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BARANDA V GUSTILO the writs of possession and demolition is likewise ordered.

(pp. 107-108, Rollo — G.R. No. 64432)


Eduardo S. Baranda and Alfonso Hitalia were the petitioners
in G.R. No. 64432 and the private respondents in G.R. No. On May 9, 1984, the Court issued a resolution denying with
62042. The subject matter of these two (2) cases and the finality a motion for reconsideration of the December 29,
instant case is the same — a parcel of land designated as Lot 1983 resolution in G.R. No. 64432. On this same date, another
No. 4517 of the Cadastral Survey of Sta. Barbara, Iloilo resolution was issued, this time in G.R. No. 62042, referring to
covered by Original Certificate of Title No. 6406. the Regional Trial Court of Iloilo the ex-parte motion of the
private respondents (Baranda and Hitalia) for execution of the
The present petition arose from the same facts and events judgment in the resolutions dated January 7, 1983 and March
which triggered the filing of the earlier petitions. These facts 9, 1983. In the meantime, the then Intermediate Appellate
and events are cited in our resolution dated December 29, Court issued a resolution dated February 10, 1984, dismissing
1983 in G.R. No. 64432, as follows: Civil Case No. 00827 which covered the same subject matter
as the Resolutions above cited pursuant to our Resolution
dated December 29, 1983. The resolution dated December 29,
. . . This case has its origins in a petition for reconstitution of
1983 in G.R. No. 64432 became final on May 20, 1984.
title filed with the Court of First Instance of Iloilo involving a
parcel of land known as Lot No. 4517 of the Sta. Barbara
Cadastre covered by Original Certificate of Title No. 6406 in Upon motions of the petitioners, the Regional Trial Court of
the name of Romana Hitalia. Eventually, Original Certificate of Iloilo, Branch 23 presided by Judge Tito G. Gustilo issued the
Title No. 6406 was cancelled and Transfer Certificate of Title following order:
No. 106098 was issued in the names of Alfonso Hitalia and
Eduardo S. Baranda The Court issued a writ of possession Submitted are the following motions filed by movants
which Gregorio Perez, Maria P. Gotera and Susana Silao Eduardo S. Baranda and Alfonso Hitalia through counsel dated
refused to honor on the ground that they also have TCT No. August 28, 1984:
25772 over the same Lot No. 4517. The Court, after
considering the private respondents' opposition and finding (a) Reiterating Motion for Execution of Judgment of
TCT No. 25772 fraudulently acquired, ordered that the writ of Resolutions dated January 7, 1983 and March 9, 1983
possession be carried out. A motion for reconsideration Promulgated by Honorable Supreme Court (First Division) in
having been denied, a writ of demolition was issued on March G.R. No. 62042;
29, 1982. Perez and Gotera filed a petition for certiorari and
prohibition with the Court of Appeals. On August 6, 1982, the
(b) Motion for Execution of Judgment of Resolution dated
Court of Appeals denied the petition. Perez and Gotera filed
December 29, 1983 Promulgated by Honorable Supreme
the petition for review on certiorari denominated as G.R. No.
Court (First Division) in G.R. No. 64432;
62042 before the Supreme Court. As earlier stated the
petition was denied in a resolution dated January 7,1983. The
motion for reconsideration was denied in another resolution (c) The Duties of the Register of Deeds are purely ministerial
dated March 25, 1983, which also stated that the denial is under Act 496, therefore she must register all orders,
final. This decision in G.R. No. 62042, in accordance with the judgment, resolutions of this Court and that of Honorable
entry of judgment, became final on March 25, 1983. The Supreme Court.
petitioners in the instant case G.R. No. 64432--contend that
the writs of possession and demolition issued in the Finding the said motions meritorious and there being no
respondent court should now be implemented; that Civil Case opposition thereto, the same is hereby GRANTED.
No. 00827 before the Intermediate Appellate Court was filed
only to delay the implementation of the writ; that counsel for WHEREFORE, Transfer Certificate of Title No. T-25772 is
the respondent should be held in contempt of court for hereby declared null and void and Transfer Certificate of Title
engaging in a concerted but futile effort to delay the execution No. T-106098 is hereby declared valid and subsisting title
of the writs of possession and demolition and that petitioners concerning the ownership of Eduardo S. Baranda and Alfonso
are entitled to damages because of prejudice caused by the Hitalia, all of Sta. Barbara Cadastre.
filing of this petition before the Intermediate Appellate Court.
On September 26, 1983, this Court issued a Temporary
The Acting Register of Deeds of Iloilo is further ordered to
Restraining Order ' to maintain the status quo, both in the
register the Subdivision Agreement of Eduardo S. Baranda and
Intermediate Appellate Court and in the Regional Trial Court
Alfonso Hitalia as prayed for." (p. 466, Rollo--G.R. No. 64432)
of Iloilo. Considering that (l)there is merit in the instant
petition for indeed the issues discussed in G.R. No. 64432 as
raised in Civil Case No. 00827 before the respondent court The above order was set aside on October 8, 1984 upon a
have already been passed upon in G.R. No. 62042; and (2) the motion for reconsideration and manifestation filed by the
Temporary Restraining Order issued by the Intermediate Acting Registrar of Deeds of Iloilo, Atty. Helen P. Sornito, on
Appellate Court was only intended not to render the petition the ground that there was a pending case before this Court, an
moot and academic pending the Court's consideration of the Action for Mandamus, Prohibition, Injunction under G.R. No.
issues, the Court RESOLVED to DIRECT the respondent 67661 filed by Atty. Eduardo Baranda, against the former
Intermediate Appellate Court not to take cognizance of issues which remained unresolved.
already resolved by this Court and accordingly DISMISS the
petition in Civil Case No. 00827. Immediate implementation of
In view of this development, the petitioners filed in G.R. No. on December 4, 1986 which was granted by the Court
62042 and G.R. No. 64432 ex-parte motions for issuance of an pursuant to its order dated December 15, 1986. Considering
order directing the Regional Trial Court and Acting Register of that no Opposition was filed within the thirty (30) days period
Deeds to execute and implement the judgments of this Court. granted by the Court finding the petition tenable, the same is
They prayed that an order be issued: hereby GRANTED.

1. Ordering both the Regional Trial Court of Iloilo Branch WHEREFORE, Maria Provido Gotera is hereby ordered to
XXIII, under Hon. Judge Tito G. Gustilo and the acting Register surrender Transfer Certificate of Title No. T-25772 to this
of Deeds Helen P. Sornito to register the Order dated Court within ten (10) days from the date of this order, after
September 5, 1984 of the lower court; which period, Transfer Certificate of Title No. T-25772 is
hereby declared annulled and the Register of Deeds of Iloilo is
2. To cancel No.T-25772. Likewise to cancel No.T-106098 and ordered to issue a new Certificate of Title in lieu thereof in the
once cancelled to issue new certificates of title to each of name of petitioners Atty. Eduardo S. Baranda and Alfonso
Eduardo S. Baranda and Alfonso Hitalia; Hitalia, which certificate shall contain a memorandum of the
annulment of the outstanding duplicate. (pp. 286-287, Rollo
64432)
Plus other relief and remedies equitable under the premises.
(p. 473, 64432 Rollo)
On February 9, 1987, Atty. Hector Teodosio, the counsel of
Gregorio Perez, private respondent in G.R. No. 64432 and
Acting on these motions, we issued on September 17,1986 a
petitioner in G.R. No. 62042, filed a motion for explanation in
Resolution in G.R. No. 62042 and G.R. No. 64432 granting the
relation to the resolution dated September 17, 1986 and
motions as prayed for. Acting on another motion of the same
manifestation asking for clarification on the following points:
nature filed by the petitioners, we issued another Resolution
dated October 8, 1986 referring the same to the Court
Administrator for implementation by the judge below. a. As to the prayer of Atty. Eduardo Baranda for the
cancellation of TCT T-25772, should the same be referred to
the Court of Appeals (as mentioned in the Resolution of
In compliance with our resolutions, the Regional Trial Court
November 27, 1985) or is it already deemed granted by
of Iloilo, Branch 23 presided by Judge Tito G. Gustilo issued
implication (by virtue of the Resolution dated September 17,
two (2) orders dated November 6,1986 and January 6,1987
1986)?
respectively, to wit:

b. Does the Resolution dated September 17, 1986 include not


ORDER
only the implementation of the writ of possession but also the
cancellation of TCT T-25772 and the subdivision of Lot 4517?
This is an Ex-parte Motion and Manifestation submitted by the (p. 536, Rollo — 4432)
movants through counsel on October 20, 1986; the
Manifestation of Atty. Helen Sornito, Register of Deeds of the
Acting on this motion and the other motions filed by the
City of Iloilo, and formerly acting register of deeds for the
parties, we issued a resolution dated May 25, 1987 noting all
Province of Iloilo dated October 23, 1986 and the
these motions and stating therein:
Manifestation of Atty. Avito S. Saclauso, Acting Register of
Deeds, Province of Iloilo dated November 5, 1986.
xxx xxx xxx
Considering that the motion of movants Atty. Eduardo S.
Baranda and Alfonso Hitalia dated August 12, 1986 seeking Since entry of judgment in G.R. No. 62042 was made on
the full implementation of the writ of possession was granted January 7, 1983 and in G.R. No. 64432 on May 30, 1984, and
by the Honorable Supreme Court, Second Division per its all that remains is the implementation of our resolutions, this
Resolution dated September 17,1986, the present motion is COURT RESOLVED to refer the matters concerning the
hereby GRANTED. execution of the decisions to the Regional Trial Court of Iloilo
City for appropriate action and to apply disciplinary sanctions
upon whoever attempts to trifle with the implementation of
WHEREFORE, the Acting Register of Deeds, Province of Iloilo,
the resolutions of this Court. No further motions in these
is hereby ordered to register the Order of this Court dated
cases will be entertained by this Court. (p. 615, Rollo-64432)
September 5, 1984 as prayed for.

In the meantime, in compliance with the Regional Trial


xxx xxx xxx
Court's orders dated November 6, 1986 and January 6, 1987,
Acting Register of Deeds AvitoSaclauso annotated the order
ORDER declaring Transfer Certificate of Title No. T-25772 as null and
void, cancelled the same and issued new certificates of titles
This is a Manifestation and Urgent Petition for the Surrender numbers T-111560, T-111561 and T-111562 in the name of
of Transfer Certificate of Title No. T-25772 submitted by the petitioners Eduardo S. Baranda and Alfonso Hitalia in lieu of
petitioners Atty. Eduardo S. Baranda and Alfonso Hitalia on Transfer Certificate of TItle No. T-106098.
December 2, 1986, in compliance with the order of this Court
dated November 25, 1 986, a Motion for Extension of Time to However, a notice of lis pendens "on account of or by reason of
File Opposition filed by Maria Provido Gotera through counsel a separate case (Civil Case No. 15871) still pending in the
Court of Appeals" was carried out and annotated in the new That under the above-quoted provisions of P.D. 152, the
certificates of titles issued to the petitioners. This was upheld cancellation of subject Notice of Lis Pendens can only be made
by the trial court after setting aside its earlier order dated or deemed cancelled upon the registration of the certificate of
February 12, 1987 ordering the cancellation of lis pendens. the Clerk of Court in which the action or proceeding was
pending, stating the manner of disposal thereof.
This prompted the petitioners to file another motion in G.R,
No. 62042 and G.R. No. 64432 to order the trial court to Considering that Civil Case No. 1587, upon which the Notice of
reinstate its order dated February 12, 1987 directing the Lis Pendens was based is still pending with the Intermediate
Acting Register of Deeds to cancel the notice of lis pendensin Court of Appeals, only the Intermediate Court of Appeals and
the new certificates of titles. not this Honorable Court in a mere cadastral proceedings can
order the cancellation of the Notice of Lis Pendens. (pp. 68-69,
In a resolution dated August 17, 1987, we resolved to refer the Rollo)
said motion to the Regional Trial Court of Iloilo City, Branch
23 for appropriate action. Adopting these arguments and on the ground that some if not
all of the plaintiffs in Civil Case No. 15871 were not privies to
Since respondent Judge Tito Gustilo of the Regional Trial the case affected by the Supreme Court resolutions,
Court of Iloilo, Branch 23 denied the petitioners' motion to respondent Judge Tito Gustilo set aside his February 12, 1987
reinstate the February 12, 1987 order in another order dated order and granted the Acting Register of Deeds' motion for
September 17, 1987, the petitioners filed this petition for reconsideration.
certiorari, prohibition and mandamus with preliminary
injunction to compel the respondent judge to reinstate his The issue hinges on whether or not the pendency of the
order dated February l2, 1987 directing the Acting Register of appeal in Civil Case No. 15871 with the Court of Appeals
Deeds to cancel the notice of lis pendens annotated in the new prevents the court from cancelling the notice of lis pendens in
certificates of titles issued in the name of the petitioners. the certificates of titles of the petitioners which were earlier
declared valid and subsisting by this Court in G.R. No. 62042
The records show that after the Acting Register of Deeds and G.R. No. 64432. A corollary issue is on the nature of the
annotated a notice of is pendens on the new certificates of duty of a Register of Deeds to annotate or annul a notice of lis
titles issued in the name of the petitioners, the petitioners pendens in a torrens certificate of title.
filed in the reconstitution case an urgent ex-parte motion to
immediately cancel notice of lis pendens annotated thereon. Civil Case No. 15871 was a complaint to seek recovery of Lot
No. 4517 of Sta. Barbara Cadastre Iloilo, (the same subject
In his order dated February 12, 1987, respondent Judge matter of G.R. No 62042 and G.R. No. 64432) from petitioners
Gustilo granted the motion and directed the Acting Register of Baranda and Hitalia filed by Calixta Provido, Ricardo Provido,
Deeds of Iloilo to cancel the lis pendens found on Transfer Maxima Provido and Perfecta Provido before the Regional
Certificate of Title Nos. T-106098; T-111560; T-111561 and T- Trial Court of Iloilo, Branch 23. At the instance of Atty. Hector
111562. P. Teodosio, the Provides' counsel, a notice of is pendens was
annotated on petitioners' Certificate of Title No. T-106098
covering Lot No. 4517, Sta. Barbara Cadastre.
Respondent Acting Register of Deeds Avito Saclauso filed a
motion for reconsideration of the February 12, 1987 order
stating therein: Acting on a motion to dismiss filed by the petitioners, the
court issued an order dated October 24, 1984 dismissing Civil
Case No. 15871.
That the undersigned hereby asks for a reconsideration of the
said order based on the second paragraph of Section 77 of P.D.
1529, to wit: The order was then appealed to the Court of Appeals. This
appeal is the reason why respondent Judge Gustilo recalled
the February 12, 1987 order directing the Acting Register of
"At any time after final judgment in favor of the defendant or
Deeds to cancel the notice of lis pendens annotated on the
other disposition of the action such as to terminate finally all
certificates of titles of the petitioners.
rights of the plaintiff in and to the land and/or buildings
involved, in any case in which a memorandum or notice of Lis
Pendens has been registered as provided in the preceding This petition is impressed with merit.
section, the notice of Lis Pendens shall be deemed cancelled
upon the registration of a certificate of the clerk of court in Maria Provido Gotera was one of the petitioners in G.R. No.
which the action or proceeding was pending stating the 62042. Although Calixta Provido, Ricardo Provido, Maxima
manner of disposal thereof." Provido and Perfecta Provido, the plaintiffs in Civil Case No.
15871 were not impleaded as parties, it is very clear in the
That the lis pendens under Entry No. 427183 was annotated petition that Maria Provido was acting on behalf of the
on T-106098, T-111560, T-111561 and T-111562 by virtue of Providos who allegedly are her co-owners in Lot No. 4517,
a case docketed as Civil Case No. 15871, now pending with the Sta. Barbara Cadastre as shown by Transfer Certificate of Title
Intermediate Court of Appeals, entitled, "Calixta Provido, No. T-25772 issued in her name and the names of the
Ricardo Provido, Sr., Maria Provido and Perfecto Provido, plaintiffs in Civil Case No. 15871, among others. (Annex "E"
Plaintiffs, versus Eduardo Baranda and Alfonso Hitalia, G.R. No. 62042, p. 51, Rollo) In fact, one of the issues raised by
Respondents."
petitioners Maria Provido Gotera and Gregoria Perez in G.R. allegations of his complaint, and where the continuances of
No. 62042 was as follows: the trial, for which the plaintiff is responsible, are
unnecessarily delaying the determination of the case to the
xxx xxx xxx prejudice of the defendant. (Victoriano v. Rovira, supra; The
Municipal Council of Paranaque v. Court of First Instance of
Rizal, supra)
2. Whether or not, in the same reconstitution proceedings,
respondent Judge Midpantao L. Adil had the authority to
declare as null and void the transfer certificate of title in the The facts of this case in relation to the earlier cases brought all
name of petitioner Maria Provido Gotera and her other co- the way to the Supreme Court illustrate how the private
owners. (p. 3, Rollo; Emphasis supplied) respondents tried to block but unsuccessfuly the already final
decisions in G.R. No. 62042 and G.R. No. 64432.
It thus appears that the plaintiffs in Civil Case No. 15871 were
privies to G.R. No. 62042 contrary to the trial court's findings Parenthetically, respondent Judge Tito Gustilo abused his
that they were not. discretion in sustaining the respondent Acting Register of
Deeds' stand that, the notice of lis pendens in the certificates
of titles of the petitioners over Lot No. 4571, Barbara Cadastre
G.R. No. 62042 affirmed the order of the then Court of First
cannot be cancelled on the ground of pendency of Civil Case
Instance of Iloilo in the reconstitution proceedings declaring
No. 15871 with the Court of Appeals. In upholding the
TCT No. 25772 in the name of Providos over Lot No. 4517, Sta.
position of the Acting Register of Deeds based on Section 77 of
Barbara Cadastre null and void for being fraudulently
Presidential Decree No. 1529, he conveniently forgot the first
obtained and declaring TCT No. 106098 over the same parcel
paragraph thereof which provides:
Lot No. 4517, Sta. Barbara Cadastre in the name of petitioners
Eduardo Baranda and Alfonso Hitalia valid and subsisting.
Cancellation of lis pendens. — Before final judgment, a notice
of lis pendens may be cancelled upon Order of the Court after
The decision in G.R. No. 62042 became final and executory on
proper showing that the notice is for the purpose of molesting
March 25,1983 long before Civil Case No. 15871 was filed.
the adverse party, or that it is not necessary to protect the
rights of the party who caused it to be registered. It may also
Under these circumstances, it is crystal clear that the be cancelled by the Register of Deeds upon verified petition of
Providos, private respondents herein, in filing Civil Case No. the party who caused the registration thereof.
15871 were trying to delay the full implementation of the
final decisions in G.R. No. 62042 as well as G.R. No. 64432
This Court cannot understand how respondent Judge Gustilo
wherein this Court ordered immediate implementation of the
could have been misled by the respondent Acting Register of
writs of possession and demolition in the reconstitution
Deeds on this matter when in fact he was the same Judge who
proceedings involving Lot No. 4517, Sta. Barbara Cadastre.
issued the order dismissing Civil Case No. 15871 prompting
the private respondents to appeal said order dated October
The purpose of a notice of lis pendens is defined in the 10, 1984 to the Court of Appeals. The records of the main case
following manner: are still with the court below but based on the order, it can be
safely assumed that the various pleadings filed by the parties
Lis pendens has been conceived to protect the real rights of the subsequent to the motion to dismiss filed by the petitioners
party causing the registration thereof With the lis pendens (the defendants therein) touched on the issue of the validity of
duly recorded, he could rest secure that he would not lose the TCT No. 25772 in the name of the Providos over Lot Number
property or any part of it. For, notice of lis pendens serves as a 4571, Sta. Barbara Cadastre in the light of the final decisions
warning to a prospective purchaser or incumbrancer that the in G.R. No. 62042 and G.R. No. 64432.
particular property is in litigation; and that he should keep his
hands off the same, unless of course he intends to gamble on The next question to be determined is on the nature of the
the results of the litigation. (Section 24, Rule 14, RuIes of duty of the Register of Deeds to annotate and/or cancel the
Court; Jamora v. Duran, et al., 69 Phil. 3, 11; I Martin, Rules of notice of lis pendens in a torrens certificate of title.
Court, p. 415, footnote 3, citing cases.) (Natanov. Esteban, 18
SCRA 481, 485-486)
Section 10, Presidential Decree No. 1529 states that "It shall
be the duty of the Register of Deeds to immediately register an
The private respondents are not entitled to this protection. instrument presented for registration dealing with real or
The facts obtaining in this case necessitate the application of personal property which complies with all the requisites for
the rule enunciated in the cases of Victoriano v. Rovila (55 registration. ... . If the instrument is not registrable, he shall
Phil. 1000), Municipal Council of Paranaque v. Court of First forthwith deny registration thereof and inform the presentor
Instance of Rizal (70 Phil., 363) and Sarmiento v. Ortiz (10 of such denial in writing, stating the ground or reasons
SCRA 158), to the effect that: therefore, and advising him of his right to appeal
by consulta in accordance with Section 117 of this Decree."
We have once held that while ordinarily a notice of pendency
which has been filed in a proper case, cannot be cancelled Section 117 provides that "When the Register of Deeds is in
while the action is pending and undetermined, the proper doubt with regard to the proper step to be taken or
court has the discretionary power to cancel it under peculiar memoranda to be made in pursuance of any deed, mortgage
circumstances, as for instance, where the evidence so far or other instrument presented to him for registration or
presented by the plaintiff does not bear out the main
where any party in interest does not agree with the action ordered to be put in the name of petitioners. In compliance
taken by the Register of Deeds with reference to any such with the order or the RTC, the Acting Register of Deeds Avito
instrument, the question shall be submitted to the Saclauso annotated the order declaring TCT T-25772 null and
Commission of Land Registration by the Register of Deeds, or void, cancelled the same and issued new certificate of titles in
by the party in interest thru the Register of Deeds. ... ." the name of petitioners. However, by reason of a separate case
pending in the Court of Appeals, a notice of lis pendens was
The elementary rule in statutory construction is that when annotated in the new certificate of title. This prompted the
the words and phrases of the statute are clear and petitioners to move for the cancellation of the notice of lis
unequivocal, their meaning must be determined from the pendens in the new certificates. Judge Tito Gustilo then
language employed and the statute must be taken to mean ordered the Acting Register of Deeds for the cancellation of
exactly what it says. (Aparri v. Court of Appeals, 127 SCRA the notice of lis pendens but the Acting Register of Deeds filed
231; Insular Bank of Asia and America Employees' Union a motion for reconsideration invoking Sec 77 of PD 1529.
[IBAAEU] v. Inciong, 132 SCRA 663) The statute concerning
the function of the Register of Deeds to register instruments ISSUE: What is the nature of the duty of the Register of Deeds
in a torrens certificate of title is clear and leaves no room for to annotate or annul a notice of lis pendens in a Torrens
construction. According to Webster's Third International certificate of title?
Dictionary of the English Language — the word shall means
"ought to, must, ...obligation used to express a command or HELD: Judge Gustilo abused his discretion in sustaining the
exhortation, used in laws, regulations or directives to express Acting Register of Deed’s stand that the notice of lis pendens
what is mandatory." Hence, the function of a Register of Deeds cannot be cancelled on the ground of pendency of the case in
with reference to the registration of deeds encumbrances, the Court of Appeals. The function of the Register of Deeds
instruments and the like is ministerial in nature. The with reference to the registration of deeds, encumbrances,
respondent Acting Register of Deeds did not have any legal instrument and the like is ministerial in nature. The acting
standing to file a motion for reconsideration of the register of deeds did not have any legal standing to file a
respondent Judge's Order directing him to cancel the notice motionfor reconsideration of the Judge’s Order directing him
of lis pendens annotated in the certificates of titles of the to cancel the notice of lis pendens. Sec. 10 of PD 1529 states
petitioners over the subject parcel of land. In case of doubt as that: “It shall be the duty of the register of deeds to
to the proper step to be taken in pursuance of any deed ... immediately register an instrument presented for registration
or other instrument presented to him, he should have asked dealing with real or
the opinion of the Commissioner of Land Registration now, personal property which complies with all the requisites for r
the Administrator of the National Land Title and Deeds egistration.
Registration Administration in accordance with Section 117 of
Presidential Decree No. 1529. If the instrument is not registerable, he shall forthwith deny
registration thereof and in form the presentor or such denial
in writing, stating the ground and reasons therefore, and
In the ultimate analysis, however, the responsibility for the
advising him of his right to appeal by consulta in accordance
delays in the full implementation of this Court's already final
with Sec 117 of this decree.” On the other hand, Sec 117 of PD
resolutions in G.R. No. 62042 and G.R. No. 64432 which
117 states that: “When the Register of Deeds is in doubt with
includes the cancellation of the notice of lis pendensannotated
regard to the proper step to be taken or memoranda to be
in the certificates of titles of the petitioners over Lot No. 4517
made in pursuance of any deed, mortgage or other instrument
of the Sta. Barbara Cadastre falls on the respondent Judge. He
presented to him for registration or where any party in
should never have allowed himself to become part of dilatory
interest does not agree with the action taken by the Register
tactics, giving as excuse the wrong impression that Civil Case
of Deeds with reference to any such instrument, the question
No. 15871 filed by the private respondents involves another
shall be submitted to the Commission of Land Registration by
set of parties claiming Lot No. 4517 under their own Torrens
the Register of Deeds, or by the party in interest through the
Certificate of Title.
Register of Deeds.”

WHEREFORE, the instant petition is GRANTED. The February


BALBIN V REGISTER OF DEEDS OF ILOCUS SUR
12, 1987 order of the Regional Trial Court of Iloilo, Branch 23
is REINSTATED. All subsequent orders issued by the trial
court which annulled the February 12, 1987 order are SET Appeal from the resolution of the Commissioner of Land
ASIDE. Costs against the private respondents. Registration in LRC Consulta No. 366.

SO ORDERED. On November 15, 1961 petitioners presented to the register


of deeds of Ilocos Sur a duplicate copy of the registered
owner's certificate of title (OCT No. 548) and an instrument
FACTS: A parcel of land designated as Lot No. 4517 of the
entitled "Deed of Donation inter-vivos," with the request that
Cadastral Survey of Sta. Barbara, Iloilo covered by original
the same be annotated on the title. Under the terms of the
certificate of title no. 6406 is the land subject of the dispute
instrument sought to be annotated one Cornelio Balbin,
between petitioner (Eduardo S. Baranda and Alfonso Hitalia)
registered owner of the parcel of land described in OCT No.
and respondents(Gregorio Perez, Maria Gotera and Susan
548, appears to have donated inter-vivos an undivided two-
Silao). Both parties claimed ownership and possession over
thirds (²/³) portion thereof in favor of petitioners. The entire
the said land. However during the trial, it was found that the
area of the land is 11.2225 hectares.
transfer certificate of title held by respondents was
fraudulently acquired. So the transfer certificate of title was
The register of deeds denied the requested annotation for the action of the Register of Deeds in a resolution dated April
being "legally defective or otherwise not sufficient in law." It 10, 1962. With respect to the principal point in controversy,
appears that previously annotated in the memorandum of the Commissioner observed:
encumbrances on the certificate are three separate sales of
undivided portions of the land earlier executed by Cornelio (1) It appears that the donor is now merely a co-owner of the
Balbin in favor of three different buyers. The pertinent entries property described in the Original Certificate of Title No. 548,
read: having previously sold undivided portions thereof on three
different occasions in favor of three different buyers.
Entry No. 5658. Sales. Consequently, aside from the owner's duplicate issued to
Cornelio Balbin, there are now three co-owner's duplicates
Sale for the sum of P400.00 executed by the registered owner, which are presumably in the possession of the three buyers.
conveying an undivided portion of an area of 3,710 square Accordingly, in addition to the owner's duplicate of Original
meters only in favor of Florentino Gabayan, this Original Certificate of Title No. 548, the three co-owner's duplicates
Certificate of Title No. 548 is hereby cancelled with respect to must likewise be surrendered. The claim of counsel for the
said area of 3,710 square meters and in lieu thereof, the name donees that the issuance of the three co-owner's duplicates
of the vendee ... is hereby substituted to succeed to all rights, was unauthorized is beside the point. Unless and until a court
participation in interest of the vendor. ... of competent jurisdiction rules to the contrary, these titles are
presumed to have been lawfully issued.lawphi1.ñet
Date of Instrument: January 25, 1955, ...
Without presenting those three (3) other duplicates of the
title, petitioners would want to compel annotation of the deed
xxx xxx xxx
of donation upon the copy in their possession, citing section
55 of Act 496, which provides that "the production of the
Entry No. 5659. Sale of portion. owner's duplicate certificate of title whenever any voluntary
instrument is presented for registration shall be conclusive
Sale for the sum of P100.00 executed by the registered owner, authority from the registered owner to the register of deeds to
conveying an undivided portion of an area of 16,713 square make a memorandum of registration in accordance with such
meters in favor of Roberto Bravo, this Original Certificate of instrument." Under this provision, according to petitioners,
Title No. 548 is hereby cancelled with respect to said the presentation of the other copies of the title is not required,
undivided portion ... and in lieu thereof the name of the first, because it speaks of "registered owner" and not one
vendee ... is hereby substituted to succeed to all rights, whose claim to or interest in the property is merely annotated
participation and interest of the vendor ... on the title, such as the three vendees-co-owners in this case;
and secondly, because the issuance of the duplicate copies in
Date of Instrument: June 9, 1953. ... their favor was illegal or unauthorized.

Entry No. 5660. Sale of portion. We find no merit in petitioners' contention. Section 55, supra,
obviously assumes that there is only one duplicate copy of the
title in question, namely, that of the registered owner himself,
Sale for the sum of P400.00 executed by the
such that its production whenever a voluntary instrument is
registered owner, conveying an undivided portion of
presented constitutes sufficient authority from him for the
an area of 15,000 square meters in favor of Juana
register of deeds to make the corresponding memorandum of
Gabayan, this Certificate of Title No. 548 is hereby
registration. In the case at bar, the three other copies of the
cancelled with respect to said undivided portion ...
title were in existence, presumably issued under section 43 * of
and in lieu thereof the name of the vendee ... is
Act 496. As correctly observed by the Land Registration
hereby substituted to succeed to all rights,
Commissioner, petitioners' claim that the issuance of those
participation and interest of the vendor ...
copies was unauthorized or illegal is beside the point, its
legality being presumed until otherwise declared by a court of
Date of Instrument: February 12, 1952. ... competent jurisdiction. There being several copies of the
same title in existence, it is easy to see how their integrity may
The final part of the annotations referring to the be adversely affected if an encumbrance, or an outright
abovementioned sales contains an additional memorandum conveyance, is annotated on one copy and not on the others.
stating that "three co-owner's duplicate certificates of title No. The law itself refers to every copy authorized to be issued as a
548 have been issued (by the register of deeds of Ilocos Sur) duplicate of the original, which means that both must contain
in the name of Florentino Gabayan, Roberto Bravo and Juana identical entries of the transactions, particularly voluntary
Gabayan upon verbal request of Mr. Andres Cabeldo, Notary ones, affecting the land covered by the title. If this were not so,
Public of Caoayan, I. Sur, for and in the name of the vendees, if different copies were permitted to carry differing
this 5th day of January, 1956 at Vigan, I. Sur." Mainly because annotations, the whole system of Torrens registration would
these three other co-owner's copies of the certificate of title cease to be reliable.
No. 548 had not been presented by petitioners, the Register of
Deeds refused to make the requested annotation. One other ground relied upon by the Land Registration
Commissioner in upholding the action taken by the Register of
Unsatisfied, petitioners referred the matter to the Deeds of Ilocos Sur is that since the property subject of the
Commissioner of Land Registration, who subsequently upheld donation is presumed conjugal, that is, property of the
marriage of the donor, Cornelio Balbin, and his deceased wife,
Nemesia Mina, "there should first be a liquidation of the
partnership before the surviving spouse may make such a HELD:
conveyance." This legal conclusion may appear too general YES. There being several copies of the same title in existence,
and sweeping in its implications, for without a previous their integrity may be affected if an encumbrance, or an
settlement of the partnership a surviving spouse may dispose outright conveyance, is annotated on one copy and not on the
of his aliquot share or interest therein — subject of course to others. If different copies were permitted to carry different
the result of future liquidation. Nevertheless, it is not to be annotations, the whole system of Torrens registration would
denied that, if the conjugal character of the property is cease to be available.
assumed, the deed of donation executed by the husband, Since the property subject of donation is also presumed
Cornelio Balbin, bears on its face an infirmity which justified conjugal, that is, property of donor Cornelio and his deceased
the denial of its registration, namely, the fact that the two- wife Nemesia Mina, “there should first be a liquidation of the
thirds portion of said property which he donated was more partnership before the surviving spouse may make such a
than his one-half share, not to say more than what remained conveyance.” Assuming the conjugal nature of the property,
of such share after he had sold portions of the same land to the donation bears on its face an infirmity which justified the
three other parties. denial of registration, namely, the fact that 2/3 portion of the
property which Cornelio donated was more than ½ his share,
It appears that there is a case pending in the Court of First not to say more than what remained of such share after he
Instance of Ilocos Sur (CC No. 2221), wherein the civil status had sold portions of the same land to 3 other parties.
of the donor Cornelio Balbin and the character of the land in
question are in issue, as well as the validity of the different Pending the resolution of a separate case, wherein Cornelio’s
conveyances executed by him. The matter of registration of civil status, character of land and validity of conveyances are
the deed of donation may well await the outcome of that case, in issue, the registration may await the outcome of said case
and in the meantime the rights of the interested parties could and parties may protect their rights by filing the proper
be protected by filing the proper notices of lis pendens. notices of lis pendens.

IN VIEW OF THE FOREGOING, the decisions of the Register of ALMIROL V REGISTER OF DEEDS
Deeds of Ilocos Sur and that of the Commissioner of Land
Registration are affirmed. No pronouncement as to costs.
On June 28, 1961 Teodoro Almirol purchased from Arcenio
CASE DIGEST: Abalo a parcel of land situated in the municipality of
Esperanza, province of Agusan, and covered by original
Where several co-owner’s duplicate of certificates of titles are certificate of title P-1237 in the name of "Arcenio Abalo,
issued, a voluntary instrument cannot be registered without married to Nicolasa M. Abalo." Sometime in May, 1962 Almirol
surrendering all the copies to the Register of Deeds so that went to the office of the Register of Deeds of Agusan in Butuan
every copy of thereof would contain identical entries of the City to register the deed of sale and to secure in his name a
transactions affecting the land covered. transfer certificate of title. Registration was refused by the
Register of Deeds upon the following grounds, inter alia,
stated in his letter of May 21, 1962:
FACTS:
Petitioners Aurelio and Francis Balbin presented to the Ilocos 1. That Original Certificate of Title No. P-1237 is registered in
Sur register of deeds a duplicate copy of the registered the name of Arcenio Abalo, married to Nicolasa M. Abalo, and
owner’s certificate of title and a deed of donation inter-vivos, by legal presumption, is considered conjugal property;
requesting that the latter be annotated on the title. The
registered owner Cornelio Balbin appears to have 2. That in the sale of a conjugal property acquired after the
donated inter-vivos 2/3 portion of the land. The register of effectivity of the New Civil Code it is necessary that both
deeds denied the requested annotation for being “legally spouses sign the document; but
defective or otherwise not sufficient in law.” It appears that
previously annotated in the memorandum of encumbrances
on the OCT are three separate sales earlier executed by 3. Since, as in this case, the wife has already died when the
Cornelio Balbin in favor of Florentino Gabayan, Roberto Bravo sale was made, the surviving husband can not dispose of the
and Juana Gabayan, who each received their co-owner’s whole property without violating the existing law (LRC
duplicate CTs. Mainly because these 3 co-owner’s copies of Consulta No. 46 dated June 10, 1958).
CTs had not been presented by petitioners, the register of
deeds refused to make the requested annotation. Petitioners To effect the registration of the aforesaid deed
referred the matter to the Commissioner of Land Registration, of absolute Sale, it is necessary that the property be
who upheld the action of the Register of Deeds in a resolution. first liquidated and transferred in the name of the
surviving spouse and the heirs of the deceased wife
by means of extrajudicial settlement or partition and
ISSUE: that the consent of such other heir or heirs must be
W/N the refusal of the Register of Deeds to make the procured by means of another document ratifying
annotation is proper this sale executed by their father.
In view of such refusal, Almirol went to the Court of First that it is invalid. For under the said section, when he is in
Instance of Agusan on a petition for mandamus (sp. civ. case doubt as to the proper step to be taken with respect to any
151), to compel the Register of Deeds to register the deed of deed or other instrument presented to him for registration, all
sale and to issue to him the corresponding transfer certificate that he is supposed to do is to submit and certify the question
of title, and to recover P5,000 in moral damages and P1,000 to the Commissioner of Land Registration who shall, after
attorney's fees and expenses of litigation. It is Almirol's notice and hearing, enter an order prescribing the step to be
assertion that it is but a ministerial duty of the respondent to taken on the doubtful question. Section 4 of R.A. 1151 reads as
perform the acts required of him, and that he (Almirol) has no follows:
other plain, speedy and adequate remedy in the ordinary
course of law. Reference of doubtful matters to Commissioner of Land
Registration. — When the Register of Deeds is in doubt with
In his answer with counterclaim for P10,000 damages, regard to the proper step to be taken or memorandum to be
the respondent reiterated the grounds stated in his letter of made in pursuance of any deed, mortgage, or other
May 21, 1962, averred that the petitioner has "other legal, instrument presented to him for registration, or where any
plain, speedy and adequate remedy at law by appealing the party in interest does not agree with the Register of Deeds
decision of the respondent to the Honorable Commissioner of with reference to any such matter, the question shall be
Land Registration," and prayed for dismissal of the petition. submitted to the Commissioner of Land Registration either
upon the certification of the Register of Deeds, stating the
In its resolution of October 16, 1963 the lower court, question upon which he is in doubt, or upon the suggestion in
declaring that "mandamus does not lie . . . because the writing by the party in interest; and thereupon the
adequate remedy is that provided by Section 4 of Rep. Act Commissioner, after consideration of the matter shown by the
1151", dismissed the petition, with costs against the records certified to him, and in case of registered lands, after
petitioner. notice to the parties and hearing, shall enter an order
prescribing the step to be taken or memorandum to be made.
His decision in such cases shall be conclusive and binding
Hence the present appeal by Almirol.
upon all Registers of Deeds: Provided, further, That when a
party in interest disagrees with the ruling or resolution of the
The only question of law tendered for resolution is Commissioner and the issue involves a question of law, said
whether mandamus will lie to compel the respondent to decision may be appealed to the Supreme Court within thirty
register the deed of sale in question. days from and after receipt of the notice thereof.

Although the reasons relied upon by the respondent The foregoing notwithstanding, the court a quo correctly
evince a sincere desire on his part to maintain inviolate the dismissed the petition for mandamus. Section 4 abovequoted
law on succession and transmission of rights over real provides that "where any party in interest does not agree with
properties, these do not constitute legal grounds for his the Register of Deeds . . . the question shall be submitted to the
refusal to register the deed. Whether a document is valid or Commissioner of Land Registration," who thereafter shall
not, is not for the register of deeds to determine; this function "enter an order prescribing the step to be taken or
belongs properly to a court of competent jurisdiction. 1 memorandum to be made," which shall be "conclusive and
binding upon all Registers of Deeds." This administrative
Whether the document is invalid, frivolous or intended to remedy must be resorted to by the petitioner before he can
harass, is not the duty of a Register of Deeds to decide, but a have recourse to the courts.
court of competent jurisdiction. (Gabriel vs. Register of Deeds
of Rizal, et al., L-17956, Sept. 30, 1953). ACCORDINGLY, the Resolution of the lower court of
October 16, 1969, is affirmed, at petitioner's cost.1ä
. . . the supposed invalidity of the contracts of lease is no valid
objection to their registration, because invalidity is no proof of CASE DIGEST:
their non-existence or a valid excuse for denying their
registration. The law on registration does not require that FACTS:
only valid instruments shall be registered. How can parties
affected thereby be supposed to know their invalidity before
they become aware, actually or constructively, of their 1. Teodoro Almirol bought a parcel of land in
existence or of their provisions? If the purpose of registration Esperanza, Agusan from Arsenio Abalo.
is merely to give notice, then questions regarding the effect or 2. Almirol then went to the Register of Deeds (ROD) of
invalidity of instruments are expected to be decided after, not Agusan to have the Deed of Sale registered and to secure
before, registration. It must follow as a necessary consequence a transfer certificate in his name. However, the ROD
that registration must first be allowed, and validity or effect refused.
litigated afterwards. (Gurbax Singh Pablo & Co. vs. Reyes and 3. It was based on the ground that the said property
Tantoco, 92 Phil. 182-183). was conjugal and it is necessary that both spouses sign
the document. However, since the wife was dead when
Indeed, a register of deeds is entirely precluded by the sale was made, the husband cannot dispose the
section 4 of Republic Act 1151 from exercising his personal whole property without first liquidating and
judgment and discretion when confronted with the problem transferring it in his name and the heirs by means of
of whether to register a deed or instrument on the ground
extrajudicial settlement. The consent of the heirs must
also be procured. having acquired the same by purchase from spouses Tony
4. Aggrieved, Almirol went to the RTC of Agusan to have
the ROD be compelled to register the Deed of Sale and Bautista and Alicia Villamil on August 24, 1998; that the
issue the transfer certificate of title. subject lot is presently unoccupied; and that they and their
5. However, the RTC dismissed the petition saying that
the adequate remedy is the one provided for under Sec. predecessors-in-interest have been in open, continuous and
4 of RA 1151 – that is to submit and certify the question
to the Commissioner of Land Registration. Hence, peaceful possession of the subject lot in the concept of owners
petition.
ISSUE: Was the RTC correct? for more than thirty (30) years.

RULING: Yes. But the ROD should have registered it still. After due notice and publication, only respondent

Republic of the Philippines (respondent), represented by the


1. Whether a document is valid or not, is not for the
ROD to determine; this function belongs properly to a Office of the Solicitor General, opposed the application for
court of competent jurisdiction.
2. However, where any party in interest does not agree registration of title. Respondent asserted that neither
with the ROD, the question shall be submitted to the
Commissioner of Land Registration (Sec. 4, RA 1151). applicants nor their predecessors-in-interest have been in
3. The lower court’s resolution was affirmed. open, continuous, exclusive and notorious possession and

occupation of the subject lot since June 12, 1945 or earlier as


ONG V REPUBLIC
required by Section 48(b) of Commonwealth Act No. 141, as
DECISION
amended by Presidential Decree (P.D.) No. 1073; that
YNARES-SANTIAGO, J.:
applicants failed to adduce any muniment of title to prove

their claims; that the tax declaration appended to the


This petition for review on certiorari assails the April application does not appear genuine and merely shows
25, 2006 Decision of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. CV No.
[1]
pretended possession of recent vintage; that the application
76085, which reversed and set aside the January 16, 2002 was filed beyond the period allowed under P.D. No. 892; and
Decision[2] of the Municipal Trial Court of Mangaldan, that the subject lot is part of the public domain which cannot
Pangasinan in Land Registration Case No. 99-023, and the be the subject of private appropriation.
November 20, 2006 Resolution [3] which denied petitioners

motion for reconsideration. On January 16, 2002, the trial court rendered a

Decision in favor of petitioner and his brothers, viz:


The antecedent facts are as follows.
The foregoing evidences presented by the applicant
indubitably established sufficient basis to grant the
On July 1, 1999, petitioner Charles L. Ong (petitioner) applicant (sic) for registration. Originally, the whole
parcel of land was owned by spouses Teofilo Abellara
in his behalf and as duly authorized representative of his and Abella Charmine who acquired the same by
virtue of a Deed of Sale from Cynthia Cacho, Agustin
brothers, namely, Roberto, Alberto and Cesar, filed an Cacho, Jr., Jasmin Cacho, Jover Cacho and Lauro
Cacho. Later, they sold the same parcel of land to
Application for Registration of Title[4] over Lot 15911 (subject spouses Tony C. Villamil and Alicia Bautista, who in
lot) situated in Barangay Anolid, Mangaldan, Pangasinan with turn sold the same land to herein applicants.

an area of five hundred seventy four (574) square meters, The same parcel of land has been declared in the
name of the applicant and her predecessors-in-
more or less. They alleged that they are the co-owners of the interest and its taxes has (sic) been religiously paid.

subject lot; that the subject lot is their exclusive property


The said circumstances further show that the
possession and ownership of the applicant and her earliest tax declaration which petitioner presented is dated
(sic) predecessors-in-interest over the same parcel of
land has (sic) been continuous and peaceful 1971. Consequently, petitioner could not fairly claim
under bona fide claim of ownership before the filing possession of the land prior to 1971. Neither was petitioner
of the instant application for registration on [July 1,
1999]. able to prove that he or his predecessors-in-interest actually

WHEREFORE, after confirming the Order of General occupied the subject lot prior to the filing of the
Default, the Court hereby orders and decrees the
registration of a parcel of land as shown on plan ap- application. Thus, the trial court erred in granting the
01-004897 approved by the Bureau of Land(s)
situated in Barangay Anolid, Mangaldan, Pangasinan, application for registration of title over the subject lot.
containing an area of Five Hundred Seventy Four
(574) square meters, subject of the application for
registration of title, in accordance with Presidential Hence, this petition raising the following issues:
Decree No. 1529, in favor of CHARLIE L. ONG in his
behalf and as representative of his brothers namely,
ROBERTO L. ONG, ALBERTO L. ONG and CESAR L. 1. WHETHER OR NOT PETITIONER, TOGETHER
ONG. WITH HIS BROTHERS, NAMELY, ROBERTO L. ONG,
ALBERTO L. ONG AND CEZAR L. ONG, HAVE
Furnish copies of this Decision to the Office of the REGISTRABLE OWNERSHIP OVER THE REAL
Solicitor General, Makati City, Metro Manila, the PROPERTY SUBJECT MATTER OF LAND
Office of the Provincial Prosecutor, Dagupan City, REGISTRATION CASE NO. 99-023, AND
Atty. Celestino Domingo Jr., the Office of the Land
Registration Authority, Quezon City, as well as the 2. WHETHER OR NOT THE FINDINGS AND
applicant. CONCLUSION OF THE FORMER SPECIAL FOURTH
DIVISION OF THE COURT OF APPEALS THAT THE
SO ORDERED.[5] SUBJECT REAL PROPERTY IS A PUBLIC LAND IS
CORRECT.[7]

Aggrieved, respondent appealed to the Court of


The petition lacks merit.
Appeals which rendered the assailed Decision, the dispositive

portion of which reads:


Section 14(1) of P.D. 1529 (Property Registration

WHEREFORE, the instant appeal is GRANTED. Decree), as amended, provides


Accordingly, the decision of the court a quo granting
the application for registration of title of applicants-
appellees is REVERSED and SET ASIDE. No SEC. 14. Who may apply. The following persons
pronouncement as to costs. may file in the proper Court of First Instance an
application for registration of title to land,
SO ORDERED.[6] whether personally or through their duly
authorized representatives:

(1) Those who by themselves or through their


In reversing the decision of the trial court, the Court of predecessors-in-interest have been in open,
continuous, exclusive and notorious possession
Appeals found that the subject lot is part of the alienable and and occupation of alienable and disposable
disposable lands of the public domain. Thus, it was incumbent lands of the public domain under a bona fide
claim of ownership since June 12, 1945, or
upon petitioner to prove that they possessed the subject lot in earlier.

the nature and for the duration required by law. However,

petitioner failed to prove that he or his predecessors-in- Thus, pursuant to the aforequoted provision of law, applicants

interest have been in adverse possession of the subject lot in for registration of title must prove: (1) that the subject land

the concept of owner since June 12, 1945 or earlier as forms part of the disposable and alienable lands of the public

mandated by Section 14(1) of P.D. 1529. It noted that the domain, and (2) that they have been in open, continuous,
exclusive and notorious possession and occupation of the 25606[17] issued in 1971 in the names of spouses Agustin

same under a bona fide claim of ownership since June 12, Cacho and Eufrosinia Baustista. While tax declarations are not

1945, or earlier.[8] These requisites involve questions of fact conclusive proof of ownership, they constitute good indiciaof

which are not proper in a petition for review possession in the concept of owner and a claim of title over

on certiorari. Factual findings of the court a quo are generally the subject property.[18] Even if we were to tack petitioners

binding on this Court except for certain recognized claim of ownership over the subject lot to that of their alleged

exceptions, as is the case here, where the trial court and the predecessors-in-interest, spouses Agustin Cacho and

Court of Appeals arrived at conflicting findings. [9] After a Eufrosinia Baustista in 1971, still this would fall short of the

careful review of the records, we sustain the findings and required possession from June 12, 1945 or earlier.

conclusions of the Court of Appeals.

Further, as correctly pointed by the Court of Appeals,

There is no dispute that the subject lot is classified as possession alone is not sufficient to acquire title to alienable

alienable and disposable land of the public domain. The lands of the public domain because the law requires

Report[10]dated January 17, 2000 of the Bureau of Lands possession and occupation. As held in Republic v. Alconaba:[19]

stated that the subject lot is within the alienable and


The law speaks of possession and occupation. Since
disposable zone as classified under Project 50 L.C. Map No. these words are separated by the conjunction and,
the clear intention of the law is not to make one
698 and released and classified as such on November 21, synonymous with the other. Possession is broader
1927.[11] This finding is, likewise, embodied in the than occupation because it includes constructive
possession. When, therefore, the law adds the
Report[12] dated January 7, 1999 of the Department of word occupation, it seeks to delimit the all
encompassing effect of constructive
Environment and Natural Resources Community Environment possession. Taken together with the words open,
continuous, exclusive and notorious, the
and Natural Resources Office (DENR-CENRO) and the blue word occupation serves to highlight the fact that for
an applicant to qualify, his possession must not be a
print Copy[13] of the plan covering the subject lot. However, mere fiction. Actual possession of a land consists in
petitioner failed to prove that he or his predecessors-in- the manifestation of acts of dominion over it of such
a nature as a party would naturally exercise over his
interest have been in open, continuous, exclusive and own property.[20]

notorious possession and occupation of the subject lot

since June 12, 1945 or earlier. Petitioner admitted that after he and his brothers

bought the subject lot from spouses Tony Bautista and Alicia

The records show that petitioner and his brothers Villamil in 1998, neither he nor his brothers actually occupied

bought the subject lot from spouses Tony Bautista and Alicia the subject lot.[21] No improvements were made thereon and

Villamil on August 24, 1998,[14] who in turn purchased the the most that they did was to visit the lot on several occasions.

same from spouses Teofilo Abellera and Abella Sarmen


[22]
Petitioners predecessor-in-interest, Tony Bautista testified

on January 16, 1997.[15]The latter bought the subject lot from that he and his wife never actually occupied the subject lot

Cynthia, Agustin Jr., Jasmin, Omir and Lauro, all surnamed from the time they bought the same from spouses Teofilo

Cacho, on July 10, 1979.[16] The earliest tax declaration which Abellera and Abella Sarmen in 1997. [23] Aside from these two

was submitted in evidence was Tax Declaration No. testimonies, no other evidence was presented to establish the
character of the possession of the subject lot by petitioners its Resolution[2] dated June 26, 2002, dismissing petitioners

other alleged predecessors-in-interest. Clearly, petitioners Second Amended Complaint in Civil Case No. Q-99-36483 filed

evidence failed to establish specific acts of ownership to in Branch 223 of the Regional Trial Court of Quezon City.

substantiate the claim that he and his predecessors-in-

interest possessed and occupied the subject lot in the nature Records show that on January 11, 1999, petitioners

and duration required by law. filed a complaint for cancellation of title to property covered

by Transfer Certificate of Title (TCT) Nos. N-140441; [3] 14399;

The burden of proof in land registration cases rests [4]


RT-94384 (292245);[5] RT-94794 (292246);[6] and 292247.

on the applicant who must show by clear, positive and [7]


Petitioners alleged that said titles are spurious, fictitious

convincing evidence that his alleged possession and and were issued under mysterious circumstances, considering

occupation of the land is of the nature and duration required that the holders thereof including their predecessors-in-

by law.[24] Unfortunately, petitioners evidence do not interest were never in actual, adverse and physical possession

constitute the well-nigh incontrovertible evidence necessary of the property, rendering them ineligible to acquire title to

in cases of this nature.[25] Accordingly, the Court of Appeals did the said property under the Friar Lands Act. [8] Petitioners also

not err in reversing the Decision of the trial court and in sought to nullify Original Certificate of Title (OCT) No. 614

denying his application for registration of title over the from which the foregoing titles sought to be cancelled

subject lot. originated or were derived.

WHEREFORE, in view of the foregoing, the petition

is DENIED. The April 25, 2006 Decision of the Court of Respondent Genuino Ice Co., Inc. filed a motion to

Appeals in CA-G.R. CV No. 76085 which reversed and set aside dismiss[9] on the ground that the complaint states no cause of

the January 16, 2002 Decision of the Municipal Trial Court of action because petitioners are not real parties-in-interest;

Mangaldan, Pangasinan in Land Registration Case No. 99-023, that no relief may be granted as a matter of law; and that

and the November 20, 2006 Resolution denying the motion petitioners failed to exhaust administrative remedies, but it

for reconsideration, are AFFIRMED. was denied by the trial court. Respondent moved for

reconsideration but the same was denied.

Costs against petitioner.

On November 4, 1999, petitioners filed a Second

SO ORDERED. Amended Complaint[10] which sought to annul, in addition to

the titles already alleged in the original complaint, TCT Nos.

CANETE V GENUINO ICE COMPANY 274095 and 274096;[11] 274097 and 274098;[12] and 274099.
[13]

This petition for review on certiorari seeks to set

aside the Decision[1] of the Court of Appeals dated January 9, The Second Amended Complaint alleged the

2002 in CA-G.R. SP No. 64337 entitled Genuino Ice Company, following causes of action, as well as the remedy sought to be

Inc. vs. Hon. Victorino P. Evangelista, Nelsie B. Caete, et al., and obtained, thus:
4. That plaintiffs (petitioners) and their
predecessors-in-interest are among those who have (1) Declaring as null and void ab initio OCT 614 and
been in actual, adverse, peaceful and continuous all transfer certificates of title derived therefrom;
possession in concept of owners of unregistered
parcels of land situated at Sitio Mabilog, Barangay (2) Declaring as null and void defendants transfer
Culiat, Quezon City, Metro Manila, which parcels of certificates of title over the property in litigation;
land are more particularly described as follows:
(3) Ordering defendant Register of Deeds of Quezon
(1) A parcel of unregistered land known as City to cancel defendants transfer certificates of title
Lot 668, situated at Barangay Culiat, Quezon and all transfer certificates of title derived therefrom;
City x x x.
(4) Declaring the plaintiffs as bona fide occupants of
(2) A parcel of unregistered land known as the property in litigation pursuant to the provisions
Lot 669, situated at Barangay Culiat, Quezon of the Friar Lands Act and other existing laws.[14]
City x x x.

5. That the above-described real property is a


portion of a friar land known as Piedad Estate, which Respondent moved to dismiss the Second Amended
property is intended for distribution among the bona Complaint on the following grounds:
fide occupants thereof pursuant to the Friar Lands
Act. a) The complaint states no cause of action because:
(1) on the allegations alone, plaintiffs (petitioners)
6. That transfer certificates of title allegedly having are not real parties in interest who may bring suit to
originated or derived from Original Certificate of cancel defendants (including respondent) titles; (2)
Title No. 614 were issued by the Register of Deeds of based on the allegations and prayer of the complaint,
Quezon City, which transfer certificates of title are in no relief, as a matter of law, may be granted;
truth and in fact fictitious, spurious and null and
void, for the following reasons: (a) that no record of b) Prescription has set in;
any agency of the government shows as to how and
in what manner was OCT 614 issued; (b) that no c) There are earlier similar complaints (Civil Case
record of any proceedings whatsoever, whether Nos. Q-95-22834 and Q-95-23111) filed by a
judicial or administrative, can support defendants different set of plaintiffs against a different set of
claim that the above-described property originated defendants but which involve the same subject
from OCT 614; and (c) that the transfer certificates of matter, cause of action and allegations of the
title over the above-described property were issued plaintiffs, with respect to the cancellation of OCT 614
under mysterious circumstances for the above- and succeeding titles derived from it. Said complaints
named defendants and their so-called predecessors- have since been dismissed by Branch 93 of the
in-interest never had any actual, adverse, physical Regional Trial Court of Quezon City, the dismissal of
possession of the said property, thus, not allowed to which is the subject of a pending certiorari
acquire title over the property in litigation pursuant proceeding in the appellate court.[15]
to the Friar Lands Act.

7. That defendants are holders of transfer certificates


of title of the above-described property, which On January 3, 2001,[16] the trial court denied
transfer certificates of title are null and void, for
reasons specifically mentioned in Paragraph 6 hereof respondents motion to dismiss the Second Amended
x x x;
Complaint. Its motion for reconsideration was likewise denied
8. That the acts in acquiring and keeping the said hence respondent filed a petition for certiorari with the Court
transfer certificates of title in violation of the Friar
Lands Act and other existing laws are prejudicial to of Appeals.
plaintiffs rights over the above-described property.

9. That equity demands that defendants transfer


certificates of title as specified in Paragraph 7 hereof The appellate court granted respondents petition for
be declared fictitious, spurious and null and void ab
initio. certiorari and dismissed petitioners Second Amended

Complaint for failure to state a cause of action. Hence, the


PRAYER
instant petition raising the following issues:
WHEREFORE, premises considered, it is most
respectfully prayed of this Honorable Court that A. THAT THE COURT OF APPEALS ERRED IN
judgment be rendered in favor of plaintiffs and DECLARING THAT THE COMPLAINT FILED BY THE
against defendants: PETITIONERS WITH THE REGIONAL TRIAL COURT
OF QUEZON CITY IN CIVIL CASE NO. Q-99-36483
DOES NOT STATE A VALID CAUSE OF ACTION; One who acquires land under the Friar Lands Act, as

B. THAT THE COURT OF APPEALS ERRED IN well as his successors-in-interest, may not claim successional
DECLARING THAT THE PETITIONERS ARE NOT rights to purchase by reason of occupation from time
REAL PARTIES IN INTEREST;
immemorial, as this contravenes the historical fact that friar
C. THAT THE COURT OF APPEALS ERRED IN
APPLYING THE DOCTRINE OF EXHAUSTION OF lands were bought by the Government of the Philippine
ADMINISTRATIVE REMEDIES; and,
Islands, pursuant to an Act of Congress of the United States,
D. THAT THE COURT OF APPEALS ACTED WITH
GRAVE ABUSE OF DISCRETION AND DENIED approved on July 1, 1902, not from individual persons but
PETITIONERS RIGHT TO DUE PROCESS WHEN IT from certain companies, a society and a religious order. Under
DISMISSED THEIR COMPLAINT.[17]
the Friar Lands Act, only actual settlers and occupants at the

time said lands are acquired by the Government were given


We deny the petition.
preference to lease, purchase, or acquire their holdings, in

disregard of the settlement and occupation of persons before


The subject lots are part of the Piedad Estate, Quezon
the government acquired the lands. [21]
City, a Friar Land acquired on December 23, 1903 by the

Philippine Government from the Philippine Sugar Estates


The basic rules of proper pleading and procedure
Development Company, Ltd., La Sociedad Agricola de
require that every pleading shall contain in a methodical and
Ultramar, the British-Manila Estate Company, Ltd., and the
logical form, a plain, concise and direct statement of the
Recoleto Order of the Philippine Islands, as indicated in Public
ultimate facts on which the party pleading relies for his claim
Act No. 1120 (Friar Lands Act) enacted on April 26, 1904. [18]
or defense, as the case may be, omitting the statement of mere

evidentiary facts.[22] And in all averments of fraud or mistake,


After the Piedad Estate was registered in OCT No.
the circumstances constituting fraud or mistake must be
614 in the name of the Philippine Government in 1910 under
stated with particularity.[23]
the provisions of Act 496, the area was subdivided originally

into 874 lots. As a result of subsequent surveys executed in It is axiomatic that the averments of the complaint
determine the nature of the action, and consequently,
the course of disposition, the number of lots increased to the jurisdiction of the courts. This is because the
complaint must contain a concise statement of the
1,305. Disposition of these lots was made by the Bureau of ultimate facts constituting the plaintiff's cause of
action and must specify the relief sought. No rule is
Lands thru sales, under the Friar Lands Act, as early as 1910 better established than that which requires the
complaint to contain a statement of all the facts
and records show that even before the Second World War, all constituting the plaintiff's cause of
lots in the Piedad Estate have been disposed of. [19] The Piedad action. Additionally, Section 5, Rule 8 of the Rules of
Court provides that in all averments of fraud or
Estate has long been segregated from the mass of the public mistake, the circumstances constituting fraud or
mistake must be stated with particularity. In the case
domain and has become private land duly registered under at bar, while there are allegations of fraud in the
above quoted complaints, the same are not particular
the Torrens system following the procedure for the enough to bring the controversy within the SEC's
jurisdiction. The said allegations are not statements
confirmation of private lands prescribed in Act 496. Thus the of ultimate facts but are mere conclusions of law.
lands inside the Piedad Estate are no longer lands of the
A pleading should state the ultimate facts essential to
public domain.[20] the rights of action or defense asserted, as
distinguished from mere conclusions of fact, or
conclusions of law. General allegations that a contract
is valid or legal, or is just, fair and reasonable, are
mere conclusions of law. Likewise, allegations that a the inquiry of whether the law was properly applied given the
contract is void, voidable, invalid, illegal, ultra vires,
or against public policy, without stating facts facts and these supporting documents. Therefore, what would
showing its invalidity, are mere conclusions of law.[24] inevitably arise from such a review are pure questions of law,

and not questions of fact.


Ultimate facts means the essential facts constituting

the plaintiff's cause of action, or such facts as are so essential The trial court must likewise apply relevant statutes
that they cannot be stricken out without leaving the statement and jurisprudence in determining whether the allegations in a
of the cause of action inadequate. [25]
Cause of action has been complaint establish a cause of action. While it focuses on the
defined as an act or omission of one party in violation of the complaint, a court clearly cannot disregard decisions material
legal right or rights of the other; [26]
and its essential elements to the proper appreciation of the questions before it. In
are: 1) a right in favor of the plaintiff by whatever means and resolving a motion to dismiss, every court must take
under whatever law it arises or is created; 2) an obligation on cognizance of decisions this Court has rendered because they
the part of the named defendant to respect or not to violate are proper subjects of mandatory judicial notice. The said
such right; and 3) an act or omission on the part of the named decisions, more importantly, form part of the legal system, and
defendant violative of the right of the plaintiff or constituting failure of any court to apply them shall constitute an
a breach of the obligation of defendant to the plaintiff for abdication of its duty to resolve a dispute in accordance with
which the latter may maintain an action for recovery of law, and shall be a ground for administrative action against an
damages. If these elements are not extant, the complaint inferior court magistrate.[30]
becomes vulnerable to a motion to dismiss on the ground of

failure to state a cause of action. [27] In the resolution of a Considering the foregoing, it is not difficult to see the
motion to dismiss based on failure to state a cause of action, need for particularity and incipient substantiation in the
only the facts alleged in the complaint as well as its annexes petitioners Second Amended Complaint.
must be considered.[28] The test in such case is whether a court

can render a valid judgment on the complaint based upon the First, their initial claim that OCT 614 of which all the
facts alleged and pursuant to the prayer therein. [29] other subject titles are derivatives is null and void, has been

proven wrong. As has been held in Pinlac and other cases, OCT
Corollarily, the question of whether or not a 614 did legally exist and was previously issued in the name of
complaint states a cause of action against a defendant or the the Philippine Government in 1910 under the provisions of
action is premature is one of law. The trial court can consider Act 496.
all the pleadings filed, including annexes, motions and the

evidence on record. However in so doing, the trial court does Second, the Ad Hoc Committee of the then Ministry
not rule on the truth or falsity of such documents. It merely of Natural Resources, which was specifically tasked to
includes such documents in the hypothetical admission. Any investigate the historical background of the Piedad Estate,
review of a finding of lack of cause of action based on these found that as early as the period prior to the Second World
documents would not involve a calibration of the probative

value of such pieces of evidence but would only limit itself to


War, all lots in the Piedad Estate had already been disposed circumstances constituting fraud must be stated with

of. particularity; otherwise, the allegation of fraud would simply

be an unfounded conclusion of law. In the absence of specific

Third, the Piedad Estate has been placed under averments, the complaint is defective, for it presents no basis

the Torrens system of land registration, which means that all upon which the court should act, or for the defendant to meet

lots therein are titled. it with an intelligent answer.

Fourth, as held in the Balicudiong case, one who As to the second issue raised, petitioners claim that

acquires land under the Friar Lands Act, as well as his they are bona fide occupants of the subject property within

successors-in-interest, may not claim successional rights to the contemplation of the Friar Lands Act, having allegedly

purchase by reason of occupation from time immemorial, been in actual, adverse, peaceful and continuous possession of

which means that petitioners claimed actual, adverse, the property, although it is not stated for how long and since

peaceful and continuous possession of the subject property is when. In their second amended complaint, they seek

really of no moment unless it is shown that their judgment

predecessors-in-interest were actual settlers and occupants at (4) Declaring the plaintiffs as bona
fide occupants of the property in litigation
the time said lands were acquired by the Government, and pursuant to the provisions of the Friar
whose rights were not disregarded even though they were in Lands Act and other existing laws.
(Emphasis supplied)
occupation of the same before the government acquired the

land; yet, no period of time in relation to adverse possession is


They do not pray to be declared owners of the subject
alleged.
property despite their alleged adverse possession but only to

be adjudged as the bona fide occupants thereof. In other


Petitioners Second Amended Complaint betrays no
words, petitioners concede the States ownership of the
more than an incomplete narration of facts unsupported by
property.
documentary or other exhibits; the allegations therein

partake of conclusions of law unsupported by a particular


Being so, petitioners may not be considered the real
averment of circumstances that will show why or how such
parties in interest for the purpose of maintaining the suit for
inferences or conclusions were arrived at. It is replete with
cancellation of the subject titles. The Court of Appeals is
sweeping generalizations and inferences derived from facts
correct in declaring that only the State, through the Solicitor
that are not found therein. While there are allegations of fraud
General, may institute such suit. Jurisprudence on the matter
upon the claim that the subject titles were fictitious, spurious
has been settled and the issue need not be belabored. Thus
and obtained under mysterious circumstances, the same are
The Court also holds that private respondents are not
not specific to bring the controversy within the trial courts the proper parties to initiate the present suit. The
complaint, praying as it did for the cancellation of the
jurisdiction. There is no explanation or narration of facts as transfer certificates of title of petitioners on the
ground that they were derived from a spurious OCT
would show why said titles are claimed to be fictitious or No. 4216, assailed in effect the validity of said
spurious, contrary to the requirement of the Rules that the title. While private respondents did not pray for the
reversion of the land to the government, we agree
with the petitioners that the prayer in the complaint
will have the same result of reverting the land to the means material interest, an interest in issue and to be affected
government under the Regalian doctrine. Gabila vs.
Barriga ruled that only the government is entitled to by the decree, as distinguished from mere interest in the
this relief. The Court in that case held: question involved, or a mere incidental interest. The interest
The present motion to dismiss is actually of the party must also be personal and not one based on a
predicated on Section 1(g), Rule 16 of the
Revised Rules of Court, i.e., failure of the desire to vindicate the constitutional right of some third and
complaint to state a cause of action, for it
alleges in paragraph 12 thereof that the unrelated party. Real interest, on the other hand, means a
plaintiff admits that he has no right to
demand the cancellation or amendment of present substantial interest, as distinguished from a mere
the defendants title, because, even if the said expectancy or a future, contingent, subordinate, or
title were canceled or amended, the
ownership of the land embraced therein, or consequential interest.[32]
of the portion thereof affected by the
amendment, would revert to the public
domain. In his amended complaint the
plaintiff makes no pretense at all that any If petitioners are to be believed, they would possess a
part of the land covered by the defendants
title was privately owned by him or by his mere inchoate interest in the properties covered by the
predecessors-in-interest. Indeed, it is
subject titles, a mere expectancy conditioned upon the fact
admitted therein that the said land was at all
times a part of the public domain that if the questioned titles are cancelled and the property is
until December 18, 1964, when the
government issued a title thereon in favor of reverted to the State, they would probably or possibly be given
defendant. Thus, if there is any person or
entity to relief, it can only be the government. preferential treatment as qualified buyers or lessees of the

In the case at bar, the plaintiffs own property under the Friar Lands Act. But this certainly is not
averments negate the existence of such
the interest required by law that grants them license or the
right, for it would appear therefrom that
whatever right might have been violated by personality to prosecute their case. Only to the State does the
the defendant belonged to the government,
not to the plaintiff. Plaintiff-appellant argues privilege belong.
that although his complaint is captioned as
one for cancellation of title, he has
nevertheless stated therein several causes of
action based on his alleged rights of On the issue of exhaustion of administrative
possession and ownership over the
remedies, suffice it to state that since petitioners do not
improvements, on defendant-appellees
alleged fraudulent acquisition of the land, possess the necessary interest to prosecute the case for
and on the damages allegedly incurred by
him (plaintiff-appellant) in relation to the cancellation of title in the courts, neither do they have the
improvements. These matters are merely
ancillary to the central issue of whether or right to pursue administrative remedies outside thereof. They
not defendant-appellees title should be
canceled or amended, and they may not be are not the owners; nor are they qualified applicants therefor.
leaned upon in an effort to make out a cause
It has not been shown by their complaint that they have
of action in relation to the said focal issue.
Indeed, the principal relief prayed for in the previously taken steps to avail of the benefits under the Friar
amended complaint is the cancellation or
amendment of defendant-appellees title.[31] Lands Act, since all they seek, should the questioned titles be

nullified, is to be declared bona fide occupants of the property

Under Rule 3, Section 2 of the Rules of Court, a real covered by the questioned titles. Neither is there any

party in interest is the party who stands to be benefited or indication that they possess the qualifications necessary to

injured by the judgment in the suit, or the party entitled to the enable them to avail of the preference granted under the Act.

avails of the suit. Interest within the meaning of the rule


promulgated on April 29, 2009, whereby we upheld the ruling
Finally, there is no merit in petitioners contention of the Court of Appeals (CA) denying the application of the
petitioners for the registration of a parcel of land situated in
that respondent belatedly filed the petition for certiorari with Barangay Tibig, Silang, Cavite on the ground that they had not
the Court of Appeals, and that the appellate court gravely established by sufficient evidence their right to the
registration in accordance with either Section 14(1) or
abused its discretion when it entertained and resolved the Section 14(2) of Presidential Decree No. 1529 (Property
Registration Decree).
same.
Antecedents

The Order of the trial court dated January 3, The property subject of the application for registration is a
parcel of land situated in Barangay Tibig, Silang Cavite, more
2001 denying respondents motion to dismiss the Second particularly identified as Lot 9864-A, Cad-452-D, with an area
of 71,324-square meters. On February 20, 1998, applicant
Amended Complaint was received by the respondent Mario Malabanan, who had purchased the property from
Eduardo Velazco, filed an application for land registration
on January 16, 2001. Respondent filed a motion for
covering the property in the Regional Trial Court (RTC) in
reconsideration on January 18, 2001 which was denied Tagaytay City, Cavite, claiming that the property formed part
of the alienable and disposable land of the public domain, and
on February 28, 2001. Respondent received the order denying that he and his predecessors-in-interest had been in open,
continuous, uninterrupted, public and adverse possession and
its motion for reconsideration on March 27, 2001. On the occupation of the land for more than 30 years, thereby
entitling him to the judicial confirmation of his title.1
same day, it filed a Notice to File Petition for

Certiorari. On April 2, 2001, the petition for certiorari was To prove that the property was an alienable and disposable
land of the public domain, Malabanan presented during trial a
filed with the Court of Appeals. Clearly, the same was timely certification dated June 11, 2001 issued by the Community
Environment and Natural Resources Office (CENRO) of the
filed hence, the appellate court correctly entertained the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR),
which reads:
same.
This is to certify that the parcel of land designated as Lot No.
9864 Cad 452-D, Silang Cadastre as surveyed for Mr. Virgilio
Velasco located at Barangay Tibig, Silang, Cavite containing an
area of 249,734 sq. meters as shown and described on the
WHEREFORE, the petition is DENIED. The Decision Plan Ap-04-00952 is verified to be within the Alienable or
Disposable land per Land Classification Map No. 3013
of the Court of Appeals dated January 9, 2002 in CA-G.R. SP established under Project No. 20-A and approved as such
under FAO 4-1656 on March 15, 1982.2
No. 64337 dismissing petitioners Second Amended Complaint

in Civil Case No. Q-99-36483 and the Resolution dated June After trial, on December 3, 2002, the RTC rendered judgment
granting Malabanan’s application for land registration,
26, 2002denying the motion for reconsideration, disposing thusly:
are AFFIRMED.
WHEREFORE, this Court hereby approves this application for
registration and thus places under the operation of Act 141,
Act 496 and/or P.D. 1529, otherwise known as Property
SO ORDERED. Registration Law, the lands described in Plan Csd-04-
0173123-D, Lot 9864-A and containing an area of Seventy One
Thousand Three Hundred Twenty Four (71,324) Square
Meters, as supported by its technical description now forming
MALABANAN V REPUBLIC
part of the record of this case, in addition to other proofs
adduced in the name of MARIO MALABANAN, who is of legal
age, Filipino, widower, and with residence at Munting Ilog,
Silang, Cavite.
RESOLUTION
Once this Decision becomes final and executory, the
BERSAMIN, J.: corresponding decree of registration shall forthwith issue.

For our consideration and resolution are the motions for SO ORDERED.3
reconsideration of the parties who both assail the decision
The Office of the Solicitor General (OSG) appealed the In their motion for reconsideration, the petitioners submit
judgment to the CA, arguing that Malabanan had failed to that the mere classification of the land as alienable or
prove that the property belonged to the alienable and disposable should be deemed sufficient to convert it into
disposable land of the public domain, and that the RTC erred patrimonial property of the State. Relying on the rulings in
in finding that he had been in possession of the property in Spouses De Ocampo v. Arlos,7 Menguito v. Republic8 and
the manner and for the length of time required by law for Republic v. T.A.N. Properties, Inc.,9 they argue that the
confirmation of imperfect title. reclassification of the land as alienable or disposable opened
it to acquisitive prescription under the Civil Code; that
On February 23, 2007, the CA promulgated its decision Malabanan had purchased the property from Eduardo Velazco
reversing the RTC and dismissing the application for believing in good faith that Velazco and his predecessors-in-
registration of Malabanan. Citing the ruling in Republic v. interest had been the real owners of the land with the right to
Herbieto (Herbieto),4 the CA declared that under Section validly transmit title and ownership thereof; that
14(1) of the Property Registration Decree, any period of consequently, the ten-year period prescribed by Article 1134
possession prior to the classification of the land as alienable of the Civil Code, in relation to Section 14(2) of the Property
and disposable was inconsequential and should be excluded Registration Decree, applied in their favor; and that when
from the computation of the period of possession. Noting that Malabanan filed the application for registration on February
the CENRO-DENR certification stated that the property had 20, 1998, he had already been in possession of the land for
been declared alienable and disposable only on March 15, almost 16 years reckoned from 1982, the time when the land
1982, Velazco’s possession prior to March 15, 1982 could not was declared alienable and disposable by the State.
be tacked for purposes of computing Malabanan’s period of
possession. The Republic’s Motion for Partial Reconsideration

Due to Malabanan’s intervening demise during the appeal in The Republic seeks the partial reconsideration in order to
the CA, his heirs elevated the CA’s decision of February 23, obtain a clarification with reference to the application of the
2007 to this Court through a petition for review on certiorari. rulings in Naguit and Herbieto.

The petitioners assert that the ruling in Republic v. Court of Chiefly citing the dissents, the Republic contends that the
Appeals and Corazon Naguit5 (Naguit) remains the controlling decision has enlarged, by implication, the interpretation of
doctrine especially if the property involved is agricultural Section 14(1) of the Property Registration Decree through
land. In this regard, Naguit ruled that any possession of judicial legislation. It reiterates its view that an applicant is
agricultural land prior to its declaration as alienable and entitled to registration only when the land subject of the
disposable could be counted in the reckoning of the period of application had been declared alienable and disposable since
possession to perfect title under the Public Land Act June 12, 1945 or earlier.
(Commonwealth Act No. 141) and the Property Registration
Decree. They point out that the ruling in Herbieto, to the effect Ruling
that the declaration of the land subject of the application for
registration as alienable and disposable should also date back
We deny the motions for reconsideration.
to June 12, 1945 or earlier, was a mere obiter dictum
considering that the land registration proceedings therein
were in fact found and declared void ab initio for lack of In reviewing the assailed decision, we consider to be
publication of the notice of initial hearing. imperative to discuss the different classifications of land in
relation to the existing applicable land registration laws of the
Philippines.
The petitioners also rely on the ruling in Republic v. T.A.N.
Properties, Inc.6 to support their argument that the property
had been ipso jure converted into private property by reason Classifications of land according to ownership
of the open, continuous, exclusive and notorious possession
by their predecessors-in-interest of an alienable land of the Land, which is an immovable property,10 may be classified as
public domain for more than 30 years. According to them, either of public dominion or of private ownership. 11Land is
what was essential was that the property had been considered of public dominion if it either: (a) is intended for
"converted" into private property through prescription at the public use; or (b) belongs to the State, without being for
time of the application without regard to whether the public use, and is intended for some public service or for the
property sought to be registered was previously classified as development of the national wealth.12 Land belonging to the
agricultural land of the public domain. State that is not of such character, or although of such
character but no longer intended for public use or for public
As earlier stated, we denied the petition for review on service forms part of the patrimonial property of the
certiorari because Malabanan failed to establish by sufficient State.13 Land that is other than part of the patrimonial
evidence possession and occupation of the property on his property of the State, provinces, cities and municipalities is of
part and on the part of his predecessors-in interest since June private ownership if it belongs to a private individual.
12, 1945, or earlier.
Pursuant to the Regalian Doctrine (Jura Regalia), a legal
Petitioners’ Motion for Reconsideration concept first introduced into the country from the West by
Spain through the Laws of the Indies and the Royal
Cedulas,14 all lands of the public domain belong to the
State.15This means that the State is the source of any asserted Disposition of alienable public lands
right to ownership of land, and is charged with the
conservation of such patrimony.16 Section 11 of the Public Land Act (CA No. 141) provides the
manner by which alienable and disposable lands of the public
All lands not appearing to be clearly under private ownership domain, i.e., agricultural lands, can be disposed of, to wit:
are presumed to belong to the State. Also, public lands remain
part of the inalienable land of the public domain unless the Section 11. Public lands suitable for agricultural purposes can
State is shown to have reclassified or alienated them to be disposed of only as follows, and not otherwise:
private persons.17
(1) For homestead settlement;
Classifications of public lands
according to alienability
(2) By sale;

Whether or not land of the public domain is alienable and


(3) By lease; and
disposable primarily rests on the classification of public lands
made under the Constitution. Under the 1935
Constitution,18 lands of the public domain were classified into (4) By confirmation of imperfect or incomplete titles;
three, namely, agricultural, timber and mineral.19 Section 10,
Article XIV of the 1973 Constitution classified lands of the (a) By judicial legalization; or
public domain into seven, specifically, agricultural, industrial
or commercial, residential, resettlement, mineral, timber or (b) By administrative legalization (free
forest, and grazing land, with the reservation that the law patent).
might provide other classifications. The 1987 Constitution
adopted the classification under the 1935 Constitution into
The core of the controversy herein lies in the proper
agricultural, forest or timber, and mineral, but added national
interpretation of Section 11(4), in relation to Section 48(b) of
parks.20 Agricultural lands may be further classified by law
the Public Land Act, which expressly requires possession by a
according to the uses to which they may be devoted.21 The
Filipino citizen of the land since June 12, 1945, or earlier, viz:
identification of lands according to their legal classification is
done exclusively by and through a positive act of the Executive
Department.22 Section 48. The following-described citizens of the
Philippines, occupying lands of the public domain or claiming
to own any such lands or an interest therein, but whose titles
Based on the foregoing, the Constitution places a limit on the
have not been perfected or completed, may apply to the Court
type of public land that may be alienated. Under Section 2,
of First Instance of the province where the land is located for
Article XII of the 1987 Constitution, only agricultural lands of
confirmation of their claims and the issuance of a certificate of
the public domain may be alienated; all other natural
title thereafter, under the Land Registration Act, to wit:
resources may not be.

xxxx
Alienable and disposable lands of the State fall into two
categories, to wit: (a) patrimonial lands of the State, or those
classified as lands of private ownership under Article 425 of (b) Those who by themselves or through their predecessors-
the Civil Code,23 without limitation; and (b) lands of the public in-interest have been in open, continuous, exclusive, and
domain, or the public lands as provided by the Constitution, notorious possession and occupation of alienable and
but with the limitation that the lands must only be disposable lands of the public domain, under a bona fide claim
agricultural. Consequently, lands classified as forest or timber, of acquisition of ownership, since June 12, 1945, or earlier,
mineral, or national parks are not susceptible of alienation or immediately preceding the filing of the applications for
disposition unless they are reclassified as agricultural. 24 A confirmation of title, except when prevented by war or force
positive act of the Government is necessary to enable such majeure. These shall be conclusively presumed to have
reclassification,25 and the exclusive prerogative to classify performed all the conditions essential to a Government grant
public lands under existing laws is vested in the Executive and shall be entitled to a certificate of title under the
Department, not in the courts.26 If, however, public land will provisions of this chapter. (Bold emphasis supplied)
be classified as neither agricultural, forest or timber, mineral
or national park, or when public land is no longer intended for Note that Section 48(b) of the Public Land Act used the words
public service or for the development of the national wealth, "lands of the public domain" or "alienable and disposable
thereby effectively removing the land from the ambit of public lands of the public domain" to clearly signify that lands
dominion, a declaration of such conversion must be made in otherwise classified, i.e., mineral, forest or timber, or national
the form of a law duly enacted by Congress or by a parks, and lands of patrimonial or private ownership, are
Presidential proclamation in cases where the President is duly outside the coverage of the Public Land Act. What the law
authorized by law to that effect.27 Thus, until the Executive does not include, it excludes. The use of the descriptive phrase
Department exercises its prerogative to classify or reclassify "alienable and disposable" further limits the coverage of
lands, or until Congress or the President declares that the Section 48(b) to only the agricultural lands of the public
State no longer intends the land to be used for public service domain as set forth in Article XII, Section 2 of the 1987
or for the development of national wealth, the Regalian Constitution. Bearing in mind such limitations under the
Doctrine is applicable. Public Land Act, the applicant must satisfy the following
requirements in order for his application to come under application as alienable and disposable agricultural land of
Section 14(1) of the Property Registration Decree,28 to wit: the public domain determines its eligibility for land
registration, not the ownership or title over it.
1. The applicant, by himself or through his
predecessor-in-interest, has been in possession and Alienable public land held by a possessor, either personally or
occupation of the property subject of the application; through his predecessors-in-interest, openly, continuously
and exclusively during the prescribed statutory period is
2. The possession and occupation must be open, converted to private property by the mere lapse or
continuous, exclusive, and notorious; completion of the period.29 In fact, by virtue of this doctrine,
corporations may now acquire lands of the public domain for
as long as the lands were already converted to private
3. The possession and occupation must be under a
ownership, by operation of law, as a result of satisfying the
bona fide claim of acquisition of ownership;
requisite period of possession prescribed by the Public Land
Act.30 It is for this reason that the property subject of the
4. The possession and occupation must have taken application of Malabanan need not be classified as alienable
place since June 12, 1945, or earlier; and and disposable agricultural land of the public domain for the
entire duration of the requisite period of possession.
5. The property subject of the application must be an
agricultural land of the public domain. To be clear, then, the requirement that the land should have
been classified as alienable and disposable agricultural land at
Taking into consideration that the Executive Department is the time of the application for registration is necessary only to
vested with the authority to classify lands of the public dispute the presumption that the land is inalienable.
domain, Section 48(b) of the Public Land Act, in relation to
Section 14(1) of the Property Registration Decree, The declaration that land is alienable and disposable also
presupposes that the land subject of the application for serves to determine the point at which prescription may run
registration must have been already classified as agricultural against the State. The imperfect or incomplete title being
land of the public domain in order for the provision to apply. confirmed under Section 48(b) of the Public Land Act is title
Thus, absent proof that the land is already classified as that is acquired by reason of the applicant’s possession and
agricultural land of the public domain, the Regalian Doctrine occupation of the alienable and disposable agricultural land of
applies, and overcomes the presumption that the land is the public domain. Where all the necessary requirements for a
alienable and disposable as laid down in Section 48(b) of the grant by the Government are complied with through actual
Public Land Act. However, emphasis is placed on the physical, open, continuous, exclusive and public possession of
requirement that the classification required by Section 48(b) an alienable and disposable land of the public domain, the
of the Public Land Act is classification or reclassification of a possessor is deemed to have acquired by operation of law not
public land as agricultural. only a right to a grant, but a grant by the Government, because
it is not necessary that a certificate of title be issued in order
The dissent stresses that the classification or reclassification that such a grant be sanctioned by the courts. 31
of the land as alienable and disposable agricultural land
should likewise have been made on June 12, 1945 or earlier, If one follows the dissent, the clear objective of the Public
because any possession of the land prior to such classification Land Act to adjudicate and quiet titles to unregistered lands in
or reclassification produced no legal effects. It observes that favor of qualified Filipino citizens by reason of their
the fixed date of June 12, 1945 could not be minimized or occupation and cultivation thereof for the number of years
glossed over by mere judicial interpretation or by judicial prescribed by law32 will be defeated. Indeed, we should always
social policy concerns, and insisted that the full legislative bear in mind that such objective still prevails, as a fairly recent
intent be respected. legislative development bears out, when Congress enacted
legislation (Republic Act No. 10023)33in order to liberalize
We find, however, that the choice of June 12, 1945 as the stringent requirements and procedures in the adjudication of
reckoning point of the requisite possession and occupation alienable public land to qualified applicants, particularly
was the sole prerogative of Congress, the determination of residential lands, subject to area limitations. 34
which should best be left to the wisdom of the lawmakers.
Except that said date qualified the period of possession and On the other hand, if a public land is classified as no longer
occupation, no other legislative intent appears to be intended for public use or for the development of national
associated with the fixing of the date of June 12, 1945. wealth by declaration of Congress or the President, thereby
Accordingly, the Court should interpret only the plain and converting such land into patrimonial or private land of the
literal meaning of the law as written by the legislators. State, the applicable provision concerning disposition and
registration is no longer Section 48(b) of the Public Land Act
Moreover, an examination of Section 48(b) of the Public Land but the Civil Code, in conjunction with Section 14(2) of the
Act indicates that Congress prescribed no requirement that Property Registration Decree. 35 As such, prescription can now
the land subject of the registration should have been classified run against the State.
as agricultural since June 12, 1945, or earlier. As such, the
applicant’s imperfect or incomplete title is derived only from To sum up, we now observe the following rules relative to the
possession and occupation since June 12, 1945, or earlier. disposition of public land or lands of the public domain,
This means that the character of the property subject of the namely:
(1) As a general rule and pursuant to the Regalian Doctrine, all
lands of the public domain belong to the State and are REPUBLIC V ABRILLE
inalienable. Lands that are not clearly under private
ownership are also presumed to belong to the State and,
therefore, may not be alienated or disposed;
This case was originally appealed to the Court of Appeals
(2) The following are excepted from the general rule, to wit: where it was docketed as CA-G.R. No. 47438-R. The Court of
Appeals certified it to this Court for final consideration and
resolution of the pure question of law involved.
(a) Agricultural lands of the public domain are rendered
alienable and disposable through any of the exclusive modes
enumerated under Section 11 of the Public Land Act. If the The factual background of the case is as follows:
mode is judicial confirmation of imperfect title under Section
48(b) of the Public Land Act, the agricultural land subject of On May 9, 1969, a Complaint for Annulment of Certificate of
the application needs only to be classified as alienable and Title was filed by the Republic of the Philippines (represented
disposable as of the time of the application, provided the by the Director of Lands), with the Court of First Instance of
applicant’s possession and occupation of the land dated back Davao, Branch 1, alleging, among others, the following:3. That
to June 12, 1945, or earlier. Thereby, a conclusive presumption defendant Commissioner of Land Registration and defendant
that the applicant has performed all the conditions essential Register of Deeds of Davao City whose Offices are at Espanñ a
to a government grant arises,36 and the applicant becomes the Extension, Quezon City and Davao City, respectively. "(are
owner of the land by virtue of an imperfect or incomplete title. included in this complaint, the first being the public Official
By legal fiction, the land has already ceased to be part of the charged under the law with the approval )." subdivision
public domain and has become private property. 37 surveys of private lands while the second is the Official vested
with the authority to issue certificates of titles, pursuant to
(b) Lands of the public domain subsequently classified or the provisions of Act 496, as amended, otherwise known as
declared as no longer intended for public use or for the the Land Registration Law;
development of national wealth are removed from the sphere
of public dominion and are considered converted into 4. That defendant Estate of Luisa Villa Abrille (now Heirs of
patrimonial lands or lands of private ownership that may be Luisa Villa Abrille) is the owner of a parcel of land in the City
alienated or disposed through any of the modes of acquiring of Davao containing an area of FIVE HUNDRED TWENTY FIVE
ownership under the Civil Code. If the mode of acquisition is THOUSAND SIX HUNDRED FIFTY TWO SQUARE METERS
prescription, whether ordinary or extraordinary, proof that (525.652), more or less, under Transfer Certificate of Title No.
the land has been already converted to private ownership T-1439 of the Registry of Deeds of Davao City, issued in her
prior to the requisite acquisitive prescriptive period is a name;
condition sine qua non in observance of the law (Article 1113,
Civil Code) that property of the State not patrimonial in 5. That deceased Luisa Villa Abrille during her lifetime caused
character shall not be the object of prescription. the subdivision of the aforesaid parcel of land into two lots
designated as Lots Nos. 379-B-2-B-1 and 379-B-2-B-2 under
To reiterate, then, the petitioners failed to present sufficient subdivision plan (LRC) Psd-69322 which was approved by the
evidence to establish that they and their predecessors-in- Land Registration Commissioner on March 17,1967;
interest had been in possession of the land since June 12,
1945. Without satisfying the requisite character and period of 6. That under Subdivision Plan (LRC) Psd-69322, Lot No. 379-
possession - possession and occupation that is open, B-2-B-1 contains an area of 30,100 Square Meters while Lot
continuous, exclusive, and notorious since June 12, 1945, or No. 379-B-2B-2 contains an area of 577,679 Square Meters or
earlier - the land cannot be considered ipso jure converted to a total area of 607,779 Square Meters, which is 82,127 Square
private property even upon the subsequent declaration of it as Meters more than the original area covered in Transfer
alienable and disposable. Prescription never began to run Certificate of Title No. T-1439 in the name of said defendant
against the State, such that the land has remained ineligible Luisa Villa Abrille;
for registration under Section 14(1) of the Property
Registration Decree. Likewise, the land continues to be 7. That on March 27, 1967 or ten days after the approval by
ineligible for land registration under Section 14(2) of the the Land Registration Commissioner, said Luisa Villa Abrille
Property Registration Decree unless Congress enacts a law or was able to secure an order from the Court of First Instance of
the President issues a proclamation declaring the land as no Davao in LRC (GLRO) Doc. No. 9969, directing the Register of
longer intended for public service or for the development of Deeds for the City of Davao and Province of Davao, to correct
the national wealth.1âwphi1 the area of Certificate of Title No. T-1439 and thereafter to
cancel the same and issue in lieu thereof TCT Nos. T-18886
WHEREFORE, the Court DENIES the petitioners' Motion for and T-18887;
Reconsideration and the respondent's Partial Motion for
Reconsideration for their lack of merit. 8. That on March 30, 1967, the Register of Deeds concerned
registered Lot 379-B-2-B-1 and issued TCT No. 18886
SO ORDERED. therefor, in the name of Luisa Villa Abrille and on the same
date registered Lot No. 379-B-2-B-2 and issued TCT No.
18887 in the name of Luisa Villa Abrille;
9. That the registration of Lot No. 379-B-2-B-2, which includes issued, to recall the titles and to take appropriate steps for
the aforementioned excess area of 82,127 Square Meters, was their cancellation.
not in accordance with law for lack of the required notice and
publication as prescribed in Act 496, as amended, otherwise Some private persons, as actual possessors and occupants,
known as the Land Registration Law; tried to intervene in the case as movant-intervenors but they
were denied standing in court by the trial court in its order of
10. That the excess or enlarged area of 82,127 Square Meters August 16,1969.
as a result of the approval of the subdivision survey (LRC)
Psd-69322 was formerly a portion of the Davao River which On January 6, 1970, the parties litigants submitted in court
dried up by reason of the change of course of the said Davao their "Agreed Stipulation of Facts" and pray that judgment be
River; hence a land belonging to the public domain; and rendered by the trial court on their case based on their
stipulation of facts. The "Agreed Stipulation of Facts" of the
11. That as a consequence thereof, Transfer Certificate of Title parties reads as follows:
No. 18887 which covers Lot No. 379-B-2-B-2 of Subdivision
Survey (LRC) Psd-69322, wherein the excess area of land COME NOW the parties assisted by their respective attorneys,
belong to the public domain (not private land) is null and void and unto the Honorable Court, most respectfully submit the
ab initio. following stipulation of facts and allege:

On June 10, 1969, defendant Register of Deeds of Davao- City 1. That Lot 379-B-2-B was originally registered on June 28,
filed her answer averring that she, "in the performance of her 1916 in the Registry Book of the Register of Deeds of
ministerial duty, honestly and in good faith effected the Zamboanga as Vol. A27, Page 40 under Original Certificate of
registration of Subdivision Lot No. 379-B-2-B-1 and Lot No. Title No. 5609, Case No. 1, G.L.R.O. Rec. No. 317, in the name of
379B-2-B-2 and the issuance of corresponding TCT No. 18886 Francisco Villa Abrille Lim Juna, father of Luisa Villa Abrille;
and TCT No. 18887 therefor, respectively, in view of the
approval of the Land Registration Commissioner of
2. That upon the death of the original owner, the said property
Subdivision Plan (LRC) Psd-69322, and in view of the Order of
was inherited by Luisa Villa Abrille and Transfer Certificate of
the Court of First Instance of Davao to correct the area in
Title No. T-1439 was issued in the name of said Luisa Villa
Certificate of Title No. T-1439, to cancel the same and to issue
Abrille;
in lieu thereof TCT Nos. T-18886 and T-18887".

3. That subsequently, by virtue of an approved subdivision


On July 2, 1969, herein defendant-appellants filed their
plan Psd-69322 by the defendant, Land Registration
answer admitting the allegations contained in paragraphs 1, 3,
Commissioner, Transfer Certificate of Title Nos. T-18886 and
4, 5 and 7 of the complaint; that they admit the increase in
18887 were issued by the defendant, Register of Deeds of
area of the land of their predecessor but that the increase in
Davao, copy of which subdivision plan is hereto attached as
area of the land was acceded to and concurred in by the
Annex "A", and made integral part hereof;
defendant, Land Registration Commissioner, and the same
was duly noted and approved by the Court of First Instance of
Davao; that they admit the issuance of TCT Nos. T-18886 and 4. That Transfer Certificate of Title No. T-18886 was
T-18887 out of Certificate of Title No. T- 1439 in the name of subsequently cancelled by virtue of deed of sale, and Transfer
their predecessor-in-interest Luisa Villa Abrille but that TCT Certificate of Title No. T-19077 was issued in the name of
No. T-18886 had been cancelled and in lieu thereof, TCT No. T- Gaudencio Consunji a purchaser in good faith and for value;
19077 was issued in favor of Gaudencio Consunji, and, TCT
No. T-18887 had likewise been cancelled and several Transfer 5. That the said subdivision plan Annex "A" was also approved
Certificates of Title were issued thereunder; that the subject by the Court of First Instance of Davao, Branch IV, through an
increase of area was made in accordance with law and Order dated March 27, 1967, copy of which order is hereto
existing jurisprudence; and that Luisa Villa Abrille, attached as Annex "B" and made part hereof;
predecessor-in-interest of herein defendant-appellant, as
riparian owner was entitled under the law to claim, as she did, 6. That the said Order Annex "B" was issued by the Court of
the increase or excess in area of her original land as her own. First Instance of Davao, Branch IV, on the strength of the
Report of the defendant, Land Registration Commissioner,
On August 12, 1969, defendant Commissioner of Land copy of which report is hereto attached as Annex "C" and
Registration prays for a judgment on the pleadings and avers made integral part hereof;
in his answer that he has no knowledge of the subject matter
of the complaint since the subdivision plan involved therein 7. That much later on, Transfer Certificate of Title No. T-18887
was approved by the then Commissioner of Land Registration, was by virtue of an Order of the Court of First Instance,
Antonio Noblejas; and that on February 19, 1968, the then Branch 1, in Special Proceedings No. 1357, entitled: In the
Commissioner of Land Registration, Antonio Noblejas, issued Matter of the Testate Estate of Luisa Villa Abrille, approving a
LRC Circular No. 167 directing the Register of Deeds project of partition cancelled, and in lieu thereof, the following
throughout the Philippines to, among others, deny the Transfer Certificates of Title were issued to the following
registration of subdivision plans with increased or expanded named persons, to wit:
areas and to withhold the issuance of the corresponding titles,
or if the plans have already been registered and the titles
(a) T-20690 - Huang Siu Sin;
(b) T-20692 - Huang Siu Sin; The trial court thereafter rendered its decision dated January
27, 1970, which reads as follows:
(c) T-20701 - Josefino Huang;
This is an ordinary civil action for annulment of certificate of
(d) T-20702 - Josefino Huang; title instituted by the Republic of the Philippines, represented
by the Director of Lands, against the Estate of Luisa Abrille,
represented by Huang Siu Sin, Administrator, the Land
(e) T-20703 - Josefino Huang;
Registration Commissioner and the Register of Deeds of the
City of Davao. Because the residue of the intestate estate of
(f) T-20732 Huang Siu Sin, et al.; Luisa Villa Abrille had been divided among Huang Siu Sin,
Josefino Huang, Milagros Huang, Miguel Huang and lap Tong
(g) T-20733 - Huang Siu Sin, et al.; Ha, heirs, they were directed to appear and to substitute for
the intestate estate and they did.
(h) T-20713 - Miguel Huang;
The parties submitted the following stipulation of facts:
(i) T-23015 - Miguel Huang;
xxx xxx xxx
(j) T-20725 - Milagros Huang;
The increase in area of the land covered by Original Certificate
(k) T-20726 - Milagros Huang; of Title No. 5609 of the Register of Deeds of Davao in the
name of Francisco Villa Abrille Lim Juna and subsequently by
Transfer Certificate of Title No. T. 1439 in the name of Luisa
which certificates of title were issued on the basis of a
Villa Abrille and finally, based on subdivision plan (LRC) Psd-
subdivision plan LRC Psd-71236 duly approved by the
71236, by Transfer Certificates of Title Nos. T-20725 in the
defendant, Land Registration Commissioner, copy of which
name of Milagros Huang, T20701 in the name of Josefino
subdivision plan (LRC) Psd-71236 is hereto attached as Annex
Huang, T-20713 in the name of Miguel Huang and T-20690 in
"D" and made integral part hereof;
the name of Huang Siu Sin, is from 525,652 square meters to
607,779 square meters, or 82,127 square meters.
8. That the parties admit that there was an increase in the
area of Lot 379-B-2-B, but the same was with the knowledge
The remedy sought by defendant heirs of Luisa Villa Abrille in
of the defendant, Land Registration Commissioner and the
order to include the increase in area was a petition for
court of First Instance of Davao, Branch IV;
approval of Subdivision Plan (LRC) Psd-79322 recommended
by the Commissioner of Land Registration in his Report, and
9. That the parties admit that no registered owner has been for issuance of new title under Section 44, Act 496, as
affected or prejudiced in the increase in area as only Luisa amended, filed with this court, which was assigned to Branch
Villa Abrille as the registered owner holds property adjacent IV.
to the parcel of land in question;
Even pursuant to Section 44 of Act 496 under which the
10. That the portion of land subject of the increase adjoins Lot aforesaid remedy was sought, notice before the hearing is
379-B-2-B and abuts the Davao River; required. The parties admit that there was no notice to the
persons interested, including the Director of Lands, before the
11. That the parcel of land subject of the increase is fully petition was heard.
planted with coconuts, bananas and other seasonal crops by
the defendants, through their predecessor-in-interest; Worse, the increase in area could not have been included in
Transfer Certificates of Title Nos. T-20725, T-20701, T-20713
12. That the increase in area could have taken place very long and T-20690 even assuming arguendo that the same belonged
time ago as the coconuts planted thereon had long been fruit to the owner of the land to which it is adjacent by the simple
bearing; expediency of a petition for approval of subdivision plan and
issuance of new titles, because a subdivision of a registered
13. That Transfer Certificate of Title No. 18886 does not land under Section 44 of Act 496 does not authorize the
contain any portion of the increase in area; inclusion of land or area not embraced in the titled or in
excess of what is stated in the title. And the approval by the
Court of such subdivision plan does not lend validity to it. The
14. That of the certificates of title issued based under
subdivision must be limited to the area stated in the title.
subdivision plan (LRC) Psd-71236, only Transfer Certificates
Neither amendment of the title under Section 112 of Act 496
of Title Nos. T- 20725; T-20701; T-20713; and T-20690
would be a valid remedy 1.
contain the increase in area; while all the other certificates of
title issued under subdivision plan (LRC) Psd-71236 do not
contain any increase in area; The heirs of Luisa Villa Abrille.. owners of the adjacent estate,
might have acquired a registrable title to the land in question
but to bring it under the operation of the Land Registration
15. That the parties agree that the issuance of the Order
Act, a petition for registration under Act 496 should have been
Annex "B" was without notice to the Director of Lands.
filed. More so when the title acquired is by continuous
possession for at least 30 years under a claim of ownership appellant's petition for approval of subdivision plan was not
And even assuming that the land is an accretion, the fact that at all followed,
the riparian estate is registered does not bring ipso facto
effect its accretion thereto under the operation of the Land Before Us, therefore, for consideration and final resolution, in
Registration Act. No decree of registration of the land based order to arrive at a judicious disposition of the case at bar, is
upon final judgment promulgated by a court of competent whether or not the lower court erred in ordering the
jurisdiction after due publication, notice and hearing, has cancellation of Transfer Certificates of Title Nos. T-20725, T-
been issued by the Commissioner of Land Registration and 20701, T-20713 and T-20690 which cover the increased area
transcribed by the Register of Deeds of Davao in the registry, in question totalling 82,127 square meters.
for the reason that no initial or original registration
proceedings have been instituted by the owner. And the only
After a careful and thorough deliberation of the matter in
way by which a title to the land in question can be issued for
controversy, We are of the opinion and so hold that the lower
the first time is for the Land Registration Commissioner to
court acted correctly in ordering the cancellation of Transfer
issue a decree of registration based upon final judgment
Certificates of Title Nos. T-20725, T-20701, T-20713 and T-
rendered by a court of competent jurisdiction after trial.
20690 which admittedly covered the increased area of 82,127
square meters under Subdivision Plan (LRC) Psd-71236 (and
WHEREFORE, judgment is hereby rendered formerly under Psd-69322) for the City of Davao.
cancelling Transfer Certificates of Title Nos.
T-20725, T-20701, T-20713 and T-20690
Certainly, the step taken by defendant-appellant in petitioning
and directing the Register of Deeds of Davao
the court for the approval of their Subdivision Plan (LRC) Psd-
to issue new certificates of title in lieu
69322 and then Psd-71236 to include the questioned
thereof after the portions consisting of
increased area of 82,127 square meters is, to say the least,
82,127 square meters, the land involved,
unwarranted and irregular. This is so, for the increased area in
shall have been segregated therefrom in
question, which is not a registered land but formerly a river
accordance with law.
bed, is so big as to give allowance for a mere mistake in area of
the original registration of the tracts of land of the defendant-
Not satisfied with the judgment of the trial court, defendant appellant formerly belonging to and registered in the name of
Heirs of Luisa Villa Abrille brought the case on appeal to the their grandfather, Francisco Villa Abrille Lim Juna. In order to
Court of Appeals. The Court of Appeals, however, in its bring this increase in area, which the parties admitted to have
Resolution dated July 22, 1974, certified the case (CA-G.R. No. been a former river bed of the Davao River, under the
47438-R) to this Court for consideration and final disposition. operation and coverage of the Land Registration Law, Act 496,
proceedings in registrations of land title should have been
Defendant-appellant maintains that the lower court erred in filed Instead of an ordinary approval of subdivision plan.
holding the approval of Subdivision Plan (LRC) Psd-69322 of
no legal effect merely on ground of lack of notice to interested It should be remembered that recourse under Section 44 of
persons, and in ordering the cancellation of Certificates of Act 496, which the predecessor-in-interest (Luisa Villa
Title Nos. T-20725, T-20701, T-20713 and T-20690. It is the Abrille) of the herein defendant-appellant took, is good only
contention of the defendant-appellant that since the insofar as it covers previously registered lands. In the instant
government agencies having to do with lands know all the case, part of the tracts of land, particularly the area of 82,127
time the increase in area in subdivision plan Psd-69322, and square meters, has not yet been brought under the operation
the government agencies concerned tolerated if not abetted of the Torrens System. Worse still, the approval of Subdivision
the ultimate inclusion of the involved increase in area, Plans (LRC) Psd-69322 and Psd-71236 was without notice to
defendant-appellant should not be made to suffer the effect of all parties in interest, more particularly the Director of Lands.
the allegedly wrong procedure or step taken in the approval of For an applicant to have his imperfect or incomplete title or
the aforementioned subdivision plan. Besides, defendant- claim to a land to be originally registered under Act 496, the
appellant claims that it is their honest belief that the legal following requisites should all be satisfied:
remedy taken by them in seeking the approval of their
subdivision plan concerned was well within the law,
1. Survey of land by the Bureau of Lands or a duly licensed
particularly the provision of Section 44 of Act 496, as
private surveyor;
amended.

2. Filing of application for registration by the applicant;


Plaintiff-appellee, on the other hand, maintains that the
approval of the subdivision plan, with the increase in area, by
the defendant-appellant Land Registration Commission does 3. Setting of the date for the initial hearing of the application
not lend validity to the said subdivision plan; and that the by the Court;
issuance of the four transfer certificates of title (Nos. T-20725,
T-20701, T-20713 and T-20690) over the increased area in 4. Transmittal of the application and the date of initial hearing
question is improper and invalid notwithstanding the together with all the documents or other evidences attached
conformity of the Land Registration Commissioner and the thereto by the Clerk of Court to the Land Registration
subsequent order of the Court of First Instance of Davao, Commission;
Branch IV, approving the subdivision plan concerned, as the
required giving of notice to all parties interested in defendant- 5. Publication of a notice of the filing of the application and
date and place of the hearing in the Official Gazette;
6. Service of notice upon contiguous owners, occupants and
those known to have interests in the property by the sheriff;

7. Filing of answer to the application by any person whether


named in the notice or not;

8. Hearing of the case by the Court;

9. Promulgation of judgment by the Court;

10. Issuance of the decree by the Court declaring the decision


final and instructing the Land Registration Commission to
issue a decree of confirmation and registration;

11. Entry of the decree of registration in the Land Registration


Commission;

12. Sending of copy of the decree of registration to the


corresponding Register of Deeds, and

13. Transcription of the decree of registration in the


registration book and the issuance of the owner's duplicate
original certificate of title to the applicant by the Register of
Deeds, upon payment of the prescribed fees.

Hence, with the foregoing requisites not having been


complied with, the lower court committed no error in its
appealed decision dated January 27, 1970.

WHEREFORE, the judgment appealed from is hereby


affirmed in toto.

No special pronouncement as to costs.

SO ORDERED.