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JURISPRUDENCE ON LAND TITLES AND REGISTRATION Fabian v. Fabian, G.R. No. L-20449, 29 January 1968, 22 SCRA 231, J. Castro.

While under Section 15 of the Friar Lands Act, title to the land sold is reserved to the Government until the purchaser makes full payment of all the required instalments and the interest thereon, this legal reservation refers to the bare, naked title. The equitable and beneficial title goes to the purchaser the moment he pays the first instalment and is given a certificate of title. The reservation of the title in favor of the Government is made merely to protect the interest of the Government so as to preclude or prevent the purchaser from encumbering or disposing of the lot purchased before the payment in full of the purchase price. Outside of this protection the Government retains no right as an owner. Thus, after the issuance of the sales certificate and pending payment in full of the purchase price, the Government may not sell the lot to another, encumber it, occupy the land to use or cultivate, nor lease it or even participate or share in its fruits. An action for reconveyance of real property based upon a constructive or implied trust, resulting from fraud, may be barred by the statute of limitations, and the action therefor may be filed within 4 years from the discovery of the fraud, such discovery being deemed to have taken place when new certificates of title were issued exclusively in the names of adverse claimants. Francisco v. Court of Appeals, G.R. No. L-30162, 31 August 1987, 153 SCRA 330, J. Narvasa. The earth is that universal manuscript open to the eyes of all. When a man proposes to buy or deal with realty, his first duty is to read this public manuscript, that is, to look and see who is there upon it, and what are his rights. A want of caution and diligence which an honest man of ordinary prudence is accustomed to exercise in making purchases is in contemplation of law a want of good faith. A buyer who could not have failed to know or discover that the land sold to him was in the adverse possession of another, is a buyer in bad faith, such knowledge being equivalent to registration. Considering that Casimiro knew definitely where his friend of many years Candido was residing and that the latter and his family had been living in that place for many, many years; that when Casimiro viewed the property then being sold to him and his brothers and sisters by Felisa, he could not but have noticed that Candido's house was in the area; that when Felisa pointed out the 3 lots to them (i.e. 1 big lot, and 2 smaller lots), Casimiro could not but have become aware, if not of the actuality, at least of the possibility, that the smaller contiguous lots adjacent to the
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main streets, and presumably through or beside which they had passed to view the bigger lot, appeared to be that in which his friend Candido was living; that it taxes credulity to think that Casimiro and his sister had limited themselves to viewing and asking questions about the big lot only, and had completely refrained from inquiring about the location and condition of the 2 other lots subject of the projected sale, preferring to place total exclusive and unquestioning reliance on Felisa's certificate of title; under the premises, the only plausible explanation for such a singular absence of curiosity would be their awareness that the 2 smaller lots were not included in the sale. 2 Considering that there were sufficiently strong indications to impel a closer inquiry into the location, boundaries and condition of the 2 smaller lots embraced in the purchase on the part of Casimiro and his co-buyers; that such inquiry was in truth dictated by common sense, expected of a man of ordinary prudence; that had that inquiry been made, the adverse claim of Candido over the 2 small lots would have immediately come to light; under the premises, the failure of Casimiro to undertake such an inquiry precludes their successful invocation of the character of purchasers in good faith. Not being buyers in good faith, Casimiro and his co-buyers cannot set-up their certificate of title to defeat the adverse claim thereto of Candido whose good faith has not been placed in question. Santos v. Court of Appeals, G.R. No. 90380, 13 September 1990, 189 SCRA 550,J. Gancayco. Land is not affected by operations under the Torrens system, unless there has been an application to register it, and registration has been made pursuant to such application. Considering that Gorospe had not filed any application for the parcel of land in question; that there was no showing that Gorospe satisfactorily complied with the application requirements for homestead under the Public Land Act; that the adverse claim of Lopez was fully supported by public documents (i.e. tracing cloth, microfilm of plan, whiteprint of plan, inventory book, index card, consolidated plan, specific plans); that persons connected with the Bureau of Lands testified that Lopez filed a homestead application and complied with all the requirements of the law; that the homestead application of Lopez was approved and a corresponding homestead patent was issued in his favor; that there exists in the records of the Register of Deeds of Pasig 2 original certificate of title bearing No. 537 based on a free patent and covering 2 different lots situate in 2 different municipalities, one in Pillila, Rizal the validity and regularity of which has never been questioned, and the second is the questionable document; under the premises, there are sufficient bases to declare that OCT No. 537 is null and void ab initio and the land covered thereby as never having been brought under the operation of the Torrens system. Where the land was not brought under the operations of the Torrens system, the concept
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of innocent purchaser for value cannot come into play. A purchaser in good faith and for value is one who buys property of another, without notice that some other person has a right to or interest in such property and pays a full and fair price for the same, at the time of such purchase or before he has notice of the claims or interest of some other person in the property. A person dealing with registered land has the right to rely upon the face of the Torrens title and to dispense with the trouble of inquiring further, except when the party concerned has actual knowledge of facts and circumstances that would impel a reasonably cautious man to make inquiry. Solid State Multi-Products Corporation, v. Court of Appeals, G.R. No. 83383, 6 May 1991, 196 SCRA 630, J. Medialdea. Friar lands were purchased by the government for sale to actual settlers and occupants at the time said lands were acquired by the government. The Bureau of Lands shall first issue a certificate stating that the government has agreed to sell the land to such settler or occupant. The latter shall then accept the certificate and agree to pay the purchase price so fixed and in the instalments and at the interest specified in the certificate. Act No. 1120, Friar Lands Act. Commonwealth Act No. 32, as amended by Commonwealth Act No.316. The conveyance executed in favor of a buyer or the so called certificate of sale, is a conveyance of the ownership of the property, subject only to the resolutory condition that the sale may be cancelled if the price agreed upon is not paid for in full. The buyer becomes the owner upon the issuance of the certificate of sale in his favor subject only to cancellation thereof in case the price agreed upon is not paid. Upon payment of the final installment together with all accrued interests, the government shall then issue a final deed of conveyance in favor of the buyer. The sale of such friar lands is valid only if approved by the Secretary of Agriculture and Commerce. The approval by the Secretary of Agriculture and Commerce is indispensable for the validity of the sale. Considering that the acquisition of the lot by Legaspi was highly irregular and void, and not in compliance with the procedure mandated by law for the sale of friar lands; that Legaspi allegedly purchased the land in a sale at public auction, which procedure is nowhere provided in Act No. 1120 or in C.A. 32 as amended by C.A. 316; that the laws expressly state that an actual occuplant of the land shall purchase the lot occupied by him at a private sale and not in a sale at public auction; that there was no deed of conveyance issued to Legaspi by the government after the full payment of the installments on the disputed lot; that the sale was not approved by the
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Secretary of Agriculture and Commerce; that absent such approval, the supposed sale was null and void ab initio; under the premises, Legaspi did not in any manner acquire ownership over the land. The issuance of a certificate of title in favor of Legaspi did not vest ownership upon her over the land, nor did it validate the alleged purchase of the lot which was null and void, inasmuch as registration does not vest title but is merely evidence of such title over a particular property. The registration laws do not give the holder any better title than what he actually has. Being null and void, the sale made to Legaspi and the subsequent titles issued pursuant thereto produced no legal effect whatsoever. There being no title to the land that Legaspi acquired from the Government, it follows that no title to the same land could be conveyed by the former to Virata. Even assuming that Virata was a purchaser in good faith and for value, the title of Pearanda and its successor-in-interest Solid State Corporation must nonetheless be upheld considering that no previous valid title to the same land existed. As between 2 persons both of whom are in good faith and both innocent of any negligence, the law must protect and prefer the lawful holder of registered title over the transferee of a buyer bereft of any transmissible rights. If a person happens to obtain property by mistake, or to the prejudice of another with or without bad faith, the certificate of title which may have been issued to him under the circumstances may and should be cancelled or corrected. Margolles v. Court of Appeals, G.R. No. 109490, 14 February 1994, 230 SCRA 97, J. Vitug. When two certificates of title are issued to different persons covering the same land in whole or in part, the earlier in date must prevail, and in case of successive registrations where more than one certificate is issued over the land, the person holding a prior certificate is entitled to the land as against a person who relies on a subsequent certificate. Meneses v. Court of Appeals, G.R. No. 82220, 14 July 1995, 246 SCRA 162, J. Quiason. In the light of the fraud attending the issuance of the free patents and titles to Meneses, which fraud has been confirmed by the appropriate court decision holding the adverse claimants liable for violation of the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act in the issuance of said free patents and titles, the adverse claimants cannot avail of the principle of indefeasibility of title after the lapse of the one-year period. Taedo v. Court of Appeals, G.R. No. 104482, 22 January 1996, Third Division, J.
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Panganiban. In case of a double sale, as between 2 purchasers, the one who registers the sale in his favor has a preferred right over the other who has not registered his title, even if the latter is in actual possession of the immovable property. Garbin v. Court of Appeals, G.R. No. 107653, 5 February 1996, Second Division, J. Romero. An adverse claim registered under Sec. 110 of Act No. 496 does not confer ownership since its validity must still be resolved in a separate proceeding. Sps. Eduarte v. Court of Appeals, G.R. No. 105994, 9 February 1996, Third Division, J. Francisco. Mere possession cannot defeat the title of a holder of a registered Torrens title to real property. Although the title of the previous registered owner was fraudulently secured, such fact cannot prejudice the rights of the holders absent any showing that they had any knowledge or participation in such irregularity. New Durawood Co., Inc. v. Court of Appeals, G.R. No. 111732, 20 February 1996, Third Division, J. Panganiban. A new owner's duplicate of a Torrens certificate of title may not be issued if it is shown that the existing owner's copy has not in fact been lost or destroyed. Republic of the Philippines v. Court of Appeals, G.R. No. 104296, 29 March 1996, Second Division, J. Mendoza. The Torrens title issued on the basis of a free patent or homestead patent becomes as indefeasible as one which was judicially secured upon the expiration of one year from date of issuance of patent as provided in P.D. No. 1529, Sec. 32 (formerly Act No. 496, Sec. 38). Nonetheless, even after the lapse of one year, the State may still bring an action under Sec. 101 of the Public Land Act for the reversion to the public domain of lands which have been fraudulently granted to private individuals.

Heirs of Miranda v. Court of Appeals, G.R. Nos. 109312 and 120245, 29 March 1996, Second Division, J. Mendoza. Ownership and other real rights over immovable property are acquired by ordinary prescription through possession for 10 years, if the adverse possession is by virtue of a title and it is in good faith. Without need of title or of good faith, ownership and other real rights over immovable property also prescribe through uninterrupted adverse possession for 30 years. Halili v. Court of Industrial Relations, G.R. No. L-24864, 30 May 1996, En Banc, J. Hermosisima. A Torrens title cannot be collaterally attacked. Where innocent third persons, relying on the correctness of the Certificate of Title thus issued, acquire rights over the property, such rights cannot be disregarded and the total cancellation of the certificate cannot be ordered. Desamparado Vda. de Nazareno v. Court of Appeals, G.R. No. 98045, 26 June 1996, Second Division, J. Romero. Accretion as a mode of acquiring property under Art. 457 of the Civil Code, it requires the following: (1) that the deposition of soil or sediment be gradual and imperceptible, (2) that it be the result of the action of the waters of the river, and (3) that the land where accretion takes place is adjacent to the banks of rivers. Sajonas v. Court of Appeals, G.R. No. 102377, 5 July 1996, Second Division, J. Torres, Jr.. The cancellation of the adverse claim is necessary to render it ineffective. Otherwise, the inscription will remain annotated and shall continue as a lien upon the property. Sandoval v. Court of Appeals, G.R. No. 106657, 1 August 1996, Second Division, J. Romero. A fraudulent or forged document of sale may give rise to a valid title.

Catholic Bishop of Balanga v. Court of Appeals, G.R. No. 112519, 14 November 1996, First Division, J. Hermosisima, Jr.. It is the cardinal principle in land registration that a Torrens title is indefeasible and imprescriptible. Nonetheless, a registered landowner may lose his right to recover the possession of his registered property by reason of laches. Intestate Estate of the Late Don Mariano San Pedro Y. Esteban v. Court of Appeals, G.R. No. 103727, 18 December 1996, En Banc, J. Hermosisima, Jr.. Spanish titles like the Titulo de Propriedad upon which the heirs of San Pedro y Esteban rely can no longer be used as evidence of ownership in any land registration proceeding under the Torrens system. The Titulo de Propriedad relied upon by the San Pedro heirs is thus declared null and void. Palomo v. Court of Appeals, G.R. No. 95608, 21 January 1997, Second Division, J. Romero. The adverse possession which may be the basis for the grant of title in confirmation of imperfect title cases applies only to alienable lands of the public domain. Forest land is not registrable and possession thereof, no matter how lengthy, cannot convert it to private property, unless such lands are reclassified and considered disposable and alienable. The principle of estoppel does not operate against the Government for the acts of its agents. Vda. de Cabrera v. Court of Appeals, G.R. No. 108547, 3 February 1997, Second Division, J. Torres, Jr.. An action for reconveyance of a parcel of land based on implied or constructive trust prescribes in 10 years, the point of reference being the date of registration of the deed or the date of the issuance of the certificate of title over the property. This rule on prescription however applies only when the person enforcing the trust is not in possession of the property, since if a person claiming to be the owner thereof is in actual possession of the property, the right to seek reconveyance which in effect seeks to quiet title to the property does not prescribe.
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The reason for this is that one who is in actual possession of a piece of land claiming to be the owner thereof may wait until his possession is disturbed or his title is attacked before taking steps to vindicate his right, the reason for the rule being that his undisturbed possession gives him a continuing right to seek the aid of a court of equity to ascertain and determine the nature of the adverse claim of a third party and its effect on his own title, which right can be claimed only by one who is in possession. Before the period of prescription may start, it must be shown that (1) the trustee has performed unequivocal acts of repudiation amounting to an ouster of the cestui que trust, (2) positive acts of repudiation have been made known to the cestui que trust, and (3) the evidence thereon is clear and positive. Navarro v. Intermediate Appellate Court, G.R. No. 68166, 12 February 1997, First Division, J. Hermosisima, Jr. Accretion as a mode of acquiring property under Article 457 of the Civil Code requires the concurrence of the following requisites: (1) that the accumulation of soil or sediment be gradual and imperceptible, (2) that it be the result of the action of the waters of the river, and (3) that the land where the accretion takes place is adjacent to the bank of the river. Accretion is the process whereby the soil is deposited, while alluvium is the soil deposited on the estate fronting the river bank. The owner of such estate is called the riparian owner. The alluvium is automatically owned by the riparian owner from the moment the soil deposit can be seen, but is not automatically registered property. Hence, it is subject to acquisition through prescription by third persons. Riparian owners are distinct from littoral owners, the latter being owners of lands bordering the shore of the sea or lake or other tidal waters. A bay is part of the sea, being a mere indentation of the same. It is an opening into the land where the water is shut in on all sides except at the entrance; an inlet of the sea; an arm of the sea, distinct from a river, a bending or curbing of the shore of the sea or of a lake. Inasmuch as the disputed land is an accretion not on a river bank but on a sea bank, or on what used to be the foreshore of Manila Bay which adjoined the claimants' own tract of land on the northern side, such land forms part of the public domain pursuant to Article 4 of the Spanish Law on Waters of 1866. The Manila Bay is distinguished from Laguna de Bay which is a lake the accretion on which belongs to the owner of the land contiguous thereto by mandate of Article 84 of the cited law.
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As part of the public domain, the disputed land is intended for public uses, and so long as the land belongs to the national domain and is reserved for public uses, it is not capable of being appropriated by any private person, except through express authorization granted in due form by a competent authority. Only the executive and possibly the legislative departments have the right and the power to make the declaration that the lands so gained by action of the sea is no longer necessary for purposes of public utility or for the establishment of special industries or for coast guard services. Cacho v. Court of Appeals, G.R. No. 123361, 3 March 1997, Third Division, J. Melo. A land registration proceeding is "in rem" and therefore the decree of registration is binding upon and conclusive against all persons including the Government and its branches, irrespective of whether or not they were personally notified of the filing of the application and filed an answer to said application, because all persons are considered as notified by the publication required by law. A decree of registration that has become final shall be deemed conclusive not only on the questions actually contested and determined, but also upon all matters that might be litigated or decided in the land registration proceedings. The issuance of the decrees of registration presupposes a prior final judgment because the issuance of such decrees is a mere ministerial act on the part of the Land Registration Commission (now the NALTDRA), upon presentation of a final judgment. Heirs of Manuel A. Roxas v. Court of Appeals, G.R. No. 118436, 21 March 1997, Second Division, J. Romero. Fraud is either actual or constructive. Actual fraud proceeds from an intentional deception practiced by means of the misrepresentation or concealment of a material fact. Constructive fraud is construed as fraud because of its detrimental effect on public interest and public confidence, even though the act is not done or committed with an actual design to commit positive fraud or injury on another person. Fraud is also either extrinsic of intrinsic. Extrinsic fraud is that which prevents a party from from having a trial or from presenting his entire case to court, or where it operates on matters pertaining not to the judgment itself but to the manner in which it is procured, so that there is not a fair submission of the controversy. Intrinsic fraud is where the fraudulent acts pertain to an issue involved in the original action, or where the acts constituting the fraud were or could have been litigated therein.

The fraud recognized by Section 32 of Presidential Decree No. 1529 as legal basis for reopening and revising a decree of registration within 1 year from the date of entry of said decree, is actual and extrinsic. This includes an intentional omission of fact required by law, such as the omission in the application for registration of the name of a person who has a claim to or is an occupant of the subject property. Regarding the publication requirements of Section 23 of Presidential Decree No. 1529, it may be noted while the publication of the Notice of Initial Hearing in the Official Gazette is sufficient to confer jurisdiction, the separate publication in a newspaper of general circulation remains an indispensable procedural requirement. Although jurisdiction of the court is not affected, the fact that publication was not made in a newspaper of general circulation is material and relevant in assessing the applicant's right or title to the land. Rural Bank of Compostela v. Court of Appeals, G.R. No. 122801, 8 April 1997, Third Division, J. Davide, Jr.. The rule that persons dealing with registered lands can rely on the certificate of title does not apply to banks, inasmuch as the business of banks is one affected with public interest, keeping in trust money belonging to their depositors, which they should guard against loss by not committing any act of negligence which amounts to lack of good faith. Thus, banks should exercise more care and prudence in dealings even with registered lands, than private individuals. Otherwise, they should be denied the protected mantle of the land registration statute, Act No. 496, extended only to purchasers for value and in good faith, as well as to mortgagees of the same character and disposition. Tagaytay-Taal Tourist Development Corporation v. Court of Appeals, G.R. No. 106812, 10 June 1997, First Division, J. Kapunan. The Regional Trial Court sitting as a land registration or cadastral court is authorized to order the cancellation of a certificate of title and the issuance of a new title in favor of the purchaser of the land covered by it if there is no adverse claim or serious objection on the part of any party in interest. Otherwise, the case becomes controversial and the same must be threshed in an ordinary case or in the case where the incident properly belongs. Director of Lands v. Court of Appeals, G.R. No. 102858, 28 July 1997, Third Division, J. Panganiban. Considering that the language of Section 23 of Presidential Decree No. 1529 uses the term "shall" thus indicating the mandatory character of the statute; that land registration is a proceeding in rem, which requires the constructive seizure of the land as against all persons
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including the state who may have rights to or interests in the property, and which proceeding is validated essentially through publication; that in reality the Official Gazette is not as widely read and circulated as newspapers and is oftentimes delayed in its circulation, such that notices published therein may not reach the interested parties on time if at all; under the premises, where there is no publication in a newspaper of general circulation, the land registration court does not have the authority to confirm and register the title of the applicant as a matter of due process. Carvajal v. Court of Appeals, G.R. No. 98328, 9 October 1997, Third Division, J. Panganiban. An application for registration of an already titled land constitutes a collateral attack on the existing title and must therefore be dismissed, bearing in mind Section 46 of Act No. 496 which provides that "(n)o title to registered land in derogation to that of the registered owner shall be acquired by prescription or adverse possession." Republic v. Court of Appeals, G.R. No. 100709, 14 November 1997, Third Division, J. Panganiban. By express provision of Section 118 of Commonwealth Act No. 141, in conformity with the policy of the law, any transfer or alienation or encumbrance of a free patent or homestead within five (5) years from the issuance of the patent is proscribed. Such transfer nullifies said issuance of the patent and constitutes a cause for the reversion of the property to the state. Land that has become foreshoreland can no longer be the subject of a free patent. Gordula v. Court of Appeals, G.R. No. 127296, 17 January 1998, Second Division, J. Puno. No public land can be acquired by private persons without any grant, express or implied from the government. It is indispensable that there be a showing of title over the land from the state. It is well settled that forest land is incapable of registration for as long as the reservation subsists, and thus its inclusion in a title nullifies said title. The conversion of a forest reserve into public alienable land, requires no less than a categorical act of declassification by the President, upon the recommendation of the proper department head who has the authority to classify the lands of the public domain into alienable or disposable, timber and mineral lands. The defense of indefeasibility of a certificate of title issued pursuant to a free patent does
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not lie against the state in an action for reversion of the land covered thereby when such land forms part of a public forest or of a forest reservation, the patent covering forest land being void ab initio. Neither can the mistake or error of its officials or agents in this regard be invoked against the government. Halili v. Court of Appeals, G.R. No. 113539, 12 March 1998, First Division, J. Panganiban. Jurisprudence is consistent that if land is invalidly transferred to an alien who subsequently becomes a citizen or transfers it to a citizen, the flaw in the original transaction is deemed cured and the title of the transferee is rendered valid. If the rationale of the ban on aliens from acquiring lands is to preserve the nation's lands for future generations of Filipinos, that aim or purpose would not be thwarted but achieved by making lawful the acquisition of real estate by aliens who subsequently become Filipino citizens by naturalization, or the transfer to Filipino citizens. Quevada, et al. v. Glorioso, et al., G.R. No. 121270, 27 August 1998, Third Division, J. Kapunan. Proceedings under Sec. 112 of the Land Registration Act are inadequate to settle the issue of ownership over the disputed portion. Matters described in said section are non-controversial in nature. They are limited to issues so patently insubstantial they are not deemed to be genuine issues. These proceedings are summary in nature, contemplating corrections or insertions of mistakes which are merely clerical, and certainly not controversial issues. The lawful owners have the right to demand the return of their property at any time for as long as the possession by the adverse party was unauthorized or merely tolerated if at all. This right to recover possession is never barred by laches. Heirs of Salud Dizon Salamat v. Tamayo, G.R. No. 110644, 30 October 1998, Third Division, J. Romero. Under Article 749 of the Civil Code, a transfer of real property from one person to another cannot take effect as a donation unless embodied in a public document. While a void donation may be the basis of ownership which may ripen into title by prescription, the concomitant possession to constitute the foundation of a prescriptive right must be adverse and under a claim of title. Mere actual possession by a co-owner may not give rise to the inference that the
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possession was adverse because a co-owner is after all entitled to possession of the property, coownership being a form trust where each owner is a trustee for each other and possession of a coowner is deemed beneficial to the other co-owners. In order that the possession of a co-owner may be deemed adverse to the cestui que trust or other co-owners, the following must concur: (1) the co-owner has performed unequivocal acts of repudiation amounting to ouster of the cestui que trust or other co-owners, (2) such positive acts of repudiation have been made known to the cestui que trust or other co-owners, and (3) the showing or evidence thereon is clear and convincing. Chan v. Court of Appeals, G.R. No. 118516, 18 November 1998, Third Division, J. Purisima. When 2 certificates of title are issued to 2 different persons covering one and same land in whole or in part, the certificate of title earlier in date must prevail. In the case of successive registrations where more than one certificate of title is issued over the same land, the person holding a prior certificate is entitled to the land as against a person who relies on a subsequent certificate. Cheng v. Genato, G.R. No. 129760, 29 December 1998, Second Division, J. Martinez. Under Article 1544 of the Civil Code, in order for the second buyer to be able to displace the first buyer the following must concur: (1) the second buyer must show that he acted in good faith (i.e. in ignorance of the first sale and of the first buyer's rights) from the time of acquisition until title is transferred to him by registration or failing registration by delivery of possession, and (2) the second buyer must show continuing good faith and innocence or lack of knowledge of the first sale until his contract ripens into full ownership through prior registration as provided by law. One who purchases real estate with knowledge of a defect of title in his seller cannot claim that has acquired title in good faith as against an interest therein. The same rule applies to one who has knowledge of facts which should have put him upon such inquiry and investigation as might be necessary to aquaint him with the defects in the title of his seller. The buyer's mere refusal to believe that such a defect exists, or his wilful closing of his eyes to the possibility of the existence of a defect in his seller's title, will not make him an innocent purchaser for value, if it afterwards develops that the title was in fact defective, and it appears that he had such notice of the defect as would have led to its discovery had he acted with that measure of precaution which may reasonably be required of a prudent man in a like situation. Registration means any entry made in the books of the registry, including both registration in its ordinary and strict sense, and cancellation, annotation, and even marginal notes.
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In its strict sense, registration is the entry made in the registry which records solemnly and permanently the right of ownership and other real rights. Baguio v. Republic of the Philippines, G.R. No. 119682, 21 January 1999, Second Division, J. Mendoza. Once a patent is registered and the corresponding certificate of title issued, the land covered ceases to be part of the public domain and becomes private property. The Torrens Title issued pursuant to the patent becomes indefeasible upon the expiration of 1 year from the date of the issuance of the patent. However, even after the lapse of 1 year, the State may still bring an action under Section 101 of Commonwealth Act No. 141 for the reversion to the public domain of land fraudulently granted to private individuals. Such action by the State is not barred by prescription. The indefeasibility of a certificate of title cannot be invoked by one who procured the title by means of fraud. Ramos v. Court of Appeals, G.R. No. 111027, 3 February 1999, Third Division, J. Romero. Section 38 of the Land Registration Act provides that a decree of registration duly issued is subject to the right of any person deprived of land or of any estate or interest therein by decree or registration obtained through fraud, to file in the Regional Trial Court a petition for review within 1 year after the entry of the decree, provided no innocent purchaser for value has acquired an interest. The same law provides that upon the expiration of the term of 1 year, every decree or certificate of title shall be imprescriptible. An action for reconveyance of real property resulting from fraud prescribes in 4 years from the discovery of the fraud. An action based on implied or constructive trust prescribes in 10 years. Republic of the Philippines v. Imperial, Jr., G.R. No. 130906, 11 February 1999, First Division, J. Davide, Jr.. Foreshore land is part of the alienable land of the public domain. However, it may be disposed of only by lease and not otherwise. It is defined as "that part (of the land) which is between the high and low water and left dry by the flux and reflux of the tides." It is also known as "a strip of land that lies between the high and low water marks and is alternatively wet and dry according to the tide."

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Vera Cruz v. Dumat-ol, G.R. No. 126830, 18 May 1999, First Division, J. Pardo. An action for reconveyance of real property resulting from fraud may be barred by the statute of limitations, which requires that the action must be commenced within 4 years from the discovery of the fraud. In case of registered land, such discovery is deemed to have taken place from the date of the registration of the title. The registration of title constitutes notice to all the world. Manangan v. Delos Reyes, G.R. No. 115794, June 10 1999, First Division, J. Pardo. The remedy of the landowner / buyer whose property has been wrongfully or erroneously registered in the seller's name is to bring an action in the ordinary courts for reconveyance. An action for reconveyance based on an implied or constructive trust prescribes in ten (10) years from the issuance of the Torrens title over the property. Where the buyer slept on his right for thirty-eight (38) years counted from the time the Original Certificate of Title was issued on 21 January 1937, until he filed his amended answer to the complaint of seller's heirs on 14 March 1975, asking for reconveyance of the lots in question, his right to bring such action was barred by laches as he took no step towards that direction reasonably after the title to the property was issued under the Torrens system. Sps. Villarico & Faustino v. Court of Appeals, G.R. No. 105912, 28 June 1999, Third Division, J. Purisima. Forest lands cannot be owned by private persons. Possession thereof, no matter how long, does not open into a registrable title. The adverse possession which may be the basis of a grant of title or confirmation of an imperfect title refers only to alienable or disposable portions of the public domain. Republic of the Philippines v. Court of Appeals, G.R. No. 127969, 25 June 1999, Third Division, J. Vitug. The requirement of actual notice to the occupants and the owners of the adjoining property under Sections 12 and 13 of Republic Act No. 26 is mandatory in order to vest jurisdiction upon the court in a petition for reconstitution of title and essential to allow said court to take the case on its merits. The non-observance of the notice requirement invalidates the whole reconstitution proceedings in the trial court.

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Heirs of Mariano Brusas v. Court of Appeals, G.R. No. 126875, 26 August 1999, Second Division, J. Bellosillo. Title to land once registered under the Torrens sytem cannot be defeated by prescription. Registration constitutes notice to the whole world and therefore all persons are bound by it and no one can plead ignorance of the registration. Where however a person obtains a certificate of title to land belonging to another and he has full knowledge of the rights of the true owner, he is considered guilty of fraud. He may therefore be compelled to transfer the land to the defrauded owner as long as the property has not passed to the hands of an innocent purchaser for value. Reyes v. Court of Appeals, G.R. No. 127608, 30 September 1999, Second Division, J. Bellosillo. An action for reconveyance of a parcel of land on the basis of implied or constructive trust prescribes in 10 years. The point reference is the date of registration of the deed of the date of the issuance of the certificate of title over the property. This rule however applies only when the person enforcing the trust is not in possession of the property. If the person claiming to be the owner is in actual possession of the property, the right to seek conveyance which in effect seeks to quiet title to the property does not prescribe. Bracewell v. Court of Appeals, G.R. No. 107427, 25 January 2000, First Division, YnaresSantiago, J. The Public Land Act requires that the applicant must prove the following: (a) that the land is alienable public land, and (b) that his open, continuous, exclusive and notorious possession and occupation of the same must be since time immemorial or for the period prescribed in said law. When the conditions set by the Public Land Act are complied with, the possessor of the land, by operation of law, acquires a right to a government grant, without the necessity of a certificate of title being issued. Dela Torre v. Court of Appeals, G.R. No. 113095, 8 February 2000, First Division, YnaresSantiago, J. Jurisprudence has consistently held that under Act No. 1120, the equitable and beneficial title to the land passes to the buyer the moment the first instalment is paid a certificate of sale is issued.

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In order that a transfer of the rights of a holder of a certificate of sale of friar lands may be legally effective, a formal certificate of transfer must be drawn up and submitted to the chief of the Bureau of Lands for his approval and registration. The law authorizes no other mode of transferring the rights of a holder of a certificate of sale of friar lands. Agasen v. Court of Appeals, G.R. No. 115508, 15 February 2000, First Division, YaresSantiago, J. The rule on indefeasibility of a Torrens title, or that a Torrens title can be attacked only for fraud within 1 year after the date of the issuance of the decree of registration, applies only to original titles, and not to subsequent registration. National Irrigation Administration v. Court of Appeals, G.R. No. 114348, 20September 2000, Pardo, J. Article 619 of the Civil Code provides that, Easements are established either by law or by the will of the owners. The former are called legal and the latter voluntary easements. In the present case, we find and declare that a legal easement of a right-of-way exists in favor of the government. The land was originally public land, and awarded to respondent Manglapus by free patent. The ruling would be otherwise if the land were originally private property, in which case, just compensation must be paid for the taking of a part thereof for public use as an easement of a right of way. Neither can Manglapus argue that he was a transferee or buyer in good faith. Under the Torrens System, for one to be a buyer in good faith and for value, the vendee must see the transfer certificate of title and rely upon the same. Here, the annotation on the transfer certificate of title imposed on Manglapus the duty refers to the conditions annotated on the back of the original certificate of title. This, he did not do. The law cannot protect him. Manglapus is a transferee with notice of the liens annotated in the title. One who deals with property registered under the Torrens system is charged with notice of burdens and claims that are annotated on the title. Isabela Colleges v. Heirs of Nieves Tolentino Rivera, G. R. No. 132677, 20 October 2000 Second Division, Mendoza, J. Under the law no title to registered land in derogation of that of the registered owner can be acquired by prescription or adverse possession. Nonetheless, while a Torrens title is indefeasible and imprescriptible, the registered landowner may lose his right to recover the possession of this registered property by reason of laches.
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Public Estates Authority v. Court of Appeals, G. R. No. 112172, 20 November 2000, First Division, Pardo, J. An applicant seeking to establish ownership of land must conclusively show that he is the owner in fee simple, for the standing presumption is that all lands belong to the public domain of the state, unless acquired from the Government either by purchase or by grant, except lands possessed by an occupant and his predecessors since time immemorial, for such possession would justify the presumption that the land had never been part of the public domain, or that it had been private property even before the Spanish conquest. Considering that the survey plan for the land was approved only in 1992, and claimant paid the realty taxes thereon on October 30, 1992, shortly before the filing of the suit below for damages with injunction; under the premises, claimant must be deemed to begin asserting his adverse claim to Lot 5155 only in 1992. (N)o public land can be acquired by private persons without any grant, express or implied from the government; it is indispensable that there be a showing of a little from the state. On the other hand, one claiming private rights must prove that he has complied with C.A. No. 141, as amended, otherwise known as the Public Land Act, which prescribed the substantive as well as procedural requirements for acquisition of public lands. Under the public land act, judicial confirmation of imperfect title required possession en concepto de dueno since time immemorial, or since July 26, 1894. Under C.A. No. 141, this requirement was retained. However, on June 22, 1957, Republic Act No. 1942 was enacted amending C.A. No. 141. This later enactment required adverse possession for a period of only thirty (30) years. On January 25, 1977, the President enacted P.D. No. 1073, further amending C. A. No. 141, extending the period for filing application for judicial confirmation of imperfect or incomplete titles to December 31, 1987. Under this decree, the provisions of Section 48 (b) and Section 48 (c), Chapter VIII, of the Public Land Act are hereby amended in the sense that these provisions shall apply only to alienable and disposable land of the public domain which have been in open, continuous, exclusive and notorious possession and occupation by the applicant himself or thru his predecessor-in-interest under a bona fide claim of acquisition of ownership, since June 12, 1945. What is more, (u)nder the Public Land Act as amended, only titles to alienable and disposable lands of the public domain may be judicially confirmed. Unless a public land is reclassified and declared as such, occupation thereof in the concept of owner, no matter how long ago, cannot confer ownership or possessory rights.

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Del Rosario v. Republic, G.R. No. 148338, 7 June 2002, Second Division, J. Mendoza. A person cannot enter forest land and earn credits towards the eventual confirmation of imperfect title by the simple act of cultivating a portion of that land. The government must first declare the forest land to be alienable and disposable agricultural land, before any entry, cultivation and exclusive and adverse possession can be counted for purposes of confirmation of an imperfect title. Chavez v. Public Estates Authority, En Banc, G.R. No. 133250, 9 July 2002, Carpio, J.. The 1935, 1973 and 1987 Constitutions adopted the Regalian doctrine substituting, however, the State, in lieu of the King, as the owner of all lands and waters of the public domain. The Regalian doctrine is the foundation of the time-honored principle of land ownership that all lands that were not acquired from the Government, either by purchase or by grant, belong to the public domain. Article 339 of the Civil Code of 1889, which is now Article 420 of the Civil Code of 1950, incorporated the Regalian doctrine. The ban in the 1973 Constitution on private corporations from acquiring alienable lands of the public domain did not apply to PEA since it was then, and until today, a fully owned government corporation. The constitutional ban applied then, as it still applies now, only to private corporations and associations. PD No. 1084 expressly empowers PEA to hold lands of the public domain even in excess of the area permitted to private corporations by statute. Thus, PEA can hold title to private lands, as well as title to lands of the public domain. In order for PEA to sell its reclaimed foreshore and submerged alienable lands of the public domain, there must be legislative authority empowering PEA to sell these lands. Without such legislative authority, PEA could not sell but only lease its reclaimed foreshore and submerged alienable lands of the public domain. Nevertheless, any legislative authority granted to PEA to sell its reclaimed alienable lands of the public domain would be subject to the constitutional ban on private corporations from acquiring alienable lands of the public domain. Hence, such legislative authority could only benefit private individuals. The 1987 Constitution, like the 1935 and 1973 Constitutions before it, has adopted the Regalian doctrine. The 1987 Constitution declares that all natural resources are owned by the State, and except for alienable agricultural lands of the public domain, natural resources cannot be alienated. The 1987 Constitution continues the State policy in the 1973 Constitution banning private corporations from acquiring any kind of alienable land of the public domain. Like the 1973 Constitution, the 1987 Constitution allows private corporations to hold alienable lands of the public domain only through lease. As in the 1935 and 1973 Constitutions, the general law
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governing the lease to private corporations of reclaimed, foreshore and marshy alienable lands of the public domain is still CA No. 141. Absent two official acts a classification that these lands are alienable or disposable and open to disposition and a declaration that these lands are not needed for public service, lands reclaimed by PEA remain inalienable lands of public domain. Only such an official classification and formal declaration can convert reclaimed lands into alienable or disposable lands of the public domain, open to disposition under the Constitution, Title I and Title III 83 of CA No. 141 and other applicable laws. PEAs charter expressly tasks PEA to develop, improve, acquire, administer, deal in, subdivide, dispose, lease and sell any and all kind of lands owned, managed, controlled and/or operated by the government. There is, therefore, legislative authority granted to PEA to sell its lands, whether patrimonial or alienable lands of the public domain. PEA may sell to private parties its patrimonial properties in accordance with the PEA charter free from constitutional limitations. The constitutional ban on private corporations from acquiring alienable lands of the public domain does not apply to the sale of PEAs patrimonial lands. PEA may also sell its alienable or disposable lands of the public domain to private individuals since, with the legislative authority, there is no longer any statutory prohibition against such sales and the constitutional ban does not apply to individuals. PEA, however, cannot sell any of its alienable or disposable lands of the public domain to private corporations since Section 3, Article XII of the 1987 Constitution expressly prohibits such sales. The legislative authority benefits only individuals. Private corporations remain barred from acquiring any kind of alienable land of the public domain, including government reclaimed lands. The grant of legislative authority to sell public lands in accordance with Section 60 of CA No 141 does not automatically convert alienable lands of the public domain into private or patrimonial lands. The alienable lands of the public domain must be transferred to qualified private parties, or to government entities not tasked to dispose of public lands, before these lands can become private or patrimonial lands. Otherwise, the constitutional ban will become illusory if Congress can declare lands of the public domain as private or patrimonial lands in the hands of a government agency tasked to dispose of public lands. This will allow private corporations to acquire directly from government agencies limitless areas of lands which, prior to such law, are concededly public lands. To allow vast areas of reclaimed lands of the public domain to be transferred to PEA as private lands will sanction a gross violation of the constitutional ban on private corporations from acquiring any kind of alienable land of the public domain. PEA will simply turn around, as PEA has now done under the Amended JVA, and transfer several hundreds of hectares of these reclaimed and still to be reclaimed lands to a single private corporation in only one transaction. This scheme will effectively nullify the constitutional ban in Section 3, Article XII of the 1987 Constitution which was intended to diffuse equitably the ownership of alienable lands of the
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public domain among Filipinos, now numbering over 80 million strong. This scheme, if allowed, can even be applied to alienable agricultural lands of the public domain since PEA can acquire any and all kinds of lands. This will open the floodgates to corporations and even individuals acquiring hundreds of hectares of alienable lands of the public domain under the guise that in the hands of PEA these lands are private lands. This will result in corporations amassing huge landholdings never before seen in this country creating the very evil that the constitutional ban was designed to prevent. This will completely reverse the clear direction of constitutional development in this country. The 1935 Constitution allowed private corporations to acquire not more than 1,024 hectares of public lands. The 1973 Constitution prohibited private corporations from acquiring any kind of public land, and the 1987 Constitution has unequivocally reiterated this prohibition. The Regalian doctrine is deeply implanted in our legal system. Foreshore and submerged areas form part of the public domain and are inalienable. Lands reclaimed from foreshore and submerged areas also form part of the public domain and are also inalienable, unless converted pursuant to law into alienable or disposable lands of the public domain. Historically, lands reclaimed by the government are sui generis, not available for sale to private parties unlike other alienable public lands. Reclaimed lands retain their inherent potential as areas for public use or public service. Alienable lands of the public domain, increasingly becoming scarce natural resources, are to be distributed equitably among our ever-growing population. To ensure such equitable distribution, the 1973 and 1987 Constitutions have barred private corporations from acquiring any kind of alienable land of the public domain. Those who attempt to dispose of inalienable natural resources of the state, or seek to circumvent the conditional ban on alienation of lands of the public domain to private corporations, do so at their own risks. Collado v. Court of Appeals, G.R. No. 107764, 4 October 2002, First Division, J. Carpio. Under the Regalian Doctrine, all lands not otherwise appearing to be clearly within private ownership are presumed to belong to the State. An applicant for confirmation of imperfect title bears the burden of proving that he meets the requirements of Section 48 of CA 141, as amended. He must overcome the presumption that the land he is applying for is part of the public domain and that he has an interest therein sufficient to warrant registration in his name arising from an imperfect title. An imperfect title may have been derived from old Spanish grants such as a titulo real or royal grant, a concession especial or special grant, a composition con el estado or adjustment title, or a titulo de compra or title through purchase. Or, that he has had continuous, open and notorious possession and occupation of agricultural lands of the public domain under a bona fide claim of ownership for at least thirty years preceding the filing of his application as provided in Section 48(b) of CA 141.

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The Public Land Act requires that the applicant must prove the following: (a) that the land is alienable public land, and (b) that his open, continuous, exclusive and notorious possession and occupation of the same must either be since time immemorial, or for the period prescribed in the law. When the conditions set by law are complied with, the possessor of the land, by operation of law, acquires a right to a government grant, without need of a certificate of title being issued. Section 48(b) of CA 141, as amended, applies exclusively to alienable and disposable public agricultural land. Forest lands, including watershed reservations, are excluded. It is axiomatic that the possession of forest lands or other inalienable public lands cannot ripen into private ownership. In Municipality of Santiago, Isabela v. Court of Appeals (120 SCRA 734 [1983]), the Court declared that inalienable public lands cannot be acquired by acquisitive prescription. Prescription, both acquisitive and extinctive, does not run against the State. In fine, one claiming private rights must prove that has complied with C.A. No. 141, as amended, otherwise known as the Public Land Act, which prescribes the substantive as well as the procedural requirements for acquisition of public lands. This law requires at least thirty (30) years of open, continuous, exclusive and notorious possession of agricultural lands of the public domain, under a bona fide claim of acquisition, immediately preceding the filing of the application for free patent. The rationale for the 30-year period lies in the presumption that the land applied for pertains to the State, and that occupants and/or possessors claim an interest therein only by virtue of their imperfect title or continuous, open and notorious possession. A positive act (e.g., an official proclamation) of the Executive Department is needed to declassify land which had been earlier classified as a watershed reservation and to convert it into alienable or disposable land for agricultural or other purposes. Unless and until the land classified as such is released in an official proclamation so that it may form part of the disposable agricultural lands of the public domain, the rules on confirmation of imperfect title do not apply. It is now established that the Lot, being a watershed reservation, is not alienable and disposable public land. The evidence of the (applicants) do not clearly and convincingly show that the Lot, described as Lot Psu-162620, ceased to be a portion of the area classified as a watershed reservation of the public domain. Any title to the Lot is void ab initio. In view of this, the alleged procedural infirmities attending the filing of the petition for annulment of judgment are immaterial since the land registration court never acquired jurisdiction over the Lot. All proceedings of the land registration court involving the Lot are therefore null and void. (T)he right of reversion or reconveyance to the State of the public properties registered and which are not capable of private appropriation or private acquisition does not prescribe. Republic v. Heirs of Angeles, G.R. No. 141296, 7 October 2002, Third Division, Panganiban, J.
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A certificate of title issued on the basis of a free patent is as indefeasible as one secured judicially. This indefeasibility however cannot bar an investigation by the State as to how such title has been acquired, where the purpose of the investigation is to determine whether or not fraud has been committed in securing the title. One who succeeds in acquiring title to public land by fraudulent means cannot be allowed to benefit from it. The basic rule is that prescription does not run against the State and its subdivisions. When the government is the real party in interest, seeking to assert its own right to recover its own property, there can be no defense of laches or prescription. Public land fraudulently included in patents or certificates of title may be recovered or reverted to the State pursuant to Section 101 of the Public Land Act. The right of the State to reversion or reconveyance does not prescribe. Republic v. Alejaga, Sr., G.R. No. 146030, 3 December 2002, Third Division, Panganiban, J. The indefeasibility of title does not attach to titles secured by fraud and misrepresentation. The well settled doctrine is that the registration of a patent under the Torrens System does not by itself vest title. Registration merely confirms the registrants existing title. Registration under the Torrens System is not a mode of acquiring ownership. Under Section 101 of C.A. No. 141, the State may bring an action for the reversion to the public domain of land that has been fraudulently granted to private individuals, even after the lapse of one (1) year. The indefeasibility of title does not bar an investigation by the State as to how the title has been acquired, where the purpose of the investigation is to determine whether or not fraud has in fact been committed in securing the title. Chavez vs. Public Estates Authority, En Banc, G.R. No. 133250, 6 May 2003, Carpio, Jr.. Under the 1935 Constitution, private corporations were allowed to acquire alienable lands of the public domain. But since the effectivity of the 1973 Constitution, private corporations were banned from holding, except by lease, alienable lands of public domain. The 1987 Constitution continued this constitutional prohibition. (The) submerged areas of Manila Bay, being part of the sea, are inalienable and beyond the commerce of man, a doctrine that has remained immutable since the Spanish Law on Waters of 1886. Since the adoption of the Regalian doctrine in this jurisdiction, the sea and its foreshore areas have always been part of the public domain. And since the enactment of Act No. 1654 on
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May 18,1907 until the effectivity of the 1973 Constitution, statutory law never allowed foreshore lands reclaimed by the government to be sold to private corporations. The 1973 and 1987 Constitution enshrined and expanded the ban to include any alienable land of the public domain. Government owned lands, as long as they are patrimonial property, can be sold to private parties, whether Filipino citizens or qualified private corporations. Thus, the so-called Friar Lands acquired by the government under Act No. 1120 are patrimonial property which even private corporations can acquire by purchase. Likewise, reclaimed alienable lands of the public domain if sold or transferred to a public or municipal corporation for a monetary consideration become patrimonial property in the hands of the public or municipal corporation. Once converted to patrimonial property, the land may be sold by the public or municipal corporation to private parties, whether Filipino citizens or qualified private corporations. Republic v. Lao, G.R. No. 150413, 1 July 2003, First Division, Ynares-Santiago, J.. Under the Regalian doctrine which is embodied in our Constitution, all lands of the public domain belong to the State, which is the source of any asserted right to ownership of land. All lands not appearing to be clearly within private ownership are presumed to belong to the State. Unless public land is shown to have been reclassified or alienated to a private person by the State, it remains part of the inalienable public domain. To overcome this presumption, incontrovertible evidence must be established that the land subject to the application is alienable or disposable. As an applicant for registration of a parcel of land, (she) had the initial obligation to show that the property involved is agricultural. Being the interested party, it was incumbent upon her to prove that the land being registered is indeed alienable or disposable. She cannot rely on the mere presumption that it was agricultural and, therefore, alienable part of the public domain. It bears stressing at this point that declassification of forest land and its conversion into alienable or disposable land for agricultural or other purposes requires an express and positive act from the government. It cannot be presumed; but must be established by convincing proof. Heirs of Pomposa Saludares v. Court of Appeals, G.R. No. 128254, 16 January 2004, Third Division, Corona, J. Notwithstanding the indefeasibility of the Torrens title, the registered owner may still be compelled to reconvey the registered property to its true owner. The rationale for the rule is that reconveyance does not set aside or re-subject to review the findings of fact of the Bureau of Lands. In an action for reconveyance, the decree of registration is respected as incontrovertible.
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What is sought instead is the transfer of the property or its title which has been wrongfully or erroneously registered in another persons name, to its rightful or legal owner, or to the one with a better right. Nevertheless, the right to seek reconveyance of registered property is not absolute because it is subject to extinctive prescription. Civil Code, Articles. 1456 and 1144. Presidential Decree No. 1529, Section 53, paragraph 3. There is but one instance when prescription cannot be invoked in an action for reconveyance, that is, when the plaintiff is in possession of the land to be conveyed. In a series of cases, this Court permitted the filing of an action for reconveyance despite the lapse of ten years and declared that said action, when based on fraud, is imprescriptible as long as the land has not passed to an innocent purchaser for value. But in all those cases on which the appellate court based its assailed decision, the common factual backdrop was that the registered owners were never in possession of the disputed property. Instead, it was the persons with the better right or the legal owners of the land who had always been in possession of the same. Thus, the Court allowed the action for reconveyance to prosper in those cases despite the lapse of more than ten years from the issuance of title to the land. The exception was based on the theory that registration proceedings could not be used as a shield for fraud or for enriching a person at the expense of another. Spouses Noel and Julie Abrigo v. Romana De Vera, G.R. No. 154409, 21 June 2004, First Division, Panganiban, J.. Between two buyers of the same immovable property registered under the Torrens system, the law (Article 1544 of the Civil Code) gives ownership priority to (1) the first registrant in good faith; (2) then, the first possessor in good faith; and (3) finally, the buyer who in good faith presents the oldest title. This provision, however, does not apply if the property is not registered under the Torres system. Otherwise stated, the law provides that a double sale of immovables transfers ownership to (1) the first registrant in good faith; (2) then, the first possessor in good faith; and (3) finally, the buyer who in good faith presents the oldest title. There is no ambiguity in the application of this law with respect to lands registered under the Torrens system. This principle is in full accord with Section 51 of PD 1529 which provides that no deed, mortgage, lease or other voluntary instrument except a will purporting to convey or affect registered land shall take effect as a conveyance or bind the land until its registration. Thus, if the sale is not registered, it is binding only between the seller and the buyer but it does not affect innocent third persons.

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A Torrens title, once registered, serves as a notice to the whole world. All persons must take notice, and no one can plead ignorance of the registration. We have consistently held that Article 1544 requires the second buyer to acquire the immovable in good faith and to register it in good faith. Mere registration of title is not enough; good faith must concur with the registration. Equally important, under Section 44 of PD 1529, every registered owner receiving a certificate of title pursuant to a decree of registration, and every subsequent purchaser of registered land taking such certificate for value and in good faith shall hold the same free from all encumbrances, except those noted and enumerated in the certificate. Thus, a person dealing with registered land is not required to go behind the registry to determine the condition of the property, since such condition is noted on the face of the register or certificate of title. Following this principle, this Court has consistently held as regards registered land that a purchaser in good faith acquires a good title as against all the transferees thereof whose rights are not recorded in the Registry of Deeds at the time of the sale. (C)onstructive notice to the second buyer through registration under Act 3344 does not apply if the property is registered under the Torrens system. Spouses Morandarte v. Court of Appeals, G.R. No. 123586, 12 August 2004, Second Division, Austria-Martinez, J. A complaint for reversion involves a serious controversy, involving a question of fraud and misrepresentation committed against the government and it seeks the return of the disputed portion of the public domain. It seeks to cancel the original certificate of registration, and nullify the original certificate of title, including the transfer certificate of title of the successor-in-interest because the same were all procured through fraud and misrepresentation. The State, as the party alleging that fraud and misrepresentation attended the application for free patent, bears the burden of proof. The circumstances evidencing fraud and misrepresentation are as varied as the people who perpetrate it in each case. It assumes different shapes and forms and may be committed in as many different ways. Therefore, fraud and misrepresentation are never presumed but must be proved by clear and convincing evidence, mere preponderance of evidence not being adequate. (T)he mistake or error of the officials of the (Bureau of Lands) in this regard cannot be invoked against the government with regard to property of the public domain. It has been said that the State cannot be estopped by the omission, mistake or error of its officials or agents. It is well-recognized that if a person obtains a title under the Public Land Act which includes, by oversight, lands which cannot be registered under the Torrens system, or when the
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Director of Lands did not have jurisdiction over the same because it is a public domain, the grantee does not, by virtue of the said certificate of title alone, become the owner of the land or property illegally included. Otherwise stated, property of the public domain is incapable of registration and its inclusion in a title nullifies that title. The present controversy involves a portion of the public domain that was merely erroneously included in the free patent. A different rule would apply where fraud is convincingly shown. The absence of clear evidence of fraud will not invalidate the entire title of the Morandarte spouses. Accordingly, the 12,162 square meter portion traversed by the Miputak River and the 13,339 square meter portion covered by the fishpond lease agreement of the Lacaya spouses which were erroneously included in Free Patent No. (IX-8) 785 and Original Certificate of Title No. P-21972 should be reconveyed back to the State. It is a settled rule that unless a public land is shown to have been reclassified as alienable or actually alienated by the State to a private person, that piece of land remains part of the public domain. Hence, Antonio A. Morandartes occupation thereof, however long, cannot ripen into private ownership. Diaz-Enriquez v. Republic, G.R. No. 141031, 31 August 2004, Second Division, Callejo, Sr. J. There are two facts that the applicant must prove to support an application for registration. The first is that the land sought to be registered is the same land described in the application; the second is that the applicant must be the owner of the land. It is settled that a person who seeks registration of title to a piece of land must prove the claim by clear and convincing evidence. (Diaz-Enriquez) was then duty bound to identify sufficiently and satisfactorily that the lot sought to be registered is the same or part of the lot she purchased from the Perea heirs. Otherwise stated, all facts must indicate that no other person, including the government, will be prejudiced by the adjudication of the land to (Diaz-Enriquez) . (Diaz-Enriquez) insists that Lot 277 (Portion C) Cads-617-D is part of the parcels of land originally sold by the Perea spouses to her. However, the evidence shows otherwise; the technical descriptions of the two parcels of land simply do not correspond to each other. (DiazEnriquez) thus failed to prove that the property sought to be registered is included in the property covered by the said deed of extra-judicial partition with absolute sale. The presumption is that lands of whatever classification belong to the State and evidence of a land grant must be well nigh incontrovertible. The burden of proof in land registration
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cases is incumbent on the applicant who must show that she is the real and absolute owner in fee simple of the land applied for. In the case at bar, (Diaz-Enriquez) failed to prove that she and her predecessors-ininterest had been in open, continuous, exclusive and notorious possession and occupation of the subject property under a bona fide claim of ownership since time immemorial or since June 12, 1945. Katon v. Palanca, Jr., G.R. No. 151149, 07 September 2004, Third Division, Panganiban, J. In an action for nullification of title or declaration of its nullity, the complaint must contain the following allegations: 1) that the contested land was privately owned by the plaintiff prior to the issuance of the assailed certificate of title to the defendant; and 2) that the defendant perpetuated a fraud or committed a mistake in obtaining a document of title over the parcel of land claimed by the plaintiff. In these cases, the nullity arises not from fraud or deceit, but from the fact that the director of the Land Management Bureau had no jurisdiction to bestow title; hence, the issued patent or certificate of title was void ab initio. In an alternative action for reconveyance, the title certificate of title is respected as incontrovertible, but the transfer of the property or title thereto is sought to be nullified on the ground that it was wrongfully or erroneously registered in the defendants name. As with an annulment of title, a complaint must allege two facts that, if admitted, would entitle the plaintiff to recover title to the disputed land: (1) that the plaintiff was the owner of the land, and (2) that the defendant illegally dispossessed the plaintiff of the property. Therefore, the defendant who acquired the property through mistake or fraud is bound to hold and reconvey to the plaintiff the property or title thereto. Section 101 of the Public Land Act categorically declares that only the solicitor general or the officer in his stead may institute an action (for reversion). A private person may not bring an action for reversion or any other action that would have the effect of cancelling a free patent and its derivative title, with the result that the land thereby covered would again form part of the public domain. Thus, when the plaintiff admits in the complaint that the disputed land will revert to the public domain even if the title is cancelled or amended, the action is for reversion; and the proper party who may bring action is the government, to which the property will revert. A mere homestead applicant, not being the real party in interest, has no cause of action in a suit for reconveyance. As it is, vested rights over the land applied for under a homestead may be validly claimed only by the applicant, after approval by the director of the Land Management Bureau of the formers final proof of homestead patent. (A)ssuming that (Katon) is the proper party to bring the action for annulment of title or
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its reconveyance, the case should still be dismissed for being time-barred. It is not disputed that a homestead patent and an Original Certificate of Title was issued to Palanca on February 21, 1977, while the Complaint was filed only on October 6, 1998. Clearly, the suit was brought way past ten years from the date of issuance of the Certificate, the prescriptive period for reconveyance of fraudulently registered real property. It must likewise be stressed that Palancas title-which attained the status of indefeasibility one year from the issuance of the patent and the Certificate of Title in February 1977-is no longer open to review on the ground of actual fraud. Ybanez v. Intermediate Appellate Court ruled that a certificate of title, issued under an administrative proceeding pursuant to a homestead patent, is as indefeasible as one issued under a judicial registration proceeding one year from its issuance; provided, however, that the land covered by it is disposable public land, as in this case. Heirs of Cerila Gamos v. Heirs of Juliana Frando, G.R. No. 149117, 16 December 2004, Third Division, Panganiban, J. The Philippine Constitution provides that all lands of the public domain are owned by the state. They are classified into agricultural, forest or timber, mineral lands and national parks. Alienable lands of the public domain shall be limited to agricultural lands. The origin of the foregoing provisions can be traced to the Roman law concept of dominium, the power of the state to own or acquire property Under this concept, which become the basis for the regalian theory predominant during the Spanish times, all lands belonged to the Spanish Crown. In our present republican form of government, the concept remains, albeit stripped of its colonial overtones Now ownership of all lands of the public domain is vested in the State. As in ordinary ownership, dominium embraces the capacity to alienate the property owned. The constitutional limitation on the states power to alienate agricultural lands of the public domain is intended to prevent monopoly and foreign control of our natural resources, as well as to enable the government to control the exploitation, development and utilization thereof for the benefit of all. Private person gain title to agricultural lands of the public domain by virtue of a grant, adverse possession (prescription), accretion and -in certain cases - reclamation. One who seeks to register ones title has the burden of proving that it has been acquired through any of the foregoing modes, by virtue of which the land has effectively been segregated from the public domain.. Disposal of public agricultural land through a sales patent, as in the instant case, is governed by Commonwealth Act No.141, the Public Land Act. Under this law, as sales patent
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may be granted to a Filipino citizen who may or may not be of lawful age, provide that one who is below the age of majority is the head of the family. The law provides that after winning the bid and paying the price, the applicant must comply with the necessary requirements specifically the cultivation, occupation and introduction of improvement over at least one fifth of the land applied for. After the applicant meets the legal requirement .the director of lands then orders the survey of the land and the issuance of the sales patent in the applicants favor. Section 107 of Commonwealth Act 141 further requires the registration of the patent under the Land Registration Act by furnishing the registration of deeds a certified copy thereof, after which the corresponding certificate of title would accordingly be issued to the patentee. Given the full payment of the purchase price as well as the compliance with all the requirements for the grant for a sales patent the Bureau had no reason to deny the issuance of such patent to Frando. Her compliance with all requirements effectively vested in her and her successors-in-interest an equitable title to the property applied for. Thus, when the cadastral survey was subsequently conduct in Sta. Magdalena in 1958. the disputed property - already held in private ownership - was no longer part of the public domain. The director of lands had no move authority to grant to a third person a patent covering the same tract that had already passed to private ownership. Thus, the issuance of the free patent to Cerila Gamos, insofar as it encroached the portion already granted to Frado, had no legal basis at all, The denial of the sales patent notwithstanding, Juliana Frando is deemed to have acquired equitable title to the property, because (her heirs) adequately proved during trial her open, continuous, and notorious possession and occupation of alienable and disposable land of the public domain.. In line with Susi v. Razon ( 48 Phil. 424[ 1925] ), possession of a parcel of agricultural land of the public domain for the prescribed period of the 30 year ipso jure coverts the lot into private property. Clearly, the mere application for a patent, coupled with the fact of exclusive, open, continuous and notorious possession for the required period is sufficient to vest in the applicant the grant for. In sum, the application by Juliana Frado for the sales patent, coupled with her open, exclusive, uninterrupted and notorious possession of the land applied for is, for all purposes, equivalent to a patent already perfected and granted . The subsequent entry of (the heirs of Cerila Gamos) and their occupation of the property in question was in bad faith, given the prior possession thereof by (the heirs of Juliana Frando).

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Heirs of Maximo Sanjorjo v. Heirs of Manuel Y. Quijano G.R. No.140457, 19 January 2005 Second Division, Callejo, Sr., J. An aggrieved party may still file an action for reconveyance based on implied or constructive trust, which prescribes in ten years from the date of the issuance of the certificate of title over the property provided that the property has not been acquired by an innocent purchaser of value. Thus The basic rule is that after the lapse of one year, a decree of registration is no longer to open to view or attack although its issuance is attended with actual fraud. This does not mean, however, that the aggrieved party is without a remedy at law. If the property has not yet passed to an innocent purchaser of value, an action for reconveyance is still available. The decree becomes incontrovertible and can no longer reviewed after one year from the date of the decree so that the only remedy of the landowner whose property wrongfully or erroneously registered in anothers name is to bring an ordinary action in court for reconveyance, which is an action in personam and is always available as long as the property has not passed to an innocent third party for value. If the property has passed into the hands of an innocent purchaser of value, the remedy is an action for damages. An action for reconveyance is one that seeks to transfer property, wrongfully registered by another, to its rightful and legal owner. All that must alleged in the compliant are two facts which, admitting them to be true, would entitle the plaintiff to recover title to the disputed land, namely, (1) that the plaintiff was the owner of the land, and (2) that the defendant had illegally dispossessed him of the same time. Article 1456 of the New Civil Code provides that a person acquiring property through fraud becomes by operation of the law a trustee of an implied trust for the benefit of the real owner of the property. The presence of fraud in this case created an implied trust in favor of the (real owners), giving them the right to seek reconveyance of the property from the (person acquiring the property through fraud). Usero v. Court of Appeals G.R. No. 152115, 26 January 2005 Third Division, Corona, J Property is either of public dominion or of private ownership. Concomitantly, Article 420 of the Civil Code provides: ART. 420. The following things are property of public dominion: (1) Those intended for public use, such as roads, canals, rivers, torrents, port and bridges constructed by the state, banks, shores, roadsteads, and other of similar character; The phrase others of similar character includes a creek which is a recess or an arm of river. It is property belonging to the public domain which is not susceptible to private ownership. Being public water, a creek cannot be registered under the Torrens System in the name of any
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individual. Lim v. Chuatoco G.R. No. 161881, 11 March 2005 Second Division, Tinga, J. Consistently, this court has ruled that every person dealing with registered land may safely rely on the correctness of the certificate of title issued therefore and the law will in no way oblige him to go beyond the certificate to determine the condition of the property. A person is charged with notice only of such burden and claims as are annotated on the title. Thus, where there nothing in the certificate of title to indicate any cloud or vice in the ownership of the property, or any encumbrance thereon, the purchaser is not require to explore further than what the torrens title upon its face indicates in quest for any hidden defects or inchoate right that may subsequently defeat his right thereto. The general rule remains that the purchaser is not obligated to look beyond the title. This long entrenched rule cannot be dispensed with by the occasion of a mere shadow of a doubt. It may be gainsaid that there is nothing unusually suspicious with the mere fact that a deed of transfer or conveyance over titled property is registered three years after the execution of the deed. In fact, there is nothing in our land registration law that requires the registration or encoding of such deeds within a definite prescribed period of time. The only legal effect of such non-registration is that implied under Section 51 of the Property Registration Decree, which provides that the act of registration becomes the operative act to convey or effect the land insofar as third persons are concerned, though prior to registration, it operates as a contract between the parties and as evidence of authority to the Register of Deeds to make registration. Thus, the mere fact that the deed of sale was recorded with the Register of Deeds only three years after its date of execution did not, in itself, impugn the validity of the instrument. Evangelista et al v. Santiago G.R. No. 157447, 29 April 2005 Second Division, ChicoNazario, J. An ordinary civil action for declaration of nullity of free patents and certificates of the title is not the same as an action for reversion. The difference between lies in the allegations as to the character of ownership of the realty whose title is sought to be nullified. In an action of reversion, the pertinent allegations in the complaint would admit State ownership of the disputed land. Hence, in Gabila v. Barriga [41 SCRA 131], where the plaintiff in his complaint admits that he has no right to demand the cancellation pr amendment of the defendants title because even if the title were canceled or amended the ownership of the land embraced therein or of the portion affected by the amendment would revert to the public domain, we ruled that the action was for reversion and that the person or entity entitled to relief would be the director of the land. On the other hand, a cause of action for declaration of nullity of free patent and
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certificate of the title would require allegations of the plaintiffs ownership of the contested lot prior of the issuance of such free patent and certificate of title, as well as the defendants fraud or mistakes, as the case may be, in successfully obtaining these documents of title over the parcel of land claimed by plaintiff. In such a case, the nullity arises strictly not from the fraud or deceit but from the fact that the land is beyond the jurisdiction of the Bureau of Lands to bestow and whatever patent or certificate of title obtained therefore is consequently void ab initio. The realparty-interest is not the state but the plaintiff who alleges a pre-existing right of ownership over the parcel of land in question even before the grant of title to the defendant. Registration proceedings under the Torrens systems do not create or vest title, but only confirm and record the title already created and vested. By virtue of P.D. No. 892, the courts, in registration proceedings under the Torrens system, are precluded from accepting, confirming and recording a Spanish title. Reason therefore dictates that courts, likewise, are prevented and indirectly confirming such Spanish title in some other form of action brought before them (i.e., removal of cloud on or quieting of title), only short of ordering its recording or registration. To rule otherwise would open the doors to the circumvention of P.D. No. 892, and give rise to the existence of land titles, recognized and affirmed by the courts, but would never be recorded under the Torrens system of registration. This would definitely undermine the Torrens system and cause confusion and instability in property ownership that P.D. No. 892 intended to eliminate. Article 476 of the Civil Code, on a removal of a cloud on or quieting of title, provides that, whenever there is a cloud on title to real property or any interest therein, by reason of any instrument, record, claim, encumbrance or proceedings which is apparently valid or effective but is in truth and in fact invalid, ineffective, voidable, or unenforceable, and may be prejudicial to said title, an action may be brought to remove such cloud or quiet the title. An action may also be brought to prevent a cloud from being cast upon title to real property or any interest therein. A cloud on title is an outstanding instrument, record, claim, encumbrance or proceedings which is actually invalid or inoperative, but which may nevertheless impair or affect injuriously the title to property. The matter complained of must have prima facie appearance of validity or legal efficacy. The cloud on title is a semblance of title which appears in some legal form but which is in fact unfounded. The invalidity or inoperativeness of the instrument is not apparent on the face of such instrument, and it has to be proved by extrinsic evidence. According to Article 477 of the Civil Code, the plaintiff, in an action to remove a cloud on or to quiet title, must have legal or equitable title to, or interest in, the real property which is the subject matter of the action. Title to real property refers to that upon which ownership is based. It is the evidence of the right of the owner or the extent of his interest, by which means he can maintain control and,
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as a rule, assert right to exclusive possession and enjoyment of the property. Aznar Brothers Realty Company v. Aying G.R. No. 144773, 16 May 2005 Second Division, Austria-Martinez, J. (The heirs) alleged in their amended complaint that not all the co-owners of the land in question signed or executed the document conveying ownership thereof to (the realty company) and made the conclusion that said document is null and void. We agree with the ruling of the RTC and the CA that the extra-judicial partition of Real Estate with Deed of Absolute Sale is valid and binding only as to their who participated in the execution thereof, hence, the heirs of Emiliano, Simeon and Roberta Aying, who undisputedly did not participate therein cannot be bound by said documents. However, the facts on record show that (the realty company) acquired the entire parcel of land with the mistaken belief that all the heirs have executed the subject document. Thus, the trial court is correct that the provision of law applicable to this case is Article 1456 of the Civil Code which states: ART. 1456. If property is required through mistake or fraud, the person obtaining it is, by force of law, considered a trustee of an implied trust for the benefit of the person from whom the property comes. In Vda. De Esconde vs. Court of Appeals (253 SCRA 66 [1996]), the court expounded thus: Construing this provision of the Civil Code, in Philippine National Bank v. Court of Appeals, the court stated: A deeper analysis of Article 1456 reveals that it is not a trust in the technical sense for typical trust, confidence is reposed in one person who is named a trustee for the benefit of another who is called the cestui que trust, respecting property which is held by the trustee for the benefit of the cestui que trust. A constructive trust, unlike an express trust, does not emanate from, or generate a fiduciary relation. While in express trust, a beneficiary and a trustee are linked by the confidential or fiduciary relations, in a constructive trust, there is neither a promise nor any fiduciary relation to speak of and the so-called trustee neither accepts any trust nor intends holding the property for the beneficiary. The concept of constructive trusts was further elucidated in the same case, as follows: (I)mplied trusts are those which, without being expressed, are deducible from the nature of the transaction as matters as intent or which are superinduced on the transaction by operation of law as matters of equity, independently of the particular intention of the parties. In turn, implied trusts are either resulting or constructive trusts. These two are
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differentiated from each other as follows: Resulting trusts are based on the equitable doctrine that valuable consideration and not legal title determines the equitable title or interest and are not presumed always to have been contemplated by the parties. They arise from the nature of circumstances of the consideration involved in a transaction whereby one person thereby becomes invested with legal title but is obligated in equity to hold his legal title for the benefit of another. On the other hand, constructive trusts are created by the construction of equity in order to satisfy the demands of justice and prevent unjust enrichment. They arise contrary to intention against one who, by fraud, duress or abuse of confidence, obtains or hold the legal rights to property which he ought not, in equity and good conscience, to hold. Based on such concept of constructive trusts, the court ruled in said case that: The rule that a trustee cannot acquire by prescription ownership over property entrusted to him until and unless he repudiates the trust, applies to express trusts and resulting implied trusts. However, in constructive implied trusts, prescription may supervene even if the trustee does not repudiate the relationship. Necessarily, repudiation of said trust is not a condition precedent to the running of the prescriptive period. The next question is, what is the applicable prescriptive period? In Amerol v. Bagumbaran (154 SCRA 396 [1987]), the court expounded on the prescriptive period within which to bring an action for reconveyance of property based on implied or constructive trust, to wit: (U)nder the present Civil Code, we find that just as an implied or constructive trust is an offspring of the law (Art. 1456, Civil Code), so is the corresponding obligation to reconvey the property and the title thereto in favor of the true owner. In this context, and vis--vis prescription, Article 1144 of the Civil Code is applicable. Article 1144 the following actions must be brought within ten years form the time the right of action accrues: (1) Upon a written contract; (2) Upon an obligation created by law; (3) Upon a judgment An action for reconveyance based on an implied or constructive trust must perforce prescribed in ten years and not otherwise. A long line of decision of this court, and of very recent vintage at that, illustrate this rule. Undoubtedly, it is now well-settled that an action for reconveyance based on an implied or constructive trust prescribed in ten years from the issuance of the Torrens title over the property. It also had been ruled that the ten-year prescriptive period begins to run from the date of
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registration of the deed or the date of the issuance of the certificate of title over the property, but if the person claiming to be the owner thereof is an actual possession of the property, the right to seek reconveyance, which in effect seeks to quiet title to the property, does not prescribe. Sps. Hutchison v. Buscas G.R. No. 158554, 26 May 2005 Second Division, Puno, J. In civil cases, the law requires that the party who alleges a fact and substantially asserts of the affirmative of the issue has the burden of proving it. This evidentiary rule is based on the principle that the suitor who relies upon the existence of the fact should be called upon to prove it. Article 434 of the New Civil Code provides that to successfully maintain an action to recover the ownership of a real property, a person who claims a better right to it must prove two (2) things: first, the identity of the land claimed, and; second, his title thereto. In the case at bar, we find that (the claimant) failed to establish these two (2) legal requirements. The first requisite: the identity of the land. In an accion reinvindicatoria, the person who claims that he has a better right to the property must first fix the identity of the land he is claiming by describing the location, area and boundaries thereof. Anent the second requisite, i.e., the claimants title over the disputed area, the rule is that a party can claim a right of ownership only over the parcel of the land that was the object of the deed. (The claimant) sought to prove these legal requisites by anchoring his claim on the Quitclaim Deed over a portion of land which was executed by Arrastia in his favor. However, a cursory reading of the Quitclaim Deed shows that the subject land was described, thus: (A) portion of that property situated at San Juan, Lubao, Pampanga which portion subject of this sale consists of 7,581 square meters more or less, as indicated particularly in the herein attached plan as annex A and made an integral part hereof, and the subject property with an X sign. Thus, the Quitclaim Deed specified only the extent of the area sold, i.e., 7,581 sq.m. of Arrastias land. Annex A of the Deed, where the entire lot of Arrastia was particularly described and where the specific portion of the property sold to (the claimant) was marked, was not presented by (the said claimant) at the trial. As the Deed itself failed to mention the metes and bounds of the land subject of the sale, it cannot be successfully used by (the claimant) to identify the area he was claiming and prove his ownership thereof. Indeed, the presentation of the Annex A is essential as what defines a piece of land is not the sized mention in the instrument but the boundaries thereof which enclose the land and indicate its exact limits. Domalsin v. Spouses Valenciano, G.R. No. 158687, 27 January 2006.

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At the outset, it must be made clear that the property subject of this case is a portion of the road-right-of way of Kennon Road which is located in front of a parcel of land that (Domalsin) bought by way of Deed of Waiver and Quitclaim from Castillo Binay-an. The admission of (Domalsin) in his Amended Complaint that (the Spouses Valenciano) started constructing a building within the Kennon Road road-right-of-way belies his claim that the lot in question is his. In light of this exposition, it is clear that neither (Domalsin) nor the (Spouses Valenciano) can own nor possess the subject property the same being part of the public dominion Civil Code of the Philippines, Article 420. Properties of public dominion are owned by the general public. Public use is use that is not confined to privileged individuals, but is open to the indefinite public. As the land in controversy is a portion of Kennon Road which is for the use of the people, there can be no dispute that same is part of public dominion. This being the case, the parties cannot appropriate the land for themselves. Thus, they cannot claim any right of possession over it Civil Code of the Philippines, Article 530. The fact that the parties do not and cannot own the property under litigation does not mean that the issue to be resolved is no longer priority of possession. The determining factor for one to be entitled to possession will be prior physical possession and not actual physical possession. Since title is never in issue in a forcible entry case, the Court of Appeals should have based its decision on who had prior physical possession. The main thing to be proven in an action for forcible entry is prior possession and that same was lost through force, intimidation, threat, strategy and stealth, so that it behooves the court to restore possession regardless of title or ownership. Inasmuch as prior physical possession must be respected, the Court of Appeals should have ruled squarely on the issue of abandonment because it gave precedence to the actual present possession of (the Spouses Valenciano). If, indeed, there was abandonment of the land under consideration by (Domalsin), only then should (the Spouses Valenciano) be given the possession of the same since abandonment is one way by which a possessor may lose his possession. Abandonment of a thing is the voluntary renunciation of all rights which a person may have in a thing, with the intent to lose such thing. A thing is considered abandoned and possession thereof lost if the spes recuperandi (the hope of recovery) is gone and the animus revertendi (the intention of returning) is finally given up. Fil-Estate Management, Inc. v. Trono, G.R. No. 130871, 17 February 2006.

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It is well settled that a Torrens title cannot be collaterally attacked; the issue on the validity of title, i.e., whether or not it was fraudulently issued, can only be raised in an action expressly instituted for the purpose It has been invariably stated that the real purpose of the Torrens System is to quiet title to land and to stop forever any question as to its legality. Once a title is registered, the owner may rest secure, without the necessity of waiting in the portals of the court, or sitting on the mirador su casa to avoid the possibility of losing his land A decree of registration that has become final shall be deemed conclusive not only on the questions actually contested and determined, but also upon all matters that might be litigated or decided in the land registration proceedings. Naval vs. Court of Appeals, G.R. No. 167412, 22 February 2006. It is not disputed that the subject land belonged to Ildefonso and that it was not registered under the Torrens System when it was sold to Gregorio in 1969 and to (Naval) in 1972. Further, the deed of sale between Ildefonso and Gregorio was registered with the Register of Deeds of Camarines Sur pursuant to Act No. 3344, as shown by Inscription No. 54609 dated December 3, 1969, Page 119, Volume 186, File No. 55409 at the back thereof While we agree with the appellate court that (Camalla et al) have superior right over (Naval) on the subject property, we find Article 1544 inapplicable to the case at bar since the subject land was unregistered at the time of the first sale. The registration contemplated under this provision has been held to refer to registration under the Torrens System, which considers the act of registration as the operative act that binds the land. Thus, in Carumba v. Court of Appeals, we held that Article 1544 of the Civil Code has no application to land not registered under Torrens System. The law applicable therefore is Act No. 3344, which provides for the registration of all instruments on land neither covered by the Spanish Mortgage Law nor the Torrens System. Under this law, registration by the first buyer is constructive notice to the second buyer that can defeat his right as such buyer in good faith. Applying the law, we held in Bautista v. Fule, that the registration of an instrument involving unregistered land in the Registry of Deeds creates constructive notice and binds third person who may subsequently deal with the same property Even if (Naval) argues that she purchased and registered the subject land in good faith and without knowledge of any adverse claim thereto, (Camalla et al) still have superior right over the disputed property

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It is an established principle that no one can give what one does not have, nemo dat quod non habet. Accordingly, one can sell only what one owns or is authorized to sell, and the buyer can acquire no more than what the seller can transfer legally. In the case at bar, since Ildefonso no longer owned the subject land at the time of the sale to (Naval), he had nothing to sell and the latter did not acquire any right to it. Even if we apply Article 1544, the facts would nonetheless show that (Camalla et al) and their predecessors-in-interest registered first the source of their ownership and possession, i.e., the 1969 deed of sale, and possessed the subject land at the earliest time. Applying the doctrine of priority in time, priority in rights or prius tempore, potior jure, (Camalla et al) are entitled to the ownership and possession of the subject land. True, a certificate of title, once registered, should not thereafter be impugned, altered, changed, modified, enlarged or diminished except in a direct proceeding permitted by law. Moreover, Section 32 of Presidential Decree No. 1529 provides that [u]pon the expiration of said period of one year, the decree of registration and the certificate of title shall become incontrovertible. However, it does not deprive an aggrieved party of a remedy in law. What cannot be collaterally attacked is the certificate of title and not the title or ownership which is represented by such certificate. Ownership is different from a certificate of title. The fact that (Naval) was able to secure a title in her name did not operate to vest ownership upon her of the subject land. Registration of a piece of land under the Torrens System does not create or vest title, because it is not a mode of acquiring ownership. A certificate of title is merely an evidence of ownership or title over the particular property described therein. It cannot be used to protect a usurper from the true owner; nor can it be used as a shield for the commission of fraud; neither does it permit one to enrich himself at the expense of others. Its issuance in favor of a particular person does not foreclose the possibility that the real property may be co-owned with persons not named in the certificate, or that it may be held in trust for another person by the registered owner. As correctly held by the Court of Appeals, notwithstanding the indefeasibility of the Torrens title, the registered owner may still be compelled to reconvey the registered property to its true owners. The rationale for the rule is that reconveyance does not set aside or re-subject to review the findings of fact of the Bureau of Lands. In an action for reconveyance, the decree of registration is respected as incontrovertible. What is sought instead is the transfer of the property or its title which has been wrongfully or erroneously registered in another persons name, to its rightful or legal owner, or to the one with a better right. Finally, the Court of Appeals correctly held that an action for reconveyance does not prescribe when the plaintiff is in possession of the land to be reconveyed, as in this case. Government vs. Aballe, et al, G.R. No. 147212, 24 March 2006.
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R.A. No. 26 provides for the procedure and requirements in the reconstitution of lost or destroyed Torrens Certificates of Title. Section 10, in relation to Section 9, of R.A. No. 26 specifically lays down the requirements for sources enumerated in Sections 2(a), 2(b), 3(a), 3(b), and 4(a) of R.A. No. 26; on the other hand, Sections 12 and 13 of R.A. No. 26 provide for the requirements for sources enumerated in Sections 2(c), 2(d), 2(e), 2(f), 3(c), 3(d), 3(e), and 3(f) of R.A. No. 26. The reconstitution proceedings before the RTC was based on Decree No. 199154 issued on December 11, 1925 from which Original Certificate of Title No. 0-10046 was issued on January 25, 1926; hence, it falls under Section 2(d) of R.A. No. 26, or reconstitution from an authenticated copy of the decree of registration, pursuant to which the original title was issued. The applicable provisions, therefore, are Sections 12 and 13 of R.A. No. 26 Under the foregoing provisions, it was incumbent upon Wee to prove compliance with the following jurisdictional requirements: 1. [That] the notice of the petition must be published, at the expense of the petitioner, twice in successive issues of the Official Gazette, and posted on the main entrance of the provincial building and of the municipal building of the municipality or city in which the land is situated, at least thirty days prior to the date of hearing; 2. [That] the notice state among other things, the number of the lost or destroyed certificates of title if known, the name of the registered owner, the name of the occupants or persons in possession of the property, the owner of the adjoining properties and all other interested parties, the location, area and boundaries of the property, and the date on which all persons having any interest therein must appear and file their claim of objection to the petition; 3. [That] a copy of the notice also be sent, by registered mail or otherwise, at the expense of the petitioner, to every person named therein (i.e. the occupants or persons in possession of the property, the owner of the adjoining properties and all other interested parties) whose address is known at least thirty days prior to the date of the hearing; and 4. [That] at the hearing, petitioner submits proof of publication, posting and service of the notice as directed by the court Jurisprudence dictates that these requirements must be complied with before the court can act on the petition and grant the reconstitution of title prayed for. Specifically, the requirement of actual notice to the occupants and the owners of the adjoining property is itself mandatory to vest jurisdiction upon the court in a petition for reconstitution of title, and essential in order to allow said court to take the case on its merits. The non-observance of the requirement invalidates the whole reconstitution proceedings in the trial court

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When service of notice is an issue, the rule is that the person alleging that the notice was served must prove the fact of service. The burden of proving notice rests upon the party asserting its existence. In civil cases, service made through registered mail is proved by the registry receipt issued by the mailing office and an affidavit of the person mailing. Absent one or the other, or worse both, there is no proof of service Substantial compliance with the jurisdictional requirements laid down in Sections 12 and 13 of R.A. No. 26 is not enough; the trial courts acquisition of jurisdiction over the reconstitution case is hinged on a strict compliance with the requirements of the law. It must be stressed that the purposes of the stringent and mandatory character of the legal requirements of publication, posting and mailing are to safeguard against spurious and unfounded land ownership claims, to apprise all interested parties of the existence of such action, and to give them enough time to intervene in the proceeding. Where the authority to proceed is conferred by a statute and the manner of obtaining jurisdiction is mandatory, the same must be strictly complied with, or the proceedings will be utterly void. As such, the court upon which the petition for reconstitution of title is filed is dutybound to examine thoroughly the petition for reconstitution of title and review the record and the legal provisions laying down the germane jurisdictional requirements.
Rumarate

v. Hernandez, G.R. No. 168222, 18 April 2006, First Division, Ynares-Santiago,

J. The issue to be resolved is to whom should Lot No. 379 be awarded? To (Rumarate) who possessed and cultivated the lot since 1929 up to the present, but do not have a certificate of title over the property, or to (Hernandez) who have a certificate of title but are not in possession of the controverted lot? In an action for quieting of title, the court is tasked to determine the respective rights of the parties so that the complainant and those claiming under him may be forever free from any danger of hostile claim. Under Article 476 of the Civil Code, the remedy may be availed of only when, by reason of any instrument, record, claim, encumbrance or proceeding, which appears valid but is, in fact, invalid, ineffective, voidable or unenforceable, a cloud is thereby cast on the complainants title to real property or any interest therein. Article 477 of the same Code states that the plaintiff must have legal or equitable title to, or interest in the real property which is the subject matter of the suit. For an action to quiet title to prosper, two indispensable requisites must concur, namely: (1) the plaintiff or complainant has a legal or an equitable title to or interest in the real property subject of the action; and (2) the deed, claim, encumbrance or proceeding claimed to be casting cloud on his title must be shown to be in fact invalid or inoperative despite its prima facie appearance of validity or legal efficacy.
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In Evangelista v. Santiago (457 SCRA 744, 766 [2005]), it was held that title to real property refers to that upon which ownership is based. It is the evidence of the right of the owner or the extent of his interest, by which means he can maintain control and, as a rule, assert a right to exclusive possession and enjoyment of the property. In the instant case, we find that Teodulos open, continuous, exclusive, notorious possession and occupation of Lot No. 379, in the concept of an owner for more than 30 years vested him and his heirs title over the said lot. The law applicable at the time Teodulo completed his 30-year possession (from 1929 to 1959) of Lot No. 379, in the concept of an owner was Sec. 48(b) of Commonwealth Act No. 141 or the Public Land Act, as amended by Republic Act (RA) No. 1942, effective June 22, 1957... When the conditions specified therein are complied with, the possessor is deemed to have acquired, by operation of law, a right to a government grant, without necessity of a certificate of title being issued, and the land ceases to be part of the public domain. The confirmation proceedings would, in truth be little more than a formality, at the most limited to ascertaining whether the possession claimed is of the required character and length of time; and registration thereunder would not confer title, but simply recognize a title already vested. The proceedings would not originally convert the land from public to private land, but only confirm such conversion already effected by operation of law from the moment the required period of possession became complete... A careful examination of the evidence on record shows that Teodulo possessed and occupied Lot No. 379 in the concept of an owner. Since 1929, Teodulo cultivated the controverted land, built his home, and raised his 11 children thereon. In 1957, he filed a homestead application over Lot No. 379 but failed to pursue the same. After his demise, all his 11 children, the youngest being 28 years old, continued to till the land. From 1929 to 1960, Santiago never challenged Teodulos possession of Lot No. 379 nor demanded or received the produce of said land. For 31 years Santiago never exercised any act of ownership over Lot No. 379. And, in 1960, he confirmed that he is no longer interested in asserting any right over the land by executing in favor of Teodulo a quitclaim. Indeed, all these prove that Teodulo possessed and cultivated the land as owner thereof since 1929. While the oral donation in 1929 as well as the 1960 quitclaim ceding Lot No. 379 to Teodulo are void for non-compliance with the formalities of donation, they nevertheless explain Teodulo and his familys long years of occupation and cultivation of said lot and the nature of their possession thereof... It follows therefore that Teodulos open, continuous, exclusive, and notorious possession and occupation of Lot No. 379 for 30 years, or from 1929 to 1959 in the concept of an owner, earned him title over the lot in accordance with Sec. 48 (b) of the Public Land Act. Considering that Lot No. 379 became the private property of Teodulo in 1959, Santiago had no
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more right to sell the same to spouses Cipriano Hernandez and Julia Zoleta in 1964. Consequently, the latter and herein (Hernandez) did not acquire ownership over Lot No. 379 and the titles issued in their name are void... In the instant case, Santiagos short-lived possession and cultivation of Lot No. 379 could not vest him title. While he tilled the land in 1925, he ceased to possess and cultivate the same since 1928. He abandoned the property and allowed Teodulo to exercise all acts of ownership. His brief possession of Lot No. 379 could not thus vest him title. Nemo potest plus juris ad alium transferre quam ipse habet. No one can transfer a greater right to another than he himself has. Hence, spouses Cipriano Hernandez and Julia Zoleta and herein (Hernandez) did not acquire any right over the questioned lot and the title issued in their names are void, because of the legal truism that the spring cannot rise higher than the source. Furthermore, spouses Cipriano Hernandez and Julia Zoleta cannot be considered as purchasers in good faith because they had knowledge of facts and circumstances that would impel a reasonably cautious man to make such inquiry. The Court notes that Santiago was not residing in Lot No. 379 at the time of the sale. He was already 81 years old, too old to cultivate and maintain an 18-hectare land. These circumstances should have prompted the spouses to further inquire who was actually tilling the land. Had they done so, they would have found that Teodulo and his family are the ones possessing and cultivating the land as owners thereof... On the issue of prescription, the settled rule is that an action for quieting of title is imprescriptible, as in the instant case, where the person seeking relief is in possession of the disputed property. A person in actual possession of a piece of land under claim of ownership may wait until his possession is disturbed or his title is attacked before taking steps to vindicate his right, and that his undisturbed possession gives him the continuing right to seek the aid of a court of equity to ascertain and determine the nature of the adverse claim of a third party and its effect on his title.[40] Considering that (Rumarate) herein continuously possessed Lot No. 379 since 1929 up to the present, their right to institute a suit to clear the cloud over their title cannot be barred by the statute of limitations. Neither could (Rumarate's) action be barred by laches because they continuously enjoyed the possession of the land and harvested the fruits thereof up to the present to the exclusion of and without any interference from (Hernandez). They cannot therefore be said to have slept on their rights as they in fact exercised the same by continuously possessing Lot No. 379. On the contrary, we find that it is (Hernandez) who are actually guilty of laches... The failure or neglect, for an unreasonable length of time to do that which by exercising due diligence could or should have been done earlier constitutes laches. It is negligence or omission to assert a right within a reasonable time, warranting a presumption that the party entitled to assert it has either abandoned it or declined to assert it. While it is by express provision of law that no title to registered land in derogation of that of the registered owner shall
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be acquired by prescription or adverse possession, it is likewise an enshrined rule that even a registered owner may be barred from recovering possession of property by virtue of laches. In applying the doctrine of laches, we have ruled that where a party allows the following number of years to lapse from the emergence of his cause of action without enforcing his claim, laches sets in: 36 years; 12 years; 50 years; 34 years; 37 years; 32 years; 20 years; 47 years; 11 years; 25 years; 40 years; 19 years; 27 years; 7 years; 44 years; 4 years; and 67 years. The elements of laches are: (1) conduct of a party on the basis of which the other party seeks a remedy; (2) delay in asserting ones rights, despite having had knowledge or notice of the other partys conduct and having been afforded an opportunity to institute a suit; (3) lack of knowledge or notice on the part of a party that the person against whom laches is imputed would assert the right; and (4) injury or prejudice to the party asserting laches in the event the suit is allowed to prosper. All these elements are present in this case. (Rumarate's) continuous possession and occupation of Lot No. 379 should have prompted (Hernandez) to file an action against (Rumarate), but they chose not to. (Hernandez) cannot deny knowledge of said possession by (Rumarate) as they even asserted in their Answer that in 1970, Teodulo ousted the tenant (Hernandez) instituted in the lot. From 1970 up to the filing of (Rumarate's) complaint in 1992, or after 22 years, (Hernandez) never bothered to assert any right over Lot No. 379... From all indications, the late spouses Cipriano Hernandez and Julia Zoleta as well (Hernandez), have neglected Lot No. 379. Were it not for this action instituted by (Rumarate) in 1992, their conflicting claims over the property could not have been settled. It goes without saying that to lose a property that has been in the family from 1929 up to the present, or for 77 years will certainly cause irreparable pecuniary and moral injury to (Rumarate), especially so if the same ancestral land will be lost under most unfair circumstances in favor of (Hernandez) who appear to have no real interest in cultivating the same. Finally, payment of taxes alone will not save the day for (Hernandez). Only a positive and categorical assertion of their supposed rights against (Rumarate) would rule out the application of laches. It means taking the offensive by instituting legal means to wrest possession of the property which, however, is absent in this case. (Hernandez's) payment of taxes alone, without possession could hardly be construed as an exercise of ownership. What stands out is their overwhelming passivity by allowing (Rumarate) to exercise acts of ownership and to enjoy the fruits of the litigated lot for 22 years without any interference. Pigao v. Rabanillo, G.R. No. 150712, 02 May 2006, Second Division, Corona, J. We agree that CA 141 was inapplicable. The proscription under CA 141 on re-sale
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within the five-year restricted period referred to free patents and homestead lands only. Here, the lot in dispute was neither homestead land nor one acquired through patent. It was owned by PHHC, a government corporation, under TCT No. 27287. It was not disputed that Eusebio and (Rabanillo) entered into a deed of assignment in 1959, long before PHHC executed a (final) deed of sale in favor of Eusebio in 1973. At that time, title to the lot was still in the name of PHHC. The deed of assignment itself explicitly stated that the property was owned by the PHHC. And when the (final) deed of sale was issued by PHHC in favor of Eusebio in 1973, this deed contained a prohibition against the alienation of the lot: '(2) Within a period of one year from the issuance of the Certificate of Title by virtue of this deed, no transfer or alienation whatsoever of the property subject hereof, in whole or in part, shall be made or registered without the written consent of the Vendor, and such transfer or alienation may be made only in favor of persons qualified to acquire residential lands under the laws of the Philippines'... (We) hold that the deed of assignment between Eusebio and (Rabanillo) is null and void for being contrary to public policy. Under PHHC rules, preference for the purchase of residential lots from the PHHC was accorded to bona fide occupants of such lots. This policy was supported by the PHHC charter given that one of the purposes of the PHHC was: 'to acquire, develop, improve, subdivide, lease and sell lands and construct, lease and sell buildings or any interest therein in the cities and populous towns in the Philippines with the object of providing decent housing for those who may be found unable otherwise to provide themselves therewith.' Eusebio, as a bona fide occupant of the subject lot, had a vested right to buy the property. This did not, however, give him the unbridled freedom to transfer his right to a third party, specially one who was unqualified to avail of it. Undoubtedly, the PHHC was clothed with authority to determine if a person was qualified to purchase a residential lot from it. The right to purchase was a personal right that the qualified applicant, as determined by PHHC, must personally exercise. As a personal right, it could not be transferred to just another person. Any transfer of rights, to be valid, must be in line with the policy of PHHC which was to provide decent housing for those who may be found unable otherwise to provide themselves therewith. Thus, any transfer of an applicants right to buy a lot was invalid if done without the consent of PHHC. The same policy was enunciated by the terms of the deed of sale. There is no showing that the PHHCs approval for the assignment of half of the lot to (Rabanillo) was ever obtained. Stated otherwise, there is no proof that (Rabanillo) would have been allowed to avail of the preferential rights exclusively granted to bona fide occupants of PHHC-owned lots like Eusebio. Thus, the assignment of rights by Eusebio to (Rabanillo), who was not a bona fide occupant of the lot, frustrated the public policy of the government. It should therefore be struck down as null and void... In Morales v. Court of Appeals (274 SCRA 282 [1997]), we extensively discussed the concept of trust:
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A trust is the legal relationship between one person having an equitable ownership in property and another person owning the legal title to such property, the equitable ownership of the former entitling him to the performance of certain duties and the exercise of certain powers by the latter... Trusts are either express or implied. Express trusts are created by the intention of the trustor or of the parties, while implied trusts come into being by operation of law, either through implication of an intention to create a trust as a matter of law or through the imposition of the trust irrespective of, and even contrary to, any such intention. In turn, implied trusts are either resulting or constructive trusts. Resulting trusts are based on the equitable doctrine that valuable consideration and not legal title determines the equitable title or interest and are presumed always to have been contemplated by the parties. They arise from the nature or circumstances of the consideration involved in a transaction whereby one person thereby becomes invested with legal title but is obligated in equity to hold his legal title for the benefit of another... A resulting trust is exemplified by Article 1448 of the Civil Code... The trust created under the first sentence of Article 1448 is sometimes referred to as a purchase money resulting trust. The trust is created in order to effectuate what the law presumes to have been the intention of the parties in the circumstances that the person to whom the land was conveyed holds it as trustee for the person who supplied the purchase money. To give rise to a purchase money resulting trust, it is essential that there be: 1. an actual payment of money, property or services, or an equivalent, constituting valuable consideration; 2. and such consideration must be furnished by the alleged beneficiary of a resulting trust... (An) exception to the establishment of an implied resulting trust under Article 1448 is when its enforcement contravenes public policy. We have already ruled that the transfer of rights by Eusebio to (Rabanillo) was null and void ab initio for being contrary to public policy. As we held in Ramos v. Court of Appeals (232 SCRA 348 [1994]): Otherwise stated, as an exception to the law on trusts, "[a] trust or a provision in the terms of a trust is invalid if the enforcement of the trust or provision would be against public policy, even though its performance does not involve the commission of a criminal or tortious act by the trustee." The parties must necessarily be subject to the same limitations on allowable stipulations in ordinary contracts, i.e., their stipulations must not be contrary to law, morals, good customs, public order, or public policy. What the parties then cannot expressly provide in their contracts for being contrary to law and public policy, they cannot impliedly or implicitly do so in the guise of a resulting trust. Admittedly, (Rabanillo) shouldered half of the amortizations which were received by Eusebios wife and paid to the PHHC for the purchase of the lot. He also paid for the realty taxes
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for the said portion. However, this was not an implied trust wherein (Eusebio) held the title over the front half portion in trust for (Rabanillo). Otherwise, it would again run against public policy. Republic v. Southside, G.R. No. 156951, 22 September 2006, Second Division, Garcia, J. The President, upon the recommendation of the Secretary of Environment and Natural Resources, may designate by proclamation any tract or tracts of land of the public domain as reservations for the use of the Republic or any of its branches, or for quasi-public uses or purposes. Such tract or tracts of land thus reserved shall be non-alienable and shall not be subject to sale or other disposition until again declared alienable. Consistent with the foregoing postulates, jurisprudence teaches that a military reservation, like the FBMR, or a part thereof is not open to private appropriation or disposition and, therefore, not registrable, unless it is in the meantime reclassified and declared as disposable and alienable public land. And until a given parcel of land is released from its classification as part of the military reservation zone and reclassified by law or by presidential proclamation as disposable and alienable, its status as part of a military reservation remains, even if incidentally it is devoted for a purpose other than as a military camp or for defense. So it must be here... The Court has, on the issue of inalienability, taken stock of the Compilation Map of Approved Surveys Plan inside Parcels 1, 2, 3 and 4, of plan Psu 2031 prepared in September 1995 and certified by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR). It indicates in colored ink the outlines of Parcels 2, 3 and 4 covered by Proclamation No. 423. As there also shown, the 399,992-square meter area embraced by SHAIs TCT No. 15084, defined in the legend by red-colored stripes, is within the violet-colored borders of Parcel No. 3 and Parcel No. 4 of Proclamation No. 423. Indubitably, the area covered by SHAIs TCT No. 15084 was and is still part of the FBMR, more particularly within the 15,912,684- square meter Parcel No. 3 of the reservation. The petitioner Republic, joined by the intervenors BCDA, DND and AFP in this appellate proceedings, has maintained all along this thesis. Towards discharging its burden of proving that the disputed property is part of the reservation, the petitioner Republic need only to demonstrate that all of the 15,912,684 square meters of Parcel No. 3 of Plan Psu 2031 have been reserved for military purposes. The evidence, however, of the fact of reservation is the law or, to be more precise, Proclamation No. 423 itself, the contents and issuance of which courts can and should take judicial notice of under Section 1, Rule 129 of the Rules of Court... Be that as it may, the burden of evidence to disprove inalienability or, to be precise, that said parcels of land had, for settlement purposes, effectively been withdrawn from the reservation or excluded from the coverage of Proclamation No. 423, devolves upon the private respondent. This is as it should be for the cogency of SHAIs claim respecting the validity of both the underlying deed of sale (Exh. A/1) and its TCT No. 15084 (Exh. B/2) rests on the postulate that what it purportedly bought from the LMB had ceased to be part of the reserved
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lands of the public domain. Elsewise put, SHAI must prove that the JUSMAG area had been withdrawn from the reservation and declared open for disposition, failing which it has no enforceable right over the area as against the State. Private respondent SHAI has definitely not met its burden by reason of lack of evidence. To be sure, it has not, because it cannot even if it wanted to, pointed to any presidential act specifically withdrawing the disputed parcels from the coverage of Proclamation No. 423... The Court can hypothetically concede, as a matter of fact, the withdrawal of the JUSMAG area from the ambit of Proclamation No. 423 and its reclassification as alienable and disposable lands of the public domain. Still, such hypothesis would not carry the day for private respondent SHAI. The reason therefor is basic: Article XII, Section 3 of the 1987 Constitution forbids private corporations from acquiring any kind of alienable land of the public domain, except through lease for a limited period. While Fr. Bernas had stated the observation that the reason for the ban is not very clear under existing jurisprudence, the fact remains that private corporations, like SHAI, are prohibited from purchasing or otherwise acquiring alienable public lands. Secretary of DENR v. Yap, G.R. No. 167707, 08 October 2008. After the passage of the 1935 Constitution, CA No. 141 amended Act No. 2874 on December 1, 1936. To this day, CA No. 141, as amended, remains as the existing general law governing the classification and disposition of lands of the public domain other than timber and mineral lands, and privately owned lands which reverted to the State. Section 48(b) of CA No. 141 retained the requirement under Act No. 2874 of possession and occupation of lands of the public domain since time immemorial or since July 26, 1894. However, this provision was superseded by Republic Act (RA) No. 1942, which provided for a simple thirty-year prescriptive period for judicial confirmation of imperfect title. The provision was last amended by PD No. 1073, which now provides for possession and occupation of the land applied for since June 12, 1945, or earlier... A positive act declaring land as alienable and disposable is required. In keeping with the presumption of State ownership, the Court has time and again emphasized that there must be a positive act of the government, such as an official proclamation, declassifying inalienable public land into disposable land for agricultural or other purposes. In fact, Section 8 of CA No. 141 limits alienable or disposable lands only to those lands which have been officially delimited and classified... Except for lands already covered by existing titles, Boracay was an unclassified land of the public domain prior to Proclamation No. 1064. Such unclassified lands are considered public forest under PD No. 705. The DENR and the National Mapping and Resource
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Information Authority certify that Boracay Island is an unclassified land of the public domain. PD No. 705 issued by President Marcos categorized all unclassified lands of the public domain as public forest. Section 3(a) of PD No. 705 defines a public forest as a mass of lands of the public domain which has not been the subject of the present system of classification for the determination of which lands are needed for forest purpose and which are not. Applying PD No. 705, all unclassified lands, including those in Boracay Island, are ipso facto considered public forests. PD No. 705, however, respects titles already existing prior to its effectivity. There is a big difference between forest as defined in a dictionary and forest or timber land as a classification of lands of the public domain as appearing in our statutes. One is descriptive of what appears on the land while the other is a legal status, a classification for legal purposes... Proclamation No. 1801 or PTA Circular No. 3-82 did not convert the whole of Boracay into an agricultural land. There is nothing in the law or the Circular which made Boracay Island an agricultural land. The reference in Circular No. 3-82 to private lands[117] and areas declared as alienable and disposable[118] does not by itself classify the entire island as agricultural. Notably, Circular No. 3-82 makes reference not only to private lands and areas but also to public forested lands... Clearly, the reference in the Circular to both private and public lands merely recognizes that the island can be classified by the Executive department pursuant to its powers under CA No. 141... Therefore, Proclamation No. 1801 cannot be deemed the positive act needed to classify Boracay Island as alienable and disposable land. If President Marcos intended to classify the island as alienable and disposable or forest, or both, he would have identified the specific limits of each, as President Arroyo did in Proclamation No. 1064. This was not done in Proclamation No. 1801. The Whereas clauses of Proclamation No. 1801 also explain the rationale behind the declaration of Boracay Island, together with other islands, caves and peninsulas in the Philippines, as a tourist zone and marine reserve to be administered by the PTA to ensure the concentrated efforts of the public and private sectors in the development of the areas tourism potential with due regard for ecological balance in the marine environment. Simply put, the proclamation is aimed at administering the islands for tourism and ecological purposes. It does not address the areas alienability. More importantly, Proclamation No. 1801 covers not only Boracay Island, but sixty-four (64) other islands, coves, and peninsulas in the Philippines, such as Fortune and Verde Islands in Batangas, Port Galera in Oriental Mindoro, Panglao and Balicasag Islands in Bohol, Coron Island, Puerto Princesa and surrounding areas in Palawan, Camiguin Island in Cagayan de Oro,
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and Misamis Oriental, to name a few. If the designation of Boracay Island as tourist zone makes it alienable and disposable by virtue of Proclamation No. 1801, all the other areas mentioned would likewise be declared wide open for private disposition. That could not have been, and is clearly beyond, the intent of the proclamation. It was Proclamation No. 1064 of 2006 which positively declared part of Boracay as alienable and opened the same to private ownership. Sections 6 and 7 of CA No. 141 provide that it is only the President, upon the recommendation of the proper department head, who has the authority to classify the lands of the public domain into alienable or disposable, timber and mineral lands. In issuing Proclamation No. 1064, President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo merely exercised the authority granted to her to classify lands of the public domain, presumably subject to existing vested rights. Classification of public lands is the exclusive prerogative of the Executive Department, through the Office of the President. Courts have no authority to do so. Absent such classification, the land remains unclassified until released and rendered open to disposition. Proclamation No. 1064 classifies Boracay into 400 hectares of reserved forest land and 628.96 hectares of agricultural land. The Proclamation likewise provides for a 15-meter buffer zone on each side of the center line of roads and trails, which are reserved for right of way and which shall form part of the area reserved for forest land protection purposes. Contrary to private claimants argument, there was nothing invalid or irregular, much less unconstitutional, about the classification of Boracay Island made by the President through Proclamation No. 1064. It was within her authority to make such classification, subject to existing vested rights... That Boracay Island was classified as a public forest under PD No. 705 did not bar the Executive from later converting it into agricultural land. Boracay Island still remained an unclassified land of the public domain despite PD No. 705. Philippine Copyright 2008. All rights reserved. Compiled by: Demosthenes B. Donato

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