Вы находитесь на странице: 1из 34

Land Titles and Deeds | SYLVER JAN BALUNO PRIOR

FLORES vs. BAGAOISAN G.R. No. 173365 | April 15, 2010 FACTS: Petitioners executed a Deed of Confirmation and Quitclaim in favor of Vicente T. Lazo. Petitioners agreed to sell, cede, convey, grant, and transfer by way of QUITCLAIM to Lazo. Respondent Marciano Bagaoisan, bought the subject property from Lazo. Respondent filed an action for ownership, quieting of title, partition and damages against petitioners, praying that he be declared as the true owner of the subject property and that the entire property covered by OCT No. P-11880 be partitioned among them. In the Complaint, respondent asserted that he was a tenant of Lazo and that he had been working on the subjec0t property since time immemorial. He said that, since he bought the property in 1977, he possessed the land as owner and paid real property tax thereon. He claimed that the subject property was erroneously covered by OCT No. P-11880 and that petitioners have previously recognized such fact, considering that they executed an affidavit acknowledging the erroneous inclusion of the property in their title. He averred that, lately, petitioners had denied his ownership of the land and asserted their ownership thereof by working and harvesting the crops thereon.[5] Petitioners stated that they did not relinquish ownership or possession of the land to Lazo. While admitting that they executed the Deed of Confirmation and Quitclaim in favor of Lazo, petitioners claimed that they were misled into signing the same, with Lazo taking advantage of their lack of education. Petitioners contended that it was too late for respondent to assert title to the disputed portion because the title covering the same had already become indefeasible one year after it was issued. RTC ruled in favor of respondent. CA affirmed.

ISSUE: Whether or not the Deed of Confirmation and Quitclaim is void and violates Sec. 118 of the Public Land Act (CA 141), which prohibits the alienation of lands through a homestead patent. RULING: YES Section 118 of the Public Land Act, which states: xxx Except in favor of the Government or any of its branches, units, or institutions, lands acquired under free patent or homestead provisions shall not be subject to encumbrance or alienation from the date of the approval of the application and for a term of five years from and after the date of issuance of the patent and grant xxx An OCT issued on the strength of a homestead patent partakes of the nature of a certificate issued in a judicial proceeding and becomes indefeasible and incontrovertible upon the expiration of one year from the date of the promulgation of the Director of Lands order for the issuance of the patent. Respondent did not allege in his complaint or prove during the trial that fraud attended the registration of the subject property in petitioners names. In fact, there was no allegation as to how petitioners were able to secure title to the property despite the alleged ownership of respondents predecessor. More importantly, respondent failed to prove that he has title to the subject property. The Public Land Act requires that the possessor or his predecessors-in-interest must be in open, continuous, exclusive, and notorious possession and occupation of the land for at least thirty years. It would be well to mention that the execution of the Deed of Confirmation and Quitclaim within the five-year prohibitory period also makes the homestead patent susceptible to cancellation, and the subject property being reverted to the public domain.

1|SMC College of Law

Land Titles and Deeds | SYLVER JAN BALUNO PRIOR

RAMOS-BALLALO vs. RAMOS G.R. No. 168464 | January 23, 2006 FACTS: Petitioner Zenaida and her brother Alexander (now deceased) are the children of spouses Susana Bueno and Abundio Ramos. The spouses started occupying Lot No. 204 in 1938. Abundio died in 1944. Susana met her second husband, respondent Eusebio Ramos in 1946, with whom she had five children, one of whom is respondent Rolando. In the interim, prior to 1958, Susana discovered that Felimon Domingo applied for a sales patent over the subject parcel of land which she opposed. The Bureau of Lands resolved the dispute. It was alleged that as Susana accompanied her husband Eusebio, a soldier, wherever he was assigned, Susanas father, George Bueno, and daughter, petitioner Zenaida continued the cultivation and possession of the subject land. Sometime later, Susana sold the land to petitioner who, in turn, partitioned it among herself, her brother, Alexander, and respondent Rolando and his siblings. The partition was not registered but Deeds of Sale were executed in favor of Rolando and Alexander. Petitioner thereafter mortgaged her share; however, it came to her knowledge that respondents Rolando and Eusebio had usurped her share and deprived the mortgagees of possession over the land. After settling the mortgage, petitioner filed a case for recovery of inheritance, possession and damages with a petition for preliminary mandatory injunction. RTC rendered a decision in favor of plaintiff Zeinada Ramos. The CA founf that neither Zenaida nor Alexander complied with the homestead application requirements in order to acquire superior vested right. Hence this petition. ISSUE:

Whether or not Zeinada, as an applicant for public land, may be considered as having any right to the land occupied. RULING: The petition is partly meritorious. A homestead patent is one of the modes to acquire title to public lands suitable for agricultural purposes. A careful examination of the records shows that petitioner has not satisfactorily established that a valid application for homestead patent was filed by her parents. The decision of the Bureau of Lands in 1958 only addressed Zenaidas familys right of preference over the land, in view of their possession and cultivation of the land. The purported sale between petitioner and her mother cannot be given effect, nor can it be a source of right for Zenaida, because Susana did not have the authority to sell what did not belong to her. For the same reason, neither Eusebio nor Rolando can claim any right whatsoever as heirs of Susana. We find that Zenaida has proven prior possession of the portion of land she claims as her share, which possession antedates the filing of the homestead application. Moreover, Zenaida presented tax declarations both in her name and that of her predecessor-in-interest (mother Susana Bueno) covering the property. Time and again, we have held that although tax declarations or realty tax payments of property are not conclusive evidence of ownership, nevertheless, they are good indicia of possession in the concept of owner.

2|SMC College of Law

Land Titles and Deeds | SYLVER JAN BALUNO PRIOR


the decision on Meralco v. Castro-Bartolome, stating that a possession is said to be prescriptively acquired by the operation of the Public Lands Act, upon conclusively presumed fulfillment of all the necessary conditions for a Government Grant. Thus, the land in question effectively ceased to be of the public domain and was therefore classified as private property at the moment of the sale through the continuous and unchallenged possession of the bona fide right to ownership from Meralcos predecessors-interest. There being no law prohibiting the sale of private lands to privately held corporations, the court thus overturned the decision. 2. HELD. Referring to the ruling in Meralco v. Castro-Bartolome, the land held by the Infiels since time immemorial was effectively deemed as private land, by the operation of the law, ipso jure. Thus, at the moment of the sale, ACME Plywood & Veneer Co., Inc., Etc. therefore, purchased private property. There being no ruling in the 1935 Constitution prohibiting this sale, this was held to be valid. 3. NO. Acme had already obtained vested rights under the 1935 Constitution when it purchased the land from the Infiels. The provision in the 1973 Constitution prohibiting the purchase of alienable public lands by private corporations or associations cannot be retroactively applied.

DIRECTOR OF LANDS vs. ACME PLYWOOD AND VENNER CORP & IAC NATURE OF THE CASE: The Director of Lands has brought this appeal by certiorari from a judgment of the Intermediate Appellate Court affirming a decision of the Court of First Instance of Isabela, which ordered registration in favor of Acme Plywood & Veneer Co., Inc. of five parcels of land measuring 481, 390 square meters, more or less, acquired by it from Mariano and Acer Infiel, members of the Dumagat tribe. FACTS: The Director of Lands appealed the judgement of the Intermediate Appellate Court which affirmed the decision of the Court of First Instance of Isabela ordering the registration in favor of Acme Plywood & Veneer Co., Inc. of five parcels of land measuring 481, 390 sqm., acquired from Mariano and Acer Infiel, members of the indigenous Dumagat Tribe and owners of the lots-in-question from time immemorial, on October 29, 1962. This was accordingly only registered on July 17, 1982 long after the aegis of the 1973 Constitution. ISSUES: 1. Whether or not the ruling in the case, Meralco v. CastroBartolome (114 SRC 799) should be overturned in light of jurisprudence. 2. Whether or not the conversion of the land in question is recognized. 3. Whether or not the provision barring private companies and associations from purchasing public alienable lands in 1973 Constitution is applicable retroactively. RULING: 1. HELD. In light of the jurisprudence traced from Carino v. Insular Govt, to Susi v. Razon, to Herico v. Dar, the court overturned

3|SMC College of Law

Land Titles and Deeds | SYLVER JAN BALUNO PRIOR


The Public Land Act requires applicants for confirmation of imperfect titles to prove (1) that the land is alienable public land; and (2) that their open, continuous, exclusive and notorious possession and occupation of the property has taken place either since time immemorial or for the period prescribed by law. When the legal conditions are complied with, the possessor of the land -- by operation of law -acquires a right to a government grant, without necessitating the issuance of a certificate of title. The Court finds that respondents failed to satisfy the above legal requirements. The segregation of land for a public purpose is governed by the Public Land Act. Under the said Act, only a positive act of the President is needed to segregate a piece of land for a public purpose. It must be noted that while Section 53 grants authority to the director of lands -through the solicitor general -- to file a petition against claimants of the reserved land, the filing of that petition is not mandatory. The director of lands is required to file a petition only whenever in the opinion of the President public interest requires it. The evidence on record merely established the transfer of the property from Calixto Bacas to Nazaria Bombeo. The evidence did not show the nature and the period of the alleged possession by Calixto and Rosendo Bacas. It is important that applicants for judicial confirmation of imperfect titles must present specific acts of ownership to substantiate their claims; they cannot simply offer general statements that are mere conclusions of law rather than factual evidence of possession.

REPUBLIC vs. ESTONILO G.R. No. 157306 | November 25, 2005 NATURE OF THE CASE: military. FACTS: This case originated from an application for registration of a parcel of land known as Lot No. 4318 of the cadastral survey of Cagayan de Oro consisting [of] an area of 357,866 square meters, filed by the original applicant, Nazaria Bombeo with the CFI. Bombeo claimed that said parcel of land was previously owned and possessed by a certain Rosendo Bacas since 1894 until it was sold to her by the heirs of Rosendo Bacas, represented by their attorney-in-fact and heir himself, Calistro Bacas The Provincial Fiscal filed its opposition thereto alleging that Lot 4318 is not a registrable land pursuant to PP No. 265, which declared Lot 4318 reserved for the use of the Philippine Army. Bombeo died and was substituted by her daughter Cipriana Actub Tiu who eventually died and was pursued anew by the latters daugters Anatalia Actub Tiu Estonilo and Andrea Actub Tiu Po. RTC ruled in favor of respondents. While pending appeal, PP No. 330 took effect excluding Lot No. 4318 from the operation of PP No. 26. CA affirmed the RTCs decision. ISSUE: Whether or not respondents have duly proven their title to the subject land and may thus register it under the Public Land Act. RULING: NO. The case is about property reserved for the

4|SMC College of Law

Land Titles and Deeds | SYLVER JAN BALUNO PRIOR


property was previously declared alienable and disposable lands of the public domain. RULING: REPUBLIC vs. ENCISO FACTS: The respondent averred, inter alia, that he acquired title to the said lot by virtue of an extrajudicial settlement of estate and quitclaim on March 15, 1999; the said property is not tenanted or occupied by any person other than the respondent and his family who are in actual physical possession of the same; and the respondent and his predecessors-in-interest have been in continuous, peaceful, open, notorious, uninterrupted and adverse possession of the land in the concept of an owner for not less than 30 years immediately preceding the filing of the application. Petitioner Republic of the Philippines, through the OSG, opposed the application. The trial court issued an Order of Default against all persons with the exception of the government. The respondent presented tax receipts to show that the property was declared for taxation purposes in his name. He also testified that he acquired the property by inheritance from his deceased father, Vicente Enciso, who died on May 18, 1991. He then immediately took possession of the property and constructed a house thereon in 1991. On March 15, 1999, he and his siblings executed an extrajudicial settlement of estate where the land was adjudicated in his favor. The respondent further narrated that the property was originally owned by the Municipality of Masinloc, Zambales. The trial court ruled in favor the respondents. The CA affirmed the decision of the trial court. ISSUE: Whether or not the CA erred on a question of law in granting respondents petition for registration sans any showing that the subject The petition is meritorious. While it is the rule that findings of fact of appellate courts are conclusive upon this Court, among the recognized exceptions is where the findings of fact are not supported by the record or are conspicuously erroneous as to constitute a serious abuse of discretion. This is the situation in this case. Section 14(1) of P.D. No. 1529, otherwise known as the Property Registration Decree, provides: SEC. 14. Who may apply. The following persons may file in the proper Court of First Instance an application for registration of title to land, whether personally or through their duly authorized representatives: (1) Those who by themselves or through their predecessors-in-interest have been in open, continuous, exclusive and notorious possession and occupation of alienable and disposable lands of the public domain under a bona fide claim of ownership since June 12, 1945, or earlier. Applicants for registration of title must therefore prove the following: (a) that the land forms part of the disposable and alienable lands of the public domain; and (b) that they have been in open, continuous, exclusive, and notorious possession and occupation of the same under a bona fide claim of ownership either since time immemorial, or since June 12, 1945. The evidence on record shows that a house was constructed on the subject property only in 1991. Evidently, the respondent failed to prove that (1) Lot No. 2278-A was classified as part of the disposable and alienable land of the public domain; and (2) he and his predecessors-in-interest have been in open, continuous, exclusive, and notorious possession and occupation thereof in the concept of owners since time immemorial, or from June 12, 1945.

5|SMC College of Law

Land Titles and Deeds | SYLVER JAN BALUNO PRIOR


The trial court granted the application. On appeal, the CA reversed and set aside the decision of the trial court. Hence, this petition. RULING: CARLOS vs. REPUBLIC FACTS: Petitioner Maria Carlos, represented by her daughter, Teresita Carlos Victoria, filed an application for registration and confirmation of title over a parcel of land with an area of 3,975 square meters located at Pusawan, Ususan, Taguig, Metro Manila. Petitioner alleged, among others, that she is the owner of said parcel of land which she openly, exclusively and notoriously possessed and occupied since July 12, 1945 or earlier under a bona fide claim of ownership; that there is no mortgage or encumbrance affecting said property, nor is it part of any military or naval reservation; that the property is being used for industrial purposes; and that there are no tenants or lessees on the property. Petitioner further claimed that she has been in possession of the subject land in the concept of an owner; that her possession has been peaceful, public, uninterrupted and continuous since 1948 or earlier; and tacking her possession with that of her predecessors-ininterest, petitioner has been in possession of the land for more than 50 years. The Republic of the Philippines, represented by the Director of Lands, filed an opposition to petitioners application. Petitioner later presented testimonial evidence consisting of the testimonies of her neighbors, Sergio Cruz and Daniel Castillo, and Teresita Carlos Victoria herself. Petitioner also presented in court the concerned officers of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) to establish that the land in question is alienable and disposable. We affirm the findings of the appellate court. Applicants for confirmation of imperfect title must prove the following: (a) that the land forms part of the disposable and alienable agricultural lands of the public domain; and (b) that they have been in open, continuous, exclusive, and notorious possession and occupation of the same under a bona fide claim of ownership either since time immemorial or since June 12, 1945. As found by the Court of Appeals, petitioner has met the first requirement but not the second. It is clear in the case at bar that the applicant, Maria Carlos, no longer had possession of the property at the time of the application for the issuance of a certificate of title. The application was filed in court on December 19, 2001. Teresita Carlos Victoria, the daughter of Maria Carlos, admitted during the hearing that her mother had sold the property to Ususan Development Corporation in 1996. They also presented as evidence the deed of absolute sale executed by and between Maria Carlos and Ususan Development Corporation on October 16, 1996.

6|SMC College of Law

Land Titles and Deeds | SYLVER JAN BALUNO PRIOR


3. That is no records in this office or any obstacle to the issuance of patent; and 4. That there is no adverse claim involving the land applied for still pending determination in this office. RTC ruled in favor of the respondents, CA affirmed the RTC ruling. Hence this petition. CALIMPONG vs. HEIRS OF FILOMEA GUMELA FACTS: By the claim of the Heirs of the Gumelas (the heirs), they hired an overseer in-charge of the cultivation of the lot. The heirs agreed to partition the estate of their predecessors-ininterest which includes the lot. They soon learned, however, that the lot was being occupied by Anecito Calimpong (Calimpong). It turned out that Calimpong filed in 1976 an application for Free Patent over the lot, which application he followed up with the Bureau of Lands when his possession was "disturbed" by the heirs. The heirs thus filed on July 27, 1993 before the Regional Trial Court of Dipolog City a complaint2 for quieting of title, damages, with prayer for preliminary injunction against Calimpong and his wife. In the meantime, Provincial Environment and Natural Resources Officer (PENRO) Hilarion L. Ramos approved Calimpongs Free Patent application, by Order3 of August 17, 1993, in light of the following findings: 1. That the land applied for has been classified as alienable and disposable 2. That the land applied for has been occupied and cultivated by the applicant himself and/or through his predecessor-in-interest, since July 4, 1945 or prior thereto; ISSUE: Whether or not the CA erred in not holding that they are the true and real owners of the land in question. RULING: NO. It is undisputed that the lot was judicially adjudicated and an order for the registration of the lot in the name of the predecessors-ininterest of the heirs (hereafter respondent) as "owners in fee simple" was issued on December 10, 1927, and that a decree of registration was issued on October 19, 1928. Nothing in the records shows that the order of adjudication was appealed, questioned or set aside. In De la Merced v. Court of Appeals, this Court held: . . . [T]he title of ownership on the land is vested upon the owner upon the expiration of the period to appeal from the decision or adjudication by the cadastral court, without such appeal having been perfected. Following the immediately-quoted pronouncement in De la Merced, the title of ownership on the adjudicatees, the Gumelaspredecessors-in-interest of respondent, was vested on December 10, 1927. Under the provision of Act No. 2874 pursuant to which the title of private respondents predecessor in interest was issued, the President

7|SMC College of Law

Land Titles and Deeds | SYLVER JAN BALUNO PRIOR


of the Philippines or his alter ego, the Director of Lands, has no authority to grant a free patent for land that has ceased to be a public land and has passed to private ownership, and a title so issued is null and void. The nullity arises not, from the fraud or deceit, but from the fact that the land is not under the jurisdiction of the Bureau of Lands. one issued to defendants in lieu thereof; and plaintiffs were directed to vacate the one-third portion of Lot No. 395 occupied by them, and to pay the costs. Plaintiffs appealed to the CA and sustained the contention of appellants. Hence, the filing of the instant petition.

DE LA MERCED vs. CA FACTS: In a complaint filed in the CFI, Ezequiel Santos and his wife claiming ownership of Lot No. 395 of the Rizal Cadastre, sought recovery of ownership and possession thereof from the named defendant, and of the landlord's share in the harvests for the agricultural years 1950-1956. Defendants, in their answer, resisted plaintiffs' claim and asserted their ownership over said property as evidenced by OCT No. 3462 issued to their predecessor Juan de la Merced and their continuous possession of the land for more than 30 years. Mamerta, a legitimate daughter of Juan, was allowed to intervene and make common cause with the defendants. The court rendered a decision for the plaintiffs. Upon defendants' motion for reconsideration, the court amended its original decision. While the court held that the land having ceased to be part of the public domain, the Director of Lands no longer had authority to grant the homestead patent over the same to Juan de la Merced, it declared nevertheless that, inasmuch as no title was actually issued therefor, the said lot may be acquired by adverse possession. And, as defendants had been in possession of the property for over 20 years, they were declared to have acquired the right over the same by prescription. The complaint was consequently ordered dismissed; OCT No. 3462 cancelled and a new

ISSUE: The questions actually raised by the present appeal are: What is the effect of the order of the cadastral court of December 26, 1923 adjudicating the lot in favor of Santos, and the subsequent order dated December 17, 1925, directing the issuance of a certificate of title to Inocencio Santos? Did those orders constitute registration under the law even though the corresponding certificate of title has not been issued? In the affirmative, could the property thereby affected still be lost by adverse possession? RULING: For purposes of resolving the above questions, these salient facts must be considered: By virtue of the final decision rendered in Cadastral Case No. 14, G.L.R.O. Rec. No. 21, dated December 26, 1923, Santos' title to Lot No. 395 was definitely confirmed as against the whole world, including the Government; That the same cadastral court issued a decree dated December 19, 1925 declaring its decision of December 26, 1923 final and directing the Chief of the General Land Registration Office to issue the certificate of title to Inocencio de los Santos, although no such certificate was actually issued;

8|SMC College of Law

Land Titles and Deeds | SYLVER JAN BALUNO PRIOR


That under date of December 28, 1926, the cadastral court, without reopening the case, declared the same Lot 395 public land as a result of which Juan de la Merced, after due application, was able to obtain therefor a homestead patent and OCT No. 3462 on October 10, 1931; That as found by the Court of Appeals, Juan de la Merced, until his death in 1931, was the overseer of Inocencio de los Santos for a big portion of land which included Lot 395 in question and was, therefore, a trustee for said lot at the time he applied for it as a homestead; That the complaint for recovery of ownership and possession was filed in 1952. There is no doubt that had the land involved herein been public, by specific provision of Act 496, the act of registration shall be the operative act to convey and affect the same, and such registration shall be made in the office of the register of deeds for the province where the land lies. (Sec. 122, Act 496). In other words, in cases of public lands, the property is not considered registered until the final act or the entry in the registration book of the registry of deeds had been accomplished. A decree of registration and a certificate of title, under Act 496, are two different things. And it is the decree of registration, to be issued by the Land Registration Commissioner, which shall be the basis of the certificate of title to be issued subsequently by the corresponding register of deeds, that quiets title to and binds the land. But, it must be remembered that the provisions apply only to voluntary registration under the Land Registration Act. Confronted with the question of when title to the land in a cadastral proceeding is vested, this Court, in the case of Government of the Philippine Islands v. Abural,1 said: Under the foregoing pronouncement, the title of ownership on the land is vested upon the owner upon the expiration of the period to appeal from the decision or adjudication by the cadastral court, without such an appeal having been perfected. The certificate of title would then be necessary for purposes of effecting registration of subsequent disposition of the land where court proceedings would no longer be necessary. As we have here a decree issued by the cadastral court, ordering the issuance to Inocencio de los Santos of the certificate of title over Lot No. 395 after the decision adjudicating ownership to him of the said property had already become final, and there being no imputation of irregularity in the said cadastral proceedings, title of ownership on the said adjudicatee was vested as of the date of the issuance of such judicial decree. The land, for all intents and purposes, had become, from that time, registered property which could not be acquired by adverse possession. WHEREFORE, the decision of the Court of Appeals is hereby affirmed, with costs against petitioner Mamerta de la Merced. So ordered.

9|SMC College of Law

Land Titles and Deeds | SYLVER JAN BALUNO PRIOR


Juanita Camalla, Diosdado Balila, Conrado Balila, Forferia Aguirre, Jaime Nacion and Ester Moya. After trial, the MCTC rendered its decision in favor of the plaintiff and against the defendants. Respondents appealed to the RTC, which affirmed the decision. Respondents elevated the case to the CA and reversed the decision of the RTC. Hence, this petition RULING: We deny the petition. Prefatorily, a perusal of the records reveals that during the trial, petitioner vigorously asserted that the subject land was the exclusive property of Ildefonso who sold it to her in 1972. However, in this appeal, petitioner assails the ownership not only of Gregorio but also of Ildefonso by alleging that at the time the latter sold the land to Gregorio, the same was declared in the name of Agrifina Avila. When a party adopts a certain theory in the court below, he is not allowed to change his theory on appeal, for to allow him to do so would not only be unfair to the other party, but it would also be offensive to the basic rules of fair play, justice and due process.26 In this appeal, the issue for resolution is who has the superior right to a parcel of land sold to different buyers at different times by its former owner. It is not disputed that the subject land belonged to Ildefonso and that it was not registered under the Torrens System27 when it was sold to Gregorio in 1969 and to the petitioner in 1972. Further, the deed of sale between Ildefonso and Gregorio was registered with the Register of Deeds.

NAVAL vs. CA FACTS: Ildefonso A. Naval sold a parcel of land in Camarines Sur, consisting of 858 sq. m. to Gregorio B. Galarosa. The sale was recorded in the Registry of Property of the ROD Camarines Sur pursuant to Act No. 3344. Subsequently, Gregorio sold portions of the land to respondents Conrado Rodrigo Balilla, Jaime Nacion on and spouses Ireneo and Ester Moya, and Juanito Camalla. All buyers occupied the portion they bought, built improvements thereon, and paid the taxes due thereto. The controversy arose when petitioner Juanita Naval, the great granddaughter of Ildefonso, was issued by the Register of Deeds of Camarines Sur an OCT, covering 733 sq. m. of the subject land. She claimed that she bought the subject land from Ildefonso in 1972. On November 10, 1977, petitioner filed a complaint for recovery of possession against Bartolome Aguirre, Conrado Balila,13 Ireneo Moya, Jaime Nacion and Domingo Nacion. However, the case was dismissed. 20 years later, petitioner re-filed the complaint for recovery of possession with damages before the MCTC of Camarines Sur, against

10 | S M C C o l l e g e o f L a w

Land Titles and Deeds | SYLVER JAN BALUNO PRIOR


While we agree with the appellate court that respondents have superior right over the petitioner 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. 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. Even if petitioner argues that she purchased and registered the subject land in good faith and without knowledge of any adverse claim thereto, respondents still have superior right over the disputed property. 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.33 In the case at bar, since Ildefonso no longer owned the subject land at the time of the sale to the petitioner, 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 respondents 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," respondents are entitled to the ownership and possession of the subject land.34 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.35 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.36 The fact that petitioner 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.37 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.38 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.39 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 resubject 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.40 The paramount reason for this exception is based on the theory that registration proceedings could not be used as a shield for fraud. Moreover, to hold otherwise would be to put premium on land-grabbing and transgressing the broader principle in human relations that no person shall unjustly enrich himself at the expense of another. WHEREFORE, in view of the foregoing, the petition is DENIED.

11 | S M C C o l l e g e o f L a w

Land Titles and Deeds | SYLVER JAN BALUNO PRIOR

ISSUE: Who has a better right to the property in dispute? RULING: The 1968 Deed of Sale executed by Placida in favor of Angel should prevail over the 1983 Extra-Judicial Settlement with Sale made by the heirs of Placida in favor of petitioners-spouses Cuizon. Prior tempore, potior jure. It simply means, He who is first in time is preferred in right. The only essential requisite of this rule is priority in time, and the only one who can invoke this is the first vendee. Records bear the fact that when Placida sold her one-fourth portion of the property in 1968, the 1983 Extra-Judicial Settlement with Sale was still inexistent, and more importantly, said portion was yet to be transferred by succession to Placidas heirs. The records also show that after Placida sold her portion to Angel, the latter immediately took possession of the same. The defense of indefeasibility of the torrens title does not extend to a transferee who takes the certificate of title with notice of a flaw in his title. The principle of indefeasibility of title is unavailing where there was fraud that attended the issuance of the free patents and titles. Petitioners knew of the existence of the 1968 Deed of Sale as the Remotos showed it to them in 1982. It cannot be said that petitioners are transferees in good faith.

CUIZON vs. REMOTO FACTS: The parties in this case are vying for ownership of a 4,300 square meter-land located Agusan del Norte. Petitioners-spouses Encarnacion and Salvador Cuizon rely on TCT issued by the Registry of Deeds of Agusan del Norte pursuant to a notarized 1983 Extra-Judicial Settlement with Sale executed by the heirs of Placida wherein they adjudicated unto themselves the one-fourth share of Placida, and, at the same time, sold said portion to their co-heir, Encarnacion L. Cuizon. On the other hand, respondents have in their favor a 1968 Deed of Sale involving a portion of the same property executed by Placida in favor of Angel husband of respondent Mercedes C. Remoto, and father of the other respondents. The RTC ruled in favor of respondents and ordered that the property be reconveyed to them. On appeal by petitioners, the CA affirmed the findings and conclusion of the trial court. Petitioners filed a motion for reconsideration but the CA denied it.

12 | S M C C o l l e g e o f L a w

Land Titles and Deeds | SYLVER JAN BALUNO PRIOR


We thus limit our discussion to the rights of the heirs of Napoleon over Lot 2-A. A homestead patent, once registered under the Land Registration Act, becomes as indefeasible as a Torrens Title. Respondents parents, Vicente and Felisa, owned Lots 2 and 3 by virtue of a homestead patent. The 26 July 1930 decision of the cadastral court recognized the indefeasibility of Vicente and Felisas homestead patent when it excluded Lots 2 and 3 from the decree of registration it had issued to Felomina. Felomina had no right over Lot 2. However, Felomina still caused the reconstitution of the title of Lot 2. Felomina had nothing to reconstitute as no certificate of title was ever issued to her over Lot 2. The fraud in the reconstitution of Lot 2 is evident. Luis, from whom Napoleon purchased Lot 2-A, was just as guilty as his aunt Felomina in defrauding respondents. Respondents were still in possession of Lot 2 when Luis supposedly purchased the lot from Felomina and when Luis had the lot subdivided and the subdivided lots titled. Luis was definitely not a buyer in good faith. The only way for the heirs of Napoleon to validly claim Lot 2-A is to prove that Napoleon purchased Lot 2-A in good faith. The trial and appellate courts ruled that Napoleon was not a purchaser in good faith. We agree with the two courts. The trial and appellate courts pointed out that as early as 1966, there was already a brewing dispute between respondents and Luis over Lot 2. Luis conveyed Lot 2-A, one of the subdivided portions of Lot 2, to Napoleon on 28 December 1967. Maria, Napoleons widow, testified that she was with Napoleon when Luis sold to them Lot 2-A.[12] Maria asserted that she was familiar with the history of Lot 2-A and the supposed previous owners, Luis and Felomina. It was thus impossible for Napoleon and Maria not to have known of the Bureau of Lands pending investigation and the incarceration of Segunda and Valentino at the time Luis sold to them Lot 2-A. The controversy between respondents and Luis should have prompted Napoleon to inquire into the

PORTES, SR. vs. ARCALA FACTS: Respondents claimed that as early as 1908, their parents, Vicente and Felisa, had already occupied and developed the disputed parcels of land, Lots 2 and 3, in Negros Occidental. The Director of Lands approved Vicentes homestead application for Lots 2 and 3. Vicente and Felisa were in open, exclusive and continuous possession of Lots 2 and 3 until their deaths. Respondents succeeded them in their rights and took possession. Respondents filed the complaint against their cousins, who are the nephew and nieces of Vicente. They were impleaded together with their respective spouses and the predecessor-in-interest of petitioners. The trial court ruled that respondents own Lots 2 and 3. Only the heirs of Napoleon appealed from the decision of the trial court. The Court of Appeals affirmed the trial courts decision. RULING:

13 | S M C C o l l e g e o f L a w

Land Titles and Deeds | SYLVER JAN BALUNO PRIOR


status of Luis title over Lot 2-A. A purchaser cannot close his eyes to facts that should put a reasonable man on his guard and still claim that he acted in good faith. A holder in bad faith of a certificate of title is not entitled to the protection of the law. Assuming that Napoleon was unaware of the conflict over Lot 2A at the time of the execution of the deed of sale, Napoleon was, however, already charged with knowledge of the flaw in Luis title at the time of the registration of the sale. Inscriptions of an adverse claim dated 23 November 1970 and lis pendens dated 14 September 1971 were already annotated on Luis title over Lot 2-A when Napoleon registered the Deed of Sale on 16 December 1971. While the sale between Luis and Napoleon bound both parties, the registration of the sale with the property registry is what binds third parties and the world to the transfer of ownership. Moreover, registration alone without good faith is not sufficient. Good faith must concur with registration for such prior right to be enforceable. The notice of lis pendens is an announcement to the whole world that a particular real property is in litigation. The inscription serves as a warning that one who acquires an interest over litigated property does so at his own risk, or that he gambles on the result of the litigation over the property. By disregarding the inscriptions and pursuing the registration of the sale, Napoleon assumed the risk of losing Lot 2-A to respondents. Napoleons heirs, being merely the juridical contin uation of his personality, hold Lot 2-A in trust for respondents. Respondents action for reconveyance is not barred by prescription. The fraudulent registration of a parcel of land holds the person in whose name the land is registered as a mere trustee of an implied trust for the benefit of the person from whom the property comes. An action for reconveyance of registered land based on implied trust prescribes in ten years even if the decree of registration is no longer open to review. However, when the adverse claimants are still in possession of the property in dispute, the action for reconveyance, which in effect seeks to quiet title to property in ones own possession, is not subject to prescription.

At the time that Felomina and Luis fraudulently titled Lot 2 in their names, Vicente and Felisa, respondents parents, were still in possession of Lot 2. Vicente and Felisas right to file an action for reconveyance was thus not subject to prescription. Respondents remained in possession of Lot 2 until 1967 when they were ousted from Lot 2-A. Since respondents were no longer in possession of Lot 2-A, the ten-year prescriptive period must be reckoned from the time that TCT No. T-65157 covering Lot 2-A was issued to Napoleon, which was on 16 December 1971. Prescription had not yet set in as the action for reconveyance was filed on 21 April 1977, or only six years after title to Lot 2-A was issued to Napoleon. Respondents are not estopped by laches. Laches or stale demands is the failure or neglect for an unreasonable and unexplained length of time to do that which, by exercising due diligence, could or should have been done earlier. Laches gives rise to a presumption that the party entitled to assert a right either has abandoned or declined to assert it.[23] Respondents vigilance in asserting and protecting their rights over Lot 2-A is on record. They initiated the investigation with the Bureau of Lands and registered their adverse claims on the certificate of title of Lot 2-A even before title was transferred to Napoleon. Respondents are far from guilty of sleeping on their rights.

14 | S M C C o l l e g e o f L a w

Land Titles and Deeds | SYLVER JAN BALUNO PRIOR


In answer, petitioner Ricardo Santos and spouse admitted respondents ownership of the land but alleged that 177 sq. m. thereof was sold to them. Petitioner Paula Wong, while admitting respondents ownership of the lot covered by TCT No. 19973, averred that a portion thereof, measuring 142 sq. m., was sold to her husband Marcos Santos by the respondent. The MeTC of the City of Malabon, rendered judgment dismissing the case. The RTC reversed and set aside the judgment of the Metropolitan Trial Court. Without moving for reconsideration, petitioners filed a petition for certiorari before this Court. RULING: After having paid the balance of the docket fees, petitioners submitted a two-page petition dated November 4, 2005, which purportedly was in compliance with the October 3, 2005 Resolution. A cursory perusal of the petition however, showed that it had the same procedural infirmities as the original petition. The petition was written in old and torn piece of scratch paper, which does not look like a formal pleading. The petition lacked certification against forum shopping, a statement of the material date showing when notice of the assailed decision was received, proof of service, and proof of authority of Ricardo Santos to sign the verification on behalf of the other petitioner. Even on the merits, petitioners case will not prosper. Petitioners anchor their claim of ownership on the photocopies of the alleged Deed of Absolute Sale in favor of Ricardo Santos and his spouse and the Subdivision Agreement with Contract of Sale dated executed in favor of Paula Wong and her deceased husband Marcos Santos. On the other hand, respondent Cruz relies for her claim of ownership in the transfer certificates of title covering the assailed properties registered in her name. These certificates of title, being genuine and valid on their face, are incontrovertible, indefeasible, and conclusive against petitioners and the whole world. Thus, the unregistered deed of sale and the subdivision contract upon which petitioners rely cannot prevail over the certificate of

SANTOS vs. CRUZ FACTS: Respondent Iluminada Cruz is the owner of a parcel of land covered by TCT No. M-19968 and TCT No. 19973 of the Registry of Deeds of the City of Malabon, portions of which were occupied by petitioners Ricardo Santos and Paula Wong, respectively. Respondent Cruz filed two actions for ejectment against petitioners alleging that the latter entered her lot without her consent and built thereon structures without her permission; that petitioners, being her relatives, were allowed to stay free of charge on condition that they will vacate the premises upon demand; despite repeated demands, petitioners refused to vacate the said lots, and in view of the failure of the contending parties to arrive at an amicable settlement, respondent was constrained to file the instant suit.

15 | S M C C o l l e g e o f L a w

Land Titles and Deeds | SYLVER JAN BALUNO PRIOR


title in the name of respondent Cruz. To hold otherwise is to defeat the primary object of the Torrens System which is to make the Torrens Title indefeasible and valid against the whole world. The assailed Joint Decision dated July 15, 2005 of the Regional Trial Court, Branch 170, City of Malabon, is AFFIRMED. No costs.

Respondent countered that she has direct and material interest in the estate because she gave half of her inherited properties to Miguelita on condition that both of them would undertake whatever business endeavor they decided to, in the capacity of business partners. In her omnibus motion, respondent nominated her son Emmanuel Ching to act as special administrator. The intestate court issued an order appointing petitioner and Emmanuel as joint regular administrators of the estate. Consequently, Notice to Creditors was published in the issues of the Manila Standard. However, no claims were filed against the estate. Thereafter, petitioner submitted to the intestate court an inventory of Miguelitas estate. Emmanuel did not submit an inventory. The intestate court declared petitioner and his two minor children as the only compulsory heirs of Miguelita.

PACIOLES JR. vs. CHING FACTS: Miguelita died intestate, leaving real properties, stock investments, bank deposits, and interests in certain businesses. She was survived by her husband, petitioner herein, and their two minor children. Petitioner filed with the RTC a verified petition for the settlement of Miguelitas estate. Miguelitas mother, Miguela Chuatoco-Ching, herein respondent, filed an opposition. Afterwards, she also filed a motion for her appointment as special administratrix. Petitioner moved to strike out respondents opposition, alleging that the latter has no direct and material interest in the estate, she not being a compulsory heir.

On July 21, 1995, petitioner filed with the intestate court an omnibus motion praying, among others, that an Order be issued directing the: 1) payment of estate taxes; 2) partition and distribution of the estate among the declared heirs; and 3) payment of attorneys fees. Respondent opposed petitioners motion. The intestate court allowed the payment of the estate taxes and attorneys fees but denied petitioners prayer for partition and distribution of the estate. Petitioner filed a motion for reconsideration but it was denied. Forthwith, petitioner filed with the CA a petition for certiorari seeking to annul and set aside the intestate courts order which denied petitioners prayer for partition and distribution of the estate, indicating that it (intestate court) will first resolve respondents claim of ownership.

16 | S M C C o l l e g e o f L a w

Land Titles and Deeds | SYLVER JAN BALUNO PRIOR


personal estate of the deceased which have come into his possession or knowledge. Clearly, the RTC, acting as an intestate court, had overstepped its jurisdiction. It is well-settled in this jurisdiction that when a question arises as to ownership of property alleged to be a part of the estate of the deceased person, but claimed by some other person to be his property, not by virtue of any right of inheritance from the deceased but by title adverse to that of the deceased and his estate, such question cannot be determined in the course of an intestate or probate proceedings. Corrolarily, P.D. 1529, otherwise known as, The Property Registration Decree, proscribes collateral attack against Torrens Title, hence: Section 48. Certificate not subject to collateral attack. A certificate of title shall not be subject to collateral attack. It cannot be altered, modified or cancelled except in a direct proceeding in accordance with law. Significantly, a perusal of the records reveals that respondent failed to present convincing evidence to bolster her bare assertion of ownership. Unfortunately, respondent could not even specify which of the properties listed in petitioners inventory belong to her. Neither could she present any document to prove her claim of ownership. The consistently changing basis of her claim did nothing to improve her posture. WHEREFORE, the instant petition is GRANTED. The assailed Decision and Resolution of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. SP No. 41571 are hereby REVERSED.

The Appellate Court dismissed the petition ISSUE: May a trial court, acting as an intestate court, hear and pass upon questions of ownership involving properties claimed to be part of the decedents estate? RULING: NO. The general rule is that the jurisdiction of the trial court either as an intestate or a probate court relates only to matters having to do with the settlement of the estate and probate of will of deceased persons but does not extend to the determination of questions of ownership that arise during the proceedings. A well-recognized deviation to the rule is the principle that an intestate or a probate court may hear and pass upon questions of ownership when its purpose is to determine whether or not a property should be included in the inventory. The CAs reliance is misplaced. Under the said principle, the key consideration is that the purpose of the intestate or probate court in hearing and passing upon questions of ownership is merely to determine whether or not a property should be included in the inventory. The facts of this case show that such was not the purpose of the intestate court. First, the inventory was not disputed. In fact, in her Manifestation and Opposition, respondent expressly adopted the inventory prepared by petitioner, taking exception only to the low valuation placed on the real estate properties. And second, Emmanuel, respondents son and representative in the settlement of Miguelitas estate, did not submit his own inven tory. His mandate, as co-administrator, is to submit within three (3) months after his appointment a true inventory and appraisal of all the real and

17 | S M C C o l l e g e o f L a w

Land Titles and Deeds | SYLVER JAN BALUNO PRIOR

While the rest did, the spouses Ramon and Estrella Ragudo who were occupying the lot, consisting of about 105 square meters of the Fabella Estate, refused to join the Association. The portion occupied by them was awarded to Mrs. Miriam De Guzman, a FETA member. FETA became the registered owner of the entire Fabella Estate, as evidenced by a TCT. FETA filed against the spouses Ragudo a complaint for unlawful detainer before the MeTC. The MeTC dismissed the unlawful detainer case. The RTC affirmed the same. FETA then filed with the RTC-Pasig a complaint for recovery of possession. The trial court rendered judgment in FETAs favor. On appeal by the spouses Ragudo, the CA affirmed the RTC ruling.

RAGUDO vs. FABELLA ESTATE TENANTS ASSOCIATION INC. FACTS: Earlier, the tenants of a parcel of land at Mandaluyong City with an area of 6,825 square meters (hereinafter referred to as the Fabella Estate), which formed part of the estate of the late Don Dionisio M. Fabella, organized themselves and formed the Fabella Estate Tenants Association, Inc. (FETA), for the purpose of acquiring said property and distributing it to its members. Unable to raise the amount sufficient to buy the property from the heirs of Don Fabella, FETA applied for a loan from the NHMFC under the latters Community Mortgage Program. As a pre-condition for the loan, NHMFC required all tenants to become members of FETA.

ISSSUE: Whether or not acquisitive prescription and equitable laches had set in to warrant the continued possession of the subject lot by Ragudo and whether the same principle had created a vested right in favor of Ragudo to continue and possess and own the subject lot. RULING: NO We have consistently ruled that lands covered by a title cannot be acquired by prescription or adverse possession. In Natalia Realty Corporation vs. Vallez, et al.,: Under Article 1126 of the Civil Code, prescription of ownership of lands registered under the Land Registration Act shall be governed by special laws. Correlatively, Act No. 496 provides that no title to

18 | S M C C o l l e g e o f L a w

Land Titles and Deeds | SYLVER JAN BALUNO PRIOR


registered land in derogation of that of the registered owner shall be acquired by adverse possession. While, at a blush, there is apparent merit in petitioners posture, a closer look at our jurisprudence negates their submission. To start with, the lower court found that petitioners possession of the subject lot was merely at the tolerance of its former lawful owner.

Upon learning of the existence of the above TCTs, Salvador Serra Serra, for and in behalf of his co-heirs, registered their adverse claim and moved for the cancellation of the reconstituted titles. They averred that they are holders of valid and existing certificates of title over the subject properties and have been in continuous and actual possession thereof. The trial court denied petitioners motion to cancel the reconstituted titles and granted instead Hernaez prayer that they be placed in possession of the subject properties, which petitioners challenged before the Court of Appeals in a petition for certiorari docketed as CA-G.R. No. SP-00139. On June 7, 1971, the appellate court issued a writ of preliminary injunction which was ordered lifted in a resolution dated August 3, 1971. Petitioners motion for reconsideration was denied, hence they filed before this Court a petition for certiorari, prohibition and mandamus, docketed as G.R. No. L-34080 and consolidated with G.R. No. L-34693, seeking to annul the resolution lifting the writ of preliminary injunction.

ESTATE OF SALVADOR SERRA vs. HEIRS OF PRIMITIVO HERNANDEZ FACTS: A petition for reconstitution of alleged lost OCT and owners duplicate copies in the name of Eleuterio Hernaez covering Lot No. 1316 of Kabankalan Cadastre and Lot Nos. 2685 and 717 of Ilog Cadastre, in the Province of Negros Occidental, was filed by his successors-in-interest Primitivo, Rogaciana and Luisa, all surnamed Hernaez with then CFI of Bacolod City. The CFI granted the petition and ordered the reconstitution of the subject OCTs and its duplicate copies. These reconstituted OCTs were cancelled on May 29, 1969 upon presentation by Hernaez of a declaration of heirship and in lieu thereof, Transfer Certificate of Title (TCT) Nos. T-51546, T-51547, and T-51548 were issued in their names.

RULING: Petitioners alleged possession of TCTs and actual possession of the subject lands, although strong proof of ownership, are not necessarily conclusive where the assertion of proprietary rights is founded on dubious claim of ownership. Since petitioners impugn the proprietary claim of Hernaez over the properties, the burden rests on them to establish their superior right over the latter. It is also undisputed that petitioners are all Spanish citizens. Under Philippine law, foreigners can acquire private lands only by hereditary succession or when they were formerly natural-born Filipinos who lost their Philippine citizenship. In this case, petitioners did not present proof that they acquired the properties by inheritance. Neither

19 | S M C C o l l e g e o f L a w

Land Titles and Deeds | SYLVER JAN BALUNO PRIOR


did they claim to be former natural-born Filipinos. On the contrary, they declare in this petition that they are all Spanish citizens residing in Spain. WHEREFORE, the petition is DENIED. The March 3, 2000 decision and the April 17, 2000 resolution of the Court of Appeals in CAG.R. SP No. 52817 are AFFIRMED. confessing the truthfulness thereof and/or omitting to deal with them at all. Now, if an answer does in fact specifically deny the material averments of the complaint and/or asserts affirmative defenses, a judgment on the pleadings would naturally be improper. In this case, we find that the trial court erred in rendering judgment on the pleadings because the pleadings filed by the parties generated ostensible issues that necessitate the presentation of evidence. Respondents action for declaration of nullity of Free Patent No. 495269 and the titles derived therefrom is based on their claim that the lot titled in the name of petitioners, is a portion of a bigger tract of land previously titled in the name of their (respondents) predecessors-ininterest. The documents presented in support thereof were the photocopy of respondents TCT No. 257152 which shows that the land it covers, including lot 89, originated from OCT No. 730; and photocopies of the documents alleged to have been issued by the Bureau of Lands and confirming that the disputed lot is a portion of respondents Lot 89. It is clear from the foregoing that the pleadings filed in the instant case generated the following issues: (1) whether respondents TCT No. 257152 is valid; (2) whether Lot 89 is covered by TCT No. 257152; and (3) whether petitioners are purchasers in good faith. This is clearly not a proper case for judgment on the pleadings considering that the Answers tendered factual issues. The trial court rendered a summary judgment on March 21, 2003 and not a judgment on the pleadings. In any case, a summary judgment is likewise not warranted in this case as there are genuine issues which call for a full blown trial. A "genuine issue" is an issue of fact which requires the presentation of evidence as distinguished from a sham, fictitious, contrived or false claim. When the facts as pleaded appear uncontested or undisputed, then there is no real or genuine issue or question as to the facts, and summary judgment is called for. The party who moves for summary judgment has the burden of demonstrating clearly the absence of any genuine issue of fact, or that the issue posed in the complaint is patently unsubstantial so as not to constitute a genuine issue for trial. Trial courts have limited authority to render summary judgments and may do so only when there is clearly no genuine issue as to any material fact. When the

TAN vs. DE LA VEGA SECTION 1. Judgment on the pleadings. Where an answer fails to tender an issue, or otherwise admits the material allegations of the adverse partys pleading, the court may, on motion of that party, direct judgment on such pleading. x x x. Where a motion for judgment on the pleadings is filed, the essential question is whether there are issues generated by the pleadings. In a proper case for judgment on the pleadings, there is no ostensible issue at all because of the failure of the defending partys answer to raise an issue. The answer would fail to tender an issue, of course, if it does not deny the material allegations in the complaint or admits said material allegations of the adverse partys pleadings by

20 | S M C C o l l e g e o f L a w

Land Titles and Deeds | SYLVER JAN BALUNO PRIOR


facts as pleaded by the parties are disputed or contested, proceedings for summary judgment cannot take the place of trial.20 In the instant case, presentation of evidence is necessary to determine the validity of TCT No. 22395 from which respondents title (TCT No. 257152) was derived. As alleged by defendant heirs, TCT No. 22395 was a mere reconstitution of TCT No. 45046, which per verification from the Register of Deeds of Rizal pertain to a different piece of land measuring only about 356 square meters and located in San Juan, Rizal. These allegations were never refuted by respondents, hence, they cannot be simply brushed aside by the trial court. Moreover, even assuming that the title of respondents predecessors-in-interest (TCT No. 22395) is valid, the evidence at this stage is still insufficient to sustain the conclusion of the trial court that Lot 89 is inside respondents land now covered by TCT No. 257152. The title appended by respondents in their complaint is a mere photocopy. Likewise, the document allegedly issued by the Bureau of Lands and presented by respondents to prove that Lot 89 is inside their land are also mere photocopies and not authenticated by said office. Furthermore, the title referred in the said documents as the origin of TCT No. 257152, is a different title, that is OCT No. 734 and not OCT No. 730. There is thus a need to present evidence to settle the issues in a full blown trial. If the evidence show that the Free Patent and the OCT issued to petitioners predecessors-in-interest is valid and or Lot 89 is not inside TCT No. 257152, then judgment should be rendered in favor of petitioners; and whether the latter acted in good or bad faith will no longer be a decisive issue in this case. On the other hand, if the title of petitioners predecessors-in-interest is declared void, the defense of good faith maystill be available to petitioners who claim to be purchasers in good faith and for value. The rule is that a void title may be the source of a valid title in the hands of an innocent purchaser for value.21 An innocent purchaser for value is one who buys the 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. In sum, presentation of controversy. The judgment on the should therefore parties. we find that respondents failed to prove that evidence may be dispensed with in the present instant case is neither a proper case for rendition of pleadings nor of summary judgment. A full blown trial be conducted to resolve the issues raised by the

WHEREFORE, in view of all the foregoing, the petition is GRANTED and the February 3, 2005 Decision and the July 6, 2005 Resolution of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. CV No. 79957 are REVERSED and SET ASIDE. Let the records of this case be remanded to the Regional Trial Court of Pasig City, Branch 264 for further proceedings.

21 | S M C C o l l e g e o f L a w

Land Titles and Deeds | SYLVER JAN BALUNO PRIOR


petitioners. Candelaria (respondents). sold his property Spouses Batuyong

Petitioners started the construction of a seven (7)-door bungalow-type building that allegedly intruded into the lot of Respondents. Petitioners were summoned by barangay officials to a meeting and was then agreed upon that petitioners would defer the construction work pending the result of a relocation survey to be conducted by a government surveyor. A survey was conducted by a geodetic engineer and in her report, Candelarias lot and petitioners lot were not correctly positioned geographically on the ground. Thus, as per survey, sub-lot B with an area of 10.43 square meters serves as right of way of Lot 6-B (petitioners lot) while sub-lot C with an area of 10.18 square meters was the portion of Lot 6-A (respondents lot) presently occupied by petitioners. Despite the delineation of said boundaries, petitioners proceeded with the forestalled construction. Respondents filed an ejectment case against petitioners before the MeTC. On appeal, the RTC affirmed the judgment of the MeTC. Petitioners filed a motion for new trial and/or reconsideration but it was denied. The appellate court rendered a Decision13 dismissing the petition. RULING: CAJAYON vs. BATUYONG FACTS: Flaviana Lim Cajayon and Carmelita Lim Constantino (petitioners) and Isagani P. Candelaria were co-owners of a 260-square meter lot. A partition agreement was entered into by petitioners and Candelaria, wherein Lot 6-A, Psd 00-034294, containing an area of 100 square meters was adjudicated to Candelaria, while Lot 6-B, Psd 00034294, containing an area of 160 square meters was given to Petitioners now come to us via the present petition, submitting as issues the question of jurisdiction and the weight to be accorded to the verification survey results. It is settled that jurisdiction of the court in ejectment cases is determined by the allegations of the complaint and the character of the relief sought. From the above-quoted allegations taken in tandem with the textbook distinctions between forcible entry and unlawful detainer, it is clear that the complaint makes out a case for forcible entry, as opposed to unlawful detainer.

22 | S M C C o l l e g e o f L a w

Land Titles and Deeds | SYLVER JAN BALUNO PRIOR


the Regional Trial Court, Branch 255, Las Pias City, an application for registration[4] of a parcel of land, docketed as LRC Case No. M-228. The land is located at Bo. Almanza, Las Pias City, Metro Manila consisting of 245,536 square meters. On August 11, 1995, the above-named petitioners filed their opposition to LRC Case No. M-228 alleging that as per Survey Plan Psu31086, respondents property partly overlaps their lot. As early as April 28, 1989, this lot was registered in their names. Earlier, or on July 25, 1995, Ayala Land, Inc. (Ayala Land) also filed an opposition to respondents application for registration anchored on the ground that the land applied for overlaps the parcels of land. During the hearing, respondents presented the July 24, 1995 Report of the LRA and the Survey Report of the Land Management Services, Department of Environment and Natural Resources, showing that the land they sought to register under Plan Psu-31086 overlaps the property already registered in the names of petitioners. Thereafter, petitioners and Ayala Land filed their respective motions to dismiss respondents application for registration on the ground of lack of jurisdiction. They claimed that since the property was previously Torrens registered in their names, the trial court has no jurisdiction over the subject matter of the proceedings. On March 4, 1996, the trial court issued a Resolution denying the motions to dismiss, holding that the Regional Trial Court has exclusive original jurisdiction over all applications for original registration of title to lands. Petitioners then filed with the Court of Appeals a petition for certiorari. On May 20, 1997, the Appellate Court rendered its Decision granting the petition ISSUE:

Respondents had been in prior physical possession of the property in the concept of owner prior to petitioners intrusion on 21 May 1996. When petitioners encroached upon respondents lot and started construction works thereon the latter was dispossessed of the area involved. Despite various demands by respondents to vacate, petitioners obstinately refused to do so. Clearly, petitioners entry into the said property was illegal from the beginning, precluding an action for unlawful detainer. On the other hand, to establish a case of forcible entry, the complaint must allege that one in physical possession of a land or building has been deprived of that possession by another through force, intimidation, threat, strategy or stealth. Petitioners contend that while they concede they might have intruded on respondents property, the action is barred by prescription because it was filed more than one (1) year after the occurrence of the alleged intrusion. The contention is baseless. Section 1, Rule 70 of the Rules of Court allows a plaintiff to bring an action in the proper inferior court for forcible entry or unlawful detainer within one (1) year, respectively, after such unlawful deprivation or withholding of possession. In forcible entry, the one-year period is counted from the date of actual entry on the land. Records show that the ejectment suit was instituted on 11 April 1997. Petitioners actual entry into the property, according t o the complaint, took place on 21 May 1996. Thus, the suit was filed well within the one (1)-year period mandated by law.

PHILIPPINE ESTATE MANAGEMENT vs. TRONO FACTS: The petition alleges that on November 9, 1994, George, Ma. Teresa, Edgardo, Ma. Virginia, Jesse, Ma. Cristina, Inocencio, Jr., Carmen, and Zenaida, all surnamed Trono, herein respondents, filed with

23 | S M C C o l l e g e o f L a w

Land Titles and Deeds | SYLVER JAN BALUNO PRIOR


Whether the trial court has jurisdiction over respondents application for registration of a parcel of land. RULING: YES. Section 2 of Presidential Decree (PD) 1529[7] partly provides: Sec. 2. Nature of registration proceedings; jurisdiction of courts. Judicial proceedings for the registration of lands throughout the Philippines shall be in rem, and shall be based on the generally accepted principles underlying the Torrens System. Courts of First Instance shall have exclusive jurisdiction over all applications for original registration of title to lands, including improvements and interests therein, and over all petitions filed after original registration of title, with power to hear and determine all questions arising upon such applications or petitions. xxx Pursuant to the above provisions, the Regional Trial Court (formerly Court of First Instance) has the authority to act, not only on applications for original registration of title to land, but also on all petitions filed after the original registration of title. Thus, it has the authority and power to hear and determine all questions arising from such applications or petitions.[8] The Court of Appeals, therefore, erred in ruling that the Regional Trial Court, Branch 255, Las Pias City has no jurisdiction over LRC Case No. M-228 on the ground that the land subject of respondents application for registration was already registered in the Registry of Deeds of Las Pias City. Likewise, Section 48 of PD 1529 provides: Sec. 48. Certificate not subject to collateral attack. A certificate of title shall not be subject to collateral attack. It cannot be altered, modified, or cancelled except in a direct proceeding in accordance with law. (Underscoring ours)

Respondents application for registration of a parcel of land already covered by a Torrens title is actually a collateral attack against petitioners title not permitted under the principle of indefeasibility of a Torrens title. 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.[9] Hence, whether or not respondents have the right to claim title over the property in question is beyond the province of the instant proceeding. That should be threshed out in a proper action. 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. Corollarily, Section 32 of the same law states: Sec. 32. Review of decree of registration; Innocent purchaser for value. The decree of registration shall not be reopened or revised by reason of absence, minority, or other disability of any person adversely affected thereby, nor by any proceeding in any court for reversing judgment, subject, however, to the right of any person, including the government and the branches thereof, deprived of land or of any estate or interest therein by such adjudication or confirmation of title obtained by actual fraud, to file in the proper Court of First Instance a petition for reopening and review of the decree of registration not later than one year from and after the date of the entry of such decree of registration, but in no case shall such petition be entertained by the court where an innocent purchaser for value has acquired the land or an interest therein whose rights may be prejudiced. Whenever the phrase innocent purchaser for value or an equivalent phrase occurs in this Decree, it shall be deemed to include an innocent lessee, mortgagee, or other encumbrancer for value.

24 | S M C C o l l e g e o f L a w

Land Titles and Deeds | SYLVER JAN BALUNO PRIOR


This is an application for registration of title to 4 parcels of land located in Panan, Botolan, Zambales with the RTC of Zambales. Applicant [herein respondent] alleges that she is the owner of the said parcels of land having acquired them by purchase from the LID Corporation which likewise acquired the same from Demetria Calderon, Josefina Moraga and Fausto Monje and their predecessors-in-interest who have been in possession thereof for more than thirty (30) years; and that to the best of her knowledge, said lots suffer no mortgage or encumbrance of whatever kind nor is there any person having any interest, legal or equitable, or in possession thereof. The Republic of the Philippines [herein petitioner] filed an opposition to the application on the ground that neither the applicant nor her predecessors-in interest have been in open, continuous, exclusive and notorious possession and occupation of the lands in question since 12 June 1945 or prior thereto; that the muniments of title and tax payment receipts of applicant do not constitute competent and sufficient evidence of a bona-fide acquisition of the lands applied for or of his open, continuous, exclusive and notorious possession and occupation thereof in the concept of (an) owner; that the applicants claim of ownership in fee simple on the basis of Spanish title or grant can no longer be availed of . . .; and that the parcels of land applied for are part of the public domain belonging to the Republic of the Philippines not subject to private appropriation. The lower court issued an order of general default as against the whole world, with the exception of the OSG, and proceeded with the hearing of this registration case. After she had presented and formally offered her evidence . . . applicant rested her case. The Solicitor General, thru the Provincial Prosecutor, interposed no objection to the admission of the exhibits. Later . . . the Provincial Prosecutor manifest (sic) that the Government had no evidence to adduce. REPUBLIC vs. NAGUIAT FACTS: In a decision4 dated September 30, 1991, the trial court rendered judgment for herein respondent Celestina Naguiat, adjudicating unto her the parcels of land in question and decreeing the registration

Upon the expiration of said period of one year, the decree of registration and the certificate of title issued shall become incontrovertible. Any person aggrieved by such decree of registration in any case may pursue his remedy by action for damages against the applicant or any other person responsible for the fraud. (underscoring ours) 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.[12] As per records of the Registry of Deeds of Las Pias City, TCT No. T-9182[13] was registered in petitioners name as early as April 28, 1989, or five (5) years before the filing of respondents application for registration. Thus, it is too late for them (respondents) to question petitioners titles considering that the Certificates of Title issued to the latter have become incontrovertible after the lapse of one year from the decree of registration. WHEREFORE, the petition is GRANTED.

25 | S M C C o l l e g e o f L a w

Land Titles and Deeds | SYLVER JAN BALUNO PRIOR


thereof in her name. Petitioner Republic went on appeal to the CA. CA affirmed that of the trial court. RULING: The principal reason for the appellate courts disposition, finding a registerable title for respondent, is her and her predecessor-ininterests open, continuous and exclusive occupation of the subject property for more than 30 years. Prescinding from its above assumption and finding, the appellate court went on to conclude, citing Director of Lands vs. Intermediate Appellate Court (IAC)16 and Herico vs. DAR,17 among other cases, that, upon the completion of the requisite period of possession, the lands in question cease to be public land and become private property. Director of Lands, Herico and the other cases cited by the CA are not, however, winning cards for the respondent, for the simple reason that, in said cases, the disposable and alienable nature of the land sought to be registered was established, or, at least, not put in issue. And there lies the difference. Here, respondent never presented the required certification from the proper government agency or official proclamation reclassifying the land applied for as alienable and disposable. Matters of land classification or reclassification cannot be assumed. It calls for proof.18 Aside from tax receipts, respondent submitted in evidence the survey map and technical descriptions of the lands, which, needless to state, provided no information respecting the classification of the property. As the Court has held, however, these documents are not sufficient to overcome the presumption that the land sought to be registered forms part of the public domain.19 It cannot be overemphasized that unwarranted appropriation of public lands has been a notorious practice resorted to in land registration cases.20 For this reason, the Court has made it a point to stress, when appropriate, that declassification of forest and mineral lands, as the case may be, and their conversion into alienable and disposable lands need an express and positive act from the government.21

The foregoing considered, the issue of whether or not respondent and her predecessor-in-interest have been in open, exclusive and continuous possession of the parcels of land in question is now of little moment. For, unclassified land, as here, cannot be acquired by adverse occupation or possession; occupation thereof in the concept of owner, however long, cannot ripen into private ownership and be registered as title.22 WHEREFORE, the instant petition is GRANTED

26 | S M C C o l l e g e o f L a w

Land Titles and Deeds | SYLVER JAN BALUNO PRIOR


FACTS: Petitioner spouses Teodul and Rosita Rumarate filed an action for reconveyance of real property and/or quieting of title with damages against respondent heirs of the late spouses Cipriano Hernandez and Julia Zoleta. Teodulo averred that Lot No. 379 was previously possessed and cultivated by his godfather, Santiago, who used to live with the Rumarate family in San Pablo City. Santiago and the Rumarate family transferred residence to avail of the land distribution in Quezon. Santiago occupied Lot No. 379 cultivating five hectares thereof. Santiago orally bequeathed his rights over Lot No. 379 to Teodulo and entrusted to him a copy of a Decision of the CFI of Tayabas, recognizing his Santiago rights over Lot No. 379. Their family thereafter cleared the land, built a house and planted coconut trees, corn, palay and vegetables thereon. Santiago executed an "Affidavit (quit-claim)" ratifying the transfer of his rights over Lot No. 379 to Teodulo. From 1929, Teodulo and later, his wife and 11 children possessed the land as owners and declared the same for taxation, the earliest being in 1961. In 1970, Teodulo discovered that spouses Cipriano Hernandez and Julia Zoleta, respondents predecessors-in-interest, were able to obtain a title over Lot No. 379. He did not immediately file a case against respondents because he was advised to just remain on the land and pay the corresponding taxes thereon. Respondents, on the other hand, claimed that on November 11, 1964, Santiago sold the questioned lot to their parents, the spouses Cipriano Hernandez and Julia Zoleta. Respondents alleged that the CFI rendered a Decision, declaring Lot No. 379 as a public land and recognizing Santiago as claimant thereof in the Cadastral Proceeding. However, no title was issued to Santiago because he failed to file an Answer. Spouses Cipriano Hernandez and Julia Zoleta filed a motion to re-open the Cadastral Proceeding. The CFI rendered a decision adjudicating Lot No. 379 in favor of the spouses, in whose name an OCT was issued. Cipriano Hernandez planted coconut trees on the land through the help of a certain Fredo16 who was instituted as caretaker. Fredo informed Cipriano Hernandez that he will no longer stay on the

RUMARATE vs. HERNANDEZ

27 | S M C C o l l e g e o f L a w

Land Titles and Deeds | SYLVER JAN BALUNO PRIOR


land because there are people instructing him to discontinue tilling the same. After the death of the spouses, respondents executed a deed of partition over the subject lot The trial court rendered a decision in favor of petitioners. CA reversed and set aside the decision of the trial court. Hence, the instant appeal. ISSUE: The issue to be resolved is to whom should Lot No. 379 be awarded? To petitioners 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 respondents who have a certificate of title but are not in possession of the controverted lot? RULING: 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 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 xxxx (b) Those who by themselves or through their predecessors-ininterest have been, in continuous, exclusive, and notorious possession and occupation of agricultural lands of the public domain, under a bona fide claim of acquisition or ownership, for at least thirty years immediately preceding the filing of the application for confirmation of title, except when prevented by war or force majeure. Those shall be conclusively presumed to have performed all the conditions essential to a government grant and shall be entitled to a certificate of title under the provisions of this chapter. 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. 31 In the instant case, the trial court gave full faith and credence to the testimony of Teodulo and his witnesses that his (Teodulos) possession of the land since 1929 was open, continuous, adverse, exclusive, and in the concept of an owner. It is a settled rule in civil Sec. 48. The following-described citizens of the Philippines, occupying lands of the public domain or claiming to own any such lands or an interest therein, but whose titles have not been perfected or completed, may apply to the Court of First Instance (now Regional Trial Courts) of the province where the land is located for confirmation of their claims and the issuance of a certificate of title thereafter, under the Land Registration Act (now Property Registration Decree), to wit:

28 | S M C C o l l e g e o f L a w

Land Titles and Deeds | SYLVER JAN BALUNO PRIOR


cases as well as in criminal cases that in the matter of credibility of witnesses, the findings of the trial courts are given great weight and highest degree of respect by the appellate court considering that the latter is in a better position to decide the question, having heard the witnesses themselves and observed their deportment and manner of testifying during the trial. 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. In Bautista v. Poblete,35 the Court sustained the registration of a parcel of land in the name of the successors-in-interest of the donee notwithstanding the invalidity of the donation inasmuch as said donee possessed the property in the concept of an owner. Thus There is no question that the donation in question is invalid because it involves an immovable property and the donation was not made in a public document as required by Article 633 of the old Civil Code, in connection with Article 1328 of the same Code (concerning gifts propter nuptias), but it does not follow that said donation may not serve as basis of acquisitive prescription when on the strength thereof the donee has taken possession of the property adversely and in the concept of owner. 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 more right to sell the same to spouses Cipriano Hernandez and Julia Zoleta in 1964. Consequently, the latter and herein respondents did not acquire ownership over Lot No. 379 and the titles issued in their name are void. Interestingly, respondents adopted the theory that Santiago acquired title over Lot No. 379 not from the April 21, 1925 Decision of the CFI of Tayabas which merely recognized his rights over said lot, but from his more than 30 years of possession since 1925 up to 1964 when he sold same lot to their (respondents) predecessors-in-interest, the spouses Cipriano Hernandez and Julia Zoleta. On the basis of said claim, said spouses filed an action for, and successfully obtained, confirmation of imperfect title over Lot No. 379, pursuant to Sec. 48 (b) of the Public Land Act. However, the records do not support the argument of respondents that Santiagos alleged possession and cultivation of Lot No. 379 is in the nature contemplated by the Public Land Act which requires more than constructive possession and casual cultivation. 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 respondents did not acquire any right over the questioned lot and the title issued in their

29 | S M C C o l l e g e o f L a w

Land Titles and Deeds | SYLVER JAN BALUNO PRIOR


names are void, because of the legal truism that the spring cannot rise higher than the source.37 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.38 The Court notes that Santiago was not residing in Lot No. 379 at the time of the sale. He was aELLOlready 81 years old, too old to cultivate and maintain an 18hectare 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. In the same vein, respondents could not be considered as third persons or purchasers in good faith and for value or those who buy the property and pay a full and fair price for the same39 because they merely inherited Lot No. 379 from spouses Cipriano Hernandez and Julia Zoleta. Then too, even if Santiago acquired title over Lot No. 379 by virtue of the April 21, 1925 Decision of the CFI of Tayabas, and not on account of his alleged 30-year possession thereof, we will still arrive at the same conclusion. This is so because the declaration of this Court that petitioners are the rightful owners of the controverted lot is based on Teodulos own possession and occupation of said lot under a bona fide claim of acquisition of ownership, regardless of the manner by which Santiago acquired ownership over same lot. WHEREFORE, the petition is GRANTED.

GOVERNEMENT OF THE PHILIPPINES vs. ABALLE FACTS: Respondent Salvador Wee (Wee) filed a Cadastral Case, seeking the judicial reconstitution of Original Certificate of Title No. 0-10046. The OSG appeared as Oppositor in behalf of the Government of the Philippines and authorized the City Prosecutor of Zamboanga City to likewise appear in its behalf. A Notice of Hearing was posted in Zamboanga City. The notice was also published in the Official Gazette. The RTC issued its order allowing reconstitution of OCT. Petitioner appealed to the CA. The CA dismissed petitioners appeal and affirmed the RTC. Hence, the present petition. ISSUE: Whether or not the trial court did not acquire jurisdiction over the case for non-compliance with the jurisdictional requirements set in Section 13 of R.A. No. 26. RULING: YES. The reconstitution proceedings before the RTC 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

30 | S M C C o l l e g e o f L a w

Land Titles and Deeds | SYLVER JAN BALUNO PRIOR


In this case, there is no showing that there were notices of hearing sent to the owners of the adjoining properties. It should be emphasized that Section 13 of R.A. No. 26 unequivocally requires a petitioner in a reconstitution proceeding to submit proof of notice. 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. 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. Wee asserts that the registry return receipts are attached to the records of this case. It must be stressed, however, that the registry receipts alone are not sufficient to prove that notice was made to the adjoining owners. The law clearly states that it is the registry receipt issued by the mailing office and the affidavit of the person mailing , which proves service made through registered mail. Moreover, the Court notes that the registry receipts were not even marked as exhibits so that it may be considered as part of the records of the case.

EASTWORLD MOTOR CORPORATION FACTS:

INDUSTRIES

CORPORATION

vs.

SKUNAC

Miguel Lim, then presenting himself as president of respondent corporation filed with the RTC Manila, a petition for the issuance of a new TCT in lieu of the lost TCT. The trial court issued an order directing the Register of Deeds of Manila to issue a new owners duplicate of TCT. The appellate court further ruled that petitioner was not a purchaser in good faith and for value. Hence, this Petition. ISSUE: Whether or not the Court of Appeals erred in declaring as null and void the reconstituted title more than one (1) year after the same was issued. RULING: YES Main Issue: Validity of the Reconstituted Title Being intertwined, the second and the third issues raised by petitioner will initially be addressed by the Court. Also, a discussion of these issues will lead to a resolution of the first one. At the outset, the Court observes that the applicable law in applying for a replacement of an owners duplicate certificate of title is PD 1529. Respondent Miguel Lim procured the reconstituted title on the basis of RA No. 26. At any rate, the procedure employed for the issuance of the reconstituted certificate of title has not been raised as an issue in the present case.

31 | S M C C o l l e g e o f L a w

Land Titles and Deeds | SYLVER JAN BALUNO PRIOR


The controversy relates primarily to petitioners right as purchaser of the property covered by the replaced certificate. Ownership Merely Evidenced by the Certificate of Title This Court has consistently held that when the owners duplicate certificate of title has not been lost, but is in fact in the possession of another person, then the reconstituted certificate is void, because the court that rendered the decision had no jurisdiction. Reconstitution can validly be made only in case of loss of the original certificate. The certificate of title procured by Miguel Lim was void. Respondent corporations presentation of the original owners duplicate certificate of title showed to the court the physical existence, and the corporations possession, of the certificate. The existence of the document is in fact unrebutted by petitioner. Buyers in Good Faith Settled is the rule that no valid transfer certificate of title (TCT) can issue from a void TCT, unless an innocent purchaser for value had intervened. An innocent purchaser for value is one who buys the property of another, without notice that some other person has a right to or interest in the property, for which a full and fair price is paid by the buyer at the time of the purchase or before receipt of any notice of the claims or interest of some other person in the property. The protection given to innocent purchasers for value is necessary to uphold a certificate of titles efficacy and conclusiveness, which the Torrens system ensures. In the last analysis, good faith, or the lack of it, is a question of intention. But in ascertaining the intention that impels one on a given occasion, the courts are necessarily controlled by the evidence as to the conduct and other outward acts by which the motive may safely be determined. Naturally, a finding of good faith depends on the factual circumstances of each case. The absence of any knowledge or circumstance that ought to put a person on inquiry implies good faith. Another Issue: Indefeasibility of Title Petitioner claims that the indefeasibility of a title one year after its entry bars Respondent Corporation from annulling the trial courts judgment. This argument must necessarily fail. As discussed earlier, the reconstituted certificate is void. Consequently, it may be attacked anytime. CABELLO vs. REPUBLIC FACTS: Dolores Cabello and Teofilo Abellanosa sought the reconstitution of an unknown OCT. Petitioners alleged that an OCT over the property was issued by the ROD of Cebu City in the names of Basilio and Roberto Abellanosa. However, the OCT on file with the ROD and the owners duplicate certificate of title in the possession of the registered owners were lost during WW II. Further, the petition was allegedly filed pursuant to Sec. 2(d) in relation to Sec. 12 of RA 26, which dispenses with the requirement of submission of the tracing cloth/blue print plan and technical description. The trial court rendered a Decision, ordering the ROD to reconstitute the OCT for Lot No. 4504 in the names of Basilio Abellanosa and Roberto Abellanosa. The OSG, appealed the Decision. The appellate court reversed the trial courts findings. The CA denied petitioners motion for reconsideration. Hence this petition. RULING: We deny the petition. In this case, there appears to be no question as regards compliance with the procedural requirements of RA 26. Rather, the controversy lies in the documentary basis for the reconstitution.

32 | S M C C o l l e g e o f L a w

Land Titles and Deeds | SYLVER JAN BALUNO PRIOR


In relation to Sec. 12 of RA 26, in case the reconstitution is to be made exclusively from sources enumerated in Sec. 2(f), the petition shall be further accompanied by a plan and technical description of the property duly approved by the Chief of the General Land Registration Office, or with a certified copy of the description taken from a prior certificate of title covering the same property. In this case, petitioners attached to their petition for reconstitution a certified photocopy of the decree of registration pursuant to which an original certificate of title was allegedly issued by the ROD covering the property. They also presented a witness who testified that he had actually seen a copy of the propertys OCT. The trial court, after evaluating the documentary and testimonial evidence, was convinced that the property is covered by an original certificate of title, the original and owners copies of which were lost, and accordingly ordered the reconstitution of the original certificate of title. The propriety of the reconstitution ordered by the trial court in light of the certification issued by the Registry of Deeds [T]hat records in this office do not show that a certificate of title has been issued to Lot No./s 4504, is now at issue. The OSG insists that the petition for reconstitution should have been considered by the trial court as filed under Sec. 2(f) of RA 26, in accordance with which the plan and technical description of the property should have also been presented, because the question of whether an original certificate of title was issued pursuant to the decree of registration was put in doubt by the certification issued by the Registry of Deeds. We cannot give primacy to the findings of the trial court over the categorical certification by the ROD that its records do not show that a certificate or title was issued over the property. Only Felipe Abangan was able to positively testify that he had seen the OCT of the property. Petitioner Dolores Cabello merely testified to the effect that Basilio Abellanosa kept the OCT but that she did not know where it was. The evidence presented by petitioners does not establish that an original certificate of title over the property was earlier issued. Hence, the reconstitution ordered by the trial court was improper. The petition should have been filed under Sec. 2(f) of RA 26 and it should have been accompanied by a duly approved plan and technical description of the property in accordance with Sec. 12 of the law. SARMIENTO vs. CA FACTS: The subject of the present controversy is a parcel of land situated in Marikina covered by a TCT and registered in the name of the plaintiff-appellee RODEANNA REALTY CORPORATION. The land was previously owned by the Sarmiento spouses by virtue of a deed of absolute sale as evidenced by a TCT. Upon acquisition of the land, the Sarmiento spouses appointed PEDRO OGSINER as their overseer. The land was mortgaged by the Sarmiento spouses to Carlos Moran Sison (Mr. Sison) as a security for a loan obtained by the Sarmiento spouses from Mr. Sison. Upon failure of the Sarmiento spouses to pay the loan, Mr. Sison initiated the extra-judicial foreclosure sale of the mortgaged property. Mr. Puzon purchased the same property in an auction sale and he filed a petition for consolidation of ownership and issuance of new title over the subject property before the RTC. The petition was granted by the court and a TCT was issued in the name of Jose Puzon. Mr. Puzon sold the property in question to herein plaintiff-appellee. Plaintiff-appellee filed a complaint for recovery of possession with damages against the Sarmiento spouses and Pedro Ogsiner, the Sarmiento spouses caretaker of the subject property who refused to vacate the premises. .

33 | S M C C o l l e g e o f L a w

Land Titles and Deeds | SYLVER JAN BALUNO PRIOR


On January 30, 1987, the Sarmiento spouses filed a motion for leave to file a third-party complaint against the Provincial Sheriff of Pasig, the Judge of the RTC of Branch 155 and the Register of Deeds of Marikina. In its order dated February 22, 1989, the trial court dismissed the third-party complaint against the Register of Deeds of Marikina on the ground that the case may proceed even without the Register of Deeds being impleaded. On February 4, 1993, the trial court rendered a decision in favor of plaintiff against all defendants. The CA affirmed the RTC decision. ISSUE: 1) In a case for recovery of possession based on ownership (accion reivindicatoria), is the defendants third -party complaint for cancellation of plaintiffs title a collateral attack on such title? RULING: NO. It is a direct attack. A third-party complaint is in the nature of an original complaint. This is so because it is actually independent of and separate and distinct from the plaintiffs complaint. In herein case, after leave of court was secured to file a third-party complaint, the third-party complainants (Sarmiento spouses) had to pay the necessary docket fees. Summonses were then issued on the third-party defendants who answered in due time. The third-party complaint for cancellation of TCT being in the nature of an original complaint for cancellation of TCT, it therefore constitutes a direct attack of such TCT. The situation at bar can be likened to a case for recovery of possession wherein the defendant files a counterclaim against the plaintiff attacking the validity of the latters title. Like a third -party complaint, a counterclaim is considered an original complaint, as such, the attack on the title in a case originally for recovery of possession cannot be considered as a collateral attack. There being a direct attack on the TCT which was unfortunately ignored by the appellate court, it behooves this Court to deal with and to dispose of the said issue more so because all the facts and evidence necessary for a complete determination of the controversy are already before us.

34 | S M C C o l l e g e o f L a w