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G.R. No.

179987 September 3, 2013

HEIRS OF MARIO MALABANAN, (Represented by Sally A. Malabanan), Petitioners,
vs.
REPUBLIC OF THE PHILIPPINES, Respondent.

RESOLUTION

BERSAMIN, J.:

For our consideration and resolution are the motions for reconsideration of the parties who both
assail the decision promulgated on April 29, 2009, whereby we upheld the ruling of the Court of
Appeals (CA) denying the application of the petitioners for the registration of a parcel of land situated
in Barangay Tibig, Silang, Cavite on the ground that they had not established by sufficient evidence
their right to the registration in accordance with either Section 14(1) or Section 14(2) of Presidential
Decree No. 1529 (Property Registration Decree).

Antecedents

The property subject of the application for registration is a parcel of land situated in Barangay Tibig,
Silang Cavite, more particularly identified as Lot 9864-A, Cad-452-D, with an area of 71,324-square
meters. On February 20, 1998, applicant Mario Malabanan, who had purchased the property from
Eduardo Velazco, filed an application for land registration covering the property in the Regional Trial
Court (RTC) in Tagaytay City, Cavite, claiming that the property formed part of the alienable and
disposable land of the public domain, and that he and his predecessors-in-interest had been in open,
continuous, uninterrupted, public and adverse possession and occupation of the land for more than
30 years, thereby entitling him to the judicial confirmation of his title.1

To prove that the property was an alienable and disposable land of the public domain, Malabanan
presented during trial a certification dated June 11, 2001 issued by the Community Environment and
Natural Resources Office (CENRO) of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources
(DENR), which reads:

This is to certify that the parcel of land designated as Lot No. 9864 Cad 452-D, Silang Cadastre as
surveyed for Mr. Virgilio Velasco located at Barangay Tibig, Silang, Cavite containing an area of
249,734 sq. meters as shown and described on the Plan Ap-04-00952 is verified to be within the
Alienable or Disposable land per Land Classification Map No. 3013 established under Project No.
20-A and approved as such under FAO 4-1656 on March 15, 1982.2

After trial, on December 3, 2002, the RTC rendered judgment granting Malabanan’s application for
land registration, disposing thusly:

WHEREFORE, this Court hereby approves this application for registration and thus places under the
operation of Act 141, Act 496 and/or P.D. 1529, otherwise known as Property Registration Law, the
lands described in Plan Csd-04-0173123-D, Lot 9864-A and containing an area of Seventy One
Thousand Three Hundred Twenty Four (71,324) Square Meters, as supported by its technical
description now forming part of the record of this case, in addition to other proofs adduced in the
name of MARIO MALABANAN, who is of legal age, Filipino, widower, and with residence at Munting
Ilog, Silang, Cavite.

Once this Decision becomes final and executory, the corresponding decree of registration shall
forthwith issue.

SO ORDERED.3

The Office of the Solicitor General (OSG) appealed the judgment to the CA, arguing that Malabanan
had failed to prove that the property belonged to the alienable and disposable land of the public
domain, and that the RTC erred in finding that he had been in possession of the property in the
manner and for the length of time required by law for confirmation of imperfect title.

On February 23, 2007, the CA promulgated its decision reversing the RTC and dismissing the
application for registration of Malabanan. Citing the ruling in Republic v. Herbieto (Herbieto),4 the CA
declared that under Section 14(1) of the Property Registration Decree, any period of possession
prior to the classification of the land as alienable and disposable was inconsequential and should be
excluded from the computation of the period of possession. Noting that the CENRO-DENR
certification stated that the property had been declared alienable and disposable only on March 15,
1982, Velazco’s possession prior to March 15, 1982 could not be tacked for purposes of computing
Malabanan’s period of possession.

Due to Malabanan’s intervening demise during the appeal in the CA, his heirs elevated the CA’s
decision of February 23, 2007 to this Court through a petition for review on certiorari.

The petitioners assert that the ruling in Republic v. Court of Appeals and Corazon Naguit5 (Naguit)
remains the controlling doctrine especially if the property involved is agricultural land. In this regard,
Naguit ruled that any possession of agricultural land prior to its declaration as alienable and
disposable could be counted in the reckoning of the period of possession to perfect title under the
Public Land Act (Commonwealth Act No. 141) and the Property Registration Decree. They point out
that the ruling in Herbieto, to the effect that the declaration of the land subject of the application for
registration as alienable and disposable should also date back to June 12, 1945 or earlier, was a
mere obiter dictum considering that the land registration proceedings therein were in fact found and
declared void ab initio for lack of publication of the notice of initial hearing.

The petitioners also rely on the ruling in Republic v. T.A.N. Properties, Inc.6 to support their argument
that the property had been ipso jure converted into private property by reason of the open,
continuous, exclusive and notorious possession by their predecessors-in-interest of an alienable
land of the public domain for more than 30 years. According to them, what was essential was that
the property had been "converted" into private property through prescription at the time of the
application without regard to whether the property sought to be registered was previously classified
as agricultural land of the public domain.

As earlier stated, we denied the petition for review on certiorari because Malabanan failed to
establish by sufficient evidence possession and occupation of the property on his part and on the
part of his predecessors-in interest since June 12, 1945, or earlier.

Petitioners’ Motion for Reconsideration

In their motion for reconsideration, the petitioners submit that the mere classification of the land as
alienable or disposable should be deemed sufficient to convert it into patrimonial property of the
State. Relying on the rulings in Spouses De Ocampo v. Arlos,7 Menguito v. Republic8 and Republic
v. T.A.N. Properties, Inc.,9 they argue that the reclassification of the land as alienable or disposable
opened it to acquisitive prescription under the Civil Code; that Malabanan had purchased the
property from Eduardo Velazco believing in good faith that Velazco and his predecessors-in-interest

had been the real owners of the land with the right to validly transmit title and ownership thereof; that
consequently, the ten-year period prescribed by Article 1134 of the Civil Code, in relation to Section
14(2) of the Property Registration Decree, applied in their favor; and that when Malabanan filed the
application for registration on February 20, 1998, he had already been in possession of the land for
almost 16 years reckoned from 1982, the time when the land was declared alienable and disposable
by the State.

The Republic’s Motion for Partial Reconsideration

The Republic seeks the partial reconsideration in order to obtain a clarification with reference to the
application of the rulings in Naguit and Herbieto.

Chiefly citing the dissents, the Republic contends that the decision has enlarged, by implication, the
interpretation of Section 14(1) of the Property Registration Decree through judicial legislation. It
reiterates its view that an applicant is entitled to registration only when the land subject of the
application had been declared alienable and disposable since June 12, 1945 or earlier.

Ruling

We deny the motions for reconsideration.

In reviewing the assailed decision, we consider to be imperative to discuss the different
classifications of land in relation to the existing applicable land registration laws of the Philippines.

Classifications of land according to ownership

Land, which is an immovable property,10 may be classified as either of public dominion or of private
ownership.11Land is considered of public dominion if it either: (a) is intended for public use; or (b)
belongs to the State, without being for public use, and is intended for some public service or for the
development of the national wealth.12 Land belonging to the State that is not of such character, or
although of such character but no longer intended for public use or for public service forms part of
the patrimonial property of the State.13 Land that is other than part of the patrimonial property of the
State, provinces, cities and municipalities is of private ownership if it belongs to a private individual.

Pursuant to the Regalian Doctrine (Jura Regalia), a legal concept first introduced into the country
from the West by Spain through the Laws of the Indies and the Royal Cedulas,14 all lands of the
public domain belong to the State.15This means that the State is the source of any asserted right to
ownership of land, and is charged with the conservation of such patrimony.16

All lands not appearing to be clearly under private ownership are presumed to belong to the State.
Also, public lands remain part of the inalienable land of the public domain unless the State is shown
to have reclassified or alienated them to private persons.17

Classifications of public lands
according to alienability

Whether or not land of the public domain is alienable and disposable primarily rests on the
classification of public lands made under the Constitution. Under the 1935 Constitution,18 lands of the
public domain were classified into three, namely, agricultural, timber and mineral.19 Section 10,
Article XIV of the 1973 Constitution classified lands of the public domain into seven, specifically,
agricultural, industrial or commercial, residential, resettlement, mineral, timber or forest, and grazing

land, with the reservation that the law might provide other classifications. The 1987 Constitution
adopted the classification under the 1935 Constitution into agricultural, forest or timber, and mineral,
but added national parks.20 Agricultural lands may be further classified by law according to the uses
to which they may be devoted.21 The identification of lands according to their legal classification is
done exclusively by and through a positive act of the Executive Department.22

Based on the foregoing, the Constitution places a limit on the type of public land that may be
alienated. Under Section 2, Article XII of the 1987 Constitution, only agricultural lands of the public
domain may be alienated; all other natural resources may not be.

Alienable and disposable lands of the State fall into two categories, to wit: (a) patrimonial lands of
the State, or those classified as lands of private ownership under Article 425 of the Civil
Code,23 without limitation; and (b) lands of the public domain, or the public lands as provided by the
Constitution, but with the limitation that the lands must only be agricultural. Consequently, lands
classified as forest or timber, mineral, or national parks are not susceptible of alienation or
disposition unless they are reclassified as agricultural.24 A positive act of the Government is
necessary to enable such reclassification,25 and the exclusive prerogative to classify public lands
under existing laws is vested in the Executive Department, not in the courts.26 If, however, public
land will be classified as neither agricultural, forest or timber, mineral or national park, or when public
land is no longer intended for public service or for the development of the national wealth, thereby
effectively removing the land from the ambit of public dominion, a declaration of such conversion
must be made in the form of a law duly enacted by Congress or by a Presidential proclamation in
cases where the President is duly authorized by law to that effect.27 Thus, until the Executive
Department exercises its prerogative to classify or reclassify lands, or until Congress or the
President declares that the State no longer intends the land to be used for public service or for the
development of national wealth, the Regalian Doctrine is applicable.

Disposition of alienable public lands

Section 11 of the Public Land Act (CA No. 141) provides the manner by which alienable and
disposable lands of the public domain, i.e., agricultural lands, can be disposed of, to wit:

Section 11. Public lands suitable for agricultural purposes can be disposed of only as follows, and
not otherwise:

(1) For homestead settlement;

(2) By sale;

(3) By lease; and

(4) By confirmation of imperfect or incomplete titles;

(a) By judicial legalization; or

(b) By administrative legalization (free patent).

The core of the controversy herein lies in the proper interpretation of Section 11(4), in relation to
Section 48(b) of the Public Land Act, which expressly requires possession by a Filipino citizen of the
land since June 12, 1945, or earlier, viz:

Section 48. The following-described citizens of the Philippines, occupying lands of the public domain
or claiming to own any such lands or an interest therein, but whose titles have not been perfected or
completed, may apply to the Court of First Instance of the province where the land is located for
confirmation of their claims and the issuance of a certificate of title thereafter, under the Land
Registration Act, to wit:

xxxx

(b) Those who by themselves or through their predecessors-in-interest have been in open,
continuous, exclusive, and notorious possession and occupation of alienable and disposable lands
of the public domain, under a bona fide claim of acquisition of ownership, since June 12, 1945, or
earlier, immediately preceding the filing of the applications for confirmation of title, except when
prevented by war or force majeure. These shall be conclusively presumed to have performed all the
conditions essential to a Government grant and shall be entitled to a certificate of title under the
provisions of this chapter. (Bold emphasis supplied)

Note that Section 48(b) of the Public Land Act used the words "lands of the public domain" or
"alienable and disposable lands of the public domain" to clearly signify that lands otherwise
classified, i.e., mineral, forest or timber, or national parks, and lands of patrimonial or private
ownership, are outside the coverage of the Public Land Act. What the law does not include, it
excludes. The use of the descriptive phrase "alienable and disposable" further limits the coverage of
Section 48(b) to only the agricultural lands of the public domain as set forth in Article XII, Section 2
of the 1987 Constitution. Bearing in mind such limitations under the Public Land Act, the applicant
must satisfy the following requirements in order for his application to come under Section 14(1) of
the Property Registration Decree,28 to wit:

1. The applicant, by himself or through his predecessor-in-interest, has been in possession
and occupation of the property subject of the application;

2. The possession and occupation must be open, continuous, exclusive, and notorious;

3. The possession and occupation must be under a bona fide claim of acquisition of
ownership;

4. The possession and occupation must have taken place since June 12, 1945, or earlier;
and

5. The property subject of the application must be an agricultural land of the public domain.

Taking into consideration that the Executive Department is vested with the authority to classify lands
of the public domain, Section 48(b) of the Public Land Act, in relation to Section 14(1) of the Property
Registration Decree, presupposes that the land subject of the application for registration must have
been already classified as agricultural land of the public domain in order for the provision to apply.
Thus, absent proof that the land is already classified as agricultural land of the public domain, the
Regalian Doctrine applies, and overcomes the presumption that the land is alienable and disposable
as laid down in Section 48(b) of the Public Land Act. However, emphasis is placed on the
requirement that the classification required by Section 48(b) of the Public Land Act is classification or
reclassification of a public land as agricultural.

The dissent stresses that the classification or reclassification of the land as alienable and disposable
agricultural land should likewise have been made on June 12, 1945 or earlier, because any
possession of the land prior to such classification or reclassification produced no legal effects. It

by operation of law. because it is not necessary that a certificate of title be issued in order that such a grant be sanctioned by the courts. 1945 as the reckoning point of the requisite possession and occupation was the sole prerogative of Congress. Alienable public land held by a possessor. if a public land is classified as no longer intended for public use or for the development of national wealth by declaration of Congress or the President. when Congress enacted legislation (Republic Act No. that the choice of June 12. corporations may now acquire lands of the public domain for as long as the lands were already converted to private ownership. Accordingly.31 If one follows the dissent.34 On the other hand. the clear objective of the Public Land Act to adjudicate and quiet titles to unregistered lands in favor of qualified Filipino citizens by reason of their occupation and cultivation thereof for the number of years prescribed by law32 will be defeated. the determination of which should best be left to the wisdom of the lawmakers. continuously and exclusively during the prescribed statutory period is converted to private property by the mere lapse or completion of the period. we should always bear in mind that such objective still prevails. Except that said date qualified the period of possession and occupation. or earlier.30 It is for this reason that the property subject of the application of Malabanan need not be classified as alienable and disposable agricultural land of the public domain for the entire duration of the requisite period of possession. 1945. The imperfect or incomplete title being confirmed under Section 48(b) of the Public Land Act is title that is acquired by reason of the applicant’s possession and occupation of the alienable and disposable agricultural land of the public domain. or earlier.observes that the fixed date of June 12. the applicant’s imperfect or incomplete title is derived only from possession and occupation since June 12. either personally or through his predecessors-in-interest. 1945. The declaration that land is alienable and disposable also serves to determine the point at which prescription may run against the State. exclusive and public possession of an alienable and disposable land of the public domain. the possessor is deemed to have acquired by operation of law not only a right to a grant. As such. not the ownership or title over it. then. 1945. as a fairly recent legislative development bears out. 1945 could not be minimized or glossed over by mere judicial interpretation or by judicial social policy concerns. open. and insisted that the full legislative intent be respected. the Court should interpret only the plain and literal meaning of the law as written by the legislators. an examination of Section 48(b) of the Public Land Act indicates that Congress prescribed no requirement that the land subject of the registration should have been classified as agricultural since June 12. This means that the character of the property subject of the application as alienable and disposable agricultural land of the public domain determines its eligibility for land registration. openly. no other legislative intent appears to be associated with the fixing of the date of June 12. but a grant by the Government. the requirement that the land should have been classified as alienable and disposable agricultural land at the time of the application for registration is necessary only to dispute the presumption that the land is inalienable. Indeed.29 In fact. 10023)33in order to liberalize stringent requirements and procedures in the adjudication of alienable public land to qualified applicants. continuous. We find. however. the applicable provision concerning disposition and . subject to area limitations. thereby converting such land into patrimonial or private land of the State. To be clear. by virtue of this doctrine. Moreover. as a result of satisfying the requisite period of possession prescribed by the Public Land Act. particularly residential lands. Where all the necessary requirements for a grant by the Government are complied with through actual physical.

Civil Code) that property of the State not patrimonial in character shall not be the object of prescription. If the mode is judicial confirmation of imperfect title under Section 48(b) of the Public Land Act. therefore. To sum up. . Thereby. or earlier . Likewise. SO ORDERED. prescription can now run against the State. and notorious since June 12. may not be alienated or disposed.36 and the applicant becomes the owner of the land by virtue of an imperfect or incomplete title. or earlier. To reiterate. Without satisfying the requisite character and period of possession .37 (b) Lands of the public domain subsequently classified or declared as no longer intended for public use or for the development of national wealth are removed from the sphere of public dominion and are considered converted into patrimonial lands or lands of private ownership that may be alienated or disposed through any of the modes of acquiring ownership under the Civil Code. (2) The following are excepted from the general rule. the agricultural land subject of the application needs only to be classified as alienable and disposable as of the time of the application. all lands of the public domain belong to the State and are inalienable. we now observe the following rules relative to the disposition of public land or lands of the public domain. the land has already ceased to be part of the public domain and has become private property. exclusive. continuous.possession and occupation that is open.35 As such. whether ordinary or extraordinary. provided the applicant’s possession and occupation of the land dated back to June 12. 1945. 1945. in conjunction with Section 14(2) of the Property Registration Decree. namely: (1) As a general rule and pursuant to the Regalian Doctrine. then.registration is no longer Section 48(b) of the Public Land Act but the Civil Code. to wit: (a) Agricultural lands of the public domain are rendered alienable and disposable through any of the exclusive modes enumerated under Section 11 of the Public Land Act. Lands that are not clearly under private ownership are also presumed to belong to the State and.the land cannot be considered ipso jure converted to private property even upon the subsequent declaration of it as alienable and disposable. proof that the land has been already converted to private ownership prior to the requisite acquisitive prescriptive period is a condition sine qua non in observance of the law (Article 1113. the petitioners failed to present sufficient evidence to establish that they and their predecessors-in-interest had been in possession of the land since June 12. 1945. If the mode of acquisition is prescription. Prescription never began to run against the State. By legal fiction. a conclusive presumption that the applicant has performed all the conditions essential to a government grant arises. the land continues to be ineligible for land registration under Section 14(2) of the Property Registration Decree unless Congress enacts a law or the President issues a proclamation declaring the land as no longer intended for public service or for the development of the national wealth. the Court DENIES the petitioners' Motion for Reconsideration and the respondent's Partial Motion for Reconsideration for their lack of merit. such that the land has remained ineligible for registration under Section 14(1) of the Property Registration Decree. 1âwphi1 WHEREFORE.

CV No. All [sic] of Cad. thence S. which are situated. 2007 in CA-GR.. which granted the application of Diosdada I.: The present petition is one for review under Rule 45 of the 1997 Rules of Court. 70078. 38. Consolacion. N-452 for utter lack of merit. 23 deg. affirming the Decision2 of the Regional Trial Court RTC) of Mandaue City.02 m. CV No. situated in the Barrio of Jugan.80 m. to point of the . being a portion of lot 3135.3 Antecedent Facts On July 17. The Republic of the Philippines petitioner) challenges the Decision1 dated September 21.545-D. Cebu. identical to lot 3135-A. 545-D. from BLLM No. 17’E. 1. Consolacion. along line 2-3 by Camino Vicinal Road. No. the respondent sought the registration under her name of the lands denominated as Lot No. 70078. vs. 58.69 m. Province of Cebu. 40. 61 deg. 20’E. 3135-A and 3136-A of Plans Csd-072219-004552 and Csd-072219- 004551. 2007 of the Court of Appeals CA) in CA-GR. 14’W. identical to lot 3135-A. Municipality of Consolacion. 545-D (new). Beginning at a point marked "1" on plan being S. 59’E.. to point 4. 1995. DECISION REYES. The petitioner prays that the Court annuls the CA Decision dated September 21. Consolacion. J. In her verified application in LRC Case No. Cad. the respondent claimed that she is the owner of the two parcels of land. DIOSDADA I. on the SW.69 m.. Branch 56.. 83 deg.. Cebu.R. Cad. N-452. 1878. 57.G. Csd-072219-004552). thence N... thence N. bounded and specifically described in Plans Csd- 072219-004552 and Csd-072219-004551.. and that it should dismiss Land Registration Commission (LRC) Case No. 545-D (New). 2013 REPUBLIC OF THE PHILIPPINES. along line 1-2 by lot 20048 (identical to lot 3135-B. 3136-A of Plans Csd-072219-004552 and Csd-072219-004551.. Gielczyk (respondent) for the original registration of title of Lot Nos. Respondent. Cad. GIELCZYK. Cebu.4 to wit: TECHNICAL DESCRIPTIONS Lot 2007. Bounded on the NE. along line 3-4 by lot 3126.40 m. Petitioner. Csd-072219-004552 (Luisa Ceniza) A parcel of land (lot 20047. 26’W. to point 2. 26 deg. to point 3. 179990 October 23. Csd-072219-004552). 3135-A and Lot No. both situated in Jugan. along line 4-1 by lot 3136. on the SE. Both lands were situated in Jugan. 61 deg. thence S. Island of Cebu. on the NW.

. and (e) that said land is not occupied. thence N.. Cad. Municipality of Consolacion. thence S. 35 deg. more or less.. 20 deg... 20 deg. All points referred to are indicated on the plan and are marked on the ground as follows. 17’E. 1993 and approved on May 26. Abella on November 19. identical to lot 3136-A. 65 deg. conc. from B. Cad. 1987.6 The respondent further alleged the following: (a) that the said parcels of land were last assessed for taxation at ₱2. as far as known to her. date of original survey July 14.00. cyl. 83 deg.. along line 2-3- 4 by lot 3126. (d) that she acquired title to said land by virtue of the deeds of absolute sale.beginning.39 m. along line 6-1 by lot 20046 (identical to lot 3136-B. on the NW. to point 3. 545-D.69 m. on the SW. being a portion of lot 3136.55 m. Beginning at a point marked "1" on plan being S. to point 6: thence S. legal or equitable. 2. mons 15x60 cms. 1878.5 TECHNICAL DESCRIPTIONS Lot 20045.S. cyl.M. 44. Containing an area of TWO THOUSAND TWO HUNDRED EIGHTY FIVE (2.L. to point 5. Bearings Grid. 1993 and approved on May 24.L. conc. 41. points 1 and 2 by P. 1987-November 11.79 m. cyl. 1987-November 11. also alleged that the full names and complete addresses of the owners of all lands adjoining the subject land are the following: ADJOINING OWNERS OF LOT 3135-A: . 545-D (New). mons. nor any person having interest therein. Csd-072219-004551). and that of the subdivision survey executed by Geodetic Engineer Norvic S. on the NE. 44’E. 1987. more or less. (c) that she had been in open. 59’W. 58. (b) that to the best of her knowledge and belief. mons. thence N. thence N. points 1 and 6 by P.02 m. 15x40 cms.S. and the rest are old P. complete. situated in the Barrio of Jugan. Province of Cebu. All [sic] of Cad. to point of the beginning.400. All points referred to are indicated on the plan and are marked on the ground as follows. 65 deg.S. continuous. conc.. 15’W.285) SQUARE METERS. 15x40 cms. and the rest are old P.05 m.. conc. 545-D (New). and that of the subdivision survey executed by Geodetic Engineer Norvic S. 1994.. Containing an area of TWO THOUSAND SIX HUNDRED TEN (2. Consolacion. cyl. 23 deg. 12. 43’E. Bounded on the SE. 46. Cad. Abella on November 12. mons 15x60 cms. including the possession of her predecessors-in-interest. Island of Cebu. along line 6-1 by lot 20046. along line 1-2 by lot 3135. 10’W..610) SQUARE METERS. Bearings Grid. Cebu. and peaceful possession in the concept of an owner over said parcels of land up to the present time for more than 30 years. to point 4.545-D. Csd-072219-004551). thence N. identical to Lot 3136-A. there is no mortgage nor encumbrance of any kind affecting said land. 1. to point 2.7 The respondent. 1994. 37’E. Csd-072219-004551 (Constancio Ceniza) A parcel of land (lot 20045. date of original survey July 14.48 m.S.. No.

Consolacion. when the respondent testified in court. owned by Mr.Lot 3138. and is situated in Jugan. Luisa Ceniza Jugan. Cebu City that the same lots are not subject to public land application. owned by the applicant. Consolacion.12 (e) Latest tax clearance of the same lots. Cebu.Lot 3135-A.610 sq m).Lot 3135-B owned by Mrs.11 (d) Latest tax declarations of the lots. Records Section. Rene Pepito Jugan. DENR. with an area of 2.9 (b) Approved technical descriptions of the same lots. Cebu South . Consolacion. Constancio Ceniza Jugan. North . Cebu City. Cebu West .13 (f) Deeds of Sale in favor of the respondent. Cebu8 To prove her claim. Cebu West .10 (c) Certification from the Chief. 3135-A and 3136-A. Technical Services Section. owned by Mr. Consolacion. Consolacion. Cebu East .Lot 3126 owned by Mr. owned by Mr. that the lots are alienable and disposable. the respondent submitted the following pieces of evidence: (a) Approved plans of Lot Nos. and Lot No. Miguel Hortiguela Jugan. Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR).Lot 3136-A owned by the applicant. Consolacion. Region 7.Municipal Road c/o Municipal Mayor Consolacion. South . her testimony sought to establish the following: (i) That the respondent acquired Lot No. Cebu East .Lot 3126. Pepito Jugan. 3136-A (which is identical to Lot 20045.Lot 3136-B. ADJOINING OWNERS OF LOT 3136-A: North . Central Visayas Lands Management Services in lieu of surveyor’s certificates.15 and (h) Certification from the Chief. Region 7.16 Furthermore. 3135-A .14 (g) Certifications from the Community Environment and Natural Resources Officer (CENRO). Rogelio M.

with an area of 2. 01670 for the year 1948. 3135-A: Tax Dec.24 (4) That the parcel of land applied for is a portion of the public domain belonging to the petitioner and that the said parcel is not subject to private appropriation. Tax Dec.18 (iii) That the said parcels of land are alienable and disposable and are not covered by subsisting public land application. No. Tax Dec. she has retained her Filipino citizenship. and is situated in Jugan. 1995. exclusive. No. continuous. 1945 or prior thereto. 04210 for the year 1985. Tax Dec. while the following tax declarations were issued for Lot No.23 (3) That the respondent can no longer avail of the claim of ownership in fee simple on the basis of Spanish title or grant since she has failed to file an appropriate application for registration within the period of six months from February 16. 04208 for the year 1985. 29200 for the year 1981. No. publicly. 13275 for the year 1989. the dispositive portion of which provides: . No. and notorious possession and occupation of the land in question since June 12. No. 012931 for the year 1965. (which is identical to Lot 20047. or prior thereto. and Tax Dec.22 (2) That the muniments of title and/or the tax declarations and tax payment receipts of the respondent attached to or alleged in the application do not constitute competent and sufficient evidence of a bona fide acquisition of the land applied for or of their open. 1999. continuous.19 (iv) That the respondent and her respective predecessors-in-interest had been in possession of Lot No. the petitioner further alleged that the instant application was filed on July 7. Tax Dec. 1995 to the respondent’s application for registration of title. 20849 for the year 1980. and no other person has claimed ownership over the same land. 3136-A for more than 40 years in the concept of an owner. Tax Dec. Tax Dec. 25146 for the year 1973. 1945. No. Tax Dec. 3135-A and Lot No.25 On November 3.20 and (v) That the respondent is a Filipino Citizen and that despite her marriage to an American national. 20846 for the year 1980. exclusively. From the records. Tax Dec. Tax Dec. Cebu. No.21 The petitioner filed an opposition dated September 18. 012459 for the year 1965. No. exclusive and notorious possession and occupation thereof in the concept of an owner since June 12. alleging among others: 1) That neither the respondent nor her predecessors-in-interest have been in open. peacefully. 021294 for the year 1968. Tax Dec. 892.D. 3136-A: Tax Dec. 01258 for the year 1948. 13274 for the year 1989.17 (ii) That the respondent was never delinquent in paying the taxes for the said lots. the RTC rendered its Decision26 in favor of the respondent. No. Consolacion. In fact the following tax declarations were issued for Lot No. 1976 as required by Presidential Decree (P. and that said muniments of title do not appear to be genuine and the tax declarations and/or tax payment receipts indicate the pretended possession of the respondent to be of recent vintage. No. No.285 sq m) through purchase from Constancio Ceniza and Luisa Ceniza respectively. Tax Dec.) No. completely. 01411 for the year 1974. No. No. No. notoriously and adversely. continuously.

27 Not convinced of the RTC’s decision. in the Resolution31 dated March 30. raising the sole issue: Issue THE COURT OF APPEALS ERRED ON A QUESTION OF LAW IN UPHOLDING THE RULING OF THE TRIAL COURT THAT RESPONDENT WAS ABLE TO PROVE THAT SHE AND HER PREDECESSORS-IN-INTEREST HAVE BEEN IN OPEN. 44 years old. and to meet the period of possession and occupation required by law. 2011. American national. 1529 or The Property Registration Decree enumerates the persons who may apply for the registration of title to land. Consequently. UHV.WHEREFORE. Consolacion. as her exclusive paraphernal property. which was also denied on September 21. the Administrator. to wit: . the petitioner filed an appeal dated August 5. No. The respondent failed to completely prove that there was an expressed State declaration that the properties in question are no longer intended for public use.28 the dispositive portion of which provides: WHEREFORE. Upon finality of this judgment. 4 Noel St. 39. After a thorough study of the records. CONTINUOUS. Section 14 of P. GIELCZYK. and the same title is hereby confirmed. the development of the national wealth and have been converted into patrimonial property. Land Registration Authority is hereby directed to issue Decree of Registration and Original Certificate of Title to Lots 3135-A and 3136-A [sic]. PD 1529. let a corresponding decree of registration and original certificate of title be issued to subject lot in accordance with Sec. the appeal is hereby DENIED and the assailed Decision AFFIRMED in its entirety. the Court resolves to grant the petition.29 Thus. NOTORIOUS. EXCLUSIVE AND PEACEFUL POSSESSION OVER THE LANDS SUBJECT OF THE APPLICATION FOR ORIGINAL REGISTRATION FOR A PERIOD OF OVER 40 YEARS THROUGH MERE TAX DECLARATIONS AND IN THE ABSENCE OF PROOF WHEN THE SUBJECT LOTS WERE DECLARED ALIENABLE AND DISPOSABLE LANDS OF THE PUBLIC DOMAIN. from all the foregoing undisputed facts supported by oral and documentary evidence. the petitioner filed the present Petition for Review under Rule 45 of the 1997 Rules of Court. both situated at Jugan.30 Our Ruling It must be noted that the respondent did not file any comment on the petition despite efforts to notify her and her counsel of record. the Court finds and so holds that the applicant has registrable title over subject lots. Thus. married to Philip James Gielczyk. Cebu in the name of the applicant DIOSDADA I. SO ORDERED. Paranaque. 2007. 2002 before the CA. this Court resolved to dispense with the respondent’s comment and shall decide the instant petition based on available records. COMPLETE.D. Filipino. Metro Manila. public service.. resident of No.

D. complete. 14. 14. Thus. whether personally or through their duly authorized representatives: (1) Those who by themselves or through their predecessors-in. a judicious scrutiny of the attendant facts would reveal that the assailed decision of the RTC was based not on PD No. (2) Those who have acquired ownership of private lands by prescription under the provision of existing laws. Section 14(1). which governs and authorizes the application of "those who have acquired ownership of private lands by prescription under the provisions of existing laws. With such conversion. The pertinent portion of the decision is quoted as follows: "From the documentary evidence presented and formally offered by the applicant. There is a consistent jurisprudential rule that properties classified as alienable public land may be converted into private property by reason of open. 1945? It did not. No. continuous.Sec. 1945. but under Section 14(2) of said issuance. (3) Those who have acquired ownership of private lands or abandoned river beds by right of accession or accretion under the existing laws. and thus susceptible to registration by those who have acquired ownership through prescription. and such possession being been [sic] open. No.D." In the instant case. the CA explained that the RTC’s decision was based on Section 14(2) of P. Who may apply. 1529. The following persons may file in the proper Court of First Instance an application for registration of title to land. Court of Appeals and Naguit. considering Section 14(2) of the Property Registration Decree. (4) Those who have acquired ownership of land in any other manner provided for by law. exclusive and notorious possession and occupation of alienable and disposable lands of the public domain under a bona fide claim of ownership since June 12. Although tax declarations and realty tax payment of property are not conclusive evidence of . then the possessor may have the right to register the land by virtue of Section 14(2) of the Property Registration Decree.interest have been in open.32 The CA said: However. In the assailed decision granting the respondent’s application for registration of title. 1073 preclude the application for registration of alienable lands of the public domain. for a period of over 40 years. such property may now fall within the contemplation of "private lands" under Section 14(2). continuous and exclusive possession of at least thirty (30) years." A closer scrutiny will show that the questioned decision was based on PD No. in the concept of an owner and that applicant has registrable title over same lots in accordance with Sec. 1945. 1529." "Prescription is one of the modes of acquiring ownership under the Civil Code. possession over which commenced only after June 12. PD 1529. notorious. even if possession of the alienable public land commenced on a date later than June 12. continuous. the Court is convinced that she and her predecessors-in-interest has (sic) been in open. exclusive and peaceful possession over the lands herein applied for registration of title. or earlier. In the case of Republic of the Philippines vs. it was ruled that: Did the enactment of the Property Registration Decree and the amendatory P. 1529 and not on Section 14(1) of the same decree. applicant-appellee was able to present tax declarations dating back from 1948. continuous and exclusive. Section 14(2).

the Court cannot completely agree with the petitioner. while the latter entitles the applicant to the registration of his property on the basis of prescription. as amended by Republic Act No. CENRO. 1529 and not on Section 14(1) of the same decree.38 On this point.35 In Heirs of Mario Malabanan v. 1529. Moreover. 1529 and the Public Land Act (PLA) while under the second mode is made available both by P. in the name of substantial justice and equity. Inting. nevertheless. Carreon (Carreon). possession. CENRO.37 Indeed. While the RTC and the CA failed to cite the evidence which the respondent submitted. 1529. the foregoing jurisprudence clearly shows the basis of the respondent’s application for registration of title. the Court cannot. However. under Section 48(b) of the PLA. while under Section 14(2) of P. the development of the national wealth or have been converted into patrimonial property.40 Carreon’s Certification is reproduced here: Republic of the Philippines Department of Environment and Natural Resources COMMUNITY ENVIRONMENT AND NATURAL RESOURCES OFFICE Cebu City . 1529 and the Civil Code. They constitute proof that the holder has a claim of title over the property.D. The former refers to registration of title on the basis of possession. 1529.33 (Citations omitted) The Court agrees with the CA’s finding that the RTC’s grant of the respondent’s application for registration of title was based on Section 14(2) of P. 2004 Certification issued and signed by Fedencio P. citing Republic of the Philippines v. 1995 Certifications issued by Eduardo M. the 30-year period is in relation to possession without regard to the Civil Code. No. or at the least constructive.36 the Court further clarified the difference between Section 14(1) and Section 14(2) of P. not only one’s sincere and honest desire to obtain title to the property.ownership.D. stating that patrimonial properties of the State are susceptible of prescription and that there is a rich jurisprudential precedents which rule that properties classified as alienable public land may be converted into private property by reason of open. an applicant may apply for registration of title through prescription under Section 14(2) of P. but it also announces his adverse claim against the State and all other interested parties. such acts strengthen one’s bona fide claim of acquisition of ownership. No. the petitioner argued that the respondent failed to show proof of an expressed State declaration that the properties in question are no longer intended for public use. close its eyes to the September 23. No. they are good indicia of the possession in the concept of owner for no one in his right mind would be paying taxes for a property that is not in his actual. public service. All told. the respondent attempted to show proof as to when the subject lands were declared alienable and disposable. 1472. including his intention to contribute to the needed revenues of the Government. particularly Annex "G" and Annex "G-1" or the June 28. particularly Article 1113 in relation to Article 1137. Republic.D. No. the 30-year period involves extraordinary prescription under the Civil Code. Indeed.34 correctly explained.39 as a supplement to her earlier submissions. No. continuous and exclusive possession of at least 30 years. which the respondent attached in her Appellee’s brief in the CA.D. As the CA. No.D.D. Registration under the first mode is extended under the aegis of the P. It pointed out that the certification which the respondent submitted did not indicate when the lands applied for were declared alienable and disposable. OIC. Court of Appeals and Naguit. The voluntary declaration of a piece of property for taxation purposes manifests.

Cebu City. the respondent failed to meet the required period of possession and occupation for purposes of prescription. we ruled that for as long as the land was declared alienable and disposable.687) square meters[. short of two months to complete the whole 30-year possession period. 1965 that the properties in question are purportedly alienable and disposable up to the filing of the application of the respondent on July 17. Community Environment & Natural Resources Officer However. Cebu certified under Forestry Administrative Order No. 28 per L. CARREON OIC. Caña for CONSTANCIO CENIZA ET AL was found to be within Alienable and Disposable Block I of Land Classification Project No. Properties. Lands Verification CONSTANCIO CENIZA ET AL (Consolacion.A. Indeed.] more or less. the Court does not need to further discuss whether the respondent was able to overcome the burden of proving that the land no longer forms part of the public domain to support her application for original land registration because of other deficiencies in her application. 1965. Llegunas a tract of land lots 3135 and 3136. (Emphasis Supplied) This is to certify further that the subject area is outside Kotkot-Lusaran Watershed Reservation per Presidential Proclamation No. exclusive and notorious possession of at least 30 years. Cad 545-D(New) containing an area of FIFTEEN THOUSAND SIX HUNDRED EIGHTY SEVEN (15.N. Map No.43 we further clarified that "while a property classified as alienable and disposable public land may be converted into private property by reason of open. 1965. This certification is issued upon the request of Mr.41 this CENRO Certification by itself is insufficient to establish that a public land is alienable and disposable. 1965..42 In Lim v. situated at Jugan. Inc. Cebu as shown and described in the sketch plan at the back hereof as prepared by Geodetic Engineer Aurelio Q. 1074 dated Sept. 4-1063 dated September 1. public dominion lands become patrimonial property not only with a . continuous. Cebu) CERTIFICATION TO WHOM IT MAY CONCERN: This is to certify that per projection conducted by Forester Restituto A. In any case. In Naguit. C. 1995. Consolacion. the Court cannot still tack those years to complete the 30-year possession period since the said lots were only declared alienable and disposable on September 1. T. 2545 of Consolacion. following our ruling in Republic of the Philippines v. 1997.23 September 2004 CENRO. 4-1063 dated September 1. Republic. Constancio Ceniza for the purpose of ascertaining the land classification status only and does not entitle him preferential/priority rights of possession until determined by competent authorities. the same is susceptible of prescription for purposes of registration of imperfect title. While the certification refers to Forestry Administrative Order No. 2. the respondent should have submitted a certified true copy thereof to substantiate the alienable character of the land. Granting por arguendo that the respondent and her predecessors-in-interest had possessed and occupied the subject lots since 1948. From the time of the declaration on September 1. the respondent and her predecessors-in-interest had possessed and occupied the said properties for only 29 years and 10 months. FEDENCIO P.

1965 based on the Certifications of the CENRO. One of the important requisites for the application of the pertinent provisions of Act No. the word occupation serves to highlight the fact that for one to qualify under paragraph (b) of the aforesaid section. When. Justice Jose P. The respondent failed to present specific acts of ownership to substantiate her claim of open. 2874 is the "open. Here. the respondent still failed to complete the 30-year period required to grant her application by virtue of prescription."44 While the subject lots were supposedly declared alienable or disposable on September 1. continuous. 2874. notorious and adverse possession in the concept of an owner. In Roman Catholic Bishop of Kalibo. his possession of the land must not be mere fiction. continuous. As this Court stated. Director of Lands . Municipality of Buruanga. Aklan. Taken together with the words open. notorious and adverse possession in the concept of an owner. the Court agrees with the petitioner’s argument. continuous. Aklan v. its open. continuous. And only when the property has become patrimonial can the prescriptive period for the acquisition of property of the public dominion begin to run. Possession is broader than occupation because it includes constructive possession. in Lasam v. This contention is likewise not persuasive." to wit: The petitioner submits that even granting arguendo that the entire Lot 138 was not assigned to it during the Spanish regime or it is not the owner thereof pursuant to the Laws of the Indies. the clear intention of the law is not to make one synonymous with the order [sic]. exclusive. continuous. The Director of Lands: x x x Counsel for the applicant invokes the doctrine laid down by us in Ramos v. exclusive and notorious.46 In the said case. exclusive. It cites Subsection 6 of Section 54 of Act No. the Court clarified what it actually meant when it said "open. he must be in open. The phrase "possession and occupation" was explained as follows: It must be underscored that the law speaks of "possession and occupation. exclusive and notorious possession and occupation of Lot 138 since 1894 and for many decades thereafter vests ipso jure or by operation of law upon the petitioner a government grant. through then Mr. continuous. 926 and Subsection b of Section 45 of Act No. continuous. therefore. exclusive and notorious possession and occupation of the lot. The petitioner contends that the respondent failed to present specific acts of ownership to substantiate the latter’s claim of open." While. Actual possession of land consists in the manifestation of acts of dominion over it of such a nature as a party would naturally exercise over his own property. therefore. exclusive and notorious possession and occupation" of the land by the applicant. to the subject property. the law adds the word occupation. "possession in the eyes of the law does not mean that a man has to have his feet on every square meter of ground before it can be ." Since these words are separated by the conjunction and. Laurel. a vested title. public service or the development of national wealth. it seeks to delimit the all-encompassing effect of constructive possession. and this court was careful to observe that among these qualifications is "one particularly relating to the size of the tract in controversy with reference to the portion actually in possession of the claimant.declaration that these are alienable or disposable but also with an express government manifestation that the property is already patrimonial or no longer retained for public use. 926 and Act No. exclusive and notorious possession and occupation.45 the Court ruled that for an applicant to ipso jure or by operation of law acquire government grant or vested title to a lot. But it should be observed that the application of the doctrine of constructive possession in that case is subject to certain qualifications.

. Buruanga community Medicare hospital [sic]. his possession of the property must be patent. it should be uninterrupted. was [sic] by its tolerance does not constitute proof of possession and occupation on its (the petitioner’s) part. the petitioner has been in open. apparent. basketball court. et al. no government grant or title to Lots 138-A and 138-C had vested upon the petitioner ipso jure or by operation of law. the record is bereft of any evidence that would tend to show that such possession and occupation extended to Lots 138-A and 138-C beginning the same period. 2874. and notorious when it is so conspicuous that it is generally known and talked of by the public or the people in the neighborhood. the rural health center.47 (Citations omitted and emphasis supplied) In sum. visible. No single instance of the exercise by the petitioner of proprietary acts or acts of dominion over these lots was established. which means generally known and talked of by the public or the people in the neighborhood. xxxx Possession is open when it is patent. while it may be constructive. unbroken and not intermittent or occasional.48 The Court held in Cruz v. visible. Possession under paragraph 6 of section 54 of Act No. is not a mere fiction. a simple claim of "open. as amended by paragraph (b) of Section 45 of Act No. Rizal monument and grandstand. An applicant for a grant or title over a lot must be able to show that he has exercised acts of dominion over the property in question. Use of land is adverse when it is open and notorious. and it should be conspicuous. 2874. 926. as amended by paragraph (b) of section 45 of Act No. However. continuous. 926. exclusive and notorious possession and occupation" does not suffice. exclusive when the adverse possessor can show exclusive dominion over the land and an appropriation of it to his own use and benefit. It is continuous when uninterrupted. competent and substantial evidence establishing that they have exercised acts of dominion over the property in question. In other words. is not gained by mere nominal claim. notorious and not clandestine. notorious and not clandestine.g. Its unsubstantiated claim that the construction of the municipal building as well as the subsequent improvements thereon. The applicant’s possession must not be simply a nominal claim where he only plants a sign or symbol of possession. unbroken and not intermittent or occasional. continuous. Indisputably. These acts of dominion were the following: (a) they constructed permanent buildings on the questioned lot. it should demonstrate exclusive dominion over the land and an appropriation of it to his own use and benefit. e..49 that therein petitioners were able to show clear. Possession as a means of acquiring ownership." possession under paragraph 6 of Section 54 of Act No. Court of Appeals. (b) they collected rentals. exclusive and notorious possession and occupation thereon since 1894. (c) they granted permission to those who sought their consent for the construction of a drugstore and a bakery. is not gained by mere nominal claim. exclusive and notorious possession and occupation of Lot 138-B since 1894 as evidenced by the church structure built thereon..said that he is in possession. apparent. continuous. The mere planting of a sign or symbol of possession cannot justify a Magellan-like claim of dominion over an immense tract of territory. x x x. Absent the important requisite of open.

it was only the respondent who testified to substantiate her allegations in the application.How large is 20047? A . and (f) they religiously paid taxes on the property.50 However. (d) they collected fruits from the fruit-bearing trees planted on the said land.Are you familiar with Lots No.Yes. Atty. Q . but these tax declarations and receipts are not conclusive evidence of ownership or right of possession over a piece of land. Admittedly. the respondent’s best evidence to prove possession and ownership were tax declarations and receipts issued in her name or the names of her predecessors-in-interest.Mrs.286 square meters. The fact that the disputed property may have been declared for taxation purposes in the names of the applicants for registration or of their predecessors-in. in the present petition. (e) they were consulted regarding questions of boundaries between adjoining properties. Q ." Unfortunately."51 In the instant case. are you the same Diosdada Gielzcyk. to wit: DIRECT EXAMINATION: Q . the applicant in this case? A . Your Honor.Yes. They are merely indicia of a claim of ownership. exclusive and notorious possession and occupation.I am the one. "Well settled is the rule that tax declarations and receipts are not conclusive evidence of ownership or of the right to possess land when not supported by any other evidence. You can answer in English? You don’t need an interpreter? A . the respondent failed to specifically show that she and her predecessors-in-interest had exercised acts of dominion over the subject lots. Cebu? A . Germino: Who is the owner of these lots? A . In fact. .Yes. 3135 and 20045. She did not present anyone else to support her claim of "open.It has an area of 2. both of Consolacion. Gielczyk. the respondent failed to show that she or her predecessors-in-interest have exercised acts of dominion over the said parcels of land. Court: Excuse me.interest does not necessarily prove ownership. continuous. her testimony simply made general declarations without further proof.

Germino: Q .Your Honor. Court: The same property? A .Near my parents’ house. Court: Then the tax declaration would be the best evidence. Germino: Q . ₱430.Do you know if there are other persons who are interested whatsoever over the lots you have mentioned? A . Court: Is that reflected in the tax declaration? Atty. Court: Proceed. Germino: Yes. I have my parents and brothers there.Are there liens and encumbrances affecting the lots? A .I do not think.No sir.No. Atty.Because my family is living there in Consolacion and I always come home every month. Q . Atty. sir.Q .I am in possession. Court: Physically? I thought you are residing in Manila? A .How much is the assessed value of Lot 20047? A . Your Honor.00 per square meters is the assessed value reflected in the document. Atty. Germino: .Who is in possession of these lots? A .

Yes. Q . Q . Do you have the tax declaration of Lot 20047 since 1948 until the present? A . continous [sic].Showing to you tax declaration No. please examine and tell the court whether that is the tax declaration of Lot 20047 for the year 1948? A . 012931 in the name of heirs of Remigio Ceniza for the year 1965. open and uninterrupted. Germino: Q .Do you have a deed of sale in your favor? A . 01670 in the name of the heirs of Remigio Ceniza covering land in Consolacion for the year 1948. xxxx Atty.Including my predecessors-in-interest. Q .This is the same. xxxx Atty.She inherited it from her father Remigio Ceniza. please examine the same and tell the Honorable court what relation has that to the tax declaration of lot 20047 for the year 1965? A . Q .Yes.What is the nature of your possession? A . for over a period of 40 years.Do you know how did Luisa Ceniza acquire the same? A . your possession including your predecessors-in-interest has been for over forty (40) years. peaceful.How long have you been in possession of the lots? A .Showing to you tax declaration No.Q . this is the one.Adverse against the whole world.Yes. I have.How did you acquire Lot 20047? A . Germino: Q .52 xxxx Atty. Q . Germino: .I purchased it from Luisa Ceniza.You said that includ[i]ng your predecessors-in-interest.

53 In the continuance of her testimony. this is the same.If I remember right. xxxx Atty. this is the one. GERMINO: Q .How long have you been in possession? A . Q . [no number was indicated in the TSN] in the name of Luisa Ceniza for the year 1963 tell the court whether that is the tax declaration for the year 1973? A . Germino: Q .Mrs.Yes.How did you acquire lot 20045? A .I purchased it from Constancio Ceniza. Q . one of the last lot subject to [sic] your petition is Lot 20045.2. Gielczyk.Personally.00 Q . 1985.Showing to you tax declaration No.610 square meters. She testified thus: xxxx Atty. COURT: (to witness) Q . .Showing to you tax declaration No. how large is this lot? A .₱970. ATTY. 021294 in the name of Luisa and Constancio Ceniza for the year 1968.Q . please examine and tell the court whether that is the tax declaration of Lot 20047 for the year 1968? A .Including my predecessors-in-interest is [sic] over a period of 40 years.Yes.How much is the assess value of this lot? A .I am the one. Germino: Q . the respondent added no further information for this Court to conclude that she indeed exercised specific acts of dominion aside from paying taxes.Who is in possession of this lot? A . how long have you been in possession of this property? A .

ATTY.Yes. I have. please examine this document and tell the Court if that is the deed of sale? A . GERMINO: I am showing to you a deed of absolute sale by Constancio Ceniza over lot 3136-A acknowledged before Notary Public Marino Martillano. GERMINO: Yes.Q . series of 1988. Q .Do you have a tax clearances [sic]? A . xxxx COURT: (to witness) . is that the tax clearance you referred to? A .Yes. ATTY. Cebu. COURT: Mark it.I am showing to you tax clearance issued by the municipal treasurer of Consolacion. we are through with Lot 3135? COURT: This is 3136-A equivalent to Lot 20045. Q . as Doc. sir. 2637 book 4. COURT: We are talking about 3136-A? ATTY. GERMINO: We ask your Honor the tax clearance be marked as double "C".Yes. xxxx Q .Yes. sir.Do you have a deed of sale in your favor? A . Proceed. No.Are you not delinquent in the payment of taxes for lot 3136-A? A .No.

ATTY.Mrs. Q .When was that? A . do you have a Tax Declaration of lot 3136-A from 1948 until the present? A - Yes. to wit: COURT: Cross-examination? FISCAL ALBURO: May it please the Honorable Court. 1985 and 1989. 1980.I am showing to you a bunch of Tax Declaration. Q . COURT: Mark it.If I remember right in 1985 or 1986. Q .2 portions.These are the ones.How did you acquire this lot [sic]? A . until the present? . COURT: Proceed. 6 in all. from the (sic) year 1948.Q . how many lots are involved in this petition? A . FISCAL ALBURO: Q .I purchased it [sic] from Constancio Ceniza. please examine this Tax Declaration and tell us whether these are the Tax Declarations of Lot 3136-A from 1948 until the present in your name? A . your possession of the land applied for is more than 40 years. Q.54 The respondent’s cross-examination further revealed that she and her predecessors-in-interest have not exercised specific acts of dominion over the properties. you srarted [sic] possessing the property since 1985. 1981.In other words. 1965. Gielczyk. GERMINO: We ask that the Tax Declaration in bunch be marked as Exhibit double "F" and the succeeding Tax Declaration to be marked as double "FF-1" up to double "F-5".You said that including your predecessor-in-interest.

where do you stay often? A .55 (Emphasis supplied) From the foregoing testimony of the lone witness (the applicant-respondent herself). 3135-A consisted of two (2) coconut trees.But you are not residing in Consolacion? A. the Court can deduce that. GERMINO: No redirect.I used to go back and forth Cebu and Manila. the deed of absolute sale simply said that the improvements on Lot No. ATTY. one (1) caimito tree and one (1) jackfruit tree.Yes. The pieces of documentary evidence.Yes. besides intermittently paying the tax dues on Lot No.Who takes care of the property in Mandaue City? A .My brothers because there are coconut trees and some fruits and he watched it [sic].Who is in charge of your property in Consolacion? A. your Honor. can neither be relied upon because the same revealed no indication of any improvement that would have the Court conclude that the respondent exercised specific acts of dominion.Who is using the coconut trees and the fruits? A . there are few coconuts.56 The tax declarations have not shown any indication supporting the respondent’s claim that she exercised specific acts of dominion. FISCAL ALBURO: That is all. Q .A.But I have a cousin in Consolacion. 3135-A. Q . Q.Just for consumption. specifically the tax declarations and the deeds of absolute sale. the respondent did not exercise acts of dominion over it. Q. For instance. your property is being taken cared of by your brothers? A .In other words. one (1) mango tree. Q . Q.57 . Neither can the Court give credence to the respondent’s claim that her predecessors-in-interest had exercised dominion over the property since the respondent failed to present any witness who would substantiate her allegation. your Honor.Usually in Manila. COURT: (to witness) By the way.My brothers.But you are not in actual occupant [sic] of the property because you are residing in Paranaque? A.

which was actually possessed by the vendor Constancio Ceniza. as the law itself considered such lands as property of the public dominion. to cite two examples. the Court cannot end this decision without reiterating the final words of former Associate Justice Dante O. 1âwphi1 For. as revealed in this decision. Nonetheless. The informal settlement of public lands. thus: A final word. They have been regarded for generation by their families and their communities as common law owners. Many more have tilled and made productive idle lands of the State with their hands. 3136-A. 29200. Judicial confirmation of imperfect title has emerged as the most viable. and considering that the respondent did not present any other witness to support her claim. There is much to be said about the virtues of according them legitimate states. and a residential building. continuous. from the pieces of documentary and testimonial evidence.As to Lot No. Once that sense of security is deprived. Alternative means of acquisition of these public domain lands. It may be said then that it was only in 1981 when the respondent’s predecessors-in-interest exercised specific acts of dominion over Lot No. Finally. but also to the person s family. exclusive and notorious possession and occupation. or amending the Civil Code itself to ease the requisites for the conversion of public dominion property into patrimonial. eight (8) jackfruit trees. and is common among the so-called "Third World" countries. if not the most attractive means to regularize the informal settlement of alienable or disposable lands of the public domain. every untitled property that is occupied in the country will be affected by this ruling. the respondent has not completed the required 30 years of "open. such as through homestead or free patent. It could only be up to Congress to set forth a new phase of land reform to sensibly regularize and formalize the settlement of such lands which in legal theory are lands of the public domain before the problem becomes insoluble. it was only in Tax Declaration Nos. where the residential building was first indicated. has considerable limits. 3136-A. 29200. discomfiture over the implications of today’s ruling cannot be discounted. the deed of absolute sale showed that there were 14 coconut trees.58 And based on the records. This could be accomplished. Thus. the period of which consists barely of 14 years. Justice Tinga correctly pointed out the need to review our present law on the distribution of lands to those who have held them for a number of years but have failed to satisfy the requisites in acquiring title to such land. yet even that system. Tax Declaration No. Tinga in the case of Malabanan59. have proven unattractive due to limitations imposed on the grantee in the encumbrance or alienation of said properties. the Court has no other recourse but to declare that she has not presented the premium of evidence needed to award her title over the two parcels of land. Justice Tinga eloquently put the matter before us. Moreover. The social implications cannot be dismissed lightly." Clearly. and the Court would be abdicating its social responsibility to the Filipino people if we simply levied the law without comment. life and livelihood . is dated 1981. Yet such virtues are not for the Court to translate into positive law. There are millions upon millions of Filipinos who have individually or exclusively held residential lands on which they have lived and raised their families. 3136-A. 04210 and 13275 where it was declared that a residential building has been built in Lot No. This paradigm powerfully evokes the disconnect between a legal system and the reality on the ground. by liberalizing the standards for judicial confirmation of imperfect title. The law so far has been unable to bridge that gap. whether declared alienable or not. is a phenomenon tied to long-standing habit and cultural acquiescence. One’s sense of security over land rights infuses into every aspect of well-being not only of that individual. The Court is comfortable with the correctness of the legal doctrines established in this decision.

60 (Citation omitted and emphasis supplied) Indeed. 2007 of the Court of Appeals in CA-G. It is for our lawmakers to write the law amending the present ones and addressing the reality on the ground. SO ORDERED. WHEREFORE in consideration of the foregoing disquisitions. . the Court can only do as much to bring relief to those who. CV No. and which this Court will interpret and apply as justice requires. 70078 is ANNULLED and SET ASIDE. It is for the political branches to bring welcome closure to the long pestering problem. the petition is GRANTED and the Decision dated September 21. wish to acquire title to a land that they have bought.R.are put on stasis. like herein respondent.

2697-B of the Pateros Cadastre.5 which granted Cortez’ application for registration. respondent Emmanuel C.G. 2009 of the Court of Appeals (CA) in CA-G. which was declared for taxation purposes in the name of his mother. . The said parcel of land has an area of 110 square meters and more particularly described as Lot No. J. (5) extrajudicial settlement of estate dated March 21. EMMANUEL C. in fact. As there was no opposition. and ORDERS the registration of the applicant’s title thereto. Pateros. that the subject parcel of land is not part of the reservation of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) and is. DECISION REYES. The CA affirmed the Decision3 dated February 7. classified as alienable and disposable by the Bureau of Forest Development (BFD). (3) technical description of the property. conveying the subject property to Cortez. 2697 was inherited by his mother from her parents in 1946.R. 186639 February 5. Petitioner. 2014 REPUBLIC OF THE PHILIPPINES. Respondent. allocating the subject property to Felicisima Cotas – Cortez’ mother. CORTEZ. with the annotation that the property is classified as alienable and disposable. inter alia. (2) survey plan of the property.: Before this Court is a petition for review on certiorari1 under Rule 45 of the Rules of Court seeking to annul and set aside the Decision2 dated February 17. viz: WHEREFORE. who testified that he has known the family of Cortez for over sixty (60) years and that Cortez and his predecessors-in-interest have been in possession of the subject property since he came to know them. vs. He alleged that Lot No. 2006. in LRC Case No.R. CONFIRMS. the following documents: (1) tax declarations for various years from 1966 until 2005. the RTC rendered a Decision. 1998. 87505. Herrera Street. with a certification issued by a geodetic engineer. that. and (6) escritura de particion extrajudicial dated July 19. Cortez likewise adduced in evidence the testimony of Ernesto Santos. The Facts On February 28. on March 21. finding the application meritorious. Metro Manila. Cortez claimed that the subject parcel of land is a portion of Lot No. 2006 of the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Pasig City. 1946. He alleged that the subject property had been in the possession of his family since time immemorial. Cortez submitted. 2697. 1998. CV No. Cortez (Cortez) filed with the RTC an application4 for judicial confirmation of title over a parcel of land located at Barangay (Poblacion) Aguho. he and his siblings executed an Extra-Judicial Settlement of Estate over the properties of their deceased parents and one of the properties allocated to him was the subject property. (4) tax clearance certificate. On February 7. the Court DECLARES. No. 2003. Branch 68. the RTC issued an Order of General Default and Cortez was allowed to present his evidence ex-parte. after his parents died. P. In support of his application. N-11496.

and adverse possession. sufficed to convert it to private property. by way of the assailed Decision.6 In granting Cortez’ application for registration of title to the subject property. the Court finds that there is sufficient basis to grant the relief prayed for. and continuous possession of the subject property for more than thirty (30) years does not constitute well-neigh incontrovertible evidence required in land registration cases. the petitioner claims. Further. as evidenced by the declaration/notation from the BFD. no matter how long. adverse. those who are in possession of alienable and disposable land. the title of the applicant should be and must be AFFIRMED and CONFIRMED. cannot confer ownership or possessory rights. Such property now falls within the contemplation of "private lands" under Section 14(2) of PD 1529. continuous and exclusive possession of at least 30 years. The CA ruled that Cortez was able to prove that the subject property was indeed alienable and disposable. and whose possession has been characterized as open. over which title by prescription can be acquired. Land Management Bureau. Further. which should not have been given weight by the RTC. that it is a mere claim. Cortez.As soon as this Decision shall have become final and after payment of the required fees.7 The Republic of the Philippines (petitioner). may have the right to register their title to such land despite the fact that their possession of the land commenced only after 12 June 1945. That petitioner claimed that Cortez’ assertion that he and his predecessors-in- interest had been in open. On February 17. 15299.D. Thus: It has been settled that properties classified as alienable and disposable land may be converted into private property by reason of open. and exclusive possession of the subject property for more than 30 years. continuous and exclusive for 30 years or more. As such. under the second paragraph of Section 14 of PD 1529. no document was ever presented that would establish his predecessors-in-interest’s possession of the same during the period required by law. SO ORDERED. all within the time prescribed by law. Thus. 2009. 2006. let the corresponding Decrees be issued in the name of the applicant. The petitioner pointed out that. Let copies of this Decision be furnished the Office of the Solicitor General. under claim of title and in the concept of owners.8 dismissed the petitioner’s appeal and affirmed the RTC Decision dated February 7. appealed to the CA. uninterrupted. the petitioner alleged that there was no certification from any government agency that the subject property had already been declared alienable and disposable. the CA. continuous. represented by the Office of the Solicitor General. Cortez’ possession of the subject property. Emmanuel C. alleging that the RTC erred in granting the application for registration despite the failure of Cortez to comply with the requirements for original registration of title. Land Registration Authority. the RTC made the following ratiocinations: From the foregoing. the CA found that Cortez and his predecessors-in-interest had been in open. under Section 14(2) of Presidential Decree (P. which. although Cortez declared that he and his predecessors-in-interest were in possession of the subject parcel of land since time immemorial.) No. x x x xxxx . actual. and the Registry of Deeds of Rizal. It having been established by competent evidence that the possession of the land being applied for by the applicant and his predecessor-in-interest have been in open.

it could still be registered under Section 48(b) of Commonwealth Act No. In granting the application for registration.D. The following persons may file in the proper Court of First Instance an application for registration of title to land.D.D. the instant petition. The Court’s Ruling The petition is meritorious. there was already sufficient compliance with the requirement of possession. continuous. when the subject property was declared alienable and disposable and not way back in 1946. 1945. is to be reckoned from January 3. At the outset. the records. the Court deems it proper to discuss Cortez’ application for registration of title to the subject property vis-à-vis the provisions of Section 14(1) and (2) of P. 1529. Who may apply. No. proffered that should the subject property not be registrable under Section 14(2) of P. No. exclusive and notorious possession and occupation in the concept of an owner. following Section 14(2) [of PD 1529]. 141 (C. or the Public Land Act. in the application for registration he filed with the RTC. Applicants for original registration of title to land must establish compliance with the provisions of Section 14 of P. No. 1529. No. 1968. uninterrupted. 14.While it is significant to note that applicant-appellee’s possession of the subject property can be traced from his mother’s possession of the same. as amended by P. At any rate. 141). No. the year when he inherited the same from his mother. indeed. No. (2) Those who have acquired ownership of private lands by prescription under the provision of existing laws. at the time the application for registration was filed in 2003. actual. under claim of title and in the concept of owners. Nevertheless. 1529. show that his possession of the subject property. and adverse possession. continuous. 1529.A. His possession of the subject property has been characterized as open. or earlier. which granted the application for registration filed by Cortez. Cortez. Thus. the CA assumed that Cortez’ application for registration was based on Section 14(2) of P. 107312 in relation to Section 14(1) of P. xxxx . all within the time prescribed by law[. whether personally or through their duly authorized representatives: (1) Those who by themselves or through their predecessors-in interest have been in open.D. The Issue The sole issue to be resolved by the Court is whether the CA erred in affirming the RTC Decision dated February 7. 2006. the RTC merely stated that "the possession of the land being applied for by [Cortez] and his predecessor-in-interest have been in open. exclusive and notorious possession and occupation of alienable and disposable lands of the public domain under a bona fide claim of ownership since June 12. 1529.D.]"11 On the other hand. No.D. the Court notes that the RTC did not cite any specific provision of law under which authority Cortez’ application for registration of title to the subject property was granted. which pertinently provides that: Sec.10 (Citations omitted) Hence.

A.16 (Citations omitted and emphasis ours) Similarly. 1073.15 the Court clarified that. 1529]. this is hardly the kind of proof required by law. In the present case. No. Pateros Cadastral Mapping) prepared by Geodetic Engineer Oscar B. while the Advance Plan bearing the notation was certified by the Lands Management Services of the DENR. Cortez adduced in evidence a survey plan Csd-00-00063314 (conversion-subdivision plan of Lot 2697. In Republic of the Philippines v. "Under Section 14(1) [of P. The said survey plan contained the following annotation: This survey is inside L. Project No. that the applicant and his predecessors-in-interest have been in open. the applicant must at the very least submit a certification from the proper government agency stating that the parcel of land subject of the application for registration is indeed alienable and disposable. the applicant bears the burden of proving the status of the land. the only evidence to prove the character of the subject lands as required by law is the notation appearing in the Advance Plan stating in effect that the said properties are alienable and disposable. the Court finds that Cortez failed to comply with the legal requirements for the registration of the subject property under Section 14(1) and (2) of P. 1968. an applicant must establish the existence of a positive act of the government such as a presidential proclamation or an executive order. an administrative action. 3. He must also prove that the DENR Secretary had approved the land classification and released the land as alienable and . Tri-Plus Corporation. 1945. 141. or earlier. No.D. it does not constitute incontrovertible evidence to overcome the presumption that the subject property remains part of the inalienable public domain. second. Map No.C. However. continuous.D. 1529 refers to the judicial confirmation of imperfect or incomplete titles to public land acquired under Section 48(b) of C. in Republic v. that the subject land forms part of the disposable and alienable lands of the public domain. To prove that the land subject of an application for registration is alienable. Section 14(1) of P. 29. Respondents failed to submit a certification from the proper government agency to prove that the lands subject for registration are indeed alienable and disposable. exclusive. as amended by P.After a careful scrutiny of the records of this case. No.D. No. The applicant may also secure a certification from the Government that the lands applied for are alienable and disposable. investigation reports of Bureau of Lands investigators.D. In this connection. 2623. applicants for registration of title must sufficiently establish first. the certification refers only to the technical correctness of the survey plotted in the said plan and has nothing to do whatsoever with the nature and character of the property surveyed. To prove that the subject property forms part of the alienable and disposable lands of the public domain. viz: It must be stressed that incontrovertible evidence must be presented to establish that the land subject of the application is alienable or disposable. No. and third. that it is under a bona fide claim of ownership since June 12."13 The first requirement was not satisfied in this case. MCadm 594-D. Roche. and a legislative act or statute. However. and notorious possession and occupation of the same.17 the Court declared that: Respecting the third requirement. 1529. Fernandez and certified by the Lands Management Bureau of the DENR. classified as alienable & disposable by the Bureau of Forest Development on Jan. the Court has held that he must present a certificate of land classification status issued by the Community Environment and Natural Resources Office (CENRO) or the Provincial Environment and Natural Resources Office (PENRO) of the DENR. Cortez’ reliance on the foregoing annotation in the survey plan is amiss. In the case at bar.

it is a mere claim and not factual proof of possession. are considered private. only those properties."20 . despite his claim that he and his predecessors-in-interest have been in possession of the subject property since time immemorial. Further. and that it is within the approved area per verification through survey by the CENRO or PENRO. the Court finds that Cortez likewise failed to establish the same. continuous. it was only in 1966 that his predecessors-in-interest started to declare the same for purposes of taxation. She did not bother to establish the status of the land by any certification from the appropriate government agency. Cortez failed to present any evidence to show that he and his predecessors-in-interest indeed possessed the subject property prior to 1946. public service or intended for the development of national wealth. Cortez’ claim that the subject property forms part of the alienable and disposable lands of the public domain must fail. or earlier. only private properties may be acquired thru prescription and under Articles 420 and 421 of the Civil Code. Here. Thus. the earliest tax declaration presented by Cortez was only in 1966. exclusive. Cortez failed to present any evidence to prove that he and his predecessors-in-interest have 1âwphi1 been in open. the applicant must present a copy of the original classification approved by the DENR Secretary and certified as true copy by the legal custodian of the official records. Cortez failed to present a certification from the proper government agency as to the classification of the subject property. 1529] categorically provides. Cortez likewise failed to present any evidence showing that the DENR Secretary had indeed classified the subject property as alienable and disposable. "As Section 14(2) [of P. Having failed to present any incontrovertible evidence.D. Anent the second and third requirements. Section 14(2) of P. Other than his bare claim that his family possessed the subject property since time immemorial. 1529. Cortez was only able to present oral and documentary evidence of his and his mother’s ownership and possession of the subject property since 1946. That Cortez and his predecessors-in-interest have been in possession of the subject property for fifty-seven (57) years at the time he filed his application for registration in 2003 would likewise not entitle him to registration thereof under Section 14(2) of P. Roche did not present evidence that the land she applied for has been classified as alienable or disposable land of the public domain. the year in which his mother supposedly inherited the same. 1529.D. which are not for public use. No.disposable. and notorious possession and occupation of the subject property since June 12. "It is a rule that general statements that are mere conclusions of law and not factual proof of possession are unavailing and cannot suffice. She submitted only the survey map and technical description of the land which bears no information regarding the land’s classification. No.D. No. Cortez failed to explain why. 1945.18 (Citations omitted and emphasis ours) The annotation in the survey plan presented by Cortez is not the kind of evidence required by law as proof that the subject property forms part of the alienable and disposable land of the public domain. An applicant in a land registration case cannot just harp on mere conclusions of law to embellish the application but must impress thereto the facts and circumstances evidencing the alleged ownership and possession of the land. it cannot be said that she complied with all requisites for registration of title under Section 14(1) of P. 1529 sanctions the original registration of lands acquired by prescription under the provisions of existing laws."19 Further.D. These facts must be established by the applicant to prove that the land is alienable and disposable.

The ascertainment of good faith involves the application of Articles 526. alienable and disposable lands may be the object of the commerce of man. provisions that more or less speak for themselves. Article 422 of the Civil Code states that "[p]roperty of public dominion. There is nothing in the Civil Code that bars a person from acquiring patrimonial property of the State through ordinary acquisitive prescription. The Court further stressed that the period of acquisitive prescription would only begin to run from the time that the State officially declares that the public dominion property is no longer intended for public use. and 528. Republic.In Heirs of Mario Malabanan v. 1529. nor is there any apparent reason to impose such a rule. Nonetheless. requires possession in 1âwphi 1 good faith and with just title. without being for public use. is completed through possession of ten (10) years. there must be an express declaration by the State that the public dominion property is no longer intended for public service or the development of the national wealth or that the property has been converted into patrimonial. which states that "[a]ll things which are within the commerce of man are susceptible to prescription. 1529. At the same time. and thus incapable of acquisition by prescription. under Article 1134. Without such express declaration. that a mere declaration by government officials that a land of the public domain is already alienable and disposable would not suffice for purposes of registration under Section 14(2) of P. when no longer intended for public use or for public service.D.22 (Citation omitted and emphasis ours) The Court nevertheless emphasized that there must be an official declaration by the State that the public dominion property is no longer intended for public use. and are intended for some public service or for the development of the national wealth" are public dominion property. eligible for registration under Section 14(2) of P. No. from property of the public dominion into patrimonial property? After all. 527. there are indispensable requisites–good faith and just title.D. pursuant to Article 420(2). public service.21 the Court however clarified that lands of the public domain that are patrimonial in character are susceptible to acquisitive prescription and." It is this provision that controls how public dominion property may be converted into patrimonial property susceptible to acquisition by prescription." There are two modes of prescription through which immovables may be acquired under the Civil Code. viz: The Civil Code makes it clear that patrimonial property of the State may be acquired by private persons through prescription. or for the development of national wealth before it can be acquired by prescription. it remains property of the public dominion if when it is "intended for some public service or for the development of the national wealth. For as long as the property belongs to the State. Article 1113 provides that all things within the commerce of man are susceptible to prescription. No. the property. and. After all. under Article 1117. even if classified as alienable or disposable. as well as Article 1127 of the Civil Code." Accordingly. by connotative definition. which." and that property of the State or any of its subdivisions not patrimonial in character shall not be the object of prescription. under the Civil Code. remains property of the public dominion. The first is ordinary acquisitive prescription. Would such lands so declared alienable and disposable be converted. or for the development of national wealth. Thus: Let us now explore the effects under the Civil Code of a declaration by the President or any duly authorized government officer of alienability and disposability of lands of the public domain. although already classified as alienable or disposable. Article 420 (2) makes clear that those property "which belong to the State. This is brought about by Article 1113. shall form part of the patrimonial property of the State. It is only when such alienable and disposable lands are expressly declared by the State to be no longer intended for public service or . public service. accordingly. and the same provision further provides that patrimonial property of the State may be acquired by prescription.

although lands of the public domain that are considered patrimonial may be acquired by prescription under Section 14(2) of P. 1529 only begins from the moment the State expressly declares that the public dominion property is no longer intended for public service or the development of the national wealth or that the property has been converted into patrimonial. the land remains to be property of public dominion. viz: On this basis. "[l]t is not the notorious. absent an express declaration by the State. public service or the development of the national wealth. the property sought to be registered must not only be classified as alienable and disposable. . "27 WHEREFORE. much less that he has acquired title to the subject property by virtue thereof. Such declaration shall be in the form of a law duly enacted by Congress or a Presidential Proclamation in cases where the President is duly authorized by law. It is of no moment that Cortez and his predecessors-in-interest have been in possession of the subject property for 57 years at the time he applied for the registration of title thereto. is hereby REVERSED and SET ASIDE. 2009 of the Court of Appeals in CA-G. 1529.25 (Citation omitted and emphasis ours) Accordingly. The indispensability of an official declaration that the property is now held by the State in its private capacity or placed within the commerce of man for prescription to have any effect against the State cannot be overemphasized. However. in consideration of the foregoing disquisitions.D. The Decision dated February 17. 87505. which affirmed the Decision dated February 7. No. x x x.for the development of the national wealth that the period of acquisitive prescription can begin to run. before acquisitive prescription could commence. Cortez in LRC Case No. No.D. exclusive and uninterrupted possession and occupation of an alienable and disposable public land for the mandated periods that converts it to patrimonial.23 (Emphasis supplied) In Republic v. Rizalvo.26 The Court finds no evidence of any official declaration from the state attesting to the patrimonial character of the subject property. 2006 of the Regional Trial Court of Pasig City. Cortez failed to prove that acquisitive prescription has begun to run against the State. it must also be declared by the State that it is no longer intended for public use. N-11496 is DENIED for lack of merit. CV No. Branch 68. the instant petition is GRANTED.24 the Court deemed it appropriate to reiterate the ruling in Malabanan. N-11496.R. respondent would have been eligible for application for registration because his claim of ownership and possession over the subject property even exceeds thirty (30) years. it is jurisprudentially clear that the thirty (30)-year period of prescription for purposes of acquiring ownership and registration of public land under Section 14 (2) of P. Thus. The Application for Registration of Emmanuel C. in LRC Case No. SO ORDERED.

particularly.2whereby the Court of Appeals (CA) granted the petitioner's application for registration of land. Manila. the Community Environment and Natural Resources Office (CENRO) of Los Baños.: An application for original registration of land of the public domain under Section 14(2) of Presidential Decree (PD) No. 2004. legal or equitable. namely: (1) tracing cloth plan as approved by the Land Management Division of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR). Province of Laguna. Antecedents On May 28. Once again. but also that the land has been declared patrimonial property of the State at the onset of the 30-year or 10-year period of possession and occupation required under the law on acquisitive prescription. Respondent. and. Laguna.5 In his memorandum to the DENR. J. that there was no mortgage or encumbrance of any kind affecting the land. 1945. continuous. and the Provincial Prosecutor of Laguna. and that the land was a portion of the public domain. CENRO Officer Arnulfo Hernandez stated . (4) copies of Tax Declaration No. denominated as Lot 8017-A of Subdivision Plan CSD-04-006985-D. vs. to submit a status report on the land. Region IV (Lands Forestry Sector). Petitioner. Municipality of Cabuyao.000. that the muniments of title and tax declaration presented did not constitute competent and sufficient evidence of a bona fide acquisition of the land. therefore.00. for ₱300. arguing that the applicant and its predecessors-in-interest had not been in open. that the land was declared for taxation purposes in the name of its predecessor-in-interest under Tax Declaration No. continuous and exclusive possession and occupation of the land in the concept of an owner. and that the applicant and its predecessors-in-interest had been in open. Republic1 – in reviewing the decision promulgated on June 10. 1529 must show not only that the land has previously been declared alienable and disposable.520 square meter parcel of land situated in Barrio Banlic. DECISION BERSAMIN. and (5) copies of the Deed of Sale dated March 9. exclusive and notorious possession and occupation of the land since June 12. was not subject to private appropriation. 2014 REPUBLIC OF THE PHILIPPINES. 1992 from Jane de Castro Abalos. 164408 March 24. No. and whether it was within a forest zone.3 alleging that it had purchased the land on March 9. Laguna an application for original registration covering a 1. opposed the application. (3) copies of the technical description. Cabuyao Cadastre. represented by the Director of Lands. 22711.4 The RTC directed the Land Management Bureau. the Court applies this rule-as clarified in Heirs of Mario Malabanan v. married to Jose Abalos.R. nor was there any other person or entity having any interest thereon. a copy of which was furnished the trial court. (2) blue print copies of the tracing cloth plan. ZURBARAN REALTY AND DEVELOPMENT CORPORATION. whether it was subject of a previously approved isolated survey. 455-D. The Republic. Manila. Attached to the application were several documents. 1992. and the Land Management Sector and Forest Management Bureau. respondent Zurbaran Realty and Development Corporation filed in the Regional Trial Court (RTC) in San Pedro. adverse to that of the applicant. 2711.G. 1993. on whether the land was covered by a land patent. Cad.

under Forestry Administrative Order No.that the land had been "verified to be within the Alienable and Disposable land under Land Classification Project No. Toribio Espela.9 Engr. The report further stated that a verification at the Office of the Municipal Assessor showed that: (1) the land was declared for the first time in 1960 under Tax Declaration No. and that "no forestry interest is adversely affected.10 The respondent’s final witness was Armando Espela who declared that he was a retired land overseer residing in Barangay Banlic from birth. (3) the area was entirely within the alienable and disposable area. Laguna. 239 dated July 9. Cabuyao. 8017 to Abalos and the remaining portion to him. who testified that the respondent had purchased the land from Jane de Castro Abalos on March 9. Laguna. certified and declared as such pursuant to the provisions of Presidential Decree No. 23-A of Cabuyao. three (3) buildings for employees’ residence. owned by Corazon Tapalla who had acquired it from the Hemedez family. (4) it had never been forfeited in favor of the government for non- payment of taxes. 2253 issued in the name of the respondent. 1981 per BFD Map LC-3004. that his father." Attached to the memorandum was the inspection report declaring that "the area is surrounded with concrete fence. Calamba. 1992 for ₱300. it was also found that (1) the land was residential. as amended. creek.8 The respondent presented Gloria P. open and public. (3) the real property taxes had been paid since 1968. (2) it consisted of 22."6 CENRO Land Management Inspector/Investigator Rodolfo S. right-of-way or park site or any area devoted to general use or devoted to public service. open and peaceful occupation" of the land. riverbank/bed protection. that the land had been declared for taxation purposes in the name of Abalos under Tax Declaration No. 8017 of Subdivision Plan Cad-455-D of the Cabuyao Cadastre. that Tapalla had sold a portion of Lot No.073 square meters. and that there was no adverse claimant to the land. 1975. that he was familiar with the land which was part of a bigger parcel of land owned by the Hemedez family. 22711. Noel. and one Francisco Capacio worked on the land since 1960. Edilberto Tamis attested that he was familiar with the land because it was a portion of Lot No. A- 1627 dated September 28.7 A certification was issued by the Records Management Division of the Land Management Bureau stating that it had no record of any kind of public land applications/land patents covering the parcel of land subject of the application. that the respondent had paid the real property taxes thereon since its acquisition. and (6) there was no public land application filed for it by the applicant or any other persons as per verification from the records unit of his office.000. Laguna. that after the sale. and (3) the land did not encroach upon an established watershed. who had meanwhile taken possession of the land by building a fence around it and introducing improvements thereon. 6712 in the name of Enrique Hemedez with an area of 23. and had not been confiscated in connection with any civil or criminal cases. After inspection. and (4) it had not been earmarked for public or quasi-public purposes per information from the District Engineer. (5) it was not within a previously patented property as certified to by the Register of Deeds. (2) it was now covered by Tax Declaration No. and that the land was free from any lien or encumbrance. that the respondent’s possession had been continuous. that the applicant and its predecessors-in-interest had been in "continuous. with his assistance.00. and that he had witnessed the sale of the land to the respondent. 705. its Vice President and Treasurer. 1988 pursuant to PD No. a new Tax Declaration had been issued in the name of the respondent. Gonzales reported that: (1) the land was covered by a survey plan approved by the Regional Land Director/Land Registration Authority on May 25.773 square meters and was located in Barangay Banlic." that the land was acquired through sale before the filing of the application. that the entire landholding . (2) the respondent was in the actual occupation and possession of the land.

1997. Tamis. peaceful. the Republic appeals the adverse judgment of the CA upon the following ground: THE COURT OF APPEALS GRAVELY ERRED ON A QUESTION OF LAW WHEN IT AFFIRMED THE TRIAL COURT’S GRANT OF THE APPLICATION FOR ORIGINAL REGISTRATION DESPITE THE ABSENCE OF EVIDENCE THAT RESPONDENT AND ITS PREDECESSORS-IN-INTEREST HAVE COMPLIED WITH THE PERIOD OF POSSESSION AND OCCUPATION REQUIRED BY LAW.12 Judgment of the CA The Republic appealed. that since then. SO ORDERED. but was later on subdivided. sold.. viz: WHEREFORE. exclusive. continuous. arguing that the issue of whether the applicant and its predecessors-in- interest had possessed the land within the required length of time could not be determined because there was no evidence as to when the land had been declared alienable and disposable. the land was sold to Corazon Tapalla who hired him as the overseer.520 square meters to be entered under the name of the applicant Zurbaran Realty and Development Corporation. public and under claim of ownership.14 . a corporation organized and existing under the laws of the Philippines with office address at 33 M. public. Quezon City by the Land Registration Authority. that. exclusive and adverse possession and occupation of the land under a bona fide claim of ownership even prior to 1960 and. and resold until it ceased to be agricultural land. Laguna with an area of 1. the CA promulgated its judgment affirming the RTC. accordingly. peaceful. public. in 1982.had originally been sugarland. granted the application for registration. Cabuyao. taking into consideration the evidence submitted by the applicant. he fenced and cleared the area. and he then ceased to be the overseer. holding that the respondent and its predecessors- in-interest had been in open. that in 1987. Cabuyao Cadastre situated at Barangay Banlic. that the possession by the Hemedez family and its successors- in-interest was open.11 Decision of the RTC On May 12. San Francisco del Monte. the RTC rendered its decision. and that he did not know any person who claimed ownership of the land other than those he and his father served as overseers. that he continued to oversee the land for the new owners. being a portion of Lot 8017 of subdivision plan Cad-455-D. that he was allowed to use the grassy portion for grazing purposes. that as the overseer. let an order for the issuance of a decree of title be issued in favor of said applicant. and concluded that the reports made by the concerned government agencies and the testimonies of those familiar with the land in question had buttressed the court a quo’s conclusion that the respondent and its predecessors-in-interest had been in open. 2004. the respondent took possession of the land. Tapalla sold part of the land to Abalos and the remaining portion to Engr. continuous. this Court hereby orders the confirmation and registration of title of the land described as Lot 8017-A of subdivision plan Csd-04-006985-D. After the decision shall become final. and adverse possession and occupation of the land under a bona fide claim of ownership even prior to 1960. Viola St. that Abalos then sold her portion to the respondent in 1992.13 Issue Hence. On June 10. continuous.

that it was only able to ascertain the errors committed by the trial court after the latter rendered its decision. The Republic maintains that the Court had the authority to review and reverse the factual findings of the lower courts when the conclusion reached was not supported by the evidence on record. peaceful. Who may apply. whether personally or through their duly authorized representatives: (1) Those who by themselves or through their predecessors-in-interest have been in open.D. the respondent insists that it had been in open. it was not susceptible to private ownership. thus: Section 14. and adverse possession of the property for the prescribed period of 30 years as evidenced by the fact that the property had been declared for taxation purposes in 1960 in the name of its predecessors-in-interest. exclusive and notorious possession and occupation of the land under a bona fide claim of ownership. At any rate. (b) the applicant and its predecessors in interest have been in open. 1529 enumerates those who may file an application for registration of land based on possession and occupation of a land of the public domain. continuous. Section 14 of P. No. namely: (a) the land is alienable and disposable property of the public domain.D. and that the burden of proof in land registration cases rested on the applicant who must prove its ownership of the property being registered. continuous. 1529 must establish the following requisites. the Republic asserts that it duly opposed the respondent’s application for registration. for the purpose of determining whether it acquired the property by prescription. exclusive and notorious possession and occupation of alienable and disposable lands of the public domain under a bona fide claim of ownership since June 12. and (c) the applicant . especially when affirmed by the CA. and (b) factual findings of the trial court. should be reckoned from the time when the land was declared alienable and disposable. continuous.18 Ruling The petition for review is meritorious.15 that such detail was crucial because the possession of the respondent and its predecessors-in-interest. (2) Those who have acquired ownership of private lands by prescription under the provision of existing laws. and that prior to the declaration of the land of the public domain as alienable and disposable. or earlier. and that such possession had the effect of converting the land into private property and vesting ownership upon the respondent. as in this case. 1945. public.16 The respondent counters that whether it established when the property was declared alienable and disposable and whether it complied with the 30-year required period of possession should not be entertained anymore by the Court because: (a) these issues had not been raised in the trial court and were being raised for the first time on appeal.The Republic contends that the respondent did not establish the time when the land covered by the application for registration became alienable and disposable. and any possession or occupation at such time could not be counted as part of the period of possession required under the law on prescription. were binding and conclusive on this Court. xxxx An application for registration under Section14(1) of P. The following persons may file in the proper Court of First Instance an application for registration of title to land. No.17 In reply.

No.and its predecessors-in-interest have possessed and occupied the land since June 12. and patrimonial property of the public domain.D. the determination of the issue would not be crucial for. If the application was filed under Section 14(2) of P. 1945.D. under the Civil Code. No. An application for registration based on Section 14(2) of P. or earlier. to wit: (a) the land is an alienable and disposable. No.D. 1529. only the patrimonial property of the State may be acquired by prescription pursuant to the Civil Code. 1529 is based on possession and occupation of the alienable and disposable land of the public domain since June 12. the determination of the particular date when the property was declared alienable and disposable would be unnecessary. regardless of good faith or just title. no length of possession would vest any right in the possessor if the property has remained land of the public dominion.D. If the application was filed under Section 14(1) of P. Malabanan expounds thereon. Malabanan stresses that even if the land is later converted to patrimonial property of the State. According to Malabanan: Section 14(1) mandates registration on the basis of possession. 1529. without regard to whether the land was susceptible to private ownership at that time. it is not necessary that the land must have been declared alienable and disposable as of June 12." The foregoing interpretation highlights the distinction between a registration proceeding filed under Section 14(1) of P. No. 1529 and one filed under Section 14(2) of P.D.D. 1529 must. Registration under Section 14(1) is extended under the aegis of the Property Registration Decree and the Public Land Act while registration under Section 14(2) is made available both by the Property Registration Decree and the Civil Code.D. No. 1529 requires that the land had already been converted to patrimonial property of the State at the onset of the period of possession required by the law on prescription. possession of it prior to such conversion will not be counted to meet the requisites of acquisitive prescription. Otherwise. as earlier clarified. alienable and disposable lands may be the object of the commerce of man.22 Thus. therefore. The Court has clarified in Malabanan19 that under Section14(1). thus …Would such lands so declared alienable and disposable be converted. while Section 14(2) entitles registration on the basis of prescription. the land being possessed and occupied must already be classified or declared as patrimonial property of the State. registration under Section 14(1) of P. therefore.20 In other words. 1529. The Court has explained that a contrary interpretation would absurdly limit the application of the provision "to the point of virtual inutility.D. 1945 or earlier. 1529 is based on acquisitive prescription and must comply with the law on prescription as provided by the Civil Code. No. (b) the applicant and its predecessors-in-interest have been in possession of the land for at least 10 years. 1945. and (c) the land had already been converted to or declared as patrimonial property of the State at the beginning of the said 10-year or 30-year period of possession. by connotative definition. No. we must ascertain under what provision its application for registration was filed. In that regard. it was not the declaration of the land as alienable and disposable that would make it susceptible to private ownership by acquisitive prescription. The applicant needs only to show that the land had already been declared alienable and disposable at any time prior to the filing of the application for registration. or earlier. an application under Section 14(2) of P. registration under Section 14(2) of P.21 For acquisitive prescription to set in. No. To properly appreciate the respondent’s case. or for at least 30 years. On the other hand. inasmuch as proof showing that the land had already been classified as such at the time the application was filed would be enough. because the law simply requires the property sought to be registered to be alienable and disposable at the time the application for registration of title is filed. Article 1113 provides that all things within the . from property of the public dominion into patrimonial property? After all. establish the following requisites. in good faith and with just title.

" It is this provision that controls how public dominion property may be converted into patrimonial property susceptible to acquisition by prescription. The Court is left with no alternative but to deny the respondent's application for registration. pursuant to Article 420(2). Without such express declaration. as borne out by the Republic's allegation in its opposition to the application to the effect "that the land is a portion of the public domain not subject to prescription. not Section 14(1) of P. No. and thus incapable of acquisition by prescription. there must be an express declaration by the State that the public dominion property is no longer intended for public service or the development of the national wealth or that the property has been converted into patrimonial. the issue was not raised in and resolved and by the trial court.D. but did not state when possession and occupation commenced and the duration of such possession. that is. Such declaration shall be in the form of a law duly enacted by Congress or a Presidential Proclamation in cases where the President is duly authorized by law. matters to support or oppose the cause of action." Accordingly. the crucial query is whether the land subject of the application had already been converted to patrimonial property of the State. Article 420 (2) makes clear that those property "which belong to the State. No. continuous and exclusive possession and occupation of the property in the concept of an owner. there is no evidence showing that the land in question was within an area expressly declared by law either to be the patrimonial property of the State. It is only when such alienable and disposable lands are expressly declared by the State to be no longer intended for public service or for the development of the national wealth that the period of acquisitive prescription can begin to run. After all. 1945. shall form part of the patrimonial property of the State.D." In any case. the property. although already classified as alienable or disposable. or to be no longer intended for public service or the development of the national wealth. Article 422 of the Civil Code states that "[p]roperty of public dominion. not concomitant. No. At any rate. or earlier. has the land been declared by law as no longer intended for public service or the development of the national wealth? The respondent may perhaps object to a determination of this issue by the Court for the same reason that it objects to the determination of whether it established when the land was declared alienable and disposable.commerce of man are susceptible to prescription. In short. But the objection would be futile because the issue was actually raised in the trial court. 1529.23 The respondent’s application does not enlighten as to whether it was filed under Section 14(1) or Section 14(2) of P. even if classified as alienable or disposable. The application alleged that the respondent and its predecessors-in- interest had been in open. 1âwphi 1 With the application of the respondent having been filed under Section 14(2) of P. when no longer intended for public use or for public service. and the same provision further provides that patrimonial property of the State may be acquired by prescription. nor did it present any evidence to establish such fact. 1529. and are intended for some public service or for the development of the national wealth" are public dominion property. For as long as the property belongs to the State. .D. the interest of justice dictates the consideration and resolution of an issue that is relevant to another that was specifically raised. remains property of the public dominion. The respondent did not make any allegation in its application that it had been in possession of the property since June 12. the evidence presented by the respondent and its averments in the other pleadings reveal that the application for registration was filed based on Section 14(2). Nonetheless. without being for public use. The rule that only theories raised in the initial proceedings may be taken up by a party on appeal refers only to independent.24 Here. it remains property of the public dominion if when it is "intended for some public service or for the development of the national wealth. 1529.

and DISMISSES the respondent's application for original registration of Lot 8017-A of Subdivision Plan CSD-04-006985-D. No pronouncement on costs of suit. .WHEREFORE. 455-D. SO ORDERED. the Court GRANTS the petition for review on certiorari. Cad. REVERSES and SETS ASIDE the decision promulgated on June 10. 2004. of the Cabuyao Cadastre.

FLORENCIA I. TCT No. this case is hereby DISMISSED. 2014 VILMA QUINTOS. 2004 to transfer the property in favor of the ten (10) siblings. 390484 was . the facts of the case are as follows: Petitioners Vilma Quintos. and respondents Pelagia Nicolas. DECISION VELASCO.R. However. IBARRA. PEDRO L. and NARCISO IBARRA. SO ORDERED. Santiago Ibarra. and the late Augusto Ibarra are siblings. GILBERTO L. represented by her Attorney-in-Fact FIDEL I. a 281 sqm. respectively. the ruling of the trial court became final. DANCEL. Bienvenido and Escolastica Ibarra. 210252 June 16. The case was docketed as Civil Case No. the trial court dismissed the case disposing as follows: For failure of the parties. Camiling. in an Order4 dated March 22. Tarlac that petitioners and respondents are co-owners of the subject property. Poblacion C. By 1999.R. and Catalino Ibarra. DANCEL. leaving to their ten (10) children ownership over the subject property. Camiling. and CATALINO L. David Ibarra. 2004. SANTIAGO L. PELAGIA I. Florencia Dancel.. sometime in 2002. Branch 68 in Camiling. IBARRA. 98919 dated July 8. Their parents. IBARRA. TCT No. both Bienvenido and Escolastica had already passed away. Noli Ibarra. NOLI L. respondent siblings brought an action for partition against petitioners. vs. Gilberto Ibarra. The challenged rulings affirmed the May 7. IBARRA. to appear despite due notice. 2008. Petitioners.. IBARRA. 2013. were the owners of the subject property. 318717 was canceled and in lieu thereof. Having failed to secure a favorable decision for partition. Subsequently. 02-52 and was raffled to the RTC. NICOLAS.. 2013 and November 22. DAVID L. The Facts As culled from the records. Tarlac.Respondents. which should be partitioned as per the subdivision plan submitted by respondent spouses Recto and Rosemarie Candelario. IBARRA. 2012 Decision3 of the Regional Trial Court (RTC).: The Case Before the Court is a Petition for Review on Certiorari filed under Rule 45 challenging the Decision1 and Resolution2of the Court of Appeals (CA) in CA-G. JR. as evidenced by a Certificate of Finality5it eventually issued on August 22. Tarlac. respondent siblings instead resorted to executing a Deed of Adjudication6 on September 21.. 318717. represented by her Attorney-in-Fact FLOVY I. JR. and the spouses RECTO CANDELARIO and ROSEMARIE CANDELARIO. IBARRA. covered by Transfer Certificate Title (TCT) No. J. Pedro Ibarra. No. parcel of land situated along Quezon Ave. as well as their counsels. As a result. IBARRA.G. HEIRS OF AUGUSTO L. As neither set of parties appealed. Branch 68. CV No. QUINTOS. namely CONCHITA R. APOLONIO IBARRA.

respondent siblings sold their 7/10 undivided share over the property in favor of their co-respondents. entitled to equitable title thereto. covering the 7/10portion. Docketed as Civil Case No. 02-52. premises considered. the court hereby orders the partition of the subject lots between the herein plaintiffs and the defendants-spouses Candelarios. however. continuous. The dispositive portion of the Decision reads: WHEREFORE. the couple distributed their real and personal properties in favor of their ten (10) children.9 Despite the admissions of respondents. the above-entitled case is hereby Dismissed. Lastly. through its May 27. On June 1. 09-15 of the RTC of Camiling. and that the Agreement of Subdivision that led to the issuance of TCT No. thus. 434304 in favor of respondent spouses Candelario was falsified. admitted having filed an action for partition. they claimed that Bienvenido and Escolastica Ibarra mortgaged the property but because of financial constraints. the Candelarios accepted from their co-respondents their share in the subject property as payment. They likewise averred that they have been in adverse. dismissed petitioners’ complaint. that petitioners did not participate in the Deed of Adjudication that served as the basis for the issuance of TCT No. respondent siblings having . They point out that this is an admission on the part of petitioners that the property is not entirely theirs. Also. 2007 executed in favor of the spouses Candelario and an Agreement of Subdivision8 purportedly executed by them and petitioners. 2012 Decision. 390484. petitioners filed a complaint for Quieting of Title and Damages against respondents wherein they alleged that during their parents’ lifetime. 390484 was partially canceled and TCT No. and uninterrupted possession of the property for over four (4) decades and are. petitioners appealed the trial court’s Decision to the CA. the RTC. By virtue of a Deed of Absolute Sale7 dated April 17. or defendants a quo. the subsequent transfer of their interest in favor of respondent spouses Candelario was then upheld by the trial court. Tarlac. pleading the same allegations they averred in their underlying complaint for quieting of title. the spouses Recto and Rosemarie Candelario. Aggrieved. SO ORDERED.issued in its place by the Registry of Deeds of Tarlac in the names of the ten (10) heirs of the Ibarra spouses. However. 2004 and the Agreement of Subdivision. Upon distribution. The court did not find merit in petitioners’ asseverations that they have acquired title over the property through acquisitive prescription and noted that there was no document evidencing that their parents bequeathed to them the subject property. Not having been repaid by Bienvenido and Escolastica. respondent spouses Candelario had to redeem the property in their behalf. Respondents countered that petitioners’ cause of action was already barred by estoppel when sometime in 2006. TCT No. the same trial court that dismissed Civil Case No. 2009. 434304 was issued in the name of the Candelarios. Likewise. one of petitioners offered to buy the 7/10 undivided share of the respondent siblings. They also deny any participation in the execution of the aforementioned Deed of Adjudication dated September 21. respondents sought. defendants-spouses Rosemarie Candelario and Recto Candelario are hereby declared as the absolute owners of the 7/10 portion of the subject lot. open. respondents. petitioners alleged that they received the subject property and the house constructed thereon as their share. by way of counterclaim. In addition. the quieting of title case was eventually raffled to Branch 68 of the court. Finding that respondent siblings were entitled to their respective shares in the property as descendants of Bienvenido and Escolastica Ibarra and as co- heirs of petitioners. Subsequently. they added that the partition should no longer be allowed since it is already barred by res judicata. During pre-trial. the partition of the property.

Hence. (with 3/10 undivided interest) and defendants-appellees Spouses Candelarios (with 7/10 undivided interest) and considering that plaintiffs-appellants had already constructed a 3-storey building at the back portion of the property. Tarlac. 2013. premises considered. Issues In the present petition. 09-15. in Civil Case No. It also did not consider petitioners’ possession of the property as one that is in the concept of an owner. 30-70 in favor of the respondent spouses. SO ORDERED. the instant petition. 378) undertaken by defendants-appellants [sic] spouses. II. WOULD JUSTIFY THE DISMISSAL OF THE COUNTERCLAIM. petitioners’ Motion for Reconsideration was denied. in accordance with the subdivision plan (records. BASED ON THE DEED OF ABSOLUTE SALE EXECUTED IN 2007. the following errors were raised: I. Similar to the trial court. Ultimately. IV. is in order. the appellate court upheld the finding that petitioners and respondent spouses Candelario co-own the property. then partition. THE COURT OF APPEALS MANIFESTLY OVERLOOKED RELEVANT AND UNDISPUTED FACTS WHICH. THE COURT OF APPEALS ERRED WHEN IT ORDERED PARTITION IN ACCORDANCE WITH THE SUBDIVISION PLAN MENTIONED IN ITS DECISION. AND WHICH.10 On November 22. the CA issued the assailed Decision denying the appeal. The fallo reads: WHEREFORE. 2012 of the Regional Trial Court of Camiling.11 . THE COURT OF APPEALS ERRED WHEN IT AFFIRMED THE ORDER OF PARTITION DESPITE THE FACT THAT THE COUNTERCLAIM FOR PARTITION. WOULD JUSTIFY PETITIONERS’ CLAIM OF EQUITABLE TITLE. the court a quo found no evidence on record to support petitioners’ claim that the subject property was specifically bequeathed by Bienvenido and Escolastica Ibarra in their favor as their share in their parents’ estate. IF PROPERLY CONSIDERED. On July 8. is hereby AFFIRMED. the Decision dated May 7. 2013. IS BARRED BY LACHES. III. THE COURT OF APPEALS RENDERED A SUBSTANTIALLY FLAWED JUDGMENT WHEN IT NEGLECTED TO RULE ON PETITIONERS’ CONTENTION THAT THE COUNTERCLAIM FOR PARTITION IS ALSO BARRED BY PRIOR JUDGMENT. Branch 68. IN CONTRAVENTION OF THE PROCEDURE ESTABLISHED IN RULE 69 OF THE RULES OF CIVIL PROCEDURE. As regards the issue of partition. DESPITE ITS HAVING BEEN SPECIFICALLY ASSIGNED AS ERROR AND PROPERLY ARGUED IN THEIR BRIEF. the CA added: x x x Since it was conceded that the subject lot is now co-owned by the plaintiffs-appellants. p.already filed a case for partition that was dismissed with finality. IF PROPERLY CONSIDERED. as admitted by respondents themselves during pre-trial.

Section 1. and (2) the deed. Whether or not the respondents’ counterclaim for partition is already barred by laches or res judicata. in this case failed to discharge the said burden imposed upon them in proving legal or equitable title over the parcel of land in issue. entered into a Contract of Lease with the Avico Lending Investor Co. the CA correctly observed that petitioners’ cause of action must necessarily fail mainly in view of the absence of the first requisite. over the subject lot without any objection from the petitioners. therefore. Thus. failed to substantiate their claim. continuous.13 In the case at bar. only questions of law may be raised. 1998. namely: (1) the plaintiff or complainant has a legal or equitable title to or interest in the real property subject of the action.14 Although there are exceptions15 to this general rule as eloquently enunciated in jurisprudence.18 Regrettably. petitioners. . Whether or not the petitioners were able to prove ownership over the property.12 For an action to quiet title to prosper. Rule 45 of the Rules of Court explicitly states that the petition for review on certiorari "shall raise only questions of law. The burden of proof is on the plaintiff to establish his or her case by preponderance of evidence. The Court’s Ruling The petition is meritorious in part. Petitioners were not able to prove equitable title or ownership over the property Quieting of title is a common law remedy for the removal of any cloud. or proceeding claimed to be casting cloud on the title must be shown to be in fact invalid or inoperative despite its prima facie appearance of validity or efficacy. At the outset. Escolastica Ibarra executed a Deed of Sale covering half of the subject property in favor of all her 10 children. encumbrance. and uninterrupted possession of the subject property is belied by the fact that respondent siblings. none of the circumstances calling for their application obtains in the case at bar. Their alleged open.17 The cardinal rule is that bare allegation of title does not suffice." In appeals by certiorari. two indispensable requisites must concur. and 3. which must be distinctly set forth. there is no reason to disturb the finding of the RTC that all 10 siblings inherited the subject property from Bienvenido and Escolastica Ibarra. Whether or not the CA was correct in approving the subdivision agreement as basis for the partition of the property. as such plaintiff. We are constrained to respect and uphold the findings of fact arrived at by both the RTC and the CA. In any event. and after the respondent siblings sold their aliquot share to the spouses Candelario. exclusive. 2. As such. doubt. petitioners and respondent spouses became co-owners of the same.16 Petitioners’ inability to offer evidence tending to prove that Bienvenido and Escolastica Ibarra transferred the ownership over the property in favor of petitioners is likewise fatal to the latter’s claim. a perusal of the records would readily show that petitioners. claim.To simplify. the pertinent issues in this case are as follows: 1. on May 28. indeed. or uncertainty affecting title to real property. because this Court is not a trier of facts and does not normally undertake the re-examination of the evidence presented by the contending parties during the trial. as aptly observed by the courts below. On the contrary. it must be emphasized that the determination of whether or not petitioners sufficiently proved their claim of ownership or equitable title is substantially a factual issue that is generally improper for Us to delve into. not in favor of petitioners alone. in 2005.

which the RTC dismissed through an Order dated March 22. 2004 for the failure of the parties to attend the scheduled hearings. And lastly. petitioners cite Rule 17.23 There is res judicata when the following requisites are present: (1) the formal judgment or order must be final. — If. of subject matter and of cause of action. identity of parties. Respondents likewise admitted that since they no longer appealed the dismissal. 02-52 operated as a dismissal on the merits that would complete the requirements of res judicata. it was rendered after a consideration of the evidence or stipulations submitted by the parties at the trial of the case.19 It precludes parties from relitigating issues actually litigated and determined by a prior and final judgment. public policy and necessity. to wit: Section 3.22 The rationale for this principle is that a party should not be vexed twice concerning the same cause. In their answer to the counterclaim.The counterclaim for partition is not barred by prior judgment This brings us to the issue of partition as raised by respondents in their counterclaim. but also between those in privity with them. or to comply with these Rules or any order of the court. the ruling attained finality. res judicata is a fundamental concept in the organization of every jural society.24 In the case at bar. or to prosecute his action for an unreasonable length of time. Dismissal due to fault of plaintiff. and is put upon two grounds embodied in various maxims of the common law. Moreover. the other. it ensures the stability of judgment and guards against inconsistent decisions on the same set of facts. respondents raise the same action for partition. 3 of the Rules of Court. and (4) there must be.20 As held in Yusingco v. 02-52 and in the present controversy are one and the same. what is left to be determined now is whether or not the dismissal of Civil case No. there is identity of parties not only when the parties in the case are the same. not only as to every matter which was offered and received to sustain or defeat the claim or demand. (2) it must be a judgment or order on the merits. for not only does it ward off endless litigation. and that in both cases. the hardship on the individual that he should be vexed twice for the same cause — nemo debet bis vexari et eadem causa. The doctrine of res judicata provides that the judgment in a first case is final as to the claim or demand in controversy. between the first and second actions. petitioners countered that the action for partition has already been barred by res judicata. between the parties and those privy with them. Ong Hing Lian:21 It is a rule pervading every well-regulated system of jurisprudence. but as to any other admissible matter which must have been offered for that purpose and all matters that could have been adjudged in that case. which makes it to the interest of the state that there should be an end to litigation — republicae ut sit finis litium. such as between their successors-in-interest. the one. In advancing their claim. 02-52. A contrary doctrine would subject the public peace and quiet to the will and neglect of individuals and prefer the gratitude identification of a litigious disposition on the part of suitors to the preservation of the public tranquility and happiness. although respondent spouses Candelario were not party-litigants in the earlier case for partition. the . for no justifiable cause. (3) it must have been rendered by a court having jurisdiction over the subject matter and the parties. Indeed. the plaintiff fails to appear on the date of the presentation of his evidence in chief on the complaint.25 With all the other elements present. Sec. respondent siblings admit that they filed an action for partition docketed as Civil Case No. that is. it cannot be disputed that the subject property in Civil Case No.

Between dismissal with prejudice under Rule 17. understandable why petitioners would allege res judicata to bolster their claim. thus. that a substantive law cannot be amended by a procedural rule.28 This further finds support in Art. However. No co-owner shall be obliged to remain in the co-ownership. Partition shall be governed by the Rules of Court insofar as they are consistent with 1âwphi1 this Code. and is interested instead in ascertaining the co- owners’ specific shares so as to prevent the allocation of portions to remain perpetually in limbo. No prescription shall run in favor of a co- owner or co-heir against his co-owners or co-heirs so long as he expressly or impliedly recognizes the co-ownership.27 It is. thus. and the only exception is when the order of dismissal expressly contains a qualification that the dismissal is without prejudice. not exceeding ten years. an agreement to keep the thing undivided for a certain period of time.Partition may be made by agreement between the parties or by judicial proceedings. (2) if he fails to prosecute his action for an unreasonable length of time. The dismissal of a case for failure to prosecute has the effect of adjudication on the merits. Neither shall there be any partition when it is prohibited by law. petitioners claim that the Order does not in any language say that the dismissal is without prejudice and. and is necessarily understood to be with prejudice to the filing of another action. Such a construction is not sanctioned by the principle. Stated differently. Pertinent hereto is Article 494 of the Civil Code. the law provides that each co-owner may demand at any time the partition of the thing owned in common. . the latter must prevail. This dismissal shall have the effect of an adjudication upon the merits. 3 and the right granted to co-owners under Art. or (3) if he fails to comply with the Rules or any order of the court. We have had the occasion to rule that dismissal with prejudice under the above-cited rule amply satisfies one of the elements of res judicata. the general rule is that dismissal of a case for failure to prosecute is to be regarded as an adjudication on the merits and with prejudice to the filing of another action. Truly. unless otherwise provided in the order of dismissal. Sec. (emphasis supplied) From the above-quoted provision. This term may be extended by a new agreement.26 In the case at bar. Thus. 494 of the Civil Code. 3 of the Rules of Court cannot defeat the right of a co-owner to ask for partition at any time. To construe otherwise would diminish the substantive right of a co-owner through the promulgation of procedural rules. without prejudice to the right of the defendant to prosecute his counterclaim in the same or in a separate action. Nevertheless. it can be gleaned that the law generally does not favor the retention of co-ownership as a property relation. A donor or testator may prohibit partition for a period which shall not exceed twenty years. The afore-quoted provision enumerates the instances when a complaint may be dismissed due to the plaintiff's fault: (1) if he fails to appear on the date for the presentation of his evidence in chief on the complaint. insofar as his share is concerned. which is too well settled to require citation. provided that there is no actual adjudication of ownership of shares yet. which reads: Article 494. Each co-owner may demand at any time the partition of the thing owned in common. viz: Article 496. 496 of the New Civil Code.complaint may be dismissed upon motion of the defendant or upon the court’s own motion. shall be valid. the requirement that the dismissal be on the merits is present. Sec. dismissal with prejudice under Rule 17. unless otherwise declared by the court.

There can still be res judicata in partition cases concerning the same parties and the same subject matter once the respective shares of the co-owners have been determined with finality by a competent court with jurisdiction or if the court determines that partition is improper for co-ownership does not or no longer exists. We hold that Art. there is no co-ownership when the different portions owned by different people are already concretely determined and separately identifiable. 252. which was immediately final and executory. but he is at the same time the owner of a portion which is truly abstract.29 We ruled in the following wise: Article 484 of the New Civil Code provides that there is co-ownership whenever the ownership of an undivided thing or right belongs to different persons. Thus. The partition of Lot No. Consequently. The CA was correct when it stated that no co-ownership exist when the different portions owned by different people are already concretely determined and separately identifiable. the different portions of the owners have already been ascertained. however. Article 1079 of the Civil Code defines partition as the separation. where the different portions allotted to each were determined and became separately identifiable. no co-owner is obliged to remain in the co-ownership. Pursuant to Article 494 of the Civil Code. even if not yet technically described. 494. the parties segregated and separately assigned to themselves distinct portions of Lot No. So it was that in Rizal v. 252 accrued to the parties separately as their proportionate shares therein. as cited. Sec. Naredo. division and assignment of a thing held in common among those to whom it may belong. This is not to say. On the other hand. and his proper remedy is an action for partition under Rule 69 of the Rules of Court. as determined by the trial court. 1971 when judgment was rendered approving the same. . which he may bring at anytime in so far as his share is concerned. The partition was immediately executory. the court cannot set aside a judgment based on compromise. We have held that res judicata applied because after the parties executed a compromise agreement that was duly approved by the court. 252 was the result of the approved Compromise Agreement in Civil Case No. is still subsisting 30-70 in favor of respondent spouses Candelario. (emphasis supplied) In the quoted case. Through their subdivision survey plan. it shall be deemed to be without prejudice. This is in contrast with the case at bar wherein the co-ownership. for the Rules to be consistent with statutory provisions. It cannot be disturbed except on the ground of vice of consent or forgery. even if not yet technically described. marked as Annex "A" of the Compromise Agreement and made an integral part thereof. Thus. mistake or duress. Absent any showing that said Compromise Agreement was vitiated by fraud. It is axiomatic that a compromise agreement once approved by the court settles the rights of the parties and has the force of res judicata.Thus. Of equal significance is the fact that the compromise judgment in Civil Case No. It has been held that the fact that the agreement of partition lacks the technical description of the parties’ respective portions or that the subject property was then still embraced by the same certificate of title could not legally prevent a partition. is an exception to Rule 17. a co-owner of an undivided parcel of land is an owner of the whole. 3 of the Rules of Court to the effect that even if the order of dismissal for failure to prosecute is silent on whether or not it is with prejudice. and over the whole he exercises the right of dominion. there was no longer a co-ownership and there was nothing left to partition. on the one hand. having been accomplished and completed on December 1. 36-C settled as well the question of which specific portions of Lot No. that the action for partition will never be barred by res judicata. 36-C.

It. respondents cannot be said to have neglected to assert their right over the subject property. the fact that respondent siblings entered into a Contract of Lease with Avico Lending Investor Co.there is no legal bar preventing herein respondents from praying for the partition of the property through counterclaim. respectively. as earlier cited. but only with whether or not by reason of the respondents’ long inaction or inexcusable neglect. but rather to avoid recognizing a right when to do so would result in a clearly inequitable situation. therefore. in petitioners’ contention that the CA erred in approving the proposal for partition submitted by respondent spouses. over the subject property is evidence that they are exercising rights of ownership over the same. The CA erred in approving the Agreement for Subdivision There is merit. 2013. 496. is applied not really to penalize neglect or sleeping upon one’s right. According to petitioners. as stated in the pre-trial order. as such. 2013 and November 22. provides that partition shall either be by agreement of the parties or in accordance with the Rules of Court. lacked the essential requisite of consent. warranting the presumption that the party entitled to assert it has either abandoned or declined to assert it. Art. in 2002. Thus. To rectify this with dispatch. As an equitable defense. Civil Case No. 02-52. are hereby AFFIRMED with MODIFICATION. however.R. The counterclaim for partition is not barred by laches We now proceed to petitioners’ second line of attack. Laches is the failure or neglect. The argument fails to persuade. to do that which––by the exercise of due diligence––could or should have been done earlier. CV No. The case is hereby .31 As correctly appreciated by the lower courts. the petition is hereby PARTLY GRANTED. to approve the agreement in spite of this fact would be tantamount to allowing respondent spouses to divide unilaterally the property among the co-owners based on their own whims and caprices. even though it was later dismissed. They cannot be considered to have abandoned their right given that they filed an action for partition sometime in 2002. both Bienvenido and Escolastica Ibarra had already died and yet the respondent siblings only belatedly filed the action for partition. for an unreasonable and unexplained length of time. so too should respondent spouses Candelario be barred from claiming the same for they could not have acquired a better right than their predecessors-in-interest. the case must be remanded to the court of origin. the Agreement of Subdivision allegedly executed by respondent spouses Candelario and petitioners cannot serve as basis for partition. The "agreement" was crafted without any consultation whatsoever or any attempt to arrive at mutually acceptable terms with petitioners. for. premises considered. because to allow them to do so would be inequitable and unjust to petitioners. the claim for partition is already barred by laches since by 1999. which shall proceed to partition the property in accordance with the procedure outlined in Rule 69 of the Rules of Court. they should be barred from asserting this claim at all.30 The principle is a creation of equity which. WHEREFORE. And since laches has allegedly already set in against respondent siblings. 98919 dated July 8. In this case. Furthermore. herein respondents admitted that the agreement was a falsity and that petitioners never took part in preparing the same. laches does not concern itself with the character of the petitioners’ title. Such a result could not be countenanced. It is the negligence or omission to assert a right within a reasonable period. The assailed Decision and Resolution of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.

. Branch 68 in Camiling.REMANDED to the RTC. SO ORDERED. Tarlac for purposes of partitioning the subject property in accordance with Rule 69 of the Rules of Court.

or diminished except in some direct proceeding permitted by law. unassailable. altered. What is Torrens title? Torrens title is the certificate of ownership issued by the land Register of Deeds. enlarged. Its effect is that it can be conclusive against the whole world. Judicial registration which will be done through the courts. 141 (The Public Land Act) What is subsequent registration? Subsequent registration is a process where the Original Certificate of Title is cancelled and subsequently registered under a Transfer Certificate of Title in favor of the new owner in cases of land conveyance such as sale. and imprescriptible. Compulsory.Torrens System What is land registration? Land registration is a judicial or administrative proceeding whereby a person’s claim of ownership over a particular land is determined and confirmed or recognized so that such land and the ownership thereof may be recorded in a public registry. donation or assignment. It may either be voluntary where it instituted by the applicant under the provisions of Act 496 or PD 1529 or compulsory at the instance of the State under provision of Act 2259 (Cadastral Act) 1. changed. Administrative registration wherein theacquisition of land patents to public agricultural lands and registration thereof under Section 107 of CA No. Voluntary -instituted by the applicant 2. modified. Who may apply for original registration of title? . naming and declaring the owner of the real property described therein. it is guaranteed to be indefeasible. The title once registered cannot be impugned. It can be further classified into: a. free from all liens and encumbrances except such as may be expressly noted thereon or otherwise reserved by law.at the instance of the State b. What are the kinds of registration? 1. Original registrationis the first registration of the land whereby an Original Certificate of Title is entered in the Registry of Property and a duplicate owner’s copy is issued to the owner by the Register of Deeds.

where the type of form. exclusive and notorious possession and occupation of alienable and disposable lands of the public domain under a bona fide claim of ownership since June 12. Certificate of title not subject to Collateral Attack What are the parts and information on the title? • Title Form Information. A trustee on behalf of his principal may apply for original registration of any land held in trust by him. adjoining parcels. all the co-owners shall file the application jointly. or also known as Property registration Decree. survey plan number). Who may apply. that should the period for redemption expire during the pendency of the registration proceedings and ownership to the property consolidated in the vendee a retro. continuous. (4) Those who have acquired ownership of land in any other manner provided for by law. 1945. block. Section 14.According to Presidential Decree 1529 “Amending and Codifying the Laws Relative to Registration of Property and for Other Purposes”. it has laid down the enumeration of who may apply for original registration of Title.where the parcel identity (lot. the latter shall be substituted for the applicant and may continue the proceedings. date of revision and serial number can be found • Survey Information. tie line. however. (2) Those who have acquired ownership of private lands by prescription under the provision of existing laws. (3) Those who have acquired ownership of private lands or abandoned river beds by right of accession or accretion under the existing laws. location. Where the land is owned in common. The following persons may file in the proper Court of First Instance an application for registration of title to land. whether personally or through their duly authorized representatives: (1) Those who by themselves or through their predecessors-in-interest have been in open. Where the land has been sold under pacto de retro. the vendor a retro may file an application for the original registration of the land. unless prohibited by the instrument creating the trust. bearings and distances from corner to corner and the area . Free from liens and encumbrances B. Incontrovertible and Indefeasible C. provided. tie point. What are the attributes and limitations on certificates of title and registered lands? A. or earlier.

where the name of the Register of Deeds. place/time/date of registration.. What is an assurance fund? Sec 95 of Property Registration Decree provides that a person who.. at the Registry of Deeds is needed so that title shall be binding upon third parties. page number. record/name of original owner. Page No. postal address What is Homestead patent? It is issued (by the Director Lands) over land not of the public domain is a nullity. title number.and date of survey can be found • Registration Information.where the name/s of all persons whose interest make up the full ownership. citizenship. What is the Registration of title under Act 3344? Registration of untitled lands or lands with imperfect titles is ineffective against third persons. Volume No. book number. Certificate of title becomes indefeasible after ONE YEAR from issuance of the decree. Decree No. The assurance fund is intended to relive innocent persons from the harshness of the doctrine that a certificate of title is conclusive evidence of indefeasible title to the land. civil status. Land becomes registered only upon transcription of the decree in the original registration book by the Register of Deeds and not on the date of issuance of the decree. the title registered under the Torrens System is superior than title registered under Act 3344.. together with the . It shall bind the land and quiet title thereto – the purpose of Torrens System. may bring an action in any court of competent jurisdiction for the recovery of damages paid out of the Assurance Fund within 6 years from the time the right to bring such action accrues. without negligence on his part sustain loss or damage or is deprived of land or any estate or interest therein in consequence of the bringing of the land under the operation of Torrens System or arising after the original registration of the land. That in case of double sale. OCT No. What is a decree of registration? It is issued by the administrator of LRA upon order of the court.. name and signature of registrar and historical information (date and place of original registration. devoid of force and effect against the owner whose title is covered by an OCT or TCT. Registration under the Torrens System. through fraud or in consequence of any error. What is the rule on conveyance of only a portion of a land? The Register of Deeds shall not enter any new title in favor of the grantee until a plan indicating the portions into which the land has been subdivided shall first be presented. number of cancelled title for OCT) can be found • Ownership Information.

the deed of conveyance may be annotated at the owner’s certificate. Com. “Decreeing the Emancipation of Tenants from the Bondage of theOil. Lands to Which It Refers. Act No. 2259 Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Law of 1988 Peña. Delimitation and Survey Thereof for Concession” . and Classification. Transferring to Them the Ownership of the Land They Till and Providing the Instruments and Mechanism Therefor” Property Registration Decree 1529. Act No. Meantime. “Amending and Codifying the Laws Relative to Registration of Property and for Other Purposes” Public Land Act. Presidential Decree No. Quezon City: Rex Printing Company. Inc. Registration of Land Titles and Deeds. References: Cadastral Act.technical descriptions thereof. “Title and Application of the Act. 27. 141. N.