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Republic of the Philippines its northeastern boundary was the Cagayan River (the same

SUPREME COURT boundary stated in the title). Since then, and for many years
Manila thereafter, a gradual accretion on the northeastern side took
place, by action of the current of the Cagayan River, so much
EN BANC so, that by 1958, the bank thereof had receded to a distance of
about 105 meters from its original site, and an alluvial deposit
G.R. No. L-17652 June 30, 1962 of 19,964 square meters (1.9964 hectares), more or less, had
been added to the registered area (Exh. C-1).
IGNACIO GRANDE, ET AL., petitioners,
vs. On January 25, 1958, petitioners instituted the present action
HON. COURT OF APPEALS, DOMINGO CALALUNG, and in the Court of First Instance of Isabela against respondents, to
ESTEBAN CALALUNG, respondents. quiet title to said portion (19,964 square meters) formed by
accretion, alleging in their complaint (docketed as Civil Case
Bartolome Guirao and Antonio M. Orara for petitioners. No. 1171) that they and their predecessors-in-interest, were
Gonzales and Fernandez for respondents. formerly in peaceful and continuous possession thereof, until
September, 1948, when respondents entered upon the land
BARRERA, J.: under claim of ownership. Petitioners also asked for damages
corresponding to the value of the fruits of the land as well as
This is an appeal taken by petitioners Ignacio, Eulogia, Alfonso, attorney's fees and costs. In their answer (dated February 18,
Eulalia, and Sofia Grande, from the decision of the Court of 1958), respondents claim ownership in themselves, asserting
Appeals (CA-G.R. No. 25169-R) reversing that of the Court of that they have been in continuous, open, and undisturbed
First Instance of Isabela (Civil Case No. 1171), and dismissing possession of said portion, since prior to the year 1933 to the
petitioners' action against respondents Domingo and Esteban present.
Calalung, to quiet title to and recover possession of a parcel of
land allegedly occupied by the latter without petitioners' After trial, the Court of First Instance of Isabela, on May 4,
consent. 1959, rendered a decision adjudging the ownership of the
portion in question to petitioners, and ordering respondents to
The facts of the case, which are undisputed, briefly are: vacate the premises and deliver possession thereof to
Petitioners are the owners of a parcel of land, with an area of petitioners, and to pay to the latter P250.00 as damages and
3.5032 hectares, located at barrio Ragan, municipality of costs. Said decision, in part, reads:
Magsaysay (formerly Tumauini), province of Isabela, by
inheritance from their deceased mother Patricia Angui (who It is admitted by the parties that the land involved in this
inherited it from her parents Isidro Angui and Ana Lopez, in action was formed by the gradual deposit of alluvium
whose name said land appears registered, as shown by brought about by the action of the Cagayan River, a
Original Certificate of Title No. 2982, issued on June 9, 1934). navigable river. We are inclined to believe that the
Said property is identified as Lot No. 1, Plan PSU-83342. When accretion was formed on the northeastern side of the
it was surveyed for purposes of registration sometime in 1930, land covered by Original Certificate of Title No. 2982
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after the survey of the registered land in 1931, because (Roxas v. Tuason, 9 Phil. 408; Cortez v. City of Manila,
the surveyors found out that the northeastern boundary 10 Phil. 567). Further, no act of appropriation on the part
of the land surveyed by them was the Cagayan River, of the reparian owner is necessary, in order to acquire
and not the land in question. Which is indicative of the ownership of the alluvial formation, as the law does not
fact that the accretion has not yet started or begun in require the same (3 Manresa, C.C., pp. 321-326).
1931. And, as declared by Pedro Laman, defendant
witness and the boundary owner on the northwest of the This brings us now to the determination of whether the
registered land of the plaintiffs, the accretion was a little defendants, granting that they have been in possession
more than one hectare, including the stony portion, in of the alluvium since 1948, could have acquired the
1940 or 1941. Therefore, the declarations of the property by prescription. Assuming that they occupied
defendant Domingo Calalung and his witness, Vicente the land in September, 1948, but considering that the
C. Bacani, to the effect that the land in question was action was commenced on January 25, 1958, they have
formed by accretion since 1933 do not only contradict not been in possession of the land for ten (10) years;
the testimony of defendants' witness Pedro Laman, but hence, they could not have acquired the land by ordinary
could not overthrow the incontestable fact that the prescription (Arts. 1134 and 1138, New Civil Code).
accretion with an area of 4 hectare more or less, was Moreover, as the alluvium is, by law, part and parcel of
formed in 1948, reason for which, it was only declared the registered property, the same may be considered as
in that same year for taxation purposes by the registered property, within the meaning of Section 46 of
defendants under Tax Dec. No. 257 (Exh. "2") when Act No. 496: and, therefore, it could not be acquired by
they entered upon the land. We could not give credence prescription or adverse possession by another person.
to defendants' assertion that Tax Dec. No. 257 (Exh. "2")
cancelled Tax Dee. No. 28226 (Exh. "1"), because Exh. Unsatisfied, respondents appealed to the Court of Appeals,
"2" says that "tax under this declaration begins with the which rendered, on September 14, 1960, the decision adverted
year 1948. But, the fact that defendants declared the to at the beginning of this opinion, partly stating:
land for taxation purposes since 1948, does not mean
that they become the owner of the land by mere That the area in controversy has been formed through a
occupancy, for it is a new provision of the New Civil gradual process of alluvium, which started in the early
Code that ownership of a piece of land cannot be thirties, is a fact conclusively established by the
acquired by occupation (Art. 714, New Civil Code). The evidence for both parties. By law, therefore, unless
land in question being an accretion to the mother or some superior title has supervened, it should properly
registered land of the plaintiffs, the accretion belongs to belong to the riparian owners, specifically in accordance
the plaintiffs (Art. 457, New Civil Code; Art. 366, Old Civil with the rule of natural accession in Article 366 of the old
Code). Assuming arguendo, that the accretion has been Civil Code (now Article 457), which provides that "to the
occupied by the defendants since 1948, or earlier, is of owner of lands adjoining the banks of rivers, belongs the
no moment, because the law does not require any act of accretion which they gradually receive from the effects
possession on the part of the owner of the riparian of the current of the waters." The defendants, however,
owner, from the moment the deposit becomes manifest contend that they have acquired ownership through
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prescription. This contention poses the real issue in this preclude acquisition of the addition area by another
case. The Court a quo, has resolved it in favor of the person through prescription. This Court has held as
plaintiffs, on two grounds: First, since by accession, the much in the case of Galindez, et al. v. Baguisa, et al.,
land in question pertains to the original estate, and since CA-G.R. No. 19249-R, July 17, 1959.
in this instance the original estate is registered, the
accretion, consequently, falls within the purview of We now proposed to review the second ground relied
Section 46 of Act No. 496, which states that "no title to upon by the trial court, regarding the length of time that
registered land in derogation to that of the registered the defendants have been in possession. Domingo
owner shall be acquired by prescription or adverse Calalung testified that he occupied the land in question
possession"; and, second, the adverse possession of for the first time in 1934, not in 1948 as claimed by the
the defendant began only in the month of September, plaintiffs. The area under occupancy gradually
1948, or less than the 10-year period required for increased as the years went by. In 1946, he declared
prescription before the present action was instituted. the land for purposes of taxation (Exhibit 1). This tax
declaration was superseded in 1948 by another (Exhibit
As a legal proposition, the first ground relied upon by the 2), after the name of the municipality wherein it is
trial court, is not quite correct. An accretion to registered located was changed from Tumauini to Magsaysay.
land, while declared by specific provision of the Civil Calalung's testimony is corroborated by two witnesses,
Code to belong to the owner of the land as a natural both owners of properties nearby. Pedro Laman, 72
accession thereof, does not ipso jure become entitled to years of age, who was Municipal president of Tumauini
the protection of the rule of imprescriptibility of title for three terms, said that the land in question adjoins his
established by the Land Registration Act. Such own on the south, and that since 1940 or 1951, he has
protection does not extend beyond the area given and always known it to be in the peaceful possession of the
described in the certificate. To hold otherwise, would be defendants. Vicente C. Bacani testified to the same
productive of confusion. It would virtually deprive the effect, although, he said that the defendants' possession
title, and the technical description of the land given started sometime in 1933 or 1934. The area thereof, he
therein, of their character of conclusiveness as to the said, was then less than one hectare.
identity and area of the land that is registered. Just as
the Supreme Court, albeit in a negative manner, has We find the testimony of the said witnesses entitled to
stated that registration does not protect the riparian much greater weight and credence than that of the
owner against the erosion of the area of his land through plaintiff Pedro Grande and his lone witness, Laureana
gradual changes in the course of the adjoining stream Rodriguez. The first stated that the defendants occupied
(Payatas Estate Development Co. v. Tuason, 53 Phil. the land in question only in 1948; that he called the
55), so registration does not entitle him to all the rights latter's attention to the fact that the land was his, but the
conferred by Land Registration Act, in so far as the area defendants, in turn, claimed that they were the owners,
added by accretion is concerned. What rights he has, that the plaintiffs did not file an action until 1958,
are declared not by said Act, but by the provisions of the because it was only then that they were able to obtain
Civil Code on accession: and these provisions do not the certificate of title from the surveyor, Domingo Parlan;
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and that they never declared the land in question for prescription had already supervened in favor of the
taxation purposes or paid the taxes thereon. Pedro defendants.
Grande admitted that the defendants had the said land
surveyed in April, 1958, and that he tried to stop it, not It is this decision of the Court of Appeals which petitioners seek
because he claimed the accretion for himself and his co- to be reviewed by us.
plaintiffs, but because the survey included a portion of
the property covered by their title. This last fact is The sole issue for resolution in this case is whether
conceded by the defendants who, accordingly, respondents have acquired the alluvial property in question
relinquished their possession to the part thus included, through prescription.
containing an area of some 458 square
meters.1wph1.t There can be no dispute that both under Article 457 of the New
Civil Code and Article 366 of the old, petitioners are the lawful
The oral evidence for the defendants concerning the owners of said alluvial property, as they are the registered
period of their possession from 1933 to 1958 is not owners of the land which it adjoins. The question is whether the
only preponderant in itself, but is, moreover, supported accretion becomes automatically registered land just because
by the fact that it is they and not the plaintiffs who the lot which receives it is covered by a Torrens title thereby
declared the disputed property for taxation, and by the making the alluvial property imprescriptible. We agree with the
additional circumstance that if the plaintiff had really Court of Appeals that it does not, just as an unregistered land
been in prior possession and were deprived thereof in purchased by the registered owner of the adjoining land does
1948, they would have immediately taken steps to not, by extension, become ipso facto registered land.
recover the same. The excuse they gave for not doing Ownership of a piece of land is one thing, and registration
so, namely, that they did not receive their copy of the under the Torrens system of that ownership is quite another.
certificate of title to their property until 1958 for lack of Ownership over the accretion received by the land adjoining a
funds to pay the fees of the surveyor Domingo Parlan, river is governed by the Civil Code. Imprescriptibility of
is too flimsy to merit any serious consideration. The registered land is provided in the registration law. Registration
payment of the surveyor's fees had nothing to do with under the Land Registration and Cadastral Acts does not vest
their right to obtain a copy of the certificate. Besides, it or give title to the land, but merely confirms and thereafter
was not necessary for them to have it in their hands, in protects the title already possessed by the owner, making it
order to file an action to recover the land which was imprescriptible by occupation of third parties. But to obtain this
legally theirs by accession and of which, as they allege, protection, the land must be placed under the operation of the
they had been illegally deprived by the defendants. We registration laws wherein certain judicial procedures have been
are convinced, upon consideration of the evidence, that provided. The fact remain, however, that petitioners never
the latter, were really in possession since 1934, sought registration of said alluvial property (which was formed
immediately after the process of alluvion started, and sometime after petitioners' property covered by Original
that the plaintiffs woke up to their rights only when they Certificate of Title No. 2982 was registered on June 9, 1934)
received their copy of the title in 1958. By then, however, up to the time they instituted the present action in the Court of
First Instance of Isabela in 1958. The increment, therefore,
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never became registered property, and hence is not entitled or
subject to the protection of imprescriptibility enjoyed by
registered property under the Torrens system. Consequently, it
was subject to acquisition through prescription by third
persons.

The next issue is, did respondents acquire said alluvial property
through acquisitive prescription? This is a question which
requires determination of facts: physical possession and dates
or duration of such possession. The Court of Appeals, after
analyzing the evidence, found that respondents-appellees
were in possession of the alluvial lot since 1933 or 1934,
openly, continuously and adversely, under a claim of
ownership up to the filing of the action in 1958. This finding of
the existence of these facts, arrived at by the Court of Appeals
after an examination of the evidence presented by the parties,
is conclusive as to them and can not be reviewed by us.

The law on prescription applicable to the case is that provided


in Act 190 and not the provisions of the Civil Code, since the
possession started in 1933 or 1934 when the pertinent articles
of the old Civil Code were not in force and before the effectivity
of the new Civil Code in 1950. Hence, the conclusion of the
Court of Appeals that the respondents acquired alluvial lot in
question by acquisitive prescription is in accordance with law.

The decision of the Court of Appeals under review is hereby


affirmed, with costs against the petitioners. So ordered.

Bengzon, C.J., Padilla, Bautista Angelo, Labrador,


Concepcion, Paredes and Dizon, JJ., concur.
Reyes, J.B.L., Regala and Makalintal, JJ., took no part.

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Republic of the Philippines ... containing an area of 5.5000 hectares, and bounded, on the
SUPREME COURT north, by Cagayan River; on the east, by Domingo Guingab; on
Manila the south, by Antonio Carniyan; and on the west, by Sabina
Mola, with an assessed value of P3,520. (par. 9 of complaint,
FIRST DIVISION p. 4, Record; Emphasis supplied)

G.R. No. 73465 September 7, 1989 On November 5, 1982, private respondents Domingo Apostol,
Soledad Gerardo, Rosa Gerardo, Nieves Gerardo, Flordeliza
LEONIDA CUREG, ROMEO, PEPITO, HERNANDO, Gerardo and Lilia Maquinad, filed a complaint for quieting of
MANUEL, ANTONIO AND ELPIDIO (ALL SURNAMED title and damages with preliminary injunction against herein
CARNIYAN) petitioner, petitioners Leonida, Romeo, Pepito, Hernando, Manuel,
vs. Antonio and Elpidio, all surnamed Carniyan with the Regional
INTERMEDIATE APPELLATE COURT, (4TH CIVIL CASES Trial Court of Isabela and docketed as Civil Case No. Br. 111-
DIVISION), DOMINGO APOSTOL, SOLEDAD GERARDO, 373. A temporary restraining order was issued by the trial court
ROSA GERARDO, NIEVES GERARDO, FLORDELIZA on November 12, 1982.
GERARDO, AND LILIA MAQUINAD, respondent.
The complaint alleged that private respondents, except
Josefin De Alban Law Office for petitioners. Domingo Apostol, are the legal and/or the forced heirs of the
late Domingo Gerardo, who died in February 1944, the latter
Silvestre Br. Bello for private respondents. being the only issue of the late Francisco Gerardo, who died
before the outbreak of the second world war; that since time
immemorial and/or before July 26, 1894, the late Francisco
Gerardo, together with his predecessors-in-interest have been
MEDIALDEA, J.: in actual, open, peaceful and continuous possession, under a
bona fide claim of ownership and adverse to all other claimants,
This petition under Rule 45 of the Rules of Court, seeks the of a parcel of land (referred to as their "motherland"), situated
reversal of the decision of the Intermediate Appellate Court in Casibarag-Cajel, Cabagan, Isabela, more particularly
(now Court of Appeals) dated October 15,1985 in AC-G.R. CV described as follows:
No. 03852 entitled "Domingo Apostol, et al., Plaintiffs-
Appellees, v. Leonida Cureg, et al., Defendants-Appellants", ... containing an area of 2.5000 hectares, more or less, and
which affirmed the decision of the Regional Trial Court of bounded on the North, by Cagayan River; on the East, by
Isabela, Branch XXII declaring private respondent Domingo Domingo Guingab (formerly Rosa Cureg); on the south by
Apostol the absolute owner of a parcel of land, situated in Antonio Carniyan; and on the West by Sabina Mola, ... (p. 2,
Barangay Casibarag-Cajel, Cabagan, Isabela, more Record)
particularly described as follows:
that said land was declared for taxation purposes under Tax
Declaration No. 08-3023 in the name of Francisco Gerardo,
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which cancels Tax Declaration No. C-9669, also in the name of ... containing an area of 2,790 sq. m., more or less bounded on
Francisco Gerardo; that upon the death of Francisco Gerardo, the north by Domingo Gerardo; on the East, by Domingo
the ownership and possession of the "motherland" was Guingab; on the south, by Pelagio Camayo; and on the west
succeeded by his only issue, Domingo Gerardo who, together by Marcos Cureg, declared for taxation purposes under Tax
with three (3) legal or forced heirs, namely Soledad Gerardo, Declaration No. 13131, with an assessed value of P70.00. (P.
one of private respondents herein, Primo Gerardo and Salud 5, Record)
Gerardo, both deceased, have also been in actual, open,
peaceful and continuous possession of the same; that Primo that deceased Antonio Carniyan revised on November 28,
Gerardo is survived by herein respondents, Rosa, Nieves and 1968 his Tax Declaration No. 13131 dated July 24, 1961 to
Flordeliza, all surnamed Gerardo and Salud Gerardo is conform with the correct area and boundaries of his Original
survived by respondent Lilia Maquinad; that in 1979, Certificate of Title No. P-19093 issued on November 25, 1968;
respondents Soledad Gerardo, Rosa Gerardo, Nieves that the area under the new Tax Declaration No.15663 was
Gerardo, Flordeliza Gerardo and Lilia Maquinad verbally sold increased from 2,790 square meters to 4,584 square meters
the "motherland" to co-respondent Domingo Apostol; that on and the boundary on the north became Cagayan River,
September 10, 1982, the verbal sale and conveyance was purposely eliminating completely the original boundary on the
reduced into writing by the vendors who executed an "Extra- north which is Domingo Gerardo.
Judicial Partition with Voluntary Reconveyance (Exhibit "Q", p.
206, Rollo); that about the time of the execution of the Extra- Petitioners' answer alleged that the "motherland" claimed by
Judicial Partition, their "motherland" already private respondents is non-existent; that Antonio Carniyan,
showed/manifested signs of accretion of about three (3) petitioners' predecessor-in-interest, was the owner of a piece
hectares on the north caused by the northward movement of of land bounded on the north by Cagayan River and not by the
the Cagayan River; that Domingo Apostol declared the land of Francisco Gerardo as claimed by private respondents;
motherland and its accretion for tax purposes under Tax that the "subject land" is an accretion to their registered land
Declaration No. 08-13281 on September 15, 1982. and that petitioners have been in possession and cultivation of
the "accretion" for many years now.
The complaint also stated that sometime about the last week
of September and/or the first week of October 1982, when The application for the issuance of a writ of preliminary
private respondents were about to cultivate their "motherland" injunction was denied on July 28,1983 (pp. 244-250, Rollo) on
together with its accretion, they were prevented and threatened the ground that the defendants were in actual possession of
by defendants (petitioners herein) from continuing to do so. the land in litigation prior to September 1982. In a decision
Named defendants in said case are herein petitioners Leonida rendered on July 6, 1984, the trial court held that respondent
Cureg and Romeo, Pepito, Hernando, Manuel, Antonio and Domingo Apostol, thru his predecessors-in-interest had
Elpidio, all surnamed Carniyan, surviving spouse and children, already acquired an imperfect title to the subject land and
respectively, of Antonio Carniyan. Further, the complaint stated accordingly, rendered judgment: 1. declaring Domingo Apostol
that Antonio Carniyan was the owner of a piece of land situated its absolute owner; 2. ordering the issuance of a writ of
in Casibarag-Cajel, Cabagan, Isabela and more particularly preliminary injunction against herein petitioners; 3. ordering
described as follows: that the writ be made permanent; and 4. ordering herein
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petitioners to pay private respondents a reasonable attorney's The object of the controversy in this case is the alleged
fee of P5,000.00, litigation expenses of P1,500.00 and costs "motherland" of private respondents together with the accretion
(pp. 143-145, Rollo). of about 3.5 hectares, the totality of which is referred to in this
decision as the "subject land."
On July 17, 1984, petitioners appealed to the then Intermediate
Appellate Court which affirmed the decision of the trial court on In this case, petitioners claimed to be riparian owners who are
October 15, 1985. Petitioners' Motion for Reconsideration was entitled to the "subject land" which is an accretion to the
denied on January 8, 1986. Hence, this petition for review on registered land while private respondents claimed to be entitled
the following assigned errors: to the 3.5 hectares accretion attached to their "motherland."

A. It erred in ruling that the subject land or "accretion" (which is It should be noted that the herein private respondents' claim of
bounded on the north by the Cagayan River) belongs to the ownership of their alleged two and a half (2 & ) hectare
private respondents and not to the petitioners when the "motherland" is anchored mainly on four (4) tax declarations
petitioners "Original Certificate of " Title No. 19093 states (Exhibits "A", "A-1", "A-2" and "B", pp. 191, 192, 193, 194,
clearly that the petitioners' land is bounded on its north by the Rollo). This Court has repeatedly held that the declaration of
Cagayan River. ownership for purposes of assessment on the payment of the
tax is not sufficient evidence to prove ownership. (Evangelista
B. It erred in construing the tax declarations against the interest v. Tabayuyong, 7 Phil. 607; Elumbaring v. Elumbaring, 12 Phil.
of the herein petitioners who are only the heirs of the late 384; cited in Camo v. Riosa Bayco, 29 Phil. 437, 444). For their
Antonio Carniyan since the late Francisco (supposed part, petitioners relied on the indefeasibility and
predecessor of the respondents) could not have executed the incontrovertibility of their Original Certificate of Title No. P-
recently acquired tax declarations (Exhibits "A" to "A-2") as he 19093, dated November 25, 1968 (Exhibit "3", p. 189, Rollo)
died long before World War II and since the late Antonio issued in the name of Antonio Carniyan (petitioners'
Carniyan could no longer stand up to explain his side. predecessor-in-interest) pursuant to Free Patent No. 399431
dated May 21, 1968, clearly showing that the boundary of
C. Contrary to the evidence and the finding of the Regional Trial petitioners' land on the north is Cagayan River and not the
Court, it wrongly ruled that petitioners have never been in "motherland" claimed by respondents. The said registered land
possession of the land (p. 7 of Annex "A", ibid.). was bought by the late Antonio Carniyan from his father-in-law,
Marcos Cureg, on October 5, 1956, as evidenced by an
D. It erred in awarding the accretion of 3.5 hectares to the Absolute Deed of Sale (Exhibit "8", p. 195, Rollo) which states
private respondents who incredibly claimed that the accretion that the land is bounded on the north by Cagayan River.
occurred only in 1982 and is a "gift from the Lord. (pp. 24-25,
Rollo) In the case of Ferrer-Lopez v. Court of Appeals, G.R. No.
50420, May 29, 1987, 150 SCRA 393,401-402, We ruled that
This petition is impressed with merit. as against an array of proofs consisting of tax declarations
and/or tax receipts which are not conclusive evidence of
ownership nor proof of the area covered therein, an original
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certificate of title indicates true and legal ownership by the declarations in his name before the issuance of OCT No. P-
registered owners over the disputed premises. Petitioners' 19093, of the existence of Francisco Gerardo's land.
OCT No.P-19093 should be accorded greater weight as
against the tax declarations (Exhibit "A', dated 1979; Exhibit "A- Finally, the trial court concluded that petitioners have never
1 " undated and Exhibit "A2" dated 1967, pp. 191, 192, 193, been in possession of the "subject land" but the evidence on
Rollo) offered by private respondents in support of their claim, record proves otherwise. First, the trial court on page 11 of its
which declarations are all in the name of private respondents' Decision (p. 121, Rollo), stated the reason for denying private
predecessor-in-interest, Francisco Gerardo, and appear to respondents' petition for the issuance of a preliminary
have been subscribed by him after the last war, when it was injunction, that is, "... the defendants (petitioners herein) were
established during the trial that Francisco Gerardo died long in actual possession of the land in litigation prior to September,
before the outbreak of the last war. 1982" (p. 121, Rollo). Second, witness for private respondents,
Esteban Guingab, boundary owner on the east of the land in
Anent Tax Declaration No. 13131, in the name of Antonio question and whose own land is bounded on the north of
Carniyan (Exhibit "C", p. 203, Rollo), which the appellate court Cagayan River, on cross-examination, revealed that when his
considered as an admission by him that his land is bounded on property was only more than one (1) hectare in 1958, (now
the north by the land of Domingo Gerardo and that he more than 4 hectares) his boundary on the west is the land of
(Carniyan) is now estopped from claiming otherwise, We hold Antonio Carniyan (T.S.N., 5 May 1983, pp. 19-20). Third,
that said tax declaration, being of an earlier date cannot defeat witness Rogelio C. Albano, a geodetic engineer, on direct
an original certificate of title which is of a later date. Since examination stated that in 1974, the late Antonio Carniyan
petitioner's original certificate of title clearly stated that subject requested him to survey the land covered by his title and the
land is bounded on the north by the Cagayan River, private accretion attached to it, but he did not pursue the same
respondents" claim over their "motherland," allegedly existing because he learned from the Office of the Director of the
between petitioners" land and the Cagayan River, is deemed Bureau of Lands that the same accretion is the subject of an
barred and nullified with the issuance of the original certificate application for homestead patent of one Democrata Aguila,
of title. (T.S.N., May 18, 1984, pp. 12-13) contrary to the statement of
the trial court and the appellate court that Albano "made three
It is an elemental rule that a decree of registration bars all attempts to survey the land but he did not continue to survey
claims and rights which arose or may have existed prior to the because persons other than defendants were in possession of
decree of registration (Ferrer-Lopez v. CA, supra., p. 404). By the land," which statement appears only to be a conclusion (p.
the issuance of the decree, the land is bound and title thereto 7, Rollo). Fourth, We note Exhibit "20" (p. 273, Rollo) for
quieted, subject only to exceptions stated in Section 39, Act petitioners which is an order by the Director of Lands dated
496 (now Sec. 44 of PD No. 1529). Moreover, the tax August 14,1980 in connection with the Homestead Application
declarations of the late Antonio Camiyan subsequent to the of Democrata Aguila of an accretion situated in Catabayungan,
issuance of OCT P-19093 (Exhibit "D", p. 204, Rollo) already Cabagan, Isabela. Aguila's application was disapproved
states that its northern boundary is Cagayan River. In effect, because in an investigation conducted by the Bureau of Lands
he has repudiated any previous acknowledgment by him, of the area applied for which is an accretion, the same was
granting that he caused the accomplishment of the tax found to be occupied and cultivated by, among others, Antonio
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Carniyan, who claimed it as an accretion to his land. It is worthy River does not automatically become registered land just
to note that none of the private respondents nor their because the lot which receives such accretion is covered by a
predecessors-in-interest appeared as one of those found Torrens title. (See Grande v. Court of Appeals, L-17652, June
occupying and cultivating said accretion. 30, 1962). As such, it must also be placed under the operation
of the Torrens System. ACCORDINGLY, the petition is hereby
On the other hand, the allegation of private respondents that GRANTED. The decision appealed from is REVERSED and
they were in possession of the "motherland" through their SET ASIDE and judgment is hereby rendered DISMISSING
predecessors- in-interest had not been proved by substantial Civil Case No. Br. III-373 for quieting of title and damages.
evidence. The assailed decision of the respondent court, which
affirmed the decision of the trial court, stated that since the Costs against private respondents.
"motherland" exists, it is also presumed that private
respondents were in possession of the "subject land" through SO ORDERED.
their predecessors- in-interest since prior to July 26, 1894. The
trial court relied on the testimony of Soledad Gerardo, one of Narvasa, Cruz, Gancayco and Grio-Aquino, JJ., concur.
the private respondents in this case, an interested and biased
witness, regarding their possession of the "motherland." From
her testimony on pedigree, the trial court presumed that the
source of the property, the late Francisco Gerardo, was in
possession of the same since prior to July 26, 1894 (pp. 137-
140, Rollo).

The foregoing considerations indubitably show that the alleged


"motherland" claimed by private respondents is nonexistent.
The "subject land" is an alluvial deposit left by the northward
movement of the Cagayan River and pursuant to Article 457 of
the New Civil Code:

To the owners of land adjoining the banks of river belong the


accretion which they gradually receive from the effects of the
current of the waters.

However, it should be noted that the area covered by OCT No.


P-19093 is only four thousand five hundred eighty four (4,584)
square meters. The accretion attached to said land is
approximately five and a half (5.5) hectares. The increase in
the area of petitioners'land, being an accretion left by the
change of course or the northward movement of the Cagayan
10
Republic of the Philippines In 1950, all lands west of the river were included in the Solana
SUPREME COURT Cadastre. Among these occupying lands covered by the
Manila Solana Cadastre were plaintiffs-private respondents, namely,
Pablo Binayug, who has been in possession of Lots 3349,
FIRST DIVISION 7876, 7877, 7878, 7879, 7875, 7881, 7882, 7883, 7884, 7885,
7891 and 7892, and Maria Melad, who owns Lot 3351 (Exh. 3-
G.R. Nos. L-66075-76 July 5, 1990 Binayug; Exh. B-Melad). Pablo Binayug began his possession
in 1947. An area of eight (8) hectares was planted to tobacco
EULOGIO AGUSTIN, HEIRS OF BALDOMERO LANGCAY, and corn while 12 hectares were overgrown with talahib (Exh.
ARTURO BALISI & JUAN LANGCAY, petitioners, C-1 Binayug.) Binayug's Homestead Application No. W-79055
vs. over this land was approved in 1959 (Exh. B-Binayug).
INTERMEDIATE APPELLATE COURT, MARIA MELAD, Binayug's possession was recognized in the decision in Civil
TIMOTEO MELAD, PABLO BINAYUG & GERONIMA UBINA, Case No. 101 (Exh. F-Binayug). On the other hand, as a result
respondents. of Civil Case No. 343-T, Macario Melad, the predecessor-in-
interest of Maria Melad and Timoteo Melad, was issued
Antonio N. Laggui for petitioners. Original Certificate of Title No. P-5026 for Lot 3351 of Cad. 293
on June 1, 1956.
Pedro R. Perez, Jr. for private respondents.
Through the years, the Cagayan River eroded lands of the
Tuguegarao Cadastre on its eastern bank among which was
defendant-petitioner Eulogio Agustin's Lot 8457 (Exh. E-
GRIO-AQUINO, J.: Melad), depositing the alluvium as accretion on the land
possessed by Pablo Binayug on the western bank.
The Cagayan River separates the towns of Solana on the west
and Tuguegarao on the east in the province of Cagayan. However, in 1968, after a big flood, the Cagayan River changed
According to the unrebutted testimony of Romeo Rigor, its course, returned to its 1919 bed, and, in the process, cut
Geodetic Engineer of the Bureau of Lands, in 1919 the lands across the lands of Maria Melad, Timoteo Melad, and the
east of the river were covered by the Tuguegarao Cadastre. In spouses Pablo Binayug and Geronima Ubina whose lands
1925, Original Certificate of Title No. 5472 was issued for land were transferred on the eastern, or Tuguegarao, side of the
east of the Cagayan River owned by defendant-petitioner river. To cultivate those lots they had to cross the river.
Eulogio Agustin (Exh. 2-Agustin).
In April, 1969, while the private respondents and their tenants
As the years went by, the Cagayan River moved gradually were planting corn on their lots located on the eastern side of
eastward, depositing silt on the western bank. The shifting of the Cagayan River, the petitioners, accompanied by the mayor
the river and the siltation continued until 1968. and some policemen of Tuguegarao, claimed the same lands
as their own and drove away the private respondents from the
premises.
11
On April 21, 1970, private respondents Maria Melad and Only defendant-petitioner Eulogio Agustin appealed in Civil
Timoteo Melad filed a complaint (Civil Case No. 343-T) to Case No. 343-T, while in Civil Case No. 344-T, only
recover Lot No. 3351 with an area of 5 hectares and its 6.6- defendants-petitioners Eulogio Agustin, Baldomero
hectare accretion. On April 24, 1970, private respondent Pablo Cagurangan (substituted by his heir), Arturo Balisi and Juan
Binayug filed a separate complaint (Civil Case No. 344-T) to Langcay appealed. But upon motion of plaintiffs-private
recover his lots and their accretions. respondents, the trial court ordered the execution pending
appeal of the judgment in Civil Case No. 344-T against
On June 16, 1975, the trial court rendered a decision, the Cagurangan, Balisi and Langcay on the ground that their
dispositive portion of which reads: appeal was dilatory as they had not presented evidence at the
trial (Order dated August 15, 1975).
WHEREFORE, premises considered, judgment is hereby
made: On November 29, 1983, the Intermediate Appellate Court
rendered a decision affirming in toto the judgment of the trial
In Civil Case No. 343-T, commanding Eulogio Agustin, court, with costs against the defendants-appellants.
Gregorio Tuliao, Jacinto Buquel and Octavio Bancud, or
anybody acting as their representative[s] or agents to vacate In their petition for review of that decision, the petitioners allege
Lot No. 3351 of Solana Cadastre together with its accretion that the Court of Appeals erred:
consisting of portions of Lots 9463, 9462 and 9461 of
Tuguegarao Cadastre and for these defendants to restore 1. in declaring that the land in question had become part of
ownership in favor of Maria Melad and Timoteo Melad who are private respondents' estate as a result of accretion;
the only interested heirs of Macario Melad.
2. in declaring that the accretion to private respondents' estate
In Civil Case No. 344-T, commanding defendants Justo which used to pertain to petitioners' estate cannot preclude the
Adduru, Andres Pastor, Teofilo Tagacay, Vicente Camilan, private respondents from being the owners thereof; and
Nicanor Mora, Baldomero Cagurangan, Domingo Quilang,
Cesar Cabalza, Elias Macababbad, Titong Macababbad, 3. in declaring that the ownership of private respondents over
Arturo Balisi, Jose Allabun, Eulogio Agustin, Banong Aquino, the accretion is not affected by the sudden and abrupt change
Junior Cambri and Juan Langoay, or any of their agents or in the course of the Cagayan River when it reverted to its old
representatives to vacate the Lots 3349, 7876, 7877, 7878, bed
7879, 7875, 7881, 7882, 7883, 7884, 7885, 7891 and 7892,
together with its accretion and to restore possession to plaintiffs The petition is unmeritorious and must be denied.
Pablo Binayug and Geronima Ubina. Without pronouncement
as to damages which were not properly proven and to costs. The finding of the Court of Appeals that there had been
accretions to the lots of the private respondents who did not
SO ORDERED. (As amended by the order dated August 15, lose the ownership of such accretions even after they were
1975.) (pp. 24-25, Rollo.) separated from the principal lots by the sudden change of
course of the river, is a finding of fact which is conclusive on
12
this Court. That finding is supported by Art. 457 of the New Civil The appellate court confirmed that the accretion on the western
Code which provides: bank of the Cagayan River had been going on from 1919 up to
1968 or for a period of 49 years. It was gradual and
Art. 457. To the owners of lands adjoining the banks of rivers imperceptible. Only when Lot No. 3351, with an original area of
belong the accretion which they gradually receive from the 5 hectares described in the free patent that was issued to
effects of the current of the waters. (366) Macario Melad in June 1956, was resurveyed in 1968 did it
become known that 6.6 hectares had been added to it. Lot No.
Accretion benefits a riparian owner when the following 3351, covered by a homestead patent issued in June, 1950 to
requisites are present: (1) that the deposit be gradual and Pablo Binayug, grew from its original area of 18 hectares, by
imperceptible; (2) that it resulted from the effects of the current an additional 50 hectares through alluvium as the Cagayan
of the water; and (3) that the land where accretion takes place River gradually moved to the east. These accretions belong to
is adjacent to the bank of a river (Republic vs. CA, 132 SCRA riparian owners upon whose lands the alluvial deposits were
514). made (Roxas vs. Tuason, 9 Phil. 408; Director of Lands vs.
Rizal, 87 Phil. 806). The reason for this principle is because, if
All these requisites of accretion are present in this case for, as lands bordering on streams are exposed to floods and other
the trial court found: damage due to the destructive force of the waters, and if by
virtue of law they are subject to encumbrances and various
. . . Cagayan River did move year by year from 1919 to 1968 kinds of easements, it is only just that such risks or dangers as
or for a period of 49 years. Within this period, the alluvium (sic) may prejudice the owners thereof should in some way be
deposited on the other side has become greater in area than compensated by the right of accretion (Cortes vs. City of
the original lands of the plaintiffs in both cases. Still the addition Manila, 10 Phil. 567).itc-asl
in every year is imperceptible in nature, one could not discern
it but can be measured after the lapse of a certain time. The The private respondents' ownership of the accretion to their
testimonial evidence in these cases that said Cagayan River lands was not lost upon the sudden and abrupt change of the
moved eastward year by year is overwhelming as against the course of the Cagayan River in 1968 or 1969 when it reverted
denial of defendant Eulogio Agustin alone. Cesar Caronan, one to its old 1919 bed, and separated or transferred said
time mayor of Solana, Cagayan, said so. Arturo Taguian said accretions to the other side (or eastern bank) of the river.
so. Timoteo Melad said so. Francisco Ubina said so. Geodetic Articles 459 and 463 of the New Civil Code apply to this
Engineer Rigor impliedly said so when he testified that when situation.
Solana Cadastre was executed in 1950 it overlapped portions
of Tuguegarao Cadastre executed in 1919. This could not have Art. 459. Whenever the current of a river, creek or torrent
happened if that part of Tuguegarao Cadastre was not eroded segregates from an estate on its bank a known portion of land
by the overflow of the Cagayan River. These testimonies and transfers it to another estate, the owner of the land to which
cannot be destroyed by the denials of Vicente Cauilan, Marcelo the segregated portion belonged retains the ownership of it,
Agustin and Eulogio Agustin alone . . . . (p. 27, Rollo.) provided that he removes the same within two years.

13
Art. 463. Whenever the current of a river divides itself into
branches, leaving a piece of land or part thereof isolated, the
owner of the land retains his ownership. He also retains it if a
portion of land is separated from the estate by the current.
(Emphasis supplied).

In the case at bar, the sudden change of course of the Cagayan


River as a result of a strong typhoon in 1968 caused a portion
of the lands of the private respondents to be "separated from
the estate by the current." The private respondents have
retained the ownership of the portion that was transferred by
avulsion to the other side of the river.

WHEREFORE, the petition is denied for lack of merit. The


decision of the Intermediate Appellate Court, now Court of
Appeals, is hereby affirmed. Costs against the petitioners.

SO ORDERED.

Narvasa, C.J., Cruz, Gancayco and Medialdea, JJ., concur.

14
Republic of the Philippines abandoned road, and in the Northwest by Lot 4998-A also
SUPREME COURT owned by Arcadio Ivan.1
Manila
On May 21, 1998, Arcadio Ivan amended his application for
FIRST DIVISION land registration to include Arcadio, Jr. as his co-applicant
because of the latters co-ownership of the property. He alleged
G.R. No. 160453 November 12, 2012 that the property had been formed through accretion and had
been in their joint open, notorious, public, continuous and
REPUBLIC OF THE PHILIPPINES, Petitioner, adverse possession for more than 30 years.2
vs.
ARCADIO IVAN A. SANTOS III, and ARCADIO C. SANTOS, The City of Paraaque (the City) opposed the application for
JR., Respondents. land registration, stating that it needed the property for its flood
control program; that the property was within the legal
DECISION easement of 20 meters from the river bank; and that assuming
that the property was not covered by the legal easement, title
BERSAMIN, J.: to the property could not be registered in favor of the applicants
for the reason that the property was an orchard that had dried
By law, accretion - the gradual and imperceptible deposit made up and had not resulted from accretion.3
through the effects of the current of the water- belongs to the
owner of the land adjacent to the banks of rivers where it forms. Ruling of the RTC
The drying up of the river is not accretion. Hence, the dried-up
river bed belongs to the State as property of public dominion, On May 10, 2000,4 the RTC granted the application for land
not to the riparian owner, unless a law vests the ownership in registration, disposing:
some other person.
WHEREFORE, the Court hereby declares the applicants,
Antecedents ARCADIO IVAN A. SANTOS, III and ARCADIO C. SANTOS,
JR., both Filipinos and of legal age, as the TRUE and
Alleging continuous and adverse possession of more than ten ABSOLUTE OWNERS of the land being applied for which is
years, respondent Arcadio Ivan A. Santos III (Arcadio Ivan) situated in the Barangay of San Dionisio, City of Paraaque
applied on March 7, 1997 for the registration of Lot 4998-B (the with an area of one thousand forty five (1045) square meters
property) in the Regional Trial Court (RTC) in Parafiaque City. more or less and covered by Subdivision Plan Csd-00-000343,
The property, which had an area of 1,045 square meters, more being a portion of Lot 4998, Cad. 299, Case 4, Paraaque
or less, was located in Barangay San Dionisio, Paraaque City, Cadastre, LRC Rec. No. and orders the registration of Lot
and was bounded in the Northeast by Lot 4079 belonging to 4998-B in their names with the following technical description,
respondent Arcadio C. Santos, Jr. (Arcadio, Jr.), in the to wit:
Southeast by the Paraaque River, in the Southwest by an
xxxx
15
Once this Decision became (sic) final and executory, let the OPEN, PUBLIC AND ADVERSE OCCUPATION OF THE
corresponding Order for the Issuance of the Decree be issued. SUBJECT PROPERTY FOR A PERIOD OF MORE THAN
THIRTY (30) YEARS.
SO ORDERED.
On May 27, 2003, the CA affirmed the RTC.6
The Republic, through the Office of the Solicitor General
(OSG), appealed. The Republic filed a motion for reconsideration, but the CA
denied the motion on October 20, 2003.7
Ruling of the CA
Issues
In its appeal, the Republic ascribed the following errors to the
RTC,5 to wit: Hence, this appeal, in which the Republic urges that:8

I I

THE TRIAL COURT ERRED IN RULING THAT THE RESPONDENTS CLAIM THAT THE SUBJECT PROPERTY
PROPERTY SOUGHT TO BE REGISTERED IS AN IS AN ACCRETION TO THEIR ADJOINING LAND THAT
ACCRETION TO THE ADJOINING PROPERTY OWNED BY WOULD ENTITLE THEM TO REGISTER IT UNDER ARTICLE
APPELLEES DESPITE THE ADMISSION OF APPELLEE 457 OF THE NEW CIVIL CODE IS CONTRADICTED BY
ARCADIO C. SANTOS JR. THAT THE SAID PROPERTY THEIR OWN EVIDENCE.
WAS NOT FORMED AS A RESULT OF THE GRADUAL
FILLING UP OF SOIL THROUGH THE CURRENT OF THE II
RIVER.
ASSUMING THAT THE LAND SOUGHT TO BE
II REGISTERED WAS "PREVIOUSLY A PART OF THE
PARAAQUE RIVER WHICH BECAME AN ORCHARD
THE TRIAL COURT ERRED IN GRANTING THE AFTER IT DRIED UP," THE REGISTRATION OF SAID
APPLICATION FOR LAND REGISTRATION DESPITE PROPERTY IN FAVOR OF RESPONDENTS CANNOT BE
APPELLEES FAILURE TO FORMALLY OFFER IN ALTERNATIVELY JUSTIFIED UNDER ARTICLE 461 OF THE
EVIDENCE AN OFFICIAL CERTIFICATION THAT THE CIVIL CODE.
SUBJECT PARCEL OF LAND IS ALIENABLE AND
DISPOSABLE. III

III THE COURT OF APPEALS COMMITTED REVERSIBLE


ERROR IN NOT RULING THAT THE FAILURE OF
THE TRIAL COURT ERRED IN RULING THAT APPELLEES RESPONDENTS TO FORMALLY OFFER IN EVIDENCE AN
HAD SUFFICIENTLY ESTABLISHED THEIR CONTINUOUS, OFFICIAL CERTIFICATION THAT THE SUBJECT
16
PROPERTY IS ALIENABLE AND DISPOSABLE IS FATAL TO application which was previously a part of the Paraaque River
THEIR APPLICATION FOR LAND REGISTRATION. which became an orchard after it dried up and further
considering that Lot 4 which adjoins the same property is
IV owned by applicant, Arcadio C. Santos, Jr., after it was
obtained by him through inheritance from his mother,
THE FINDING OF THE COURT OF APPEALS THAT Concepcion Cruz, now deceased. Conformably with Art. 457 of
RESPONDENTS HAVE CONTINUOUSLY, OPENLY, the New Civil Code, it is provided that:
PUBLICLY AND ADVERSELY OCCUPIED THE SUBJECT
PROPERTY FOR MORE THAN THIRTY (30) YEARS IS NOT "Article 457. To the owners of the lands adjoining the bank of
SUPPORTED BY WELL-NIGH INCONTROVERTIBLE rivers belong the accretion which they gradually receive from
EVIDENCE. the effects of the current of the waters."9

To be resolved are whether or not Article 457 of the Civil Code The CA upheld the RTCs pronouncement, holding:
was applicable herein; and whether or not respondents could
claim the property by virtue of acquisitive prescription pursuant It could not be denied that "to the owners of the lands adjoining
to Section 14(1) of Presidential Decree No. 1529 (Property the banks of rivers belong the accretion which they gradually
Registration Decree). receive from the effects of the current of the waters" (Article
457 New Civil Code) as in this case, Arcadio Ivan Santos III
Ruling and Arcadio Santos, Jr., are the owners of the land which was
previously part of the Paraaque River which became an
The appeal is meritorious. orchard after it dried up and considering that Lot 4 which
adjoins the same property is owned by the applicant which was
I. obtained by the latter from his mother (Decision, p. 3; p. 38
Rollo).10
The CA grossly erred in applying Article 457 of the Civil Code
to respondents benefit The Republic submits, however, that the application by both
lower courts of Article 457 of the Civil Code was erroneous in
Article 457 of the Civil Code provides that "(t)o the owners of the face of the fact that respondents evidence did not establish
lands adjoining the banks of rivers belong the accretion which accretion, but instead the drying up of the Paraaque River.
they gradually receive from the effects of the currents of the
waters." The Republics submission is correct.

In ruling for respondents, the RTC pronounced as follows: Respondents as the applicants for land registration carried the
burden of proof to establish the merits of their application by a
On the basis of the evidence presented by the applicants, the preponderance of evidence, by which is meant such evidence
Court finds that Arcadio Ivan A. Santos III and Arcadio C. that is of greater weight, or more convincing than that offered
Santos, Jr., are the owners of the land subject of this in opposition to it.11 They would be held entitled to claim the
17
property as their own and apply for its registration under the up of the river bed. The drying up of the river bed was, in fact,
Torrens system only if they established that, indeed, the the uniform conclusion of both lower courts herein. In other
property was an accretion to their land. words, respondents did not establish at all that the increment
of land had formed from the gradual and imperceptible deposit
Accretion is the process whereby the soil is deposited along of soil by the effects of the current. Also, it seems to be highly
the banks of rivers.12 The deposit of soil, to be considered improbable that the large volume of soil that ultimately
accretion, must be: (a) gradual and imperceptible; (b) made comprised the dry land with an area of 1,045 square meters
through the effects of the current of the water; and (c) taking had been deposited in a gradual and imperceptible manner by
place on land adjacent to the banks of rivers.13 the current of the river in the span of about 20 to 30 years the
span of time intervening between 1920, when Lot 4 was
Accordingly, respondents should establish the concurrence of registered in the name of their deceased parent (at which time
the elements of accretion to warrant the grant of their Lot 4998-B was not yet in existence) and the early 1950s
application for land registration. (which respondents witness Rufino Allanigue alleged to be the
time when he knew them to have occupied Lot 4988-B). The
However, respondents did not discharge their burden of proof. only plausible explanation for the substantial increment was
They did not show that the gradual and imperceptible that Lot 4988-B was the dried-up bed of the Paraaque River.
deposition of soil through the effects of the current of the river Confirming this explanation was Arcadio, Jr.s own testimony
had formed Lot 4998-B. Instead, their evidence revealed that to the effect that the property was previously a part of the
the property was the dried-up river bed of the Paraaque River, Paraaque River that had dried up and become an orchard.
leading both the RTC and the CA to themselves hold that Lot
4998-B was "the land which was previously part of the We observe in this connection that even Arcadio, Jr.s own
Paraaque River xxx (and) became an orchard after it dried Transfer Certificate of Title No. 44687 confirmed the uniform
up." conclusion of the RTC and the CA that Lot 4998-B had been
formed by the drying up of the Paraaque River. Transfer
Still, respondents argue that considering that Lot 4998-B did Certificate of Title No. 44687 recited that Lot 4 of the
not yet exist when the original title of Lot 4 was issued in their consolidated subdivision plan Pcs-13-002563, the lot therein
mothers name in 1920, and that Lot 4998-B came about only described, was bounded "on the SW along line 5-1 by Dried
thereafter as the land formed between Lot 4 and the Paraaque River Bed."14
River, the unavoidable conclusion should then be that soil and
sediments had meanwhile been deposited near Lot 4 by the That boundary line of "SW along line 5-1" corresponded with
current of the Paraaque River, resulting in the formation of Lot the location of Lot 4998-B, which was described as "bounded
4998-B. by Lot 4079 Cad. 299, (Lot 1, Psu-10676), in the name of
respondent Arcadio Santos, Jr. (Now Lot 4, Psd-13-002563) in
The argument is legally and factually groundless. For one, the Northeast."15
respondents thereby ignore that the effects of the current of the
river are not the only cause of the formation of land along a The RTC and the CA grossly erred in treating the dried-up river
river bank. There are several other causes, including the drying bed as an accretion that became respondents property
18
pursuant to Article 457 of the Civil Code. That land was being the adjoining owner of the parcel of land along the river
definitely not an accretion. The process of drying up of a river bank. It rendered the following ratiocination, viz:20
to form dry land involved the recession of the water level from
the river banks, and the dried-up land did not equate to In this regard, the Court found that from the time the applicants
accretion, which was the gradual and imperceptible deposition became the owners thereof, they took possession of the same
of soil on the river banks through the effects of the current. In property continuously, openly, publicly and adversely for more
accretion, the water level did not recede and was more or less than thirty (30) years because their predecessors-in-interest
maintained. Hence, respondents as the riparian owners had no are the adjoining owners of the subject parcel of land along the
legal right to claim ownership of Lot 4998-B. Considering that river bank. Furthermore, the fact that applicants paid its realty
the clear and categorical language of Article 457 of the Civil taxes, had it surveyed per subdivision plan Csd-00-000343
Code has confined the provision only to accretion, we should (Exh. "L") which was duly approved by the Land Management
apply the provision as its clear and categorical language tells Services and the fact that Engr. Chito B. Cainglet, OICChief,
us to. Axiomatic it is, indeed, that where the language of the Surveys Division Land Registration Authority, made a Report
law is clear and categorical, there is no room for interpretation; that the subject property is not a portion of the Paraaque River
there is only room for application.16 The first and fundamental and that it does not fall nor overlap with Lot 5000, thus, the
duty of courts is then to apply the law.17 Court opts to grant the application.

The State exclusively owned Lot 4998-B and may not be Finally, in the light of the evidence adduced by the applicants
divested of its right of ownership. Article 502 of the Civil Code in this case and in view of the foregoing reports of the
expressly declares that rivers and their natural beds are public Department of Agrarian Reforms, Land Registration Authority
dominion of the State.18 It follows that the river beds that dry and the Department of Environment and Natural Resources,
up, like Lot 4998-B, continue to belong to the the Court finds and so holds that the applicants have satisfied
all the requirements of law which are essential to a government
State as its property of public dominion, unless there is an grant and is, therefore, entitled to the issuance of a certificate
express law that provides that the dried-up river beds should of title in their favor. So also, oppositor failed to prove that the
belong to some other person.19 applicants are not entitled thereto, not having presented any
witness.
II
In fine, the application is GRANTED.
Acquisitive prescription was
As already mentioned, the CA affirmed the RTC.
not applicable in favor of respondents
Both lower courts erred.
The RTC favored respondents application for land registration
covering Lot 4998-B also because they had taken possession The relevant legal provision is Section 14(1) of Presidential
of the property continuously, openly, publicly and adversely for Decree No. 1529 (Property Registration Decree), which
more than 30 years based on their predecessor-in-interest pertinently states:
19
Section 14. Who may apply. The following persons may file findings the CA went beyond the issues of the case, or its
in the proper [Regional Trial Court] an application for findings are contrary to the admissions of both the appellant
registration of title to land, whether personally or through their and the appellee; (g) when the findings are contrary to those of
duly authorized representatives: the trial court; (h) when the findings are conclusions without
citation of specific evidence on which they are based; (i) when
(1) Those who by themselves or through their predecessors-in- the facts set forth in the petition as well as in the petitioners
interest have been in open, continuous, exclusive and main and reply briefs are not disputed by respondent; and (j)
notorious possession and occupation of alienable and when the findings of fact are premised on the supposed
disposable lands of the public domain under a bona fide claim absence of evidence and contradicted by the evidence on
of ownership since June 12, 1945, or earlier. record.24

xxxx Here, the findings of the RTC were obviously grounded on


speculation, surmises, or conjectures; and that the inference
Under Section 14(1), then, applicants for confirmation of made by the RTC and the CA was manifestly mistaken, absurd,
imperfect title must prove the following, namely: (a) that the or impossible. Hence, the Court should now review the
land forms part of the disposable and alienable agricultural findings.
lands of the public domain; and (b) that they have been in open,
continuous, exclusive, and notorious possession and In finding that respondents had been in continuous, open,
occupation of the land under a bona fide claim of ownership public and adverse possession of the land for more than 30
either since time immemorial or since June 12, 1945.21 years, the RTC declared:

The Republic assails the findings by the lower courts that In this regard, the Court found that from the time the applicant
respondents "took possession of the same property became the owners thereof, they took possession of the same
continuously, openly, publicly and adversely for more than property continuously, openly, publicly and adversely for more
thirty (30) years."22 than thirty years because their predecessor in interest are the
adjoining owners of the subject parcel of land along the river
Although it is well settled that the findings of fact of the trial banks. Furthermore, the fact that the applicant paid its realty
court, especially when affirmed by the CA, are accorded the taxes, had it surveyed per subdivision plan Csd-00-000343
highest degree of respect, and generally will not be disturbed (Exh. "L") which was duly approved by the Land Management
on appeal, with such findings being binding and conclusive on Services and the fact that Engr. Chito B. Cainglet, OIC Chief,
the Court,23 the Court has consistently recognized exceptions Surveys Division Land Registration Authority, made a Report
to this rule, including the following, to wit: (a) when the findings that the subject property is not a portion of the Paraaque River
are grounded entirely on speculation, surmises, or conjectures; and that it does not fall nor overlap with Lot 5000, thus, the
(b) when the inference made is manifestly mistaken, absurd, or Court opts to grant the application.
impossible; (c) when there is grave abuse of discretion; (d)
when the judgment is based on a misapprehension of facts; (e) The RTC apparently reckoned respondents period of
when the findings of fact are conflicting; (f) when in making its supposed possession to be "more than thirty years" from the
20
fact that "their predecessors in interest are the adjoining Yet, even conceding, for the sake of argument, that
owners of the subject parcel of land." Yet, its decision nowhere respondents possessed Lot 4998-B for more than thirty years
indicated what acts respondents had performed showing their in the character they claimed, they did not thereby acquire the
possession of the property "continuously, openly, publicly and land by prescription or by other means without any competent
adversely" in that length of time. The decision mentioned only proof that the land was already declared as alienable and
that they had paid realty taxes and had caused the survey of disposable by the Government. Absent that declaration, the
the property to be made. That, to us, was not enough to justify land still belonged to the State as part of its public dominion.
the foregoing findings, because, firstly, the payment of realty
taxes did not conclusively prove the payors ownership of the Article 419 of the Civil Code distinguishes property as being
land the taxes were paid for,25 the tax declarations and either of public dominion or of private ownership. Article 420 of
payments being mere indicia of a claim of ownership; 26 and, the Civil Code lists the properties considered as part of public
secondly, the causing of surveys of the property involved was dominion, namely: (a) those intended for public use, such as
not itself an of continuous, open, public and adverse roads, canals, rivers, torrents, ports and bridges constructed by
possession. the State, banks, shores, roadsteads, and others of similar
character; and (b) those which belong to the State, without
The principle that the riparian owner whose land receives the being for public use, and are intended for some public service
gradual deposits of soil does not need to make an express act or for the development of the national wealth. As earlier
of possession, and that no acts of possession are necessary in mentioned, Article 502 of the Civil Code declares that rivers
that instance because it is the law itself that pronounces the and their natural beds are of public dominion.
alluvium to belong to the riparian owner from the time that the
deposit created by the current of the water becomes manifest27 Whether the dried-up river bed may be susceptible to
has no applicability herein. This is simply because Lot 4998-B acquisitive prescription or not was a question that the Court
was not formed through accretion. Hence, the ownership of the resolved in favor of the State in Celestial v. Cachopero, 29 a
land adjacent to the river bank by respondents predecessor- case involving the registration of land found to be part of a
in-interest did not translate to possession of Lot 4998-B that dried-up portion of the natural bed of a creek. There the Court
would ripen to acquisitive prescription in relation to Lot 4998-B. held:

On the other hand, the claim of thirty years of continuous, open, As for petitioners claim of ownership over the subject land,
public and adverse possession of Lot 4998-B was not even admittedly a dried-up bed of the Salunayan Creek, based on
validated or preponderantly established. The admission of (1) her alleged long term adverse possession and that of her
respondents themselves that they declared the property for predecessor-in-interest, Marcelina Basadre, even prior to
taxation purposes only in 1997 and paid realty taxes only from October 22, 1966, when she purchased the adjoining property
199928 signified that their alleged possession would at most be from the latter, and (2) the right of accession under Art. 370 of
for only nine years as of the filing of their application for land the Spanish Civil Code of 1889 and/or Article 461 of the Civil
registration on March 7, 1997. Code, the same must fail.

21
Since property of public dominion is outside the commerce of Administration. Thus, in Ronquillo v. Court of Appeals, this
man and not susceptible to private appropriation and Court held:
acquisitive prescription, the adverse possession which may be
the basis of a grant of title in the confirmation of an imperfect The law is clear and unambiguous. It leaves no room for
title refers only to alienable or disposable portions of the public interpretation. Article 370 applies only if there is a natural
domain. It is only after the Government has declared the land change in the course of the waters. The rules on alluvion do
to be alienable and disposable agricultural land that the year of not apply to man-made or artificial accretions nor to accretions
entry, cultivation and exclusive and adverse possession can be to lands that adjoin canals or esteros or artificial drainage
counted for purposes of an imperfect title. systems. Considering our earlier finding that the dried-up
portion of Estero Calubcub was actually caused by the active
A creek, like the Salunayan Creek, is a recess or arm extending intervention of man, it follows that Article 370 does not apply to
from a river and participating in the ebb and flow of the sea. As the case at bar and, hence, the Del Rosarios cannot be entitled
such, under Articles 420(1) and 502(1) of the Civil Code, the thereto supposedly as riparian owners.
Salunayan Creek, including its natural bed, is property of the
public domain which is not susceptible to private appropriation The dried-up portion of Estero Calubcub should thus be
and acquisitive prescription. And, absent any declaration by the considered as forming part of the land of the public domain
government, that a portion of the creek has dried-up does not, which cannot be subject to acquisition by private ownership.
by itself, alter its inalienable character. xxx (Emphasis supplied)

xxxx Furthermore, both provisions pertain to situations where there


has been a change in the course of a river, not where the river
Had the disputed portion of the Salunayan Creek dried up after simply dries up. In the instant Petition, it is not even alleged that
the present Civil Code took effect, the subject land would the Salunayan Creek changed its course. In such a situation,
clearly not belong to petitioner or her predecessor-in-interest commentators are of the opinion that the dry river bed remains
since under the aforementioned provision of Article 461, "river property of public dominion. (Bold emphases supplied)
beds which are abandoned through the natural change in the
course of the waters ipso facto belong to the owners of the land Indeed, under the Regalian doctrine, all lands not otherwise
occupied by the new course," and the owners of the adjoining appearing to be clearly within private ownership are presumed
lots have the right to acquire them only after paying their value. to belong to the State.30 No public land can be acquired by
private persons without any grant, express or implied, from the
And both Article 370 of the Old Code and Article 461 of the Government. It is indispensable, therefore, that there is a
present Civil Code are applicable only when "river beds are showing of a title from the State.31 Occupation of public land in
abandoned through the natural change in the course of the the concept of owner, no matter how long, cannot ripen into
waters." It is uncontroverted, however, that, as found by both ownership and be registered as a title.32
the Bureau of Lands and the DENR Regional Executive
Director, the subject land became dry as a result of the Subject to the exceptions defined in Article 461 of the Civil
construction an irrigation canal by the National Irrigation Code (which declares river beds that are abandoned through
22
the natural change in the course of the waters as ipso facto Was the notation on the survey plan to the effect that Lot 4998-
belonging to the owners of the land occupied by the new B was "inside" the map "classified as alienable/disposable by
course, and which gives to the owners of the adjoining lots the the Bureau of Forest Development on 03 Jan. 1968" sufficient
right to acquire only the abandoned river beds not ipso facto proof of the propertys nature as alienable and disposable
belonging to the owners of the land affected by the natural public land?
change of course of the waters only after paying their value),
all river beds remain property of public dominion and cannot be To prove that the land subject of an application for registration
acquired by acquisitive prescription unless previously declared is alienable, an applicant must conclusively establish the
by the Government to be alienable and disposable. existence of a positive act of the Government, such as a
Considering that Lot 4998-B was not shown to be already presidential proclamation, executive order, administrative
declared to be alienable and disposable, respondents could not action, investigation reports of the Bureau of Lands
be deemed to have acquired the property through prescription. investigator, or a legislative act or statute. Until then, the rules
on confirmation of imperfect title do not apply.
Nonetheless, respondents insist that the property was already
classified as alienable and disposable by the Government. As to the proofs that are admissible to establish the alienability
They cite as proof of the classification as alienable and and disposability of public land, we said in Secretary of the
disposable the following notation found on the survey plan, to Department of Environment and Natural Resources v. Yap 34
wit:33 that:

NOTE The burden of proof in overcoming the presumption of State


ownership of the lands of the public domain is on the person
ALL CORNERS NOT OTHERWISE DESCRIBED ARE OLD applying for registration (or claiming ownership), who must
BL CYL. CONC. MONS 15 X 60CM prove that the land subject of the application is alienable or
disposable. To overcome this presumption, incontrovertible
All corners marked PS are cyl. conc. mons 15 x 60 cm evidence must be established that the land subject of the
application (or claim) is alienable or disposable.There must still
Surveyed in accordance with Survey Authority NO. 007604-48 be a positive act declaring land of the public domain as
of the Regional Executive Director issued by the CENR- alienable and disposable. To prove that the land subject of an
OFFICER dated Dec. 2, 1996. application for registration is alienable, the applicant must
establish the existence of a positive act of the government such
This survey is inside L.C. Map No. 2623, Proj. No. 25 classified as a presidential proclamation or an executive order; an
as alienable/disposable by the Bureau of Forest Devt. on Jan. administrative action; investigation reports of Bureau of Lands
3, 1968. investigators; and a legislative act or a statute. The applicant
may also secure a certification from the government that the
Lot 4998-A = Lot 5883} Cad 299 land claimed to have been possessed for the required number
of years is alienable and disposable.
Lot 4998-B = Lot 5884} Paranaque Cadastre.
23
In the case at bar, no such proclamation, executive order, domain. Indeed, "occupation thereof in the concept of owner,
administrative action, report, statute, or certification was no matter how long, cannot ripen into ownership and be
presented to the Court. The records are bereft of evidence registered as a title." To overcome such presumption,
showing that, prior to 2006, the portions of Boracay occupied incontrovertible evidence must be shown by the applicant.
by private claimants were subject of a government Absent such evidence, the land sought to be registered
proclamation that the land is alienable and disposable. Absent remains inalienable.
such well-nigh incontrovertible evidence, the Court cannot
accept the submission that lands occupied by private claimants In the present case, petitioners cite a surveyor-geodetic
were already open to disposition before 2006. Matters of land engineers notation in Exhibit "E" indicating that the survey was
classification or reclassification cannot be assumed. They call inside alienable and disposable land. Such notation does not
for proof." (Emphasis supplied) constitute a positive government act validly changing the
classification of the land in question. Verily, a mere surveyor
In Menguito v. Republic,35 which we reiterated in Republic v. has no authority to reclassify lands of the public domain. By
Sarmiento,36 we specifically resolved the issue of whether the relying solely on the said surveyors assertion, petitioners have
notation on the survey plan was sufficient evidence to establish not sufficiently proven that the land in question has been
the alienability and disposability of public land, to wit: declared alienable. (Emphasis supplied)

To prove that the land in question formed part of the alienable In Republic v. T.A.N. Properties, Inc.,37 we dealt with the
and disposable lands of the public domain, petitioners relied on sufficiency of the certification by the Provincial Environmental
the printed words which read: "This survey plan is inside Officer (PENRO) or Community Environmental Officer
Alienable and Disposable Land Area, Project No. 27-B as per (CENRO) to the effect that a piece of public land was alienable
L.C. Map No. 2623, certified by the Bureau of Forestry on and disposable in the following manner, viz:
January 3, 1968," appearing on Exhibit "E" (Survey Plan No.
Swo-13-000227). x x x it is not enough for the PENRO or CENRO to certify that
a land is alienable and disposable. The applicant for land
This proof is not sufficient. Section 2, Article XII of the 1987 registration must prove that the DENR Secretary had approved
Constitution, provides: "All lands of the public domain, waters, the land classification and released the land of the public
minerals, coal, petroleum, and other mineral oils, all forces of domain as alienable and disposable, and that the land subject
potential energy, fisheries, forests or timber, wildlife, flora and of the application for registration falls within the approved area
fauna, and other natural resources are owned by the State. x x per verification through survey by the PENRO or CENRO. In
x." addition, the applicant for land registration must present a copy
of the original classification approved by the DENR Secretary
For the original registration of title, the applicant (petitioners in and certified as a true copy by the legal custodian of the official
this case) must overcome the presumption that the land sought records. These facts must be established to prove that the land
to be registered forms part of the public domain. Unless public is alienable and disposable. Respondent failed to do so
land is shown to have been reclassified or alienated to a private because the certifications presented by respondent do not, by
person by the State, it remains part of the inalienable public themselves, prove that the land is alienable and disposable.
24
Only Torres, respondents Operations Manager, identified the situated in Barangay San Dionisio, Paraaque City, Metro
certifications submitted by respondent.1wphi1 The Manila; and DECLARES Lot 4998-B as exclusively belonging
government officials who issued the certifications were not to the State for being part of the dried--up bed of the
presented before the trial court to testify on their contents. The Parat1aque River.
trial court should not have accepted the contents of the
certifications as proof of the facts stated therein. Even if the Respondents shall pay the costs of suit.
certifications are presumed duly issued and admissible in
evidence, they have no probative value in establishing that the SO ORDERED.
land is alienable and disposable.
LUCAS P. BERSAMIN
xxxx Associate Justice

The CENRO and Regional Technical Director, FMS-DENR,


certifications do not prove that Lot 10705-B falls within the
alienable and disposable land as proclaimed by the DENR
Secretary. Such government certifications do not, by their mere
issuance, prove the facts stated therein. Such government
certifications may fall under the class of documents
contemplated in the second sentence of Section 23 of Rule
132. As such, the certifications are prima facie evidence of their
due execution and date of issuance but they do not constitute
prima facie evidence of the facts stated therein. (Emphasis
supplied)

These rulings of the Court indicate that the notation on the


survey plan of Lot 4998-B, Cad-00-000343 to the effect that the
"survey is inside a map classified as alienable/disposable by
the Bureau of Forest Devt" did not prove that Lot 4998-B was
already classified as alienable and disposable. Accordingly,
respondents could not validly assert acquisitive prescription of
Lot 4988-B.

WHEREFORE, the Court REVERSES and SETS ASIDE the


decision of the Court of Appeals promulgated on May 27, 2003;
DISMISSES the application for registration of Arcadio C.
Santos, Jr. and Arcadio Ivan S. Santos III respecting Lot 4998-
B with a total area of 1,045 square meters, more or less,
25
Republic of the Philippines Antonia A. Fernando, married to Felipe Galvez, and located in
SUPREME COURT San Jose, Baliuag, Bulacan. When they died intestate, the
Manila property remained undivided. Petitioners herein namely,
Jose Fernando, Jr., Zoilo Fernando, Norma Fernando
FIRST DIVISION Banares, Rosario Fernando Tangkencgo, the heirs of Tomas
Fernando, the heirs of Guillermo Fernando, the heirs of
G.R. No. 161030 September 14, 2011 Iluminada Fernando and the heirs of Germogena Fernando
are the heirs and successors-in-interest of the deceased
JOSE FERNANDO, JR., ZOILO FERNANDO, NORMA registered owners. However, petitioners failed to agree on the
FERNANDO BANARES, ROSARIO FERNANDO division of the subject property amongst themselves, even after
TANGKENCGO, HEIRS OF TOMAS FERNANDO, compulsory conciliation before the Barangay Lupon.
represented by ALFREDO V. FERNANDO, HEIRS OF
GUILLERMO FERNANDO, represented by Ronnie H. Thus, petitioners, except for the heirs of Germogena Fernando,
Fernando, HEIRS OF ILUMINADA FERNANDO, filed a Complaint4 for partition on April 17, 1997 against the
represented by Benjamin Estrella and HEIRS OF heirs of Germogena Fernando. In the Complaint, plaintiffs
GERMOGENA FERNANDO, Petitioners, alleged, among others, that they and defendants are common
vs. descendants and compulsory heirs of the late spouses Jose A.
LEON ACUNA, HERMOGENES FERNANDO, HEIRS OF Fernando and Lucila Tinio, and the late spouses Antonia A.
SPOUSES ANTONIO FERNANDO AND FELISA CAMACHO, Fernando and Felipe Galvez. They further claimed that their
represented by HERMOGENES FERNANDO, Respondents. predecessors-in-interest died intestate and without instructions
as to the disposition of the property left by them covered by
DECISION OCT No. RO-487 (997). There being no settlement, the heirs
are asking for their rightful and lawful share because they wish
LEONARDO-DE CASTRO, J.: to build up their homes or set up their business in the respective
portions that will be allotted to them. In sum, they prayed that
This is a petition for review on certiorari under Rule 45 of the the subject property be partitioned into eight equal parts,
1997 Rules of Civil Procedure seeking to reverse and set aside corresponding to the hereditary interest of each group of heirs.
the Decision1 dated November 24, 2003 of the Court of
Appeals in CA-G.R. CV No. 75773, entitled "Jose Fernando, In their Answer5 filed on May 20, 1997, defendants essentially
Jr., et al. v. Heirs of Germogena Fernando, et al.," which admitted all of the allegations in the complaint. They alleged
reversed and set aside the Decision2 dated May 16, 2002 of further that they are not opposing the partition and even offered
Branch 84, Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Malolos, Bulacan in to share in the expenses that will be incurred in the course of
Civil Case No. 256-M-97. the proceedings.

At the heart of this controversy is a parcel of land covered by In his Complaint in Intervention6 filed on January 12, 1998,
Original Certificate of Title (OCT) No. RO-487 (997)3 registered respondent Leon Acuna (Acuna) averred that in the Decision 7
in the names of Jose A. Fernando, married to Lucila Tinio, and dated November 29, 1929 of the Cadastral Court of Baliuag,
26
Bulacan, the portion of the property identified as Lot 1303 was lots because he was waiting for the owners of the other portions
already adjudicated to: (a) Antonio Fernando, married to Felisa of the subject property to bear their respective shares in the
Camacho; (b) spouses Jose Martinez and Gregoria Sison; (c) cost of titling.
spouses Ignacio de la Cruz and Salud Wisco; and (d) Jose
Fernando, married to Lucila Tinio, the petitioners predecessor- Subsequently, a Motion for Intervention13 was filed on June 23,
in-interest. He likewise claimed that in a 1930 Decision of the 1998 by respondent Hermogenes Fernando (Hermogenes), for
Cadastral Court, the portion identified as Lot 1302 was also himself and on behalf of the heirs of the late spouses, Antonio
already adjudicated to other people as well. A. Fernando and Felisa Camacho. According to him, in the July
30, 1980 Decision of the CFI of Bulacan, their predecessors-
Respondent Acuna further alleged that Salud Wisco, through in-interest had already been adjudged owners of Lots 1302-A,
her authorized attorney-in-fact, Amador W. Cruz, sold her 1302-F, 1302-G,14 1302-H and 1302-J of OCT No. RO-487
lawful share denominated as Lot 1303-D with an area of 3,818 (997) and any adverse distribution of the properties would
square meters to Simeon P. Cunanan,8 who in turn sold the cause respondents damage and prejudice. He would also later
same piece of land to him as evidenced by a Deed of Sale.9 He claim, in his Answer-in-Intervention,15 that the instant case is
also belied petitioners assertion that the subject property has already barred by res judicata and, should be dismissed.
not been settled by the parties after the death of the original
owners in view of the Decision10 dated July 30, 1980 of the In the interest of substantial justice, the trial court allowed the
Court of First Instance (CFI) of Baliuag, Bulacan, in LRC Case respondents to intervene in the case.
No. 80-389 which ordered the Register of Deeds of Bulacan to
issue the corresponding certificates of title to the claimants of The plaintiffs and defendants jointly moved to have the case
the portion of the subject property designated as Lot 1302.11 submitted for judgment on the pleadings on May 7, 1999. 16
Norma Fernando, one of the petitioners in the instant case, However, the trial court denied said motion in a Resolution 17
even testified in LRC Case No. 80-389. According to dated August 23, 1999 primarily due to the question regarding
respondent Acuna, this circumstance betrayed bad faith on the the ownership of the property to be partitioned, in light of the
part of petitioners in filing the present case for partition. intervention of respondents Acuna and Hermogenes who were
claiming legal right thereto.
Respondent Acuna likewise averred that the action for partition
cannot prosper since the heirs of the original owners of the In their Manifestation18 filed on April 12, 2000, petitioners
subject property, namely Rosario, Jose Jr., Norma, Tomas, affirmed their execution of a Deed of Sale in favor of Ruperta
Guillermo, Leopoldo, Hermogena, Illuminada and Zoilo, all Sto. Domingo Villasenor in 1978, wherein they sold to her
surnamed Fernando, and Lucila Tinio, purportedly had already 1,000 square meters from Lot 1303 for the sum of P 35,000.00.
sold their respective one-tenth (1/10) share each in the subject
property to Ruperta Sto. Domingo Villasenor for the amount of After the pre-trial conference, trial ensued. On September 19,
P35,000.00 on January 25, 1978 as evidenced by a "Kasulatan 2000, petitioner Elizabeth Alarcon testified that they (plaintiffs)
sa Bilihang Patuluyan."12 He added that he was in possession are not claiming the entire property covered by OCT No. RO-
of the original copy of OCT No. RO-487 (997) and that he had 487 (997) but only the area referred to as Lot 1303 and Sapang
not commenced the issuance of new titles to the subdivided Bayan. She also admitted that Lot 1302 had already been
27
divided into ten (10) sublots and allocated to various owners November 29, 1929 Decision, portions of Lot 1303 was
pursuant to the July 30, 1980 Decision of the CFI of Baliuag, designated as Lots 1303-A, 1303-B, 1303-C and 1303-D which
Bulacan and these owners already have their own titles. She were adjudicated to certain persons, including Jose Fernando,
likewise claimed that the entire area consisting of Lot 1303 and while the rest of Lot 1303 was adjudicated to his parents,
Sapang Bayan is based on the subdivision plan of Lot 1303. Antonio A. Fernando married to Felisa Camacho. According to
She admitted that plaintiffs predecessor-in-interest was only respondent Hermogenes, his familys tenant and the latters
allocated a portion of Lot 1303 based on the said plan. children occupied the portion of Lot 1303 allotted to his
However, she claimed that the November 29, 1929 Decision (Hermogenes) parents while the rest of Lot 1303 was occupied
subdividing Lot 1303 was never implemented nor executed by by the persons named in the said November 29, 1929 Decision.
the parties.19 He admitted, however, that nobody among the purported
possessors of Lot 1303 registered the lots assigned to them in
Petitioner Norma Fernando testified on October 3, 2000 that the Decision.22
she is one of the children of Jose A. Fernando and Lucila Tinio.
She affirmed that plaintiffs were only claiming Lot 1303 and On January 18, 2001, respondent Hermogenes presented a
Sapang Bayan. She also testified that Sapang Bayan was witness, Engineer Camilo Vergara who testified that the subject
supposedly included in Lot 1302 and was previously a river land is divided into Lots 1302 and 1303 with a creek dividing
until it dried up. Unlike Lot 1302, the rest of the property was the two lots known as Sapang Bayan. He also identified a
purportedly not distributed. She likewise averred that she is Sketch Plan numbered as PSD-45657 and approved on
aware of a November 29, 1929 Decision concerning the November 11, 1955.23 During the hearing on January 30, 2001,
distribution of Lot 1303 issued by the cadastral court but respondent Hermogenes made an oral offer of his evidence
insisted that the basis of the claims of the petitioners over Lot and rested his case. On the same date, respondent Acuna, in
1303 is the title in the name of her ascendants and not said lieu of his testimony, offered for the parties to simply stipulate
Decision.20 on the due execution and authenticity of the Deeds of Sale
dated April 6, 1979 and December 28, 1980, showing the
On November 16, 2000, as previously directed by the trial court transfer of Lot 1303-D from Salud Wisco to Simeon Cunanan
and agreed to by the parties, counsel for respondent and subsequently to respondent Acuna. When counsel for
Hermogenes prepared and submitted an English translation of plaintiffs and defendants agreed to the stipulation, albeit
the November 29, 1929 Decision. The same was admitted and objecting to the purpose for which the deeds of sale were
marked in evidence as Exhibit "X"21 as a common exhibit of the offered, the trial court admitted Acunas exhibits and Acuna
parties. The petitioners also presented Alfredo Borja, the rested his case.24
Geodetic Engineer who conducted a relocation survey of the
subject property. On February 15, 2001, plaintiffs recalled Norma Fernando as a
rebuttal witness. In her rebuttal testimony, she identified the tax
After plaintiffs rested their case, respondent Hermogenes declaration25 over the said property in the name of Jose A.
testified on December 7, 2000. In his testimony, he claimed to Fernando; an official receipt26 dated October 3, 1997 issued by
know the plaintiffs and defendants as they were allegedly his the Office of the Treasurer of the Municipality of Baliuag,
relatives and neighbors. He confirmed that according to the Bulacan for payment of real property taxes from 1991 to 1997;
28
and a real property tax clearance27 dated October 6, 1997, to trial court, the parties failed to clearly show whether Sapang
show that plaintiffs have allegedly been paying the real Bayan was previously a dry portion of either Lot 1302 or Lot
property taxes on the entire property covered by OCT No. RO- 1303. Neither was there any proof that Sapang Bayan was a
487 (997). However, she further testified that they were now river that just dried up or that it was an accretion which the
willing to pay taxes only over the portion with an area of 44,234 adjoining lots gradually received from the effects of the current
square meters, which is included in their claim.28 of water. It was likewise not established who were the owners
of the lots adjoining Sapang Bayan. The trial court concluded
In a Decision dated May 16, 2002, the trial court ruled that that none of the parties had clearly and sufficiently established
plaintiffs and defendants (petitioners herein) were indeed the their claims over Sapang Bayan.
descendants and successors-in-interest of the registered
owners, Jose A. Fernando (married to Lucila Tinio) and Antonia The dispositive portion of the May 16, 2002 Decision of the trial
Fernando (married to Felipe Galvez), of the property covered court reads:
by OCT No. RO-487 (997). After finding that the parties
admitted that Lot 1302 was already distributed and titled in the WHEREFORE, all the foregoing considered, judgment is
names of third persons per the July 30, 1980 Decision of the hereby rendered ordering the reversion of Lot 1303, except the
CFI of Baliuag, Bulacan the trial court proceeded to rule on the portions allotted to Acuna and Ruperta Sto. Domingo
allocation of Lot 1303 and Sapang Bayan. Villasenor, to the ownership of Jose Fernando and Lucia Tinio
and Antonia Fernando and Felipe Galvez under OCT No. 997
With respect to Lot 1303, the trial court found that the and thereafter allowing the partition of said Lot 1303 among the
November 29, 1929 Decision of the Cadastral Court, plaintiffs and the defendants as successors-in-interest of Jose
adjudicating said lot to different persons and limiting Jose and Lucia as well as Antonia and Felipe after the settlement of
Fernandos share to Lot 1303-C, was never implemented nor any inheritance tax, fees, dues and/or obligation chargeable
executed despite the lapse of more than thirty years. Thus, the against their estate.29
said decision has already prescribed and can no longer be
executed. The trial court ordered the reversion of Lot 1303 to All the parties, with the exception of respondent Acuna,
the ownership of spouses Jose A. Fernando and Lucila Tinio elevated this case to the Court of Appeals which rendered the
and spouses Antonia A. Fernando and Felipe Galvez under assailed November 24, 2003 Decision, the dispositive portion
OCT No. RO-487 (997) and allowed the partition of Lot 1303 of which reads:
among petitioners as successors-in-interest of said registered
owners. Excluded from the partition, however, were the WHEREFORE, premises considered, the decision dated May
portions of the property which petitioners admitted had been 16, 2002, of the Regional Trial Court of Malolos, Bulacan, Third
sold or transferred to Ruperta Sto. Domingo Villasenor and Judicial Region, Branch 84, in Civil Case No. 256-M-97, is
respondent Acuna. hereby REVERSED and SET ASIDE and the complaint dated
April 17, 1997 filed by plaintiffs-appellants is dismissed. Costs
As for the ownership of Sapang Bayan, the trial court found that against plaintiffs-appellants.30
the same had not been alleged in the pleadings nor raised as
an issue during the pre-trial conference. Also, according to the
29
Hence, plaintiffs and defendants in the court a quo elevated the the parties as a common exhibit designated as Exhibit "X." The
matter for our review through the instant petition. agreed English translation of said Decision reads:

Petitioner raises the following issues for consideration: Lot No. 1303 This lot is decreed in record No. 448, G.L.R.O.
Record No. 25414 and actually with Original Certificate No. 997
1. Whether or not the ownership of Lot 1303 and the Sapang (exhibited today) in the name of Jose A. Fernando and Antonia
Bayan portion of the piece of land covered by O.C.T. No. RO- A. Fernando, who now pray that said lot be subdivided in
487 (997) or Plan Psu-39080 should revert to the descendants accordance with the answers recorded in the instant cadastral
and heirs of the late spouses Jose Fernando and Lucila Tinio record, and the sketch, Exh. "A", which is attached to the
and Antonia Fernando, married to Felipe Galvez; records.

2. Whether or not a title registered under the Torrens system, A part or portion of the lot has been claimed by Antonio A.
as the subject original certificate of title is the best evidence of Fernando, of legal age, married to Felisa Camacho; another
ownership of land and is a notice against the world.31 portion by the spouses Jose Martinez and Gregoria Sison;
another portion by Antonia A. Fernando, of legal age, married
The petition is without merit. to Felipe Galvez; another portion by Jose A. Fernando, of legal
age, married to Lucila Tinio; and another portion by the
Petitioners based their claims to the disputed areas designated spouses Ignacio de la Cruz and Salud Wisco, both of legal age.
as Lot 1303 and Sapang Bayan on their ascendants title, OCT The part claimed by the spouses Jose A. Martinez and
No. RO-487 (997), which was issued on February 26, 1927 in Gregoria Sison is Lot 1303-A of Exh. A; the part claimed by
the name of Jose A. Fernando married to Lucila Tinio and Antonia A. Fernando is Lot 1303-B of said exhibit; the part
Antonia A. Fernando married to Felipe Galvez. The Court now claimed by Jose A. Fernando is Lot 1303-C of said exhibit, and
rules on these claims in seriatim. the part claimed by the spouses Ignacio de la Cruz and Salud
Wisco is Lot 1303-D of the aforementioned Exhibit.
Petitioners claim with respect to Lot 1303
The subdivision of said lot is hereby ordered, separating from
As the records show, in the November 29, 1929 Decision of the the same the portions that correspond to each of the claimants,
Cadastral Court of Baliuag, Bulacan (in Cadastral Record No. which portions are known as Lots 1303-A, 1303-B, 1303-C, and
14, GLRO Cad. Record No. 781) which was written in Spanish, 1303-D in the sketch, Exh. "A", and once subdivided, are
Lot 1303 had already been divided and adjudicated to spouses adjudicated in favor of the spouses, Jose Martinez and
Jose A. Fernando and Lucila Tinio; spouses Antonia A. Gregoria Sison, of legal age, Lot No. 1303-A, in favor of
Fernando and Felipe Galvez; spouses Antonio A. Fernando Antonia A. Fernando, of legal age, married to Felipe Galvez,
and Felisa Camacho; spouses Jose Martinez and Gregoria Lot No. 1303-B; in favor of Jose A. Fernando, of legal age,
Sison; and spouses Ignacio de la Cruz and Salud Wisco from married to Lucila Tinio, Lot 1303-C; in favor of the spouses
whom respondent Acuna derived his title. The English Ignacio de la Cruz and Salud Wisco, of legal age, Lot 1303-D;
translation of the said November 29, 1929 Decision was and the rest of Lot 1303 is adjudged in favor of Antonio A.
provided by respondent Hermogenes and was adopted by all Fernando married to Felisa Camacho. It is likewise ordered that
30
once the subdivision plan is approved, the same be forwarded Q Did they take possession of the other lots?
by the Director of Lands to this Court for its final decision.
A No. Yes, the portion
It is ordered that the expense for mentioned subdivision, shall
be for the account of the spouses Jose Martinez and Gregoria Q The other lots in the name of the other persons. Did they
Sison, Antonia A. Fernando, Jose A. Fernando, the spouses take possession of that?
Ignacio de la Cruz and Salud Wisco, and Antonio A.
Fernando.32 A Yes, they took took possession of the other No, sir.

From the foregoing, it would appear that petitioners Q I am asking you whether they took possession, the
ascendants themselves petitioned for the cadastral court to children
divide Lot 1303 among the parties to the 1929 case and they
were only allocated Lots 1303-B and 1303-C. Still, as the trial ATTY. SANTIAGO:
court noted, the November 29, 1929 Decision was never fully
implemented in the sense that the persons named therein The questions are already answered, your Honor.
merely proceeded to occupy the lots assigned to them without
having complied with the other directives of the cadastral court ATTY. VENERACION:
which would have led to the titling of the properties in their
names. Nonetheless, it is undisputed that the persons named What is the answer?
in the said November 29, 1929 Decision and, subsequently,
their heirs and assigns have since been in peaceful and ATTY. SANTIAGO:
uncontested possession of their respective lots for more than
seventy (70) years until the filing of the suit for partition on April Its in the record.
17, 1997 by petitioners which is the subject matter of this case.
Respondent Hermogenes, who testified that petitioners were COURT:
his relatives and neighbors, further affirmed before the trial
court that the persons named in the November 29, 1929 The persons named in the Decision already took possession of
Decision took possession of their respective lots: the lots allotted to them as per that Decision. So that was
already answered. Anything else?
ATTY. VENERACION:
ATTY. VENERACION;
Q This Jose A. Fernando married to Lucila Tinio, you testified
earlier are the parents of the plaintiffs. Did they take possession No more question, Your Honor.33
of lot 1303-C?
It is noteworthy that petitioners do not dispute that the
A Yes, sir. They took possession. November 29, 1929 Decision of the cadastral court already
adjudicated the ownership of Lot 1303 to persons other than
31
the registered owners thereof. Petitioners would, nonetheless, title, there is equally an abundance of cases where we
claim that respondents purported failure to execute the unequivocally ruled that registered owners may lose their right
November 29, 1929 Decision over Lot 1303 (i.e., their failure to to recover possession of property through the equitable
secure their own titles) meant that the entire Lot 1303 being still principle of laches.
registered in the name of their ascendants rightfully belongs to
them. This is on the theory that respondents right to have the Laches means the failure or neglect for an unreasonable and
said property titled in their names have long prescribed. unexplained length of time to do that which, by observance of
due diligence, could or should have been done earlier. It is
On this point, we agree with the appellate court. negligence or omission to assert a right within a reasonable
time, warranting the presumption that the party entitled to
Section 47 of Presidential Decree No. 1529, otherwise known assert his right either has abandoned or declined to assert it.
as the Property Registration Decree, states that "[n]o title to Laches thus operates as a bar in equity.38 The essential
registered land in derogation of the title of the registered owner elements of laches are: (a) conduct on the part of the
shall be acquired by prescription or adverse possession." Thus, defendant, or of one under whom he claims, giving rise to the
the Court has held that the right to recover possession of situation complained of; (b) delay in asserting complainants
registered land is imprescriptible because possession is a rights after he had knowledge of defendants acts and after he
mere consequence of ownership.34 has had the opportunity to sue; (c) lack of knowledge or notice
by defendant that the complainant will assert the right on which
However, in Heirs of Anacleto B. Nieto v. Municipality of he bases his suit; and (d) injury or prejudice to the defendant
Meycauayan, Bulacan,35 the Court had recognized the in the event the relief is accorded to the complainant.39
jurisprudential thread regarding the exception to the foregoing
doctrine that while it is true that a Torrens title is indefeasible In view of respondents decades long possession and/or
and imprescriptible, the registered landowner may lose his right ownership of their respective lots by virtue of a court judgment
to recover possession of his registered property by reason of and the erstwhile registered owners inaction and neglect for
laches. an unreasonable and unexplained length of time in pursuing
the recovery of the land, assuming they retained any right to
Thus, in Heirs of Batiog Lacamen v. Heirs of Laruan,36 the recover the same, it is clear that respondents possession may
Court had held that while a person may not acquire title to the no longer be disturbed. The right of the registered owners as
registered property through continuous adverse possession, in well as their successors-in-interest to recover possession of
derogation of the title of the original registered owner, the heir the property is already a stale demand and, thus, is barred by
of the latter, however, may lose his right to recover back the laches.
possession of such property and the title thereto, by reason of
laches. In the same vein, we uphold the finding of the Court of Appeals
that the title of petitioners ascendants wrongfully included lots
In the more recent case of Bartola M. Vda. De Tirona v. belonging to third persons.40 Indeed, petitioners ascendants
Encarnacion,37 we similarly held that while jurisprudence is appeared to have acknowledged this fact as they were even
settled on the imprescriptibility and indefeasibility of a Torrens the ones that prayed for the cadastral court to subdivide Lot
32
1303 as evident in the November 29, 1929 Decision. We year prescriptive period applies only when the person enforcing
concur with the Court of Appeals that petitioners ascendants the trust is not in possession of the property. If a person
held the property erroneously titled in their names under an claiming to be its owner is in actual possession of the property,
implied trust for the benefit of the true owners. Article 1456 of the right to seek reconveyance, which in effect seeks to quiet
the Civil Code provides: title to the property, does not prescribe. The reason is that the
one who is in actual possession of the land claiming to be its
ART. 1456. If property is acquired through mistake or fraud, the owner may wait until his possession is disturbed or his title is
person obtaining it is, by force of law, considered a trustee of attacked before taking steps to vindicate his right.44
an implied trust for the benefit of the person from whom the
property comes. Petitioners claim with respect to Sapang Bayan

As aptly observed by the appellate court, the party thus As for the issue of the ownership of Sapang Bayan, we sustain
aggrieved has the right to recover his or their title over the the appellate court insofar as it ruled that petitioners failed to
property by way of reconveyance while the same has not yet substantiate their ownership over said area. However, we find
passed to an innocent purchaser for value.41 As we held in that the Court of Appeals erred in ruling that the principle of
Medizabel v. Apao,42 the essence of an action for accretion is applicable. The said principle is embodied in Article
reconveyance is that the certificate of title is respected as 457 of the Civil Code which states that "[t]o the owners of lands
incontrovertible. What is sought is the transfer of the property, adjoining the banks of rivers belong the accretion which they
in this case its title, which has been wrongfully or erroneously gradually receive from the effects of the current of the waters."
registered in another person's name, to its rightful owner or to We have held that for Article 457 to apply the following
one with a better right. It is settled in jurisprudence that mere requisites must concur: (1) that the deposit be gradual and
issuance of the certificate of title in the name of any person imperceptible; (2) that it be made through the effects of the
does not foreclose the possibility that the real property may be current of the water; and (3) that the land where accretion takes
under co-ownership with persons not named in the certificate place is adjacent to the banks of rivers.45 The character of the
or that the registrant may only be a trustee or that other parties Sapang Bayan property was not shown to be of the nature that
may have acquired interest subsequent to the issuance of the is being referred to in the provision which is an accretion known
certificate of title.43 as alluvion as no evidence had been presented to support this
assertion.
We cannot subscribe to petitioners argument that whatever
rights or claims respondents may have under the November In fact from the transcripts of the proceedings, the parties could
29, 1929 Decision has prescribed for their purported failure to not agree how Sapang Bayan came about. Whether it was a
fully execute the same. We again concur with the Court of gradual deposit received from the river current or a dried-up
Appeals in this regard. An action for reconveyance of creek bed connected to the main river could not be ascertained.
registered land based on implied trust prescribes in ten (10)
years, the point of reference being the date of registration of Even assuming that Sapang Bayan was a dried-up creek bed,
the deed or the date of the issuance of the certificate of title under Article 420, paragraph 146 and Article 502, paragraph 147
over the property. However, this Court has ruled that the ten- of the Civil Code, rivers and their natural beds are property of
33
public dominion. In the absence of any provision of law vesting SO ORDERED.
ownership of the dried-up river bed in some other person, it
must continue to belong to the State. TERESITA J. LEONARDO-DE CASTRO
Associate Justice
We ruled on this issue in Republic v. Court of Appeals,48 to wit:

The lower court cannot validly order the registration of Lots 1


and 2 in the names of the private respondents. These lots were
portions of the bed of the Meycauayan river and are therefore
classified as property of the public domain under Article 420
paragraph 1 and Article 502, paragraph 1 of the Civil Code of
the Philippines. They are not open to registration under the
Land Registration act. The adjudication of the lands in question
as private property in the names of the private respondents is
null and void.49 1avvphi1

Furthermore, in Celestial v. Cachopero,50 we similarly ruled


that a dried-up creek bed is property of public dominion:

A creek, like the Salunayan Creek, is a recess or arm extending


from a river and participating in the ebb and flow of the sea. As
such, under Articles 420(1) and 502(1) of the Civil Code, the
Salunayan Creek, including its natural bed, is property of the
public domain which is not susceptible to private appropriation
and acquisitive prescription. And, absent any declaration by the
government, that a portion of the creek has dried-up does not,
by itself, alter its inalienable character.51

Therefore, on the basis of the law and jurisprudence on the


matter, Sapang Bayan cannot be adjudged to any of the parties
in this case.

WHEREFORE, premises considered, the petition is hereby


DENIED. The assailed Decision dated November 24, 2003 of
the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. CV No. 75773 is hereby
AFFIRMED. Costs against petitioners.

34
Republic of the Philippines evidenced by Original Certificate of Title (OCT) No. CLOA-
SUPREME COURT 1748.6 Respondents Martin (Martin II) and Romeo are first
Manila cousins and the grandnephews of Esperanza Maglunob-
Dailisan (Esperanza), from whom petitioner acquired the
THIRD DIVISION subject property.

G.R. No. 178906 February 18, 2009 The Petition stems from a Complaint7 filed by petitioner and her
husband against the respondents for Quieting of Title,
ELVIRA T. ARANGOTE, petitioner, Declaration of Ownership and Possession, Damages with
vs. Preliminary Injunction, and Issuance of Temporary Restraining
SPS. MARTIN MAGLUNOB and LOURDES S. MAGLUNOB, Order before the MCTC, docketed as Civil Case No. 156.
and ROMEO SALIDO, Respondents.
The Complaint alleged that Esperanza inherited the subject
DECISION property from her uncle Victorino Sorrosa by virtue of a
notarized Partition Agreement8 dated 29 April 1985, executed
CHICO-NAZARIO, J.: by the latters heirs. Thereafter, Esperanza declared the
subject property in her name for real property tax purposes, as
Before this Court is a Petition for Review on Certiorari under evidenced by Tax Declaration No. 16218 (1985).9
Rule 45 of the 1997 Revised Rules of Civil Procedure seeking
to reverse and set aside the Decision1 dated 27 October 2006 The Complaint further stated that on 24 June 1985, Esperanza
and Resolution2 dated 29 June 2007 of the Court of Appeals in executed a Last Will and Testament10 bequeathing the subject
CA-G.R. SP No. 64970. In its assailed Decision, the appellate property to petitioner and her husband, but it was never
court affirmed the Decision3 dated 12 September 2000 of the probated. On 9 June 1986, Esperanza executed another
Regional Trial Court (RTC), 6th Judicial Region, Branch 1, document, an Affidavit,11 in which she renounced, relinquished,
Kalibo, Aklan, in Civil Case No. 5511, which reversed the waived and quitclaimed all her rights, share, interest and
Decision4 dated 6 April 1998 of the 7th Municipal Circuit Trial participation whatsoever in the subject property in favor of
Court (MCTC) of Ibajay-Nabas, Ibajay, Aklan, in Civil Case No. petitioner and her husband. On the basis thereof, Tax
156; and declared5 the herein respondent-Spouses Martin and Declaration No. 16218 in the name of Esperanza was
Lourdes Maglunob (Spouses Maglunob) and respondent cancelled and Tax Declaration No. 1666612 (1987) was issued
Romeo Salido (Romeo) as the lawful owners and possessors in the name of the petitioner and her husband.
of Lot 12897 with an area of 982 square meters, more or less,
located in Maloco, Ibajay, Aklan (subject property). In its In 1989, petitioner and her husband constructed a house on
assailed Resolution, the appellate court denied herein the subject property. On 26 March 1993, OCT No. CLOA-1748
petitioner Elvira T. Arangotes Motion for Reconsideration. was issued by the Secretary of the Department of Agrarian
Reform (DAR) in the name of petitioner, married to Ray Mars
Elvira T. Arangote, herein petitioner married to Ray Mars E. E. Arangote. However, respondents, together with some hired
Arangote, is the registered owner of the subject property, as persons, entered the subject property on 3 June 1994 and built
35
a hollow block wall behind and in front of petitioners house, A. Declaring the [herein petitioner and her husband] the true,
which effectively blocked the entrance to its main door. lawful and exclusive owners and entitled to the possession of
the [subject property] described and referred to under
As a consequence thereof, petitioner and her husband were paragraph 2 of the [C]omplaint and covered by Tax Declaration
compelled to institute Civil Case No. 156. No. 16666 in the names of the [petitioner and her husband];

In their Answer with Counterclaim in Civil Case No. 156, B. Ordering the [herein respondents] and anyone hired by,
respondents averred that they co-owned the subject property acting or working for them, to cease and desist from asserting
with Esperanza. Esperanza and her siblings, Tomas and or claiming any right or interest in, or exercising any act of
Inocencia, inherited the subject property, in equal shares, from ownership or possession over the [subject property];
their father Martin Maglunob (Martin I). When Tomas and
Inocencia passed away, their shares passed on by inheritance C. Ordering the [respondents] to pay the [petitioner and her
to respondents Martin II and Romeo, respectively. Hence, the husband] the amount of P10,000.00 as attorneys fee. With
subject property was co-owned by Esperanza, respondent cost against the [respondents].13
Martin II (together with his wife Lourdes), and respondent
Romeo, each holding a one-third pro-indiviso share therein. The respondents appealed the aforesaid MCTC Decision to the
Thus, Esperanza could not validly waive her rights and interest RTC. Their appeal was docketed as Civil Case No. 5511.
over the entire subject property in favor of the petitioner.
Respondents argued in their appeal that the MCTC erred in not
Respondents also asserted in their Counterclaim that petitioner dismissing the Complaint filed by the petitioner and her
and her husband, by means of fraud, undue influence and husband for failure to identify the subject property therein.
deceit were able to make Esperanza, who was already old and Respondents further faulted the MCTC for not declaring
illiterate, affix her thumbmark to the Affidavit dated 9 June Esperanzas Affidavit dated 9 June 1986 -- relinquishing all her
1986, wherein she renounced all her rights and interest over rights and interest over the subject property in favor of
the subject property in favor of petitioner and her husband. petitioner and her husband -- as null and void insofar as
Respondents thus prayed that the OCT issued in petitioners respondents two-thirds share in the subject property is
name be declared null and void insofar as their two-thirds concerned.
shares are concerned.
On 12 September 2000, the RTC rendered its Decision
After trial, the MCTC rendered its Decision dated 6 April 1998 reversing the MCTC Decision dated 6 April 1998. The RTC
in Civil Case No. 156, declaring petitioner and her husband as adjudged respondents, as well as the other heirs of Martin
the true and lawful owners of the subject property. The decretal Maglunob, as the lawful owners and possessors of the entire
portion of the MCTC Decision reads: subject property. The RTC decreed:

WHEREFORE, judgment is hereby rendered: WHEREFORE, judgment is hereby rendered as follows:

1) The appealed [D]ecision is REVERSED;


36
2) [Herein respondents] and the other heirs of Martin Maglunob II. It erred in declaring the [herein respondents] and the other
are declared the lawful owners and possessors of the whole heirs of Martin Maglunob as the lawful owners and possessors
[subject property] as described in Paragraph 2 of the of the whole [subject property];
[C]omplaint, as against the [herein petitioner and her husband].
III. It erred in declaring [OCT] No. CLOA-1748 in the name of
3) [Petitioner and her husband] are ordered to immediately turn [herein petitioner] Elvie T. Arangote as null and void;
over possession of the [subject property] to the [respondents]
and the other heirs of Martin Maglunob; and IV. It erred in denying [petitioner and her husbands] [M]otion
for [N]ew [T]rial or [R]econsideration dated [26 September
4) [Petitioner and her husband] are ordered to pay 2000; and
[respondents] attorneys fees of P5,000.00, other litigation
expenses of P5,000.00, moral damages of P10,000.00 and V. It erred in not declaring the [petitioner and her husband] as
exemplary damages of P5,000.00.14 possessors in good faith.20

Petitioner and her husband filed before the RTC, on 26 On 27 October 2006, the Court of Appeals rendered a Decision
September 2000, a Motion for New Trial or Reconsideration 15 denying the Petition for Review of petitioner and her husband
on the ground of newly discovered evidence consisting of a and affirming the RTC Decision dated 12 September 2000.
Deed of Acceptance16 dated 23 September 2000, and notice17 Petitioner and her husbands subsequent Motion for
of the same, which were both made by the petitioner, for herself Reconsideration was similarly denied by the Court of Appeals
and in behalf of her husband,18 during the lifetime of in its Resolution dated 29 June 2007.
Esperanza. In the RTC Order19 dated 2 May 2001, however,
the RTC denied the aforesaid Motion for New Trial or Hence, petitioner21 now comes before this Court raising in her
Reconsideration. Petition the following issues:

The petitioner and her husband then filed a Petition for Review, I. Whether the [RTC] acted with grave abuse of discretion
under Rule 42 of the 1997 Revised Rules of Civil Procedure, amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction when it declared the
before the Court of Appeals, where the Petition was docketed [petitioner and her husbands title to the subject property] null
as CA-G.R. SP No. 64970. and void;

In their Petition before the appellate court, petitioner and her II. Whether the [RTC] acted with grave abuse of discretion
husband raised the following errors committed by the RTC in amounting to lack of jurisdiction when it declared the Affidavit
its 12 September 2000 Decision: of Quitclaim null and void; and

I. It erred in reversing the [D]ecision of the [MCTC]; III. Whether the [RTC] and the Honorable Court of Appeals
acted with grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack or
excess of jurisdiction when it rejected petitioners claim as

37
possessors (sic) in good faith, hence, entitled to the rights It is a hornbook doctrine that the findings of fact of the trial court
provided in [Article] 448 and [Article] 546 of the Civil Code.22 are entitled to great weight on appeal and should not be
disturbed except for strong and valid reasons, because the trial
Petitioner contends that the aforesaid OCT No. CLOA-1748 court is in a better position to examine the demeanor of the
was issued in her name on 26 March 1993 and was registered witnesses while testifying. It is not a function of this Court to
in the Registry of Deeds of Aklan on 20 April 1993. From 20 analyze and weigh evidence by the parties all over again. This
April 1993 until the institution of Civil Case No. 156 on 10 June Courts jurisdiction is, in principle, limited to reviewing errors of
1994 before the MCTC, more than one year had already law that might have been committed by the Court of Appeals.23
elapsed. Considering that a Torrens title can only be attacked This rule, however, is subject to several exceptions,24 one of
within one year after the date of the issuance of the decree of which is present in this case, i.e., when the factual findings of
registration on the ground of fraud and that such attack must the Court of Appeals and the trial court are contradictory.
be through a direct proceeding, it was an error on the part of
the RTC and the Court of Appeals to declare OCT No. CLOA- In this case, the findings of fact of the MCTC as regards the
1748 null and void. origin of the subject property are in conflict with the findings of
fact of both the RTC and the Court of Appeals. Hence, this
Petitioner additionally posits that both the RTC and the Court Court will have to examine the records to determine first the
of Appeals committed a mistake in declaring null and void the true origin of the subject property and to settle whether the
Affidavit dated 9 June 1986 executed by Esperanza, waiving respondents have the right over the same for being co-heirs
all her rights and interest over the subject property in favor of and co-owners, together with their grand aunt, Esperanza,
petitioner and her husband. Esperanzas Affidavit is a valid and before this Court can resolve the issues raised by the petitioner
binding proof of the transfer of ownership of the subject in her Petition.
property in petitioners name, as it was also coupled with actual
delivery of possession of the subject property to petitioner and After a careful scrutiny of the records, this Court affirms the
her husband. The Affidavit is also proof of good faith on the part findings of both the RTC and the Court of Appeals as regards
of petitioner and her husband. the origin of the subject property and the fact that respondents,
with their grand aunt Esperanza, were co-heirs and co-owners
Finally, petitioner argues that, assuming for the sake of of the subject property.
argument, that Esperanzas Affidavit is null and void, petitioner
and her husband had no knowledge of any flaw in Esperanzas The records disclosed that the subject property was part of a
title when the latter relinquished her rights to and interest in the parcel of land25 situated in Maloco, Ibajay, Aklan, consisting of
subject property in their favor. Hence, petitioner and her 7,176 square meters and commonly owned in equal shares by
husband can be considered as possessors in good faith and the siblings Pantaleon Maglunob (Pantaleon) and Placida
entitled to the rights provided under Articles 448 and 546 of the Maglunob-Sorrosa (Placida). Upon the death of Pantaleon and
Civil Code. Placida, their surviving and legal heirs executed a Deed of
Extrajudicial Settlement and Partition of Estate in July 1981,26
This present Petition is devoid of merit. however, the Deed was not notarized. Considering that
Pantaleon died without issue, his one-half share in the parcel
38
of land he co-owned with Placida passed on to his four siblings The [subject property] which is claimed by the [herein petitioner
(or their respective heirs, if already deceased), namely: and her husband] and that which is claimed by the [herein
Placida, Luis, Martin I, and Victoria, in equal shares. respondents] are one and the same, the difference in area and
technical description being due to the repartition and re-
According to the aforementioned Deed of Extrajudicial allocation of the parcel of land originally co-owned by
Settlement and Partition of Estate, the surviving and legal heirs Pantaleon Maglunob and his sister Placida Maglunob and
of Pantaleon and Placida agreed to have the parcel of land subsequently declared in the name of [Victorino] under Tax
commonly owned by the siblings declared for real property tax Declaration No. 5988 of 1949.32
purposes in the name of Victorino Sorrosa (Victorino),
Placidas husband. Thus, Tax Declarations No. 5988 (1942),27 It is clear from the records that the subject property was not
No. 6200 (1945)28 and No. 7233 (1953)29 were all issued in the Esperanzas exclusive share, but also that of the other heirs of
name of Victorino. her father, Martin I. Esperanza expressly affixed her
thumbmark to the Deed of Extrajudicial Settlement of July 1981
Since Martin I already passed away when the Deed of not only for herself, but also on behalf of the other heirs of
Extrajudicial Settlement and Partition of Estate was executed, Martin I. Though in the Partition Agreement dated 29 April 1985
his heirs30 were represented therein by Esperanza. By virtue of Esperanza affixed her thumbmark without stating that she was
the said Deed, Martin I received as inheritance a portion of the doing so not only for herself, but also on behalf of the other
parcel of land measuring 897 square meters. heirs of Martin I, this does not mean that Esperanza was
already the exclusive owner thereof. The evidence shows that
After the death of Victorino, his heirs31 executed another the subject property is the share of the heirs of Martin I. This is
Partition Agreement on 29 April 1985, which was notarized on clear from the sketch33 attached to the Partition Agreement
the same date. The Partition Agreement mentioned four dated 29 April 1985, which reveals the proportionate areas
parcels of land. The subject property, consisting of a portion of given to the heirs of the two siblings, Pantaleon and Placida,
the consolidated parcels 1, 2, and 3, and measuring around who were the original owners of the whole parcel of land34 from
982 square meters, was allocated to Esperanza. In which the subject property was taken.
comparison, the property given to Esperanza under the
Partition Agreement is bigger than the one originally allocated Further, it bears emphasis that the Partition Agreement was
to her earlier under the Deed of Extrajudicial Settlement and executed by and among the son, grandsons, granddaughters
Partition of Estate dated July 1981, which had an area of only and cousins of Victorino. Esperanza was neither the
897 square meters. It may be reasonably assumed, however, granddaughter nor the cousin of Victorino, as she was only
that the subject property, measuring 982 square meters, Victorinos grandniece. The cousin of Victorino is Martin I,
allocated to Esperanza under the Partition Agreement dated 29 Esperanzas father. In effect, therefore, the subject property
April 1985, is already inclusive of the smaller parcel of 897 allotted to Esperanza in the Partition Agreement was not her
square meters assigned to her under the Deed of Extrajudicial exclusive share, as she holds the same for and on behalf of the
Settlement and Partition of Estate dated July 1981. As other heirs of Martin I, who was already deceased at the time
explained by the RTC in its 12 September 2000 Decision: the Partition Agreement was made.

39
To further bolster the truth that the subject property was not pure donation of an interest in a real property covered by Article
exclusively owned by Esperanza, the Affidavit she executed in 749 of the Civil Code.36 Article 749 of the Civil Code provides:
favor of petitioner and her husband on 6 June 1985 was
worded as follows: Art. 749. In order that the donation of an immovable may be
valid, it must be made in a public document, specifying therein
That I hereby renounce, relinquish, waive and quitclaim all my the property donated and the value of the charges which the
rights, share, interest and participation whatsoever in the donee must satisfy.
[subject property] unto the said Sps. Ray Mars Arangote and
Elvira T. Arangote, their heirs, successors, and assigns The acceptance may be made in the same deed of donation or
including the improvement found thereon;35 in a separate public document, but it shall not take effect unless
it is done during the lifetime of the donor.
Logically, if Esperanza fully owned the subject property, she
would have simply waived her rights to and interest in the If the acceptance is made in a separate instrument, the donor
subject property, without mentioning her "share" and shall be notified thereof in an authentic form, and this step shall
"participation" in the same. By including such words in her be noted in both instruments.
Affidavit, Esperanza was aware of and was limiting her waiver,
renunciation, and quitclaim to her one-third share and From the aforesaid provision, there are three requisites for the
participation in the subject property. validity of a simple donation of a real property, to wit: (1) it must
be made in a public instrument; (2) it must be accepted, which
Going to the issues raised by the petitioner in this Petition, this acceptance may be made either in the same Deed of Donation
Court will resolve the same concurrently as they are or in a separate public instrument; and (3) if the acceptance is
interrelated. made in a separate instrument, the donor must be notified in
an authentic form, and the same must be noted in both
In this case, the petitioner derived her title to the subject instruments.
property from the notarized Affidavit executed by Esperanza,
wherein the latter relinquished her rights, share, interest and This Court agrees with the RTC and the Court of Appeals that
participation over the same in favor of the petitioner and her the Affidavit executed by Esperanza relinquishing her rights,
husband. share, interest and participation over the subject property in
favor of the petitioner and her husband suffered from legal
A careful perusal of the said Affidavit reveals that it is not what infirmities, as it failed to comply with the aforesaid requisites of
it purports to be. Esperanzas Affidavit is, in fact, a Donation. the law.
Esperanzas real intent in executing the said Affidavit was to
donate her share in the subject property to petitioner and her In Sumipat v. Banga,37 this Court declared that title to
husband. immovable property does not pass from the donor to the donee
by virtue of a Deed of Donation until and unless it has been
As no onerous undertaking is required of petitioner and her accepted in a public instrument and the donor duly notified
husband under the said Affidavit, the donation is regarded as a thereof. The acceptance may be made in the very same
40
instrument of donation. If the acceptance does not appear in annotation in both instruments of donation and acceptance was
the same document, it must be made in another. Where the not fulfilled by the petitioner. Neither the Affidavit nor the Deed
Deed of Donation fails to show the acceptance, or where the of Acceptance bears the fact that Esperanza received notice of
formal notice of the acceptance, made in a separate the acceptance of the donation by petitioner. For this reason,
instrument, is either not given to the donor or else not noted in even Esperanzas one-third share in the subject property
the Deed of Donation and in the separate acceptance, the cannot be adjudicated to the petitioner.
donation is null and void.38
With the foregoing, this Court holds that the RTC and the Court
In the present case, the said Affidavit, which is tantamount to a of Appeals did not err in declaring null and void Esperanzas
Deed of Donation, met the first requisite, as it was notarized; Affidavit.
thus, it became a public instrument. Nevertheless, it failed to
meet the aforesaid second and third requisites. The The next issue to be resolved then is whether the RTC, as well
acceptance of the said donation was not made by the petitioner as the Court of Appeals, erred in declaring OCT No. CLOA-
and her husband either in the same Affidavit or in a separate 1748 in the name of petitioner and her husband null and void.
public instrument. As there was no acceptance made of the
said donation, there was also no notice of the said acceptance Again, this Court answers the said issue in the negative.
given to the donor, Esperanza. Therefore, the Affidavit
executed by Esperanza in favor of petitioner and her husband Section 48 of Presidential decree No. 1529 states:
is null and void.
SEC. 48. Certificate not subject to collateral attack. - A
The subsequent notarized Deed of Acceptance39 dated 23 certificate of title shall not be subject to collateral attack. It
September 2000, as well as the notice40 of such acceptance, cannot be altered, modified, or cancelled except in a direct
executed by the petitioner did not cure the defect. Moreover, it proceeding in accordance with law.
was only made by the petitioner several years after the
Complaint was filed in court, or when the RTC had already Such proscription has long been enshrined in Philippine
rendered its Decision dated 12 September 2000, although it jurisprudence. The judicial action required to challenge the
was still during Esperanzas lifetime. Evidently, its execution validity of title is a direct attack, not a collateral attack.42
was a mere afterthought, a belated attempt to cure what was a
defective donation. The attack is considered direct when the object of an action is
to annul or set aside such proceeding, or enjoin its
It is true that the acceptance of a donation may be made at any enforcement. Conversely, an attack is indirect or collateral
time during the lifetime of the donor. And granting arguendo when, in an action to obtain a different relief, an attack on the
that such acceptance may still be admitted in evidence on proceeding is nevertheless made as an incident thereof. Such
appeal, there is still need for proof that a formal notice of such action to attack a certificate of title may be an original action or
acceptance was received by the donor and noted in both the a counterclaim, in which a certificate of title is assailed as
Deed of Donation and the separate instrument embodying the void.43
acceptance.41 At the very least, this last legal requisite of
41
A counterclaim is considered a new suit in which the defendant Complaint filed before the MCTC that her husband is out of the
is the plaintiff and the plaintiff in the complaint becomes the country, rendering it impossible for him to work on the subject
defendant. It stands on the same footing as, and is to be tested property as a tenant. Instead of cultivating the subject property,
by the same rules as if it were, an independent action.44 petitioner and her husband possessed the same by
constructing a house thereon. Thus, it is highly suspicious how
In their Answer to the Complaint for Quieting of Title filed by the the petitioner was able to secure from the DAR a Certificate of
petitioner and her husband before the MCTC, respondents Land Ownership Award (CLOA) over the subject property. The
included therein a Counterclaim wherein they repleaded all the DAR awards such certificates to the grantees only if they fulfill
material allegations in their affirmative defenses, the most the requirements of Republic Act No. 6657, otherwise known
essential of which was their claim that petitioner and her as the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP).45
husband -- by means of fraud, undue influence and deceit -- Hence, the RTC and the Court of Appeals did not err in
were able to make their grand aunt, Esperanza, who was declaring null and void OCT No. CLOA-1748 in the name of the
already old and illiterate, affix her thumbmark to the Affidavit, petitioner, married to Ray Mars E. Arangote.
wherein she renounced, waived, and quitclaimed all her rights
and interest over the subject property in favor of petitioner and Considering that Esperanza died without any compulsory heirs
her husband. In addition, respondents maintained in their and that the supposed donation of her one-third share in the
Answer that as petitioner and her husband were not tenants subject property per her Affidavit dated 9 June 1985 was
either of Esperanza or of the respondents, the DAR could not already declared null and void, Esperanzas one-third share in
have validly issued in favor of petitioner and her husband OCT the subject property passed on to her legal heirs, the
No. CLOA-1748. Thus, the respondents prayed, in their respondents.
counterclaim in Civil Case No. 156 before the MCTC, that OCT
No. CLOA-1748 issued in the name of petitioner, married to As petitioners last-ditch effort, she claims that she is a
Ray Mars E. Arangote, be declared null and void, insofar as possessor in good faith and, thus, entitled to the rights provided
their two-thirds shares in the subject property are concerned. for under Articles 448 and 546 of the Civil Code.

It is clear, thus, that respondents Answer with Counterclaim This claim is untenable.
was a direct attack on petitioners certificate of title.
Furthermore, since all the essential facts of the case for the The Civil Code describes a possessor in good faith as follows:
determination of the validity of the title are now before this
Court, to require respondents to institute a separate Art. 526. He is deemed a possessor in good faith who is not
cancellation proceeding would be pointlessly circuitous and aware that there exists in his title or mode of acquisition any
against the best interest of justice. flaw which invalidates it.

Esperanzas Affidavit, which was the sole basis of petitioners He is deemed a possessor in bad faith who possesses in any
claim to the subject property, has been declared null and void. case contrary to the foregoing.
Moreover, petitioner and her husband were not tenants of the
subject property. In fact, petitioner herself admitted in her
42
Mistake upon a doubtful or difficult question of law may be the The various provisions of the Civil Code, pertinent to the
basis of good faith. subject, read:

Art. 1127. The good faith of the possessor consists in the Article 448. The owner of the land on which anything has been
reasonable belief that the person from whom he received the built, sown, or planted in good faith, shall have the right to
thing was the owner thereof, and could transmit his ownership. appropriate as his own the works, sowing or planting, after
payment of the indemnity provided for in Articles 546 and 548,
Possession in good faith ceases from the moment defects in or to oblige the one who built or planted to pay the price of the
the title are made known to the possessor by extraneous land, and the one who sowed, the proper rent. However, the
evidence or by a suit for recovery of the property by the true builder or planter cannot be obliged to buy the land if its value
owner. Every possessor in good faith becomes a possessor in is considerably more than that of the building or trees. In such
bad faith from the moment he becomes aware that what he a case, he shall pay reasonable rent, if the owner of the land
believed to be true is not so.46 does not choose to appropriate the building or trees after
proper indemnity. The parties shall agree upon the terms of the
In the present case, when respondents came to know that an lease and in case of disagreement, the court shall fix the terms
OCT over the subject property was issued and registered in thereof.1avvphi1
petitioners name on 26 March 1993, respondents brought a
Complaint on 7 August 1993 before the Lupon of Barangay Article 449. He who builds, plants, or sows in bad faith on the
Maloco, Ibajay, Aklan, challenging the title of petitioner to the land of another, loses what is built, planted or sown without
subject property on the basis that said property constitutes the right to indemnity.
inheritance of respondent, together with their grandaunt
Esperanza, so Esperanza had no authority to relinquish the Article 450. The owner of the land on which anything has been
entire subject property to petitioner. From that moment, the built, planted or sown in bad faith may demand the demolition
good faith of the petitioner had ceased. of the work, or that the planting or sowing be removed, in order
to replace things in their former condition at the expense of the
Petitioner cannot be entitled to the rights under Articles 448 and person who built, planted or sowed; or he may compel the
546 of the Civil Code, because the rights mentioned therein are builder or planter to pay the price of the land, and the sower the
applicable only to builders in good faith and not to possessors proper rent.
in good faith.
Under the foregoing provisions, the builder in good faith can
Moreover, the petitioner cannot be considered a builder in good compel the landowner to make a choice between appropriating
faith of the house on the subject property. In the context that the building by paying the proper indemnity or obliging the
such term is used in particular reference to Article 448 of the builder to pay the price of the land. The choice belongs to the
Civil Code, a builder in good faith is one who, not being the owner of the land, a rule that accords with the principle of
owner of the land, builds on that land, believing himself to be accession, i.e., that the accessory follows the principal and not
its owner and unaware of any defect in his title or mode of the other way around. Even as the option lies with the
acquisition.47 landowner, the grant to him, nevertheless, is preclusive. He
43
must choose one. He cannot, for instance, compel the owner indicium of possession in the concept of ownership. Neither tax
of the building to instead remove it from the land. In order, receipts nor a declaration of ownership for taxation purposes is
however, that the builder can invoke that accruing benefit and evidence of ownership or of a right to possess realty when not
enjoy his corresponding right to demand that a choice be made supported by other effective proofs.50
by the landowner, he should be able to prove good faith on his
part.48 With the foregoing, the petitioner is not entitled to the rights
under Article 448 and 546 as the petitioner is not a builder and
Good faith, here understood, is an intangible and abstract possessor in good faith.
quality with no technical meaning or statutory definition, and it
encompasses, among other things, an honest belief, the WHEREFORE, premises considered, the instant Petition is
absence of malice and the absence of design to defraud or to hereby DENIED. The Decision and Resolution of the Court of
seek an unconscionable advantage. An individuals personal Appeals in CA-G.R. SP No. 64970, dated 27 October 2006 and
good faith is a concept of his own mind and, therefore, may not 29 June 2007, respectively, affirming the RTC Decision dated
conclusively be determined by his protestations alone. It 12 September 2000 in Civil Case No. 5511 and declaring the
implies honesty of intention, and freedom from knowledge of respondents the lawful owners and possessors of the subject
circumstances which ought to put the holder upon inquiry. The property are hereby AFFIRMED. No costs.
essence of good faith lies in an honest belief in the validity of
ones right, ignorance of a superior claim, and absence of SO ORDERED.
intention to overreach another. Applied to possession, one is
considered in good faith if he is not aware that there exists in MINITA V. CHICO-NAZARIO
his title or mode of acquisition any flaw which invalidates it.49 Associate Justice

In this case, the subject property waived and quitclaimed by


Esperanza to the petitioner and her husband in the Affidavit
was only covered by a tax declaration in the name of
Esperanza. Petitioner did not even bother to look into the origin
of the subject property and to probe into the right of Esperanza
to relinquish the same. Thus, when petitioner and her husband
built a house thereon in 1989 they cannot be considered to
have acted in good faith as they were fully aware that when
Esperanza executed an Affidavit relinquishing in their favor the
subject property the only proof of Esperanzas ownership over
the same was a mere tax declaration. This fact or circumstance
alone was enough to put the petitioner and her husband under
inquiry. Settled is the rule that a tax declaration does not prove
ownership. It is merely an indicium of a claim of ownership.
Payment of taxes is not proof of ownership; it is, at best, an
44
Republic of the Philippines herein petitioners. Lot No. 2 is covered by TCT No. T-18762 in
SUPREME COURT the names of Roque, Gabino and the said children of Placido.
Manila TCT No. T-18762 remained even after Gabino died. The other
petitioners Serafin Naranja, Raul Naranja, and Amelia
THIRD DIVISION Naranja-Rubinos are the children of Gabino.3

G.R. No. 160132 April 17, 2009 The two lots were being leased by Esso Standard Eastern, Inc.
for 30 years from 1962-1992. For his properties, Roque was
SERAFIN, RAUL, NENITA, NAZARETO, NEOLANDA, all being paid P200.00 per month by the company.4
surnamed NARANJA, AMELIA NARANJA-RUBINOS,
NILDA NARANJA-LIMANA, and NAIDA NARANJA- In 1976, Roque, who was single and had no children, lived with
GICANO, Petitioners, his half sister, Lucilia P. Belardo (Belardo), in Pontevedra,
vs. Negros Occidental. At that time, a catheter was attached to
COURT OF APPEALS, LUCILIA P. BELARDO, represented Roques body to help him urinate. But the catheter was
by her Attorney-in-Fact, REBECCA CORDERO, and THE subsequently removed when Roque was already able to
LOCAL REGISTER OF DEEDS, BACOLOD CITY, urinate normally. Other than this and the influenza prior to his
Respondents. death, Roque had been physically sound.5

DECISION Roque had no other source of income except for the P200.00
monthly rental of his two properties. To show his gratitude to
NACHURA, J.: Belardo, Roque sold Lot No. 4 and his one-third share in Lot
No. 2 to Belardo on August 21, 1981, through a Deed of Sale
This petition seeks a review of the Court of Appeals (CA) of Real Property which was duly notarized by Atty. Eugenio
Decision1 dated September 13, 2002 and Resolution2 dated Sanicas. The Deed of Sale reads:
September 24, 2003 which upheld the contract of sale
executed by petitioners predecessor, Roque Naranja, during I, ROQUE NARANJA, of legal age, single, Filipino and a
his lifetime, over two real properties. resident of Bacolod City, do hereby declare that I am the
registered owner of Lot No. 4 of the Cadastral Survey of the
Roque Naranja was the registered owner of a parcel of land, City of Bacolod, consisting of 136 square meters, more or less,
denominated as Lot No. 4 in Consolidation-Subdivision Plan covered by Transfer Certificate of Title No. T-18764 and a co-
(LRC) Pcs-886, Bacolod Cadastre, with an area of 136 square owner of Lot No. 2, situated at the City of Bacolod, consisting
meters and covered by Transfer Certificate of Title (TCT) No. of 151 square meters, more or less, covered by Transfer
T-18764. Roque was also a co-owner of an adjacent lot, Lot Certificate of Title No. T-18762 and my share in the aforesaid
No. 2, of the same subdivision plan, which he co-owned with Lot No. 2 is one-third share.
his brothers, Gabino and Placido Naranja. When Placido died,
his one-third share was inherited by his children, Nenita, That for and in consideration of the sum of TEN THOUSAND
Nazareto, Nilda, Naida and Neolanda, all surnamed Naranja, PESOS (P10,000.00), Philippine Currency, and other valuable
45
consideration, receipt of which in full I hereby acknowledge to Three days later, or on December 2, 1983, Roque died of
my entire satisfaction, by these presents, I hereby transfer and influenza. The proceeds of the loan were used for his treatment
convey by way of absolute sale the above-mentioned Lot No. while the rest was spent for his burial.10
4 consisting of 136 square meters covered by Transfer
Certificate of Title No. T-18764 and my one-third share in Lot In 1985, Belardo fully paid the loan secured by the second deed
No. 2, covered by Transfer Certificate of Title No. T-18762, in of sale. Dema-ala returned the certificates of title to Belardo,
favor of my sister LUCILIA P. BELARDO, of legal age, Filipino who, in turn, gave them back to Atty. Sanicas.11
citizen, married to Alfonso D. Belardo, and a resident of
Pontevedra, Negros Occidental, her heirs, successors and Unknown to Belardo, petitioners, the children of Placido and
assigns. Gabino Naranja, executed an Extrajudicial Settlement Among
Heirs12 on October 11, 1985, adjudicating among themselves
IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this Lot No. 4. On February 19, 1986, petitioner Amelia Naranja-
21st day of August, 1981 at Bacolod City, Philippines. Rubinos, accompanied by Belardo, borrowed the two TCTs,
together with the lease agreement with Esso Standard Eastern,
(SGD.) Inc., from Atty. Sanicas on account of the loan being proposed
ROQUE NARANJA6 by Belardo to her. Thereafter, petitioners had the Extrajudicial
Settlement Among Heirs notarized on February 25, 1986. With
Roques copies of TCT No. T-18764 and TCT No. T-18762 Roques copy of TCT No. T-18764 in their possession, they
were entrusted to Atty. Sanicas for registration of the deed of succeeded in having it cancelled and a new certificate of title,
sale and transfer of the titles to Belardo. But the deed of sale TCT No. T-140184, issued in their names.13
could not be registered because Belardo did not have the
money to pay for the registration fees.7 In 1987, Belardo decided to register the Deed of Sale dated
August 21, 1981. With no title in hand, she was compelled to
Belardos only source of income was her store and coffee shop. file a petition with the RTC to direct the Register of Deeds to
Sometimes, her children would give her money to help with the annotate the deed of sale even without a copy of the TCTs. In
household expenses, including the expenses incurred for an Order dated June 18, 1987, the RTC granted the petition.
Roques support. At times, she would also borrow money from But she only succeeded in registering the deed of sale in TCT
Margarita Dema-ala, a neighbor.8 When the amount of her loan No. T-18762 because TCT No. T-18764 had already been
reached P15,000.00, Dema-ala required a security. On cancelled.14
November 19, 1983, Roque executed a deed of sale in favor of
Dema-ala, covering his two properties in consideration of the On December 11, 1989, Atty. Sanicas prepared a certificate of
P15,000.00 outstanding loan and an additional P15,000.00, for authorization, giving Belardos daughter, Jennelyn P. Vargas,
a total of P30,000.00. Dema-ala explained that she wanted the authority to collect the payments from Esso Standard
Roque to execute the deed of sale himself since the properties Eastern, Inc. But it appeared from the companys Advice of
were still in his name. Belardo merely acted as a witness. The Fixed Payment that payment of the lease rental had already
titles to the properties were given to Dema-ala for been transferred from Belardo to Amelia Naranja-Rubinos
safekeeping.9 because of the Extrajudicial Settlement Among Heirs.
46
On June 23, 1992, Belardo,15 through her daughter and 1. Dismissing Civil Case No. 7144.
attorney-in-fact, Rebecca Cordero, instituted a suit for
reconveyance with damages. The complaint prayed that 2. Civil Case No. 7214.
judgment be rendered declaring Belardo as the sole legal
owner of Lot No. 4, declaring null and void the Extrajudicial a) Declaring the Deed of Sale dated August 21, 1981, executed
Settlement Among Heirs, and TCT No. T-140184, and ordering by Roque Naranja, covering his one-third (1/3) share of Lot 2
petitioners to reconvey to her the subject property and to pay of the consolidation-subdivision plan (LRC) Pcs-886, being a
damages. The case was docketed as Civil Case No. 7144. portion of the consolidation of Lots 240-A, 240-B, 240-C and
240-D, described on plan, Psd-33443 (LRC) GLRO Cad. Rec.
Subsequently, petitioners also filed a case against respondent No. 55 in favor of Lucilia Belardo, and entered as Doc. No. 80,
for annulment of sale and quieting of title with damages, Page 17, Book No. XXXVI, Series of 1981 of Notary Public
praying, among others, that judgment be rendered nullifying Eugenio Sanicas of Bacolod City, as null and void and of no
the Deed of Sale, and ordering the Register of Deeds of force and effect;
Bacolod City to cancel the annotation of the Deed of Sale on
TCT No. T-18762. This case was docketed as Civil Case No. b) Ordering the Register of Deeds of Bacolod City to cancel
7214. Entry No. 148123 annotate at the back of Transfer Certificate
of Title No. T-18762;
On March 5, 1997, the RTC rendered a Decision in the
consolidated cases in favor of petitioners. The trial court noted c) Ordering Lucilia Belardo or her successors-in-interest to pay
that the Deed of Sale was defective in form since it did not plaintiffs the sum of P20,000.00 as attorneys fees, the amount
contain a technical description of the subject properties but of P500.00 as appearance fees.
merely indicated that they were Lot No. 4, covered by TCT No.
T-18764 consisting of 136 square meters, and one-third portion Counterclaims in both Civil Cases Nos. 7144 and 7214 are
of Lot No. 2 covered by TCT No. T-18762. The trial court held hereby DISMISSED.
that, being defective in form, the Deed of Sale did not vest title
in private respondent. Full and absolute ownership did not pass SO ORDERED.16
to private respondent because she failed to register the Deed
of Sale. She was not a purchaser in good faith since she acted On September 13, 2002, the CA reversed the RTC Decision.
as a witness to the second sale of the property knowing that The CA held that the unregisterability of a deed of sale will not
she had already purchased the property from Roque. Whatever undermine its validity and efficacy in transferring ownership of
rights private respondent had over the properties could not be the properties to private respondent. The CA noted that the
superior to the rights of petitioners, who are now the registered records were devoid of any proof evidencing the alleged
owners of the parcels of land. The RTC disposed, thus: vitiation of Roques consent to the sale; hence, there is no
reason to invalidate the sale. Registration is only necessary to
IN VIEW OF ALL THE FOREGOING, judgment is hereby bind third parties, which petitioners, being the heirs of Roque
rendered: Naranja, are not. The trial court erred in applying Article 1544
of the Civil Code to the case at bar since petitioners are not
47
purchasers of the said properties. Hence, it is not significant SALE WHICH DOES NOT COMPL[Y] WITH THE
that private respondent failed to register the deed of sale before PROVISIONS OF ACT NO. 496 IS [NOT] VALID.
the extrajudicial settlement among the heirs. The dispositive
portion of the CA Decision reads: 2. WHETHER OR NOT THE ALLEGED DEED OF SALE [OF
REAL PROPERTIES] IS VALID CONSIDERING THAT THE
WHEREFORE, the decision dated March 5, 1997 in Civil CONSENT OF THE LATE ROQUE NARANJA HAD BEEN
Cases Nos. 7144 and 7214 is hereby REVERSED and SET VITIATED; x x x THERE [IS] NO CONCLUSIVE SHOWING
ASIDE. In lieu thereof, judgment is hereby rendered as follows: THAT THERE WAS CONSIDERATION AND THERE [ARE]
SERIOUS IRREGULARITIES IN THE NOTARIZATION OF
1. Civil Case No. 7214 is hereby ordered DISMISSED for lack THE SAID DOCUMENTS.19
of cause of action.
In her Comment, private respondent questioned the
2. In Civil Case No. 7144, the extrajudicial settlement executed Verification and Certification of Non-Forum Shopping attached
by the heirs of Roque Naranja adjudicating among themselves to the Petition for Review, which was signed by a certain
Lot No. 4 of the consolidation-subdivision plan (LRC) Pcs 886 Ernesto Villadelgado without a special power of attorney. In
of the Bacolod Cadastre is hereby declared null and void for their reply, petitioners remedied the defect by attaching a
want of factual and legal basis. The certificate of title issued to Special Power of Attorney signed by them.
the heirs of Roque Naranja (Transfer Certificate of [T]i[t]le No.
T-140184) as a consequence of the void extra-judicial Pursuant to its policy to encourage full adjudication of the
settlement is hereby ordered cancelled and the previous title to merits of an appeal, the Court had previously excused the late
Lot No. 4, Transfer Certificate of Title No. T-18764, is hereby submission of a special power of attorney to sign a certification
ordered reinstated. Lucilia Belardo is hereby declared the sole against forum-shopping.20 But even if we excuse this defect,
and legal owner of said Lot No. 4, and one-third of Lot No. 2 of the petition nonetheless fails on the merits.
the same consolidation-subdivision plan, Bacolod Cadastre, by
virtue of the deed of sale thereof in her favor dated August 21, The Court does not agree with petitioners contention that a
1981. deed of sale must contain a technical description of the subject
property in order to be valid. Petitioners anchor their theory on
SO ORDERED.17 Section 127 of Act No. 496,21 which provides a sample form of
a deed of sale that includes, in particular, a technical
The CA denied petitioners motion for reconsideration on description of the subject property.
September 24, 2003.18 Petitioners filed this petition for review,
raising the following issues: To be valid, a contract of sale need not contain a technical
description of the subject property. Contracts of sale of real
1. WHETHER OR NOT THE HONORABLE RESPONDENT property have no prescribed form for their validity; they follow
COURT OF APPEALS IS CORRECT IN IGNORING THE the general rule on contracts that they may be entered into in
POINT RAISED BY [PETITIONERS] THAT THE DEED OF whatever form, provided all the essential requisites for their
validity are present.22 The requisites of a valid contract of sale
48
under Article 1458 of the Civil Code are: (1) consent or meeting of the fact that Roque was living in her house and was
of the minds; (2) determinate subject matter; and (3) price dependent on her for support.
certain in money or its equivalent.
There is undue influence when a person takes improper
The failure of the parties to specify with absolute clarity the advantage of his power over the will of another, depriving the
object of a contract by including its technical description is of latter of a reasonable freedom of choice.24 One who alleges
no moment. What is important is that there is, in fact, an object any defect, or the lack of consent to a contract by reason of
that is determinate or at least determinable, as subject of the fraud or undue influence, must establish by full, clear and
contract of sale. The form of a deed of sale provided in Section convincing evidence, such specific acts that vitiated the partys
127 of Act No. 496 is only a suggested form. It is not a consent; otherwise, the latters presumed consent to the
mandatory form that must be strictly followed by the parties to contract prevails.25 For undue influence to be present, the
a contract. influence exerted must have so overpowered or subjugated the
mind of a contracting party as to destroy his free agency,
In the instant case, the deed of sale clearly identifies the making him express the will of another rather than his own.26
subject properties by indicating their respective lot numbers, lot
areas, and the certificate of title covering them. Resort can Petitioners adduced no proof that Roque had lost control of his
always be made to the technical description as stated in the mental faculties at the time of the sale. Undue influence is not
certificates of title covering the two properties. to be inferred from age, sickness, or debility of body, if sufficient
intelligence remains.27 The evidence presented pertained more
On the alleged nullity of the deed of sale, we hold that to Roques physical condition rather than his mental condition.
petitioners failed to submit sufficient proof to show that Roque On the contrary, Atty. Sanicas, the notary public, attested that
executed the deed of sale under the undue influence of Belardo Roque was very healthy and mentally sound and sharp at the
or that the deed of sale was simulated or without time of the execution of the deed of sale. Atty. Sanicas said that
consideration.1avvphi1 Roque also told him that he was a Law graduate.28

A notarized document carries the evidentiary weight conferred Neither was the contract simulated. The late registration of the
upon it with respect to its due execution, and documents Deed of Sale and Roques execution of the second deed of sale
acknowledged before a notary public have in their favor the in favor of Dema-ala did not mean that the contract was
presumption of regularity. It must be sustained in full force and simulated. We are convinced with the explanation given by
effect so long as he who impugns it does not present strong, respondents witnesses that the deed of sale was not
complete, and conclusive proof of its falsity or nullity on account immediately registered because Belardo did not have the
of some flaws or defects provided by law.23 money to pay for the fees. This explanation is, in fact, plausible
considering that Belardo could barely support herself and her
Petitioners allege that Belardo unduly influenced Roque, who brother, Roque. As for the second deed of sale, Dema-ala,
was already physically weak and senile at that time, into herself, attested before the trial court that she let Roque sign
executing the deed of sale. Belardo allegedly took advantage the second deed of sale because the title to the properties were
still in his name.
49
Finally, petitioners argue that the Deed of Sale was not
supported by a consideration since no receipt was shown, and
it is incredulous that Roque, who was already weak, would
travel to Bacolod City just to be able to execute the Deed of
Sale.

The Deed of Sale which states "receipt of which in full I hereby


acknowledge to my entire satisfaction" is an acknowledgment
receipt in itself. Moreover, the presumption that a contract has
sufficient consideration cannot be overthrown by a mere
assertion that it has no consideration.29

Heirs are bound by contracts entered into by their


predecessors-in-interest.30 As heirs of Roque, petitioners are
bound by the contract of sale that Roque executed in favor of
Belardo. Having been sold already to Belardo, the two
properties no longer formed part of Roques estate which
petitioners could have inherited. The deed of extrajudicial
settlement that petitioners executed over Lot No. 4 is,
therefore, void, since the property subject thereof did not
become part of Roques estate.

WHEREFORE, premises considered, the petition is DENIED.


The Court of Appeals Decision dated September 13, 2002 and
Resolution dated September 24, 2003 are AFFIRMED.

SO ORDERED.

ANTONIO EDUARDO B. NACHURA


Associate Justice

50
Republic of the Philippines As early as December 28, 1922, Basilio also known as "Cecilio"
SUPREME COURT Claudel, acquired from the Bureau of Lands, Lot No. 1230 of
Manila the Muntinlupa Estate Subdivision, located in the poblacion of
Muntinlupa, Rizal, with an area of 10,107 square meters; he
SECOND DIVISION secured Transfer Certificate of Title (TCT) No. 7471 issued by
the Registry of Deeds for the Province of Rizal in 1923; he also
declared the lot in his name, the latest Tax Declaration being
No. 5795. He dutifully paid the real estate taxes thereon until
G.R. No. 85240 July 12, 1991 his death in 1937. 3 Thereafter, his widow "Basilia" and later,
her son Jose, one of the herein petitioners, paid the taxes.
HEIRS OF CECILIO (also known as BASILIO) CLAUDEL,
namely, MODESTA CLAUDEL, LORETA HERRERA, JOSE The same piece of land purchased by Cecilio would, however,
CLAUDEL, BENJAMIN CLAUDEL, PACITA CLAUDEL, become the subject of protracted litigation thirty-nine years
CARMELITA CLAUDEL, MARIO CLAUDEL, ROBERTO after his death.
CLAUDEL, LEONARDO CLAUDEL, ARSENIA VILLALON,
PERPETUA CLAUDEL and FELISA CLAUDEL, petitioners, Two branches of Cecilio's family contested the ownership over
vs. the land-on one hand the children of Cecilio, namely, Modesto,
HON. COURT OF APPEALS, HEIRS OF MACARIO, Loreta, Jose, Benjamin, Pacita, Carmelita, Roberto, Mario,
ESPERIDIONA, RAYMUNDA and CELESTINA, all Leonardo, Nenita, Arsenia Villalon, and Felisa Claudel, and
surnamed CLAUDEL, respondents. their children and descendants, now the herein petitioners
(hereinafter referred to as HEIRS OF CECILIO), and on the
Ricardo L. Moldez for petitioners. other, the brother and sisters of Cecilio, namely, Macario,
Esperidiona, Raymunda, and Celestina and their children and
Juan T. Aquino for private respondents descendants, now the herein private respondents (hereinafter
referred to as SIBLINGS OF CECILIO). In 1972, the HEIRS OF
CECILIO partitioned this lot among themselves and obtained
the corresponding Transfer Certificates of Title on their shares,
SARMIENTO, J.:p as follows:

This petition for review on certiorari seeks the reversal of the TCT No. 395391 1,997 sq. m. Jose Claudel
decision rendered by the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. CV No.
04429 1 and the reinstatement of the decision of the then Court TCT No. 395392 1,997 sq. m. Modesta Claudel and children
of First Instance (CFI) of Rizal, Branch CXI, in Civil Case No.
M-5276-P, entitled. "Heirs of Macario Claudel, et al. v. Heirs of TCT No. 395393 1,997 sq. m. Armenia C. Villalon
Cecilio Claudel, et al.," which dismissed the complaint of the
private respondents against the petitioners for cancellation of TCT No. 395394 1,997 sq. m. Felisa Claudel 4
titles and reconveyance with damages. 2
51
Four years later, on December 7, 1976, private respondents admission of oral testimony (Statute of Frauds). Moreover,
SIBLINGS OF CECILIO, filed Civil Case No. 5276-P as already considering also that the alleged sale took place in 1930, the
adverted to at the outset, with the then Court of First Instance action filed by the plaintiffs herein for the recovery of the same
of Rizal, a "Complaint for Cancellation of Titles and more than thirty years after the cause of action has accrued
Reconveyance with Damages," alleging that 46 years earlier, has already prescribed.
or sometime in 1930, their parents had purchased from the late
Cecilio Claudel several portions of Lot No. 1230 for the sum of WHEREFORE, the Court renders judgment dismissing the
P30.00. They admitted that the transaction was verbal. complaint, without pronouncement as to costs.
However, as proof of the sale, the SIBLINGS OF CECILIO
presented a subdivision plan of the said land, dated March 25, SO ORDERED. 5
1930, indicating the portions allegedly sold to the SIBLINGS
OF CECILIO. On appeal, the following errors 6 were assigned by the
SIBLINGS OF CECILIO:
As already mentioned, the then Court of First Instance of Rizal,
Branch CXI, dismissed the complaint, disregarding the above 1. THE TRIAL COURT ERRED IN DISMISSING PLAINTIFFS'
sole evidence (subdivision plan) presented by the SIBLINGS COMPLAINT DESPITE CONCLUSIVE EVIDENCE SHOWING
OF CECILIO, thus: THE PORTION SOLD TO EACH OF PLAINTIFFS'
PREDECESSORS.
Examining the pleadings as well as the evidence presented in
this case by the parties, the Court can not but notice that the 2. THE TRIAL COURT ERRED IN HOLDING THAT
present complaint was filed in the name of the Heirs of Macario, PLAINTIFFS FAILED TO PROVE ANY DOCUMENT
Espiridiona, Raymunda and Celestina, all surnamed Claudel, EVIDENCING THE ALLEGED SALE.
without naming the different heirs particularly involved, and
who wish to recover the lots from the defendants. The Court 3. THE TRIAL COURT ERRED IN NOT GIVING CREDIT TO
tried to find this out from the evidence presented by the THE PLAN, EXHIBIT A, SHOWING THE PORTIONS SOLD
plaintiffs but to no avail. On this point alone, the Court would TO EACH OF THE PLAINTIFFS' PREDECESSORS-IN-
not be able to apportion the property to the real party in interest INTEREST.
if ever they are entitled to it as the persons indicated therein is
in generic term (Section 2, Rule 3). The Court has noticed also 4. THE TRIAL COURT ERRED IN NOT DECLARING
that with the exception of plaintiff Lampitoc and (sic) the heirs PLAINTIFFS AS OWNERS OF THE PORTION COVERED BY
of Raymunda Claudel are no longer residing in the property as THE PLAN, EXHIBIT A.
they have (sic) left the same in 1967. But most important of all
the plaintiffs failed to present any document evidencing the 5. THE TRIAL COURT ERRED IN NOT DECLARING
alleged sale of the property to their predecessors in interest by TRANSFER CERTIFICATES OF TITLE NOS. 395391,
the father of the defendants. Considering that the subject 395392, 395393 AND 395394 OF THE REGISTER OF DEEDS
matter of the supposed sale is a real property the absence of OF RIZAL AS NULL AND VOID.
any document evidencing the sale would preclude the
52
The Court of Appeals reversed the decision of the trial court on cancellation of titles and reconveyance with damages on
the following grounds: December 7, 1976, only four years after the HEIRS OF
CECILIO partitioned this lot among themselves and obtained
1. The failure to bring and prosecute the action in the name of the corresponding Transfer Certificates of Titles, then there is
the real party in interest, namely the parties themselves, was no prescription of action yet.
not a fatal omission since the court a quo could have
adjudicated the lots to the SIBLINGS OF CECILIO, the parents Thus the respondent court ordered the cancellation of the
of the herein respondents, leaving it to them to adjudicate the Transfer Certificates of Title Nos. 395391, 395392, 395393,
property among themselves. and 395394 of the Register of Deeds of Rizal issued in the
names of the HEIRS OF CECILIO and corollarily ordered the
2. The fact of residence in the disputed properties by the herein execution of the following deeds of reconveyance:
respondents had been made possible by the toleration of the
deceased Cecilio. To Celestina Claudel, Lot 1230-A with an area of 705 sq. m.

3. The Statute of Frauds applies only to executory contracts To Raymunda Claudel, Lot 1230-B with an area of 599 sq. m.
and not to consummated sales as in the case at bar where oral
evidence may be admitted as cited in Iigo v. Estate of Magtoto To Esperidiona Claudel, Lot 1230-C with an area of 597 sq. m.
7 and Diana, et al. v. Macalibo. 8

To Macario Claudel, Lot 1230-D, with an area of 596 sq. m. 10


In addition,
The respondent court also enjoined that this disposition is
. . . Given the nature of their relationship with one another it is without prejudice to the private respondents, as heirs of their
not unusual that no document to evidence the sale was deceased parents, the SIBLINGS OF CECILIO, partitioning
executed, . . ., in their blind faith in friends and relatives, in their among themselves in accordance with law the respective
lack of experience and foresight, and in their ignorance, men, portions sold to and herein adjudicated to their parents.
in spite of laws, will make and continue to make verbal
contracts. . . . 9 The rest of the land, lots 1230-E and 1230-F, with an area of
598 and 6,927 square meters, respectively would go to Cecilio
4. The defense of prescription cannot be set up against the or his heirs, the herein petitioners. Beyond these
herein petitioners despite the lapse of over forty years from the apportionments, the HEIRS OF CECILIO would not receive
time of the alleged sale in 1930 up to the filing of the "Complaint anything else.
for Cancellation of Titles and Reconveyance . . ." in 1976.
The crux of the entire litigation is whether or not the Court of
According to the Court of Appeals, the action was not for the Appeals committed a reversible error in disposing the question
recovery of possession of real property but for the cancellation of the true ownership of the lots.
of titles issued to the HEIRS OF CECILIO in 1973. Since the
SIBLINGS OF CECILIO commenced their complaint for And the real issues are:
53
1. Whether or not a contract of sale of land may be proven same, or some note or memorandum thereof, be in writing, and
orally: subscribed by the party charged, or by his agent; evidence,
therefore, of the agreement cannot be received without the
2. Whether or not the prescriptive period for filing an action for writing, or a secondary evidence of its contents:
cancellation of titles and reconveyance with damages (the
action filed by the SIBLINGS OF CECILIO) should be counted xxx xxx xxx
from the alleged sale upon which they claim their ownership
(1930) or from the date of the issuance of the titles sought to e) An agreement for the leasing for a longer period than one
be cancelled in favor of the HEIRS OF CECILIO (1976). year, or for the sale of real property or of an interest therein;

The rule of thumb is that a sale of land, once consummated, is xxx xxx xxx
valid regardless of the form it may have been entered into. 11
For nowhere does law or jurisprudence prescribe that the (Emphasis supplied.)
contract of sale be put in writing before such contract can
validly cede or transmit rights over a certain real property The purpose of the Statute of Frauds is to prevent fraud and
between the parties themselves. perjury in the enforcement of obligations depending for their
evidence upon the unassisted memory of witnesses by
However, in the event that a third party, as in this case, requiring certain enumerated contracts and transactions to be
disputes the ownership of the property, the person against evidenced in Writing. 12
whom that claim is brought can not present any proof of such
sale and hence has no means to enforce the contract. Thus the The provisions of the Statute of Frauds originally appeared
Statute of Frauds was precisely devised to protect the parties under the old Rules of Evidence. However when the Civil Code
in a contract of sale of real property so that no such contract is was re-written in 1949 (to take effect in 1950), the provisions of
enforceable unless certain requisites, for purposes of proof, are the Statute of Frauds were taken out of the Rules of Evidence
met. in order to be included under the title on Unenforceable
Contracts in the Civil Code. The transfer was not only a matter
The provisions of the Statute of Frauds pertinent to the present of style but to show that the Statute of Frauds is also a
controversy, state: substantive law.

Art. 1403 (Civil Code). The following contracts are Therefore, except under the conditions provided by the Statute
unenforceable, unless they are ratified: of Frauds, the existence of the contract of sale made by Cecilio
with his siblings 13 can not be proved.
xxx xxx xxx
On the second issue, the belated claim of the SIBLINGS OF
2) Those that do not comply with the Statute of Frauds as set CECILIO who filed a complaint in court only in 1976 to enforce
forth in this number. In the following cases, an agreement a light acquired allegedly as early as 1930, is difficult to
hereafter made shall be unenforceable by action unless the comprehend.
54
The Civil Code states: xxx xxx xxx

Art. 1145. The following actions must be commenced within six Furthermore, a private individual may not bring an action for
years: reversion or any action which would have the effect of
cancelling a free patent and the corresponding certificate of title
(1) Upon an oral contract . . . (Emphasis supplied). issued on the basis thereof, with the result that the land
covered thereby will again form part of the public domain, as
If the parties SIBLINGS OF CECILIO had allegedly derived only the Solicitor General or the officer acting in his stead may
their right of action from the oral purchase made by their do so. 16
parents in 1930, then the action filed in 1976 would have clearly
prescribed. More than six years had lapsed. It is true that in some instances, the Court did away with the
irrevocability of the torrens title, but the circumstances in the
We do not agree with the parties SIBLINGS OF CECILIO when case at bar varied significantly from these cases.
they reason that an implied trust in favor of the SIBLINGS OF
CECILIO was established in 1972, when the HEIRS OF In Bornales v. IAC, 17 the defense of indefeasibility of a
CECILIO executed a contract of partition over the said certificate of title was disregarded when the transferee who
properties. took it had notice of the flaws in the transferor's title. No right
passed to a transferee from a vendor who did not have any in
But as we had pointed out, the law recognizes the superiority the first place. The transferees bought the land registered
of the torrens title. under the torrens system from vendors who procured title
thereto by means of fraud. With this knowledge, they can not
Above all, the torrens title in the possession of the HEIRS OF invoke the indefeasibility of a certificate of title against the
CECILIO carries more weight as proof of ownership than the private respondent to the extent of her interest. This is because
survey or subdivision plan of a parcel of land in the name of the torrens system of land registration, though indefeasible,
SIBLINGS OF CECILIO. should not be used as a means to perpetrate fraud against the
rightful owner of real property.
The Court has invariably upheld the indefeasibility of the
torrens title. No possession by any person of any portion of the Mere registration of the sale is not good enough, good faith
land could defeat the title of the registered owners thereof. 14 must concur with registration. Otherwise registration becomes
an exercise in futility. 18
A torrens title, once registered, cannot be defeated, even by
adverse, open and notorious possession. A registered title In Amerol v. Bagumbaran, 19 we reversed the decision of the
under the torrens system cannot be defeated by prescription. trial court. In this case, the title was wrongfully registered in
The title, once registered, is notice to the world. All persons another person's name. An implied trust was therefore created.
must take notice. No one can plead ignorance of the This trustee was compelled by law to reconvey property
registration. 15 fraudulently acquired notwithstanding the irrevocability of the
torrens title. 20
55
In the present case, however, the facts belie the claim of except for strong and cogent reasons inasmuch as the trial
ownership. court is in a better position to examine real evidence and
observe the demeanor of witnesses in a case.
For several years, when the SIBLINGS OF CECILIO, namely,
Macario, Esperidiona Raymunda, and Celestina were living on No clear specific contrary evidence was cited by the
the contested premises, they regularly paid a sum of money, respondent appellate court to justify the reversal of the lower
designated as "taxes" at first, to the widow of Cecilio, and later, court's findings. Thus, in this case, between the factual findings
to his heirs. 21 Why their payments were never directly made to of the trial court and the appellate court, those of the trial court
the Municipal Government of Muntinlupa when they were must prevail over that of the latter. 26
intended as payments for "taxes" is difficult to square with their
claim of ownership. We are rather inclined to consider this fact WHEREFORE, the petition is GRANTED We REVERSE and
as an admission of non-ownership. And when we consider also SET ASIDE the decision rendered in CA-G.R. CV No. 04429,
that the petitioners HEIRS OF CECILIO had individually paid to and we hereby REINSTATE the decision of the then Court of
the municipal treasury the taxes corresponding to the particular First Instance of Rizal (Branch 28, Pasay City) in Civil Case No.
portions they were occupying, 22 we can readily see the M-5276-P which ruled for the dismissal of the Complaint for
superiority of the petitioners' position. Cancellation of Titles and Reconveyance with Damages filed
by the Heirs of Macario, Esperidiona Raymunda, and
Renato Solema and Decimina Calvez, two of the respondents Celestina, all surnamed CLAUDEL. Costs against the private
who derive their right from the SIBLINGS OF CLAUDEL, respondents.
bought a portion of the lot from Felisa Claudel, one of the
HEIRS OF CLAUDEL. 23 The Calvezes should not be paying SO ORDERED.
for a lot that they already owned and if they did not
acknowledge Felisa as its owner. Melencio-Herrera, Paras, Padilla and Regalado, JJ., concur.

In addition, before any of the SIBLINGS OF CECILIO could


stay on any of the portions of the property, they had to ask first
the permission of Jose Claudel again, one of the HEIRS OF
CECILIO. 24 In fact the only reason why any of the heirs of
SIBLINGS OF CECILIO could stay on the lot was because they
were allowed to do so by the HEIRS OF CECILIO. 25

In view of the foregoing, we find that the appellate court


committed a reversible error in denigrating the transfer
certificates of title of the petitioners to the survey or subdivision
plan proffered by the private respondents. The Court generally
recognizes the profundity of conclusions and findings of facts
reached by the trial court and hence sustains them on appeal
56
Republic of the Philippines of Jose Gabriel under Tax Declaration (TD) Nos. 1603 and
SUPREME COURT 6425 issued for the years 1949 and 1966, while the second
Baguio parcel ("Lot 2") consisting of 147 square meters was originally
declared in the name of Agueda Dinguinbayan under TD Nos.
FIRST DIVISION 6418 and 9676 issued for the years 1966 and 1967. 4 For
several years, these lands lined with bamboo plants remained
G.R. No. 175763 April 11, 2012 undeveloped and uninhabited.

HEIRS OF BIENVENIDO AND ARACELI TANYAG, namely: Petitioners claimed that Lot 1 was owned by Benita Gabriel,
ARTURO TANYAG, AIDA T. JOCSON AND ZENAIDA T. sister of Jose Gabriel, as part of her inheritance as declared by
VELOSO, Petitioners, her in a 1944 notarized instrument ("Affidavit of Sale") whereby
vs. she sold the said property to spouses Gabriel Sulit and
SALOME E. GABRIEL, NESTOR R. GABRIEL, LUZ Cornelia Sanga. Said document states:
GABRIEL-ARNEDO married to ARTURO ARNEDO, NORA
GABRIEL-CALINGO married to FELIX CALINGO, PILAR M. DAPAT MALAMAN NG LAHAT NG MAKABABASA
MENDIOLA, MINERVA GABRIEL-NATIVIDAD married to
EUSTAQUIO NATIVIDAD, and ERLINDA VELASQUEZ Na, akong Benita Gabriel, balo sa nasirang Calixto Lontoc,
married to HERMINIO VELASQUEZ, Respondents. Filipina may karapatang gulang naninirahan sa nayon ng
Palingon, Tagig, Rizal, x x x sa pamamaguitan nitoy
DECISION
ISINASAYSAY KO AT PINAGTITIBAY
VILLARAMA, JR., J.:
1.) Na, sarili ko at tunay na pagaari ang isang lagay na lupang
This is a petition for review under Rule 45 which seeks to kawayanan na sapagkat itoy kabahagui ko sa aking kapatid na
reverse the Decision1 dated August 18, 2006 and Resolution2 [J]ose Gabriel, na itoy mana ko sa aking nasirang ama Mateo
dated December 8, 2006 of the Court of Appeals (CA) in CA- Gabriel sa kami lamang dalawa ng aking kapatid na
G.R. CV No. 81224. The CA affirmed the Decision3 dated binabanguit ko na Jose Gabriel siyang mga anak at
November 19, 2003 of the Regional Trial Court of Pasig City, tagapagmana ng aming amang nasirang Mateo Gabriel,
Branch 267 in Civil Case No. 67846 dismissing petitioners maliban sa amin ay wala nang iba, kayat kami ay naghati sa
complaint for declaration of nullity of Original Certificate of Title mga ari-arian na na iwan sa amin ng nasirang ama namin na
(OCT) No. 1035, reconveyance and damages, as well as Mateo Gabriel, na ang lupang kawayanang itoy may nakatanim
respondents counterclaims for damages and attorneys fees. na walong (8) punong kawayan at na sa pook na kung
pamagatan ay Ruhale nayon ng Calzada, Tagig, Rizal, at na
Subject of controversy are two adjacent parcels of land located sa loob ng mga kahanganan at sukat na sumusunod[:]
at Ruhale, Barangay Calzada, Municipality of Taguig (now part
of Pasig City, Metro Manila). The first parcel ("Lot 1") with an Na, ang kahangan sa Hilagaan Sapang Ruhale at Vicente
area of 686 square meters was originally declared in the name Bunye, sa Amihanan Felipe Pagkalinawan, sa Timugan Juan
57
Flores, at sa Habagatan Apolonio Ocol may sukat na 6 areas the same lot to Bienvenido S. Tanyag, father of petitioners, as
at 85 centiareas may halagan amillarada na P80.00) Pesos evidenced by a notarized deed of sale dated October 14,
alinsunod sa Tax Blg. 20037, sa pangalan ng aking kapatid na 1964.6 Petitioners then took possession of the property, paid
Jose Gabriel. Na, ang lupang itoy hindi natatala sa bisa ng the real estate taxes due on the land and declared the same
batas Blg. 496 ni sa susog gayon din sa Hipotecaria Espaola for tax purposes, as shown by TD No. 11445 issued in 1969 in
itoy may mga mojon bato ang mga panulok at walang bakod. the name of Bienvenidos wife, Araceli C. Tanyag; TD No.
11445 cancelled TD No. 6425 in the name of Jose Gabriel. TD
2.) Na, alang-alang sa halagang SIYAMNAPO AT ANIM Nos. 3380 and 00486 also in the name of Araceli Tanyag were
(P96.00) na Pisong salaping guinagamit dito sa Filipinas na issued in the years 1974 and 1979.7
bago dumating ang mga sandaling itoy tinaggap ko at ibinayad
sa akin ng boong kasiyahang loob ko ng magasawang As to Lot 2, petitioners averred that it was sold by Agueda
GABRIEL SULIT AT CORNELIA SANGA, mga Filipinos may Dinguinbayan to Araceli Tanyag under Deed of Sale executed
mga karapatang gulang mga naninirahan sa nayon ng on October 22, 1968. Thereupon, petitioners took possession
Calzada, Tagig, Rizal, ngayon ay inilipat ko at ipinagbili ng of said property and declared the same for tax purposes as
bilihang tuluyan (Venta real soluta) ang isinasaysay kong shown by TD Nos. 11361, 3395, 120-014-00482, 120-00-014-
lupang kawayanan sa itaas nito ng nasabi halagang 20-002-000, C-014-00180 and D-014-00182 issued for the
SIYAMNAPO AT ANIM (P96.00) na Piso at sa nabanguit na years 1969, 1974, 1979, 1985, 1991 and 1994. 8 Petitioners
magasawang GABRIEL SULIT AT CORNELIA SANGA, gayon claimed to have continuously, publicly, notoriously and
din sa lahat ng mga tagapagmana nila, ngayong mga arao na adversely occupied both Lots 1 and 2 through their caretaker
ito ay ang may hawak at namamahala ng lupang itoy ang mga Juana Quinones9; they fenced the premises and introduced
nakabili sa akin na magasawang GABRIEL SULIT AT improvements on the land.10
CORNELIA SANGA.
Sometime in 1979, Jose Gabriel, father of respondents,
3.) Na, ang kasulatang itoy ng bilihan ay nais na itala sa bisa secured TD No. 120-014-01013 in his name over Lot 1
ng batas Blg. 3344. indicating therein an increased area of 1,763 square meters.
Said tax declaration supposedly cancelled TD No. 6425 over
NA SA KATUNAYAN NG LAHAT NG ITOY ako ay lumagda sa Lot 1 and contained the following inscription11:
kasulatang ito dito sa Tagig, Rizal, ngayong ika - 28 ng Junio
1944. Note: Portions of this Property is Also Declared
in the name of Araceli C. Tanyag under
(Nilagdaan) T.D.#120-014-00858 686 sq. m.
BENITA GABRIEL5
Also inscribed on TD No. 120-014-0085812 (1979) in the name
Lot 1 allegedly came into the possession of Benita Gabriels of Araceli Tanyag covering Lot 1 are the following:
own daughter, Florencia Gabriel Sulit, when her father-in-law
Gabriel Sulit gave it to her as part of inheritance of his son, This property is also covered by T.D. #120-014-01013
Eliseo Sulit who was Florencias husband. Florencia Sulit sold in the name of Jose P. Gabriel
58
1-8-80 On the other hand, respondents TD Nos. D-014-00839 and D-
which notation was carried into the 1985, 1990 and 1991 tax 014-01923 issued in 1993 and 1999 respectively, showed that
declarations, all in the name of Araceli Tanyag. respondents sold 468 square meters of Lot 1 to Jayson Sta.
Barbara.17 The segregation of said 468 square meters
On March 20, 2000, petitioners instituted Civil Case No. 67846 pertaining to Jayson Sta. Barbara was reflected in the
alleging that respondents never occupied the whole 686 approved survey plan of Lot 1836 prepared by respondents
square meters of Lot 1 and fraudulently caused the inclusion of surveyor on March 18, 2000.18
Lot 2 in TD No. 120-014-01013 such that Lot 1 consisting of
686 square meters originally declared in the name of Jose At the trial, petitioners presented their witness Arturo Tanyag,
Gabriel was increased to 1,763 square meters. They son of Bienvenido Tanyag and Araceli Tanyag who died on
contended that the issuance of OCT No. 1035 on October 28, March 30, 1968 and October 30, 1993, respectively. He
1998 over the subject land in the name of respondents heirs of testified that according to Florencia Sulit, Benita Gabriel-Lontoc
Jose Gabriel was null and void from the beginning.13 and her family were the ones in possession of Lot 1 since 1944;
Benita Gabriel had executed an Affidavit of Sale declaring said
On the other hand, respondents asserted that petitioners have property as her inheritance and conveying the same to spouses
no cause of action against them for they have not established Gabriel and Cornelia Sulit. He affirmed that they had been in
their ownership over the subject property covered by a Torrens possession of Lot 1 from the time Bienvenido Tanyag bought
title in respondents name. They further argued that OCT No. the land from Florencia Sulit in 1964. Based on the boundaries
1035 had become unassailable one year after its issuance and indicated in the tax declaration, they fenced the property,
petitioners failed to establish that it was irregularly or unlawfully installed Juana Quinones as their caretaker who also attended
procured.14 to the piggery, put up an artesian well and planted some trees.
From 1964 up to 1978, nobody disturbed them in their
Respondents evidence showed that the subject land was possession or claimed ownership of the land; four years after
among those properties included in the Extrajudicial Settlement acquiring Lot 1, they also purchased the adjacent property (Lot
of Estate of Jose P. Gabriel15 executed on October 5, 1988, 2) to expand their piggery. Lot 2 was also separately declared
covered by TD No. B-014-00643 (1985) in the name of Jose for tax purposes after their mother purchased it from Agueda
Gabriel. Respondents declared the property in their name but Dinguinbayan. He had personally witnessed the execution of
the tax declarations (1989, 1991 and 1994) carried the notation the 1968 deed of sale including its notarization, and was also
that portions thereof (686 sq. ms.) are also declared in the present during the physical turn over of Lot 2 by the seller. In
name of Araceli Tanyag. On October 28, 1998, OCT No. 103516 fact, he was one of the instrumental witnesses to the deed of
was issued to respondents by the Register of Deeds of Pasig, sale and identified his signature therein. He further described
Metro Manila under Decree No. N-219177 pursuant to the the place as inaccessible at that time as there were no roads
Decision dated September 20, 1996 of the Land Registration yet and they had to traverse muddy tracks to reach their
Court in LRC Case No. N-11260, covering Lot 1836 MCadm- property.19
590-D, Taguig Cadastral Mapping, Plan Ap-04-002253, with an
area of 1,560 square meters. Arturo further testified that the first time they met Jose Gabriel
was when the latter borrowed from their mother all the
59
documents pertaining to their property. Jose Gabriel came Angelita Sulit-delos Santos, cousin of petitioners and also of
looking for a piece of property which he claims as his but he respondents, testified that she came to know the subject
had no documents to prove it and so they showed him their property because according to her paternal grandfather Gabriel
documents pertaining to the subject property; out of the Sta. Ana Sulit, her maternal grandmother Benita Gabriel-
goodness of her mothers heart, she lent those documents to Lontoc mortgaged the property to him. It was Benita Gabriel
her brother Jose Gabriel. During the cadastral survey Lontoc who took care of her, her siblings and cousins; they
conducted in 1976, they had both lots surveyed in preparation lived with her until her death. She identified the signature of
for their consolidation under one tax declaration. However, they Benita Gabriel in the 1944 Affidavit of Sale in favor of Gabriel
did not succeed in registering the consolidated lots as they Sulit. Lot 1 consisting of 600 square meters was vacant
discovered that there was another tax declaration covering the property at that time but her family was in possession thereof
same properties and these were applied for titling under the when it was sold to Gabriel Sulit; it was her father Eliseo Sulit
name of Jose Gabriel sometime in 1978 or 1980, which was and uncle Hilario Sulit, who were incharge of their property. On
after the time said Jose Gabriel borrowed the documents from cross-examination, she was asked details regarding the
their mother. No notice of the hearings for application of title supposed mortgage of Lot 1 to Gabriel Sulit but she admitted
filed by Jose Gabriel was received by them. They never she does not know anything as she was still very young then.22
abandoned the property and their caretaker never left the place
except to report to the police when she was being harassed by Respondents first witness was Roberto Gabriel Arnedo, son of
the respondents. He also recalled that respondents had filed a Luz Gabriel-Arnedo. He testified that when he was about 5 or
complaint against them before the barangay but since no 6 years old (1953 or 1954), his grandfather Jose Gabriel used
agreement was reached after several meetings, they filed the to bring him along to visit the subject property consisting of
present case.20 1,763 square meters based on the tax declaration and OCT.
They had picnics and celebrate his grandfathers birthday
The next witness for petitioners was Juana Quinones, their there. He recalled accompanying his grandfather in overseeing
caretaker who testified that she had been staying on the planting of gumamela which served as the perimeter fence.
petitioners property since 1964 or for 35 years already. She Jose Gabriel had not mentioned anything about the claim of
had built a nipa hut and artesian well, raised piggery and petitioners over the same land; Jose Gabriel handed the
poultry and planted some root crops and vegetables on the documents pertaining to the land to his eldest aunt and hence
land. At first there was only one parcel but later the petitioners it now belongs to them.23 On cross-examination, he claimed
bought an additional lot; Arturo Tanyag gave her money which that during those years he had visited the land together with his
she used for the fencing of the property. During all the time she grandfather, he did not see Florencia Sulit and her family.24
occupied the property there was nobody else claiming it and
she also had not received any notice for petitioners concerning Virginia Villanueva, daughter of Salome Gabriel, testified that
the property, nor the conduct of survey on the land. On cross- they acquired the subject property from their grandfather Jose
examination, she admitted that she was living alone and had Gabriel who had a tax declaration in his name. Her mother
no Voters ID or any document evidencing that she had been a furnished them with documents such as tax declarations and
resident there since 1964. Although she was living alone, she the extrajudicial settlement of the estate of Jose Gabriel; they
asks for help from other persons in tending her piggery.21 also have an approved survey plan prepared for Salome
60
Gabriel. She does not know the petitioners in this case. 25 On found out that the seller Florencia Sulit was not the owner
cross-examination, she said that the subject property was because the declared owner was Jose Gabriel; even the deed
inherited by Jose Gabriel from his father Mateo Gabriel; Jose of sale recognized that the property was declared in the name
Gabriel was the sole owner of the land while Benita Gabriel has of Jose Gabriel. They also discovered from the cadastral
separate properties in Palingon and Langkokak.26 Though they survey and tax mapping of Taguig that the property is in the
are not actually occupying the property, they visit the place and name of Jose Gabriel both in the Bureau of Lands and
she does not know anybody occupying it, except for the portion Municipal Assessors Office. As far as he knows, it was Jose
(486 square meters) which petitioners sold to Sta. Barbara. A Gabriel who owned the subject property which he usually
nine-door apartment was built on the said portion without their visited; he recalled that around the late 70s and 80s, he
permission. She had talked to both Sta. Barbara and with ordered the fencing of barbed wire and bamboo stalks on the
Arturo Tanyag they had meetings before the barangay; land which is just 3 lots away from his own property. As to the
however, petitioners filed the present case in court. She discrepancy in the area of the property as originally declared
insisted that there is nobody residing in the subject property; by Jose Gabriel, he explained that the boundaries in the
there is still the remaining 901 square meters which is owned original tax declaration do not change but after the land is
by their mother. She admitted there were plants on the land but surveyed, the boundaries naturally would be different because
she does not know who actually planted them; it was her the previous owner may have sold his property or the present
grandfather who built a wooden fence and gumamela in the owner inherits the property from his parents. He admitted that
1960s. As to the hearings on the application for title, she had the tax declaration is just for tax purposes and not necessarily
not attended the same; she does not know whether the proof of ownership or possession of the property it covers.28
petitioners were notified of the said hearings. She also caused
the preparation of the survey plan for Salome Gabriel. On the Respondents last witness was Antonio Argel who testified that
increased area of the property indicated in the later tax he had resided for 52 years on a land near the subject property
declarations, she admitted the discrepancy but said there were and as far as he knows it was Jose Gabriel who owns it and
barangay roads being built at the time.27 planted thereon. On cross-examination, he admitted that Jose
Gabriel was not in physical possession of the property. He just
Esmeraldo Ramos, Municipal Assessor of Taguig, testified that assumed that the present occupants of the property were
he was formerly a Land Appraiser in the Office of the Municipal allowed by Jose Gabriel to stay therein because he is the
Assessor of Taguig and in the course of his duties had certified owner. There is an apartment and three small houses existing
one of the tax declarations in the name of respondents (TD No. on the property, and about five families are living there. He
EL-014-10585). He identified and verified said document and confirmed that there is a piggery being maintained by a certain
the other tax declarations submitted in court by the Juana who had been residing there maybe for fifteen years
respondents. He admitted that on January 10, 1980, they made already.29
the entry on TD No. 6425 in the name of Jose Gabriel that the
same was cancelled by TD No. 120-014-01013 also in the In rebuttal, petitioners presented two witnesses who are
name of Jose Gabriel who presented a supposed deed of sale owners of properties adjoining that of the subject land. Rodante
in favor of Araceli Tanyag which caused the earlier cancellation Domingo testified that it was only now did he learn that the
of TD No. 6425 in his name. However, upon investigation they property of Arturo Tanyag is already titled in the name of
61
respondents. He was not aware of the titling proceeding for tax purposes, paying the corresponding taxes. The
because he never received any notice as adjoining owner. His appellate court stressed that petitioners allegation of bad faith
own property is already titled in his name and he even asked was not proven.
Arturo Tanyag to act as a witness in his application for titling.30
On the other hand, Dado Dollado testified that he acquired his Petitioners motion for reconsideration was likewise denied by
property in 1979. He likewise affirmed that he did not receive the CA. Hence, this petition.
any notice of the proceedings for application for titling filed by
respondents and it was only now that he learned from Arturo Petitioners assail the CA in not finding that the respondents
Tanyag that the subject property was already titled in the obtained OCT No. 1035 in their names fraudulently and in bad
names of respondents.31 faith. They also claim to have acquired ownership of the subject
lots by virtue of acquisitive prescription.
The last rebuttal witness for petitioners was Dominador
Dinguinbayan Ergueza, son of Agueda Dinguinbayan. He The issues presented are: (1) whether respondents committed
testified that the subject property was formerly owned by his fraud and bad faith in registering the subject lots in their name;
mother and the present owner is Araceli Tanyag who bought and (2) whether petitioners acquired the property through
the same from his mother in 1968. He described the acquisitive prescription.
boundaries of the property in relation to the adjoining owners
at that time; presently, the left portion is already a street (Rujale Registration of a piece of land under the Torrens System does
St.) going towards the sea. He admitted that his wife, Livina not create or vest title, because it is not a mode of acquiring
Ergueza was an instrumental witness in the 1968 deed of sale ownership. A certificate of title is merely an evidence of
in favor of Araceli Tanyag.32 ownership or title over the particular property described
therein.33 Thus, notwithstanding the indefeasibility of the
In its decision, the trial court dismissed the complaint as well Torrens title, the registered owner may still be compelled to
as the counterclaim, holding that petitioners failed to establish reconvey the registered property to its true owners. The
ownership of the subject property and finding the respondents rationale for the rule is that reconveyance does not set aside or
to be the declared owners and legal possessors. It likewise re-subject to review the findings of fact of the Bureau of Lands.
ruled that petitioners were unable to prove by preponderance In an action for reconveyance, the decree of registration is
of evidence that respondents acquired title over the property respected as incontrovertible. What is sought instead is the
through fraud and deceit. transfer of the property or its title which has been wrongfully or
erroneously registered in another persons name, to its rightful
Petitioners appealed to the CA which affirmed the trial courts or legal owner, or to the one with a better right.34
ruling. The CA found that apart from the Affidavit executed by
Benita Gabriel in 1944 claiming that she inherited Lot 1 from An action for annulment of title or reconveyance based on fraud
their father, Mateo Gabriel, there is no evidence that she, not is imprescriptible where the plaintiff is in possession of the
Jose Gabriel, was the true owner thereof. It noted that just four property subject of the acts.35 The totality of the evidence on
years after Benita Gabriels sale of the subject property to the record established that it was petitioners who are in actual
Sulit spouses, Jose Gabriel declared the same under his name possession of the subject property; respondents merely
62
insinuated at occasional visits to the land. However, for an is the rule that questions of fact are not reviewable in petitions
action for reconveyance based on fraud to prosper, this Court for review on certiorari under Rule 45 of the Rules of Court, as
has held that the party seeking reconveyance must prove by only questions of law shall be raised in such petitions. While
clear and convincing evidence his title to the property and the this Court is not a trier of facts, if the inference drawn by the
fact of fraud.36 appellate court from the facts is manifestly mistaken, it may, in
the interest of justice, review the evidence in order to arrive at
The CA correctly observed that the only evidence of Benita the correct factual conclusions based on the record.38
Gabriels supposed title was the 1944 Affidavit of Sale whereby
Benita Gabriel claimed sole ownership of Lot 1 as her In this case, the CA was mistaken in concluding that petitioners
inheritance from their father, Mateo Gabriel. The property until have not acquired any right over the subject property simply
1949 was still declared in the name Jose Gabriel despite the because they failed to establish Benita Gabriels title over said
1944 sale executed by Benita Gabriel in favor of spouses property. The appellate court ignored petitioners evidence of
Gabriel and Cornelia Sulit. As to the alleged fraud perpetrated possession that complies with the legal requirements of
by Jose Gabriel and respondents in securing OCT No. 1035 in acquiring ownership by prescription.
their name, this was clearly not proven as Arturo Tanyag
testified merely that Jose Gabriel borrowed their documents Acquisitive prescription is a mode of acquiring ownership by a
pertaining to the property. No document or testimony was possessor through the requisite lapse of time. In order to ripen
presented to show that Jose Gabriel employed deceit or into ownership, possession must be in the concept of an owner,
committed fraudulent acts in the proceedings for titling of the public, peaceful and uninterrupted.39 Possession is open when
property. it is patent, visible, apparent, notorious and not clandestine. 40
It is continuous when uninterrupted, unbroken and not
However, the CA did not address the issue of acquisitive intermittent or occasional; exclusive when the adverse
prescription raised by the petitioners. In their Complaint before possessor can show exclusive dominion over the land and an
the lower court, petitioners alleged appropriation of it to his own use and benefit; and notorious
when it is so conspicuous that it is generally known and talked
15. Defendants never occupied the whole area of the lot of by the public or the people in the neighborhood. The party
covered by Tax Declaration No. 1603 (686 sq. m.) neither were who asserts ownership by adverse possession must prove the
they able to set foot on the property covered by Tax Declaration presence of the essential elements of acquisitive prescription.41
No. 6542 [sic] for the reason that those lots had been in actual,
open continuous, adverse and notorious possession of the On the matter of prescription, the Civil Code provides:
plaintiffs against the whole world for more than thirty years
which is equivalent to title. Art. 1117. Acquisitive prescription of dominion and other real
rights may be ordinary or extraordinary.
x x x x37
Ordinary acquisitive prescription requires possession of things
Such character and length of possession of a party over a in good faith and with just title for the time fixed by law.
parcel of land subject of controversy is a factual issue. Settled
63
Art. 1134. Ownership and other real rights over immovable the possessor and not by filing of a mere Notice of Adverse
property are acquired by ordinary prescription through Claim. Thus:
possession of ten years.
Article 1123 of the Civil Code is categorical. Civil interruption is
Art. 1137. Ownership and other real rights over immovables produced by judicial summons to the possessor. Moreover,
also prescribe through uninterrupted adverse possession even with the presence of judicial summons, Article 1124 sets
thereof for thirty years, without need of title or of good faith. limitations as to when such summons shall not be deemed to
(Emphasis supplied.) have been issued and shall not give rise to interruption, to wit:
1) if it should be void for lack of legal solemnities; 2) if the
Petitioners adverse possession is reckoned from 1969 with the plaintiff should desist from the complaint or should allow the
issuance of TD No. 1145 in the name of Araceli Tanyag, which proceedings to lapse; or 3) if the possessor should be absolved
tax declaration cancelled TD No. 6425 in the name of Jose from the complaint.
Gabriel.42 It is settled that tax receipts and declarations are
prima facie proofs of ownership or possession of the property Both Article 1123 and Article 1124 of the Civil Code underscore
for which such taxes have been paid. Coupled with proof of the judicial character of civil interruption.1wphi1 For civil
actual possession of the property, they may become the basis interruption to take place, the possessor must have received
of a claim for ownership.43 Petitioners caretaker, Juana judicial summons. None appears in the case at bar. The Notice
Quinones, has since lived in a nipa hut, planted vegetables and of Adverse Claim which was filed by petitioners in 1977 is
tended a piggery on the land. Aside from paying taxes due on nothing more than a notice of claim which did not effectively
the property, petitioners also exercised other acts of ownership interrupt respondents possession. Such a notice could not
such as selling the 468-square meter portion to Sta. Barbara have produced civil interruption. We agree in the conclusion of
who had constructed thereon a nine-door apartment building. the RTC, which was affirmed by the Court of Appeals, that the
execution of the Notice of Adverse Claim in 1977 did not toll or
It was only in 1979 that respondents began to assert a claim interrupt the running of the prescriptive period because there
over the property by securing a tax declaration in the name of remains, as yet, a necessity for a judicial determination of its
Jose Gabriel albeit over a bigger area than that originally judicial validity. What existed was merely a notice. There was
declared. In 1998, they finally obtained an original certificate of no compliance with Article 1123 of the Civil Code. What is
title covering the entire 1,763 square meters which included Lot striking is that no action was, in fact, filed by petitioners against
1. Did these acts of respondents effectively interrupt the respondents. As a consequence, no judicial summons was
possession of petitioners for purposes of prescription? received by respondents. As aptly held by the Court of Appeals
in its affirmance of the RTCs ruling, the Notice of Adverse
We answer in the negative. Claim cannot take the place of judicial summons which
produces the civil interruption provided for under the law. In the
In the case of Heirs of Marcelina Azardon-Crisologo v. Raon44 instant case, petitioners were not able to interrupt respondents
this Court citing Article 1123 of the Civil Code45 held that civil adverse possession since 1962. The period of acquisitive
interruption takes place with the service of judicial summons to prescription from 1962 continued to run in respondents favor
despite the Notice of Adverse Claim. (Emphasis supplied.)
64
From 1969 until the filing of this complaint by the petitioners in in the 1970s in preparation for the consolidation of the two
March 2000, the latter have been in continuous, public and parcels. However, no such plan was presented in court.
adverse possession of the subject land for 31 years. Having
possessed the property for the period and in the character WHEREFORE, the petition is PARTLY GRANTED. The
required by law as sufficient for extraordinary acquisitive Decision dated August 18, 2006 of the Court of Appeals in CA-
prescription, petitioners have indeed acquired ownership over G.R. CV No. 81224 is MODIFIED in that petitioners heirs of
the subject property. Such right cannot be defeated by Bienvenido and Araceli Tanyag are hereby declared the
respondents acts of declaring again the property for tax owners of 686 square meters previously declared under Tax
purposes in 1979 and obtaining a Torrens certificate of title in Declaration Nos. 11445, 120-014-00486, 120-014-0085, B-
their name in 1998. 014-00501, E-014-01446, C-014-00893 and D-014-00839 all
in the name of Araceli Tanyag, which lot is presently covered
This notwithstanding, we uphold petitioners right as owner only by OCT No. 1035 issued by the Register of Deeds of Pasig,
with respect to Lot 1 consisting of 686 square meters. Metro Manila in the name of respondents Salome Gabriel,
Petitioners failed to substantiate their claim over Lot 2 by virtue Nestor R. Gabriel, Luz Gabriel-Arnedo, Nora Gabriel-Calingo,
of a deed of sale from the original declared owner, Agueda Pilar Gabriel-Mendiola, Minerva Gabriel-Natividad and Erlinda
Dinguinbayan. Respondents asserted that the 147 square Gabriel-Velasquez. Respondents are ORDERED to
meters covered by the tax declarations of Dinguinbayan being RECONVEY the said 686-square meter portion to the
claimed by petitioners is not the same lot included in OCT No. petitioners.
1035.
No pronouncement as to costs.
Under Article 434 of the Civil Code, to successfully maintain an
action to recover the ownership of a real property, the person SO ORDERED.
who claims a better right to it must prove two (2) things: first,
the identity of the land claimed; and second, his title thereto. In MARTIN S. VILLARAMA, JR.
regard to the first requisite, in an accion reinvindicatoria, the Associate Justice
person who claims that he has a better right to the property
must first fix the identity of the land he is claiming by describing
the location, area and boundaries thereof.46 In this case,
petitioners failed to identify Lot 2 by providing evidence of the
metes and bounds thereof, so that the same may be compared
with the technical description contained in OCT No. 1035,
which would have shown whether Lot 2 consisting of 147
square meters was erroneously included in respondents title.
The testimony of Agueda Dinguinbayans son would not suffice
because said witness merely stated the boundary owners as
indicated in the 1966 and 1967 tax declarations of his mother.
On his part, Arturo Tayag claimed that he had the lots surveyed
65
Republic of the Philippines Private respondents alleged that they are the legitimate
SUPREME COURT children and grandson of the late spouses Lucas Villanueva
Manila and Regina Tupas Villanueva; that during the lifetime of Lucas
Villanueva, he owned a parcel of residential land designated as
FIRST DIVISION Lot 764-A situated at Barangay Balabag, Malay, Aklan with an
area of 140 square meters, more or less, and declared for
G.R. No. 169898 October 27, 2006 taxation purposes under his name under Tax Declaration No.
252 (1947); that spouses Villanueva possessed the subject
SPOUSES ANITA AND HONORIO AGUIRRE, petitioners, parcel of land during their lifetime openly, publicly and
vs. continuously in the concept of an owner and after their death,
HEIRS OF LUCAS VILLANUEVA, NAMELY: JOSE T. they were succeeded by their children; that sometime in August
VILLANUEVA, PABLO T. VILLANUEVA, PEDRO T. 1997, petitioners and their hired laborers fenced the whole land
VILLANUEVA, RODOLFO T. VILLANUEVA, DELIA V. DELA in question without the knowledge and consent of private
TORRE, JUANITA V. INGLES, & SABELITO V. GELITO, respondents; that when confronted by private respondents
respondents. concerning the fencing of the land, petitioners alleged that they
acquired the same through inheritance from their father,
Eutiquiano Salazar, who in turn purchased the land from the
late Ciriaco H. Tirol by virtue of a Deed of Exchange of Real
DECISION Property.

In their Answer,4 petitioners claimed that petitioner Anita S.


Aguirre is the lawful owner and actual possessor of the land in
YNARES-SANTIAGO, J.: question, it being a portion of a bigger parcel of land she
inherited from her deceased parents Eutiquiano Salazar and
This petition for review on certiorari under Rule 45 of the Rules Regina Supetran Salazar who bought the land from Ciriaco H.
of Court assails the Decision1 dated March 17, 2005 of the Tirol per Deed of Exchange of Real Property5 dated December
Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. CV No. 72530 which affirmed the 31, 1971 and registered in the Office of the Register of Deeds
Decision2 dated August 6, 2001 of the Regional Trial Court of of Aklan; that the parcel of land is included under Tax
Kalibo, Aklan, Branch 8, in Civil Case No. 5745, declaring Declaration No. 4033 (1953) in the name of Trinidad vda. de
private respondents as absolute owners of the subject parcel Tirol and the same is in the possession of the Tirol family as
of land. Likewise assailed is the September 20, 2005 owner thereof continuously, openly and adversely even before
Resolution3 denying petitioners motion for reconsideration. the second world war; that the land had been surveyed as part
of Cadastral Lot 764, NP-06-000001, Malay Cadastre, in the
A complaint for annulment or declaration of nullity of deed of name of Eutiquiano Salazar by the Bureau of Lands; that the
exchange, tax declarations and recovery of ownership and land has been declared under Tax Declaration No. 1264 (1974)
possession with damages was filed by private respondents and subsequent tax declarations in the name of Eutiquiano
against petitioners. Salazar; that the land was first fenced with bamboos in 1981
66
and with cement hollow blocks in 1985 without any opposition SO ORDERED.6
from private respondents; and that the action is barred by
prescription and private respondents are guilty of laches in The trial court noted that the tax declarations in the name of
failing to assert their alleged right of ownership after the lapse Trinidad vda. de Tirol and the survey plan did not establish the
of more than fifty (50) years since it was possessed by the heirs fact that Ciriaco Tirol is the owner and possessor of the land in
of the late Trinidad vda. de Tirol. question, thus, he has no right to transfer ownership of the
same to Eutiquiano Salazar; that petitioners were not
On August 6, 2001, the trial court rendered judgment, the possessors in good faith since they knew as early as 1954 that
dispositive portion of which reads: private respondents were in possession of the land; that
petitioners did not acquire the land via extraordinary acquisitive
WHEREFORE, premises considered, judgment is hereby prescription considering that their possession only lasted for 26
rendered: years from 1971 up to 1997 when private respondents first
instituted the complaint.
1. Declaring the plaintiffs the lawful owners and entitled to
possession of the land in question identified as Lot 764-A in the On March 17, 2005, the Court of Appeals rendered a decision
Commissioner's Sketch marked Exhibit "L", and as owners, are denying petitioners appeal and affirming in toto the trial courts
entitled to the possession of the same; decision.

2. Ordering the defendants to restore possession of the land in Petitioners motion for reconsideration was denied hence this
question to the plaintiffs; petition raising the following issues:

3. Ordering the defendants to pay the plaintiffs the sum of One I. THE COURT OF APPEALS ERRED IN NOT FINDING THAT
Thousand Eight Hundred Pesos (P1,800.00) by way of THE AGUIRRES HAD ACQUIRED TITLE OVER THE
litigation expenses, and another sum of Fifteen Thousand DISPUTED PROPERTY VIA ORDINARY ACQUISITIVE
Pesos (P15,000.00) as reimbursement for attorney's fees; and PRESCRIPTION;

4. Ordering the Provincial Assessor of Aklan to issue a new tax II. THE COURT OF APPEALS ERRED IN NOT FINDING
declaration of the land in question in the name of the plaintiffs THAT THE VILLANUEVAS CAUSE OF ACTION HAD BEEN
upon compliance of the requirements of that office and upon BARRED BY PRESCRIPTION;
payment of appropriate taxes on the land including back taxes,
if any. III. THE COURT OF APPEALS ERRED IN REFUSING TO
APPLY THE EQUITABLE RULE ON LACHES;
For insufficiency of evidence, plaintiffs claim for moral
damages is denied and for lack of merit, defendants IV. THE COURT OF APPEALS ERRED IN FINDING THAT
counterclaim is DISMISSED. THE VILLANUEVAS WERE IN "POSSESSION" AND
"OWNERSHIP" OF THE DISPUTED PROPERTY PRIOR TO
With cost against the defendants. THE EXECUTION OF THE DEED OF EXCHANGE BETWEEN
67
CIRIACO TIROL AND THE AGUIRRES ASCENDANT- There is "just title" when the adverse claimant comes into
PREDECESSOR IN 1971; possession of the property through any of the modes
recognized by law for the acquisition of ownership or other real
V. THE COURT OF APPEALS ERRED IN RULING THAT THE rights, but the grantor is neither the owner nor in a position to
AGUIRRES HAVE NOT PROVED THE ROOT OF THEIR transmit the right.11
RIGHT OF OWNERSHIP OVER THE DISPUTED
PROPERTY; AND In the instant case, we find sufficient evidence to support
petitioners claim that the requirements for ordinary prescription
VI. THE COURT OF APPEALS ERRED IN NOT are present.
APPRECIATING FOR THE AGUIRRES THE FACT THAT THE
LATTER HAD "JUST TITLE," AND HAD BEEN IN The trial court found that petitioners possession was for more
POSSESSION OF THE DISPUTED PROPERTY "IN GOOD than 10 years and with just title, thus:
FAITH" SINCE 1971.7
There is no question that the defendants have been in public,
We find merit in the petition. and uninterrupted possession of the land in question in the
concept of an owner for a span of twenty six (26) years from
This Court is not a trier of facts. However, if the inference drawn the time the land in question was included in the deed of
by the appellate court from the facts is manifestly mistaken, as exchange in 1971 up to the time the plaintiffs complained in
in the instant case, we can review the evidence in order to 1997 (Exh. "K"). There is also no question that defendants
arrive at the correct factual conclusions based on the record. 8 possession of the land in question was with just title. Just title
in the sense that the defendants acquired the land in question
Prescription, in general, is a mode of acquiring (or losing) by way of exchange which is one of the modes recognized by
ownership and other real rights through the lapse of time in the law in acquiring ownership.12
manner and under conditions laid down by law, namely, that
the possession should be in the concept of an owner, public, Contrary however to the findings of the trial court, petitioners
peaceful, uninterrupted and adverse. Acquisitive prescription is possessed the property in good faith. Petitioner Anita Aguires
either ordinary or extraordinary. Ordinary acquisitive father, Eutiquiano Salazar, bought the subject property from
prescription requires possession in good faith and with just title Ciriaco Tirol, whose claim on the property is founded on the
for 10 years. Without good faith and just title, acquisitive following documents: (1) Tax Declaration No. 729 in the name
prescription can only be extraordinary in character which of Trinidad vda. de Tirol for the year 1945 (Exhibit "4"); (2) Tax
requires uninterrupted adverse possession for 30 years.9 Declaration No. 4033 in the name of Trinidad vda. de Tirol for
the year 1953 (Exhibit "4-A"); and (3) the survey plan approved
Thus, for ordinary acquisitive prescription to set in, possession by the Bureau of Lands in 1952 (Exhibit "6"). Thus, petitioners
must be for at least 10 years, in good faith and with just title. honestly believed that ownership of the subject parcel of land
Possession is "in good faith" when there is a reasonable belief was transmitted to Anita by succession from his deceased
that the person from whom the thing is received has been the father, and who thereafter possessed the property and
owner thereof and could thereby transmit his ownership. 10 exercised dominion over it.
68
Likewise, the trial courts finding that petitioner Anita Aguirre question from Eusebio Sacapano, the uncle of Regina Tupas
was not a possessor in good faith since she knew as early as Villanueva. In addition, Tax Declaration No. 252 for the year
1954 that private respondents were in possession of the 1947 (Exhibit "C") in the name of Lucas Villanueva does not
disputed land has no basis. Anita Aguirre testified that have probative value since it was executed four years after the
Magdalena Tupas built a house in the controverted property in death of Lucas Villanueva in 1943. Tax receipts submitted by
1957 with the permission of Bernardo Escalante, the the private respondents in payment for the year 1986 up to
administrator of the Tirols.13 1996 were actually paid on the same day, February 20, 1996
by his son Dionito Villanueva.17
To prove their ownership, petitioners presented Tax
Declaration No. 1264 for the year 1974 (Exhibit "4-B") and On the other hand, after buying the property in 1971, petitioners
other tax declarations (Exhibits "4-C, "4-D", "5" and possessed the same in the concept of an owner. They
submarkings) for the year 1980 to 1994, in the name of peacefully occupied it, built fences, planted plants and used the
Eutiquiano Salazar declaring the subject land for taxation same as ingress and egress towards their cottages. Having
purposes. While tax declarations and receipts are not been in continuous possession and enjoyment of the disputed
conclusive evidence of ownership and do not prove title to the land in good faith and with a just title since 1971 until 1997,
land, nevertheless, when coupled with actual possession, they petitioners doubtlessly obtained title by ordinary acquisitive
constitute evidence of great weight and can be the basis of a prescription.
claim of ownership through prescription.14
Moreover, the action is barred by laches which is defined as
Records also show that Lucas Villanueva, private respondents the failure to assert a right for an unreasonable and
predecessor-in-interest, did not actually possess the subject unexplained length of time, warranting a presumption that the
property during his lifetime. Private respondent Delia party entitled to assert it has either abandoned or declined to
Villanueva Dela Torre, testified that her parents while still alive assert it. This equitable defense is based upon grounds of
resided in Sitio Din-iwid, Balabag, Malay, Aklan, about less public policy, which requires the discouragement of stale
than a kilometer away from the land in question. 15 Neither did claims for the peace of society.18
any of the private respondents ever reside therein.16 The actual
possession by the private respondents rests solely on the In the instant case, private respondents knew as early as 1981
possession of Magdalena Tupas and her husband for eight that petitioners are building fences in the perimeter of the
years allegedly with the permission of Regina Tupas disputed land but did not take action to assert their rights over
Villanueva. However, the testimonies of Rubio Sastre and the subject parcel of land. They waited 16 long years to oust
Magdalena Tupas regarding the actual possession of Lucas petitioners from the possession of the land. Definitely, laches
Villanueva through planting of trees and gathering of fruits had already set in.
cannot be given full weight and credence because the
witnesses were of tender years then, barely seven or twelve WHEREFORE, the petition is GRANTED. The Decision dated
years old, and did not have discernment of the concept of March 17, 2005 of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. CV No.
possession and ownership. Moreover, no evidence was 72530, affirming the decision of the Regional Trial Court of
presented on how Lucas Villanueva acquired the land in Kalibo, Aklan, Branch 8, in Civil Case No. 5745, is hereby
69
REVERSED and SET ASIDE. Petitioners are hereby
DECLARED as lawful owners of the subject property through
acquisitive prescription.

SO ORDERED.

Panganiban, C.J. (Chairperson), Austria-Martinez, Callejo, Sr.,


and Chico-Nazario

70
Republic of the Philippines "RESIDENTIAL with an area of 472 sq. ms. (sic) Bounded on
SUPREME COURT the North by Ladera St.; on the East by Dionisio Ladera; on the
Manila South by Buenaventura Arzadon; and on the West by Rafael
Ladera; Assessed at P1700.00 under Tax Dec. No. 420809." 7
THIRD DIVISION
According to Agrifina Raon, her family had enjoyed
G.R. No. 171068 September 5, 2007 continuous, peaceful and uninterrupted possession and
ownership over the subject property since 1962, and had
HEIRS OF MARCELINA ARZADON-CRISOLOGO, religiously paid the taxes thereon. They had built a house on
represented by Leticia C. del Rosario, MAURICIA the subject property where she and her family had resided.
ARZADON and BERNARDO ARZADON, petitioners, Unfortunately, in 1986, when her family was already residing in
vs. Metro Manila, fire razed and destroyed the said house.
AGRIFINA RAON, substituted by SUZIMA RAON- Nonetheless, they continued to visit the subject property, as
DUTERTE and OTHELO RAON, respondents. well as pay the real estate taxes thereon. However, in August
of 1986, her daughter, Zosie Raon, discovered that the
DECISION subject property was already in the name of the spouses
Montemayor under Tax Declaration No. 0010563 which was
CHICO-NAZARIO, J.: purportedly issued in their favor by virtue of an Affidavit of
Ownership and Possession which the spouses Montemayor
This is a Petition for Certiorari under Rule 45 of the Rules of executed themselves. The Affidavit was alleged to have
Court of the Decision1 and Resolution2 of the Court of Appeals created a cloud of doubt over Raons title and ownership over
in CA-G.R. SP No. 72552, dated 10 November 2005 and 12 the subject property.
January 2006, respectively, which affirmed in toto the Decision 3
dated 8 August 2002 of the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Hence, Agrifina Raon sought a Writ of Preliminary Injunction8
Batac, Ilocos Norte, Branch 18, in Civil Case No. 3875-18. The against the spouses Montemayor commanding them to cease
RTC reversed the 11 December 2001 Decision4 of the and desist from further exercising any right of ownership or
Municipal Circuit Trial Court (MCTC) of Badoc-Pinili, Badoc, possession over the subject property. She further prayed that
Ilocos Norte, in Civil Case No. 141-B. she be finally declared the true and lawful owner of the subject
property.
Records show that on 18 October 1995, Agrifina Raon 5 filed
a Complaint6 against spouses Conrado and Mila Montemayor The spouses Montemayor, for their part, alleged that they
(spouses Montemayor) with the MCTC of Badoc, Ilocos Norte, acquired the subject lot by purchase from Leticia del Rosario
claiming ownership over an unregistered residential lot (subject and Bernardo Arzadon who are the heirs of its previous owners
property) situated at Brgy. No. 2 Badoc, Ilocos Norte, covered for a consideration of P100,000.00.9
by Tax Declaration No. 420809, more particularly described as
follows: On 22 July 1996, the Heirs of Marcelina Arzadon-Crisologo,
(represented by Leticia A. Crisologo del Rosario), Mauricia
71
Arzadon, and Bernardo Arzadon (petitioners) filed an Answer On 22 October 1999, the MCTC issued an Order11 dropping
in Intervention10 claiming, inter alia, that they are the rightful the name of the spouses Montemayor from the caption of the
owners of the subject property, having acquired the same from case on the ground that sometime in 1996, Leticia del Rosario
their predecessors-in-interest. They averred that there existed and Bernardo Arzadon had repurchased the subject property
no liens or encumbrances on the subject property in favor of from the spouses Montemayor for the consideration of
Agrifina Raon; and that no person, other than they and the P100,000.00. As a result, the spouses Montemayor had no
spouses Montemayor, has an interest in the property as owner more interest or claim whatsoever on the property in litigation.
or otherwise.
On 11 December 2001, the MCTC rendered a Decision in favor
Per petitioners allegations, their predecessors-in-interest, of the petitioners. The decretal portion thereof reads, thus:
spouses Timoteo and Modesta Alcantara (spouses Alcantara)
bought the subject property from its owner, Rafael Ladera, on WHEREFORE, in view of all the foregoing, judgment is hereby
2 May 1936. The spouses Alcantara then built a house of rendered:
strong materials on the subject property which served as their
conjugal home. Residing with them was Timoteo Alcantaras 1. Declaring the [petitioners] to be the true and lawful owners
sister, Augustina Alcantara-Arzadon. As the spouses Alcantara of one-half (1/2) portion of the undivided whole of the lot-in-suit
died without issue, their properties were left to Timoteo by mode of succession pursuant to [A]rticle 1001 of the [C]ivil
Alcantaras nearest of kin, Augustina Alcantara-Arzadon and [C]ode of the Philippines;
Tiburcio Alcantara, sister and brother, respectively, of Timoteo
Alcantara. Tiburcio Alcantara also died without any known heir; 2. Declaring the [petitioners] to have the better right over the
thus, leaving the subject property in Augustina Alcantara- other half of the undivided whole of the lot-in-suit by mode of
Arzadons sole favor. Augustina Alcantara-Arzadon is the prescription pursuant to [A]rticle 1137 of the Civil Code of the
mother of petitioners Marcelina Arzadon-Crisologo (now Philippines;
deceased and whose heirs are represented by Leticia del
Rosario) and Mauricia Arzadon. Bernardo Arzadon is the son 3. Dismissing the counter-claim of the [petitioners] against the
of Mauricia Arzadon. [respondents];

Petitioners asseverated further that Bernardo Arzadon had 4. Ordering [petitioners] to pay the cost of the suit.12
lived in the house constructed on the subject property until
1985 when it was gutted by fire. To further support their claims, First, the MCTC ruled that while the adverse claims of Agrifina
petitioners averred that they had religiously paid the real estate Raon on the subject lot against the spouses Alcantara may
taxes on the subject property. Finally, by way of a counterclaim, have started in 1962, this adverse possession was interrupted
petitioners sought compensation for the damages which they in the year 1977 due to the filing of an adverse claim by
allegedly suffered by reason of the baseless filing of the instant petitioner Marcelina Arzadon-Crisologo with the Office of the
suit. Assessor. In 1977, the tax declaration in the name of Valentin
Raon, Agrifina Raons husband, was cancelled and a new
tax declaration was issued in Marcelina Arzadon-Crisologos
72
name. The MCTC said that the period of possession of the On appeal, the RTC reversed and set aside the Decision of the
spouses Raon in the concept of an owner from 1962 to 1977 MCTC.
did not ripen into ownership because their occupation was in
bad faith. The Civil Code requires, for acquisitive prescription The RTC declared that the respondent Raons who are heirs
of real property, 30 years of uninterrupted possession if the of the original plaintiff had acquired the subject property by
same is wanting in good faith and without a just title. virtue of acquisitive prescription, and therefore adjudged
respondents to be the absolute owners thereof; thus, in the 8
Second, the MCTC held that by virtue of succession, August 2002 Decision of the RTC, it held:
petitioners are entitled to one-half of the subject property. This
is because according to Article 100113 of the Civil Code, should WHEREFORE, in view of the foregoing, the Decision of the trial
brothers and sisters or their children survive with the widow or [c]ourt is hereby REVERSED and SET ASIDE, and judgment
the widower (who are without issue), the latter shall be entitled is hereby rendered:
to one-half of the inheritance and the brothers and sisters or
their children to the other half. The spouses Alcantara died 1) Declaring the [respondents] as the absolute owners of the
without issue. As between Timoteo Alcantara and Modesta parcel of land in suit, having acquired the same through
Alcantara, the former predeceased the latter. Timoteo extraordinary acquisitive prescription.
Alcantara was survived by (1) his brother Tiburcio Alcantara,
who also died without any known heir; and (2) his sister No costs.18
Augustina Alcantara. Thus, following the death of the spouses
Alcantara, only the children of Augustina Alcantara, namely In its findings, the RTC declared that a more circumspect
Marcelina Arzadon-Crisologo and Mauricia Arzadon, stand to scrutiny of the evidence showed that for a long time from the
inherit Timoteo Alcantaras share in the subject property. death of the spouses Alcantara, no one adjudicated the subject
property unto themselves. Although petitioners and their
Moreover, the MCTC declared that for the part of Modesta predecessors-in-interest claimed to have successional rights
Alcantara, there was no legal heir who claimed the other half over the subject property, they did not take action to have the
of the property which she14 inherited from her husband, same adjudicated to themselves or, at least, to have the same
Timoteo Alcantara who predeceased her. On this portion, the declared for taxation purposes. The RTC ruled that petitioners
MCTC held that petitioners exercised rights of ownership and had slept on their rights. On the part of the respondent Raons,
dominion over the same by periodically visiting the lot and in 1962, Valentin Raon, respondents father, declared the
cleaning it.15 It also held that from 31 August 1977, when subject property in his name for taxation purposes and paid the
petitioners predecessor-in-interest Marcelina Arzadon- corresponding taxes thereon. In the years that followed, his
Crisologo filed an adverse claim for herself and for her brothers wife, Agrifina Raon, declared the same in her name for
and sisters which led to the issuance of Tax Declaration No. taxation purposes, as well as paid the real estate taxes on the
44120 in her name, to 11 December 2001,16 there is a total of subject property. In 1977, the latter even mortgaged the subject
33 years, three months and 10 days which is sufficient to claim property with the Philippine National Bank. It was only in 1977
ownership over the subject property by adverse possession when petitioners predecessor-in-interest Marcelina Arzadon-
under Article 113717 of the Civil Code. Crisologo executed an Adverse Claim and Notice of Ownership
73
and declared the subject property in her name and paid its respondents have been in possession of the subject property.
taxes. On this matter, the RTC said, viz:

The RTC elucidated in this wise, to wit: Evidently, the trial court considered by implication that the
execution by Marcelina Arzadon Crisologo of said Adverse
It bears to note that since the death of Timoteo Alcantara until Claim and Notice of Ownership in 1977 to have interrupted the
the year 1977, [petitioners], as well as their predecessors-in- running of the prescriptive period on the possession by the
interests (sic) had not taken any concrete step in exercising [respondents] of the parcel of land in suit. It bears to stress on
their supposed successional rights over the parcel of land in (sic) this point, that the Adverse Claim and Notice of Ownership
suit, or at least, the Intervenors should have always [stayed] on executed by Marcelina Arzadon Crisologo is nothing but a
their guard or especially vigilant against anyone who would notice of a claim adverse to the [respondents]. By its nature, its
secure a claim to the said parcel of land, more so that Valentin implication is that the [respondents] have been in possession
Raon and plaintiff Agrifina Raon were then living with them. of the parcel of land in suit in some concept. But definitely, said
It is very unfortunate that it was only in 1977 that the Adverse Claim does not, upon its execution, operate to toll or
Intervenors made known to others of their supposed interrupt the running of the prescriptive period because there is
successional rights over the parcel of land in suit. Relief is a necessity to determine the validity of the same. And this could
denied to a claimant whose right has become stale for a long only be done by the filing of the necessary action in court such
time, considering that some other persons like [respondents] [as] contemplated in the provisions of Article 1123 of the Civil
had wayback (sic) taken the necessary action in claiming the Code. It is only on (sic) such instance that the prescriptive
parcel of land in suit. It is the vigilant and not the sleepy that is period should be deemed interrupted. And undisputedly,
being assisted by the laws. (Ledita Burce Jacob v. Court of nothing had been done by the Intervenors after the execution
Appeals, et al., G.R. No. 92159, July 1, 1993). of said Adverse Claim by Marcelina Crisologo, except of course
as they claimed, and as held by the trial court, they started to
It stands to reason, therefore, to hold that because of the claim possess the parcel of land in suit. Regretably (sic), however,
of the [respondents] to have acquired the parcel of land in suit such possession by the Intervenors of the parcel of land in suit
by acquisitive prescription, the Intervenors who belatedly does not benefit them for purposes of prescription.20
claimed to be the legal and compulsory heirs of the late
Timoteo Alcantara, as ruled by the trial court, had regrettably The RTC also declared that the Raons have been in
forfeited their such (sic) successional rights, simply due to their possession of the parcel of land in the concept of an owner
inaction for a long period of time. Hence, contrary to the since 1962. Even as they had gone to live in Manila following
findings of the trial court, the [petitioners] are not entitled to the the burning of the house on the subject property, they
one-half (1/2) portion of the parcel of land in suit.19 continued to exercise acts of dominion over the same by
visiting and looking after the property. The RTC also
Likewise, the RTC reasoned that the Notice of Adverse Claim considered in favor of the respondents, the admission of
executed by petitioners predecessor-in-interest Marcelina petitioner Bernardo Arzadon and the petitioners witnesses that
Arzadon-Crisologo against the Raons in 1977 implied that Valentin Raon and Agrifina Raon had been staying in the
house on the subject lot since 1947, which shows that they had
74
been in possession of the subject property for a period of more possession in the concept of owner commencing from 1962
than 50 years. until 1995 when the complaint below was filed.21

On review before the Court of Appeals, the Decision of the RTC Petitioners filed a Motion for Reconsideration thereon which
was affirmed in toto. was denied by the Court of Appeals in the following manner, to
wit:
The Court of Appeals held that when Valentin Raon executed
the affidavit declaring himself to be the true and lawful owner After a careful study of the grounds relied upon by petitioners
of the subject property in 1962, the same was a repudiation of We find no new matters raised to justify a modification much
petitioners legal title over it. The repudiation, coupled with the less, a reversal of the Decision sought to be reconsidered. To
payment of realty taxes, was made with the knowledge of reiterate, even assuming ex gratia argumenti that petitioner
petitioners, who failed to act against it. Thus, from 1962 up to merely tolerated the Raons (sic) occupancy of the subject
the filing of the action in 1995, respondents continued to property, it must be stressed that the execution in 1962 of
adversely occupy the property. In the assailed 10 November Valentin Raons Affidavit, the corresponding payment of realty
2005 Decision of the Court of Appeals, it ruled: taxes and other acts of dominion which went unchallenged by
the petitioners, had effectively severed their alleged juridical
Moreover, respondents payment of realty taxes made with the relation. Suffice it to state that these acts, taken as a whole,
knowledge and consent of petitioners and went unchallenged vest upon the Raons the right to claim ownership over the
for a number of years, indubitably show their positive claim as subject property irrespective of whether the nature of their
owners of the property. While it is true that by themselves tax occupation was rooted from the mere tolerance of the
receipts and declarations of ownership for taxation purposes Arzadons or from a bona fide sale between Agrifina Raon and
are not incontrovertible evidence of ownership, they become Rafael Ladera.22
strong evidence of ownership acquired by prescription when
accompanied by proof of actual possession of the property. It Hence, the instant Petition.
is only where payment of taxes is accompanied by actual
possession of the land covered by the tax declaration that such The primordial issue in the case at bar is whether the Court of
circumstance may be material in supporting a claim of Appeals erred in declaring that respondents had acquired
ownership. ownership over the subject property through uninterrupted and
adverse possession thereof for thirty years, without need of title
Needless to state, from 1962 onwards, prescription begun to or of good faith. Petitioners dispute the findings of the Court of
run against petitioners and was not in any way interrupted from Appeals and the RTC in declaring that acquisitive prescription
their mere execution of the Notice of Adverse Claim since the has set in against them and in favor of the respondents. They
notice of adverse claim cannot take the place of judicial claim that the evidence does not support respondents
summons which produces the civil interruption provided for contention that they have been in public, notorious, and
under the law. And even if We are to eliminate the question of uninterrupted possession over the subject property in the
good faith in determining the prescriptive period, evidence are concept of an owner since 1962 as alleged in their Complaint.
(sic) still abundant to substantiate respondents thirty years of Instead, petitioners rely on the finding of the MCTC that
75
respondents were not able to prove their adverse claim for an From the foregoing, it can be gleaned that acquisitive
uninterrupted period of thirty years. prescription of real rights may be ordinary or extraordinary.30
Ordinary acquisitive prescription requires possession of things
At this juncture, we take an opportune look at the applicable in good faith and with just title for the time fixed by law; without
rules on the acquisition of ownership through prescription. good faith and just title, acquisitive prescription can only be
extraordinary in character.31 Regarding real or immovable
Prescription is another mode of acquiring ownership and other property, ordinary acquisitive prescription requires a period of
real rights over immovable property.23 It is concerned with possession of ten years, while extraordinary acquisitive
lapse of time in the manner and under conditions laid down by prescription requires an uninterrupted adverse possession of
law, namely, that the possession should be in the concept of thirty years.32
an owner, public, peaceful, uninterrupted and adverse. 24
Possession is open when it is patent, visible, apparent, Were respondents able to sufficiently satisfy the legal
notorious and not clandestine.25 It is continuous when requirements to prove prescription?
uninterrupted, unbroken and not intermittent or occasional; 26
exclusive when the adverse possessor can show exclusive To recapitulate, respondents traced their claim of ownership
dominion over the land and an appropriation of it to his own use from the year 1962 until the filing of their Complaint for
and benefit;27 and notorious when it is so conspicuous that it is Ownership before the MCTC on 18 October 1995. To support
generally known and talked of by the public or the people in the their possession, they rely on an Affidavit executed on 19
neighborhood.28 The party who asserts ownership by adverse October 1962 by Valentin Raon claiming ownership over the
possession must prove the presence of the essential elements subject property by virtue of an alleged sale. The MCTC, the
of acquisitive prescription. RTC and the Court of Appeals were unanimous in declaring
that the execution by Valentin Raon of the Affidavit in 1962
Article 1117 of the Civil Code is instructive: was an express repudiation of petitioners claim over the
property. By virtue of such Affidavit, respondents were able to
Art. 1117. Acquisitive prescription of dominion and other real cancel Tax Declaration No. 02853 in the name of petitioners
rights may be ordinary or extraordinary. predecessor-in-interest Timoteo Alcantara who was shown to
have paid taxes on the subject property in 1950. Hence, in
Articles 1134 and 1137 of the Civil Code fix the periods of 1962, Tax Declaration No. 033062 was issued in the name of
possession,29 which provide: Valentin Raon. The same was subsequently cancelled by Tax
Declaration No. 033106, which was in the name of his wife,
Art. 1134. Ownership and other real rights over immovable Agrifina Raon. The same was likewise cancelled in 1967 by
property are acquired by ordinary prescription through Tax Declaration No. 420809, similarly under the name of
possession of ten years. Agrifina Raon. In 1977, however, petitioners predecessor-in-
interest Marcelina Arzadon-Crisologo filed an Adverse Claim
Art. 1137. Ownership and other real rights over immovables and a Notice of Ownership claiming that the subject property
also prescribe through uninterrupted adverse possession which is not yet registered in the Office of the Register of Deeds
thereof for thirty years, without need of title or of good faith. of Laoag City is declared under Tax Declaration No. 420809 in
76
the name of Valentin Raon for taxation purposes only; but that received by respondents. As aptly held by the Court of Appeals
they have been in possession of the said land publicly, in its affirmance of the RTCs ruling, the Notice of Adverse
peacefully and continuously without any intervention or Claim cannot take the place of judicial summons which
interruption for more than 15 years. produces the civil interruption provided for under the law.35 In
the instant case, petitioners were not able to interrupt
However, a question must be asked: did the Notice of Adverse respondents adverse possession since 1962. The period of
Claim filed by petitioners constitute an effective interruption acquisitive prescription from 1962 continued to run in
since 1962 of respondents possession of the subject property? respondents favor despite the Notice of Adverse Claim.

The answer is in the negative. From another angle, we find that, quite clearly, questions of
fact exist before us. There is a question of fact when the doubt
Article 112333 of the Civil Code is categorical. Civil interruption or difference arises as to the truth or falsehood of facts or when
is produced by judicial summons to the possessor. Moreover, the query invites calibration of the whole evidence considering
even with the presence of judicial summons, Article 112434 sets mainly the credibility of the witnesses, the existence and
limitations as to when such summons shall not be deemed to relevancy of specific surrounding circumstances as well as
have been issued and shall not give rise to interruption, to wit: their relation to each other and to the whole, and the probability
1) if it should be void for lack of legal solemnities; 2) if the of the situation.36
plaintiff should desist from the complaint or should allow the
proceedings to lapse; or 3) if the possessor should be absolved Thus, we find proper the application of the doctrine that findings
from the complaint. of facts of the Court of Appeals upholding those of the trial court
are binding upon this Court.37 Even though the rule is subject
Both Article 1123 and Article 1124 of the Civil Code underscore to exceptions,38 we do not find them applicable in the instant
the judicial character of civil interruption. For civil interruption to case.
take place, the possessor must have received judicial
summons. None appears in the case at bar. The Notice of As found by the RTC and affirmed by the Court of Appeals,
Adverse Claim which was filed by petitioners in 1977 is nothing nothing was done by petitioners to claim possession over the
more than a notice of claim which did not effectively interrupt subject property from the time their predecessors-in-interest
respondents possession. Such a notice could not have had lost possession of the property due to their deaths. Plainly,
produced civil interruption. We agree in the conclusion of the petitioners slept on their rights. Vigilantibus sed non
RTC, which was affirmed by the Court of Appeals, that the dormientibus jura subveniunt. The law comes to the succor
execution of the Notice of Adverse Claim in 1977 did not toll or only to aid the vigilant, not those who slumber on their rights. It
interrupt the running of the prescriptive period because there was only in 1977 when they attempted to call the attention of
remains, as yet, a necessity for a judicial determination of its respondents, which as earlier discussed, did not even operate
judicial validity. What existed was merely a notice. There was as an interruption on the latters possession. The RTC and the
no compliance with Article 1123 of the Civil Code. What is Court of Appeals held that from 1962 to the time they filed their
striking is that no action was, in fact, filed by petitioners against Complaint before the MCTC and until the present time,
respondents. As a consequence, no judicial summons was respondents occupied without interruption the subject property
77
in the concept of an owner, thereby acquiring ownership via prescription, pursuant to the provisions of Article 113439 (sic) of
extraordinary acquisitive prescription. To reiterate, the RTCs the New (sic) Civil Code. However, as earlier stated, the
factual findings based on the evidence on record were [respondents], contrary to the claim of the [petitioners] and
manifestly in favor of respondents, to wit: findings of the trial court, have been in possession of the parcel
of land in suit continuously and uninterrupted from 1962 to the
Thus, by preponderance of evidence, it has been established present but because of the admissions of the [petitioners], the
preponderantly that the [respondents] have been in possession [respondents] have been in possession of the same from 1947
of the parcel of land in suit continuously, peacefully, publicly, to the present or for more than fifty (50) years now.40
notoriously, uninterrupted and in the concept of an owner since
1962 to the present. The fact that the [respondents] have gone The open, continuous, exclusive and notorious possession by
to live in Manila right after the house built in the parcel of land respondents of the subject property for a period of more than
in suit was burned in 1988, they, however, then and thereafter 30 years in repudiation of petitioners ownership had been
intermittently come to Badoc, Ilocos Norte purposely to look established. During such length of time, respondents had
after and to visit the parcel of land in suit. Actual possession of exercised acts of dominion over the subject property, and paid
land consists in the manifestation of acts of dominion over it of taxes in their name. Jurisprudence is clear that although tax
such a nature as a party would naturally exercise over his own declarations or realty tax payments of property are not
property. One needs (sic) not to (sic) stay on it. The acts conclusive evidence of ownership, nevertheless, they are good
exercised by the [respondents] over the parcel of land in suit indicia of possession in the concept of owner for no one in his
are consistent with ownership. Possession in the eyes of the right mind would be paying taxes for a property that is not in his
law does not mean that a man has to have his feet on every actual or at least constructive possession.41 They constitute at
square meter of the ground before it can be said that he is in least proof that the holder has a claim of title over the
possession [thereof]. (Ramos v. Director of Lands, 39 Phil. 175, property.42 As is well known, the payment of taxes coupled with
cited in the case of Somodio v. Court of Appeals, et al., 235 actual possession of the land covered by the tax declaration
SCRA 307). It is sufficient that the [respondents] were able to strongly supports a claim of ownership.43 The Court of Appeals
subject the parcel of land to the action of their will. did not err in affirming the factual findings of the RTC that
respondents had validly established their claim of ownership
Furthermore, the Court finds it (sic) significant the testimonies over the subject property through acquisitive prescription.
of [petitioner] Bernardo Arzadon and his witnesses Leonila
Arzadon and Elpidio Evangelista who categorically testified to WHEREFORE, the Petition is DENIED. The Decision of the
the effect that Valentin Raon and [respondent] Agrifina Raon Court of Appeals dated 10 November 2005 and the Resolution
had been staying in the house standing on the parcel of land in dated 12 January 2006 in CA-G.R. SP No. 72552 are
suit since 1947. Basically, the defendants are bound by their AFFIRMED. No costs.
admissions and also bound by the testimonies of the witnesses
they presented. And going along with their respective SO ORDERED.
testimonies, from 1947 to 1977 or for [a] period of thirty (30)
years the [respondents] have been in possession of the parcel
of land in suit enough to invoke extraordinary acquisitive
78
Republic of the Philippines MANAGEMENT BUREAU, REGION VI, PROVINCIAL
SUPREME COURT ENVIRONMENT AND NATURAL RESOURCES OFFICER,
Manila KALIBO, AKLAN, respondents.
EN BANC DECISION
G.R. No. 167707 October 8, 2008 REYES, R.T., J.:
THE SECRETARY OF THE DEPARTMENT OF AT stake in these consolidated cases is the right of the present
ENVIRONMENT AND NATURAL RESOURCES, THE occupants of Boracay Island to secure titles over their occupied
REGIONAL EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, DENR-REGION VI, lands.
REGIONAL TECHNICAL DIRECTOR FOR LANDS, LANDS
There are two consolidated petitions. The first is G.R. No.
MANAGEMENT BUREAU, REGION VI PROVINCIAL
167707, a petition for review on certiorari of the Decision1 of
ENVIRONMENT AND NATURAL RESOURCES OFFICER
the Court of Appeals (CA) affirming that2 of the Regional Trial
OF KALIBO, AKLAN, REGISTER OF DEEDS, DIRECTOR
Court (RTC) in Kalibo, Aklan, which granted the petition for
OF LAND REGISTRATION AUTHORITY, DEPARTMENT OF
declaratory relief filed by respondents-claimants Mayor Jose
TOURISM SECRETARY, DIRECTOR OF PHILIPPINE
Yap, et al. and ordered the survey of Boracay for titling
TOURISM AUTHORITY, petitioners,
purposes. The second is G.R. No. 173775, a petition for
vs.
prohibition, mandamus, and nullification of Proclamation No.
MAYOR JOSE S. YAP, LIBERTAD TALAPIAN, MILA Y.
10645">[3] issued by President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo
SUMNDAD, and ANICETO YAP, in their behalf and in behalf
classifying Boracay into reserved forest and agricultural land.
of all those similarly situated, respondents.
The Antecedents
x-------------------------------------------- G.R. No. 167707
------x
Boracay Island in the Municipality of Malay, Aklan, with its
G.R. No. G.R. No. 173775 October 8, 2008 powdery white sand beaches and warm crystalline waters, is
reputedly a premier Philippine tourist destination. The island is
DR. ORLANDO SACAY and WILFREDO GELITO, joined by
also home to 12,003 inhabitants4 who live in the bone-shaped
THE LANDOWNERS OF BORACAY SIMILARLY SITUATED
islands three barangays.5
NAMED IN A LIST, ANNEX "A" OF THIS PETITION,
petitioners, On April 14, 1976, the Department of Environment and Natural
vs. Resources (DENR) approved the National Reservation Survey
THE SECRETARY OF THE DEPARTMENT OF of Boracay
ENVIRONMENT AND NATURAL RESOURCES, THE
REGIONAL TECHNICAL DIRECTOR FOR LANDS, LANDS
79
Island,6 which identified several lots as being occupied or registered in their names through judicial confirmation of
claimed by named persons.7 imperfect titles.
On November 10, 1978, then President Ferdinand Marcos The Republic, through the Office of the Solicitor General
issued Proclamation No. 18018 declaring Boracay Island, (OSG), opposed the petition for declaratory relief. The OSG
among other islands, caves and peninsulas in the Philippines, countered that Boracay Island was an unclassified land of the
as tourist zones and marine reserves under the public domain. It formed part of the mass of lands classified as
administration of the Philippine Tourism Authority (PTA). "public forest," which was not available for disposition pursuant
President Marcos later approved the issuance of PTA Circular to Section 3(a) of Presidential Decree (PD) No. 705 or the
3-829 dated September 3, 1982, to implement Proclamation Revised Forestry Code,11 as amended.
No. 1801.
The OSG maintained that respondents-claimants reliance on
Claiming that Proclamation No. 1801 and PTA Circular No 3- PD No. 1801 and PTA Circular No. 3-82 was misplaced. Their
82 precluded them from filing an application for judicial right to judicial confirmation of title was governed by CA No.
confirmation of imperfect title or survey of land for titling 141 and PD No. 705. Since Boracay Island had not been
purposes, respondents-claimants classified as alienable and disposable, whatever possession
Mayor Jose S. Yap, Jr., Libertad Talapian, Mila Y. Sumndad, they had cannot ripen into ownership.
and Aniceto Yap filed a petition for declaratory relief with the
During pre-trial, respondents-claimants and the OSG stipulated
RTC in Kalibo, Aklan.
on the following facts: (1) respondents-claimants were
In their petition, respondents-claimants alleged that presently in possession of parcels of land in Boracay Island; (2)
Proclamation No. 1801 and PTA Circular No. 3-82 raised these parcels of land were planted with coconut trees and other
doubts on their right to secure titles over their occupied lands. natural growing trees; (3) the coconut trees had heights of more
They declared that they themselves, or through their or less twenty (20) meters and were planted more or less fifty
predecessors-in-interest, had been in open, continuous, (50) years ago; and (4) respondents-claimants declared the
exclusive, and notorious possession and occupation in land they were occupying for tax purposes.12
Boracay since June 12, 1945, or earlier since time immemorial.
The parties also agreed that the principal issue for resolution
They declared their lands for tax purposes and paid realty taxes
was purely legal: whether Proclamation No. 1801 posed any
on them.10
legal hindrance or impediment to the titling of the lands in
Respondents-claimants posited that Proclamation No. 1801 Boracay. They decided to forego with the trial and to submit the
and its implementing Circular did not place Boracay beyond the case for resolution upon submission of their respective
commerce of man. Since the Island was classified as a tourist memoranda.13
zone, it was susceptible of private ownership. Under Section
The RTC took judicial notice14 that certain parcels of land in
48(b) of Commonwealth Act (CA) No. 141, otherwise known as
Boracay Island, more particularly Lots 1 and 30, Plan PSU-
the Public Land Act, they had the right to have the lots
80
5344, were covered by Original Certificate of Title No. 19502 On December 9, 2004, the appellate court affirmed in toto the
(RO 2222) in the name of the Heirs of Ciriaco S. Tirol. These RTC decision, disposing as follows:
lots were involved in Civil Case Nos. 5222 and 5262 filed
WHEREFORE, in view of the foregoing premises, judgment is
before the RTC of Kalibo, Aklan.15 The titles were issued on
hereby rendered by us DENYING the appeal filed in this case
August 7, 1933.16 and AFFIRMING the decision of the lower court.24
RTC and CA Dispositions The CA held that respondents-claimants could not be
prejudiced by a declaration that the lands they occupied since
On July 14, 1999, the RTC rendered a decision in favor of
time immemorial were part of a forest reserve.
respondents-claimants, with a fallo reading:
Again, the OSG sought reconsideration but it was similarly
WHEREFORE, in view of the foregoing, the Court declares that
denied.25 Hence, the present petition under Rule 45.
Proclamation No. 1801 and PTA Circular No. 3-82 pose no
legal obstacle to the petitioners and those similarly situated to G.R. No. 173775
acquire title to their lands in Boracay, in accordance with the
On May 22, 2006, during the pendency of G.R. No. 167707,
applicable laws and in the manner prescribed therein; and to
President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo issued Proclamation No.
have their lands surveyed and approved by respondent
106426 classifying Boracay Island into four hundred (400)
Regional Technical Director of Lands as the approved survey
hectares of reserved forest land (protection purposes) and six
does not in itself constitute a title to the land.
hundred twenty-eight and 96/100 (628.96) hectares of
SO ORDERED.17 agricultural land (alienable and disposable). The Proclamation
likewise provided for a fifteen-meter buffer zone on each side
The RTC upheld respondents-claimants right to have their
of the centerline of roads and trails, reserved for right-of-way
occupied lands titled in their name. It ruled that neither
and which shall form part of the area reserved for forest land
Proclamation No. 1801 nor PTA Circular No. 3-82 mentioned
protection purposes.
that lands in Boracay were inalienable or could not be the
subject of disposition.18 The Circular itself recognized private On August 10, 2006, petitioners-claimants Dr. Orlando
ownership of lands.19 The trial court cited Sections 8720 and Sacay,27 Wilfredo Gelito,28 and other landowners29 in Boracay
5321 of the Public Land Act as basis for acknowledging private filed with this Court an original petition for prohibition,
ownership of lands in Boracay and that only those forested mandamus, and nullification of Proclamation No. 1064.30 They
areas in public lands were declared as part of the forest allege that the Proclamation infringed on their "prior vested
reserve.22 rights" over portions of Boracay. They have been in continued
possession of their respective lots in Boracay since time
The OSG moved for reconsideration but its motion was
immemorial. They have also invested billions of pesos in
denied.23 The Republic then appealed to the CA.
developing their lands and building internationally renowned
first class resorts on their lots.31
81
Petitioners-claimants contended that there is no need for a AT THE TIME OF THE ESTABLISHED POSSESSION OF
proclamation reclassifying Boracay into agricultural land. Being PETITIONERS IN CONCEPT OF OWNER OVER THEIR
classified as neither mineral nor timber land, the island is RESPECTIVE AREAS IN BORACAY, SINCE TIME
deemed agricultural pursuant to the Philippine Bill of 1902 and IMMEMORIAL OR AT THE LATEST SINCE 30 YRS. PRIOR
Act No. 926, known as the first Public Land Act. 32 Thus, their TO THE FILING OF THE PETITION FOR DECLARATORY
possession in the concept of owner for the required period RELIEF ON NOV. 19, 1997, WERE THE AREAS OCCUPIED
entitled them to judicial confirmation of imperfect title. BY THEM PUBLIC AGRICULTURAL LANDS AS DEFINED BY
LAWS THEN ON JUDICIAL CONFIRMATION OF
Opposing the petition, the OSG argued that petitioners-
IMPERFECT TITLES OR PUBLIC FOREST AS DEFINED BY
claimants do not have a vested right over their occupied
SEC. 3a, PD 705?
portions in the island. Boracay is an unclassified public forest
land pursuant to Section 3(a) of PD No. 705. Being public II.
forest, the claimed portions of the island are inalienable and
HAVE PETITIONERS OCCUPANTS ACQUIRED PRIOR
cannot be the subject of judicial confirmation of imperfect title.
VESTED RIGHT OF PRIVATE OWNERSHIP OVER THEIR
It is only the executive department, not the courts, which has
OCCUPIED PORTIONS OF BORACAY LAND, DESPITE THE
authority to reclassify lands of the public domain into alienable
FACT THAT THEY HAVE NOT APPLIED YET FOR JUDICIAL
and disposable lands. There is a need for a positive
CONFIRMATION OF IMPERFECT TITLE?
government act in order to release the lots for disposition.
III.
On November 21, 2006, this Court ordered the consolidation of
the two petitions as they principally involve the same issues on IS THE EXECUTIVE DECLARATION OF THEIR AREAS AS
the land classification of Boracay Island.33 ALIENABLE AND DISPOSABLE UNDER SEC 6, CA 141 [AN]
INDISPENSABLE PRE-REQUISITE FOR PETITIONERS TO
Issues
OBTAIN TITLE UNDER THE TORRENS SYSTEM?
G.R. No. 167707
IV.
The OSG raises the lone issue of whether Proclamation No.
IS THE ISSUANCE OF PROCLAMATION 1064 ON MAY 22,
1801 and PTA Circular No. 3-82 pose any legal obstacle for
2006, VIOLATIVE OF THE PRIOR VESTED RIGHTS TO
respondents, and all those similarly situated, to acquire title to
PRIVATE OWNERSHIP OF PETITIONERS OVER THEIR
their occupied lands in Boracay Island.34
LANDS IN BORACAY, PROTECTED BY THE DUE PROCESS
G.R. No. 173775 CLAUSE OF THE CONSTITUTION OR IS PROCLAMATION
1064 CONTRARY TO SEC. 8, CA 141, OR SEC. 4(a) OF RA
Petitioners-claimants hoist five (5) issues, namely:
6657.
I.
V.

82
CAN RESPONDENTS BE COMPELLED BY MANDAMUS TO timber or forest and grazing lands, and such other classes as
ALLOW THE SURVEY AND TO APPROVE THE SURVEY may be provided by law,41 giving the government great leeway
PLANS FOR PURPOSES OF THE APPLICATION FOR for classification.42 Then the 1987 Constitution reverted to the
TITLING OF THE LANDS OF PETITIONERS IN BORACAY?35 1935 Constitution classification with one addition: national
(Underscoring supplied) parks.43 Of these, only agricultural lands may be alienated.44
Prior to Proclamation No. 1064 of May 22, 2006, Boracay
In capsule, the main issue is whether private claimants
Island had never been expressly and administratively
(respondents-claimants in G.R. No. 167707 and petitioners-
classified under any of these grand divisions. Boracay was an
claimants in G.R. No. 173775) have a right to secure titles over
unclassified land of the public domain.
their occupied portions in Boracay. The twin petitions pertain to
their right, if any, to judicial confirmation of imperfect title under The Regalian Doctrine dictates that all lands of the public
CA No. 141, as amended. They do not involve their right to domain belong to the State, that the State is the source of any
secure title under other pertinent laws. asserted right to ownership of land and charged with the
conservation of such patrimony.45 The doctrine has been
Our Ruling
consistently adopted under the 1935, 1973, and 1987
Regalian Doctrine and power of the executive Constitutions.46

to reclassify lands of the public domain All lands not otherwise appearing to be clearly within private
ownership are presumed to belong to the State.47 Thus, all
Private claimants rely on three (3) laws and executive acts in lands that have not been acquired from the government, either
their bid for judicial confirmation of imperfect title, namely: (a) by purchase or by grant, belong to the State as part of the
Philippine Bill of 190236 in relation to Act No. 926, later inalienable public domain.48 Necessarily, it is up to the State to
amended and/or superseded by Act No. 2874 and CA No. determine if lands of the public domain will be disposed of for
141;37 (b) Proclamation No. 180138 issued by then President private ownership. The government, as the agent of the state,
Marcos; and (c) Proclamation No. 106439 issued by President is possessed of the plenary power as the persona in law to
Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo. We shall proceed to determine their determine who shall be the favored recipients of public lands,
rights to apply for judicial confirmation of imperfect title under as well as under what terms they may be granted such
these laws and executive acts. privilege, not excluding the placing of obstacles in the way of
But first, a peek at the Regalian principle and the power of the their exercise of what otherwise would be ordinary acts of
executive to reclassify lands of the public domain. ownership.49

The 1935 Constitution classified lands of the public domain into Our present land law traces its roots to the Regalian Doctrine.
agricultural, forest or timber.40 Meanwhile, the 1973 Upon the Spanish conquest of the Philippines, ownership of all
Constitution provided the following divisions: agricultural, lands, territories and possessions in the Philippines passed to
industrial or commercial, residential, resettlement, mineral, the Spanish Crown.50 The Regalian doctrine was first

83
introduced in the Philippines through the Laws of the Indies and divisions, to wit: agricultural, mineral, and timber or forest
the Royal Cedulas, which laid the foundation that "all lands that lands.61 The act provided for, among others, the disposal of
were not acquired from the Government, either by purchase or mineral lands by means of absolute grant (freehold system)
by grant, belong to the public domain."51 and by lease (leasehold system).62 It also provided the
definition by exclusion of "agricultural public lands." 63
The Laws of the Indies was followed by the Ley Hipotecaria or
Interpreting the meaning of "agricultural lands" under the
the Mortgage Law of 1893. The Spanish Mortgage Law
Philippine Bill of 1902, the Court declared in Mapa v. Insular
provided for the systematic registration of titles and deeds as
Government:64
well as possessory claims.52
x x x In other words, that the phrase "agricultural land" as
The Royal Decree of 1894 or the Maura Law53 partly amended
used in Act No. 926 means those public lands acquired from
the Spanish Mortgage Law and the Laws of the Indies. It
Spain which are not timber or mineral lands. x x x65
established possessory information as the method of legalizing
(Emphasis Ours)
possession of vacant Crown land, under certain conditions
which were set forth in said decree.54 Under Section 393 of the On February 1, 1903, the Philippine Legislature passed Act No.
Maura Law, an informacion posesoria or possessory 496, otherwise known as the Land Registration Act. The act
information title,55 when duly inscribed in the Registry of established a system of registration by which recorded title
Property, is converted into a title of ownership only after the becomes absolute, indefeasible, and imprescriptible. This is
lapse of twenty (20) years of uninterrupted possession which known as the Torrens system.66
must be actual, public, and adverse,56 from the date of its
Concurrently, on October 7, 1903, the Philippine Commission
inscription.57 However, possessory information title had to be
passed Act No. 926, which was the first Public Land Act. The
perfected one year after the promulgation of the Maura Law, or
Act introduced the homestead system and made provisions for
until April 17, 1895. Otherwise, the lands would revert to the
judicial and administrative confirmation of imperfect titles and
State.58
for the sale or lease of public lands. It permitted corporations
In sum, private ownership of land under the Spanish regime regardless of the nationality of persons owning the controlling
could only be founded on royal concessions which took various stock to lease or purchase lands of the public domain.67 Under
forms, namely: (1) titulo real or royal grant; (2) concesion the Act, open, continuous, exclusive, and notorious possession
especial or special grant; (3) composicion con el estado or and occupation of agricultural lands for the next ten (10) years
adjustment title; (4) titulo de compra or title by purchase; and preceding July 26, 1904 was sufficient for judicial confirmation
(5) informacion posesoria or possessory information title.59> of imperfect title.68
The first law governing the disposition of public lands in the On November 29, 1919, Act No. 926 was superseded by Act
Philippines under American rule was embodied in the No. 2874, otherwise known as the second Public Land Act.
Philippine Bill of 1902.60 By this law, lands of the public domain This new, more comprehensive law limited the exploitation of
in the Philippine Islands were classified into three (3) grand agricultural lands to Filipinos and Americans and citizens of
84
other countries which gave Filipinos the same privileges. For system as well as unregistered lands, including chattel
judicial confirmation of title, possession and occupation en mortgages.79
concepto dueo since time immemorial, or since July 26, 1894,
A positive act declaring land as alienable and disposable
was required.69
is required. In keeping with the presumption of State
After the passage of the 1935 Constitution, CA No. 141 ownership, the Court has time and again emphasized that there
amended Act No. 2874 on December 1, 1936. To this day, CA must be a positive act of the government, such as an official
No. 141, as amended, remains as the existing general law proclamation,80 declassifying inalienable public land into
governing the classification and disposition of lands of the disposable land for agricultural or other purposes.81 In fact,
public domain other than timber and mineral lands, 70 and Section 8 of CA No. 141 limits alienable or disposable lands
privately owned lands which reverted to the State.71 only to those lands which have been "officially delimited and
classified."82
Section 48(b) of CA No. 141 retained the requirement under
Act No. 2874 of possession and occupation of lands of the The burden of proof in overcoming the presumption of State
public domain since time immemorial or since July 26, 1894. ownership of the lands of the public domain is on the person
However, this provision was superseded by Republic Act (RA) applying for registration (or claiming ownership), who must
No. 1942,72 which provided for a simple thirty-year prescriptive prove that the land subject of the application is alienable or
period for judicial confirmation of imperfect title. The provision disposable.83 To overcome this presumption, incontrovertible
was last amended by PD No. 1073,73 which now provides for evidence must be established that the land subject of the
possession and occupation of the land applied for since June application (or claim) is alienable or disposable. 84 There must
12, 1945, or earlier.74 still be a positive act declaring land of the public domain as
alienable and disposable. To prove that the land subject of an
The issuance of PD No. 89275 on February 16, 1976
application for registration is alienable, the applicant must
discontinued the use of Spanish titles as evidence in land
establish the existence of a positive act of the government such
registration proceedings.76 Under the decree, all holders of
as a presidential proclamation or an executive order; an
Spanish titles or grants should apply for registration of their
administrative action; investigation reports of Bureau of Lands
lands under Act No. 496 within six (6) months from the
investigators; and a legislative act or a statute.85 The applicant
effectivity of the decree on February 16, 1976. Thereafter, the
may also secure a certification from the government that the
recording of all unregistered lands77 shall be governed by
land claimed to have been possessed for the required number
Section 194 of the Revised Administrative Code, as amended
of years is alienable and disposable.86
by Act No. 3344.
In the case at bar, no such proclamation, executive order,
On June 11, 1978, Act No. 496 was amended and updated by
administrative action, report, statute, or certification was
PD No. 1529, known as the Property Registration Decree. It
presented to the Court. The records are bereft of evidence
was enacted to codify the various laws relative to registration
showing that, prior to 2006, the portions of Boracay occupied
of property.78 It governs registration of lands under the Torrens
85
by private claimants were subject of a government Spouses Pedro S. Palanca and Soterranea Rafols Vda. De
proclamation that the land is alienable and disposable. Absent Palanca v. Republic,92 in which it stated, through Justice Adolfo
such well-nigh incontrovertible evidence, the Court cannot Azcuna, viz.:
accept the submission that lands occupied by private claimants
x x x Petitioners furthermore insist that a particular land need
were already open to disposition before 2006. Matters of land
not be formally released by an act of the Executive before it
classification or reclassification cannot be assumed. They call
can be deemed open to private ownership, citing the cases of
for proof.87
Ramos v. Director of Lands and Ankron v. Government of the
Ankron and De Aldecoa did not make the whole of Boracay Philippine Islands.
Island, or portions of it, agricultural lands. Private claimants
xxxx
posit that Boracay was already an agricultural land pursuant to
the old cases Ankron v. Government of the Philippine Islands Petitioners reliance upon Ramos v. Director of Lands and
(1919)88 and De Aldecoa v. The Insular Government (1909).89 Ankron v. Government is misplaced. These cases were
These cases were decided under the provisions of the decided under the Philippine Bill of 1902 and the first Public
Philippine Bill of 1902 and Act No. 926. There is a statement in Land Act No. 926 enacted by the Philippine Commission on
these old cases that "in the absence of evidence to the October 7, 1926, under which there was no legal provision
contrary, that in each case the lands are agricultural lands until vesting in the Chief Executive or President of the Philippines
the contrary is shown."90 the power to classify lands of the public domain into mineral,
timber and agricultural so that the courts then were free to
Private claimants reliance on Ankron and De Aldecoa is
make corresponding classifications in justiciable cases, or
misplaced. These cases did not have the effect of converting
were vested with implicit power to do so, depending upon the
the whole of Boracay Island or portions of it into agricultural
preponderance of the evidence.93
lands. It should be stressed that the Philippine Bill of 1902 and
Act No. 926 merely provided the manner through which land To aid the courts in resolving land registration cases under Act
registration courts would classify lands of the public domain. No. 926, it was then necessary to devise a presumption on land
Whether the land would be classified as timber, mineral, or classification. Thus evolved the dictum in Ankron that "the
agricultural depended on proof presented in each case. courts have a right to presume, in the absence of evidence to
the contrary, that in each case the lands are agricultural lands
Ankron and De Aldecoa were decided at a time when the
until the contrary is shown."94
President of the Philippines had no power to classify lands of
the public domain into mineral, timber, and agricultural. At that But We cannot unduly expand the presumption in Ankron and
time, the courts were free to make corresponding De Aldecoa to an argument that all lands of the public domain
classifications in justiciable cases, or were vested with implicit had been automatically reclassified as disposable and
power to do so, depending upon the preponderance of the alienable agricultural lands. By no stretch of imagination did the
evidence.91 This was the Courts ruling in Heirs of the Late

86
presumption convert all lands of the public domain into some proof of the extent and present or future value of the
agricultural lands. forestry and of the minerals. While, as we have just said, many
definitions have been given for "agriculture," "forestry," and
If We accept the position of private claimants, the Philippine Bill
"mineral" lands, and that in each case it is a question of fact,
of 1902 and Act No. 926 would have automatically made all
we think it is safe to say that in order to be forestry or mineral
lands in the Philippines, except those already classified as
land the proof must show that it is more valuable for the forestry
timber or mineral land, alienable and disposable lands. That
or the mineral which it contains than it is for agricultural
would take these lands out of State ownership and worse,
purposes. (Sec. 7, Act No. 1148.) It is not sufficient to show that
would be utterly inconsistent with and totally repugnant to the
there exists some trees upon the land or that it bears some
long-entrenched Regalian doctrine.
mineral. Land may be classified as forestry or mineral today,
The presumption in Ankron and De Aldecoa attaches only to and, by reason of the exhaustion of the timber or mineral, be
land registration cases brought under the provisions of Act No. classified as agricultural land tomorrow. And vice-versa, by
926, or more specifically those cases dealing with judicial and reason of the rapid growth of timber or the discovery of valuable
administrative confirmation of imperfect titles. The presumption minerals, lands classified as agricultural today may be
applies to an applicant for judicial or administrative differently classified tomorrow. Each case must be decided
conformation of imperfect title under Act No. 926. It certainly upon the proof in that particular case, having regard for its
cannot apply to landowners, such as private claimants or their present or future value for one or the other purposes. We
predecessors-in-interest, who failed to avail themselves of the believe, however, considering the fact that it is a matter of
benefits of Act No. 926. As to them, their land remained public knowledge that a majority of the lands in the Philippine
unclassified and, by virtue of the Regalian doctrine, continued Islands are agricultural lands that the courts have a right to
to be owned by the State. presume, in the absence of evidence to the contrary, that in
each case the lands are agricultural lands until the contrary is
In any case, the assumption in Ankron and De Aldecoa was not shown. Whatever the land involved in a particular land
absolute. Land classification was, in the end, dependent on registration case is forestry or mineral land must,
proof. If there was proof that the land was better suited for non- therefore, be a matter of proof. Its superior value for one
agricultural uses, the courts could adjudge it as a mineral or purpose or the other is a question of fact to be settled by
timber land despite the presumption. In Ankron, this Court the proof in each particular case. The fact that the land is a
stated: manglar [mangrove swamp] is not sufficient for the courts to
In the case of Jocson vs. Director of Forestry (supra), the decide whether it is agricultural, forestry, or mineral land. It may
Attorney-General admitted in effect that whether the particular perchance belong to one or the other of said classes of land.
land in question belongs to one class or another is a question The Government, in the first instance, under the provisions of
of fact. The mere fact that a tract of land has trees upon it or Act No. 1148, may, by reservation, decide for itself what
has mineral within it is not of itself sufficient to declare that one portions of public land shall be considered forestry land, unless
is forestry land and the other, mineral land. There must be private interests have intervened before such reservation is
87
made. In the latter case, whether the land is agricultural, effect. Krivenko cited the old cases Mapa v. Insular
forestry, or mineral, is a question of proof. Until private interests Government,101 De Aldecoa v. The Insular Government,102 and
have intervened, the Government, by virtue of the terms of said Ankron v. Government of the Philippine Islands.103
Act (No. 1148), may decide for itself what portions of the "public
Krivenko, however, is not controlling here because it involved
domain" shall be set aside and reserved as forestry or mineral
a totally different issue. The pertinent issue in Krivenko was
land. (Ramos vs. Director of Lands, 39 Phil. 175; Jocson vs.
whether residential lots were included in the general
Director of Forestry, supra)95 (Emphasis ours)
classification of agricultural lands; and if so, whether an alien
Since 1919, courts were no longer free to determine the could acquire a residential lot. This Court ruled that as an alien,
classification of lands from the facts of each case, except those Krivenko was prohibited by the 1935 Constitution104 from
that have already became private lands.96 Act No. 2874, acquiring agricultural land, which included residential lots.
promulgated in 1919 and reproduced in Section 6 of CA No. Here, the issue is whether unclassified lands of the public
141, gave the Executive Department, through the President, domain are automatically deemed agricultural.
the exclusive prerogative to classify or reclassify public lands
Notably, the definition of "agricultural public lands" mentioned
into alienable or disposable, mineral or forest. 96-a Since then,
in Krivenko relied on the old cases decided prior to the
courts no longer had the authority, whether express or implied,
enactment of Act No. 2874, including Ankron and De
to determine the classification of lands of the public domain.97
Aldecoa.105 As We have already stated, those cases cannot
Here, private claimants, unlike the Heirs of Ciriaco Tirol who apply here, since they were decided when the Executive did
were issued their title in 1933,98 did not present a justiciable not have the authority to classify lands as agricultural, timber,
case for determination by the land registration court of the or mineral.
propertys land classification. Simply put, there was no
Private claimants continued possession under Act No.
opportunity for the courts then to resolve if the land the Boracay
926 does not create a presumption that the land is
occupants are now claiming were agricultural lands. When Act
alienable. Private claimants also contend that their continued
No. 926 was supplanted by Act No. 2874 in 1919, without an
possession of portions of Boracay Island for the requisite
application for judicial confirmation having been filed by private
period of ten (10) years under Act No. 926106 ipso facto
claimants or their predecessors-in-interest, the courts were no
converted the island into private ownership. Hence, they may
longer authorized to determine the propertys land
apply for a title in their name.
classification. Hence, private claimants cannot bank on Act No.
926. A similar argument was squarely rejected by the Court in
Collado v. Court of Appeals.107 Collado, citing the separate
We note that the RTC decision99 in G.R. No. 167707 mentioned
opinion of now Chief Justice Reynato S. Puno in Cruz v.
Krivenko v. Register of Deeds of Manila,100 which was decided
Secretary of Environment and Natural Resources,107-a ruled:
in 1947 when CA No. 141, vesting the Executive with the sole
power to classify lands of the public domain was already in

88
"Act No. 926, the first Public Land Act, was passed in PD No. 705 issued by President Marcos categorized all
pursuance of the provisions of the Philippine Bill of 1902. The unclassified lands of the public domain as public forest. Section
law governed the disposition of lands of the public domain. It 3(a) of PD No. 705 defines a public forest as "a mass of lands
prescribed rules and regulations for the homesteading, selling of the public domain which has not been the subject of the
and leasing of portions of the public domain of the Philippine present system of classification for the determination of which
Islands, and prescribed the terms and conditions to enable lands are needed for forest purpose and which are not."
persons to perfect their titles to public lands in the Islands. It Applying PD No. 705, all unclassified lands, including those in
also provided for the "issuance of patents to certain native Boracay Island, are ipso facto considered public forests. PD
settlers upon public lands," for the establishment of town sites No. 705, however, respects titles already existing prior to its
and sale of lots therein, for the completion of imperfect titles, effectivity.
and for the cancellation or confirmation of Spanish concessions
The Court notes that the classification of Boracay as a forest
and grants in the Islands." In short, the Public Land Act
land under PD No. 705 may seem to be out of touch with the
operated on the assumption that title to public lands in the
present realities in the island. Boracay, no doubt, has been
Philippine Islands remained in the government; and that the
partly stripped of its forest cover to pave the way for
governments title to public land sprung from the Treaty of Paris
commercial developments. As a premier tourist destination for
and other subsequent treaties between Spain and the United
local and foreign tourists, Boracay appears more of a
States. The term "public land" referred to all lands of the public
commercial island resort, rather than a forest land.
domain whose title still remained in the government and are
thrown open to private appropriation and settlement, and Nevertheless, that the occupants of Boracay have built multi-
excluded the patrimonial property of the government and the million peso beach resorts on the island;111 that the island has
friar lands." already been stripped of its forest cover; or that the
implementation of Proclamation No. 1064 will destroy the
Thus, it is plain error for petitioners to argue that under the
islands tourism industry, do not negate its character as public
Philippine Bill of 1902 and Public Land Act No. 926, mere
forest.
possession by private individuals of lands creates the
legal presumption that the lands are alienable and Forests, in the context of both the Public Land Act and the
disposable.108 (Emphasis Ours) Constitution112 classifying lands of the public domain into
"agricultural, forest or timber, mineral lands, and national
Except for lands already covered by existing titles,
parks," do not necessarily refer to large tracts of wooded land
Boracay was an unclassified land of the public domain
or expanses covered by dense growths of trees and
prior to Proclamation No. 1064. Such unclassified lands
underbrushes.113 The discussion in Heirs of Amunategui v.
are considered public forest under PD No. 705. The
Director of Forestry114 is particularly instructive:
DENR109 and the National Mapping and Resource Information
Authority110 certify that Boracay Island is an unclassified land A forested area classified as forest land of the public domain
of the public domain. does not lose such classification simply because loggers or
89
settlers may have stripped it of its forest cover. Parcels of land Private claimants assert that, as a tourist spot, the island is
classified as forest land may actually be covered with grass or susceptible of private ownership.
planted to crops by kaingin cultivators or other farmers. "Forest
Proclamation No. 1801 or PTA Circular No. 3-82 did not
lands" do not have to be on mountains or in out of the way
convert the whole of Boracay into an agricultural land. There is
places. Swampy areas covered by mangrove trees, nipa
nothing in the law or the Circular which made Boracay Island
palms, and other trees growing in brackish or sea water may
an agricultural land. The reference in Circular No. 3-82 to
also be classified as forest land. The classification is
"private lands"117 and "areas declared as alienable and
descriptive of its legal nature or status and does not have
disposable"118 does not by itself classify the entire island as
to be descriptive of what the land actually looks like.
agricultural. Notably, Circular No. 3-82 makes reference not
Unless and until the land classified as "forest" is released in an
only to private lands and areas but also to public forested lands.
official proclamation to that effect so that it may form part of the
Rule VIII, Section 3 provides:
disposable agricultural lands of the public domain, the rules on
confirmation of imperfect title do not apply.115 (Emphasis No trees in forested private lands may be cut without prior
supplied) authority from the PTA. All forested areas in public lands are
declared forest reserves. (Emphasis supplied)
There is a big difference between "forest" as defined in a
dictionary and "forest or timber land" as a classification of lands Clearly, the reference in the Circular to both private and public
of the public domain as appearing in our statutes. One is lands merely recognizes that the island can be classified by the
descriptive of what appears on the land while the other is a Executive department pursuant to its powers under CA No.
legal status, a classification for legal purposes.116 At any rate, 141. In fact, Section 5 of the Circular recognizes the then
the Court is tasked to determine the legal status of Boracay Bureau of Forest Developments authority to declare areas in
Island, and not look into its physical layout. Hence, even if its the island as alienable and disposable when it provides:
forest cover has been replaced by beach resorts, restaurants
and other commercial establishments, it has not been Subsistence farming, in areas declared as alienable and
automatically converted from public forest to alienable disposable by the Bureau of Forest Development.
agricultural land. Therefore, Proclamation No. 1801 cannot be deemed the
Private claimants cannot rely on Proclamation No. 1801 as positive act needed to classify Boracay Island as alienable and
basis for judicial confirmation of imperfect title. The disposable land. If President Marcos intended to classify the
proclamation did not convert Boracay into an agricultural island as alienable and disposable or forest, or both, he would
land. However, private claimants argue that Proclamation No. have identified the specific limits of each, as President Arroyo
1801 issued by then President Marcos in 1978 entitles them to did in Proclamation No. 1064. This was not done in
judicial confirmation of imperfect title. The Proclamation Proclamation No. 1801.
classified Boracay, among other islands, as a tourist zone. The Whereas clauses of Proclamation No. 1801 also explain
the rationale behind the declaration of Boracay Island, together
90
with other islands, caves and peninsulas in the Philippines, as the President. Courts have no authority to do so.122 Absent
a tourist zone and marine reserve to be administered by the such classification, the land remains unclassified until released
PTA to ensure the concentrated efforts of the public and and rendered open to disposition.123
private sectors in the development of the areas tourism
Proclamation No. 1064 classifies Boracay into 400 hectares of
potential with due regard for ecological balance in the marine
reserved forest land and 628.96 hectares of agricultural land.
environment. Simply put, the proclamation is aimed at
The Proclamation likewise provides for a 15-meter buffer zone
administering the islands for tourism and ecological
on each side of the center line of roads and trails, which are
purposes. It does not address the areas alienability.119
reserved for right of way and which shall form part of the area
More importantly, Proclamation No. 1801 covers not only reserved for forest land protection purposes.
Boracay Island, but sixty-four (64) other islands, coves, and
Contrary to private claimants argument, there was nothing
peninsulas in the Philippines, such as Fortune and Verde
invalid or irregular, much less unconstitutional, about the
Islands in Batangas, Port Galera in Oriental Mindoro, Panglao
classification of Boracay Island made by the President through
and Balicasag Islands in Bohol, Coron Island, Puerto Princesa
Proclamation No. 1064. It was within her authority to make
and surrounding areas in Palawan, Camiguin Island in
such classification, subject to existing vested rights.
Cagayan de Oro, and Misamis Oriental, to name a few. If the
designation of Boracay Island as tourist zone makes it Proclamation No. 1064 does not violate the
alienable and disposable by virtue of Proclamation No. 1801, Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Law. Private claimants
all the other areas mentioned would likewise be declared wide further assert that Proclamation No. 1064 violates the provision
open for private disposition. That could not have been, and is of the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Law (CARL) or RA No.
clearly beyond, the intent of the proclamation. 6657 barring conversion of public forests into agricultural lands.
They claim that since Boracay is a public forest under PD No.
It was Proclamation No. 1064 of 2006 which positively
705, President Arroyo can no longer convert it into an
declared part of Boracay as alienable and opened the
agricultural land without running afoul of Section 4(a) of RA No.
same to private ownership. Sections 6 and 7 of CA No.
6657, thus:
141120 provide that it is only the President, upon the
recommendation of the proper department head, who has the SEC. 4. Scope. The Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Law of
authority to classify the lands of the public domain into 1988 shall cover, regardless of tenurial arrangement and
alienable or disposable, timber and mineral lands.121 commodity produced, all public and private agricultural lands
as provided in Proclamation No. 131 and Executive Order No.
In issuing Proclamation No. 1064, President Gloria Macapagal-
229, including other lands of the public domain suitable for
Arroyo merely exercised the authority granted to her to classify
agriculture.
lands of the public domain, presumably subject to existing
vested rights. Classification of public lands is the exclusive More specifically, the following lands are covered by the
prerogative of the Executive Department, through the Office of Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program:

91
(a) All alienable and disposable lands of the public domain forest uses under the Revised Forestry Code, there can be no
devoted to or suitable for agriculture. No reclassification of "reclassification of forest lands" to speak of within the meaning
forest or mineral lands to agricultural lands shall be undertaken of Section 4(a).
after the approval of this Act until Congress, taking into account
Thus, obviously, the prohibition in Section 4(a) of the CARL
ecological, developmental and equity considerations, shall
against the reclassification of forest lands to agricultural lands
have determined by law, the specific limits of the public domain.
without a prior law delimiting the limits of the public domain,
That Boracay Island was classified as a public forest under PD does not, and cannot, apply to those lands of the public
No. 705 did not bar the Executive from later converting it into domain, denominated as "public forest" under the Revised
agricultural land. Boracay Island still remained an unclassified Forestry Code, which have not been previously determined, or
land of the public domain despite PD No. 705. classified, as needed for forest purposes in accordance with
the provisions of the Revised Forestry Code.127
In Heirs of the Late Spouses Pedro S. Palanca and Soterranea
Rafols v. Republic,124 the Court stated that unclassified lands Private claimants are not entitled to apply for judicial
are public forests. confirmation of imperfect title under CA No. 141. Neither
do they have vested rights over the occupied lands under
While it is true that the land classification map does not
the said law. There are two requisites for judicial confirmation
categorically state that the islands are public forests, the
of imperfect or incomplete title under CA No. 141, namely: (1)
fact that they were unclassified lands leads to the same
open, continuous, exclusive, and notorious possession and
result. In the absence of the classification as mineral or timber
occupation of the subject land by himself or through his
land, the land remains unclassified land until released and
predecessors-in-interest under a bona fide claim of ownership
rendered open to disposition.125 (Emphasis supplied)
since time immemorial or from June 12, 1945; and (2) the
Moreover, the prohibition under the CARL applies only to a classification of the land as alienable and disposable land of
"reclassification" of land. If the land had never been previously the public domain.128
classified, as in the case of Boracay, there can be no prohibited
As discussed, the Philippine Bill of 1902, Act No. 926, and
reclassification under the agrarian law. We agree with the
Proclamation No. 1801 did not convert portions of Boracay
opinion of the Department of Justice126 on this point:
Island into an agricultural land. The island remained an
Indeed, the key word to the correct application of the prohibition unclassified land of the public domain and, applying the
in Section 4(a) is the word "reclassification." Where there has Regalian doctrine, is considered State property.
been no previous classification of public forest [referring, we
Private claimants bid for judicial confirmation of imperfect title,
repeat, to the mass of the public domain which has not been
relying on the Philippine Bill of 1902, Act No. 926, and
the subject of the present system of classification for purposes
Proclamation No. 1801, must fail because of the absence of
of determining which are needed for forest purposes and which
the second element of alienable and disposable land. Their
are not] into permanent forest or forest reserves or some other
entitlement to a government grant under our present Public
92
Land Act presupposes that the land possessed and applied for constitutionally bound to decide cases based on the evidence
is already alienable and disposable. This is clear from the presented and the laws applicable. As the law and
wording of the law itself.129 Where the land is not alienable and jurisprudence stand, private claimants are ineligible to apply for
disposable, possession of the land, no matter how long, cannot a judicial confirmation of title over their occupied portions in
confer ownership or possessory rights.130 Boracay even with their continued possession and
considerable investment in the island.
Neither may private claimants apply for judicial confirmation of
imperfect title under Proclamation No. 1064, with respect to One Last Note
those lands which were classified as agricultural lands. Private
The Court is aware that millions of pesos have been invested
claimants failed to prove the first element of open, continuous,
for the development of Boracay Island, making it a by-word in
exclusive, and notorious possession of their lands in Boracay
the local and international tourism industry. The Court also
since June 12, 1945.
notes that for a number of years, thousands of people have
We cannot sustain the CA and RTC conclusion in the petition called the island their home. While the Court commiserates
for declaratory relief that private claimants complied with the with private claimants plight, We are bound to apply the law
requisite period of possession. strictly and judiciously. This is the law and it should prevail. Ito
ang batas at ito ang dapat umiral.
The tax declarations in the name of private claimants are
insufficient to prove the first element of possession. We note All is not lost, however, for private claimants. While they may
that the earliest of the tax declarations in the name of private not be eligible to apply for judicial confirmation of imperfect title
claimants were issued in 1993. Being of recent dates, the tax under Section 48(b) of CA No. 141, as amended, this does not
declarations are not sufficient to convince this Court that the denote their automatic ouster from the residential, commercial,
period of possession and occupation commenced on June 12, and other areas they possess now classified as agricultural.
1945. Neither will this mean the loss of their substantial investments
on their occupied alienable lands. Lack of title does not
Private claimants insist that they have a vested right in
necessarily mean lack of right to possess.
Boracay, having been in possession of the island for a long
time. They have invested millions of pesos in developing the For one thing, those with lawful possession may claim good
island into a tourist spot. They say their continued possession faith as builders of improvements. They can take steps to
and investments give them a vested right which cannot be preserve or protect their possession. For another, they may
unilaterally rescinded by Proclamation No. 1064. look into other modes of applying for original registration of title,
such as by homestead131 or sales patent,132 subject to the
The continued possession and considerable investment of
conditions imposed by law.
private claimants do not automatically give them a vested right
in Boracay. Nor do these give them a right to apply for a title to More realistically, Congress may enact a law to entitle private
the land they are presently occupying. This Court is claimants to acquire title to their occupied lots or to exempt

93
them from certain requirements under the present land laws. plants. With the rains, the fertile topsoil is washed away;
There is one such bill133 now pending in the House of geological erosion results. With erosion come the dreaded
Representatives. Whether that bill or a similar bill will become floods that wreak havoc and destruction to property crops,
a law is for Congress to decide. livestock, houses, and highways not to mention precious
human lives. Indeed, the foregoing observations should be
In issuing Proclamation No. 1064, the government has taken
written down in a lumbermans decalogue.135
the step necessary to open up the island to private ownership.
This gesture may not be sufficient to appease some sectors WHEREFORE, judgment is rendered as follows:
which view the classification of the island partially into a forest
1. The petition for certiorari in G.R. No. 167707 is GRANTED
reserve as absurd. That the island is no longer overrun by
and the Court of Appeals Decision in CA-G.R. CV No. 71118
trees, however, does not becloud the vision to protect its
REVERSED AND SET ASIDE.
remaining forest cover and to strike a healthy balance between
progress and ecology. Ecological conservation is as important 2. The petition for certiorari in G.R. No. 173775 is DISMISSED
as economic progress. for lack of merit.
To be sure, forest lands are fundamental to our nations SO ORDERED.
survival. Their promotion and protection are not just fancy
rhetoric for politicians and activists. These are needs that
become more urgent as destruction of our environment gets
prevalent and difficult to control. As aptly observed by Justice
Conrado Sanchez in 1968 in Director of Forestry v. Munoz:134
The view this Court takes of the cases at bar is but in
adherence to public policy that should be followed with respect
to forest lands. Many have written much, and many more have
spoken, and quite often, about the pressing need for forest
preservation, conservation, protection, development and
reforestation. Not without justification. For, forests constitute a
vital segment of any country's natural resources. It is of
common knowledge by now that absence of the necessary
green cover on our lands produces a number of adverse or ill
effects of serious proportions. Without the trees, watersheds
dry up; rivers and lakes which they supply are emptied of their
contents. The fish disappear. Denuded areas become dust
bowls. As waterfalls cease to function, so will hydroelectric

94
Republic of the Philippines This Petition1 seeks to set aside the Decision of the Court of
SUPREME COURT Appeals,2 dated June 22, 1992, in CA-G.R. SP No. 25597,
Manila which declared null and void the Decision3 dated January 30,
1991 of the Regional Trial Court of Antipolo, Rizal, Branch 71,
FIRST DIVISION
in LRC No. 269-A, LRC Rec. No. N-59179, confirming the
G. R. No. 107764 October 4, 2002 imperfect title of petitioners over a parcel of land.

EDNA COLLADO, BERNARDINA TAWAS, JORETO C. The Facts


TORRES,
On April 25, 1985, petitioner Edna T. Collado filed with the land
JOSE AMO, SERGIO L. MONTEALEGRE, VICENTE C.
registration court an application for registration of a parcel of
TORRES,
land with an approximate area of 1,200,766 square meters or
JOSEPH L. NUEZ, GLORIA SERRANO, DANILO
120.0766 hectares ("Lot" for brevity). The Lot is situated in
FABREGAS, FERNANDO T. TORRES,
Barangay San Isidro (formerly known as Boso-boso), Antipolo,
LUZ G. TUBUNGBANUA, CARIDAD T. TUTANA, JOSE C.
Rizal, and covered by Survey Plan Psu-162620. Attached to
TORRES, JR.,
the application was the technical description of the Lot as Lot
IMELDA CAYLALUAD, ROSALIE TUTANA, NORMA
Psu-162620 signed by Robert C. Pangyarihan, Officer-in-
ASTORIAS, MYRNA M. LANCION,
Charge of the Survey Division, Bureau of Lands, which stated,
NORBERTO CAMILOTE, CECILIA MACARANAS, PEDRO
"[t]his survey is inside IN-12 Mariquina Watershed." On March
BRIONES,
24, 1986, petitioner Edna T. Collado filed an Amended
REMEDIOS BANTIGUE, DANTE L. MONTEALEGRE, AIDA
Application to include additional co-applicants.4 Subsequently,
T. GADON, ARMANDO T. TORRES and FIDELITO ECO,
more applicants joined (collectively referred to as "petitioners"
petitioners,
for brevity).5
vs.
COURT OF APPEALS and REPUBLIC OF THE The Republic of the Philippines, through the Solicitor General,
PHILIPPINES, thru the Director of Lands, respondents, and the Municipality of Antipolo, through its Municipal Attorney
BOCKASANJO ISF AWARDEES ASSOCIATION, INC., and the Provincial Fiscal of Rizal, filed oppositions to
LITA MENDOZA, MORADO PREFIDIGNO, TERESITA petitioners application. In due course, the land registration
CRUZ court issued an order of general default against the whole world
and CALOMA MOISES, respondents/intervernors. with the exception of the oppositors.
DECISION Petitioners alleged that they have occupied the Lot since time
immemorial. Their possession has been open, public,
CARPIO, J.:
notorious and in the concept of owners. The Lot was surveyed
The Case in the name of Sesinando Leyva, one of their predecessors-in-
interest, as early as March 22, 1902. Petitioners declared the
95
Lot for taxation purposes and paid all the corresponding real 1965, under Tax Declaration No. 16945 on 15 December 1975,
estate taxes. According to them, there are now twenty-five co- and under Tax Declaration No. 03-06145 on 25 June 1978.
owners in pro-indiviso shares of five hectares each. During the
5. MYRNA TORRES bought the property from Angelina
hearings, petitioners submitted evidence to prove that there
Reynoso on 16 October 1982 through a Deed of Sale (Exhibit
have been nine transfers of rights among them and their
"G").
predecessors-in-interest, as follows:
6. EDNA COLLADO bought the property from Myrna Torres in
"1. SESINANDO LEYVA was the earliest known predecessor-
a Deed of Sale dated 28 April 1984 (Exhibit "P-1" to "P-3").
in-interest of the Applicants who was in actual, open, notorious
and continuous possession of the property in the concept of 7. Additional owners BERNARDINA TAWAS, JORETO
owner. He had the property surveyed in his name on 22 March TORRES, JOSE AMO, VICENTE TORRES and SERGIO
1902 (Exhibit "W" and "W-1" testimonies of J. Torres on 16 MONTEALEGRE who bought portions of the property from
December 1987 and Mariano Leyva on 29 December 1987). Edna Collado through a Deed of Sale on 6 November 1985
(Exhibit "Q" to "Q-3").
2. DIOSDADO LEYVA, is the son of Sesinando Leyva, who
inherited the property. He had the property resurveyed in his 8. And more additional Owners JOSEPH NUNEZ, DIOSDADO
name on May 21-28, 1928 (Exhibit "X" and "X-1"; testimony of ARENOS, DANILO FABREGAS, FERNANDO TORRES, LUZ
Mariano Leyva, a son of Diosdado Leyva). TUBUNGBANUA, CARIDAD TUTANA, JOSE TORRES JR.,
RODRIGO TUTANA, ROSALIE TUTANA, NORMA
3. GREGORIO CAMANTIQUE bought the property from
ASTORIAS, MYRNA LANCION, CHONA MARCIANO,
Diosdado Leyva before the Japanese Occupation of the
CECILIA MACARANAS, PEDRO BRIONES, REMEDIOS
Philippines during World War II. He owned and possessed the
BANTIQUE, DANTE MONTEALEGRE, ARMANDO TORRES,
property until 1958. He declared the property for tax purposes,
AIDA GADON and AMELIA M. MALAPAD bought portions of
the latest of which was under Tax Declaration No. 7182 issued
the property in a Deed of Sale on 12 May 1986 (Exhibit "S" to
on 3 February 1957 (Exhibit "I" and testimony of Mariano
"S-3").
Leyva, supra).
9. Co-owners DIOSDADO ARENOS, RODRIGO TUTANA,
4. ANGELINA REYNOSO, bought the property from Gregorio
CHONA MARCIANO and AMELIA MALAPAD jointly sold their
Camantique by virtue of a Deed of Sale on 3 February 1958
shares to new OWNERS GLORIA R. SERRANO, IMELDA
(Exhibit "H"). During the ownership of the property by Angelina
CAYLALUAD, NORBERTO CAMILOTE and FIDELITO ECO
Reynoso, Mariano Leyva the grandson of Sesinando Leyva,
through a Deed of Sale dated 18 January 1987 (Exhibit "T" to
the previous owner, attended to the farm. (Testimony of
"T-9")."6
Mariano Leyva, supra). Angelina Reynoso declared the
property in her name under Tax Declaration No. 7189 in 4 During the hearing on January 9, 1991, only the assistant
February 1958, under Tax Declaration No. 8775 on 3 August provincial prosecutor appeared without the Solicitor General.
For failure of the oppositors to present their evidence, the land
96
registration court issued an order considering the case To the mind of the Court, Applicants have presented sufficient
submitted for decision based on the evidence of the petitioners. evidence to establish registrable title over said property applied
The court later set aside the order and reset the hearing to for by them.
January 14, 1991 for the presentation of the evidence of the
On the claim that the property applied for is within the Marikina
oppositors. On this date, counsel for oppositors failed to appear
Watershed, the Court can only add that all Presidential
again despite due notice. Hence, the court again issued an
Proclamations like the Proclamation setting aside the Marikina
order submitting the case for decision based on the evidence
Watershed are subject to "private rights."
of the petitioners.
In the case of Municipality of Santiago vs. Court of Appeals,
The Trial Courts Ruling
120 SCRA 734, 1983 "private rights" is proof of acquisition
After appraisal of the evidence submitted by petitioners, the through (sic) among means of acquisition of public lands.
land registration court held that petitioners had adduced
In the case of Director of Lands vs. Reyes, 68 SCRA 193-195,
sufficient evidence to establish their registrable rights over the
by "private rights" means that applicant should show clear and
Lot. Accordingly, the court rendered a decision confirming the
convincing evidence that the property in question was acquired
imperfect title of petitioners. We quote the pertinent portions of
by applicants or their ancestors either by composition title from
the courts decision, as follows:
the Spanish government or by Possessory Information title, or
"From the evidence presented, the Court finds that from the any other means for the acquisition of public lands xxx"
testimony of the witnesses presented by the Applicants, the (underscoring supplied).
property applied for is in actual, open, public and notorious
The Court believes that from the evidence presented as above
possession by the applicants and their predecessor-in-interest
stated, Applicants have acquired private rights to which the
since time immemorial and said possession had been testified
Presidential Proclamation setting aside the Marikina
to by witnesses Jimmy Torres, Mariano Leyva, Sergio
Watershed should be subject to such private rights.
Montealegre, Jose Amo and one Chona who were all cross-
examined by Counsel for Oppositor Republic of the Philippines. At any rate, the Court notes that evidence was presented by
the applicants that as per Certification issued by the Bureau of
Evidence was likewise presented that said property was
Forest Development dated March 18, 1980, the area applied
declared for taxation purposes in the names of the previous
for was verified to be within the area excluded from the
owners and the corresponding taxes were paid by the
operation of the Marikina Watershed Lands Executive Order
Applicants and the previous owners and said property was
No. 33 dated July 26, 1904 per Proclamation No. 1283
planted to fruit bearing trees; portions to palay and portions
promulgated on June 21, 1974 which established the Boso-
used for grazing purposes.
boso Town Site Reservation, amended by Proclamation No.
1637 dated April 18, 1977 known as the Lungsod Silangan
Townsite Reservation. (Exhibit "K")."7

97
In a motion dated April 5, 1991, received by the Solicitor of Appeals a Motion for Leave to Intervene and to Admit
General on April 6, 1991, petitioners alleged that the decision Petition-In-Intervention. They likewise opposed the registration
dated January 30, 1991 confirming their title had become final and asserted that the Lot, which is situated inside the Marikina
after the Solicitor General received a copy of the decision on Watershed Reservation, is inalienable. They claimed that they
February 18, 1991. Petitioners prayed that the land registration are the actual occupants of the Lot pursuant to the certificates
court order the Land Registration Authority to issue the of stewardship issued by the DENR under the ISF for tree
necessary decree in their favor over the Lot. planting purposes.
On April 11, 1991, the Solicitor General inquired from the The Court of Appeals granted the motion to intervene verbally
Provincial Prosecutor of Rizal whether the land registration during the preliminary conference held on April 6, 1992. During
court had already rendered a decision and if so, whether the the preliminary conference, all the parties as represented by
Provincial Prosecutor would recommend an appeal. However, their respective counsels agreed that the only issue for
the Provincial Prosecutor failed to answer the query. resolution was whether the Lot in question is part of the public
domain.8
According to the Solicitor General, he received on April 23,
1991 a copy of the land registration courts decision dated The Court of Appeals Ruling
January 30, 1991, and not on February 18, 1991 as alleged by
In a decision dated June 22, 1992, the Court of Appeals
petitioners in their motion.
granted the petition and declared null and void the decision
In the meantime, on May 7, 1991, the land registration court dated January 30, 1991 of the land registration court. The Court
issued an order directing the Land Regulation Authority to issue of Appeals explained thus:
the corresponding decree of registration in favor of the
"Under the Regalian Doctrine, which is enshrined in the 1935
petitioners.
(Art. XIII, Sec. 1), 1973 (Art. XIV, Sec. 8), and 1987 Constitution
On August 6, 1991, the Solicitor General filed with the Court of (Art. XII, Sec. 2), all lands of the public domain belong to the
Appeals a Petition for Annulment of Judgment pursuant to State. An applicant, like the private respondents herein, for
Section 9(2) of BP Blg. 129 on the ground that there had been registration of a parcel of land bears the burden of overcoming
no clear showing that the Lot had been previously classified as the presumption that the land sought to be registered forms
alienable and disposable making it subject to private part of the public domain (Director of Lands vs. Aquino, 192
appropriation. SCRA 296).
On November 29, 1991, Bockasanjo ISF Awardees A positive Act of government is needed to declassify a public
Association, Inc., an association of holders of certificates of land and to convert it into alienable or disposable land for
stewardship issued by the Department of Environment and agricultural or other purposes (Republic vs. Bacas, 176 SCRA
Natural Resources ("DENR" for brevity) under its Integrated 376).
Social Forestry Program ("ISF" for brevity), filed with the Court

98
In the case at bar, the private respondents failed to present any must fail. Forest lands are inalienable and possession thereof,
evidence whatsoever that the land applied for as described in no matter how long, cannot convert the same into private
Psu-162620 has been segregated from the bulk of the public property. And courts are without jurisdiction to adjudicate lands
domain and declared by competent authority to be alienable within the forest zone. (Heirs of Gumangan vs. Court of
and disposable. Worse, the technical description of Psu- Appeals. 172 SCRA 563; Emphasis supplied).
162620 signed by Robert C. Pangyarihan, Officer-in-Charge,
Needless to say, a final judgment may be annulled on the
Survey Division, Bureau of Lands, which was attached to the
ground of lack of jurisdiction, fraud or that it is contrary to law
application of private respondents, categorically stated that
(Panlilio vs. Garcia, 119 SCRA 387, 391) and a decision
"This survey is inside IN-12 Mariquina Watershed.""
rendered without jurisdiction is a total nullity and may be struck
That the land in question is within the Marikina Watershed down at any time (Suarez vs. Court of Appeals, 186 SCRA
Reservation is confirmed by the Administrator of the National 339)."9
Land Titles and Deeds in a Report, dated March 2, 1988,
Hence, the instant petition.
submitted to the respondent Court in LR Case No. 269-A.
These documents readily and effectively negate the allegation The Issues
in private respondent Collados application that "said parcel of
The issues raised by petitioners are restated as follows:
land known as Psu-162620 is not covered by any form of title,
nor any public land application and are not within any I
government reservation (Par. 8, Application; Emphasis
supplied). The respondent court could not have missed the WHETHER THE COURT OF APPEALS ERRED OR
import of these vital documents which are binding upon the GRAVELY ABUSED ITS DISCRETION IN REVERSING THE
courts inasmuch as it is the exclusive prerogative of the DECISION OF THE TRIAL COURT GRANTING THE
Executive Department to classify public lands. They should APPLICATION OF THE PETITIONERS FOR
have forewarned the respondent judge from assuming CONFIRMATION OF TITLE;
jurisdiction over the case. II
"x x x inasmuch as the said properties applied for by petitioners WHETHER THE COURT OF APPEALS ERRED OR
are part of the public domain, it is the Director of Lands who GRAVELY ABUSED ITS DISCRETION IN GIVING DUE
has jurisdiction in the disposition of the same (subject to the COURSE TO THE PETITION FOR ANNULMENT OF
approval of the Secretary of Natural Resources and JUDGMENT FILED BY THE REPUBLIC LONG AFTER THE
Environment), and not the courts. x x x Even assuming that DECISION OF THE TRIAL COURT HAD BECOME FINAL;
petitioners did have the said properties surveyed even before
the same was declared to be part of the Busol Forest III
Reservation, the fact remains that it was so converted into a WHETHER THE COURT OF APPEALS ERRED OR
forest reservation, thus it is with more reason that this action GRAVELY ABUSED ITS DISCRETION IN GIVING DUE
99
COURSE TO THE INTERVENORS PETITION FOR Under the Regalian Doctrine, all lands not otherwise appearing
INTERVENTION WHICH WAS FILED OUT OF TIME OR to be clearly within private ownership are presumed to belong
LONG AFTER THE DECISION OF THE TRIAL COURT HAD to the State.11 The Spaniards first introduced the doctrine to the
BECOME FINAL. Philippines through the Laws of the Indies and the Royal
Cedulas, specifically, Law 14, Title 12, Book 4 of the Novisima
The Courts Ruling
Recopilacion de Leyes de las Indias12 which laid the foundation
The petition is bereft of merit. that "all lands that were not acquired from the Government,
either by purchase or by grant, belong to the public domain." 13
First Issue: whether petitioners have registrable title over the Upon the Spanish conquest of the Philippines, ownership of all
Lot. "lands, territories and possessions" in the Philippines passed
There is no dispute that Executive Order No. 33 ("EO 33" for to the Spanish Crown.14
brevity) dated July 26, 190410 established the Marikina The Laws of the Indies were followed by the Ley Hipotecaria or
Watershed Reservation ("MWR" for brevity) situated in the the Mortgage Law of 1893. The Spanish Mortgage Law
Municipality of Antipolo, Rizal. Petitioners even concede that provided for the systematic registration of titles and deeds as
the Lot, described as Lot Psu-162620, is inside the technical, well as possessory claims. The Royal Decree of 1894 or the
literal description of the MWR. However, the main thrust of "Maura Law" partly amended the Mortgage Law as well as the
petitioners claim over the Lot is that "all Presidential Law of the Indies. The Maura Law was the last Spanish land
proclamations like the proclamation setting aside the Marikina law promulgated in the Philippines. It required the "adjustment"
Watershed Reservation are subject to private rights." They or registration of all agricultural lands, otherwise the lands
point out that EO 33 contains a saving clause that the would revert to the state.15
reservations are "subject to existing private rights, if any there
be." Petitioners contend that their claim of ownership goes all Four years later, Spain ceded to the government of the United
the way back to 1902, when their known predecessor-in- States all rights, interests and claims over the national territory
interest, Sesinando Leyva, laid claim and ownership over the of the Philippine Islands through the Treaty of Paris of
Lot. They claim that the presumption of law then prevailing December 10, 1898. In 1903, the United States colonial
under the Philippine Bill of 1902 and Public Land Act No. 926 government, through the Philippine Commission, passed Act
was that the land possessed and claimed by individuals as their No. 926, the first Public Land Act, which was described as
own are agricultural lands and therefore alienable and follows:
disposable. They conclude that private rights were vested on
"Act No. 926, the first Public Land Act, was passed in
Sesinando Leyva before the issuance of EO 33, thus excluding
pursuance of the provisions of the Philippine Bill of 1902. The
the Lot from the Marikina Watershed Reservation.
law governed the disposition of lands of the public domain. It
Petitioners arguments find no basis in law. prescribed rules and regulations for the homesteading, selling
and leasing of portions of the public domain of the Philippine
The Regalian Doctrine: An Overview
100
Islands, and prescribed the terms and conditions to enable Philippines under the Torrens system.18 The Torrens system
persons to perfect their titles to public lands in the Islands. It requires the government to issue a certificate of title stating that
also provided for the "issuance of patents to certain native the person named in the title is the owner of the property
settlers upon public lands," for the establishment of town sites described therein, subject to liens and encumbrances
and sale of lots therein, for the completion of imperfect titles, annotated on the title or reserved by law. The certificate of title
and for the cancellation or confirmation of Spanish concessions is indefeasible and imprescriptible and all claims to the parcel
and grants in the Islands." In short, the Public Land Act of land are quieted upon issuance of the certificate.19 PD 1529,
operated on the assumption that title to public lands in the known as the Property Registration Decree enacted on June
Philippine Islands remained in the government; and that the 11, 1978,20 amended and updated Act 496.
governments title to public land sprung from the Treaty of Paris
The 1935, 1973, 1987 Philippine Constitutions
and other subsequent treaties between Spain and the United
States. The term "public land" referred to all lands of the public The 1935, 1973 and 1987 Constitutions adopted the Regalian
domain whose title still remained in the government and are doctrine substituting, however, the state, in lieu of the King, as
thrown open to private appropriation and settlement, and the owner of all lands and waters of the public domain.21 Justice
excluded the patrimonial property of the government and the Reynato S. Puno, in his separate opinion in Cruz vs. Secretary
friar lands."16 of Environment and Natural Resources,22 explained thus:
Thus, it is plain error for petitioners to argue that under the "One of the fixed and dominating objectives of the 1935
Philippine Bill of 1902 and Public Land Act No. 926, mere Constitutional Convention was the nationalization and
possession by private individuals of lands creates the legal conservation of the natural resources of the country. There was
presumption that the lands are alienable and disposable. an overwhelming sentiment in the Convention in favor of the
principle of state ownership of natural resources and the
Act 2874, the second Public Land Act, superseded Act No. 926
adoption of the Regalian doctrine. State ownership of natural
in 1919. After the passage of the 1935 Constitution,
resources was seen as a necessary starting point to secure
Commonwealth Act No. 141 ("CA 141" for brevity) amended
recognition of the states power to control their disposition,
Act 2874 in 1936. CA 141, as amended, remains to this day as
exploitation, development, or utilization. The delegates to the
the existing general law governing the classification and
Constitutional Convention very well knew that the concept of
disposition of lands of the public domain other than timber and
State ownership of land and natural resources was introduced
mineral lands.17
by the Spaniards, however, they were not certain whether it
In the meantime, in order to establish a system of registration was continued and applied by the Americans. To remove all
by which recorded title becomes absolute, indefeasible and doubts, the Convention approved the provision in the
imprescriptible, the legislature passed Act 496, otherwise Constitution affirming the Regalian doctrine."
known as the Land Registration Act, which took effect on
Thus, Section 1, Article XIII23 of the 1935 Constitution, on
February 1, 1903. Act 496 placed all registered lands in the
"Conservation and Utilization of Natural Resources" barred the
101
alienation of all natural resources except public agricultural "The definition does not exactly depict the complexities of a
lands, which were the only natural resources the State could watershed. The most important product of a watershed is water
alienate. The 1973 Constitution reiterated the Regalian which is one of the most important human necessit(ies). The
doctrine in Section 8, Article XIV24 on the "National Economy protection of watershed ensures an adequate supply of water
and the Patrimony of the Nation". The 1987 Constitution for future generations and the control of flashfloods that not
reaffirmed the Regalian doctrine in Section 2 of Article XII25 on only damage property but also cause loss of lives. Protection
"National Economy and Patrimony". of watersheds is an "intergenerational" responsibility that
needs to be answered now."
Both the 1935 and 1973 Constitutions prohibited the alienation
of all natural resources except agricultural lands of the public Article 67 of the Water Code of the Philippines (PD 1067)
domain. The 1987 Constitution readopted this policy. Indeed, provides:
all lands of the public domain as well as all natural resources
"Art. 67. Any watershed or any area of land adjacent to any
enumerated in the Philippine Constitution belong to the State.
surface water or overlying any ground water may be declared
Watershed Reservation is a Natural Resource by the Department of Natural Resources as a protected area.
Rules and Regulations may be promulgated by such
The term "natural resource" includes "not only timber, gas, oil
Department to prohibit or control such activities by the owners
coal, minerals, lakes, and submerged lands, but also, features
or occupants thereof within the protected area which may
which supply a human need and contribute to the health,
damage or cause the deterioration of the surface water or
welfare, and benefit of a community, and are essential to the
ground water or interfere with the investigation, use, control,
well-being thereof and proper enjoyment of property devoted to
protection, management or administration of such waters."
park and recreational purposes."26
The Court in Sta. Rosa Realty also recognized the need to
In Sta. Rosa Realty Development Corp. vs. Court of Appeals,
protect watershed areas and took note of the report of the
et al.,27 the Court had occasion to discourse on watershed
Ecosystems Research and Development Bureau (ERDB), a
areas. The Court resolved the issue of whether the parcel of
research arm of the DENR, regarding the environmental
land which the Department of Environment and Natural
assessment of the Casile and Kabanga-an river watersheds
Resources had assessed to be a watershed area is exempt
involved in that case. That report concluded as follows:
from the coverage of RA No. 6657 or the Comprehensive
Agrarian Reform Law ("CARL" for brevity).28 The Court defined "The Casile barangay covered by CLOA in question is situated
watershed as "an area drained by a river and its tributaries and in the heartland of both watersheds. Considering the
enclosed by a boundary or divide which separates it from barangays proximity to the Matangtubig waterworks, the
adjacent watersheds." However, the Court also recognized activities of the farmers which are in conflict with proper soil
that: and water conservation practices jeopardize and endanger the
vital waterworks. Degradation of the land would have double
edge detrimental effects. On the Casile side this would mean
102
direct siltation of the Mangumit river which drains to the water human activities could wreak havoc on the lives of present and
impounding reservoir below. On the Kabanga-an side, this future generations. Hence, by constitutional fiat, natural
would mean destruction of forest covers which acts as resources remain to this day inalienable properties of the State.
recharged areas of the Matangtubig springs. Considering that
Viewed under this legal and factual backdrop, did petitioners
the people have little if no direct interest in the protection of the
acquire, as they vigorously argue, private rights over the parcel
Matangtubig structures they couldnt care less even if it would
of land prior to the issuance of EO 33 segregating the same as
be destroyed.
a watershed reservation?
The Casile and Kabanga-an watersheds can be considered a
The answer is in the negative.
most vital life support system to thousands of inhabitants
directly and indirectly affected by it. From these watersheds First. An applicant for confirmation of imperfect title bears the
come the natural God-given precious resource water. x x x burden of proving that he meets the requirements of Section
48 of CA 141, as amended. He must overcome the
Clearing and tilling of the lands are totally inconsistent with
presumption that the land he is applying for is part of the public
sound watershed management. More so, the introduction of
domain and that he has an interest therein sufficient to warrant
earth disturbing activities like road building and erection of
registration in his name arising from an imperfect title. An
permanent infrastructures. Unless the pernicious agricultural
imperfect title may have been derived from old Spanish grants
activities of the Casile farmers are immediately stopped, it
such as a titulo real or royal grant, a concession especial or
would not be long before these watersheds would cease to be
special grant, a composicion con el estado or adjustment title,
of value. The impact of watershed degradation threatens the
or a titulo de compra or title through purchase.29 Or, that he has
livelihood of thousands of people dependent upon it. Toward
had continuous, open and notorious possession and
this, we hope that an acceptable comprehensive watershed
occupation of agricultural lands of the public domain under a
development policy and program be immediately formulated
bona fide claim of ownership for at least thirty years preceding
and implemented before the irreversible damage finally
the filing of his application as provided by Section 48 (b) CA
happens."
141.
The Court remanded the case to the Department of Agriculture
Originally, Section 48(b) of CA 141 provided for possession
and Adjudication Board or DARAB to re-evaluate and
and occupation of lands of the public domain since July 26,
determine the nature of the parcels of land involved in order to
1894. This was superseded by RA 1942 which provided for a
resolve the issue of its coverage by the CARL.
simple thirty-year prescriptive period of occupation by an
Sta. Rosa Realty gives us a glimpse of the dangers posed by applicant for judicial confirmation of an imperfect title. The
the misuse of natural resources such as watershed same, however, has already been amended by Presidential
reservations which are akin to forest zones. Population growth Decree No. 1073, approved on January 25, 1977, the law
and industrialization have taken a heavy toll on the prevailing at the time petitioners application for registration
environment. Environmental degradation from unchecked
103
was filed on April 25, 1985.30 As amended, Section 48 (b) now There is no proof that prior to the issuance of EO 33 in 1904,
reads: petitioners had acquired ownership or title to the Lot either by
deed or by any other mode of acquisition from the State, as for
"(b) Those who by themselves or through their predecessors-
instance by acquisitive prescription. As of 1904, Sesinando
in-interest have been in open, continuous, exclusive and
Leyva had only been in possession for two years. Verily,
notorious possession and occupation of agricultural lands of
petitioners have not possessed the parcel of land in the manner
the public domain, under a bona fide claim of acquisition or
and for the number of years required by law for the confirmation
ownership, for at least thirty years immediately preceding the
of imperfect title.
filing of the application for confirmation of title, except when
prevented by wars or force majeure. Those shall be Second, assuming that the Lot was alienable and disposable
conclusively presumed to have performed all the conditions land prior to the issuance of EO 33 in 1904, EO 33 reserved
essential to a Government grant and shall be entitled to a the Lot as a watershed. Since then, the Lot became non-
certificate of title under the provisions of this chapter." disposable and inalienable public land. At the time petitioners
filed their application on April 25, 1985, the Lot has been
Interpreting Section 48 (b) of CA 141, the Court stated that the
reserved as a watershed under EO 33 for 81 years prior to the
Public Land Act requires that the applicant must prove the
filing of petitioners application.
following:
The period of occupancy after the issuance of EO 33 in 1904
"(a) that the land is alienable public land and (b) that his open,
could no longer be counted because as a watershed
continuous, exclusive and notorious possession and
reservation, the Lot was no longer susceptible of occupancy,
occupation of the same must either be since time immemorial
disposition, conveyance or alienation. Section 48 (b) of CA 141,
or for the period prescribed in the Public Land Act. When the
as amended, applies exclusively to alienable and disposable
conditions set by law are complied with, the possessor of the
public agricultural land. Forest lands, including watershed
land, by operation of law, acquires a right to a grant, a
reservations, are excluded. It is axiomatic that the possession
government grant, without the necessity of a certificate of title
of forest lands or other inalienable public lands cannot ripen
being issued."31
into private ownership. In Municipality of Santiago, Isabela vs.
Petitioners do not claim to have documentary title over the Lot. Court of Appeals,32 the Court declared that inalienable public
Their right to register the Lot is predicated mainly upon lands -
continuous possession since 1902.
"x x x cannot be acquired by acquisitive prescription.
Clearly, petitioners were unable to acquire a valid and Prescription, both acquisitive and extinctive, does not run
enforceable right or title because of the failure to complete the against the State.
required period of possession, whether under the original
The possession of public land, however long the period may
Section 48 (b) of CA 141 prior to the issuance of EO 33, or
have extended, never confers title thereto upon the possessor
under the amendment by RA 1942 and PD 1073.
because the statute of limitations with regard to public land
104
does not operate against the State, unless the occupant can government. Prescinding from this premise, petitioners urge
prove possession and occupation of the same under claim of that the 25-year possession by petitioner Gordula from 1944 to
ownership for the required number of years to constitute a grant 1969, albeit five (5) years short of the 30-year possession
from the State. " required under Commonwealth Act (C.A.) No. 141, as
amended, is enough to vest upon petitioner Gordula the
Third, Gordula vs. Court of Appeals33 is in point. In Gordula,
"private rights" recognized and respected in Proclamation No.
petitioners did not contest the nature of the land. They admitted
573.
that the land lies in the heart of the Caliraya-Lumot River Forest
Reserve, which Proclamation No. 573 classified as inalienable. The case law does not support this submission. In Director of
The petitioners in Gordula contended, however, that Lands vs. Reyes, we held that a settler claiming the protection
Proclamation No. 573 itself recognizes private rights of of "private rights" to exclude his land from a military or forest
landowners prior to the reservation. They claim to have reservation must show "x x x by clear and convincing evidence
established their private rights to the subject land. The Court that the property in question was acquired by [any] x x x means
ruled: for the acquisition of public lands."
"We do not agree. No public land can be acquired by private In fine, one claiming "private rights" must prove that he has
persons without any grant, express or implied from the complied with C.A. No. 141, as amended, otherwise known as
government; it is indispensable that there be a showing of a the Public Land Act, which prescribes the substantive as well
title from the state. The facts show that petitioner Gordula did as the procedural requirements for acquisition of public lands.
not acquire title to the subject land prior to its reservation under This law requires at least thirty (30) years of open, continuous,
Proclamation No. 573. He filed his application for free patent exclusive and notorious possession and possession of
only in January, 1973, more than three (3) years after the agricultural lands of the public domain, under a bona fide claim
issuance of Proclamation No. 573 in June, 1969. At that time, of acquisition, immediately preceding the filing of the
the land, as part of the Caliraya-Lumot River Forest Reserve, application for free patent. The rationale for the 30-year period
was no longer open to private ownership as it has been lies in the presumption that the land applied for pertains to the
classified as public forest reserve for the public good. State, and that the occupants and/or possessors claim an
interest therein only by virtue of their imperfect title or
Nonetheless, petitioners insist that the term, "private rights," in
continuous, open and notorious possession."
Proclamation No. 573, should not be interpreted as requiring a
title. They opine that it suffices if the claimant "had occupied Next, petitioners argue that assuming no private rights had
and cultivated the property for so many number of years, attached to the Lot prior to EO 33 in 1904, the President of the
declared the land for taxation purposes, [paid] the Philippines had subsequently segregated the Lot from the
corresponding real estate taxes [which are] accepted by the public domain and made the Lot alienable and disposable
government, and [his] occupancy and possession [is] when he issued Proclamation No. 1283 on June 21, 1974.
continuous, open and unmolested and recognized by the Petitioners contend that Proclamation No. 1283 expressly

105
excluded an area of 3,780 hectares from the MWR and made Government and Community Development, which parcels are
the area part of the Boso-boso Townsite Reservation. more particularly described as follows:
Petitioners assert that Lot Psu-162620 is a small part of this
Lot A (Part of Watershed Reservation)
excluded town site area. Petitioners further contend that town
sites are considered alienable and disposable under CA 141. A parcel of land (Lot A of Proposed Poor Mans Baguio, being
a portion of the Marikina Watershed, IN-2), situated in the
Proclamation No. 1283 reads thus:
municipality of Antipolo, Province of Rizal, Island of Luzon,
"PROCLAMATION NO. 1283 beginning at a point marked "1" on sketch plan, being N-74-30
E, 8480.00 meters more or less, from BLLM 1, Antipolo, Rizal;
EXCLUDING FROM THE OPERATION EXECUTIVE ORDER
thence N 33 28 W 1575.00 m. to point 2; thence N 40 26 W
NO. 33, DATED JULY 26, 1904, AS AMENDED BY
1538.50 m. to point 3; thence N 30 50W 503.17 m. to point 4;
EXECUTIVE ORDERS NOS. 14 AND 16, BOTH SERIES OF
thence N 75 02 W 704.33 m. to point 5; thence N 14 18 W
1915, WHICH ESTABLISHED THE WATERSHED
1399.39 m. to point 6; thence N 43 25 W 477.04 m. to point 7;
RESERVATION SITUATED IN THE MUNICIPALITY OF
thence N 71 38 W 458.36 m. to point 8; thence N 31 05 W
ANTIPOLO, PROVINCE OF RIZAL, ISLAND OF LUZON, A
1025.00 m. to point 9; thence Due North 490.38 m. to point 10;
CERTAIN PORTION OF THE LAND EMBRACED THEREIN
thence Due North 1075.00 m. to point 11; thence Due East
AND RESERVING THE SAME, TOGETHER WITH THE
1000.00 m. to point 12; thence Due East 1000.00 m. to point
ADJACENT PARCEL OF LAND OF THE PUBLIC DOMAIN,
13; thence Due East 1000.00 m. to point 14; thence Due East
FOR TOWNSITE PURPOSES UNDER THE PROVISIONS OF
1000.00 m. to point 15; thence Due East 1000.00 m. to point
CHAPTER XI OF THE PUBLIC LAND ACT.
16; thence Due East 1000.00 m. to point 17; thence Due East
Upon recommendation of the Secretary of Agriculture and 1075.00 m. to point 18; thence Due South 1000.00 m. to point
Natural Resources and pursuant to the authority vested in me 19; thence Due South 1000.00 m. to point 20; thence Due
by law, I, FERDINAND E. MARCOS, President of the South 1000.00 m. to point 21; thence Due South 1000.00 m. to
Philippines, do hereby, exclude from the operation of Executive point 22; thence Due South 1000.00 m. to point 23; thence Due
Order No. 33 dated July 26, 1904, as amended by Executive South 1000.00 m. to point 24; thence Due South 1075.00 m. to
Orders Nos. 14 and 16, both series of 1915, which established point 25; thence Due West 1000.00 m. to point 26; thence Due
the Watershed Reservation situated in the Municipality of West 1000.00 m. to point 27; thence Due West 636.56 m. to
Antipolo, Province of Rizal, Island of Luzon, certain portions of point of beginning. Containing an area of three thousand seven
land embraced therein and reserve the same, together with the hundred eighty (3,780) Hectares, more or less.
adjacent parcel of land of the public domain, for townsite
Lot B (Alienable and Disposable Land)
purposes under the provisions of Chapter XI of the Public Land
Act, subject to private rights, if any there be, and to future A parcel of land (Lot B of Proposed Poor Mans Baguio, being
subdivision survey in accordance with the development plan to a portion of alienable and disposable portion of public domain)
be prepared and approved by the Department of Local situated in the municipality of Antipolo, Province of Rizal, Island
106
of Luzon. Beginning at a point marked "1" on sketch plan being claimed by petitioners is part) for townsite purposes and
N 74 30 E., 8430.00 m., more or less, from BLLM 1. Antipolo, reverted it to MWR coverage.34 Proclamation No. 1637 reads:
Rizal; thence Due West 363.44 m. to point 2; thence Due West
"PROCLAMATION NO. 1637
1000.00 m. to point 3; thence Due West 100.00 m. to point 4;
thence Due West 1000.00 m. to point 5; thence Due West AMENDING PROCLAMATION NO. 1283, DATED JUNE 21,
1075.00 m. to point 6; thence Due North 1000.00 m. to point 7; 1974, WHICH ESTABLISHED THE TOWNSITE
thence Due North 1000.00 m. to point 8; thence Due North RESERVATION IN THE MUNICIPALITIES OF ANTIPOLO
1000.00 m. to point 9; thence Due North 1000.00 m. to point AND SAN MATEO, PROVINCE OF RIZAL, ISLAND OF
10; thence Due North 1000.00 m. to point 11; thence Due North LUZON BY INCREASING THE AREA AND REVISING THE
509.62 m. to point 12; thence S. 31 05 E 1025.00 m. to point TECHNICAL DESCRIPTION OF THE LAND EMBRACED
13; thence S 71 38 E 458.36 m. to point 14; thence S 43 25 E THEREIN, AND REVOKING PROCLAMATION NO. 765
477.04 m. to point 15; thence S 14 18 E 1399.39 m. to point DATED OCTOBER 26, 1970 THAT RESERVED PORTIONS
16; thence S 75 02 E 704.33 m. to point 17; thence S. 30 50 OF THE AREA AS RESETTLEMENT SITE.
E 503.17 m. to point 18; thence S 40 26 E 1538.50 m. to point
19; thence s 33 23 e 1575.00 m to point of beginning. Upon recommendation of the Secretary of Natural Resources
Containing an area of one thousand two hundred twenty five and pursuant to the authority vested in me by law, I,
(1,225) Hectares, more or less. FERDINAND E. MARCOS, President of the Philippines, do
hereby amend Proclamation No. 1283, dated June 21, 1974
Note: All data are approximate and subject to change based on which established the townsite reservation in the municipalities
future survey. of Antipolo and San Mateo, Province of Rizal, Island of Luzon,
by increasing the area and revising the technical descriptions
IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I Have hereunto set my hand and
of the land embraced therein, subject to private rights, if any
caused the seal of the Republic of the Philippines to be affixed.
there be, which parcel of land is more particularly described as
Done in the City of Manila, this 21st day of June, in the year of follows:
Our Lord, nineteen hundred and seventy-four.
(Proposed Lungsod Silangan Townsite)
(Sgd.) FERDINAND E. MARCOS
A PARCEL OF LAND (Proposed Lungsod Silangan Townsite
President
Reservation amending the area under SWO-41762
Republic of the Philippines"
establishing the Bagong Silangan Townsite Reservation)
Proclamation No. 1283 has since been amended by situated in the Municipalities of Antipolo, San Mateo, and
Proclamation No. 1637 issued on April 18, 1977. Proclamation Montalban, Province of Rizal, Island of Luzon. Bounded on the
No. 1637 revised the area and location of the proposed E., along lines 1-2-3-4-5-6-7-8-9-10-11-12-13-14-15-16-17-18-
townsite. According to then DENR Secretary Victor O. Ramos, 19-20-21-22-23 by the Marikina Watershed Reservation (IN-
Proclamation No. 1637 excluded Lot A (of which the Lot 12); on the S., along lines 23-24-25 by the portion of Antipolo;

107
on the W., along lines 25-26-27-28-29-30 by the Municipalities excluded from the Marikina Watershed (Exh. R). The
of Montalban, San Mateo; and on the N., along lines 30-31-32- Certification reads:
33-34-35-36-37-38-39-40-41-42-43-44 by the Angat
"Republic of the Philippines
Watershed Reservation. Beginning at a point marked "1" on the
Ministry of Natural Resources
Topographic Maps with the Scale of 1:50,000 which is the
identical corner 38 IN-12, Marikina Watershed Reservation. BUREAU OF FOREST DEVELOPMENT
REGION IV
xxx xxx xxx
EL AL Building
NOTE: All data are approximate and subject to change based 100 Quezon Avenue, Quezon City
on future survey.
MAR 18 1986
Proclamation No. 765 dated October 26, 1970, which covered
VERIFICATION ON THE STATUS OF LAND:
areas entirely within the herein Lungsod Silangan Townsite, is
hereby revoked accordingly. TO WHOM IT MAY CONCERN:
IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand and This is to certify that the tract of land situated in Barangay San
caused the seal of the Republic of the Philippines to be affixed. Isidro, Antipolo, Rizal, containing an area of 1,269,766 square
meters, as shown and described on the reverse side hereof,
Done in the City of Manila, this 18th day of April, in the year of
surveyed by Geodetic Engineer Telesforo Cabading for
Our Lord, nineteen hundred and seventy-seven.
Angelina C. Reynoso, is verified to be within the area excluded
(Sgd.) FERDINAND E. MARCOS from the operation of Marikina Watershed Reservation
President of the Philippines" established under Executive Order No. 33 dated July 26, 1904
per Proclamation No. 1283, promulgated on June 21, 1974,
A positive act (e.g., an official proclamation) of the Executive
which established the Boso-Boso Townsite Reservation,
Department is needed to declassify land which had been earlier
amended by proclamation No. 1637 dated April 18, 1977
classified as a watershed reservation and to convert it into
known as Lungsod Silangan Townsite Reservation.
alienable or disposable land for agricultural or other
purposes.35 Unless and until the land classified as such is Subject area also falls within the bounds of Bagong Lipunan
released in an official proclamation so that it may form part of Site under P.D. 1396 dated June 2, 1978 under the sole
the disposable agricultural lands of the public domain, the rules jurisdiction of the Ministry of Human Settlements, to the
on confirmation of imperfect title do not apply.36 exclusion of any other government agencies.
The principal document presented by petitioners to prove the This verification is made upon the request of the Chief, Legal
private character of the Lot is the Certification of the Bureau of Staff, R-4 as contained in his internal memorandum dated
Forest Development dated March 18, 1986 that the Lot is March 18, 1986.

108
Verified by: Psu-173790 was previously the subject of registration in Land
Reg. Case No. N-9578, LRC Record No. N-55948 and was
(Sgd) ROMEO C. PASCUBILLO
issued Decree No. N-191242 on April 4, 1986 in the name of
Cartographer II
Apolonia Garcia, et al., pursuant to the Decision and Order for
Checked by: Issuance of the Decree dated February 8, 1984 and March 6,
1984, respectively, and the remaining portion of plan Psu-
(Sgd) ARMENDO R. CRUZ 162620 is inside IN-12, Marikina Watershed. x x x
Supervising Cartographer
"WHEREFORE, this matter is respectfully submitted to the
ATTESTED: Honorable Court for its information and guidance with the
(Sgd) LUIS G. DACANAY recommendation that the application in the instant proceedings
Chief, Forest Engineering & Infrastructure Section" be dismissed, after due hearing (Underlining supplied)."

The above certification on which petitioners rely that a Likewise, in a letter38 dated November 11, 1991, the Deputy
reclassification had occurred, and that the Lot is covered by the Land Inspector, DENR, Region IV, Community Environment
reclassification, is contradicted by several documents and Natural Resources Office, Antipolo, Rizal, similarly
submitted by the Solicitor General before the land registration confirmed that the Lot is within the MWR. The letter states:
court. "That the land sought to be registered is situated at San Isidro
The Solicitor General submitted to the land registration court a (Boso-boso), Antipolo, Rizal, with an area of ONE HUNDRED
Report37 dated March 2, 1988, signed by Administrator TWENTY SIX POINT ZERO SEVEN SIXTY SIX (126.0766)
Teodoro G. Bonifacio of the then National Land Titles and hectares, more particularly described in Psu-162620, which is
Deeds Registration Administration, confirming that the Lot within the Marikina Watershed Reservation under Executive
described in Psu-162620 forms part of the MWR. He thus Order No. 33 dated July 2, 1904 which established the Marikina
recommended the dismissal of the application for registration. Watershed Reservation (IN-12) x x x.
The Report states: "x x x
"COMES NOW the Administrator of the National Land Titles "That the land sought to be registered is not a private property
and Deeds Registration Commission and to this Honorable of the Registration Applicant but part of the public domain, not
Court respectfully reports that: subjected to disposition and is covered by Proclamation No.
1. A parcel of land described in plan Psu-162620 situated in the 585 for Integrated Social Forestry Program hence, L.R.C. No.
Barrio of San Isidro, Municipality of Antipolo, Province of Rizal, 269-A is recommended for rejection (Underlining supplied)."
is applied for registration of title in the case at bar. Copy of the letter is attached herewith as Annex "3" and made
an integral part hereof."
2. After plotting plan Psu-162620 in our Municipal Index Map it
was found that a portion of the SW, described as Lot 3 in plan
109
Lastly, the Solicitor General pointed out that attached to reservation, where petitioners' Lot is supposedly situated, back
petitioner Edna T. Collados [as original applicant] application to the MWR.
is the technical description39 of the Lot signed by Robert C.
Finally, it is of no moment if the areas of the MWR are now fairly
Pangyarihan, Officer-in-Charge of the Survey Division of the
populated and vibrant communities as claimed by petitioners.
Bureau of Lands. This technical description categorically stated
The following ruling may be applied to this case by analogy:
that the Lot "is inside IN-12 Mariquina Watershed."
"A forested area classified as forest land of the public domain
The evidence of record thus appears unsatisfactory and
does not lose such classification simply because loggers or
insufficient to show clearly and positively that the Lot had been
settlers may have stripped it of its forest cover. Parcels of land
officially released from the Marikina Watershed Reservation to
classified as forest land may actually be covered with grass or
form part of the alienable and disposable lands of the public
planted to crops by kaingin cultivators or other farmers. "Forest
domain. We hold that once a parcel of land is included within a
lands" do not have to be on mountains or in out of the way
watershed reservation duly established by Executive
places. Swampy areas covered by mangrove trees, nipa palms
Proclamation, as in the instant case, a presumption arises that
and other trees growing in brackish or sea water may also be
the land continues to be part of such Reservation until clear
classified as forest land. The classification is descriptive of its
and convincing evidence of subsequent declassification is
legal nature or status and does not have to be descriptive of
shown.
what the land actually looks like. Unless and until the land
It is obvious, based on the facts on record that neither classified as "forest" is released in an official proclamation to
petitioners nor their predecessors-in-interest have been in that effect so that it may form part of the disposable agricultural
open, continuous, exclusive and notorious possession and lands of the public domain, the rules on confirmation of
occupation of the Lot for at least thirty years immediately imperfect title do not apply."40
preceding the filing of the application for confirmation of title.
Second Issue: Whether the petition for annulment of judgment
Even if they submitted sufficient proof that the Lot had been
excluded from the MWR upon the issuance of Proclamation should have been given due course.
No. 1283 on June 21, 1974, petitioners possession as of the
filing of their application on April 25, 1985 would have been only Petitioners fault the Court of Appeals for giving due course to
eleven years counted from the issuance of the proclamation in the Republics petition for annulment of judgment which was
1974. The result will not change even if we tack in the two years filed long after the decision of the land registration court had
Sesinando Leyva allegedly possessed the Lot from 1902 until allegedly become final and executory. The land registration
the issuance of EO 33 in 1904. Petitioners case falters even court rendered its decision on January 30, 1991 and the
more because of the issuance of Proclamation No. 1637 on Solicitor General received a copy of the decision on April 23,
April 18, 1977. According to then DENR Secretary Victor 1991.41 Petitioners point out that the Solicitor General filed with
Ramos, Proclamation No. 1637 reverted Lot A or the townsite the Court of Appeals the petition for annulment of judgment
invoking Section 9(2) of BP Blg. 12942 only on August 6, 1991,

110
after the decision had supposedly become final and executory. "The Land Registration Court has no jurisdiction over non-
Moreover, petitioners further point out that the Solicitor General registrable properties, such as public navigable rivers which
filed the petition for annulment after the land registration court are parts of the public domain, and cannot validly adjudge the
issued its order of May 6, 1991 directing the Land Registration registration of title in favor of private applicant. Hence, the
Authority to issue the corresponding decree of registration. judgment of the Court of First Instance of Pampanga as
regards the Lot No. 2 of certificate of Title No. 15856 in the
The Solicitor General sought the annulment of the decision on
name of petitioners may be attacked at any time, either directly
the ground that the land registration court had no jurisdiction
or collaterally, by the State which is not bound by any
over the case, specifically, over the Lot which was not alienable
prescriptive period provided for by the Statute of Limitations."
and disposable. The Solicitor General maintained that the
decision was null and void. We also hold that environmental consequences in this case
override concerns over technicalities and rules of procedure.
Petitioners argue that the remedy of annulment of judgment is
no longer available because it is barred by the principle of res In Republic vs. De los Angeles,44 which involved the
judicata. They insist that the land registration court had registration of public lands, specifically parts of the sea, the
jurisdiction over the case which involves private land. They also Court rejected the principle of res judicata and estoppel to
argue that the Republic is estopped from questioning the land silence the Republics claim over public lands. The Court said:
registration courts jurisdiction considering that the Republic
"It should be noted further that the doctrine of estoppel or
participated in the proceedings before the court.
laches does not apply when the Government sues as a
It is now established that the Lot, being a watershed sovereign or asserts governmental rights, nor does estoppel or
reservation, is not alienable and disposable public land. The laches validate an act that contravenes law or public policy, and
evidence of the petitioners do not clearly and convincingly that res judicata is to be disregarded if its application would
show that the Lot, described as Lot Psu-162620, ceased to be involve the sacrifice of justice to technicality."
a portion of the area classified as a watershed reservation of
The Court further held that "the right of reversion or
the public domain. Any title to the Lot is void ab initio. In view
reconveyance to the State of the public properties registered
of this, the alleged procedural infirmities attending the filing of
and which are not capable of private appropriation or private
the petition for annulment of judgment are immaterial since the
acquisition does not prescribe."
land registration court never acquired jurisdiction over the Lot.
All proceedings of the land registration court involving the Lot Third issue: Whether the petition-in-intervention is proper.
are therefore null and void.
The Bockasanjo ISF Awardees Association, Inc., an
We apply our ruling in Martinez vs. Court of Appeals,43 as association of holders of certificates of stewardship issued by
follows: the DENR under its Integrated Social Forestry Program, filed
with the Court of Appeals on November 29, 1991 a Motion for
Leave to Intervene and to Admit Petition-In-Intervention.
111
According to intervenors, they are the actual occupants of the Program of the Department of Environment and Natural
Lot which petitioners sought to register. Aware that the parcels Resources in accordance with existing laws, rules and
of land which their forefathers had occupied, developed and regulations, which parcel of land is more particularly described
tilled belong to the Government, they filed a petition with then as follows:
President Corazon C. Aquino and then DENR Secretary
"A PARCEL OF LAND, within the Marikina Watershed
Fulgencio S. Factoran, to award the parcels of land to them.
Reservation situated in the Municipality of Antipolo, Province of
Secretary Factoran directed the Director of Forest Rizal, beginning at point "1" on plan, being identical to corner 1
Management Bureau to take steps for the segregation of the of Marikina Watershed Reservation; thence
aforementioned area from the MWR for development under the
xxx xxx xxx
DENRs ISF Programs. Subsequently, then President Aquino
issued Proclamation No. 585 dated June 5, 1990 excluding Containing an area of One Thousand Four Hundred Thirty
1,430 hectares from the operation of EO 33 and placed the (1,430) Hectares.
same under the DENRs Integrated Social Forestry Program.
Proclamation No. 585 reads: All other lands covered and embraced under Executive Order
No. 33 as amended, not otherwise affected by this
PROCLAMATION NO. 585 Proclamation, shall remain in force and effect.
AMENDING FURTHER EXECUTIVE ORDER NO. 33, DATED IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand and
JULY 26, 1904 WHICH ESTABLISHED THE MARIKINA caused the seal of the Republic of the Philippines to be affixed.
WATERSHED RESERVATION (IN-12) AS AMENDED, BY
EXCLUDING CERTAIN PORTIONS OF LANDS EMBRACED Done in the City of Manila, this 5th day of June, in the year of
THEREIN SITUATED AT SITIOS BOSOBOSO, KILINGAN, Our Lord, nineteen hundred and ninety.
VETERANS, BARANGAYS SAN JOSEPH AND PAENAAN, (Sgd.) CORAZON C. AQUINO
MUNICIPALITY OF ANTIPOLO, PROVINCE OF RIZAL, President of the Philippines"
ISLAND OF LUZON.
Pursuant to Proclamation No. 585, the chief of the ISF Unit,
Upon recommendation of the Secretary of Environment and acting through the Regional Executive Director of the DENR
Natural Resources and pursuant to the authority vested in me (Region IV), issued sometime between the years 1989 to 1991
by law, I, CORAZON C. AQUINO, President of the Philippines, certificates of stewardship contracts to bona fide residents of
do hereby exclude from the operation of Executive Order No. the barangays mentioned in the proclamation as qualified
33, which established the Marikina Watershed Reservation, recipients of the ISF programs. Among those awarded were
certain parcel of land of the public domain embraced therein intervenors. The certificates of stewardship are actually
situated in Sitios Bosoboso, Veterans, Kilingan and Barangay contracts of lease granted by the DENR to actual occupants of
San Joseph and Paenaan, Municipality of Antipolo, Province of parcels of land under its ISF programs for a period of twenty-
Rizal and place the same under the Integrated Social Forestry five (25) years, renewable for another twenty-five (25) years.45
112
The DENR awarded contracts of stewardship to ISF property in the custody of the court, or an officer thereof may,
participants in Barangay San Isidro (or Boso-boso) and the with leave of court, be allowed to intervene in the action. The
other barangays based on the Inventory of Forest Occupants Court shall consider whether or not the intervention will unduly
the DENR had conducted.46 delay or prejudice the adjudication of the rights of the original
parties, and whether or not the inertvenors rights may be fully
According to intervenors, they learned only on July 31, 1991
protected in a separate proceeding.
about the pendency of LRC Case No. 269-A before the
Regional Trial Court of Antipolo, Rizal. On August 8, 1991, they Sec. 2. Time to intervene. The motion to intervene may be
filed a Motion for Leave to Intervene and to Admit Opposition filed at any time before rendition of judgment by the trial court.
in Intervention before the land registration court to assert their A copy of the pleading-in-intervention shall be attached to the
rights and to protect their interests. motion and served on the original parties.
However, shortly after the filing of their opposition, intervenors As a rule, intervention is allowed "before rendition of judgment
learned that the land registration court had already rendered a by the trial court," as Section 2, Rule 19 expressly provides.
decision on January 30, 1991 confirming petitioners imperfect However, the Court has recognized exceptions to this rule in
title. Intervenors counsel received a copy of the decision on the interest of substantial justice. Mago vs. Court of Appeals48
August 9, 1991. reiterated the ruling in Director of Lands vs. Court of Appeals,
where the Court allowed the motions for intervention even
On August 14, 1991, intervenors filed a motion to vacate
when the case had already reached this Court. Thus, in Mago
judgment and for new trial before the land registration court.
the Court held that:
According to intervenors, the land registration court could not
act on its motions due to the restraining order issued by the "It is quite clear and patent that the motions for intervention filed
Court of Appeals on August 8, 1991, enjoining the land by the movants at this stage of the proceedings where trial had
registration court from executing its decision, as prayed for by already been concluded x x x and on appeal x x x the same
the Solicitor General in its petition for annulment of judgment. affirmed by the Court of Appeals and the instant petition for
The intervenors were thus constrained to file a petition for certiorari to review said judgment is already submitted for
intervention before the Court of Appeals which allowed the decision by the Supreme Court, are obviously and, manifestly
same. late, beyond the period prescribed under x x x Section 2, Rule
12 of the rules of Court.
Rule 19 of the 1997 Rules of Civil Procedure47 provides in
pertinent parts: But Rule 12 of the Rules of Court, like all other Rules therein
promulgated, is simply a rule of procedure, the whole purpose
Section 1. Who may intervene. A person who has a legal
and object of which is to make the powers of the Court fully and
interest in the matter in litigation, or in the success of either of
completely available for justice. The purpose of procedure is
the parties, or an interest against both, or is so situated as to
not to thwart justice. Its proper aim is to facilitate the application
be adversely affected by a distribution or other disposition of
of justice to the rival claims of contending parties. It was
113
created not to hinder and delay but to facilitate and promote the
administration of justice. It does not constitute the thing itself
which courts are always striving to secure to litigants. It is
designed as the means best adopted to obtain that thing. In
other words, it is a means to an end."
To be sure, the Court of Appeals did not pass upon the actual
status of intervenors in relation to the Lot as this was not in
issue. Neither was the validity of the certificates of stewardship
contracts which intervenors allegedly possessed inquired into
considering this too was not in issue. In fact, intervenors did not
specifically seek any relief apart from a declaration that the Lot
in question remains inalienable land of the public domain. We
cannot fault the Court of Appeals for allowing the intervention,
if only to provide the rival groups a peaceful venue for
ventilating their sides. This case has already claimed at least
five lives due to the raging dispute between the rival camps of
the petitioners on one side and those of the DENR awardees
on the other. It also spawned a number of criminal cases
between the two rival groups including malicious mischief,
robbery and arson. A strict application of the rules would blur
this bigger, far more important picture.
WHEREFORE, the Petition is DENIED. The Decision of the
Court of Appeals dated June 22, 1992 declaring null and void
the Decision dated January 30, 1991 of Branch 71, Regional
Trial Court of Antipolo, Rizal, in LRC No. 269-A, LRC Rec. No.
N-59179 is AFFIRMED.
SO ORDERED.

114
Republic of the Philippines On June 20, 1988, private oppositors Macario Zafra and
SUPREME COURT Manuel Yusay filed their Motion to Dismiss the application on
Manila the following grounds: (1) the land applied for has not been
declared alienable and disposable; (2) res judicata has set in
THIRD DIVISION
to bar the application for registration; and (3) the application
G.R. No. 170757 November 28, 2011 has no factual or legal basis.

PACIFICO M. VALIAO, for himself and in behalf of his co- On August 24, 1988, the Republic of the Philippines (Republic),
heirs LODOVICO, RICARDO, BIENVENIDO, all Surnamed through the Office of the Solicitor General (OSG), opposed the
VALIAO and NEMESIO M. GRANDEA, Petitioners, application for registration on the following grounds, among
vs. others: that neither the applicants nor their predecessors-in-
REPUBLIC OF THE PHILIPPINES, MACARIO ZAFRA, and interest had been in open, continuous, exclusive and notorious
MANUEL YUSAY, Respondents, possession and occupation of the land in question since June
12, 1945 or prior thereto; that the muniment/s of title and/or the
DECISION tax declaration/s and tax payments/receipts of applicants, if
PERALTA, J.: any, attached to or alleged in the application, do/es not
constitute competent and sufficient evidence of a bona fide
Before this Court is a petition for review on certiorari under Rule acquisition of the land applied for or of their open, continuous,
45 of the Rules of Court seeking to set aside the Decision1 and exclusive and notorious possession and occupation in the
Resolution2 of the Court of Appeals (CA) in CA-G.R. CV No. concept of owner, since June 12, 1945 or prior thereto; that the
54811, which reversed the Decision3 of the Regional Trial parcel of land applied for is a portion of public domain
Court (RTC) of Kabankalan, Negros Occidental, Branch 61, in belonging to the Republic, which is not subject to private
Land Registration Case No. 03, granting petitioners' application appropriation; and that the present action is barred by a
for registration of title over a parcel of land located in Ilog, previous final judgment in a cadastral case prosecuted
Negros Occidental. between the same parties and involving the same parcel of
The factual milieu of this case is as follows: land.

On August 11, 1987, petitioners4 Pacifico, Lodovico, Ricardo, On July 3, 1989, the RTC denied private oppositors' Motion to
Bienvenido, all surnamed Valiao, and Nemesio Grandea filed Dismiss. Trial thereafter ensued.
with the RTC of Kabankalan, Negros Occidental an application In support of their application for registration, petitioners
for registration of a parcel of land with an area of 504,535 alleged that they acquired the subject property in 1947, upon
square meters, more or less, situated in Barrio Galicia, the death of their uncle Basilio Millarez (Basilio), who
Municipality of Ilog, Negros Occidental. purchased the land from a certain Fermin Payogao, pursuant
to a Deed of Sale5 dated May 19, 1916 entirely handwritten in

115
Spanish language. Basilio possessed the land in question from Aggrieved by the Decision, the private oppositors and the
May 19, 1916 until his death in 1947. Basilio's possession was Republic, through Assistant Prosecutor Josue A. Gatin, filed an
open, continuous, peaceful, adverse, notorious, uninterrupted appeal with the CA, which reversed the trial court's findings in
and in the concept of an owner. Upon Basilio's death, the its Decision dated June 23, 2005. The CA ruled that the
applicants as co-heirs possessed the said land until 1966, classification of lands of the public domain is an exclusive
when oppositor Zafra unlawfully and violently dispossessed prerogative of the executive department of the government and
them of their property, which compelled them to file complaints in the absence of such classification, the lands remain as
of Grave Coercion and Qualified Theft against Zafra. In support unclassified until it is released therefrom and rendered open to
of their claim of possession over the subject property, disposition. Further, there exists a prior cadastral case
petitioners submitted in evidence Tax Declaration No. 9562 6 involving the same parties herein and the same Lot No. 2372,
dated September 29, 1976 under the names of the heirs of which ruled that Lot No. 2372 belongs to the Republic. The CA
Basilio Millarez. held that such judgment constitutes res judicata that bars a
subsequent action for land registration. It also ruled that the
The RTC, in its Decision dated December 15, 1995, granted
subject property is part of the inalienable land of the public
petitioners' application for registration of the subject property,
domain and petitioners failed to prove that they and their
the dispositive portion of which states:
predecessors-in-interest had been in open, continuous,
WHEREFORE, in view of the foregoing, this Court hereby exclusive and notorious possession of the land in question
orders and decrees registration of Lot No. 2372 subject of the since June 12, 1945 or earlier. The dispositive portion of the
present proceedings and the registration of title thereto, in favor decision reads:
of the applicants, who are declared the true and lawful owners
WHEREFORE, premises considered, the instant appeal is
of said Lot No. 2372, except applicant Lodovico Valiao, who
GRANTED. Accordingly, We REVERSE the Decision dated
sold his right to Macario Zafra.
December 15, 1995 of the Regional Trial Court, DENY the
Upon the finality of this decision, let the corresponding decree application for registration of title filed by petitioners-appellees,
of registration and Certificate of Title be issued in the name of DECLARE as moot and academic any and all claims of private
the applicants, Heirs of Basilio Millarez, namely: Pacifico oppositors-appellants over Lot No. 2372, and DECLARE the
Valiao, Ricardo Valiao, Bienvenido Valiao and Nemesio subject parcel of land to be inalienable and indisposable land
Grandea, subject to the rights of private oppositors, Macario belonging to the public domain.
Zafra and Manuel Yusay over said lot whose fishpond permits
SO ORDERED.8
are declared VALID and will expire on December 31, 2003.
Petitioners filed a motion for reconsideration, which was denied
No costs.
by the CA in a Resolution dated November 17, 2005. Hence,
SO ORDERED.7 the present petition with the following issues:
I
116
WHETHER OR NOT LOT NO. 2372 OF THE ILOG and disposable land of the public domain and whether
CADASTRE IS ALIENABLE AND DISPOSABLE LAND OF petitioners have the right to have the said property registered
THE PUBLIC DOMAIN. in their name through prescription of time are questions of fact,
which were already passed upon by the CA and no longer
II
reviewable by the Court, since findings of fact of the CA, when
WHETHER OR NOT THE CLAIM OF PRESCRIPTION BY supported by sufficient evidence, are conclusive and binding
THE APPLICANT WILL LIE ON LOT NO. 2372. on the parties. The OSG further claims that petitioners failed to
prove that the subject lot is part of the alienable and disposable
III portion of the public domain and that petitioners' application for
WHETHER OR NOT THE DECISION OF THE COURT OF land registration is already barred by a prior decision in a
APPEALS IN CAD. CASE NO. 23, ENTITLED LODOVICO cadastral case. Lastly, the OSG asserts that petitioners did not
VALIAO, ET, AL., VS. MACARIO ZAFRA, ET, AL., AC G.R. present sufficient evidence to prove that their possession over
NO. CV-68873, CONSTITUTES RES JUDICATA AS FAR AS the subject lot applied for had been open, peaceful, exclusive,
THIS APPLICATION FOR REGISTRATION IS CONCERNED. continuous and adverse.

IV Anent the propriety of filing a petition for review under Rule 45


of the Rules of Court, the principle is well-established that this
WHETHER OR NOT THE ALLEGED POSSESSION OF THE Court is not a trier of facts and that only questions of law may
APPLICANTS THROUGH THEIR PREDECESSORS-IN- be raised. The resolution of factual issues is the function of the
INTEREST IS SUFFICIENT TO SUSTAIN THEIR CLAIM FOR lower courts whose findings on these matters are received with
PRESCRIPTION.9 respect and are, as a rule, binding on this Court. This rule,
Petitioners claim that Lot No. 2372 is an alienable and however, is subject to certain exceptions. One of these is when
disposable portion of the public domain. The possession of the findings of the appellate court are contrary to those of the
applicants' predecessors-in interest since 1916 until 1966 had trial court.10 Due to the divergence of the findings of the CA and
been open, continuous and uninterrupted; thus, converting the the RTC, the Court will now re-examine the facts and evidence
said land into a private land. The subject lot had already adduced before the lower courts.
become private in character in view of the length of time the Section 14 (1) of Presidential Decree No. (PD) 1529, otherwise
applicants and their predecessors-in-interest had possessed known as the Property Registration Decree provides:
the subject lot, which entitles them to the confirmation of their
title. Petitioners further claim that prior dismissal in a cadastral SEC. 14. Who may apply. - The following persons may file in
proceeding does not constitute res judicata in a subsequent the proper Court of First Instance an application for registration
application for registration of a parcel of land. of title to land, whether personally or through their duly-
authorized representatives:
In its Comment, the OSG submits that the issues to be resolved
in the present petition, i.e., whether Lot No. 2372 is alienable
117
(1) Those who by themselves or through their predecessors-in- evidence must be established that the land subject of the
interest have been in open, continuous, exclusive and application (or claim) is alienable or disposable.15
notorious possession and occupation of alienable and
There must be a positive act declaring land of the public
disposable lands of the public domain under a bona fide claim
domain as alienable and disposable. To prove that the land
of ownership since June 12, 1945, or earlier.
subject of an application for registration is alienable, the
From the foregoing, petitioners need to prove that: (1) the land applicant must establish the existence of a positive act of the
forms part of the alienable and disposable land of the public government, such as a presidential proclamation or an
domain; and (2) they, by themselves or through their executive order; an administrative action; investigation reports
predecessors-in-interest, have been in open, continuous, of Bureau of Lands investigators; and a legislative act or a
exclusive, and notorious possession and occupation of the statute. The applicant may also secure a certification from the
subject land under a bona fide claim of ownership from June government that the land claimed to have been possessed for
12, 1945 or earlier.11 These the petitioners must prove by no the required number of years is alienable and disposable.16
less than clear, positive and convincing evidence.12
No such evidence was offered by the petitioners to show that
Under the Regalian doctrine, which is embodied in our the land in question has been classified as alienable and
Constitution, all lands of the public domain belong to the State, disposable land of the public domain. In the absence of
which is the source of any asserted right to any ownership of incontrovertible evidence to prove that the subject property is
land. All lands not appearing to be clearly within private already classified as alienable and disposable, we must
ownership are presumed to belong to the State. Accordingly, consider the same as still inalienable public domain. 17 Verily,
public lands not shown to have been reclassified or released the rules on the confirmation of imperfect title do not apply
as alienable agricultural land or alienated to a private person unless and until the land subject thereof is released in an
by the State remain part of the inalienable public domain. 13 official proclamation to that effect so that it may form part of the
Unless public land is shown to have been reclassified as disposable agricultural lands of the public domain.1wphi1
alienable or disposable to a private person by the State, it
With respect to the existence of a prior cadastral case, it
remains part of the inalienable public domain. Property of the
appears that on July 11, 1966, the petitioners filed in Cadastral
public domain is beyond the commerce of man and not
Case No. 23 of the then CFI of Negros Occidental a petition to
susceptible of private appropriation and acquisitive
reopen the proceedings relative to three lots, one of which is
prescription. Occupation thereof in the concept of owner no
Lot No. 2372. The lower court, in its Order18 dated October 20,
matter how long cannot ripen into ownership and be registered
1980, held that Lot No. 2372 belongs to the Republic. It found
as a title.14 The burden of proof in overcoming the presumption
that after the subject lot was declared public land, it was found
of State ownership of the lands of the public domain is on the
to be inside the communal forest. On appeal, the CA, in its
person applying for registration (or claiming ownership), who
Decision19 dated August 7, 1984, found no reversible error and
must prove that the land subject of the application is alienable
affirmed the decision of the cadastral court. Thereafter, a
or disposable. To overcome this presumption, incontrovertible
118
petition elevating the case to this Court was dismissed for lack introduced improvements on the subject property, there is
of merit.20 In the present case, the CA, in its Decision dated nothing in the records which would substantiate petitioners'
June 23, 2005, ruled that such judgment constitutes res claim that Basilio was in possession of Lot No. 2372 since June
judicata that will bar a subsequent action for land registration 12, 1945 or earlier, the period of possession required by law.
on the same land. Hence, petitioners' assertion that Basilio possessed the
property in question from 1916 to 1947 is, at best, conjectural
In Director of Lands v. Court of Appeals,21 the Court held that
and self-serving.
a judicial declaration that a parcel of land is public, does not
preclude even the same applicant from subsequently seeking As regards petitioners' possession of the land in question from
a judicial confirmation of his title to the same land, provided he 1947 to 1966, petitioners could only support the same with a
thereafter complies with the provisions of Section 48 22 of tax declaration dated September 29, 1976. At best, petitioners
Commonwealth Act No. 141, as amended, and as long as said can only prove possession since said date. What is required is
public lands remain alienable and disposable. In the case at open, exclusive, continuous and notorious possession by
bar, not only did the petitioners fail to prove that the subject petitioners and their predecessors-in-interest, under a bona
land is part of the alienable and disposable portion of the public fide claim of ownership, since June 12, 1945 or earlier.25
domain, they failed to demonstrate that they by themselves or Petitioners failed to explain why, despite their claim that their
through their predecessors-in-interest have possessed and predecessors-in-interest have possessed the subject
occupied the subject land since June 12, 1945 or earlier as properties in the concept of an owner even before June 12,
mandated by the law. 1945, it was only in 1976 that they started to declare the same
for purposes of taxation. Moreover, tax declarations and
It is settled that the applicant must present proof of specific acts
receipts are not conclusive evidence of ownership or of the
of ownership to substantiate the claim and cannot just offer
right to possess land when not supported by any other
general statements which are mere conclusions of law than
evidence. The disputed property may have been declared for
factual evidence of possession.23 Actual possession consists
taxation purposes in the names of the applicants for
in the manifestation of acts of dominion over it of such a nature
registration, or of their predecessors-in-interest, but it does not
as a party would actually exercise over his own property.24
necessarily prove ownership. They are merely indicia of a claim
The testimonies of Nemesio and Pacifico as to their own and of ownership.26
their predecessors-in-interest's possession and ownership
Evidently, since the petitioners failed to prove that (1) the
over the subject lot fail to convince Us. Petitioners claim that
subject property was classified as part of the disposable and
Basilio was in possession of the land way back in 1916. Yet no
alienable land of the public domain; and (2) they and their
tax declaration covering the subject property, during the period
predecessors-in-interest had been in open, continuous,
Basilio allegedly occupied the subject property, i.e., 1916 to
exclusive, and notorious possession and occupation thereof
1947, was presented in evidence. Other than the bare
under a bona fide claim of ownership since June 12, 1945 or
allegations of Nemesio and Pacifico that Basilio allegedly

119
earlier, their application for confirmation and registration of the
subject property under PD 1529 should be denied.
WHEREFORE, the Decision and Resolution of the Court of
Appeals in CA-G.R. CV No. 54811, which reversed the
Decision of the Regional Trial Court of Kabankalan, Negros
Occidental, Branch 61, in Land Registration Case No. 03, is
AFFIRMED. The application for registration of title filed by the
petitioners Pacifico Valiao, Lodovico Valiao, Ricardo Valiao,
Bienvenido Valiao, and Nemesio Grandea, over Lot No. 2372,
with a total area of 504,535 square meters, more or less,
situated in Barrio Galicia, Municipality of Ilog, Negros
Occidental, is DENIED.
SO ORDERED.

120
Republic of the Philippines thereof. They filed a petition for coverage of the said lots under
SUPREME COURT Presidential Decree (P.D.) No. 27.4 On July 4, 1995, the
Manila Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) issued an order
granting the petition, the dispositive portion of which reads:
THIRD DIVISION
WHEREFORE, foregoing facts and jurisprudence considered,
G.R. No. 166748 April 24, 2009
Order is hereby issued:
LAUREANO V. HERMOSO, as represented by his
1. PLACING the subject two (2) parcels of land being tenanted
Attorney-in-Fact FLORIDA L. UMANDAP, Petitioner,
by petitioners Laureano Hermoso and Miguel Banag situated
vs.
at Malhacan, Meycauayan, Bulacan, owned by Amos Francia,
COURT OF APPEALS and HEIRS OF ANTONIO FRANCIA
et al. under the coverage of Operation Land Transfer pursuant
and PETRA FRANCIA, NAMELY: BENJAMIN P. FRANCIA,
to P.D. 27; and
CECILIA FRANCIA, AMOS P. FRANCIA, JR., FRANCISCO
F. VILLARICA, DANILO F. VILLARICA, RODRIGO F. 2. DIRECTING the DAR personnel concerned to process the
VILLARICA, MELCHOR F. VILLARICA, JESUS F. issuance of emancipation patents in favor of said Laureano
VILLARICA, BENILDA F. VILLARICA and ERNESTO F. Hermoso and Miguel Banag after a parcellary mapping have
VILLARICA, Respondents. been undertaken by the Bureau of Lands over the subject
landholdings.
DECISION
SO ORDERED.5
NACHURA, J.:
Respondents filed an omnibus motion for reconsideration and
Before the Court is a petition for review on certiorari under Rule
reinvestigation. On December 9, 1995, the DAR affirmed with
45 of the Rules of Court, assailing the Decision1 dated October
modification the earlier order, and disposed of the case as
15, 2004 and the Resolution2 dated January 19, 2005 of the
follows:
Court of Appeals (CA) in CA-G.R. SP No. 77546.
WHEREFORE, all premises considered, ORDER is hereby
The case involves parcels of land located at Malhacan,
issued AFFIRMING the first dispositive portion of the Order,
Meycauyan, Bulacan, identified as Lot No. 3257 owned by
dated July 4, 1995, issued in the instant case, but MODIFYING
Petra Francia and Lot 3415 owned by Antonio Francia. The lots
the second dispositive portion of the same now to read, as
comprises an area of 2.5 and 1.5850 hectares, respectively,
follows:
and forms part of a larger parcel of land with an area of 32.1324
hectares co-owned by Amos, Jr., Benjamin, Cecilia, Petra, 1. PLACING the subject two (2) parcels of land being tenanted
Antonio and Rufo, all surnamed Francia.3 by petitioners Laureano Hermoso and Miguel Banag situated
at Malhacan, Meycauayan, Bulacan, owned by Amos Francia,
Since 1978, petitioner and Miguel Banag (Banag) have been
occupying and cultivating Lot Nos. 3257 and 3415 as tenants
121
et al. under the coverage of Operation Land Transfer pursuant reconsideration. They claimed that the lands involved have
to P.D. 27; and been approved for conversion to urban purposes in an Order13
dated June 5, 1973 issued by the DAR Secretary. The
2. DIRECTING the DAR personnel concerned to hold in
conversion order stated that the Operation Land Transfer
abeyance the processing of the emancipation patent of Miguel
(OLT) under Presidential Decree (P.D.) No. 27 does not cover
Banag until the issue of tenancy relationship in DARAB Cases
the subject parcels of land.14 On March 10, 1998, the DAR
Nos. 424-Bul92 and 425-Bul92 is finally resolved and
issued an Order15 affirming the March 13, 1997 order granting
disposed.
the motion for issuance of emancipation patent in favor of
No further motion of any and/or the same nature shall be Banag. On March 30, 1998, respondents filed a notice of
entertained. appeal and correspondingly filed their appeal memorandum. 16
On April 21, 2003, the Office of the President through the
SO ORDERED.6 Deputy Executive Secretary rendered a Decision17 denying
In a separate development, petitioner and Banag filed with the respondents appeal. The dispositive portion of the decision
Department of Agrarian Reform Adjudication Board (DARAB) reads:
consolidated Cases Nos. 424-BUL-92 and 425-BUL-92. The WHEREFORE, premises considered, the instant appeal is
cases delved on whether both petitioner and Banag are tenants hereby DISMISSED and the questioned Order dated 10 March
of respondents in the subject landholding. On June 3, 1996, the 1998 of the DAR Secretary AFFIRMED in toto.
DARAB rendered a Decision7 upholding the tenancy
relationship of petitioner and Banag with the respondents. Parties are required to INFORM this Office, within five (5) days
Respondents filed a motion for reconsideration but the same from notice, of the dates of their receipt of this Decision.
was denied. A petition for review on certiorari was filed before
SO ORDERED.18
the CA. However, the petition was denied on technical grounds
in a Resolution8 dated October 9, 1996. A motion for Respondents then filed with the CA a petition for review under
reconsideration was filed, but the same was likewise denied in Rule 43 of the Rules of Court. They maintained that P.D. No.
a Resolution9 dated December 27, 1996. The case was 27 does not cover the subject parcels of land pursuant to the
eventually elevated to this Court in G.R. No. 127668. On March June 5, 1973 Order of the DAR Secretary reclassifying the
12, 1997, the Court denied the petition for lack of verification,10 lands and declaring the same as suited for residential,
and subsequently, also denied the motion for reconsideration commercial, industrial or other urban purposes. Furthermore,
in a Resolution11 dated July 14, 1997. the Housing and Land Use Regulatory Board (HLURB)
reclassified the lands as early as October 14, 1978.
Earlier, on January 20, 1997, Banag filed before the DAR, an
urgent ex-parte motion for the issuance of an emancipation On October 15, 2004, the CA rendered the assailed Decision,19
patent. On March 13, 1997, the DAR granted the motion.12 On the fallo of which reads:
March 21, 1997, respondents filed a motion for

122
WHEREFORE, the instant petition is hereby GRANTED. Section 3, Article XII22 of the Constitution mandates that
Accordingly, the assailed decision of the Office of the President alienable lands of the public domain shall be limited to
is hereby REVERSED and SET ASIDE. A new decision is agricultural lands.
hereby rendered dismissing the Petition for Coverage under
The classification of lands of the public domain is of two types,
P.D. No. 27 filed by respondents [now herein petitioner].
i.e., primary classification and secondary classification. The
SO ORDERED.20 primary classification comprises agricultural, forest or timber,
mineral lands, and national parks. These are lands specifically
Petitioner filed a motion for reconsideration. On January 19,
mentioned in Section 3, Article XII of the Constitution. The
2005, the CA rendered the assailed Resolution 21 denying the
same provision of the Constitution, however, also states that
motion for reconsideration.
agricultural lands of the public domain may further be classified
Hence, the instant petition. by law according to the uses to which they may be devoted.
This further classification of agricultural lands is referred to as
The sole issue in this petition is whether Lot Nos. 3257 and secondary classification.23
3415 are covered by P.D. No. 27.
Under existing laws, Congress has granted authority to a
Petitioner avers that the final and executory decision of this number of government agencies to effect the secondary
Court in G.R. No. 127668 affirming that he is a tenant of the classification of agricultural lands to residential, commercial or
landholding in question entitles him to avail of the right granted industrial or other urban uses.
under PD 27. In other words, because of the finality of the
decision declaring him a tenant of the landholding in question, Thus, Section 65 of R.A. No. 6657 or the Comprehensive
in effect, the subject lots are considered as agricultural lands Agrarian Reform Law (CARL) of 1988, which took effect on
and are thus covered by P.D. No. 27. Parenthetically, we take June 15, 1988, explicitly provides:
judicial notice of the decision of the Court in G.R. No. 127668,
Section 65. Conversion of Lands. After the lapse of five (5)
in which the tenancy relationship between petitioner and
years from its award, when the land ceases to be economically
respondents was upheld. That decision is already final and
feasible and sound for agricultural purposes, or the locality has
executory.
become urbanized and the land will have a greater economic
Respondents, for their part, claim that the lands were already value for residential, commercial or industrial purposes, the
declared suited for residential, commercial, industrial or other DAR, upon application of the beneficiary or the landowner, with
urban purposes in accordance with the provisions of Republic due notice to the affected parties, and subject to existing laws,
Act (R.A.) No. 3844 as early as 1973. Hence, they are no may authorize the reclassification or conversion of the land and
longer subject to P.D. No. 27. its disposition: Provided, That the beneficiary shall have fully
paid his obligation.
We resolve to deny the petition.

123
On the other hand, Section 20 of R.A. No. 7160 otherwise reclassify lands in excess of the limits set in the next preceding
known as the Local Government Code of 199124 states: paragraph.
SECTION 20. Reclassification of Lands. (c) The local government units shall, in conformity with existing
laws, continue to prepare their respective comprehensive land
(a) A city or municipality may, through an ordinance passed by
use plans enacted through zoning ordinances which shall be
the sanggunian after conducting public hearings for the
the primary and dominant bases for the future use of land
purpose, authorize the reclassification of agricultural lands and
resources: Provided, That the requirements for food
provide for the manner of their utilization or disposition in the
production, human settlements, and industrial expansion shall
following cases: (1) when the land ceases to be economically
be taken into consideration in the preparation of such plans.
feasible and sound for agricultural purposes as determined by
the Department of Agriculture or (2) where the land shall have (d) Where the approval by a national agency is required for
substantially greater economic value for residential, reclassification, such approval shall not be unreasonably
commercial, or industrial purposes, as determined by the withheld. Failure to act on a proper and complete application
sanggunian concerned: Provided, That such reclassification for reclassification within three (3) months from receipt of the
shall be limited to the following percentage of the total same shall be deemed as approval thereof.
agricultural land area at the time of the passage of the
(e) Nothing in this Section shall be construed as repealing,
ordinance:
amending, or modifying in any manner the provisions of R.A.
(1) For highly urbanized and independent component cities, No. 6657.
fifteen percent (15%);
But even long before these two trail-blazing legislative
(2) For component cities and first to the third class enactments, there was already R.A. No. 3844 or the
municipalities, ten percent (10%); and Agricultural Land Reform Code, which was approved on
August 8, 1963, Section 36 of which reads:
(3) For fourth to sixth class municipalities, five percent (5%):
Provided, further, That agricultural lands distributed to agrarian SECTION 36. Possession of Landholding; Exceptions.
reform beneficiaries pursuant to Republic Act Numbered Sixty- Notwithstanding any agreement as to the period or future
six hundred fifty-seven (R.A. No. 6657), otherwise known as surrender, of the land, agricultural lessee shall continue in the
"The Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Law", shall not be enjoyment and possession of his landholding except when his
affected by the said reclassification and the conversion of such dispossession has been authorized by the Court in a judgment
lands into other purposes shall be governed by Section 65 of that is final and executory if after due hearing it is shown that:
said Act.
(1) The agricultural lessor-owner or a member of his immediate
(b) The President may, when public interest so requires and family will personally cultivate the landholding or will convert
upon recommendation of the National Economic and the landholding, if suitably located, into residential, factory,
Development Authority, authorize a city or municipality to hospital or school site or other useful non-agricultural
124
purposes: Provided, That the agricultural lessee shall be as a result of a fortuitous event, the non-payment shall not be
entitled to disturbance compensation equivalent to five years a ground for dispossession, although the obligation to pay the
rental on his landholding in addition to his rights under Sections rental due that particular crop is not thereby extinguished; or
twenty-five and thirty-four, except when the land owned and
(7) The lessee employed a sub-lessee on his landholding in
leased by the agricultural lessor, is not more that five hectares,
violation of the terms of paragraph 2 of Section twenty-seven.
in which case instead of disturbance compensation the lessee
may be entitled to an advanced notice of at least one The petitioner in the instant case claims that he is entitled to
agricultural year before ejectment proceedings are filed against the issuance of an emancipation patent under P.D. No. 27. The
him: Provided, further, That should the landholder not cultivate said decree promulgated by then President Ferdinand E.
the land himself for three years or fail to substantially carry out Marcos, on October 21, 1972, is entitled, "DECREEING THE
such conversion within one year after the dispossession of the EMANCIPATION OF TENANTS FROM THE BONDAGE OF
tenant, it shall be presumed that he acted in bad faith and the THE SOIL TRANSFERRING TO THEM THE OWNERSHIP OF
tenant shall have the right to demand possession of the land THE LAND THEY TILL AND PROVIDING THE
and recover damages for any loss incurred by him because of INSTRUMENTS AND MECHANISMS THEREFOR". However,
said dispossessions; the law specifically applied "to tenant-farmers of private
agricultural lands primarily devoted to rice and corn under a
(2) The agricultural lessee failed to substantially comply with
system of share tenancy or lease tenancy, whether classified
any of the terms and conditions of the contract or any of the
as landed estate or not."
provisions of this Code unless his failure is caused by fortuitous
event or force majeure; For the parcels of land subject of this petition to come within
the coverage of P.D. No. 27, it is necessary to determine
(3) The agricultural lessee planted crops or used the
whether the land is agricultural. Section 3(c) of R.A. No. 6657
landholding for a purpose other than what had been previously
defines agricultural land, as follows:
agreed upon;
(c) Agricultural Land refers to the land devoted to agricultural
(4) The agricultural lessee failed to adopt proven farm practices
activity as defined in this Act and not classified as mineral,
as determined under paragraph 3 of Section twenty-nine;
forest, residential, commercial or industrial land.
(5) The land or other substantial permanent improvement
and Section 3(b) specifies agricultural activity as:
thereon is substantially damaged or destroyed or has
unreasonably deteriorated through the fault or negligence of (b) Agriculture, Agriculture Enterprise or Agricultural Activity
the agricultural lessee; means cultivation of the soil, planting of crops, growing of fruit
trees, including the harvesting of such farm products, and other
(6) The agricultural lessee does not pay the lease rental when
farm activities and practices performed by a farmer in
it falls due: Provided, That if the non-payment of the rental shall
conjunction with such farming operations done by persons
be due to crop failure to the extent of seventy-five per centum
whether natural or juridical.
125
On the basis of these definitions, the subject parcels of land compensation, and to show that their (petitioners) purpose of
cannot be considered as within the ambit of P.D. No. 27. This the instant request is not to evade the provisions of Decree 27,
considering that the subject lots were reclassified by the DAR they stated in their letter-request that they will not eject any
Secretary as suited for residential, commercial, industrial or tenants therefrom, nor dispossessed (sic) them of their
other urban purposes way before petitioner filed a petition for landholdings until after they are fully and justly paid the
emancipation under P.D. No. 27. The pertinent portions of the disturbance compensation according to law.
June 5, 1973 Order25 read:
The subject parcels of land are not included in the land transfer
Pursuant to the provisions of Republic Act 3844, as amended, operation according to the teams report.
the said requests of the petitioners were referred to the
It maybe mentioned in this connection, that from the report of
National Planning Commission as well as to the Agrarian
the National Planning Commission submitted to this Office, it
Reform Team Leader, Valenzuela, Bulacan for proper
appears that the subject properties are strategically located in
investigation.
the urban center of the town of Meycauayan wherein there are
The National Planning Commission in compliance therewith already existing developed and occupied residential
after due investigation and physical survey of the subject areas, subdivisions and even low cost housing projects subsidized by
favorably recommended the suitability of the same to funds from government financial institution. Likewise, there are
residential, commercial, industrial or other urban purposes. also industrial establishments in its vicinity according to the
National Planning Commissions report.
Similarly, the Agrarian Reform Team in Valenzuela, Bulacan
after due investigation thereof found the parcels of land subject In view of the foregoing, and considering the parcels of land
hereof highly suitable for conversion into urban purposes in subject hereof to be suited for residential, commercial,
view of his findings and verification of the location, facilities industrial or other urban purposes as found and recommended
necessary for urban development and also, the low agricultural by the National Planning Commission and the Agrarian Reform
income thereof (unirrigated), of the said land. The Team Leader Team concerned, and considering further that the said parcels
concerned in his recommendation submitted to this Office of land by reason of their location and the existence of
made mentioned (sic) that in his declaration of the suitability of developed and occupied residential subdivisions and industrial
the subject properties for urban purposes, he believes that the establishments in the immediate vicinity maybe considered as
conformity of the tenants consisting of eleven (11) tenants are one of the possible areas to be reserved for urban development
no longer needed so long as the petitioners are willing to pay as contemplated in the Letter of Instruction No. 46 of the
the disturbance compensation as provided for by law. The President, and considering finally, that the right of the
petitioners manifested to the Team Leader concerned their agricultural tenants therein will be fully compensated and there
willingness to pay each and every tenant the disturbance will be no ejectment of tenants until after full payment thereof,
compensation according to law. To show further their sincerity as manifested by the petitioners, the instant requests of the
to comply with the provisions of the law on disturbance petitioners should be, as hereby it is, given due course and the

126
parcels of land subject thereof are hereby declared suited for twenty-five and thirty-four, except when the land owned and
residential, commercial, industrial or other urban purposes in leased by the agricultural lessor, is not more than five hectares,
accordance with the provisions of Republic Act 3844, as in which case instead of disturbance compensation the lessee
amended. may be entitled to an advanced notice of at least one
agricultural year before ejectment proceedings are filed against
It is understood however, that no agricultural tenants and/or
him: Provided, further, That should the landholder not cultivate
lessees shall be ejected from or dispossessed of their
the land himself for three years or fail to substantially carry out
landholdings by virtue of this Order not until after they are duly
such conversion within one year after the dispossession of the
and justly paid the disturbance compensation according to law,
tenant, it shall be presumed that he acted in bad faith and the
the amount of which maybe determined and fixed by the proper
tenant shall have the right to demand possession of the land
court in the absence of any mutual agreement thereto by and
and recover damages for any loss incurred by him because of
between the agricultural lessees and the owner-petitioners.
said dispossessions.
SO ORDERED.26
xxxx27
The main contention of petitioner for the approval of the
However, the provision of R.A. No. 3844 had already been
emancipation patent in his favor under P.D. No. 27 is the fact
amended by R.A. No. 6389, as early as September 10, 1971.
that respondents were not able to realize the actual conversion
Section 36 (1) of R.A. No. 3844, as amended, now reads:
of the land into residential purposes. To bolster his claim,
petitioner relies on Section 36 (1) of R.A. No. 3844, viz.: SECTION 36. Possession of Landholding; Exceptions.
Notwithstanding any agreement as to the period or future
SECTION 36. Possession of Landholding; Exceptions.
surrender, of the land, an agricultural lessee shall continue in
Notwithstanding any agreement as to the period or future
the enjoyment and possession of his landholding except when
surrender, of the land, an agricultural lessee shall continue in
his dispossession has been authorized by the Court in a
the enjoyment and possession of his landholding except when
judgment that is final and executory if after due hearing it is
his dispossession has been authorized by the Court in a
shown that:
judgment that is final and executory if after due hearing it is
shown that: (1) The landholding is declared by the department head upon
recommendation of the National Planning Commission to be
(1) The agricultural lessor-owner or a member of his immediate
suited for residential, commercial, industrial or some other
family will personally cultivate the landholding or will convert
urban purposes: Provided, That the agricultural lessee shall be
the landholding, if suitably located, into residential, factory,
entitled to disturbance compensation equivalent to five times
hospital or school site or other useful non-agricultural
the average of the gross harvests on his landholding during the
purposes: Provided; That the agricultural lessee shall be
last five preceding calendar years;
entitled to disturbance compensation equivalent to five years
rental on his landholding in addition to his rights under Sections xxxx28

127
Under R.A. No. 6389, the condition imposed on the landowner restrain petitioners from continuing with such development.
to implement the conversion of the agricultural land to non- The enormity of the resources needed for developing a
agricultural purposes within a certain period was deleted. With subdivision may have delayed its completion but this does not
the enactment of the amendatory law, the condition imposed detract from the fact that these lands are still residential lands
on the landowner to implement the conversion of the and outside the ambit of the CARL. 31
agricultural land to a non-agricultural purpose within a certain
WHEREFORE, in view of the foregoing, the instant petition is
period was deleted.29 The remedy left available to the tenant is
DENIED for lack of merit. The Decision dated October 15, 2004
to claim disturbance compensation.
and the Resolution dated January 19, 2005 of the Court of
In Natalia Realty, Inc. v. Department of Agrarian Reform30 , the Appeals (CA) in CA-G.R. SP No. 77546 are hereby affirmed.
Court held that lands not devoted to agricultural activity and The case is remanded to the Provincial Agrarian Reform
those that were previously converted to non-agricultural uses Adjudicator of Bulacan for the proper computation of the
are outside the coverage of the CARL, viz.: disturbance compensation of petitioner.
We now determine whether such lands are covered by the SO ORDERED.
CARL. Section 4 of R.A. 6657 provides that the CARL shall
"cover, regardless of tenurial arrangement and commodity
produced, all public and private agricultural lands." As to what
constitutes "agricultural land," it is referred to as "land devoted
to agricultural activity as defined in this Act and not classified
as mineral, forest, residential, commercial or industrial land."
The deliberations of the Constitutional Commission confirm this
limitation. "Agricultural lands" are only those lands which are
"arable and suitable agricultural lands" and "do not include
commercial, industrial and residential lands."
Based on the foregoing, it is clear that the undeveloped
portions of the Antipolo Hills Subdivision cannot in any
language be considered as "agricultural lands." These lots
were intended for residential use. They ceased to be
agricultural lands upon approval of their inclusion in the
Lungsod Silangan Reservation. Even today, the areas in
question continued to be developed as a low-cost housing
subdivision, albeit at a snail's pace. This can readily be gleaned
from the fact that SAMBA members even instituted an action to

128
Republic of the Philippines The Insular Government opposed the granting of these
SUPREME COURT petitions, alleging that the whole parcel of land is public
Manila property of the Government and that the same was never
acquired in any manner or through any title of egresion from
EN BANC
the State.
G.R. No. 2869 March 25, 1907
After trial, and the hearing of documentary and oral proof, the
MATEO CARIO, petitioner-appellant, court of Land Registration rendered its judgment in these
vs. terms:
THE INSULAR GOVERNMENT, respondent-appellee.
Therefore the court finds that Cario and his predecessors
Coudert Brothers for appellant. have not possessed exclusively and adversely any part of the
Office of the Solicitor-General Araneta for appellee. said property prior to the date on which Cario constructed the
house now there that is to say, for the years 1897 and 1898,
ARELLANO, C.J.: and Cario held possession for some years afterwards of but a
Mateo Cario, the appellant herein, on the 23d of February, part of the property to which he claims title. Both petitions are
1904, filed his petition in the Court of Land Registration praying dismissed and the property in question is adjudged to be public
that there be granted to him title to a parcel of land consisting land. (Bill of exceptions, p. 15.)
of 40 hectares, 1 are, and 13 centares, and situated in the town The conclusions arrived at the set forth in definite terms in the
of Baguio, Province of Benguet, together with a house erected decision of the court below are the following:
thereon and constructed of wood and roofed with rimo, and
bounded as follows: On the north, in lines running 1,048 metes From the testimony given by Cario as well as from that of
and 20 decimeters with the lands of Sepa Cario, H. Phelps several of the witnesses for the Government it is deduced, that
Whitmarsh, and Calsi; on the east, in lines running 991 meters in or about the year 1884 Cario erected and utilized as a
and 50 decimeters with the land of Kuidno, Esteban Gonzales, domicile a house on the property situated to the north of that
and of the Civil Government; on the south, in lines of 115 property now in question, property which, according to the plan
meters and 60 decimeters, with the lands of Talaca; and on the attached to expediente No. 561, appears to be property
west, in lines running 982 meters and 20 decimeters, with the belonging to Donaldson Sim; that during the year 1893 Cario
lands of Sisco Cario and Mayengmeng. sold said house to one Cristobal Ramos, who in turn sold the
same to Donaldson Sim, moving to and living on the adjoining
By order of the court the hearing of this petition, No. 561, and property, which appears on the plan aforesaid to be the
that of Antonio Rebollo and Vicente Valpiedad filed under No. property of H. Phelps Whitmarsh, a place where the father and
834, were heard together for the reason that the latter petition the grandfather of his wife, that is to say, Ortega and Minse,
claimed a small portion of land included in the parcel set out in had lived . . ..
the former petition.

129
In or about the years 1898 Cario abandoned the property of 3. Under the express provisions of law, a parcel of land, being
Whitmarsh and located on the property described in the plan of common origin, presumptively belonged to the State during
attached to expediente No. 561, having constructed a house its sovereignty, and, in order to perfect the legitimate
thereon in which he now lives, and which house is situated in acquisition of such land by private persons, it was necessary
the center of the property, as is indicated on the plan; and since that the possession of the same pass from the State. And there
which time he has undoubtedly occupied some portion of the is no evidence or proof of title of egresion of this land from the
property now claimed by him. (Bill of exceptions, pp. 11 and domain of the Spanish Government, nor is there any
12.) possessory information equivalent to title by composicion or
under agreement. 4, The possessory information filed herein is
1. Therefore it is evident that this court can not decree the
not the title to property authorized in substitution for that of
registration of all of the superficial extension of the land
adjustment by the royal decree of February 13, 1894, this being
described in the petition and as appears on the plan filed
the last law or legal disposition of the former sovereignty
herein, such extension containing 40 hectares, 1 are, and 13
applicable to the present subject-matter of common lands:
centares, inasmuch as the documentary evidence
First, for the reason that the land referred to herein is not
accompanying the petition is conclusive proof against the
covered nor does it come within any one of the three conditions
petitioners; this documentary proof consists of a possessory
required by article 19 of the said royal decree, to wit, that the
information under date of March 7, 1901, and registered on the
land has been in an uninterrupted state of cultivation during a
11th day of the same month and year; and, according to such
period of six years last past; or that the same has been
possessory information, the land therein described contains an
possessed without interruption during a period of twelve years
extension of only 28 hectares limited by "the country road to
and has been in a state of cultivation up to the date of the
the barrio of Pias," a road appearing on the plan now presented
information and during the three years immediately preceding
and cutting the land, as might be said, in half, or running
such information; or that such land had been possessed openly
through its center from north to south, a considerable extension
without interruption during a period of thirty or more years,
of land remaining on the other side of the said road, the west
notwithstanding the land had not been cultivated; nor is it
side, and which could not have been included in the
necessary to refer to the testimony given by the two witnesses
possessory information mentioned.
to the possessory information for the following reason: Second,
2. As has been shown during the trial of this case, this land, of because the possessory information authorized by said royal
which mention is made in said possessory information, and decree or last legal disposition of the Spanish Government, as
upon which is situated the house now actually occupied by the title or for the purpose of acquiring actual proprietary right,
petitioner, all of which is set forth as argument as to the equivalent to that of adjustment with the Spanish Government
possession in the judgment, is "used for pasture and sowing," and required and necessary at all times until the publication of
and belongs to the class called public lands. said royal decree was limited in time to one year, in accordance
with article 21, which is as follows: " A period of one year, not
to be extended, is allowed to verify the possessory informations
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which are referred to in articles 19 and 20. After the expiration those lands strictly public, and from forestry lands which could
of this period of the right of the cultivators and persons in at no time pass to private ownership nor be acquired through
possession to obtain gratuitous title thereto lapses and the land time even after the said royal decree of February 13, 1894.
together with full possession reverts to the state, or, as the case
7. The advent of the new sovereignty necessarily brought a
may be, to the community, and the said possessors and
new method of dealing with lands and particularly as to the
cultivators or their assigns would simply have rights under
classification and manner of transfer and acquisition of royal or
universal or general title of average in the event that the land is
common lands then appropriated, which were thenceforth
sold within a period of five years immediately following the
merely called public lands, the alienation of which was reserved
cancellation. The possessors not included under this chapter
to the Government, in accordance with section 12 and 13 of the
can only acquire by time the ownership and title to
act of Congress of July 1, 1902,1 and in conformity with other
unappropriated or royal lands in accordance with common
laws enacted under this act of Congress by the Philippine
law."
Commission prescribing rules for the execution thereof, one of
5. In accordance with the preceding provisions, the right that which is Act No. 648,2 herein mentioned by the petitioner, in
remained to Cario, if it be certain that he was the true connection with Act No. 627,3 which appears to be the law upon
possessor of the land in question, was the right of average in which the petition herein is founded.
case the Government or State could have sold the same within
8. Section 6 of Act No. 627 admits prescription, in accordance
the period of five years immediately following for example, if
with the provisions contained in Act No. 190, as a basis for
the denouncement of purchase had been carried out by Felipe
obtaining the right of ownership. "The petitioners claims title
Zafra or any other person, as appears from the record of the
under the period of prescription of ten years established by that
trial of the case. Aside from this right, in such event, his
act, as well as by reason of his occupancy and use thereof from
possession as attested in the possessory information herein
time immemorial." (Allegation 1.) But said act admits such
could not, in accordance with common law, go to show any
prescription for the purpose of obtaining title and ownership to
right of ownership until after the expiration of twenty years from
lands "not exceeding more that sixteen hectares in extent."
the expiration of twenty years from the verification and registry
(Sec. 6 of said act.) The land claimed by Cario is 40 hectares
of the same in conformity with the provisions of article 393 of
in extent, if we take into consideration his petition, or an
the Mortgage Law and other conditions prescribe by this law.
extension of 28 hectares, according to the possessory
6. The right of possession in accordance with common law information, the only thing that can be considered. Therefore,
that is to say, civil law remains at all times subordinate to the it follows that the judgment denying the petition herein and now
Spanish administrative law, inasmuch as it could only be of appealed from was strictly in accordance with the law invoked
force when pertaining to royal transferable or alienable lands, herein.
which condition and the determination thereof is reversed to
9. And of the 28 hectares of land as set out in the possessory
the government, which classified and designated the royal
information, one part of same, according to the testimony of
alienable lands for the purpose of distinguishing them from
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Cario, belongs to Vicente Valpiedad, the extent of which is not
determined. From all of which it follows that the precise extent
has not been determined in the trial of this case on which
judgment might be based in the event that the judgment and
title be declared in favor of the petitioner, Mateo Cario. And
we should not lose sight of the fact that, considering the
intention of Congress in granting ownership and title to 16
hectares, that Mateo Cario and his children have already
exceeded such amount in various acquirements of lands, all of
which is shown in different cases decided by the said Court of
Land Registration, donations or gifts of land that could only
have been made efficacious as to the conveyance thereof with
the assistance of these new laws.
By reason of the findings set forth it is clearly seen that the
court below did not err:
1. In finding that Mateo Cario and those from whom he claims
his right had not possessed and claimed as owners the lands
in question since time immemorial;
2. In finding that the land in question did not belong to the
petitioner, but that, on the contrary, it was the property of the
Government. (Allegation 21.)
Wherefore, the judgment appealed from is affirmed with the
costs of this instance against the appellant. After the expiration
of twenty days from the notification of this decision let judgment
be entered in accordance herewith, and ten days thereafter let
the case be remanded to the court from whence it came for
proper action. So ordered.
Torres, Mapa, Willard, and Tracey, JJ., concur.
Johnson, J., reserves his vote.

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