mortgage the said real property and could dispose the same in Rural Bank of Antipolo, then to Respondent Hilario Robles,
transferred in favor of Hilario Robles, the appellants correctly whatever manner he wishe[s] to do. (p. 96, orig. rec.) then to Respondent Rural Bank of Cardona Inc., and then
maintain that prescription had already set in. While it may be finally to Respondent Spouses Santos, petitioners, who by
readily conceded that an action to quiet title to property in the Appropriately underscored by the appellants, the foregoing themselves and their predecessors in interest have been in
possession of the plaintiff is imprescriptible (Almanza vs. admission is binding against Hilario [Robles]. Judicial open, actual and adverse possession of said parcel of land
Arguelles, 156 SCRA 718; Coronel vs. Intermediate Appellate admissions, verbal or written, made by the parties in the since 1916 up to their forced removal therefrom in 1988, have
Court, 155 SCRA 270; Caragay-Layno vs. Court of Appeals, pleadings or in the course of the trial or other proceedings in lost their title to said property by prescription to their half-
133 SCRA 718; Charon Enterprises vs. Court of Appeals, 124 the same case are conclusive, no evidence being required to brother, Respondent Hilario Robles, and then finally, to
SCRA 784; Faja vs. Court of Appeals, 75 SCRA 441; Burton prove the same. They cannot be contradicted unless shown to Respondent Spouses Santos. 8
vs. Gabar, 55 SCRA 4999), it equally bears emphasis that a have been made through [a] palpable mistake or [unless] no
co-owner or, for that matter, the said co-owner[']s successors- such admission was actually made (Philippine American For a better understanding of the case, the above issue will be
in-interest who occupy the community property other than as General Insurance, Inc. vs. Sweet Lines, Inc., 212 SCRA 194). broken down into three points: first, the nature of the remedy of
co-owner[s] can claim prescription as against the other co- quieting of title; second, the validity of the real estate
owners (De Guzman vs. Austria, 148 SCRA 75; Ramos vs. It does not help the plaintiffs-appellees cause any that, aside mortgage; and third, the efficacy of the free patent granted to
Ramos, 45 Phil. 362; Africa vs. Africa, 42 Phil. 902; Bargayo from complying with the requirements for the foreclosure of the the Santos spouses.
vs. Camumot, 40 Phil. 857; De Castro vs. Echarri, 20 Phil. 23). subject real estate mortgage (Exhibits "6", "7", "8" and "10",
If only in this latter sense, the appellants correctly argue that Volume II [)], the appellant Rural Bank had not only relented to First Issue:
the plaintiffs-appellees have lost their cause of action by the mortgagor's request to postpone the (Exhibit "g", Vol. II,
prescription. orig. rec.) but had likewise granted the latter's request for an Quieting of Title
extension of the redemption period therefor (Exhibits "11" and
Over and above the foregoing considerations, the court a "12", pp. 35-36, orig. rec.). Without going into minute detail in Art. 476 of the Civil Code provides:
quo gravely erred in invalidating the real estate mortgage discussing the Santos spouses' rights as purchasers for value
and in good faith (Exhibit "21", Vol. II, orig. rec.), the mortgagor Whenever there is cloud on title to real property or any interest
constituted on the land solely on the basis of Andrea Robles'
and the plaintiffs'-appellees cannot now be heard to challenge therein, by reason of any instrument, record, claim,
testimony that her husband's signature thereon was forged (p.
the validity of the sale of the land after admittedly failing to encumbrance or proceeding which is apparently valid or
257, orig. rec.),
redeem the same within the extension the appellant, Rural effective but is in truth and in fact invalid, ineffective, voidable
xxx xxx xxx Bank granted (pp. 10-11, TSN, November 15, 1990). or unenforceable, and may be prejudicial to said title, an action
may be brought to remove such cloud or to quiet title.
In according to the foregoing testimony . . . credibility which, Being dependent on the supposed invalidity of the constitution
while admittedly unrebutted, was altogether uncorroborated, and foreclosure of the subject real estate mortgage, the An action may also be brought to prevent a cloud from being
the trial court lost sight of the fact that the assailed deed of real plaintiffs-appellees' attack upon . . . Free Patent No. IV-I must cast upon title to real property or any interest therein.
estate mortgage (Exhibit "5", Vol. II, orig. rec.) is a public necessarily fail. The trial court, therefore, misread, and ignored
Based on the above definition, an action to quiet title is a
document, the acknowledgment of which is a prima the evidence o[n] record, to come up with erroneous
common-law remedy for the removal of any cloud or doubt or
facie evidence of its due execution (Chua vs. Court of Appeals, conclusion.
uncertainty on the title to real property. 9 It is essential for the
206 SCRA 339). As such, it retains the presumption of validity
Contending that such ruling was contrary to law and plaintiff or complainant to have a legal or an equitable title to or
in the absence of a full, clear and convincing evidence to
jurisprudence, Petitioners Lucio, Emeteria, Aludia and Emilio interest in the real property which is the subject matter of the
overcome such presumption (Agdeppa vs. Ibe, 220 SCRA
all surnamed Robles filed this Petition for Review. 7 action. 10 Also, the deed, claim, encumbrance or proceeding
584).
that is being alleged as a cloud on plaintiff's title must be
The foregoing principles take even more greater [sic] when it The Assigned Error shown to be in fact invalid or inoperative despite its prima
is, moreover, borne in mind that Hilario Robles made the facie appearance of validity or legal efficacy. 11
following admissions in his March 8, 1989 answer, viz: Petitioners ascribe the following error to the respondent court:

21
PROPERTY- QUIETING OF TITLE
That there is an instrument or a document which, on its face, is ousted therefrom in 1988. In 1962, the subject property was Contrary to the disquisition of the Court of Appeals, Hilario
a valid and efficacious is clear in the present case. Petitioners declared in the name of Exequiel for taxation purposes. On effected no clear and evident repudiation of the co-ownership.
allege that their title as owners and possessors of the disputed September 30, 1965, it was again declared in the same name; It is a fundamental principle that a co-owner cannot acquire by
property is clouded by the tax declaration and, subsequently, on October 28, 1965, in the name of the Rural Bank of prescription the share of the other co-owners, absent any clear
the free patent thereto granted to Spouses Vergel and Ruth Antipolo; on November 7, 1966, in the name of Hilario and repudiation of the co-ownership. In order that the title may
Santos. The more important question to be resolved, however, Andrea; and thereafter, in the name of the Rural Bank of prescribe in favor of a co-owner, the following requisites must
is whether the petitioners have the appropriate title that will Cardona and, finally, in the name of the Santos spouses. concur: (1) the co-owner has performed unequivocal acts of
entitle them to avail themselves of the remedy of quieting of repudiation amounting to an ouster of the other co-owners; (2)
title. Ostensibly, the Court of Appeals failed to consider such positive acts of repudiation have been made known to
irregularities in the transactions involving the disputed the other co-owner; and (3) the evidence thereof is clear and
Petitioners anchor their claim to the disputed property on their property. First, while it was declared in the name of Exequiel in convincing. 12
continued and open occupation and possession as owners 1962, there was no instrument or deed of conveyance
thereof. They allege that they inherited it from their father, evidencing its transfer from the heirs of Silvino to him. This fact In the present case, Hilario did not have possession of the
Silvino, who in turn had inherited it from his father, Leon. They is important, considering that the petitioners are alleging subject property; neither did he exclude the petitioners from
maintain that after their father's death, they agreed among continued possession of the property. Second, Exequiel was the use and the enjoyment thereof, as they had indisputably
themselves that Petitioner Lucio Robles would be tending and the father-in-law of Hilario, to whom petitioners had entrusted shared in its fruits. 13 Likewise, his act of entering into a
cultivating it for everyone, and that their half-brother Hilario the payment of the land taxes. Third, considering that the mortgage contract with the bank cannot be construed to be a
would be paying the land taxes. subject property had been mortgaged by Exequiel to the Rural repudiation of the co-ownership. As absolute owner of his
Bank of Antipolo, and that it was foreclosed and in fact undivided interest in the land, he had the right to alienate his
Petitioners insist that they were not aware that from 1962 until declared in the bank's name in 1965, why was he able to sell it share, as he in fact did. 14Neither should his payment of land
1987, the subject property had been declared in the names of to Spouses Hilario and Andrea in 1966? Lastly, inasmuch as it taxes in his name, as agreed upon by the co-owners, be
Exequiel Ballena, the Rural Bank of Antipolo, Hilario Robles, was an unregistered parcel of land, the Rural Bank of construed as a repudiation of the co-ownership. The assertion
the Rural Bank of Cardona, Inc., and finally, Spouses Vergel Cardona, Inc., did not observe due diligence in determining that the declaration of ownership was tantamount to
and Ruth Santos. Maintaining that as co-owners of the subject Hilario's title thereto. repudiation was belied by the continued occupation and
property, they did agree to the real estate mortgage possession of the disputed property by the petitioners as
constituted on it, petitioners insist that their shares therein The failure to show the indubitable title of Exequiel to the owners.
should not have been prejudiced by Hilario's actions. property in question is vital to the resolution of the present
Petition. It was from him that Hilario had allegedly derived his Second Issue:
On the other hand, Private Respondents Vergel and Ruth title thereto as owner, an allegation which thereby enabled him
Santos trace their claim to the subject property to Exequiel to mortgage it to the Rural Bank of Cardona. The occupation Validity of the Real Estate Mortgage
Ballena, who had purportedly sold it to Hilario and Andrea and the possession thereof by the petitioners and their
Robles. According to private respondents, the Robles spouses predecessors-in-interest until 1962 was not disputed, and In a real estate mortgage contract, it is essential that the
then mortgaged it to the Rural Bank of Cardona, Inc. not as Exequiel's acquisition of the said property by prescription was mortgagor be the absolute owner of the property to be
co-owners but as absolute owners in order to secure an not alleged. Thus, the deed of conveyance purportedly mortgaged; otherwise, the mortgage is void. 15 In the present
agricultural loan worth P2,000. Upon their failure to pay their evidencing the transfer of ownership and possession from the case, it is apparent that Hilario Robles was not the absolute
indebtedness, the mortgage was foreclosed and the property heirs of Silvino to Exequiel should have been presented as the owner of the entire subject property; and that the Rural Bank of
sold to the bank as the highest bidder. Thereafter, private best proof of that transfer. No such document was presented, Cardona, Inc., in not fully ascertaining his title thereto, failed to
respondents purchased the property from the bank. however. observe due diligence and, as such, was a mortgagee in bad
faith.
Undisputed is the fact that the land had previously been Therefore, there is merit to the contention of the petitioners
occupied by Leon and later by Silvino Robles, petitioners' that Hilario mortgaged the disputed property to the Rural Bank First, the bank was utterly remiss in its duty to establish who
predecessor-in-interest, as evidenced by the different tax of Cardona in his capacity as a mere co-owner thereof. the true owners and possessors of the subject property
declarations issued in their names. Also undisputed is the fact Clearly, the said transaction did not divest them of title to the were.1wphi1 It acted with precipitate haste in approving the
that the petitioners continued occupying and possessing the property at the time of the institution of the Complaint for Robles spouses' loan application, as well as the real estate
land from the death of Silvino in 1942 until they were allegedly quieting of title. mortgage covering the disputed parcel of land. 16 Had it been

22
PROPERTY- QUIETING OF TITLE
more circumspect and assiduous, it would have discovered Third Issue: Q When did you plant those trees?
that the said property was in fact being occupied by the
petitioners, who were tending and cultivating it. Efficacy of Free Patent Grant A Before the death of my father, sir.

Second, the bank should not have relied solely on the Deed of Petitioners repeatedly insist that the disputed property belongs Q Now, after the death of your father, who cultivated this
Sale purportedly showing that the ownership of the disputed to them by private ownership and, as such, it could not have parcel of land?
property had been transferred from Exequiel Ballena to the been awarded to the Santos spouses by free patent. They
Robles spouses, or that it had subsequently been declared in allege that they possessed it in the concept of owners A I took charge of the land after the death of my father, sir.
the name of Hilario. Because it was dealing with unregistered openly, peacefully, publicly and continuously as early as 1916
land, and the circumstances surrounding the transaction until they were forcibly ousted therefrom in 1988. They likewise Q Up to when?
between Hilario and his father-in-law Exequiel were contend that they cultivated it and harvested its fruits. Lucio 20
Robles testified: A Up to the present, sir, after this case was already filed.
suspicious, the bank should have exerted more effort to fully
determine the title of the Robleses. Rural Bank of Compostela The preceding claim is an assertion that the subject property is
vs. Court Appeals 17invalidated a real estate mortgage after a xxx xxx xxx
private land. The petitioners do not concede, and the records
finding that the bank had not been in good faith. The Court do not show, that it was ever an alienable land of the public
explained: "The rule that persons dealing with registered lands Q By the way, why do you know this parcel of land?
domain. They allege private ownership thereof, as evidenced
can rely solely on the certificate of title does not apply to by their testimonies and the tax declarations issued in the
A Because before my father died, he showed me all the
banks." In Tomas v. Tomas, the Court held: names of their predecessors-in-interest. It must be noted that
documents.
while their claim was not corroborated by other witnesses, it
. . . Banks, indeed, should exercise more care and prudence in
Q Before the death of your father, who was the owner of this was not controverted by the other parties, either.
dealing even with registered lands, than private individuals, for
parcel of land?
their business is one affected with public interest, keeping in Carlos Dolores insisted that the Rural Bank of Cardona, Inc.,
trust money belonging to their depositors, which they should A My father, sir. of which he was the manager, had acquired and possessed
guard against loss by not committing any act of negligence the subject property. He did not, however, give any reason
which amounts to lack of good faith by which they would be Q How did your father acquire this parcel of land? why the petitioners had continued occupying it, even as he
denied the protective mantle of land registration statute, Act admitted on the stand that he had visited it twice. 21
496, extended only to purchasers for value and in good faith, A My father knew that it [was] by inheritance, sir.
as well as to mortgagees of the same character and In the light of their open, continuous, exclusive and notorious
description. . . . 18 Q From whom? possession and occupation of the land, petitioners are
"deemed to have acquired, by operation of law, a right to a
Lastly, the Court likewise finds it unusual that, notwithstanding A From his father, Leon Robles, sir. grant, a government grant, without the necessity of a certificate
the bank's insistence that it had become the owner of the of title being issued." 22 The land was "segregated from the
subject property and had paid the land taxes thereon, the Q And do you know also [from] whom Leon Robles acquired
public domain." Accordingly, the director of lands had no
petitioners continued occupying it and harvesting the fruits this land?
authority to issue a free patent thereto in favor of another
therefrom. 19 person. Verily, jurisprudence holds that a free patent covering
A It was inherited from his father, sir.
private land is null and void. 23
Considering that Hilario can be deemed to have mortgaged the
disputed property not as absolute owner but only as a co- Q What is the nature of this parcel of land?
Worth quoting is the disquisition of the Court in Agne v.
owner, he can be adjudged to have disposed to the Rural Director of Lands, 24 in which it held that a riparian owner
Bank of Cardona, Inc., only his undivided share therein. The A It's an agricultural land, sir.
presently in possession had a better right over an abandoned
said bank, being the immediate predecessor of the Santos river bed than had a registered owner by virtue of a free
Q Now, at the time of the death of your father, this land was
spouses, was a mortgagee in bad faith. Thus, justice and patent.
planted with what crops?
equity mandate the entitlement of the Santos spouses, who
merely stepped into the shoes of the bank, only to what legally A Mango trees, santol trees, and I was the one who planted Under the provisions of Act 2874 pursuant to which the title of
pertains to the latter Hilario's share in the disputed property. those trees, sir. private respondents' predecessor-in-interest was issued, the
23
PROPERTY- QUIETING OF TITLE
President of the Philippines, or his alter ego, the Director of A free patent which purports to convey land to which the Because the cancellation of the free patent as prayed for by
Lands, has no authority to grant a free patent for land that has government did not have any title at the time of its issuance the private respondents in Peltan would revert the property in
ceased to be a public land and has passed to private does not vest any title in the patentee as against the true question to the public domain, the ultimate beneficiary would
ownership and a title so issued is null and void. The nullity owner. The Court has previously held that the Land be the government, which can be represented by the solicitor
arises, not from fraud or deceit, but from the fact that the land Registration Act and the Cadastral Act do not give anybody general only. Therefore, the real party-in-interest is the
is not under the jurisdiction of the Bureau of Lands. The who resorts to the provisions thereof a better title than what he government, not the private respondents.
jurisdiction of the Director of Lands is limited only to public really and lawfully has.
lands and does not cover lands publicly owned. The purpose This ruling does not, however, apply to the present case. While
of the Legislature in adopting the former Public Land Act, Act xxx xxx xxx the private respondents in Peltan recognized that the disputed
No. 2874, was and is to limit its application to lands of the property was part of the public domain when they applied for
public domain, and lands held in private ownership are not We have, therefore, to arrive at the unavoidable conclusion free patent, 28 herein petitioners asserted and proved private
included therein and are not affected in any manner that the title of herein petitioners over the land in dispute is ownership over the disputed parcel of land by virtue of their
whatsoever thereby. Land held in freehold or fee title, or of superior to the title of the registered owner which is a total open, continued and exclusive possession thereof since 1916.
private ownership, constitutes no part of the public domain, nullity. The long and continued possession of petitioners under
and cannot possibly come within the purview of said act 2874, a valid claim of title cannot be defeated by the claim of a Neither does the present case call for the reversion of the
inasmuch as the "subject" of such freehold or private land is registered owner whose title is defective from the beginning. disputed property to the State. By asking for the nullification of
not embraced in any manner in the title of the Act and the the free patent granted to the Santos spouses, the petitioners
same is excluded from the provisions of the text thereof. The Santos spouses argue that petitioners do not have the are claiming the property which, they contend, rightfully
requisite personality to question the free patent granted them, belongs to them.
We reiterate that private ownership of land is not affected by inasmuch as "it is a well-settled rule that actions to nullify free
the issuance of the free patent over the same land because patents should be filed by the Office of the Solicitor General at Indeed, the same issue was resolved by this Court in Heirs of
the Public Land Act applies only to lands of the public domain. the behest of the Director of Lands." 25 Marciano Nagano v. Court of Appeals. 29 In that case, the trial
Only public land may be disposed of by the Director of Lands. court dismissed a Complaint seeking the declaration of nullity
Since as early as 1920, the land in dispute was already under Private respondents' reliance on this doctrine is misplaced. of an Original Certificate of Title issued pursuant to a free
the private ownership of herein petitioners and no longer a part Indeed, the Court held in Peltan Development, Inc. v. Court of patent, reasoning that the action should have been instituted
of the lands of the public domain, the same could not have Appeals 26 that only the solicitor general could file an action for by the solicitor general. In reversing the trial court, the
been the subject matter of a free patent. The patentee and his the cancellation of a free patent. Ruling that the private Supreme Court held:
successors-in-interest acquired no right or title to said land. respondents, who were applicants for a free patent, were not
Necessarily, Free Patent No. 23263 issued to Herminigildo the proper parties in an action to cancel the transfer It is settled that a Free Patent issued over private land is null
Agpoon is null and void and the subsequent titles issued certificates covering the parcel of land that was the subject of and void, and produces no legal effect whatsoever. Quod
pursuant thereto cannot become final and indefeasible. Hence their application, the Court ratiocinated thus: nullum est, nullum producit affectum. Moreover, private
we ruled in Director of Lands v. Sicsican, et al. that if at the respondents' claim of open, peaceful, continuous and adverse
The Court also holds that private respondents are not the possession of the 2,250 square meter portion since 1920, and
time the free patents were issued in 1953 the land covered
proper parties to initiate the present suit. The complaint, its illegal inclusion in the Free Patent of petitioners and in their
therein were already private property of another and, therefore,
praying as it did for the cancellation of the transfer certificates original certificate of title, gave private respondents a cause of
not part of the disposable land of the public domain, then
of title of petitioners on the ground that they were derived from action for quieting of title which is imprescriptible.
applicants patentees acquired no right or title to the land.
a "spurious" OCT No. 4216, assailed in effect the validity of
Now, a certificate of title fraudulently secured is null and said title. While private respondents did not pray for the In any event, the Office of the Solicitor General was afforded
void ab initio if the fraud consisted in misrepresenting that the reversion of the land to the government, we agree with the an opportunity to express its position in these proceedings. But
land is part of the public domain, although it is not. As earlier petitioners that the prayer in the complaint will have the same it manifested that it would not file a memorandum, because
stated, the nullity arises, not from the fraud or deceit, but from result of reverting the land to the government under the "this case involves purely private interests." 30
the fact that the land is not under the jurisdiction of the Bureau Regalian Doctrine. Gabila v. Barinaga 27 ruled that only the
government is entitled to this relief. . . . . The foregoing considered, we sustain the contention of
of Lands. Being null and void, the free patent granted and the
petitioners that the free patent granted to the Santos spouses
subsequent titles produce no legal effect whatsoever. Quod
is void. It is apparent that they are claiming ownership of the
nullum est, nullum producit effectum.
24
PROPERTY- QUIETING OF TITLE
disputed property on the basis of their possession thereof in Robles' share therein. Consequently, the sale of the subject GOCO AND ARSENIO C.
the concept of owners openly, peacefully, publicly, property to the Santos spouses is valid insofar as it pertained BONIFACIO, in their
continuously and adversely since 1916. Because they and to his share only. Likewise declared null and void is Free capacity as the surviving
their predecessors-in-interest have occupied, possessed and Patent No. IV-1-010021 issued by the Bureau of Lands heirs of the late
cultivated it as owners for more than thirty years, 31 only one covering the subject property. ELEUTERIA RIVERA VDA.
conclusion can be drawn it has become private land and is DE BONIFACIO,
therefore beyond the authority of the director of lands. WHEREFORE, the Petition is hereby GRANTED. The assailed
Decision is REVERSED and SET ASIDE. Except as modified Respondents.
Epilogue by the last paragraph of this Decision, the trial court's Decision
is REINSTATED. No costs.1wphi1.nt x--------------------------------------------
We recognize that both the petitioners and the Santos spouses - - - - - - -x
fell victim to the dubious transaction between Spouses Hilario SO ORDERED.
and Andrea Robles and the Rural Bank of Cardona, Inc.
However, justice and equity mandate that we declare
Petitioners Lucio, Emerita, Aludia and Emilio Robles to have DECISION
the requisite title essential to their suit for quieting of title. PHIL-VILLE G.R. No. 167391
Considering the circumstances peculiar to this complicated DEVELOPMENT AND VILLARAMA, JR., J.:
problem, the Court finds this conclusion the logical and just HOUSING
CORPORATION, This petition for review on certiorari[1] seeks to set aside the
solution.
Present: Decision[2] dated January 31, 2005 and Resolution[3] dated
The claim that petitioners were guilty of laches in not asserting Petitioner, March 15, 2005 of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. SP No.
their rights as owners of the property should be viewed in the 62211. The Court of Appeals dismissed the Complaint[4] for
light of the fact that they thought their brother was paying the Quieting of Title and Damages filed by Phil-Ville Development
CARPIO MORALES, J., and Housing Corporation (Phil-Ville) and denied its Motion for
requisite taxes for them, and more important, the fact that they
continued cultivating it and harvesting and gaining from its Reconsideration.[5]
Chairperson,
fruits.
The factual antecedents, as culled from the records, are as
BRION, follows.
From another viewpoint, it can even be said that it was the - versus -
Rural Bank of Cardona, Inc., which was guilty of laches BERSAMIN, Phil-Ville Development and Housing Corporation is the
because, granting that it had acquired the subject property
registered owner of three parcels of land designated as Lots 1-
legally, it failed to enforce its rights as owner. It was oblivious VILLARAMA, JR., and
G-1, 1-G-2 and 1-G-3 of the subdivision plan Psd-1-13-
to the petitioners' continued occupation, cultivation and
SERENO, JJ. 006209, located in Caloocan City, having a total area of 8,694
possession thereof. Considering that they had possessed the
square meters and covered by Transfer Certificates of Title
property in good faith for more than ten years, it can even be
(TCT) Nos. 270921,[6] 270922[7] and 270923.[8] Prior to their
argued that they thus regained it by acquisitive prescription. In
subdivision, the lots were collectively designated as Lot 1-G of
any case, laches is a remedy in equity, and considering the
Promulgated: the subdivision plan Psd-2731 registered in the name of Phil-
circumstances in this case, the petitioners cannot be held
MAXIMO BONIFACIO, Ville under TCT No. T-148220.[9] Said parcels of land form part
guilty of it.
CEFERINO R.June 8, 2011 of Lot 23-A of the Maysilo Estate originally covered by Original
In sum, the real estate mortgage contract covering the BONIFACIO, APOLONIO Certificate of Title (OCT) No. 994[10] registered on May 3, 1917
disputed property a contract executed between Spouses B. TAN, BENITA B. in the name of Isabel Gil de Sola as the judicial administratrix
Hilario and Andrea on the one hand and the Rural Bank of CAINA, CRISPINA of the estate of Gonzalo Tuason and thirty-one (31)
Cardona, Inc., on the other is hereby declared null and void B. PASCUAL, ROSALIA B. others.Phil-Ville acquired the lots by purchase from N. Dela
insofar as it prejudiced the shares of Petitioners Lucio, DE GRACIA, TERESITA S. Merced and Sons, Inc. on July 24, 1984.
Emerita, Aludia and Emilio Robles; it is valid as to Hilario DORONIA, CHRISTINA

25
PROPERTY- QUIETING OF TITLE
Earlier, on September 27, 1961, a group composed of Meanwhile, a writ of possession[16] was issued in Eleuteria On October 7, 1997, then Senator Marcelo B. Fernan filed P.S.
Eleuteria Rivera, Bartolome P. Rivera, Josefa R. Aquino, Riveras favor on December 26, 1996 upon the Order[17] of Resolution No. 1032 directing the Senate Committees on
Gregorio R. Aquino, Pelagia R. Angeles, Modesta R. Angeles, Judge Discaya issued on the same date. Accordingly, Sheriff Justice and Human Rights and on Urban Planning, Housing
Venancio R. Angeles, Felipe R. Angeles Fidela R. Angeles Cesar L. Cruz served a Notice to Vacate[18] dated January 2, and Resettlement to conduct a thorough investigation, in aid of
and Rosauro R. Aquino, claiming to be the heirs of Maria de la 1997 upon Phil-Ville, requiring it to vacate Lots 23-A and legislation, of the irregularities surrounding the titling of the
Concepcion Vidal, a co-owner to the extent of 1-189/1000% of 28. Bonifacio Shopping Center, Inc., which occupied Lot 28-A- properties in the Maysilo Estate.
the properties covered by OCT Nos. 982, 983, 984, 985 and 2, was also served a copy of the notice. Aggrieved, Bonifacio
994 of the Hacienda Maysilo, filed a petition with the Court of Shopping Center, Inc. filed a petition for certiorari and In a Decision[22] dated March 24, 2000, the Caloocan RTC
First Instance (CFI) of Rizal in Land Registration Case No. prohibition, docketed as CA-G.R. SP No. 43009, before the ordered the quieting of Phil-Villes titles over Lots 1-G-1, 1-G-2
4557. They prayed for the substitution of their names on OCT Court of Appeals. In a Decision[19] dated February 19, 1997, and 1-G-3, declaring as valid TCT Nos. 270921, 270922 and
No. 994 in place of Maria de la Concepcion Vidal. Said petition the appellate court set aside and declared as void the Order 270923 in Phil-Villes name. The fallo of said Decision reads:
was granted by the CFI in an Order[11] dated May 25, 1962. and Writ of Possession dated December 26, 1996 and the
Notice to Vacate dated January 2, 1997. The appellate court WHEREFORE, and in view of the foregoing, judgment is
Afterwards, the alleged heirs of Maria de la Concepcion Vidal explained that a party who has not been impleaded in a case hereby rendered as follows:
filed a petition for the partition of the properties covered by cannot be bound by a writ of possession issued in connection
OCT Nos. 982, 983, 984, 985 and 994. The case was therewith. 1. Ordering the quieting of title of the plaintiff over Lots 1-G-
docketed as Civil Case No. C-424 in the CFI of Rizal, Branch 1, 1-G-2 and 1-G-3, all the subd. plan Psd-1-13-006209, being
12, Caloocan City. On December 29, 1965, the CFI granted Subsequently, on February 22, 1997, Eleuteria a portion of Lot 1-G, Psd-2731, LRC Rec. No. 4429, situated in
the petition and appointed three commissioners to determine Rivera Vda. de Bonifacio died at the age of 96.[20] Kalookan City, as owner thereof in fee simple and with full faith
the most equitable division of the properties.[12] Said and credit;
commissioners, however, failed to submit a recommendation. On April 23, 1997, the Secretary of Justice issued Department
Order No. 137 creating a special committee to investigate the 2. Declaring Transfer Ce[r]tificates of Title Nos. 270921,
Thirty-one (31) years later, on May 22, 1996, Eleuteria Rivera circumstances surrounding the issuance of OCT No. 994 and 270922 and 270923 in the name of Phil-Ville Development and
filed a Supplemental Motion[13] in Civil Case No. C-424, for the its derivative titles. Housing Corporation over the foregoing parcels of land issued
partition and segregation of portions of the properties covered by the Registry of Deeds for Kalookan City, as valid and
by OCT No. 994. The Regional Trial Court (RTC), Branch 120, On April 29, 1997, the Court of Appeals rendered a effective;
of Caloocan City, through Judge Jaime D. Discaya, to whom Decision[21] in CA-G.R. SP No. 43034 granting Rosauro R.
the case was transferred, granted said motion. In an Aquinos petition and setting aside the RTCs Order of 3. Declaring Transfer Certificate of Title No. C-314537 over
Order[14] dated September 9, 1996, Judge Discaya directed the September 9, 1996, which granted Eleuteria Riveras prayer for Lot 23, being a portion of Maysilo Estate situated in Maysilo,
segregation of portions of Lots 23, 28-A-1 and 28-A-2 and partition and adjudicated in her favor portions of Lots 23, 28-A- Kalookan City, in the name of Eleuteria Rivera, issued by the
ordered the Register of Deeds of Caloocan City to issue to 1 and 28-A-2 of the Maysilo Estate. The appellate court Registry of Deeds for Kalookan City, as null and void and with
Eleuteria Rivera new certificates of title over them. Three days likewise set aside the Order and the Writ of Possession dated no force and effect;
later, the Register of Deeds of Caloocan, Yolanda O. Alfonso, December 26, 1996.
4. Ordering the private defendants to surrender to the
issued to Eleuteria Rivera TCT No. C-314537[15] covering a
Nonetheless, on June 5, 1997, petitioner filed a complaint for Registry of Deeds for Kalookan City, thru this Court, the
portion of Lot 23 with an area of 14,391.54 square meters. On
quieting of title and damages against the surviving heirs of Owners Duplicate Certificate of said Transfer Certificate of
December 12, 1996, the trial court issued another Order
Eleuteria Rivera Vda. de Bonifacio (namely Maximo R. Title No. C-314537 in the name of Eleuteria Rivera;
directing the acting Branch Clerk to issue a Certificate of
Finality of the Order dated September 9, 1996. Bonifacio, Ceferino R. Bonifacio, Apolonia B. Tan, Benita B.
Caina, Crispina B. Pascual, Rosalia B. de Gracia, Teresita S. 5. Directing the public defendant, Register of Deeds of
Doronia, Christina B. Goco, Arsenio C. Bonifacio, Carmen B. Kalookan City to cancel both Transfer Certificate of Title Nos.
Thereafter, one Rosauro R. Aquino filed a petition for certiorari
Bernardino and Danilo C. Bonifacio) and the Register of Deeds C-314537 in the name of Eleuteria Rivera on file with the
contesting said Order of December 12, 1996 and impugning
of Caloocan City. The case was docketed as Civil Case No. C- Register of Deeds for Kalookan City, and the
the partial partition and adjudication to Eleuteria Rivera of Lots
507 in the RTC of Caloocan City, Branch 122. Owners Duplicate copy of Transfer Certificate of Title No. C-
23, 28-A-1 and 28-A-2 of the Maysilo Estate. The case was
314537 being required to be surrendered by the private
docketed as CA-G.R. SP No. 43034 at the Court of Appeals.
defendants; and

26
PROPERTY- QUIETING OF TITLE
6. Ordering the private defendants to pay plaintiff, jointly Meanwhile, on October 17, 2002, the Court of Appeals THE HONORABLE COURT OF APPEALS (FORMER NINTH
and severally, the sum of P10,000.00, as and by way of rendered a Decision[31] in CA-G.R. CV No. 66547, dismissing DIVISION) ACTED WITHOUT JURISDICTION ON THE
attorneys fees, plus the costs of suit. the appeal as regards Danilo Bonifacio and Carmen PETITION FOR REVIEW FILED BY RESPONDENTS
Bernardino. Yet, along with Danilo and Carmen, respondents MAXIMO BONIFACIO, ET AL. IN CA-G.R. NO. SP 62211
SO ORDERED.[23] moved for reconsideration on the contention that they are not WHICH DOES NOT RAISE PURE QUESTION[S] OF LAW OR
bound by the judgment since they had withdrawn their appeal ISSUE[S] OF JURISDICTION AND THEREFORE THE
In upholding Phil-Villes titles, the trial court adopted the therein. The Court of Appeals denied said motion in a PROPER REMEDY AVAILABLE TO THEM IS ORDINARY
conclusion in Senate Committee Report No. 1031 [24] dated Resolution dated June 7, 2004. Danilo, Carmen and APPEAL WHICH, AS STATED, HAD ALREADY BEEN
May 25, 1998 that there is only one OCT No. 994, registered respondents elevated the case to the Supreme Court through DISMISSED IN CA-G.R. CV NO. 66547.
on May 3, 1917, and that OCT No. 994, purportedly registered a Petition for Review on Certiorari, which was docketed as
on April 19, 1917 (from which Eleuteria Riveras title originated) G.R. No. 163397. Said petition, however, was denied by this III.
does not exist. The trial court also found that it was physically Court in a Resolution dated September 8, 2004 for being filed
impossible for respondents to be the heirs of Eleuteria Riveras out of time. THE HONORABLE COURT OF APPEALS (FORMER NINTH
grandmother, Maria de la Concepcion Vidal, one of the DIVISION) COMMITTED GRAVE ABUSE OF DISCRETION
registered owners of OCT No. 994, because Maria de la Subsequently, on January 31, 2005, the Court of Appeals AMOUNTING TO LACK OR IN EXCESS OF JURISDICTION
Concepcion was born sometime in 1903, later than Eleuteria promulgated its assailed Decision in CA-G.R. SP No. 62211, IN HOLDING THAT THE TRIAL COURT HAS NO
Rivera who was born in 1901.[25] Lastly, the RTC pointed out setting aside the RTC judgment and dismissing Phil-Villes JURISDICTION ON THE COMPLAINT FOR QUIETING OF
that contrary to the contentions of Riveras heirs, there is no complaint. The appellate court held that the RTC had no TITLE FILED BY PETITIONER PHIL-VILLE IN CIVIL CASE
overlapping of titles inasmuch as Lot 23 lies far from Lot 23-A, jurisdiction to hear Phil-Villes complaint as it effectively seeks NO. C-507, OR IN THE ALTERNATIVE, IN FAILING TO
where Phil-Villes lands are located. to annul the Order dated May 25, 1962 of the CFI in LRC No. DECLARE RESPONDENTS MAXIMO [BONIFACIO], ET AL.
4557, which directed the substitution of the late Eleuteria ALREADY IN ESTOPPEL TO RAISE THE SAID ISSUE OF
On April 13, 2000, Atty. K.V. Faylona, on behalf of Rivera and her co-heirs in place of Maria de la Concepcion JURISDICTION.[35]
respondents, addressed a letter[26] to the Branch Clerk of Court Vidal as registered owners on OCT No. 994. The appellate
of the Caloocan City RTC requesting the complete address of court likewise affirmed the validity of OCT No. 994 registered Condensed, petitioner puts in issue the following: (1) whether
Phil-Ville and its counsel. Supposedly, respondents counsels on April 19, 1917 citing the Supreme Court Decisions the Court of Appeals committed grave abuse of discretion in
of record, Attys. Nicomedes Tolentino and Jerry D. Baares, in Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage Systems v. Court of taking cognizance of respondents petition; and (2) whether the
had abandoned the defense but still kept the records of the Appeals[32] and Heirs of Luis J. Gonzaga v. Court of Court of Appeals committed grave abuse of discretion in
case. Thus, the Notice of Appeal[27] on behalf of respondents Appeals[33] as precedents. declaring that the trial court had no jurisdiction over Civil Case
was filed by Atty. Faylona while two of the heirs, Danilo No. C-507.
Bonifacio and Carmen Bernardino, filed a separate Notice of Phil-Ville sought reconsideration[34] of the decision, but the
Appeal[28] through their own counsel. The appeals were Court of Appeals denied its motion in the assailed Resolution Pertinently, however, the genuine issue in this case is whether
consolidated and docketed as CA-G.R. CV No. 66547. dated March 15, 2005. Hence, this petition. TCT No. C-314537 in the name of Eleuteria Rivera constitutes
a cloud over petitioners titles over portions of Lot 23-A of the
On April 17, 2000, respondents withdrew their appeal and Petitioner alleges that: Maysilo Estate.
instead filed before this Court a Petition for Review on
Certiorari,[29] which was docketed as G.R. No. 142640. In a I. Petitioner argues mainly that the Court of Appeals acted
Resolution[30] dated September 25, 2000, the Court referred without jurisdiction in resolving respondents petition for review
the petition to the Court of Appeals for adjudication on the THE HONORABLE COURT OF APPEALS (FORMER NINTH since it had dismissed their appeal in CA-G.R. CV No. 66547
merits since the case does not involve pure questions of DIVISION) ACTED WITHOUT JURISDICTION ON THE for failure to file brief. Petitioner also points out that
law. Respondents moved for reconsideration of the Resolution, PETITION FOR REVIEW OF RESPONDENTS MAXIMO respondents petition is defective because Maximo Bonifacio
but the Court denied their motion. Thus, respondents petition BONIFACIO, ET AL. IN CA-G.R SP NO. 62211 BECAUSE OF alone signed its verification and certification of non-forum
was transferred to the Court of Appeals and docketed as CA- THE EARLIER DISMISSAL OF THEIR APPEAL IN CA-G.R shopping without proof that he was authorized to sign for the
G.R. SP No. 62211. NO. 66547. other respondents. It contends that the ruling in MWSS v.
Court of Appeals and Heirs of Gonzaga v. Court of
II. Appeals will not invalidate its titles because it is not a party to

27
PROPERTY- QUIETING OF TITLE
any of said cases. As well, petitioner invokes the finding in the The nature of an action is determined by the material Register of Deeds of Rizal and registered on May 3,
joint investigation by the Senate and the Department of Justice allegations of the complaint and the character of the relief 1917. Petitioner notes that the OCT No. 994 allegedly
(DOJ) that there is only one OCT No. 994, that is, the one sought by plaintiff, and the law in effect when the action was registered on April 19, 1917 and from which TCT No. C-
registered on May 3, 1917. It maintains that the trial court had filed irrespective of whether he is entitled to all or only some of 314537 was derived, is not found in the records of the Register
jurisdiction to hear its action since it is one for quieting of title such relief.[37] of Deeds. In other words, the action seeks the removal of a
and not for annulment of the CFI Order dated May 25, 1962. cloud from Phil-Villes title and/or the confirmation of its
In its complaint, petitioner alleges: ownership over the disputed properties as the successor-in-
Conversely, respondents rely on MWSS v. Court of interest of N. Dela Merced and Sons, Inc.
Appeals and Heirs of Gonzaga v. Court of Appeals that upheld 27. That said TCT No. C-314537 of the late Eleuteria Rivera,
the titles emanating from OCT No. 994 registered on April 19, although apparently valid and effective, are in truth and in fact Quieting of title is a common law remedy for the removal of
1917. Therefore, they insist that petitioner has no cause of invalid and ineffective[;] any cloud upon, doubt, or uncertainty affecting title to real
action to seek the nullification of their title which is a derivative property. Whenever there is a cloud on title to real property or
of said OCT. Respondents reiterate that since they had 27.1. An examination of Decree No. 36455 issued on April 19, any interest in real property by reason of any instrument,
withdrawn their appeal in CA-G.R. CV No. 66547, the Court of 1917 in LRC Case No. 4429 and also of OCT No. 994 which record, claim, encumbrance, or proceeding that is apparently
Appeals decision therein applies only to Danilo Bonifacio and was issued pursuant thereto will show that Lot 23 covered by valid or effective, but is, in truth and in fact, invalid, ineffective,
Carmen Bernardino. Lastly, they believe that petitioners action the said TCT No. C-3145[3]7 of the late Eleuteria Rivera is not voidable, or unenforceable, and may be prejudicial to said title,
is one for annulment of judgment, which is foreign to the one of the 34 parcels of land covered by said Decree No. an action may be brought to remove such cloud or to quiet the
jurisdiction of the trial court. 36455 and OCT 994; title. In such action, the competent court is tasked to determine
the respective rights of the complainant and the other
Petitioner argues in its first two assignments of errors that the 27.2. That, as hereinbefore stated, the same TCT No. C- claimants, not only to place things in their proper places, and
Court of Appeals acted with grave abuse of discretion in 314537 of the late Eleuteria Rivera is a direct transfer from make the claimant, who has no rights to said immovable,
entertaining respondents petition. However, said contention OCT No. 994 which was registered on April 19, 1917. The fact, respect and not disturb the one so entitled, but also for the
deserves scant consideration since the Court of Appeals, in however, is that there is only one OCT No. 994 which was benefit of both, so that whoever has the right will see every
CA-G.R. SP No. 62211, properly assumed jurisdiction over issued pursuant to Decree No. 36455 in LRC Case No. 4429 cloud of doubt over the property dissipated, and he can
respondents case after the same was referred to it by this and said OCT 994 was registered with the Register of Deeds thereafter fearlessly introduce any desired improvements, as
Court through our Resolution dated September 25, 2000. The of Rizal on May 3, 1917. The Office of the Register of Deeds of well as use, and even abuse the property.[39]
issue raised by respondents, as petitioners in G.R. No. Caloocan City or of Malabon or of Pasig City has no record of
142640, was purely a question of fact that is beyond the power any OCT No. 994 that was allegedly registered on April 19, In order that an action for quieting of title may prosper, two
of this Court to resolve. Essentially, respondents asked the 1917; requisites must concur: (1) the plaintiff or complainant has a
Court to determine the ownership of the lots purportedly legal or equitable title or interest in the real property subject of
covered by petitioners titles. 27.3. That said TCT No. C-314537 of the late Eleuteria Rivera the action; and (2) the deed, claim, encumbrance, or
could not cover Lot 23-A or any portion/s thereof because, as proceeding claimed to be casting cloud on his title must be
Neither do we find merit in petitioners contention that the hereinbefore recited, the whole of Lot 23-A had been totally shown to be in fact invalid or inoperative despite
dismissal of the appeal in CA-G.R. CV No. 66547 is binding on disposed of as early as July 24, 1923 and she and/or any of its prima facie appearance of validity or legal efficacy.[40]
respondents. The appellate court itself recognized the her alleged predecessors-in-interest is not among those
withdrawal of appeal filed by respondents, thus: named in the memorandum of encumbrances of OCT No. 994 As regards the first requisite, we find that petitioner was able to
as vendees or vendors of said Lot 23-A;[38] establish its title over the real properties subject of this
However, defendants Maximo R. Bonifacio, et al. withdrew action. Petitioner submitted in evidence the Deed of Absolute
their appeal so that the only appellants herein are defendants- Ultimately, petitioner submits that a cloud exists over its titles Sale[41] by which it acquired the subject property from N. Dela
appellants Danilo R. Bonifacio, et al.[36] because TCT No. C-314537 in the name of Eleuteria Rivera Merced and Sons, Inc., as well as copies of OCT No. 994
purports to cover the same parcels of land covered by dated May 3, 1917 and all the derivative titles leading to the
So did the trial court err in taking cognizance of petitioners petitioners TCT Nos. 270921, 270922 and 270923. It points issuance of TCT Nos. 270921, 270922 and 270923 in
action for quieting of title contrary to respondents assertion out that what appears to be a valid and effective TCT No. C- petitioners name as follows:
that it is actually one for annulment of the CFI Order dated 314537 is, in truth, invalid because it covers Lot 23 which is
May 25, 1962? To this query, we rule in the negative. not among those described in the OCT No. 994 on file with the

28
PROPERTY- QUIETING OF TITLE
Title No. Registration Holder 17745 1960 & Co. case, the Court declared void the titles of the Manotoks and
Date Aranetas which were derived from OCT No. 994 registered on
C-13794 April 21, 1978 Pacifico Nepomuceno May 3, 1917 consistent with its ruling
8004 July 24, 1923 Vedasto Galino & Co. Inc. in MWSS and Gonzaga. The Court disregarded the DOJ and
Senate reports on the alleged anomalies surrounding the titling
8059 September 3, -ditto- C-14603 May 16, 1978 N. de La Merced & of the Maysilo Estate.
1923 Sons, Inc.
However, on motion for reconsideration, the Court issued a
8160 October 24, -ditto- T-148220 April 22, 1987 Phil-Ville Resolution[48] dated December 14, 2007 which created a
1923 Development and Special Division of the Court of Appeals to hear the
Housing Corp.[42] consolidated cases on remand. The Special Division was
8164 November 6, Juan Cruz Sanchez tasked to hear and receive evidence, conclude the
1923 Petitioner likewise presented the Proyecto de particion de la proceedings and submit to the Court a report on its findings as
Hacienda de Maysilo[43] to prove that Lot 23-A, of which well as recommend conclusions within three months from the
8321 February 26, -ditto- petitioners Lots 1-G-1, 1-G-2 and 1-G-3 form part, is among finality of said Resolution. However, to guide the proceedings
1924 the 34 lots covered by OCT No. 994 registered on May 3, before the Special Division, the Court laid the following
1917. It produced tax receipts accompanied by a definitive conclusions:
8734 September 11, Emilio Sanchez Certification[44] dated September 15, 1997 issued by the City
1924 Treasurer of Caloocan stating that Phil-Ville has been First, there is only one OCT 994. As it appears on the record,
religiously paying realty taxes on the lots. Its documentary that mother title was received for transcription by the Register
12946 November 21, -ditto- evidence also includes a Plan[45] prepared by the Chief of the
1927 of Deeds on 3 May 1917, and that should be the date which
Geodetic Surveys Division showing that Lot 23-A of the should be reckoned as the date of registration of the title. It
Maysilo Estate is remotely situated from Lot 23 portion of the may also be acknowledged, as appears on the title, that OCT
28315 July 16, 1935 Eastern Syndicate
Maysilo Estate. Petitioner ties these pieces of evidence to the No. 994 resulted from the issuance of the decree of
Mining Co., Inc.
finding in the DOJ Committee Report[46] dated August 28, 1997 registration on [19] April 1917, although such date cannot be
39163 November 18, Royal Lawrence and Senate Committee Report No. 1031 dated May 25, 1998 considered as the date of the title or the date when the title
1939 Rutter that, indeed, there is only one OCT No. 994, that is, the one took effect.
registered on May 3, 1917.
43559 July 26, 1941 Mapua Institute of Second. Any title that traces its source to OCT No. 994
Technology On the other hand, respondents have not adduced competent dated [19] April 1917 is void, for such mother title is
evidence to establish their title to the contested property or to inexistent. The fact that the Dimson and CLT titles made
18767 June 16, 1950 Sofia Nepomuceno dispute petitioners claim over the same. It must be noted that specific reference to an OCT No. 994 dated [19] April 1917
the RTC Order dated September 9, 1996 in Civil Case No. C- casts doubt on the validity of such titles since they refer to an
57541 March 13, 1958 Leona N. de Jesus, 424, which resulted in the issuance of TCT No. C-314537 in inexistent OCT. This error alone is, in fact, sufficient to
Pacifico the name of Eleuteria Rivera had long been set aside by the invalidate the Dimson and CLT claims over the subject
Nepomuceno, Sofia Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. SP No. 43034. Clearly, property if singular reliance is placed by them on the dates
Nepomuceno, respondents claim anchored primarily on TCT No. C-314537 appearing on their respective titles.
Soledad Nepomuceno lacks legal basis. Rather, they rely simply on the Courts
de Jesus pronouncement in MWSS v. Court of Appeals and Heirs of Third. The decisions of this Court in MWSS v. Court of
Gonzaga v. Court of Appeals that OCT No. 994 registered on Appeals and Gonzaga v. Court of Appeals cannot apply to the
81679 December 15, Pacifico Nepomuceno, May 3, 1917 and all titles emanating from it are void. cases at bar, especially in regard to their recognition of an
1960 Sofia N. Jugo, OCT No. 994 dated 19 April 1917, a title which we now
Soledad N. de Jesus The Supreme Court sustained said decisions in the case acknowledge as inexistent. Neither could the conclusions
of Manotok Realty, Inc. v. CLT Realty Development in MWSS [and] Gonzaga with respect to an OCT No. 994
(81680) December 15, Pacifico Nepomuceno Corporation[47] promulgated on November 29, 2005. In said dated 19 April 1917 bind any other case operating under the
29
PROPERTY- QUIETING OF TITLE
factual setting the same as or similar to that at petitioners in Civil Case No. 391 entitled Rosario Negrao, et al. A parcel of land (Lot 23, being a portion of Maysilo Estate)
bar.[49] (Emphasis supplied.) v. Concepcion Vidal, et al., who sought the issuance of bills of situated in Maysilo, Caloocan, Metro Manila, Island of Luzon.
sale in favor of the actual occupants of certain portions of the Bounded on the NW., along line 1-2 by Blk. 2; on the SW.,
Eventually, on March 31, 2009, the Supreme Court issued a Maysilo Estate. along line 2-3 by Jacinto Street, along lines 3-4-5 by Blk. 4;
Resolution[50] reversing its Decision of November 29, 2005 and along line 5-6 by Bustan St., and San Diego St., on the S.,
declaring certain titles in the names of Araneta and Manotok Be that as it may, the second requisite in an action for quieting along lines 6-7-8 by Blk. 13, all of Caloocan Cadastre; on the
valid. In the course of discussing the flaws of Jose Dimsons of title requires that the deed, claim, encumbrance, or NE., along line 8-9 by Caloocan Cadastre; and on the N.,
title based on his alleged 25% share in the hereditary rights of proceeding claimed to be casting cloud on his title must be along line 9-1 by Epifanio de los Santos Avenue. Beginning
Bartolome Rivera, Eleuteria Riveras co-petitioner in LRC No. shown to be in fact invalid or inoperative despite at a point marked 1 on plan, being S. 28 deg. 30E., 530.50 m.
4557, the Court noted: its prima facie appearance of validity or legal efficacy. Article from MBM No. 1, Caloocan Cadastre; thence S. 07 deg. 20W.,
476 of the Civil Code provides: 34.00 m. to point 2; S. 17 deg. 10E., 12.00 m. to point 3;
However, the records of these cases would somehow negate (0/illegible)
the rights of Rivera to claim from Vidal. The Verification Report Art. 476. Whenever there is a cloud on title to real property or
of the Land Registration Commission dated 3 August 1981 any interest therein, by reason of any instrument, record, S. 15 deg. 31E., 31.00 m. to point 4; S. 27 deg. 23E., 22.50 m.
showed that Rivera was 65 years old on 17 May 1963 (as claim, encumbrance or proceeding which is apparently valid or to point 5;
gathered from the records of Civil Case Nos. 4429 and 4496). effective but is in truth and in fact invalid, ineffective, voidable,
It can thus be deduced that, if Rivera was already 65 years old or unenforceable, and may be prejudicial to said title, an action S. 38 deg. 41E., 43.20 m. to point 6; S. 71 deg. 35E., 10.60 m.
in 1963, then he must have been born around 1898. On the may be brought to remove such cloud or to quiet the title. to point 7;
other hand, Vidal was only nine (9) years in 1912; hence, she
could have been born only on [1903]. This alone creates an An action may also be brought to prevent a cloud from being N. 84 deg. 30E., 38.80 m. to point 8; N. 11 deg. 40W., 131.20
unexplained anomalous, if not ridiculous, situation wherein cast upon title to real property or any interest therein. m. to point 9;
Vidal, Riveras alleged grandmother, was seven (7) years
younger than her alleged grandson. Serious doubts existed as Thus, the cloud on title consists of: (1) any instrument, record, N. 89 deg. 10W., 55.00 m. to the point of beginning; containing
to whether Rivera was in fact an heir of Vidal, for him to claim claim, encumbrance or proceeding; (2) which is apparently an area of FOURTEEN THOUSAND THREE HUNDRED
a share in the disputed portions of the Maysilo Estate.[51] valid or effective; (3) but is in truth and in fact invalid, NINETY ONE SQUARE METERS AND FIFTY FOUR
ineffective, voidable, or unenforceable; and (4) may be SQUARE DECIMETERS (14,391.54). more or less. All points
The same is true in this case. The Death Certificate[52] of prejudicial to the title sought to be quieted. The fourth element referred to are indicated on the plan and are marked on the
Eleuteria Rivera reveals that she was 96 years old when she is not present in the case at bar. ground by Old Ps. cyl. conc. mons. 15 x 60 cm.; bearings
died on February 22, 1997. That means that she must have true;[54] (Emphasis supplied).
been born in 1901. That makes Rivera two years older than While it is true that TCT No. C-314537 in the name of Eleuteria
her alleged grandmother Maria de la Concepcion Vidal who Rivera is an instrument that appeared to be valid but was On the other hand, the technical description of petitioners
was born in 1903. Hence, it was physically impossible for subsequently shown to be invalid, it does not cover the same lands before they were subdivided under TCT No. T-148220 is
Eleuteria Rivera to be an heir of Maria de la Concepcion Vidal. parcels of land that are described in petitioners as follows:
titles. Foremost, Riveras title embraces a land measuring
Moreover, the Partition Plan of the Maysilo Estate shows that 14,391.54 square meters while petitioners lands has an A parcel of land (Lot No. 1-G of the subdivision plan Psd-2731,
Lot 23-A was awarded, not to Maria de la Concepcion Vidal, aggregate area of only 8,694 square meters. On the one hand, being a portion of Lot 23-A, Maysilo Estate, GLRO Rec. No.
but to Isabel Tuason, Esperanza Tuason, Trinidad Jurado, it may be argued that petitioners land could be subsumed 4429), situated in the Municipality of Caloocan, Province of
Juan O Farrell and Angel O Farrell.[53] What Vidal received as within Riveras 14,391.54-square meter property. Yet, a Rizal. Bounded on the North., by Calle A. Samson; on the
her share were Lot 6 and portions of Lots 10 and 17, all comparison of the technical descriptions of the parties titles East., by properties of Gregoria de Jesus, Arcadio de
subject to the usufructuary right of her mother Mercedes negates an overlapping of their boundaries. Jesus and Felix de Jesus; on the South., by properties of
Delgado. This was not at all disputed by respondents. Lucas Bustamante and Patricio Galauran; and on the West.,
The technical description of respondents TCT No. C-314537 by property of Patricio Galauran; and Lot No. 1-E of the
On the other hand, Vedasto Galino, who was the holder of reads: subdivision plan. Beginning at a point marked 1 on plan, being
TCT No. 8004 registered on July 24, 1923 and to whom N.69 deg. 27E., 1600.19 m. from BLLM No. 1, Mp. of
petitioner traces its titles, was among the successful Caloocan, more or less, thence S. 21 deg. 25E., 44.78 m. to

30
PROPERTY- QUIETING OF TITLE
point 2; thence S. 14 deg. 57E., 37.24 m. to point 3; thence S. 27.4. That Lot 23, being a portion of Maysilo Estate, as Order which granted partial partition in favor of Eleuteria
81 deg. 11W., 20.28 m. to point 4; thence S. 86 deg. 06W., described in said TCT No. C-314537 of the late Eleuteria Rivera and the Writ of Possession issued pursuant
15.45 m. to point 5; thence N. 67 deg. 20W., 15.91 m. to point Rivera when plotted using its tie line to MBM No. 1, Caloocan thereto. And although petitioners complaint is captioned as
6; thence N. 35 deg. 19W., 37.56 m. to point 7; thence N. 27 Cadastre is outside Lot 23-A of the Maysilo Estate. This must Quieting of Title and Damages, all that petitioner prayed for, is
deg. 11W., 12.17 m. to point 8; thence N. 19 deg. 26W., 23.32 be so because Lot 23 is not [a] portion of Lot 23-A, Maysilo for the court to uphold the validity of its titles as against that of
m. to point 9; thence N. 13 deg. 08W., 28.25 m. to point 10; Estate.[58] respondents. This is consistent with the nature of the relief in
thence S. 78 deg. 45W., 13.00 m. to point 11; thence N. 0 deg. an action for declaratory relief where the judgment in the case
56E., 48.92 m. to point 12; thence N. 89 deg. 13E., 53.13 m. to This brings petitioners action within the purview of Rule 63 of can be carried into effect without requiring the parties to pay
point 13; thence S. 21 deg. 24E., 67.00 m. to the point of the Rules of Court on Declaratory Relief. Section 1 of Rule 63 damages or to perform any act.[59]
beginning; containing an area of EIGHT THOUSAND SIX provides:
HUNDRED NINETY FOUR (8,694) SQUARE METERS, more Thus, while petitioner was not able to demonstrate that
or less. All points referred to are indicated on the plan and are SECTION 1. Who may file petition.-Any person interested respondents TCT No. C-314537 in the name of Eleuteria
marked on the ground points 1,2,3 and 13 by Old PLS conc. under a deed, will, contract or other written instrument, whose Rivera constitutes a cloud over its title, it has nevertheless
mons. point 4,6,7,8 and 9 by Old PLS stone mons.; points 5 to rights are affected by a statute, executive order or regulation, successfully established its ownership over the subject
10 and old stakes points 11 and 12 by PLS conc. mons. ordinance or any other governmental regulation may, before properties and the validity of its titles which entitles it to
bearings true, declination 1 deg. 08E., date of the original breach or violation thereof, bring an action in the appropriate declaratory relief.
survey, Sept. 8-27, Oct. 4-21 and Nov. 17-18, 1911 and that of Regional Trial Court to determine any question
the subdivision survey, Oct. 14 and 15, 1927.[55] (Emphasis of construction or validity arising, and for a declaration of WHEREFORE, the petition for review on certiorari
supplied). his rights or duties, thereunder. is GRANTED. The Decision dated January 31, 2005 and
Resolution dated March 15, 2005 of the Court of Appeals in
Such disparity in location is more vividly illustrated in the Plan An action for the reformation of an instrument, to quiet title to CA-G.R. SP No. 62211 are SET ASIDE. The Decision dated
prepared by Engr. Privadi J.G. Dalire, Chief of the Geodetic real property or remove clouds therefrom, or to consolidate March 24, 2000 of the Caloocan RTC in Civil Case No. C-507
Surveys Division, showing the relative positions of Lots 23 and ownership under Article 1607 of the Civil Code, may be is hereby REINSTATED and UPHELD.
23-A. As it appears on the Plan, the land covered by brought under this Rule. (Emphasis supplied).
respondents TCT No. C-314537 lies far west of petitioners No pronouncement as to costs.
lands under TCT Nos. 270921, 270922 and 270923. Strictly An action for declaratory relief presupposes that there has
speaking, therefore, the existence of TCT No. C-314537 is not been no actual breach of the instruments involved or of the SO ORDERED.
prejudicial to petitioners titles insofar as it pertains to a rights arising thereunder. Since the purpose of an action for
different land. declaratory relief is to secure an authoritative statement of the
rights and obligations of the parties under a statute, deed, or
Significantly, an action to quiet title is characterized as a contract for their guidance in the enforcement thereof, or
proceeding quasi in rem.[56] In an action quasi in rem, an compliance therewith, and not to settle issues arising from an
individual is named a defendant and the purpose of the alleged breach thereof, it may be entertained before the
proceeding is to subject his interests to the obligation or loan breach or violation of the statute, deed or contract to which it
burdening the property. Actions quasi in rem deal with the refers. A petition for declaratory relief gives a practical remedy
status, ownership or liability of a particular property but which for ending controversies that have not reached the state where
are intended to operate on these questions only as between another relief is immediately available; and supplies the need
the particular parties to the proceedings and not to ascertain or for a form of action that will set controversies at rest before
cut off the rights or interests of all possible claimants.The they lead to a repudiation of obligations, an invasion of rights,
judgment therein is binding only upon the parties who joined in and a commission of wrongs.
the action.[57]
In the present case, petitioner filed a complaint for quieting of
Yet, petitioner was well aware that the lots encompassed by its title after it was served a notice to vacate but before it could be
titles are not the same as that covered by respondents title. In dispossessed of the subject properties. Notably, the Court of
its complaint, Phil-Ville alleges: Appeals, in CA-G.R. SP No. 43034, had earlier set aside the

31