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Republic of the Philippines REGIONAL TRIAL COURT 9th Judicial Region BRANCH 8 Dipolog City

THE LOCAL GOVERNMENT OF DIPOLOG CITY REP. BY HON. EVELYN T. UY IN HER OFFICIAL CAPACITY AS CITY MAYOR, Plaintiff, & - versus DECLASPOUSES RODEN T. VASQUEZ ALL AND LORNA ADARO, ET AL., Defendants, x - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - /.

Civil Case No. 6654 -forPETITION FOR REOPENING REVIEW OF THE DECREE OF REGISTRATION &/OR RATION OF THE NULLITY OF TITLE, FREE PATENT AND DERIVATIVE DOCUMENTS

MEMORANDUM
(FOR DEFENDANT SPOUSES VASQUEZ)
DEFENDANT Spouses Vasquez, through the undersigned counsel, unto this Honorable Court, most respectfully submits their Memorandum, as follows:

PRELIMINARY STATEMENT
The plaintiff, Local Government Unit of Dipolog City represented by the City Mayor Evelyn T. Uy, filed a Petition for Reopening and Review of the Decree of Registration, and/or Declaration of Nullity of Certificate of Title, Free Patent and all Derivative Documents against the spouses defendants, who were granted Free Patent No. 0972022010-6783 and issued Katibayan ng Orihinal na Titulo Blg. P-1620 on the Five Thousand Eighty Three (5,083) Square Meters of public land situated in Biasong, Dipolog City. In answer to the above-stated petition, spouses Vasquez raised affirmative defenses, which are now the subjects of resolution, and for which the parties are required to submit memoranda, by this Honorable Court.

PLAINTIFFS ALLEGATIONS
The plaintiffs allegations, which are relevant to the affirmative defenses raised by the defendants, are summarized as follow:

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3. The land involved in this case has been identified by defendant DENR (thru CENRO Dipolog City) as Lot No. F-097202-002503, containing an area of FIVE THOUSAND EIGHTY THREE [5,083] square meters, more or less, accordingly bounded on the NE., along line 1-2 by 13.00 m. wide space for DPWH Infrastructure project and bank protection 20.00 m. wide [Dipolog River]; on the SE., along lines 2-3-4 by lot claimed by Jose Wendy Eguia; on point 4 by lot owned by Marcial Rodrigo; on the SW., along lines 4-5-6-7 by Public Land and on the NW., along lines 7-8-1 by Lot 111, Csd-09-006798 [Roden Vasquez]. This subject land is situated within the future development site of the City of Dipolog. The market value of the area as assessed by the City Assessor of Dipolog is Twenty Eight Thousand Four Hundred Forty Eight Pesos (P28,448.00). Such amount is within the jurisdiction of this Honorable Court. 4. The Plaintiff is occupying and in possession of a track of land situated in Biasong, Dipolog City which is earmarked to be the site of future development projects in the city, one of which is the City Hospital. Prospecting an expansion of the City, a portion of the site was purchased by the City Government on 03 October 1994 from Gerardo Lagata, Gerutedes Lagata, Leoncio Lagata and Francisco Lagata. The other portion of site, being a public land with no known possessor, was enclosed and fenced by the City Government to mark the stake of the city in the abandon river bed. As early as 1980s, the then City Mayor of Dipolog City, Roseller Barinaga ordered that the area be fenced. Xxx. 5. However, the possession of the City Government was disturbed by the deliberate unlawful act of the Spouses Vasquez. Last June 28, 2010, defendants VASQUEZ, thru deliberate fraud, false statement/pretense, deceit and gross misrepresentation, filed an Application for Free Patent at the Defendant DENR [CENRO of Dipolog City], for the said parcel of land identifying it as Lot No. [original] F-097202-002503 situated at Barangay Biasong, Dipolog City and containing an area of 50 ares, 83 and centares, claiming that he is in possession, occupation and cultivation of the land and that the land was first occupied and cultivated by Lucio Adaro. Xxx.

DEFENDANTS ANSWER
The defendants answers to the above-stated allegations are as follow: That they admit the averment in paragraph 3 with respect to the description and boundaries of the land, which is the subject matter of this instant case, but deny that the land is situated within the future development

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site of the City of Dipolog because the truth of the matter is that, the plaintiff is not an owner of any adjacent parcel of land which it can implement its project. The defendants denied that the amount, which is the market value of the subject matter, as alleged in the Complaint is within the jurisdiction of this Honorable Court because the basis of determining the jurisdiction of this Honorable Court is the assessed value and not the market value of the subject matter (Further discussed under the Defenses of the Defendants); That they deny the averment in paragraph 4 because the truth of the matter was that, the land that was acquired by the plaintiff, represented by then City Mayor Roseller L. Barinaga, from the heirs of spouses Emiliano Lagata and Teofila Marcojos, was the land which at present the Biasong Elementary School. The purpose of acquiring the land from the said spouses was for the construction of Biasong Elementary School and there was no other plan (See Annex B of the Complaint); That they deny paragraph 5 because the subject land, which was owned and possessed by the herein private defendants, was never possessed by the plaintiff, and the averment of deliberate fraud, false statement/pretense, deceit and gross misrepresentation in filing the application for Free Patent at the defendant DENR is also denied for being a conclusion of fact and law;

AFFIRMATIVE DEFENSES
The defendants spouses Vasquez raised the following affirmative defenses: (a) That this Honorable Court has no jurisdiction over this

instant case because what was alleged by the plaintiff in its complaint was the market value of the property and not the assessed value.

(b)

That this Honorable Court has no jurisdiction to review the

decisions of the defendant DENR as to questions of fact, which shall be conclusive when approved by the Secretary of the DENR.

(c)

That the plaintiff is not the real party in interest to institute

reversion proceedings because the real party in interest is the State, and only the Solicitor General or the officer acting in his stead may do so.

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(d)

That the allegation of the plaintiff that it fenced, claimed

and occupied the land, aside from being false, it has no legal basis considering that juridical person cannot acquire public land through continuous occupation and cultivation.

DISCUSSION / ARGUMENT
On the issue of lack of jurisdiction, what was alleged by the plaintiff in its complaint was the market value of the property and not the assessed value. Under Sec. 19 (2) of BP Blg. 129, as amended by RA No. 7691, the basis for determining the jurisdiction of the court in civil actions involving title to, or possession of, real property, or any interest therein, is the assessed value of the property. In the case of Quinagoran v. CA (G.R. No. 155179, 24 August 2007, 531 SCRA 104, 114-105), the Supreme Court held: Nowhere in said complaint was the assessed value of the subject property ever mentioned. There is therefore no showing on the face of the complaint that the RTC has exclusive jurisdiction over the action of the respondents. Indeed absent any allegation in the complaint of the assessed value of the property, it cannot be determined whether the RTC or the MTC has original and exclusive jurisdiction over the petitioners action. The courts cannot take judicial notice of the assessed value of the land. Considering that the respondents failed to allege in their complaint the assessed value of the property, the RTC seriously erred in denying the motion to dismiss. Consequently, all proceedings in the RTC are null and void, and the CA erred in affirming the RTC. In this instant case, since the complaint did not allege any assessed value of the subject land, therefore, it cannot be determined whether this Honorable Court has original and exclusive jurisdiction over the plaintiffs action. With respect to the affirmative defense that decisions of the Director of Land as to questions of fact shall be conclusive, the same is clearly provided in Section 4 of Commonwealth Act 141, to wit: Subject to said control, the Director of Lands shall have direct executive control of the survey,

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classification, lease, sale or any other form of concession or disposition and management of the lands of the public domain, and his decisions as to questions of fact shall be conclusive when approved by the Secretary of Agriculture and Commerce. Further, Section 32 of PD No. 1529 is not applicable to the case of the private defendants, whose certificate of title was issued in pursuance of a patent application. Fraud as a ground for review of title under Section 38 of Act No. 496 is not applicable to a case where a certificate of title was issued in pursuance of a patent application. That section refers to a decree of title or certificate of title issued under it and not to a title certificate issued in pursuance of the provisions of Section 122 of the same Act (Lizada vs. Omanan, 59 Phil. 547); As to the affirmative defense that the plaintiff is not a real party in interest was derived because of the allegation of the plaintiff in paragraph 4 of his complaint that the subject land is the abandon river bed, which would clearly establish that the land in question is a public land before the free patent was issued. This case should have been an action for reversion to be instituted by the Solicitor General in the name of the Republic of the Philippines pursuant to Section 101 of Commonwealth Act 141, to wit: Section 101. All actions for the reversion to the Government of lands of the public domain or improvements thereon shall be instituted by the Solicitor General or the officer acting in his stead, in the proper courts, in the name of the Commonwealth of the Philippines. In Alvarico v. Sola, 432 Phil. 792 (2002), the Supreme Court ruled: Only the Office of the Solicitor General or the officer acting in his stead may do so. Since the title originated from a grant by the government, its cancellation is a matter between the grantor and the grantee. Likewise, in the case of Garingan vs. Garingan, 455 SCRA 480, it was held that: Actions for reversions of public lands fraudulently awarded must be instituted by the Solicitor General and in the name of the Republic of the Philippines. The plaintiff cannot claim ownership over the subject land also because under Section 44 of Commonwealth Act 141, only natural-born citizen, who has continuously occupied and cultivated a tract or tracts of agricultural public lands, is entitled for the issuance of a free patent. The plaintiff, being a juridical

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person, cannot acquire an agricultural public land through continued occupation and cultivation. Further, as admitted by the plaintiff during pre-trial conference, there is no proclamation by the President designating the subject land as reservation for the use of the plaintiff City Government of Dipolog, pursuant to Section 83 of C.A. 141, to wit: Section 83. Upon the recommendation of the

Secretary of Agriculture and Commerce, the President may designate by proclamation any tract or tracts of land of the public domain as reservations for the use of the Commonwealth of the Philippines or of any of its branches, or of the inhabitants thereof, in accordance with regulations prescribed for this purpose, or for quasipublic uses or purposes when the public interest requires it, including reservations for highways, rights of way for railroads, hydraulic power sites, irrigation systems, communal pastures or leguas comunales, public parks, public quarries, public fishponds, workingmens village and other improvements for the public benefit. Since the plaintiff, being a juridical person, cannot acquire public land through continuous occupation and cultivation and it does not have any grant from the government as regards to this subject land, therefore, the plaintiff is not a real party-in-interest to file this instant action.

PRAYER
WHEREFORE, premises considered, it is most respectfully prayed from this Honorable Court that this instant case be dismissed for lack of jurisdiction and plaintiff is not a real party-in-interest to institute this action. Dipolog City, May 10, 2012.

CLYDE R. NAONG

Counsel for the Private Defendants Roll No. 54778 PTR No. 0413503-1/31/12Dip. City IBP No. 888502-1/31/12Dip. City MCLE Certificate No. III - 0018945 P. Zamora Street, Barra, Dipolog City

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Copy furnished: Atty. Liza Jane B. Estao City Legal Officer Counsel for the Plaintiff City Legal Office City Hall, Dipolog City Atty. Ruben L. Dongallo Counsel for Public Defendants CENRO AND PENRO DENR Region IX, Baan St., Sta. Maria District, Pagadian City

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