You are on page 1of 22

1. Susi v Razon, GR No.

24066

VILLAREAL,J.:
ThisactionwascommencedintheCourtofFirstInstanceofPampangabyacomplaintfiledbyValentinSusiagainstAngelaRazonandthe
DirectorofLands,prayingforjudgment:(a)Declaringplaintiffthesoleandabsoluteowneroftheparceloflanddescribedinthesecond
paragraphofthecomplaint;(b)annullingthesalemadebytheDirectorofLandsinfavorofAngelaRazon,onthegroundthatthelandisa
privateproperty;(c)orderingthecancellationofthecertificateoftitleissuedtosaidAngelaRazon;and(d)sentencingthelattertopay
plaintiffthesumofP500asdamages,withthecosts.

Forhisanswertothecomplaint,theDirectorofLandsdeniedeachandeveryallegationcontainedthereinand,asspecialdefense,allegedthat
thelandinquestionwasapropertyoftheGovernmentoftheUnitedStatesundertheadministrationandcontrolofthePhilippineIslands
beforeitssaletoAngelaRazon,whichwasmadeinaccordancewithlaw.

Aftertrial,whereatevidencewasintroducedbybothparties,theCourtofFirstInstanceofPampangarenderedjudgmentdeclaringthe
plaintiffentitledtothepossessionoftheland,annullingthesalemadebytheDirectorofLandsinfavorofAngelaRazon,andorderingthe
cancellationofthecertificateoftitleissuedtoher,withthecostsagainstAngelaRazon.FromthisjudgmenttheDirectorofLandstookthis
appeal,assigningtheretothefollowingerrors,towit:(1)Theholdingthatthejudgmentrenderedinapriorcasebetweentheplaintiffand
defendantAngelaRazonontheparceloflandinquestioniscontrollinginthisaction;(2)theholdingthatplaintiffisentitledtorecoverthe
possessionofsaidparcelofland;theannulmentofthesalemadebytheDirectorofLandstoAngelaRazon;andtheorderingthatthe
certificateoftitleissuedbytheregisterofdeedsoftheProvinceofPampangatoAngelaRazonbyvirtueofsaidsalebecancelled;and(3)the
denialofthemotionfornewtrialfiledbytheDirectorofLands.

TheevidenceshowsthatonDecember18,1880,NemesioPinlacsoldthelandinquestion,thenafishpond,toApolonioGarciaandBasilio
MendozaforthesumofP12,reservingtherighttorepurchasethesame(ExhibitB).Afterhavingbeeninpossessionthereofforabouteight
years,andthefishpondhavingbeendestroyed,ApolonioGarciaandBasilioMendoza,onSeptember5,1899,soldittoValentinSusiforthe
sumofP12,reservingtherighttorepurchaseit(ExhibitA).Beforetheexecutionofthedeedofsale,ValentinSusihadalreadypaiditsprice
andsown"bacawan"onsaidland,availinghimselfofthefirewoodgatheredthereon,withtheproceedsofthesaleofwhichhehadpaidthe
priceoftheproperty.Thepossessionandoccupationofthelandinquestion,first,byApolonioGarciaandBasilioMendoza,andthenby
ValentinSusihasbeenopen,continuous,adverseandpublic,withoutanyinterruption,exceptduringtherevolution,ordisturbance,except
whenAngelaRazon,onSeptember13,1913,commencedanactionintheCourtofFirstInstanceofPampangatorecoverthepossessionof
saidland(ExhibitC),whereinafterconsideringtheevidenceintroducedatthetrial,thecourtrenderedjudgmentinfavorofValentinSusiand
againstAngelaRazon,dismissingthecomplaint(ExhibitE).Havingfailedinherattempttoobtainpossessionofthelandinquestionthrough
thecourt,AngelaRazonappliedtotheDirectorofLandsforthepurchasethereofonAugust15,1914(ExhibitC).Havinglearnedofsaid
application,ValentinSusifiledanoppositiontheretoonDecember6,1915,assertinghispossessionofthelandfortwentyfiveyears(Exhibit
P).Aftermakingtheproperadministrativeinvestigation,theDirectorofLandsoverruledtheoppositionofValentinSusiandsoldthelandto
AngelaRazon.ByvirtueofsaidgranttheregisterofdeedsofPampanga,onAugust31,1921,issuedthepropercertificateoftitletoAngela
Razon.Armedwithsaiddocument,AngelaRazonrequiredValentinSusitovacatethelandinquestion,andasherefusedtodoso,she
broughtandactionforforcibleentryanddetainerinthejusticeofthepeacecourtofGuagua,Pampanga,whichwasdismissedforlackof
jurisdiction,thecasebeingoneoftitletorealproperty(ExhibitFandM).ValentinSusithenbroughtthisaction.
Withthesefactsinview,weshallproceedtoconsiderthequestionsraisedbytheappellantinhisassignmentsoferror.

ItclearlyappearsfromtheevidencethatValentinSusihasbeeninpossessionofthelandinquestionopenly,continuously,adversely,and
publicly,personallyandthroughhispredecessors,sincetheyear1880,thatis,foraboutfortyfiveyears.WhilethejudgmentoftheCourtof
FirstInstanceofPampangaagainstAngelaRazonintheforcibleentrycasedoesnotaffecttheDirectorofLands,yetitiscontrollingasto
AngelaRazonandrebutsherclaimthatshehadbeeninpossessionthereof.WhenonAugust15,1914,AngelaRazonappliedforthepurchase
ofsaidland,ValentinSusihadalreadybeeninpossessionthereofpersonallyandthroughhispredecessorsforthirtyfouryears.Andifitis
takenintoaccountthatNemesioPinlachadalreadymadesaidlandafishpondwhenhesolditonDecember18,1880,itcanhardlybe
estimatedwhenhebegantopossessandoccupyit,theperiodoftimebeingsolongthatitisbeyondthereachofmemory.Thesebeingthe
facts,thedoctrinelaiddownbytheSupremeCourtoftheUnitedStatesinthecaseofCariovs.GovernmentofthePhilippineIslands(212U.
S.,4491),isapplicablehere.InfavorofValentinSusi,thereis,moreover,thepresumptionjurisetdejureestablishedinparagraph(b)of
section45ofActNo.2874,amendingActNo.926,thatallthenecessaryrequirementsforagrantbytheGovernmentwerecompliedwith,for
hehasbeeninactualandphysicalpossession,personallyandthroughhispredecessors,ofanagriculturallandofthepublicdomainopenly,
continuously,exclusivelyandpubliclysinceJuly26,1894,witharighttoacertificateoftitletosaidlandundertheprovisionsofChapter
VIIIofsaidAct.SothatwhenAngelaRazonappliedforthegrantinherfavor,ValentinSusihadalreadyacquired,byoperationoflaw,not
onlyarighttoagrant,butagrantoftheGovernment,foritisnotnecessarythatcertificateoftitleshouldbeissuedinorderthatsaidgrant
maybesanctionedbythecourts,anapplicationthereforeissufficient,undertheprovisionsofsection47ofActNo.2874.Ifbyalegalfiction,
ValentinSusihadacquiredthelandinquestionbyagrantoftheState,ithadalreadyceasedtobethepublicdomainandhadbecomeprivate
property,atleastbypresumption,ofValentinSusi,beyondthecontroloftheDirectorofLands.Consequently,insellingthelandinquestion
toAngelaRazon,theDirectorofLandsdisposedofalandoverwhichhehadnolongeranytitleorcontrol,andthesalethusmadewasvoid
andofnoeffect,andAngelaRazondidnottherebyacquireanyright.
TheDirectorofLandscontendsthatthelandinquestionbeingofthepublicdomain,theplaintiffappelleecannotmaintainanactionto
recoverpossessionthereof.

If,asabovestated,theland,thepossessionofwhichisindispute,hadalreadybecome,byoperationoflaw,privatepropertyoftheplaintiff,
therelackingonlythejudicialsanctionofhistitle,ValentinSusihastherighttobringanactiontorecoverpossessionthereofandholdit.

Fortheforegoing,andnoerrorhavingbeenfoundinthejudgmentappealedfrom,thesameisherebyaffirmedinallitsparts,withoutspecial
pronouncementastocosts.Soordered.
Avancea,C.J.,Malcolm,Street,Villamor,Ostrand,Johns,andRomualdez,JJ.,concur.
Johnson,J.,tooknopart.

2. Republic v IAC, GR No. 73002

NARVASA,J.:
TheDirectorofLandshasbroughtthisappealbycertiorarifromajudgmentoftheIntermediateAppellateCourtaffirmingadecisionofthe
CourtofFirstInstanceofIsabela,whichorderedregistrationinfavorofAcmePlywood&VeneerCo.,Inc.offiveparcelsoflandmeasuring
481,390squaremeters,moreorless,acquiredbyitfromMarianoandAcerInfiel,membersoftheDumagattribe.
TheregistrationproceedingswereforconfirmationoftitleunderSection48ofCommonwealthActNo.141(ThePublicLandAct).as
amended:andtheappealedjudgmentsumsupthefindingsofthetrialcourtinsaidproceedingsinthiswise:
1.ThatAcmePlywood&VeneerCo.Inc.,representedbyMr.RodolfoNazarioisacorporationdulyorganizedinaccordancewith
thelawsoftheRepublicofthePhilippinesandregisteredwiththeSecuritiesandExchangeCommissiononDecember23,1959;
2.ThatAcmePlywood&VeneerCo.Inc.,representedbyMr.RodolfoNazariocanacquirerealpropertiespursuanttotheprovisions
oftheArticlesofIncorporationparticularlyontheprovisionofitssecondarypurposes(paragraph(9),Exhibit'Ml');
3.ThatthelandsubjectoftheLandRegistrationproceedingwasancestrallyacquiredbyAcmePlywood&VeneerCo.,Inc.,on
October29,1962,fromMarianoInfielandAcerInfiel,bothmembersoftheDumagattribeandassuchareculturalminorities;
4.ThattheconstitutionoftheRepublicofthePhilippinesof1935isapplicableasthesaletookplaceonOctober29,1962;
5.ThatthepossessionoftheInfielsoverthelandrelinquishedorsoldtoAcmePlywood&VeneerCo.,Inc.,datesbackbeforethe
PhilippineswasdiscoveredbyMagellanastheancestorsoftheInfielshavepossessedandoccupiedthelandfromgenerationto
generationuntilthesamecameintothepossessionofMarianoInfielandAcerInfiel;
6.ThatthepossessionoftheapplicantAcmePlywood&VeneerCo.,Inc.,iscontinuous,adverseandpublicfrom1962tothepresent
andtackingthepossessionoftheInfielswhoweregrantedfromwhomtheapplicantboughtsaidlandonOctober29,1962,hencethe
possessionisalreadyconsideredfromtimeimmemorial.
7.ThatthelandsoughttoberegisteredisaprivatelandpursuanttotheprovisionsofRepublicActNo.3872grantingabsolute
ownershiptomembersofthenonChristianTribesonlandoccupiedbythemortheirancestrallands,whetherwiththealienableor
disposablepubliclandorwithinthepublicdomain;
8.ThatapplicantAcmePlywood&VeneerCo.Inc.,hasintroducedmorethanFortyFiveMillion(P45,000,000.00)Pesosworthof
improvements,saidimprovementswereseenbytheCourtduringitsocularinvestigationofthelandsoughttoberegisteredon
September18,1982;
9.Thattheownershipandpossessionofthelandsoughttoberegisteredbytheapplicantwasdulyrecognizedbythegovernment
whentheMunicipalOfficialsofMaconacon,Isabela,havenegotiatedforthedonationofthetownsitefromAcmePlywood&Veneer
Co.,Inc.,andthisnegotiationcametorealitywhentheBoardofDirectorsoftheAcmePlywood&VeneerCo.,Inc.,haddonateda
partofthelandboughtbytheCompanyfromtheInfielsforthetownsiteofMaconaconIsabela(Exh.'N')onNovember15,1979,
andwhichdonationwasacceptedbytheMunicipalGovernmentofMaconacon,Isabela(Exh.'Nl'),duringtheirspecialsessionon
November22,1979.
TheDirectorofLandstakesnoissuewithanyofthesefindingsexceptastotheapplicabilityofthe1935Constitutiontothematterathand.
Concerningthis,heassertsthat,theregistrationproceedingshavebeencommencedonlyonJuly17,1981,orlongafterthe1973Constitution
hadgoneintoeffect,thelatteristhecorrectlyapplicablelaw;andsincesection11ofitsArticleXIVprohibitsprivatecorporationsor
associationsfromholdingalienablelandsofthepublicdomain,exceptbyleasenottoexceed1,000hectares(aprohibitionnotfoundinthe
1935Constitutionwhichwasinforcein1962whenAcmepurchasedthelandsinquestionfromtheInfiels),itwasreversibleerrortodecree
registrationinfavorofAcmeSection48,paragraphs(b)and(c),ofCommonwealthActNo.141,asamended,reads:
SEC.48.ThefollowingdescribedcitizensofthePhilippines,occupyinglandsofthepublicdomainorclaimingtoownanysuch
landsoraninteresttherein,butwhosetitleshavenotbeenperfectedorcompleted,mayapplytotheCourtofFirstInstanceofthe
provincewherethelandislocatedforconfirmationoftheirclaims,andtheissuanceofacertificateoftitletherefor,undertheLand
RegistrationAct,towit:
xxxxxxxxx
(b)Thosewhobythemselvesorthroughtheirpredecessorsininteresthavebeeninopen,continuous,exclusiveandnotorious
possessionandoccupationofagriculturallandsofthepublicdomain,underabonafideclaimofacquisitionorownership,foratleast
thirtyyearsimmediatelyprecedingthefilingoftheapplicationforconfirmationoftitleexceptwhenpreventedbywarorforce
majeure.TheseshallbeconclusivelypresumedtohaveperformedalltheconditionsessentialtoaGovernmentgrantandshallbe
entitledtoacertificateoftitleundertheprovisionsofthischapter.
(c)MembersoftheNationalCulturalminoritieswhobythemselvesorthroughtheirpredecessorsininteresthavebeeninopen.
continuous,exclusiveandnotoriouspossessionandoccupationoflandsofthepublicdomainsuitabletoagriculture,whether
disposableornot,underabonafideclaimofownershipforatleast30yearsshallbeentitledtotherightsgrantedinsubsection(b)
hereof.
ThePetitionforReviewdoesnotdisputeindeed,inviewofthequotedfindingsofthetrialcourtwhichwerecitedandaffirmedbythe
IntermediateAppellateCourt,itcannolongercontrovertbeforethisCourtthefactthatMarianoandAcerInfiel,fromwhomAcmepurchased
thelandsinquestiononOctober29,1962,aremembersofthenationalculturalminoritieswhohad,bythemselvesandthroughtheir
progenitors,possessedandoccupiedthoselandssincetimeimmemorial,orformorethantherequired30yearperiodandwere,byreason
thereof,entitledtoexercisetherightgrantedinSection48ofthePublicLandActtohavetheirtitlejudiciallyconfirmed.Noristhereany
pretensionthatAcme,asthesuccessorininterestoftheInfiels,isdisqualifiedtoacquireandregisterownershipofsaidlandsunderany
provisionsofthe1973ConstitutionotherthanSection11ofitsArticleXIValreadyreferredto.
Giventheforegoing,thequestionbeforethisCourtiswhetherornotthetitlethattheInfielshadtransferredtoAcmein1962couldbe
confirmedinfavorofthelatterinproceedingsinstitutedbyitin1981whenthe1973Constitutionwasalreadyineffect,havinginmindthe
prohibitionthereinagainstprivatecorporationsholdinglandsofthepublicdomainexceptinleasenotexceeding1,000hectares.
Thequestionturnsuponadeterminationofthecharacterofthelandsatthetimeofinstitutionoftheregistrationproceedingsin1981.Ifthey
werethenstillpartofthepublicdomain,itmustbeansweredinthenegative.If,ontheotherhand,theywerethenalreadyprivatelands,the
constitutionalprohibitionagainsttheiracquisitionbyprivatecorporationsorassociationsobviouslydoesnotapply.
Inthisregard,attentionhasbeeninvitedtoManilaElectricCompanyvs.CastroBartolome,etal,1whereasimilarsetoffactsprevailed.In
thatcase,ManilaElectricCompany,adomesticcorporationmorethan60%ofthecapitalstockofwhichisFilipinoowned,hadpurchasedin
1947twolotsinTanay,RizalfromthePiguingspouses.Thelotshadbeenpossessedbythevendorsand,beforethem,bytheirpredecessorin
interest,OlimpiaRamos,sincepriortotheoutbreakofthePacificWarin1941.OnDecember1,1976,MeralcoappliedtotheCourtofFirst
InstanceofRizal,MakatiBranch,forconfirmationoftitletosaidlots.Thecourt,assumingthatthelotswerepublicland,dismissedthe
applicationonthegroundthatMeralco,ajuridicalperson,wasnotqualifiedtoapplyforregistrationunderSection48(b)ofthePublicLand
ActwhichallowsonlyFilipinocitizensornaturalpersonstoapplyforjudicialconfirmationofimperfecttitlestopublicland.Meralco
appealed,andamajorityofthisCourtupheldthedismissal.Itwasheldthat:
...,thesaidlandisstillpublicland.ItwouldceasetobepubliclandonlyupontheissuanceofthecertificateoftitletoanyFilipino
citizenclaimingitundersection48(b).BecauseitisstillpubliclandandtheMeralco,asajuridicalperson,isdisqualifiedtoapply
foritsregistrationundersection48(b),Meralco'sapplicationcannotbegivenduecourseorhastobedismissed.
Finally,itmaybeobservedthattheconstitutionalprohibitionmakesnodistinctionbetween(ontheonehand)alienableagricultural
publiclandsastowhichnooccupanthasanimperfecttitleand(ontheotherhand)alienablelandsofthepublicdomainastowhich
anoccupanthasonimperfecttitlesubjecttojudicialconfirmation.
Sincesection11ofArticleXIVdoesnotdistinguish,weshouldnotmakeanydistinctionorqualification.Theprohibitionappliesto
alienablepubliclandsastowhichaTorrenstitlemaybesecuredundersection48(b).Theproceedingundersection48(b)
'presupposesthatthelandispublic'(Mindanaovs.DirectorofLands,L19535,July30,1967,20SCRA641,644).
ThepresentChiefJusticeenteredavigorousdissent,tracingthelineofcasesbeginningwithCarinoin19092thruSusiin19253down
toHericoin1980,4whichdeveloped,affirmedandreaffirmedthedoctrinethatopen,exclusiveandundisputedpossessionofalienablepublic
landfortheperiodprescribedbylawcreatesthelegalfictionwherebytheland,uponcompletionoftherequisiteperiodipsojureandwithout
theneedofjudicialorothersanction,ceasestobepubliclandandbecomesprivateproperty.Thatsaiddissentexpressedwhatisthebetter
and,indeed,thecorrect,viewbecomesevidentfromaconsiderationofsomeoftheprincipalrulingscitedtherein,
Themainthemewasgivenbirth,sotospeak,inCarinoinvolvingtheDecree/RegulationsofJune25,1880foradjustmentofroyallands
wrongfullyoccupiedbyprivateindividualsinthePhilippineIslands.Itwasruledthat:
Itistruethatthelanguageofarticles4and55attributestitletothose'whomayprove'possessionforthenecessarytimeandwedo
notoverlooktheargumentthatthismeansmayproveinregistrationproceedings.ItmaybethatanEnglishconveyancerwouldhave
recommendedanapplicationundertheforegoingdecree,butcertainlyitwasnotcalculatedtoconveytothemindofanIgorotchief
thenotionthatancientfamilypossessionswereindanger,ifhehadreadeverywordofit.Thewords'mayprove'(acrediten)aswell
orbetter,inviewoftheotherprovisions,mightbetakentomeanwhencalledupontodosoinanylitigation.Thereareindications
thatregistrationwasexpectedfromallbutnonesufficienttoshowthat,forwantofit,ownershipactuallygainedwouldbelost.The
effectoftheproof,wherevermade,wasnottoconfertitle,butsimplytoestablishit,asalreadyconferredbythedecree,ifnotby
earlierlaw....
Thatrulingassumedamoredoctrinalcharacterbecauseexpressedinmorecategoricallanguage,inSusi:
....InfavorofValentinSusi,thereis,moreover,thepresumptionjurisetdejureestablishedinparagraph(b)ofsection45ofActNo.
2874,amendingActNo.926,thatallthenecessaryrequirementsforagrantbytheGovernmentwerecompliedwith,forhehasbeen
inactualandphysicalpossession,personallyandthroughhispredecessors,ofanagriculturallandofthepublicdomainopenly,
continuously,exclusivelyandpubliclysinceJuly26,1984,witharighttoacertificateoftitletosaidlandundertheprovisionsof
ChapterVIIIofsaidAct.SothatwhenAngelaRazonappliedforthegrantinherfavor,ValentinSusihadalreadyacquired,by
operationoflawnotonlyarighttoagrant,butagrantoftheGovernment,foritisnotnecessarythatacertificateoftitleshouldbe
issuedinorderthatsaidgrantmaybesanctionedbythecourts,anapplicationthereforeissufficient,undertheprovisionsofsection
47ofActNo.2874.Ifbyalegalfiction,ValentinSusihadacquiredthelandinquestionbyagrantoftheState,ithadalready
ceasedtobeofthepublicdomainandhadbecomeprivateproperty,atleastbypresumption,ofValentinSusi,beyondthecontrolof
theDirectorofLands.Consequently,insellingthelandinquestionofAngelaRazon,theDirectorofLandsdisposedofalandover
whichhehadnolongeranytitleorcontrol,andthesalethusmadewasvoidandofnoeffect,andAngelaRazondidnotthereby
acquireanyright.6
Succeedingcases,ofwhichonlysomeneedbementioned,likeofLacastevs.DirectorofLands,7Mesinavs.Vda.deSonza,8Manarpacvs.
Cabanatuan,9Miguelvs.CourtofAppeals10andHericovs.Dar,supra,byinvokingandaffirmingtheSusidoctrinehavefirmlyrooteditin
jurisprudence.
Herico,inparticular,appearstobesquarelyaffirmative:11
....Secondly,undertheprovisionsofRepublicActNo.1942,whichtherespondentCourtheldtobeinapplicabletothepetitioner's
case,withthelatter'sprovenoccupationandcultivationformorethan30yearssince1914,byhimselfandbyhispredecessorsin
interest,titleoverthelandhasvestedonpetitionersoastosegregatethelandfromthemassofpublicland.Thereafter,itisno
longerdisposableunderthePublicLandActasbyfreepatent.....
xxxxxxxxx
Asinterpretedinseveralcases,whentheconditionsasspecifiedintheforegoingprovisionarecompliedwith,thepossessoris
deemedtohaveacquired,byoperationoflaw,arighttoagrant,agovernmentgrant,withoutthenecessityofacertificateoftitle
beingissued.Theland,therefore,ceasestobeofthepublicdomainandbeyondtheauthorityoftheDirectorofLandstodispose
of.Theapplicationforconfirmationismereformality,thelackofwhichdoesnotaffectthelegalsufficiencyofthetitleaswouldbe
evidencedbythepatentandtheTorrenstitletobeissueduponthestrengthofsaidpatent.12
Nothingcanmoreclearlydemonstratethelogicalinevitabilityofconsideringpossessionofpubliclandwhichisofthecharacterandduration
prescribedbystatuteastheequivalentofanexpressgrantfromtheStatethanthedictumofthestatuteitself13thatthepossessor(s)"...shallbe
conclusivelypresumedtohaveperformedalltheconditionsessentialtoaGovernmentgrantandshallbeentitledtoacertificateoftitle...."
Noproofbeingadmissibletoovercomeaconclusivepresumption,confirmationproceedingswould,intruthbelittlemorethanaformality,at
themostlimitedtoascertainingwhetherthepossessionclaimedisoftherequiredcharacterandlengthoftime;andregistrationthereunder
wouldnotconfertitle,butsimplyrecognizeatitlealreadyvested.Theproceedingswouldnotoriginallyconvertthelandfrompublicto
privateland,butonlyconfirmsuchaconversionalreadyaffectedbyoperationoflawfromthemomenttherequiredperiodofpossession
becamecomplete.AswassowellputinCarino,"...(T)hereareindicationsthatregistrationwasexpectedfromall,butnonesufficientto
showthat,forwantofit,ownershipactuallygainedwouldbelost.Theeffectoftheproof,wherevermade,wasnottoconfertitle,butsimply
toestablishit,asalreadyconferredbythedecree,ifnotbyearlierlaw."
IfitisacceptedasitmustbethatthelandwasalreadyprivatelandtowhichtheInfielshadalegallysufficientandtransferabletitleon
October29,1962whenAcmeacquireditfromsaidowners,itmustalsobeconcededthatAcmehadaperfectrighttomakesuchacquisition,
therebeingnothinginthe1935Constitutiontheninforce(or,forthatmatter,inthe1973Constitutionwhichcameintoeffectlater)
prohibitingcorporationsfromacquiringandowningprivatelands.
Evenonthepropositionthatthelandremainedtechnically"public"land,despiteimmemorialpossessionoftheInfielsandtheirancestors,
untiltitleintheirfavorwasactuallyconfirmedinappropriateproceedingsunderthePublicLandAct,therecanbenoseriousquestionof
Acmesrighttoacquirethelandatthetimeitdid,therealsobeingnothinginthe1935Constitutionthatmightbeconstruedtoprohibit
corporationsfrompurchasingoracquiringinterestsinpubliclandtowhichthevendorhadalreadyacquiredthattypeofsocalled
"incomplete"or"imperfect"title.Theonlylimitationthenextantwasthatcorporationscouldnotacquire,holdorleasepublicagricultural
landsinexcessof1,024hectares.Thepurelyaccidentalcircumstancethatconfirmationproceedingswerebroughtundertheaegisofthe1973
Constitutionwhichforbidscorporationsfromowninglandsofthepublicdomaincannotdefeatarightalreadyvestedbeforethatlawcame
intoeffect,orinvalidatetransactionsthenperfectlyvalidandproper.ThisCourthasalreadyheld,inanalogouscircumstances,thatthe
Constitutioncannotimpairvestedrights.
Weholdthatthesaidconstitutionalprohibition14hasnoretroactiveapplicationtothesalesapplicationofBinanDevelopmentCo.,
Inc.becauseithadalreadyacquiredavestedrighttothelandappliedforatthetimethe1973Constitutiontookeffect.
Thatvestedrighthastoberespected.ItcouldnotbeabrogatedbythenewConstitution.Section2,ArticleXIIIofthe1935
Constitutionallowsprivatecorporationstopurchasepublicagriculturallandsnotexceedingonethousandandtwentyfourhectares.
Petitioner'prohibitionactionisbarredbythedoctrineofvestedrightsinconstitutionallaw.
xxxxxxxxx
Thedueprocessclauseprohibitstheannihilationofvestedrights.'Astatemaynotimpairvestedrightsbylegislativeenactment,by
theenactmentorbythesubsequentrepealofamunicipalordinance,orbyachangeintheconstitutionoftheState,exceptina
legitimateexerciseofthepolicepower'(16C.J.S.117778).
xxxxxxxxx
Intheinstantcase,itisincontestablethatpriortotheeffectivityofthe1973Constitutiontherightofthecorporationtopurchasethe
landinquestionhadbecomefixedandestablishedandwasnolongeropentodoubtorcontroversy.
ItscompliancewiththerequirementsofthePublicLandLawfortheissuanceofapatenthadtheeffectofsegregatingthesaidland
fromthepublicdomain.Thecorporation'srighttoobtainapatentforthelandisprotectedbylaw.Itcannotbedeprivedofthatright
withoutdueprocess(DirectorofLandsvs.CA,123Phil.919).15
Thefact,therefore,thattheconfirmationproceedingswereinstitutedbyAcmeinitsownnamemustberegardedassimplyanotheraccidental
circumstance,productiveofadefecthardlymorethanproceduralandinnowiseaffectingthesubstanceandmeritsoftherightofownership
soughttobeconfirmedinsaidproceedings,therebeingnodoubtofAcme'sentitlementtotheland.Asitisunquestionablethatinthelightof
theundisputedfacts,theInfiels,undereitherthe1935orthe1973Constitution,couldhavehadtitleinthemselvesconfirmedandregistered,
onlyarigidsubserviencetotheletterofthelawwoulddenythesamebenefittotheirlawfulsuccessorininterestbyvalidconveyancewhich
violatesnoconstitutionalmandate.
TheCourt,inthelightoftheforegoing,isoftheview,andsoholds,thatthemajorityrulinginMeralcomustbereconsideredandnolonger
deemedtobebindingprecedent.Thecorrectrule,asenunciatedinthelineofcasesalreadyreferredto,isthatalienablepubliclandheldbya
possessor,personallyorthroughhispredecessorsininterest,openly,continuouslyandexclusivelyfortheprescribedstatutoryperiod(30
yearsunderThePublicLandAct,asamended)isconvertedtoprivatepropertybythemerelapseorcompletionofsaidperiod,ipsojure.
Followingthatruleandonthebasisoftheundisputedfacts,thelandsubjectofthisappealwasalreadyprivatepropertyatthetimeitwas
acquiredfromtheInfielsbyAcme.Acmetherebyacquiredaregistrabletitle,therebeingatthetimenoprohibitionagainstsaidcorporation's
holdingorowningprivateland.Theobjectionthat,asajuridicalperson,Acmeisnotqualifiedtoapplyforjudicialconfirmationoftitleunder
section48(b)ofthePublicLandActistechnical,ratherthansubstantialand,again,findsitsanswerinthedissentinMeralco:
6.Toupholdrespondentjudge'sdenialofMeralco'sapplicationonthetechnicalitythatthePublicLandActallowsonlycitizensof
thePhilippineswhoarenaturalpersonstoapplyforconfirmationoftheirtitlewouldbeimpracticalandwouldjustgiveriseto
multiplicityofcourtactions.Assumingthattherewasatechnicalerrornothavingfiledtheapplicationforregistrationinthenameof
thePiguingspousesastheoriginalownersandvendors,stillitisconcededthatthereisnoprohibitionagainsttheirsaleofthelandto
theapplicantMeralcoandneitheristhereanyprohibitionagainsttheapplicationbeingrefiledwithretroactiveeffectinthenameof
theoriginalownersandvendors(assuchnaturalpersons)withtheendresultoftheirapplicationbeinggranted,becauseoftheir
indisputableacquisitionofownershipbyoperationoflawandtheconclusivepresumptionthereinprovidedintheirfavor.Itshould
notbenecessarytogothroughalltheritualsatthegreatcostofrefilingofallsuchapplicationsintheirnamesandaddingtothe
overcrowdedcourtdocketswhentheCourtcanafteralltheseyearsdisposeofithereandnow.(SeeFranciscovs.CityofDavao)
Theendsofjusticewouldbestbeserved,therefore,byconsideringtheapplicationsforconfirmationasamendedtoconformtothe
evidence,i.e.asfiledinthenamesoftheoriginalpersonswhoasnaturalpersonsaredulyqualifiedtoapplyforformalconfirmation
ofthetitlethattheyhadacquiredbyconclusivepresumptionandmandateofthePublicLandActandwhothereafterdulysoldtothe
hereincorporations(bothadmittedlyFilipinocorporationsdulyqualifiedtoholdandownprivatelands)andgrantingtheapplications
forconfirmationoftitletotheprivatelandssoacquiredandsoldorexchanged.
ThereisalsonothingtopreventAcmefromreconveyingthelandstotheInfielsandthelatterfromthemselvesapplyingforconfirmationof
titleand,afterissuanceofthecertificate/softitleintheirnames,deedingthelandsbacktoAcme.Butthiswouldbemerelyindulgingin
emptycharades,whereasthesameresultismoreefficaciouslyandspeedilyobtained,withnoprejudicetoanyone,byaliberalapplicationof
theruleonamendmenttoconformtotheevidencesuggestedinthedissentinMeralco.
Whilethisopinionseeminglyreversesanearlierrulingofcomparativelyrecentvintage,inarealsense,itbreaksnoprecedent,butonly
reaffirmsandreestablished,asitwere,doctrinesthesoundnessofwhichhaspassedthetestofsearchingexaminationandinquiryinmany
pastcases.Indeed,itisworthnotingthatthemajorityopinion,aswellastheconcurringopinionsofChiefJusticeFernandoandJusticeAbad
Santos,inMeralcorestedchieflyonthepropositionthatthepetitionertherein,ajuridicalperson,wasdisqualifiedfromapplyingfor
confirmationofanimperfecttitletopubliclandunderSection48(b)ofthePublicLandAct.Referencetothe1973ConstitutionanditsArticle
XIV,Section11,wasonlytangentiallimitedtoabriefparagraphinthemainopinion,andmay,inthatcontext,beconsideredas
essentiallyobiter.Meralco,inshort,decidednoconstitutionalquestion.
WHEREFORE,therebeingnoreversibleerrorintheappealedjudgmentoftheIntermediateAppellateCourt,thesameisherebyaffirmed,
withoutcostsinthisinstance.
SOORDERED.
Feria,Yap,Fernan,Alampay,Cruz,ParasandFeliciano,JJ.,concur.

SeparateOpinions
GUTIERREZ,JR.,J.,concurring:
IreiteratemyconcurrenceinMeralcov.CastroBartolome,and,therefore,dissenthere.

TEEHANKEE,C.J.,concurring:
Iamhonoredbymybrethren'sjudgmentatbarthatmydissentingopinionintheJune,1982MeralcoandIglesianiCristocases,1whichis
hereinupheld,"expressedwhatisthebetter....andindeedthecorrectview."Mydissentwasanchoredonthelandmark1909case
ofCarino2throughthe1925caseofSusi3andthelonglineofcasescitedthereintothelatest1980caseofHerico4that"itisestablished
doctrine.......thatanopen,continuous,adverseandpublicpossessionofalandofthepublicdomainfortheperiodprovidedinthePublicLand
Actprovisioninforceatthetime(fromJuly26,1894inSusiundertheoldlaw[thisperiodwasreducedto'atleastthirtyyearsimmediately
precedingthefilingoftheapplicationforconfirmationoftitle'byamendmentofCommonwealthActNo.141,equivalenttotheperiodof
acquisitiveprescription5])byaprivateindividualpersonallyandthroughhispredecessorsconfersaneffectivetitleonsaidpossessor,
wherebythelandceasestobelandofthepublicdomainandbecomesprivateproperty."Iherebyreproducethesamebyreferenceforbrevity's
sake.ButsincewearerevertingtotheoldabovecitedestablisheddoctrineandprecedentsanddiscardingtheMeralcoandIglesiani
Cristocaseswhichdepartedtherefromintherecentpast,Ifeelconstrainedtowritethisconcurrenceinamplificationofmyviewsandratio
decidendi.
UndertheexpresstextandmandateofthecitedAct,suchpossessors"shallbeconclusivelypresumedtohaveperformedalltheconditions
essentialtoaGovernmentgrantandshallbeentitledtoacertificateoftitleundertheprovisionsofthischapter."
TheCourtthusheldinSusithatunderthepresumptionjurisetdejureestablishedintheAct,therightfulpossessorofthepubliclandforthe
statutoryperiod"alreadyacquired,byoperationoflaw,notonlyarighttoagrant,butagrantoftheGovernment,foritisnotnecessarythat
certificateoftitleshouldbeissuedanorderthatsaidgrantmaybesanctionedbythecourts,anapplicationthereforeissufficient....Ifbya
legalfiction,ValentinSusihadacquiredthelandinquestionbyagrantoftheState,ithadalreadyceasedtobeofthepublicdomainand
hadbecomeprivateproperty,atleastbypresumption,ofValentinSusi,beyondthecontroloftheDirectorofLands[andbeyondhisauthority
toselltoanyotherperson]."6
TherootofthedoctrinegoesbacktothepronouncementofJusticeOliverWendellHolmesfortheU.S.SupremeCourtinthe1909case
ofCarino(theIgorotchiefwhowouldhavebeendeprivedofancestralfamilylandsbythedismissalofhisapplicationforregistration)which
reversedthedismissaloftheregistrationcourt(asaffirmedbytheSupremeCourt)andadoptedtheliberalviewthatunderthedecreeand
regulationsofJune25,1880,"Thewords'mayprove'(acrediten),aswell,orbetter,inviewoftheotherprovisions,mightbetakentomean
whencalledupontodosoinanylitigation.Thereareindicationsthatregistrationwasexpectedfromall,butnonesufficienttoshowthat,for
wantofit,ownershipactuallygainedwouldbelost.Theeffectoftheproof,whenevermade,wasnottoconfertitle,butsimplytoestablishit,
asalreadyconferredbythedecree,ifnotbyearlierlaw."
TheCourt'sdecisionatbarnowexpresslyoverturnstheMeralcoandrelatedcasessubsequenttheretowhichfailedtoadheretotheaforecited
establisheddoctrinedatingbackto1909andwasconsistentlyapplieduptoJune29,1982(whentheMeralcodecisionwaspromulgated).We
reaffirmtheestablisheddoctrinethatsuchacquisitiveprescriptionofalienablepubliclandstakesplaceipsojureorbyoperationoflaw
withoutthenecessityofapriorissuanceofacertificateoftitle.Thelandipsojureceasestobeofthepublicdomainandbecomesprivate
property,whichmaybelawfullysoldtoandacquiredbyqualifiedcorporationssuchasrespondentcorporation.(AsstressedinHericosupra,
"theapplicationforconfirmationisamereformality,thelackofwhichdoesnotaffectthelegalsufficiencyofthetitle.")
Suchipsojureconversionintoprivatepropertyofpubliclandspubliclyheldunderabonafideclaimofacquisitionorownershipisthepublic
policyoftheActandissoexpresslystatedtherein.Byvirtueofsuchconversionintoprivateproperty,qualifiedcorporationsmaylawfully
acquirethemandthereisno"alterationordefeating"ofthe1973Constitution'sprohibitionagainstcorporationsholdingoracquiringtitleto
landsofthepublicdomain,asclaimedinthedissentingopinion,forthesimplereasonthatnopubliclandsareinvolved.
ItshouldbenotedthatrespondentcorporationpurchasedthelandfromtheInfielsonOctober16,1962undertheaegisofthe1935
Constitutionwhichcontainednoprohibitionagainstcorporationsholdingpubliclands(exceptalimitof1,024hectares)unlikethelater1973
Constitutionwhichimposedanabsoluteprohibition.EvenontheerroneousassumptionthatthelandremainedpubliclanddespitetheInfiels'
openpossessionthereofasownersfromtimeimmemorial,respondentcorporation'slawfulpurchasefromthemofthelandin1962and
P45millioninvestmentsredoundingpresumablytothewelfareandprogressofthecommunity,particularlythemunicipalityofMaconacon,
Isabelatowhichitdonatedpartofthelandforthetownsitecreatedavestedrightwhichcouldnotbeimpairedbytheprohibitionadopted
elevenyearslater.Butassufficientlystressed,thelandoftheInfielshadbeenipsojureconvertedintoprivatelandandtheyhadalegally
sufficientandtransferabletitleconferredbytheconclusivepresumptionofthePublicLandAct(whichneededonlytobeestablishedin
confirmationoftitleproceedingsforformalizationandissuanceofthecertificateoftitle)whichtheylawfullyandvalidlytransferredto
respondentcorporation.
Infact,themanyamendmentstotheActextendingtheperiodforthefilingofsuchapplicationsforjudicialconfirmationofimperfectand
incompletetitlestoalienableanddisposablepubliclandsexpresslyreiteratethatithasalwaysbeenthe"policyoftheStatetohastenthe
settlement,adjudicationandquietingoftitlesto[such]unregisteredlands,"i.e.torecognizethatsuchlandspubliclyandnotoriouslyoccupied
andcultivatedunderbonafideclaimofacquisitionorownershiphaveipsojurebeenconvertedintoprivatepropertyandgrantthepossessors
theopportunitytoestablishandrecordsuchfact.Thus,thedeadlineforthefilingofsuchapplicationwhichwouldhaveoriginallyexpiredfirst
onDecember31,1938wassuccessivelyextendedtoDecember31,1941,thenextendedtoDecember31,1957,thentoDecember31,1968,
furtherextendedtoDecember31,1976andlastlyextendedtoDecember31,1987.7
ThecitedAct'sprovisionthatonlynaturalpersonsmayapplythereunderforconfirmationoftitleisineffectatechnicalityofprocedureand
notofsubstance.MysubmittalinMeralco,mutatismutandis,isproperlyapplicable:"Theendsofjusticewouldbestbeserved,therefore,by
consideringtheapplicationsforconfirmationasamendedtoconformtotheevidence,i.e.asfiledinthenamesoftheoriginalpersonswhoas
naturalpersonsaredulyqualifiedtoapplyforformalconfirmationofthetitlethattheyhadacquiredbyconclusivepresumptionandmandate
ofthePublicLandActandwhothereafterdulysoldtothehereincorporations(bothadmittedlyFilipinocorporationsdulyqualifiedtohold
andownprivatelands)andgrantingtheapplicationsforconfirmationoftitletotheprivatelandssoacquiredandsoldorexchanged."8Indeed,
thenChiefJusticeEnriqueM.Fernandolikewisedissentedalongthesamelinefromthemajorityrulingthereinandheld:"Idissentinsofaras
theopinionoftheCourtwouldcharacterizesuchjurisdictionaldefectthattheapplicantwasMeralco,ajuridicalpersonratherthanthenatural
personstransferors,undertheparticularcircumstancesofthiscase,asaninsurmountableobstacletothereliefsought.Iwouldapplyby
analogy,althoughthefactscouldbedistinguished,theapproachfollowedbyusinFranciscov.CityofDavao,wherethelegalquestionraised,
insteadofbeingdeferredandpossiblytakenupinanothercase,wasresolved.Bylegalfictionandintheexerciseofourequitablejurisdiction,
IfeelthattherealisticsolutionwouldbetodecidethematterasiftheapplicationunderSection48(b)werefiledbythePiguingspouses,whoI
assumesufferfromnosuchdisability."9JusticeVicenteAbadSantos,nowretired,whileconcurringintheproceduralresult,likewise,in
effectdissentedfromthethereinmajorityrulingonthequestionofsubstance,andstatedhisopinionthat"thelotswhicharesoughttobe
registeredhaveceasedtobelandsofthepublicdomainatthetimetheywereacquiredbythepetitionercorporation.Theyarealreadyprivate
landsbecauseofacquisitiveprescriptionbythepredecessorsofthepetitionerandallthatisneededistheconfirmationofthetitle.
Accordingly,theconstitutionalprovisionthatnoprivatecorporationorassociationmayholdalienablelandsofthepublicdomainis
inapplicable."10
Tomymind,thereasonwhytheActlimitsthefilingofsuchapplicationstonaturalcitizenswhomayprovetheirundisputedandopen
possessionofpubliclandsfortherequiredstatutorythirtyyearperiod,tackingontheirpredecessors'ininterestpossessionisthatonlynatural
persons,totheexclusionofjuridicalpersonssuchascorporations,canactually,physicallyandinrealitypossesspubliclandsfortherequired
statutory30yearperiod.Thatjuridicalpersonsorcorporationscannotdosoisobvious.Butwhenthenaturalpersonshavefulfilledthe
requiredstatutoryperiodofpossession,theActconfersonthemalegallysufficientandtransferabletitle.Itispreferabletofollowtheletterof
thelawthattheyfiletheapplicationsforconfirmationoftheirtitle,althoughtheyhavelawfullytransferredtheirtitletotheland.But
suchproceduralfailurecannotandshouldnotdefeatthesubstanceofthelaw,asstressedintheabovecitedopinions,thatthelandsare
alreadyprivatelandsbecauseofacquisitiveprescriptionbythecorporation'spredecessorsandtherealisticsolutionwouldbetoconsiderthe
applicationforconfirmationasfiledbythenaturalpersonstransferors,andinaccordancewiththeevidence,confirmtheirtitletotheprivate
landssoconvertedbyoperationoflawandlawfullytransferredbythemtothecorporation.Thelaw,afterall,recognizesthevalidityofthe
transferandsaleoftheprivatelandtothecorporation.Itshouldnotbenecessarytogoinaroundaboutwayandhavethecorporationreassign
itsrightstotheprivatelandtonaturalpersons(asIunderstand),wasdoneafterthedecisionintheMeralcoandIglesianiCristocases)just
forthepurposeofcomplyingonpaperwiththetechnicalityofhavingnaturalpersonsfiletheapplicationforconfirmationoftitleto
theprivateland.

MELENCIOHERRERA,J.,dissenting:
Section48ofthePublicLandAct,inpart,provides:
SEC.48.ThefollowingdescribedcitizensofthePhilippines,occupyinglandsofthepublicdomainorclaimingtoownanysuch
landsoraninteresttherein,butwhosetitleshavenotbeenperfectedorcompleted,mayapplytotheCourtofFirstInstanceofthe
provincewherethelandislocatedforconfirmationoftheirclaimsandtheissuanceofacertificateoftitletherefor,undertheLand
RegistrationAct,towit:
(a)...
(b)Thosewhobythemselvesorthroughtheirpredecessorsininteresthavebeeninopen,continuous,exclusive,andnotorious
possessionandoccupationofagriculturallandsofthepublicdomain,underabonafideclaimofacquisitionofownership,foratleast
thirtyyearsimmediatelyprecedingthefilingoftheapplicationforconfirmationoftitleexceptwhenpreventedbywarorforce
majeure.TheseshallbeconclusivelypresumedtohaveperformedaretheconditionsessentialtoaGovernmentgrantandshallbe
entitledtoacertificateoftitleundertheprovisionsofthischapter.
(c)...
ArticleXIV,Section11,ofthe1973Constitution,inpart,provides:
SEC.11.....Noprivatecorporationorassociationmayholdalienablelandsofthepublicdomainexceptbyleasenottoexceedone
thousandhectaresinarea;normayanycitizenholdsuchlandsbyleaseinexcessoffivehundredhectares....
Ithastobeconcededthat,literally,statutorylawandconstitutionalprovisionpreventacorporationfromdirectlyapplyingtotheCourtsfor
theissuanceofOriginalCertificatesofTitletolandsofthepublicdomain(ManilaElectricCompanyvs.CastroBartolome,114SCRA799;
Republicvs.Villanueva,114SCRA875;Republicvs.CourtofAppeals,119SCRA449;IglesianiCristovs.Hon.Judge,CFIofNueva
Ecija,Br.1).Itismyopinionthattheliteralismshouldbeadheredtointhiscase.
Thereasoningofthemajoritycanberestatedinsimpletermsasfollows:
(a)TheINFIELScansuccessfullyfileanapplicationforacertificateoftitleoverthelandinvolvedinthecase.
(b)AftertheINFIELSsecureacertificateoftitle,theycansellthelandtoACME.
(c)AsACMEcaneventuallyownthecertificateoftitle,itshouldbeallowedtodirectlyapplytotheCourtsfortheCertificateofTitle,thus
avoidingthecircuituous"literal"requirementthattheINFIELSshouldfirstapplytothecourtsforthetitles,andafterwardstransferthetitleto
ACME.
Themajorityopinion,ineffect,adoptedthefollowingexcerptfromadissentinManilaElectricCompanyvs.CastroBartolome(114SCRA
799,823[1982]).
Toupholdrespondentjudge'sdenialofMeralco'sapplicationonthetechnicalitythatthePublicLandActallowsonlycitizensofthe
Philippineswhoarenaturalpersonstoapplyforconfirmationoftheirtitlewouldbeimpracticalandwouldjustgiveriseto
multiplicityofcourtactions.Assumingthattherewasatechnicalerrorinnothavingfiledtheapplicationforregistrationinthename
ofthePiguingspousesastheoriginalownersandvendors,
stillitisconcededthatthereisnoprohibitionagainsttheirsaleofthelandtotheapplicantMeralco
andneitheristhereanyprohibitionagainsttheapplicationbeingrefiledwithretroactiveeffectinthenameoftheoriginalownersand
vendors(assuchnaturalpersons)withtheendresultoftheirapplicationbeinggranted,becauseoftheirindisputableacquisitionof
ownershipbyoperationoflawandtheconclusivepresumptionthereinprovidedintheirfavor.
Itshouldnotbenecessarytogothroughalltheritualsatthegreatcostofrefilingofallsuchapplicationsintheirnamesandaddingtothe
overcrowdedcourtdocketswhentheCourtcanafteralltheseyearsdisposeofithereandnow."(Paragraphingsupplied)
Theeffectisthatthemajorityopinionnownullifiesthestatutoryprovisionthatonlycitizens(naturalpersons)canapplyforcertificatesoftitle
underSection48(b)ofthePublicLandAct,aswellastheconstitutionalprovision(ArticleXIV,Section11)whichprohibitscorporations
fromacquiringtitletolandsofthepublicdomain.Thatinterpretationorconstructionadoptedbythemajoritycannotbejustified."A
constructionadoptedshouldnotbesuchastonullify,destroyordefeattheintentionofthelegislature"(NewYorkStateDept.ofSocial
Servicesv.Dublino[UST37L.Ed2d688,93SCt2507;UnitedStatesv.Alpers338US680,94LEd457,70SCt352;citedin73AmJur.
2nd.,p.351).
Ithasalsobeensaidthat:
Intheconstructionofstatutes,thecourtsstartwiththeassumptionthatthelegislatureintendedtoenactaneffectivelaw,andthe
legislatureisnottobepresumedtohavedoneavainthingintheenactmentofastatute.Hence,itisageneralprinciplethatthecourts
should,ifreasonablypossibletodosointerpretthestatute,ortheprovisionbeingconstrued,soastogiveitefficientoperationand
effectasawhole.Aninterpretationshould,ifpossible,beavoided,underwhichthestatuteorprovisionbeingconstruedisdefeated,
orasotherwiseexpressed,nullified,destroyed,emasculated,repealed,explainedaway,orrenderedinsignificant,meaningless,
inoperative,ornugatory.Ifastatuteisfairlysusceptibleoftwoconstructions,oneofwhichwillgiveeffecttotheact,whiletheother
willdefeatit,theformerconstructionispreferred.Onepartofastatutemaynotbeconstruedsoastorenderanotherpartnugatoryor
ofnoeffect.Moreover,notwithstandingthegeneralruleagainsttheenlargementofextensionofastatutebyconstruction,the
meaningofastatutemaybeextendedbeyondtheprecisewordsusedinthelaw,andwordsorphrasesmaybealteredorsupplied,
wherethisisnecessarytopreventalawfrombecominganullity.Wherevertheprovisionofastatuteisgeneraleverythingwhichis
necessarytomakesuchprovisioneffectualissuppliedbyimplication.(Pliakosvs.IllinoisLiquorControlCom.11III2d456,143
NE2d47;citedin73AMJur.2dpp.422423)
Thestatutoryprovisionandtheconstitutionalprohibitionexpressapublicpolicy.ThepropercoursefortheCourttotakeistopromoteinthe
fullestmannerthepolicythuslaiddownandtoavoidaconstructionwhichwouldalterordefeatthatpolicy.
Infine,IconfirmmyadherencetotherulingofthisCourtinMeralcovs.Hon.CastroBartolome,114SCRA799[1982]andrelatedcases.

SeparateOpinions
GUTIERREZ,JR.,J.,concurring:
IreiteratemyconcurrenceinMeralcov.CastroBartolome,and,therefore,dissenthere.

TEEHANKEE,C.J.,concurring:
Iamhonoredbymybrethren'sjudgmentatbarthatmydissentingopinionintheJune,1982MeralcoandIglesianiCristocases,1whichis
hereinupheld,"expressedwhatisthebetter....andindeedthecorrectview."Mydissentwasanchoredonthelandmark1909case
ofCarino2throughthe1925caseofSusi3andthelonglineofcasescitedthereintothelatest1980caseofHerico4that"itisestablished
doctrine.......thatanopen,continuous,adverseandpublicpossessionofalandofthepublicdomainfortheperiodprovidedinthePublicLand
Actprovisioninforceatthetime(fromJuly26,1894inSusiundertheoldlaw[thisperiodwasreducedto'atleastthirtyyearsimmediately
precedingthefilingoftheapplicationforconfirmationoftitle'byamendmentofCommonwealthActNo.141,equivalenttotheperiodof
acquisitiveprescription5])byaprivateindividualpersonallyandthroughhispredecessorsconfersaneffectivetitleonsaidpossessor,
wherebythelandceasestobelandofthepublicdomainandbecomesprivateproperty."Iherebyreproducethesamebyreferenceforbrevity's
sake.ButsincewearerevertingtotheoldabovecitedestablisheddoctrineandprecedentsanddiscardingtheMeralcoandIglesiani
Cristocaseswhichdepartedtherefromintherecentpast,Ifeelconstrainedtowritethisconcurrenceinamplificationofmyviewsandratio
decidendi.
UndertheexpresstextandmandateofthecitedAct,suchpossessors"shallbeconclusivelypresumedtohaveperformedalltheconditions
essentialtoaGovernmentgrantandshallbeentitledtoacertificateoftitleundertheprovisionsofthischapter."
TheCourtthusheldinSusithatunderthepresumptionjurisetdejureestablishedintheAct,therightfulpossessorofthepubliclandforthe
statutoryperiod"alreadyacquired,byoperationoflaw,notonlyarighttoagrant,butagrantoftheGovernment,foritisnotnecessarythat
certificateoftitleshouldbeissuedanorderthatsaidgrantmaybesanctionedbythecourts,anapplicationthereforeissufficient....Ifbya
legalfiction,ValentinSusihadacquiredthelandinquestionbyagrantoftheState,ithadalreadyceasedtobeofthepublicdomainand
hadbecomeprivateproperty,atleastbypresumption,ofValentinSusi,beyondthecontroloftheDirectorofLands[andbeyondhisauthority
toselltoanyotherperson]."6
TherootofthedoctrinegoesbacktothepronouncementofJusticeOliverWendellHolmesfortheU.S.SupremeCourtinthe1909case
ofCarino(theIgorotchiefwhowouldhavebeendeprivedofancestralfamilylandsbythedismissalofhisapplicationforregistration)which
reversedthedismissaloftheregistrationcourt(asaffirmedbytheSupremeCourt)andadoptedtheliberalviewthatunderthedecreeand
regulationsofJune25,1880,"Thewords'mayprove'(acrediten),aswell,orbetter,inviewoftheotherprovisions,mightbetakentomean
whencalledupontodosoinanylitigation.Thereareindicationsthatregistrationwasexpectedfromall,butnonesufficienttoshowthat,for
wantofit,ownershipactuallygainedwouldbelost.Theeffectoftheproof,whenevermade,wasnottoconfertitle,butsimplytoestablishit,
asalreadyconferredbythedecree,ifnotbyearlierlaw."
TheCourt'sdecisionatbarnowexpresslyoverturnstheMeralcoandrelatedcasessubsequenttheretowhichfailedtoadheretotheaforecited
establisheddoctrinedatingbackto1909andwasconsistentlyapplieduptoJune29,1982(whentheMeralcodecisionwas
promulgated).<re||an1w>Wereaffirmtheestablisheddoctrinethatsuchacquisitiveprescriptionofalienablepubliclandstakesplace
ipsojureorbyoperationoflawwithoutthenecessityofapriorissuanceofacertificateoftitle.Thelandipsojureceasestobeofthepublic
domainandbecomesprivateproperty,whichmaybelawfullysoldtoandacquiredbyqualifiedcorporationssuchasrespondentcorporation.
(AsstressedinHericosupra,"theapplicationforconfirmationisamereformality,thelackofwhichdoesnotaffectthelegalsufficiencyof
thetitle.")
Suchipsojureconversionintoprivatepropertyofpubliclandspubliclyheldunderabonafideclaimofacquisitionorownershipisthepublic
policyoftheActandissoexpresslystatedtherein.Byvirtueofsuchconversionintoprivateproperty,qualifiedcorporationsmaylawfully
acquirethemandthereisno"alterationordefeating"ofthe1973Constitution'sprohibitionagainstcorporationsholdingoracquiringtitleto
landsofthepublicdomain,asclaimedinthedissentingopinion,forthesimplereasonthatnopubliclandsareinvolved.
ItshouldbenotedthatrespondentcorporationpurchasedthelandfromtheInfielsonOctober16,1962undertheaegisofthe1935
Constitutionwhichcontainednoprohibitionagainstcorporationsholdingpubliclands(exceptalimitof1,024hectares)unlikethelater1973
Constitutionwhichimposedanabsoluteprohibition.EvenontheerroneousassumptionthatthelandremainedpubliclanddespitetheInfiels'
openpossessionthereofasownersfromtimeimmemorial,respondentcorporation'slawfulpurchasefromthemofthelandin1962andP
45millioninvestmentsredoundingpresumablytothewelfareandprogressofthecommunity,particularlythemunicipalityofMaconacon,
Isabelatowhichitdonatedpartofthelandforthetownsitecreatedavestedrightwhichcouldnotbeimpairedbytheprohibitionadopted
elevenyearslater.Butassufficientlystressed,thelandoftheInfielshadbeenipsojureconvertedintoprivatelandandtheyhadalegally
sufficientandtransferabletitleconferredbytheconclusivepresumptionofthePublicLandAct(whichneededonlytobeestablishedin
confirmationoftitleproceedingsforformalizationandissuanceofthecertificateoftitle)whichtheylawfullyandvalidlytransferredto
respondentcorporation.
Infact,themanyamendmentstotheActextendingtheperiodforthefilingofsuchapplicationsforjudicialconfirmationofimperfectand
incompletetitlestoalienableanddisposablepubliclandsexpresslyreiteratethatithasalwaysbeenthe"policyoftheStatetohastenthe
settlement,adjudicationandquietingoftitlesto[such]unregisteredlands,"i.e.torecognizethatsuchlandspubliclyandnotoriouslyoccupied
andcultivatedunderbonafideclaimofacquisitionorownershiphaveipsojurebeenconvertedintoprivatepropertyandgrantthepossessors
theopportunitytoestablishandrecordsuchfact.Thus,thedeadlineforthefilingofsuchapplicationwhichwouldhaveoriginallyexpiredfirst
onDecember31,1938wassuccessivelyextendedtoDecember31,1941,thenextendedtoDecember31,1957,thentoDecember31,1968,
furtherextendedtoDecember31,1976andlastlyextendedtoDecember31,1987.7
ThecitedAct'sprovisionthatonlynaturalpersonsmayapplythereunderforconfirmationoftitleisineffectatechnicalityofprocedureand
notofsubstance.MysubmittalinMeralco,mutatismutandis,isproperlyapplicable:"Theendsofjusticewouldbestbeserved,therefore,by
consideringtheapplicationsforconfirmationasamendedtoconformtotheevidence,i.e.asfiledinthenamesoftheoriginalpersonswhoas
naturalpersonsaredulyqualifiedtoapplyforformalconfirmationofthetitlethattheyhadacquiredbyconclusivepresumptionandmandate
ofthePublicLandActandwhothereafterdulysoldtothehereincorporations(bothadmittedlyFilipinocorporationsdulyqualifiedtohold
andownprivatelands)andgrantingtheapplicationsforconfirmationoftitletotheprivatelandssoacquiredandsoldorexchanged."8Indeed,
thenChiefJusticeEnriqueM.Fernandolikewisedissentedalongthesamelinefromthemajorityrulingthereinandheld:"Idissentinsofaras
theopinionoftheCourtwouldcharacterizesuchjurisdictionaldefectthattheapplicantwasMeralco,ajuridicalpersonratherthanthenatural
personstransferors,undertheparticularcircumstancesofthiscase,asaninsurmountableobstacletothereliefsought.Iwouldapplyby
analogy,althoughthefactscouldbedistinguished,theapproachfollowedbyusinFranciscov.CityofDavao,wherethelegalquestionraised,
insteadofbeingdeferredandpossiblytakenupinanothercase,wasresolved.Bylegalfictionandintheexerciseofourequitablejurisdiction,
IfeelthattherealisticsolutionwouldbetodecidethematterasiftheapplicationunderSection48(b)werefiledbythePiguingspouses,whoI
assumesufferfromnosuchdisability."9JusticeVicenteAbadSantos,nowretired,whileconcurringintheproceduralresult,likewise,in
effectdissentedfromthethereinmajorityrulingonthequestionofsubstance,andstatedhisopinionthat"thelotswhicharesoughttobe
registeredhaveceasedtobelandsofthepublicdomainatthetimetheywereacquiredbythepetitionercorporation.Theyarealreadyprivate
landsbecauseofacquisitiveprescriptionbythepredecessorsofthepetitionerandallthatisneededistheconfirmationofthetitle.
Accordingly,theconstitutionalprovisionthatnoprivatecorporationorassociationmayholdalienablelandsofthepublicdomainis
inapplicable."10
Tomymind,thereasonwhytheActlimitsthefilingofsuchapplicationstonaturalcitizenswhomayprovetheirundisputedandopen
possessionofpubliclandsfortherequiredstatutorythirtyyearperiod,tackingontheirpredecessors'ininterestpossessionisthatonlynatural
persons,totheexclusionofjuridicalpersonssuchascorporations,canactually,physicallyandinrealitypossesspubliclandsfortherequired
statutory30yearperiod.Thatjuridicalpersonsorcorporationscannotdosoisobvious.Butwhenthenaturalpersonshavefulfilledthe
requiredstatutoryperiodofpossession,theActconfersonthemalegallysufficientandtransferabletitle.Itispreferabletofollowtheletterof
thelawthattheyfiletheapplicationsforconfirmationoftheirtitle,althoughtheyhavelawfullytransferredtheirtitletotheland.But
suchproceduralfailurecannotandshouldnotdefeatthesubstanceofthelaw,asstressedintheabovecitedopinions,thatthelandsare
alreadyprivatelandsbecauseofacquisitiveprescriptionbythecorporation'spredecessorsandtherealisticsolutionwouldbetoconsiderthe
applicationforconfirmationasfiledbythenaturalpersonstransferors,andinaccordancewiththeevidence,confirmtheirtitletotheprivate
landssoconvertedbyoperationoflawandlawfullytransferredbythemtothecorporation.Thelaw,afterall,recognizesthevalidityofthe
transferandsaleoftheprivatelandtothecorporation.Itshouldnotbenecessarytogoinaroundaboutwayandhavethecorporationreassign
itsrightstotheprivatelandtonaturalpersons(asIunderstand),wasdoneafterthedecisionintheMeralcoandIglesianiCristocases)just
forthepurposeofcomplyingonpaperwiththetechnicalityofhavingnaturalpersonsfiletheapplicationforconfirmationoftitleto
theprivateland.

MELENCIOHERRERA,J.,dissenting:
Section48ofthePublicLandAct,inpart,provides:
SEC.48.ThefollowingdescribedcitizensofthePhilippines,occupyinglandsofthepublicdomainorclaimingtoownanysuch
landsoraninteresttherein,butwhosetitleshavenotbeenperfectedorcompleted,mayapplytotheCourtofFirstInstanceofthe
provincewherethelandislocatedforconfirmationoftheirclaimsandtheissuanceofacertificateoftitletherefor,undertheLand
RegistrationAct,towit:
(a)...
(b)Thosewhobythemselvesorthroughtheirpredecessorsininteresthavebeeninopen,continuous,exclusive,andnotorious
possessionandoccupationofagriculturallandsofthepublicdomain,underabonafideclaimofacquisitionofownership,foratleast
thirtyyearsimmediatelyprecedingthefilingoftheapplicationforconfirmationoftitleexceptwhenpreventedbywarorforce
majeure.TheseshallbeconclusivelypresumedtohaveperformedaretheconditionsessentialtoaGovernmentgrantandshallbe
entitledtoacertificateoftitleundertheprovisionsofthischapter.
(c)...
ArticleXIV,Section11,ofthe1973Constitution,inpart,provides:
SEC.11.....Noprivatecorporationorassociationmayholdalienablelandsofthepublicdomainexceptbyleasenottoexceedone
thousandhectaresinarea;normayanycitizenholdsuchlandsbyleaseinexcessoffivehundredhectares....
Ithastobeconcededthat,literally,statutorylawandconstitutionalprovisionpreventacorporationfromdirectlyapplyingtotheCourtsfor
theissuanceofOriginalCertificatesofTitletolandsofthepublicdomain(ManilaElectricCompanyvs.CastroBartolome,114SCRA799;
Republicvs.Villanueva,114SCRA875;Republicvs.CourtofAppeals,119SCRA449;IglesianiCristovs.Hon.Judge,CFIofNueva
Ecija,Br.1).Itismyopinionthattheliteralismshouldbeadheredtointhiscase.
Thereasoningofthemajoritycanberestatedinsimpletermsasfollows:
(a)TheINFIELScansuccessfullyfileanapplicationforacertificateoftitleoverthelandinvolvedinthecase.
(b)AftertheINFIELSsecureacertificateoftitle,theycansellthelandtoACME.
(c)AsACMEcaneventuallyownthecertificateoftitle,itshouldbeallowedtodirectlyapplytotheCourtsfortheCertificateofTitle,thus
avoidingthecircuituous"literal"requirementthattheINFIELSshouldfirstapplytothecourtsforthetitles,andafterwardstransferthetitleto
ACME.
Themajorityopinion,ineffect,adoptedthefollowingexcerptfromadissentinManilaElectricCompanyvs.CastroBartolome(114SCRA
799,823[1982]).
Toupholdrespondentjudge'sdenialofMeralco'sapplicationonthetechnicalitythatthePublicLandActallowsonlycitizensofthe
Philippineswhoarenaturalpersonstoapplyforconfirmationoftheirtitlewouldbeimpracticalandwouldjustgiveriseto
multiplicityofcourtactions.Assumingthattherewasatechnicalerrorinnothavingfiledtheapplicationforregistrationinthename
ofthePiguingspousesastheoriginalownersandvendors,
stillitisconcededthatthereisnoprohibitionagainsttheirsaleofthelandtotheapplicantMeralco
andneitheristhereanyprohibitionagainsttheapplicationbeingrefiledwithretroactiveeffectinthenameoftheoriginalownersand
vendors(assuchnaturalpersons)withtheendresultoftheirapplicationbeinggranted,becauseoftheirindisputableacquisitionof
ownershipbyoperationoflawandtheconclusivepresumptionthereinprovidedintheirfavor.
Itshouldnotbenecessarytogothroughalltheritualsatthegreatcostofrefilingofallsuchapplicationsintheirnamesandaddingtothe
overcrowdedcourtdocketswhentheCourtcanafteralltheseyearsdisposeofithereandnow."(Emphasissupplied)
Theeffectisthatthemajorityopinionnownullifiesthestatutoryprovisionthatonlycitizens(naturalpersons)canapplyforcertificatesoftitle
underSection48(b)ofthePublicLandAct,aswellastheconstitutionalprovision(ArticleXIV,Section11)whichprohibitscorporations
fromacquiringtitletolandsofthepublicdomain.Thatinterpretationorconstructionadoptedbythemajoritycannotbejustified."A
constructionadoptedshouldnotbesuchastonullify,destroyordefeattheintentionofthelegislature"(NewYorkStateDept.ofSocial
Servicesv.Dublino[UST37L.Ed2d688,93SCt2507;UnitedStatesv.Alpers338US680,94LEd457,70SCt352;citedin73AmJur.
2nd.,p.351).
Ithasalsobeensaidthat:
Intheconstructionofstatutes,thecourtsstartwiththeassumptionthatthelegislatureintendedtoenactaneffectivelaw,andthe
legislatureisnottobepresumedtohavedoneavainthingintheenactmentofastatute.Hence,itisageneralprinciplethatthecourts
should,ifreasonablypossibletodosointerpretthestatute,ortheprovisionbeingconstrued,soastogiveitefficientoperationand
effectasawhole.Aninterpretationshould,ifpossible,beavoided,underwhichthestatuteorprovisionbeingconstruedisdefeated,
orasotherwiseexpressed,nullified,destroyed,emasculated,repealed,explainedaway,orrenderedinsignificant,meaningless,
inoperative,ornugatory.Ifastatuteisfairlysusceptibleoftwoconstructions,oneofwhichwillgiveeffecttotheact,whiletheother
willdefeatit,theformerconstructionispreferred.Onepartofastatutemaynotbeconstruedsoastorenderanotherpartnugatoryor
ofnoeffect.Moreover,notwithstandingthegeneralruleagainsttheenlargementofextensionofastatutebyconstruction,the
meaningofastatutemaybeextendedbeyondtheprecisewordsusedinthelaw,andwordsorphrasesmaybealteredorsupplied,
wherethisisnecessarytopreventalawfrombecominganullity.Wherevertheprovisionofastatuteisgeneraleverythingwhichis
necessarytomakesuchprovisioneffectualissuppliedbyimplication.(Pliakosvs.IllinoisLiquorControlCom.11III2d456,143
NE2d47;citedin73AMJur.2dpp.422423)
Thestatutoryprovisionandtheconstitutionalprohibitionexpressapublicpolicy.ThepropercoursefortheCourttotakeistopromoteinthe
fullestmannerthepolicythuslaiddownandtoavoidaconstructionwhichwouldalterordefeatthatpolicy.
Infine,IconfirmmyadherencetotherulingofthisCourtinMeralcovs.Hon.CastroBartolome,114SCRA799[1982]andrelatedcases.

3. Rep v CA, GR No. 144057

TINGA,J.:
ThisisaPetitionforReviewonCertiorariunderRule45ofthe1997RulesofCivilProcedure,seekingtoreviewtheDecision 1oftheSixth
DivisionoftheCourtofAppealsdatedJuly12,2000inCAG.R.SPNo.51921.Theappellatecourtaffirmedthedecisionsofboththe
RegionalTrialCourt(RTC),2Branch8,ofKalibo,AklandatedFebruary26,1999,andthe7thMunicipalCircuitTrialCourt(MCTC)3of
IbajayNabas,AklandatedFebruary18,1998,whichgrantedtheapplicationforregistrationofaparceloflandofCorazonNaguit(Naguit),
therespondentherein.
Thefactsareasfollows:
OnJanuary5,1993,Naguit,aFilipinocitizen,oflegalageandmarriedtoManolitoS.Naguit,filedwiththeMCTCofIbajayNabas,Aklan,a
petitionforregistrationoftitleofaparceloflandsituatedinBrgy.Union,Nabas,Aklan.TheparceloflandisdesignatedasLotNo.10049,
Cad.758D,NabasCadastre,AP060414014779,andcontainsanareaof31,374squaremeters.Theapplicationseeksjudicialconfirmation
ofrespondentsimperfecttitleovertheaforesaidland.
OnFebruary20,1995,thecourtheldinitialhearingontheapplication.Thepublicprosecutor,appearingforthegovernment,andJose
Angeles,representingtheheirsofRusticoAngeles,opposedthepetition.Onalaterdate,however,theheirsofRusticoAngelesfiledaformal
oppositiontothepetition.AlsoonFebruary20,1995,thecourtissuedanorderofgeneraldefaultagainstthewholeworldexceptastothe
heirsofRusticoAngelesandthegovernment.
TheevidenceonrecordrevealsthatthesubjectparceloflandwasoriginallydeclaredfortaxationpurposesinthenameofRamonUrbano
(Urbano)in1945underTaxDeclarationNo.3888until1991.4OnJuly9,1992,UrbanoexecutedaDeedofQuitclaiminfavoroftheheirsof
HonoratoMaming(Maming),whereinherenouncedallhisrightstothesubjectpropertyandconfirmedthesalemadebyhisfathertoMaming
sometimein1955or1956.5Subsequently,theheirsofMamingexecutedadeedofabsolutesaleinfavorofrespondentNaguitwhothereupon
startedoccupyingthesame.SheconstitutedManuelBlanco,Jr.asherattorneyinfactandadministrator.Theadministratorintroduced
improvements,plantedtrees,suchasmahogany,coconutandgemelinatreesinadditiontoexistingcoconuttreeswhichwerethen50to60
yearsold,andpaidthecorrespondingtaxesdueonthesubjectland.Atpresent,thereareparcelsoflandsurroundingthesubjectlandwhich
havebeenissuedtitlesbyvirtueofjudicialdecrees.Naguitandherpredecessorsininteresthaveoccupiedthelandopenlyandintheconcept
ofownerwithoutanyobjectionfromanyprivatepersonoreventhegovernmentuntilshefiledherapplicationforregistration.
AfterthepresentationofevidenceforNaguit,thepublicprosecutormanifestedthatthegovernmentdidnotintendtopresentanyevidence
whileoppositorJoseAngeles,asrepresentativeoftheheirsofRusticoAngeles,failedtoappearduringthetrialdespitenotice.OnSeptember
27,1997,theMCTCrenderedadecisionorderingthatthesubjectparcelbebroughtundertheoperationofthePropertyRegistrationDecreeor
PresidentialDecree(P.D.)No.1529andthatthetitletheretoregisteredandconfirmedinthenameofNaguit.6
TheRepublicofthePhilippines(Republic),thrutheOfficeoftheSolicitorGeneral(OSG),filedamotionforreconsideration.TheOSG
stressedthatthelandappliedforwasdeclaredalienableanddisposableonlyonOctober15,1980,perthecertificationfromRegional
ExecutiveDirectorRaoulT.GeollegueoftheDepartmentofEnvironmentandNaturalResources,RegionVI.7However,thecourtdeniedthe
motionforreconsiderationinanorderdatedFebruary18,1998.8
Thereafter,theRepublicappealedthedecisionandtheorderoftheMCTCtotheRTC,Kalibo,Aklan,Branch8.OnFebruary26,1999,the
RTCrendereditsdecision,dismissingtheappeal.9
Undaunted,theRepublicelevatedthecasetotheCourtofAppealsviaRule42ofthe1997RulesofCivilProcedure.OnJuly12,2000,the
appellatecourtrenderedadecisiondismissingthepetitionfiledbytheRepublicandaffirmedintototheassaileddecisionoftheRTC.
Hence,thepresentpetitionforreviewraisingapurequestionoflawwasfiledbytheRepubliconSeptember4,2000. 10
TheOSGassailsthedecisionoftheCourtofAppealscontendingthattheappellatecourtgravelyerredinholdingthatthereisnoneedforthe
governmentspriorreleaseofthesubjectlotfromthepublicdomainbeforeitcanbeconsideredalienableordisposablewithinthemeaningof
P.D.No.1529,andthatNaguithadbeeninpossessionofLotNo.10049intheconceptofownerfortherequiredperiod. 11
Hence,thecentralquestionforresolutioniswhetherisnecessaryunderSection14(1)ofthePropertyRegistrationDecreethatthesubjectland
befirstclassifiedasalienableanddisposablebeforetheapplicantspossessionunderabonafideclaimofownershipcouldevenstart.
TheOSGinvokesourholdinginDirectorofLandsv.IntermediateAppellateCourt12inarguingthatthepropertywhichisinopen,continuous
andexclusivepossessionmustfirstbealienable.SincethesubjectlandwasdeclaredalienableonlyonOctober15,1980,Naguitcouldnot
havemaintainedabonafideclaimofownershipsinceJune12,1945,asrequiredbySection14ofthePropertyRegistrationDecree,since
priorto1980,thelandwasnotalienableordisposable,theOSGargues.
Section14ofthePropertyRegistrationDecree,governingoriginalregistrationproceedings,bearscloseexamination.Itexpresslyprovides:
SECTION14.Whomayapply.ThefollowingpersonsmayfileintheproperCourtofFirstInstanceanapplicationforregistrationoftitleto
land,whetherpersonallyorthroughtheirdulyauthorizedrepresentatives:
(1)thosewhobythemselvesorthroughtheirpredecessorsininteresthavebeeninopen,continuous,exclusiveandnotorious
possessionandoccupationofalienableanddisposablelandsofthepublicdomainunderabonafideclaimofownershipsinceJune
12,1945,orearlier.
(2)Thosewhohaveacquiredownershipoverprivatelandsbyprescriptionundertheprovisionsofexistinglaws.
....
TherearethreeobviousrequisitesforthefilingofanapplicationforregistrationoftitleunderSection14(1)thatthepropertyinquestionis
alienableanddisposablelandofthepublicdomain;thattheapplicantsbythemselvesorthroughtheirpredecessorsininteresthavebeenin
open,continuous,exclusiveandnotoriouspossessionandoccupation,and;thatsuchpossessionisunderabonafideclaimofownershipsince
June12,1945orearlier.
PetitionersuggestsaninterpretationthatthealienableanddisposablecharacterofthelandshouldhavealreadybeenestablishedsinceJune12,
1945orearlier.ThisisnotborneoutbytheplainmeaningofSection14(1)."SinceJune12,1945,"asusedintheprovision,qualifiesits
antecedentphrase"underabonafideclaimofownership."Generallyspeaking,qualifyingwordsrestrictormodifyonlythewordsorphrases
towhichtheyareimmediatelyassociated,andnotthosedistantlyorremotelylocated. 13Adproximumantecedentsfiatrelationnisiimpediatur
sentencia.
Besides,wearemindfuloftheabsurditythatwouldresultifweadoptpetitionersposition.Absentalegislativeamendment,therulewould
be,adoptingtheOSGsview,thatalllandsofthepublicdomainwhichwerenotdeclaredalienableordisposablebeforeJune12,1945would
notbesusceptibletooriginalregistration,nomatterthelengthofunchallengedpossessionbytheoccupant.Suchinterpretationrenders
paragraph(1)ofSection14virtuallyinoperativeandevenprecludesthegovernmentfromgivingiteffectevenasitdecidestoreclassify
publicagriculturallandsasalienableanddisposable.Theunreasonablenessofthesituationwouldevenbeaggravatedconsideringthatbefore
June12,1945,thePhilippineswasnotyetevenconsideredanindependentstate.
Instead,themorereasonableinterpretationofSection14(1)isthatitmerelyrequiresthepropertysoughttoberegisteredasalreadyalienable
anddisposableatthetimetheapplicationforregistrationoftitleisfiled.IftheState,atthetimetheapplicationismade,hasnotyetdeemedit
propertoreleasethepropertyforalienationordisposition,thepresumptionisthatthegovernmentisstillreservingtherighttoutilizethe
property;hence,theneedtopreserveitsownershipintheStateirrespectiveofthelengthofadversepossessionevenifingoodfaith.However,
ifthepropertyhasalreadybeenclassifiedasalienableanddisposable,asitisinthiscase,thenthereisalreadyanintentiononthepartofthe
Statetoabdicateitsexclusiveprerogativeovertheproperty.
ThisreadingalignsconformablywithourholdinginRepublicv.CourtofAppeals.14Therein,theCourtnotedthat"toprovethattheland
subjectofanapplicationforregistrationisalienable,anapplicantmustestablishtheexistenceofapositiveactofthegovernmentsuchasa
presidentialproclamationoranexecutiveorder;anadministrativeaction;investigationreportsofBureauofLandsinvestigators;anda
legislativeactorastatute."15Inthatcase,thesubjectlandhadbeencertifiedbytheDENRasalienableanddisposablein1980,thustheCourt
concludedthatthealienablestatusoftheland,compoundedbytheestablishedfactthatthereinrespondentshadoccupiedthelandevenbefore
1927,sufficedtoallowtheapplicationforregistrationofthesaidproperty.Inthecaseatbar,eventhepetitioneradmitsthatthesubject
propertywasreleasedandcertifiedaswithinalienableanddisposablezonein1980bytheDENR.16
ThiscaseisdistinguishablefromBracewellv.CourtofAppeals,17whereintheCourtnotedthatwhiletheclaimanthadbeeninpossession
since1908,itwasonlyin1972thatthelandsinquestionwereclassifiedasalienableanddisposable.Thus,thebidatregistrationthereindid
notsucceed.InBracewell,theclaimanthadfiledhisapplicationin1963,ornine(9)yearsbeforethepropertywasdeclaredalienableand
disposable.Thus,inthiscase,wheretheapplicationwasmadeyearsafterthepropertyhadbeencertifiedasalienableanddisposable,
theBracewellrulingdoesnotapply.
Adifferentruleobtainsforforestlands,18suchasthosewhichformpartofareservationforprovincialparkpurposes 19thepossessionofwhich
cannotripenintoownership.20Itiselementaryinthelawgoverningnaturalresourcesthatforestlandcannotbeownedbyprivatepersons.As
heldinPalomov.CourtofAppeals,21forestlandisnotregistrableandpossessionthereof,nomatterhowlengthy,cannotconvertitinto
privateproperty,unlesssuchlandsarereclassifiedandconsidereddisposableandalienable. 22Inthecaseatbar,thepropertyinquestionwas
undisputedlyclassifiedasdisposableandalienable;hence,therulinginPalomoisinapplicable,ascorrectlyheldbytheCourtofAppeals.23
ItmustbenotedthatthepresentcasewasdecidedbythelowercourtsonthebasisofSection14(1)ofthePropertyRegistrationDecree,which
pertainstooriginalregistrationthroughordinaryregistrationproceedings.Therighttofiletheapplicationforregistrationderivesfromabona
fideclaimofownershipgoingbacktoJune12,1945orearlier,byreasonoftheclaimantsopen,continuous,exclusiveandnotorious
possessionofalienableanddisposablelandsofthepublicdomain.
AsimilarrightisgivenunderSection48(b)ofthePublicLandAct,whichreads:
Sec.48.ThefollowingdescribedcitizensofthePhilippines,occupyinglandsofthepublicdomainorclaimingtoownanysuchlandoran
interesttherein,butthosetitleshavenotbeenperfectedorcompleted,mayapplytotheCourtofFirstInstanceoftheprovincewheretheland
islocatedforconfirmationoftheirclaimsandtheissuanceofacertificateoftitletherefor,undertheLandRegistrationAct,towit:
xxxxxxxxx
(b)Thosewhobythemselvesorthroughtheirpredecessorsininteresthavebeeninopen,continuous,exclusive,andnotoriouspossessionand
occupationofagriculturallandsofthepublicdomain,underabonafideclaimofacquisitionofownership,foratleastthirtyyears
immediatelyprecedingthefilingoftheapplicationforconfirmationoftitleexceptwhenpreventedbywarorforcemajeure.Theseshallbe
conclusivelypresumedtohaveperformedalltheconditionsessentialtoaGovernmentgrantandshallbeentitledtoacertificateoftitleunder
theprovisionsofthischapter.
WhenthePublicLandActwasfirstpromulgatedin1936,theperiodofpossessiondeemednecessarytovesttherighttoregistertheirtitleto
agriculturallandsofthepublicdomaincommencedfromJuly26,1894.However,thisperiodwasamendedbyR.A.No.1942,which
providedthatthebonafideclaimofownershipmusthavebeenforatleastthirty(30)years.Thenin1977,Section48(b)ofthePublicLand
Actwasagainamended,thistimebyP.D.No.1073,whichpeggedthereckoningdateatJune12,1945.Thisnewstartingpointisconcordant
withSection14(1)ofthePropertyRegistrationDecree.
Indeed,therearenomaterialdifferencesbetweenSection14(1)ofthePropertyRegistrationDecreeandSection48(b)ofthePublicLandAct,
asamended.True,thePublicLandActdoesreferto"agriculturallandsofthepublicdomain,"whilethePropertyRegistrationDecreeusesthe
term"alienableanddisposablelandsofthepublicdomain."ItmustbenotedthoughthattheConstitutiondeclaresthat"alienablelandsofthe
publicdomainshallbelimitedtoagriculturallands."24Clearly,thesubjectlandsunderSection48(b)ofthePublicLandActandSection14(1)
ofthePropertyRegistrationDecreeareofthesametype.
DidtheenactmentofthePropertyRegistrationDecreeandtheamendatoryP.D.No.1073precludetheapplicationforregistrationofalienable
landsofthepublicdomain,possessionoverwhichcommencedonlyafterJune12,1945?Itdidnot,consideringSection14(2)oftheProperty
RegistrationDecree,whichgovernsandauthorizestheapplicationof"thosewhohaveacquiredownershipofprivatelandsbyprescription
undertheprovisionsofexistinglaws."
PrescriptionisoneofthemodesofacquiringownershipundertheCivilCode. 25Thereisaconsistentjurisprudentialrulethatproperties
classifiedasalienablepubliclandmaybeconvertedintoprivatepropertybyreasonofopen,continuousandexclusivepossessionofatleast
thirty(30)years.26Withsuchconversion,suchpropertymaynowfallwithinthecontemplationof"privatelands"underSection14(2),and
thussusceptibletoregistrationbythosewhohaveacquiredownershipthroughprescription.Thus,evenifpossessionofthealienablepublic
landcommencedonadatelaterthanJune12,1945,andsuchpossessionbeingbeenopen,continuousandexclusive,thenthepossessormay
havetherighttoregisterthelandbyvirtueofSection14(2)ofthePropertyRegistrationDecree.
Thelandinquestionwasfoundtobecocalinnature,ithavingbeenplantedwithcoconuttreesnowoverfiftyyearsold. 27Theinherentnature
ofthelandbutconfirmsitscertificationin1980asalienable,henceagricultural.ThereisnoimpedimenttotheapplicationofSection14(1)of
thePropertyRegistrationDecree,ascorrectlyaccomplishedbythelowercourts.
TheOSGpositsthattheCourtofAppealserredinholdingthatNaguithadbeeninpossessionintheconceptofownerfortherequiredperiod.
Theargumentbegsthequestion.Itisagainhingedontheassertionshownearliertobeunfoundedthattherecouldhavebeennobona
fideclaimofownershippriorto1980,whenthesubjectlandwasdeclaredalienableordisposable.
WefindnoreasontodisturbtheconclusionofboththeRTCandtheCourtofAppealsthatNaguithadtherighttoapplyforregistrationowing
tothecontinuouspossessionbyherandherpredecessorsininterestofthelandsince1945.Thebasisofsuchconclusionisprimarilyfactual,
andtheCourtgenerallyrespectsthefactualfindingsmadebylowercourts.Notably,possessionsince1945wasestablishedthroughproofof
theexistenceof50to60yearoldtreesatthetimeNaguitpurchasedthepropertyaswellastaxdeclarationsexecutedbyUrbanoin1945.
Althoughtaxdeclarationsandrealtytaxpaymentofpropertyarenotconclusiveevidenceofownership,nevertheless,theyaregoodindiciaof
thepossessionintheconceptofownerfornooneinhisrightmindwouldbepayingtaxesforapropertythatisnotinhisactualoratleast
constructivepossession.Theyconstituteatleastproofthattheholderhasaclaimoftitleovertheproperty.Thevoluntarydeclarationofa
pieceofpropertyfortaxationpurposesmanifestsnotonlyonessincereandhonestdesiretoobtaintitletothepropertyandannounceshis
adverseclaimagainsttheStateandallotherinterestedparties,butalsotheintentiontocontributeneededrevenuestotheGovernment.Such
anactstrengthensonesbonafideclaimofacquisitionofownership.28
Consideringthatthepossessionofthesubjectparceloflandbytherespondentcanbetracedbacktothatofherpredecessorsininterestwhich
commencedsince1945orforalmostfifty(50)years,itisindeedbeyondanycloudofdoubtthatshehasacquiredtitletheretowhichmaybe
properlybroughtundertheoperationoftheTorrenssystem.Thatshehasbeeninpossessionofthelandintheconceptofanowner,open,
continuous,peacefulandwithoutanyoppositionfromanyprivatepersonandthegovernmentitselfmakesherrighttheretoundoubtedly
settledanddeservingofprotectionunderthelaw.
WHEREFORE,foregoingpremisesconsidered,theassailedDecisionoftheCourtofAppealsdatedJuly12,2000isherebyAFFIRMED.No
costs.
SOORDERED.

4. Rep v Herbieto, GR No. 156117

CHICONAZARIO,J.:
BeforethisCourtisaPetitionforReviewonCertiorari,underRule45ofthe1997RulesofCivilProcedure,seekingthereversalofthe
DecisionoftheCourtofAppealsinCAG.R.CVNo.67625,dated22November2002,1whichaffirmedtheJudgmentoftheMunicipalTrial
Court(MTC)ofConsolacion,Cebu,dated21December1999,2grantingtheapplicationforlandregistrationoftherespondents.
RespondentsinthepresentPetitionaretheHerbietobrothers,JeremiasandDavid,whofiledwiththeMTC,on23September1998,asingle
applicationforregistrationoftwoparcelsofland,LotsNo.8422and8423,locatedinCabangahan,Consolacion,Cebu(SubjectLots).They
claimedtobeownersinfeesimpleoftheSubjectLots,whichtheypurchasedfromtheirparents,spousesGregorioHerbietoandIsabel
Owatan,on25June1976.3Togetherwiththeirapplicationforregistration,respondentssubmittedthefollowingsetofdocuments:
(a)AdvanceSurveyPlanofLotNo.8422,inthenameofrespondentJeremias;andAdvanceSurveyPlanofLotNo.8423,inthe
nameofrespondentDavid;4
(b)ThetechnicaldescriptionsoftheSubjectLots;5
(c)CertificationsbytheDepartmentofEnvironmentandNaturalResources(DENR)dispensingwiththeneedforSurveyor's
CertificatesfortheSubjectLots;6
(d)CertificationsbytheRegisterofDeedsofCebuCityontheabsenceofcertificatesoftitlecoveringtheSubjectLots; 7
(e)CertificationsbytheCommunityEnvironmentandNaturalResourcesOffice(CENRO)oftheDENRonitsfindingthatthe
SubjectLotsarealienableanddisposable,byvirtueofForestryAdministrativeOrderNo.41063,dated25June1963; 8
(f)CertifiedTrueCopiesofAssessmentofRealProperty(ARP)No.941800301831,inthenameofJeremias,coveringLotNo.
8422,issuedin1994;andARPNo.941800301833,inthenameofDavid,coveringLotNo.8423,alsoissuedin1994;9and
(g)DeedofDefiniteSaleexecutedon25June1976byspousesGregorioHerbietoandIsabelOwatansellingtheSubjectLotsandthe
improvementsthereontotheirsonsandrespondentsherein,JeremiasandDavid,forP1,000.LotNo.8422wassoldtoJeremias,
whileLotNo.8423wassoldtoDavid.10
On11December1998,thepetitionerRepublicofthePhilippines(Republic)filedanOppositiontotherespondents'applicationfor
registrationoftheSubjectLotsarguingthat:(1)RespondentsfailedtocomplywiththeperiodofadversepossessionoftheSubjectLots
requiredbylaw;(2)Respondents'munimentsoftitlewerenotgenuineanddidnotconstitutecompetentandsufficientevidenceofbona
fideacquisitionoftheSubjectLots;and(3)TheSubjectLotswerepartofthepublicdomainbelongingtotheRepublicandwerenotsubjectto
privateappropriation.11
TheMTCsettheinitialhearingon03September1999at8:30a.m.12AllownersofthelandadjoiningtheSubjectLotsweresentcopiesofthe
NoticeofInitialHearing.13AcopyoftheNoticewasalsopostedon27July1999inaconspicuousplaceontheSubjectLots,aswellasonthe
bulletinboardofthemunicipalbuildingofConsolacion,Cebu,wheretheSubjectLotswerelocated. 14Finally,theNoticewasalsopublished
intheOfficialGazetteon02August199915andTheFreemanBanatNewson19December1999.16
Duringtheinitialhearingon03September1999,theMTCissuedanOrderofSpecialDefault, 17withonlypetitionerRepublicopposingthe
applicationforregistrationoftheSubjectLots.Therespondents,throughtheircounsel,proceededtoofferandmarkdocumentaryevidenceto
provejurisdictionalfacts.TheMTCcommissionedtheClerkofCourttoreceivefurtherevidencefromtherespondentsandtosubmitaReport
totheMTCafter30days.
On21December1999,theMTCpromulgateditsJudgmentorderingtheregistrationandconfirmationofthetitleofrespondentJeremiasover
LotNo.8422andofrespondentDavidoverLotNo.8423.ItsubsequentlyissuedanOrderon02February2000declaringitsJudgment,dated
21December1999,finalandexecutory,anddirectingtheAdministratoroftheLandRegistrationAuthority(LRA)toissueadecreeof
registrationfortheSubjectLots.18
PetitionerRepublicappealedtheMTCJudgment,dated21December1999,totheCourtofAppeals. 19TheCourtofAppeals,initsDecision,
dated22November2002,affirmedtheappealedMTCJudgmentreasoningthus:
Inthecaseatbar,therecanbenoquestionthatthelandsoughttoberegisteredhasbeenclassifiedaswithinthealienableand
disposablezonesinceJune25,1963.Article1113inrelationtoArticle1137oftheCivilCode,respectivelyprovidesthat"Allthings
whicharewithinthecommerceofmenaresusceptibleofprescription,unlessotherwiseprovided.PropertyoftheStateoranyofits
subdivisionsofpatrimonialcharactershallnotbetheobjectofprescription"andthat"Ownershipandotherrealrightsover
immovablesalsoprescribethroughuninterruptedadversepossessionthereofforthirtyyears,withoutneedoftitleorofgoodfaith."
Astestifiedtobytheappelleesinthecaseatbench,theirparentsalreadyacquiredthesubjectparcelsoflands,subjectmatterofthis
application,since1950andthattheycultivatedthesameandplanteditwithjackfruits,bamboos,coconuts,andothertrees(Judgment
datedDecember21,1999,p.6).Inshort,itisundisputedthathereinappelleesortheirpredecessorsininteresthadoccupiedand
possessedthesubjectlandopenly,continuously,exclusively,andadverselysince1950.Consequently,evenassumingarguendothat
appellees'possessioncanbereckonedonlyfromJune25,1963orfromthetimethesubjectlotshadbeenclassifiedaswithinthe
alienableanddisposablezone,stilltheargumentoftheappellantdoesnotholdwater.
Asearlierstressed,thesubjectproperty,beingalienablesince1963asshownbyCENROReportdatedJune23,1963,maynowbe
theobjectofprescription,thussusceptibleofprivateownership.ByexpressprovisionofArticle1137,appelleesare,withmuch
greaterright,entitledtoapplyforitsregistration,asprovidedbySection14(4)ofP.D.1529whichallowsindividualstoownlandin
anymannerprovidedbylaw.Again,evenconsideringthatpossessionofappellessshouldonlybereckonedfrom1963,theyear
whenCENROdeclaredthesubjectlandsalienable,hereinappelleeshavebeenpossessingthesubjectparcelsoflandinopen,
continuous,andintheconceptofanowner,for35yearsalreadywhentheyfiledtheinstantapplicationforregistrationoftitletothe
landin1998.Assuch,thiscourtfindsnoreasontodisturbthefindingofthecourtaquo.20
TheRepublicfiledthepresentPetitionforthereviewandreversaloftheDecisionoftheCourtofAppeals,dated22November2002,onthe
basisofthefollowingarguments:
First,respondentsfailedtoestablishthattheyandtheirpredecessorsininteresthadbeeninopen,continuous,andadversepossessionofthe
SubjectLotsintheconceptofownerssince12June1945orearlier.AccordingtothepetitionerRepublic,possessionoftheSubjectLotsprior
to25June1963cannotbeconsideredindeterminingcompliancewiththeperiodsofpossessionrequiredbylaw.TheSubjectLotswere
classifiedasalienableanddisposableonlyon25June1963,perCENRO'scertification.ItalsoallegesthattheCourtofAppeals,inapplying
the30yearacquisitiveprescriptionperiod,hadoverlookedtherulinginRepublicv.Doldol,21wherethisCourtdeclaredthatCommonwealth
ActNo.141,otherwiseknownasthePublicLandAct,asamendedandasitispresentlyphrased,requiresthatpossessionoflandofthepublic
domainmustbefrom12June1945orearlier,forthesametobeacquiredthroughjudicialconfirmationofimperfecttitle.
Second,theapplicationforregistrationsuffersfromfatalinfirmityasthesubjectoftheapplicationconsistedoftwoparcelsofland
individuallyandseparatelyownedbytwoapplicants.PetitionerRepubliccontendsthatitisimplicitintheprovisionsofPresidentialDecree
No.1529,otherwiseknownasthePropertyRegistrationDecree,asamended,thattheapplicationforregistrationoftitletolandshallbefiled
byasingleapplicant;multipleapplicantsmayfileasingleapplicationonlyincasetheyarecoowners.Whileanapplicationmaycovertwo
parcelsofland,itisallowedonlywhenthesubjectparcelsoflandbelongtothesameapplicantorapplicants(incasethesubjectparcelsof
landarecoowned)andaresituatedwithinthesameprovince.Wheretheauthorityofthecourtstoproceedisconferredbyastatuteandwhen
themannerofobtainingjurisdictionismandatory,itmustbestrictlycompliedwithortheproceedingswillbeutterlyvoid.Sincethe
respondentsfailedtocomplywiththeprocedureforlandregistrationunderthePropertyRegistrationDecree,theproceedingsheldbeforethe
MTCisvoid,asthelatterdidnotacquirejurisdictionoverit.
I
Jurisdiction
Addressingfirsttheissueofjurisdiction,thisCourtfindsthattheMTChadnojurisdictiontoproceedwithandheartheapplicationfor
registrationfiledbytherespondentsbutforreasonsdifferentfromthosepresentedbypetitionerRepublic.
A.ThemisjoinderofcausesofactionandpartiesdonotaffectthejurisdictionoftheMTCtohearandproceedwithrespondents'application
forregistration.
RespondentsfiledasingleapplicationforregistrationoftheSubjectLotseventhoughtheywerenotcoowners.RespondentsJeremiasand
DavidwereactuallyseekingtheindividualandseparateregistrationofLotsNo.8422and8423,respectively.
PetitionerRepublicbelievesthattheproceduralirregularitycommittedbytherespondentswasfataltotheircase,deprivingtheMTCof
jurisdictiontoproceedwithandheartheirapplicationforregistrationoftheSubjectLots,basedonthisCourt'spronouncementinDirectorof
Landsv.CourtofAppeals,22towit:
...InviewofthesemultipleomissionswhichconstitutenoncompliancewiththeabovecitedsectionsoftheAct,Werulethatsaid
defectshavenotinvestedtheCourtwiththeauthorityorjurisdictiontoproceedwiththecasebecausethemannerormodeof
obtainingjurisdictionasprescribedbythestatutewhichismandatoryhasnotbeenstrictlyfollowed,therebyrenderingall
proceedingsutterlynullandvoid.
ThisCourt,however,disagreeswithpetitionerRepublicinthisregard.Thisprocedurallapsecommittedbytherespondentsshouldnotaffect
thejurisdictionoftheMTCtoproceedwithandheartheirapplicationforregistrationoftheSubjectLots.
ThePropertyRegistrationDecree23recognizesandexpresslyallowsthefollowingsituations:(1)thefilingofasingleapplicationbyseveral
applicantsforaslongastheyarecoownersoftheparceloflandsoughttoberegistered; 24and(2)thefilingofasingleapplicationfor
registrationofseveralparcelsoflandprovidedthatthesamearelocatedwithinthesameprovince. 25ThePropertyRegistrationDecreeis
silent,however,astothepresentsituationwhereintwoapplicantsfiledasingleapplicationfortwoparcelsofland,butareseekingthe
separateandindividualregistrationoftheparcelsoflandintheirrespectivenames.
SincethePropertyRegistrationDecreefailedtoprovideforsuchasituation,thenthisCourtreferstotheRulesofCourttodeterminethe
propercourseofaction.Section34ofthePropertyRegistrationDecreeitselfprovidesthat,"[t]heRulesofCourtshall,insofarasnot
inconsistentwiththeprovisionsofthisDecree,beapplicabletolandregistrationandcadastralcasesbyanalogyorinasuppletorycharacter
andwheneverpracticableandconvenient."
ConsideringeveryapplicationforlandregistrationfiledinstrictaccordancewiththePropertyRegistrationDecreeasasinglecauseofaction,
thenthedefectinthejointapplicationforregistrationfiledbytherespondentswiththeMTCconstitutesamisjoinderofcausesofactionand
parties.Insteadofasingleorjointapplicationforregistration,respondentsJeremiasandDavid,moreappropriately,shouldhavefiledseparate
applicationsforregistrationofLotsNo.8422and8423,respectively.
Misjoinderofcausesofactionandpartiesdonotinvolveaquestionofjurisdictionofthecourttohearandproceedwiththecase. 26Theyare
notevenacceptedgroundsfordismissalthereof.27Instead,undertheRulesofCourt,themisjoinderofcausesofactionandpartiesinvolvean
impliedadmissionofthecourt'sjurisdiction.Itacknowledgesthepowerofthecourt,actinguponthemotionofapartytothecaseoronits
owninitiative,toordertheseveranceofthemisjoinedcauseofaction,tobeproceededwithseparately(incaseofmisjoinderofcausesof
action);and/orthedroppingofapartyandtheseveranceofanyclaimagainstsaidmisjoinedparty,alsotobeproceededwithseparately(in
caseofmisjoinderofparties).
ThemisjoinderofcausesofactionandpartiesinthepresentPetitionmayhavebeencorrectedbytheMTCmotupropiooronmotionofthe
petitionerRepublic.Itisregrettable,however,thattheMTCfailedtodetectthemisjoinderwhentheapplicationforregistrationwasstill
pendingbeforeit;andmoreregrettablethatthepetitionerRepublicdidnotcalltheattentionoftheMTCtothefactbyfilingamotionfor
severanceofthecausesofactionandparties,raisingtheissueofmisjoinderonlybeforethisCourt.
B.Respondents,however,failedtocomplywiththepublicationrequirementsmandatedbythePropertyRegistrationDecree,thus,theMTC
wasnotinvestedwithjurisdictionasalandregistrationcourt.
AlthoughthemisjoinderofcausesofactionandpartiesinthepresentPetitiondidnotaffectthejurisdictionoftheMTCovertheland
registrationproceeding,thisCourt,nonetheless,hasdiscoveredadefectinthepublicationoftheNoticeofInitialHearing,whichbarsthe
MTCfromassumingjurisdictiontohearandproceedwithrespondents'applicationforregistration.
Alandregistrationcaseisaproceedinginrem,28andjurisdictioninremcannotbeacquiredunlesstherebeconstructiveseizureoftheland
throughpublicationandserviceofnotice.29
Section23ofthePropertyRegistrationDecreerequiresthatthepublicbegivenNoticeoftheInitialHearingoftheapplicationforland
registrationbymeansof(1)publication;(2)mailing;and(3)posting.PublicationoftheNoticeofInitialHearingshallbemadeinthe
followingmanner:
1.Bypublication.
Uponreceiptoftheorderofthecourtsettingthetimeforinitialhearing,theCommissionerofLandRegistrationshallcauseanotice
ofinitialhearingtobepublishedonceintheOfficialGazetteandonceinanewspaperofgeneralcirculationinthe
Philippines:Provided,however,thatthepublicationintheOfficialGazetteshallbesufficienttoconferjurisdictionuponthecourt.
Saidnoticeshallbeaddressedtoallpersonsappearingtohaveaninterestinthelandinvolvedincludingtheadjoiningownerssofar
asknown,and"toallwhomitmayconcern."Saidnoticeshallalsorequireallpersonsconcernedtoappearincourtatacertaindate
andtimetoshowcausewhytheprayerofsaidapplicationshallnotbegranted.
EvenasthisCourtconcedesthattheaforequotedSection23(1)ofthePropertyRegistrationDecreeexpresslyprovidesthatpublicationinthe
OfficialGazetteshallbesufficienttoconferjurisdictionuponthelandregistrationcourt,itstillaffirmsitsdeclarationinDirectorofLandsv.
CourtofAppeals30thatpublicationinanewspaperofgeneralcirculationismandatoryforthelandregistrationcourttovalidlyconfirmand
registerthetitleoftheapplicantorapplicants.ThatSection23ofthePropertyRegistrationDecreeenumeratedanddescribedindetailthe
requirementsofpublication,mailing,andpostingoftheNoticeofInitialHearing,thenallsuchrequirements,includingpublicationofthe
Noticeinanewspaperofgeneralcirculation,isessentialandimperative,andmustbestrictlycompliedwith.Inthesamecase,thisCourt
expoundedonthereasonbehindthecompulsorypublicationoftheNoticeofInitialHearinginanewspaperofgeneralcirculation,thus
Itmaybeaskedwhypublicationinanewspaperofgeneralcirculationshouldbedeemedmandatorywhenthelawalreadyrequires
noticebypublicationintheOfficialGazetteaswellasbymailingandposting,allofwhichhavealreadybeencompliedwithinthe
caseathand.ThereasonisdueprocessandtherealitythattheOfficialGazetteisnotaswidelyreadandcirculatedasnewspaperand
isoftentimesdelayedinitscirculation,suchthatthenoticespublishedthereinmaynotreachtheinterestedpartiesontime,ifatall.
Additionally,suchpartiesmaynotbeownersofneighboringproperties,andmayinfactnotownanyotherrealestate.Insum,theall
encompassinginremnatureoflandregistrationcases,theconsequencesofdefaultordersissuedagainstthewholeworldandthe
objectiveofdisseminatingthenoticeinaswideamanneraspossibledemandamandatoryconstructionoftherequirementsfor
publication,mailingandposting.31
IntheinstantPetition,theinitialhearingwassetbytheMTC,andwasinfactheld,on03September1999at8:30a.m.WhiletheNotice
thereofwasprintedintheissueoftheOfficialGazette,dated02August1999,andofficiallyreleasedon10August1999,itwaspublished
inTheFreemanBanatNews,adailynewspaperprintedinCebuCityandcirculatedintheprovinceandcitiesofCebuandintherestof
VisayasandMindanao,onlyon19December1999,morethanthreemonthsaftertheinitialhearing.
Indubitably,suchpublicationoftheNotice,wayafterthedateoftheinitialhearing,wouldalreadybeworthlessandineffective.Whoeverread
theNoticeasitwaspublishedinTheFreemanBanatNewsandhadaclaimtotheSubjectLotswasdeprivedofdueprocessforitwasalready
toolateforhimtoappearbeforetheMTConthedayoftheinitialhearingtoopposerespondents'applicationforregistration,andtopresent
hisclaimandevidenceinsupportofsuchclaim.Worse,astheNoticeitselfstates,shouldtheclaimantoppositorfailtoappearbeforethe
MTConthedateofinitialhearing,hewouldbeindefaultandwouldforeverbebarredfromcontestingrespondents'applicationfor
registrationandeventheregistrationdecreethatmaybeissuedpursuantthereto.Infact,theMTCdidissueanOrderofSpecialDefaulton03
September1999.
ThelatepublicationoftheNoticeofInitialHearinginthenewspaperofgeneralcirculationistantamounttonopublicationatall,havingthe
sameultimateresult.OwingtosuchdefectinthepublicationoftheNotice,theMTCfailedtoconstructivelyseizetheSubjectLotsandto
acquirejurisdictionoverrespondents'applicationforregistrationthereof.Therefore,theMTCJudgment,dated21December1999,ordering
theregistrationandconfirmationofthetitleofrespondentsJeremiasandDavidoverLotsNo.8422and8423,respectively;aswellasthe
MTCOrder,dated02February2000,declaringitsJudgmentof21December1999finalandexecutory,anddirectingtheLRAAdministrator
toissueadecreeofregistrationfortheSubjectLots,arebothnullandvoidforhavingbeenissuedbytheMTCwithoutjurisdiction.
II
PeriodofPossession
RespondentsfailedtocomplywiththerequiredperiodofpossessionoftheSubjectLotsforthejudicialconfirmationorlegalizationof
imperfectorincompletetitle.
WhilethisCourthasalreadyfoundthattheMTCdidnothavejurisdictiontohearandproceedwithrespondents'applicationforregistration,
thisCourtneverthelessdeemsitnecessarytoresolvethelegalissueontherequiredperiodofpossessionforacquiringtitletopublicland.
Respondents'applicationfiledwiththeMTCdidnotstatethestatutorybasisfortheirtitletotheSubjectLots.Theyonlyallegedthereinthat
theyobtainedtitletotheSubjectLotsbypurchasefromtheirparents,spousesGregorioHerbietoandIsabelOwatan,on25June1976.
RespondentJeremias,inhistestimony,claimedthathisparentshadbeeninpossessionoftheSubjectLotsintheconceptofanownersince
1950.32
Yet,accordingtotheDENRCENROCertification,submittedbyrespondentsthemselves,theSubjectLotsare"withinAlienableand
Disposable,BlockI,ProjectNo.28perLCMapNo.2545ofConsolacion,CebucertifiedunderForestryAdministrativeOrderNo.41063,
datedJune25,1963.Likewise,itisoutsideKotkotLusaranManangaWatershedForestReservationperPresidentialProclamationNo.932
datedJune29,1992."33TheSubjectLotsarethusclearlypartofthepublicdomain,classifiedasalienableanddisposableasof25June1963.
Asalreadywellsettledinjurisprudence,nopubliclandcanbeacquiredbyprivatepersonswithoutanygrant,expressorimplied,fromthe
government;34anditisindispensablethatthepersonclaimingtitletopubliclandshouldshowthathistitlewasacquiredfromtheStateorany
othermodeofacquisitionrecognizedbylaw.35
ThePublicLandAct,asamended,governslandsofthepublicdomain,excepttimberandminerallands,friarlands,andprivatelyowned
landswhichrevertedtotheState.36Itexplicitlyenumeratesthemeansbywhichpubliclandsmaybedisposed,asfollows:
(1)Forhomesteadsettlement;
(2)Bysale;
(3)Bylease;
(4)Byconfirmationofimperfectorincompletetitles;
(a)Byjudiciallegalization;or
(b)Byadministrativelegalization(freepatent).
EachmodeofdispositionisappropriatelycoveredbyseparatechaptersofthePublicLandActbecausetherearespecificrequirementsand
applicationprocedureforeverymode.38SincerespondentshereinfiledtheirapplicationbeforetheMTC,39thenitcanbereasonablyinferred
thattheyareseekingthejudicialconfirmationorlegalizationoftheirimperfectorincompletetitleovertheSubjectLots.
Judicialconfirmationorlegalizationofimperfectorincompletetitletoland,notexceeding144hectares, 40maybeavailedofbypersons
identifiedunderSection48ofthePublicLandAct,asamendedbyPresidentialDecreeNo.1073,whichreads
Section48.ThefollowingdescribedcitizensofthePhilippines,occupyinglandsofthepublicdomainorclaimingtoownanysuch
landsoraninteresttherein,butwhosetitleshavenotbeenperfectedorcompleted,mayapplytotheCourtofFirstInstanceofthe
provincewherethelandislocatedforconfirmationoftheirclaimsandtheissuanceofacertificateoftitlethereafter,undertheLand
RegistrationAct,towit:
(a)[RepealedbyPresidentialDecreeNo.1073].
(b)Thosewhobythemselvesorthroughtheirpredecessorsininteresthavebeeninopen,continuous,exclusive,and
notoriouspossessionandoccupationofagriculturallandsofthepublicdomain,underabonafideclaimofacquisitionof
ownership,sinceJune12,1945,orearlier,immediatelyprecedingthefilingoftheapplicationsforconfirmationoftitle,
exceptwhenpreventedbywarorforcemajeure.Theseshallbeconclusivelypresumedtohaveperformedalltheconditions
essentialtoaGovernmentgrantandshallbeentitledtoacertificateoftitleundertheprovisionsofthischapter.
(c)Membersofthenationalculturalminoritieswhobythemselvesorthroughtheirpredecessorsininteresthavebeenin
open,continuous,exclusiveandnotoriouspossessionandoccupationoflandsofthepublicdomainsuitabletoagriculture
whetherdisposableornot,underabonafideclaimofownershipsinceJune12,1945shallbeentitledtotherightsgrantedin
subsection(b)hereof.
Notbeingmembersofanynationalculturalminorities,respondentsmayonlybeentitledtojudicialconfirmationorlegalizationoftheir
imperfectorincompletetitleunderSection48(b)ofthePublicLandAct,asamended.Section48(b),asamended,nowrequiresadverse
possessionofthelandsince12June1945orearlier.InthepresentPetition,theSubjectLotsbecamealienableanddisposableonlyon25June
1963.AnyperiodofpossessionpriortothedatewhentheSubjectLotswereclassifiedasalienableanddisposableisinconsequentialand
shouldbeexcludedfromthecomputationoftheperiodofpossession;suchpossessioncanneverripenintoownershipandunlessthelandhad
beenclassifiedasalienableanddisposable,therulesonconfirmationofimperfecttitleshallnotapplythereto. 41Itisveryapparentthenthat
respondentscouldnothavecompliedwiththeperiodofpossessionrequiredbySection48(b)ofthePublicLandAct,asamended,toacquire
imperfectorincompletetitletotheSubjectLotsthatmaybejudiciallyconfirmedorlegalized.
Theconfirmationofrespondents'titlebytheCourtofAppealswasbasedontheerroneoussuppositionthatrespondentswereclaimingtitleto
theSubjectLotsunderthePropertyRegistrationDecree.AccordingtotheDecisionoftheCourtofAppeals,dated22November2002,
Section14(4)ofthePropertyRegistrationDecreeallowsindividualstoownlandinanyothermannerprovidedbylaw.Itthenruledthatthe
respondents,havingpossessedtheSubjectLots,bythemselvesandthroughtheirpredecessorsininterest,since25June1963to23September
1998,whentheyfiledtheirapplication,haveacquiredtitletotheSubjectLotsbyextraordinaryprescriptionunderArticle1113,inrelationto
Article1137,bothoftheCivilCode.42
TheCourtofAppealsoverlookedthedifferencebetweenthePropertyRegistrationDecreeandthePublicLandAct.UndertheProperty
RegistrationDecree,therealreadyexistsatitlewhichisconfirmedbythecourt;whileunderthePublicLandAct,thepresumptionalwaysis
thatthelandappliedforpertainstotheState,andthattheoccupantsandpossessorsonlyclaimaninterestinthesamebyvirtueoftheir
imperfecttitleorcontinuous,open,andnotoriouspossession.43AsestablishedbythisCourtintheprecedingparagraphs,theSubjectLots
respondentswishtoregisterareundoubtedlyalienableanddisposablelandsofthepublicdomainandrespondentsmayhaveacquiredtitle
theretoonlyundertheprovisionsofthePublicLandAct.
However,itmustbeclarifiedhereinthateventhoughrespondentsmayacquireimperfectorincompletetitletotheSubjectLotsunderthe
PublicLandAct,theirapplicationforjudicialconfirmationorlegalizationthereofmustbeinaccordancewiththePropertyRegistration
Decree,forSection50ofthePublicLandActreads
SEC.50.Anypersonorpersons,ortheirlegalrepresentativesorsuccessorsinright,claiminganylandsorinterestinlandsunderthe
provisionsofthischapter,mustineverycasepresentanapplicationtotheproperCourtofFirstInstance,prayingthatthevalidityof
theallegedtitleorclaimbeinquiredintoandthatacertificateoftitlebeissuedtothemundertheprovisionsoftheLandRegistration
Act.44
Hence,respondents'applicationforregistrationoftheSubjectLotsmusthavecompliedwiththesubstantialrequirementsunderSection48(b)
ofthePublicLandActandtheproceduralrequirementsunderthePropertyRegistrationDecree.
Moreover,provisionsoftheCivilCodeonprescriptionofownershipandotherrealrightsapplyingeneraltoalltypesofland,whilethe
PublicLandActspecificallygovernslandsofthepublicdomain.Relativetooneanother,thePublicLandActmaybeconsideredaspecial
law45thatmusttakeprecedenceovertheCivilCode,agenerallaw.Itisanestablishedruleofstatutoryconstructionthatbetweenageneral
lawandaspeciallaw,thespeciallawprevailsGeneraliaspecialibusnonderogant.46
WHEREFORE,basedontheforegoing,theinstantPetitionisGRANTED.TheDecisionoftheCourtofAppealsinCAG.R.CVNo.67625,
dated22November2002,isREVERSED.TheJudgmentoftheMTCofConsolacion,CebuinLRCCaseNo.N75,dated21December1999,
anditsOrder,dated02February2000aredeclaredNULLANDVOID.Respondents'applicationforregistrationisDISMISSED.
SOORDERED.

5. Heirs of Mario Malabanan v Repubic, supra


6. Diaz v Republic, GR No. 181502

CORONA,J.:
Thisisalettermotionprayingforreconsideration(forthethirdtime)oftheJune16,2008resolutionofthisCourtdenyingthepetitionfor
reviewfiledbypetitionerFlorenciaG.Diaz.
Petitionerslatemother,FloraGarcia(Garcia),filedanapplicationforregistrationofavasttractofland1locatedinLaur,NuevaEcijaand
PalayanCityinthethenCourtofFirstInstance(CFI),Branch1,NuevaEcijaonAugust12,1976.2Sheallegedthatshepossessedthelandas
ownerandworked,developedandharvestedtheagriculturalproductsandbenefitsofthesamecontinuously,publiclyandadverselyformore
orless26years.
TheRepublicofthePhilippines,representedbytheOfficeoftheSolicitorGeneral(OSG),opposedtheapplicationbecausethelandin
questionwaswithintheFortMagsaysayMilitaryReservation(FMMR),establishedbyvirtueofProclamationNo.237(Proclamation237) 3in
1955.Thus,itwasinalienableasitformedpartofthepublicdomain.
Significantly,onNovember28,1975,thisCourtalreadyruledinDirectorofLandsv.Reyes4thatthepropertysubjectofGarciasapplication
wasinalienableasitformedpartofamilitaryreservation.Moreover,theexistenceofPossessoryInformationTitleNo.216(allegedly
registeredinthenameofacertainMelecioPadillaonMarch5,1895),onwhichthereinrespondentParaaqueInvestmentandDevelopment
Corporationanchoreditsclaimontheland,wasnotproven.Accordingly,thedecreeofregistrationissuedinitsfavorwasdeclarednulland
void.
Reyesnotwithstanding,theCFIruledinGarciasfavorinadecision5datedJuly1,1981.
TheRepubliceventuallyappealedthedecisionoftheCFItotheCourtofAppeals(CA).Initsdecision 6datedFebruary26,1992,pennedby
JusticeVicenteV.Mendoza(Mendozadecision),7theappellatecourtreversedandsetasidethedecisionoftheCFI.TheCAfound
thatReyeswasapplicabletopetitionerscaseasitinvolvedthesameproperty.
TheCAobservedthatGarciaalsotracedherownershipofthelandinquestiontoPossessoryInformationTitleNo.216.AsGarciasrightto
thepropertywaslargelydependentontheexistenceandvalidityofthepossessoryinformationtitletheprobativevalueofwhichhadalready
beenpasseduponbythisCourtinReyes,andinasmuchasthelandwassituatedinsideamilitaryreservation,theCAconcludedthatshedid
notvalidlyacquiretitlethereto.
DuringthependencyofthecaseintheCA,Garciapassedawayandwassubstitutedbyherheirs,oneofwhomwaspetitionerFlorenciaG.
Diaz.8
PetitionerfiledamotionforreconsiderationoftheMendozadecision.WhilethemotionwaspendingintheCA,petitioneralsofiledamotion
forrecalloftherecordsfromtheformerCFI.Withoutactingonthemotionforreconsideration,theappellatecourt,withJusticeMendoza
asponente,issuedaresolution9upholdingpetitionersrighttorecalltherecordsofthecase.
Subsequently,however,theCAencouragedthepartiestoreachanamicablesettlementonthematterandevengavethepartiessufficienttime
todraftandfinalizethesame.
ThepartiesultimatelyenteredintoacompromiseagreementwiththeRepublicwithdrawingitsclaimonthemoreorless4,689hectares
supposedlyoutsidetheFMMR.Forherpart,petitionerwithdrewherapplicationfortheportionofthepropertyinsidethemilitaryreservation.
TheyfiledamotionforapprovaloftheamicablesettlementintheCA.10
OnJune30,1999,theappellatecourtapprovedthecompromiseagreement.11OnJanuary12,2000,itdirectedtheLandRegistration
Administrationtoissuethecorrespondingdecreeofregistrationinpetitionersfavor. 12
However,actingonaletterwrittenbyacertainAtty.RestitutoS.Lazaro,theOSGfiledamotionforreconsiderationoftheCAresolution
orderingtheissuanceofthedecreeofregistration.TheOSGinformedtheappellatecourtthatthetractoflandsubjectoftheamicable
settlementwasstillwithinthemilitaryreservation.
OnApril16,2007,theCAissuedanamendedresolution(amendedresolution)13annullingthecompromiseagreemententeredintobetween
theparties.Therelevantpartofthedispositiveportionoftheresolutionread:
ACCORDINGLY,theCourtresolvesto:
(1)xxxxxx
(2)xxxxxx
(3)xxxxxx
(4)xxxxxx
(5)xxxxxx
(6)REVERSEtheResolutiondatedJune30,1999ofthisCourtapprovingtheAmicableSettlementdatedMay18,1999executed
betweentheOfficeoftheSolicitorGeneralandFlorenciaGarciaDiaz[;]
(7)ANNULandSETASIDEtheAmicableSettlementdatedMay18,1999executedbetweentheOfficeoftheSolicitorGeneral
andFlorenciaGarciaDiaz;thesaidAmicableSettlementisherebyDECLAREDtobewithoutforceandeffect;
(8)GRANTtheMotionforReconsiderationfiledbytheOfficeoftheSolicitorGeneraland,consequently,SETASIDEthe
ResolutiondatedJanuary12,2000whichordered,amongothermatters,thatacertificateoftitlebeissuedinthenameofplaintiff
appelleeFlorenciaGarciaDiazovertheportionofthesubjectpropertyinconsonancewiththeAmicableSettlementdatedMay18,
1999approvedbytheCourtinitsResolutiondatedJune30,1999;
(9)SETASIDEtheResolutiondatedJune30,1999approvingtheMay18,1999AmicableSettlementandtheResolutiondated
September20,1999amendingtheaforesaidJune30,1999Resolution;and
(10)REINSTATEtheDecisiondatedFebruary26,1992dismissingapplicantappelleeDiazregistrationherein.
SOORDERED.
(Emphasissupplied)
Petitionermovedforreconsideration.Forthefirsttime,sheassailedthevalidityoftheMendozadecisiontheFebruary26,1992decision
advertedtointheCAsamendedresolution.SheallegedthatJusticeMendozawastheassistantsolicitorgeneralduringtheinitialstagesofthe
landregistrationproceedingsinthetrialcourtandthereforeshouldhaveinhibitedhimselfwhenthecasereachedtheCA.Hisfailuretodoso,
shelaments,workedaninjusticeagainstherconstitutionalrighttodueprocess.Thus,theMendozadecisionshouldbedeclarednullandvoid.
Themotionwasdenied.14
Thereafter,petitionerfiledapetitionforreviewoncertiorari 15inthisCourt.Itwasdeniedforraisingfactualissues.16Shemovedfor
reconsideration.17Thismotionwasdeniedwithfinalityonthegroundthattherewasnosubstantialargumentwarrantingamodificationofthe
Courtsresolution.TheCourtthenorderedthatnofurtherpleadingswouldbeentertained.Accordingly,weorderedentryofjudgmenttobe
madeinduecourse.18
Petitioner,however,insistedonfilingamotiontoliftentryofjudgmentandmotionforleavetofileasecondmotionforreconsiderationand
toreferthecasetotheSupremeCourtenbanc.19TheCourtdenied20itconsideringthatasecondmotionforreconsiderationisaprohibited
pleading.21Furthermore,themotiontoreferthecasetothebancwaslikewisedeniedasthebancisnotanappellatecourttowhichdecisionsor
resolutionsofthedivisionsmaybeappealed.22Wereiteratedourdirectivethatnofurtherpleadingswouldbeentertainedandthatentryof
judgmentbemadeinduecourse.
Notonetobeeasilydeterred,petitionerwroteidenticalletters,firstaddressedtoJusticeLeonardoA.Quisumbing(thenActingChiefJustice)
andthentoChiefJusticeReynatoS.Punohimself.23Thebodyoftheletter,undoubtedlyinthenatureofathirdmotionforreconsideration,is
herebyreproducedinitsentirety:
Thisisinresponsetoyourcallfor"MoralForces"inorderto"redirectthedestinyofourcountrywhichissufferingfrommoraldecadence,"
thattoyourmind,istheproblemwhichconfrontsus.(Inquirer,January15,2009,page1)[.]
IrecentlylostmycasewiththeSupremeCourt,G.R.N[o].181502,andmylawyerhasdoneallthatishumanlypossibletoconvincethecourt
totakeasecondlookatthemiscarriageofjusticethatwillresultfromtheimplementationoftheDISMISSALinaMINUTERESOLUTION
ofourPetitionforReview.
PendingbeforeyourDivision(FirstDivision)isalastpleaforjusticesothatthecasemaybeelevatedtotheSupremeCourtenbanc.I
hopetheCourtexercisesutmostprudenceinresolvingthelastplea.Forreadyreference,acopyoftheMotionisheretoattachedas
Annex"A".
TheissuethatwasbroughtbeforetheHonorableSupremeCourtinvolvestheDecisionofthenJusticeVicenteMendozaoftheCourtof
Appeals,whichisNULLandVOID,abinitio.
ItisnullandvoidbecausedestinyplacedHon.JusticeVicenteMendozainapositioninwhichitbecamepossibleforhimtodischargethe
minimumrequirementofdueprocess,[i.e.]theabilityofthecourttorender"impartialjustice,"becauseMr.JusticeMendozabecame
theponenteoftheCourtofAppealsDecision,reversingthefindingsofthetrialcourt,notwithstandingthefactthathe,asAssistantSolicitor
General,wastheverypersonwhoappearedonbehalfoftheRepublic,astheoppositorintheverysamelandregistrationproceedingsinwhich
helost.
Inotherwords,hedischargedthedutiesofprosecutorandjudgeintheverysamecase.
Inthecaseofthe"AlabangBoys[,]"thepublicwasoutragedbytheactionsofAtty.Veranowhoadmittedhavingpreparedasimpleresolution
tobesignedbytheSecretaryofJustice.
Inmycase,theactcomplainedofistheworstkindofviolationofmyconstitutionalright.Itissimplyimmoral,illegalandunconstitutional,
fortheprosecutortoeventuallyactasthejudge,andreversetheverydecisioninwhichhehadlost.
Ifleakedtothetrimedia[,]mycasewillcertainlyevokeevengreaterspitefromthepublic,andputtheSupremeCourtinbadlight.Imust
confessthatIwastemptedtopursuesuchcourseofaction.Ihoweverbelievethatsuchanactionwilldomoreharmthangood,andeven
destroythegoodnameofHon.JusticeMendoza.
Ifullysupportyourcallfor"moralforce"thatwillslowlyandeventuallyleadourcountrytoredirectitsdestinyandescapefromthismoral
decadence,inwhichweallfindourselves.
Iamcontentwiththefactthatatleast,theChiefJusticecontinuestofightthedarkforcesthatsurrounduseveryday.
IonlyaskthattheSupremeCourtendeavortoensurethatcasessuchasminedonothappenagain,sothatthenextpersonwhoseeksjustice
willnotexperiencethepainandfrustrationthatIsufferedunderourjudicialsystem.
Thankyou,andmorepowertoyou,SIR.(Emphasisintheoriginal).
Thelanguageofpetitionersletter/motionisunmistakable.ItisathinlyveiledthreatpreciselywordedandcalculatedtointimidatethisCourt
intogivingintoherdemandstohonoranotherwiselegallyinfirmcompromiseagreement,attheriskofbeingvilifiedinthemediaandbythe
public.
ThisCourtwillnotbecowedintosubmission.Wedenypetitionersletter/thirdmotionforreconsideration.
APPLICABILITYOFREYES
TheCourtagreeswiththeRepublicspositionthatReyesisapplicabletothiscase.
Toconstituteresjudicata,thefollowingelementsmustconcur:
(1)theformerjudgmentorordermustbefinal;
(2)thejudgmentorordermustbeonthemerits;
(3)itmusthavebeenrenderedbyacourthavingjurisdictionoverthesubjectmatterandparties;and
(4)theremustbebetweenthefirstandsecondactions,identityofparties,ofsubjectmatter,andofcausesofaction.24
Thefirstthreerequisiteshaveundoubtedlybeencompliedwith.However,petitionertakesexceptiontothefourthrequisite,particularlyonthe
issueofidentityofparties.InherpetitionforreviewfiledinthisCourt,shecontendsthatsincetheapplicantsinthetwocasesaredifferent,
themeritsofthetwocasesshould,accordingly,bedeterminedindependentlyofeachother.25
Thiscontentioniserroneous.
ThefactsobtaininginthiscasecloselyresemblethoseinAquinov.DirectorofLands.26Inthatcase,QuintinTaedoendeavoredtosecure
titletoaconsiderabletractoflandbyvirtueofhispossessionthereofunderCA141.WhenthecaseeventuallyreachedthisCourt,we
affirmedthetrialcourtsdecisiontodismisstheproceedingsasthepropertyinquestionwaspartofthepublicdomain.Quintinssuccessorin
interest,FlorenciaTaedo,whodespiteknowledgeoftheproceedingsdidnotparticipatetherein,thereaftersoldthesamepropertytoBenigno
S.Aquino.Thelattersoughttohaveitregisteredinhisname.Thequestioninthatcase,aswellasinthisone,waswhetherourdecisioninthe
caseinwhichanotherpersonwastheapplicantconstitutedresjudicataasagainsthissuccessorsininterest.
Weruledthere,andwesorulenow,thatinregistrationcasesfiledundertheprovisionsofthePublicLandActforthejudicialconfirmationof
anincompleteandimperfecttitle,anorderdismissinganapplicationforregistrationanddeclaringthelandaspartofthepublicdomain
constitutesresjudicata,notonlyagainsttheadverseclaimant,butalsoagainstallpersons.27
WealsodeclaredinAquinothat:
Fromanotherpointofview,thedecisioninthefirstactionhasbecomethe"lawofthecase"oratleastfallswithintheruleofstaredecisis.
Thatadjudicationshouldbefollowedunlessmanifestlyerroneous.Itwastakenandshouldbetakenastheauthoritativeviewofthehighest
tribunalinthePhilippines.Itisindispensabletothedueadministrationofjusticeespeciallybyacourtoflastresortthataquestiononce
deliberatelyexaminedanddecidedshouldbeconsideredassettledandclosedtofurtherargument.xxx28
Bethatasitmay,thefactisthat,evenbeforetheCFIcameoutwithitsdecisioninfavorofpetitioneronJuly1,1981,thisCourt,inReyes,
alreadymadeanearlierrulingonNovember28,1975thatthedisputedrealtywasinalienableasitformedpartofamilitaryreservation.Thus,
petitionersargumentthatthefindingsoffactofthetrialcourtonherregistrabletitlearebindingonusontheprinciplethatfindingsoffact
oflowercourtsareaccordedgreatrespectandbindeventhisCourtisuntenable.Rather,itwasincumbentuponthecourtaquotorespect
thisCourtsrulinginReyes,andnottheotherwayaround.
However,despitehavingbeenapprisedoftheCourt'sfindingsinReyes(whichshouldhavebeenamatterofjudicialnoticeinthefirstplace),
thetrialcourtstillinsistedonitsdivergentfindinganddisregardedtheCourt'sdecisioninReyes,declaringthesubjectlandasformingpartof
amilitaryreservation,andthusoutsidethecommerceofman.
BynotapplyingourrulinginReyes,thetrialjudgevirtuallynullifiedthedecisionofthisCourtandthereforeactedwithgraveabuseof
discretion.29Notably,ajudgmentrenderedwithgraveabuseofdiscretionisvoidanddoesnotexistinlegalcontemplation. 30
Alllowercourts,especiallythetrialcourtconcernedinthiscase,oughttoberemindedthatitistheirdutytoobeythedecisionsofthe
SupremeCourt.Aconductbecomingofinferiorcourtsdemandsaconsciousawarenessofthepositiontheyoccupyintheinterrelationand
operationofourjudicialsystem.AseloquentlydeclaredbyJusticeJ.B.L.Reyes,"ThereisonlyoneSupremeCourtfromwhosedecisionall
othercourtsshouldtaketheirbearings."31
ACQUISITIONOFPRIVATERIGHTS
Petitioner,however,arguesthatProclamation237itselfrecognizesthatitseffectivityis"subjecttoprivaterights,ifanytherebe."
Bywayofabackground,werecognizedinReyesthatthepropertywherethemilitaryreservationissituatedisforestland.Thus:
Beforethemilitaryreservationwasestablished,theevidenceisinconclusiveastopossession,foritisshownbytheevidencethattheland
involvedislargelymountainousandforested.Asamatteroffact,atthetimeofthehearing,itwasconcededthatapproximately13,957
hectaresofsaidlandconsistofpublicforest.xxx(Emphasissupplied)32
Concomitantly,westatedtherein,andweremindpetitionernow,thatforestlandsarenotregistrableunderCA141.
[E]venmoreimportant,Section48[b]ofCANo.141,asamended,appliesexclusivelytopublicagriculturalland.Forestlandsorareacovered
withforestareexcluded.Itiswellsettledthatforestlandisincapableofregistration;anditsinclusioninatitle,whethersuchtitlebe
oneissuedusingtheSpanishsovereigntyorunderthepresentTorrenssystemofregistration,nullifiesthetitle.(Emphasissupplied).33
However,itistruethatforestlandsmayberegisteredwhentheyhavebeenreclassifiedasalienablebythePresidentinaclearandcategorical
manner(upontherecommendationoftheproperdepartmentheadwhohastheauthoritytoclassifythelandsofthepublicdomaininto
alienableordisposable,timberandminerallands)34coupledwithpossessionbytheclaimantaswellasthatofherpredecessorsininterest.
Unfortunatelyforpetitioner,shewasnotabletoproducesuchevidence.Accordingly,heroccupationthereof,andthatofherpredecessorsin
interest,couldnothaveripenedintoownershipofthesubjectland.Thisisbecausepriortotheconversionofforestlandasalienableland,any
occupationorpossessionthereofcannotbecountedinreckoningcompliancewiththethirtyyearpossessionrequirementunder
CommonwealthAct141(CA141)orthePublicLandAct.35ThiswasourrulinginAlmedav.CA.36Therulesontheconfirmationofimperfect
titlesdonotapplyunlessanduntilthelandclassifiedasforestlandisreleasedthroughanofficialproclamationtothateffect.Thenandonly
thenwillitformpartofthedisposableagriculturallandsofthepublicdomain.37
Comingnowtopetitionerscontentionthather"privaterights"totheproperty,meaningherandherpredecessorspossessionthereofpriorto
theestablishmentoftheFMMR,mustberespected,thesameisuntenable.Asearlierstated,wehadalreadyrecognizedthesamelandtobe
publicforestevenbeforetheFMMRwasestablished.Toreiterate:
Beforethemilitaryreservationwasestablished,theevidenceisinconclusiveastopossession,foritisshownbytheevidencethattheland
involvedislargelymountainousandforested.Asamatteroffact,atthetimeofthehearing,itwasconcededthatapproximately13,957
hectaresofsaidlandconsistofpublicforest.xxx
Therefore,evenifpossessionwasformorethan30years,itcouldneverripentoownership.
Butevenassumingthatthelandinquestionwasalienablelandbeforeitwasestablishedasamilitaryreservation,therewasneverthelessstilla
dearthofevidencewithrespecttoitsoccupationbypetitionerandherpredecessorsininterestformorethan30years.InReyes,wenoted:
Evidently,MelecioPadilla,havingdiedonFebruary9,1900,barelyfive(5)yearsaftertheinscriptionoftheinformacionpossessoria,could
nothaveconvertedthesameintoarecordofownershiptwenty(20)yearsaftersuchinscription,pursuanttoArticle393oftheSpanish
MortgageLaw.
xxx
DuringthelifetimeofMelecioPadilla,onlyasmallportionthereofwasclearedandcultivatedunderthekainginsystem,whilesome
portionswereusedasgrazingland.Afterhisdeath,hisdaughter,MariaPadilla,causedtheplantingofvegetablesandhadaboutforty(40)
tenantsforthepurpose.DuringtheJapaneseoccupation,MariaPadilladied.xxx
xxx
Amerecasualcultivationofportionsofthelandbytheclaimant,andtheraisingthereonofcattle,donotconstitutepossessionunderclaimof
ownership.Inthatsense,possessionisnotexclusiveandnotoriousastogiverisetoapresumptivegrantfromtheState.Whilegrazing
livestockoverlandisofcoursetobeconsideredwithotheractsofdominiontoshowpossession,themereoccupancyoflandbygrazing
livestockuponit,withoutsubstantialinclosures,orotherpermanentimprovements,isnotsufficienttosupportaclaimoftitlethruacquisitive
prescription.Thepossessionofpublicland,howeverlongtheperiodmayhaveextended,neverconferstitletheretouponthepossessor
becausethestatuteoflimitationswithregardtopubliclanddoesnotoperateagainsttheStateunlesstheoccupantcanprovepossessionand
occupationofthesameunderclaimofownershipfortherequirednumberofyearstoconstituteagrantfromtheState. 38
xxx
Furthermore,thefactthatthepossessoryinformationtitleonwhichpetitioneralsobasesherclaimofownershipwasfoundtobeinexistent
inReyes,39thusrenderingitsprobativevaluesuspect,furthermilitatesagainstgrantingherapplicationforregistration.
NULLITYOFCOMPROMISEAGREEMENT
Onthecompromiseagreementbetweentheparties,weagreewiththeCAthatthesamewasnullandvoid.
AnamicablesettlementoracompromiseagreementisinthenatureofacontractandmustnecessarilycomplywiththeprovisionsofArticle
1318oftheNewCivilCodewhichprovides:
Art.1318.Thereisnocontractunlessthefollowingrequisitesconcur:
(1)Consentofthecontractingparties;
(2)Objectcertainwhichisthesubjectmatterofthecontract;
(3)Causeoftheobligationwhichisestablished.
PetitionerwasnotabletoprovideanyproofthattheconsentoftheRepublic,throughtheappropriategovernmentagencies,i.e.the
DepartmentofEnvironmentandNaturalResources,LandManagementBureau,LandRegistrationAuthority,andtheOfficeofthePresident,
wassecuredbytheOSGwhenitexecutedtheagreementwithher.40ThelackofauthorityonthepartoftheOSGrenderedthecompromise
agreementbetweenthepartiesnullandvoidbecausealthoughitisthedutyoftheOSGtorepresenttheStateincasesinvolvingland
registrationproceedings,itmustdosoonlywithinthescopeoftheauthoritygrantedtoitbyitsprincipal,theRepublicofthePhilippines. 41
Inthiscase,althoughtheOSGwasauthorizedtoappearascounselforrespondent,itwasnevergiventhespecificorspecialauthoritytoenter
intoacompromiseagreementwithpetitioner.ThisisinviolationoftheprovisionsofRule138Section23,oftheRulesofCourtwhich
requires"specialauthority"forattorneystobindtheirclients.
Section23.Authorityofattorneystobindclients.Attorneyshaveauthoritytobindtheirclientsinanycasebyanyagreementinrelation
theretomadeinwriting,andintakingappeals,andinallmattersofordinaryjudicialprocedure.Buttheycannot,withoutspecialauthority,
compromisetheirclientslitigation,orreceiveanythingindischargeofaclientsclaimbutthefullamountincash.(Emphasissupplied).
Moreover,thelandinquestioncouldnothavebeenavalidsubjectmatterofacontractbecause,beingforestland,itwasinalienable.Article
1347oftheCivilCodeprovides:
Art.1347.Allthingswhicharenotoutsidethecommerceofmen,includingfuturethings,maybetheobjectofacontract.Allrights
whicharenotintransmissiblemayalsobetheobjectofcontracts.
Nocontractmaybeenteredintouponfutureinheritanceexceptincasesexpresslyauthorizedbylaw.
Allserviceswhicharenotcontrarytolaw,morals,goodcustoms,publicorderorpublicpolicymaylikewisebetheobjectofacontract.
(Emphasissupplied)
Finally,theCourtfindsthecauseorconsiderationoftheobligationcontrarytolawandagainstpublicpolicy.Theagreementprovidedthat,in
considerationofpetitionerswithdrawalofherapplicationforregistrationoftitlefromthatportionofthepropertylocatedwithinthemilitary
reservation,respondentwaswithdrawingitsclaimonthatpartofthelandsituatedoutsidesaidreservation.TheRepubliccouldnotvalidly
enterintosuchundertakingasthesubjectmatteroftheagreementwasoutsidethecommerceofman.
PETITIONERSCONTEMPTOFCOURT
ThisCourt,beingtheveryinstitutionthatdispensesjustice,cannotreasonablybeexpectedtojustsitbyanddonothingwhenitcomesunder
attack.
ThatpetitionerslettermotionconstitutesanattackagainsttheintegrityofthisCourtcannotbedenied.Petitionerstartedherletterinnocently
enoughbystating:
Thisisinresponsetoyourcallfor"MoralForces"inorderto"redirectthedestinyofourcountrywhichissufferingfrommoraldecadence,"
thattoyourmind,istheproblemwhichconfrontsus.(Inquirer,January15,2009,page1)[.]
It,however,quicklyprogressedintoabarelyconcealedresentmentforwhatsheperceivedasthisCourtsfailuretoexercise"utmost
prudence"inrendering"impartialjustice"indecidinghercase.Petitionerrecounted:
IrecentlylostmycasewiththeSupremeCourt,G.R.N[o].181502,andmylawyerhasdoneallthatishumanlypossibletoconvincethecourt
totakeasecondlookatthemiscarriageofjusticethatwillresultfromtheimplementationoftheDISMISSALinaMINUTE
RESOLUTIONofourPetitionforReview.
PendingbeforeyourDivision(FirstDivision)isalastpleaforjusticesothatthecasemaybeelevatedtotheSupremeCourtenbanc.I
hopetheCourtexercisesutmostprudenceinresolvingthelastplea.Forreadyreference,acopyoftheMotionisheretoattachedas
Annex"A".
TheissuethatwasbroughtbeforetheHonorableSupremeCourtinvolvestheDecisionofthenJusticeVicenteMendozaoftheCourtof
Appeals,whichisNULLandVOID,abinitio.
ItisnullandvoidbecausedestinyplacedHon.JusticeVicenteMendozainapositioninwhichitbecamepossibleforhimtodischargethe
minimumrequirementofdueprocess,[i.e.]theabilityofthecourttorender"impartialjustice,"becauseMr.JusticeMendozabecame
theponenteoftheCourtofAppealsDecision,reversingthefindingsofthetrialcourt,notwithstandingthefactthathe,asAssistantSolicitor
General,wastheverypersonwhoappearedonbehalfoftheRepublic,astheoppositorintheverysamelandregistrationproceedingsinwhich
helost.(Emphasissupplied).
Petitionerthenindirectlyhintsthat,whenpushcomestoshove,shehasnochoicebuttoexposetheirregularityconcerningtheMendoza
decisiontothemedia.Thisisevidentinherarrogantdeclarationthat:
Ifleakedtothetrimedia[,]mycasewillcertainlyevokeevengreaterspitefromthepublic,andputtheSupremeCourtinbadlight.
Butshehastenstoaddinthesamebreaththat:
ImustconfessthatIwastemptedtopursuesuchcourseofaction.Ihoweverbelievethatsuchanactionwilldomoreharmthangood,and
evendestroythegoodnameofHon.JusticeMendoza.
PetitionerendsherletterbytakingthisCourttotask:
...endeavortoensurethatcasessuchasminedonothappenagain,sothatthenextpersonwhoseeksjusticewillnotexperiencethepainand
frustrationthatIsufferedunderourjudicialsystem.
Whenrequiredtoshowcausewhysheshouldnotbecitedforcontemptforherbaselesschargesandveiledthreats,petitioneranswered:
xxx
TheLetterofJanuary26,2009isnota"veiledthreat[.]ItwaswritteninresponsetothecalloftheChiefJusticeforamoralrevolution.
Juxtaposedagainstthefactualbackdropofthe"AlabangBoys"caseandtheMeralco[c]ase,involvingMr.JusticeJoseL.Sabiowhichalso
enjoyedwidepublicityoverthetrimedia,petitionerfeltthatthefactsofthesaidcasespaleincomparisontothefactsofhercasewherethe
lawyerofheropponenteventuallybecamejusticeoftheappellatecourtandendedupreversingtheverydecisioninwhichhelost,inclear
violationofher[c]onstitutional[r]ighttofundamentalfairplayfornocontestantinanylitigationcaneverserveasajudgewithout
transgressionofthedueprocessclause.Thisisbasic.
Petitionerconfessesthatshemayhavebeenemotionalinthedeliveryofherpiece,becausecorrectlyorincorrectly[,]shebelievestheyare
irrefutable.Ifinthecourseofthatemotionaldelivery,shehasoffendedyourhonorssensibilities,sheisreadyforthepunishment,andonly
praysthathisCourttemperitsstrikewithcompassionasherlettertotheChiefJusticewasneverwrittenwithaviewofthreateningthe
Court.
xxx
PetitionerwrotetheChiefJusticeinordertoobtainredressandcorrectionoftheinequitybestoweduponherbydestiny.Itwasnevermeantas
athreat.
TheCourtnowputsanendtopetitionersirresponsibleinsinuationsandthreatsof"goingpublic"withthiscase.Wearenotblindto
petitionerscleverandfoxyinterplayofthreatsalternatingwithfalseconcernforthereputationofthisCourt.
ItiswelltoremindpetitionerthattheCourthasconsistentlyrenderedjusticewithneitherfearnorfavor.Thedispositioninthiscasewas
arrivedatafteracarefulandthoroughdeliberationofthefactsofthiscaseandallthematterspertainingthereto.Therecordsofthecase,in
fact,showthatallthepertinentissuesraisedbypetitionerwerepasseduponandsufficientlyaddressedbytheappellatecourtandthisCourtin
theirrespectiveresolutions.
AstopetitionerscomplaintregardingthisCourtsdenialofherpetitionthroughamereminuteresolution(whichallegedlydeprivedherof
dueprocessastheCourtdidnotissueafullblowndecisionstatingthefactsandapplicablejurisprudence),sufficeittosaythattheCourtis
notdutyboundtoissuedecisionsorresolutionssignedbythejusticesallthetime.Ithasamplediscretiontoformulateponencias,extended
resolutionsorevenminuteresolutionsissuedbyoruponitsauthority,dependingonitsevaluationofacase,aslongasalegalbasisexists.
Whenaminuteresolution(signedbytheClerkofCourtuponordersoftheCourt)deniesordismissesapetitionormotionforreconsideration
forlackofmerit,itisunderstoodthattheassaileddecisionororder,togetherwithallitsfindingsoffactandlegalconclusions,aredeemed
sustained.42
Furthermore,petitionerhasdoggedlypursuedhercaseinthisCourtbyfilingthreesuccessivemotionsforreconsideration,includingthe
lettermotionsubjectofthisresolution.This,despiteourrepeatedwarningsthat"nofurtherpleadingsshallbeentertainedinthiscase."Her
unreasonablepersistenceconstitutesutterdefianceofthisCourtsordersandanabuseoftherulesofprocedure.This,alongsideherthinly
veiledthreatstoleakhercasetothemediatogainpublicsympathyalthoughthetoneofpetitionerscompliancewithourshowcause
resolutionwasdecidedlysubduedcomparedtoherearlierlettersconstitutescontemptofcourt.
InRepublicv.Unimex,43weheld:
AstatementofthisCourtthatnofurtherpleadingswouldbeentertainedisadeclarationthattheCourthasalreadyconsideredallissues
presentedbythepartiesandthatithasadjudicatedthecasewithfinality.Itisadirectivetothepartiestodesistfromfilinganyfurther
pleadingsormotions.LikeallordersofthisCourt,itmustbestrictlyobservedbytheparties.Itshouldnotbecircumventedbyfilingmotions
illdisguisedasrequestsforclarification.
AFEWOBSERVATIONS
Ifpetitionerwas,assheadamantlyinsists,onlyguardingherconstitutionalrighttodueprocess,thenwhydidshequestionthevalidityofthe
Mendozadecisionlateintheproceedings,thatis,onlyafterhermotionforreconsiderationintheCA(foritssubsequentannulmentofthe
compromiseagreement)wasdenied?Itisobviousthatitwasonlywhenhercasebecamehopelessthatherpresentcounselfrantically
searchedforsomeground,anygroundtoresuscitatehisclientslostcause,subsequentlyraisingtheissue.Thisisevidentfromastatementin
herpetitiontothisCourtthat:
ItisthisfreshdiscoverybytheundersignedcounselofthenullityoftheproceedingsoftheCourtofAppealsthatplacesindoubtthe
entireproceedingsitpreviouslyconducted,whichledtotherenditionoftheFebruary26,1992Decision,afactthatescapedthescrutinyof
applicantforregistrationFloraL.Garcia,aswellasherlawyer,Atty.CayetanoDanteDiaz,whodiedin1993,andthelateJustice
FernandoA.Santiago,whostoodascounselforFloraL.Garciassuccessorininterest,hereinpetitioner,FlorenciaG.
Garcia.44(Emphasissupplied).
Theabovecitedstatementdoesnothelppetitionerscauseatall.Ifanything,itonlyproveshowdesperatethecasehasbecomeforpetitioner
andhercounsel.
WHEREFORE,thelettermotiondatedJanuary26,2009ofpetitionerisNOTEDandisherebytreatedasathirdmotionforreconsideration.
ThemotionisDENIEDconsideringthatathirdmotionforreconsiderationisaprohibitedpleadingandthepleautterlylacksmerit.
PetitionerisfoundGUILTYofcontemptofcourt.Accordingly,aFINEofFiveThousandPesosisherebyimposedonher,payablewithinten
daysfromreceiptofthisresolution.SheisherebyWARNEDthatanyrepetitionhereofshallbedealtwithmoreseverely.
Treblecostsagainstpetitioner.
SOORDERED

7. Sps. Fortuna v Republic, GR No. 173423

BRION,J.:
BeforetheCourtisapetitionforreviewoncertiorari1filedbythepetitioners,spousesAntonioandErlindaFortuna,assailingthedecision
datedMay16,20052andtheresolutiondatedJune27,20063oftheCourtofAppeals(CA)inCAG.R.CVNo.71143.TheCAreversedand
setasidethedecisiondatedMay7,20014oftheRegionalTrialCourt(RTC)ofSanFernando,LaUnion,Branch66,inLandRegistration
Case(LRC)No.2372.
THEBACKGROUNDFACTS
InDecember1994,thespousesFortunafiledanapplicationforregistrationofa2,597squaremeterlandidentifiedasLotNo.4457,situated
inBo.Canaoay,SanFernando,LaUnion.TheapplicationwasfiledwiththeRTCanddocketedasLRCNo.2372.
ThespousesFortunastatedthatLotNo.4457wasoriginallyownedbyPastoraVendiola,uponwhosedeathwassucceededbyherchildren,
ClementeandEmeteriaNones.ThroughanaffidavitofadjudicationdatedAugust3,1972,EmeteriarenouncedallherinterestinLotNo.
4457infavorofClemente.ClementelatersoldthelotinfavorofRodolfoCuencaonMay23,1975.Rodolfosoldthesamelottothespouses
FortunathroughadeedofabsolutesaledatedMay4,1984.
ThespousesFortunaclaimedthatthey,throughthemselvesandtheirpredecessorsininterest,havebeeninquiet,peaceful,adverseand
uninterruptedpossessionofLotNo.4457formorethan50years,andsubmittedasevidencethelotssurveyplan,technicaldescription,and
certificateofassessment.
Althoughtherespondent,RepublicofthePhilippines(Republic),opposedtheapplication,5itdidnotpresentanyevidenceinsupportofits
opposition.Sincenoprivateoppositiontotheregistrationwasfiled,theRTCissuedanorderofgeneraldefaultonNovember11,1996against
thewholeworld,excepttheRepublic.6
InitsDecisiondatedMay7,2001,7theRTCgrantedtheapplicationforregistrationinfavorofthespousesFortuna.TheRTCdeclaredthat
"[thespousesFortuna]haveestablished[their]possession,includingthatoftheirpredecessorsininterestofthelandsoughttoberegistered,
hasbeenopen,continuous,peaceful,adverseagainstthewholeworldandintheconceptofanownersince1948,orforaperiodofoverfifty
(50)years."8
TheRepublicappealedtheRTCdecisionwiththeCA,arguingthatthespousesFortunadidnotpresentanofficialproclamationfromthe
governmentthatthelothasbeenclassifiedasalienableanddisposableagriculturalland.ItalsoclaimedthatthespousesFortunasevidence
TaxDeclarationNo.8366showedthatpossessionoverthelotdatesbackonlyto1948,thus,failingtomeettheJune12,1945cutoffperiod
providedunderSection14(1)ofPresidentialDecree(PD)No.1529orthePropertyRegistrationDecree(PRD).
InitsdecisiondatedMay16,2005,9theCAreversedandsetasidetheRTCdecision.AlthoughitfoundthatthespousesFortunawereableto
establishthealienableanddisposablenatureoftheland,10theyfailedtoshowthattheycompliedwiththelengthofpossessionthatthelaw
requires,i.e.,sinceJune12,1945.ItagreedwiththeRepublicsargumentthatTaxDeclarationNo.8366onlyshowedthatthespouses
Fortunaspredecessorininterest,Pastora,provedthatshehadbeeninpossessionofthelandonlysince1948.
TheCAdeniedthespousesFortunasmotionforreconsiderationofitsdecisioninitsresolutiondatedJune27,2006. 11
THEPARTIESARGUMENTS
Throughthepresentpetition,thespousesFortunaseekareviewoftheCArulings.
TheycontendthattheapplicablelawisSection48(b)ofCommonwealthActNo.141orthePublicLandAct(PLA),asamendedbyRepublic
Act(RA)No.1942.RANo.1942amendedthePLAbyrequiring30yearsofopen,continuous,exclusive,andnotoriouspossessiontoacquire
imperfecttitleoveranagriculturallandofthepublicdomain.This30yearperiod,however,wasremovedbyPDNo.1073andinstead
requiredthatthepossessionshouldbesinceJune12,1945.TheamendmentintroducedbyPDNo.1073wascarriedinSection14(1)ofthe
PRD.12
ThespousesFortunapointoutthatPDNo.1073wasissuedonJanuary25,1977andpublishedonMay9,1977;andthePRDwasissuedon
June11,1978andpublishedonJanuary2,1979.OnthebasisoftheCourtsrulinginTaada,etal.v.Hon.Tuvera,etc.,etal.,13theyallege
thatPDNo.1073andthePRDshouldbedeemedeffectiveonlyonMay24,1977andJanuary17,1979,respectively.Bythesedates,they
claimtohavealreadysatisfiedthe30yearrequirementundertheRANo.1942amendmentbecausePastoraspossessiondatesback,atthe
latest,to1947.
TheyallegethatalthoughTaxDeclarationNo.8366wasmadein1948,thisdoesnotcontradictthatfactthatPastorapossessedLotNo.4457
before1948.Thefailuretopresentdocumentaryevidenceprovingpossessionearlierthan1948wasexplainedbyFilmaSalazar,Records
OfficeroftheProvincialAssessorsOffice,whotestifiedthattherecordswerelostbeyondrecoveryduetotheoutbreakofWorldWarII.
Notwithstandingtheabsenceofdocumentsexecutedearlierthan1948,thespousesFortunacontendthatevidenceexistsindicatingthat
Pastorapossessedthelotevenbefore1948.First,TaxDeclarationNo.8366doesnotcontainastatementthatitisanewtaxdeclaration.
Second,theannotationfoundatthebackofTaxDeclarationNo.8366statesthat"thisdeclarationcancelsTaxNos.10543[.]" 14SinceTax
DeclarationNo.8366wasissuedin1948,thecancelledTaxDeclarationNo.10543wasissued,atthelatest,in1947,indicatingthattherewas
alreadyanownerandpossessorofthelotbefore1948.Third,theyrelyonthetestimonyofoneMacariaFloresinLRCNo.2373.LRCNo.
2373wasalsocommencedbythespousesFortunatoregisterLotNos.4462,27066,and27098,15whichwerealsooriginallyownedby
PastoraandareadjacenttothesubjectLotNo.4457.Macariatestifiedthatshewasbornin1926andresidedinaplaceafewmetersfromthe
threelots.Shestatedthatsheregularlypassedbytheselotsonherwaytoschoolsince1938.SheknewthepropertywasownedbyPastora
becausethelattersfamilyhadconstructedahouseandplantedfruitbearingtreesthereon;theyalsocleanedthearea.Onthebasisof
MacariastestimonyandtheotherevidencepresentedinLRCNo.2373,theRTCgrantedthespousesFortunasapplicationforregistrationof
LotNos.4462,27066,and27098initsdecisionofJanuary3,2005.16TheRTCsdecisionhaslapsedintofinalityunappealed.
ThespousesFortunaclaimthatMacariastestimonyinLRCNo.2373shouldbeconsideredtoprovePastoraspossessionpriorto1948.
AlthoughLRCNo.2373isaseparateregistrationproceeding,itpertainedtolotsadjacenttothesubjectproperty,LotNo.4457,andbelonged
tothesamepredecessorininterest.ExplainingtheirfailuretopresentMacariaintheproceedingsbeforetheRTCinLRCNo.2372,the
spousesFortunasaid"itwasonlyafterthereceptionofevidencexxxthat[they]wereabletotraceandestablishtheidentityandcompetency
ofMacaria[.]"17
CommentingonthespousesFortunaspetition,theRepublicreliedmostlyontheCAsrulingwhichdeniedtheregistrationoftitleandprayed
forthedismissalofthepetition.
THECOURTSRULING
WedenythepetitionforfailureofthespousesFortunatosufficientlyprovetheircompliancewiththerequisitesfortheacquisitionoftitleto
alienablelandsofthepublicdomain.
ThenatureofLotNo.4457asalienableand
disposablepubliclandhasnotbeensufficiently
established
TheConstitutiondeclaresthatalllandsofthepublicdomainareownedbytheState.18Ofthefourclassesofpublicland,i.e.,agricultural
lands,forestortimberlands,minerallands,andnationalparks,onlyagriculturallandsmaybealienated. 19Publiclandthathasnotbeen
classifiedasalienableagriculturallandremainspartoftheinalienablepublicdomain.Thus,itisessentialforanyapplicantforregistrationof
titletolandderivedthroughapublicgranttoestablishforemostthealienableanddisposablenatureoftheland.ThePLAprovisionsonthe
grantanddispositionofalienablepubliclands,specifically,Sections11and48(b),willfindapplicationonlyfromthetimethatapublicland
hasbeenclassifiedasagriculturalanddeclaredasalienableanddisposable.
UnderSection6ofthePLA,20theclassificationandthereclassificationofpubliclandsaretheprerogativeoftheExecutiveDepartment.The
President,throughapresidentialproclamationorexecutiveorder,canclassifyorreclassifyalandtobeincludedorexcludedfromthepublic
domain.TheDepartmentofEnvironmentandNaturalResources(DENR)Secretaryislikewiseempoweredbylawtoapprovealand
classificationanddeclaresuchlandasalienableanddisposable.21
Accordingly,jurisprudencehasrequiredthatanapplicantforregistrationoftitleacquiredthroughapubliclandgrantmustpresent
incontrovertibleevidencethatthelandsubjectoftheapplicationisalienableordisposablebyestablishingtheexistenceofapositiveactofthe
government,suchasapresidentialproclamationoranexecutiveorder;anadministrativeaction;investigationreportsofBureauofLands
investigators;andalegislativeactorastatute.
Inthiscase,theCAdeclaredthatthealienablenatureofthelandwasestablishedbythenotationinthesurveyplan, 22whichstates:
ThissurveyisinsidealienableanddisposableareaasperProjectNo.13L.C.MapNo.1395certifiedAugust7,1940.Itisoutsideanycivilor
militaryreservation.23
ItalsoreliedontheCertificationdatedJuly19,1999fromtheDENRCommunityEnvironmentandNaturalResourcesOffice(CENRO)that
"thereis,perrecord,neitheranypubliclandapplicationfilednortitlepreviouslyissuedforthesubjectparcel[.]" 24However,wefindthat
neitheroftheabovedocumentsisevidenceofapositiveactfromthegovernmentreclassifyingthelotasalienableanddisposableagricultural
landofthepublicdomain.
Merenotationsappearinginsurveyplansareinadequateproofofthecoveredpropertiesalienableanddisposablecharacter.25Thesenotations,
attheveryleast,onlyestablishthatthelandsubjectoftheapplicationforregistrationfallswithintheapprovedalienableanddisposablearea
perverificationthroughsurveybythepropergovernmentoffice.Theapplicant,however,mustalsopresentacopyoftheoriginal
classificationofthelandintoalienableanddisposableland,asdeclaredbytheDENRSecretaryorasproclaimedbythePresident. 26In
Republicv.HeirsofJuanFabio,27theCourtruledthat[t]heapplicantforlandregistrationmustprovethattheDENRSecretaryhadapproved
thelandclassificationandreleasedthelandofthepublicdomainasalienableanddisposable,andthatthelandsubjectoftheapplicationfor
registrationfallswithintheapprovedareaperverificationthroughsurveybythePENRO28orCENRO.Inaddition,theapplicantmustpresent
acopyoftheoriginalclassificationofthelandintoalienableanddisposable,asdeclaredbytheDENRSecretary,orasproclaimedbythe
President.
ThesurveyplanandtheDENRCENROcertificationarenotproofthatthePresidentortheDENRSecretaryhasreclassifiedandreleasedthe
publiclandasalienableanddisposable.Theofficesthatpreparedthesedocumentsarenottheofficialrepositoriesorlegalcustodianofthe
issuancesofthePresidentortheDENRSecretarydeclaringthepubliclandasalienableanddisposable. 29
ForfailuretopresentincontrovertibleevidencethatLotNo.4457hasbeenreclassifiedasalienableanddisposablelandofthepublicdomain
thoughapositiveactoftheExecutiveDepartment,thespousesFortunasclaimoftitlethroughapubliclandgrantunderthePLAshouldbe
denied.
Injudicialconfirmationofimperfect
orincompletetitle,theperiodof
possessionshouldcommence,atthe
latest,asofMay9,1947
AlthoughtheabovefindingthatthespousesFortunafailedtoestablishthealienableanddisposablecharacterofLotNo.4457servesas
sufficientgroundtodenythepetitionandterminatethecase,wedeemitpropertocontinuetoaddresstheotherimportantlegalissuesraised
inthepetition.
Asmentioned,thePLAisthelawthatgovernsthegrantanddispositionofalienableagriculturallands.UnderSection11ofthePLA,
alienablelandsofthepublicdomainmaybedisposedof,amongothers,byjudicialconfirmationofimperfectorincompletetitle.Thismode
ofacquisitionoftitleisgovernedbySection48(b)ofthePLA,theoriginalversionofwhichstates:
Sec.48.ThefollowingdescribedcitizensofthePhilippines,occupyinglandsofthepublicdomainorclaimingtoownanysuchlandsoran
interesttherein,butwhosetitleshavenotbeenperfectedorcompleted,mayapplytotheCourtofFirstInstanceoftheprovincewheretheland
islocatedforconfirmationoftheirclaimsandtheissuanceofacertificateoftitletherefor,undertheLandRegistrationAct,towit:
xxxx
(b)Thosewhobythemselvesorthroughtheirpredecessorsininteresthavebeeninopen,continuous,exclusive,andnotoriouspossession
andoccupationofagriculturallandsofthepublicdomain,underabonafideclaimofacquisitionorownership,exceptasagainstthe
Government,sinceJulytwentysixth,eighteenhundredandninetyfour,exceptwhenpreventedbywarorforcemajeure.Theseshallbe
conclusivelypresumedtohaveperformedalltheconditionsessentialtoagovernmentgrantandshallbeentitledtoacertificateoftitleunder
theprovisionsofthischapter.[emphasissupplied]
OnJune22,1957,thecutoffdateofJuly26,1894wasreplacedbya30yearperiodofpossessionunderRANo.1942.Section48(b)ofthe
PLA,asamendedbyRANo.1942,read:
(b)Thosewhobythemselvesorthroughtheirpredecessorsininteresthavebeeninopen,continuous,exclusiveandnotoriouspossessionand
occupationofagriculturallandsofthepublicdomain,underabonafideclaimofacquisitionofownership,foratleastthirtyyears
immediatelyprecedingthefilingoftheapplicationforconfirmationoftitle,exceptwhenpreventedbywarorforcemajeure.[emphasisand
underscoreours]
OnJanuary25,1977,PDNo.1073replacedthe30yearperiodofpossessionbyrequiringpossessionsinceJune12,1945.Section4ofPD
No.1073reads:
SEC.4.TheprovisionsofSection48(b)andSection48(c),ChapterVIIIofthePublicLandActareherebyamendedinthesensethatthese
provisionsshallapplyonlytoalienableanddisposablelandsofthepublicdomainwhichhavebeeninopen,continuous,exclusiveand
notoriouspossessionandoccupationbytheapplicanthimselforthruhispredecessorininterest,underabonafideclaimofacquisitionof
ownership,sinceJune12,1945.[emphasissupplied]
UnderthePDNo.1073amendment,possessionofatleast32yearsfrom1945uptoitsenactmentin1977isrequired.Thiseffectively
impairsthevestedrightsofapplicantswhohadcompliedwiththe30yearpossessionrequiredundertheRANo.1942amendment,butwhose
possessioncommencedonlyafterthecutoffdateofJune12,1945wasestablishedbythePDNo.1073amendment.Toremedythis,the
CourtruledinAbejaronv.Nabasa30that"Filipinocitizenswhobythemselvesortheirpredecessorsininteresthavebeen,priortothe
effectivityofP.D.1073onJanuary25,1977,inopen,continuous,exclusiveandnotoriouspossessionandoccupationofagriculturallandsof
thepublicdomain,underabonafideclaimofacquisitionofownership,foratleast30years,oratleastsinceJanuary24,1947mayapplyfor
judicialconfirmationoftheirimperfectorincompletetitleunderSec.48(b)ofthe[PLA]."January24,1947wasconsideredasthecutoffdate
asthiswasexactly30yearscountedbackwardfromJanuary25,1977theeffectivitydateofPDNo.1073.
Itappears,however,thatJanuary25,1977wasthedatePDNo.1073wasenacted;basedonthecertificationfromtheNationalPrinting
Office,31PDNo.1073waspublishedinVol.73,No.19oftheOfficialGazette,monthslaterthanitsenactmentoronMay9,1977.This
uncontrovertedfactmateriallyaffectsthecutoffdateforapplicationsforjudicialconfirmationofincompletetitleunderSection48(b)ofthe
PLA.
AlthoughSection6ofPDNo.1073statesthat"[the]Decreeshalltakeeffectuponitspromulgation,"theCourthasdeclaredinTaada,etal.
v.Hon.Tuvera,etc.,etal.32thatthepublicationoflawsisanindispensablerequirementforitseffectivity."[A]llstatutes,includingthoseof
localapplicationandprivatelaws,shallbepublishedasaconditionfortheireffectivity,whichshallbeginfifteendaysafterpublicationunless
adifferenteffectivitydateisfixedbythelegislature."33Accordingly,Section6ofPDNo.1073shouldbeunderstoodtomeanthatthedecree
tookeffectonlyuponitspublication,oronMay9,1977.This,therefore,movesthecutoffdateforapplicationsforjudicialconfirmationof
imperfectorincompletetitleunderSection48(b)ofthePLAtoMay8,1947.Inotherwords,applicantsmustprovethattheyhavebeenin
open,continuous,exclusiveandnotoriouspossessionandoccupationofagriculturallandsofthepublicdomain,underabonafideclaimof
acquisitionofownership,foratleast30years,oratleastsinceMay8,1947.
ThespousesFortunawereunabletoprove
thattheypossessedLotNo.4457sinceMay8,1947
EveniftheCourtassumesthatLotNo.4457isanalienableanddisposableagriculturallandofthepublicdomain,thespousesFortunas
applicationforregistrationoftitlewouldstillnotprosperforfailuretosufficientlyprovethattheypossessedthelandsinceMay8,1947.
ThespousesFortunasallegationthat:(1)theabsenceofanotationthatTaxDeclarationNo.8366wasanewtaxdeclarationand(2)the
notationstatingthatTaxDeclarationNo.8366cancelstheearlierTaxDeclarationNo.10543bothindicatethatPastorapossessedtheland
priorto1948or,attheearliest,in1947.WealsoobservethatTaxDeclarationNo.8366containsaswornstatementoftheownerthatwas
subscribedonOctober23,1947.34Whilethesecircumstancesmayindeedindicatepossessionasof1947,noneprovesthatitcommencedasof
thecutoffdateofMay8,1947.Evenifthetaxdeclarationindicatespossessionsince1947,itdoesnotshowthenatureofPastoras
possession.Notably,Section48(b)ofthePLAspeaksofpossessionandoccupation."Sincethesewordsareseparatedbytheconjunctionand,
theclearintentionofthelawisnottomakeonesynonymouswiththeother.Possessionisbroaderthanoccupationbecauseitincludes
constructivepossession.When,therefore,thelawaddsthewordoccupation,itseekstodelimittheallencompassingeffectofconstructive
possession.Takentogetherwiththewordsopen,continuous,exclusiveandnotorious,thewordoccupationservestohighlightthefactthatfor
anapplicanttoqualify,hispossessionmustnotbeamerefiction."35NothinginTaxDeclarationNo.8366showsthatPastoraexercisedactsof
possessionandoccupationsuchascultivationoforfencingofftheland.Indeed,thelotwasdescribedas"cogonal." 36
ThespousesFortunaseekstoremedythedefectsofTaxDeclarationNo.8366byrelyingonMacariastestimonyinaseparateland
registrationproceeding,LRCNo.2373.MacariaallegedthatshepassedbyPastoraslotsonherwaytoschool,andshesawPastorasfamily
constructahouse,plantfruitbearingtrees,andcleanthearea.However,theCourtisnotconvincedthatMacariastestimonyconstitutedas
the"wellnighincontrovertibleevidence"requiredincasesofthisnature.
TherecordsdisclosethatthespousesFortunaacquiredadjoiningparcelsofland,allofwhichareclaimedtohavepreviouslybelongedto
Pastora.Theseparcelsoflandwerecoveredbythreeseparateapplicationsforregistration,towit:
a.LRCNo.N1278,involvingLotNos.1and2,withatotalareaof2,961sq.m.,commencedbyEmeteria;
b.LRCNo.2373,involvingLotNos.4462,27066,and27098,withatotalareaof4,006sq.m.,commencedbythespousesFortuna;
and
c.LRCNo.2372(thesubjectcase),involvingLotNo.4457,withatotalareaof2,597sq.m.
Asthesecasesinvolveddifferentbutadjoininglotsthatbelongedtothesamepredecessorininterest,thespousesFortunaallegedthatthe
finalrulingsinLRCNos.N1278and2373,37upholdingPastorasownership,betakenintoaccountinresolvingthepresentcase.
Notably,thetotallandareaoftheadjoininglotsthatareclaimedtohavepreviouslybelongedtoPastorais9,564sq.m.Thisistoobiganarea
fortheCourttoconsiderthatPastorasclaimedactsofpossessionandoccupation(astestifiedtobyMacaria)encompassedtheentiretyofthe
lots.Giventhesizeofthelots,itisunlikelythatMacaria(age21in1947)couldcompetentlyassessanddeclarethatitsentiretybelongedto
Pastorabecauseshesawactsofpossessionandoccupationinwhatmusthavebeenbutalimitedarea.Asmentioned,TaxDeclarationNo.
8366describedLotNo.4457as"cogonal,"thus,MacariacouldnothavealsobeenreferringtoLotNo.4457whenshesaidthatPastora
plantedfruitbearingtreesonherproperties.
Thelowercourts'finalrulingsinLRCNos.N1278and2373,upholdingPastora'spossession,donottiethisCourt'shandsintorulinginfavor
ofthespousesFortuna.Muchtoourdismay,therulingsinLRCNos.N1278and2373donotevenshowthatthelotshavebeenofficially
reclassifiedasalienablelandsofthepublicdomainorthatthenatureanddurationofPastora'soccupationmettherequirementsofthePLA,
thus,failingtoconvinceustoeitherdisregardtherulesofevidenceorconsidertheirmerits.Inthisregard,wereiterateourdirectivein
Santiagov.DelasSantos:38
Bothunderthe1935andthepresentConstitutions,theconservationnolessthantheutilizationofthenaturalresourcesisordained.There
wouldbeafailuretoabidebyitscommandifthejudiciarydoesnotscrutinizewithcareapplicationstoprivateownershipofrealestate.Tobe
granted,theymustbegroundedinwellnighincontrovertibleevidence.Where,asinthiscase,nosuchproofwouldbeforthcoming,thereis
nojustificationforviewingsuchclaimwithfavor.Itisabasicassumptionofourpolitythatlandsofwhateverclassificationbelongtothe
state.Unlessalienatedinaccordancewithlaw,itretainsitsrightsoverthesameasdominus.
WHEREFORE,thepetitionisDENIED.ThedecisiondatedMay16,2005andtheresolutiondatedJune27,2006oftheCourtofAppealsin
CAG.R.CVNo.71143areAFFIRMEDinsofarasthesedismissedthespousesAntonioandErlindaFortuna'sapplicationofregistrationof
titleonthebasisofthegroundsdiscussedabove.CostsagainstthespousesFortuna.
SOORDERED.