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64 Register of Deeds versus Ung Siu Si Temple

Nature of the Case: This is an appeal from resolution of the Court of First Instance of Manila

A Filipino citizen executed a deed of donation in favor of the Ung Siu Si Temple, an
unregistered religious organization that operated through 3 trustees all of Chinese Nationality.
The Register of Deeds refused to record the deed of donation executed in due form arguing that
the Constitution provides that acquisition of land is limited to Filipino citizens or to corporations
or associations at least 60% of which is owned by such citizens.

Whether a deed of donation of a parcel of land executed in favor of a religious organization

whose founder, trustees and administrator are Chinese Citizen should be registered or not?
Section 15, Article 13 of the Constitution provides that save in cases of hereditary succession, no
private agricultural land shall be transferred or assigned except to individuals, corporations, or
associations qualified to hold lands of public domain in the Philippines. The Constitution does
not make any exception in favor of religious associations.
The fact that appellant has no capital stock does not exempt it from Constitutional inhibition,
since its member are foreign nationality. The purpose of 60% requirement is to ensure that
corporations or associations allowed to acquire agricultural lands or to exploit natural resources
shall be controlled by Filipinos, and the spirit of the Constitution demands that in the absence of
capital stock, controlling membership should be composed of Filipino Citizens.
As to the complaint that the disqualification under Article 13 of the Constitution violated the
freedom of religion, the Court was not convinced that land tenure is indispensable to the free
exercise and enjoyment of religious profession or worship.