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HEIRS OF VALERIANO S. CONCHA, G.R. No.

158121 5188, 5433 and 5434 which denied the separate with Damages against "Spouses Gregorio Lomocso and
SR. NAMELY: TERESITA CONCHA-
motions to dismiss and Joint Motion for Bienvenida Guya." They sought to annul Free Patent
PARAN, VALERIANO P. CONCHA,
JR., RAMON P. CONCHA, EDUARDO Reconsideration filed by the respondents. No. (IX-8)985 and the corresponding Original
P. CONCHA, REPRESENTED BY HIS
LEGAL GUARDIAN, REYNALDO P. Certificate of Title (OCT) No. P-22556 issued in the
CONCHA, ALBERTO P. CONCHA,
BERNARDO P. CONCHA and GLORIA Present: The relevant facts are undisputed. name of "Gregorio Lumocso" covering Lot No.
P. CONCHA-NUNAG, 6195. The case was raffled to the RTC of Dipolog City,
Petitioners, PUNO, C.J., Chairperson,
YNARES-SANTIAGO, Petitioners, heirs of spouses Dorotea and Branch 9, and docketed as Civil Case No. 5188. In
SANDOVAL-GUTIERREZ,
- versus - CORONA, and Valeriano Concha, Sr., claim to be the rightful owners their Amended Complaint, petitioners prayed that
AZCUNA, JJ.
of Lot No. 6195 (Civil Case No. 5188), a one-hectare judgment be rendered:
SPOUSES GREGORIO J. LUMOCSO[1]
and BIENVENIDA GUYA, CRISTITA portion of Lot No. 6196-A (Civil Case No. 5433), and a
J. LUMOCSO VDA. DE DAAN, AND 1. Declaring Free
SPOUSES JACINTO J. LUMOCSO Promulgated: one-hectare portion of Lot Nos. 6196-B and 7529-A Patent No. (IX-8)985 and Original
and BALBINA T. LUMOCSO,[2] Certificate of Title No. 22556 issued to
Respondents. December 12, 2007 (Civil Case No. 5434), all situated in Cogon, Dipolog
defendants as null and void ab initio;
City, under Section 48(b) of Commonwealth Act No.
x--------------------------------- 2. Declaring Lot No.
-----------------x 141 (C.A. No. 141), otherwise known as the Public 6195 or 1.19122-hectare as private
property of the plaintiffs under Sec.
Land Act. Respondent siblings Gregorio Lumocso (Civil 48(b) of CA No. 141 otherwise known
Case No. 5188), Cristita Lumocso Vda. de Daan (Civil as the Public Land Act as amended by
DECISION RA 1942;
Case No. 5433) and Jacinto Lumocso (Civil Case No.
3. Ordering the
PUNO, C.J.: 5434), are the patent holders and registered owners defendant Lomocsos to reconvey the
properties (sic) in question Lot No.
of the subject lots.
6195 or the 1.19122 hectares in favor
On appeal by certiorari under Rule 45 of the of the plaintiffs within 30 days from the
finality of the decision in this case and if
Rules of Court are the The records show that on August 6, 1997, they refuse, ordering the Clerk of Court
of this Honorable Court to execute the
decision[3] and resolution[4] of the Court of Appeals Valeriano Sr.[7] and his children, petitioners Valeriano deed of reconveyance with like force
and effect as if executed by the
(CA) in CA-G.R. SP No. 59499, annulling the Jr., Ramon, Eduardo, Alberto, Bernardo, Teresita,
defendant[s] themselves;
resolutions[5] and order[6] of the Regional Trial Court Reynaldo, and Gloria, all surnamed Concha, filed a
4. Ordering defendant
(RTC) of Dipolog City, Branch 9, in Civil Case Nos. complaint for Reconveyance and/or Annulment of Title Lomocsos to pay P60,000.00 for the 21
forest trees illegally cut; P50,000.00 for
moral damages; P20,000.00 for 4888 equivalent to one hectare located
Attorneys fees; P20,000.00 for litigation at the western portion of Lot 4888 as 2. Ordering the defendants to
expenses; and to pay the cost of the private property of the plaintiffs under reconvey the equivalent of one (1)
proceedings; Sec. 48(B) CA 141 otherwise known as hectare forested portion of their
Public Land OCT (sic) as amended by properties in question in favor of the
5. Declaring the RA No. 1942; plaintiffs within 30 days from the
confiscated three (sic) flitches kept in finality of the decision in this case
the area of the plaintiffs at Dampalan 2. Ordering the defendant to segregating one hectare from OCT (P-
San Jose, Dipolog with a total volume of reconvey the equivalent of one (1) 23207) 12870 and OCT (T-20845)-
2000 board feet a[s] property of the hectare forested portion of her property 4889 all of defendants, located at its
plaintiff [they] being cut, collected and in question in favor of the plaintiffs Western portion and if they refuse,
taken from the land possessed, within 30 days from the finality of the ordering the Clerk of Court of this
preserved, and owned by the plaintiffs; decision in this case segregating one Honorable Court to execute the deed of
hectare from OCT (P23527) 4888, reconveyance with like force and effect
6. The plaintiffs located at its Western portion and if she as if executed by the defendants
further pray for such other reliefs and refuse (sic), ordering the Clerk of Court themselves[;]
remedies which this Honorable Court of this Honorable Court to execute the
may deem just and equitable in the deed of reconveyance with like force 3. Ordering defendants to
premises.[8] and effect, as if executed by the pay P20,000.00 for the six (6) forest
defenda[n]t herself; trees illegally cut; P20,000.00 for moral
damages; P20,000.00 for Attorney's
3. Ordering defendant to fees; P20,000.00 for litigation
pay P30,000.00 for the 22 forest trees expenses; and to pay the cost of the
On September 3, 1999, two separate
illegally cut; P20,000.00 for moral proceedings.[11]
complaints for Reconveyance with Damages were filed damages; P20,000.00 for Attorney's
fees; P20,000.00 for litigation
by petitioners,[9] this time against "Cristita Lomocso expenses; and to pay the cost of the
The three complaints[12] commonly alleged: a)
proceedings.[10]
Vda. de Daan" for a one-hectare portion of Lot No.
that on May 21, 1958, petitioners' parents (spouses
6196-A and "Spouses Jacinto Lomocso and Balbina T.
Valeriano Sr. and Dorotea Concha) acquired by
Lomocso" for a one-hectare portion of Lot Nos. 6196-B In Civil Case No. 5434, petitioners prayed that
homestead a 24-hectare parcel of land situated in
and 7529-A. The two complaints were also raffled to judgment be rendered:
Cogon, Dipolog City; b) that since 1931, spouses
Branch 9 of the RTC of Dipolog City and docketed as 1. Declaring [a] portion of Lot
7529-A under OCT (P-23207) 12870 Concha "painstakingly preserved" the forest in the 24-
Civil Case Nos. 5433 and 5434, and Lot 6196-B OCT (P-20845) 4889 hectare land, including the excess four (4) hectares
equivalent to one hectare located as
respectively. In Civil Case No. 5433, petitioners prayed
(sic) the western portion of said lots as "untitled forest land" located at its eastern portion; c)
that judgment be rendered: private property of the plaintiffs under
Sec. 48(b) of [C.A. No.] 141 otherwise that they possessed this excess 4 hectares of land
1. Declaring [a] portion of Lot know[n] as the [P]ublic [L]and [A]ct as
(which consisted of Lot No. 6195, one-hectare portion
6196-A titled under OCT (P23527) amended by RA 1942;
of Lot No. 6196-A and one-hectare portion of Lot Nos. Katipunan, Zamboanga del Norte; h) that respondents

6196-B and 7529-A) "continuously, publicly, "surreptitiously" filed free patent applications over the Petitioners opposed,[14] contending that the

notoriously, adversely, peacefully, in good faith and in lots despite their full knowledge that petitioners owned instant cases involve actions the subject matters of

concept of the (sic) owner since 1931;" d) that they the lots; i) that the geodetic engineers who conducted which are incapable of pecuniary estimation which,

continued possession and occupation of the 4-hectare the original survey over the lots never informed them under Section 19(1) of B.P. 129, as amended by R.A.

land after the death of Dorotea Concha on December of the 7691, fall within the exclusive original jurisdiction of

23, 1992 and Valeriano Sr. on May 12, 1999; e) that survey to give them an opportunity to oppose the RTCs. They also contended that they have two

the Concha spouses "have preserved the forest trees respondents' applications; j) that respondents' free main causes of action: for reconveyance and for

standing in [the subject lots] to the exclusion of the patents and the corresponding OCTs were issued "on recovery of the value of the trees felled by

defendants (respondents) or other persons from 1931" account of fraud, deceit, bad faith and respondents. Hence, the totality of the claims must be

up to November 12, 1996 (for Civil Case No. 5188) or misrepresentation"; and k) that the lots in question considered which, if computed, allegedly falls within

January 1997 (for Civil Case Nos. 5433 and 5434) have not been transferred to an innocent purchaser. the exclusive original jurisdiction of the RTC.

when respondents, "by force, intimidation, [and]

stealth forcibly entered the premises, illegally cut, On separate occasions, respondents moved for The trial court denied the respective motions to

collected, [and] disposed" of 21 trees (for Civil Case the dismissal of the respective cases against them on dismiss of respondents.[15] The respondents filed a

No. 5188), 22 trees (for Civil Case No. 5433) or 6 the same grounds of: (a) lack of jurisdiction of the RTC Joint Motion for Reconsideration,[16] to no avail.[17]

trees (for Civil Case No. 5434); f) that "the land is over the subject matters of the complaints; (b) failure

private land or that even assuming it was part of the to state causes of action for reconveyance; (c) Dissatisfied, respondents jointly filed a Petition

public domain, plaintiffs had already acquired prescription; and (d) waiver, abandonment, laches and for Certiorari, Prohibition and Preliminary Injunction

imperfect title thereto" under Sec. 48(b) of C.A. No. estoppel.[13] On the issue of jurisdiction, respondents with Prayer for Issuance of Restraining Order Ex

141, as amended by Republic Act (R.A.) No. 1942; g) contended that the RTC has no jurisdiction over the Parte[18] with the CA, docketed as CA-G.R. SP No.

that respondents allegedly cut into flitches the trees complaints pursuant to Section 19(2) of Batas 59499. In its Decision,[19] the CA reversed the

felled in Lot No. 6195 (Civil Case No. 5188) while the Pambansa Blg. (B.P.) 129, as amended by R.A. No. resolutions and order of the trial court. It held that

logs taken from the subject lots in Civil Case Nos. 7691, as in each case, the assessed values of the even assuming that the complaints state a cause of

5433 and 5434 were sold to a timber dealer in subject lots are less than P20,000.00. action, the same have been barred by the statute of
PORTION OF THE PROPERTIES
limitations. The CA ruled that an action for ERRONEOUSLY INCLUDED IN THE laches and estoppel; and e) there is no special reason
TITLES OF PRIVATE RESPONDENTS.
reconveyance based on fraud prescribes in ten (10) warranting a review by this Court.

years, hence, the instant complaints must be FOURTH - WHETHER OR NOT THE
PETITION OF HEREIN PRIVATE
dismissed as they involve titles issued for at least RESPONDENTS FILED WITH THE Since the issue of jurisdiction is determinative
RESPONDENT COURT OF APPEALS
twenty-two (22) years prior to the filing of the (FORMER FIRST DIVISION) SHOULD of the resolution of the instant case yet the CA skirted

complaints. The CA found it unnecessary to resolve HAVE BEEN DISMISSED OUTRIGHTLY the question, we resolved to require the parties to
FOR PRIVATE RESPONDENTS' THEREIN
the other issues. FAILURE TO COMPLY WITH THE submit their respective Supplemental Memoranda on
MANDATORY REQUIREMENT OF
SECTION 1 RULE 65 OF THE RULES OF the issue of jurisdiction.[22]
COURT TO SUBMIT CERTIFIED TRUE
Hence, this appeal in which petitioners raise the
COPIES OF THE ASSAILED ORDERS OF
following issues, viz: THE TRIAL COURT WHICH RENDERED In their Supplemental
THEIR PETITION (CA G.R. 59499)
DEFICIENT IN FORM AND SUBSTANCE Memorandum,[23] petitioners contend that the nature
FIRST - WHETHER OR NOT CITING THE CASE OF CATUIRA VS.
RESPONDENT COURT OF APPEALS COURT OF APPEALS (172 SCRA of their complaints, as denominated therein and as
(FORMER FIRST DIVISION) ERRED IN 136).[20]
borne by their allegations, are suits for reconveyance,
REVERSING THE ORDER OF THE COURT
A QUO DENYING THE MOTION FOR or annulment or cancellation of OCTs and damages.
DISMISSAL, CONSIDERING THE
DISMISSAL OF A PARTY COMPLAINT IS In their memorandum,[21] respondents The cases allegedly involve more than just the issue
PREMATURE AND TRIAL ON THE
MERITS SHOULD BE CONDUCTED TO reiterated their arguments in the courts below that: of
THRESH OUT EVIDENTIARY MATTERS. title and possession since the nullity of the OCTs
a) the complaints of the petitioners in the trial court do
SECOND - WHETHER OR NOT THE not state causes of action for reconveyance; issued to respondents and the reconveyance of the
RESPONDENT COURT OF APPEALS
(FORMER FIRST DIVISION) ERRED IN b) assuming the complaints state causes of action for subject properties were also raised as issues. Thus,
DISMISSING THE PETITIONERS'
reconveyance, the same have already been barred by the RTC has jurisdiction under Section 19(1) of B.P.
COMPLAINTS ON [THE] GROUND OF
PRESCRIPTION. 129, which provides that the RTC has jurisdiction "[i]n
prescription; c) the RTC does not have jurisdiction
THIRD - WHETHER OR NOT THE over the subject matter of the instant cases; d) the all civil actions in which the subject of the litigation is
RESPONDENT COURT OF APPEALS
(FORMER FIRST DIVISION) ERRED IN claims for reconveyance in the complaints are barred incapable of pecuniary estimation." Petitioners
CONCLUDING THAT THERE IS NO
by waiver, abandonment, or otherwise extinguished by cited: a) Raymundo v. CA[24] which set the criteria for
DOCUMENTARY EVIDENCE ON RECORD
TO SHOW THAT PETITIONERS OWN determining whether an action is one not capable of
THE SUBJECT FOREST
pecuniary estimation; b) Swan v. CA[25] where it was class to which the proceedings in question complaints that are sufficient to constitute causes of

held that an action for annulment of title is under the belong.[28] It is conferred by law and an objection action for reconveyance, viz:

jurisdiction of the RTC; c) Santos v. CA[26] where it based on this ground cannot be waived by the
(a) That plaintiff Valeriano S.
was similarly held that an action for annulment of title, parties.[29]To determine whether a court has
Concha, Sr. together with his spouse
reversion and damages was within the jurisdiction of jurisdiction over the subject matter of a case, it is Dorotea Concha have painstakingly
preserve[d] the forest standing in the
the RTC; and d) Commodities Storage and ICE important to determine the nature of the cause of area [of their 24-hectare homestead]
including the four hectares untitled
Plant Corporation v. CA[27] where it was held that action and of the relief sought.[30] forest land located at the eastern
"[w]here the action affects title to the property, it portion of the forest from 1931 when
they were newly married, the date they
should be filed in the RTC where the property is The trial court correctly held that the instant acquired this property by occupation or
possession;[35]
located." Petitioners also contend that while it may be cases involve actions for reconveyance.[31] An action
(b) That spouses Valeriano S.
argued that the assessed values of the subject for reconveyance respects the decree of registration as
Concha Sr. and Dorotea P. Concha have
properties are within the original jurisdiction of the incontrovertible but seeks the transfer of property, preserved the forest trees standing in
[these parcels] of land to the exclusion
municipal trial court (MTC), they have included in their which has been wrongfully or erroneously registered in of the defendants Lomocsos or other
persons from 1931 up to November 12,
prayers "any interest included therein" consisting of 49 other persons' names, to its rightful and legal owners, 1996 [for Civil Case No. 5188] and
January 1997 [for Civil Case Nos. 5433
felled natural grown trees illegally cut by or to those who claim to have a better right.[32] There
and 5434] when defendants[,] by force,
respondents. Combining the assessed values of the is no special ground for an action for reconveyance. It intimidation, [and] stealth[,] forcibly
entered the premises, illegal[ly] cut,
properties as shown by their respective tax is enough that the aggrieved party has a legal claim on collected, disposed a total of [twenty-
one (21) trees for Civil Case No. 5188,
declarations and the estimated value of the trees cut, the property superior to that of the registered twenty-two (22) trees for Civil Case No.
the total amount prayed by petitioners exceeds twenty owner[33] and that the property has not yet passed to 5433 and six (6) trees for Civil Case
No. 5434] of various sizes;[36]
thousand pesos (P20,000.00). Hence, they contend the hands of an innocent purchaser for value.[34]
(c) That this claim is an
that the RTC has jurisdiction under Section 19(2) of assertion that the land is private land
or that even assuming it was part of
B.P. 129. The reliefs sought by the petitioners in the
the public domain, plaintiff had already
instant cases typify an action for reconveyance. The acquired imperfect title thereto under
Sec. 48(b) of [C.A.] No. 141[,]
Jurisdiction over the subject matter is the following are also the common allegations in the three otherwise known as the Public Land
Act[,] as amended by [R.A.] No.
power to hear and determine cases of the general [7691];[37]
Section 19. Jurisdiction in Civil
(d) That [respondents and their Cases.-- Regional Trial Courts shall Hence, the MTC clearly has jurisdiction over the
predecessors-in-interest knew when exercise exclusive original jurisdiction:
instant cases.
they] surreptitiously filed[38] [their xxx
respective patent applications and were
issued their respective] free patents (2) In all civil actions which
and original certificates of title [that the involve the title to, or possession of, Petitioners' contention that this case is one
subject lots belonged to the real property, or any interest therein,
petitioners];[39] where the assessed value of the that is incapable of pecuniary estimation under the
property involved exceeds Twenty exclusive original jurisdiction of the RTC pursuant to
(e) [That respondents' free thousand pesos (P20,000.00) or for
patents and the corresponding original civil actions in Metro Manila, where Section 19(1) of B.P. 129 is erroneous.
certificates of titles were issued] on such value exceeds Fifty thousand
account of fraud, deceit, bad faith and pesos (P50,000.00) except actions for
misrepresentation;[40] and forcible entry into and unlawful detainer
In a number of cases, we have held that
of lands or buildings, original
(f) The land in question has not jurisdiction over which is conferred actions for reconveyance[44] of or for cancellation of
been transferred to an innocent upon the Metropolitan Trial Courts,
purchaser.[41] Municipal Trial Courts, and Municipal title[45] to or to quiet title[46] over real property are
Circuit Trial Courts;
actions that fall under the classification of cases that
x x x.
These cases may also be considered as actions involve "title to, or possession of, real property, or any

to remove cloud on one's title as they are intended to interest therein."


In the cases at bar, it is undisputed that the
procure the cancellation of an instrument constituting
subject lots are situated in Cogon, Dipolog City and
a claim on petitioners' alleged title which was used to The original text of Section 19(2) of B.P. 129 as
their assessed values are less than P20,000.00, to
injure or vex them in the enjoyment of their alleged well as its forerunner, Section 44(b) of R.A. 296,[47] as
wit:
title.[42] amended, gave the RTCs (formerly courts of first
Civil Case No. Lot No. Assessed Value instance) exclusive original jurisdiction "[i]n

Being in the nature of actions for reconveyance 5188 6195 P1,030.00 all civil actions which involve the title to, or

or actions to remove cloud on one's title, the 5433 6196-A 4,500.00 possession of, real property, or any interest

applicable law to determine which court has therein, except actions for forcible entry into and
5434 6196-B 4,340.00
jurisdiction is Section 19(2) of B.P. 129, as amended 7529-A 1,880.00.[43] unlawful detainer of lands or buildings, original

by R.A. No. 7691, viz: jurisdiction over which is conferred upon Metropolitan

Trial Courts, [MTCs], and Municipal Circuit Trial Courts


(conferred upon the city and municipal courts under benchmark. This amendment was introduced to Corporation provide any comfort to petitioners

R.A. 296, as amended)." Thus, under the old law, "unclog the overloaded dockets of the RTCs which for the issue resolved by the Court in said case was

there was no substantial effect on jurisdiction whether would result in the speedier administration of venue and not jurisdiction. The action therein was for

a case is one, the subject matter of which was justice."[49] damages, accounting and fixing of redemption period

incapable of pecuniary estimation, under Section 19(1) which was filed on October 28, 1994, before the

of B.P. 129 or one involving title to property under The cases of Raymundo v. passage of R.A. No. 7691. In resolving the issue of

Section 19(2). The distinction between the two classes CA[50] and Commodities Storage and ICE Plant venue, the Court held that "[w]here the action affects

became crucial with the amendment introduced by Corporation v. CA,[51] relied upon by the title to property, it should be instituted in the [RTC]

R.A. No. 7691[48] in 1994 which expanded the petitioners, are inapplicable to the cases at where the property is situated. The Sta. Maria Ice

exclusive original jurisdiction of the first level courts to bar. Raymundo involved a complaint for mandatory Plant & Cold Storage is located in Sta. Maria,

include "all civil actions which involve title to, or injunction, not one for reconveyance or annulment of Bulacan. The venue in Civil Case No. 94-727076 was

possession of, real property, or any interest title. The bone of contention was whether the case therefore improperly laid."

therein where the assessed value of the property was incapable of pecuniary estimation considering

or interest therein does not exceed Twenty petitioner's contention that the pecuniary claim of the Worse, the cases of Swan v.
thousand pesos (P20,000.00) or, in civil actions complaint was only attorney's fees of P10,000, hence, CA[52] and Santos v. CA[53] cited by the
in Metro Manila, where such assessed value does the MTC had jurisdiction. The Court defined the petitioners, contradict their own position that the
not exceed Fifty thousand pesos (P50,000.00) criterion for determining whether an action is one that nature of the instant cases falls under Section 19(1) of
exclusive of interest, damages of whatever kind, is incapable of pecuniary estimation and held that the B.P. 129. The complaints in Swan and Santos were
attorney's fees, litigation expenses and issue of whether petitioner violated the provisions of filed prior to the enactment of R.A. No.
costs." Thus, under the present law, original the Master Deed and Declaration of Restriction of the 7691. In Swan, the Court held that the action being
jurisdiction over cases the subject matter of which Corporation is one that is incapable of pecuniary one for annulment of title, the RTC had original
involves "title to, possession of, real property or any estimation. The claim for attorney's fees was merely jurisdiction under Section 19(2) of B.P.
interest therein" under Section 19(2) of B.P. 129 is incidental to the principal action, hence, said amount 129. In Santos, the Court similarly held that the
divided between the first and second level courts, with was not determinative of the court's jurisdiction. Nor complaint for cancellation of title, reversion and
the assessed value of the real property involved as the can Commodities Storage and ICE Plant damages is also one that involves title to and
possession of real property under Section 19(2) of determining which court has jurisdiction, it is only the

B.P. 129. Thus, while the Court held that the RTC had assessed value of the realty involved that should be

jurisdiction, the Court classified actions for "annulment computed.[54] In this case, there is no dispute that the

of title" and "cancellation of title, reversion and assessed values of the subject properties as shown by

damages" as civil actions that involve "title to, or their tax declarations are less

possession of, real property, or any interest therein" than P20,000.00. Clearly, jurisdiction over the instant

under Section 19(2) of B.P. 129. cases belongs not to the RTC but to the MTC.

Petitioners' contention that the value of the IN VIEW WHEREOF, the decision of the Court
trees cut in the subject properties constitutes "any of Appeals is hereby AFFIRMED that the RTC of Dipolog
interest therein (in the subject properties)" that City, Branch 9, has no jurisdiction in Civil Case Nos.
should be computed in addition to the respective 5188, 5433 and 5434.
assessed values of the subject properties is

unavailing.Section 19(2) of B.P. 129, as amended by


No costs.
R.A. No. 7691, is clear that the RTC shall exercise

jurisdiction "in all civil actions which involve the title


SO ORDERED.
to, or possession of, real property, or any interest

therein, where the assessed value of the property

involved exceeds Twenty thousand pesos

(P20,000.00) or for civil actions in Metro Manila,

where such value exceeds Fifty thousand pesos

(P50,000.00)." It is true that the recovery of the

value of the trees cut from the subject properties may

be included in the term "any interest

therein." However, the law is emphatic that in