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Section 103 PD 1529

AMENDING AND CODIFYING THE LAWS RELATIVE TO REGISTRATION OF PROPERTY AND FOR OTHER PURPOSES

REGISTRATION OF PATENTS

Section 103. Certificates of title pursuant to patents. Whenever public land is by the Government alienated, granted or
conveyed to any person, the same shall be brought forthwith under the operation of this Decree. It shall be the duty of the
official issuing the instrument of alienation, grant, patent or conveyance in behalf of the Government to cause such instrument
to be filed with the Register of Deeds of the province or city where the land lies, and to be there registered like other deeds and
conveyance, whereupon a certificate of title shall be entered as in other cases of registered land, and an owner's duplicate
issued to the grantee. The deed, grant, patent or instrument of conveyance from the Government to the grantee shall not take
effect as a conveyance or bind the land but shall operate only as a contract between the Government and the grantee and as
evidence of authority to the Register of Deeds to make registration. It is the act of registration that shall be the operative act to
affect and convey the land, and in all cases under this Decree, registration shall be made in the office of the Register of Deeds
of the province or city where the land lies. The fees for registration shall be paid by the grantee. After due registration and
issuance of the certificate of title, such land shall be deemed to be registered land to all intents and purposes under this
Decree.

COMMONWEALTH ACT NO. 141* – AN ACT TO AMEND AND COMPILE THE LAWS RELATIVE TO LANDS OF THE
PUBLIC DOMAIN

TITLE I
TITLE AND APPLICATION OF THE ACT, LANDS TO WHICH IT REFERS, AND CLASSIFICATION, DELIMITATION, AND
SURVEY - THEREOF FOR CONCESSION

CHAPTER I
SHORT TITLE OF THE ACT, LANDS TO WHICH IT APPLIES, AND OFFICERS CHARGED WITH ITS EXECUTION

Section 1. The short title of this Act shall be “The Public Land Act.

Sec. 2. The provisions of this Act shall apply to the lands of the public domain; but timber and mineral lands shall be governed
by special laws and nothing in this Act provided shall be understood or construed to change or modify the administration and
disposition of the lands commonly called “friar lands” and those which, being privately owned, have reverted to or become the
property of the Commonwealth of the Philippines, which administration and disposition shall be governed by the laws at present
in force or which may hereafter be enacted.

Sec. 3. The Secretary of Agriculture and Commerce shall be the executive officer charged with carrying out the provisions of
this Act through the Director of Lands, who shall act under his immediate control.

Sec. 4. Subject to said control, the Director of Lands shall have direct executive control of the survey, classification, lease, sale
or any other form of concession or disposition and management of the lands of the public domain, and his decisions as to
questions of fact shall be conclusive when approved by the Secretary of Agriculture and Commerce.

Sec. 5. The Director of Lands, with the approval of the Secretary of Agriculture and Commerce shall prepare and issue such
forms, instructions, rules, and regulations consistent with this Act, as may be necessary and proper to carry into effect the
provisions thereof and for the conduct of proceedings arising under such provisions.

CHAPTER II
CLASSIFICATION, DELIMITATION, AND SURVEY OF LANDS OF THE PUBLIC DOMAIN, FOR THE CONCESSION
THEREOF

Sec. 6. The President, upon the recommendation of the Secretary of Agriculture and Commerce, shall from time to time classify
the lands of the public domain into -

(a) Alienable or disposable;

(b) Timber, and

(c) Mineral lands,

and may at any time and in a like manner transfer such lands from one class to another, for the purposes of their administration
and disposition.
Sec. 7. For the purposes of the administration and disposition of alienable or disposable public lands, the President, upon
recommendation by the Secretary of Agriculture and Commerce, shall from time to time declare what lands are open to
disposition or concession under this Act.

Sec. 8. Only those lands shall be declared open to disposition or concession which have been officially delimited and classified
and, when practicable, surveyed, and which have not been reserved for public or quasi-public uses, nor appropriated by the
Government, nor in any manner become private property, nor those on which a private right authorized and recognized by this
Act or any other valid law may be claimed, or which, having been reserved or appropriated, have ceased to be so However, the
President may, for reasons of public interest, declare lands of the public domain open to disposition before the same have had
their boundaries established or been surveyed, or may, for the same reason, suspend their concession or disposition until they
are again declared open to concession or disposition by proclamation duly published or by Act of the National Assembly.

Sec. 9. For the purpose of their administration and disposition, the lands of the public domain alienable or open to disposition
shall be classified, according to the use or purposes to which such lands are destined, as follows:

(a) Agricultural

(b) Residential commercial industrial or for similar productive purposes

(c) Educational, charitable, or other similar purposes

(d) Reservations for town sites and for public and quasi-public uses.

The President, upon recommendation by the Secretary of Agriculture and Commerce, shall from time to time make the
classifications provided for in this section, and may, at any time and in a similar manner, transfer lands from one class to
another.

Sec. 10. The words “alienation, “‘disposition, or “concession” as used in this Act, shall mean any of the methods authorized by
this Act for the acquisition, lease, use, or benefit of the lands of the public domain other than timber or mineral lands.

TITLE II
AGRICULTURAL PUBLIC LANDS

CHAPTER III
FORMS OF CONCESSION OF AGRICULTURAL LANDS

Sec. 11. Public lands suitable for agricultural purposes can be disposed of only as follows, and not otherwise:

(1) For homestead settlement


(2) By sale
(3) By lease
(4) By confirmation of imperfect or incomplete titles:

(a) By judicial legalization

(b) By administrative legalization (free patent).

Sec. 12. Any citizen of the Philippines over the age of eighteen years, or the head of a family, who does not own more than
twenty-four hectares of land in the Philippines or has not had the benefit of any gratuitous allotment of more than twenty-four
hectares of land since the occupation of the Philippines by the United States, may enter a homestead of not exceeding twenty-
four hectares of agricultural land of the public domain.

Sec. 13. Upon the filing of an application for a homestead, the Director of Lands, if he finds that the application should be
approved, shall do so and authorize the applicant to take possession of the land upon the payment of five pesos, Philippine
currency, as entry fee. Within six months from and after the date of the approval of the application, the applicant shall begin to
work the homestead, otherwise he shall lose his prior right to the land.

Sec. 14. No certificate shall be given or patent issued for the land applied for until at least one-fifth of the land has been
improved and cultivated. The period within which the land shall be cultivated shall not be less than one or more than five years,
from and after the date of the approval of the application. The applicant shall, within the said period, notify the Director of Lands
as soon as he is ready to acquire the title. If at the date of such notice, the applicant shall prove to the satisfaction of the
Director of Lands, that he has resided continuously for at least one year in the municipality in which the land is located, or in a
municipality adjacent to the same, and has cultivated at least one-fifth of the land continuously since the approval of the
application, and shall make affidavit that no part of said land has been alienated or encumbered, and that he has complied with
all the requirements of this Act, then, upon the payment of five pesos, as final fee, he shall be entitled to a patent.
Sec. 15. At the option of the applicant, payment of the fees required in this chapter may be made to the municipal treasurer of
the locality, who, in turn, shall forward them to the provincial treasurer. In case of delinquency of the applicant, the Director of
Lands may, sixty days after such delinquency has occurred, either cancel the application or grant an extension of time not to
exceed one hundred and twenty days for the payment of the sum due.

Sec. 16. If at any time before the expiration of the period allowed by law for the making of final proof, it shall be proven to the
satisfaction of the Director of Lands, after due notice to the homesteader, that the land entered is under the law not subject to
home-stead entry, or that the homesteader has actually changed his residence, or voluntarily abandoned the land for more than
six months at any one time during the years of residence and occupation herein required, or has otherwise failed to comply with
the requirements of this Act, the Director of Lands may cancel the entry.

Sec. 17. Before final proof shall be submitted by any person claiming to have complied with the provisions of this chapter, due
notice, as prescribed by the Secretary of Agriculture and Commerce shall be given to the public of his intention to make such
proof, stating therein the name and address of the homesteader, the description of the land, with its boundaries and area, the
names of the witness by whom it is expected that the necessary facts will be established, and the time and place at which, and
the name of the officer before whom, such proof will be made.

Sec. 18. In case the homesteader shall suffer from mental alienation, or shall for any other reason be incapacitated from
exercising his rights personally, the person legally representing him may offer and submit the final proof on behalf of such
incapacitated person.

Sec. 19. Not more than one homestead entry shall be allowed to any one person, and no person to whom a homestead patent
has been issued by virtue of the provisions of this Act regardless of the area of his original homestead, may again acquire a
homestead; Provided, however, That any previous homesteader who has been issued a patent for less than twenty-four
hectares and otherwise qualified to make a homestead entry, may be allowed another homestead which, together with his
previous homestead shall not exceed an area of twenty-four hectares.

Sec. 20. If at any time after the approval of the application and before the patent is issued, the applicant shall prove to the
satisfaction of the Director of Lands that he has complied with all the requirements of the law, but cannot continue with his
homestead, through no fault of his own, and there is a bona fide purchaser for the rights and improvements of the applicant on
the land, and that the conveyance is not made for purposes of speculation, then the applicant, with the previous approval of the
Director of Lands may transfer his rights to the land and improvements to any person legally qualified to apply for a homestead,
and immediately after such transfer, the purchaser shall file a homestead application for the land so acquired and shall succeed
the original homesteader in his rights and obligations beginning with the date of the approval of said application of the
purchaser. Any person who has so transferred his rights may not again apply for a new homestead. Every transfer made
without the previous approval of the Director of Lands shall be null and void and shall result in the cancellation of the entry and
the refusal of the patent.

Sec. 21. Any non-Christian Filipino who has not applied for a home-stead, desiring to live upon or occupy land on any of the
reservations set aside for the so-called “non-Christian tribes” may request a permit of occupation for any tract of land of the
public domain reserved for said non-Christian tribes under this Act, the area of which shall not exceed four hectares. It shall be
an essential condition that the applicant for the permit cultivate and improve the land, and if such cultivation has not been
begun within six months from and after the date on which the permit was received, the permit shall be cancelled. The permit
shall be for a term of one year. If at the expiration of this term or at any time prior thereto, the holder of the permit shall apply for
a homestead under the provisions of this chapter, including the portion for which a permit was granted to him, he shall have the
priority, otherwise the land shall be again open to disposition at the expiration of the permit.

For each permit the sum of one peso shall be paid.

CHAPTER IV
SALE

Sec. 22. Any citizen of lawful age of the Philippines, and any such citizen not of lawful age who is a head of a family, and any
corporation or association of which at least sixty per centum of the capital stock or of any interest in said capital stock belongs
wholly to citizens of the Philippines, and which is organized and constituted under the laws of Philippines, and corporate bodies
organized in the Philippines authorized under their charters to do so; may purchase any tract of public agricultural land
disposable under this Act, not to exceed one hundred and forty-four hectares in the case of an individual and one thousand and
twenty-four hectares in that of a corporation or association, by proceeding as prescribed in this chapter: Provided, That
partnerships shall be entitled to purchase not to exceed one hundred and forty-four hectares for each member thereof. But the
total area so purchased shall in no case exceed the one thousand and twenty-four hectares authorized in this section for
associations and corporations.

Sec. 23. No person, corporation, association, or partnership other than those mentioned in the last preceding section may
acquire or own agricultural public land or land of any other denomination or classification, which is at the time or was originally,
really or presumptively, of the public domain, or any permanent improvement thereon, or any real right on such land and
improvement: Provided, however, That persons, corporations, associations or partnerships which, at the date upon which the
Philippine Constitution took effect, held agricultural public lands or land of any other denomination, that belonged originally,
really or presumptively, to the public domain, or permanent improvements on such lands, or a real right upon such lands and
Constitution took improvements, having acquired the same under the laws and regulations in force at the date of such
acquisition, shall be authorized to continue holding the same as if such persons, corporations, associations, or partnerships
were qualified under the last preceding section; but they shall not encumber, convey, or alienate the same to persons,
corporations, associations, or partnerships not included in section twenty-two of this Act, except by reason of hereditary
succession, duly legalized and acknowledged by competent courts.

Sec. 24. Lands sold under the provisions of this chapter must be appraised in accordance with section one hundred and
sixteen of this Act. The Director of Lands shall announce the sale thereof by publishing the proper notice once a week for six
consecutive weeks in the Official Gazette, and in two newspapers one published in Manila and the other published in the
municipality or in the province where the lands are located, or in a neighboring province, and the same notice shall be posted
on the bulletin board of the Bureau Of Lands in Manila, and in the most conspicuous place in the provincial building and the
municipal building of the province and municipality, respectively, where the land is located, and, if practicable, on the land itself;
but if the value of the land does not exceed two hundred and forty pesos, the publication in the Official Gazette and
newspapers may be omitted. The notices shall be published one in English and the other in Spanish or in the local dialect, and
shall fix a date not earlier than sixty days after the date of the notice upon which the land will be awarded to the highest bidder,
or public bids will be called for, or other action will be taken as provided in this chapter.

Sec. 25. Public agricultural lands which are not located within ten (10) kilometers from the boundaries of the city proper in
chartered cities or within five (5) kilometers from the municipal hall or town occupants plaza of any municipality may be sold to
actual occupants who do not own any parcel of land or whose total land holdings do not exceed five hectares and who comply
with the minimum requirements of Commonwealth Act numbered one hundred forty-one, as amended, and who have resided
on the land applied for at least two years prior to the date of the application.

All bids must be sealed and addressed to the Director of Lands and must have enclosed therewith cash or certified check,
treasury warrant, or post-office money order payable to the order of the Director of Lands for ten per centum of the amount of
the bid, which amount shall be retained in case the bid is accepted as part payment of the purchase price: Provided, That no
bid shall be considered the amount of which is less than the appraised value of the land.

In addition to existing publication requirements in section twenty-four of Commonwealth Act Numbered one hundred forty-one,
as amended, notices and of applications shall be posted for a period of not less than thirty days in at least three conspicuous
places in the municipality where the parcel of land is located, one of which shall be at the municipal building, and other, in the
barrio council building of the barrio where the land is located.

Sec. 26. Upon the opening of the bids, the land shall be awarded to the highest bidder. If there are two or more equal bids
which are higher than the others, and one of such equal bids is that of the applicant, his bid shall be accepted. If, however, the
bid of the applicant is not one of such equal and higher bids, the Director of Lands shall at once submit the land for public
bidding, and to the person making the highest bid on such public auction the land shall be awarded. In any case, the applicant
shall always have the option of raising his bid to equal that of the highest bidder, and in this case the land shall be awarded to
him. No bid received at such public auction shall be finally accepted until the bidder shall have deposited ten per centum of his
bid, as required in Section twenty-five of this Act. In case none of the tracts of land that are offered for sale or the purchase of
which has been applied for, has an area in excess of twenty-four hectares, the Director of Lands may delegate to the District
Land Officer concerned the power of receiving bids, holding the auction, and proceeding in accordance with the provisions of
this Act, but the District Land Officer shall submit his recommendation to the Director of Lands, for the final decision of the latter
in the case.

The District Land Officer shall accept and process any application for the purchase of public lands not exceeding five hectares
subject to the approval of the Director of Lands within sixty days after receipt of the recommendation of said District Land
Officer.

Sec. 27. The purchase price shall be paid as follows: The balance of the purchase price after deducting the amount paid at the
time of submitting the bid, may be paid in full upon the making of the award, or in not more than ten equal annual installments
from the date of the award.

Sec. 28. The purchaser shall have not less than one-fifth of the land broken and cultivated within five years after the date of the
award; and before any patent is issued, the purchaser must show of occupancy, cultivation, and improvement of at least one-
fifth of the land applied for until the date on which final payment is made: Provided, however, That in case land purchased is to
be devoted to pasture, it shall be sufficient compliance with this condition if the purchaser shall graze on the land as many
heads of his cattle as will occupy at least one-half of the entire area at the rate of one head per hectare.

Sec. 29. After title has been granted, the purchaser may not, within a period of ten years from such cultivation or grant, convey
or encumber or dispose said lands or rights thereon to any person, corporation or association, without prejudice to any right or
interest of the Government in the land: Provided, That any sale and encumbrance made in violation of the provisions of this
section, shall be null and void and shall produce the effect of annulling the acquisition and reverting the property and all rights
thereto to the State, and all payments on the purchase price theretofore made to the Government shall be forfeited.

Sec. 30. If at any time after the date of the award and before the issuance of patent, it is proved to the satisfaction of the
Director of Lands, after due notice to the purchaser, that the purchaser has voluntarily abandoned the land for more than one
year at any one time, or has otherwise failed to comply with the requirements of the law, then the land shall revert to the State,
and all prior payments made by the purchaser and all improvements existing on the land shall be forfeited.

Sec. 31. No person, corporation, association, or partnership shall be permitted, after the approval of this Act, to acquire the title
to or possess as owner any lands of the public domain if such lands, added to other lands belonging to such person,
corporation, association, or partnership shall give a total area greater than area the acquisition of which by purchase is
authorized under this Act. Any excess in area over this maximum and all right, title, interest, claim or action held by any person,
corporation, association, or partnership resulting directly or indirectly in such excess shall revert to the State.

This section shall, however, not be construed to prohibit any person, corporation, association, or partnership authorized by this
Act to require lands of the public domain from making loans upon real necessary for the recovery of such loans; but in this
case, as soon as the excess above referred to occurs, such person, corporation, association, or partnership shall dispose of
such lands within five years, for the purpose of removing the excess mentioned. Upon the land in excess of the limit there shall
be paid, so long as the same is not disposed of, for the first year a surtax of fifty per centum additional to the ordinary tax to
which such property shall be subject, and for each succeeding year fifty per centum shall be added to the last preceding annual
tax rate, until the property shall have been disposed of.

The person, corporation, association, or partnership owning the land in excess of the limit established by this Act shall
determine the portion of land to be segregated.

At the request of Secretary of Agriculture and Commerce, the Solicitor-General or the officer acting in his stead shall institute
the necessary proceedings in the proper court for the purpose of determining the excess portion to be segregated, as well as
the disposal of such portion in the exclusive interest of the Government.

Sec. 32. This chapter shall be held to authorize only one purchase of the maximum amount of land hereunder by the same
person, corporation, association, or partnership; and no corporation, association, or partnership, any member of which shall
have received the benefits of this chapter or of the next following chapter, either as an individual or as a member of any other
corporation, association, or partnership, shall purchase any other lands of the public domain under this chapter. But any
purchaser of public land, after having made the last payment upon and cultivated at least one-fifth of the land purchased, if the
same shall be less than the maximum allowed by this Act, may purchase successively additional agricultural public land
adjacent to or not distant from the land first purchased, until the total area of such purchases shall reach the maximum
established in this chapter: Provided, That in making such additional purchase or purchases, the same conditions shall be
complied with as prescribed by this Act for the first purchase.

CHAPTER V
LEASE

Sec. 33. Any citizen of lawful age of the Philippines, and any corporation or association of which at least sixty per centum of the
capital stock or of any interest in said capital stock belongs wholly to citizens of the Philippines, and which is organized and
constituted under the laws of the Philippines, may lease any tract of agricultural public land available for lease under the
provisions of this Act, not exceeding a total of one thousand and twenty-four hectares. If the land leased is adapted to and be
devoted for grazing purposes, an area not exceeding two thousand hectares may be granted. No member, stockholder, of
officer, representative, attorney, agent, employee or bondholder of any corporation or association holding or controlling
agricultural public land shall apply, directly or indirectly, for agricultural public land except under the homestead and free patent
provisions of this Act: Provided, That no lease shall be permitted to interfere with any prior claim by settlement or occupation,
until the consent of the occupant or settler is first had, or until such claim shall be legally extinguished, and no person,
corporation, or association shall be permitted to lease lands here-under which are not reasonably necessary to carry on his
business in case of an individual, or the business for which it was lawfully created and which it may lawfully pursue in the
Philippines, if an association or corporation.

Sec. 34. A notice of the date and place of the auction of the right to lease the land shall be published and announced in the
same manner as that prescribed for the publication and announcement of the notice of sale, in section twenty-four of this Act.

Sec. 35. All bids must be sealed and addressed to the Director of Lands and must have enclosed therewith cash or a certified
check, Treasury warrant, or post-office money order payable to the order of the Director of Lands, for a sum equivalent to the
rental for at least, the first three months of the lease: Provided, That no bid shall be considered in which the proposed annual
rental is less than three per centum of the value of the land according to the appraisal made in conformity with section one
hundred and sixteen of this Act.

Sec. 36. The auction of the right to lease the land shall be conducted under the same procedure as that prescribed for the
auction sale of agricultural lands as described in section twenty-six of this Act: Provided, That no bid shall be accepted until the
bidder shall have deposited the rental for at least the first three months of the lease.

Sec. 37. The annual rental of the land leased shall not be less than three per centum of the value of the land, according to the
appraisal and reappraisal made in accordance with section one hundred sixteen of this Act; except for lands reclaimed by the
Government, which shall not be less than four per centum of the appraised and reappraised value of the land: Provided, That
one-fourth of the annual rental of these lands reclaimed prior to the approval of this Act shall accrue to the construction and
improvement portion of the Portworks Funds: And provided, further, That the annual rental of not less than four per centum of
the appraised and reappraised value of the lands reclaimed using the Portworks Fund after the approval of this Act shall all
accrue to the construction and improvement portion of the Portworks Fund. But if the land leased is adapted to and be devoted
for granting purposes, the annual rental shall be not less than two per centum of-the appraised and reappraised value thereof-
Every contract of lease under the provisions of this chapter shall contain a cause to the effect that are appraisal of the land
leased shall be made every ten years from the date of the approval of the lease, if the term of the same shall be in excess of
ten years. In case the lessee is not agreeable to the reappraisal and prefers to give up his contract of lease, he shall notify the
Director of Lands of his desire within the six months next preceding the date on which the reappraisal takes effect, and in case
his request is approved, the Director of Lands may, if the lessee should so desire, proceed in accordance with section one
hundred of this Act.

Sec. 38. Leases shall run for a period of not more than twenty-five years, but may be renewed once for another period of not to
exceed twenty-five years, in case the lessee shall have made important improvements which, in the discretion of the Secretary
of Agriculture and Commerce justify a renewal. Upon the final expiration of the lease, all buildings and other permanent
improvements made by the lessee, his heirs, executors, administrators, successors, or assigns shall become the property of
the Government, and the land together with the said improvements shall be disposed of in accordance with the provisions of
chapter five of this Act.

Sec. 39. It shall be an inherent and essential condition of the lease that the lessee shall have not less than one-third of the land
broken and cultivated within five years after the date of the approval of the lease: Provided, however, That in case the land
leased is to be devoted to pasture, it shall be sufficient compliance with this condition if the lessee shall graze on the land as
many heads of cattle as will occupy at least one-half of the entire area at the rate of one head per hectare.

Sec. 40. The lessee shall not assign, encumber, or sublet his rights without the consent of the Secretary of Agriculture and
Commerce, and the violation of this condition shall avoid the contract: Provided, That assignment, encumbrance, or subletting
for purposes of speculation shall not be permitted in any case: Provided, further, That nothing contained in this section shall be
understood or construed to permit the assignment, encumbrance, or subletting of lands leased under this Act, or under any
previous Act, to persons, corporations, or associations which under this Act, are not authorized to lease public lands.

Sec. 41. The lease of any lands under this chapter shall not confer the right to remove or dispose of any valuable timber except
as provided in the regulations of the Bureau of Forestry for cutting timber upon such lands. Nor shall such lease confer the right
to remove or dispose of stone, oil, coal, salts. or other minerals, or medicinal mineral waters existing upon the same. The lease
as to the part of the land which shall be mineral may be canceled by the Secretary of Agriculture and Commerce, after notice to
the lessee, whenever the said part of the land is more valuable for agricultural purposes.

The commission of waste or violation of the forestry regulations by the lessee shall work a forfeiture of his last payment of rent
and render him liable to immediate dispossession and suit for damage.

Sec. 42. After having paid rent for at least the first two years of the lease, and having complied with the requirements
prescribed in section thirty nine, the lessee of agricultural public land with an area than the maximum allowed by law, may lease
successively additional agricultural public land adjacent to or near the land originally leased until the total- area of such leases
shall reach the maximum established in this chapter: Provided, That in making such additional lease, the same conditions shall
be complied with as prescribed by this Act for the first lease.

Sec. 43. During the life of the lease, any lessee who shall have complied with all the conditions thereof and shall have the
qualifications required by section twenty-two, shall have the option of purchasing the land leased subject to the restrictions of
chapter five of this Act.

CHAPTER VI
FREE PATENTS

Sec. 44. Any natural-born citizen of the Philippines who is not the owner of more than twenty-four hectares and who since July
fourth, nineteen hundred and twenty-six or prior thereto, has continuously occupied and cultivated, either by himself or through
his predecessors-in-interest, a tract or tracts of agricultural public lands subject to disposition, or who shall have paid the real
estate tax thereon while same has not been occupied by any person shall be entitled, under the provisions of this chapter, to
have a free patent issued to him for such tract or tracts of such land not to exceed twenty-four hectares.

A member of the national cultural minorities who has continuously occupied and cultivated, either by himself or through his
predecessors-in-interest, a tract or tracts of land, whether disposable or not since July 4, 1955, shall be entitled to the right
granted in the preceding paragraph of this section: Provided, That at the time he files his free patent application he is not the
owner of any real property secured or disposable under this provision of the Public Land Law

Sec. 45. The President of the Philippines (Prime Minister), upon recommendation of the Secretary of Natural Resources, shall
from time to time fix by proclamation the period which applications for Proclamation free patents may be filed in the district,
chartered city, of period province, municipality or region specified in such proclamation, and upon the expiration of the period so
designated, unless the same be extended by the President (Prime Minister) all the land comprised within such district,
chartered city, province, municipality or region subject thereto under the provisions of this chapter may be disposed of as
agricultural public land without prejudice to the prior right of the occupant and cultivator to acquire such land under this Act by
means other than free patent. The time to be fixed in the entire Archipelago for the filing of applications under this Chapter shall
not extend beyond December 31, 1987, except in the provinces of Agusan del Norte, Agusan del Sur, Cotabato, South
Cotabato, Bukidnon, Lanao del Norte, Lanao del Sur, Davao del Norte, Davao del Sur, Davao Oriental, Sulu, Mt. Province,
Benguet, Kalinga-Apayao, and Ifugao where the President of the Philippines, upon recommendation of the Secretary of Natural
Resources, shall determine or fix the time beyond which the filing of applications under this Chapter shall not extend. The
period fixed for any district, chartered city, province, or municipality shall begin to run thirty days after the publication of the
proclamation in the Official Gazette and if available in one newspaper of general circulation in the city, province or municipality
concerned. A certified copy of said proclamation shall be furnished by the Secretary of Natural Resources within 30 days
counted from the date of the presidential proclamation to the Director of Lands and to the provincial board, the municipal board
or city council and barangay council affected, and copies thereof shall be posted on the bulletin board of the Bureau of Lands at
Manila and at conspicuous places in the provincial building and at the municipal building and barangay hall or meeting place. It
shall moreover, be announced by government radio whenever available, in each of the barrios of the municipality.

Sec. 46. If, after the filing of the application and the investigation, the Director of Lands shall be satisfied of the truth of the
allegations contained the application and that the applicant comes within the provisions chapter, he shall cause a patent to
issue to the applicant or his legal successor for the tract so occupied and cultivated, provided its area does not exceed twenty-
four hectares: Provided, That no application shall be finally acted upon until notice thereof has been published in the
municipality and barrio in which the land is located and adverse claimants have had an opportunity to present their claims.

CHAPTER VII
JUDICIAL CONFIRMATION OF IMPERFECT OR INCOMPLETE TITLES

Sec. 47. The persons specified in the next following section are hereby granted time, not to extend beyond December 31, 1987
within which to take advantage of the benefit of this chapter: Provided, That this extension shall apply only where the area
applied for does not exceed 144 hectares. Provided, further, That the several periods of time designated by the President in
accordance with section forty-five of this Act shall apply also to the lands comprised in the provisions of this chapter, but this
section shall not be construed as prohibiting any of said persons from acting under this chapter at any time prior to the period
fixed by the President.

Sec. 48. The following-described citizens of the Philippines, occupying lands of the public domain or claiming to own any such
lands or an interest therein, but whose titles have not been perfected or completed, may apply to the Court of First Instance of
the province where the land is located for confirmation of their claims and the issuance of a certificate of title therefor, under the
Land Registration Act , to wit:

(a) Those who prior to the transfer of sovereignty from Spain to the prior United States have applied for the purchase,
composition or other form of grant of lands of the public domain under the laws and royal decrees then in force and have
instituted and prosecuted the proceedings in connection therewith, but have with or without default upon their part, or for any
other cause, not received title therefor, if such applicants or grantees and their heirs have occupied and cultivated said lands
continuously since the filing of their applications.

(b) Those who by themselves or through their predecessors in interest have been in open, continuous, exclusive, and notorious
possession and occupation of agricultural lands of the public domain, under a bona fide claim of acquisition or ownership, for at
least thirty years immediately preceding the filing of the application for confirmation of title except when prevented by war or
force majeure. These shall be conclusively presumed to have performed all the conditions essential to a Government grant and
shall be entitled to a certificate of title under the provisions of this chapter.

(c) Members of the national cultural minorities who by themselves or through their predecessors-in-interest have been in open,
continuous, exclusive and notorious possession and occupation of lands of the public domain suitable to agriculture, whether
disposable or not, under a bona fide claim of ownership for at least 30 years shall be entitled to the rights granted in sub-
section (b) hereof.

Sec. 49. No person claiming title to lands of the public domain not possession of the qualifications specified in the last
preceding section may apply for the benefits of this chapter.

Sec. 50. Any person or persons, or their legal representatives or successors in right, claiming any lands or interest in lands
under the provisions of this chapter, must in every case present an application to the proper Court of First Instance, praying that
the validity of the alleged title or claim be inquired into and that a certificate of title be issued to them under the provisions of the
Land Registration Act.

The application shall conform as nearly as may be in its material allegations to the requirements of an application for
registration under the Land Registration Act, and shall be accompanied by a plan of the land and all documents evidencing a
right on the part of the applicant to the land claimed. The application shall also state the citizenship of the applicant and shall
set forth fully the nature of the claim and when based upon proceeding initiated under Spanish laws, it shall specify as exactly
as possible the date and form of application for purchase composition or other form of grant, the extent of the compliance with
the conditions required by the Spanish laws and royal decrees for the acquisition of legal title, and if not fully complied with, the
reason for such noncompliance, together with a statement of the length of time such land or any portion thereof has been
actually occupied by the claimant or his predecessors in interest; the use made of the land, and the nature of the enclosure, if
any. The fees provided to be paid for the registration of lands under the Land Registration Act shall be collected from applicants
under this chapter.

Sec. 51. Applications for registration under this chapter shall be heard in the Court of First Instance in the same manner and
shall be subject to the same procedure as established in the Land Registration Act for other applications, except that a notice of
all such applications, together with a plan of the lands claimed, shall be immediately forwarded to the Director of Lands, who
may appear as a party in such cases: Provided, That prior to the publication for hearing, all of the papers in said case shall be
transmitted papers by the clerk to the Solicitor General or officer acting in his stead, in order that he may, if he deems it
advisable for the interests of the Government, investigate all of the facts alleged in the application or otherwise brought to his
attention. The Solicitor-General shall return such papers to the clerk as soon as practicable within three months.
The final decree of the court shall in every case be the basis for the original certificate of title in favor of the person entitled to
the property under the procedure prescribed in section forty-one of the Land Registration Act.

Sec. 52. In cadastral proceedings, instead of an application, an answer or claim may be filed with the same effect as in the
procedure provided in the last preceding two sections.

Sec. 53. It shall be lawful for the Director of Lands, whenever in the opinion of the President the public interests shall require it,
to cause to be filed in the proper Court of First Instance, through the Solicitor-General or the officer acting in his stead, a
petition against the holder, claimant, possessor, or occupant of any land who shall not have voluntarily come in under the
provisions of this chapter or of the Land Registration Act, stating in substance that the title of such holder, claimant, possessor,
or occupant is open to discussion; or that the boundaries of any such land which has not been brought into court as aforesaid
are open to question; or that it is advisable that the title to such lands be settled and adjudicated, and praying that the title to
any such land or the boundaries thereof or the right to occupancy thereof be settled and adjudicated. The judicial proceedings
under this section shall be in accordance with the laws on adjudication of title in cadastral proceedings.

Sec. 54. If in the hearing of any application arising under this chapter the court shall find that more than one person or claimant
has an interest in the land, such conflicting interests shall be adjudicated by the court and decree awarded in favor of the
person or persons entitled to the land according to the laws, but if none of said person is entitled to the land, or if the person
who might be entitled to the same lacks the qualifications required by this Act for acquiring agricultural land of the public
domain, the decision shall be in favor of the Government.

Sec. 55. Whenever, in any proceedings under this chapter to secure registration of an incomplete or imperfect claim of title
initiated prior to the transfer of sovereignty from Spain to the United States, it shall appear that had such claims been
prosecuted to completion under the laws prevailing when instituted, and under the conditions of the grant then contemplated,
the conveyance of such land to the applicant would not have been gratuitous, but would have involved payment therefor to the
Government, then and in that event the court shall, after decreeing in whom title should vest, further determine the amount to
be paid as a condition for the registration of the land. Such judgment shall be certified to the Director of Lands by the clerk of
the court for collection of the amount due from the person entitled to conveyance.

Upon payment to the Director of Lands of the price specified in the judgment, he shall so certify to the proper Court of First
Instance and said court shall forthwith order the registration of the land in favor of the competent person entitled thereto. If said
person shall fail to pay the amount of money required by the decree within a reasonable time fixed in the same, the court shall
order the proceeding to stand dismissed and the title to the land shall then be in the State free from any claim of the applicant.

Sec. 56. Whenever any judgment of confirmation or other decree of the court under this chapter shall become final, the clerk of
the court concerned shall certify that fact to the Director of Lands, with a certified copy of the decree of confirmation or
judgment of the court and the plan and technical description of the land involved in the decree or judgment of the court.

Sec. 57. No title or right to, or equity in, any lands of the public domain may hereafter be acquired by prescription or by adverse
possession or occupancy, or under or by virtue of any law in effect prior to American occupation, except as expressly provided
by laws enacted after said occupation of the Philippines by the United States.

TITLE III
LANDS FOR RESIDENTIAL, COMMERCIAL OR INDUSTRIAL PURPOSES AND OTHER SIMILAR PURPOSES

CHAPTER VIII
CLASSIFICATION AND CONCESSION OF PUBLIC LANDS SUITABLE FOR RESIDENCE, COMMERCE AND INDUSTRY

Sec. 58. Any tract of land of the public domain which, being neither timber nor mineral land, is intended to be used for
residential purposes or for commercial, industrial, or other productive purposes other than agricultural, and is open to
disposition or concession, shall be disposed of under the provisions of this chapter and not otherwise.

Sec. 59. The lands disposable under this title shall be classified as follows:

(a) Lands reclaimed by the Government by dredging, filing, or other means;

(b) Foreshore;

(c) Marshy lands or lands covered with water bordering upon the shores or banks of navigable lakes or rivers;

(d) Lands not included in any of the foregoing classes.

Sec. 60. Any tract of land comprised under this title may be leased or sold, as the case may be, to any person, corporation, or
association authorized to purchase or lease public lands for agricultural purposes. The area of the land so leased or sold shall
be such as shall, in the judgment of the Secretary of Agriculture and Natural Resources, be reasonably necessary for the
purposes for which such sale or lease is requested, and shall in no case exceed one hundred and forty-four hectares: Provided,
however, That this limitation shall not apply to grants, donations, transfers made to a province, municipality or branch or
subdivision of the Government for the purposes deemed by said entities conducive to the public interest; but the land so
granted donated, or transferred to a province, municipality, or branch or subdivision of the Government shall not be alienated,
encumbered, or otherwise disposed of in a manner affecting its title, except when authorized by Congress: Provided, further,
That any person, corporation, association or partnership disqualified from purchasing public land for agricultural purposes
under the provisions of this Act, may lease land included under this title suitable for industrial or residential purposes, but the
lease granted shall only-be valid while such land is used for the purposes referred to.

Sec. 61. The lands comprised in classes (a), (b), and (c) of section fifty-nine shall be disposed of to private parties by lease
only and not otherwise, as soon as the President, upon recommendation by the Secretary of Agriculture and Commerce shall
declare that the same are not necessary for the public service and are open to disposition under this chapter. The lands
included in class (d) may be disposed of by sale or lease under the provisions of this Act.

Sec. 62. The lands reclaimed by the Government by dredging, filling or otherwise shall be surveyed and may, with the approval
of the Secretary of Agriculture and Commerce, be divided by the Director of Lands into lots and blocks, with the necessary
streets and alley-ways between them, and said Director shall give notice to the public by publication in the Official Gazette or by
other means, that the lots or blocks not needed for public purposes shall be leased for commercial or industrial or other similar
purposes.

Sec. 63. Whenever it is decided that lands covered by this chapter are not needed for public purposes, the Director of Lands
shall ask the Secretary of Agriculture and Commerce for authority to dispose of the same. Upon receipt of such authority, the
Director of Lands shall give notice by public advertisement in the same manner as in the case of leases or sales of agricultural
public land, that the Government will lease or sell, as the case may be, the lots or blocks specified in the advertisement, for the
purpose stated in the notice and subject to the conditions specified in this chapter.

Sec. 64. The leases executed under this chapter by the Secretary of Agriculture and Commerce shall, among other conditions,
contain the following:

(a) The rental shall not be less than three per centum of the appraised or reappraised value of the land plus one per centum of
the appraised or reappraised value of the improvements, except for lands reclaimed by the Government which shall not be less
than four per centum of the appraised or reappraised value of the land plus two per centum of the appraised or reappraised
value of the improvements thereon: Provided, That twenty-five per centum of the total annual rental on all lands reclaimed prior
to the approval of this Act and one per centum of the appraised or reappraised value of improvements shall accrue to the
construction and improvement portion of the Portworks Fund: And provided, further, That the annual rental on lands reclaimed
using the Portworks Fund together with the fee due on account of the improvement thereon after the effectivity of this Act shall
all accrue to the construction and improvement portion of the Portworks Fund.

(b) The land rented and the improvements thereon shall be reappraised every ten years if the term of the lease is in excess of
that period.

(c) The term of the lease shall be as prescribed by section thirty-eight of this Act.

(d) The lessee shall construct permanent improvements appropriate for the purpose for which the lease is granted, shall
commence the construction thereof within six months from the date of the award of the right to lease the land, and shall
complete the said construction within eighteen months from said date.

(e) At the expiration of the lease or of any extension of the same, all improvements made by the lessee, his heirs, executors,
administrators, successors, or assigns shall become the property of the Government.

(f) The regulation of all rates and fees charged to the public; and the annual submission to the Government for approval of all
tariffs of such rates and fees.

(g) The continuance of the easements of the coast police and other easements reserved by existing law or by any laws
hereafter enacted.

(h) Subjection to all easements and other rights acquired by the owners of lands bordering upon the foreshore or marshy land.

The violation of one or any of the conditions specified in the contract shall give rise to the rescission of said contract. The
Secretary of Agriculture and Commerce may, however, subject to such conditions as he may prescribe, waive the rescission
arising from a violation of the conditions of subsection (d), or extend the time within which the construction of the improvements
shall be commenced and completed.

Sec. 65. The sale of the lands comprised in classes (c) and (d) of section fifty-nine shall, among others, comprise the following
conditions:

(a) The purchaser shall make improvements of a permanent character appropriate for the purpose for which the land is
purchased, shall commence work thereon within six months from the receipt of the order of award, and shall complete the
construction of said improvements within eighteen months from the date of such award; otherwise the Secretary of Agriculture
and Natural Resources may rescind the contract.
(b) The purchase price shall be paid in cash or in equal annual installments, not to exceed ten.

The contract of sale may contain other conditions not inconsistent with the provisions of this Act.

Sec. 66. The kind of improvements to be made by the lessee or the purchaser, and the plans thereof, shall be subject to the
approval of the Secretary of Public Works and Communications, in case they are constructions or improvements which if by the
Government, would properly have to be executed under the supervision of the Bureau of Public Works.

Sec. 67. The lease or sale shall be made through oral bidding; and adjudication shall be made to the highest bidder. However,
where an applicant has made improvements on the land by virtue of a permit issued to him by competent authority, the sale or
lease shall be made by sealed bidding as prescribed in section twenty-six of this Act, the provisions of which shall be applied
wherever applicable. If all or part of the lots remain unleased or unsold, the Director of Lands shall from time to time announce
in the Official Gazette or in any other newspapers of general circulation, the lease or sale of those lots, if necessary

Sec. 68. The Secretary of Agricultural and Commerce may grant to qualified persons temporary permission, upon payment of a
reasonable charge, for the use of any portion of the lands covered by this chapter for any lawful private purpose, subject to
revocation at any time when, in his judgment, the public interest shall require it.

TITLE IV
LANDS FOR EDUCATIONAL, CHARITABLE, AND OTHER SIMILAR PURPOSES

CHAPTER IX
CONCESSION OF LANDS FOR EDUCATIONAL, CHARITABLE, AND OTHER SIMILAR PURPOSES

Sec. 69. Whenever any province, municipality, or other branch or subdivision of the Government shall need any portion of the
land of the public domain open to concession for educational, charitable or other similar purposes, the President, upon
recommendation by the Secretary of Agriculture and Commerce, may execute contracts in favor of the same. in the form of
donation, sale, lease, exchange, or any other form, under terms and conditions to be inserted in the contract; but land so
granted shall in no case be encumbered or alienated, except when the public service requires their being leased or exchanged,
with the approval of the President, for other lands belonging to private parties, or if the National Assembly disposes otherwise.

Sec. 70. Any tract of public land of the class covered by this title may be sold or leased for the purpose of founding a cemetery,
church, college, school, university, or other institutions for educational, charitable or philanthropical purposes or scientific
research, the area to be such as may actually and reasonably be necessary to carry out such purpose, but not to exceed
ninety-six hectares in any case. The sale or lease shall be made subject to the same conditions as required for the sale and
lease of agricultural public land, but the Secretary of Agriculture and Commerce may waive the conditions requiring cultivation.
The Secretary of Agriculture and Commerce, if conveyance he sees fit, may order the sale to be made without public auction,
at a price to be fixed by said Secretary, or the lease to be granted without auction, at a rental to be fixed by him. In either case it
shall be a condition that the purchaser or lessee or their successors or assigns shall not sell transfer, encumber or lease the
land for the purposes of speculation or use it for any purpose other than that contemplated in the application, and that the
violation of this condition shall give rise to the immediate rescission of the sale or lease, as the case may be, and to the
forfeiture to the Government of all existing improvements: Provided, That it shall in no case be sublet, encumbered or resold
under the conditions above set forth except with the approval of the Secretary of Agriculture and Commerce.

TITLE V
RESERVATIONS

CHAPTER X
TOWN SITE RESERVATIONS

Sec. 71. Whenever it shall be considered to be in the public interest to found a new town. The Secretary of Agriculture and
Commerce shall direct the Director of Lands to have a survey made by his Bureau of the exterior boundaries of the site on
which such town is to be established, and upon the completion of the survey he shall send the same to said Secretary, with his
recommendations.

Sec. 72. The Secretary of Agriculture and Commerce, if he approves the recommendations of the Director of Lands, shall
submit the matter to the President to the end that the latter may issue a proclamation reserving the land surveyed, or such part
thereof as he may deem proper, as a town site, and a certified copy of such proclamation shall be sent to the Director of Lands
and another to the register of deeds of the province in which the surveyed land lies.

Sec. 73. It shall then be the duty of the Director of Lands, after having recorded the proclamation of the President and the
survey accompanying the same, and having completed the legal proceedings prescribed in chapter thirteen of this Act, to direct
a subdivision in accordance with the instructions of the Secretary of Agriculture and Commerce, if there shall be such
instructions, and if there shall not be any, then in the manner which may to the Director of Lands seem best adapted to the
convenience and interest of the public and the residents of the future town.
Sec. 74. The plat of the subdivision shall designate certain lots for commercial and industrial uses and the remainder as
residence lots, and shall also reserve and note the lots owned by private individuals as evidenced by record titles, or possessed
or claimed by them as private property. Such lots, whether public or private, shall be numbered upon a general plan or system.

The plat prepared by the Director of Lands shall be submitted to the Secretary of Agriculture and Commerce for consideration,
modification, amendment, or approval.

Sec. 75. Unless the necessary reservations are made in the proclamation of the President, the Director of Lands, with the
approval of the Secretary of Agriculture and Commerce, shall reserve out of the land by him to be subdivided lots of sufficient
size and convenient situation for public use, as well as the necessary avenues, streets, alleyways, parks, and squares. The
avenues, streets, alleys, parks, plazas, and lots shall be laid out on the plat as though the lands owned or claimed by private
persons were part of the public domain and part of the reservation, with a view to the possible subsequent purchase or
condemnation thereof, if deemed necessary by the proper authorities.

Sec.76. At any time after the subdivision has been made, the President may, in case the public interest requires it, reserve for
public purposes any lot or lots of the land so reserved and not disposed of.

Sec. 77. If, in order to carry out the provisions of this chapter, it shall be necessary to condemn private lands within the limits of
the new town, the President shall direct the Solicitor-General or officer acting in his stead to at once begin proceedings for
condemnation, in accordance with the provisions of existing law.

Sec. 78. When the plat of subdivision has been finally approved by the Secretary of Agriculture and Commerce, the Director of
Lands shall record the same in the records of his office and shall forward a certified copy of such record to the register of deeds
of the province in which the land lies, to be by such register recorded in the records of his office

Sec. 79. All lots, except those claimed by or belonging to private parties and those reserved for parks, buildings, and other
public uses, shall be sold, after due notice, at public auction to the highest bidder, after the approval and recording of the plat of
subdivision as above provided, but no bid shall be accepted that does not equal at least two-thirds of the appraised value, nor
shall bids be accepted from persons, corporations, associations, or partnerships not authorized to purchase public lands for
commercial, residential or industrial purposes under the provisions of this Act. The provisions of sections twenty-six and sixty-
five of this Act shall be observed in so far as they are applicable. Lots for which satisfactory bids have not been received shall
be again offered for sale, under the same conditions as the first time, and if they then remain unsold, the Director of Lands shall
be authorized to sell them at private sale for not less than two-thirds of their appraised value.

Sec. 80. All funds derived from the sale of lots shall be covered into the Philippine Treasury as part of the general funds.

Sec. 81. Not more than two residence lots and two lots for commercial and industrial uses in any one town site shall be sold to
any one person, corporation, or association without the specific approval of the Secretary of Agriculture and Commerce.

Sec. 82. The Assembly shall have the power at any time to modify, alter, rescind, repeal, annul, and cancel, with or without
conditions, limitation, exceptions, or reservations, all and any dispositions made by the executive branch of the Philippine
Government by virtue of this chapter, and the exercise of this power shall be understood as reserved in all cases, as an
inherent condition thereof.

CHAPTER XI
RESERVATIONS FOR PUBLIC AND SEMI-PUBLIC PURPOSES

Sec. 83. Upon the recommendation of the Secretary of Agriculture and Commerce, the President may designate by
proclamation any tract or tracts of land of the public domain as reservations for the use of the Commonwealth of the Philippines
or of any of its branches, or of the inhabitants thereof, in accordance with regulations prescribed for this purpose, or for quasi-
public uses or purposes when the public interest requires it, including reservations for highways, rights of way for railroads,
hydraulic power sites, irrigation systems, communal pastures or leguas comunales, public parks, public quarries, public
fishponds, workingmen’s village and other improvements for the public benefit.

Sec. 84. Upon recommendation of the Secretary of Agriculture and Commerce, the President, may by proclamation, designate
any tract or tracts of the public domain for the exclusive use of the non-Christian Filipinos, including in the reservation, in so far
as practicable, the lands used or possessed by them, and granting to each member not already the owner, by title or gratuitous
patent, of four or more hectares of land, the use and benefit only of a tract of land not to exceed four hectares for each male
member over eighteen years of age or the head of a family. As soon as the Secretary of the Interior shall certify that the
majority of the non-Christian inhabitants of any given reservation have advanced sufficiently in civilization, then the President
may order that the lands of the public domain within such reservation be granted under the general provisions of this Act to the
said inhabitants, and the subdivision and distribution of said lands as above provided shall be taken into consideration in the
final disposition of the same. But any non-Christian inhabitant may at any time apply for the general benefits of this Act
provided the Secretary of Agriculture and Commerce is satisfied that such inhabitant is qualified to take advantage of the
provisions of the same: Provided, That all grants, deeds, patents and other instruments of conveyance of land or purporting to
convey or transfer rights of property, privileges, or easements appertaining to or growing out of lands, granted by sultans,
datus, or other chiefs of the so-called non-Christian tribes, without the authority of the Spanish Government while the
Philippines were under the sovereignty of Spain, or without the consent of the United States Government or of the Philippine
Government since the sovereignty over the Archipelago was transferred from Spain to the United States, and all deeds and
other documents executed or issued or based upon the deeds, patents, and documents mentioned, are hereby declared to be
illegal, void, and of no effect.

Sec. 85. Upon recommendation by the Secretary of Agriculture and Commerce, the President may, by proclamation designate
any tract or tracts of land of the public domain for the establishment of agricultural colonies; and although the disposition of the
lands to the colonists shall be made under the provisions of this Act, yet, while the Government shall have the supervision and
management of said colonies, the Secretary of Agriculture and Commerce may make the necessary rules and regulations for
the organization and internal administration of the same. The Secretary of Agriculture and Commerce may also, under
conditions to be established by the Assembly, turn over a colony so reserved to any person or corporation, in order that such
person or corporation may clear, break, and prepare for cultivation the lands of said colony and establish the necessary
irrigation system and suitable roads and fences; but final disposition shall be made of the land in accordance with the
provisions of this Act, subject, however, to such conditions as the National Assembly may establish for the reimbursement of
the expense incurred in putting such lands in condition for cultivation: Provided, That the National Assembly may direct that
such land so prepared for cultivation may be disposed of only by sale or lease.

CHAPTER XII
PROVISIONS COMMON TO RESERVATIONS

Sec. 86. A certified copy of every proclamation of the President issued under the provisions of this title shall be forwarded to
the Director of Lands for record in his office, and a copy of this record shall be forwarded to the register of deeds of the
province or city where the land lies. Upon receipt of such certified copy, the Director of Lands shall order the immediate survey
of the proposed reservation if the land has not yet been surveyed, and as soon as the plat has been completed, he shall
proceed in accordance with the next following section.

Sec. 87. If all the lands included in the proclamation of the President are not registered under the Land Registration Act, the
Solicitor-General, if requested to do so by the Secretary of Agriculture and Commerce, shall proceed in accordance with the
provision of section fifty-three of this Act.

Sec. 88. The tract or tracts of land reserved under the provisions of section eighty-three shall be non-alienable and shall not be
subject to occupation, entry, sale, lease, or other disposition until again declared alienable under the provisions of this Act or by
proclamation of the President.

TITLE VI
GENERAL PROVISIONS

CHAPTER XIII
APPLICATIONS: PROCEDURE, CONCESSION OF LANDS, AND LEGAL RESTRICTIONS AND ENCUMBRANCES

Sec. 89. All applications filed under the provisions of this Act shall be addressed to the Director of Lands.

Sec. 90. Every application under the provisions of this Act shall be made under oath and shall set forth:

(a) The full name of applicant, his age, place of birth, citizenship, civil status, and post-office address. In case the applicant is a
corporation, association or co-partnership, the application shall be accompanied with a certified copy of its articles of
incorporation, association or co-partnership together with an affidavit of its President, manager, or other responsible officer,
giving the names of the stockholders or members, their citizenship, and the number of shares subscribed by each.

(b) That the applicant has all the qualifications required by this Act in the case.

(c) That he has none of the disqualifications mentioned herein.

(d) That the application is made in good faith, for the actual purpose of using the land for the object specified in the application
and for no other purpose, and that the land is suitable for the purpose to which it is to be devoted.

(e) That the application is made for the exclusive benefit of the application and not, either directly or indirectly, for the benefit of
any other person or persons, corporation, association, or partnership.

(f) As accurate a description of the land as may be given, stating its nature the province, municipality, barrio, and sitio where it
is located, and its limits and boundaries, specifying those having reference to accidents of the ground or permanent
monuments, if any.

(g) Whether all or part of the land is occupied or cultivated or improved, and by whom, giving his post-office address, and
whether the land has been occupied or cultivated or improved by the applicant or his ascendant, the name of the ascendant,
the relationship with him, the date and place of the death of the ascendant, the date when the possession and cultivation
began, and description of the improvements made, accompanying satisfactory evidence of the relationship of the applicant with
the ascendant, and of the death of the latter and the descendants left by him, in case it is alleged that he occupied and
cultivated the land first; or whether there are indications of its having been occupied, cultivated, or improved entirely or partially,
and if so, in what such indications consist, whether he has made investigations as to when and by whom such improvements
were made, and if so, how such investigations were made and what was the result thereof; or whether the land is not occupied,
improved, or cultivated either entirely or partially, and there are no indications of it having ever been occupied, improved, or
cultivated, and in this case, what is the condition of the land.

(h) That the land applied for is neither timber nor mineral land and does not contain guano or deposits of salts or coal.

(i) That the applicant agrees that a strip forty meters wide starting from the bank on each side of any river or stream that may
be found on the land applied for, shall be demarcated and preserved as permanent timberland to be planted exclusively to
trees of known economic value, and that he shall not make any clearing thereon or utilize the same for ordinary farming
purposes even after patent shall have been issued to him or a contract of lease shall have been executed in his favor. 68

Sec. 91. The statements made in the application shall be considered as essential conditions and parts of any concession, title,
or permit issued on the basis of such application, and any false statements therein or omission of facts altering, changing, or
modifying the consideration of the facts set forth in such statements, and any subsequent modification, alteration, or change of
the material facts set forth in the application shall ipso facto produce the cancellation of the concession, title, or permit granted.
It shall be the duty of the Director of Lands, from time to time and whenever he may deem it advisable, to make the necessary
investigations for the purpose of ascertaining whether the material facts set out in the application are true, or whether they
continue to exist and are maintained and preserved in good faith, and for the purposes of such investigation, the Director of
Lands is hereby empowered to issue subpoenas and subpoenas duces tecum and, if necessary, to obtain compulsory process
from the courts. In every investigation made in accordance with this section, the existence of bad faith, fraud, concealment, or
fraudulent and illegal modification of essential facts shall be presumed if the grantee or possessor of the land shall refuse or fail
to obey a subpoena or subpoena duces tecum lawfully issued by the Director of Lands or his authorized delegates or agents, or
shall refuse or fail to give direct and specific answers to pertinent questions, and on the basis of such presumption, an order of
cancellation may issue without further proceedings.

Sec. 92. Although the maximum area of public land that may be acquired is fixed, yet the spirit of this Act is that the rule which
must determine the real area to be granted is the beneficial use of the land. The concession or disposition shall be for less than
the maximum area authorized if, at the time of the issuance of the patent or of the concession or disposition, it shall appear that
the applicant is utilizing and is only able to utilize a smaller area, even though the application is for a greater area. For the
purposes of this section, the Director of Lands is authorized to determine the area that may be granted to the applicant, and to
deny or cancel or limit any application for concession, purchase, or lease if convinced of the lack of means of the applicant for
using the land for the purpose for which he has requested it.

Sec. 93. Lands applied for under this Act shall conform to the legal subdivisions and shall be contiguous if comprising more
than one subdivision. If subdivisions have not been made on the date of the application, the lands shall be rectangular in form
so far as practicable, but it shall be endeavored to make them conform to the legal subdivision as soon as the same has been
made, provided the interests of the applicant or grantee are protected; and the subdivision assigned to the applicant or grantee
shall, so far as practicable, include the land improved or cultivated. The regulations to be issued for the execution of the
provisions of this section shall take into account the legal subdivision to be made by the Government and the inadvisability of
granting the best land at a given place to only one person.

Sec. 94. In case the legal subdivisions have already been made at the time of the filing of the application, no charge shall be
made for the survey; but if the legal subdivisions have not yet been made, the cost of the survey shall be charged to the
Government, except in the following cases:

(a) In purchases under chapters five and ten of this Act, the cost of the survey shall be charged to the purchaser if the same is
a corporation, association, or partnership; in other purchases the purchases, whoever it be, shall pay the total cost of the
survey.

(b) In leases, the cost of the survey shall be paid by the lessee; but at any time after the first five years from the approval of the
lease, and during Cost of the life of the same, the lessee shall be entitled to the reimbursement of one-half of the cost of the
survey, if he shows to the satisfaction of the Director of Lands that he has occupied and improved a sufficient area of the land
or incurred sufficient expenses in connection therewith to warrant such reimbursement.

Section95. If before the delimitation and survey of a tract of public land the President shall declare the same disposable or
alienable and such land shall be actually occupied by a person other than the applicant, the Director of Lands shall inform the
occupant of his prior right to apply for the land and shall give him one hundred and twenty days time in which to file the
application or apply for the concession by any of the forms of disposition authorized by this Act, if such occupant is qualified to
acquire a concession under this Act.

Sec. 96. As soon as any land of the public domain has been surveyed, delimited, and classified, the President may, in the order
issued by him declaring it open for disposition, designate a term within which occupants with improvements but not entitled to
free patents may apply for the land occupied by them, if they have the qualifications required by this Act.

Sec. 97. If in the case of the two last preceding sections, the occupant or occupants have not made application under any of
the provisions of this Act at the expiration of the time limit fixed, they shall lose any prior right to the land recognized by this Act,
and the improvements on the land, if any, shall be forfeited to the Government.
Sec. 98. All rights in and interest to, and the improvements and crops upon, land for which an application has been denied or
canceled or a patent or grant refused, or a contract or concession rescinded or annulled, shall also be forfeited to the
Government.

Sec. 99. The Secretary of Agriculture and Commerce may order such improvements and crops to be appraised separately, for
sale to the new applicant or grantee, or may declare such land open only to sale or lease.

Sec. 100. In case the cancellation is due to delinquency on the part of the applicant or grantee, the same shall be entitled to the
reimbursement of the proceeds of the sale of the improvements and crops, after deducting the total amount of his indebtedness
to the Government and the expense incurred by it in the sale of the improvements or crops and in the new concession of the
land.

Sec. 101. All actions for the reversion to the Government of lands of the public domain or improvements thereon shall be
instituted by the Solicitor-General or the officer acting in his stead, in the proper courts, in the name of the Commonwealth of
the Philippines.

Sec. 102. Any person, corporation, or association may file an objection under oath to any application or concession under this
Act, grounded on any reason sufficient under this Act for the denial or cancellation of the application or the denial of the patent
or grant. If, after the applicant or grantee has been given suitable opportunity to be duly heard, the objection is found to be well
founded, the Director of Lands shall deny or cancel the application or deny patent or grant, and the person objecting shall, if
qualified, be granted a prior right of entry for a term of sixty days from the date of the notice.

Sec. 103. All the proofs, affidavits, and oaths of any kind required or necessary under this Act may be made before the justice
of the peace 71 of the municipality in which the land lies, or before the judge or clerk of the Court of First Instance of the
province in which the land lies, or before any justice of the peace or chargeable notary public of the province in which the land
lies, or before any officer or employee of the Bureau of Lands authorized by law to administer oaths.

The fees for the taking of final evidence before any of the officials herein-before mentioned shall be as follows:

For each affidavit, fifty centavos.

For each deposition of the applicant or the witness, fifty centavos.

Sec. 104. Any owner of uncultivated agricultural land who knowingly permits application for the same to be made to the
Government and the land to be tilled and improved by a bona fide grantee without protesting to the Bureau of Lands within one
year after cultivation has begun, shall lose all to the part of the land so cultivated and improved, unless he shall bring action in
the proper court before such action for recovery prescribes and obtains favorable judgment therein, in which case the court
shall, upon its decision becoming final, order the payment to the grantee, within a reasonable period, of the indemnity fixed by
said court for the cultivation and improvement.

Sec. 105. If at any time the applicant or grantee shall die before the issuance of the patent or the final grant of the land, or
during the life of the lease, or while the applicant or grantee still has obligations pending towards the Government, in
accordance with this Act, he shall be succeeded in his rights and obligations with respect to the land applied for or granted or
leased under this Act by his heirs in law, who shall be entitled to have issued to them the patent or final concession if they show
that they have complied with the requirements therefor, and who shall be subrogated in all his rights and obligations for the
purposes of this Act.

Sec. 106. If at any time after the approval of the application and before the issuance of a patent or the final concession of the
land, or during the life of the lease, or at any time when the applicant or grantee still has obligations pending with the
Government, in accordance with this Act, it appears that the land applied for is necessary, in the public interest, for the
protection of any source of water or for any work for the public benefit that the Government wishes to undertake, the Secretary
of Agriculture and Commerce may order the cancellation of the application or the non issuance of the patent or concession or
the exclusion from the land applied for of such portion as may be required, upon payment of the value of the improvements, if
any.

Sec. 107. All patents or certificates for land granted under this Act shall be prepared in the Bureau of Lands and shall be issued
in the name of the Government of the Republic of the Philippines under the signature of the President of the Philippines:
Provided, however, That the President of the Philippines may delegate to the Secretary of Agriculture and Natural Resources
74 and/or the Under secretary for Natural Resources 74 the power to sign patents or certificates covering lands not exceeding
one hundred forty-four hectares in area, and to the Secretary of Agriculture and Natural Resources 75 the power to sign
patents or certificates covering lands exceeding one hundred forty-four hectares in area: Provided, further, That District Land
Officers in every province are hereby empowered to sign patents or certificates covering lands not exceeding five hectares in
area when the office of the District Land Officer is properly equipped to carry out the purposes of this Act: Provided, That no
applicant shall be permitted to split the area applied for by him in excess of the area fixed in this section among his relatives
within the sixth degree of consanguinity or affinity excepting the applicant’s married children who are actually occupying the
land: Provided, finally, That copies of said patents issued shall be furnished to the Bureau of Lands for record purposes. No
patent or certificate shall be issued by the District Land Officer unless the survey of the land covered by such patent or
certificate, whether made by the Bureau of Lands or by a private surveyor, has been approved by the Director of Lands. The
Director of Lands shall promptly act upon all surveys submitted to him for approval and return the same to the District Land
Officer within ninety days after receipt of such surveys by his office. In case of disapproval, the Director of Lands shall state the
reasons therefor. Any person aggrieved by the decision or action of the District Land Officer may, within thirty days from receipt
of the copy of the said decision, appeal to the Director of Lands. Such patents or certificates shall be effective only for the
purposes defined in Section one hundred and twenty-two of the land Registration Act, and actual conveyance of the land shall
be effected only as provided in said section.

All surveys pending approval by the Director of Lands at the time this Act takes effect shall be acted upon by him within ninety
days from the effectivity of this Act.

Section108. No patent shall issue nor shall any concession or contract be finally approved unless the land has been surveyed
and an accurate plat made thereof by the Bureau of Lands.

Sec. 109. In no case shall any land be granted under the provisions of this Act when this affects injuriously the use of any
adjacent land or of the waters, rivers, creeks, foreshore, roads, or roadsteads, or vest the grantee with other valuable rights that
may be detrimental to the public interest.

Sec. 110. Patents or certificates issued under the provisions of this Act shall not include nor convey the title to any gold, silver,
copper, iron, or other metals or minerals, or other substances containing minerals, guano, gums, precious stones, coal, or coal
oil contained in lands granted thereunder. These shall remain to be property of the State.

Sec. 111. All persons receiving title to lands under the provisions of this Act shall hold such lands subject to the provisions
hereof and to the same public servitudes as exist upon lands owned by private persons, including those with reference to the
littoral of the sea and the banks of navigable rivers or rivers upon which rafting may be done.

Sec. 112. Said land shall further be subject to a right-of-way not exceeding sixty (60) meters in width for public highways,
railroads, irrigation ditches, aqueducts, telegraph and telephone lines and similar works as the Government or any public or
quasi-public service or enterprise, including mining or forest concessionaires, may reasonably require for carrying on their
business, with damages for the improvements only. 77

Sec. 113. The beneficial use of water shall be the basis, the measure, and the limit of all rights thereto, and the patents herein
granted shall be subject to the right of the Government to make such rules and regulations for the use of water and the
protection of the water supply, and for other public purposes, as it may deem best for the public good. Whenever, by priority of
possession, rights to the use of water for mining, agricultural, manufacturing, or other purposes have vested and accrued, and
the same are recognized and acknowledged by the local customs, or by the laws and decisions of the courts, the possessors
and owners of such vested rights shall be maintained and protected in the same, and all patents granted under this Act shall be
subject to any vested and accrued rights to ditches and reservoirs used in connection with such water rights as may have been
acquired in the manner above described prior to April eleven, eighteen hundred and ninety-nine.

Sec. 114. There is hereby reserved from the operation of all patents, certificates, entries, and grants by the Government
authorized under this Act the right to use for the purposes of power any flow of water in any stream running through or by the
land granted, the convertible power from which at ordinary low water exceeds fifty horse power. Where the convertible power in
any stream running through or by land granted under the authority of this Act thus exceeds fifty horsepower, and there is no
means of using such power except by the occupation of a part of the land granted under authority of this Act, then so much
land as is reasonably necessary for the mill site or site for the power house, and for a suitable dam and site for massing the
water, is hereby excepted from such grants, not exceeding four hectares, and a right of way to the nearest public highway from
the land thus excepted, and also a right of way for the construction and maintenance of such flumes, aqueducts, wires, poles,
or order conduits as may be needed in conveying the water to the point where its fall will yield the greatest power, or the power
from the point of conversion to the point of use, is reserved as a servitude or easement upon the land granted by authority of
this Act: Provided, however, That when the Government or any concessionaire of the Government shall take possession of the
land under this section which a grantee under this Act shall have paid for, supposing it to be subject to grant under this Act,
said grantee shall be entitled to indemnity from the Government or the concessionaire, as the case may be, in the amount, if
any, paid by him to the Government for the land taken from him by virtue of this section: And provided, further, That with
respect to the flow of water, except for converting the same into power exceeding fifty horse power, said grantee shall be
entitled to the same use of the water flowing through or along his land that other private owners enjoy under the law, subject to
the governmental regulation provided in the previous section. Water power privileges in which the convertible power at ordinary
low water shall exceed fifty horse power shall be disposed of only upon terms established by an Act of the Assembly
concerning the use, lease or acquisition of such water privilege.

Sec. 115. All lands granted by virtue of this Act, including homesteads upon which final proof has not been made or approved,
shall, even though and while the title remains in the State, be subject to the ordinary taxes, which shall be paid by the grantee
or the applicant, beginning with the year next following the one in which the homestead application has been filed, or the
concession has been approved, or the contract has been signed, as the case may be, on the basis of the value fixed in such
filing, approval or signing of the application, concession or contract.

Sec. 116. The appraisal or reappraisal of the lands or improvements subject to concession or disposition under this Act shall be
made by the Director of Lands, with the approval of the Secretary of Agriculture and Commerce. The Director of Lands may
request the assistance of the provincial treasurer of the province in which the land lies or may appoint a committee for such
purpose in the province or in the municipality in which the land lies. In no case shall the appraisal or reappraisal be less than
the expense incurred or which may be incurred by the Government in connection with the application or concession, nor shall
any reappraisal be made with an increase of more than one hundred per centum upon the appraisal or reappraisal next
preceding.

Sec.117. All sums due and payable to the Government under this Act, except homestead fees, shall draw simple interest at the
rate of four per centum per annum from and after the date in which the debtor shall become delinquent.

Sec. 118. Except in favor of the Government or any of its branches, units, or institutions, lands acquired under free patent or
homestead provisions shall not be subject to encumbrance or alienation from the date of the approval of the application and for
a term of five years from and after the date of issuance of the patent or grant, nor shall they become liable to the satisfaction of
any debt contracted prior to the expiration of said period, but the improvements or crops on the land may be mortgaged or
pledged to qualified persons, associations, or corporations.

No alienation, transfer, or conveyance of any homestead after five years and before twenty-five years after issuance of title
shall be valid without the approval of the Secretary of Agriculture and Commerce, which approval shall not be denied except on
constitutional and legal grounds.

Sec. 119. Every conveyance of land acquired under the free patent or homestead provisions, when proper, shall be subject to
repurchase by the applicant, his widow, or legal heirs, within a period of five years from the date of the conveyance.

Sec. 120. Conveyance and encumbrance made by persons belonging to the so-called “non-Christian Filipinos” or national
cultural minorities, when proper, shall be valid if the person making the conveyance or encumbrance is able to read and can
understand the language in which the instrument or conveyance or encumbrances is written. Conveyances and encumbrances
made by illiterate non-Christian or literate non-Christians where the instrument of conveyance or encumbrance is in a language
not understood by the said literate non-Christians shall not be valid unless duly approved by the Chairman of the Commission
on National Integration.

Sec. 121. Except with the consent of the grantee and the approval of the Secretary of Natural Resources, and solely for
commercial, industrial, educational, religious or charitable purposes or for a right of way, no corporation, association, or
partnership may acquire or have any right, title, interest, or property right whatsoever to any land granted under the free patent,
homestead, or individual sale provisions of this Act or to any permanent improvement on such land.

The provisions of Section 124 of this Act to the contrary notwithstanding, any acquisition of such land, rights thereto or
improvements thereon by a corporation, association, or partnership prior to the promulgation of this Decree for the purposes
herein stated is deemed valid and binding; Provided, That no final decision of reversion of such land to the State has been
rendered by a court; And Provided, further, That such acquisition is approved by the Secretary of Natural Resources within six
(6) months from the effectivity of this Decree.

Sec. 122. No land originally acquired in any manner under the provisions of this Act, nor any permanent improvement on such
land, shall encumbered, alienated, or transferred, except to persons, corporations, associations, or partnerships who may
acquire lands of the public domain under this Act or to corporations organized in the Philippines authorized therefor by their
charters.

Except in cases of hereditary succession, no land or any portion thereof originally acquired under the free patent, homestead,
or individual sale provisions of this Act, or any permanent improvement on such land, shall be transferred or assigned to any
individual, nor shall such land or any permanent improvement thereon be leased to such individual, when the area of said land,
added to that of his own, shall exceed one hundred and forty-four hectares. Any transfer, assignment, or lease made in
violation hereof, shall be null and void.

Sec. 123. No land originally acquired in any manner under the provisions of any previous Act, ordinance, royal order, royal
decree, or any other provision of law formerly in force in the Philippines with regard to public lands, terrenos baldios y
realengos, or lands of any other denomination that were actually or presumptively of the public domain, or by royal grant or in
any other form, nor any permanent improvement on such land, shall be encumbered, alienated, or conveyed, except to
persons, corporations or associations who may acquire land of the public domain under this Act or to corporate bodies
organized in the Philippines whose charters authorize them to do so: Provided, however, That this prohibition shall not be
applicable to the conveyance or acquisition by reason of hereditary succession duly acknowledged and legalized by competent
courts; Provided, further, That in the event of the ownership of the lands and improvements mentioned in this section and in the
last preceding section being transferred by judicial decree to persons, corporations or associations not legally capacitated to
acquire the same under the provisions of this Act, such persons, corporations, or associations shall be obliged to alienate said
lands or improvements to others so capacitated within the precise period of five years; otherwise, such property shall revert to
the Government.

Sec. 124. Any acquisition, conveyance, alienation, transfer, or other contract made or executed in violation of any of the
provisions of sections one hundred and eighteen, one hundred and twenty, one hundred and twenty-one, one hundred and
twenty two, and one hundred and twenty-three of this Act shall be unlawful and null and void from its execution and shall
produce the effect of annulling and cancelling the grant, title, patent, or permit originally issued, recognized or confirmed,
actually or presumptively, and cause the reversion of the property and its improvements to the State.

Sec. 125. The provisions of sections twenty-two, twenty-three, thirty-three, one hundred and twenty-two, and one hundred and
twenty-three of this Act, and any other provision or provisions restricting or tending to restrict the right of persons, corporations,
or associations to acquire, hold, lease, encumber, dispose of, or alienate land in the Philippines, or permanent improvements
thereon, or any interest therein, shall not be applied in cases in which the right to acquire, hold or dispose of such land,
permanent improvements thereon or interests therein in the Philippines is recognized by existing treaties in favor of citizens or
subjects of foreign nations and corporations or associations organized and constituted by the same, which right, in so far as it
exists under such treaties, shall continue and subsist in the manner and to the extent stipulated in said treaties, and only while
these are in force, but not thereafter.

Sec. 126. All public auctions provided for in the foregoing chapters in the disposition of public lands shall be held, wherever
possible, in the province where the land is located, or, in the office of the Bureau of Lands in Manila

CHAPTER XIV
TRANSITORY PROVISIONS

Sec. 127. During the existence and continuance of the Commonwealth and before the Republic of the Philippines is finally
established, citizens and corporations of the United States shall enjoy the same rights granted to citizens and corporations of
the Philippines under this Act.

Sec. 128. During the period specified in the next preceding section, the President of the Philippines, upon receipt of the order of
the President of the United States, shall, by proclamation, designate such land as the latter may set aside for military, naval or
other reservations for use of the Government of the United States.

CHAPTER XV
PENAL PROVISIONS

Sec. 129. Any person who presents or causes to be presented, or cooperates in the presentation of, any false application,
declaration, or evidence, or makes or causes to be made or cooperates in the making of a false affidavit in support of any
petition, claim, or objection respecting lands of the public domain, shall be deemed guilty of perjury and punished accordingly.

Sec. 130. Any person who voluntarily and maliciously prevents or hinders or attempts to prevent or hinder the presentation of
any application for public land under this Act, or who in any manner attempts to execute or executes acts intended to dissuade
or discourage, or aid to dissuade or discourage, the acquisition of public lands, shall be deemed guilty of coercion and be
punished accordingly.

Sec. 131. Any person who sells forms issued and distributed gratuitously under this Act or who, being an officer charged with
distributing them, refuses or fails, without sufficient reason, to furnish the same, shall be punished for each offense by a fine of
not more than one hundred pesos or by imprisonment for not more than three months, or both, in the discretion of the court.

Sec. 132. Any person, corporation, association or partnership which, not being qualified or no longer authorized to apply for
public land under the provisions of this Act, files or induces or knowingly permits another person, corporation, association or
partnership to file an application in his or its behalf or for his or its interest, benefit or advantage, shall be punished by a fine of
not less than two hundred nor more than five thousand pesos or by imprisonment for not less than two months nor more than
five years, or both, in the discretion of the court; and the application shall be cancelled.

Sec. 133. Any person who, without having the qualifications required by this Act, shall by deceit or fraud acquire or attempt to
acquire lands of the public domain or other real property or any right, title or interest, or property right of any class to the same,
and any person aiding and abetting him therein or serving as a means or tool therefor, shall, upon conviction, be punished by a
fine of not more than five thousands pesos, or by the imprisonment for not more than five years, or both, in the discretion of the
court.

TITLE VII
FINAL PROVISIONS

CHAPTER XVI
EFFECTIVENESS OF THIS ACT

Sec. 134. If, for any reason, any section or provision of this Act is challenged in a competent court and is held to be
unconstitutional, none of the other sections or provisions thereof shall be affected thereby and such other sections and
provisions shall continue to govern as if the section or provisions so annulled, disapproved, or repealed had never been
incorporated in this Act, and in lieu of the section or provision so annulled, disapproved, or repealed, the provisions of law on
the subject thereof in force prior to the approval of this Act shall govern until the Assembly shall otherwise provide in the
premises.

Sec. 135. All laws and regulations, or parts thereof, inconsistent with the provisions of this Act, are hereby repealed.

Sec. 136. This Act shall take effect on December first, nineteen hundred and thirty-six unless the President shall, in the
proclamation announcing its effectiveness, designate a prior date, in which case this Act shall take effect on the date so
designated.
REPUBLIC ACT NO. 6940
.

AN ACT GRANTING A PERIOD ENDING ON DECEMBER 31, 2000 FOR FILING APPLICATIONS FOR FREE PATENT AND
JUDICIAL CONFIRMATION OF IMPERFECT TITLE TO ALIENABLE AND DISPOSABLE LANDS OF THE PUBLIC DOMAIN
UNDER CHAPTERS VII AND VIII OF THE PUBLIC LAND ACT (CA 141, AS AMENDED).

Section 1. Paragraph 1, Section 44, Chapter VII of Commonwealth Act No. 141, as amended, is hereby amended to read
as follows:
"Sec. 44.Any natural-born citizen of the Philippines who is not the owner of more than twelve (12) hectares and who,
for at least thirty (30) years prior to the effectivity of this amendatory Act, has continuously occupied and cultivated,
either by himself or through his predecessors-in-interest a tract or tracts of agricultural public lands subject to
disposition, who shall have paid the real estate tax thereon while the same has not been occupied by any person shall
be entitled, under the provisions of this Chapter, to have a free patent issued to him for such tract or tracts of such
land not to exceed twelve (12) hectares."

G.R. No. L-33307 August 30, 1973

VICENTE E. KAYABAN and FLORENTINA LAGASCA-KAYABAN, petitioners,


-versus-
THE REPUBLIC OF THE PHILIPPINES and HONORABLE VICENTE M. SANTIAGO, JR., as Presiding Judge of Branch V,
CFI of Pangasinan, respondents.

Edilberto Ga. Esguerra for petitioners.

Office of the Solicitor General Felix Q. Antonio, Assistant Solicitor General Hector C. Fule and Solicitor General Felix J.
Bautista for respondents.

MAKALINTAL, Actg., C.J.:

The present case started with an action for illegal detainer filed in the municipal court of Alcala Pangasinan on April 20, 1967
and docketed therein as Civil Case No. 246. The plaintiff was Vicente Kayaban, one of the petitioners herein, the other
petitioner being his wife Florentina Lagasca-Kayaban; and the defendants were the spouses Benjamin Orpindo and Leonila
Aguilar-Orpindo. The property involved was Lot No. 9, one of several lots covered by O.C.T. No. P-1214 in the plaintiff's name.
Another title, O.C.T. No. P-1215, covering other lots, was in the name of his wife Florentina, and both were issued way back on
September 22, 1956 as a result of free patent applications filed by them in 1955.

On July 12, 1967, just before the hearing of the illegal detainer case was terminated in the municipal court, the Orpindo
spouses, together with Ruea Whiting Vds. de Kayaban and her children, filed a complaint against the Kayaban spouses in the
Court of First Instance of Pangasinan for reconveyance of Lot No. 9, which complaint was docketed as Civil Case No. U-1022.
Sometime later the illegal detainer case was decided adversely to the plaintiff, who thereupon appealed to the Court of First
Instance, where the case was docketed as Civil Case No. U-1034.

Still later, upon a letter-complaint to the Solicitor General's Office by the lawyer for the Orpindos, the said Office filed, on
December 17, 1968, an action for annulment of the two free patent titles of the Kayabans and for reversion of the lands covered
thereby to the State. The case was docketed as Case No. U-2080.

The three cases — U-1022, U-1034 and U-2080 — were consolidated and tried jointly before respondent court, which rendered
its decision on July 31, 1970. Case No. U-1022, for reconveyance, was dismissed and the property involved therein was
declared to be the "absolute and exclusive property of defendant Vicente Kayaban." Case No. U-2034, for illegal detainer, was
decided in favor of the plaintiff therein Vicente Kayaban and the defendants were ordered to vacate the land and to pay monthly
rentals thereon until possession was finally restored to the plaintiff. The losing parties in those two cases did not appeal from
the decision, which consequently became final.

The petition now before Us is by the spouses Vicente Kayaban and Florentina Lagasca-Kayaban for review of the decision
insofar as Civil Case No. U-2080 is concerned. The dispositive portion of that decision is as follows:

xxx xxx xxx

3. In Civil Case No. 2080, Original Certificates of Title Nos. P-1214 and P-1215 subject-matter thereof and
under the names of Vicente Kayaban and Florentina Lagasca-Kayaban are hereby declared null and void;
however, they are hereby declared to be the rightful and exclusive owners and possessors of all the
properties therein covered, with the right to apply for the confirmation of their titles thereto in a proper
judicial proceedings. The Philippine National Bank * having acted in good faith is absolved of any liability,
and its right to recover on the mortgage loan may be enforced. Without pronouncement as to attorney's
fees and costs.
The facts as found by the respondent court on the basis of the evidence submitted by the petitioners are as follows: The lands
covered by the two titles were inherited by Vicente Kayaban and his co-heirs from their father and common predecessor-in-
interest, Gabriel Kayaban, whose last will was admitted to probate in 1923. After the properties were partitioned, Vicente
Kayaban acquired the shares of his co-heirs by purchase and afterwards he and his wife applied for and obtained the two free
patent titles in question.

The respondent court recognized and declared the petitioners to be the rightful and exclusive owners of the properties covered
by the said titles and denied the Solicitor General's prayer that they be reverted to the State, but nevertheless declared the titles
null and void on the ground that since the owners had acquired the properties partly by inheritance from their father and the rest
by purchase from their co-heirs, and their father had been in possession thereof for many years before them, the lands were no
longer public and hence not subject to disposition by the government under the Public Land Act. The procedure that should
have been followed, said the court, was judicial confirmation of an imperfect title and not administrative legalization thereof
through patent application.

We find the present appeal meritorious. We note in the first place that nowhere in the record is it shown that the complaint in
Case No. U-2080 for annulment of the appellants' titles and for reversion of the lands covered thereby to the State was filed at
the behest of the Director of Lands. What does appear in the stipulation of facts submitted by the parties below is as follows:

xxx xxx xxx

6. That this instant case praying primarily to declare "null and void" the Original Certificates of Titles Nos.
P-1214 and P-1215, has been initiated by Atty. Nestor C. Fernandez upon his letter complaint to the
Solicitor General's Office;

7. That Atty. Nestor C. Fernandez is neither a claimant, possessor, nor does he have any right whatsoever
over any portion of the lands covered by the Original Certificates of Titles Nos. P-1214 and P-1215.

Since it was the Director of Lands who processed and approved the applications of the appellants and who ordered the
issuance of the corresponding free patents in their favor in his capacity as administrator of the disposable lands of the public
domain, the action for annulment should have been initiated by him, or at least with his prior authority and consent.

In the second place, the dictum of the lower court that the appellants chose the wrong remedy in applying for free patents
instead of obtaining a judicial confirmation of their imperfect titles involves a technicality that is of no material consequence now
in view of the declaration by the same court that the appellants are the rightful and exclusive owners of the lands covered by
said titles. Indeed, insofar as the kind of land that may be the subject of one or the other remedy is concerned, there is no
difference between them. Both refer to public lands suitable for agricultural purposes; both require continuous occupation and
cultivation either by the applicant himself or through his predecessors-in-interest for a certain length of time; and both are
modes of confirming an imperfect or incomplete title — one judicially and the other administratively. * The fact that the
appellants inherited part of the lands in question from their father and acquired the rest by purchase from their co-heirs does
not necessarily imply that they had become private lands in the sense of being no longer subject to disposal under the
provisions of the Public Land Act. What is not to be denied is that in connection with their free patent applications the
appellants, as well as the Director of Lands, considered the lands as still part of the public domain, although the appellants had
an imperfect title to them. The following statement in the decision of this court in the case of Antonio vs. Barroga, 23 SCRA 360
(April 29, 1968) is apropos:

It is true that by filing the application for a free patent Barroga impliedly admitted either the invalidity of
insufficiency of Titulo Real No. 12479 issued in the name of his predecessor-in-interest on July 22, 1894,
but neither the allegation made in his answer that his aforesaid predecessor-in-interest was the absolute
owner of the property covered by said Titulo Real nor his implied admission of the latter's invalidity or
insufficiency are grounds for the annulment of the free patent and original certificate of title in question.
Evidently, it was Barroga's privilege to rely or not to rely upon his claim of private ownership in favor of his
predecessor-in-interest and whatever the latter's Titulo Real was worth. He decided not to rely upon them
and to consider instead that the property covered by the Titulo Real was still a part of the public domain.
Acting accordingly he applied for a free patent and was successful. It must be borne in mind that its holder
still had to prove that he possessed the land covered by it without interruption during a period of ten years
by virtue of a good title and in good faith (Royal Decree of June 25, 1880). We may well presume that
Barroga felt that he had no sufficient evidence to prove this, for which reason he decided to acquire the
land as part of the public domain. (Emphasis supplied)

Finally, whether the titles in question were obtained through judicial or administrative legalization of imperfect or incomplete title
is of no practical importance. The certificates of title in either case is the same, namely, that provided for in Section 122 of Act
No. 496, which, except for some restrictions as to alienability within entitled to all the protection afforded by the Torrens System
of registration.

WHEREFORE, the decision appealed from (Case No. U-2080) is reversed insofar as it declares null and void Original
Certificates of Title Nos. P-1214 and P-1215 in the names of Vicente Kayaban and Florentina Lagasca-Kayaban, respectively.
No pronouncement as to costs.

Zaldivar, Castro, Fernando, Teehankee, Barredo, Makasiar and Esguerra, JJ., concur.
Antonio, J., took no part.

REPUBLIC ACT NO. 730

REPUBLIC ACT NO. 730 - AN ACT TO PERMIT THE SALE WITHOUT PUBLIC AUCTION OF PUBLIC
LANDS OF THE REPUBLIC OF THE PHILIPPINES FOR RESIDENTIAL PURPOSES TO QUALIFIED
APPLICANTS UNDER CERTAIN CONDITIONS

Section 1. Notwithstanding the provisions of sections sixty-one and sixty-seven of Commonwealth Act Numbered
One hundred forty-one, as amended by Republic Act Numbered Two hundred ninety-three, any Filipino citizen of legal
age who is not the owner of a home lot in the municipality or city in which he resides and who has in good faith
established his residence on a parcel of the public land of the Republic of the Philippines which is not needed for the
public service, shall be given preference to purchase at a private sale of which reasonable notice shall be given to him
not more than one thousand square meters at a price to be fixed by the Director of Lands with the approval of the
Secretary of Agriculture and Natural Resources. It shall be an essential condition of this sale that the occupants has
constructed his house on the land and actually resided therein. Ten per cent of the purchase price shall be paid upon
the approval of the sale and the balance may be paid in full, or in ten equal annual installments.

Section 2. Except in favor of the Government or any of its branches, units, or institutions lands acquired under the
provisions of this Act shall not be subject to encumbrance or alienation before the patent is issued and for a term of
ten years from the date of the issuance of such patent, nor shall they become liable to the satisfaction of any debt
contracted prior to the expiration of said period. No transfer or alienation made after the said period of ten years and
within fifteen years from the issuance of such patent except those made by virtue of the right of succession shall be
valid unless when duly authorized by the Secretary of Agriculture and Natural Resources and the transferee or vendee
is a Filipino citizen. Every conveyance made shall be subject to repurchase by the original purchaser or his legal heirs
within a period of five years from the date of conveyance.

Any contract or agreement made or executed in violation of this section shall be void ab initio.

Section 3. The provisions of the Public Land Act with respect to the sale of lands for residential purposes which are
not inconsistent herewith shall be applicable.

Section 4. This Act shall take effect upon its approval.

G.R. No. L-50685 December 4, 1991

ROBERTO AGURA, CESAR ALIB, TOMAS STA. RITA, ALFREDO CORDOVA, VICTOR DE LOS REYES, and MARINA
SERFINO, petitioners,
-versus-
FEDERICO SERFINO, SR., FEDERICO SERFINO, JR., The Honorable RONALDO B. ZAMORA, Presidential Assistant for
Legal Affairs, Office of the President; The Honorable JOSE J. LEIDO, JR., Minister of the Department of Natural
Resources, and The Court of First Instance of Manila, Branch XXI, respondents.

Francisco B. Cruz and Gruba, Tanlimco, Lamson & Burgos for petitioners.

DAVIDE, JR., J.:

In this petition for review on certiorari, petitioners seek to nullify the decision dated 30 April 1979 of the then Court of First
Instance (now Regional Trial Court) of Manila, Branch XXI, in Civil Case No. 113897, which affirmed the decisions of the
Presidential Assistant for Legal Affairs and the then Minister of Natural Resources giving due course to the Miscellaneous
Sales Applications filed by private respondents with the Bureau of Lands.

The relevant factual and procedural antecedents which gave rise to this petition as gathered from the pleadings are as follows:

On 10 December 1965, private respondent Federico Serfino, Sr., filed with the Bureau of Lands Miscellaneous Sales
Application (MSA) No. (V-3)2 over a 4,172 square meter parcel of land located at San Patricia Bacolod City. On 18 February
1966, his son, respondent Serfino, Jr., filed MSA No. (V-3)1 over an adjoining lot with an area of 1,358 square meters.
Subsequently, the Director of Lands approved the survey plans of these two (2) MSAs.

On 21 February 1966, Land Investigator Rodolfo Magbanua conducted a preliminary investigation of the parcels of land
covered by the above MSAs. He reported that Serfino, Sr. had introduced improvements consisting of a residential house, a
piggery house and a bodega all valued at P25,500.00; Serfino, Jr. had introduced an improvement consisting of a residential
house valued at P15,000.00; and that they have been occupying the parcels applied for since 1947. Magbanua recommended
that the MSAs be given further due course.

The MSAs were referred to the Director of Public Works, the Commissioner of Public Highways, the Bacolod City Engineer and
the Bacolod City Collector of Customs. These officials did not interpose any objections. The Director of Lands approved the
surveys of the parcels applied for on 26 July 1966.

On 28 September 1967, notices for the sale through public auction of the lots in question were posted at the required places
and published in the 13 and 20 November 1967 issues of the Official Gazette. The auction sale was set for 27 December 1967
at 10:00 o'clock in the morning. The Undersecretary of Natural Resources pegged the price of the lots in question at P5.00 per
square meter.

At the auction sale, private respondents were the only qualified bidders. Serfino, Sr.'s bid was P20,860.00 while that of Serfino,
Jr.'s was P6,790.00. They paid the required 10% of their respective bids. While the purchase price and the corresponding
annual real estate taxes have already been fully paid, the Bureau of Lands has yet to issue an Order awarding the lots in
question to them.

On 11 March 1968, District Land Officer Pedro C. Reyes ordered an investigation of an alleged conflict (docketed as D.L.O
Conflict No. (V-3)220 (N)) between Serfino, Sr.'s MSA No. (V3)2 and that of an unnumbered Revocable Permit Application
(VRAP) of a certain Primitive Donozo. On 2 April 1968, another investigation of an alleged conflict (docketed as B.L. Conflict
No. 217(N)) between Serfino, Jr.'s MSA No. (V-3)1 and the RPAs of petitioners Agura, Alib, and Sta. Rita and a certain
Domingo Natividad was ordered.

Land Investigator Ernesto Siriban conducted a preliminary investigation of B.L. Conflict No. 217(N). In his report dated 2 April
1968, he stated:

That the land subject hereof used to be foreshore but is now dryland and is being used for residential
purposes by the party litigants and their respective tenants and relatives;

That upon verification of the premises, it was found out that the area applied for and occupied by the
Applicants-Contestants are inside the area applied for and surveyed for the Applicant-Respondent ... 1

In his report, Siriban made no mention of D.L.O. Conflict No. (V-3)220(N). He advised the contending parties in B.L. Conflict
No. 217(N) to submit to a formal investigation so that their respective claims can be threshed out.

A formal investigation was then conducted by Ramon Villamarzo of the Bacolod City District Land Office. Three (3) formal
hearings were held in May, June and 19 September 1969. Unfortunately, however, Villamarzo failed to submit either the
stenographic notes or the report on what transpired during these hearings, except the one held on 19 September 1969 wherein
he stated that for failure of herein respondents to appear, he had to reset the hearings of 27, 28, and 29 of November 1969.

Meanwhile, petitioners Agura, Alib, Sta. Rita and 106 others sent to the President of the Philippines a petition dated 22 August
1969 requesting that the small parcels of land located in the areas covered by private respondents' MSAs which they have
been occupying for thirty (30) years be awarded to them. In view of this petition, Regional Land Officer Cipriano Zabala of
Region V, Iloilo City was ordered to conduct an investigation. On 13 October 1969, Zabala submitted the following preliminary
report:

The land subject of the present controversy is now a dry land which has been formed by accretions from
the sea (Guimaras strait) for many, many years. It could not be reached anymore by sea water during
ordinary high tide. The land is between the Bacolod Cadastre on the east and foreshore area on the west.

About 314 of the land in question extending towards the south was surveyed under approved survey plans
msi-(V-3)3-D in the name of Federico Serfino, Sr. and Serfino, Jr. The remaining 1/4 portion of the land in
question is not covered by an approved survey plan and is being claimed by Mr. Serfino, Sr.

The Serfinos have houses on the land in question. Likewise, all other portions of the said in question are
covered with houses mostly of nipa roofing and of light materials belonging to the petitioners. There is an
well now being used by the people therein. Several old coconut trees are found in the area and the
consensus of the People with me (including Atty. Drilon, Jr., Serfino Sr. and Barrio Captain Deoma) is that
these coconut trees have been planted by Candido Cordova and/or his predecessors, owners of a
cadastral lot not very far south of the land in question. 2

On 3 December 1969, Zabala submitted a "final" report:

As stated in my progress report dated October 13, 1969, transit and stadia sketching of the area in
question was made by Surveyor I Ponciano Bautista of the Bacolod City District Land Office. Enclosed
herewith, marked as Annex "J" is a sketch tracing plan prepared therefor. From the herein sketch plan, the
fint lot on the south is that covered by M.S.A. No. (V-3)1 of Federico Serfim, Jr. with an area of 1,358
squam meters. There are thirty four (34) persons (petitioners) with houses therein very close to each other
occupying the area. Someof these houses are indicated on the tracing plan. The site of the proposed
artesian well to he constructed is also indicated and circled with red ink on the sketch.

The sand lot involved in this case with an area of 4,172 square meters is the one applied for by Federico
Serfino, Sr. Aside from the residential house of the Serfinos and the bodega (of) the West Visayan
Shipping Co., there are thirty-eight (38) houses also close to each other of the petitioners. Some of these
houses are indicated on the sketch.

xxx xxx xxx

The third lot on the north is not covered by any public land application by the Serfinos as verified from the
records in the District Land Office at Bacolod City. The area is approximately 3,650 square meters. There
are fifty-eight (58) houses of the petitioner(s) within the lot all close to each other. Some of the houses are
indicated on the sketch. The site of another artesian well proposed to be constructed by the petitioners is
marked and circled in red ink. 3

Zabala likewise stated in his report that three (3) ejectment cases (Civil Cages Nos. 6633, 6534, and 6674) were filed with the
City Court of Bacolod by private respondents against certain individuals including petitioners herein. He recommended that, in
view of these pending cases, further action on private respondents MSAs be held in abeyance.

On 7 January 1970, the City Court of Bacolod rendered decision in Civil Case No. 6533 ordering the ejectment of the
defendants therein from the lots in question for "failure to pay rentals." On 22 August 1970, Civil Cases Nos. 6534 and 6674
were dismissed on the ground that "the question of who has a better right to the areas claimed by the parties will be determined
by the Bureau of Lands who (sic) has charge of the disposal of public lands." 4

On 10 February 1971, Land Investigator Villamarzo submitted a report recommending that the petitioners herein be given
"preferential right" over the portions occupied by them. Acting on this recommendation, the Director. of Lands on 6 July 1971
issued an Order, the dispositive part of which reads:

WHEREFORE, it is ordered that the Miscellaneous Sales Applications No. (V-3)2 and (V-3)1 of Pederico
Serfino, Sr. and Federico Serfino, Jr., respectively, be, as hereby they are, amended by excluding
therefrom the portions occupied by the petitioners, and as thus amended said applications shall be given
due course for the re portions after they are surveyed at the applicant's own expense. The excluded
portions shall be subdivided into home-sized lots in accordance, as much as possible, with the actual
occupation of the petitioners who shall, thereafter, be required to file appropriate public land applications
therefor. 5

On 7 August 1971, private respondents moved for a reconsideration alleging that they were not given the opportunity to
introduce evidence in their behalf. On 16 August 1974, the Assistant Director of Lands denied the motion stating, inter alia, that:

Records also disclosed that the proceedings in the City Court of Bacolod in the aforesaid civil cases were
adopted during the investigation of the above-noted case conducted by a representative of this office.
Thus, the records of the transcript of stenographic notes taken down during the hearing in the two (2)
aforesaid civil cases are attached to the record of this case as part hereto.

Records further show that the petitioners-claimants are in actual possession of the portions respectively
claimed by them. The foregoing facts and circumtances have clearly established that the petitioners-
claimants have preferential right to the portions they actually occupy. 6

On appeal by herein private respondents, the Secretary of Natural Resources set aside the foregoing orders in a decision dated
7 October 1976, the dispositive part of which reads:

WHEREFORE, the Order of the Director of Lands dated July 6, 1971, is hereby SET ASIDE, and the
appellees are hereby ordered to vacate the two lots in question within thirty (30) days from receipt of their
copies of the decision hereof and leave the appellants in peaceful possession of the same. Accordingly,
the Miscellaneous Sales Application No. (V-3)1 of appellant Federico Serfino, Jr. and Miscellaneous Sales
Application No. (V-3)2 of appellant Federico Serfino, Sr. shall be given further due course.7

In support of this disposition, the Secretary made the following findings of facts and conclusions:

The principal issue is whether or not the sales of the lots in question in favor of the appellants (private
respondents) should be revoked in view of the alleged conflicts and adverse claims of the appellees
(petitioners).

We find no basis for an affirmative answer to this issue considering that the basic facts remain
uncontroverted.
The records show that the required notices were posted in accordance with law on September 28,1967, at
the required places for the sale through public auction of the lots in question on December 27, 1967. The
notices were likewise published in the Official Gazette on November 13, 1967, and on November 20, 1967.
On December 27, 1967, no other bids having been admitted, except those of the appellants, their bids
were accepted. Since then, the appellants have fully paid the amounts respectively bedded by them:
P20,860.00 for Federico Serfino, Sr., and P6,790.00 for Federico Serfino, Jr. Appellants have also
declared the said lots for taxation purposes with the City Assessor of Bacolod and have been religiously
paying their taxes thereon.

Ordinarily, the Order of award and the corresponding authority to enter follow. But no such order of award
in favor of the appellants has yet been issued. Were there supervening events that could have prevented
the Bureau from giving the award to the appellants? If so, did these supervening events constitute a bar to
an award of the contested lots?

From the records of this case, there were allegedly two supervening events. First, there were the alleged
conflicts between the Miscellaneous Sales Applications of the appellants and Revocable Permit
Applications of the five appellees. The second were the adverse claims of these five appellees and 105
others filed on August 22, 1969.

Under Land Administrative Order No. 6, a conflict refers to a protest made by a public land applicant who
believes that another applicant or any other person is encroaching upon the land applied for by him. In
other words, it is essential that the protestant must be a public land applicant. Appellees never filed any
regular land application. They did, however, file revocable permit applications, but these were never
approved by the Bureau of Lands as reflected in the questioned Order of the Director of Lands. ... The
appellees therefore have not acquired any right whatsoever over the Iota in question. Beside (sic) such
mere filing did not create an obligation on the part of the Bureau of Lands to grant their applications. ... It is
discretionary on the part of said officials to grant or not to grant such applicants. (Aureus vs. Secretary of
Agriculture and Natural Resources, 85 Phil. 1, November 11, 1949).

The case took on a different aspect when the five applees and 105 others sent a letter-protest to the
President of the Philippines on August 22, 1969, requesting that the contested areas, which they have
allegedly occupied for more than thirty (30) years, be awarded to them. This was done even while the
formal investigation before Villamarzo on the alleged conflicts will still pending. In fact, no investigation at
all was ever done by Villamarzo. In effect, the appellees turned the alleged conflicts into adverse claims.

Again under Lands Administrative Order No. 6, an adverse claim refers to the verified protest filed whereby
a person asserts a right over a land covered by a public land application, based on his alleged ownership
or on his prior right to apply for the same.

Obviously, appellees cannot base their adverse claim on the ground of ownership once the contested lots
belong to the public domain. Well settled is the rule that no public land can be acquired by private persons
without a grant, express or implied, from the Government (Padilla vs. Reyes, 60 Phil. 967), ... However, a
mere allegation by the appellees that they have been in occupation of certain portions of the public domain
for more than 30 years is not sufficient to confer ownership on (sic) said public lands.

xxx xxx xxx

Appellees herein failed to protest when the appellants filed their respective sales applications. Neither did
they protest when the land was surveyed nor did they contest or participate in the public bidding. Appellees
took nearly two years after the bidding to file their alleged adverse claims.

The basic facts remain. The Bureau decided to sell the contested lots through public auction. And the
public bidding was indeed held. Prior possession is immaterial. In proceedings for the sale of public lands
for residential purposes, adjudication shall be made to the highest bidder. ...

Appellants herein have substantially complied with the sales provisions of the Public Land Act, whereas the
appellees failed to exercise their rights when they did not participate in the public bidding. They therefore
could not invoke preferential right over the contested lots under Section 95 of the Public Land Act since the
lots were already regularly sold at public auction in favor of the appellants. 8

On appeal by herein petitioners, the Presidential Assistant for Legal Affairs on 20 September 1977 affirmed in toto the
foregoing decision.

In affirming the Secretary's decision, the Office of the President held as without merit the contentions of petitioners that the land
in question is foreshore and cannot therefore be disposed of by sale but only by lease pursuant to Section 61, in relation to
Section 59 of the Public Land Act, and that if at all it could be disposed of by sale, purchasers are limited to 1,000 square
meters pursuant to R.A. No. 730, and that the decision appealed from renders nugatory the social justice policy of the New
Society as it would result in the eviction and dislocation of more than 100 occupants of the area who have been there for more
than thirty (30) years. The order of the Director of Lands of 6 July 1971 favoring the petitioners characterized the land as having
been formed by accretion from the sea, hence it is not foreshore land. The sales in question were perfected by public auction,
held and conducted pursuant to Section 60, in relation to Section 26 of the Public Land Act, and not through private sales;
hence, R.A. No. 730 has no application. As to the third contention, the Office of the President concluded that from the facts
established, the petitioners were able to enter the land after the Serfinos purchased the land by public bidding. The social
justice policy of the New Society does not condone, much less countenance, entry upon public lands already applied for and
purchased at public auction; otherwise, it would be placing a premium on squatting. 9

Petitioners' motion for reconsideration of the above decision having been denied, they filed with the respondent trial court a
special civil action for certiorari and asked for the nullification of the decisions of the Presidential Assistant for Legal Affairs and
the Secretary of Natural Resources. On 30 April 1979, the trial court 10 affirmed the questioned decisions and dismissed the
petition. 11

On 20 July 1979, petitioners filed the petition at bar. 12

Petitioners urge Us to reverse the decision of the trial court because it erred:

... IN NOT DECLARING THAT THE FINDINGS OF THE RESPONDENTS PUBLIC OFFICIALS WERE
MADE WITH ARBITRARINESS AND WITH GRAVE ABUSE OF DISCRETION.

II

... IN REFUSING TO REVIEW, AND IN BASING ITS DECISION ON, THE FINDINGS OF FACT OF THE
RESPONDENT PUBLIC OFFICE.

III

... IN NOT HOLDING THAT SEC. 1 OF RA. NO. 730 HAS AMENDED THE PROVISIONS OF SECS. 61
AND 67 OF THE PUBLIC LAND ACT REGARDING THE SALE OF PUBLIC LANDS FOR RESIDENTIAL
PURPOSES TO BONA FIDE OCCUPANTS.

IV

... IN NOT HOLDING THAT THE SALE TO THE RESPONDENTS SERFINOS AT PUBLIC AUCTION OF
MORE THAN 1,000 SQUARE METERS OF RESIDENTIAL PUBLIC LAND VIOLATED THE PROVISIONS
OF R.A. NO. 730 AND IS THEREFORE VOID.

We required the respondents to comment 13 on the petition which public respondents complied with on 31 August 1979,14 and
private respondents on 12 October 1979.15 A Reply was subsequently filed by the petitioners. On 13 February 1980, this Court
gave due course to the petition 16 and the parties consequently filed their Briefs.

The petition is devoid of merit.

Decisive of the first and second assigned errors is the rule We enunciated in Pajo, et al. vs. Ago, et al ., 17 thus:

In the case of Espinosa, et al. vs. Makalintal, et al. [79 Phil. 134; 45 Off. Gaz. 7121 we held that the powers
granted to the Secretary of Agriculture and Commerce (Natural Resources) by law regarding the
disposition of public lands such as granting of licenses, permits, leases, and contracts or approving,
rejecting, reinstating, or cancelling applications, or deciding conflicting applications, are all executive and
administrative in nature. It is a well-recognized principle that purely administrative and discretionary
functions may not be interfered with by the courts [Coloso vs. Board of Accountancy, 92 Phil. 938 and
cases therein cited]. In general, courts have no supervising power over the proceedings and actions of the
administrative departments of the government. This is generally true with respect to acts involving the
exercise of judgment or discretion, and findings of fact [54 Am. Jur. 558-559]. Findings of fact by an
administrative board or officials, following a hearing, are binding upon the courts and will not be disturbed
except where the board or official has gone beyond his statutory authority, exercised unconstitutional
powers or clearly acted arbitrarily and without regard to his duty or with grave abuse of discretion. And we
have repeatedly held that there is grave abuse of discretion justifying the issuance of the writ of certiorari
only when there is capricious and whimsical exercise of judgment as is equivalent to lack of jurisdiction
[Abad Santos vs. Province of Tarlac, 67 Phil. 480; Tan vs. People, 88 Phil. 6091, as where the power is
exercised in an arbitrary or despotic manner by reason of passion, prejudice, or personal hostility
amounting to an evasion of positive duty, or to a virtual refusal to perform the duty enjoined, or to act at all
in contemplation of law [Tavera-Luna, Inc. vs. Nable, 67 Phil. 340; Alafriz vs. Nable, 72 Phil. 278; Liwanag
vs. Castillo, 106 Phil. 375; 57 Off. Gaz. [111 (1962)]. ...

and reiterated in many cases, among which is Lacuesta vs. Herrera.18


In Lacuesta vs. Herrera, this Court categorically declared:

The petition must therefore be granted on the strength of the established doctrine that where as in this
case at bar there is no showing that there was fraud, collusion, arbitrariness, illegality, imposition or
mistake on the part of the Office of the President or a department head, (such as the Secretary of
Agriculture and Natural Resources in the present case), in rendering their questioned decisions or of a total
lack of substantial evidence to support the same, such administrative decisions are entitled to great weight
and respect and will not be interfered with by the courts.

In the instant case, both the Secretary of Natural Resources and the Office of the President made a thorough and painstaking
analysis and evaluation of the facts and their respective decisions are clearly supported by substantial evidence. There is
nothing in their actuations that would bring their findings and decisions within the above exceptions to the principle of
conclusiveness of finding of facts of administrative bodies. Accordingly, the trial court, which nevertheless patiently and
carefully summarized the facts, did not commit the first and second alleged errors.

The third and fourth assigned errors are likewise untenable.

We agree with the ruling of the respondent court that R.A. No. 730 does not repeal or amend Sections 61 and 67 of C.A. No.
141 (The Public Land Act); it merely establishes an exception to said sections.

Section 61 of the Public Land Act provides:

The lands comprised in classes (a), (b), and (c) of section fifty-nine shall be disposed of to private parties
by lease only and not otherwise, as soon as the President, upon recommendation by the Secretary of
agriculture, shall declare that the same are not necessary for the public service and are open to disposition
under this chapter. The lands included in class (d) may be disposed of by sale or lease under the
provisions of this Act.

Section 67 provides:

The lease or sale shall be made through oral bidding, and adjudication shag be made to the highest bidder,
However, where an applicant has made improvements on the land by virtue of a permit issued to him by
competent authority, the sale or lease shall be made by sealed bidding as prescribed in section twenty-six
of this Act, the provisions of which shall be applied wherever applicable. If all or part of the lots remain
unleased or unsold, the Director of Lands shall from time to time announce in the Official Gazette or in any
other newspapers of general circulation, the lease or sale of those lots if necessary.

Section 59 reads:

The lands disposable under this title shall be classified as follows:

a) Lands reclaimed by the Government by dredging, filling, or other means;


b) Foreshore;
c) Marshy lands or lands covered with water bordering upon the shores or banks of
navigable lakes or rivers;
d) Lands not included in any of the foregoing classes.

The land in question belongs to class (d).

On the other hand, Section I of Republic Act No. 730 ("An Act To Permit The Sale Without Public Auction of Public Lands Of
The Republic Of The Philippines For Residential Purposes To Qualified Applicants Under Certain Conditions") provides that:

Notwithstanding the provisions of sections sixty-one and sixty seven of Commonwealth Act Numbered One
Hundred Forty-one, as amended by Republic Act Numbered Two Hundred Ninety-three, any Filipino citizen
of legal age who is not the owner of a home lot in the municipality or city in which he resides and who has
in good faith established his residence on a parcel of the public land of the Republic of the Philippines
which is not needed for the public service, shall be given preference to purchase at a private sale of which
reasonable notice shall be given to him not more than one thousand square meters at a price to be fixed by
the Director of the Lands with approval of the Secretary of Agriculture and Natural Resources. It shall be an
essential condition of this sale that the occupant has constructed his house on the land and actually
resided therein. Ten percent of the purchase price shall be paid upon the approval of the sale and the
balance may be paid in full, or in ten equal annual installments.

while Section 3 reads:

The provisions of the Public Land Act with respect to the sale of lands for residential purposes which are
not inconsistent herewith shall be applicable.
From the title alone of R.A. No. 730, it is quite obvious that indeed, as seen by the respondent court, it merely provides an
exception to Sections 61 and 67 of C.A. No. 141. We quote with approval the pertinent portions of the disquisition of the
respondent court, thus:

The contention of the petitioners that the sale to the Serfinos is void because under Rep. Act No. 730
public land for residential purposes must be sold by private sale and for not more than 1,000 square
meters is not meritorious either. Sec. 59 of commonwealth Act No. 141 has classified public lands which
can be sold for residential, commercial, or industrial purposes into: (a) lands reclaimed by the government;
(b) foreshore; (c) marshy lands; and (d) lands not included in any of the foregoing classes. Under Sec. 60
of the Act, these public lands may be leased or sold to any person qualified to purchase public lands for
agricultural purposes, provided that the area shall not exceed 144 hectares, as may be determined by the
Secretary of Agriculture and Natural Resources. Under See. 61, the lands under (a), (b) and (c)
classifications can be disposed of-by lease only, while those under (d) classification may either be leased
or sold, Sec. 67 provides that the lease or sale shall be made by oral bidding to the highest bidder. Secs.
61 and 67 of Commonwealth Act No. 141 were amended by Rep. Act No. 730 in the following manner:

xxx xxx xxx

The petitioners contend that after the passage of Rep. Act No. 730, the sale of public lands for residential
purposes has been limited to 1,000 square meters only, and that the sale must be effected by private sale
only. A close examination of the law cited by the petitioners, however, shows that it is only applicable when
the conditions specified therein are present, i.e., that preference shall be given to the applicant if he is not
the owner of a home lot in the municipality or city in which he resides; if he has established his residence in
good faith on a parcel of public land, which is not needed for the public services; and if the area applied for
does not exceed one thousand square meters. In other words, Sec. 1 of Rep. Act No. 730 does not repeal
Secs. 61 and 67 of Commonwealth Act No. 141 entirely, but merely establishes an exception. It does not
repeal Sec. 60, either expressly or by implication.

xxx xxx xxx

In short, R.A. No. 730 authorizes a sale by private sale, as an exception to the general rule that it should be by bidding, if the
area applied for does not exceed 1,000 square meters, and that the applicant has in his favor the conditions specified for in
Section 1 thereof. Hence, if the area applied for is in excess of 1,000 square meters, as in the instant case, the sale must be
done only through bidding.

WHEREFORE, the instant petition is DISMISSED and the decision of the respondent court of 30 April 1979 in Civil Case No.
113897 is AFFIRMED, with costs against petitioners.

IT IS SO ORDERED.

REPUBLIC ACT NO. 926

REPUBLIC ACT NO. 926 - AN ACT TO


AUTHORIZE THE PRESIDENT TO
CONVEY PUBLIC LAND AND OTHER
PUBLIC PROPERTY IN PAYMENT OF
LANDED ESTATES ACQUIRED BY THE
GOVERNMENT
Section 1. In payment of compensation for landed estates acquired by the Government,
whether thru voluntary agreement or thru expropriation proceedings, the President of
the Philippines may convey in behalf of the Republic, with the written consent of the
owner of land, in total or partial payment of such compensation, such public land as is
disposable by sale or lease to private individuals in accordance with law and such other
similarly disposable property pertaining to the Republic of the Philippines. In effecting
such exchange involving public agricultural land, the assessed value shall not be taken
into consideration.

Section 2. Public lands conveyed under this Act by the President of the Philippines in
behalf of the Republic shall be limited to the area as provided for in Commonwealth Act
Numbered One hundred forty-one, otherwise known as the Public Land Law.

Section 3. This Act shall take effect upon its approval.

[G.R. No. 106043. March 4, 1996]

CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY LANDLESS RESIDENTS ASSOCIATION


INC. (COCLAI), Macabalan, Cagayan de Oro City, petitioner,
vs. COURT OF APPEALS and the NATIONAL HOUSING
AUTHORITY (NHA), respondents.

DECISION
HERMOSISIMA, JR., J.:

This is a petition to set aside the decision of the Court of Appeals, dated
February 28, 1991, in C.A. G.R. SP No. 23080, which reversed the decision of the
Regional Trial Court of Cagayan de Oro City, Branch 25, dated November 17, 1988.
The antecedent facts as found by the Court of Appeals are as follows:
“The land subject of the dispute is Lot No. 1982 of Cad. 237 consisting of about
12.82 hectares located at Cagayan de Oro City. Said parcel of land was formerly a
timberland identified as Block No. F, L.C. Project No. 8 of the Bureau of Forestry. On
September 4, 1956, the Bureau of Forestry released the said land as alienable and
disposable public land.
Subsequently, on January 29, 1964, the Bureau of Lands issued Survey
Authority No. 16-64 granting authority to the COCLAI to survey the land in question
for purposes of subdivision into residential lots. By virtue of said authority, the
COCLAI engaged the services of a geodetic engineer to prepare the subdivision
survey which was submitted to the Bureau of Lands. On March 31, 1964, the
Bureau of Lands, after conducting an ocular survey, required the COCLAI, in behalf
of its members, to file a miscellaneous Sales Application over the land in question
which the latter did on August 13, 1970. The said sales application was however
held in abeyance by the Bureau of Lands pending the final outcome of the civil case
filed by the Republic of the Philippines and the City of Cagayan de Oro against
Benedicta Macabebe Salcedo, et al. for the annulment of Original Certificate of Title
No. 0-257 covering the land in question then pending before the Supreme Court
docketed as G.R. No. L-41115. In said case, the COCLAI was a party-intervenor.
Meanwhile, on August 22, 1979, the NHA filed an expropriation proceeding
before the former Court of First Instance of Misamis Oriental at Cagayan de Oro City
docketed as Civil Case No. 6806 to acquire Cadastral Lot No. 1982, including the
land involved in this case, located at Macabalan, Cagayan de Oro City with an area
of 224,554 square meters which was then covered by OCT No. 0-257. In said case,
the COCLAI intervened claiming that instead of being paid the amount of
P300,000.00, they prefer to acquire residential lots in any housing area of NHA.
Upon learning of the pending suit before the Supreme Court (G.R. No. L-41115)
involving the annulment of the title over the same land, the NHA sought the
suspension of the expropriation proceedings.
On September 11, 1982, the Supreme Court finally resolved G.R. No. L-41115
annulling OCT No. 0-257 and declaring the land covered thereby as public land.
On October 8, 1982, the Solicitor General furnished the Bureau of Lands,
Manila, with a copy of the Supreme Court decision prompting the Director of the
Bureau of Lands to order the District Land Officer in Cagayan de Oro City to take
appropriate action for inventory of each and every portion of Cadastral Lot No. 1982.
In response thereto, the Regional Land Director of Region 10 informed the Director
of Lands that the members of COCLAI were occupying portions of the said lot by
virtue of the Survey Authority issued on March 19, 1964 and the COCLAI’s
subdivision survey had already been submitted to the Central Office for verification
and approval but was held in abeyance.
On May 10, 1983, the President of the Philippines issued Proclamation No. 2292
reserving the entire area of Cadastral Lot No. 1982 for the Slum Improvement and
Resettlement (SIR) Project to be implemented by the NHA. Under the said
proclamation, the NHA was granted the authority ‘to develop, administer and dispose
of Lot No. 1982 located at Macabalan, Cagayan de Oro City, in accordance with the
guidelines of the Slum Improvement and Resettlement Program and the approved
development plan of the area.’
On May 19, 1983, the Bureau of Lands, through its Regional Director, issued an
order rejecting the subdivision survey previously submitted by the COCLAI.
Sometime in November, 1986, the NHA, through its agents, Virgilio Dacalos and
Engr. Vicente Generalao, the area manager and project engineer, respectively with
the help of the policemen and claiming authority under P.D. 1472, demolished the
structures erected by the COCLAI members. This action prompted the COCLAI to
file a forcible entry and damages case against the NHA employees and police
officers with the Municipal Trial Court in Cities, Branch 3, Cagayan de Oro City
docketed as Civil Case No. 11204.
After due hearing, the MTCC on November 17, 1988 rendered judgment
ordering the defendants in Civil Case No. 11204 to restore the COCLAI members to
their respective actual possession of the portions of Lot No. 1982 but the court
dismissed plaintiff’s claim for damages. On appeal, the Regional Trial Court in
Cagayan de Oro City affirmed the decision of the lower court. Thereafter, the
prevailing party, the COCLAI members, moved for the issuance of a writ of execution
before the MTCC on July 23,1990.
While Civil Case No. 11204 was pending before the courts, the President of the
Philippines issued on July 1, 1988 Special Patent No. 3551 covering the entire area
of Cadastral Lot No. 1982, and by virtue thereof, the Register of Deeds of Cagayan
de Oro City issued on January 3, 1990 an Original Certificate of Title No. P-3324 in
the name of NHA.
Thus, on July 24, 1990, a day after the COCLAI moved for the execution of the
judgment in Civil Case No. 11204, the NHA filed a complaint for ‘Quieting of Title
with Application for a Writ of Preliminary Injunction’ against the COCLAI and its
president, Pablo Solomon, as well as the City Sheriff, which was docketed as Civil
Case No. 90-337. Said case was assigned to Branch 25 of the Regional Trial Court
in Cagayan de Oro City, presided over by Hon. Noli T. Catli. In its complaint, plaintiff
NHA alleged:
‘4) That defendant landless association laid claim of a portion of Lot No.
1982 aforestated alleging that they are entitled to possession thereof and, in fact,
filed a complaint for Forcible Entry against certain Virgilio Decalos, Vicente
Generalao, and four (4) others, plaintiff herein not being made a party thereto,
which case is docketed as Civil Case No. 11204 assigned to Branch 3 of the
Municipal Trial Court of Cagayan de Oro City;
5) That on November 18, 1988 defendant landless association obtained a
favorable decision from MTCC Branch 3;
6) That pursuant to the ruling of the Supreme Court in City of Bacolod et al.
vs. Hon. Enriquez et al., G.R. No L-9773, May 29, 1957 the said decision could not
be enforced against plaintiff herein as it was not a party to the said case;
7) That the claim of defendant landless association for possession of a
portion of said Lot No. 1982, subject-matter hereof, is predicated or anchored upon
the fact that said lot was declared a public land;
8) That on January 3, 1990, however, plaintiff National Housing Authority
became the absolute owner of said Lot No. 1982, now the site of the Slum
Improvement and Resettlement Project, by virtue of Special Patent No. 3551 issued
by Her Excellency, the President of the Philippines, for which Original Certificate of
Title No. P-3324 was issued in its name; x x x
9) That the claim of defendant landless association has created a cloud on
plaintiff’s title to Lot No. 1982 aforementioned, which claim is apparently valid or
effective but is in truth and in fact invalid, ineffective and unenforceable and
prejudicial to plaintiff’s title, the land, subject-matter hereof, having ceased to be a
public land;
10) That defendants Solomon, et al. threatened or are about to enforce the
decision in said Civil Case No. 11204 in violation of plaintiff’s rights respecting the
subject of the action, and tending to render the judgment herein ineffectual, unless
restrained or enjoined by this Honorable Court;
11) That the plaintiff is entitled to the relief demanded, and the whole or part
of such relief consists in restraining the commission of the act herein complained of;
12) That the commission of the act herein complained of during the litigation
would probably work injustice to the plaintiff;
13) That the plaintiff is willing and ready to file a bond executed to the
defendants in an amount to be fixed by this Honorable Court, to the effect that the
plaintiff will pay to said defendants all damages which they may sustain by reason
of the injunction if the Court should finally decide that the plaintiff was not entitled
thereto.’
Acting on the plaintiff’s prayer for the issuance of a restraining order and/or
preliminary injunction, the Regional Trial Court issued an Order on July 24, 1990
stating thus:
‘x x x let a RESTRAINING ORDER be issued to Defendants Pablo
Salomon and Cagayan de Oro Landless Association, Inc. and the City
Sheriff or Deputy Sheriff of MTCC, Branch 3, or anybody acting in their
behalf or acting as their agent or representative. And until further orders
from this court, they are enjoined to refrain or desist from enforcing the
decision of Civil Case No. 11204 until this court resolves this complaint.’
Subsequently, the defendants moved to dismiss the complaint stating, among
others, as a ground therefor that the cause of action is barred by a prior judgment in
another case. (Apparently, the NHA has filed an action for ‘Injunction with
Damages’ against COCLAI and its President before the Regional Trial Court,
Branch 17, Cagayan de Oro City docketed as Civil Case No. 89-399 to prevent the
MTCC from executing its decision in Civil Case No. 11204, but this was dismissed
by the Regional Trial Court in its Order dated July 19, 1990 on the ground that the
decision of the MTCC in Civil Case No. 11204, had been upheld by the Supreme
Court when it denied NHA’s petition for certiorari. The RTC, Branch 17, further
stated that ‘x x x (I)f plaintiff believes that it is the owner of the property subject of
that civil case (No. 11204), then it should ventilate its claim in some other case but
not in a simple case of injunction.)’
On August 10, 1990, the Regional Trial Court in Civil Case No. 90-337 issued
an Order denying the motion to dismiss as well as plaintiff NHA’s prayer for the
issuance of a preliminary injunction to restrain the enforcement of the decision in
Civil Case No. 11204. The motion for reconsideration filed by plaintiff NHA was
likewise denied by the Regional Trial Court in its Order dated August 17, 1990.”i[1]
Aggrieved by the decision of the Regional Trial Court, the NHA appealed to the
Court of Appeals which reversed the decision of the lower court. The decretal
portion of the said decision, reads:
“WHEREFORE, the instant petition for certiorari is GRANTED the
questioned Orders of respondent judge are hereby declared null and void
and respondent judge is ordered to issue a writ of preliminary injunction to
respect the possession of the petitioner over the land subject of the
dispute x x x”ii[2]
Hence, this petition.
The issues raised by petitioner are: whether or not the Court of Appeals erred in
ruling (a) that the National Housing Authority (NHA) is entitled to the injunction
prayed for; and (b) that NHA has a better right to the possession of Lot No. 1982, as
a necessary consequence of ownership.
As an extraordinary remedy, injunction is calculated to preserve or maintain the
status quo of things and is generally availed of to prevent actual or threatened acts,
until the merits of the case can be heard.iii[3] As such, injunction is accepted as the
“strong arm of equity or a transcendent remedy” to be used cautiously, as it affects
the respective rights of the parties, and only upon full conviction on the part of the
court of its extreme necessity.iv[4] Its issuance rests entirely within the discretion of the
court taking cognizance of the case and is generally not interfered with except in
cases of manifest abuse.v[5] Moreover, it may only be resorted to by a litigant for the
preservation or protection of his rights or interests and for no other purpose during
the pendency of the principal action.vi[6]
Before an injunction can be issued, it is essential that the following requisites be
present: 1) there must be a right in esse or the existence of a right to be protected;
and 2) the act against which the injunction is to be directed is a violation of such
right.vii[7] Hence, it should only be granted if the party asking for it is clearly entitled
thereto.viii[8]
In the case at bench, the Court of Appeals was justified in ruling that NHA was
entitled to the writ of injunction. The reason is that, while Civil Case No. 11204 for
forcible entry was pending on appeal before the Regional Trial Court, Special Patent
No. 3551 was issued by then President Corazon Aquino which covered the lot
subject of the dispute and by virtue thereof, an Original Certificate of Title in the
name of NHA was issued by the Register of Deeds of Cagayan de Oro City on
January 3, 1990. So, when petitioner moved for the issuance of a writ of execution
before the MTCC on July 23, 1990, a certificate of title had already been issued to
NHA. In view of this intervening development, NHA filed a complaint for quieting of
title before the Regional Trial Court of Cagayan de Oro City. Thus, it was only
proper for the Court of Appeals to direct the Regional Trial Court,ix[9] where Civil Case
No. 90-337 was pending, to grant the writ of preliminary injunction to restrain the
enforcement of the decision of the MTCC in Civil Case No. 11204 as there was a
material change in the status of the parties with regard to the said land. Clearly, the
government, through the NHA will be prejudiced by the impending enforcement of
the decision in Civil Case No. 11204 which directs the said agency to restore the
members of petitioner to their respective possession on portions of Lot No. 1982.
Petitioner claims that Special Patent No. 3351 issued by then President Corazon
Aquino on July 1, 1988 and the corresponding issuance by the Register of Deeds of
Original Certificate of Title No P-3324 in the name of NHA had entrusted only the
administration of the disputed lot to the said agency but not the ownership thereof It
also alleges that, by virtue of Proclamation No. 2290, issued on May 10, 1985,
declaring the land situated at Barrio Macabalan, Cagayan de Oro City, as Slum
Improvement Settlement (SIR) area, it is illegal for NHA to claim ownership over the
said land. Furthermore, petitioner also claims that “respondent Court overlooked the
fact that the issues on ownership and possession are sub-judice before RTC, Branch
25, Cagayan de Oro City in Civil Case ;No. 90-337 x x x”x[10] Hence, it concludes that
the appellate court cannot pass upon these issues as there is still no final judgment
on said civil case.
Petitioner’s contentions are bereft of merit.
The Original Certificate of Title (No. P-3324) issued to respondent NHA serves
as a concrete and conclusive evidence of an indefeasible title to the property.
Accordingly, once a decree of registration is issued under the Torrens systems and
the one year period from the issuance of the decree of registration has lapsed,
without said decree being controverted by any adverse party, the title becomes
perfect and cannot later on be questioned.xi[11]
Furthermore, in the case at bench, the original certificate of title was issued by
the Register of Deeds, under an administrative proceeding pursuant to Special
Patent No. 3551. Thus, it is as indefeasible as a certificate of title issued under a
judicial registration proceeding as the land covered by said certificate is a disposable
public land within the contemplation of the Public Land Law. xii[12] Moreover, the said
certificate of title was not controverted by petitioner in a proper proceeding nor did it
show that the issuance of the Original Certificate of Title by the register of deeds to
NHA was tainted with bad faith or fraud. Hence, said certificate of title enjoys the
presumption of having been issued by the register of deeds in the regular
performance of its official duty.xiii[13]
Also, OCT No. P-3324 issued in the name of respondent NHA, clearly states:
“TO HAVE AND TO HOLD, the said parcel of land with all the appurtenances
thereunto of right of belonging unto the NATIONAL HOUSING AUTHORITY and to
its successors-in-interest or assigns forever, subject to private rights, if any there
be.”xiv[14]
Clearly the certificate of title vested not only ownership over the lot but also the
right of possession as a necessary consequence of the right of ownership.
Respondent is not merely the administrator of the said lot. It cannot be denied
that Proclamation No. 2290 gave authority to the NHA to dispose of Lot No. 1982. In
the said Proclamation the President of the Philippines granted to NHA the authority
to “develop, administer and dispose” of Lot No. 1982, located at Macabalan,
Cagayan de Oro City, “in accordance with the guidelines of the Slum Improvement
and Resettlement Program and the approved development plan of the area.”
On the other hand, petitioner’s only basis for claiming the disputed lot is lawful
entry and possession for an extended period of time and, as a matter of fact, there is
a final judgment in its favor in the case for forcible entry before the MTCC. As to
this, settled is the rule that, in an action for forcible entry, the only issue involved is
mere physical possession (possession de facto) and not juridical possession
(possession de jure) nor ownershipxv[15] As the case filed before the lower court is only
one for forcible entry, it is indicative that the legal title over the said property is not
disputed by the petitioner. There has been no assertion of ownership over the land,
only that of prior possession. At any rate, the judgment rendered in the ejectment
case is effective only with respect to possession and “in no wise bind the title or
affect the ownership of the land.”xvi[16]
Indeed, petitioner has no legal leg to stand as regards ownership because its
Miscellaneous Sales Application was not acted upon nor favorably considered by the
Bureau of Lands. The Bureau, through its Regional Director, rejected the
subdivision survey previously submitted by COCLAI, in an Order, dated May 19,
1983.
In effect, petitioner’s occupation of the land in question, after the denial of its
application for Miscellaneous Sales Patent, became subsequently illegal.
Petitioner’s members have, as a consequence, become squatters whose continuous
possession of the land may now be considered to be in bad faith. This is unfortunate
because squatters acquire no legal right over the land they are occupying. xvii[17]
Although as a general rule, a court should not, by means of a preliminary
injunction, transfer property in litigation from the possession of one party to another,
this rule admits of some exceptions. For example, when there is a clear finding of
ownership and possession of the land or unless the subject property is covered by a
torrens title pointing to one of the parties as the undisputed owner. xviii[18] In the case at
bench, the land subject of the suit is covered by a torrens title under the name of
NHA.
A writ of injunction should issue so as not to render moot and academic any
decision which the Regional Trial Court in Civil Case No. 90-337 will render and in
order to prevent any irreparable injury which respondent may sustain by virtue of the
enforcement of the decision of the MTCC.
WHEREFORE, the petition is DISMISSED. The decision of the Court of Appeals
in C.A. G.R. SP No. 23080 is AFFIRMED.
SO ORDERED.

G.R. No. 80140 June 28, 1991

RAYMUNDO ORTEGAS, AURELIA PALER, ARTHUR MATURAN,


ARTURO CARMONA, NACIANCINO LEE, ROGELIO TUBURAN,
RELINO OLMOGIS, SR., petitioners,
-versus-
HON. VICENTE A. HIDALGO, The Presiding Judge of the Regional Trial
Court of Agusan del Norte and Butuan City, 10th Judicial Region, Branch V,
and DIOSDADO ROBLE, in his capacity as the Administrator of the Estate of
Villa, respondents.

Free Legal Assistance Group (FLAG) and Efren Moncupa for petitioners.

Emmanuel R. Balanon for private respondent.

BIDIN, J.:p

This petition for certiorari seeks to (1) stay the execution of the decision of
respondent judge convicting petitioners of the crime of squatting (PD 722); (2)
suspend the enforcement of the Order of Demolition dated August 17, 1987
directing the Sheriff to demolish the houses of petitioners and (3) set aside the
second order of respondent judge dated September 29, 1987 directing the
immediate demolition of petitioners' houses.

The facts are undisputed.

Sometime in 1968, petitioners occupied the contested property (Lot No. 1524-PLS-
4), located at the poblacion of Buenavista, Agusan del Norte. They established
their residence thereon and paid rentals therefor to the estate of Villa on the belief
that the latter was the owner of said property.
In 1974, petitioners stopped paying rentals to private respondent upon learning that
the disputed lot is a public land and since then claimed ownership over said
property, secured tax declarations and paid the corresponding taxes therefor.

On April 8, 1974, petitioners with other occupants of the lot totalling around 72
families, filed a petition with the Office of the President praying that the respective
portions occupied by them be subdivided and awarded to them. The petition was
then referred to the Bureau of Lands for investigation and disposition.

On September 28, 1981, petitioners, at the instance of private respondent, were


charged with violation of the Anti-Squatting Law (PD 772), docketed as Criminal
Case No. 1747, before the then Court of First Instance (now Regional Trial Court)
of Agusan del Norte for alleged squatting on lot 1524- PLS-4 allegedly owned by
the Estate of Villa.

On March 14, 1986, judgment was rendered by respondent judge convicting


petitioners of the crime of squatting and ordered then to pay a fine of P1,000.00
each and to immediately vacate the disputed land (Rollo, p. 50).

No appeal having been taken, the judgment became final and executory.

On February 18, 1987, the Director of Lands (Cagayan de Oro City) in B.L.C. No.
1838 rendered a decision declaring lot 1524-PLS-4 as public land and giving due
course to the claim of petitioners thereon, via.:

WHEREFORE, it is ordered that the claim of the estate of Villa be, as


hereby it is (sic), rejected, for lack of basis. In the same vein the claim
of the petitioners headed by Irineo Llido is hereby dismissed for lack
of merit. The claims of petitioners headed by Regino Ortigas over the
same parcel of land shall be given due course. A scheme of
subdivision shall be formulated segregating the respective claims of
each petitioners, the expenses of which shall be borne by them pro-
rata, and thereafter, if qualified, shall file their respective appropriate
public land applications, covering their actual occupations thereof
within thirty (30) days after the approval of the said subdivision plan,
otherwise, they shall lose their preferential rights thereto. (Rollo, p.
53)

On August 13, 1987, respondent judge issued an order of demolition directing the
provincial sheriff to demolish the houses of petitioners for failure to vacate the
premises pursuant to the decision dated March 14, 1986 rendered in Crim. Case
No. 1747.

Petitioners filed a motion for reconsideration to lift said order using as basis the
February 18, 1987 decision of the Director of Lands.
On September 29, 1987, respondent judge denied the motion for reconsideration
and at the same time issued a second order of demolition.

Imputing grave abuse of discretion, petitioners filed the instant petition with prayer
for issuance of a temporary restraining order. On October 26, 1987, the Court
Resolved to issue a Temporary Restraining Order (Rollo, p. 61).

After respondents have filed their respective comments, the Court, on January 17,
1990, resolved to give due course to the petition. On July 6, 1990, private
respondent submitted his memorandum and thereafter, the case was deemed
submitted for decision.

Petitioners contend that the execution of the judgment rendered in Crim. Case No.
1747 is unfair and unjust considering that their status have changed from private
land dwellers to public land settlers based on the decision rendered by the Director
of Lands dated February 18, 1987.

In his comment, the Solicitor General agrees with the argument of petitioners and
recommends that the execution of the assailed judgment be stayed.

Private respondent, on the other hand, denies any change in the situation of the
parties and further argues that the decision of the Director of Lands was not offered
in evidence and should not therefore be considered.

The argument is untenable. The judgment in Crim. Case No. 1747 was rendered on
March 14, 1986; whereas, the decision of the Director of Lands was issued on
February 18, 1987. Consequently, the same could not have been offered as
evidence in said Criminal Case No. 1747 as there was nothing to offer in the first
place — the decision of the Director of Lands was not yet rendered.

The issue, however, lies not in the admissibility of the decision of the Director of
Lands but rather in the determination of whether there has been a change in the
situation of the parties to warrant a stay of the execution of the judgment.

It is a settled rule that once a decision becomes final and executory, it is incumbent
upon the judge to issue a writ of execution. The rule, however, admits of certain
exceptions.

Thus, this Court would invariably stay execution of judgments (1) when certain
facts and circumstances transpire or supervene after the judgment has become final
which could render the execution of the judgment unjust (Cabias v. Adil, 135
SCRA 354 [1985]; Service Specialist, Inc. v. Sheriff of Manila, 145 SCRA 139
[1986]; (2) when there has been a change in the situation of the parties which make
such execution inequitable (Chua Lee v. Mapa, 51 Phil. 624 [1928]; Li Kim Tho v.
Sanchez, 82 Phil. 776 [1949]) or would render the execution of the judgment
unjust (Philippine Veterans Bank v. Intermediate Appellate Court, 178 SCRA 645
[1989]; citing Lipana v. Development Bank of Rizal, 154 SCRA 257 [1987]; (3)
when it appears that the controversy had never been submitted to the judgment of
the court (Luna v. IAC, 137 SCRA 7 [1985]); (4) when it appears that the writ has
been issued improvidently or without authority or against the wrong party (Ibid.,);
(5) that the judgment debt has been paid or otherwise satisfied (Ibid.,); (6) where it
becomes imperative, in the higher interests of justice, to direct its modification in
order to harmonize the disposition with the prevailing circumstances (Galindez v.
NLRC, 175 SCRA 132 [1989]; citing Seavan Carrier, Inc., v. GTI Sportswear
Corp., 137 SCRA 580 [1985]; Pascual v. Tan, 85 Phil. 164 [1949]; Central Textile
Mills, Inc., v. United (CTM) Textile Workers Union-TGWF, 94 SCRA 883
[1979]).

In the case at bar, the Court finds that by virtue of the decision of the Director of
Lands rejecting the claim of the estate of Villa and giving due course to the claims
of petitioners, the situation of the parties has substantially changed from private
land dwellers to public land settlers. In view thereof, the execution of the assailed
judgment must therefore be stayed.

Private respondent's basis in filing the complaint against petitioners for alleged
violation of the Anti-Squatting Law is anchored on its alleged ownership over the
disputed property, lot 1524-PLS-4. Based on said claim of ownership, the trial
court rendered judgment against herein petitioners.

As found by the Regional Director, "(r)ecords show that the land was previously
claimed by one Teresio Villa during the survey thereof. However, its approved
plan covering the same tract of land has an annotation in this wise "1514, G-3604,
Rejected." "G-3604" might be a mode of disposition, or a survey number and if it
is a public land application indeed, the applicant to the same parcel of land cannot
be ascertained since the records bearing the same are no longer available. . . .
Records further reveal that Lot No. 1524, Pls-4 is not registered neither is it a
decreed property in the name of somebody, much less in the name of Teresio Villa.
It is worthwhile to note that the estate of Teresio Villa made no attempt to perfect
their alleged rights thereto either administratively or judicially over the same
parcel of land for almost forty (40) years now. It would seem that they have either
lost interest or deliberately deferred in perfecting their rights thereto. It was only
later that they (estate of Villa) became interested in the land when these occupants
(petitioners) have already introduced various improvements thereon. (Rollo, pp.
51-52; emphasis supplied)

It is clear, therefore, that private respondent (estate of Villa) is not the registered
owner of the disputed parcel of land. Assuming arguendo that respondent had been
granted a patent to the land in question, the same has never been registered with
the Registry of Deeds of the province where the property is located. Indeed,
respondent could offer no proof to show that the same was registered. All patents
that may be granted must be registered since the conveyance of the land covered
thereby is effective only upon such registration which shall be the operative act to
convey and affect the land (CA 141, Sec. 107). Registration is mandatory under the
law to affect third parties. Thus, paragraph of Sec. 51 of PD 1529 provides:

The act of registration shall be the operative act to convey or affect


the land insofar as third persons are concerned, and in all cases under
this Decree, the registration shall be made in the office of the Register
of Deeds for the province or city where the land lies.

Absent the fact of registration of a patent, title to the land covered thereby, whether
it be by sales or homestead, may not be said to have been perfected and, therefore,
not indefeasible. A patent becomes indefeasible as a Torrens Title only when said
patent is registered with the Register of Deeds pursuant to the provisions of the
Land Registration Act (Republic v. Abacite, 1 SCRA 1076 [1961]; citing Director
of Lands v. de Luna, L-14641, Nov. 23, 1960, in turn citing Ramoso v. Obligado,
70 Phil. 86 and Lucas v. Durian, L-7886, Sept. 23, 1957; see also Pamintuan v. San
Agustin, 43 Phil. 558 [1922] and Manalo v. Lukban and Liwanag, 48 Phil. 976
[1924]).

WHEREFORE, the petition is GRANTED and public respondent is hereby


enjoined from enforcing the assailed orders. The temporary restraining order issued
by this Court is hereby made PERMANENT.

SO ORDERED.

G.R. No. L-49911 October 16, 1986

CARIDAD FRANCO, petitioner,


-versus-
THE HONORABLE EXECUTIVE SECRETARY, RICARDO T.
VILLEGAS, represented by SALUD TORIBIO, and the HONORABLE
COURT OF FIRST INSTANCE OF PALAWAN, BRANCH I, respondents.

Roberto Tolentino, Tolentino & Associates for petitioner.

ALAMPAY, J.:

This is a petition for review on certiorari of the decision dated October 29, 1976 of
the former Court of first Instance of Palawan, Branch 1, which dismissed
petitioner's petition for judicial review by certiorari in Special Civil Case No. 901.
The facts of this case are undisputed.

On October 8, 1929, private respondent Ricardo T. Villegas filed with the Bureau
of Lands an application to acquire by sale 2.8415 hectares of public land located as
Calero, Puerto Princess, Palawan. The application was entered as Sales Application
No. 12842 (E-2007). On February 12, 1931, private respondent paid the full
purchase price of the land. On August 22, 1934, Sales Patent No. 691 covering the
land was issued to private respondent. The said patent was transmitted by the
Bureau of Lands for registration to the Register of Deeds of Puerto Princesa,
Palawan on August 29, 1934. However, for unknown reasons, the patent was not
registered in the Register of Deeds.

On September 15, 1960 or 26 years after private respondent's sales patent was
issued, petitioner filed with the Bureau of Lands a protest against the Sales
Application No. 12841 (E. 2007) of private respondent alleging that she and her
parents Or predecessors-in-interest, have been in actual occupation of the land
since 1913 up to the filing of the protest. On April 16, 1962, the Director of Lands
dismissed the claim of petitioner, stating therein that the land in question long
ceased to be part of public domain and is now a private property; that his office no
longer jurisdiction over the said land because a sales patent had already been
issued to private respondent way back on August 22, 1934.

Petitioner appealed to the then Secretary of Agriculture and Natural Resources, the
Honorable Fernando Lopez. In June, 1970, the said Secretary reversed the decision
of the- Director of Lands. He expressed the view that because the sales patent of
private respondent was never registered in the Office of the Register of Deeds, the
land had not lost its status as a public land and, therefore, is still under the control
and jurisdiction of the Director of Lands. He ruled therein, as follows:

The contention of the Director of Lands that he lost control or


jurisdiction over the land in question when a sales patent was issued
therefor may find support in the decision of July 21, 1959. (Director
of Lands vs. Heirs of Carle, G.R. L-. 12485) wherein the Supreme
Court ruled that when a parcel of public land is patented and the
corresponding certificate of title is issued pursuant to Section 122 of
Act 4o. 496, the land ceased to be a part of the public domain and
becomes private land, over which the Director of Lands has neither
control nor jurisdiction.

The case at bar, however, is a different one in the sense that the sales
patent issued for the land in question was not registered and no title
therefor was issued as shown in a certificate dated August 15, 1960 of
the Register of Deeds of Palawan.
Under this circumstance, this Office believes that the land in question
had not lost its status as a public land and therefore is still under the
control and jurisdiction of the Director of Lands as provided in the
Public Land Act.

. . . (Decision, p. 2; Rollo, p. 28)

From the aforesaid decision, the heirs of private respondent appealed to the Office
of the President. On December 13, 1971, the then Assistant Executive Secretary,
acting "by authority of the President," set aside the decision of the former Secretary
of Agriculture and Natural Resources and reinstated the decision of the Director of
Lands which dismissed the protest of Caridad Franco. The Assistant Executive
Secretary who passed upon the appeal of private respondent ruled that once a
patent is issued, the land has the character of a registered property in accordance
with Section 122 of Act 496; and that even if Sales Patent No. 691 of private
respondent was not registered with the Register of Deeds, said respondent had
already acquired a vested right over the land in question.

Thereafter, petitioner institution before the former CFI of Palawan, Special Civil
Case No. 901 for judicial review by Certiorari. After trial and hearing, the lower
court, on October 29, 1976, dismissed the petition. Hence, this appeal. Petitioner
raises the following assignment of errors:

THE LOWER COURT GRAVELY ERRED IN RULING THAT


THE PROPERTY IN QUESTION BELONGS TO THE PATENTEE
DESPITE THE NON-COMPLIANCE WITH THE PROVISIONS
OF SECTION 122 OF ACT NO. 496; and

II

THE LOWER COURT GRAVELY ERRED IN STATING THAT


THERE WAS A PERFECT RIGHT GRANTED BY THE PATENT
ISSUED WHICH WILL CAUSE AN INJUSTICE, BECAUSE:

a) At the time of the application and the issuance of the patent there
was already a private owner to the property;

b) It would be violative of the Constitution; and

c) It would justify fictitious ownership.

The crucial issue in this case is whether or not private respondent Ricardo Villegas
is entitled to the land in question bemuse of an unregistered sales patent which he
had obtained or whether it is the petitioner Caridad Franco, and now her heirs, who
have substituted for her, who should be recognized as having a better right to the
2.8 hectares or the land in question.

There is no dispute that private respondent's sales patent application which was
filed on October 8, 1929 was approved and the corresponding Sales Patent No. 691
was issued to him on August 29, 1934. Thereafter, the patent was forwarded to the
Register of Deeds of Puerto Princesa, Palawan, on August 29, 1934 by the Bureau
of Lands for Registration. However, the sales was not registered for unknown
reasons.

Before resolving, however, the legal issues attendant to the case, it is as much
relevant and proper and equally important, to consider certain significant facts
which do not appear to be controverted. All these are stated in the decision of the
then Secretary of Agriculture and Natural Resources (Annex "A," Petition; Rollo,
p. 27), and are as follows:

The land in question involves an area of 2.8415 hectares situated in


Calero, Puerto Princesa, Palawan. Appellant claims that the land was
originally occupied by her parents, Canuto Panganiban and Dominga
San Jose, in 1913; that after heir death her grandmother Felisa
Malones, her half-brother Camilos de los Santos and she continued to
live in the land and introduced improvements thereon; that she has
not seen any persons by the name of Ricardo Villegas nor any one in
his behalf entered the land; that nobody molested them in their
possession and cultivation thereof until in 1960 when an ejection case
against her was filed by Juan Pe Tin San, a Chinese citizen who
claims ownership of the land and the improvements thereon; and that
the land was never sold to Ricardo Villegas, Juan Pe Tin San, or to Pe
Chuaco and Company, a Chinese corporation.

xxx xxx xxx

In the ocular inspection of the land in question conducted on the


premises by a representative of the Director of Lands on March 7, 8,
and 15, 1961 and on July 15, 1961, it was found that appellant Franco
was actually in possession of the land in question. There were also
found thereon improvements introduced by appellant, as follows: A
fence surrounding the land; two houses, one of which was occupied
by the appellant and her family; two hundred coconuts all bearing
with ages of about 30 years, several cacao, coffee, mango, jackfruit,
all bearing and other fruit bearing trees all about 30 years old, etc.
Neither the appellee, nor his alleged heirs and/or representatives were
present during the said inspection despite the fact that official notice
was sent directing them to be present thereat.
xxx xxx xxx

In the formal investigation conducted in this case by a representative


of the Director of Lands in 1961, neither the appellee nor his alleged
heirs were present to protect their rights over the land in question. A
Chinese by the name of Juan Pe Tin San, accompanied by his lawyer
appeared before the investigator and testified among other things that
he did not know where appellee Villegas is at the present time; and
that he is a co-owner of the land in question and administrator of the
Pe Chuaco & Co. Earlier, in an ejection case filed by the said Juan Pe
Tin San against the appellant and her husband before the Justice of
the Peace Court of Puerto Princesa, Palawan, in 1960, and in the
hearing thereof," he also testified that Pe Chuaco & Co., a Chinese
corporation, is the owner of the land and has been in possession of the
same since 1925 to the present; that said company has been paying
the taxes thereof since 1925 to the present; and they have been
planting coconuts thereon.

The alleged heirs of appellee Ricardo T. Villegas did not refute or


raise any objection to the foregoing testimony of Juan Pe Tin San.

Under our Constitution, aliens cannot acquire agricultural lands in the


Philippines except by hereditary succession. The records do not show
how Juan Pe Tin San or Pe Chuaco & Co. had acquired the land in
question from appellee Ricardo Villegas; neither was it shown therein
that said Juan Pe Tin San or the Pe Chuaco & Co. had at any time
occupied the said land. In other words Juan Pe Tin San claims
ownership of the land in question without evidence of ownership
thereof

From the foregoing testimony of Juan Pe Tin San, this Office could
gather that appellee Ricardo T. Villegas had been used as a dummy
by the Pe Chuaco & Co., in its attempt to acquire the land in question.
The records show that appellee Villegas filed in 1929 a sales
application for the subject land which is at present claimed by the Pe
Chuaco & Co., as owner thereof. Such act is believed tantamount to
fraudulent concealment and his manifestly illegal which this Office
abhors and cannot countenance as a means to acquire a portion of the
patrimony of the nation.

Furthermore, the records do not show that appellee Villegas had at


any time acquired ownership of the land he applied for nor the
improvements thereof. He had not also at anytime occupied the land
and introduced improvements thereon even after the award of the said
land to him which is one of the essential requirements of the award
before a patent therefor can be issued. A violation of this requirement
is enough ground for the cancellation of the award.

On the other hand, the records show that appellant Franco is the
actual possessor and occupant on the land in question; that she has
occupied the same and introduced improvements thereon through her
predecessor-in-interest since 1913; that the improvements found
thereon are introduced by her and her predecessor-in-interest and are
more or less 30 years of age; and that her possession and occupation
in the land was open, public and peaceful until in 1960 when Juan Pe
Tin San filed an ejection case against her with the Justice of the Peace
Court of Puerto Princesa, Palawan.

In the light of the facts obtaining in the instant case, this Office
believes that the decision appealed from should be, as hereby it is, set
aside. The Director of Lands is hereby directed to take the necessary
action leading to the revocation of Sales Patent No. 691 issued to
Ricardo T. Villegas. Caridad Franco is likewise directed to file the
proper land application for the land in question if qualified within 60
days from the finality of this decision, otherwise she will lose her
preferential right over the same.

SO ORDERED.

With the factual background of this case as above fully recited, We find that
respondents' case appears to rest merely and solely on an invoked technicality.
Private respondent argues that even if the award of the sales patent on August 22,
1934 to respondent Ricardo Villegas was not registered in the corresponding
Registry of Deeds, nevertheless such award, in effect, withdraws the land in
question from the public domain. On this reasoning, respondents urge that the
decision of the Director of Lands disclaiming jurisdiction on his part to entertain
petitioner's protest to the award of the Sales Patent to private respondent, be
upheld. The Office of the Executive Secretary and the Court of First Instance
below subscribed to this view taken by the Director of Lands, notwithstanding the
contrary stand taken by Secretary of Agriculture and Natural Resources Fernando
Lopez when this matter was earlier presented to his office for resolution. Contrary
to the views of the public respondents in this case, We rule that the land in question
never ceased to be a part of the public domain. Consequently, the Director of
Lands may still act upon petitioner's protest.

The very case of Director of Lands vs. Court of Appeals, et al., 17 SCRA 71-72,
invoked by the public respondents, supports a conclusion that the subject land is
still a part of the public domain. In the above-mentioned case, it was expressly
declared that "prior to the issuance of a patent and its registration, the government
retains the title to the land" (supra, on page 71). The other cases cited by public
respondents in their Appellees' Brief, have no bearing on the principal and basic
issue involved in this instant case as the facts therein recited are clearly different
from those obtaining in the case at bar.

Well settled is the rule that once the patent is granted and the corresponding
certificate of title is issued, the land ceased to be part of the public domain and
becomes private property over which the Director of Lands has neither control nor
jurisdiction. (Sumail vs. Judge of the CFI of Cotabato, et al., G.R. No. L-8287,
Apr. 30, 1955; Republic vs. Heirs of Ciriaco Carle, G.R. No. L-12485, July 31,
1959; Director of Lands vs. Jugado, 2 SCRA 32). However, the award of sales
application merely authorizes the applicant to take possession of the land so that he
could then comply with the requirements prescribed by law before a final patent
can be issued in his favor (Section 28, Commonwealth Act No. 141). Before the
requirements are complied with, the Government still remains the owner thereof,
as in fact the applicant could still be cancelled and the land awarded to another
applicant should it be shown that the legal requirements had not been complied
with. What divests the Government of its title to the land is the issuance of the sales
patent and its subsequent registration in the Office of the Register of Deeds. Such
registration is the operative act that would bind the land and convey its ownership
to the applicant (Section 107, Commonwealth Act 141; Section 122, Act No. 496;
Visayan Realty Inc. vs. Meer, 96 Phil. 515 [Emphasis supplied]).

From the pronouncements in the cited cases, it is, therefore, evident that two (2)
circumstances should concur before the land is deemed excluded from the public
domain. First, is the issuance of the sales patent AND secondly, its subsequent
registration in the office of the Register of Deeds. It is the registration of the sales
patent that constitutes the operative act that would convey ownership of the land to
the applicant. In the instant case, it is a conceded fact that no registration of the
sales patent in favor of respondent Ricardo Villegas, was ever at all effected. No
change or transfer of ownership of the said land from the government to the private
respondent Ricardo Villegas can, therefore, result. And as the land in question
continues to remain part of the public domain, the Director of Lands retains
jurisdiction to act on the matter of the protest filed by herein petitioner.

We also find no merit in the submittal of the public and private respondents that
petitioner herein, Caridad P. Franco had already lost her rights to register her
protest to the sales award obtained by private respondent, because she and her
parents had allegedly failed to take any steps to perfect their claimed rights or to
obtain in their favor the title to the subject land. Respondents contend that the sales
application of Ricardo Villegas for the land was subsisting since 1929 but
petitioner Caridad Franco never contested the same until after the award in 1934 to
private respondent had been made and then only on September 15, 1960 after the
lapse of thirty-one (31) years all in all.
What is more determinative, however, in our considered view, and more in
consonance with equity, is the inherent right of those who have continuously and
peacefully occupied and cultivated the subject property since 1913, to be
maintained as lawful possessor thereof against a party who appears to have
surreptitiously obtained the sales patent for the same land and thereafter, conveyed
it to someone who is not even entitled under our laws to acquire the same.

On the matter of laches raised by respondents, it should be considered that the


petitioner herein and her predecessors-in-interests were in peaceful possession of
the subject land. It was their privilege to apply for the Homestead and/or a Sales
Patent at such time when they so please or when they consider themselves
financially able to do so. Undisturbed from their possession and occupancy of the
said public land, the petitioner, Caridad Franco, and her parents, could fairly
assume that they could apply for a government patent at a proper and convenient
time. We are not aware of any law which prescribes a specific time limit when a
peaceful occupant of a public land should submit an application for a land patent or
forfeit his right to do so.

The records of this case even indicate that indeed the grandparents of herein
petitioner occupied the land in 1913 and they actually filed Homestead Application
Nos. 19371 and 8401. The first application was cancelled on December 18, 1916,
and the second was likewise rejected on September 26, 1926 but only for want of
compliance with the homestead law (Rollo, p. 31). This might perhaps explain why
petitioner's family did not earlier solicit a Sales Patent. It was then more practical
for them to pursue a homestead application and endeavor to fulfill the requisites
asked for.

It cannot be rightfully said that petitioner is in laches for not opposing the sales
application of Ricardo Villegas. It can be readily noted and there is no proof
shown, that Caridad Franco and/or her predecessors-in-interests were ever aware of
the said sales application of Ricardo Villegas before or after the award made in
1934. What is evident is that Ricardo Villegas inadvertently or purposely, did not
cause to be registered the sales patent award which could give at least notice
thereof to others. Petitioner Caridad Franco, apparently did not apply for a sales
patent because her family had instead submitted applications for homestead which
were, however, not approved pending compliance of the requisites for such
homestead patent.

What is, however, clear and evident is that when the peaceful possession and
occupation of her land was challenged in 1960 by a certain Juan Pe Tin San who
filed an eviction case against Caridad Franco in Puerto Princesa, Palawan, herein
petitioner Caridad Franco, promptly reacted by submitting a protest against the
sales application of Ricardo Villegas. Presumably, it was only at that time in 1960
when petitioner herein learned that other persons were seeking to deprive them of
their occupancy rights. Thus, on September 15, 1960, Caridad Franco began her
protest against the sales award to Ricardo T. Villegas. Since then said petitioner
had continuously exerted efforts to secure administrative and judicial reliefs in
order that the rights of her family over the said land can be preserved. When
Caridad Franco died on March 30, 1980 (Rollo, p. 175), she was substituted by her
brother Mr. Carmelo de los Santos (Rollo, p. 196).

Petitioner's untiring efforts to be vindicated in every forum available to her


militates against and rejects the submission of respondents that laches bar
petitioner's cause.

The Court disagrees completely with the submission of the public respondents that
because of the failure to effect registration of the Sales Patent "it devolves upon the
government to take all the necessary steps to make the grantee's title perfected, that
is, for the Register of Deeds to register said patent and issue to the grantee the
corresponding certificate of title to the property." (Appellees' Brief, p. 14). The
fallacy of this proposition can be readily realized when it is considered that the
uncontroverted facts disclosed after a formal investigation conducted by a
representative of the Director of Lands in 1961, reflect that Ricardo T. Villegas
could have "been used as a dummy by the Pe Chauco & Company in its attempt to
acquire the land in question." Thus, the Secretary of Agriculture and Natural
Resources, in his decision in DANR Case No. 5203 held that the acts of private
respondent was is ... tantamount to fraudulent concealment and - is manifestly
illegal which this office abhors and can not countenance as a means to acquire a
portion of the patrimony of the nation." (Decision, Office of the Secretary of
Agriculture and Natural Resources, Annex "A," p. 3, Rollo, p. 29). It would be
ironical and clearly prejudicial both to the State and to the petitioner, should this
Court now accept the suggestion that a certificate of title be issued to private
respondent based on a dubious sales patent award.

WHEREFORE, the judgment rendered by the Court of First Instance of Palawan,


Branch 1, dated October 29, 1976, dismissing the Petition for Certiorari, filed by
Petitioner Caridad Franco in Special Civil Case No. 901 in the court below is
hereby REVERSED and SET ASIDE-as well as the ruling of the Executive
Secretary dated December 30, 1971, which reversed the decision of the Secretary
of Agriculture and Natural Resources (SANR) in the DANR Case No. 5203,
entitled Caridad Franco vs. Ricardo Villegas. A new judgment is hereby entered
reinstating the aforestated decision of the Secretary of Agriculture and Natural
Resources in said DANR Case No. 5203, and more particularly the dispositive
portion thereof which reads as follows:

In the light of the facts obtaining in the instant case, this Office
believes that the decision appealed from should be, as hereby it is, set
aside. The Director of Lands is hereby directed to take the necessary
action leading to the revocation of Sales Patent No. 691 issued to
Ricardo T. Villegas'. Caridad Franco is likewise directed to file the
proper land application for the land in question if qualified within 60
days from the finality of this decision, otherwise she will lose her
preferential right over the same. (Decision, p. 3 [Annex Al, Rollo, p.
29)

Such right can be exercised by her heirs.

No costs.

SO ORDERED.

G.R. No. L-12485 July 31, 1959

REPUBLIC OF THE PHILIPPINES, ETC., petitioner-appellant,


-versus-
HEIRS OF CIRIACO CARLE, ETC., ET AL., respondents-appellees.

Asst. Solicitor General Antonio A. Torres, Solicitor Crispin V. Bautista and


Ernesto D. Llaguño for appellant.
Augusto L. Valencia for appellee.

BARRERA, J.:

Ciriaco Carle filed a homestead application over a parcel of land located in Pola,
Oriental Mindoro (H. A. No. 154223-E 72825), which was approved on August 30,
1930. Applicant Carle having died in 1942, Homestead Patent No. 71852
corresponding to said application was issued to his heirs on April 26, 1944, which
patent was duly transmitted to and recorded by the Register of Deeds of said
province pursuant to Section 122 of Act 496. On May 11, 1946, the corresponding
certificate of title (O.C.T. No. 4648) was duly issued in favor of the said heirs.

Seven years later, or on August 31, 1953, passing upon the opposition of a certain
Meynardo Ilagan to the issuance of Patent No. 71852 in the name of the heirs of
Ciriaco Carle, the Director of Lands declared that said patent inoperative in so far
as it converse a certain portion designated therein as area A-2 and adjudged the
same in favor of the oppositor, holder of another homestead application, for the
reason that the inclusion of the aforementioned area in the patent was erroneous.
On appeal by the heirs, the Secretary of Agriculture and Natural Resources
affirmed the order of the Director of Lands. Thereafter or on December 2, 1955,
the Director of Lands filed a petition with the Court of First Instance of Mindoro,
which was later amended, praying that Homestead Patent No. 71852 be declared
null and void, and that the respondents, Heirs of Ciriaco Carle, be ordered to
surrender the patent and the certificate of title issued pursuant thereto to the
Director of Lands and the Register of Deeds of Mindoro, respectively, for
cancellation (Civil Case No. R-650). Respondent moved to dismiss the petition,
claiming that as more than one year from the issuance of the certificate of title had
already elapsed, petitioner's cause of action was already barred by prescription.
Considering the aforesaid motion and the opposition thereto filed by the petitioner,
the Court a quo in its order of March 2, 1957, dismissed the petition on the ground
that said action filed beyond the period of limitation provided for by law. The
Director of Lands thereupon instituted the instant appeal.

There is no controversy as to the fact that on May 11, 1946, the homestead patent
in favor of the appellees heirs of Ciriaco Carle duly registered in the Office of the
Register of Deeds of Mindoro and the corresponding certificate of title issued to
them, and that the order of the Director of Lands cancelling a part of the homestead
patent upon which the aforesaid certificate of title was based handed down on
August 31, 1953, or after the lapse of more than 7 years. Appellant, however,
maintains that Section 38 of the Land Registration Act providing for the
prescriptive period of one year within which to assail the correctness or validity of
a certificate of title is not controlling in the case at bar. It is claimed that a
homestead patent differs from a decree of registration obtained in an ordinary
registration proceeding in many fundamental ways, thus depriving the former of
that indefeasible nature ordinarily characteristic of the latter.

The flaw in this contention is that appellant compares a homestead patent and a
decree of registration. But what is involved in the instant case is the indefeasibility
of the certificate of title issued after the homestead patent has been duly registered
pursuant to Section 122 of the clear: "After due registration and issue of the
certificate and owner's duplicate, such land shall be registered land for all purpose
under this act." (Sec. 122.) Consequently, the land automatically under the
operation of Sec. 38 of the same Act and subject to all the safeguards therein
provided. And this, too, is the constant doctrine land down by this Court in a long
line of adjudicated cases.

Where a land was granted by the Government to a private individual as a


homesteader under the provisions of Act No. 962, and the corresponding
patent was registered and the certificate within the issued to the grantee, said
land is considered registered within the meaning of the Land Registration
Act. The title to the land thus granted and registered may no longer be the
subject of any inquiry, decision, or judgment in a cadastral proceeding.
(Manalo vs. Lucban, et al., 48 Phil., 973).

Once a homestead patent, issued according to the public Land Act, is


registered in confirmity with the provisions of Section 122 of Act No. 496, it
becomes irrevocable and enjoys the same privileges as Torres titles issued
under the latter Act (El Hogar Filipino vs. Olviga, 60 Phil., 17).

Under Section 122 of Act 496, when any public lands in the Philippines are
alienated, granted or conveyed to persons or public or private corporations,
the same shall be brought forthwith under the operation of said Act shall
become registered lands (Sumail vs. Judge, Court of First Instance of
Cotobato, et al., 96 Phil., 946).

A public land patent when registered in the corresponding register of deeds


office, is a veritable torrens title (Dagdag vs. Nepomuceno, supra, p. 216);
becomes as indefeasible as a Torrens title (Ramoso vs. Obligado, 70 Phil.,
86).

True it may be, as appellant alleges, that neither the Public Land Act (Com. Act
141) nor the Land Registration Law provides for the period within which the
certificate of title to a public land grant may be questioned, but this does
necessarily sustain appellant's contention that such action may be brought within
10 years (Art. 1144, new Civil Code), because this point has already been
determined by this Tribunal when we held that:

A certificate of title issued pursuant to a homestead patent partakes of the


nature of a certificate issued as a consequence of a judicial proceeding, as
long as the land disposed of is really indefeasible and incontrovertible upon
the expiration of one year from the date of the issuance thereof (Lucas vs.
Durian, G.R. No. L-7886, promulgated September 23, 1957).

But appellant contends that as the official who exercises the power to dispose
public lands, it necessarily follows that the right to review a patent pertains to him.
In support of his stand, he cites Section 91 of Commonwealth Act 141. This view
is correct but only as long as the land remains a part of the public domain and still
continues to be under his exclusive and executive control. But once the patent is
registered and the corresponding certificate of title is issued, the land ceases to be
part of the public domain and becomes private property over which the Director of
Lands has neither control nor jurisdiction (Sumail vs. Judge, Court of First
Instance, et al., supra).

The parties, however, are not without any remedy in law. As we have suggested:

If patent has already been issued, allegedly through fraud or mistake and had
been registered, the remedy of the party who had been injured by the
fraudulent registration is an action for reconveyance (Roco vs. Gemida, 94
Phil., 1011; 55 Off. Gaz., [37] 7922)

Wherefore, the order appealed from is hereby affirmed, without costs. It is so


ordered.

G.R. No. 77541 November 29, 1988


HEIRS OF GREGORIO TENGCO, petitioners,
-versus-
HEIRS OF JOSE and VICTORIA ALIWALAS and COURT OF APPEALS,
respondents.

Jorge A. Pascua for petitioners.

Perpetuo C. Travino for private respondents.

Daniel C. Florida collaborating counsel for private respondents.

CORTES, J.:

The instant case stemmed from an action to quiet title instituted by the late Victoria
L. Vda. de Aliwalas against the Heirs of Gregorio Tengco, the Director of Lands
and the Register of Deeds of Pampanga.

The facts as found by the Court of First Instance of San Fernando, Pampanga,
Branch VI, in Civil Case No. 4308, are as follows:

The evidence adduced by the parties in this case shows that Lot No.
3563 of the Arayat Cadastre was originally a part of the public
domain and it was so declared on October 12, 1933 (Exh. "A-2").
Thereafter, Dr. Jose Aliwalas applied with the Bureau of Lands for
the issuance of a homestead patent covering this lot. On December
12, 1936, the Director of Lands granted this application and issued in
favor of Jose Aliwalas Homestead Patent No. 38588 (Exh. "E"). This
patent was duly registered in the Register of Deeds of Pampanga on
April 8, 1937 after the corresponding fees thereon were paid (Exhs.
"D-5" and "D-6"). On the same day, the Register of Deeds of
Pampanga issued OCT No. 159 (Exh. "D") in the name of Jose
Aliwalas. From that time on, Dr. Aliwalas did the corresponding land
taxes thereon (Exh. "I", "I-1 " to "I-25") after having declared the
land for taxes (sic) purposes in his name (Exh. "F", "G" and "H").

As owner of this property, Jose Aliwalas, thru his overseer Espiridion


Manaul, had this parcel fenced and vegetables were planted in some
portions thereof. Other portions were dedicated initially to cattle
raising until the last war broke out.

After the war, palay was planted on some. portions of this land, by
the tenants of Jose Aliwalas who gave the owner's share to him, thru
his caretaker and overseer Espiridion Manaul. Other crops were also
planted on the land as well as ipil-ipil trees for firewood purposes.
There were also planted mango trees which ultimately bore fruit
which were harvested by the caretaker of Aliwalas in this property
and who delivered them to Jose Aliwalas until he died in 1962 when
the administration and management was assumed by Jose Aliwalas,
Jr., a son of Dr. Aliwalas.

When the properties left by Dr. Jose Aliwalas were petitioned among
his surviving heirs, the lot in question was alloted in favor of the
plaintiff Victoria L. Vda. de Aliwalas as indicated in the amended
project of partition (Exh. "B") executed by her mind her nine
children, one of whom is Jose Aliwalas, Jr.

After this amended project of partition was approved (Exh. "C") and
registered with the Register of Deeds of Pampanga, OCT No. 52526-
R (Exh. "A") was issued in the name of the plaintiff on November 14,
1966 (Exh. "A-1"). Thereafter, the tax declaration pertaining to this
parcel of land was also transferred to her name (Exhs. "O", "P" and
"A"). She also paid the real estate taxes thereon (Exhs. "N", "N-1 " to
"N-14", Exhs. "R-1" to "R-53").

On the other hand, the evidence further show that on October 31,
1973, the defendant Ponciano Tengco in representation of the
defendants Heirs of Gregorio Tengco filed an application with the
Bureau of Lands, thru its District Land Office here in San Fernando,
Pampanga. Among other things, he alleged in his application that this
parcel of land had been occupied and cultivated originally and
continuously thereafter by Gregorio Tengco. After being given due
course, this application was approved by the Director of Lands who
issued Free Patent No. 557692 covering this lot on February 5, 1974
(Exh. "3" Tengco; Exh. "6" Dir. of Lands).

This free patent issued in favor of the Heirs of Gregorio Tengco was
predicated on the assumption that the lot still formed part of the
public domain and on the findings of the Public Land Inspector
Romeo Buenaventura who conducted an investigation thereon and
who also reported that the land in question was possessed and
occupied by the applicant, Heirs of Gregorio Tengco (Exh. "2"-
Tengco and Exh. "5"-Dir of Lands ) who had planted different kinds
of trees on the land aside from rice and corn.

The defendants Heirs of Gregorio Tengco also adduced evidence


tending to show that their late grandfather Gregorio Tengco had
occupied this parcel of land exclusively years before the last (sic) and
after he died in 1934, his children succeeded him in its possession and
enjoying the fruits from the different trees planted thereon, and that
the possession of Gregorio Tengco and his successors-in-interest have
not been disturbed by anyone including the Aliwalas family.

On rebuttal, the plaintiff adduced evidence showing that the prewar


records of the Bureau of Lands pertaining to public land applications
were burned during the war as indicated in the certification issued by
the Chief of the Records Management Division of the Bureau of
Lands. This is to explain why the Bureau has no more record
pertaining to the Homestead Patent issued in favor of Jose Aliwalas in
i936 which gave rise to the issuance of OCT No. 159 of the Register
of Deeds of Pampanga on April 8, 1937. The certification also attests
that what is now found in the files of the Bureau of Lands is Free
Patent V-557692 issued on February 5, 1974 in favor of the Heirs of
Gregorio Tengco pertaining to Lot No. 3563. (Rollo, pp. 1820.)

On the basis of the evidence, the trial court rendered judgment as follows:

WHEREFORE, and in view of all the foregoing, judgment is hereby


rendered:

1. Declaring the herein plaintiff Victoria Vda. de


Aliwalas as the true owner of Lot No. 3563 of Arayat
Cadastre embraced in TCT No. 52526-R of the Register
of Deeds of Pampanga in her name;

2. Ordering the Register of Deeds of Pampanga to


cancel TCT Nos. 132263-R, 132264-R and 132349-R in
the name of Cipriano Tengco, Ponciano Tengco, et al.,
and Eugenia Tengco, respectively, covering portions of
this Lot No. 3563;

3. Ordering the herein defendants-Heirs of Gregorio


Tengco to vacate the land in question and to pay the
amount of P 5,000.00 a year to the plaintiff beginning
from the year 1974 until the land is vacated by them and
turned over to the plaintiff; and

4. Ordering the defendants-Heirs of Gregorio Tengco to


pay the plaintiff the sum of P 2,000.00 as attorney's fees,
plus costs. [Rollo, p. 17-18.]

Dissatisfied with the trial court's judgment, the Heirs of Gregorio Tengco
interposed an appeal to the Court of Appeals, docketed as CA-G. R. CV No.
69706. The appellate court, adopting the trial court's findings of fact, affirmed the
latter's judgment [Rollo, pp. 17-24.] Petitioners moved for reconsideration but their
motion was denied [Rollo, pp. 25-26.] Hence, the instant petition.

Private respondents filed a comment to the petition, to which petitioners replied.


On September 16, 1987, the Court resolved to give due course to the petition and
the parties were required to submit their respective memoranda. After the
petitioner filed a reply to private respondent's memorandum, the case was deemed
submitted for decision.

In their petition the Heirs of Gregorio Tengco have ascribed several errors to the
Court of Appeals, which involved mixed questions of fact and law [Rollo, p. 4.]
But, as stated in their memorandum, the issues may be limited to the following:

(a) Whether or not the court of origin and/or,


subsequently, the respondent Honorable Court of
Appeals, had jurisdiction to take cognizance of, and pass
upon, the instant case;

(b) Whether or not the claim or contention of the private


respondents will hold true and prosper before a proper
forum; and

(c) Whether or not the private respondents, assuming for


the sake of argument, that they have proprietary rights
on and to the land in question, have not long lost such
rights by laches and/or prescription. [Memorandum for
Petitioners, p. 6.]

1. Petitioners contend that the trial court (and, consequently, the Court of Appeals)
had no jurisdiction to take cognizance of and pass upon the instant case as private
respondents have failed to exhaust administrative remedies. They point out that
instead of bringing her case to the Bureau of Lands, Victoria Vda. de Aliwalas
went directly to the court.

On the other hand, private respondents argue that since a homestead patent and an
original certificate of title had already been issued to their predecessor-in-interest,
the land had ceased to be part of the public domain and, hence, the Bureau of
Lands had no jurisdiction over the controversy. Private respondents add that since
an original certificate of title had been issued pursuant to the homestead patent,
their title to the property had become conclusive, absolute, indefeasible and
imprescriptible.

In rebuttal, petitioner contend that private respondents' title had not acquired said
qualities as it was derived from a homestead patent. Petitioners advanced the view
that only titles based upon a judicial declaration can be vested with the attributes of
conclusiveness, indefeasibility and imprescriptibility.

Petitioners' theory is not supported by the jurisprudence on the matter. The rule is
well-settled that an original certificate of title issued on the strength of a homestead
patent partakes of the nature of a certificate of title issued in a judicial proceeding,
as long as the land disposed of is really part of the disposable land of the public
domain, and becomes indefeasible and incontrovertible upon the expiration of one
year from the date of the promulgation of the order of the Director of Lands for the
issuance of the patent. [Republic v. Heirs of Carle, 105 Phil. 1227 (1959); Ingaran
v. Ramelo 107 Phil. 498 (1960); Lopez v. Padilla, G.R. No. L-27559, May 18,
1972, 45 SCRA 44.] A homestead patent, once registered under the Land
Registration Act, becomes as indefeasible as a Torrens title. [Pamintuan v. San
Agustin, 43 Phil. 558 (1982); El Hogar Filipino v. Olviga, 60 Phil. 17 (1934);
Duran v. Oliva, 113 Phil. 144 (1961); Pajomayo v. Manipon, G.R. No. L-33676,
June 30, 1971, 39 SCRA 676.]

The contention of non-exhaustion of administrative remedies, on the theory that


the case should have been brought before the Director of Lands, had already been
rejected by the Court in earlier decisions. Thus, while the Director of Lands has the
power to review homestead patents, he may do so only so long as the land remains
part of the public domain and continues to be under his exclusive control; but once
the patent is registered and a certificate of title is issued, the land ceases to be a
part of public domain and becomes private property over which the Director of
Lands has neither control nor jurisdiction [Sumail v. Judge of Court of First
Instance, 96 Phil. 946 (1955); Republic v. Heirs of Carle, supra.]

2. Anent the second issue, petitioners contend that petitioners' title to the property
was defective for the following reasons: (a) Dr. Jose Aliwalas was not qualified to
be a homesteader being a rich landed person; and (b) private respondents and their
predecessors-in-interest have never been in actual or physical possession of the
property, unlike petitioners and their predecessor-in-interest who have been in
continuous and open possession of the property since 1918. Thus, petitioners rely
on a report prepared by a certain Librado B. Luna, hearing officer of the Bureau of
Lands, attesting to such facts [Memorandum for Petitioners, p. 13.]

But, as correctly pointed out by the respondent Court of Appeals, Dr. Aliwalas'
title to the property having become incontrovertible, such may no longer be
collaterally attacked. If indeed there had been any fraud or misrepresentation in
obtaining the title, an action for reversion instituted by the Solicitor General would
be the proper remedy [Sec. 101, C.A. No. 141; Director of Lands v. Jugado, G.R.
No. L-14702, May 21, 1961, 2 SCRA 32; Lopez v. Padilla, supra.]

3. Finally, petitioners contend that private respondent have lost their title to the
property through laches and prescription. They assert that private respondents and
their predecessors-in-interest have never actually possessed the property while
petitioners and their predecessor-in-interest have been in actual, open,
uninterrupted and adverse possession of the property since 1918.

But as stated above, title acquired through a homestead patent registered under the
Land Registration Act is imprescriptible. Thus, prescription cannot operate against
the registered owner.

Moreover, as found by the Court of Appeals:

... The allegation of defendants-appellants (petitioners herein) that


plaintiff-appellee (Victoria L. Vda. de Aliwalas) and her predecessor-
in-interest slept on their rights for over 40 years, since 1936 when the
patent was issued to Aliwalas is untenable. It has been established
that Jose Aliwalas through his overseer Espiridion Manaul planted the
subject land to vegetables and raised cattle therein until the last war
broke out. After the war, the land was planted with palay, seasonal
crops, ipil-ipil trees and mango trees. When Jose Aliwalas died in
1962, the administration and management of the farm was assumed
by his son, Jose Aliwalas, Jr. Upon the partition of the properties left
by the late Jose Aliwalas, the subject property was allotted to and
registered in the name of plaintiff-appellee. It was in 1974 when the
defendants-Heirs of Gregorio Tengco wrested possession of the
subject land from plaintiff-appellee's caretaker and deprived her of its
produce. On October 14, 1976, the plaintiff filed her second amended
complaint. The foregoing facts show that plaintiff-appellee and her
predeccessor-in-interest occupied, possessed and exercised rights of
ownership over the subject land prior to the filing of the instant suit
[Rollo, pp. 23-24.]

The Court finds no cogent reason to disturb the appellate court's findings, in the
absence of a clear showing that the facts have been misapprehended.

WHEREFORE, finding no reversible error, the petition is DENIED and the


decision of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. CV No. 69706 is AFFIRMED.

SO ORDERED.

G.R. No. 77770 December 15, 1988

ATTY. JOSE S. GOMEZ, DELFINA GOMEZ ESTRADA, ENRIQUITA


GOMEZ OXCIANO, BENITA GOMEZ GARLITOS, REYNALDO GOMEZ
ESPEJO, ARMANDO GOMEZ, ERLINDA GOMEZ GUICO, EUGENIA
GOMEZ CALICDAN, AZUCENA GOMEZ ORENCIA, TEODORO S.
GOMEZ, JR., and ALEJO S. GOMEZ (now deceased) represented by his
wife, LETICIA Y. GOMEZ, and children, namely, MARGIE GOMEZ GOB,
JACINTO Y. GOMEZ, ALEJO Y. GOMEZ, JR., and MARY ANN Y.
GOMEZ, petitioners,
-versus-
HON. COURT OF APPEALS, HON. PEDRO G. ADUCAYEN Judge
Regional Trial Court, San Carlos City (Pangasinan) Branch LVI, HON.
CHIEF, LAND REGISTRATION COMMISSION, Quezon City, Metro
Manila, and SILVERIO G. PEREZ, Chief, Division of Original Registration,
Land Registration Commission, Quezon City, Metro Manila, respondents.

PADILLA, J.:

The present case originated with the filing by petitioners on 30 August 1968 in the
Court of First Instance (now Regional Trial Court) of San Carlos City, Pangasinan,
of an application for registration of several lots situated in Bayambang,
Pangasinan.

The lots applied for were Lots Nos. 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 1 0, 11 and 12 of Plan


Psu-54792 Amd.-2. The lots were among those involved in the case of Government
of the Philippine Islands vs. Abran, 1 wherein this Court declared Consolacion M.
Gomez owner of certain lots in Sitio Poponto Bayambang, Pangasinan. Petitioners
are the heirs of Teodoro Y. Gomez (father of Consolacion) who, together with
Consolacion's son, Luis Lopez, inherited from her parcels of land when
Consolacion Gomez died intestate. Petitioners alleged that after the death of
Teodoro Y. Gomez, they became the absolute owners of the subject lots by virtue
of a Quitclaim executed in their favor by Luis Lopez. The lots (formerly portions
of Lots 15,16, 34 and 41 covered by Plan Ipd-92) were subdivided into twelve
lots—Lots Nos. 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11 and 12. The subdivision plan was
duly approved by the Bureau of Lands on 30 November 1963. Petitioners agreed to
allocate the lots among themselves.

After notice and publication, and there being no opposition to the application, the
trial court issued an order of general default. On 5 August 1981, the court rendered
its decision adjudicating the subject lots in petitioners' favor. 2

On 6 October 1981, the trial court issued an order 3 expressly stating that the
decision of 5 August 1981 had become final and directed the Chief of the General
Land Registration Office to issue the corresponding decrees of registration over the
lots adjudicated in the decision of 5 August 1981.

On 11 July 1984, respondent Silverio G. Perez, Chief of the Division of Original


Registration, Land Registration Commission (now known as the National Land
Titles and Deeds Registration Administration), submitted a report to the court a
quo stating that Lots 15, 16, 34 and 41 of Ipd-92 were already covered by
homestead patents issued in 1928 and 1929 and registered under the Land
Registration Act. He recommended that the decision of 5 August 1981, and the
order of 6 October 1981 be set aside. Petitioners opposed the report, pointing out
that no opposition was raised by the Bureau of Lands during the registration
proceedings and that the decision of 5 August 1981 should be implemented
because it had long become final and executory.

After hearing, the lower court rendered a second decision on 25 March 1985
setting aside the decision dated 5 August 1981 and the order dated 6 October 1981
for the issuance of decrees. 4 Petitioners moved for reconsideration but the motion
was denied by respondent judge on 6 August 1985 for lack of merit. 5

Petitioners filed a petition for certiorari and mandamus with this Court which in
turn referred the petition to the Court of Appeals. 6

On 17 September 1986, the appellate court rendered judgment, 7 dismissing the


petition and stating, among others, thus—

In resumé, prior to the issuance of the decree of registration, the


respondent Judge has still the power and control over the decision he
rendered. The finality of an adjudication of land in a registration or
cadastral case takes place only after the expiration of the one-year
period after entry of the final decree of registration (Afalla vs.
Rosauro, 60 Phil. 622; Valmonte vs. Nable, 85 Phil. 256; Capio vs.
Capio, 94 Phil. 113). When the respondent Judge amended his
decision after the report of the respondent officials of the Land
Registration office had shown that homestead patents had already
been issued on some of the lots, respondents cannot be faulted
because land already granted by homestead patent can no longer be
the subject of another registration (Manalo vs. Lukban, et al., 48 Phil.
973).

WHEREFORE, in view of the foregoing, We resolve to DISMISS the


petition for lack of merit.

SO ORDERED.

Petitioners' motion for reconsideration was denied by the appellate court in its
Resolution dated 10 March 1987. 8 Hence, this recourse.

Several issues are raised by petitioners in this petition. The more important issues
before the Court are: (a) whether or not respondent Judge had jurisdiction to issue
the decision of 25 March 1985 which set aside the lower court's earlier decision of
5 August 1981 and the order of 6 October 1981; (b) whether or not the respondents
Acting Land Registration Commissioner and Engr. Silverio Perez, Chief, Division
of Original Registration, Land Registration Commission, have no alternative but to
issue the decrees of registration pursuant to the decision of 5 August 1981 and the
order for issuance of decrees, dated 6 October 1981, their duty to do so being
purely ministerial; (c) whether or not "the law of the case" is the decision in
Government of the Philippine Islands v. Abran, supra, which held that the lands
adjudicated to Consolacion Gomez were not public lands, and therefore they could
not have been acquired by holders of homestead titles as against petitioners herein.

It is not disputed that the decision dated 5 August 1981 had become final and
executory. Petitioners vigorously maintain that said decision having become final,
it may no longer be reopened, reviewed, much less, set aside. They anchor this
claim on section 30 of P.D. No. 1529 (Property Registration Decree) which
provides that, after judgment has become final and executory, the court shall
forthwith issue an order to the Commissioner of Land Registration for the issuance
of the decree of registration and certificate of title. Petitioners contend that section
30 should be read in relation to section 32 of P.D. 1529 in that, once the judgment
becomes final and executory under section 30, the decree of registration must issue
as a matter of course. This being the law, petitioners assert, when respondent Judge
set aside in his decision, dated 25 March 1985, the decision of 5 August 1981 and
the order of 6 October 1981, he clearly acted without jurisdiction.

Petitioners' contention is not correct. Unlike ordinary civil actions, the adjudication
of land in a cadastral or land registration proceeding does not become final, in the
sense of incontrovertibility until after the expiration of one (1) year after the entry
of the final decree of registration. 9 This Court, in several decisions, has held that as
long as a final decree has not been entered by the Land Registration Commission
(now NLTDRA) and the period of one (1) year has not elapsed from date of entry
of such decree, the title is not finally adjudicated and the decision in the
registration proceeding continues to be under the control and sound discretion of
the court rendering it. 10

Petitioners contend that the report of respondent Silverio Perez should have been
submitted to the court a quo before its decision became final. But were we to
sustain this argument, we would be pressuring respondent land registration
officials to submit a report or study even if haphazardly prepared just to beat the
reglementary deadline for the finality of the court decision. As said by this Court in
De los Reyes vs. de Villa: 11

Examining section 40, we find that the decrees of registration must be


stated in convenient form for transcription upon the certificate of title
and must contain an accurate technical description of the land. This
requires technical men. Moreover, it frequently occurs that only
portions of a parcel of land included in an application are ordered
registered and that the limits of such portions can only be roughly
indicated in the decision of the court. In such cases amendments of
the plans and sometimes additional surveys become necessary before
the final decree can be entered. That can hardly be done by the court
itself; the law very wisely charges the Chief Surveyor of the General
Land Registration Office with such duties (Administrative Code,
section 177).

Thus, the duty of respondent land registration officials to render reports is not
limited to the period before the court's decision becomes final, but may extend
even after its finality but not beyond the lapse of one (1) year from the entry of the
decree.

Petitioners insist that the duty of the respondent land registration officials to issue
the decree is purely ministerial. It is ministerial in the sense that they act under the
orders of the court and the decree must be in conformity with the decision of the
court and with the data found in the record, and they have no discretion in the
matter. However, if they are in doubt upon any point in relation to the preparation
and issuance of the decree, it is their duty to refer the matter to the court. They act,
in this respect, as officials of the court and not as administrative officials, and their
act is the act of the court. 12 They are specifically called upon to "extend assistance
to courts in ordinary and cadastral land registration proceedings ." 13

The foregoing observations resolve the first two (2) issues raised by petitioners.

Petitioners next contend that "the law of the case" is found in Government of the
Philippine Islands vs. Abran, et al., supra, where it was decided by this Court that
the lands of Consolacion M. Gomez, from whom petitioners derive their ownership
over the lots in question, were not public lands. A reading of the pertinent and
dispositive portions of the aforesaid decision will show, however, that the lots
earlier covered by homestead patents were not included among the lands
adjudicated to Consolacion M. Gomez. The decision states:

With respect to the portions of land covered by homestead certificates


of title, we are of opinion that such certificates are sufficient to
prevent the title to such portion from going to appellants aforesaid,
for they carry with them preponderating evidence that the respective
homesteaders held adverse possession of such portions, dating back
to 1919 or 1920, accordingly to the evidence, and the said appellants
failed to object to that possession in time. (Emphasis supplied)

Wherefore modifying the judgment appealed from, it is hereby


ordered that the lots respectively claimed by Agustin V. Gomez,
Consolacion M. Gomez, and Julian Macaraeg, be registered in their
name, with the exclusion of the portions covered by the homestead
certificates ... . (Emphasis supplied.) 14
The report of respondent land registration officials states that the holders of the
homestead patents registered the lots in question in the years 1928 and 1929. The
decision in Government of the Philippine Islands vs. Abran was promulgated on 31
December 1931. Hence, the subject lots are specifically excluded from those
adjudicated by the aforesaid decision to Consolacion M. Gomez.

It is a settled rule that a homestead patent, once registered under the Land
Registration Act, becomes indefeasible and incontrovertible as a Torrens title, and
may no longer be the subject of an investigation for determination or judgment in
cadastral proceeding. 15

The aforecited case of Government vs. Abran, therefore, is not "the law of the
case", for the lots in question were not private lands of Consolacion M. Gomez
when homestead patents were issued over them in 1928-1929. There is sufficient
proof to show that Lots 15, 16, 34 and 41 of Ipd-92 were already titled lands way
back in 1928 and 1929 as shown by Annexes "A", "B", "C", and "D" of
respondents' Memorandum. 16

Lastly, petitioners claim that if the decision of 5 August 1981 of the lower court is
sustained, the homestead title holders may still vindicate their rights by filing a
separate civil action for cancellation of titles and for reconveyance in a court of
ordinary civil jurisdiction. Conversely, the same recourse may be resorted to by
petitioners. "(T)he true owner may bring an action to have the ownership or title to
land judicially settled, and if the allegations of the plaintiff that he is the true owner
of the parcel of land granted as free patent and described in the Torrens title and
that the defendant and his predecessor-in-interest were never in possession of the
parcel of land and knew that the plaintiff and his predecessor-in-interest have been
in possession thereof be established, then the court in the exercise of its equity
jurisdiction, without ordering the cancellation of the Torrens title issued upon the
patent, may direct the defendant, the registered owner, to reconvey the parcel of
land to the plaintiff who has been found to be the true owner thereof." 17

WHEREFORE, the petition is DENIED. The appealed decision of the Court of


Appeals is AFFIRMED. Costs against the petitioners-appellants.

SO ORDERED.