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G.R. No. 144095.

April 12, 2005 Whether the Third Sharia District Court erred in not ruling that
respondents have no cause of action against the petitioners in
SPOUSES HAYMATON S. GARINGAN AND JAYYARI an action for partition as they are not co-owners of the subject
PAWAKI, Petitioners, property, petitioners being the sole owners of the property.7
vs.
HADJI MUNIB SAUPI GARINGAN, HADJA TERO SAUPI The Ruling of the Court
GARINGAN, and HADJA JEHADA SAUPI
GARINGAN,Respondents. The petition is meritorious.

DECISION The settlement of the issue of ownership is the first stage


in an action for partition, and the action will not lie if the
CARPIO, J.: claimant has no rightful interest in the property in
dispute.8 In this case, Hadji Munib, et al. failed to prove their
Facts right to the land in dispute.

On 23 February 1993, Hadji Munib, et al. filed an action for The Derivative Title of Jayyari Pawaki
Partition and Injunction with prayer for Preliminary Injunction
against their sister Haymaton and her husband Jayyari Pawaki The land in dispute was originally registered in the name of
also known as Djayari Moro. Hadji Munib, et al. alleged that Andaang Gani ("Andaang")
their grandfather Saupi Moro owned an agricultural lot, fully
planted with coconut and other fruit bearing trees, containing Andaang died intestate on 29 August 1959. On 13 April 1960,
an area of 11.3365 hectares. Saupi Moro donated the land to Andaangs widow and sole heir, Cristeta Santiago vda. de Gani
his daughter Insih Saupi ("Insih"), mother of Hadji Munib, et al. ("Cristeta"), executed an Extrajudicial Settlement and
and Haymaton. After the donation, Insih predeceased her Sale10 adjudicating to herself the land in dispute and at the
father and her interest over the land passed to her children same time selling it to Jikirum. On 31 August 1967 or seven
Hadji Munib Saupi Garingan, Hadja Tero Saupi Garingan, Hadja years after the sale, Cristeta caused the cancellation of OCT No.
Jehada Saupi Garingan, and Haymaton Garingan. P-793 and the issuance in her name of TCT No. T-1940.11 On
the same date, TCT No. T-1940 was cancelled and TCT No. T-
After the death of Saupi Moro in 1954,5 Haymaton and Pawaki 194112 was issued in the name of Jikirum.
took over the administration of the land. Later, Haymaton and
Pawaki declared the land, then still untitled, in their names for On 22 September 1969, Jikirum executed a Deed of Absolute
taxation. Haymaton and Pawaki refused to share with Hadji Sale13 in favor of Djayari Moro. On 10 June 1971, TCT No. T-
Munib, et al. the income from the sale of fruits from the land. 1941 was cancelled and TCT No. T-259214 was issued in the
name of Djayari Moro also known as Jayyari Pawaki.
Haymaton and Pawaki, on the other hand, claimed that on 22
September 1969, Pawaki bought the land from Jikirum M. The Homestead Application of Andaang Gani
Adjaluddin ("Jikirum"). TCT No. T-2592 was issued in the name
of Djayari Moro. Pawaki took possession of the land in the There is no evidence on record that shows that the heirs of
concept of an owner in the same year. He declared the land for Gani Moro subsequently reacquired the land. Nothing shows
taxation purposes under Tax Declaration No. 1675. that Andaang Gani was the occupant of the land when he
applied for homestead patent, or that he occupied the land
The Decision of the Sharia District Court and introduced improvements thereon in the interim before
the approval of his application. Hence, Hadji Munib, et al. insist
(1) The real property ordered partitioned among the following that Andaang did not comply with the requirements of CA 141.
in EQUAL SHARES, to wit: Hadji Munib Saupi Garingan, Hadja
Tero Saupi Garingan, Hadja Jehada Saupi Garingan, and Upon its registration, the land in dispute falls under the
Haymaton Garingan Jayyari, shall get entitled to ONE FOURTH operation of Act 496 and becomes registered land. A
(1/4) SHARE EACH of the aforesaid property; homestead patent, once registered, becomes as indefeasible as
a Torrens title.27
(2) Transfer Certificate of Title No. 2592 covering said property
in the name of Djayari or Jayyari Moro married to Haymaton We have repeatedly held that relief on the ground of fraud will
Mora is hereby ordered annulled and cancelled, and, a New not be granted where the alleged fraud goes into the merits of
Certificate of Title in the names of the owners mentioned in the the case, is intrinsic and not collateral, and has been
preceding paragraph 1, and in the proportion given therein; controverted and decided. Thus we have underscored the
denial of relief where it appears that the fraud consisted in the
In an Order dated 19 July 2000, the Sharia District Court presentation at the trial of a supposed forged document, or a
denied the motion for reconsideration of Haymaton and false and perjured testimony, or in basing the judgment on a
Pawaki. fraudulent compromise agreement, or in the alleged fraudulent
acts or omissions of the counsel which prevented the petitioner
The Issues from properly presenting the case.

Whether the Sharia District Court erred in ordering the The fraud being attributed to Andaang is not extrinsic and
partition of the subject property and annulment of Transfer collateral. In Libudan, the Court ruled that the allegation that
Certificate of Title No. T-2592 on the basis alone of neither the applicant nor his alleged successor-in-interest has
respondents claim that Saupi Moro, their predecessor-in- ever been in actual possession of the property in question
interest, was the one who owned the said parcel of land during since time immemorial does not constitute extrinsic fraud.
his lifetime, thereby disregarding the protection accorded to
persons dealing with property registered under the Torrens
system.
Granting that Andaang committed extrinsic and collateral Solicitor General and in the name of the Republic of the
fraud, Hadji Munib, et al. failed to avail of the remedy provided Philippines.
under Section 38 of Act 496 within the prescribed period.
Considering the foregoing, Hadji Munib, et al. have no
In Nelayan, et al. v. Nelayan, et al.,29 this Court ruled that in personality to file an action to recover possession of the land in
the case of public land grants (patents), the one-year period dispute. Further, they failed to timely avail of whatever remedy
under Section 38 is counted from the issuance of the patent by available to them to protect whatever interest they had over
the government. the land.

The Letters of Patent was issued on 17 February 1955. The WHEREFORE, the Decision of the Sharia District Court, Third
brothers and sisters of Saupi Moro filed Civil Case No. 41 for Sharia Judicial District, Zamboanga City in Civil Case No. 13-3,
annulment of title only in July 1956, more than a year after the is SET ASIDE, and another one is entered DISMISSING the
issuance of the Letters of Patent. There is no evidence that complaint in Civil Case No. 13-3.
Saupi Moros children, who are his compulsory heirs,
intervened in the case. Insihs children who claim to have
succeeded to the rights of their mother also failed to intervene
in the case. Hadji Munib, et al. did not do anything to protect
their interest, not even after the records of Civil Case No. 41
were burned. Instead of availing of the remedy under
Section 38 of Act 496, Hadji Munib, et al. filed an action for
partition on 23 February 1993, which must fail because a
Torrens title is not susceptible to collateral attack. Thus:

"It is a rule in this jurisdiction that once a public land has been
brought under the Land Registration Act, the Torrens title
issued thereto is indefeasible. It is entitled to the same regard
as one issued in a judicial proceeding. The Torrens title is not
susceptible to collateral attack. The decree (or order of the
Director of Lands for the issuance of the patent in the case of a
homestead) may be reviewed under Sec. 38 of the Land
Registration Act by filing the appropriate petition within one
year from the issuance of the said decree or from the issuance
of the order for the issuance of the patent. Or an appeal may
be taken to the appellate court within the reglementary period
from the decision of the Court; and in the case of the
homestead, the administrative remedies may be pursued.
These are the methods of direct attack."30

The Proper Party to Bring the Action

In any event, Hadji Munib, et al. are not the proper parties to
file an action for reconveyance of the land in dispute.

Evidently, the land was not privately owned by Gani Moro from
whom Saupi Moro "acquired" it. The land in dispute was part of
the public domain before the issuance of OCT No. P-793. If it
were otherwise, there would be no need for Gani Moros son,
Andaang, to file a homestead application.

The rule on this matter is clear:

All lands that were not acquired from the Government, either
by purchase or by grant, belong to the public domain. An
exception to the rule would be any land that should have been
in the possession of an occupant and of his predecessors in
interest since time immemorial, for such possession would
justify presumption that the land had never been part of the
public domain or that it had been a private property even
before the Spanish conquest.31

Hadji Munib, et al.s action for partition effectively seeks to


cancel the homestead patent and the corresponding certificate
of title. However, even if the homestead patent and the
certificate of title are cancelled, Hadji Munib, et al. will not
acquire the land in the concept of an owner. The land will
revert to the government and will again form part of the public
domain.

Section 101 of CA 141 provides that actions for reversion of


public lands fraudulently awarded must be instituted by the