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G.R. No.

182754 June 29, 2015

SPOUSES CRISPIN AQUINO and TERESA V. AQUINO, herein represented by their Attorney-in-Fact,
AMADOR D. LEDESMA, Petitioners,
vs.
SPOUSES EUSEBIO AGUILAR and JOSEFINA V. AGUILAR, Respondents.

DECISION

SERENO, CJ:

In this Petition for Review on Certiorari1 filed under Rule 45 of the Rules of Court, Petitioner spouses Crispin and Teresa
Aquino (petitioners) assail the Court of Appeals (CA) Decision dated 25 April 2008 2 in CA-GR SP No. 92778. The CA
modified the Decisions of both the Metropolitan Trial Court (MeTC) and the Regional Trial Court (RTC). The CA ruled that
although respondent spouses Eusebio and Josefina Aguilar (respondents) cannot be considered builders in good faith,
they should still be reimbursed for the improvements they have introduced on petitioners' property.3

THE FACTS

Teresa Vela Aquino (Teresa) and her husband, Crispin Aquino, are the owners of a house and lot located at No. 6948,
Rosal Street, Guadalupe

Since 1981, this property has been occupied by Teresa's sister, Josefina Vela Aguilar; Josefina's spouse Eusebio; and their
family.5 It appears from the record that respondents stayed on the property with the consent and approval of petitioners,
who were then residing in the United States.6

While respondents were in possession of the property, the house previously constructed therein was demolished, and a
three-storey building built in its place.7 Respondents occupied half of the third floor of this new building)for the next 20
years without payment of rental.8

On 22 September 2003, petitioners sent a letter to respondents informing them that an immediate family member needed
to use the premises and demanding the surrender of the property within 10 days from notice. 9 Respondents failed to
heed this demand, prompting petitioners to file a Complaint for ejectment against them before the office of the barangay
captain of Guadalupe Viejo.10 The parties attempted to reach an amicable settlement in accordance with Section 412 of
the Local Government Code, but these efforts proved unsuccessful. 11

On 19 November 2003, petitioner spouses Aquino filed a Complaint 12 with the MeTC of Makati City praying that
respondents be ordered to (a) vacate the portion of the building they were then occupying; and (b) pay petitioner a
reasonable amount for the use and enjoyment of the premises from the time the formal demand to vacate was made. 13

In their Answer with Counterclaim,14 respondents claimed that they had contributed to the improvement of the property
and the construction of the building, both in terms of money and management/supervision services. Petitioners
purportedly agreed to let them contribute to the costs of construction in exchange for the exclusive use of a portion of
the building. Respondents averred:

2.3 That the construction of the three (3) storey building was also at the uncompensated supervision of
defendant Eusebio Aguilar, of which only r 2 Million was spent by plaintiffs while defendants spent around r 1
Million as contribution to the construction cost. It was defendants who introduced improvements on subject lot
because at the time plaintiffs bought the property it was marshy which was filled up by defendants (sic) truck
load with builders, adobe and scumbro that elevated the ground;

2.4 The original agreement was for my client to contribute his share so that they will have the portion of the
subject building for their own exclusive use. It turned out later that the agreement they had was disowned by
plaintiffs when they saw the totality of the building constructed thereon coupled by the fact, that the value of the
lot has tremendously appreciated due to the commercialization of the vicinity which will command higher price
and windfall profits should plaintiffs sell the property which they are now contemplating on (sic);
2.5 The portion which plaintiffs want defendants to vacate is a portion which the latter built with their own money
upon your clients agreement and consent whom they built in good faith knowing and hoping that later on the
same will be theirs exclusively. It was never an act of generosity, liberality and tolerance. Conversely, it was one
of the implied co-ownership or partnership, because aside from the fact that defendants, who were then
peacefully residing in Laguna, made unquantifiable contributions in terms of money and services arising from his
uncompensated management and supervision over the entire subject property while plaintiffs are abroad. By
legal implications he is an industrial partner responsible for the development and improvements of the subject
property. His contribution was never without the consent of plaintiffs. Whatever contribution defendants
introduced over the said property was made and built in good faith; 15

Since they were allegedly co-owners of the building and builders in good faith, respondents claimed that they had the
right to be compensated for the current value of their contribution. 16 Accordingly, they prayed for the dismissal of the
Complaint and the award of ₱5 million as compensation for their contributions to the construction of the building, as well
as moral damages, attorney's fees and costs of litigation.17

THE RULING OF THE METC

In a Decision18 dated 12 November 2004, the MeTC ruled in favor of petitioners, stating that they had the right to enjoy
possession of the property as the registered owners thereof.19 Since the case was merely one for ejectment, the court
held that it was no longer proper to resolve respondents' claim of co-ownership over the building.20

The MeTC also declared that respondents were builders in bad faith who were not entitled to recover their purported
expenses for the construction of the building. 21 It emphasized that their occupation of the property was by mere tolerance
of petitioners and, as such, could be terminated at any time.22 The court further noted that in a letter dated 15 July 1983,
petitioners had already asked respondents to refrain from constructing improvements on the property because it was
intended to be sold.23

The dispositive portion of the MeTC Decision, which ordered respondents to vacate the property, reads:

WHEREFORE, premises considered, judgment is hereby rendered ordering defendants Eusebio & Josefina Aguilar and all
persons claiming rights under them to immediately vacate the subject property, and deliver peaceful possession thereof
to the plaintiffs. Defendants are likewise ordered to pay plaintiffs ₱7,000.00 monthly rental commencing 22 October 2003
until such time that defendant finally vacate the premises, ₱10,000.00 as and by way of attorney's fees, and the cost of
suit.24

On 14 September 2005, respondents appealed the MeTC's Decision to the RTC.25

THE RULING OF THE RTC

In their Memorandum on Appeal26 before the R TC, respondents assailed the MeTC's finding that petitioners, as the
registered owners of the land, were also the owners of the improvement constructed thereon. 27 Respondents asserted
that they were co-owners of the building since they built a portion thereof using their own funds, as evidenced by various
receipts they presented before the MeTC. 28

Respondents also maintained that they were builders in good faith. They pointed out that petitioners never objected to
the construction of the improvement on their property.29 According to respondents, petitioners' letter dated 15 July 1983
was written at a time when an old dilapidated house was still standing on the property.30 Subsequently however, the
house was demolished and the new building was constructed thereon by respondents, with petitioners' knowledge and
consent.31

In a Decision32 dated 3 January 2006, the RTC denied the appeal and affirmed the MeTC's Decision. According to the
court, respondents did not become co-owners of the property although they may have contributed to the construction of
the building thereon.33 Hence, their stay in the premises remained to be by mere tolerance of the petitioners. 34

The RTC also ruled that respondents cannot be considered builders in good faith.35 The court found that as early as 1983,
petitioners had informed respondents of the intention to eventually dispose of the property.36 The RTC concluded that
petitioners never consented to the construction of any form of structure on the property. 37 Since respondents participated
in the construction of the building even after they had been notified that their occupation may be terminated anytime, the
R TC ruled that they did not build the structures in good faith.38 The RTC likewise noted that "the improvements in
question as well as other personal belongings of the appellants were removed from the premises through a writ of
demolition, and these properties are now in their possession."39

THE RULING OF THE CA

Aggrieved by the RTC Decision, respondents elevated the matter to the CA. They reiterated that they owned one-half of
the third floor of the building on the property, having spent their own funds for the construction thereof. Respondents
also asserted that because they built that portion in good faith, with no objection from petitioners, they were entitled to
reimbursement of all necessary and useful expenses incurred in the construction.

On 25 April 2008, the CA affirmed the conclusion of the lower courts that respondents could not be considered co-owners
of the property or builders in good faith.40 According to the appellate court, respondents were aware that their right to
possess the property had a limitation, because they were not the owners thereof. They knew that their occupation of the
building was by mere tolerance or permission of petitioners, who were the registered owners of the property. The CA
likewise noted that respondents failed to prove the alleged agreement between the parties with respect to the ownership
of one-half of the third floor of the improvement. There being no contract between them, respondents are necessarily
bound to vacate the property upon demand. 41 The CA ruled:

The Supreme Court has consistently held that those who occupy the land of another at the latter's tolerance or
permission, without any contract between them, are necessarily bound by an implied promise that the occupants will
vacate the property upon demand. Based on the principles enunciated in Calubayan v. Pascual, the status of petitioners is
analogous to that of a lessee or a tenant whose term of lease has expired but whose occupancy continued by tolerance of
the owner. In such a case, the unlawful deprivation or withholding of possession is to be reckoned from the date of the
demand to vacate.42 (Citations omitted)

Nevertheless, the CA declared that respondents should be reimbursed for the necessary and useful expenses they had
introduced on petitioners' property, pursuant to Articles 1678 and 548 of the Civil Code.43 The dispositive portion of the
CA Decision dated 25 April 200844 reads:

WHEREFORE, the assailed Decision is AFFIRMED with the following MODIFICATIONS:

1. The case is REMANDED to the court of origin for further proceedings to determine the facts essential to the
application of Article 1678 and Article 546 of the Civil Code, specifically on the following matters:

a) To determine the cost of necessary expenses incurred by petitioners during their period of possession.

b) To determine the cost of useful improvements introduced by petitioners in the construction of the
building.

2. After said amounts shall have been determined by competent evidence:

a) Respondents Aquino are ordered to pay petitioners the costs of necessary improvements incurred
during the period of their occupation.

b) Petitioners Aguilar are to be reimbursed one half (1/2) of the amount they expended on the
construction of the building should respondents decided to appropriate the same. Should respondents
refuse to reimburse the costs of the improvements, petitioners may remove the improvements even
though the principal thing may suffer damage thereby.

c) In both instances, petitioners shall have no right of retention over the subject premises.

d) In any event, petitioners shall pay respondents the amount of Php7,000.00 as monthly rental
commencing 22 October 2003 until such time that petitioners finally vacate the premises. No
pronouncement as to costs.
SO ORDERED.45

Respondents no longer appealed the Decision of the CA. This time, petitioners elevated the matter to this Court through
the instant Petition for Review46 under Rule 45 of the Rules of Court.

PROCEEDINGS BEFORE THIS COURT

In their Petition, petitioners allege that the CA seriously erred in remanding the case to the court of origin for the purpose
of ascertaining the right of respondents to be reimbursed for the improvements introduced on the property. 47 They
emphasize that respondents were builders in bad faith, and, as such, are not entitled to reimbursement under Articles
449, 450 and 451 of the Civil Code.

In their Comment,48 respondents assert that the CA correctly ruled that their status is akin to that of a lessee or tenant
whose term of lease has expired, but whose occupancy continues by virtue of the tolerance of the owner. They aver that
the CA properly upheld their entitlement to reimbursement pursuant to Articles 167849 and 54650 of the Civil Code.51

In their Reply,52 petitioners argue against supposed improvements constructed by respondents from 1999 to 2003
amounting to ₱995,995.94. Petitioners say this claim is highly ridiculous and unbelievable. 53

OUR RULING

Since respondents no longer appealed the Decision of the CA,54 they are considered bound by its findings and
conclusions. These include its affirmation of the earlier findings of the MeTC and the RTC that respondents cannot be
considered builders in good faith:

Both the MeTC and the RTC have rejected the idea that petitioners are builders in good faith. We agree. The resolution of
the issues at bar calls for the application of the rules on accession under the Civil Code. The term "builder in good faith"
as used in reference to Article 448 of the Civil Code, refers to one who, not being the owner of the land, builds on that
land believing himself to be its owner and unaware of the land, builds on that land, believing himself to be its owner and
unaware of the defect in h is title or mode of acquisition. The essence of good faith lies in an honest belief in the validity
of one's right, ignorance of a superior claim, and absence of intention to overreach another.

In the instant case, the Spouses Aguilar cannot be considered as builders in good faith on account of their admission that
the subject lot belonged to the Spouses Aquino when they constructed the building. At the onset, petitioners were aware
of a flaw in their title and a limit to their right to possess the property. By law, one is considered in good faith if he is not
aware that there exists in his title or mode of acquisition any flaw which invalidates it. 55

Respondents are deemed to have acquiesced to the foregoing findings when they failed to appeal the CA Decision. A
party who does not appeal from a judgment can no longer seek the modification or reversal thereof.56 Accordingly, the
only issue left for this Court to determine is that which is now raised by petitioners - whether the CA erred in remanding
this case to the court of origin for the determination of the necessary and useful expenses to be reimbursed to
respondents pursuant to Articles 1678 and 546 of the Civil Code.

We resolve to PARTLY GRANT the Petition and modify the ruling of the CA.

Article 1678 is not applicable to this case.

In its Decision, the CA found that respondents were occupants of the property by mere tolerance or generosity of
petitioners and were bound by an implied promise to vacate the premises upon demand. 57

Based on this finding, the CA held that "the status of petitioners is analogous to that of a lessee or a tenant whose term
of lease has expired but whose occupancy continued by tolerance of owner"58 pursuant to this Court's ruling in Calubayan
v. Pascual,59 As a result, the CA concluded that Articles 1678 and 546 of the Civil Code must be applied to allow
respondents to be reimbursed for their necessary and useful expenses.
We disagree. By its express provision, Article 1678 of the Civil Code applies only to lessees who build useful
improvements on the leased property. It does not apply to those who possess property by mere tolerance of the owners,
without a contractual right.

A careful reading of the statement made by this Court in Calubayan would show that it did not, as it could not, modify the
express provision in Article 1678, but only noted an "analogous" situation. According to the Court, the analogy between a
tenant whose term of lease has expired and a person who occupies the land of another at the latter's tolerance lies in
their implied obligation to vacate the premises upon demand of the owner. The Court stated:

To begin with, it would appear that although the defendant is regarded by the plaintiffs as a "squatter" his occupancy of
the questioned premises had been permitted or tolerated even before the Philippine Realty Corporation sold the lots to
the plaintiffs. Otherwise, the latter would not have found him on the premises. It may be true that upon their acquisition
of the parcels of land in 1957, plaintiffs notified and .requested defendant to see them, but despite defendant's failure to
heed these requests, plaintiffs did not choose to bring an action in court but suffered the defendant instead to remain in
the premises for almost six years. Only on February 2, 1963, did the plaintiffs for the first time notify the defendant that
"they now need the two parcels of land in question" and requested him to vacate the same. In allowing several years to
pass without requiring the occupant to vacate the premises nor filing an action to eject him, plaintiffs have acquiesced to
defendant's possession and use of the premises. It has been held that a person who occupies the land of another at the
latter's tolerance or permission, without any contract between them, is necessarily bound by an implied promise that he
will vacate upon demand, failing which a summary action for ejectment is the proper remedy against them. The status of
defendant is analogous to that of a lessee or tenant whose term of lease has expired but whose occupancy continued by
tolerance of the owner. In such a case, the unlawful deprivation or withholding of possession is to be counted from the
date of the demand to vacate.60(Emphasis in the original)

It is clear from the above that Calubayan is not sufficient basis to confer the status and rights of a lessee on those who
occupy property by mere tolerance of the owner.

In this case, there is absolutely no evidence of any lease contract between the parties. In fact, respondents themselves
never alleged that they were lessees of the lot or the building in question. Quite the opposite, they insisted that they
were co-owners of the building and builders in good faith under Article 448 of the Civil Code. For that reason,
respondents argue that it was erroneous for the CA to consider them as lessees and to determine their rights in
accordance with Article 1678.

As builders in bad faith, respondents are


not entitled to reimbursement of useful expenses.

Furthermore, even if we were to subscribe to the CA' s theory that the situation of respondents is "analogous to that of a
lessee or tenant whose term of lease has expired but whose occupancy continued by tolerance," the absence of good
faith on their part prevents them from invoking the provisions of Article 1678.

As discussed above, the MeTC, the RTC and the CA all rejected the claims of respondents that they were builders in good
faith. This pronouncement is considered conclusive upon this Court, in view of respondents' failure to appeal from the CA
decision. This rule bars the application of Article 1678 as well as Articles 448 and 576 of the Civil Code and all other
provisions requiring good faith on the part of the builder.

We are aware that in some instances, this Court has allowed the application of Article 448 to a builder who has
constructed improvements on the land of another with the consent of the owner.61 In those cases, the Court found that
the owners knew and approved of the construction of improvements on the property. Hence, we ruled therein that the
structures were built in good faith, even though the builders knew that they were constructing the improvement on land
owned by another.

Although the factual circumstances in the instant case are somewhat similar, there is one crucial factor that warrants a
departure from the above-described rulings: the presence of evidence that petitioners prohibited respondents from
building their own structure on a portion of the property. Based on the findings of fact of the MeTC and the RTC,
petitioners had already warned respondents not to build a structure on the property as early as 1983. The MeTC
explained: Likewise, in a letter dated 15 July 1983 sent by plaintiffs to the defendants marked as Exhibit "2" of
defendants' Position Paper, Teresa Aquino made known to the defendants not to construct on the premises as she
planned to sell the same when the value of the property shall increase (sic). Defendants are undoubtedly builders in bad
faith for despite the prohibition made upon them, they continued their construction activities upon respondents'
property.62

This ruling was affirmed by the R TC in its Decision dated 3 January 2006, which reads:

An examination of appellants' Exhibit "2" which is a letter dated July 15, 1983, sent to appellant Josefina Aguilar, the
sister of appellee Teresa Aquino, abundantly shows that their occupancy of the premises in question is by tolerance of the
appellees. Thus, the letter expressly states that the appellants are advised not to put up a shop, as the appellees had
plan (sic) then of disposing the property (the land) in question for a reasonable profit after a period of three or four
years, thereby placing on notice them (appellants) that their possession of the said property is temporary in nature and
by mere generosity of the appellees, they being sisters.

The letter likewise advised them to apply for a housing project so that by the time the property in question is sold, they
have a place to transfer to. All these undisputed antecedents which can be considered as judicially admitted by the
appellants being their own evidence marked as Exhibit "2", coupled with the fact that since the time they occupied the
premises in 1983 up to the time when the complaint was filed, they were not asked to pay any monthly rental for the
use, enjoyment and occupancy of the said property, ineluctably established the fact that their possession of the said
property is by mere tolerance of the appellees.63

xxxx

Their contention that pursuant to Article 453 of the Civil Code, they should be considered builders in good faith even if
they have acted in bad faith, since their act of introducing improvements to one-half of the third floor of the three storey
building was with knowledge and without opposition on the part of the appellants, cannot be sustained, principally on the
ground that as stated earlier, their Exhibit "2" is very limpid on the act that they were already forewarned as early as
1983 not to introduce any improvements thereon as the property is slated to be sold as it was only bought for investment
purposes. The fact that the appellees did not thereafter remind them of this, is of no moment, as this letter was not
likewise withdrawn by a subsequent one or modified by the appellees. 64

We find no reason to depart from the conclusions of the trial courts. Respondents were evidently prohibited by petitioners
from building improvements on the land because the latter had every intention of selling it. That this sale did not
materialize is irrelevant. What is crucial is that petitioners left respondents clear instructions not to build on the land.

We also agree with the RTC's ruling that the lack of constant reminders from petitioners about the "prohibition" expressed
in the 1983 letter was immaterial. The prohibition is considered extant and continuing since there is no evidence that this
letter was ever withdrawn or modified. Moreover, no evidence was presented to show that petitioners were aware of
what was happening: that respondents were constructing a portion of the building with their own funds and for their
exclusive use and ownership. Neither were respondents able to present evidence that petitioners had agreed to share the
expenses with them, or that the former had given consent to the latter's contribution, if any.

In view of the foregoing, this Court's previous rulings on Article 448 cannot be applied to this case. Hence, we hold that
petitioners, as the owners of the land, have the right to appropriate what has been built on the property, without any
obligation to pay indemnity therefor;65 and that respondents have no right to a refund of any improvement built
therein,66 pursuant to Articles 449 and 450 of the Civil Code:

Art. 449. He who builds, plants or sows in bad faith on the land of another, loses what is built, planted or sown without
right of indemnity.

Art. 450. The owner of the land on which anything has been built, planted or sown in bad faith may demand the
demolition of the work, or that the planting or sowing be removed, in order to replace things in their former condition at
the expense of the person who built, planted or sowed; or he may compel the builder or planter to pay the price of the
land, and the sower the proper rent.

Art. 451. In the cases of the two preceding articles, the landowner is entitled to damages from the builder, planter or
sower.
Respondents may recover the
necessary expenses incurred for the
preservation of the property but
without the right of retention.

Pursuant to Article 452 of the Civil Code, a builder in bad faith is entitled to recoup the necessary expenses incurred for
the preservation of the land.67 The CA correctly ruled that respondents in this case are similarly entitled to this
reimbursement. However, being builders in bad faith, they do not have the right of retention over the premises. 68

While the evidence before this Court does not establish the amount of necessary expenses incurred by respondents
during their stay in the property, we note that even petitioners do not deny that such expenses were incurred. In fact, in
a letter dated 15 July 1983, petitioners acknowledged that respondents had spent personal money for the maintenance of
the property. Petitioners even promised to reimburse them for those expenses. 69 In this light, we find it proper to order
the remand of this case to the court a quo for the purpose of determining the amount of necessary expenses to be
reimbursed to respondents.

With respect to the award of actual damages to petitioners, we find no reason to reverse or modify the ruling of the
CA.1âwphi1 This Court has consistently held that those who occupy the land of another at the latter's tolerance or
permission, even without any contract between them, are necessarily bound by an implied promise that the occupants
would vacate the property upon demand.70 Failure to comply with this demand renders the possession unlawful and
actual damages may be awarded to the owner from the date of the demand to vacate71 until the actual surrender of the
property.

Accordingly, we affirm the CA's award of actual damages to petitioners in the amount of ₱7 ,000 per month from the date
of demand (22 October 2003) until the subject properties are vacated. This amount represents a reasonable
compensation for the use and occupation of respondents' property72 as determined by the RTC and the MeTC.

As to petitioners' prayer for attorney's fees, we find no cogent basis for the award. WHEREFORE, the Petition is PARTLY
GRANTED.

The Court of Appeals Decision dated 25 April 2008 is REVERSED insofar as it ordered: (a) the reimbursement of the
useful expenses incurred by respondents while in possession of the property; and (b) the determination of the cost of
these useful improvements by the court of origin. The rest of the Decision of the Court of Appeals is hereby AFFIRMED.

Accordingly, this case is REMANDED to the court of origin for the determination of the necessary expenses of preservation
of the land, if any, incurred by respondent spouses Eusebio and Josefina Aguilar while they were in possession of the
property, which expenses shall be reimbursed to them by petitioner spouses Crispin and Teresa Aquino.

On the other hand, respondents and all persons claiming rights under them are ordered, upon finality of this Decision
without awaiting the resolution of the matter of necessary expenses by the trial court, to immediately VACATE the subject
property and DELIVER its peaceful possession to petitioners. Respondents are likewise ordered to PAY petitioners ₱7 ,000
as monthly rental plus interest thereon at the rate of 6% per annum, to be computed from 22 October 2003 until the
finality of this Decision.

No pronouncement as to costs.

G.R. No. 210551, June 30, 2015

JOSE J. FERRER, JR., Petitioner, v. CITY MAYOR HERBERT BAUTISTA, CITY COUNCIL OF QUEZON CITY, CITY
TREASURER OF QUEZON CITY, AND CITY ASSESSOR OF QUEZON CITY, Respondents.

DECISION

PERALTA, J.:

Before this Court is a petition for certiorari under Rule 65 of the Rules of Court with prayer for the issuance of a
temporary restraining order (TRO) seeking to declare unconstitutional and illegal Ordinance Nos. SP-2095, S-2011 and
SP-2235, S-2013 on the Socialized Housing Tax and Garbage Fee, respectively, which are being imposed by the
respondents.

The Case

On October 17, 2011,1 respondent Quezon City Council enacted Ordinance No. SP-2095, S-2011,2 or the Socialized
Housing Tax of Quezon City, Section 3 of which provides:
chanRoblesvirtualLawlibrary
SECTION 3. IMPOSITION. A special assessment equivalent to one-half percent (0.5%) on the assessed value of land in
excess of One Hundred Thousand Pesos (Php100,000.00) shall be collected by the City Treasurer which shall accrue to
the Socialized Housing Programs of the Quezon City Government. The special assessment shall accrue to the General
Fund under a special account to be established for the purpose.
chanroblesvirtuallawlibrary
Effective for five (5) years, the Socialized Housing Tax (SHT) shall be utilized by the Quezon City Government for the
following projects: (a) land purchase/land banking; (b) improvement of current/existing socialized housing facilities; (c)
land development; (d) construction of core houses, sanitary cores, medium-rise buildings and other similar structures;
and (e) financing of public-private partnership agreement of the Quezon City Government and National Housing Authority
(NHA) with the private sector.3 Under certain conditions, a tax credit shall be enjoyed by taxpayers regularly paying the
special assessment:
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SECTION 7. TAX CREDIT. Taxpayers dutifully paying the special assessment tax as imposed by this ordinance shall enjoy
a tax credit. The tax credit may be availed of only after five (5) years of continue[d] payment. Further, the taxpayer
availing this tax credit must be a taxpayer in good standing as certified by the City Treasurer and City Assessor.

The tax credit to be granted shall be equivalent to the total amount of the special assessment paid by the property
owner, which shall be given as follows:
chanRoblesvirtualLawlibrary
1.� 6th year� -�� 20%

2.� 7th year� -�� 20%

3.� 8th year� -�� 20%

4.� 9th year� -�� 20%

5.� 10th year� -�� 20%


chanroblesvirtuallawlibrary
Furthermore, only the registered owners may avail of the tax credit and may not be continued by the subsequent
property owners even if they are buyers in good faith, heirs or possessor of a right in whatever legal capacity over the
subject property.4
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On the other hand, Ordinance No. SP-2235, S-20135 was enacted on December 16, 2013 and took effect ten days
after when it was approved by respondent City Mayor. 6 The proceeds collected from the garbage fees on residential
properties shall be deposited solely and exclusively in an earmarked special account under the general fund to be utilized
for garbage collections.7 Section 1 of the Ordinance set forth the schedule and manner for the collection of garbage fees:
chanRoblesvirtualLawlibrary
SECTION 1. The City Government of Quezon City in conformity with and in relation to Republic Act No. 7160, otherwise
known as the Local Government Code of 1991 HEREBY IMPOSES THE FOLLOWING SCHEDULE AND MANNER FOR THE
ANNUAL COLLECTION OF GARBAGE FEES, AS FOLLOWS:

On all domestic households in Quezon City;


LAND AREA IMPOSABLE FEE
Less than 200 sq. m. PHP 100.00
201 sq. m. � 500 sq. m. PHP 200.00
501 sq. m. � 1,000 sq. m. PHP 300.00
1,001 sq. m. � 1,500 sq. m. PHP 400.00
1,501 sq. m. � 2,000 sq. m. or more PHP 500.00
On all condominium unit and socialized housing projects/units in Quezon City;
FLOOR AREA IMPOSABLE FEE
Less than 40 sq. m. PHP25.00
41 sq. m. � 60 sq. m. PHP50.00
61 sq. m. � 100 sq. m. PHP75.00
101 sq. m. � 150 sq. m. PHP100.00
151 sq. m. � 200 sq. [m.] or more PHP200.00
On high-rise Condominium Units

a) High-rise Condominium � The Homeowners Association of high- rise condominiums shall pay the annual garbage
fee on the total size of the entire condominium and socialized Housing Unit and an additional garbage fee shall be
collected based on area occupied for every unit already sold or being amortized.

b) High-rise apartment units � Owners of high-rise apartment units shall pay the annual garbage fee on the total lot
size of the entire apartment and an additional garbage fee based on the schedule prescribed herein for every unit
occupied.
The collection of the garbage fee shall accrue on the first day of January and shall be paid simultaneously with the
payment of the real property tax, but not later than the first quarter installment. 8 In case a household owner refuses to
pay, a penalty of 25% of the garbage fee due, plus an interest of 2% per month or a fraction thereof, shall be
charged.9ChanRoblesVirtualawlibrary

Petitioner alleges that he is a registered co-owner of a 371-square-meter residential property in Quezon City which is
covered by Transfer Certificate of Title (TCT) No. 216288, and that, on January 7, 2014, he paid his realty tax which
already included the garbage fee in the sum of Php100.00. 10ChanRoblesVirtualawlibrary

The instant petition was filed on January 17, 2014. We issued a TRO on February 5, 2014, which enjoined the
enforcement of Ordinance Nos. SP-2095 and SP-2235 and required respondents to comment on the petition without
necessarily giving due course thereto.11ChanRoblesVirtualawlibrary

Respondents filed their Comment12 with urgent motion to dissolve the TRO on February 17, 2014. Thereafter, petitioner
filed a Reply and a Memorandum on March 3, 2014 and September 8, 2014, respectively.

Procedural Matters

A.� Propriety of a Petition for Certiorari

Respondents are of the view that this petition for certiorari is improper since they are not tribunals, boards or officers
exercising judicial or quasi-judicial functions. Petitioner, however, counters that in enacting Ordinance Nos. SP-2095 and
SP-2235, the Quezon City Council exercised quasi-judicial function because the ordinances ruled against the property
owners who must pay the SHT and the garbage fee, exacting from them funds for basic essential public services that
they should not be held liable. Even if a Rule 65 petition is improper, petitioner still asserts that this Court, in a number of
cases like in Rosario v. Court of Appeals,13 has taken cognizance of an improper remedy in the interest of justice.

We agree that respondents neither acted in any judicial or quasi-judicial capacity nor arrogated unto themselves any
judicial or quasi-judicial prerogatives.
A respondent is said to be exercising judicial function where he has the power to determine what the law is and what the
legal rights of the parties are, and then undertakes to determine these questions and adjudicate upon the rights of the
parties.

Quasi-judicial function, on the other hand, is �a term which applies to the actions, discretion, etc., of public
administrative officers or bodies � required to investigate facts or ascertain the existence of facts, hold hearings, and
draw conclusions from them as a basis for their official action and to exercise discretion of a judicial nature.�

Before a tribunal, board, or officer may exercise judicial or quasi-judicial acts, it is necessary that there be a law that
gives rise to some specific rights of persons or property under which adverse claims to such rights are made, and the
controversy ensuing therefrom is brought before a tribunal, board, or officer clothed with power and authority to
determine the law and adjudicate the respective rights of the contending parties. 14
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For a writ of certiorari to issue, the following requisites must concur: (1) it must be directed against a tribunal, board, or
officer exercising judicial or quasi-judicial functions; (2) the tribunal, board, or officer must have acted without or in
excess of jurisdiction or with grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction; and (3) there is no
appeal or any plain, speedy, and adequate remedy in the ordinary course of law. The enactment by the Quezon City
Council of the assailed ordinances was done in the exercise of its legislative, not judicial or quasi-judicial, function.
Under Republic Act (R.A.) No. 7160, or the Local Government Code of 1991 (LGC), local legislative power shall be
exercised by the Sangguniang Panlungsod for the city.15 Said law likewise is specific in providing that the power to impose
a tax, fee, or charge, or to generate revenue shall be exercised by the sanggunian of the local government unit
concerned through an appropriate ordinance.16ChanRoblesVirtualawlibrary

Also, although the instant petition is styled as a petition for certiorari, it essentially seeks to declare the unconstitutionality
and illegality of the questioned ordinances. It, thus, partakes of the nature of a petition for declaratory relief over which
this Court has only appellate, not original, jurisdiction. 17ChanRoblesVirtualawlibrary

Despite these, a petition for declaratory relief may be treated as one for prohibition or mandamus, over which We
exercise original jurisdiction, in cases with far-reaching implications or one which raises transcendental issues or questions
that need to be resolved for the public good.18 The judicial policy is that this Court will entertain direct resort to it when
the redress sought cannot be obtained in the proper courts or when exceptional and compelling circumstances warrant
availment of a remedy within and calling for the exercise of Our primary jurisdiction. 19ChanRoblesVirtualawlibrary

Section 2, Rule 65 of the Rules of Court lay down under what circumstances a petition for prohibition may be filed:
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SEC. 2. Petition for prohibition. - When the proceedings of any tribunal, corporation, board, officer or person, whether
exercising judicial, quasi-judicial or ministerial functions, are without or in excess of its or his jurisdiction, or with grave
abuse of discretion amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction, and there is no appeal or any other plain, speedy, and
adequate remedy in the ordinary course of law, a person aggrieved thereby may file a verified petition in the proper
court, alleging the facts with certainty and praying that judgment be rendered commanding the respondent to desist from
further proceeding in the action or matter specified therein, or otherwise granting such incidental reliefs as law and
justice may require.
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In a petition for prohibition against any tribunal, corporation, board, or person � whether exercising judicial, quasi-
judicial, or ministerial functions � who has acted without or in excess of jurisdiction or with grave abuse of discretion, the
petitioner prays that judgment be rendered, commanding the respondents to desist from further proceeding in the action
or matter specified in the petition. In this case, petitioner's primary intention is to prevent respondents from implementing
Ordinance Nos. SP-2095 and SP-2235. Obviously, the writ being sought is in the nature of a prohibition, commanding
desistance.

We consider that respondents City Mayor, City Treasurer, and City Assessor are performing ministerialfunctions. A
ministerial function is one that an officer or tribunal performs in the context of a given set of facts, in a prescribed
manner and without regard for the exercise of his or its own judgment, upon the propriety or impropriety of the act
done.20 Respondent Mayor, as chief executive of the city government, exercises such powers and performs such duties
and functions as provided for by the LGC and other laws.21 Particularly, he has the duty to ensure that all taxes and other
revenues of the city are collected, and that city funds are applied to the payment of expenses and settlement of
obligations of the city, in accordance with law or ordinance. 22 On the other hand, under the LGC, all local taxes, fees, and
charges shall be collected by the provincial, city, municipal, or barangay treasurer, or their duly-authorized deputies, while
the assessor shall take charge, among others, of ensuring that all laws and policies governing the appraisal and
assessment of real properties for taxation purposes are properly executed. 23Anent the SHT, the Department of Finance
(DOF) Local Finance Circular No. 1-97, dated April 16, 1997, is more specific:
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6.3 The Assessor�s office of the Id.ntified LGU shall:

a. immediately undertake an inventory of lands within its jurisdiction which shall be subject to the levy of
the Social Housing Tax (SHT) by the local sanggunian concerned;

b. inform the affected registered owners of the effectivity of the SHT; a list of the lands and registered
owners shall also be posted in 3 conspicuous places in the city/municipality;

c. furnish the Treasurer�s office and the local sanggunian concerned of the list of lands affected;
6.4 The Treasurer�s office shall:

a. collect the Social Housing Tax on top of the Real Property Tax, SEF Tax and other special assessments;

b. report to the DOF, thru the Bureau of Local Government Finance, and the Mayor�s office the monthly
collections on Social Housing Tax (SHT). An annual report should likewise be submitted to the HUDCC on
the total revenues raised during the year pursuant to Sec. 43, R.A. 7279 and the manner in which the
same was disbursed.

Petitioner has adduced special and important reasons as to why direct recourse to Us should be allowed. Aside from
presenting a novel question of law, this case calls for immediate resolution since the challenged ordinances adversely
affect the property interests of all paying constituents of Quezon City. As well, this petition serves as a test case for the
guidance of other local government units (LGUs). Indeed, the petition at bar is of transcendental importance warranting a
relaxation of the doctrine of hierarchy of courts. In Social Justice Society (SJS) Officers, et al. v. Lim,24 the Court cited the
case of Senator Jaworski v. Phil. Amusement & Gaming Corp.,25 where We ratiocinated:
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Granting arguendo that the present action cannot be properly treated as a petition for prohibition, the transcendental
importance of the issues involved in this case warrants that we set aside the technical defects and take
primary jurisdiction over the petition at bar. x x x This is in accordance with the well-entrenched principle
that rules of procedure are not inflexible tools designed to hinder or delay, but to facilitate and promote
the administration of justice. Their strict and rigid application, which would result in technicalities that
tend to frustrate, rather than promote substantial justice, must always be eschewed. 26
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B.� Locus Standi of Petitioner

Respondents challenge petitioner�s legal standing to file this case on the ground that, in relation to Section 3 of
Ordinance No. SP-2095, petitioner failed to allege his ownership of a property that has an assessed value of more than
Php100,000.00 and, with respect to Ordinance No. SP-2335, by what standing or personality he filed the case to nullify
the same. According to respondents, the petition is not a class suit, and that, for not having specifically alleged that
petitioner filed the case as a taxpayer, it could only be surmised whether he is a party-in-interest who stands to be
directly benefited or injured by the judgment in this case.
It is a general rule that every action must be prosecuted or defended in the name of the real party-in-interest, who
stands to be benefited or injured by the judgment in the suit, or the party entitled to the avails of the suit.

Jurisprudence defines interest as "material interest, an interest in issue and to be affected by the decree, as distinguished
from mere interest in the question involved, or a mere incidental interest. By real interest is meant a present substantial
interest, as distinguished from a mere expectancy or a future, contingent, subordinate, or consequential interest." "To
qualify a person to be a real party-in-interest in whose name an action must be prosecuted, he must appear to be the
present real owner of the right sought to be enforced." 27
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�Legal standing� or locus standi calls for more than just a generalized grievance.28 The concept has been defined as a
personal and substantial interest in the case such that the party has sustained or will sustain direct injury as a result of
the governmental act that is being challenged. 29 The gist of the question of standing is whether a party alleges such
personal stake in the outcome of the controversy as to assure that concrete adverseness which sharpens the presentation
of issues upon which the court depends for illumination of difficult constitutional questions. 30ChanRoblesVirtualawlibrary

A party challenging the constitutionality of a law, act, or statute must show �not only that the law is invalid, but also that
he has sustained or is in immediate, or imminent danger of sustaining some direct injury as a result of its enforcement,
and not merely that he suffers thereby in some indefinite way.� It must be shown that he has been, or is about to be,
denied some right or privilege to which he is lawfully entitled, or that he is about to be subjected to some burdens or
penalties by reason of the statute complained of.31ChanRoblesVirtualawlibrary

Tested by the foregoing, petitioner in this case clearly has legal standing to file the petition. He is a real party-in-interest
to assail the constitutionality and legality of Ordinance Nos. SP-2095 and SP-2235 because respondents did not dispute
that he is a registered co-owner of a residential property in Quezon City and that he paid property tax which already
included the SHT and the garbage fee. He has substantial right to seek a refund of the payments he made and to stop
future imposition. While he is a lone petitioner, his cause of action to declare the validity of the subject ordinances is
substantial and of paramount interest to similarly situated property owners in Quezon City.
C.� Litis Pendentia

Respondents move for the dismissal of this petition on the ground of litis pendentia. They claim that, as early as February
22, 2012, a case entitled Alliance of Quezon City Homeowners, Inc., et al., v. Hon. Herbert Bautista, et al. , docketed as
Civil Case No. Q-12-7-820, has been pending in the Quezon City Regional Trial Court, Branch 104, which assails the
legality of Ordinance No. SP-2095. Relying on City of Makati, et al. v. Municipality (now City) of Taguig, et
al.,32 respondents assert that there is substantial identity of parties between the two cases because petitioner herein and
plaintiffs in the civil case filed their respective cases as taxpayers of Quezon City.

For petitioner, however, respondents� contention is untenable since he is not a party in Alliance and does not even have
the remotest identity or association with the plaintiffs in said civil case. Moreover, respondents� arguments would
deprive this Court of its jurisdiction to determine the constitutionality of laws under Section 5, Article VIII of the 1987
Constitution.33ChanRoblesVirtualawlibrary

Litis pendentia is a Latin term which literally means �a pending suit� and is variously referred to in some decisions as lis
pendens and auter action pendant.34 While it is normally connected with the control which the court has on a property
involved in a suit during the continuance proceedings, it is more interposed as a ground for the dismissal of a civil action
pending in court.35 In Film Development Council of the Philippines v. SM Prime Holdings, Inc. ,36 We elucidated:
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Litis pendentia, as a ground for the dismissal of a civil action, refers to a situation where two actions are pending between
the same parties for the same cause of action, so that one of them becomes unnecessary and vexatious. It is based on
the policy against multiplicity of suit and authorizes a court to dismiss a case motu proprio.

xxxx

The requisites in order that an action may be dismissed on the ground of litis pendentiaare: (a) the identity of parties, or
at least such as representing the same interest in both actions; (b) the identity of rights asserted and relief prayed for,
the relief being founded on the same facts, and (c) the identity of the two cases such that judgment in one, regardless of
which party is successful, would amount to res judicata in the other.

xxxx

The underlying principle of litis pendentia is the theory that a party is not allowed to vex another more than once
regarding the same subject matter and for the same cause of action. This theory is founded on the public policy that the
same subject matter should not be the subject of controversy in courts more than once, in order that possible conflicting
judgments may be avoided for the sake of the stability of the rights and status of persons, and also to avoid the costs
and expenses incident to numerous suits.

Among the several tests resorted to in ascertaining whether two suits relate to a single or common cause of action are:
(1) whether the same evidence would support and sustain both the first and second causes of action; and (2) whether
the defenses in one case may be used to substantiate the complaint in the other.

The determination of whether there is an identity of causes of action for purposes of litis pendentia is inextricably linked
with that of res judicata, each constituting an element of the other. In either case, both relate to the sound practice of
including, in a single litigation, the disposition of all issues relating to a cause of action that is before a court. 37
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There is substantial identity of the parties when there is a community of interest between a party in the first case and a
party in the second case albeit the latter was not impleaded in the first case. 38 Moreover, the fact that the positions of the
parties are reversed, i.e., the plaintiffs in the first case are the defendants in the second case or vice-versa, does not
negate the identity of parties for purposes of determining whether the case is dismissible on the ground of litis
pendentia.39ChanRoblesVirtualawlibrary

In this case, it is notable that respondents failed to attach any pleading connected with the alleged civil case pending
before the Quezon City trial court. Granting that there is substantial identity of parties between said case and this
petition, dismissal on the ground of litis pendentia still cannot be had in view of the absence of the second and third
requisites. There is no way for Us to determine whether both cases are based on the same set of facts that require the
presentation of the same evidence. Even if founded on the same set of facts, the rights asserted and reliefs prayed for
could be different. Moreover, there is no basis to rule that the two cases are intimately related and/or intertwined with
one another such that the judgment that may be rendered in one, regardless of which party would be successful, would
amount to res judicata in the other.

D. Failure to Exhaust Administrative Remedies

Respondents contend that petitioner failed to exhaust administrative remedies for his non-compliance with Section 187 of
the LGC, which mandates:
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Section 187. Procedure for Approval and Effectivity of Tax Ordinances and Revenue Measures; Mandatory Public
Hearings. � The procedure for approval of local tax ordinances and revenue measures shall be in accordance with the
provisions of this Code: Provided, That public hearings shall be conducted for the purpose prior to the enactment thereof:
Provided, further, That any question on the constitutionality or legality of tax ordinances or revenue measures may be
raised on appeal within thirty (30) days from the effectivity thereof to the Secretary of Justice who shall render a decision
within sixty (60) days from the date of receipt of the appeal: Provided, however, That such appeal shall not have the
effect of suspending the effectivity of the ordinance and the accrual and payment of the tax, fee, or charge levied
therein: Provided, finally, That within thirty (30) days after receipt of the decision or the lapse of the sixty-day period
without the Secretary of Justice acting upon the appeal, the aggrieved party may file appropriate proceedings with a
court of competent jurisdiction.
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The provision, the constitutionality of which was sustained in Drilon v. Lim,40 has been construed as
mandatory41 considering that �
A municipal tax ordinance empowers a local government unit to impose taxes. The power to tax is the most effective
instrument to raise needed revenues to finance and support the myriad activities of local government units for the
delivery of basic services essential to the promotion of the general welfare and enhancement of peace, progress, and
prosperity of the people. Consequently, any delay in implementing tax measures would be to the detriment of the public.
It is for this reason that protests over tax ordinances are required to be done within certain time frames. x x x. 42
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The obligatory nature of Section 187 was underscored in Hagonoy Market Vendor Asso. v. Municipality of
Hagonoy:43cralawlawlibrary
x x x [T]he timeframe fixed by law for parties to avail of their legal remedies before competent courts is not a �mere
technicality� that can be easily brushed aside. The periods stated in Section 187 of the Local Government Code are
mandatory. x x x Being its lifeblood, collection of revenues by the government is of paramount importance. The funds for
the operation of its agencies and provision of basic services to its inhabitants are largely derived from its revenues and
collections. Thus, it is essential that the validity of revenue measures is not left uncertain for a considerable length of
time. Hence, the law provided a time limit for an aggrieved party to assail the legality of revenue measures and tax
ordinances.�44
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Despite these cases, the Court, in Ongsuco, et al. v. Hon. Malones,45 held that there was no need for petitioners therein
to exhaust administrative remedies before resorting to the courts, considering that there was only a pure question of law,
the parties did not dispute any factual matter on which they had to present evidence. Likewise, in Cagayan Electric Power
and Light Co., Inc. v. City of Cagayan de Oro,46We relaxed the application of the rules in view of the more substantive
matters. For the same reasons, this petition is an exception to the general rule.

Substantive Issues

Petitioner asserts that the protection of real properties from informal settlers and the collection of garbage are basic and
essential duties and functions of the Quezon City Government. By imposing the SHT and the garbage fee, the latter has
shown a penchant and pattern to collect taxes to pay for public services that could be covered by its revenues from taxes
imposed on property, idle land, business, transfer, amusement, etc., as well as the Internal Revenue Allotment (IRA) from
the National Government. For petitioner, it is noteworthy that respondents did not raise the issue that the Quezon City
Government is in dire financial state and desperately needs money to fund housing for informal settlers and to pay for
garbage collection. In fact, it has not denied that its revenue collection in 2012 is in the sum of P13.69 billion.

Moreover, the imposition of the SHT and the garbage fee cannot be justified by the Quezon City Government as an
exercise of its power to create sources of income under Section 5, Article X of the 1987 Constitution. 47 According to
petitioner, the constitutional provision is not a carte blanche for the LGU to tax everything under its territorial and political
jurisdiction as the provision itself admits of guidelines and limitations.
Petitioner further claims that the annual property tax is an ad valorem tax, a percentage of the assessed value of the
property, which is subject to revision every three (3) years in order to reflect an increase in the market value of the
property. The SHT and the garbage fee are actually increases in the property tax which are not based on the assessed
value of the property or its reassessment every three years; hence, in violation of Sections 232 and 233 of the
LGC.48ChanRoblesVirtualawlibrary

For their part, respondents relied on the presumption in favor of the constitutionality of Ordinance Nos. SP-2095 and SP-
2235, invoking Victorias Milling Co., Inc. v. Municipality of Victorias, etc.,49People v. Siton, et al.,50 and Hon. Ermita v.
Hon. Aldecoa-Delorino.51 They argue that the burden of establishing the invalidity of an ordinance rests heavily upon the
party challenging its constitutionality. They insist that the questioned ordinances are proper exercises of police power
similar to Telecom. & Broadcast Attys. of the Phils., Inc. v. COMELEC52 and Social Justice Society (SJS), et al. v. Hon.
Atienza, Jr.53 and that their enactment finds basis in the social justice principle enshrined in Section 9,54 Article II of the
1987 Constitution.

As to the issue of publication, respondents argue that where the law provides for its own effectivity, publication in the
Official Gazette is not necessary so long as it is not punitive in character, citing Balbuna, et al. v. Hon. Secretary of
Education, et al.55 and Askay v. Cosalan.56 Thus, Ordinance No. SP-2095 took effect after its publication, while Ordinance
No. SP-2235 became effective after its approval on December 26, 2013.

Additionally, the parties articulate the following positions:

On the Socialized Housing Tax

Respondents emphasize that the SHT is pursuant to the social justice principle found in Sections 1 and 2, Article XIII 57 of
the 1987 Constitution and Sections 2 (a)58 and 4359 of R.A. No. 7279, or the �Urban Development and Housing Act of
1992 (UDHA).

Relying on Manila Race Horse Trainers Assn., Inc. v. De La Fuente,60 and Victorias Milling Co., Inc. v. Municipality of
Victorias, etc.,61 respondents assert that Ordinance No. SP-2095 applies equally to all real property owners without
discrimination. There is no way that the ordinance could violate the equal protection clause because real property owners
and informal settlers do not belong to the same class.

Ordinance No. SP-2095 is also not oppressive since the tax rate being imposed is consistent with the UDHA. While the law
authorizes LGUs to collect SHT on properties with an assessed value of more than P50,000.00, the questioned ordinance
only covers properties with an assessed value exceeding P100,000.00. As well, the ordinance provides for a tax credit
equivalent to the total amount of the special assessment paid by the property owner beginning in the sixth (6 th) year of
the effectivity of the ordinance.

On the contrary, petitioner claims that the collection of the SHT is tantamount to a penalty imposed on real property
owners due to the failure of respondent Quezon City Mayor and Council to perform their duty to secure and protect real
property owners from informal settlers, thereby burdening them with the expenses to provide funds for housing. For
petitioner, the SHT cannot be viewed as a �charity� from real property owners since it is forced, not voluntary.

Also, petitioner argues that the collection of the SHT is a kind of class legislation that violates the right of property owners
to equal protection of the laws since it favors informal settlers who occupy property not their own and pay no taxes over
law-abiding real property owners who pay income and realty taxes.

Petitioner further contends that respondents� characterization of the SHT as �nothing more than an advance payment
on the real property tax� has no statutory basis. Allegedly, property tax cannot be collected before it is due because,
under the LGC, chartered cities are authorized to impose property tax based on the assessed value and the general
revision of assessment that is made every three (3) years.

As to the rationale of SHT stated in Ordinance No. SP-2095, which, in turn, was based on Section 43 of the UDHA,
petitioner asserts that there is no specific provision in the 1987 Constitution stating that the ownership and enjoyment of
property bear a social function. And even if there is, it is seriously doubtful and far-fetched that the principle means that
property owners should provide funds for the housing of informal settlers and for home site development. Social justice
and police power, petitioner believes, does not mean imposing a tax on one, or that one has to give up something, for
the benefit of another. At best, the principle that property ownership and enjoyment bear a social function is but a
reiteration of the Civil Law principle that property should not be enjoyed and abused to the injury of other properties and
the community, and that the use of the property may be restricted by police power, the exercise of which is not involved
in this case.

Finally, petitioner alleges that 6 Bistekvilles will be constructed out of the SHT collected. Bistek is the monicker of
respondent City Mayor. The Bistekvilles makes it clear, therefore, that politicians will take the credit for the tax imposed
on real property owners.

On the Garbage Fee

Respondents claim that Ordinance No. S-2235, which is an exercise of police power, collects on the average from every
household a garbage fee in the meager amount of thirty-three (33) centavos per day compared with the sum of
P1,659.83 that the Quezon City Government annually spends for every household for garbage collection and waste
management.62ChanRoblesVirtualawlibrary

In addition, there is no double taxation because the ordinance involves a fee. Even assuming that the garbage fee is a
tax, the same cannot be a direct duplicate tax as it is imposed on a different subject matter and is of a different kind or
character. Based on Villanueva, et al. v. City of Iloilo63 and Victorias Milling Co., Inc. v. Municipality of Victorias,
etc.,64 there is no �taxing twice� because the real property tax is imposed on ownership based on its assessed value,
while the garbage fee is required on the domestic household. The only reference to the property is the determination of
the applicable rate and the facility of collection.

Petitioner argues, however, that Ordinance No. S-2235 cannot be justified as an exercise of police power. The cases
of Calalang v. Williams,65Patalinghug v. Court of Appeals,66 and Social Justice Society (SJS), et al. v. Hon. Atienza,
Jr.,67 which were cited by respondents, are inapplicable since the assailed ordinance is a revenue measure and does not
regulate the disposal or other aspect of garbage.

The subject ordinance, for petitioner, is discriminatory as it collects garbage fee only from domestic households and not
from restaurants, food courts, fast food chains, and other commercial dining places that spew garbage much more than
residential property owners.

Petitioner likewise contends that the imposition of garbage fee is tantamount to double taxation because garbage
collection is a basic and essential public service that should be paid out from property tax, business tax, transfer tax,
amusement tax, community tax certificate, other taxes, and the IRA of the Quezon City Government. To bolster the claim,
he states that the revenue collection of the Quezon City Government reached Php13.69 billion in 2012. A small portion of
said amount could be spent for garbage collection and other essential services.

It is further noted that the Quezon City Government already collects garbage fee under Section 47 68 of R.A. No. 9003, or
the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act of 2000, which authorizes LGUs to impose fees in amounts sufficient to pay
the costs of preparing, adopting, and implementing a solid waste management plan, and that LGUs have access to the
Solid Waste Management (SWM) Fund created under Section 4669 of the same law. Also, according to petitioner, it is
evident that Ordinance No. S-2235 is inconsistent with R.A. No. 9003 for while the law encourages segregation,
composting, and recycling of waste, the ordinance only emphasizes the collection and payment of garbage fee; while the
law calls for an active involvement of the barangay in the collection, segregation, and recycling of garbage, the ordinance
skips such mandate.

Lastly, in challenging the ordinance, petitioner avers that the garbage fee was collected even if the required publication of
its approval had not yet elapsed. He notes that on January 7, 2014, he paid his realty tax which already included the
garbage fee.

The Court�s Ruling

Respondents correctly argued that an ordinance, as in every law, is presumed valid.


An ordinance carries with it the presumption of validity. The question of reasonableness though is open to judicial inquiry.
Much should be left thus to the discretion of municipal authorities. Courts will go slow in writing off an ordinance as
unreasonable unless the amount is so excessive as to be prohibitive, arbitrary, unreasonable, oppressive, or confiscatory.
A rule which has gained acceptance is that factors relevant to such an inquiry are the municipal conditions as a whole and
the nature of the business made subject to imposition. 70
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For an ordinance to be valid though, it must not only be within the corporate powers of the LGU to enact and must be
passed according to the procedure prescribed by law, it should also conform to the following requirements: (1) not
contrary to the Constitution or any statute; (2) not unfair or oppressive; (3) not partial or discriminatory; (4) not prohibit
but may regulate trade; (5) general and consistent with public policy; and (6) not unreasonable. 71 As jurisprudence
indicates, the tests are divided into the formal (i.e., whether the ordinance was enacted within the corporate powers of
the LGU and whether it was passed in accordance with the procedure prescribed by law), and the substantive ( i.e.,
involving inherent merit, like the conformity of the ordinance with the limitations under the Constitution and the statutes,
as well as with the requirements of fairness and reason, and its consistency with public
policy).72ChanRoblesVirtualawlibrary

An ordinance must pass muster under the test of constitutionality and the test of consistency with the prevailing laws. 73 If
not, it is void.74 Ordinance should uphold the principle of the supremacy of the Constitution.75 As to conformity with
existing statutes, Batangas CATV, Inc. v. Court of Appeals76 has this to say:
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It is a fundamental principle that municipal ordinances are inferior in status and subordinate to the laws of the state. An
ordinance in conflict with a state law of general character and statewide application is universally held to be invalid. The
principle is frequently expressed in the declaration that municipal authorities, under a general grant of power, cannot
adopt ordinances which infringe the spirit of a state law or repugnant to the general policy of the state. In every power to
pass ordinances given to a municipality, there is an implied restriction that the ordinances shall be consistent with the
general law. In the language of Justice Isagani Cruz (ret.), this Court, in Magtajas vs. Pryce Properties Corp., Inc., ruled
that:
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The rationale of the requirement that the ordinances should not contravene a statute is obvious. Municipal governments
are only agents of the national government. Local councils exercise only delegated legislative powers conferred on them
by Congress as the national lawmaking body. The delegate cannot be superior to the principal or exercise powers higher
than those of the latter. It is a heresy to suggest that the local government units can undo the acts of Congress, from
which they have derived their power in the first place, and negate by mere ordinance the mandate of the statute.
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Municipal corporations owe their origin to, and derive their powers and rights wholly from the legislature. It breathes into
them the breath of life, without which they cannot exist. As it creates, so it may destroy. As it may destroy, it may
abridge and control. Unless there is some constitutional limitation on the right, the legislature might, by a single act, and
if we can suppose it capable of so great a folly and so great a wrong, sweep from existence all of the municipal
corporations in the State, and the corporation could not prevent it. We know of no limitation on the right so far as to the
corporation themselves are concerned. They are, so to phrase it, the mere tenants at will of the legislature.

This basic relationship between the national legislature and the local government units has not been enfeebled by the
new provisions in the Constitution strengthening the policy of local autonomy. Without meaning to detract from that
policy, we here confirm that Congress retains control of the local government units although in significantly reduced
degree now than under our previous Constitutions. The power to create still includes the power to destroy. The power to
grant still includes the power to withhold or recall. True, there are certain notable innovations in the Constitution, like the
direct conferment on the local government units of the power to tax, which cannot now be withdrawn by mere
statute. By and large, however, the national legislature is still the principal of the local government units, which cannot
defy its will or modify or violate it.77
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LGUs must be reminded that they merely form part of the whole; that the policy of ensuring the autonomy of local
governments was never intended by the drafters of the 1987 Constitution to create an imperium in imperio and install an
intra-sovereign political subdivision independent of a single sovereign state. 78 �[M]unicipal corporations are bodies politic
and corporate, created not only as local units of local self-government, but as governmental agencies of the state. The
legislature, by establishing a municipal corporation, does not divest the State of any of its sovereignty; absolve itself from
its right and duty to administer the public affairs of the entire state; or divest itself of any power over the inhabitants of
the district which it possesses before the charter was granted.� 79ChanRoblesVirtualawlibrary

LGUs are able to legislate only by virtue of a valid delegation of legislative power from the national legislature; they are
mere agents vested with what is called the power of subordinate legislation. 80�Congress enacted the LGC as the
implementing law for the delegation to the various LGUs of the State�s great powers, namely: the police power, the
power of eminent domain, and the power of taxation. The LGC was fashioned to delineate the specific parameters and
limitations to be complied with by each LGU in the exercise of these delegated powers with the view of making each LGU
a fully functioning subdivision of the State subject to the constitutional and statutory
limitations.�81ChanRoblesVirtualawlibrary

Specifically, with regard to the power of taxation, it is indubitably the most effective instrument to raise needed revenues
in financing and supporting myriad activities of the LGUs for the delivery of basic services essential to the promotion of
the general welfare and the enhancement of peace, progress, and prosperity of the people. 82 As this Court opined
in National Power Corp. v. City of Cabanatuan:83cralawlawlibrary
In recent years, the increasing social challenges of the times expanded the scope of state activity, and taxation has
become a tool to realize social justice and the equitable distribution of wealth, economic progress and the protection of
local industries as well as public welfare and similar objectives. Taxation assumes even greater significance with the
ratification of the 1987 Constitution. Thenceforth, the power to tax is no longer vested exclusively on Congress; local
legislative bodies are now given direct authority to levy taxes, fees and other charges pursuant to Article X, Section 5 of
the 1987 Constitution, viz:
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�Section 5. Each Local Government unit shall have the power to create its own sources of revenue, to levy taxes, fees
and charges subject to such guidelines and limitations as the Congress may provide, consistent with the basic policy of
local autonomy. Such taxes, fees and charges shall accrue exclusively to the local governments.�
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This paradigm shift results from the realization that genuine development can be achieved only by strengthening local
autonomy and promoting decentralization of governance. For a long time, the country�s highly centralized government
structure has bred a culture of dependence among local government leaders upon the national leadership. It has also
�dampened the spirit of initiative, innovation and imaginative resilience in matters of local development on the part of
local government leaders.� The only way to shatter this culture of dependence is to give the LGUs a wider role in the
delivery of basic services, and confer them sufficient powers to generate their own sources for the purpose. To achieve
this goal, Section 3 of Article X of the 1987 Constitution mandates Congress to enact a local government code that
will, consistent with the basic policy of local autonomy, set the guidelines and limitations to this grant of taxing powers x
x x84
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Fairly recently, We also stated in Pelizloy Realty Corporation v. Province of Benguet85 that:
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The rule governing the taxing power of provinces, cities, municipalities and barangays is summarized in Icard v. City
Council of Baguio:
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It is settled that a municipal corporation unlike a sovereign state is clothed with no inherent power of taxation. The
charter or statute must plainly show an intent to confer that power or the municipality, cannot assume it. And the power
when granted is to be construed in strictissimi juris. Any doubt or ambiguity arising out of the term used in granting that
power must be resolved against the municipality. Inferences, implications, deductions � all these � have no place in the
interpretation of the taxing power of a municipal corporation. [Underscoring supplied]

xxxx

Per Section 5, Article X of the 1987 Constitution, �the power to tax is no longer vested exclusively on Congress; local
legislative bodies are now given direct authority to levy taxes, fees and other charges.� Nevertheless, such authority is
�subject to such guidelines and limitations as the Congress may provide.�
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In conformity with Section 3, Article X of the 1987 Constitution, Congress enacted Republic Act No. 7160, otherwise
known as the Local Government Code of 1991. Book II of the LGC governs local taxation and fiscal matters. 86
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Indeed, LGUs have no inherent power to tax except to the extent that such power might be delegated to them either by
the basic law or by the statute.87 �Under the now prevailing Constitution, where there is neither a grant nor a prohibition
by statute, the tax power must be deemed to exist although Congress may provide statutory limitations and guidelines.
The basic rationale for the current rule is to safeguard the viability and self-sufficiency of local government units by
directly granting them general and broad tax powers. Nevertheless, the fundamental law did not intend the delegation to
be absolute and unconditional; the constitutional objective obviously is to ensure that, while the local government units
are being strengthened and made more autonomous, the legislature must still see to it that (a) the taxpayer will not be
over-burdened or saddled with multiple and unreasonable impositions; (b) each local government unit will have its fair
share of available resources; (c) the resources of the national government will not be unduly disturbed; and (d) local
taxation will be fair, uniform, and just.�88ChanRoblesVirtualawlibrary
Subject to the provisions of the LGC and consistent with the basic policy of local autonomy, every LGU is now empowered
and authorized to create its own sources of revenue and to levy taxes, fees, and charges which shall accrue exclusively to
the local government unit as well as to apply its resources and assets for productive, developmental, or welfare purposes,
in the exercise or furtherance of their governmental or proprietary powers and functions.89 The relevant provisions of the
LGC which establish the parameters of the taxing power of the LGUs are as follows:
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SECTION 130. Fundamental Principles. � The following fundamental principles shall govern the exercise of the taxing
and other revenue-raising powers of local government units:

(a) Taxation shall be uniform in each local government unit;

(b) Taxes, fees, charges and other impositions shall:


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(1) be equitable and based as far as practicable on the taxpayer�s ability to pay;

(2) be levied and collected only for public purposes;

(3) not be unjust, excessive, oppressive, or confiscatory;

(4) not be contrary to law, public policy, national economic policy, or in restraint of trade;

(c) The collection of local taxes, fees, charges and other impositions shall in no case be let to any private person;

(d) The revenue collected pursuant to the provisions of this Code shall inure solely to the benefit of, and be subject to the
disposition by, the local government unit levying the tax, fee, charge or other imposition unless otherwise specifically
provided herein; and,

(e) Each local government unit shall, as far as practicable, evolve a progressive system of taxation.
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SECTION 133. Common Limitations on the Taxing Powers of Local Government Units . � Unless otherwise provided
herein, the exercise of the taxing powers of provinces, cities, municipalities, and barangays shall not extend to the levy of
the following:
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(a) Income tax, except when levied on banks and other financial institutions;

(b) Documentary stamp tax;

(c) Taxes on estates, inheritance, gifts, legacies and other acquisitions mortis causa, except as otherwise provided herein;

(d) Customs duties, registration fees of vessel and wharfage on wharves, tonnage dues, and all other kinds of customs
fees, charges and dues except wharfage on wharves constructed and maintained by the local government unit
concerned;

(e) Taxes, fees, and charges and other impositions upon goods carried into or out of, or passing through, the territorial
jurisdictions of local government units in the guise of charges for wharfage, tolls for bridges or otherwise, or other taxes,
fees, or charges in any form whatsoever upon such goods or merchandise;

(f) Taxes, fees or charges on agricultural and aquatic products when sold by marginal farmers or fishermen;

(g) Taxes on business enterprises certified to by the Board of Investments as pioneer or non-pioneer for a period of six
(6) and four (4) years, respectively from the date of registration;

(h) Excise taxes on articles enumerated under the National Internal Revenue Code, as amended, and taxes, fees or
charges on petroleum products;

(i) Percentage or value-added tax (VAT) on sales, barters or exchanges or similar transactions on goods or services
except as otherwise provided herein;
(j) Taxes on the gross receipts of transportation contractors and persons engaged in the transportation of passengers or
freight by hire and common carriers by air, land or water, except as provided in this Code;

(k) Taxes on premiums paid by way of reinsurance or retrocession;

(l) Taxes, fees or charges for the registration of motor vehicles and for the issuance of all kinds of licenses or permits for
the driving thereof, except tricycles;

(m) Taxes, fees, or other charges on Philippine products actually exported, except as otherwise provided herein;

(n) Taxes, fees, or charges, on Countryside and Barangay Business Enterprises and cooperatives duly registered under
R.A. No. 6810 and Republic Act Numbered Sixty-nine hundred thirty-eight (R.A. No. 6938) otherwise known as the
�Cooperative Code of the Philippines� respectively; and

(o) Taxes, fees or charges of any kind on the National Government, its agencies and instrumentalities, and local
government units.
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SECTION 151. Scope of Taxing Powers. � Except as otherwise provided in this Code, the city, may levy the taxes, fees,
and charges which the province or municipality may impose: Provided, however, That the taxes, fees and charges levied
and collected by highly urbanized and independent component cities shall accrue to them and distributed in accordance
with the provisions of this Code.

The rates of taxes that the city may levy may exceed the maximum rates allowed for the province or municipality by not
more than fifty percent (50%) except the rates of professional and amusement taxes.

SECTION 186. Power To Levy Other Taxes, Fees or Charges. � Local government units may exercise the power to levy
taxes, fees or charges on any base or subject not otherwise specifically enumerated herein or taxed under the provisions
of the National Internal Revenue Code, as amended, or other applicable laws: Provided, That the taxes, fees, or charges
shall not be unjust, excessive, oppressive, confiscatory or contrary to declared national policy: Provided, further, That the
ordinance levying such taxes, fees or charges shall not be enacted without any prior public hearing conducted for the
purpose.
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On the Socialized Housing Tax

Contrary to petitioner�s submission, the 1987 Constitution explicitly espouses the view that the use of property bears a
social function and that all economic agents shall contribute to the common good.90 The Court already recognized this
in Social Justice Society (SJS), et al. v. Hon. Atienza, Jr.:91cralawlawlibrary
Property has not only an individual function, insofar as it has to provide for the needs of the owner, but also a social
function insofar as it has to provide for the needs of the other members of society. The principle is this:
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Police power proceeds from the principle that every holder of property, however absolute and unqualified may be his title,
holds it under the implied liability that his use of it shall not be injurious to the equal enjoyment of others having an equal
right to the enjoyment of their property, nor injurious to the right of the community. Rights of property, like all other
social and conventional rights, are subject to reasonable limitations in their enjoyment as shall prevent them from being
injurious, and to such reasonable restraints and regulations established by law as the legislature, under the governing and
controlling power vested in them by the constitution, may think necessary and expedient. 92
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Police power, which flows from the recognition that salus populi est suprema lex (the welfare of the people is the
supreme law), is the plenary power vested in the legislature to make statutes and ordinances to promote the health,
morals, peace, education, good order or safety and general welfare of the people. 93 Property rights of individuals may be
subjected to restraints and burdens in order to fulfill the objectives of the government in the exercise of police
power. 94 In this jurisdiction, it is well-entrenched that taxation may be made the implement of the state�s police
power.95ChanRoblesVirtualawlibrary

Ordinance No. SP-2095 imposes a Socialized Housing Tax equivalent to 0.5% on the assessed value of land in excess of
Php100,000.00. This special assessment is the same tax referred to in R.A. No. 7279 or the UDHA. 96 The SHT is one of
the sources of funds for urban development and housing program. 97Section 43 of the law provides:
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Sec. 43. Socialized Housing Tax. � Consistent with the constitutional principle that the ownership and enjoyment of
property bear a social function and to raise funds for the Program, all local government units are hereby authorized to
impose an additional one-half percent (0.5%) tax on the assessed value of all lands in urban areas in excess of Fifty
thousand pesos (P50,000.00).
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The rationale of the SHT is found in the preambular clauses of the subject ordinance, to wit:
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WHEREAS, the imposition of additional tax is intended to provide the City Government with sufficient funds to initiate,
implement and undertake Socialized Housing Projects and other related preliminary activities;

WHEREAS, the imposition of 0.5% tax will benefit the Socialized Housing Programs and Projects of the City Government,
specifically the marginalized sector through the acquisition of properties for human settlements;

WHEREAS, the removal of the urban blight will definitely increase fair market value of properties in the city[.]
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The above-quoted are consistent with the UDHA, which the LGUs are charged to implement in their respective localities in
coordination with the Housing and Urban Development Coordinating Council, the national housing agencies, the
Presidential Commission for the Urban Poor, the private sector, and other non-government organizations.98 It is the
declared policy of the State to undertake a comprehensive and continuing urban development and housing program that
shall, among others, uplift the conditions of the underprivileged and homeless citizens in urban areas and in resettlement
areas, and provide for the rational use and development of urban land in order to bring about, among others, reduction in
urban dysfunctions, particularly those that adversely affect public health, safety and ecology, and access to land and
housing by the underprivileged and homeless citizens.99 Urban renewal and resettlement shall include the rehabilitation
and development of blighted and slum areas100 and the resettlement of program beneficiaries in accordance with the
provisions of the UDHA.101ChanRoblesVirtualawlibrary

Under the UDHA, socialized housing102 shall be the primary strategy in providing shelter for the underprivileged and
homeless.103 The LGU or the NHA, in cooperation with the private developers and concerned agencies, shall provide
socialized housing or resettlement areas with basic services and facilities such as potable water, power and electricity,
and an adequate power distribution system, sewerage facilities, and an efficient and adequate solid waste disposal
system; and access to primary roads and transportation facilities.104 The provisions for health, education,
communications, security, recreation, relief and welfare shall also be planned and be given priority for implementation by
the LGU and concerned agencies in cooperation with the private sector and the beneficiaries
themselves.105ChanRoblesVirtualawlibrary

Moreover, within two years from the effectivity of the UDHA, the LGUs, in coordination with the NHA, are directed to
implement the relocation and resettlement of persons living in danger areas such as esteros, railroad tracks, garbage
dumps, riverbanks, shorelines, waterways, and other public places like sidewalks, roads, parks, and playgrounds. 106 In
coordination with the NHA, the LGUs shall provide relocation or resettlement sites with basic services and facilities and
access to employment and livelihood opportunities sufficient to meet the basic needs of the affected
families.107ChanRoblesVirtualawlibrary

Clearly, the SHT charged by the Quezon City Government is a tax which is within its power to impose. Aside from the
specific authority vested by Section 43 of the UDHA, cities are allowed to exercise such other powers and discharge such
other functions and responsibilities as are necessary, appropriate, or incidental to efficient and effective provision of the
basic services and facilities which include, among others, programs and projects for low-cost housing and other mass
dwellings.108 The collections made accrue to its socialized housing programs and projects. The tax is not a pure exercise
of taxing power or merely to raise revenue; it is levied with a regulatory purpose. The levy is primarily in the exercise of
the police power for the general welfare of the entire city. It is greatly imbued with public interest. Removing slum areas
in Quezon City is not only beneficial to the underprivileged and homeless constituents but advantageous to the real
property owners as well. The situation will improve the value of the their property investments, fully enjoying the same in
view of an orderly, secure, and safe community, and will enhance the quality of life of the poor, making them law-abiding
constituents and better consumers of business products.

Though broad and far-reaching, police power is subordinate to constitutional limitations and is subject to the requirement
that its exercise must be reasonable and for the public good.109 In the words of City of Manila v. Hon. Laguio,
Jr.:110cralawlawlibrary
The police power granted to local government units must always be exercised with utmost observance of the rights of the
people to due process and equal protection of the law. Such power cannot be exercised whimsically, arbitrarily or
despotically as its exercise is subject to a qualification, limitation or restriction demanded by the respect and regard due
to the prescription of the fundamental law, particularly those forming part of the Bill of Rights. Individual rights, it bears
emphasis, may be adversely affected only to the extent that may fairly be required by the legitimate demands of public
interest or public welfare. Due process requires the intrinsic validity of the law in interfering with the rights of the person
to his life, liberty and property.

xxxx

To successfully invoke the exercise of police power as the rationale for the enactment of the Ordinance, and to free it
from the imputation of constitutional infirmity, not only must it appear that the interests of the public generally, as
distinguished from those of a particular class, require an interference with private rights, but the means adopted must be
reasonably necessary for the accomplishment of the purpose and not unduly oppressive upon individuals. It must be
evident that no other alternative for the accomplishment of the purpose less intrusive of private rights can work. A
reasonable relation must exist between the purposes of the police measure and the means employed for its
accomplishment, for even under the guise of protecting the public interest, personal rights and those pertaining to private
property will not be permitted to be arbitrarily invaded.

Lacking a concurrence of these two requisites, the police measure shall be struck down as an arbitrary intrusion into
private rights � a violation of the due process clause.111
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As with the State, LGUs may be considered as having properly exercised their police power only if there is a lawful subject
and a lawful method or, to be precise, if the following requisites are met: (1) the interests of the public generally, as
distinguished from those of a particular class, require its exercise and (2) the means employed are reasonably necessary
for the accomplishment of the purpose and not unduly oppressive upon individuals. 112ChanRoblesVirtualawlibrary

In this case, petitioner argues that the SHT is a penalty imposed on real property owners because it burdens them with
expenses to provide funds for the housing of informal settlers, and that it is a class legislation since it favors the latter
who occupy properties which is not their own and pay no taxes.

We disagree.

Equal protection requires that all persons or things similarly situated should be treated alike, both as to rights conferred
and responsibilities imposed.113 The guarantee means that no person or class of persons shall be denied the same
protection of laws which is enjoyed by other persons or other classes in like circumstances. 114 Similar subjects should not
be treated differently so as to give undue favor to some and unjustly discriminate against others. 115 The law may,
therefore, treat and regulate one class differently from another class provided there are real and substantial differences to
distinguish one class from another.116ChanRoblesVirtualawlibrary

An ordinance based on reasonable classification does not violate the constitutional guaranty of the equal protection of the
law. The requirements for a valid and reasonable classification are: (1) it must rest on substantial distinctions; (2) it must
be germane to the purpose of the law; (3) it must not be limited to existing conditions only; and (4) it must apply equally
to all members of the same class.117ChanRoblesVirtualawlibrary

For the purpose of undertaking a comprehensive and continuing urban development and housing program, the disparities
between a real property owner and an informal settler as two distinct classes are too obvious and need not be discussed
at length. The differentiation conforms to the practical dictates of justice and equity and is not discriminatory within the
meaning of the Constitution. Notably, the public purpose of a tax may legally exist even if the motive which impelled the
legislature to impose the tax was to favor one over another.118 It is inherent in the power to tax that a State is free to
select the subjects of taxation.119 Inequities which result from a singling out of one particular class for taxation or
exemption infringe no constitutional limitation. 120ChanRoblesVirtualawlibrary

Further, the reasonableness of Ordinance No. SP-2095 cannot be disputed. It is not confiscatory or oppressive since the
tax being imposed therein is below what the UDHA actually allows. As pointed out by respondents, while the law
authorizes LGUs to collect SHT on lands with an assessed value of more than P50,000.00, the questioned ordinance only
covers lands with an assessed value exceeding P100,000.00. Even better, on certain conditions, the ordinance grants a
tax credit equivalent to the total amount of the special assessment paid beginning in the sixth (6th) year of its effectivity.
Far from being obnoxious, the provisions of the subject ordinance are fair and just.
On the Garbage Fee

In the United States of America, it has been held that the authority of a municipality to regulate garbage falls within its
police power to protect public health, safety, and welfare.121 As opined, the purposes and policy underpinnings of the
police power to regulate the collection and disposal of solid waste are: (1) to preserve and protect the public health and
welfare as well as the environment by minimizing or eliminating a source of disease and preventing and abating
nuisances; and (2) to defray costs and ensure financial stability of the system for the benefit of the entire community,
with the sum of all charges marshalled and designed to pay for the expense of a systemic refuse disposal
scheme.122ChanRoblesVirtualawlibrary

Ordinances regulating waste removal carry a strong presumption of validity. 123 Not surprisingly, the overwhelming
majority of U.S. cases addressing a city's authority to impose mandatory garbage service and fees have upheld the
ordinances against constitutional and statutory challenges. 124ChanRoblesVirtualawlibrary

A municipality has an affirmative duty to supervise and control the collection of garbage within its corporate limits.125 The
LGC specifically assigns the responsibility of regulation and oversight of solid waste to local governing bodies because the
Legislature determined that such bodies were in the best position to develop efficient waste management programs. 126 To
impose on local governments the responsibility to regulate solid waste but not grant them the authority necessary to fulfill
the same would lead to an absurd result.� 127 As held in one U.S. case:
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x x x When a municipality has general authority to regulate a particular subject matter, the manner and means of
exercising those powers, where not specifically prescribed by the legislature, are left to the discretion of the municipal
authorities. x x x Leaving the manner of exercising municipal powers to the discretion of municipal authorities "implies a
range of reasonableness within which a municipality's exercise of discretion will not be interfered with or upset by the
judiciary."128
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In this jurisdiction, pursuant to Section 16 of the LGC and in the proper exercise of its corporate powers under Section 22
of the same, the Sangguniang Panlungsod of Quezon City, like other local legislative bodies, is empowered to enact
ordinances, approve resolutions, and appropriate funds for the general welfare of the city and its inhabitants. 129 Section
16 of the LGC provides:
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SECTION 16. General Welfare. � Every local government unit shall exercise the powers expressly granted, those
necessarily implied therefrom, as well as powers necessary, appropriate, or incidental for its efficient and effective
governance, and those which are essential to the promotion of the general welfare. Within their respective territorial
jurisdictions, local government units shall ensure and support, among other things, the preservation and enrichment of
culture, promote health and safety, enhance the right of the people to a balanced ecology, encourage and support the
development of appropriate and self-reliant scientific and technological capabilities, improve public morals, enhance
economic prosperity and social justice, promote full employment among their residents, maintain peace and order, and
preserve the comfort and convenience of their inhabitants.
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The general welfare clause is the delegation in statutory form of the police power of the State to LGUs. 130 The provisions
related thereto are liberally interpreted to give more powers to LGUs in accelerating economic development and
upgrading the quality of life for the people in the community.131Wide discretion is vested on the legislative authority to
determine not only what the interests of the public require but also what measures are necessary for the protection of
such interests since the Sanggunian is in the best position to determine the needs of its
constituents.132ChanRoblesVirtualawlibrary

One of the operative principles of decentralization is that, subject to the provisions of the LGC and national policies, the
LGUs shall share with the national government the responsibility in the management and maintenance of ecological
balance within their territorial jurisdiction. 133 In this regard, cities are allowed to exercise such other powers and discharge
such other functions and responsibilities as are necessary, appropriate, or incidental to efficient and effective provision of
the basic services and facilities which include, among others, solid waste disposal system or environmental management
system and services or facilities related to general hygiene and sanitation.134 R.A. No. 9003, or the Ecological Solid Waste
Management Act of 2000,135 affirms this authority as it expresses that the LGUs shall be primarily responsible for the
implementation and enforcement of its provisions within their respective jurisdictions while establishing a cooperative
effort among the national government, other local government units, non-government organizations, and the private
sector.136ChanRoblesVirtualawlibrary
Necessarily, LGUs are statutorily sanctioned to impose and collect such reasonable fees and charges for services
rendered.137 �Charges� refer to pecuniary liability, as rents or fees against persons or property, while �Fee� means a
charge fixed by law or ordinance for the regulation or inspection of a business or activity.138ChanRoblesVirtualawlibrary

The fee imposed for garbage collections under Ordinance No. SP-2235 is a charge fixed for the regulation of an activity.
The basis for this could be discerned from the foreword of said Ordinance, to wit:
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WHEREAS, Quezon City being the largest and premiere city in the Philippines in terms of population and urban
geographical areas, apart from being competent and efficient in the delivery of public service, apparently requires a big
budgetary allocation in order to address the problems relative and connected to the prompt and efficient delivery of basic
services such as the effective system of waste management, public information programs on proper garbage and proper
waste disposal, including the imposition of waste regulatory measures;

WHEREAS, to help augment the funds to be spent for the city�s waste management system, the City Government
through the Sangguniang Panlungsod deems it necessary to impose a schedule of reasonable fees or charges for the
garbage collection services for residential (domestic household) that it renders to the public.
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Certainly, as opposed to petitioner�s opinion, the garbage fee is not a tax. In Smart Communications, Inc. v. Municipality
of Malvar, Batangas,139 the Court had the occasion to distinguish these two concepts:
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In Progressive Development Corporation v. Quezon City, the Court declared that �if the generating of revenue is the
primary purpose and regulation is merely incidental, the imposition is a tax; but if regulation is the primary purpose, the
fact that incidentally revenue is also obtained does not make the imposition a tax.�

In Victorias Milling Co., Inc. v. Municipality of Victorias, the Court reiterated that the purpose and effect of the imposition
determine whether it is a tax or a fee, and that the lack of any standards for such imposition gives the presumption that
the same is a tax.
We accordingly say that the designation given by the municipal authorities does not decide whether the imposition is
properly a license tax or a license fee. The determining factors are the purpose and effect of the imposition as may be
apparent from the provisions of the ordinance. Thus, �[w]hen no police inspection, supervision, or regulation is
provided, nor any standard set for the applicant to establish, or that he agrees to attain or maintain, but any and all
persons engaged in the business designated, without qualification or hindrance, may come, and a license on payment of
the stipulated sum will issue, to do business, subject to no prescribed rule of conduct and under no guardian eye, but
according to the unrestrained judgment or fancy of the applicant and licensee, the presumption is strong that the power
of taxation, and not the police power, is being exercised.�
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In Georgia, U.S.A., assessments for garbage collection services have been consistently treated as a fee and not a
tax.140 In another U.S. case,141 the garbage fee was considered as a "service charge" rather than a tax as it was actually a
fee for a service given by the city which had previously been provided at no cost to its citizens.

Hence, not being a tax, the contention that the garbage fee under Ordinance No. SP-2235 violates the rule on double
taxation142 must necessarily fail.

Nonetheless, although a special charge, tax, or assessment may be imposed by a municipal corporation, it must be
reasonably commensurate to the cost of providing the garbage service.143 To pass judicial scrutiny, a regulatory fee must
not produce revenue in excess of the cost of the regulation because such fee will be construed as an illegal tax when the
revenue generated by the regulation exceeds the cost of the regulation.144ChanRoblesVirtualawlibrary

Petitioner argues that the Quezon City Government already collects garbage fee under Section 47 of R.A. No. 9003, which
authorizes LGUs to impose fees in amounts sufficient to pay the costs of preparing, adopting, and implementing a solid
waste management plan, and that it has access to the SWM Fund under Section 46 of the same law. Moreover,
Ordinance No. S-2235 is inconsistent with R.A. No. 9003, because the ordinance emphasizes the collection and payment
of garbage fee with no concern for segregation, composting and recycling of wastes. It also skips the mandate of the law
calling for the active involvement of the barangay in the collection, segregation, and recycling of garbage.

We now turn to the pertinent provisions of R.A. No. 9003.


Under R.A. No. 9003, it is the declared policy of the State to adopt a systematic, comprehensive and ecological solid
waste management program which shall, among others, ensure the proper segregation, collection, transport, storage,
treatment and disposal of solid waste through the formulation and adoption of the best environmental practices in
ecological waste management.145 The law provides that segregation and collection of solid waste shall be conducted at
the barangay level, specifically for biodegradable, compostable and reusable wastes, while the collection of non-recyclable
materials and special wastes shall be the responsibility of the municipality or city. 146 Mandatory segregation of solid
wastes shall primarily be conducted at the source, to include household, institutional, industrial, commercial and
agricultural sources.147Segregation at source refers to a solid waste management practice of separating, at the point of
origin, different materials found in solid waste in order to promote recycling and re-use of resources and to reduce the
volume of waste for collection and disposal.148Based on Rule XVII of the Department of Environment and Natural
Resources (DENR) Administrative Order No. 2001-34, Series of 2001,149 which is the Implementing Rules and Regulations
(IRR) of R.A. No. 9003, barangays shall be responsible for the collection, segregation, and recycling of biodegradable,
recyclable, compostable and reusable wastes.150 For the purpose, a Materials Recovery Facility (MRF), which shall receive
biodegradable wastes for composting and mixed non-biodegradable wastes for final segregation, re-use and recycling, is
to be established in every barangay or cluster of barangays.151ChanRoblesVirtualawlibrary

According to R.A. 9003, an LGU, through its local solid waste management board, is mandated by law to prepare a 10-
year solid waste management plan consistent with the National Solid Waste Management Framework. 152 The plan shall be
for the re-use, recycling and composting of wastes generated in its jurisdiction; ensure the efficient management of solid
waste generated within its jurisdiction; and place primary emphasis on implementation of all feasible re-use, recycling,
and composting programs while identifying the amount of landfill and transformation capacity that will be needed for solid
waste which cannot be re-used, recycled, or composted.153 One of the components of the solid waste management plan
is source reduction:
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(e) Source reduction � The source reduction component shall include a program and implementation schedule which
shows the methods by which the LGU will, in combination with the recycling and composting components, reduce a
sufficient amount of solid waste disposed of in accordance with the diversion requirements of Section 20.

The source reduction component shall describe the following:


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(1) strategies in reducing the volume of solid waste generated at source;

(2) measures for implementing such strategies and the resources necessary to carry out such activities;

(3) other appropriate waste reduction technologies that may also be considered, provided that such technologies conform
with the standards set pursuant to this Act;

(4) the types of wastes to be reduced pursuant to Section 15 of this Act;

(5) the methods that the LGU will use to determine the categories of solid wastes to be diverted from disposal at a
disposal facility through re-use, recycling and composting; and

(6) new facilities and of expansion of existing facilities which will be needed to implement re-use, recycling and
composting.
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The LGU source reduction component shall include the evaluation and identification of rate structures and fees for the
purpose of reducing the amount of waste generated, and other source reduction strategies, including but not limited to,
programs and economic incentives provided under Sec. 45 of this Act to reduce the use of non-recyclable materials,
replace disposable materials and products with reusable materials and products, reduce packaging, and increase the
efficiency of the use of paper, cardboard, glass, metal, and other materials. The waste reduction activities of the
community shall also take into account, among others, local capability, economic viability, technical requirements, social
concerns, disposition of residual waste and environmental impact: Provided, That, projection of future facilities needed
and estimated cost shall be incorporated in the plan. x x x154
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The solid waste management plan shall also include an implementation schedule for solid waste diversion:
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SEC. 20. Establishing Mandatory Solid Waste Diversion. � Each LGU plan shall include an implementation schedule which
shows that within five (5) years after the effectivity of this Act, the LGU shall divert at least 25% of all solid waste from
waste disposal facilities through re-use, recycling, and composting activities and other resource recovery
activities: Provided, That the waste diversion goals shall be increased every three (3) years thereafter: Provided, further,
That nothing in this Section prohibits a local government unit from implementing re-use, recycling, and composting
activities designed to exceed the goal.
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The baseline for the twenty-five percent (25%) shall be derived from the waste characterization result 155that each LGU is
mandated to undertake.156ChanRoblesVirtualawlibrary

In accordance with Section 46 of R.A. No. 9003, the LGUs are entitled to avail of the SWM Fund on the basis of their
approved solid waste management plan. Aside from this, they may also impose SWM Fees under Section 47 of the law,
which states:
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SEC. 47. Authority to Collect Solid Waste Management Fees � The local government unit shall impose fees in amounts
sufficient to pay the costs of preparing, adopting, and implementing a solid waste management plan prepared pursuant
to this Act. The fees shall be based on the following minimum factors:
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(a) types of solid waste;

(b) amount/volume of waste; and

(c) distance of the transfer station to the waste management facility.


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The fees shall be used to pay the actual costs incurred by the LGU in collecting the local fees. In determining the amounts
of the fees, an LGU shall include only those costs directly related to the adoption and implementation of the plan and the
setting and collection of the local fees.
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Rule XVII of the IRR of R.A. No. 9003 sets forth the details:
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Section 1. Power to Collect Solid Waste Management Fees. � The Local SWM Board/Local SWM Cluster Board shall
impose fees on the SWM services provided for by the LGU and/or any authorized organization or unit. In determining the
amounts of the fees, a Local SWM Board/Local SWM Cluster Board shall include only those costs directly related to the
adoption and implementation of the SWM Plan and the setting and collection of the local fees. This power to impose fees
may be ceded to the private sector and civil society groups which have been duly accredited by the Local SWM
Board/Local SWM Cluster Board; provided, the SWM fees shall be covered by a Contract or Memorandum of Agreement
between the respective board and the private sector or civil society group.

The fees shall pay for the costs of preparing, adopting and implementing a SWM Plan prepared pursuant to the Act.
Further, the fees shall also be used to pay the actual costs incurred in collecting the local fees and for project
sustainability.

Section 2. Basis of SWM Service Fees

Reasonable SWM service fees shall be computed based on but not limited to the following minimum factors:
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a) Types of solid waste to include special waste

b) amount/volume of waste

c) distance of the transfer station to the waste management facility

d) capacity or type of LGU constituency

e) cost of construction

f) cost of management

g) type of technology
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Section 3. Collection of Fees. � Fees may be collected corresponding to the following levels:
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a) Barangay � The Barangay may impose fees for collection and segregation of biodegradable, compostable and
reusable wastes from households, commerce, other sources of domestic wastes, and for the use of Barangay MRFs. The
computation of the fees shall be established by the respective SWM boards. The manner of collection of the fees shall be
dependent on the style of administration of respective Barangay Councils. However, all transactions shall follow the
Commission on Audit rules on collection of fees.

b) Municipality � The municipal and city councils may impose fees on the barangay MRFs for the collection and transport
of non-recyclable and special wastes and for the disposal of these into the sanitary landfill. The level and procedure for
exacting fees shall be defined by the Local SWM Board/Local SWM Cluster Board and supported by LGU ordinances,
however, payments shall be consistent with the accounting system of government.

c) Private Sector/Civil Society Group � On the basis of the stipulations of contract or Memorandum of Agreement, the
private sector or civil society group shall impose fees for collection, transport and tipping in their SLFs. Receipts and
invoices shall be issued to the paying public or to the government.
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From the afore-quoted provisions, it is clear that the authority of a municipality or city to impose fees is limited to the
collection and transport of non-recyclable and special wastes and for the disposal of these into the sanitary landfill.
Barangays, on the other hand, have the authority to impose fees for the collection and segregation of biodegradable,
compostable and reusable wastes from households, commerce, other sources of domestic wastes, and for the use of
barangay MRFs. This is but consistent with Section 10 of R.A. No. 9003 directing that segregation and collection of
biodegradable, compostable and reusable wastes shall be conducted at the barangay level, while the collection of non-
recyclable materials and special wastes shall be the responsibility of the municipality or city.

In this case, the alleged bases of Ordinance No. S-2235 in imposing the garbage fee is the volume of waste currently
generated by each person in Quezon City, which purportedly stands at 0.66 kilogram per day, and the increasing trend of
waste generation for the past three years.157 Respondents did not elaborate any further. The figure presented does not
reflect the specific types of wastes generated � whether residential, market, commercial, industrial,
construction/demolition, street waste, agricultural, agro-industrial, institutional, etc. It is reasonable, therefore, for the
Court to presume that such amount pertains to the totality of wastes, without any distinction, generated by Quezon City
constituents. To reiterate, however, the authority of a municipality or city to impose fees extends only to those related to
the collection and transport of non-recyclable and special wastes.

Granting, for the sake of argument, that the 0.66 kilogram of solid waste per day refers only to non-recyclable and special
wastes, still, We cannot sustain the validity of Ordinance No. S-2235. It violates the equal protection clause of the
Constitution and the provisions of the LGC that an ordinance must be equitable and based as far as practicable on the
taxpayer�s ability to pay, and not unjust, excessive, oppressive, confiscatory.158ChanRoblesVirtualawlibrary

In the subject ordinance, the rates of the imposable fee depend on land or floor area and whether the payee is an
occupant of a lot, condominium, social housing project or apartment. For easy reference, the relevant provision is again
quoted below:
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On all domestic households in Quezon City;
LAND AREA IMPOSABLE FEE
Less than 200 sq. m. PHP 100.00
201 sq. m. � 500 sq. m. PHP 200.00
501 sq. m. � 1,000 sq. m. PHP 300.00
1,001 sq. m. � 1,500 sq. m. PHP 400.00
1,501 sq. m. � 2,000 sq. m. or more PHP 500.00
On all condominium unit and socialized housing projects/units in Quezon City;
FLOOR AREA IMPOSABLE FEE
Less than 40 sq. m. PHP25.00
41 sq. m. � 60 sq. m. PHP50.00
61 sq. m. � 100 sq. m. PHP75.00
101 sq. m. � 150 sq. m. PHP100.00
151 sq. m. � 200 sq. [m.] or more PHP200.00
On high-rise Condominium Units

a) High-rise Condominium � The Homeowners Association of high rise condominiums shall pay the annual garbage
fee on the total size of the entire condominium and socialized Housing Unit and an additional garbage fee shall be
collected based on area occupied for every unit already sold or being amortized.

b) High-rise apartment units � Owners of high-rise apartment units shall pay the annual garbage fee on the total lot
size of the entire apartment and an additional garbage fee based on the schedule prescribed herein for every unit
occupied.
For the purpose of garbage collection, there is, in fact, no substantial distinction between an occupant of a lot, on one
hand, and an occupant of a unit in a condominium, socialized housing project or apartment, on the other hand. Most
likely, garbage output produced by these types of occupants is uniform and does not vary to a large degree; thus, a
similar schedule of fee is both just and equitable. 159ChanRoblesVirtualawlibrary

The rates being charged by the ordinance are unjust and inequitable: a resident of a 200 sq. m. unit in a condominium or
socialized housing project has to pay twice the amount than a resident of a lot similar in size; unlike unit occupants, all
occupants of a lot with an area of 200 sq. m. and less have to pay a fixed rate of Php100.00; and the same amount of
garbage fee is imposed regardless of whether the resident is from a condominium or from a socialized housing project.

Indeed, the classifications under Ordinance No. S-2235 are not germane to its declared purpose of �promoting shared
responsibility with the residents to attack their common mindless attitude in over-consuming the present resources and in
generating waste.�160 Instead of simplistically categorizing the payee into land or floor occupant of a lot or unit of a
condominium, socialized housing project or apartment, respondent City Council should have considered factors that could
truly measure the amount of wastes generated and the appropriate fee for its collection. Factors include, among others,
household age and size, accessibility to waste collection, population density of the barangay or district, capacity to pay,
and actual occupancy of the property. R.A. No. 9003 may also be looked into for guidance. Under said law, SWM service
fees may be computed based on minimum factors such as types of solid waste to include special waste, amount/volume
of waste, distance of the transfer station to the waste management facility, capacity or type of LGU constituency, cost of
construction, cost of management, and type of technology. With respect to utility rates set by municipalities, a
municipality has the right to classify consumers under reasonable classifications based upon factors such as the cost of
service, the purpose for which the service or the product is received, the quantity or the amount received, the different
character of the service furnished, the time of its use or any other matter which presents a substantial difference as a
ground of distinction.161cralawlawlibrary
[A] lack of uniformity in the rate charged is not necessarily unlawful discrimination. The establishment of classifications
and the charging of different rates for the several classes is not unreasonable and does not violate the requirements of
equality and uniformity. Discrimination to be unlawful must draw an unfair line or strike an unfair balance between those
in like circumstances having equal rights and privileges. Discrimination with respect to rates charged does not vitiate
unless it is arbitrary and without a reasonable fact basis or justification. 162
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On top of an unreasonable classification, the penalty clause of Ordinance No. SP-2235, which states:
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SECTION 3. Penalty Clause � A penalty of 25% of the garbage fee due plus an interest of 2% per month or a fraction
thereof (interest) shall be charged against a household owner who refuses to pay the garbage fee herein imposed.
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lacks the limitation required by Section 168 of the LGC, which provides:
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SECTION 168. Surcharges and Penalties on Unpaid Taxes, Fees, or Charges. � The sanggunian may impose a surcharge
not exceeding twenty-five (25%) of the amount of taxes, fees or charges not paid on time and an interest at the rate not
exceeding two percent (2%) per month of the unpaid taxes, fees or charges including surcharges, until such amount is
fully paid but in no case shall the total interest on the unpaid amount or portion thereof exceed thirty-six
(36) months. (Emphasis supplied)
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Finally, on the issue of publication of the two challenged ordinances.

Petitioner argues that the garbage fee was collected even if the required publication of its approval had not yet elapsed.
He notes that he paid his realty tax on January 7, 2014 which already included the garbage fee. Respondents counter
that if the law provides for its own effectivity, publication in the Official Gazette is not necessary so long as it is not penal
in nature. Allegedly, Ordinance No. SP-2095 took effect after its publication while Ordinance No. SP-2235 became
effective after its approval on December 26, 2013.

The pertinent provisions of the LGC state:


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SECTION 59. Effectivity of Ordinances or Resolutions. � (a) Unless otherwise stated in the ordinance or the
resolution approving the local development plan and public investment program, the same shall take effect after ten
(10) days from the date a copy thereof is posted in a bulletin board at the entrance of the provincial capitol or city,
municipal, or barangay hall, as the case may be, and in at least two (2) other conspicuous places in the local government
unit concerned.

(b) The secretary to the sanggunian concerned shall cause the posting of an ordinance or resolution in the bulletin board
at the entrance of the provincial capitol and the city, municipal, or barangay hall in at least two (2) conspicuous places in
the local government unit concerned not later than five (5) days after approval thereof.

The text of the ordinance or resolution shall be disseminated and posted in Filipino or English and in the language or
dialect understood by the majority of the people in the local government unit concerned, and the secretary to the
sanggunian shall record such fact in a book kept for the purpose, stating the dates of approval and posting.

(c) The gist of all ordinances with penal sanctions shall be published in a newspaper of general circulation within the
province where the local legislative body concerned belongs. In the absence of any newspaper of general circulation
within the province, posting of such ordinances shall be made in all municipalities and cities of the province where the
sanggunian of origin is situated.

(d) In the case of highly urbanized and independent component cities, the main features of the ordinance or resolution
duly enacted or adopted shall, in addition to being posted, be published once in a local newspaper of general
circulation within the city: Provided, That in the absence thereof the ordinance or resolution shall be
published in any newspaper of general circulation.

SECTION 188. Publication of Tax Ordinances and Revenue Measures . � Within ten (10) days after their approval,
certified true copies of all provincial, city, and municipal tax ordinances or revenue measures shall be published in full
for three (3) consecutive days in a newspaper of local circulation: Provided, however, That in provinces, cities
and municipalities where there are no newspapers of local circulation, the same may be posted in at least two (2)
conspicuous and publicly accessible places. (Emphasis supplied)
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On October 17, 2011, respondent Quezon City Council enacted Ordinance No. SP-2095, which provides that it would take
effect after its publication in a newspaper of general circulation. 163 On the other hand, Ordinance No. SP-2235, which was
passed by the City Council on December 16, 2013, provides that it would be effective upon its approval. 164 Ten (10) days
after its enactment, or on December 26, 2013, respondent City Mayor approved the same. 165ChanRoblesVirtualawlibrary

The case records are bereft of any evidence to prove petitioner�s negative allegation that respondents did not comply
with the posting and publication requirements of the law. Thus, We are constrained not to give credit to his unsupported
claim.

WHEREFORE, the petition is PARTIALLY GRANTED. The constitutionality and legality of Ordinance No. SP-2095, S-
2011, or the �Socialized Housing Tax of Quezon City,� is SUSTAINED for being consistent with Section 43 of Republic
Act No. 7279. On the other hand, Ordinance No. SP-2235, S-2013, which collects an annual garbage fee on all domestic
households in Quezon City, is hereby declared as UNCONSTITUTIONAL AND ILLEGAL. Respondents
are DIRECTED to REFUND with reasonable dispatch the sums of money collected relative to its enforcement.

The temporary restraining order issued by the Court on February 5, 2014 is LIFTED with respect to Ordinance No. SP-
2095. In contrast, respondents are PERMANENTLY ENJOINED from taking any further action to enforce Ordinance No.
SP. 2235.

G.R. No. 82220 July 14, 1995


PABLITO MENESES and LORENZO MENESES, petitioners,
vs.
THE HONORABLE COURT OF APPEALS, EDUARDO QUISUMBING, NORBERTO QUISUMBING, HEIRS OF
EMILIO QUISUMBING (Carlos, Manuel and Paz, all surnamed Quisumbing), HEIRS OF FERNANDO
QUISUMBING (Perla, Josefina, Napoleon, Honorato, Remedios and Alfonso, all surnamed Quisumbing),
HEIRS OF MANUEL QUISUMBING, SR. (Petrona, Natividad, Manuel, Jr., Dolores and Lilia, all surnamed
Quisumbing) and HEIRS OF FRANCISCO QUISUMBING (Fe, Johnny, Ma. Luisa, Norberto, Jimmy, Ma.
Victoria, Elsa and Oscar, all surnamed Quisumbing), all represented by Atty. Galileo Brion, respondents.

G.R. No. 82251 July 14, 1995

CESAR ALMENDRAL, petitioner,


vs.
EDUARDO QUISUMBING, respondent.

G.R. No. 83059 July 14, 1995

EDUARDO QUISUMBING, NORBERTO QUISUMBING, HEIRS OF EMILIO QUISUMBING (Carlos, Manuel and
Paz, all surnamed Quisumbing), HEIRS OF FERNANDO QUISUMBING, (Perla, Josefina, Napoleon, Honorato,
Remedios and Alfonso, all surnamed Quisumbing), HEIRS OF MANUEL QUISUMBING, SR. (Petrona,
Natividad, Manuel, Jr., Dolores and Lilia, all surnamed Quisumbing) and HEIRS OF FRANCISCO
QUISUMBING (Fe, Johnny, Ma. Victoria, Elsa and Oscar, all surnamed Quisumbing), petitioners,
vs.
HON. COURT OF APPEALS, PABLITO MENESES, LORENZO MENESES and BRAULIO C. DARUM, respondents.

QUIASON, J.:

For review in these consolidated petitions is the Decision dated August 31, 1987 of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. CV
No. 07049 affirming the Decision dated March 26, 1984 of the Regional Trial Court, Branch 37, Calamba, Laguna, in Civil
Case No. 474-83-C which declared as null and void the original certificates of title and free patents issued to Pablito
Meneses over lots found by the court to be accretion lands forming parts of the bigger accretion land owned by Ciriaca
Arguelles Vda. de Quisumbing.

On March 1, 1977, Braulio C. Darum, then the District Land Officer of Los Baños, Laguna, issued to Pablito Meneses Free
Patent No. (IV-5) P-12807 and Original Certificate of Title No. P-1268 covering Lot 1585 with an area of 417 square
meters, and Free Patent No (IV-5) 12808 and Original Certificate of Title No P-1269 for Lot 190 with an area of 515
square meters. Both lots are located in Los Baños, Laguna.

Pablito Meneses acquired said property from Silverio Bautista through a Deed of Waiver and Transfer of Rights executed
on May 5, 1975 in consideration of Bautista's "love and affection" for and "some monetary obligations" in favor of Pablito
Meneses (Rollo, p. 45). After the execution of said document, Pablito Meneses took possession of the land, introduced
improvements thereon, declared the land as his own for tax purposes and paid the corresponding realty taxes. In turn,
Bautista acquired the 900-square-meter land from his aunt, Sergia (Gliceria) M. Almeda. He had been occupying the land
since 1956.

On the other hand, the Quisumbing family traces ownership of the land as far back as September 6, 1919 when their
matriarch, Ciriaca Arguelles Vda. de Quisumbing was issued Original Certificate of Title No. 989 covering a lot with an
area of 859 square meters located in Los Baños, Laguna with the Laguna de Bay as its northwestern boundary. The same
parcel of land was registered on August 14, 1973 under Transfer Certificate of Title No. T-33393 in the names of Ciriaca's
heirs: Emilio, Manuel, Eduardo, Norberto, Perla, Josefina, Napoleon, Honorato, Remedios and Alfonso, all surnamed
Quisumbing.
In 1962, the Quisumbing instituted and accion publiciana in the then Court of First Instance of Biñan, Laguna to recover
possession over a portion of the property from Dominga Villamor and Lorenzo Lanuzo docketed as Civil Case No. B-350.
On January 3, 1966, the case was decided in favor of the Quisumbings. On appeal, the Court of Appeals sustained the
Quisumbings' right over the property.

In LRC Case No. B-327, the Quisumbings applied for registration and confirmation of title over an additional area of 2,387
square meters which had gradually accrued to their property by the natural action of the waters of Laguna de Bay. In its
Decision of September 28, 1978, the Court of First Instance of Biñan confirmed the Quisumbings' title thereto which, after
it was duly surveyed, was identified as Psu-208327. The additional area was divided into two lots in the survey plan
approved by the Director of Lands on November 16, 1964. In ordering the confirmation and registration of title on favor
of the Quisumbings, the land registration court said:

. . . There is no doubt that the applicants' right to the property was bolstered by the unappealed decision
of the Court of Appeals in Civil Case No. B-350 of this Court when the properties applied for were
classified as accretions made by the waters of the Laguna Lake. . . . (G.R. No. 82229, Rollo, p. 20).

On April 17, 1979, the Quisumbings filed Civil Case No. 07049 before the Court of First Instance of Laguna, Branch VI,
Calamba against Lorenzo and Pablito Meneses, Braulio C. Darum and Cesar B. Almendral for nullification of the free
patents and titles issued to Pablito Meneses. They alleged that Lorenzo Menesis, then the Mayor of Los Baños, using his
brother Pablito as a "tool and dummy," illegally occupied their "private accretion land" an August 6, 1976, and,
confederating with District Land Officer Darum and Land Inspector Cesar Almendral, obtained free patents and original
certificates of title to the land.

On March 26, 1984, the trial court rendered the decision finding that the lands registered by the Meneses brothers are
accretion lands to which the Quisumbings have a valid right as owners of the riparian land to which nature had gradually
deposited the disputed lots. In so holding, the trial court relied heavily on the decision of the Court of Appeals in Civil
Case No. B-350, and quoted the following portions of the appellate court's decision:

Plaintiffs-appellees are titled owners of a (sic) 859 square meters of land under TCT No. 25978 of the
Laguna Land Registry, the northwest boundary of which is the Laguna de Bay.

It is ascertained that the northwest portion of Quisumbing's lot is bounded by the Laguna de Bay. The
nature of the Laguna de Bay has long been settled in the case of Government of the Philippines v.
Colegio de San Jose (55 Phil. 423) when it held that:

Laguna de Bay is a body of water formed in depression of the earth; it contains fresh
water coming from rivers and brooks and springs, and is connected with Manila Bay by
the Pasig River. According to the definition first quoted, Laguna de Bay is a lake.

Consequently, since Laguna de Bay is a lake, the authorities cited by the appellants referring to seashore
would not apply. The provision of the law on waters will govern in determining the natural bed or basin
of the lake. And accordingly, to Art. 84 of the Law of Waters of August 3, 1866:

Accretions deposited gradually upon land contiguous to creeks, streams, rivers


and lakesby accessions or sediments from the waters thereof, belong to the owners of
such lands.

Since the title indicate(s) that the northwest portion of the property is bounded by Laguna de Bay, which
is a lake, even if the area where Lanuza's house and Villamor's house for that matter is located is not
included within the title, it must necessarily be an accretion upon appellees' land by accessions or
sediments from the waters thereof which should belong to the owner of the adjacent land. The
authorities cited by the appellants treat of the ownership of accretions by water of the sea under Title I.
Lakewaters being terrestrial waters, their ownership is governed by Title II of the Law of Waters. As held
in the Colegio de San Jose case, the provisions of the Law of Waters regulating the ownership and use of
sea water are not applicable to the ownership and use of lakes which are governed by different
provisions. As pointed out by the lower court, no act of appropriation is necessary in order to acquire
ownership of the alluvial formation as the law does not require the same (Ignacio Grande, et al. vs. Hon.
Court of Appeals, et al., G.R. No. L-17652, June 30, 1962 citing Roxas vs. Tuazon, 9 Phil. 408; Cortez vs.
City of Manila, 10 Phil. 567 and 3 Manresa, C.C. pp. 321-326, pp. 4-5) (Records, pp. 80-84).

The trial court also found that the free patents issued to Pablito Meneses had been procured through fraud, deceit and
bad faith, citing the following facts as bases for its conclusion: (1) The Deed of Waiver and Transfer of Rights allegedly
executed by Silverio Bautista in favor of Pablito Meneses was a simulated contract for lack of consideration; (2) The said
instrument was sworn to before Mayor Lorenzo Meneses who had no authority to notarize deeds of conveyances; (3)
Although the lots subject of the deed of conveyance were placed in his brother's name, Mayor Meneses actually exercised
rights of ownership thereto; (4) Land Inspector Cesar Almendral admitted having anomalously prepared the documents to
support the free patent applications of Pablito Meneses and, having personally filled up the blank forms, signed them in
the absence of the persons concerned; (5) Almendral kept the documents in his possession from 1979 to 1980 despite
orders from the Director of Lands to produce and surrender the same; (6) District Land Officer Braulio Darum approved
the free patent applications and issued the questioned titles without the required cadastral survey duly approved by the
Director of Lands and despite the pendency of LRC Case No. B-327 involving the contested lots; (7) Darum represented
the Bureau of Lands in LRC Case No. B-327 without authority from the Director of Lands and after he had withdrawn his
appearance in said case, persisted in filing a motion to set aside the order for the issuance of a decree in favor of the
Quisumbings; (8) Darum and Almendral in bad faith, refused to produce the missing original records of the free patent
applications and their supporting documents; and (9) When Darum was not yet an oppositor in LRC Case No. B-327, he
admitted in his letter to the Land Registration Commission that the contested lots are portions of the land being claimed
by the Quisumbings contrary to his later representation in the joint answer to the petition that the subject lots are not
portions of Lots 1 and 2, Psu-208327 owned by the Quisumbings. Accordingly, the trial court disposed of the case as
follows:

WHEREFORE, judgment is hereby rendered:

1. Declaring that the lands covered by Pablito Meneses' Original Certificate of Title No. P-1268/Free
Patent No. 12807 (Exh. "J"), covering Lot No. 1585, consisting of 417 square meters and Original
Certificate of Title No. P-1269/Free Patent No. 12808 (Exh. "H"), covering Lot No. 190, consisting of 515
square meters, both located at Los Baños, Laguna, as accretion lands forming parts of a bigger accretion
land owned by plaintiffs as declared in a final judgment (Exh. "A"), rendered by the Court of First
Instance of Biñan, Laguna, in LRC Case No. B-327, which bigger accretion land is directly adjacent to or
at the back of plaintiffs' riparian land, and consequently, declaring as null and void and cancelled Original
Certificate of Title No. P-1268/Free Patent No. 12807 and Original Certificate of Title No. P-1269/Free
Patent No. 12808;

2. Directing that the Register of Deeds of Laguna or his Deputy at Calamba, Laguna, to make the
corresponding entries of cancellation in his Registry of the above mentioned Original Certificate of
Titles/Free Patents;

3. Directing defendants Lorenzo Meneses and Pablito Meneses and all persons acting in their behalves to
vacate the subject lands and surrender the possession thereof to the plaintiffs immediately; and

4. Directing the defendants to pay jointly and severally, the plaintiffs the sums of:

a) P20,000.00, plus P500.00 per month from January, 1977, until the subject property is
completely vacated, as actual and compensatory damages;

b) P350,000.00, as moral damages;

c) P70,000.00 as exemplary damages;

d) P40,000.00, as attorney's fees; and

e) the costs (Rollo, pp. 41-42).


Thereafter, the Quisumbings filed a motion for execution pending appeal which the trial court granted in its Order of
September 7, 1984 subject to the posting by the Quisumbings of a bond in the amount of P500,000.00. The defendants
unsuccessfully moved for the reconsideration of said order.

The Quisumbings also filed before the Sandiganbayan a complaint against Pablito Meneses, Silverio Bautista, Pablo Silva,
Virgilio Cruz and Cesar Almendral for violation of paragraphs (e) and (j), Section 3 of Republic Act No. 3019, for
conspiring in the approval and grant of the free patents over portions of Lots 1 & 2 of Psu-208327 owned by the heirs of
Ciriaca Arguelles Vda. de Quisumbing. In due course, the Sandiganbayan rendered a decision finding the defendants
guilty as charged. The case was elevated to this Court but on August 27, 1987, the judgment of conviction was affirmed
(Meneses v. People, 153 SCRA 303 [1987]).

Meanwhile, the Meneses brothers and Darum appealed the decision in Civil Case No. 07049 to the Court of Appeals. On
August 31, 1987, the Court of Appeals found the appeal to be without merit and affirmed in toto the lower court's
decision.

The defendants-appellants filed two motions for the reconsideration of the appellate court's decision but it was denied in
the Resolution of February 23, 1988 which in pertinent part stated:

However, for humanitarian considerations, and considering the appeal of the defendants-appellants for a
reduction of the moral and exemplary damages, We favor the reduction of the moral damages from
P350,000.00 to P50,000.00 and the exemplary damages from P70,000.00 to P5,000.00. In all other
respects, We find no justification for modifying the dispositive portion of the decision of the lower court
(G.R. No. 82220, Rollo, p. 67).

Pablito and Lorenzo Meneses filed the instant petition for review on certiorari, which was docketed as G.R. No. 82220.
Cesar Almendral filed a motion in G.R. No. 82251 for a 45-day extension within which to file a petition for review
on certiorari. After this Court had granted them a 30-day extension, Almendral still failed to file any petition. The
Quisumbings also filed a petition for review on certiorari, docketed as G.R. No. 83059, solely on the issue of the propriety
of the reduction of the amount of damages in the Court of Appeals' Resolution of February 23, 1988. Upon motion of
petitioners in G.R. No. 83059, the three petitions were consolidated in the Resolution of August 1, 1988.

Petitioners in G.R. No. 82220 retell the same errors they had raised before the Court of Appeals, contending in the main:
(1) that the lands in question were not accretion lands but lands of the public domain; (2) that no conspiracy to commit
fraud, deceit and bad faith attended the issuance of the free patent and titles to Pablito Meneses; and (3) that the Deed
of Waiver and Transfer of Rights was founded on a valid consideration.

As regards the issue of whether the lands in question are accretion lands, petitioners relied on the Decision of the Court
of Appeals in Republic of the Philippines v. Braga, CA-G.R. No. 55390-R, October 23, 1980, holding that the property
involved therein was part of the natural bed of the Laguna de Bay and therefore what had to be determined was whether
said property was covered by water when the lake was at its highest depth.

Petitioners' assigned errors in G.R. No. 82220 are evidently factual issues which have been thoroughly passed upon and
settled both by the trial court and the appellate court. Factual findings of the Court of Appeals are conclusive on the
parties and not reviewable by this Court (Coca-Cola Bottlers Philippines, Inc. v. Court of Appeals, 229 SCRA 533 [1994])
and they carry even more weight when the Court of Appeals affirms the factual findings of the trial court (Binalay v.
Manalo, 195 SCRA 374 [1991]). The jurisdiction of this Court is thus limited to reviewing errors of law unless there is a
showing that the findings complained of are totally devoid of support in the record or that they are so glaringly erroneous
as to constitute serious abuse of discretion (BA Finance Corporation v. Court of Appeals, 229 SCRA 566 [1941]). We find
no such showing in this case.

Petitioners' protestations notwithstanding the final decision of the Court of Appeals in Civil Case No. B-350 has a bearing
in the resolution of this case for while the lots occupied by Villamor and Lanuzo may not be the very same lots petitioners
are claiming here, the two cases refer to the same accretion lands northwest of the original land owned by the
Quisumbings.

In the same vein, the decision of the land registration court in LRC Case No. B-327 ordering the confirmation and
registration of title in favor of the Quisumbings over 2,387 square meters of accretion land is binding on petitioners in
G.R. No. 82220. As correctly pointed out by the Court of Appeals, said decision, being the result of a proceeding in rem,
binds the whole world, more so because it became final and executory upon the Bureau of Lands' failure to interpose an
appeal.

Since petitioners in G.R. No. 82220 claim that "the foreshore land known as Lots 190 and 1585 are part of Laguna de
Bay" and therefore the Quisumbings "have no legal right to claim the same as accretion land," we quote the following
pertinent portions of the decision in Republic v. Court of Appeals, 131 SCRA 532 (1984) which, although the case deals
with the registration of a reclaimed land along the Laguna de Bay, is nonetheless enlightening:

Laguna de Bay is a lake. While the waters of a lake are also subject to the same gravitational forces that
cause the formation of tides in seas and oceans, this phenomenon is not a regular daily occurrence in the
case of lakes. Thus, the alternation of high tides and low tides, which is an ordinary occurrence, could
hardly account for the rise in the water level of the Laguna de Bay as observed four to five months a year
during the rainy season. Rather, it is the rains which bring about the inundation of a portion of the land
in question. Since the rise in the water level which causes the submersion of the land occurs during a
shorter period (four to five months a year) than the level of the water at which the land is completely
dry, the latter should be considered as the "highest ordinary depth" of Laguna de Bay. Therefore, the
land sought to be registered is not part of the bed or basin of Laguna de Bay. Neither can it be
considered as foreshore land. The Brief for the Petitioner Director of Lands cites an accurate definition of
a foreshore land, to wit:

. . . . that part of (the land) which is between high and low water and left dry by the flux
and reflux of the tides.

The strip of land that lies between the high and low water marks and that is alternately
wet and dry according to the flow of the tide.

As aptly found by the Court a quo, the submersion in water of a portion of the land in question is due to
the rains "falling directly on or flowing into Laguna de Bay from different sources." Since the inundation
of a portion of the land is not due to "flux and reflux of tides" it cannot be considered a foreshore land
within the meaning of the authorities cited by petitioner Director of Lands. The land sought to be
registered not being part of the bed or basin of Laguna de Bay, nor a foreshore land as claimed by the
Director of Lands, it is not a public land and therefore capable of registration as private property provided
that the applicant proves that he has a registerable title (at pp. 538-539).

Accretion as a mode of acquiring property under Article 457 of the Civil Code requires the concurrence of these requisites:
(1) that the deposition of soil or sediment be gradual and imperceptible; (2) that it be the result of the action of the
waters of the river (or sea); and (3) that the land where accretion takes place is adjacent to the banks of rivers (or the
sea coast). While the trial court mainly relied on the findings in Civil Case No. B-350 that the lands in controversy are
accretion lands and it has not determined on its own the presence of said requisites, it is too late now for petitioners in
G.R. No. 82220 to claim otherwise. Consequently, the lands held to be accretion lands could only benefit the
Quisumbings, who own the property adjacent to the lands in controversy (Cruz v. Court of Appeals, 216 SCRA 350
[1992]).

Petitioners in G.R. No. 82220 also assert that the principle of indefeasibility of title should favor them as the one-year
period provided for by law to impugn their title had elapsed. They also urged that, having been granted by the state, their
title is superior to that of the Quisumbings. We hold, however, that in the light of the fraud attending the issuance of the
free patents and titles of Pablito Meneses, said assertions crumble. Such fraud was confirmed by this Court in Meneses v.
People, 153 SCRA 303 (1987) which held the petitioners therein liable for violation of the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices
Act in the issuance of the same free patents and titles.

Unlike the petition in G.R. No. 82220, the petition in G.R. No. 83059 (questioning the reduction of the damages awarded
to the Quisumbings by the Court of Appeals in the Resolution of February 23, 1988) is meritorious. The task of fixing the
amount of damages is primarily with the trial court (Air France v. Carrascoso, 18 SCRA 155 [1966]). While it is the
appellate court's duty to review the same, a reduction of the award of damages must pass the test of reasonableness.
The Court of Appeals can only modify or change the amount awarded as damages when they are palpably or
scandalously and reasonably excessive (Philippine Airlines, Inc. v. Court of Appeals, 226 SCRA 423 [1993]; Prudenciano v.
Alliance Transport System, Inc., 148 SCRA 440 [1987]).
There is no justification for the radical reduction by the Court of Appeals of the damages awarded by the trial court. Its
action was premise merely on "humanitarian considerations" and the plea of the defendants-appellants. We may agree
with the Court of Appeals in reducing the award after scrutinizing its factual findings only if such findings are diametrically
opposed to that of the trial court (Prudenciado v. Alliance Transport System, Inc., supra). But as it is, the Court of
Appeals affirmed point by point the factual findings if the lower court upon which the award of damages had been based.

We, therefore, see no reason to modify the award of damages made by the trial court. Respondent Braulio C. Darum in
G.R. No. 83059 must also be solidarily liable for said damages in his capacity as a public officer. A public official is by law
not immune from damages in his personal capacity for acts done in bad faith which, being outside the scope of his
authority, are no longer protected by the mantle of immunity for official actions (Vidad v. RTC of Negros, Br. 42, 227
SCRA 271 [1993]).

WHEREFORE, the petition in G.R. No. 82220 is DENIED while the petition in G.R. No. 83059 is GRANTED. The Decision
dated August 31, 1987 of the Court of Appeals is AFFIRMED while its Resolution of February 23, 1988 insofar as it
reduces the amount of damages awarded to the Quisumbing family is SET ASIDE. Costs against petitioners in G.R. No.
82220 and respondent Braulio Darum in G.R. No. 83059.

SO ORDERED.

G.R. No. 160453 November 12, 2012

REPUBLIC OF THE PHILIPPINES, Petitioner,


vs.
ARCADIO IVAN A. SANTOS III, and ARCADIO C. SANTOS, JR., Respondents.

DECISION

BERSAMIN, J.:

By law, accretion - the gradual and imperceptible deposit made through the effects of the current of the water- belongs
to the owner of the land adjacent to the banks of rivers where it forms. The drying up of the river is not accretion. Hence,
the dried-up river bed belongs to the State as property of public dominion, not to the riparian owner, unless a law vests
the ownership in some other person.

Antecedents

Alleging continuous and adverse possession of more than ten years, respondent Arcadio Ivan A. Santos III (Arcadio Ivan)
applied on March 7, 1997 for the registration of Lot 4998-B (the property) in the Regional Trial Court (RTC) in Parafiaque
City. The property, which had an area of 1,045 square meters, more or less, was located in Barangay San Dionisio,
Parañaque City, and was bounded in the Northeast by Lot 4079 belonging to respondent Arcadio C. Santos, Jr. (Arcadio,
Jr.), in the Southeast by the Parañaque River, in the Southwest by an abandoned road, and in the Northwest by Lot
4998-A also owned by Arcadio Ivan.1

On May 21, 1998, Arcadio Ivan amended his application for land registration to include Arcadio, Jr. as his co-applicant
because of the latter’s co-ownership of the property. He alleged that the property had been formed through accretion and
had been in their joint open, notorious, public, continuous and adverse possession for more than 30 years. 2

The City of Parañaque (the City) opposed the application for land registration, stating that it needed the property for its
flood control program; that the property was within the legal easement of 20 meters from the river bank; and that
assuming that the property was not covered by the legal easement, title to the property could not be registered in favor
of the applicants for the reason that the property was an orchard that had dried up and had not resulted from accretion. 3

Ruling of the RTC

On May 10, 2000,4 the RTC granted the application for land registration, disposing:
WHEREFORE, the Court hereby declares the applicants, ARCADIO IVAN A. SANTOS, III and ARCADIO C. SANTOS, JR.,
both Filipinos and of legal age, as the TRUE and ABSOLUTE OWNERS of the land being applied for which is situated in the
Barangay of San Dionisio, City of Parañaque with an area of one thousand forty five (1045) square meters more or less
and covered by Subdivision Plan Csd-00-000343, being a portion of Lot 4998, Cad. 299, Case 4, Parañaque Cadastre, LRC
Rec. No. and orders the registration of Lot 4998-B in their names with the following technical description, to wit:

xxxx

Once this Decision became (sic) final and executory, let the corresponding Order for the Issuance of the Decree be
issued.

SO ORDERED.

The Republic, through the Office of the Solicitor General (OSG), appealed.

Ruling of the CA

In its appeal, the Republic ascribed the following errors to the RTC,5 to wit:

THE TRIAL COURT ERRED IN RULING THAT THE PROPERTY SOUGHT TO BE REGISTERED IS AN ACCRETION TO THE
ADJOINING PROPERTY OWNED BY APPELLEES DESPITE THE ADMISSION OF APPELLEE ARCADIO C. SANTOS JR. THAT
THE SAID PROPERTY WAS NOT FORMED AS A RESULT OF THE GRADUAL FILLING UP OF SOIL THROUGH THE CURRENT
OF THE RIVER.

II

THE TRIAL COURT ERRED IN GRANTING THE APPLICATION FOR LAND REGISTRATION DESPITE APPELLEE’S FAILURE
TO FORMALLY OFFER IN EVIDENCE AN OFFICIAL CERTIFICATION THAT THE SUBJECT PARCEL OF LAND IS ALIENABLE
AND DISPOSABLE.

III

THE TRIAL COURT ERRED IN RULING THAT APPELLEES HAD SUFFICIENTLY ESTABLISHED THEIR CONTINUOUS, OPEN,
PUBLIC AND ADVERSE OCCUPATION OF THE SUBJECT PROPERTY FOR A PERIOD OF MORE THAN THIRTY (30) YEARS.

On May 27, 2003, the CA affirmed the RTC.6

The Republic filed a motion for reconsideration, but the CA denied the motion on October 20, 2003. 7

Issues

Hence, this appeal, in which the Republic urges that:8

RESPONDENTS’ CLAIM THAT THE SUBJECT PROPERTY IS AN ACCRETION TO THEIR ADJOINING LAND THAT WOULD
ENTITLE THEM TO REGISTER IT UNDER ARTICLE 457 OF THE NEW CIVIL CODE IS CONTRADICTED BY THEIR OWN
EVIDENCE.

II

ASSUMING THAT THE LAND SOUGHT TO BE REGISTERED WAS "PREVIOUSLY A PART OF THE PARAÑAQUE RIVER
WHICH BECAME AN ORCHARD AFTER IT DRIED UP," THE REGISTRATION OF SAID PROPERTY IN FAVOR OF
RESPONDENTS CANNOT BE ALTERNATIVELY JUSTIFIED UNDER ARTICLE 461 OF THE CIVIL CODE.
III

THE COURT OF APPEALS COMMITTED REVERSIBLE ERROR IN NOT RULING THAT THE FAILURE OF RESPONDENTS TO
FORMALLY OFFER IN EVIDENCE AN OFFICIAL CERTIFICATION THAT THE SUBJECT PROPERTY IS ALIENABLE AND
DISPOSABLE IS FATAL TO THEIR APPLICATION FOR LAND REGISTRATION.

IV

THE FINDING OF THE COURT OF APPEALS THAT RESPONDENTS HAVE CONTINUOUSLY, OPENLY, PUBLICLY AND
ADVERSELY OCCUPIED THE SUBJECT PROPERTY FOR MORE THAN THIRTY (30) YEARS IS NOT SUPPORTED BY WELL-
NIGH INCONTROVERTIBLE EVIDENCE.

To be resolved are whether or not Article 457 of the Civil Code was applicable herein; and whether or not respondents
could claim the property by virtue of acquisitive prescription pursuant to Section 14(1) of Presidential Decree No. 1529
(Property Registration Decree).

Ruling

The appeal is meritorious.

I.

The CA grossly erred in applying Article 457 of the Civil Code to respondents’ benefit

Article 457 of the Civil Code provides that "(t)o the owners of lands adjoining the banks of rivers belong the accretion
which they gradually receive from the effects of the currents of the waters."

In ruling for respondents, the RTC pronounced as follows:

On the basis of the evidence presented by the applicants, the Court finds that Arcadio Ivan A. Santos III and Arcadio C.
Santos, Jr., are the owners of the land subject of this application which was previously a part of the Parañaque River
which became an orchard after it dried up and further considering that Lot 4 which adjoins the same property is owned
by applicant, Arcadio C. Santos, Jr., after it was obtained by him through inheritance from his mother, Concepcion Cruz,
now deceased. Conformably with Art. 457 of the New Civil Code, it is provided that:

"Article 457. To the owners of the lands adjoining the bank of rivers belong the accretion which they gradually receive
from the effects of the current of the waters."9

The CA upheld the RTC’s pronouncement, holding:

It could not be denied that "to the owners of the lands adjoining the banks of rivers belong the accretion which they
gradually receive from the effects of the current of the waters" (Article 457 New Civil Code) as in this case, Arcadio Ivan
Santos III and Arcadio Santos, Jr., are the owners of the land which was previously part of the Parañaque River which
became an orchard after it dried up and considering that Lot 4 which adjoins the same property is owned by the applicant
which was obtained by the latter from his mother (Decision, p. 3; p. 38 Rollo). 10

The Republic submits, however, that the application by both lower courts of Article 457 of the Civil Code was erroneous in
the face of the fact that respondents’ evidence did not establish accretion, but instead the drying up of the Parañaque
River.

The Republic’s submission is correct.

Respondents as the applicants for land registration carried the burden of proof to establish the merits of their application
by a preponderance of evidence, by which is meant such evidence that is of greater weight, or more convincing than that
offered in opposition to it.11 They would be held entitled to claim the property as their own and apply for its registration
under the Torrens system only if they established that, indeed, the property was an accretion to their land.
Accretion is the process whereby the soil is deposited along the banks of rivers. 12 The deposit of soil, to be considered
accretion, must be: (a) gradual and imperceptible; (b) made through the effects of the current of the water; and (c)
taking place on land adjacent to the banks of rivers.13

Accordingly, respondents should establish the concurrence of the elements of accretion to warrant the grant of their
application for land registration.

However, respondents did not discharge their burden of proof. They did not show that the gradual and imperceptible
deposition of soil through the effects of the current of the river had formed Lot 4998-B. Instead, their evidence revealed
that the property was the dried-up river bed of the Parañaque River, leading both the RTC and the CA to themselves hold
that Lot 4998-B was "the land which was previously part of the Parañaque River xxx (and) became an orchard after it
dried up."

Still, respondents argue that considering that Lot 4998-B did not yet exist when the original title of Lot 4 was issued in
their mother’s name in 1920, and that Lot 4998-B came about only thereafter as the land formed between Lot 4 and the
Parañaque River, the unavoidable conclusion should then be that soil and sediments had meanwhile been deposited near
Lot 4 by the current of the Parañaque River, resulting in the formation of Lot 4998-B.

The argument is legally and factually groundless. For one, respondents thereby ignore that the effects of the current of
the river are not the only cause of the formation of land along a river bank. There are several other causes, including the
drying up of the river bed. The drying up of the river bed was, in fact, the uniform conclusion of both lower courts herein.
In other words, respondents did not establish at all that the increment of land had formed from the gradual and
imperceptible deposit of soil by the effects of the current. Also, it seems to be highly improbable that the large volume of
soil that ultimately comprised the dry land with an area of 1,045 square meters had been deposited in a gradual and
imperceptible manner by the current of the river in the span of about 20 to 30 years – the span of time intervening
between 1920, when Lot 4 was registered in the name of their deceased parent (at which time Lot 4998-B was not yet in
existence) and the early 1950s (which respondents’ witness Rufino Allanigue alleged to be the time when he knew them
to have occupied Lot 4988-B). The only plausible explanation for the substantial increment was that Lot 4988-B was the
dried-up bed of the Parañaque River. Confirming this explanation was Arcadio, Jr.’s own testimony to the effect that the
property was previously a part of the Parañaque River that had dried up and become an orchard.

We observe in this connection that even Arcadio, Jr.’s own Transfer Certificate of Title No. 44687 confirmed the uniform
conclusion of the RTC and the CA that Lot 4998-B had been formed by the drying up of the Parañaque River. Transfer
Certificate of Title No. 44687 recited that Lot 4 of the consolidated subdivision plan Pcs-13-002563, the lot therein
described, was bounded "on the SW along line 5-1 by Dried River Bed."14

That boundary line of "SW along line 5-1" corresponded with the location of Lot 4998-B, which was described as
"bounded by Lot 4079 Cad. 299, (Lot 1, Psu-10676), in the name of respondent Arcadio Santos, Jr. (Now Lot 4, Psd-13-
002563) in the Northeast."15

The RTC and the CA grossly erred in treating the dried-up river bed as an accretion that became respondents’ property
pursuant to Article 457 of the Civil Code. That land was definitely not an accretion. The process of drying up of a river to
form dry land involved the recession of the water level from the river banks, and the dried-up land did not equate to
accretion, which was the gradual and imperceptible deposition of soil on the river banks through the effects of the
current. In accretion, the water level did not recede and was more or less maintained. Hence, respondents as the riparian
owners had no legal right to claim ownership of Lot 4998-B. Considering that the clear and categorical language of Article
457 of the Civil Code has confined the provision only to accretion, we should apply the provision as its clear and
categorical language tells us to. Axiomatic it is, indeed, that where the language of the law is clear and categorical, there
is no room for interpretation; there is only room for application. 16 The first and fundamental duty of courts is then to
apply the law.17

The State exclusively owned Lot 4998-B and may not be divested of its right of ownership. Article 502 of the Civil Code
expressly declares that rivers and their natural beds are public dominion of the State.18 It follows that the river beds that
dry up, like Lot 4998-B, continue to belong to the

State as its property of public dominion, unless there is an express law that provides that the dried-up river beds should
belong to some other person.19
II

Acquisitive prescription was

not applicable in favor of respondents

The RTC favored respondents’ application for land registration covering Lot 4998-B also because they had taken
possession of the property continuously, openly, publicly and adversely for more than 30 years based on their
predecessor-in-interest being the adjoining owner of the parcel of land along the river bank. It rendered the following
ratiocination, viz:20

In this regard, the Court found that from the time the applicants became the owners thereof, they took possession of the
same property continuously, openly, publicly and adversely for more than thirty (30) years because their predecessors-in-
interest are the adjoining owners of the subject parcel of land along the river bank. Furthermore, the fact that applicants
paid its realty taxes, had it surveyed per subdivision plan Csd-00-000343 (Exh. "L") which was duly approved by the Land
Management Services and the fact that Engr. Chito B. Cainglet, OIC–Chief, Surveys Division Land Registration Authority,
made a Report that the subject property is not a portion of the Parañaque River and that it does not fall nor overlap with
Lot 5000, thus, the Court opts to grant the application.

Finally, in the light of the evidence adduced by the applicants in this case and in view of the foregoing reports of the
Department of Agrarian Reforms, Land Registration Authority and the Department of Environment and Natural Resources,
the Court finds and so holds that the applicants have satisfied all the requirements of law which are essential to a
government grant and is, therefore, entitled to the issuance of a certificate of title in their favor. So also, oppositor failed
to prove that the applicants are not entitled thereto, not having presented any witness.

In fine, the application is GRANTED.

As already mentioned, the CA affirmed the RTC.

Both lower courts erred.

The relevant legal provision is Section 14(1) of Presidential Decree No. 1529 (Property Registration Decree), which
pertinently states:

Section 14. Who may apply. — The following persons may file in the proper [Regional Trial Court] an application for
registration of title to land, whether personally or through their duly authorized representatives:

(1) Those who by themselves or through their predecessors-in-interest have been in open, continuous, exclusive and
notorious possession and occupation of alienable and disposable lands of the public domain under a bona fide claim of
ownership since June 12, 1945, or earlier.

xxxx

Under Section 14(1), then, applicants for confirmation of imperfect title must prove the following, namely: (a) that the
land forms part of the disposable and alienable agricultural lands of the public domain; and (b) that they have been in
open, continuous, exclusive, and notorious possession and occupation of the land under a bona fide claim of ownership
either since time immemorial or since June 12, 1945. 21

The Republic assails the findings by the lower courts that respondents "took possession of the same property
continuously, openly, publicly and adversely for more than thirty (30) years." 22

Although it is well settled that the findings of fact of the trial court, especially when affirmed by the CA, are accorded the
highest degree of respect, and generally will not be disturbed on appeal, with such findings being binding and conclusive
on the Court,23 the Court has consistently recognized exceptions to this rule, including the following, to wit: (a) when the
findings are grounded entirely on speculation, surmises, or conjectures; (b) when the inference made is manifestly
mistaken, absurd, or impossible; (c) when there is grave abuse of discretion; (d) when the judgment is based on a
misapprehension of facts; (e) when the findings of fact are conflicting; (f) when in making its findings the CA went
beyond the issues of the case, or its findings are contrary to the admissions of both the appellant and the appellee; (g)
when the findings are contrary to those of the trial court; (h) when the findings are conclusions without citation of
specific evidence on which they are based; (i) when the facts set forth in the petition as well as in the petitioner’s main
and reply briefs are not disputed by respondent; and (j) when the findings of fact are premised on the supposed absence
of evidence and contradicted by the evidence on record.24

Here, the findings of the RTC were obviously grounded on speculation, surmises, or conjectures; and that the inference
made by the RTC and the CA was manifestly mistaken, absurd, or impossible. Hence, the Court should now review the
findings.

In finding that respondents had been in continuous, open, public and adverse possession of the land for more than 30
years, the RTC declared:

In this regard, the Court found that from the time the applicant became the owners thereof, they took possession of the
same property continuously, openly, publicly and adversely for more than thirty years because their predecessor in
interest are the adjoining owners of the subject parcel of land along the river banks. Furthermore, the fact that the
applicant paid its realty taxes, had it surveyed per subdivision plan Csd-00-000343 (Exh. "L") which was duly approved by
the Land Management Services and the fact that Engr. Chito B. Cainglet, OIC – Chief, Surveys Division Land Registration
Authority, made a Report that the subject property is not a portion of the Parañaque River and that it does not fall nor
overlap with Lot 5000, thus, the Court opts to grant the application.

The RTC apparently reckoned respondents’ period of supposed possession to be "more than thirty years" from the fact
that "their predecessors in interest are the adjoining owners of the subject parcel of land." Yet, its decision nowhere
indicated what acts respondents had performed showing their possession of the property "continuously, openly, publicly
and adversely" in that length of time. The decision mentioned only that they had paid realty taxes and had caused the
survey of the property to be made. That, to us, was not enough to justify the foregoing findings, because, firstly, the
payment of realty taxes did not conclusively prove the payor’s ownership of the land the taxes were paid for,25 the tax
declarations and payments being mere indicia of a claim of ownership; 26 and, secondly, the causing of surveys of the
property involved was not itself an of continuous, open, public and adverse possession.

The principle that the riparian owner whose land receives the gradual deposits of soil does not need to make an express
act of possession, and that no acts of possession are necessary in that instance because it is the law itself that
pronounces the alluvium to belong to the riparian owner from the time that the deposit created by the current of the
water becomes manifest27 has no applicability herein. This is simply because Lot 4998-B was not formed through
accretion. Hence, the ownership of the land adjacent to the river bank by respondents’ predecessor-in-interest did not
translate to possession of Lot 4998-B that would ripen to acquisitive prescription in relation to Lot 4998-B.

On the other hand, the claim of thirty years of continuous, open, public and adverse possession of Lot 4998-B was not
even validated or preponderantly established. The admission of respondents themselves that they declared the property
for taxation purposes only in 1997 and paid realty taxes only from 199928 signified that their alleged possession would at
most be for only nine years as of the filing of their application for land registration on March 7, 1997.

Yet, even conceding, for the sake of argument, that respondents possessed Lot 4998-B for more than thirty years in the
character they claimed, they did not thereby acquire the land by prescription or by other means without any competent
proof that the land was already declared as alienable and disposable by the Government. Absent that declaration, the
land still belonged to the State as part of its public dominion.

Article 419 of the Civil Code distinguishes property as being either of public dominion or of private ownership. Article 420
of the Civil Code lists the properties considered as part of public dominion, namely: (a) those intended for public use,
such as roads, canals, rivers, torrents, ports and bridges constructed by the State, banks, shores, roadsteads, and others
of similar character; and (b) those which belong to the State, without being for public use, and are intended for some
public service or for the development of the national wealth. As earlier mentioned, Article 502 of the Civil Code declares
that rivers and their natural beds are of public dominion.

Whether the dried-up river bed may be susceptible to acquisitive prescription or not was a question that the Court
resolved in favor of the State in Celestial v. Cachopero,29 a case involving the registration of land found to be part of a
dried-up portion of the natural bed of a creek. There the Court held:
As for petitioner’s claim of ownership over the subject land, admittedly a dried-up bed of the Salunayan Creek, based on
(1) her alleged long term adverse possession and that of her predecessor-in-interest, Marcelina Basadre, even prior to
October 22, 1966, when she purchased the adjoining property from the latter, and (2) the right of accession under Art.
370 of the Spanish Civil Code of 1889 and/or Article 461 of the Civil Code, the same must fail.

Since property of public dominion is outside the commerce of man and not susceptible to private appropriation and
acquisitive prescription, the adverse possession which may be the basis of a grant of title in the confirmation of an
imperfect title refers only to alienable or disposable portions of the public domain. It is only after the Government has
declared the land to be alienable and disposable agricultural land that the year of entry, cultivation and exclusive and
adverse possession can be counted for purposes of an imperfect title.

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

xxxx

Had the disputed portion of the Salunayan Creek dried up after the present Civil Code took effect, the subject land would
clearly not belong to petitioner or her predecessor-in-interest since under the aforementioned provision of Article 461,
"river beds which are abandoned through the natural change in the course of the waters ipso facto belong to the owners
of the land occupied by the new course," and the owners of the adjoining lots have the right to acquire them only after
paying their value.

And both Article 370 of the Old Code and Article 461 of the present Civil Code are applicable only when "river beds are
abandoned through the natural change in the course of the waters." It is uncontroverted, however, that, as found by
both the Bureau of Lands and the DENR Regional Executive Director, the subject land became dry as a result of the
construction an irrigation canal by the National Irrigation Administration. Thus, in Ronquillo v. Court of Appeals, this Court
held:

The law is clear and unambiguous. It leaves no room for interpretation. Article 370 applies only if there is a natural
change in the course of the waters. The rules on alluvion do not apply to man-made or artificial accretions nor to
accretions to lands that adjoin canals or esteros or artificial drainage systems. Considering our earlier finding that the
dried-up portion of Estero Calubcub was actually caused by the active intervention of man, it follows that Article 370 does
not apply to the case at bar and, hence, the Del Rosarios cannot be entitled thereto supposedly as riparian owners.

The dried-up portion of Estero Calubcub should thus be considered as forming part of the land of the public domain which
cannot be subject to acquisition by private ownership. xxx (Emphasis supplied)

Furthermore, both provisions pertain to situations where there has been a change in the course of a river, not where the
river simply dries up. In the instant Petition, it is not even alleged that the Salunayan Creek changed its course. In such a
situation, commentators are of the opinion that the dry river bed remains property of public dominion. (Bold emphases
supplied)

Indeed, under the Regalian doctrine, all lands not otherwise appearing to be clearly within private ownership are
presumed to belong to the State.30 No public land can be acquired by private persons without any grant, express or
implied, from the Government. It is indispensable, therefore, that there is a showing of a title from the State. 31Occupation
of public land in the concept of owner, no matter how long, cannot ripen into ownership and be registered as a title. 32

Subject to the exceptions defined in Article 461 of the Civil Code (which declares river beds that are abandoned through
the natural change in the course of the waters as ipso facto belonging to the owners of the land occupied by the new
course, and which gives to the owners of the adjoining lots the right to acquire only the abandoned river beds not ipso
facto belonging to the owners of the land affected by the natural change of course of the waters only after paying their
value), all river beds remain property of public dominion and cannot be acquired by acquisitive prescription unless
previously declared by the Government to be alienable and disposable. Considering that Lot 4998-B was not shown to be
already declared to be alienable and disposable, respondents could not be deemed to have acquired the property through
prescription.
Nonetheless, respondents insist that the property was already classified as alienable and disposable by the Government.
They cite as proof of the classification as alienable and disposable the following notation found on the survey plan, to
wit:33

NOTE

ALL CORNERS NOT OTHERWISE DESCRIBED ARE OLD BL CYL. CONC. MONS 15 X 60CM

All corners marked PS are cyl. conc. mons 15 x 60 cm

Surveyed in accordance with Survey Authority NO. 007604-48 of the Regional Executive Director issued by the CENR-
OFFICER dated Dec. 2, 1996.

This survey is inside L.C. Map No. 2623, Proj. No. 25 classified as alienable/disposable by the Bureau of Forest Dev’t. on
Jan. 3, 1968.

Lot 4998-A = Lot 5883} Cad 299

Lot 4998-B = Lot 5884} Paranaque Cadastre.

Was the notation on the survey plan to the effect that Lot 4998-B was "inside" the map "classified as alienable/disposable
by the Bureau of Forest Development on 03 Jan. 1968" sufficient proof of the property’s nature as alienable and
disposable public land?

To prove that the land subject of an application for registration is alienable, an applicant must conclusively establish the
existence of a positive act of the Government, such as a presidential proclamation, executive order, administrative action,
investigation reports of the Bureau of Lands investigator, or a legislative act or statute. Until then, the rules on
confirmation of imperfect title do not apply.

As to the proofs that are admissible to establish the alienability and disposability of public land, we said in Secretary of
the Department of Environment and Natural Resources v. Yap34 that:

The burden of proof in overcoming the presumption of State ownership of the lands of the public domain is on the person
applying for registration (or claiming ownership), who must prove that the land subject of the application is alienable or
disposable. To overcome this presumption, incontrovertible evidence must be established that the land subject of the
application (or claim) is alienable or disposable.There must still be a positive act declaring land of the public domain as
alienable and disposable. To prove that the land subject of an application for registration is alienable, the applicant must
establish the existence of a positive act of the government such as a presidential proclamation or an executive order; an
administrative action; investigation reports of Bureau of Lands investigators; and a legislative act or a statute. The
applicant may also secure a certification from the government that the land claimed to have been possessed for the
required number of years is alienable and disposable.

In the case at bar, no such proclamation, executive order, administrative action, report, statute, or certification was
presented to the Court. The records are bereft of evidence showing that, prior to 2006, the portions of Boracay occupied
by private claimants were subject of a government proclamation that the land is alienable and disposable. Absent such
well-nigh incontrovertible evidence, the Court cannot accept the submission that lands occupied by private claimants were
already open to disposition before 2006. Matters of land classification or reclassification cannot be assumed. They call for
proof." (Emphasis supplied)

In Menguito v. Republic,35 which we reiterated in Republic v. Sarmiento,36 we specifically resolved the issue of whether
the notation on the survey plan was sufficient evidence to establish the alienability and disposability of public land, to wit:

To prove that the land in question formed part of the alienable and disposable lands of the public domain, petitioners
relied on the printed words which read: "This survey plan is inside Alienable and Disposable Land Area, Project No. 27-B
as per L.C. Map No. 2623, certified by the Bureau of Forestry on January 3, 1968," appearing on Exhibit "E" (Survey Plan
No. Swo-13-000227).
This proof is not sufficient. Section 2, Article XII of the 1987 Constitution, provides: "All lands of the public domain,
waters, minerals, coal, petroleum, and other mineral oils, all forces of potential energy, fisheries, forests or timber,
wildlife, flora and fauna, and other natural resources are owned by the State. x x x."

For the original registration of title, the applicant (petitioners in this case) must overcome the presumption that the land
sought to be registered forms part of the public domain. Unless public land is shown to have been reclassified or
alienated to a private person by the State, it remains part of the inalienable public domain. Indeed, "occupation thereof in
the concept of owner, no matter how long, cannot ripen into ownership and be registered as a title." To overcome such
presumption, incontrovertible evidence must be shown by the applicant. Absent such evidence, the land sought to be
registered remains inalienable.

In the present case, petitioners cite a surveyor-geodetic engineer’s notation in Exhibit "E" indicating that the survey was
inside alienable and disposable land. Such notation does not constitute a positive government act validly changing the
classification of the land in question. Verily, a mere surveyor has no authority to reclassify lands of the public domain. By
relying solely on the said surveyor’s assertion, petitioners have not sufficiently proven that the land in question has been
declared alienable. (Emphasis supplied)

In Republic v. T.A.N. Properties, Inc.,37 we dealt with the sufficiency of the certification by the Provincial Environmental
Officer (PENRO) or Community Environmental Officer (CENRO) to the effect that a piece of public land was alienable and
disposable in the following manner, viz:

x x x it is not enough for the PENRO or CENRO to certify that a land is alienable and disposable. The applicant for land
registration must prove that the DENR Secretary had approved the land classification and released the land of the public
domain as alienable and disposable, and that the land subject of the application for registration falls within the approved
area per verification through survey by the PENRO or CENRO. In addition, the applicant for land registration must present
a copy of the original classification approved by the DENR Secretary and certified as a true copy by the legal custodian of
the official records. These facts must be established to prove that the land is alienable and disposable. Respondent failed
to do so because the certifications presented by respondent do not, by themselves, prove that the land is alienable and
disposable.

Only Torres, respondent’s Operations Manager, identified the certifications submitted by respondent. 1âwphi1 The
government officials who issued the certifications were not presented before the trial court to testify on their contents.
The trial court should not have accepted the contents of the certifications as proof of the facts stated therein. Even if the
certifications are presumed duly issued and admissible in evidence, they have no probative value in establishing that the
land is alienable and disposable.

xxxx

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

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

WHEREFORE, the Court REVERSES and SETS ASIDE the decision of the Court of Appeals promulgated on May 27, 2003;
DISMISSES the application for registration of Arcadio C. Santos, Jr. and Arcadio Ivan S. Santos III respecting Lot 4998-B
with a total area of 1,045 square meters, more or less, situated in Barangay San Dionisio, Parañaque City, Metro Manila;
and DECLARES Lot 4998-B as exclusively belonging to the State for being part of the dried--up bed of the Parat1aque
River.

Respondents shall pay the costs of suit.


SO ORDERED.

G.R. No. L-43105 August 31, 1984

REPUBLIC OF THE PHILIPPINES (Director of Lands), petitioner,


vs.
THE HON. COURT OF APPEALS (SECOND DIVISION) AND SANTOS DEL RIO, respondents.

G.R. No. L-43190 August 31, 1984

AURORA BAUTISTA, OLIMPIO LARIOS, FELICIDAD DE LA CRUZ, ELPIDIO LARIOS, LUCITA BANDA, BENITO
SANTAYANA, FRUCTUOSA BANHAO LUCIO VELASCO, GREGORIO DATOY, FELIMON GUTIERREZ, ET
AL., petitioners,
vs.
THE HON. COURT OF APPEALS AND SANTOS DEL RIO, respondents.

Bonifacio, Perez & Concepcion for petitioners.

The Solicitor General for respondent Appellate Court.

Eduardo Cagandahan for respondent Santos del Rio.

CUEVAS, J.:

These two 1 Petitions for Review of the same decision of the defunct Court of Appeals 2 have been consolidated in this
single decision, having arisen from one and the same Land Registration Cage (LRC Case No. N-283, Laguna), and
presenting as they do issues which may be resolved jointly by this Court.

The questioned decision of the Court of Appeals set aside the judgment of the trial court and ordered the registration of
the land in favor of applicant, now private respondent, Santos del Rio. Petitioner Director of Lands in G.R. No. L-43105
claims that the land sought to be registered is part of the public domain and therefore not registerable. Petitioners private
oppositors in G.R. No. L-43190, on the other hand, allege that they reclaimed the land by dumping duck egg shells
thereon, and that they have been in possession of the same for more than twenty (20) years.

The lot subject matter of this land registration case, with an area of 17,311 square meters, is situated near the shore of
Laguna de Bay, about twenty (20) meters therefrom (Exh. D), 3 in Barrio Pinagbayanan, Pila, Laguna. It was purchased
by Benedicto del Rio from Angel Pili on April 19, 1909. The Deed of Sale evidencing said purchase is duly recorded with
the Registry of Deeds of Sta. Cruz, Laguna. The land was declared for tax purposes beginning the year 1918, and the
realty taxes thereon had been paid since 1948. When Benedicto del Rio died in 1957, his heirs extrajudicially partitioned
his estate and the subject parcel passed on to his son, Santos del Rio, as the latter's share in the inheritance.

Santos del Rio, herein applicant-private respondent, filed his application for registration of said parcel on May 9, 1966.
The application was opposed by the Director of Lands and by private oppositors, petitioners in G.R. No. L-43190.

Sometime before 1966, private oppositors obtained permission from Santos del Rio to construct duck houses on the land
in question. Although there was no definite commitment as to rentals, some of them had made voluntary payments to
private respondent. In violation of the original agreement, private oppositors constructed residential houses on the land
which prompted private respondent to file an ejectment suit against the former in 1966. 4Meanwhile, during the latter
part of 1965 and in 1966, private oppositors had simultaneously filed their respective sales applications with the Bureau
of Lands, and in 1966, they opposed Santos del Rios application for registration. The Court of First Instance of Laguna
dismissed the application for registration. Applicant appealed and obtained a favorable judgment from the Court of
Appeals. The Director of Lands and the private oppositors filed their respective Petitions for Review of said decision.

The two consolidated petitions raise substantially the same issues, to wit :
1) whether or not the parcel of land in question is public land; and

2) whether or not applicant private respondent has registerable title to the land.

Property, which includes parcels of land found in Philippine territory, is either of public dominion or of private
ownership. 5 Public lands, or those of public dominion, have been described as those which, under existing legislation are
not the subject of private ownership, and are reserved for public purposes. 6 The New Civil Code enumerates properties
of public dominion in Articles 420 and 502 thereof. Article 420 provides:

The following things are property of public dominion:

(1) Those intended for public use, such as roads, canals, rivers, torrents, ports and bridges constructed
by the State, banks, shores, roadsteads, and others of similar character;

(2) Those which belong to the State without being for public use, and are intended for some public
service or for the development of the national wealth.

Article 502 adds to the above enumeration, the following:

(1) Rivers and their natural beds;

(2) Continuous or intermittent waters of springs and brooks running in their natural beds and the beds
themselves;

(3) Waters rising continuously or intermittently on lands of public dominion;

(4) Lakes and lagoons formed by Nature on public lands and their beds;

xxx xxx xxx

(Emphasis supplied)

The Director of Lands would like Us to believe that since a portion of the land sought to be registered is covered with
water four to five months a year, the same is part of the lake bed of Laguna de Bay, or is at least, a foreshore land,
which brings it within the enumeration in Art. 502 of the New Civil Code quoted above and therefore it cannot be the
subject of registration.

The extent of a lake bed is defined in Art. 74 of the Law of Waters of 1866, as follows:

The natural bed or basin of lakes, ponds, or pools, is the ground covered by their waters when at
their highest ordinary depth. (Emphasis supplied)

The phrase "highest ordinary depth" in the above definition has been interpreted in the case of Government of P.I. vs.
Colegio de San Jose 7 to be the highest depth of the waters of Laguna de Bay during the dry season, such depth being
the "regular, common, natural, which occurs always or most of the time during the year." The foregoing interpretation
was the focal point in the Court of Appeals decision sought to be reviewed. We see no reason to disturb the same.

Laguna de Bay is a lake. 8 While the waters of a lake are also subject to the same gravitational forces that cause the
formation of tides 9 in seas and oceans, this phenomenon is not a regular daily occurrence in the case of lakes. 10Thus,
the alternation of high tides and low tides, which is an ordinary occurrence, could hardly account for the rise in the water
level of the Laguna de Bay as observed four to five months a year during the rainy season. Rather, it is the rains which
bring about the inundation of a portion of the land in question. Since the rise in the water level which causes the
submersion of the land occurs during a shorter period (four to five months a year) than the level of the water at which
the is completely dry, the latter should be considered as the "highest ordinary depth" of Laguna de Bay. Therefore, the
land sought to be registered is not part of the bed or basin of Laguna de Bay. Neither can it be considered as foreshore
land. The Brief for the Petitioner Director of Lands cites an accurate definition of a foreshore land, to wit:
... that part of (the land) which is between high and low water and left dry by the flux and reflux of the
tides... 11

The strip of land that lies between the high and low water mark and that is alternately wet and dry
according to the flow of the tide. 12

As aptly found by the Court a quo, the submersion in water of a portion of the land in question is due to the rains "falling
directly on or flowing into Laguna de Bay from different sources. 13 Since the inundation of a portion of the land is not
due to "flux and reflux of tides" it cannot be considered a foreshore land within the meaning of the authorities cited by
petitioner Director of Lands. The land sought to be registered not being part of the bed or basin of Laguna de Bay, nor a
foreshore land as claimed by the Director of Lands, it is not a public land and therefore capable of registration as private
property provided that the applicant proves that he has a registerable title. This brings us to the second issue, which is
whether or not applicant private respondent has registerable title to the land.

The purpose of land registration under the Torrens System is not the acquisition of lands but only the registration of title
which applicant already possesses over the land. 14 Registration under the Torrens Law was never intended as a means
of acquiring ownership. Applicant in this case asserts ownership over the parcel of land he seeks to register and traces
the roots of his title to a public instrument of sale (Exh. G) in favor of his father from whom he inherited said land. In
addition to this muniment of title, he presents tax declarations (Exhs. F, G, H, I) covering the land since 1918 and also tax
receipts (Exhs. J, J-1, J-2, J-3, J-4, K, K-1, K-2, K-3) dating back to 1948. While it is true that by themselves tax receipts
and declarations of ownership for taxation purposes are not incontrovertible evidence of ownership, 15 they become
strong evidence of ownership acquired by prescription when accompanied by proof of actual possession of the
property. 16 The then Court of Appeals found applicant by himself and through his father before him, has been in open,
continuous, public, peaceful, exclusive and adverse possession of the disputed land for more than thirty (30) years,
counted from April 19, 1909, when the land was acquired from a third person by purchase. 17 The record does not show
any circumstance of note sufficient enough to overthrow said findings of facts which is binding upon us. Since applicant
has possessed the subject parcel in the concept of owner with just title and in good faith, his possession need only last
for ten years in order for ordinary acquisitive prescription to set in. 18 Applicant has more than satisfied this legal
requirement. And even if the land sought to be registered is public land as claimed by the petitioners still, applicant would
be entitled to a judicial confirmation of his imperfect title, since he has also satisfied the requirements of the Public Land
Act (Commonwealth Act No. 141 as amended by Republic Act No. 1942). Sec. 48 of said Act enumerates as among the
persons entitled to judicial confirmation of imperfect title, the following:

(a) ...

(b) Those who, by themselves or through their predecessors-in-interest, have been in the open,
continuous, exclusive, and notorious possession and occupation of agricultural lands of the public
domain, under bona fide c of ownership, for at least tirty years immediately preceding the filing of the
application for confirmation of title ...

The claim of private oppositors, petitioners in G.R. No. L43190, that they have reclaimed the land from the waters of
Laguna de Bay and that they have possessed the same for more than twenty (20) years does not improve their position.
In the first place, private persons cannot, by themselves reclaim land from water bodies belonging to the public domain
without proper permission from government authorities. 19 And even if such reclamation had been authorized, the
reclaimed land does not automatically belong to the party reclaiming the same as they may still be subject to the terms of
the authority earlier granted. 20 Private oppositors-petitioners failed to show proper authority for the alleged reclamation,
therefore, their claimed title to the litigated parcel must fall. In the second place, their alleged possession can never ripen
into ownership. Only possession acquired and enjoyed in the concept of owner can serve as the root of a title acquired by
prescription. 21 As correctly found by the appellate court, the private oppositors-petitioners entered into possession of the
land with the permission of, and as tenants of, the applicant del Rio. The fact that some of them at one time or another
did not pay rent cannot be considered in their favor. Their use of the land and their non-payment of rents thereon were
merely tolerated by applicant and these could not have affected the character of the latter's possession 22 which has
already ripened into ownership at the time of the filing of this application for registration.

The applicant private-respondent having satisfactorily established his registerable title over the parcel of land described in
his application, he is clearly entitled to the registration in his favor of said land.
IN VIEW OF THE FOREGOING, the judgment appealed from is hereby AFFIRMED and the registration in favor of applicant
private-respondent of the land described in his application is hereby ordered.

Costs against private petitioners.

SO ORDERED.

OFFICE OF THE CITY MAYOR OF PARAAQUE G.R. No. 178411


CITY, OFFICE OF THE CITY ADMINISTRATOR
OF PARAAQUE CITY, OFFICE OF THE CITY
ENGINEER OF PARAAQUE CITY, OFFICE OF THE Present:
CITY PLANNING AND DEVELOPMENT
COORDINATOR, OFFICE OF THE BARANGAY
CAPTAIN AND SANGGUNIANG PAMBARANGAY CARPIO MORALES, J.,
OF BARANGAY VITALEZ, PARAAQUE CITY, Chairperson,
TERESITA A. GATCHALIAN, ENRICO R. BRION,
ESGUERRA, ERNESTO T. PRACALE, JR., BERSAMIN,
MANUEL M. ARGOTE, CONRADO M. CANLAS, ABAD,* and
JOSEPHINE S. DAUIGOY, ALLAN L. GONZALES, VILLARAMA, JR., JJ.
ESTER C. ASEHAN, MANUEL A. FUENTES, and
MYRNA P. ROSALES,
Petitioners,

- versus -

MARIO D. EBIO AND HIS CHILDREN/HEIRS Promulgated:


namely, ARTURO V. EBIO, EDUARDO V. EBIO,
RENATO V. EBIO, LOURDES E. MAGTANGOB, June 23, 2010
MILA V. EBIO, and ARNEL V. EBIO,
Respondents.
x- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -x

DECISION

VILLARAMA, JR., J.:

Before us is a petition for review on certiorari under Rule 45 of the 1997 Rules of Civil Procedure, as amended, assailing the
January 31, 2007 Decision[1] and June 8, 2007 Resolution[2] of the Court of Appeals (CA) in CA-G.R. SP No. 91350 allegedly
for being contrary to law and jurisprudence. The CA had reversed the Order[3] of the Regional Trial Court (RTC)
of Paraaque City, Branch 196, issued on April 29, 2005 in Civil Case No. 05-0155.

Below are the facts.

Respondents claim that they are the absolute owners of a parcel of land consisting of 406 square meters, more or less,
located at 9781 Vitalez Compound in Barangay Vitalez, Paraaque City and covered by Tax Declaration Nos. 01027 and
01472 in the name of respondent Mario D. Ebio. Said land was an accretion of Cut-cut creek. Respondents assert that the
original occupant and possessor of the said parcel of land was their great grandfather, Jose Vitalez. Sometime in 1930, Jose
gave the land to his son, Pedro Vitalez. From then on, Pedro continuously and exclusively occupied and possessed the said
lot. In 1966, after executing an affidavit declaring possession and occupancy,[4] Pedro was able to obtain a tax declaration
over the said property in his name.[5] Since then, respondents have been religiously paying real property taxes for the said
property.[6]

Meanwhile, in 1961, respondent Mario Ebio married Pedros daughter, Zenaida. Upon Pedros advice, the couple established
their home on the said lot. In April 1964 and in October 1971, Mario Ebio secured building permits from the Paraaque
municipal office for the construction of their house within the said compound.[7] On April 21, 1987, Pedro executed a
notarized Transfer of Rights[8] ceding his claim over the entire parcel of land in favor of Mario Ebio. Subsequently, the tax
declarations under Pedros name were cancelled and new ones were issued in Mario Ebios name. [9]

On March 30, 1999, the Office of the Sangguniang Barangay of Vitalez passed Resolution No. 08, series of 1999[10] seeking
assistance from the City Government of Paraaque for the construction of an access road along Cut-cut Creek located in the
said barangay. The proposed road, projected to be eight (8) meters wide and sixty (60) meters long, will run from Urma
Drive to the main road of Vitalez Compound[11] traversing the lot occupied by the respondents. When the city government
advised all the affected residents to vacate the said area, respondents immediately registered their opposition thereto. As
a result, the road project was temporarily suspended.[12]

In January 2003, however, respondents were surprised when several officials from the barangay and the city planning office
proceeded to cut eight (8) coconut trees planted on the said lot. Respondents filed letter-complaints before the Regional
Director of the Bureau of Lands, the Department of Interior and Local Government and the Office of the Vice
Mayor.[13] On June 29, 2003, the Sangguniang Barangay of Vitalez held a meeting to discuss the construction of the
proposed road. In the said meeting, respondents asserted their opposition to the proposed project and their claim of
ownership over the affected property.[14] On November 14, 2003, respondents attended another meeting with officials from
the city government, but no definite agreement was reached by and among the parties. [15]

On March 28, 2005, City Administrator Noli Aldip sent a letter to the respondents ordering them to vacate the area within
the next thirty (30) days, or be physically evicted from the said property.[16] Respondents sent a letter to the Office of the
City Administrator asserting, in sum, their claim over the subject property and expressing intent for a further
dialogue.[17] The request remained unheeded.

Threatened of being evicted, respondents went to the RTC of Paraaque City on April 21, 2005 and applied for a writ of
preliminary injunction against petitioners.[18]In the course of the proceedings, respondents admitted before the trial court
that they have a pending application for the issuance of a sales patent before the Department of Environment and Natural
Resources (DENR).[19]

On April 29, 2005, the RTC issued an Order[20] denying the petition for lack of merit. The trial court reasoned that respondents
were not able to prove successfully that they have an established right to the property since they have not instituted an action
for confirmation of title and their application for sales patent has not yet been granted. Additionally, they failed to implead the
Republic of the Philippines, which is an indispensable party.

Respondents moved for reconsideration, but the same was denied. [21]
Aggrieved, respondents elevated the matter to the Court of Appeals. On January 31, 2007, the Court of Appeals issued its
Decision in favor of the respondents. According to the Court of Appeals--

The issue ultimately boils down to the question of ownership of the lands adjoining Cutcut Creek particularly
Road Lot No. 8 (hereinafter RL 8) and the accreted portion beside RL 8.

The evidentiary records of the instant case, shows that RL 8 containing an area of 291 square meters is
owned by Guaranteed Homes, Inc. covered by TCT No. S-62176. The same RL 8 appears to have been
donated by the Guaranteed Homes to the City Government of Paraaque on 22 March 1966 and which was
accepted by the then Mayor FLORENCIO BERNABE on 5 April 1966. There is no evidence however, when
RL 8 has been intended as a road lot.

On the other hand, the evidentiary records reveal that PEDRO VITALEZ possessed the accreted property
since 1930 per his Affidavit dated 21 March 1966 for the purpose of declaring the said property for taxation
purposes. The property then became the subject of Tax Declaration No. 20134 beginning the year 1967
and the real property taxes therefor had been paid for the years 1966, 1967, 1968, 1969, 1970, 1972,
1973, 1974, 1978, 1980, 1995, 1996, 1997, 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, and 2004. Sometime in
1964 and 1971, construction permits were issued in favor of Appellant MARIO EBIO for the subject property.
On 21 April 1987, PEDRO VITALEZ transferred his rights in the accreted property to MARIO EBIO and his
successors-in-interest.

Applying [Article 457 of the Civil Code considering] the foregoing documentary evidence, it could be
concluded that Guaranteed Homes is the owner of the accreted property considering its ownership of the
adjoining RL 8 to which the accretion attached. However, this is without the application of the provisions
of the Civil Code on acquisitive prescription which is likewise applicable in the instant case.

xxxx

The subject of acquisitive prescription in the instant case is the accreted portion which [was] duly
proven by the Appellants. It is clear that since 1930, Appellants together with their predecessor-in-interest,
PEDRO VITALEZ[,] have been in exclusive possession of the subject property and starting 1964 had
introduced improvements thereon as evidenced by their construction permits. Thus, even by extraordinary
acquisitive prescription[,] Appellants have acquired ownership of the property in question since 1930 even
if the adjoining RL 8 was subsequently registered in the name of Guaranteed Homes. x x x.

xxxx

Further, it was only in 1978 that Guaranteed Homes was able to have RL 8 registered in its name, which is
almost fifty years from the time PEDRO VITALEZ occupied the adjoining accreted property in 1930. x x x.

xxxx

We likewise note the continuous payment of real property taxes of Appellants which bolster their right over
the subject property. x x x.

xxxx

In sum, We are fully convinced and so hold that the Appellants [have] amply proven their right over the
property in question.

WHEREFORE, premises considered, the instant appeal is hereby GRANTED. The challenged Order of the
court a quo is REVERSED and SET ASIDE.

SO ORDERED.[22]

On June 8, 2007, the appellate court denied petitioners motion for reconsideration. Hence, this petition raising the following
assignment of errors:
I. WHETHER OR NOT THE DECISION AND RESOLUTION OF THE HONORABLE COURT OF APPEALS
THAT RESPONDENTS HAVE A RIGHT IN ESSE IS IN ACCORD WITH THE LAW AND ESTABLISHED
JURISPRUDENCE[;]

II. WHETHER OR NOT THE DECISION AND RESOLUTION OF THE HONORABLE COURT OF APPEALS
THAT THE SUBJECT LOT IS AVAILABLE FOR ACQUISITIVE PRESCRIPTION IS IN ACCORD WITH THE
LAW AND ESTABLISHED JURISPRUDENCE[;] AND

III. WHETHER OR NOT THE STATE IS AN INDISPENSABLE PARTY TO THE COMPLAINT FILED BY
RESPONDENTS IN THE LOWER COURT.[23]

The issues may be narrowed down into two (2): procedurally, whether the State is an indispensable party to respondents
action for prohibitory injunction; and substantively, whether the character of respondents possession and occupation of the
subject property entitles them to avail of the relief of prohibitory injunction.

The petition is without merit.

An action for injunction is brought specifically to restrain or command the performance of an act. [24] It is distinct from the
ancillary remedy of preliminary injunction, which cannot exist except only as part or as an incident to an independent action
or proceeding. Moreover, in an action for injunction, the auxiliary remedy of a preliminary prohibitory or mandatory
injunction may issue.[25]

In the case at bar, respondents filed an action for injunction to prevent the local government of Paraaque City from
proceeding with the construction of an access road that will traverse through a parcel of land which they claim is owned by
them by virtue of acquisitive prescription.

Petitioners, however, argue that since the creek, being a tributary of the river, is classified as part of the public domain,
any land that may have formed along its banks through time should also be considered as part of the public domain. And
respondents should have included the State as it is an indispensable party to the action.

We do not agree.

It is an uncontested fact that the subject land was formed from the alluvial deposits that have gradually settled along the
banks of Cut-cut creek. This being the case, the law that governs ownership over the accreted portion is Article 84 of
the Spanish Law of Waters of 1866, which remains in effect,[26] in relation to Article 457 of the Civil Code.

Article 84 of the Spanish Law of Waters of 1866 specifically covers ownership over alluvial deposits along the banks of a
creek. It reads:

ART. 84. Accretions deposited gradually upon lands contiguous to creeks, streams, rivers, and lakes, by
accessions or sediments from the waters thereof, belong to the owners of such lands. [27]

Interestingly, Article 457 of the Civil Code states:


Art. 457. To the owners of lands adjoining the banks of rivers belong the accretion which they gradually
receive from the effects of the current of the waters.

It is therefore explicit from the foregoing provisions that alluvial deposits along the banks of a creek do not form part of
the public domain as the alluvial property automatically belongs to the owner of the estate to which it may have been
added. The only restriction provided for by law is that the owner of the adjoining property must register the same under
the Torrens system; otherwise, the alluvial property may be subject to acquisition through prescription by third persons.[28]

In contrast, properties of public dominion cannot be acquired by prescription. No matter how long the possession of the
properties has been, there can be no prescription against the State regarding property of public domain. [29] Even a city or
municipality cannot acquire them by prescription as against the State.[30]

Hence, while it is true that a creek is a property of public dominion, [31] the land which is formed by the gradual and
imperceptible accumulation of sediments along its banks does not form part of the public domain by clear provision of law.

Moreover, an indispensable party is one whose interest in the controversy is such that a final decree would necessarily
affect his/her right, so that the court cannot proceed without their presence. [32] In contrast, a necessary party is one whose
presence in the proceedings is necessary to adjudicate the whole controversy but whose interest is separable such that a
final decree can be made in their absence without affecting them.[33]

In the instant case, the action for prohibition seeks to enjoin the city government of Paraaque from proceeding with its
implementation of the road construction project. The State is neither a necessary nor an indispensable party to an action
where no positive act shall be required from it or where no obligation shall be imposed upon it, such as in the case at bar.
Neither would it be an indispensable party if none of its properties shall be divested nor any of its rights infringed.

We also find that the character of possession and ownership by the respondents over the contested land entitles them to
the avails of the action.

A right in esse means a clear and unmistakable right.[34] A party seeking to avail of an injunctive relief must prove that he
or she possesses a right in esse or one that is actual or existing.[35] It should not be contingent, abstract, or future rights,
or one which may never arise.[36]

In the case at bar, respondents assert that their predecessor-in-interest, Pedro Vitalez, had occupied and possessed the
subject lot as early as 1930. In 1964, respondent Mario Ebio secured a permit from the local government of Paraaque for
the construction of their family dwelling on the said lot. In 1966, Pedro executed an affidavit of possession and occupancy
allowing him to declare the property in his name for taxation purposes. Curiously, it was also in 1966 when Guaranteed
Homes, Inc., the registered owner of Road Lot No. 8 (RL 8) which adjoins the land occupied by the respondents, donated
RL 8 to the local government of Paraaque.
From these findings of fact by both the trial court and the Court of Appeals, only one conclusion can be made: that for
more than thirty (30) years, neither Guaranteed Homes, Inc. nor the local government of Paraaque in its corporate or
private capacity sought to register the accreted portion. Undoubtedly, respondents are deemed to have acquired ownership
over the subject property through prescription. Respondents can assert such right despite the fact that they have yet to
register their title over the said lot. It must be remembered that the purpose of land registration is not the acquisition of
lands, but only the registration of title which the applicant already possessed over the land. Registration was never intended
as a means of acquiring ownership.[37] A decree of registration merely confirms, but does not confer, ownership. [38]

Did the filing of a sales patent application by the respondents, which remains pending before the DENR, estop them from
filing an injunction suit?

We answer in the negative.

Confirmation of an imperfect title over a parcel of land may be done either through judicial proceedings or through
administrative process. In the instant case, respondents admitted that they opted to confirm their title over the property
administratively by filing an application for sales patent.

Respondents application for sales patent, however, should not be used to prejudice or derogate what may be deemed as
their vested right over the subject property. The sales patent application should instead be considered as a mere superfluity
particularly since ownership over the land, which they seek to buy from the State, is already vested upon them by virtue of
acquisitive prescription. Moreover, the State does not have any authority to convey a property through the issuance of a
grant or a patent if the land is no longer a public land.[39]

Nemo dat quod dat non habet. No one can give what he does not have. Such principle is equally applicable even against a
sovereign entity that is the State.

WHEREFORE, the petition is DENIED for lack of merit. The January 31, 2007 Decision, as well as the July 8, 2007
Resolution, of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. SP No. 91350 are hereby AFFIRMED.

G.R. No. 95907 April 8, 1992

JOSE REYNANTE, petitioner,


vs.
THE HONORABLE COURT OF APPEALS, THE HON. VALENTIN CRUZ, as Presiding Judge, Regional Trial Court
of Bulacan, Branch VIII, and the HEIRS OF LEONCIO CARLOS and DOLORES A. CARLOS, and HEIRS OF
GORGONIO CARLOS and CONCEPCION CARLOS, respondents.

PARAS, J.:

This is a petition for review on certiorari which seeks the reversal of: a) decision 1 of the Court of Appeals dated February
28, 1990 in CA-G.R. No. 1917 entitled "JOSE REYNANTE versus HON. VALENTIN CRUZ, Judge, RTC of Malolos, Bulacan,
and HEIRS OF LEONCIO AND DOLORES CARLOS, et al.", affirming the decision 2 of the Regional Trial Court
of Malolos, Bulacan, Branch 8, Third Judicial Region which reversed the decision 3 of the Municipal Trial Court of
Meycauayan, Bulacan, Branch 1, Third Judicial Region in Civil Case No. 1526 entitled "HEIRS OF LEONCIO CARLOS &
DOLORES A. CARLOS and HEIRS OF GORGONIO A. CARLOS & CONCEPCION CARLOS versus JOSE REYNANTE: and b) the
resolution denying the motion for reconsideration.

The facts as culled from the records of the case are as follows:

More than 50 years ago, petitioner Jose Reynante was taken as tenant by the late Don Cosme Carlos, owner and father-
in-law of herein private respondents, over a fishpond located at Barrio Liputan, Meycauayan, Bulacan with an area of
188.711 square meters, more or less and covered by Transfer Certificate of Title No. 25618, Land Registry of Bulacan.

During the tenancy, petitioner Jose Reynante constructed a nipa hut where he and his family lived and took care of the
nipa palms (sasahan) he had planted on lots 1 and 2 covering an area of 5,096 square meters and 6,011 square meters
respectively. These lots are located between the fishpond covered by TCT No. 25618 and the Liputan (formerly
Meycauayan) River. Petitioner harvested and sold said nipa palms without interference and prohibition from anybody.
Neither did the late Don Cosme Carlos question his right to plant the nipa palms near the fishpond or to harvest and
appropriate them as his own.

After the death of Don Cosme Carlos, his heirs (private respondents' predecessors-in-interest) entered into a written
agreement denominated as "SINUMPAANG SALAYSAY NG PAGSASAULI NG KARAPATAN" dated November 29, 1984 with
petitioner Jose Reynante whereby the latter for and in consideration of the sum of P200,000.00 turned over the fishpond
he was tenanting to the heirs of Don Cosme Carlos and surrendered all his rights therein as caretaker or "bantay-kasama
at tagapamahala" (Rollo, p. 77).

Pursuant to the said written agreement, petitioner surrendered the fishpond and the two huts located therein to private
respondents. Private respondents thereafter leased the said fishpond to one Carlos de la Cruz. Petitioner continued to live
in the nipa hut constructed by him on lots 1 and 2 and to take care of the nipa palms he had planted therein.

On February 17, 1988, private respondents formally demanded that the petitioner vacate said portion since according to
them petitioner had already been indemnified for the surrender of his rights as a tenant. Despite receipt thereof,
petitioner refused and failed to relinquish possession of lots 1 and 2.

Hence, on April 22, 1988, private respondents filed a complaint for forcible entry with preliminary mandatory injunction
against petitioner alleging that the latter by means of strategy and stealth, took over the physical, actual and material
possession of lots 1 and 2 by residing in one of the kubos or huts bordering the Liputan River and cutting off and/or
disposing of the sasa or nipa palms adjacent thereto.

On January 10, 1989, the trial court rendered its decision dismissing the complaint and finding that petitioner had been in
prior possession of lots 1
and 2.

Private respondents appealed to the Regional Trial Court and on August 8, 1989 it rendered its decision, the dispositive
portion of which reads as follows:

WHEREFORE, this Court renders judgment in favor of the plaintiffs and against defendant and hereby
reverses the decision of the Court a quo. Accordingly, the defendant is ordered to restore possession of
that piece of land particularly described and defined as Lots 1 & 2 of the land survey conducted by
Geodetic Engineer Restituto Buan on March 2, 1983, together with the sasa or nipa palms planted
thereon. No pronouncement as to attorney's fees. Each party shall bear their respective costs of the suit.

SO ORDERED. (Rollo, p. 55; Decision, p. 4).

From said decision, petitioner filed with the Court of Appeals a petition for review ( Rollo, p. 30; Annex "A"). On February
28, 1990, the Court of Appeals rendered its decision, the dispositive portion of which reads as follows:

WHEREFORE, the decision of the court a quo, being consistent with law and jurisprudence, is hereby
AFFIRMED in toto. The instant petition seeking to issue a restraining order is hereby denied.
SO ORDERED. (Rollo, p. 30; Decision, p. 3).

On November 5, 1990, the Court of Appeals denied the motion for reconsideration filed by petitioner ( Rollo, p. 35; Annex
"B").

Hence, this petition.

In its resolution dated May 6, 1991, the Second Division of this court gave due course to the petition and required both
parties to file their respective memoranda (Rollo, p. 93).

The main issues to be resolved in this case are: a) who between the petitioner and private respondents has prior physical
possession of lots 1 and 2; and b) whether or not the disputed lots belong to private respondents as a result of accretion.

An action for forcible entry is merely a quieting process and actual title to the property is never determined. A party who
can prove prior possession can recover such possession even against the owner himself. Whatever may be the character
of his prior possession, if he has in his favor priority in time, he has the security that entitles him to remain on the
property until he is lawfully ejected by a person having a better right by accion publiciana or accion
reivindicatoria (German Management & Services, Inc. v. Court of Appeals, G.R. No. 76216, September 14, 1989, 177
SCRA 495, 498, 499). On the other hand, if a plaintiff cannot prove prior physical possession, he has no right of action for
forcible entry and detainer even if he should be the owner of the property (Lizo v. Carandang, 73 Phil. 469 [1942]).

Hence, the Court of Appeals could not legally restore private respondents' possession over lots 1 and 2 simply because
petitioner has clearly proven that he had prior possession over lots 1 and 2.

The evidence on record shows that petitioner was in possession of the questioned lots for more than 50 years. It is
undisputed that he was the caretaker of the fishpond owned by the late Don Cosme Carlos for more than 50 years and
that he constructed a nipa hut adjacent to the fishpond and planted nipa palms therein. This fact is bolstered by the
"SINUMPAANG SALAYSAY" executed by Epifanio Lucero (Records, p. 66), Apolonio D. Morte (Records, p. 101) and Carling
Dumalay (Records, p. 103), all of whom are disinterested parties with no motive to falsify that can be attributed to them,
except their desire to tell the truth.

Moreover, an ocular inspection was conducted by the trial court dated December 2, 1988 which was attended by the
parties and their respective counsels and the court observed the following:

The Court viewed the location and the distance of the constructed nipa hut and the subject "sasahan"
which appears exists (sic) long ago, planted and stands (sic) adjacent to the fishpond and the dikes
which serves (sic) as passage way of water river of lot 1 and lot 2. During the course of the hearing, both
counsel observed muniment of title embedded on the ground which is located at the inner side of the
"pilapil" separating the fishpond from the subject "sasa" plant with a height of 20 to 25 feet from water
level and during the ocular inspection it was judicially observed that the controversial premises is beyond
the titled property of the plaintiffs but situated along the Liputan, Meycauayan River it being a part of the
public domain. (Rollo, p. 51; Decision, p. 12).

On the other hand, private respondents based their claim of possession over lots 1 and 2 simply on the written
agreement signed by petitioner whereby the latter surrendered his rights over the fishpond.

Evidently, the trial court did not err when it ruled that:

An examination of the document signed by the defendant (Exhibit "B"), shows that what was surrendered
to the plaintiffs was the fishpond and not the "sasahan" or the land on which he constructed his hut
where he now lives. That is a completely different agreement in which a tenant would return a farm or a
fishpond to his landlord in return for the amount that the landlord would pay to him as a disturbance
compensation. There is nothing that indicates that the tenant was giving other matters not mentioned in
a document like Exhibit "B". Moreover, when the plaintiffs leased the fishpond to Mr. Carlos de La Cruz
there was no mention that the lease included the hut constructed by the defendant and the nipa palms
planted by him (Exhibit "1"), a circumstance that gives the impression that the nipa hut and the nipa
palms were not included in the lease to Mr. de la Cruz, which may not belong to the plaintiffs. (Rollo, p.
49; Decision, p. 9).

With regard to the second issue, it must be noted that the disputed lots involved in this case are not included in Transfer
Certificate of Title No. 25618 as per verification made by the Forest Management Bureau, Department of Environment
and Natural Resources. That tract of land situated at Barrio Liputan, Meycauayan, Bulacan containing an area of 1.1107
hectares as described in the plan prepared and surveyed by Geodetic Engineer Restituto Buan for Jose Reynante falls
within Alienable and Disposable Land (for fishpond development) under Project No. 15 per B.F.L.C. Map No. 3122 dated
May 8, 1987 (Rollo, p. 31; Decision, p. 2).

The respondent Court of Appeals ruled that lots 1 and 2 were created by alluvial formation and hence the property of
private respondents pursuant to Article 457 of the New Civil Code, to wit:

Art. 457. To the owners of lands adjoining the banks of rivers belong the accretion which they gradually
receive from the effects of the current of the waters.

Accretion benefits a riparian owner when the following requisites are present: (1) that the deposit be gradual and
imperceptible; (2) that it resulted from the effects of the current of the water; and (c) that the land where accretion takes
place is adjacent to the bank of a river (Republic v. Court of Appeals, G.R. No. L-61647, October 12, 1984, 132 SCRA 514,
cited in Agustin v. Intermediate Appellate Court, G.R. Nos. 66075-76, July 5, 1990, 187 SCRA 218).

Granting without conceding that lots 1 and 2 were created by alluvial formation and while it is true that accretions which
the banks of rivers may gradually receive from the effect of the current become the property of the owner of the banks,
such accretion to registered land does not preclude acquisition of the additional area by another person through
prescription.

This Court ruled in the case of Ignacio Grande, et al. v. Hon. Court of Appeals, et al., G.R. No. L-17652, June 30, 1962,
115 Phil. 521 that:

An accretion does not automatically become registered land just because the lot which receives such
accretion is covered by a Torrens Title. Ownership of a piece of land is one thing; registration under the
Torrens system of that ownership is another. Ownership over the accretion received by the land adjoining
a river is governed by the Civil Code. Imprescriptibility of registered land is provided in the registration
law. Registration under the Land Registration and Cadastral Act does not vest or give title to the land, but
merely confirms and, thereafter, protects the title already possessed by the owner, making it
imprescriptible by occupation of third parties. But to obtain this protection, the land must be placed under
the operation of the registration laws, wherein certain judicial procedures have beenprovided.

Assuming private respondents had acquired the alluvial deposit (the lot in question), by accretion, still their failure to
register said accretion for a period of fifty (50) years subjected said accretion to acquisition through prescription by third
persons.

It is undisputed that petitioner has been in possession of the subject lots for more than fifty (50) years and unless private
respondents can show a better title over the subject lots, petitioner's possession over the property must be respected.

PREMISES CONSIDERED, the decision of the respondent Court of Appeals dated February 28, 1990 is REVERSED and SET
ASIDE and the decision of the Municipal Trial Court of Meycauayan, Bulacan, Branch I, is hereby REINSTATED.

SO ORDERED.

G.R. No. 73465 September 7, 1989

LEONIDA CUREG, ROMEO, PEPITO, HERNANDO, MANUEL, ANTONIO AND ELPIDIO (ALL SURNAMED
CARNIYAN) petitioner,
vs.
INTERMEDIATE APPELLATE COURT, (4TH CIVIL CASES DIVISION), DOMINGO APOSTOL, SOLEDAD
GERARDO, ROSA GERARDO, NIEVES GERARDO, FLORDELIZA GERARDO, AND LILIA MAQUINAD, respondent.
Josefin De Alban Law Office for petitioners.

Silvestre Br. Bello for private respondents.

MEDIALDEA, J.:

This petition under Rule 45 of the Rules of Court, seeks the reversal of the decision of the Intermediate Appellate Court
(now Court of Appeals) dated October 15,1985 in AC-G.R. CV No. 03852 entitled "Domingo Apostol, et al., Plaintiffs-
Appellees, v. Leonida Cureg, et al., Defendants-Appellants", which affirmed the decision of the Regional Trial Court of
Isabela, Branch XXII declaring private respondent Domingo Apostol the absolute owner of a parcel of land, situated in
Barangay Casibarag-Cajel, Cabagan, Isabela, more particularly described as follows:

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

On November 5, 1982, private respondents Domingo Apostol, Soledad Gerardo, Rosa Gerardo, Nieves Gerardo, Flordeliza
Gerardo and Lilia Maquinad, filed a complaint for quieting of title and damages with preliminary injunction against herein
petitioners Leonida, Romeo, Pepito, Hernando, Manuel, Antonio and Elpidio, all surnamed Carniyan with the Regional Trial
Court of Isabela and docketed as Civil Case No. Br. 111-373. A temporary restraining order was issued by the trial court
on November 12, 1982.

The complaint alleged that private respondents, except Domingo Apostol, are the legal and/or the forced heirs of the late
Domingo Gerardo, who died in February 1944, the latter being the only issue of the late Francisco Gerardo, who died
before the outbreak of the second world war; that since time immemorial and/or before July 26, 1894, the late Francisco
Gerardo, together with his predecessors-in-interest have been in actual, open, peaceful and continuous possession, under
a bona fide claim of ownership and adverse to all other claimants, of a parcel of land (referred to as their "motherland"),
situated in Casibarag-Cajel, Cabagan, Isabela, more particularly described as follows:

... containing an area of 2.5000 hectares, more or less, and bounded on the North, by Cagayan River;on
the East, by Domingo Guingab (formerly Rosa Cureg); on the south by Antonio Carniyan; and on the
West by Sabina Mola, ... (p. 2, Record)

that said land was declared for taxation purposes under Tax Declaration No. 08-3023 in the name of Francisco Gerardo,
which cancels Tax Declaration No. C-9669, also in the name of Francisco Gerardo; that upon the death of Francisco
Gerardo, the ownership and possession of the "motherland" was succeeded by his only issue, Domingo Gerardo who,
together with three (3) legal or forced heirs, namely Soledad Gerardo, one of private respondents herein, Primo Gerardo
and Salud Gerardo, both deceased, have also been in actual, open, peaceful and continuous possession of the same; that
Primo Gerardo is survived by herein respondents, Rosa, Nieves and Flordeliza, all surnamed Gerardo and Salud Gerardo is
survived by respondent Lilia Maquinad; that in 1979, respondents Soledad Gerardo, Rosa Gerardo, Nieves Gerardo,
Flordeliza Gerardo and Lilia Maquinad verbally sold the "motherland" to co-respondent Domingo Apostol; that on
September 10, 1982, the verbal sale and conveyance was reduced into writing by the vendors who executed an "Extra-
Judicial Partition with Voluntary Reconveyance (Exhibit "Q", p. 206, Rollo); that about the time of the execution of the
Extra-Judicial Partition, their "motherland" already showed/manifested signs of accretion of about three (3) hectares on
the north caused by the northward movement of the Cagayan River; that Domingo Apostol declared the motherland and
its accretion for tax purposes under Tax Declaration No. 08-13281 on September 15, 1982.

The complaint also stated that sometime about the last week of September and/or the first week of October 1982, when
private respondents were about to cultivate their "motherland" together with its accretion, they were prevented and
threatened by defendants (petitioners herein) from continuing to do so. Named defendants in said case are herein
petitioners Leonida Cureg and Romeo, Pepito, Hernando, Manuel, Antonio and Elpidio, all surnamed Carniyan, surviving
spouse and children, respectively, of Antonio Carniyan. Further, the complaint stated that Antonio Carniyan was the
owner of a piece of land situated in Casibarag-Cajel, Cabagan, Isabela and more particularly described as follows:
... containing an area of 2,790 sq. m., more or less bounded on the north by Domingo Gerardo; on the
East, by Domingo Guingab; on the south, by Pelagio Camayo; and on the west by Marcos Cureg,
declared for taxation purposes under Tax Declaration No. 13131, with an assessed value of P70.00. (P. 5,
Record)

that deceased Antonio Carniyan revised on November 28, 1968 his Tax Declaration No. 13131 dated July 24, 1961 to
conform with the correct area and boundaries of his Original Certificate of Title No. P-19093 issued on November 25,
1968; that the area under the new Tax Declaration No.15663 was increased from 2,790 square meters to 4,584 square
meters and the boundary on the north became Cagayan River, purposely eliminating completely the original boundary on
the north which is Domingo Gerardo.

Petitioners' answer alleged that the "motherland" claimed by private respondents is non-existent; that Antonio Carniyan,
petitioners' predecessor-in-interest, was the owner of a piece of land bounded on the north by Cagayan River and not by
the land of Francisco Gerardo as claimed by private respondents; that the "subject land" is an accretion to their registered
land and that petitioners have been in possession and cultivation of the "accretion" for many years now.

The application for the issuance of a writ of preliminary injunction was denied on July 28,1983 (pp. 244-250, Rollo) on
the ground that the defendants were in actual possession of the land in litigation prior to September 1982. In a decision
rendered on July 6, 1984, the trial court held that respondent Domingo Apostol, thru his predecessors-in-interest had
already acquired an imperfect title to the subject land and accordingly, rendered judgment: 1. declaring Domingo Apostol
its absolute owner; 2. ordering the issuance of a writ of preliminary injunction against herein petitioners; 3. ordering that
the writ be made permanent; and 4. ordering herein petitioners to pay private respondents a reasonable attorney's fee of
P5,000.00, litigation expenses of P1,500.00 and costs (pp. 143-145, Rollo).

On July 17, 1984, petitioners appealed to the then Intermediate Appellate Court which affirmed the decision of the trial
court on October 15, 1985. Petitioners' Motion for Reconsideration was denied on January 8, 1986. Hence, this petition
for review on the following assigned errors:

A. It erred in ruling that the subject land or "accretion" (which is bounded on the north by the Cagayan
River) belongs to the private respondents and not to the petitioners when the petitioners "Original
Certificate of " Title No. 19093 states clearly that the petitioners' land is bounded on its north by the
Cagayan River.

B. It erred in construing the tax declarations against the interest of the herein petitioners who are only
the heirs of the late Antonio Carniyan since the late Francisco (supposed predecessor of the respondents)
could not have executed the recently acquired tax declarations (Exhibits "A" to "A-2") as he died long
before World War II and since the late Antonio Carniyan could no longer stand up to explain his side.

C. Contrary to the evidence and the finding of the Regional Trial Court, it wrongly ruled that petitioners
have never been in possession of the land (p. 7 of Annex "A", ibid.).

D. It erred in awarding the accretion of 3.5 hectares to the private respondents who incredibly claimed
that the accretion occurred only in 1982 and is a "gift from the Lord. (pp. 24-25, Rollo)

This petition is impressed with merit.

The object of the controversy in this case is the alleged "motherland" of private respondents together with the accretion
of about 3.5 hectares, the totality of which is referred to in this decision as the "subject land."

In this case, petitioners claimed to be riparian owners who are entitled to the "subject land" which is an accretion to the
registered land while private respondents claimed to be entitled to the 3.5 hectares accretion attached to their
"motherland."

It should be noted that the herein private respondents' claim of ownership of their alleged two and a half (2 & ½) hectare
"motherland" is anchored mainly on four (4) tax declarations (Exhibits "A", "A-1", "A-2" and "B", pp. 191, 192, 193,
194, Rollo). This Court has repeatedly held that the declaration of ownership for purposes of assessment on the payment
of the tax is not sufficient evidence to prove ownership. (Evangelista v. Tabayuyong, 7 Phil. 607; Elumbaring v.
Elumbaring, 12 Phil. 384; cited in Camo v. Riosa Bayco, 29 Phil. 437, 444). For their part, petitioners relied on the
indefeasibility and incontrovertibility of their Original Certificate of Title No. P-19093, dated November 25, 1968 (Exhibit
"3", p. 189, Rollo) issued in the name of Antonio Carniyan (petitioners' predecessor-in-interest) pursuant to Free Patent
No. 399431 dated May 21, 1968, clearly showing that the boundary of petitioners' land on the north is Cagayan River and
not the "motherland" claimed by respondents. The said registered land was bought by the late Antonio Carniyan from his
father-in-law, Marcos Cureg, on October 5, 1956, as evidenced by an Absolute Deed of Sale (Exhibit "8", p. 195, Rollo)
which states that the land is bounded on the north by Cagayan River.

In the case of Ferrer-Lopez v. Court of Appeals, G.R. No. 50420, May 29, 1987, 150 SCRA 393,401-402, We ruled that as
against an array of proofs consisting of tax declarations and/or tax receipts which are not conclusive evidence of
ownership nor proof of the area covered therein, an original certificate of title indicates true and legal ownership by the
registered owners over the disputed premises. Petitioners' OCT No.P-19093 should be accorded greater weight as against
the tax declarations (Exhibit "A', dated 1979; Exhibit "A-1 " undated and Exhibit "A2" dated 1967, pp. 191, 192,
193, Rollo) offered by private respondents in support of their claim, which declarations are all in the name of private
respondents' predecessor-in-interest, Francisco Gerardo, and appear to have been subscribed by him after the last war,
when it was established during the trial that Francisco Gerardo died long before the outbreak of the last war.

Anent Tax Declaration No. 13131, in the name of Antonio Carniyan (Exhibit "C", p. 203, Rollo), which the appellate court
considered as an admission by him that his land is bounded on the north by the land of Domingo Gerardo and that he
(Carniyan) is now estopped from claiming otherwise, We hold that said tax declaration, being of an earlier date cannot
defeat an original certificate of title which is of a later date. Since petitioner's original certificate of title clearly stated that
subject land is bounded on the north by the Cagayan River, private respondents" claim over their "motherland," allegedly
existing between petitioners" land and the Cagayan River, is deemed barred and nullified with the issuance of the original
certificate of title.

It is an elemental rule that a decree of registration bars all claims and rights which arose or may have existed prior to the
decree of registration (Ferrer-Lopez v. CA, supra., p. 404). By the issuance of the decree, the land is bound and title
thereto quieted, subject only to exceptions stated in Section 39, Act 496 (now Sec. 44 of PD No. 1529). Moreover, the tax
declarations of the late Antonio Camiyan subsequent to the issuance of OCT P-19093 (Exhibit "D", p. 204, Rollo) already
states that its northern boundary is Cagayan River. In effect, he has repudiated any previous acknowledgment by him,
granting that he caused the accomplishment of the tax declarations in his name before the issuance of OCT No. P- 19093,
of the existence of Francisco Gerardo's land.

Finally, the trial court concluded that petitioners have never been in possession of the "subject land" but the evidence on
record proves otherwise. First, the trial court on page 11 of its Decision (p. 121, Rollo), stated the reason for denying
private respondents' petition for the issuance of a preliminary injunction, that is, "... the defendants (petitioners herein)
were in actual possession of the land in litigation prior to September, 1982" (p. 121, Rollo). Second, witness for private
respondents, Esteban Guingab, boundary owner on the east of the land in question and whose own land is bounded on
the north of Cagayan River, on cross-examination, revealed that when his property was only more than one (1) hectare in
1958, (now more than 4 hectares) his boundary on the west is the land of Antonio Carniyan (T.S.N., 5 May 1983, pp. 19-
20). Third, witness Rogelio C. Albano, a geodetic engineer, on direct examination stated that in 1974, the late Antonio
Carniyan requested him to survey the land covered by his title and the accretion attached to it, but he did not pursue the
same because he learned from the Office of the Director of the Bureau of Lands that the same accretion is the subject of
an application for homestead patent of one Democrata Aguila, (T.S.N., May 18, 1984, pp. 12-13) contrary to the
statement of the trial court and the appellate court that Albano "made three attempts to survey the land but he did not
continue to survey because persons other than defendants were in possession of the land," which statement appears only
to be a conclusion (p. 7, Rollo). Fourth, We note Exhibit "20" (p. 273, Rollo) for petitioners which is an order by the
Director of Lands dated August 14,1980 in connection with the Homestead Application of Democrata Aguila of an
accretion situated in Catabayungan, Cabagan, Isabela. Aguila's application was disapproved because in an investigation
conducted by the Bureau of Lands of the area applied for which is an accretion, the same was found to be occupied and
cultivated by, among others, Antonio Carniyan, who claimed it as an accretion to his land. It is worthy to note that none
of the private respondents nor their predecessors-in-interest appeared as one of those found occupying and cultivating
said accretion.

On the other hand, the allegation of private respondents that they were in possession of the "motherland" through their
predecessors- in-interest had not been proved by substantial evidence. The assailed decision of the respondent court,
which affirmed the decision of the trial court, stated that since the "motherland" exists, it is also presumed that private
respondents were in possession of the "subject land" through their predecessors- in-interest since prior to July 26, 1894.
The trial court relied on the testimony of Soledad Gerardo, one of the private respondents in this case, an interested and
biased witness, regarding their possession of the "motherland." From her testimony on pedigree, the trial
court presumed that the source of the property, the late Francisco Gerardo, was in possession of the same since prior to
July 26, 1894 (pp. 137-140, Rollo).

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

To the owners of land adjoining the banks of river belong the accretion which they gradually receive from
the effects of the current of the waters.

However, it should be noted that the area covered by OCT No. P-19093 is only four thousand five hundred eighty four
(4,584) square meters. The accretion attached to said land is approximately five and a half (5.5) hectares. The increase
in the area of petitioners'land, being an accretion left by the change of course or the northward movement of the
Cagayan River does not automatically become registered land just because the lot which receives such accretion is
covered by a Torrens title. (See Grande v. Court of Appeals, L-17652, June 30, 1962). As such, it must also be placed
under the operation of the Torrens System. ACCORDINGLY, the petition is hereby GRANTED. The decision appealed from
is REVERSED and SET ASIDE and judgment is hereby rendered DISMISSING Civil Case No. Br. III-373 for quieting of title
and damages.

Costs against private respondents.

SO ORDERED.